Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ngarabal Entry Page

The South Australian Museum records:

Ngarabal (NSW)

Location West of a line from near Tenterfield to Glen Innes; on Beardy River. Closely related to the Jukambal of which they may be a western series of hordes. Both MacPherson and Radcliffe-Brown accept the Ngarabal as a separate tribe.

Co-ordinates 151°35'E x 29°30'S. Area 1,000 sq. m. (2,600 sq. km)

References: Gardner, 1854 MS; MacPherson, 1902, 1904, 1939; Radcliffe-Brown, 1930; Tindale, 1940; R. B. Walker, 1964 MS. Alternative Names Ngarabul, Ngarrabul, Narbul, Marbul (presumed to be mishearing or typographical error).

The Museum notes: this information is reproduced from NB Tindale's Aboriginal Tribes of Australia (1974). Please be aware that much of the data relating to Aboriginal language group distribution and definition has undergone revision since 1974. Please note also that this catalogue represents Tindale's attempt to depict Aboriginal tribal distribution at the time of European contact.


For a map see New England's Aboriginal Languages. Other spellings of the name include Ngoorabul, Ngarabul, and Ngoorabal.

The Jukambal appear to be a sub-group of the Bundjalung. Based on literary references, AusAnthrop records them as around Beardy River; Bolivia; Drake; Glen Innes; Severn River; Stonehenge; Tenterfield; Wallangara.

Posts on the Ngarabal

To be added

Return to New England's Aborigines - Reference Page.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New England's Aborigines - The work of Professor Peter Austin on linguistics

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         In looking at the history of New England's indigenous peoples, I wish I knew more about linguistics. I also wish that I was sitting in a university with access to all its on-line resources rather than a very crowded home back-office.

I was searching around trying to find information on the the Ngarabal (also: Ngoorabul, Ngarabul, Ngoorabal) people who occupied the area around Glen Innes. They appear on my tribal language map but I know very little about them. In doing so, I stumbled across the work of Professor Peter Austin (photo) from London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. You will find his bio here.

Professor Austin played a major role in documenting Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) and in the development of the on-line dictionary on the language. He has also written extensively on Aboriginal languages in general.

Professor Austin's bio provides details as to his research. You will also find copies of some of his papers here. This includes a paper providing a brief history of research into the Kamilaroi language.

I will comment later on some of the things that his work tells us about the history of New England's Aborigines. For the moment, I simply wanted to make the information available to a broader audience.


In one of those wonderful pleasures of blogging, Peter Austin picked up the link and left the following comment on this post:


Thanks for your kind remarks highlighting my research on Gamilaraay and other Australian Aboriginal languages. This work could not have been completed without the contribution of many Aboriginal people in the north-west of NSW, and several linguist colleagues, including David Nathan, with whom I developed the on-line dictionary. John Giacon continues important research on New England languages -- see here.

Nice, isn't it? If you follow the second link through, you can actually hear Gamilaraay spoken

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New England's Aborigines and the importance of calories - a note

Much of human history comes back to just two things, water and calories, both linked to geography.

Water is critical for drinking and for food supply. Availability of calories determines the population that can be supported and at what standard of living.

The western slopes and plains are marked by long dry periods. During these periods, the Aboriginal populations concentrated around permanent water supplies as free-standing water elsewhere disappeared. Then with rain, they foraged more broadly.

As you would expect, there is a clear correlation between population densities and calorie (food) availability. High coastal populations were supported by a variety of aquatic and land food resources.

When I first looked at Aboriginal population densities in New England, I focused especially on settler records recording numbers of Aboriginal people. While this indicated that numbers were higher than had been realised and provided, I think, a reasonably accurate picture of relative population densities over the whole area, the approach was subject to a whole range of weaknesses.

A better way might be to look at calories.

Start with the quantity of calories required to retain life. This needs to be adjusted for the fact that the Aborigines were active in physical terms. Then what was the calorie availability like in particular areas taking seasonal factors into account?

At least two further things need to be factored in.

The first is the human need for variety not just in food, but in personal interaction. We already know that the availability of food surpluses led to gatherings of peoples for trade and other joint activities. However, we (certainly I) tend to know only major events because these were the only ones recorded in the historical record. There were certainly many others.

Intuitively, the pattern of interaction changed with increased calorie richness. This did not necessarily mean more interaction in an aggregate sense - sedentary people living in a rich environment may interact less. However, interaction is likely to be different simply because the pattern of food surpluses is likely to be different.

The second is the fact that people eat to live, not live to eat. By this I mean that in a day to day sense people would spend that amount of time gathering or hunting food that was required to meet their needs.

Anthropological research in the Northern Territory, I cannot remember the reference at this distance in time, suggested that the people being studied spent a bit over six hours a day collecting food. The rest of the time was available for other things.

I make this point because I have the strong impression that actual population densities in many places were below the theoretical maximums that would have been allowed by available food supply.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Traditional tribal structures in New England

I have become a little confused about the traditional Aboriginal social and language structures in New England. This post simply records my original understanding because this is still the base that I am using. I have yet to update it properly.

We start with the family group, often a group of related families that moved and lived together. The size varied depending upon the ecological richness of the area in question. Richer areas allowed greater population concentrations.

Moving up, the next level was the clan or horde, essentially family groups linked together who recognised a connection. This was important in marriage rules. Kinship rules could be complex. My impression is that the clan or horde was central here.

Again, and this is only an impression, ecological richness was important. In poorer areas, clan territory might be quite extensive. In ecologically richer areas, smaller and more self contained.

Moving further up, we have language groups.

When I first started research, I thought of the map of Aboriginal languages as a sheet of graph paper. Each square represented a clan or horde. Each square could understand the language around them.

Language shifted across the graph paper because of the impact of distance, leading to growing variations related to distance.

At no stage did I see Aboriginal structures as constant. My hypothesis was that migration to the Australian continent had come in waves, each wave speaking somewhat different languages. As settlement spread, so languages diffused.

Let me try to illustrate by example.

Assume that group A arrived. They all spoke the same language. New country allowed them to increase population and occupy greater territory. As they did, variations began to occur in the language.

Group B arrived with a somewhat different language. They may have come to the same or a different area.

