Sunday, September 27, 2009

“I even trained dingoes to round up the sheep”

Ian Warden looks at some of the work-seeking ingenuity of the battling ‘train jumpers’ of the Depression years in his article in the September issue of the  National Library of Australia Magazine.
Bill Ryland was one of those who spent the Depression years being stoical and resourceful while ‘jumping the rattler’ (secreting himself aboard trains so as to go from place to place looking for work). His unpublished memoir,‘Knockabout Boy—Tales and Songs of aTrain Jumper in the 1930s’, is one of theNational Library of Australia’s unsung gems.
National Library of Australia Magzine, September 2009.

Maitland and District Historical Society Inc.

The next meeting of the Maitland and District Historical Society will be held on Tuesday, 6 October at 5.30 pm.
The meeting is held at the Masonic Hall, Grant Street, Maitland.

All welcome!

New online tools point researchers in the right direction

From the U.K. National Archives:
The National Archives has launched a set of more than 60 'research signposts' on Looking for records of a person, to simplify the process of researching an ancestor. Each signpost takes a single topic - for example the census, railway workers or the Indian Army. The short, clearly written guide points you to the most useful resources, whether these are online or original documents, held at The National Archives or elsewhere.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Richmond Vale Railway Museum 30th Anniversary Open Day

Join with us as we celebrate 30 years of preservation and volunteering. See a photographic display of Richmond Vale in the early days. View the restored coal wagons. There will be a plaque unveiling. All full size train rides are free after entry.
Date: 4 October 2009
Venue: Richmond Vale Railway Museum, Leggetts Dr, Richmond Vale
Contact Details: Richmond Vale Railway Museum
Phone: (02) 4937 5344
When: 10.00am to 4.00pm
Cost: Adult $12, Concession $8, Children (5 to 15yrs) $6

Convict cells discovered on Cockatoo Island

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, has announced the discovery of convict solitary confinement cells used for punishment in the mid-nineteenth century on Cockatoo Island.

Buried and forgotten for over 100 years, the two intact solitary cells were discovered during an archaeological dig on Sydney’s largest island.
The two cells were built in 1840 beneath the original convict cookhouse located on the top of the island. The cramped cells were each designed to hold a single convict and would have been used as a form of punishment for the hardened secondary offenders who were sent to Cockatoo Island from 1839.
Full media release: Convict cells discovered on Cockatoo Island, 24 September 2009.

Women’s Voluntary Services – an important part of the war effort

State Records New South Wales Archives Outside blog feature:
June Dietrich, a staff member at CSU Regional Archives, has recently begun a research project looking into women’s groups and organisations who volunteered their services during World War II. On discovering the lack of existing published information, June decided to write a series of articles to honour and remember their contributions to the war effort.
June's introductory report outlining the roles of various groups that were involved in Wagga Wagga and surrounding areas is published at the Archives Outside website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Council bends guidelines for famous aviator’s memory

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Luskintyre Aviation Flying Museum approached Maitland City Council to make a donation to its efforts to erect a 1920s style observation control tower at the airfield to remember Nancy Bird-Walton.
A report to the council’s meeting on Tuesday recommended the council decline to make a donation because the application did not meet the guidelines of a council policy.

But Cr Lisa Tierney, who is also gathering support for a statue of Australia’s first prime minister, Edmund Barton to be erected in Maitland, moved that the council get involved in the project to honour a part of Australia’s – and Maitland’s – history.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 24/09/2009.

Restored Tiger Moth going home

From the Maitland Mercury report:
After two years of painstaking restoration at Luskintyre airfield, a 1940 Tiger Moth has been flown to its original base at Narromine aero club. The plane, built in England, was one of an original fleet used to train more than 2800 pilots at the Narromine elementary flying training school during World War II.

Full article by Rebecca Berry available at Maitland Mercury, 24/09/2009.

S.H. Ervin Gallery re-opening

S.H. Ervin Gallery has been closed over winter months for an upgrade to its exhibition, shop and entrance area and collection store. S.H. Ervin Galley was fortunate to receive some funding from Arts NSW to assist with refurbishing its collection store at Observatory Hill. The closure of the Gallery to the public has allowed staff time to begin surveying the Gallery’s permanent collection which will eventually enable it to be more easily utilised online for exhibitions by researchers and by other institutions.
The Gallery reopens for public viewing on Friday 25 September, 2009 :
S.H. Ervin Gallery, National Trust Centre, Watson Rd , Observatory Hill, The Rocks, Sydney.

