Oban cemetery, November 1973. Around 100 people gathered to see the unveiling of a headstone for William Gardner, the pioneer chronicler of Northern Tablelands’ life.
By then, many historians had drawn from
manuscript chronicles. Recognising his importance, the Armidale and District
Historical Society raised a fund to pay for the headstone on Gardner ’s previously unmarked grave. Gardner
I suspect that we don’t sufficiently recognise the importance of the work done by the Society over the years since its formation. This is a simple example of its enduring legacy. I draw on its work all the time.
Back at Oban, Lionel Gilbert gave a short talk on
life and achievements. The headstone was then unveiled by Oban owner Mr J Bennett,
after which the multitude adjourned for lunch. Gardner
But who, in all this, was William Gardner?
William Gardner (1802-1860) was born in
In April 1838 he sailed from Leith in Glasgow, Scotland Scotland
five months later. Sydney
We know little of
life in the thirty six years before he sailed for . He was clearly an educated man and
may have spent some time in the Sydney ,
for in 1848 he published a pamphlet on the possibility of growing of cotton in
After working in a store at Maitland,
Gardner moved to the newly-opened New
England plateau about 1842, becoming a tutor at the late Henry
Dumaresq's Saumarez station near
A keen horseman, Gardner travelled widely over the district, and compiled the first detailed map of the northern districts of
published in September 1844 in Baker's Australian
County Atlas. This reveals competent draughtsmanship and painstaking
attention to such details as roads, tracks and station properties. New South Wales
was employed as tutor at Moredun (October 1853–September 1854), Rockvale
(October 1854–September 1855), Mount Mitchell,
and at Andrew Coventry's Oban station (1858-60).
There were not many available single women at this period, and he seems to have enjoyed his single life. Instead, he devoted himself to wide and varied cultural interests. These included sketching and later photography as well as writing. A sound judge of horses, he advised Gideon Lang in 1857 on the selection of horses for the Indian army.
We know from descriptions and reminiscences that he was highly respected and greatly missed, including by those he taught. Not a bad legacy, I think.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 16 September 2015. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015.