Fernances Country – the Real Story

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

You are now entering Fernances Country [Photo Max Farley]

You are now entering Fernances Country [Photo source Max Farley]

Everyone who has travelled up Brush Creek Road knows the prominent sign declaring the entrance to Fernances Country. There certainly are Fernances in the vicinity but with many families living higher up Cedar Brush Creek, it clearly does not imply that the Fernances ever claimed all the land from that point on. Not everyone knows why the sign is there. The explanation comes from Macka Fernance of Cedar Brush Creek.

Along the Great North Road towards Wollombi the Road crosses a creek. At the crossing point there was a Fernances Crossing sign. It seems that many, many years ago a Brush Creek lady had a night out at the Wollombi hotel. Driving home after a few drinks she succumbed to an impulse to souvenir the sign. This she duly did, perhaps with the help of a companion. Her intention had been to give it to her near neighbours, the Fernances. In sober mood the next morning, she had second thoughts and decided to do no more about it. She therefore left it in her garage. The years passed and the time came for her to move away from the Valley and this involved clearing out her garage.

The authorities by then had long since replaced the sign and its loss was no longer an issue. No one by then would bother to ask questions if the original sign re-appeared. So the lady belatedly gifted it to Macka’s father, Keith Fernance, who was the Fernance family’s patriarch at the time.

Keith felt the sign should not be hidden any longer but be put to good use. He knew someone who was connected with a local body which concerned itself with these things and arranged the word “Crossing” to be replaced with “Country.” This was how the Fernances Country landmark was born. Long may it remain where it is.

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SOURCES: Max Farley.

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Patriotic Race Meetings

Not even WW2 stopped the folks of Yarramalong Valley and Wyong enjoying a day at the races. Even in those highly regulated wartime days they staged race days and did so with all the trimmings punters expect.

Country Race Meeting

Bill BOTTOMLEY’s book Back Then carries a quote from Keith FERNANCE:

Keith: I should tell you about the horse races we used to have at Yarramalong in the war years – the Patriotic Race Meetings. You know where the bottom (Yarramalong) cemetery is? Well the racecourse was beside that long straight. It was about three and a half furlongs. It started off with saddle horses and anyone’s horse around the place, then, when they started betting they were bringing in old racehorses and all sorts of things … It was a pretty good track. They had a bookmaker there, and they had a licence to sell grog, and an eating house.

Bottomley: And this name – “Patriotic Race Meeting”… ?

Keith: It was the only way they could get a licence. The money went to the war effort or something.

Then as now, regulations or not, life and the races went on.

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SOURCES: These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.