Cow of a Trick – 1954

A humorous tale published in The Land, 23 July 1954. Can anyone recall hearing about this game? Do you know anyone who played in the football match?

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Cow of a Trick

A couple of weeks ago “The Land” reprinted Spencer’s poem, “How McDougall Topped the Score,” thanks to a trained dog seizing and scurrying around with a ball hit by a batsman at a critical period of the play.

From Gosford comes a somewhat similar story, but with a different angle. It happened during the Gosford High School–Wyong football match.

Gosford was leading when a cow strayed on the field and took a dim view of either the Gosford boys or their jerseys. Anyhow, Gosford boys were not on familiar terms with the animal and stopped at her challenge.

But a Wyong player, running beside the beast, raced 50 yards without interference from boy or cow and scored the winning try.

Gosford boys reckoned it was a cow of a trick to play.

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SOURCES: Trove Digital Newspaper ArchiveAustralian Poetry Library website.

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Gold in the Wollombi Hills?

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This news report of a new goldfield in the Wollomi Hills west of Wyong, was published just six months after gold was first discovered in New South Wales.

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Gold found in the Wollomi Hills. Source: The Empire, Sydney, 15 August 1851

On February 12, 1851, Edward Hammond Hargraves (1816–1891) discovered gold near Bathurst, at Lewis Ponds Creek. Hargraves had recently returned from the California Gold Rush where he had been unsuccessful in finding the mother load; but he realised that some areas of New South Wales had similar geological features to the goldfields of California. This inspired him to return to Australia to prove gold could be found here.

Edward Hargraves was accompanied on his prospecting expedition by John Hardman Lister and James Tom, he showed them the tricks of the trade and how to pan for gold. When they found five flecks of gold, Hargraves went to Sydney alone and left the others to continue the search. He announced his discovery and received the £10,000 reward for being the first person to find gold and claim it. He was also appointed Commissioner for Crown Land for which the Victorian Government paid him £5,000. He only claimed £2,381 before the funds were frozen after James Tom protested. An enquiry was held in 1853 which upheld that Hargraves was the first to discover a goldfield. Shortly before his death in 1891 a second enquiry found that John Lister and James Tom were responsible for discovering the first goldfield.

Edward Hammond Hargraves (1816-1891)

Edward Hammond Hargraves (1816-1891)

The following news report from the South Australian Register, Wednesday 3 March 1852, gives a progress report on Edward Hargraves’ travels as Commissioner of Crown Lands, and reports his opinion that Wollombi would never prove to be a prospector’s paradise.

We are happy to announce that Mr. Hargraves yesterday reached Maitland on his way to the various auriferous localities disclosed to the northward. As the result of Mr. Hargraves’s prospecting tour southward has been made public by the Government, we need not now advert to it. Mr. Hargraves left Sydney a few days since for his northern tour, overland, provided with two men, pack horses, &c.; and occupying a day or two around Brisbane Water, he ascertained that the Wyong Creek (flowing from the Wollombi Hills to the sea, and on which some time since it was reported gold had been found) was not an auriferous country, and that any gold found there must have been taken there first.

We believe Mr. H. leaves Maitland this morning for the Paterson, from whence he will make his way over towards the Company’s Stations, Port Stephens, and thence will take the ‘Bridle-Path’ to the New England tableland. Then, selecting Tamworth, or some other convenient place as head-quarters, he will visit the various auriferous localities disclosed to the Mate Maitland Gold Reward Committee, and if which the Government was informed by that Committee, and will also visit the Hanging Rock Diggings, or other new auriferous localities in that quarter, of which authentic information is furnished. Then, proceeding further north, he will make his way to the various auriferous localities stated to be found towards Moreton Bay.

The object of this prospecting tour is, we believe, not so much to discover new fields, as to ascertain and verify the character and extent of those disclosed by various individuals with a view to report thereon to the Government, who are desirous as early as possible of verifying and making public the existence of any profitabe gold fields that may be found in this or any other portion of the colony. Bearing this in mind, it will be seen that Mr. Hargraves’s movements must be necessarily somewhat erratic and uncertain, as at any part of this tour disclosures may be made in the northern districts that may modify the arrangements he has now in view.”

Hargraves was never a gold miner and instead made money from writing and lecturing about the Australian goldfields. He wrote a book about his discovery titled Australia and its Goldfields: a historical sketch of the Australian colonies from the earliest times to the present day with a particular account of the recent gold discoveries., published in 1855.

In 1856, Hargraves purchased 640 acres of land at Noraville and Budgewoi on the Central Coast of New South Wales. He built a large homestead and stockyards, and his property produced most of the food required for his family, his servants and his numerous guests. In 1877, Hargraves was granted a pension of £250 per year by the Government of New South Wales, which he received until his death.

