Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We will be celebrating National Family History Month which kicks off this Thursday, August 1, at Ku-ring-gai Historical Society. The National Family History Month website has listings of events from all over the nation but also lists events in areas not far from Ku-ring-gai. Peruse the list and you may find something to suit your interests.

Visitors are always welcome at our General and Family History Group Meetings. Dates and times for these can be seen on our Calendar. For other events on the Calendar please contact the Society to see if there are vacancies.

Special events that have been organised for National Family History Month at our Society are two Scanning Days on  Monday 19 August and Friday 23 August from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm in the research rooms.

Please bring along your old Ku-ring-gai photos with a focus on “The people of Ku-ring-gai and where they lived”.

We’ll have a team of volunteers in the rooms to scan them for you.

You’ll get your precious photo(s) preserved in a digital format and at the same time make a contribution to the knowledge of the local area and its people.

You never know, the act of sharing might even lead to connections with other family members.

Bring a USB stick to take your high resolution images home with you.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Elections for Officers and Committee

The Society’s Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers will be held after the General Meeting on Saturday 17 August, before the guest speaker.

All positions of Officers and Committee Members are open, and Society Members are invited to nominate.

Nominations must be with the Returning Officer by Saturday 10 August.

Completed nomination forms can be left in the Returning Officer’s folder on the table in the Research Centre.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Eryldene is an early twentieth century house and garden at Gordon in the Ku-ring-gai area. Eryldene is known as the spiritual home of the Camellia in Australia. 

The Society has received a reminder about The Shaping of Eryldene, a function to be held this coming Sunday, 28th July from 10am - 4pm at The Mint Auditorium, Macquarie Street, Sydney.

Bookings must be made by close of business Wednesday the 24th July. Bookings can be made online here or by calling the Friends of the Historic Houses Trust on 02 8239 2266

The seminar is a vital part of supporting the fantastic work of the Eryldene Trust and participating in the conversations about the historic property and the ideas and people that inspired its evolving form.

Trove Tuesday - Rosalie Burton

The Australian Women's Weekly from 1933 to 1982 is digitised on the Trove site from the National Library of Australia. 

This advertisement featuring 4 year old Rosalie featured in the Australian Women's Weekly published on Wednesday 22 July, 1959.

Was this little girl's name really Rosalie and did she come from Ku-ring-gai?

Article Text:

Ballet Baby
by Kraft.
Petite Rosalie Burton, of Kuring-gai, N.S.W., is preparing for her B.B.O. (British Ballet Organisation ) examination this year. Where does this 4-vear old get her energy? She enjoys Vegemite every day.
Vegemite-the only pure, con-centrated yeast extract - is the  richest food source of Vitamin   B, which is essential for:
. healthy nerves
 . good digestion
. clear skin
. vitality
Your children will enjoy deli-cious Vegemite. Spread it on  toast, sandwiches, biscuits - or  on baby's rusks.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Ones that Got Away

Murray Radcliffe at the Society on Saturday
COSHA Vice-President, Murray Radcliffe, entertained over 60 Society members at our General Meeting last Saturday with stories of escapes that desperate convicts made from a variety of our early colony's penal institutions.

Murray set the scene for his talk with the dramatic tale of a convict who escaped from a ship in a dinghy only to be recaptured on a beach shortly afterwards. Murray then shared stories of convicts who had used three methods to escape: by sea, overland or as stowaways. Particularly interesting was the story of female convict, Mary Bryant, who made a successful journey from Port Jackson by sea in the company of several other convicts, her husband and two children to Koepang in Timor. 

Thank you, Murray, for a most interesting and informative presentation.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Built Heritage - St Martin's and its architect Oliver Harley

This article by Kathie Rieth is republished from the Society newsletter of  January 2010.
St Martins Anglican Church Killara
In her recent column about St Martin’s centenary, a member asked for stories on those involved in its history. Here is a little on its honorary architect, Oliver Harley, who in March 1910 accepted JA  Bailey’s tender to build the new Anglican Church at Killara. Harley lived in Killara from c.1907 until his death in 1921 at his residence Llanberis, 20 Marian Street.

He was born in 1854 in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham, England, the third son of Sarah and Roger Harley. His father, a builder, in 1861 had fifty men in his employ. By 1871 Harley senior had died and Oliver was employed as an architects’ clerk. He migrated to Australia c.1877 and found work as a building contractor. When he married Alice Shinner in 1887 he was living in Surry Hills. From 1888 onwards the couple purchased properties in Marrickville, North Annandale, Redfern, Rookwood, Waverley, Petersham, Leura, Faulconbridge and Ku-ring-gai.

By 1889 Harley’s occupation was listed as architect and the couple had settled in Bon Accord Avenue, Waverley. Drawings for “Competitive Design for Masonic Hall, Shops, &c., Broken Hill” by “Oliver Harley, Esq. Architect, Sydney” in The Builders & Contractors’ News of April 1890 show a large, ornate two-storeyed building with attic rooms and ground floor loggia shaded by full-length verandahs. I have not yet discovered whether his design was selected. Harley’s first project in Ku-ring-gai was a cottage at Gordon in 1902, and his first purchase was 3 Stanhope Road in 1903. Later purchases were 11 Locksley St (1912) their home from 1909 to 1913, 69 Arnold St (1911), 3 Karranga Ave (1914), 15 Blenheim Rd (1914) and 20 Marian St (1918).

I believe he designed all of these houses. The present owner of 15 Arnold St confirms that it was designed by Harley in 1915. When he died in March 1921, 2 Stanhope Rd (for Mrs Harriet Scarr) was under construction. This was completed under the architects Carlyle Greenwell and Henry Budden, who in 1924 designed the lychgate for St Martin’s, given in Harley’s memory by his widow Alice. Between 1902 and 1921 Harley designed houses in Turramurra, Gordon, Wahroonga, Roseville and Lindfield, as well as our first Council chambers at Gordon, shops in Killara, additions to the Killara Hall, renovations to St John’s Gordon and additions to the Anglican Church at Lindfield. Harley also had projects outside Ku-ring-gai: the new Presbyterian Church at Drummoyne, a hide store in  Melbourne, a woolshed in the Kanimbla Valley, the Chatswood School of Arts, a school in Paddington for the Kilburn Sisters and numerous projects in the eastern suburbs - Waverley, Bondi, Bellevue Hill and Woollahra – a body of work that was extensive and diverse.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Badge on our Blog

We are proudly displaying a new badge on the right hand sidebar of our blog. We are pleased to report that we have been nominated in Inside History Magazine's list of "50 Genealogy Blogs you need to Read in 2013".

The list includes personal, institutional and commercial blogs that contain information relevant to those who indulge in family history research. Take a look at the list at to see what sort of company we are in. 

This award will direct more readers to our blog so our Society will be highlighted to fellow researchers and groups both in Australia and overseas. 

Thankyou Inside History Magazine.

Podcasts for curious minds

In the latest issue of its eNewsletter sent to the Society the Royal Australian Historical Society has made this announcement which may be of interest to members. There are presently four podcasts listed on the site.

The RAHS is creating podcasts (audio broadcasts) of selected, lectures and seminars presented by authors, historians and researchers at the forefront of their fields making them accessible to the general public. These engaging sessions offer an eclectic mix on a wide variety of topics in Australian history and current historical issues in local history and heritage. If you missed Dr Louise Trott's fascinating talk discussing the role of the Sydney Diocesan Archives, which is a private, ‘in-house’, business, and academic research archive, giving special attention to some of the key documents in the collection you can listen to it here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Writing Ku-ring-gai History Winners

Bridget's winning poster

It was a full house on Monday night, with excited children and proud parents at the awards night of the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society writing competition. 

Ku-ring-gai Mayor, Elaine Malicki acknowledged the high standard of entries as she presented the winners with their cheques.

The Years 3-4 students submitted posters depicting Ku-ring-gai Then and Now. 

The joint winners were:
Madeleine McDonell of Abbotsleigh and 
Bridget Lennon of Gordon East Public School. 

Sophie Manning of Masada College and 
Mia Clayton of Pymble Ladies College were the runners up.
Madeleine's winning poster
Years 5-6 students wrote an essay on an important historical person and the winner was: 
Lukas Hallett of Wahroonga Public School with his essay on Vernon Hordon Lumby (1933-2012).
Runners up were: 
Romi Grauman of Masada College and 
Penelope Lovell of Wahroonga Public School.

Years 7-9 students wrote about a location of historical importance and the winner was: 
Kate Soonius of Pymble Ladies College with Ku-ring-gai's Unique Blue Gum High Forest. 
Eloise Hanna of Pymble Ladies College the runner up.

