Guy Lambton Menzies: courageous aviator with family links to pioneers of the Hawkesbury

  Guy Lambton Menzies, 20 August 1909 – 1 November 1940, photograph c1939, courtesy Canada Bay Library. In early 1931, Guy Lambton Menzies took off from Mascot in an Avro-Avian aircraft (the Southern Cross Junior), flew solo across the Tasman Sea and landed upside down in a swamp near Hokitika on the South Island of New Zealand in the record time of eleven hours and forty-five minutes. Just 21 years of age, the intrepid aviator was an experienced pilot with more than 800 hours in his logbook. When I first started my research on Guy Lambton Menzies I had no … Continue reading Guy Lambton Menzies: courageous aviator with family links to pioneers of the Hawkesbury

William Norris, farmer and publican

Photograph of William Norris from the Jean Welch collection courtesy Carol Roberts. Venturing into research on members of the Norris family in the Hawkesbury can prove confusing, especially if researching William Norris. The reason being that, as with many old families, there are many generations with the same name. The William Norris who features in this article was born at Cornwallis in 1840, the son of William Norris and Lucy Upton (Brown) and grandson of Richard Norris and Mary (Williams). William, who married Susannah Martin, was the brother of Emma Amelia (married William Wood), Alfred (married Mary Ann Hand), Jane … Continue reading William Norris, farmer and publican

Picture postcards and family communication

Photograph of Myra McCabe courtesy of Carol Roberts from the Iris Cammack Collection. As well as letters, one of the most popular forms of communication between families during the early 1900s was the privately-printed postcard. Postcards were introduced into Australia from about 1875 and twenty years later, the Victorian Government gave permission for privately-printed postcards to be used under the conditions that they be made of ordinary cardboard, measure no more than 13.3 x 8.3 cms and nothing except the address, stamps and a brief message could be included. From 1898, the NSW Government Printing Office released a series of … Continue reading Picture postcards and family communication

William Thomas Charley and the Wallaby Sniping Cage

Few people in the Hawkesbury would know that William Thomas Charley invented the concept of the Wallaby Sniping Cage at Gallipoli in 1915. The cage was used mainly for night firing and held a rifle in a fixed position after aiming, enabling it to be fired again without re-aiming. William Charley was born in 1868 in Ballarat, Victoria. His mother, Catherine, died when he was two years of age and his father neglected the children to the extent that from 1871, he and some of his siblings were made Wards of the State and placed in various institutions. His brother … Continue reading William Thomas Charley and the Wallaby Sniping Cage

Lost tradition of making cabbage-tree hats comes alive

The popularity of the cabbage-tree hat spread throughout Australia and has been immortalised in folk song and poetry. Continue reading Lost tradition of making cabbage-tree hats comes alive

Mary Ann Clarke: a convict’s daughter who married a convict’s son

Mary Ann Clarke was one of fourteen children of convict Robert Smith (John) and his wife, Margaret (Hartley). Convicted of horse stealing at Bristol Assizes, Smith arrived in the colony in 1827, aged 21. In the 1828 Census he is listed as labouring for the shipbuilder, John Grono, and in 1835 married Margaret, the daughter of David and Elizabeth Hartley and grand-daughter of Grono. (This photograph of my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Clarke, is in my private collection. The items surrounding the photograph all belonged to Mary Ann Clarke and are also in my personal possession.) In 1869, one of their … Continue reading Mary Ann Clarke: a convict’s daughter who married a convict’s son

William Pitt Wilshire – eccentric member of the Pitt Wilshire clan

  Photos courtesy State Library of New South Wales (paid for copies and publication rights) Born and raised in Sydney, William Pitt Wilshire was the eldest son of pioneers James Wilshire and Esther Pitt and a grandson of Robert and Mary Pitt (Matcham). His father, who was Acting Deputy-Commissary for several years, received a number of land grants in the Sydney area and established a large tannery at Brickfield Hill which operated for nearly 60 years.  James also owned land at Kurrajong on Wheeny Creek, adjoining John Howe, Thomas Matcham Pitt, Samuel Leverton and Matthew Everingham. Although William Pitt Wilshire entered … Continue reading William Pitt Wilshire – eccentric member of the Pitt Wilshire clan