If the same, then they placed pressure on the existing inhabitants, encouraging them to move to new areas. If different, then the same process happened with group a.

This process was repeated over tens of thousands of years. At some point, the intake of new people stopped. From then, we are only dealing with the dynamics of demographic change and people movement. This led to further geographic shifts.

While generally constant in the short term, boundaries (language, horde, family) constantly shifted over longer periods. Occupation patterns in 1788 represented a point in a very long history.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

New England Australia - Tweed River catchment map

This is one of a series of posts providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. For some reason I have not been able to upload been to upload the Tweed River catchment map. Click here to access map.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New England Australia - Richmond River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New England Australia - Namoi River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

New England Australia - Nambucca River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New England Australia - Manning River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Full list of maps

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New England Australia - Macleay River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Full list of maps

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New England Australia - Lake Macquarie and Tuggerah Lakes catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Full list of maps

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New England Australia - Karuah River and Great Lakes catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Full list of maps

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New England Australia - Hunter River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New England Australia - Gwydir River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New England Australia - Hasting & Camden Haven Rivers catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

New England Australia - Bellinger River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Friday, November 21, 2008

New England Australia - Brunswick River catchment map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New England Australia - Border Rivers Catchment Map

This map is one of a series providing maps of the various river catchments within New England. Click on the map to get a full size map. Source.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New England's History - most popular posts 2

It has been a while since I did my last update on reader interests.

Looking at the latest 100 visitors, the five most popular posts on this blog have been:

This was followed by three equal posts:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Draytons and the Hunter Valley wine families

I put up a short post, New England Stories - the Hunter Valley Drayton's recovery from tragedy , on the rather inspirational story of the Drayton's recovery from fire.

Beyond a few limited posts, I have yet to record the story of the Hunter Valley wine dynasties.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Charles Chauvel and the Sons of Mathew

The Chauvels were a pioneering family whose history sprawls from the Northern Rivers into South Eastern Queensland. Pioneering film maker Charles Chauvel was a member of this family.

I have begun a series using one of Chauevel's films, Sons of Mathew, to explore different aspects of the New England experience.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New England's Pastoral Dynasties - the Whites: note on sources

This post simply records some source material on the White family


White, James (1828 - 1890), ADB. See also Parliament of NSW

White, Francis (1830-1875), ADB

White, Henry Luke (1860 - 1927), ADB

White, Harold Fletcher (1883 - 1971) ADB. See also Parliament of NSW

White, Patrick: Wikipedia Article; ABC Why Bother with Patrick White? contains a range of useful material including family history


White, Judy, The White family of Belltrees : 150 years in the Hunter Valley, Sydney : Seven Press, 1981.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

History of New England's National Parks - Mount Kaputah

With the exception of the link inserted in the text, the following material is drawn directly from the NSW State Archives agency record for the Mount Kaputar National Park Trust.

"Mount Kaputar National Park is located between Narrabri, Barraba and Bingara.

In 1925 an area of 775 hectares around Mt Kaputar was proclaimed a Reserve for Public Recreation with the Narrabri Shire Council apparently appointed as Trustee of the area. (1)

Two years later Narrabri Shire Council passed control over to the Mount Kaputar Trust, which was a group of very interested and dedicated local people. This group gave advice and guidance on management issues within the reserve. (2)

In 1959 the reserve became Mount Kaputar National Park but remained under the management of the Trust. (3)

In 1967 the Mount Kaputah National Park was permanently reserved as a national park under section 15 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1967 (Act No.35, 1967). The park was then described as containing about 35, 200 acres in the Counties of Courallie, Jamison, Murchison and Nandewar, Parishes of Bombell, Terrergee, Cowinmangarah, Paleroo, Rusden, Coryah and Ningadhun. (4) In 1967 the park (then 14,244 acres) came under control of the newly-established National Parks and Wildlife Service. A regional advisory committee now gives advice and guidance. (5)

On 31 January 1969 a further 6,290 acres 2 roods and 20 perches in the County of Nandewar, Parish Rusden were reserved as an addition to the Mount Kaputar National Park. (6) On 5 December 1969 a further 100 acres in the County of Nandewar, Parish Rusden were reserved as an addition to the Park. (7)


(1) Department of Environment and Climate Change website http://www2.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks.nsf/ Mount Kaputar National Park printable travel guide(cited 30 Jun 2008).

(2) Loc. cit.

(3) Loc. cit.

(4) National Parks and Wildlife Act 1967 (Act No.35, 1967) s.15 (1) and First Part of the Third Schedule.

(5) Loc. cit. note 1.

(6) NSW Government Gazette No.12, 31 January 1969, p.357.

(7) Ibid. No.142, 5 December 1969, p.5043.

Friday, August 15, 2008

History of New England's National Parks - the Warrumbungles

Note to readers: Much of the following material directly quotes the NSW Government source listed at the end of the post.

The Warrumbungle National Park lies 329km (4:43 hours driving time) south east of Armidale, 480km (6:4 hours driving time) north-east of Sydney. The Warrumbungles are the spectacular remnants of a large, heavily eroded shield volcano that was active from 18 to 15 million years ago.

The first European record of the Warrumbungle Mountains was by the explorer John Oxley in 1818, on his second inland expedition. While Oxley named the mountains Arbuthnots Range, the original Aboriginal name has survived. Warrumbungle comes from the Kamilaroi language and is believed to mean 'crooked mountains'.

Soon after Oxley's exploration, settlers arrived. Although some logging took place and valleys and lower slopes were cleared for grazing, large tracts of more rugged land were left largely alone. Some logging took place and valleys and lower slopes were cleared for grazing. Evidence of previous pastoral use survives in the park in old fences, some ruins and exotic garden species at sites where old homesteads and huts once stood.

Bushwalkers and rock climbers had discovered the Warrumbungles by the 193os. The first proposal for a national park was made in 1936. However it was not until January 1952 when, with the agreement of the owner, approval was given for 2428 hectares to be withdrawn from the Crown Lease held by Alfred Pincham and reserved for public recreation. On 30 October 1953 an area of 3360 hectares was notified as Warrumbungle National Park under the care, control and management of trustees appointed by the Minister for Lands.