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Even if, in Edward Hargraves’ opinion, the Wollomi Hills are not “auriferous country” – I think I may invest in a second-hand metal detector and do a spot of prospecting next time I am in the area. You never know!

SOURCES: Trove Digital Newspaper Archive; Australian Dictionary of Biography; C. Swancott, The Brisbane Water Story, vol 4; A Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Volume 1-5, Edward Stinson. Panning for Gold illustration, Susan Buck.

Wyong Wood Chopping

A meeting of local woodchoppers of the Wyong and Yarramalong district, c1900.

A meeting of local wood choppers of the Wyong and Yarramalong district, circa 1900.

It was like “knocking off work to carry bricks”! The timber cutters would come down from the mountains to Wyong in their hundreds on Saturdays to get supplies and to relax. Many (but not all) would go to the hotels and drink pretty heavily; and they would take plenty of liquor back with them to their camps in the hills to last them for the coming week. It was good business for the hotel keepers.

Wood chopping became a popular sport on Saturday afternoons in hotel yards, or in paddocks, and later at the Warner Sports Ground in Wyong after it was opened in 1907.

The Referree, 14 October 1903

Woodchopping contest at Yarramalong. The Referee, 14 October 1914.

Woodchopping contest at Yarramalong. The Referee, 14 October 1914.

Gosford Times, 15 December 1905

The Axeman’s Club looks forward to giving next Saturday one of the best wood chopping contents that have yet been seen in the district, which is saying a lot considering the successful events we have witnessed during the last year or two. The number of entries totals 60 – a record surely in itself. All the champions are coming so the event will be sure to attract a “bumper house”. Now, Mr Charlton, M.P. has promised to be present, and other representative men are also expected. The squaring contest will probably be one of the best that has ever taken place. The conditions are – the best two sleepers, the time limit being twenty minutes. The winner’s sleepers are to be sent by the Australian Timber Export Co. Ltd. to the Indian Exhibition. All competitors are to be admitted to the ground free. The club has now eighty members, and has prospects which must be very gratifying to those who have worked so hard during the few months it has been in existence.

Singleton Argus, 25 August 1906

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Notice of the handicaps for the wood chopping at the 1906 Singleton Show. Many of the names listed are Wyong and Yarramalong Valley identities. Singleton Argus, 25 August 1906.

Wood chopping became a popular event at regional shows. There was often good prize money to be had and our “gun” timber cutters were willing to travel as far afield as Newcastle, Maitland, Sydney and Bathurst to compete.

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 SOURCES: A Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Volume 1-5, Edward Stinson; Trove Digital Newspaper Archive.

Pioneers’ Dinner – 1923

A Born Raconteur

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 13 December 1923

BRISBANE WATER PIONEERS’ DINNER

WYONG. Wednesday.

The ninth annual reunion of the Brisbane Water pioneers took place at Wyong race course dining rooms on Saturday last, there being an attendance of 38, ranging in age from 84 to 70. Many stories of the olden times were unfolded, and Mr. George Taylor (aged 84 years), Mr. Dad Finley (aged 80 years), Mr. Joe Fagan (aged 77 years), and others, related experiences with aboriginals and bushrangers. Old-time cricket matches were re-played, and sports meetings recalled. Old-time songs and recitations were rendered. By common consent, Ned Barden, of Catherine Hill Bay, was voted the pioneers’ greatest raconteur.

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SOURCES: Trove Digital Newspaper Archive; Illustration ‘A Born Raconteur’ from Project Gutenberg EBookMr. Punch’s After-Dinner Stories.

Warner Estate – 1915

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In 1903 Albert Hamlyn Warner bought 12,000 acres to the north and east of the Wyong township and subdivided the land into small farms, weekend blocks and shop sites.

The Warner Estate, property prospectus, published by Albert and Leslie Warner in 1915, advertised blocks highly suitable for productive farming as well as weekend river and lake-front blocks at very reasonable terms.

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Weekend blocks were sold for £1 deposit and they boasted, “absolute water frontage, with no mud, sharks or sand flies.”

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In 1915 lake-front land sold from £12 per acre. That would be the equivalent of only $1030 per acre today (according to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s inflation calculator).

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This is just a taste of the rich history and the many fascinating stories to be told by the historians and descendants of the pioneering families in the Wyong and Tuggerah Lakes district.

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SOURCES: Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Reserve Bank of Australia’s inflation calculator.

Pioneering Personalities: Matthew James Woodbury – 1838-1921

Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday 1 April 1921, page 10 (re-printed from Gosford Times)

MATTHEW JAMES WOODBURY.

THE GRAND OLD MAN OF WYONG.

 

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Matthew James Woodbury (1838-1921)

There passed away at 11 o’clock on Sunday night, 20th March, 1921, a man who will never be forgotten as long as Wyong endures, for he was the father of Wyong, and every inhabitant loved him as a child loves a parent. He truly possessed every virtue in high degree; he was gentleness personified; a man of truth, and his word was his bond.

