Sunday, March 28, 2010

Governor Macquarie Visits Newcastle

Governor Macquarie made three visitis to Newcastle during his term of office.

On 5 th August 1818, he laid the foundation stone for the construction of a breakwater to be built from the mainland to Nobbys Headland. This was to be known as the Macquarie Pier. It was to be built using convict labour and rock quarried from the Fort Scratchley area (then Signal Hill). The Pier was not completed till 1846 but was very strategic in making the Port of Newcastle what is it today.

On the previous Sunday, 2nd August 1818, Governor Macquarie officially named the newly completed "Christ-Church". He has commissioned this to be built in 1817 and it was designed by the convict artist, Joseph Lycett. Today the present church stands as the magnificent Christchurch Cathedral at the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

We visited Nobbys recently and did some exploring. Nobbys was previously known as Hackings Point and Coal Island. But from the earliest days of the Colony of New South Wales, it was always known that there was coal at Newcastle.

On the seaward side of Nobbys Headland, I found what appears to be the brickwork of an entrance to an old coal mine. Another interesting discovery was that of part of the old railway line out to the headland.

History Services NSW has extensive records of convicts who were assigned to the Newcastle area, including those who laboured at Nobbys. It is recorded that two convicts, viz, John Reddish (per Earl Grey 1838) and John Atkins (per Dick 1821) "absconded from Nobby's island off Newcastle, in a boat on 12/5/1842" . The latter "was in irons".

If you are researching a convict ancestor who was assigned to the Newcastle area, you should go to our website at:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Red Cow Inn

We lunched recently at the ever popular Sydney Rowing Club at Abbotsford Point overlooking the Parramatta River.

There is one wall in the Club preserved as containing the only remaining sandstone bricks of the Red Cow Inn (originally named the Red House and later the 'King's Arms") and Cottage built in 1837 on this spot.

The four corner holding nails of the plaque on this wall are hand-made square nails used in the flooring of the original cottage.

Today, the rivercats service the busy Abbotsford Wharf at Abbotsford Point.

In 1832, from this location on the Five Dock Farm, a punt service was established to carry people, horses and carriages across the Parramatta River to Bedlam Point. For many years this was the only river crossing between Sydney Town and points north on the Great North Road to Wisemans Ferry and New England.

The Red Cow Inn was a popular watering hole for travellers crossing the River to Bedlam Point and also for those travelling by water between Sydney Town and Parramatta.

In the Convict Database, History Services NSW has records of convicts assigned to the Fivedock area. For example, John Taylor (per Asia) who is recorded as "having absconded from William Wilson, Parramatta Road, Five Dock since 4/10/1843"

If you are researching a convict in the Five Dock area, you should go to our website at:

Also in the Hotel and Liqour Licensees Database, History Services NSW has a complete index of over 52,000 persons who were licensed in the New South Wales liqour industry from 1856 to 1900.

For further information go to:

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Ghost Train to Toronto

On the weekend, Mary and I travelled to Toronto for a friend's 60 th Birthday celebration.

Toronto is on the west side of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. It is a beautiful spot and we intend to come back with our group of friends later in the year.

With an eye to its history, we could not resist to see what Toronto had to offer.

Firstly we found the old railway station which is no longer operational. It closed in 1990 after 91 years of serving the local passenger community. Oroginally a tramway was constructed in 1891 from Fassifern Railway station to Toronto. A variety of steam engines was used on this line including a horsedrawn carriage. The line was converted to a branch railway in 1911 terminating at Toronto. Many thousands of passengers travelled here for holidays at Lake Maquarie over the years, including the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) who visited Toronto in June of 1920.

Next we found a plaque commemorating the site of Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld's second Mission for Aborigines which he established in 1830 on his 1280 acre land grant "Derambambah".

History Services NSW
has some 20 records of convicts assigned to the Reverend Threlkeld in the Newcastle area, including one Charles Adams who arrived in the Colony in March 1823. He was assigned to Government House in Parramatta in April 1823. In 1828 at age 22 years, Adams is recorded as being a "servant" and a 'bullock driver' with Rev E Threlkeld, Lake Macquarie.

If you are researching a convict ancestor who was assigned to Reverend Threlkeld , you should go to our website at: