Kennedy’s Flat

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

Kennedy’s Flat, for those who may not recognise the name, is the flat area along Yarramalong Road stretching westwards from Wyong Creek Hall almost to Boyd’s Lane. In earlier times it was a popular place for picnics and sporting events such as horse racing and wood chopping competitions.

Kennedy's Flat, Wyong Creek. [Google Maps]

Kennedy’s Flat, Wyong Creek. [Google Maps]

The name comes from that of William Kennedy about whom little is known other than that he was one of the very first Valley settlers. He came to the Valley in about 1854 and had 100 acres which included Kennedy’s Flat which is now dissected by Yarramalong Road.

The information about him in these notes is based on probabilities rather confirmed fact. What appears to be his death record says he was born in Ireland in 1814. It is likely he came freely to Australia in 1841/42. Why he did so is not known. Beryl Strom’s book History and Heritage (1982) merely says he was “of Sydney”.

Before residing in the Valley he married Margaret McGuire in 1851 when he was 37 and she 32. This marriage is recorded at St Marys Cathedral. Margaret, too, was from Ireland and was born in 1819. The records say she had been here for 56 years when she died in 1908. This suggests her marriage and arrival dates coincided. It is not known (to the writer anyway) what brought her to Australia. William and Margaret had three children – Mary in 1852, Annie in 1857 and a son, Edward Charles “Ned” Kennedy in 1863. Mary’s birth was registered in Sydney and Annie’s in Gosford. There is no official record of Edward’s birth but a handwritten note in the family Bible says he was born in Wyong on 5 March, 1863. For even more reasons unknown, his presumed father, William, seems to have moved alone to Maitland at about the time of Edward’s birth. He reportedly died there twelve months’ later.

In 1865 his widow, Margaret, married Simon Waight whose name was sometimes given as “Waite” or “White”. Margaret was a well respected Wyong Creek resident and known locally as “Granny White”. Historian Charles Swancott (Blue Gum Flat To Budgewoi, page 80) said that she “introduced blackberries to Wyong Creek”. Not something to be proud of but possibly untrue. The weed was introduced to Australia in the 1830s and quickly spread. It is difficult to believe it was unknown in the Valley until 1855 though the Valley’s isolation may have been a factor. Margaret and Simon were to be buried in Yarramalong Cemetery with the headstone showing them as Simon and Margaret Waight. Her death record, however, has her as Margaret White. They had a son, George, who remained in the Valley.

Kennedy family historians still have work to do (some has already been done and is reflected in these notes) to confirm the birth and death details of William Kennedy and the birth information of son Edward Kennedy. Edward was well known and highly respected in the Valley and continued to live at Kennedy’s Flat. In 1905 he and his wife, Nellie Waters, had three of their children die within weeks of each other from what the Gosford Times of 31 March claimed to be cholera though the diagnosis is doubtful. The children are buried in Yarramalong Cemetery. They had other children most of whom retained a connection with the Wyong area. It is believed the original Kennedy home was replaced in about 1907. The very recognisable home, much extended, remains at 878 Yarramalong Road.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Google Maps.


Wallarobba Crossing

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

There are little bits of history all around us. The more of these one recognises, the more interest the Valley offers.

Have you noticed a 20 metre uncut strip of land on the northern side of Yarramalong Road stretching down to the River? It is opposite 184 Yarramalong Road.

Local poet Bruce Walker had this to say in his Wallarobba:

There’s a little grassy laneway runs off the road to Wyong Creek,
It’s the haven of green coolness on a hot day that we seek,
Made there by the Bullockys a hundred years ago,
A watering place for bullocks as they travelled to and fro.

Bullock Team at Yarramalong [photo source Gary Gavenlock]

Bullock Team at Yarramalong [Photo source: Gary Gavenlock]

Bruce Walker explained that three bullock teamsters bought the lane over 100 years ago to have access to water for their teams. Eventually it was given to Wyong Council and in 1990 Council decided to sell it. Locals objected. As a result it remains part of the Valley’s heritage.

The laneway led to a crossing place over Wyong River used by Aborigines for centuries. It is understood the area’s first grantee, William Cape, used it take his stock into Dooralong Valley. It was known as Wallarobba Crossing.

Rev. Alfred Glennie, the Church of England rector for Brisbane Water (1851–1863), mentioned it in his diary notes of 28 September 1859.

Why Wallarobba or “Wallarabba” as Rev Glennie had it? There is a Wallarobba in the Dungog Shire and there may be reason to link the two. But that is for discussion at another time.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Historic Wyong Shire DVD by Gary Gavenlock.