Geoff and I led an interesting tour through the Hawkesbury this week for the Kurrajong-Comleroy Historical Society, investigating the family of Andrew Johnston who designed and help build Ebenezer Church. Andrew Johnston and his wife, Mary Beard, arrived in Australia on the Coromandel in June 1802. After filling their required tenure at Toongabbie to learn how to farm in the colony, each of the Coromandel settler families were given grants of land to farm at Portland Head, beside the Hawkesbury River.
Andrew Johnston’s family intermarried with the family of George Hall and their descendants spread throughout the colony. Several members of the family settled in the Hunter Valley, eg Dartbrook Station. During our tour through the Hawkesbury, we drove past Spring Hill (photo of barn at Spring Hill attached), the home of James Bligh Johnston at McGraths Hill. Andrew Johnston was a supporter of Governor William Bligh, as were many settlers in the Hawkesbury area, and in 1809 inserted Bligh in his newly-born son’s name as a mark of respect for the deposed Governor. Each generation of that family has inserted Bligh in the family name and the Johnston family is now up to ……Bligh Johnston VII. We had morning tea at Bona Vista at Pitt Town with Gai and Bill Timmerman. Gai is a Johnston descendant and still lives in the family home built by her great-grandfather.
Our tour took in the farms at Pitt Town Bottoms, a viewing of St John’s Anglican Church at Wilberforce and the Macquarie Schoolhouse, a wine and cheese tasting at Tizzana Winery and finally, afternoon tea at Greg Hansell’s studio in Windsor. Greg’s home, Tara, was owned by Hylton Stanley Johnston, a great-grandson of Andrew Johnston. The Johnston family owned Tara for nearly 80 years. A lot of research went into this tour, as it was subject-specific. Many thanks to Gai Timmerman for lending me the Johnston family history documents.