Future of Historic Scobie Barracks

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Fears Maitland’s historic Scobie Barracks at Rutherford are on a secret Federal Government “hit list” of bases earmarked for closure brought a deluge of calls for it to remain open yesterday.
Maitland RSL sub branch joined the Mayor Peter Blackmore and Paterson MP Bob Baldwin in demanding the Government reveal its plans for Scobie Barracks, which dates to 1855 and is home to two cadet units and C Company of the 2/17 Royal NSW Reserves.

Full article Alan Hardie available at Maitland Mercury, 23/09/2009.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Australians Vol. 1: Origins To Eureka - Thomas Keneally

Launched in early September, Thomas Keneally's first volume of a multi-volume history, Australians, is a unique history of Australia where people are always centre stage. Keneally has woven a vibrant history of convicts and Aborigines, settlers and soldiers, patriots and reformers, bushrangers and gold seekers to tell a rich and colourful tale of our unique national character.
Published by Allen & Unwin.

Family reunion for the Short family

From the Maitland Mercury report:
It will be 170 years since Samuel and Jane Short arrived in Australia and settled at West Maitland. It will be 170 years since Samuel and Jane Short arrived in Australia and settled at West Maitland.
All members of the Short family and relatives are encouraged to attend the reunion on September 26 at Wallsend Uniting Church Hall in Metcalfe Street. RSVP by September 25 by calling Kerry Short on 0448 465 744 or email

Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 22/09/2009.

Coin from reign of King George IV found in cellar

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A coin minted during the reign of King George IV has surfaced in the cellar of historical Tocal Homestead. The heavily tarnished penny, bearing the date 1826, was found during a regular check for termites at the site. “Obviously the penny would have been in circulation at the time and was misplaced sometime after the homestead was constructed,” Tocal Agricultural College director Dr Cameron Archer said.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 21/09/2009.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Greta Migrant Camp feature

The Greta Migrant Camp features in the Newcastle Herald Weekender magazine for September 19, 2009.
The four page article titled “So far, so good” by Neil Jameson, notes: "Greta Migrant Camp became a necessary home away from home for thousands of post-war refugees and new arrivals on assisted-passage schemes."

Born digital records: what next?

A workshop presented by the Royal Australian Historical Society.
This workshop deal with the "born digital" records which now are such a large part of our life rather than the digitising of items which were born on paper. Most historical societies now use their computers to record minutes of meetings, to deal with correspondence and to maintain their memberships lists or database.
Katharine Stuart, Project Officer, Digital Strategy at State Records NSW will talk about State Records' digital records strategy - know as the "Future Proof" strategy.
Mari Metzke will look at ways historical societies can establish protocols to ensure membership lists, minutes and accounts are backed up so that if the computer fails, these important society resources are not lost.

When: 26 Sep 2009, 10:00am to 3:00pm
Where: History House, 133 Macquarie Street Sydney
Contact: Phone: 02 9247 8001
More information: History Council NSW

Friday, September 18, 2009

Books Alive Author Visits

From the Maitland Mercury report:
As part of the national Books Alive campaign, Maitland City Library will play host to two authors, both first-time authors recognised as two of Australia’s up-and-coming contemporary writers.
Toni Jordan, the author of Addition, will be at the Readers Cafe, East Maitland Library, on Monday from 1pm and Virginia Lloyd, author of The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement will appear at Cafe P’Chinos on Tuesday from 10am.
Bookings for both events are essential, and can be made by contacting the Maitland City Library on 4933 6952.

Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 18/09/2009.

Yaralla Open Day

A rare chance to wander one of the last great rural estates left in Sydney : Yaralla or the Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospital on its own peninsula in the Parramatta River at Concord . This grand rural estate was subdivided to provide much of the modern suburbs of Concord West and Concord . What remains is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.
The next tour of the Yaralla mansion is being conducted  by the Concord Heritage Society on Sunday, 25th October 2009.
Information and bookings via the Concord Heritage Society web site.

