The Towrang Convict Stockade was the chief convict camp in the southern district of the New South Wales Colony from about 1833 to 1843. The Stockade site is located next to the Hume Highway, twelve kilometres north of Goulburn, New South Wales.
The convicts housed here were engaged in the construction of the Great South Road from Sydney to Goulburn under the Surveyor General, Sit Thomas Mitchell.
At all times there were approximatey two hundred and fifty convicts at Towrang. Harsh discipline was imposed. Convicts slept on bare boards with a blanket each and ten men to a cell.
We visited the site of the Stockade on a trip to Canberra earlier this year.
On the southern side of the Highway, near the Rest Area, we found the Towrang Bridge and six stone culverts which have not been affected by modern day roadworks to the main highway.
The keystone of the Towrang Bridge reads 1839. Many consider the bridge was designed by David Lennox, who was responsible for Prospect Bridge and the Lapstone Bridge in the Blue Mountains.
On the northern side of the highway is the actual site of the Stockade. This is truly fascinating to explore although it involved a trek through some very grass.
The remains here include:
1) Powder Magazine situated on the bank of the Wollondilly River. It is thought that the Magazine was used to store the blasting powder used on the road construction.
2) Rubble Heaps of the Stockade Buildings. The soldier’s quarters and convict huts were of wood and stone construction. The Stockade buildings were laid out in the form of a hollow square on a ridge running down to the Powder Magazine. Another row of huts was located closer to the river where there still remain a row of heaps of rubble. Another row of huts was located on the upper side of the main quadrangle.
3) Weir built for the stockade.
4) Cemetery. Only three headstones remain in the cemetery across Towrang Creek from the Stockade, where both soldiers and convicts were buried. The inscription on one headstone reads:
'Sacred to the Memory of John Moxey, Private Soldier 80th who departed this life 16 November 1838, aged 38 years, 22 years service. Remember me as you pass by as you are now so once was I, as I am now so you must be, prepare for death follow me. This stone was erected by his comrades as a token of respect towards a good and deserving soldier’.
Another headstone is to the memory of Elizabeth Weiticker, died June 9th, 1841, aged 33 years and the third is to Mary Brown, died 25th June, 1841, aged 4 years and 1 month.
A sign at the Cemetery site states that the following three persons may be also buried here:
"James Fielder – By the Guildford buried 17 February 1839, and
Monks – By the Lancashire, buried 15 February 1839, who were killed by blast exploding.
John Feagon [Fagan] – By the Minerva, buried 27 August 1840.
Other convicts are recorded as dying at the Convict hospital, Goulburn and by drowning (probably here in the Wollondilly River)."
James Fielder and John Fagan were both convicts.
History Services NSW has records on 32 convicts assigned to the Towrang (Tourang) Stockade.
The record for James Fielder (per Guildford 1824), coachman from Sussex England, reads:
- on arrival assigned to John Brabyn Esq;
- 1825 - government servant with Andrew Johnston, Wilberforce;
- 1828 - at Moreton Bay (3 year sentence);
- 1832 - absconded from Hyde Park Barracks - apprehended;
- 1833 - absconded from Parramatta Barracks since 16/6/1833;
- 1837 - with William Coghill, Berrima , aged 39 years;
- 1837 - absconded from W Coghill Bong Bong since 20/4/1837;
- 1837 - absconded from W Coghill, New Wick, Newcastle since 4/9/1837 - apprehended;
- 1839 - died at Tourang Stockade on 17 /12/1839.