The first ranger for the park, Carl Dow, oversaw the construction of a new network of walking tracks. These were all built by hand, a considerable physical feat in the rugged Warrumbungles terrain. The John Renshaw Parkway, providing vehicle access to Coonabarabran, was completed in 1966. In 1967 the management of the park was handed over to the newly created NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. A new camping area was opened in 1975 at Camp Blackman. In 1987 a new visitor centre was opened and a field studies centre opened in 1994. Visitor access roads and infrastructure have been gradually upgraded over the years.

Visitation to the park increased dramatically from a few hundred annually in the 1950s to over 85,000 people in the 1980s. While visitor numbers then declined, between 40,000 and 70,000 people are reported to visit the park every year. A recent study found that the park contributes to the viability of local economies by generating revenue and directly and indirectly providing employment.


The material in this post is drawn from NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, Warrumbungle National Park

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome to visitor 2000

By the nature of its subject matter as well as may approach, this is not a high traffic blog. So it gives me great pleasure to welecome visitor 2,000.

He/she came from Arizona and searched on how fast are horses. This led to How fast do horses travel?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Notes on New England Historiography - the importance of geography 1

I know the geography of New England pretty well. Even so, I am regularly reminded that I do not know it well enough.

Back in November 2006 in my second post on this blog, Geography of New England - Introduction, I suggested that to understand New England's history we needed to understand New England's geography, the way in which climate and landscape have helped shape New England life. This remains true.

I know the Tablelands and coast best simply because I have spent more time there.

Flying back the other day from Grafton to Sydney, the first time that I had done this, I found that I could recognise all the main rivers and coastal towns from the air quite easily because I had a very good mudmap in my mind. The same is true of the Tablelands.

As we move west, my knowledge weakens. While I have driven through the area, there are more places that I have not visited. For that reason, I have begun to write a series of posts on the New England Australia blog with a western focus. I have added a list at the end of the post that I will try to update from time to time.

If there are gaps in my knowledge of current geography, they become still greater as we move back into the geographic past. When I look at the geographic posts I have written on this blog, also listed at the bottom, there is just the one post on the Macleay Valley dealing in any way with the more distant geographic past.

We all write history in different ways. I write by creating patterns in my mind that I then test and refine with further research. In doing so, I use existing histories as a starting point where they exist. In other cases, I collect pieces of information, then fit them together to form an initial rough outline.

The relations between human beings and their surrounding environment is quite complex.

In one sense, geography just is. It may change with time. It may be affected by human occupation. However, it can be described in physical terms.

Human perceptions of the geographical world around them, the nature of the interactions between humans and that world, is very different. These interactions take place at many levels and are often unseen. Often, they have to be inferred from the evidence.

In all cases, though, the starting point has to be the actual geography itself. If you do not understand this, then it becomes hard if not impossible to understand human history.

Western Posts

Geography Posts

Saturday, July 19, 2008

History of New England's National Parks

At one level, New England's national parks are a major asset. At a second level they are an historical topic in their own right.

The New England National Park, the first, was established as a result of local pressure. More recently, national parks have been largely imposed.

I have established this page to provide an entry point for future posts on the history of New England's national parks.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book review - John Ferry's "Colonial Armidale"

Tidying up, I realised that I had failed to cross-reference John Ferry's "Colonial Armidale", a review of one of the best local histories in Australia.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Inverell's history

Short post simply to record that Inverell On-line has a useful section on Inverell's history including some time lines. The site also includes photos of Inverell and Ashford.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sapphires in New England - historical notes

The following material is drawn from Aussie Sapphire:

"Sapphires were first discovered in Australia as early as 1851 when they were found at the Cudgegong and Macquarie Rivers during the Gold Rush period. Sapphire was found alongside gold and tin in many highland regions during prospecting and mining activity.

The largest and most economic sapphire deposits are in the New England region of New South Wales (NSW) around Inverell and Glen Innes, and central Queensland around Anakie and Rubyvale (with a smaller deposit further north at Lava Plains). The New England gemfield is said to produce Australia’s finest blue sapphire with Queensland sapphire renowned for their range of colour (including yellow, green and parti sapphire).

Sapphire was not mined commercially in NSW until 1919 when a rich area on Frazers Creek near Inverell was worked by CL Smith. This encouraged more mining in much of the sapphire bearing area of Glen Innes and Inverell which continued for 10 years until the Great Depression. Large scale commercial mining did not resume until 1959 when prices for rough increased due to a shortage from the traditional sources in South East Asia.

At the height of the sapphire boom in the 1970’s, there were well over 100 mining plants operating in the New England region (Mumme, 1988). There was some consolidation of the industry during the 1980’s in response to lower prices and exhaustion of some of the very rich alluvial sources in the area. Market conditions have continued to be difficult resulting in a decline in mining activity within the region there are now only a very small number of commercial miners still operating.

Within the New England gemfield, sapphires typically occur in Quaternary and Tertiary alluvial deposits in both present day watercourses and fossil drainage systems. The sapphire-bearing gravel layer (or wash) varies in thickness and depth but may be up to a few metres thick in some palaeo-alluvial channel systems. It is thought that most of the sapphire was derived from the weathering and erosion of volcanic ash deposits (volcaniclastic rocks) that were erupted onto the earth’s surface during early explosive phases of volcanic activity (Facer & Stewart, 1995). These deposits were then distributed and concentrated along drainage channels.

Within the New England region, these processes have combined to create major sapphire deposits along Reddestone Creek, Wellingrove Creek, Kings Plains Creek, Horse Gully, Frasers Creek and Swanbrook. In these areas, sapphire is commonly found in association with pleonaste (Black Spinel MgAl2O4) and zircon. Australian sapphires are typical of corundum formed in iron-rich alkali basalt terrains and they have similar gemmological properties to those from other such deposits found in Thailand, China and Cambodia. The colour is quite saturated compared to sapphires found in some other resources, for example the Geuda sapphire of Sri Lanka which is extremely pale before heat treatment to intensify colour. Colour zoning is also common in Australian sapphire and may appear as hexagonal crystal growth patterns or parallel to the prism (Mumme, 1988; Sutherland and Webb, 2000)."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Mining in New England - working bibliography

I have established this post simply to record some of the references on mining in New England.

Belshaw, J P and Jackson, L, Gold mining around Armidale, Regional research monograph (New England University College) ; no. 1, Armidale 1950. Access

Belshaw, J P and Jackson L, Mining for diamonds, sapphires and emeralds in northern New South Wales, Regional research monograph (New England University College) ; no. 2, Armidale, 1950 Access

Belshaw J P and Jackson L, Gold mining around Walcha, Regional research monograph (New England University College) ; no. 3, Armidale, 1950. Access

Belshaw, J P, Mining for alum, antimony, arsenic and asbestos in northern New South Wales, , Regional research monograph (New England University College) ; no. 4, Armidale, 1950 Access

Belshaw, J P and Kerr, M, Gold mining around Glen Innes, Regional research monograph (New England University College) ; no. 5, Armidale 1950. Access

Facer, R and Stewart, R, Sapphires in New South Wales. Department of Mineral Resources, Sydney 1995.

Mumme, I, The World of Sapphires, Mumme Publications. Port Hacking, 1988.

Sutherland, FL and Webb G, Gemstones & Minerals of Australia. New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2000.

Sutherland, FL, et al, The Tumbarumba Basaltic Gem Field, New South Wales: In Relation to Sapphire-Ruby Deposits of Eastern Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 54: 215-248, 2002

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hugh Frewen's story

For the record, I have just completed Saturday Morning Musings - Hugh Frewen: a New England story, a biographical post on one of New England's more fascinating characters.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A break in posts

I am taking a six to eight week break in posting in part for a rest, in part to update some of the supporting reference pages.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New England New State Movement Reference Page

Over on the New England, Australia blog I have put up New England New State Movement - consolidated posts linked to the fight for New England self government as a reference page drawing together various posts on the Northern Separation, later New England New State, Movement.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Penders of Maitland

Photo: "Anambah" Maitland. Finished in 1889, the house was designed by J.W. Pender.

Anambah with its beautiful cedar joinery consisted of 23 rooms, 10 marble fireplaces, tiled hall and verandah and a free standing billiard room .

This post is by way of a stub. I wanted to record some of the links to the remarkable story of the Pender family, the Maitland architects who has such a remarkable impact on New England's built environment.

On Anambah itself, here. The NSW Department of Planning Heritage Branch web site provides information on a number of Pender designed building. The University Of Newcastle has a magnificent Pender archive.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

New England's History - Guide to on-line resources

Note to readers: This post has been replaced by a new page, New England's History - Guide to on-line resources.  

Photo: Wing Hing Long & Co store, Tingha c1900 from the NSW Heritage Branch on-line exhibition.

I have established this page to provide information about on-line resources relating to New England's history.

Like all the reference pages, I hope that, with time, it will become a useful resource for all those with an interest in different aspects of New England's history whether at local or regional level.

Alphabetical Listing

Austlang, the Australian Indigenous Languages data base, provides a very useful searchable facility on Australia's Aboriginal languages.
Australian Bureau of Statistics web site provides access to past census data, year books and historical population estimates.
Australian Dictionary of Biography. The ADB is an invaluable source of information on people. You can also search by area or topic.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies web site provides access to their extensive collections.
Australia Screen provides on-line access to a range of audio visual material. You can use the search facility to find material of regional interest.
Australia Trove is the National Libary of Australia's central search facility. It gives you access not just to their collections, but also to the invaluable searchable digitised newspaper data base and to the still patchy Pandora electronic archive of Australian web sites.
Chinese-Australian Historical Images in Australia (CHIA) database is a catalogue of historical images of Chinese, Chinese immigrants and their descendants held in Australia.
Directory of Australian Archives provides a searchable list of archives throughout Australia.
Encyclopedia of Australian Science is a register of the people and the many industries, corporations, research institutions, scientific societies and other organisations that have contributed to Australia's scientific, technological and medical heritage, with references to their archival materials and a bibliography of their historical published literature.
Free Selector or Felon provides a rather good searchable resource for all those interested in the history of the Hunter Valley.
Google Books is often a great way of finding references. I find the previews especially valuable.
Guide to Australian Business Records is as the name says. So you can search on, say, North Coast Steam Navigation Company.
NSW Heritage Branch. This NSW Government site is a valuable source of information not just on listed heritage items in NSW, but on the context and history of the listed sites. You can search by local area, by the name of the building or by architect if known.
NSW Railnet. An invaluable private site for all those interested in the history of New England's railway lines.
Picture Australia provides access to a range of visual material.
Unlocking Regional Memory - NSW electronic regional archives provides access to a range of archival resources including the large regional archive managed by the University of New England.
State Records Authority of NSW is the name now given to what was previously the NSW State Archives.
Theses on NSW Political History is as the name says. It seems to be pretty complete. You can sort by name or subject.
University of New England's Heritage Centre web site gives you access to their collections, including the regional archive.
Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region provides a rather valuable resource, including digitised records of some of the early European visitors.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Werris Creek Railway Timeline

As a child travelling by train, I knew Werris Creek station as a very big station for an apparently very small town.

In fact, Werris Creek was a major New England Railway centre. According to the Railcorp site:

The Railway Station at Werris Creek has been a major rail junction in northern NSW for well over a century. Anyone who has ever travelled through NSW to Tamworth or Narrabri will know Werris Creek. It's where the combined train from Central separates to take travellers both north or north-west. Travellers and smokers will know it best as the breathing spot on a long journey where they can witness train shunting in action. Just forty minutes to Tamworth in the North and about twenty minutes from the agricultural centre Quirindi, Werris Creek is situated within the Parry Shire in New England, in the Heart of NSW Big Sky Country.

The decision to build a line from Werris Creek to Gunnedah was made by the New South Wales Parliament on the evening of the 26th April 1877. This decision marked the overturning of long standing policy not to build branch lines before the completion of the three mail lines; the Great Northern, Great Western and Great Southern lines. It signalled a boom in Australian branch lines and in the significant increase in the productivity and popularity of the railway. The line reached Gunnedah (the home of Dorothea McKeller) in September 1879.