Former Newcastle Post Office redevelopment

From the Herald report:
Owner of the historic former Newcastle post office Sean Ngu has two new business partners on board and says he is confident the building will be ready to open by Christmas next year.

Full article by Gabriel Wingate-Pearse available at The Herald, (Newcastle) 18/09/2009.

Maitland's Heritage Mall

From the Maitland Mercury report:
High Street and the Heritage Mall reflect the new direction of the city’s CBD through a variety of new businesses and boutiques.
Shop owners show confidence by investing in the CBD so many previously vacant, historic buildings have been given a facelift and are re-opening with new purpose.

Full article by Rebecca Berry available at Maitland Mercury, 17/09/2009.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stories of city women woven together in art

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The stories and experiences of women living in Maitland have been immortalised in a permanent public art installation, Time Capture, ensconced in the new-look Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
Time Capture is an artwork including film, images and light.

Governor of NSW Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir will open Time Capture at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery on Saturday 19 September 2009 at 6pm.

Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 16/09/2009.

English history can be seen in Australian church carvings

From the Maitland Mercury report:
English history can be seen in Australian church carvings. With St James Anglican Church as her backdrop, medieval art specialist Terry Pearson will deliver a talk on Myths, Monsters and Misericords throughout the centuries.  Ms Pearson’s visit was organised by the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society in Pokolbin.
Ms Pearson’s talk will be held on September 27 at 3.30pm. Phone 4930 0723 or 4933 3312 to book a seat.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 16/09/2009.

Passionate historian to deliver Harry Boyle lecture

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Dr Janis Wilton, OAM, will deliver the Harry Boyle Memorial Lecture – titled A Night at the Museum – at Brough House in Church Street, Maitland, later this month. The lecture will look at how local museums and history, collections and research can bring the past alive.
The Harry Boyle Memorial Lecture will be held on Friday, September 25, at 6pm.
For bookings phone 4933 6452 or 4932 0518.

Full article available at: Maitland Mercury, 15/09/2009.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Launch of Time Capture at Maitland Regional Art Gallery

Time Capture is a reflection and celbration of the diversity of women in Maitland.
Time Capture was filmed on location in 2008 and is embedded in the newly built fabric of Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
It is a filmic memory. Time Capture will slowly reveal the lives of 100 Maitland women until the year 2034.

Everyone is welcome to attend the launch of this unique and hauntingly beautiful project -
19 September 2009, 6.00-8.00pm. Please RSVP to the art gallery on 4934 9858 or via email

National Trust Hunter Regional Committee Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust will be held at Grossmann House, Church Street, Maitland, Sunday 25 October, 11am.
The guest speaker will be John Neish, Executive Director of the National Trust. We welcome nominations to all positions on the committee - chair, deputy chair(s), secretary, treasurer and committee members. The meeting will be followed by morning tea.
Bookings: for catering purposes please RSVP to Margaret Henry. P: (02) 4961 1063.

James Fletcher Hospital Nominated for NSW State Heritage Register

News from the National Trust:
The Hunter Regional Committee has recently submitted a nomination for the James Fletcher Hospital to be placed on the NSW State Heritage Register. The nomination, named Newcastle Government House & Domain specifically identifies the early use of the site in the Macquarie period and its association with convict labour. It is the site of the Newcastle Military Barracks, and for 138 years an evolving psychiatric hospital, representing significant change and adaptability.

There is a need to have the exceptional heritage significance of this convict, mining and military site fully acknowledged, as it has been a government site since 1804. The area has been nominated to the National Trust Heritage at Risk Program.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Morpeth Manor Historic Trees

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A passionate group has rallied to save a corridor of tall trees planted about a decade ago and described as a buffer zone. But the trees will be axed to make way for an aged care and residential development for over 55s on the historic St John’s College site, according to residents Kevin Pywell and Kevin Lord.

Maitland City Council documents said the buffer was planted to preserve the historic setting of the approach to Morpeth from Tank Street and was 10 metres wide, but the council can vary this.

NSW Heritage Council does not place any significance on the buffer and the council plans to remove it in stages and re-establish a narrow corridor with an approved landscape plan.

Full article by Rebecca Barry available at Maitland Mercury, 10/09/2009.

Off the Beaten Track

Solitude of sighs is being presented by the History Council of NSW and Copyright Agency Limited, part of the lecture series Off the Beaten Track. This presentation by Laila Ellmoos expands on scholarly and popular understandings of the NSW  prison system from the perspective of those who spent time 'doing time.'
Laila Ellmoos is a professional historian based in Sydney, with a passion for researching and writing about Australian social history. She is currently the historian at the NSW Government Architect's Office.
Laila will be speaking at Maitland Gaol, Sunday 13th September. Phone Maitland Gaol for further information, 49366482.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crafty community creates Art Across the Ages

Woodberry residents are set to show that they are one crafty community with the creation of a community patch-work quilt called Art Across the Ages: Things I’ve seen and done.

The residents of Woodberry are being invited to create a quilt ‘square’ out of new and used fabrics to tell a story about their lives. These squares will then be sewn into the final quilt by a talented group of local artists and craftspeople and will end up on display in community halls, libraries and possibly even art galleries in the area.
Nicole Bennett, Community Planning Coordinator for Maitland City Council said, “Thanks to the assistance of a grant from Housing NSW, the crazy quilt project will help to celebrate and acknowledge the wonderful stories and life achievements of the residents in and around Woodberry”.

For more information call Cynthia Jenkins on 4964 2174 or Alison Harwood on 0488 207 139.
Maitland City Council news, 07 September 2009.

Exposed: Our Criminal Past

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A range of disturbing artifacts extracted from the cell where high-profile criminal George Savvas died are part of a new exhibition at Mailand Gaol.
The dark shadows of the Hunter’s criminal past will also come under the spotlight tomorrow night as part of the gaol’s History Week celebrations, titled Exposed: Our Criminal Past.
From the safety of the present day, Maitland veterinarian Ian Gollan will lead a discussion panel that aims to uncover the scandals and crimes that have shocked a nation.

Panel members will include Sandra Lee, journalist and author of Beyond Bad: the Life and Crimes of Katherine Knight; Duncan McNab, former detective with the NSW Police and Tony Tamplin, media liaison officer for Newcastle Police.
Thursday 10 September. For more information phone Maitland Library on 4933 6952 or Maitland Gaol on 4936 6482.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 9/09/2009.

Maitland Grossmann High School 125th anniversary

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland Grossmann High School 125th anniversary is being celebrated with an open day on Saturday, 12th September. The event will be an opportunity to witness the transformation of the school over the past 125 years, and the school’s 125-year committee has planned a variety of activities to entertain including archive displays, school memories DVDs and a concert held by the school’s choir and band.

Full article by Belinda-Jane Davis avaiable at Maitland Mercury, 8/09/2009.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hunter Lifestyle Magazine - August - September 2009

Edition 39 of Hunter Lifestyle Magazine feature articles include:
  • Light & shade - Luskintyre residence of Dr. Paul and Deanne Thibault and their El Prado Alpaca Stud
  • In the land of gentry - Ryedale Estate near Paterson. Acquired in 1840 by Major Edward Darvall, member of the first cabinet and the first Parliament in New South Wales.
  • New life for a grand building - Tighes Hill School of Arts Gallery recently received a facelift and a new purpose in its long 100-year history.
  • Millpond - new residence at East Gresford, with the site originally part of the Camyr Allyn 1820s grant
  • An enterprising family - Fry Bros. Funerals owned and operated by the well known and respected Fry family of East Maitland, will celebrate 120 years of serving the community this month. 
  • Jessie Hunt : the lady bushranger - areas now part of the Wollemi National Park were once the domain of much lawless activity, where the Lady Bushranger, Jessie Hunt, used her knowledge of the bush to escape the law.  

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Raymond Terrace : Riverport

Raymond Terrace Historical Society have published Raymond Terrace : Riverport, written by Cynthia Hunter. The book looks at the development of the shipping companies within the town and the expansion of the central business district as a result of the growing population in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During her research, Cynthia uncovered a watercolour painting by Alfred Sharp c1899, of the Hunter River at Raymond Terrace showing buildings, including the Richardson and Scully brickworks, and evidence of the lively river trade that existed at the time. This painting is featured on the front of the book.
The book is available form the Research Rooms at Port Stephens Library for $20.

Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles Display

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Hundreds of homemade items, dating as far back as the 1800s, will go on display on Friday for The Gentle Arts exhibition at Maitland’s Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles (AMCaT).
Ranging from large bedspreads and hangings to small doilies, toys, the works illustrate the man y ways in which women use their artistic skills to make functional and decorative items for their homes and families.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 4/09/2009.

Family History Conference

The state family history conference is being hosted by Wyong Family History Group on 18-20 September, with the theme "From home to hinterland."
This is the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies 2009 Annual Conference.
All details at Wyong Family History Group.

History - Magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society

The September 2009 issue of History includes:

Exciting finds from colonial days - "...sketchbook of 30 folios, on paper water-marked 1815, painting by Edward Close, 1790-1866, his 'New South Wales sketchbook: sea voyage, Sydney, Illawarra, Newcastle and Morpeth." The Mitchel Library acquired the sketchbook at auction and it is now in Sydney.

A new study of WWI soldier settlement in NSW - the project aims to uncover the experiences of NSW soldier-settlers and their families. A state-wide study has not previously been completed.
Information, contact:  or

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Theft From Luskintyre Aviation Flying Museum

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A flying helmet and goggles worn by aviators in World War II have been stolen from the entrance to Luskintyre Aviation Flying Museum.
“The flying helmet was an authentic one we had placed on the head of a model in a sentry box near the front gate leading to the museum,” museum official Frank Williams said.

Anyone with information is asked to ring Maitland police on 4934 0200.

Full article by Alan Hardie available at Maitland Mercury, 3/09/2009.

Maitland Heritage Buildings - Demolition Decisions

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland’s 12 councillors will decide if heritage buildings earmarked for demolition will in future face the wrecking ball.
The decision has in the past been made by Maitland City Council officers under delegated authority, but councillors will now vote on any plan to demolish buildings in heritage areas.

Cr Penfold commented “We are touted as the heritage city, so we need to make moves to preserve what we can and a decision needs to be made by those who are elected, not by one person.”

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 3/09/2009.

Irish Census 1911 Available Online

The Irish Times has reported that a new database for Irish genealogy and research was yesterday released online by the National Library of Ireland. The free searchable version of the April 1911 Irish census contains information from the 32 counties and is searchable using any combination of name, surname, age, sex and place.
It gives access not only to a database of information but to images of the original census forms which would have been handwritten by the head of the household.

Exposed : Library Event For History Week

Exposed: Our Criminal Past
will be held Thursday 10 September 6.00pm – 8.00 pm at the Maitland Gaol Auditorium. The event, which celebrates NSW History Week, is presented by Maitland City Library in partnership with Maitland Gaol in the first of a new Look Who’s Talking History series.

Discover the dark shadows of the Hunter’s criminal past in an event that is not to be missed. From the safety of the present, an expert panel will uncover the scandals and crimes that have shocked us over time. Exposed, a unique event presented by Maitland City Library and Maitland Gaol, promises to provide a unique look into crime through the eyes of crime writers and crime fighters.

Entry to the event is $10.00 per person and bookings can be made through phoning Maitland Library on 4933 6952, Maitland Gaol on 4936 6482 or online at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Greta Migrant Camp Photograph Exhibition

From the Maitland Mercury report:
On August 19, 1949, hundreds of migrants arrived in Australia in search of a new life.
Arriving in Newcastle, after 28 days at sea aboard the Fairsea, the migrants were then transported to the newly established Greta Migrant Camp to an unfamiliar life, an unfamiliar world.
The exhibition – New Lives New Australians: snapshots of Greta Migrant Camp, 1945-1960 – features a selection of photographs that depict what life was like in the camp for the thousands of migrants whose first Australian home was at Greta.
Exhibition at the Wallsend District Library until September 30.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 2/09/2009.

Maitland Girls High 30 Year Reunion

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Former Maitland Girls High School students are invited to share their schoolyard memories with old classmates at a 30-year reunion in October.
Former student and reunion organiser Bronwyn Adnum (nee Davies) is seeking students from the class of 1979, whether they completed Year 12 that year or finished school earlier.
Phone 4933 7777 or email

Full article by Katie Smith available at Maitland Mercury, 1/09/2009.