Monday, April 25, 2011

Conscript Pass and Lorna Brand

It is a long trek down to Conscript Pass from Thornleigh Oval (NSW) but there is an interesting history behind it.

In the Great Depression of the 1930's, a Thornleigh local, Lorna Brand raised money for the construction of a walking track near the Lane Cove River as a way of providing relief work for the unemployed. The track is known as Lorna Pass and is now part of the Great North Walk. It begins just behind Thornleigh Oval at the the rock (pictured at left) with the left pointing arrow. It then goes parallel to the river for a short distance before looping back to the Comenarra Parkway.

An extension goes down to the river through a spot called Conscript Pass. Here there are rock carvings done by the men who worked on the track. Firstly their initials (in the main photo above) and then the caricature of Sir Bertram Stevens, the Premier of New South Wales from 1932 to 1939 (pictured at right) .

If you are in interested in early Australian History or are researching a convict ancestor go to our website at:

Cobb & Co at the Royal Easter Show

The display of Cobb & Co coaches at the this year's Royal Easter Show was an interesting find, giving us a new perspective on the information contained in the Mail Delivery Contracts and Contractors Database of History Services NSW

The colonial government of New South Wales required the services of thousands of contractors to deliver the mail throughout the State. History Services NSW has details of 12000 contracts awarded to persons to provide specific mail services over the period 1835 to 1901.

Cobb And Co, founded by Freeman Cobb and partners in 1854, is listed in the Database as having 253 mail routes.

Mr James Malone, a pioneer of the Braidwood district of NSW, drove the coach, as pictured above, to deliver mail from 1841. He was at first an employed driver for various contractors when the service ran once a week to Bungonia and then later twice weekly to Goulburn. Then in the days of the goldrushes in the Goulburn district, Malone in partnership with Mr J J Roberts took over the contract himself. He sold his rights to Cobb & Co in 1878.

History Services NSW records that James Malone was awarded 11 mail contracts from 1854 to 1877.

His sons were also mail contractors in the Braidwood district - Owen having 20 contracts, Luke 11, Hugh 5, and Patrick 2.

If you would like to research the details of the mail contracts awarded to the Malone family, or indeed any persons who had mail contracts for the period 1835 to 1901, go to our website at:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bow and Stern Miles Apart - HMAS Parramatta I

With the scuttling of HMAS Adelaide off North Avoca on Wednesday 13 April 2011, it is interesting to contemplate what happens to Navy ships when they have served their time.

Take the HMAS Parramatta I for example. This was the first ship (a torpedo boat destroyer and the last class of British warship designed with an outboard rudder) to be built for the Commonwealth Naval Forces which later became the Royal Australian Navy. She was commissioned on 1 September 1910. A After seeing service in the First World War in the Pacific, South-east Asia and then the Mediterranean, the Parramatta returned to Australia before being fully decommissioned on 20 April 1928.

The ship was then stripped of parts and sold, along with the HMAS Swan, to the NSW Penal Department and both were towed to Cowan Creek. Here the hulks were used as accommodation for prison labourers working on the roads along the Hawkesbury River. Later they were used to transport blue metal to Milson and Peat Islands.

On 2 Februaty 1934, the two ships were being towed down the Hawkesbury River for final breaking up in Sydney, when gale force winds struck. The Swan sank while the Parramatta ran aground in mangrove swamps opposite Milson Island and was abandoned.

In 1973, the bow and stern sections of HMAS Parramatta were salvaged by the Naval Historical Society of Australia and converted into memorials.

Today the stern stands proudly at Queens Wharf Reserve on the south bank of the Parramatta River at Parramatta (photo at left above), as a memorial to commemorate the service of all ships to bear the name Parramatta in the Royal Australian Navy.

The bow is situated at the Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney Harbour (photo at right above).

Fascinating to bring them "together" again!


If you are in interested in early Australian History or are researching a convict ancestor go to our website at:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Of Boundary Stones and Markers

On a visit to the Museum of Sydney, I came upon a boundary stone which was one of at least nine that were set around Sydney in 1833 to mark its boundaries.

The inscription on these boundary stones reads:
Majr Genl Rd Bourke C B

This find led me into some research on the boundary stones in the early Colony of New South Wales and a trip out to Parramatta. While the Sydney stones have mainly been removed, there are five still existing in Parramatta in their original locations. Mary and I located four of these , after much footwork at :
1) Alfred Street between Alice and Weston Streets, Harris Park;
2) Domain Creek in Parramatta Park;
3) Corner Of Boundary Road and Balfour Street, Northmead, off Kleins Road; and
4) under the bridge over the Parramatta River along James Ruse Drive, off Thomas Street. This is the best preserved as shown in the photo above. The inscriptions on the Parramatta stones read:
Sir Geo Gipps Knight

These town boundary stones were erected by David Lennox, master mason of Lennox Bridge (Parramatta) fame in 1839 using convict labour.

In the vein of marking out boundaries, we also came across a cast iron council boundary ward marker in Sydney Square near St Andrew's Cathedral.

Dating back to the time that the Sydney Municipal Council was formed in 1842, this boundary marker has been relocated, but was one of a series supplied to the Council in 1843 by P.N. Russell's Sydney Foundry, to mark the boundaries of the Council's wards. The markers read "Hosking Mayor 1842" with the appropriate ward name. The marker's name was stamped at the bottom: "P.N. Russell, Sydney Foundry".

History Services NSW has over 200 records of Government contracts awarded to the engineering works of P.N. Russell & Co. up to 1900, one being the supply of a pair of iron gates for the Toll House on the Glebe Island Bridge.

If you are interested in finding out the details of any of these government contract records, you can go our website at: