Wyong Pioneers Monthly Meetings

Wyong District Pioneers Association monthly meetings are held 10 times each year (on the third Saturday of each month) at Wyong Homestead Museum, 1 Cape Road Wyong. Meetings start at 10:00 am, are run on a semi-formal manner over morning tea and everyone present is welcome to share items of interest to the group.

Pioneer Monthly Meeting Dates for 2016 (3rd Saturday of each month):

  • Saturday 20 February + Centenary Photo Launch
  • Saturday 19 March
  • Saturday 16 April
  • Saturday 21 May
  • Saturday 18 June
  • Saturday 16 July
  • Saturday 20 August
  • Saturday 17 September
  • Saturday 15 October
  • Saturday 19 November + Christmas Party

Membership to the Pioneers Association is free, but all are paid members of the Wyong District Museum and Historical Society. The WDPA welcomes all those who are interested in the history of our great district.

The group is focusing on several new projects in 2016 and beyond, including rebuilding our archives and assisting the Wyong District Museum and Historical Society with volunteer work and fundraising. Whether you are a descendant of a pioneer or a new settler to the district, we invite you to join us in celebrating our rich local heritage.


Unearth Wyong Newsletter – July 2015

Published by Wyong District Museum & Historical Society
1 Cape Road, Wyong • PO Box 241, Wyong, 2259
Email: Info@alisonhomestead.com.au • Tel: 02 43521886

President: Greg Denning
Vice President: Liz Hogston
Secretary: Anita McCarthy
Committee Members: Alma Thompson, Pauline House, Chris Hodges

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We would like to extend a warm welcome to all our new members and volunteers both at the Museum and the Men’s Shed.


Construction has moved along quite quickly recently and the builders, Collaborative Construction Solutions, are pretty much on schedule, even with all the recent rain. This still gives us a bit of time to set up our displays and exhibits for our grand re-opening, scheduled for the long weekend in October.

A blend of the old and the new on the Alison Homestead rebuild

A blend of the old and the new on the Alison Homestead rebuild.

Alison Homestead Build_2015-06_004

The breezeway and kitchen will be a terrific space to hold our meetings and events.


We will be holding another fundraising BBQ at Bunnings Tuggerah on Saturday 31 October 2015. Again it will be ‘all hands on deck’, and if our last effort is anything to go by, it will be a very enjoyable and successful day.

Don’t forget we have plants available for sale, including Agapanthus, Hippiastrums, Bromeliads, Succulents, Canna Lillies, Frangipani (from original homestead stock) plus many other plant varieties as part of our ongoing fundraising efforts. Prices start at $2.50 and multiple purchases prices are negotiable. If you are interested in purchasing any plants, do not hesitate to either visit us here at the Museum, or ring us for information.

Plants for sale for as little at $2.50 each. Multiple purchases are negotiable.

Plants for sale for as little at $2.50 each. Multiple purchases are negotiable.


We will be celebrating our Museum grand re-opening on the October long weekend in conjunction with the Wyong District Pioneers Association which is celebrating their centenary. We anticipate that we will be able to conduct tours, bookings etc after 6 October 2015.


Edward Stinson’s piano has been kindly donated to the Museum and, very fittingly, was delivered by bullock dray. We have also received a beautiful “Duchess” Empire Ware tea set circa 1930 from Elizabeth McDonald who also donated a piano circa 1911, with piano seat and sheet music.

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We would appreciate a donation of any old materials or sheets to be used as drop covers over the artefacts being prepared for display. Our gardeners would also appreciate donations of black plastic for the plant nursery.

Alison Homestead Men’s Shed


Wally at the  Men’s Shed, a cabinetmaker by trade, is hoping to get permission from Council to build our cabinets for the Alison and Stinson Rooms at the homestead. The men have also restored a beautiful tallboy cabinet, which had been donated by Jenny and Peter Cooper. Jenny and Peter came along to look at the restored cabinet and were very pleased with the results.

Don’t forget, if you have, or know anyone who has, an old bicycle they would like to donate, it can be left at the gate to the Homestead for Kerry to restore and donate to various charities.

Re-cycle Bikes

Historical Note

Ezekiel John (Yorkie) Waters

Jack (Yorkie) Waters, was from one of the local Yarramalong pioneer families. He was a timber-getter and an expert in various woods, having vast experience in cutting wood. “Yorkie,” as he was known, won the championship at the Sydney Exhibition in 1908 by cutting a railway sleeper in 4.5 minutes.

Ezekiel John Waters enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1916. He served in the 30th Battalion during WW1 and saw action in France. Due to serious injuries during the war, he was later unfit for hard work.

Yorkie Waters working n one of his violins.

Ezekiel John (Yorkie) Waters working on one of his violins.

Yorkie started collecting various pieces of wood and began making violins, his first was made of swampy oak. He made other violins out of woods such as silky oak, white beech, sassafras and honey suckle. Jack also made his own polishing varnish which he mixed from four different species of gum. Many of the violins made by Yorkie were named Coo-ee, except for one that his daughter Jillian Eugenia Peterson [nee Waters] owned, which is called Sadie.

Yorkie often played free for the patrons of Peter’s Cafe at Wyong and also played at many of the local bush dances. After his death Yorkie’s own violin was kept by friends for many years and then generously donated to our museum.

Miraculously the violin is a rare surviver of the fire which destroyed much of museum collection in December 2011. “Yorkie’s Coo-ee violin” will soon be on display in the re-built Alison Homestead Museum to be appreciated by everyone.

Cooee Violin_20111207

Former WDM&HS President Phil Morley holding Yorkie Waters’ Coo-ee violin in front of the burnt-out homestead in December 2011.

If anyone has any questions about the local area or the Museum specifically, please email us and we will endeavour to answer your questions in our next newsletter.

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Notice of Annual General Meeting

NOTICE is hereby given to all members of Wyong District Museum & Historical Society that the next Annual General Meeting will be held at Alison Homestead,1 Cape Road, Wyong, on Saturday 8 August, 2015 at 11:00 am.

Nominations are invited for election of Committee Members. Completed nomination Forms should be received by the Secretary no later than seven (7) days before the meeting. The positions vacant will be:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Three General Members

Nomination forms are available by contacting Wyong District Museum & Historical Society office • Email: Info@alisonhomestead.com.au • Tel: 02 43521886. Please note only fully paid-up members are eligible to nominate, or be nominated for a position and be eligible to vote at the meeting.

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Catch up with you next edition, cheers for now.

Chris Hodges (Writer & Editor)

Who are the pioneers and settlers of the Central Coast?

Wyong District Pioneers Logo_Colour

Are you one? 

This is a question anyone can ask.

At the Wyong & District Pioneers Association meetings and dinners, a few lines penned by Lorna Clayton are recited:

They toiled before sun rise,
And long after it had set.

They helped to build the nation,
Our pioneers we should not forget.

This ode echoes the motto of the Pioneers – “No pioneer will ever be forgotten.”

These men and women were our ‘originals’ who took up selections, received grants from the government, cleared the virgin bush to make way for the first farms and settlements in Australia.

In 1914 a group of adventurous pioneering men who had contributed so much to the growth of the Wyong and Tuggerah Lakes District, met at the Grand Hotel, Wyong for the first pioneers get-together. Two informal dinners were held that year.

Then in 1915, the first official Brisbane Water District Pioneer Association dinner was held which included the Wyong area. There were forty present at the first dinner in 1915 and many recalled their experiences of “the good old days”.

There were a few years during WWI and WWII when dinners were not held, but the annual gathering of pioneers and their descendants continued well into the 1950s. The association disbanded after one of the last original members, Gersh Baker died; but was later renewed by his son Mick Baker, as the Wyong & District Pioneers Association, which continues to this day.

These pioneers blazed the way for new settlers who arrived in the early 1900s when land was sub-divided into small farm holdings. These settlers brought with them new names, skills and experiences to add to our rich history.

In every decade since, there have been new settlers who have planted roots and made their mark on our district. Many pioneer and settler family names live on through their descendants.

Anyone moving into the Wyong shire these days is undoubtedly one of our newest settlers – many moving into new estates, schools, businesses etc. They and their descendants will continue to build on our rich heritage, generation after generation.

Where do you fit – are you a pioneer, descendant, or a new settler?

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Written by Faye Maloney

Pioneers’ Dinner – 1923

A Born Raconteur

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 13 December 1923


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.

Alison Homestead Rebuild – Update

Our 300+ members, on-the-whole, are extremely disheartened with the lack of progress on the Alison Homestead rebuild.