At Werris Creek, the former Department of Railways (now StateRail) not only gave rise to the physical fabric of the town, but also provided its psychological framework and instilled a set of moral values that affected everyday life. Werris Creek has the distinction of being both the first and the last railway town in northern NSW and epitomises all aspects of the rail industry, including the sometimes dangerous aspects of railway work in the past. A number of former railway workers, killed through railway operations, are buried at Werris Creek. The railway institutions in Australia helped to form a working class culture and, as a one-industry town, Werris Creek has been identified as a centre where the railway working culture has flourished.

Railway timelines for Werris Creek follow:

1877 Work on branch line from Werris Creek commenced
Sept 1879 Line reaches Gunnedah
Oct 1879 Platform finished
1884 Railway Refreshment Room (RRR) tender awarded
Nov 1884 RRR Opened
March 1885 Adjacent platform built
Jan 1886 'Great Northern Railway Junction' operational
1893 Footbridge built
1889 Gas works operational
1892 Verandah on eastern side extended
1896 Timetable altered
1897 Moree branch line operational
1899 Manila branch line operational
1902 Inverell branch line operational
1906 Pokataroo branch line operational
1908 Walgett branch line operational
1911 Second story added to RRR
1917 Decision to make Werris Creek the Northern Headquarters of Mechanical Branch signals boom years
1923 Binnaway to Werris Creek line opened
1923 Second story added to Station building
1939 Additional sleeping quarters added
1958 Explosion in Single Street kills two people and breaks every window in the Station building
1960 Diesel takes over from steam
1972 RRR closed after 88 years of service
2001 NSW Minister for Transport Carl Scully announces a grant of $1.3 million towards the Australian Railway Monument (ARM) at Werris Creek
2002 Appointment of Project facilitators, commencement of Australian Railway Monument Project.
2005 Monument opens

Back to Timelines Entry Page

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kamilaroi Entry Page

This is one of a number of entry pages established to provide a central point for posts and references dealing with specific Aboriginal language groups within New England. You can find a list of all the entry pages here.

The Kamilaroi, also known as the Gamilaroi or Gamilaraay were a large and powerful language group occuping territory extending from as far south as Murrurundi on the Great Dividing Range, to Tamworth, Narrabri, Moree, Boggabilla, Mungindi, Collarenebri, Walgett and Gunnedah into what is now Southern Queensland. Sub-groups are recorded as including the Kwiambal, Weraerai, Jukambal, Pigambul/Bigambul and Coonbri. See New England's Aboriginal Languages for a map.

There is a degree of confusion about the meaning of the language. The on-line Gamilaraay dictionary states:

The name Gamilaraay consists of two parts: gamil meaning 'no' and araay meaning 'having', that is 'the people who have gamil for no'. This method of naming people after their word for 'no' is widespread throughout New South Wales and Victoria; for example, the western neighbours of the Gamilaraay, the Yuwaalaraay, say waal for 'no'.

By contrast, the Northern Regional Libary based at Moree suggests that name comes from the word Kamil or Kumil meaning main soul.

The Library site also records on language:

Some languages are very similar when the boundaries are close. For example, the Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay language have similar words because the boundaries defining their land were very close. After settlement Aboriginal people were instructed not to speak their own language, they were forced to learn and speak English, and their language was suppressed for many years.

Today, Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay language programs have been introduced into schools to re-introduce and learn the language to Aboriginal children. Children from throughout the North West at Walgett, Boggabilla and Goodooga are now learning their language.

Kamilaroi Posts

3 November 2006, New England Australia - Introducing Mining. Includes material on the Moore Creek Axe factory that supplied stone tools across Kamilaroi lands.

21 June 2007, Gambu Ganuurru, or Cumbo Gunnerah of the Gunn-e-darr tribe. Information about a Kamilaroi leader who pre-dated Euopean colonisation.

12 August 2008, New England's Kamilaroi people - web search August 08.

17 December 2008, New England's Aborigines - The work of Professor Peter Austin on linguistics contains links through to the history of research into the Kamilaroi language. Professor Austin's work also provides details on Australian indigenous languages that sets a helpful context for thought about the New England scene.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New England's Aborigines - Reference Page

I have established this page as an entry point for material on the life and history of New England's Aboriginal peoples. At this stage, there are two ways of accessing material.

New England's Aborigines - Stocktake on Posts provides a consolidated overview of posts written about New England's Aboriginal peoples. Note that as at 9 May 2009, this needs updating.

Then there are the entry pages that I have begun establishing for each of the language groups within New England. At present, they are:

  • the Awabakal who occupied the territory from the southern edge of the lower Hunter River and included Lake Macquarie.
  • the Anaiwan or Nganyaywana who occupied the southern part of the Tablelands
  • the Dainggatti, the Aboriginal peoples of the Macleay Valley
  • the Kamilaroi from the Western Slopes and Plains
  • the Ngarabal or Ngoorabul who occupied the northern part of the Tablelands

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

James Swan - New England Aviator

Photo source.

This post simply records material taken from Jim Swan's web site. Given Jim's age, I am recording it so that it can be found at another source. I note that some of the photo links no longer work.

Jim writes:

"I WAS Born 1922 in Parramatta NSW. For 73 years my official place of residence was Girraween, 5 Km west of Parramatta.
An extract from the opening paragraphs of my "memoirs" titled "Flight of a Swan" suggests that very early attraction to matters of the surrounding environment existed. I quote:

"On a grassy sward in a Sydney backyard, a five year old boy sprawled beneath the branches of a plum tree, with the first blossoms of an early spring just visible against the blue sky which was sprinkled with the pure white of bubbly fair weather cumulus clouds.

He rolled over and gazed in awe at the sheer beauty of that sky which seemed to spread forever. It was during those few minutes of peaceful bliss that he felt he had a place up there with those clouds, that was where he intended to be at home, free as the air he breathed and part of the beauty of it all... He was going to fly!!"

