A Spin through the NSW Central West (Ch 2)

Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:10 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
A Spin through the NSW Central West (Ch 2)

After leaving Bathurst (which a lot of Australians don’t know how to pronounce – it’s not “bath-hurst”, it’s “bath’st”) we headed north to the old gold-mining town of Sofala, which is located in a depression between the surrounding hills. We walked up and down a couple of winding narrow streets, one of which follows the equally narrow river, fronted by buildings in various states of repair. The guide tells us that at the height of the gold rush the town had 40 pubs and other commercial buildings. Does that mean that there were 40 pubs in addition to other buildings? In a gold town, very possibly, although I’m sure the definition of a pub was pretty elastic and probably encompassed a bark hut with a board between two barrels for a bar. No mention of churches. There is now one pub, and no church that I could see.

On to Mudgee, a pleasant town now best known for its wine industry and having its own share of impressive Victorian buildings – I particularly liked the Posts & Telegraphs Office (does anyone remember telegrams?) We booked into an adequate motel and went for a walk with the aim of finding somewhere for dinner.

Monday isn’t a propitious night for finding a restaurant open, and we settled on Isabella’s Italian establishment. First we picked up a local wine, a lush chardonnay from Pieter van Gent. This impressed us enough to buy another half-dozen before leaving town, along with his white port and vermouth (he’s known for his fortified wines). Robyn decided on an entrée plus dessert, and her choice of garlic prawns wasn’t that great, as the prawns came in a pretty stock-standard tomato sauce. My dish of salsiccie on caponata and roasted potato slices with a cream-tomato sauce hit the spot, though, and the mixed gelato, containing liqueur-soaked cherries, was excellent.

We didn’t visit any wineries, of which there are more than 40 in the area, which might seem odd, but we’re a bit over wineries. Instead we made a few purchases of local products from a couple of gourmet food stores, including Platt’s cabernet verjuice and Grape Alternative wine jelly (both good cooking ingredients). We visited the Mudgee Gourmet, where as the only customers we spent 10 uncomfortable minutes being watched intently by a hovering proprietor - well-meaning I guess, although maybe we did look suspicious. This sent us packing to the Oakfield Country Store, which sells its own range of Colleagues Estate Wines (made by van Gent) and much else, including great chocolates. Recommended.

I’d meant to visit Cooyal, the nearest settlement to where my grandmother was born, east of Mudgee, and this also looked like an interesting way to get to the coast.

(Digression: in the late 1870s my great-grandmother and her husband, then in their early 20s, moved into the area – she bore two children in the bark hut, attended by the local Aboriginal women as midwives, while her husband drove horses to market in Sydney. Her nearest white neighbour lived 20 miles away and they visited each other on horseback, over the objections of a visiting Irish priest who warned her friend of the moral danger of consorting with Protestants.)

As it happened there wasn’t much in Cooyal except a single-storey pub and we continued on into the hills. At Wollar the road became gravel and stayed that way for some distance, but it was an OK drive through hilly forest and grazing country. We pulled up at a rest stop to eat our packed lunch, to the delight of the local flies, took a brief walk through the bush and carried on, eventually hitting the Golden Highway (sounds like the marketers have been at it again) and then, at Singleton, the New England Highway. At this point our aim was to get to Port Stephens, of which more later, in the shortest possible time, which I suppose we did, more or less.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:13 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,081
and was the Camry still uncomplaining? Many years ago, my old Datsun chucked a right wobbly over those roads!
margo_oz is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2005, 12:57 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 394


Hey!! I say Bathurst but I also say SunDAY and MonDAY, not Sundy and Mundy. hee hee

Love these little trips about the place. Lots of little gems to be found and always so much better value than the bigger tourism areas. I have never been to Mudgee yet, but soon I hope!

I hear a lot of people say it is more honest than the Hunter. So Mudgee, watch out, here we come!
Tassietwister is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2005, 12:19 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
margo, the Camry might not be an exciting car, but no shakes, rattles or rolls and never talks back.

Tassietwister, Mudgee has a good deal more to offer than we took advantage of in a day and a night, so I think you wouldn't regret a visit.

PS: how do you pronounce "Cholmondeley", then? (!)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 12:41 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,081
Neil

To me Camry = excitement!