Since the arson attack in December 2011 destroyed the homestead, which housed our Museum and Historical Society, the heritage site has been left in this sad state.

Alison Homestead, Wyong - July 2014, two and a half years after the arson attack.

Alison Homestead, Wyong – July 2014, two and a half years after the arson attack.

It is very depressing for our dedicated volunteers at the Museum who have been working hard to recover and catalogue the remains of our collection and resources.

The Deputy Mayor, Lynne Webster and Manager Community Partnerships & Planning, Julie Vaughan attended our Pioneers monthly meeting in June. A large number of our community raised concerns about the lack of progress and the continuing delays to the rebuild.

Julie acknowledged that initially the project was off-track for quite a while; but for the past 15 months she and her team have been working on the project it has been progressing well.

The homestead was insured for approx $586,000 for replacement of the building. In order to achieve development applications with current building codes (fire regulations, disabled access, driveways, parking etc), the cost estimate is around $1,000,000 to complete the building and to receive a certificate of occupancy.


Council are liaising and negotiating with the insurers to cover the additional costs of the project associated with rebuilding.

All indications are that provided the full insurance claim is accepted they will continue to work to the timeline in the Alison Homestead Rebuild Update – June 2014:

  • Invite tenders for construction (July 2014)
  • award tender (September 2014)
  • construction from beginning of 2015 to mid-2015.

If all goes to plan we can expect the building to be up and running by September 2015 in time for our Pioneer Centenary Celebrations on the October long weekend.

Fingers crossed there are no further delays. We will be keeping the pressure on Council to deliver on time.

Pioneering Personalities: Matthew James Woodbury – 1838-1921

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




Woodbury MJ_1838-1921_Portrait_01

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.

Unearth Wyong Newsletter – June 2014

Published by Wyong District Museum & Historical Society

President: Greg Denning
Vice President: Liz Hogston
Secretary: Anita McCarthy
Treasurer: Ellie Young
Committee Members: Ian Smith, Sue Geary and Sue Dibley

We would like to extend a warm welcome to all our new members and volunteers both at the Museum and the Men’s Shed.

If you are interested in preserving our local history and would like to help support the Museum and historic Alison Homestead we encourage you to become a member:

  • $15 single per annum
  • $25 family per annum

Membership fees for the year 2014/15 are due on 1/7/14.

Contact: Secretary of Wyong District Museum & Historical Society, PO Box 241, Wyong NSW 2259, Phone: (02) 4352 1886 or Email: lnfo@alisonhomestead.com.au


Not surprisingly, construction has again been pushed back, but the Mayor says commencement is definitely starting in September. Hopefully this is the last change to the starting date.



We still have a variety of plants available for sale as part of our ongoing fundraising efforts. If you are interested, do not hesitate to either visit us here at the Homestead or ring us for information.


We recently received a grant from Wallarah 2 for the upgrade of the gardens.


From Oliver Gear we received a very old Encyclopedia of Medicine (circa 1900). We received a beautiful crystal dish and Wilkinson China jug and creamer from Jennifer Jackson (circa 1930-1940). We also received a dressmaker measure (circa 1900-1920) from Evelyn Freestone. A big thank you to all our donors.

Men’s Shed

Don’t forget, if you have, or know someone who has, an old bicycle they would like to donate, it can be left at the gate at the Homestead for Kerry to restore and donate to various charities.

Re-cycle Bikes

Historical Note

Also of interest, the residents of Yarramalong celebrated the opening of the Yarramalong School Community Centre recently. The school includes two of the oldest stone buildings in Wyong Shire. It was thanks to a long campaign by the local residents that the site was saved from developers. A few local groups have already made use of the Community Centre for arts & craft and soon there will be a sculpture and photo exhibition.

Yarramalong School, circa 1882

Yarramalong School, circa 1882

If anyone is interested in writing a short reflection of their experiences growing up in Wyong Shire, including perhaps a bit of family and/or local history, I am sure this will interest many members. We can keep the information strictly for our records, or if permitted by you, we could publish some in our Newsletter (with or without your identity). It does not have to be long, just a few paragraphs will do.


We are again asking those members who are currently not on our email list, to please advise us of your email address so we can send your future Newsletters by email, as this will save a lot of postage expense and time.

Catch up with you next edition, cheers for now.

Chris Hodges (Writer & Editor)