As the years passed, his interest was captured by the magic of radio, first hearing a "crystal set" and somewhat later a "portable" valve set, an Airzone which had four bright shiny valves and cost a fortune to run on batteries. Then at the age of 12 or so the household acquired a four valve "Strad" which ran off mains power but received only the broadcast band which was a little disappointing as at my Grandmothers home I had been introduced to "short wave" and had actually heard overseas stations. However, I did find at the very bottom of the dial a small group of stations called "amateurs", who broadcast music and talked about radio after the commercial stations had closed for the night. It was a great thrill in the late seventies when as a new Amateur, I had a QSO with one of those Old Timers (No music hi hi).

So my radio career began by first repairing the ancient crystal set and making it work!! Then a spell of making single valve regenerative receivers from the debris of the "Airzone" which had passed its use by date. A couple of small amplifiers and a whacking great high quality speaker box brought my practical experience up to the mid 1970s.

The intervening years had not been wasted - I joined the Royal Australian Air Force the day I turned 18 and before aged 19 had commenced training as a pilot. I contrived to remain in the service until the last day of the wartime Airforce and returned to my clerical work with the Department of Main Roads. However, by late 1946 I had joined Trans Australia Airlines as a Pilot (First Officer) becoming a Captain (Training Captain) by 1954. At that time I transferred to East West Airlines to assist them in their expansion program. Having progressed through the ranks as Training Captain, Check Captain to Chief Pilot and becoming responsible for the pilot standards on F27, DC3, and the number of other types operated by the company. I decided to retire in 1975. I had over 21,000 hours and had flown 18 types of aircraft.

The RAAF experience ranged from Coastal Search and Surveillance, through Test and Ferry to Operational Recce and Bombing Strikes in the East Indies area.

During the airline service there were standard scheduled passenger flights, freighters, Air tours around Australia, training aircrew, testing pilots and a few delivery flights of new aircraft from Holland to East West Airlines. A very varied existence!!! However, when I retired I found that despite doing some private flying for enjoyment and instructing in instrument flying on a synthetic trainer, I still missed a component of my flying days, and that was the continuous use of radio communications. As CB was just coming into its own in Australia, I started to run a small 4 watt A.M. rig, normal range was about 40 miles but I did make DX to Kingaroy Queensland.

The legalisation of CB ruined that form of radio as it was swamped by masses of yahoos or whatever, so I decided that I would join the ranks of Amateur Radio."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How fast do horses travel?

This post records some information from Wikipedia on the speed at which horses can travel. While there were horses around when I was growing up, we were not a horsey family. So I have only a rough idea as to transport times when horses were king.

As a rough guide, human beings walk at around two and half miles per hour. Yes, we can go faster, but this is still a reasonable approximation for long distance walking. So if we want to go, say, the fourteen miles from Uralla to Armidale, it might take us a bit over five hours.

Travelling with stock, speed is determined by the speed of the animal. From my limited experience with sheep, I haven't travelled with cattle, travel becomes a slow amble, less than a normal walking pace. Say eight hours to drove from Uralla to Armidale. I imagine a bullock dray would also have travelled at a slow walk.

But how fast might a horse go? Starting with a walk:

The walk is a four-beat gait that averages about 4 mph (6.4 km/h). When walking, a horse's legs follow this sequence: left hind leg, left front leg, right hind leg, right front leg, in a regular 1-2-3-4 beat. At the walk, the horse will always have one foot raised and the other three feet on the ground, save for a brief moment when weight is being transferred from one foot to another. A horse moves its head and neck in a slight up and down motion that helps maintain balance.

So on the basis of a walk, we are looking at about three and a half hours to ride from Uralla to Armidale. Now what about a trot?

The trot is a two-beat gait that has a wide variation in possible speeds, but averages about 8 mph (13 km/h), or, very roughly, about the same speed as a healthy adult human can run. A very slow trot is sometimes referred to as a jog. An extremely fast trot has no special name, but in harness racing, the trot of a Standardbred is faster than the gallop of the average non-racehorse....

The trot is the working gait for a horse. Despite what one sees in movies, horses can only canter and gallop for short periods at a time, after which they need time to rest and recover. Horses in good condition can maintain a working trot for hours. The trot is the main way horses travel quickly from one place to the next.

On the basis of a trot, we could ride from Uralla to Armidale in a bit under two hours. Presumably roughly the same speed equation would hold for something like a sulky.

Now for the gallop:

The gallop is very much like the canter, except that it is faster, more ground-covering, and the three-beat canter changes to a four-beat gait. It is the fastest gait of the horse, averaging about 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 50 km/h), and in the wild is used when the animal needs to flee from predators or simply cover short distances quickly. Horses seldom will gallop more than a mile or two before they need to rest, though horses can sustain a moderately-paced gallop for longer distances before they become winded and have to slow down.

So normally one would not be able to gallop from Uralla to Armidale. But what about stage coaches? We all have this vision of Cobb & Co galloping through the night.

The short answer is that I do not know, although it must have been devilishly uncomfortable travelling fast over rough roads with iron shod wheels! So something else that I must find out!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Information on New England railways

This post simply records the link to a great site I found on the NSW railway system including its history.

I originally posted it on the New England, Australia site, but then found when I was writing the Teaching in New England - Braefield 1916-1923 and wanted details on the Braefield railway station that I could not remember where it was!

I am posting it again so that I do not lose it. As I said in the first post, Rolfe Bozier should be congratulated for his work!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sunderland Flying Boats, Clarence River

One thing I noticed a little while ago when posting Clarence Valley timeline was the reference to the start of the Sunderland Flying Boat service in 1948.

This photo from the Clarence River Historical Society shows the planes on the River.

Until I saw this reference I had no idea that such a service had once existed, yet another thing that I did not know about New England's history.

Nor did I know that P G Taylor had used the river as a set down point. Quoting:

By 1951 the final ocean to be traversed for air travel was the South Pacific between Australia and South America. On 13 March 1951 Captain P.G. Taylor set off from the flying boat base at Rose Bay in Sydney with a crew of four. They made a shakedown flight to Grafton, NSW, landing on the Clarence River, and next morning headed east for South America. Stops were made at Noumea; Fiji; Samoa; Cook Islands; Tahiti; and Mangareva, French Oceania and then Easter Island before arriving in Valparaiso on 26th. March 1951.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Teaching in New England - Braefield 1916-1923

Photo: this is where the Braefield railway siding once stood.