Born on the Mangrove over 83 years ago, his father being an Australian, he came of long-lived people, for his mother died at about 89 and his grandmother at 100. Remaining on the Mangrove till he was 18 years of age, he then proceeded to the Snowy River gold fields at the very time when the white diggers had made a raid upon the Chinese, gold miners, and cut their long pig tails off.

Some time later he found his way to the Wollombi, and thence to the Cedars, Wyong, where and at his late residence he resided 55 years. Hence he was one of the first pioneers that settled in the Wyong district. For half a century the dear old ‘Cedars’ was his home. In the far away days only two kinds of wood were extensively used, oak and cedar, the former for shingles and the latter for fine cabinet work. The timber and the shingles were carted to Maitland, and even slides were much in use when roads were impassable for drays. Away via Yarramalong and the Wollombi to Maitland was the route. In the bush 50 years ago there were practically no timber-getters, except shingle splitters and cedar cutters.

When about 27 years of age he married Miss Eliza O’Neill, of The Cedars. She was a lady beloved by her husband. Great was his grief when some seven years ago she passed away. He never ceased to mourn his loss, even though his children continually ministered unto his comfort in the most loving manner.

His sorrowing daughters are Miss Woodbury, Mrs. W. A. Chapman, Mrs. W. Baldwin, and Miss O. Woodbury, and his sons, Councillor W. B. Woodbury, and Mr. Edwin Woodbury, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.

Our late friend was the Chairman of the Directors of the Wyong Butter Factory, and had been Chairman from the inception of the company. His very last conversations were about the re-building of the factory on the ideal old site.

He possessed a wonderful memory, and up to within a few hours of his end, his mental faculties were unimpaired. He knew he was nearing The Bar, and was much comforted to see a number of his devoted children round his bedside.

The remains were brought to his beloved church, where service was conducted by Rev. Father Herlihy, and thence removed, by procession to the Jilliby cemetery, where a very solemn service was followed by a most eloquent address by the priest, which will be treasured in the memory of Protestants and Catholics alike for years to come as a grand tribute to a good man. The immense concourse, testified to the worth and to the nobility of character of Matthew James Woodbury. Numerous wreaths and floral tributes were offered by loving friends.

Memorial to Matthew James Woodbury and his wife Eliza at Jilliby Cemetery [photo source: Susan Buck]

Memorial to Matthew James Woodbury and his wife Eliza O’Neill at Jilliby Cemetery [photo source: Susan Buck 2014]

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SOURCES: Trove Digital Newspaper Archive; NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Indexes; Photo of M. J. Woodbury from Blue Gum Flat to Budgewoi, Charles Swancott, 1963.

Five Woodbury Flowers

These ladies were the daughters of Matthew James Woodbury pioneer inn-keeper and timber-getter of the Wyong district, and his wife Eliza O’Neill. They are seen here dressed-up at a flower show in about 1904, All five were deeply involved in raising funds for the building of their church, and for various local charities. Matthew and Eliza also had two sons, Edwin and William Bernard Woodbury. A sixth daughter Elizabeth died in her infancy.

These ladies were the daughters of Matthew James Woodbury, pioneer innkeeper and timber-getter of the Wyong district. Seen here dressed up at a flower show in about 1905, they were deeply involved in raising funds for the building of their church, and for various local charities. A sixth daughter died in infancy. Back L-R: Alice Gertrude (known as Olive, Mrs Michael Hogan); Ethel Lilian (known as Lily, Mrs William Baldwin); Maud Mary (Mrs Thomas Lloyd); Front L-R: Teresa Amy (known as Amy, Mrs William Arthur Chapman); Cecelia Ann (known as Cissy), in memory of whom Wyong’s St Cecelia’s Catholic Church was named.

Five Woodbury girls – Back L-R: Olive Gertrude (known as Olive, Mrs Michael Hogan); Ethel Lilian (known as Lily, Mrs William Baldwin); Maud Mary (Mrs Thomas Lloyd); Front L-R: Teresa Amy (known as Amy, Mrs William Arthur Chapman); Cecilia Ann (known as Cissy).

Cecilia Ann died in 26 April 1905 in her 33rd year. Wyong’s St Cecilia’s Catholic Church was named in her memory. The following report from the Freeman’s Journal, Thursday 16 April 1908, highlights the upcoming opening of the new church.

Wyong's New Church : Freeman's Journal, Thursday 16 April 1908

Wyong’s New Church : Freeman’s Journal, Thursday 16 April 1908

St Cecelias Catholic Church, Wyong, circa 1910

St Cecilia’s Catholic Church, Wyong, circa 1908

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SOURCES: Trove Digital Newspaper Archive; NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical IndexesDiocese of Broken Bay websiteA Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Edward Stinson.