The adult section was won by Sandra McGregor of Mt Ku-ring-gai with Echoes of Time and Place throughout Ku-ring-gai, 
and runner up was Evelyn Wyatt of Turramurra.

All entrants will receive a certificate, and a commemorative book published by the Society containing many of the entries.

You can see more of our winners and their entries on our website.

The copyright to all posters and essays has been vested in KHS © 2013. All rights reserved so if you would like to reproduce or use any of the posters or essays, please contact us (higher resolution copies are available). 

The Ones that got away

The Guest Speaker for our next General Meeting on July 20 at 2:00pm is COSHA Vice-President Murray Radcliffe with the topic The ones that got away:Some early  attempts by convicts to escape from Sydney Cove were doomed, while others were well-planned, ingenious and successful.

Visitors are most welcome to join us for the meeting at The Gordon Library Meeting Room, 799 Pacific Highway, Gordon. Afternoon Tea will be available.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Writing Competition Presentation Night

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, we have run a writing competition.
Well, several competitions really. We had a number of categories for different age groups, from a Then and Now poster competition for Years 3-4, to essay competitions in age groups up to adult.

The standard of entries was great and we have produced a book containing the finalists' entries.
This book will be presented to the winners on the night along with their cheques.

Tomorrow night (Monday 15 July) is the presentation night.
Please come along and celebrate with us and the winners.
It is being held in the Gordon Library Meeting Room, 799 Pacific Highway, Gordon from 7.30pm.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How attitudes have changed

Reprint of an article by Max Farley originally published in Vol. 29 No. 7 August 2011 of the KHS Monthly Newsletter 

“Once families dreaded exposure of their convict connections. Today the discovery that a convict belongs in the family tree is a matter for celebration. ”

Most would today agree with these words expressed in Babette Smith’s recently published “Australia’s Birthstain – a Startling Legacy of the Convict Era”. For over 100 years, however, the existence of convict ancestors within families was kept a secret by later generations. So much so
that in many cases family members were not even aware of their convict’s existence themselves.
By the time the colony was 50 or so years old it was peopled in large numbers by emancipists who had served their time, by many Australian-born who had reached adulthood, as well as settlers who had come and prospered.

They all regarded themselves as “free”. Though crime, corruption, loose moral standards,  gambling, profanity, drunkenness and violence existed in large measure, Babette Smith puts it that there was growing pride in what was being achieved in the new country. People were accepted for
what they were and not for what they or their parents had earlier been. Opportunities for advancement existed which were not available for them in their homeland. Ideas of introducing democratic institutions in the colony were being discussed, with WC Wentworth in the forefront.
Why did having a convict ancestor later come to be a guilty secret?

At the risk of oversimplifying her views, Babette Smith puts forward the theory that three main groups in the “Mother Country” saw their interests as likely to be best served by emphasising the sinfulness existing in New South Wales and ignoring the positive aspects. These were:-
• those who had opposed transportation in the first place and wanted it stopped in favour of penal reform being developed in Britain itself;
• the clergy, too, opposed transportation., although their mission was to reform sinners and it was important that the wickedness of the colony be recognised and, with it, the need for their services, which also offered opportunities to spread church influence; and
• fine-intentioned people whose liberal inclinations applauded the abolition of slavery in America and who saw a similarity with the transportation of convicts to Australia.

For the most part they, as individuals, were totally ignorant of the true position in New South Wales. A 27-year old, Sir William Molesworth, became Chairman of the Transportation
Committee of the House of Commons. A Report of that Committee was destined to cause great damage to the status of the young colony.

These groups may not have been alone in spreading the belief that sin was rife in the colony, but they spread it with success. As an example, the Reverend Thomas Arnold, principal of the Rugby School, is quoted by Babette Smith as saying in c1834 “that the stain should last, not only for
one whole life but for more than one generation… that no convict child should ever be a free citizen: and that even in the third generation, the offspring should be excluded from all offices of honour or authority in the colony.”

The Molesworth Transportation Committee Report, released in 1838, painted an unhappy picture of the colony’s moral state. Though seen within five years as a failure, the inhabitants were taken aback by the Report because they had been expecting praise for the progress they had achieved.
Not only was their pride hurt, but there was alarm at the political and economic damage to the colony’s reputation. Not surprisingly, the Report was widely condemned by many
who had practical knowledge of the actual conditions. However, the bad publicity given it in England was lasting and widespread. Babette Smith believes Molesworth’s “version of the convict stain” was to infect the colonists themselves. The seeds of shame had been sown.