The following material is drawn from Neil Whitfield's blog. I am including it because it provides a snapshot of the life of a teacher in a New England country school in the period 1916-1926.

The material was written by around 1968 by Neil's mother Jean (1911-1996). Her father, Roy Christison, began his career as a pupil teacher at Croydon Park Public School in 1902. Upon completion of his training , he was posted to Spencer on the Hawkesbury River and then in the early days of the war to Felled Timber Creek near Gunning.

From 1916 to 1923 he taught at Braefield, a locality just over six kilometres south of Quirindi on what is now the Kamilaroi Highway. From there he was posted to Dunolly, near Singleton in the Hunter Valley and then to Milton and then Shellharbour — where Neil's mother and father met — and finally to Caringbah in Sydney's Sutherland Shire, whence he retired in the late 1940s.

The material that follows describes the Braefield experience and is, I think, pretty typical of the life of a dedicated country school teacher at the time. It also provides a rather nice picture of life in a small farming community.

Later I will draw from this material to provide colour and feel when I come to write the story of education in New England.

Mrs Whitfield wrote:

It was January 1916, and he was to continue his career, this time in another small school, this one in the North West of NSW.

After puffing its way up the Liverpool Ranges and panting down the other side through the darkened night, the train paused for breath momentarily at a medium sized country town [Quirindi], and the young man, his wife and family climbed stiffly out. This town, built on a series of hills and flats and having a charm of its own, was to be home for the next two months as there was no government residence alongside [Braefield] school. An enterprising farmer was building a house on an acre and a half of land, just opposite the railway siding which bore the name of the school where he was to toil for seven years. With the cottage completed, the stage was set.

It was a tiny place, neither village nor hamlet, just a group of three Railway cottages where lived the men who tended the platform, a store, and a post office of sorts, the house for “Sir”, and down the road a piece (a dusty road in dry weather and a black soil bog in wet) on a narrow strip of land between the railway line and the road were two small buildings, the old slab school and the new building of weatherboard with cypress pine linings and the inevitabe tin roof. One could glimpse here and there small houses scattered far and wide, each on its own acreage, each representing pioneer folk who were farming this very prosperous wheat and sheep district. Here lived most of the 40 pupils who were to make up the enrolment of the six classes in the one teacher school. Some children came miles each day on foot, or on horseback, two or three to a horse, or very affluent ones in a sulky driven by the “eldest” in the family.

It was quite a challenging task to teach forty children in one room over six classes with ages ranging from 5 to 15. A deal of thought, of preparation, and great organising ability, were needed to keep each section actually engaged in quieter activities. Much has been said for and against the standard in these small schools, but I feel that given an earnest and sincere teacher the pupils gained much more than they lost, and the students of this particular school proved in the years to come that they could take their place in any field of commerce, profession, or industry, without apologising for their humbler beginnings.

In this building the younger children were taught to read, to write, to spell, to add, subtract, multiply, and all that is learned in any Kindergarten or Infants section of a modern school. To the older children in the upper classes the concept had to be more attractive and more challenging; their interest had to be aroused.

The worlds of History, Geography, and our spoken language, English, were wells of untapped splendour waiting to be opened. To these bush children it was a fascinating exerience to learn, and they were avid for knowledge. A lover of poetry himself, my father instilled in his pupils enough of the splendour of the written word to make them long to find more for themselves, which is so very necessary. He introduced them to Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Byron, Burns, the Brownings, Coleridge, Longfellow, Scott, Stevenson, Dickens… As for Australian poetry, it seemed to find an echo in the very hearts of the bush children, as Lawson, Kendall, Paterson, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Dorothea Mackellar, George Essex Evans, Bernard O’Dowd, and anyone else who had found a place in the Treasury of Australian Verse, wrote of things and places the children knew. Such was our heritage, to store in our minds for all times.

The old school building was the social centre of the community. It was used (with the permission of the Education Department) as meeting hall, church hall (all denominations), dance hall, and polling booth, so its walls echoed to much, and its floors were trodden by many feet.

In the year 1916 from this farming community so far removed from the centre of a world-shattering war farmers’ sons were fighting overseas and the busy farmers’ wives found time to meet, to knit, to sew, to send gifts and packages; the old school was the headquarters. Each boy going overseas was given a farewell and presented with a gold watch, and each gallant lad who returned was given a Welcome Home and an engraved gold medal. This typified the Australian spirit at its best.

There were other functions too. Breaking up at Xmas for the school itself, fund-raising affairs for the local Cricket team. Oh yes, the lads played a neat game of Cricket and “Sir” could bowl a mean ball. Most functions were held when the moon was full so that there would be more light for the merrymakers to get into the centre for these socials. They came on foot in family groups carrying the old friend of country folk, the hurricane lamp to light the way. They came by horse, in sulkies, on drays, and very occasionally by motor car. The old building would soon be filled to overflowing and long forms outside would seat the rest beneath the trees in the full moonlight, quite a romantic and beautifully peaceful setting.

Soon the “music men” would stand and the dancing feet would fly. I can see those “music men” now. Father leading with his silver toned harmonica, a poultry farmer with his fiddle, and a railway fettler with an accordion. Eyes closed, feet tapping, heads swaying, they would slip from waltz to Schottische to polka, anything that kept the throbbing, lifting lilt of the dance. Beautiful, tender, simple pleasures, earned by hard work and enjoyed to the utmost. From early evening to the wee sma’ hours the musicians played and when after a supper such as country women alone can provide, the tired feet walked lightly and happily homewards, it had been so worthwhile.

We came to know this district well, knew it in drought, in flood, in good seasons and bad, in spring when the good earth was covered in sweet green grass, and golden wattles bloomed in the distant hills and young wheat grew straight and tall, when parrots and parakeets wove gaily patterned circles in the sky above and the promise of the future was good and free and clean. We knew it at harvest time when the ripe golden wheat lying in sheaves filled the air with an aroma all its own, and the whirr of the harvester broke the stillness of hot languid days. We knew it in autumn when soft winds blew, giving welcome relief from summer’s intense blistering heat, and in winter when the snow caps of the Liverpool Ranges sent overnight temperatures to freezing point, and thick white frosts lay on the ground, to give way to more golden sun-filled glorious days with skies of deepest azure, the full circle back to spring again.