I drive a Corolla
margo_oz is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 02:41 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,272
To us, Camry = appliance. For a time we were a Two Camry Famry.
Gardyloo is online now  
Nov 26th, 2005, 02:17 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 394

Colomdery what? lol

We have a four wheel drive which is a big mistake as we were all excited to go off road until out first trip when we broke down. It eats fuel like I eat jellybeans and is not very comfortable to boot.

So be happy with the camry or carolla.

Our next vehicle maybe a greyhound bus after what we have spent on our dream escape vehicle.
Tassietwister is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 09:46 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
Hi, Neil_Oz,
Perhaps Chumley?

We have a children's reading book in our school, called The Drover's Wife, which sounds just like your great-grandmother's situation. Quite an intriguing story actually. I love stories of this ilk.
Dot
dotty is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 01:13 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Tassietwister, apparently "Cholmondeley" is pronounced "choomly", but not always.

People who know about such things tell me that you can't go past a Toyota Landcruiser for serious 4WD work - and no, I don't sell Toyotas for a living. I was told that someone in Cairns bought one of those monstrous GM Hummers to run tours into the Daintree, and it wasn't long before it had to be towed out by a Landcruiser.

dotty, that would be the short story by Henry Lawson? I remember it. Lawson certainly didn't have the romantic view of outback life that his contemporary 'Banjo' Patterson had.

To continue the hard-luck theme, my gt-gt-grandparents (who incidentally were both children of ex-convicts) ended up returning to the Hawkesbury area after one of the children, my grandmother, burnt herself badly as a toddler by falling into a fire. Apparently an Italian doctor by the name of Fiaschi, who had started a winery at Ebenenzer, had a reputation for treating burn injuries. That winery, "Tizzana", is now back in business, operating out of the original sandstone buildings. It's a good place for a Sunday drive ex Sydney.

Continuing the family history theme - also worth checking out is the nearby oldest church in Australia (originally Presbyterian). The great-grandfather of my abovementioned great-great- grandmother, a Welsh sailor by the name of John Grono, helped to establish it, and his tomb is outside the church. It's believed that Grono named Milford Sound during one of his sealing voyages to NZ. For a time he was the colony's leading shipbuilder, and it's an interesting sidelight on social relations at the time that his eldest daughter married an ex-convict (done for embezzlement), and so did her daughter (in his case horse theft - very lucky to escape the gallows).
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 07:57 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 235
Hi Neil,

Interested to learn about your connection with John Grono. Here it's pretty well accepted as fact that he named Milford Sound, after Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire where he came from. It also seems likely that he named Mt Pembroke.

He had a sealing camp in Milford Sound, and for a time it was known as "Grono's". I think it was more towards the mouth of the sound, rather than at the end, where the present settlement is.

Have you researched the geneology?? If you google "John Grono" there is a heap of stuff, including about him being responsible for building the first Presbyterian church, which you alluded to. Apparently he is buried in the church cemetary.

This link
http://users.bigpond.net.au/convicts/page93.html
Has some interesting research done by a Robert Taylor, probably one of your relations.

Cheers,
Barry
vbca is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 02:40 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Hello again, Barry - you've been doing your homework!

Yes, I've traced the family tree, and I met up with Robert Taylor (his wife is the descendant). Also checked out Grono's tomb, which somewhat misleadingly gives his name as "Captain John Grono, RN". In fact he never rose past bosun's mate in the Navy, the title "Captain" referring to his civilian exploits.

This family gave rise to some interesting and even bizarre stories. At the risk of highjacking my own thread, the case of his youngest daughter Matilda is perhaps the most colourful (I suppose it could fit into the "NZ travel" category at a pinch and at any rate thoughth the NZ connection would be of interest). Per Robert Taylor,

"Matilda Grono born 17.11.1815, Hawkesbury. Married 1) 22.6.1829 William Wiseman b c.1802, Middlesex, England (son of Solomon Wiseman and Jane Middleton). The marriage of William Wiseman and Matilda Grono was the first to be celebrated in the Church at Ebenezer...

"William Wiseman had two daughters to New Zealand women. Mary Ann, whose mother was Rugig of NZ, born about 1830 and baptised 29.11.1837 at Lower Hawkesbury and Sophia Petty, mother given as NZ woman, baptised 30.9.1832, Lower Hawkesbury. Occupation seaman, ships' captain.