For many years afterwards there was a conspiracy of silence, both in government and private circles, to keep convict ancestry a secret. Babette Smith points out that, even as late as the 1950s, hundreds of priceless photographs of convicts were destroyed when the old Fremantle Gaol was
being renovated. Even more indicative of secrecy was the controversy that arose, as recently as 1980, when the 1828 Census was privately published by Johnson and Sainty of the Library of Australian History. Amongst other things it disclosed which people living in 1828 had come as convicts.

The 1980 publication angered some people who saw it as a threat to their ancestors’ reputations. However, “more enlightened academics” took a different view, and information about our pioneers, convicts and otherwise, is happily now freely available. The outdated sensitivities have now been discarded to the dustbin and many older Australians have come to be delighted to find they have a dinky-di convict amongst their ancestors. It may not be stretching the imagination to suggest
that Australia over recent decades has recaptured the pride so unsympathetically beaten out of it 160 and more years ago.

(Babette Smith was Guest Speaker at our Family History meeting 6 November 2010.)
Max Farley

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Built Heritage - Redleaf Chambers

Thanks to Society member, Kathie Rieth, for granting permission to publish some of the articles she has written for the Society newsletter. Her work on researching buildings in our local area should reach a new audience via this blog. Redleaf Chambers which appeared in the July 2010 newsletter is the subject of our first shared article

Redleaf Chambers
Redleaf Chambers sits at the junction of Railway and Redleaf Avenues, Wahroonga where the roundabout channels traffic through the shopping village and across the railway line. With its curved fa├žade, ornate brickwork, greenglazed brick trims and smart green and cream striped sunblinds, it is a landmark for all Wahroonga residents.

I really like this building, and am pleased it has survived. It has real style - it has pizzaz! I wonder about the man who commissioned it and what the locals thought when it was built. Did they hate it or love it? And what do people think of it now? Surprisingly Redleaf Chambers is not listed on Council’s LEP. It certainly has architectural and municipal significance, two parameters for which buildings are usually nominated.

It was designed in 1937 for local estate agent Malcolm McFadyen by Frank l’Anson Bloomfield, architect for the first crematorium to be built in NSW (Rookwood), and Northern Suburbs Crematorium, and winner with Spencer of the 1950 Sulman Prize for the Top Dog Factory,

McFadyen (1860-1949) was prominent in Wahroonga’s business community and served a number of terms on Council. He lived and worked in Wahroonga from about 1905 when he took over the newsagency in Coonanbarra Road. Within three years he had become a house and land agent, his ads stating “save time by consulting the local man”, and by 1911 had moved to premises in Railway Avenue.

He was a Ku-ring-gai councillor 1911-1913, 1917-1925 and elected Deputy President for 1922 and 1925. In May 1921, along with WS Griffiths and JG Lockley, he was appointed to an advisory town planning committee that examined subdivision plans, regulated setbacks and the like. In 1929, McFadyen strongly opposed the erection of flats in the municipality, stating “The flat dweller belongs to the floating population of the big cities and is of no value to the community”. It seems McFadyen modified his view, because when Redleaf Chambers was completed it was described as “five lock-up shops and flats”. Valued at £5500 it was a substantial and ambitious project for the then-small  shopping centre.

In January 1938 he was advertising for tenants - “Wahroonga, Redleaf Chambers, overlooking the Park, at station, 3 professional rooms, moderate rental to right person.” No mention of flats. Perhaps for a short time people lived there, perhaps McFadyen himself, though by 1943 he was living in 12 Bundarra Avenue with his wife Maggie and elder daughter Sylvia. Eventually the McFadyens moved to Queensland, where their two sons, Roy and Kenneth, and married daughter Millicent had lived for some time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Family History Meeting - July

Our next Family History Group Meeting will be held in the Gordon Library Meeting Rooms on Saturday 6th July. The program for the day's activities follows:

11.00 am      New Zealand resources on the intranet and internet. Pauline Weeks will be in attendance.
 2.00 pm      General Meeting followed by a Members' Forum My latest successful or unsuccessful research

Visitors are welcome to join us for the meeting and afternoon tea.