Tragedy was there too. Dry years when the dust was blinding, the water nonexistent, and the sheep moved slowly along the road as the drovers looked vainly for fresh feed, and the poor sheep lay dead and dying.

And, oh! it’s a terrible thing to die of thirst in the scrub Out Back. (“Out Back” — Henry Lawson)

This Australia of ours is a land of such contrasts!

Even in our semi-isolation the fingers of death came suddenly when the pneumonia flu raged in 1919. One by one the whole community was stricken. The schoolie was the only one of his family still on his feet. He nursed his loved ones tenderly, and as medical assistance was hard to come by, he was called in to many homes to advise, to help, to administer, to comfort when comfort was needed, and to sustain and strengthen flagging and saddened hearts — a friend indeed.

Came 1920 — January 26 1920 — and in the early hours of another hot summer morning “Sir” and his family alight at the siding which is home. They had been away six weeks by the sea. There were four of us now — had been since 1917 — and in the winter of the year the little Mother with the lovely brown eyes would give birth to her fifth child. But the unborn babe was born dead, and the lovely brown eyes were shadowed for many a long day.

The drought still held and that January day was hot. Father harnessed the horse and left for town to get much needed supplies; it was Anniversary Day, but public holidays mattered little then. The Mother had much to do — clothes to unpack, things to sort and ready for the year ahead. It was a funny day, everything so still, so breathless: Dorothea Mackellar’s “hot gold hush of noon.” Father returned about 2 pm. The sky to the west was frightening. Black rolling clouds, streaked with purple, rose high into the heavens obliterating the sun, covering the earth with a deep purple tinge. The sensation of time suspended, of threatening catastrophe, of the unknown more frightening always than the known. The clouds rolled closer, ever closer, uncannily closer. The soft west wind changed. The stillness changed to a gurgling sudden roar, as the wind rose to gale force bringing with it the dreaded enemy of the inland — the dust cyclone. Everything was dark as midnight as the cyclone struck.

The little house shook, as a quarter of a century later houses shook under Nazi onslaught. It rocked and swayed as Father guided his family to shelter under a stout oak table (Neil added: I well remember that table, which was in the home of my childhood in Sutherland; a matching bureau is in my living room to this day) in the dining room. Minutes passed, terrifying. Faintly through the wall came a tapping and a neighbour’s voice: “Are you all right in there?” He was a no account man, and yet medals have been given for less. He had run 200 yards from his home through dark and dust, falling iron from the roof, splintered, shattered branches of trees, and death and destruction at the shoulder, to give assistance if needed.

Twenty minutes later and the storm had passed leaving in its wake across the plains utter desolation — huge stout-trunked deep-rooted trees blown out of the earth and splintered as if by a mighty axe. The little house that had been a home was completely and utterly wrecked, except for one room — the dining room in which the family sheltered. God’s guiding hand? Perhaps.

The warmth and kindness of the folk who took the family in, gave them clothes and food, were a beacon of light, and the grazier who fixed and altered a disused farm house for this family which he had taken into his large heart, until the shattered home could be rebuilt — to them our everlasting gratitude and thanks.

The drought broke and the grass grew tall. Once again this loved country of ours was showing its softer side and became again a land of promise.

Father still laboured among his flock, respected by all who knew him for his unfailing devotion to his daily tasks of teaching not only during school hours. He coached older children for higher exams during evenings to help them to a better life. His was truly a labour of love, for he never accepted monetary pay for his efforts. Beside this the midnight oil burned as he studied for his own Grade Exams so he could obtain promotion for himself, his wife and family. To sit for his own exams he walked four miles to the town railhead to get the Night Mail — the mail trains did not stop at our siding — to the District Inspector’s Office over one hundred miles down the line, where from 9 am to 6 pm he tackled examination papers, then back on a northbound Night Mail to walk four miles again and arrive home in the early hours of another day, school as usual and the long anxious wait for results.

Another year slipped by so quickly, as years have the habit of doing. More young ones beginning their education, some older ones leaving, mostly to help on the farms, to become good solid citizens with kindly thoughts always of the man who had guided their thirst for knowledge so expertly.

In the summer of 1921 when the grass was waist high everywhere and dry as a tinderbox one of the Railway men was burning off some rubbish on a clear, still day. Suddenly there was one of those unexplained freaks of nature which happen on the stillest of days: the whirlwind lifted the rubbish fire and neatly deposited it in the middle of the paddock surrounding the house where she of the brown eyes was alone, apart for her sister who was on a rare visit from the city. The fire spread, and with smoke billowing across the road fettlers left their job, the night officers left the railway station unattended, and Father and the older boys from the school came running.

Mother packed everything she could into cases and carried them to safety, and Auntie, well she swung an axe like a veteran, cutting green saplings to beat out the fire, and beat it out they did, stopping it just as it scorched the foundations of that small house. Fate? I wonder.

About this time too one of the senior boys had gone home early to find his mother had been bitten by a deadly snake. He rode his bike back for “Sir” because he knew here he would get help. Sir did not fail him either, but taking the bike rode the two miles to the boy’s home, shouting instructions to the Railway officer on the way to contact the Doctor; the Railway had the only telephone. After applying first aid, he took the woman at breakneck speed in a sulky toward the distant town and hospital. Halfway to town they met the Doctor’s buggy — he too was on his way to give help — and the mother’s life was saved.

At the beginning of January 1923 word went round the District: “‘Sir’ was leaving.” He had been given his first Headmastership further down the line in a much more thickly populated area, and only a mile from a very prosperous and beautiful town. It was almost like going to Heaven for Sir and his family after nearly fifteen years of severe apprenticeship. However, they did not begrudge one year of it, because they felt they had achieved much.

On another hot January morning, exactly seven years after that first long night trip, the good folk of the District gathered at one of the bigger farm houses, where there was ample room for large gatherings, to say farewell to their beloved “Sir”. They came from the town four miles away, they came by sulky, by dray, on foot, and they came miles just to be there and sing “Auld Lang Syne”. So ended an era.