"William served on a number of ships before joining the Grono built and part owner vessel the 'Elizabeth'. On (which) he served under John Grono, Alexander Books and John Rudolphus Kent, before becoming captain... On 29.10.1830 he sailed for NZ as Captain of the Grono-built and part owned 'Industry'. The 'Industry' was wrecked at Easy Harbour, Stewart Island, 28.2.1831, with the loss of William and ten men.

"About 1830 William ... purchased large tracts of land around Lyttelton and Christchurch on behalf of Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levey. No documents have been found to support this purchase, and the transaction is hidden in obscurity owing to the untimely death of Wiseman in 1831. There was trading in flax, pigs and potatoes with the Maoris from about 1830. Port Lyttelton, near Christchurch, was known as Port Cooper, and a port close to the north was called Port Levy. The names had been given to the Ports by William Wiseman who was employed by Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levey. In 1848 the names of the two bays were changed. Ports Cooper and Levy, were thus called Ports Victoria and Albert, after the Queen and the Prince Consort.

"Married 2) 11.12.1932, Thomas Powell born about 1803. Thomas was captain of the Grono vessel 'Governor Bourke' from 9.6.1833 to 28.3.1836 when the "Governor Bourke" was sold. Thomas was master of the 'Nereus', owner John Thomas Wilson. About .8.1840 while on board in Manila Harbour ... he committed suicide after finding that Wilson had seduced Matilda. Both Matilda and Wilson were travelling on board the 'Nereus' at the time. It is known that Wilson and Matilda sought passage on a ship for Malaya. Family history suggests that they were married and he became manager of a dye factory in India. When he died she booked passage back to Australia in 1847. Three days out she committed suicide by jumping overboard. Matilda was aged 32 years."

I imagine that the arrival from NZ of William's offspring may have come as a surprise to his young widow. I couldn't help wondering whether the unfortunate Powell jumped or was pushed. Somewhere else I remember reading that when they sailed from Sydney he was being pursued by angry creditors.

Wisemans Ferry, a scenic spot on the Hawkesbury River, gained its name from William Wiseman's father, Solomon, who I think also arrived as a convict.

I believe Grono also named Mt Elizabeth, after his wife. Ironically, after two visits to the South Island I still haven't made it to Milford Sound. One day...
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 29th, 2005, 10:35 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 235
Hi Neil,

It's interesting digging back through your family history; never know what skelatons you are going to unearth.

Didn't know about Port levy being re-named. The new name can't have been very porular, because it's still called Port Levy. My wifes grandparents had a house there about 40 years ago. Her grandfather was the tug master at Lytelton, and also skipper of the Holmdale, which serviced the Chatham Islands. He also died in rather unusual circumstances, He drowned off the end of the wharf in Lytelton, and there was a strong suspicion that he was pushed. By all accounts he was a harsh skipper with a violent temper, universally hated by all who knew him. His wife went on to marry a further 5 times, and outlived all of her husbands, becomming quite rich in the process.

It's great how someone who was formerly just a name suddenly takes on life and form. You tend to forget that people who shaped our history will have decendants, and when that history is fairly recent it probably wouldn't be that difficult to find them.

Thanks for the great post.

Cheers,
Barry

vbca is offline  
Nov 29th, 2005, 08:08 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1
Hi Neil, enjoyed your little trips. And have discovered via your 'digression' that we may be related through the SMITHs, HARTLEYs and GRONOs. John GRONO was my 4xgreat-grandfather. Would like to hear from you re the family as I'm still getting together info on that line.
Cheers Maureen
Mawzie is offline  
Nov 29th, 2005, 09:31 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Hi Maureen - yes, please drop me a line at [email protected]. Also my 4xg-g via Hartley & Smith.
Cheers,
Neil
Neil_Oz is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
CampingCaryn
Europe
5
Feb 13th, 2017 04:08 AM
FrenchMystiqueTours
Europe
5
Dec 9th, 2011 09:40 AM
michelle110
Europe
4
May 9th, 2007 08:18 AM
sjde53
Europe
6
Feb 8th, 2005 07:31 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:35 PM.