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Seniors' Week Open Day
To celebrate the NSW Seniors Festival we invited senior members of our community to an Open Day on Saturday, 22 February. Twenty-five seniors visited and toured our historic Mechanics Institute and enjoyed morning tea with the wonderful members who generously gave their time and expertise. Many people did remain and received assistance from our researchers and everyone went away happy.
Hawkesbury Riverboat Postman
On 14 February we caught the 7.35am train headed for the Hawkesbury River in order to meet the Riverboat Postman. We left the Brooklyn Wharf to 'help' to deliver the mail to the isolated houses and communities along the Hawkesbury River. Morning tea and a ploughman’s lunch is included in the cost of the trip. The crew provides a commentary about the history of the Riverboat Postman and the Hawkesbury community. It is surprising the number of hidden secrets along the waterway. We returned to the Brooklyn Wharf at the end of the delivery and headed home.
Images courtesy of Robyn and Mel
National Maritime Museum - Bligh: Hero or Villain
A trip to the Australian Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour in Sydney to view Bligh: Hero or Villain, was planned for Friday, 31 January 2020. The exhibition outlining the exploits of the controversial Australian governor, William Bligh, challenged visitors to make a decision. After a coffee we experianced a guided tour of the museum before eating a delicious lunch at Yots.
Last Meeting of 2019 and Christmas Lunch
Meet at the reception area at Wests at 12.00 noon on Friday, 13 December for our Christmas Lunch at Wests Bistro. The eleven members who farewelled a busy year enjoyed our chat over lunch and celebrate the busy and eventful year.
Newcastle City Library
A very interesting tour of the Newcastle City Library was organised by our intrepid events on Friday, 15 November. We meet in the library foyer at 9.50 am and began our tour at 10.00 am when we meet the librarian. We visited the rare books, the stack and particularly focussed on the local history section. After the tour we headed out for lunch.
Volunteer 'Thank You' Afternoon Tea
Everyone is good at something and volunteering in some way no matter how small helps everyone else. Our Society runs on the time given by our amazing volunteers and we have had an enjoyable, inclusive and successful year thanks to them. To culminate this successful year the planning group arranged another rewarding Volunteer Thank You get-together at 2.30 pm at the Society's rooms on Sunday, 27 October.
A huge "Thank you!" to the many members who have worked hard this last year to make our Society as successful as it continues to be. Next year is promising to be just as good - if not better!
The Lambton Town walk on Saturday 26 October was led by our member Julie Keating. The group set off at 10.00 am to view the highlights of Lambton. The day was hot and windy so we really needed our water, sunscreen and comfortable shoes. As well as learning all about the fascinating old buildings, members shared family stories and their connections to the area. Afterwards we returned to the Society rooms for a very well deserved tea, coffee and a biscuit.
Paterson History Walk
On Sunday 29 September a group of members and friends travelled by car to Paterson. After a morning coffee after arriving we visited the Court House Museum across the train line in King Street run by the Paterson Historical Society
This is a comprehensive museum and the Paterson Historical Society has a lot of fascinating displays. They also had a variety of publications for sale and our library group took full advantage of this. After our visit we stopped for lunch. Many of the group went to the old bank restaurant but some had a more relaxed picnic. To end the day we went for self-guided walk through Paterson.
Image credits: Robyn, Laraine
Wander down Macquarie Street, Sydney and Dead Central
An intrepid group caughter the early train to Sydney on Friday, 6 September after the event was postponed a week. We then travelled to Museum Station where moved to the War Memorial in Hyde Park. The Elizabeth Street, at the cascades entrance is the newest part of the Memorial and has a beautiful new extension. We were there for the 11.00 am commemoration.
From the memorial we wandered through Hyde Park to St James Church which we explored. The crypt was open and we were able to wander through. We had lunch at the French Restaurant in the front of the crypt. After leaving St James we walked along Macquarie Street, past the Hyde Park Barracks, the Mint, Sydney Hospital and its memorials to staff who served in WWI and WWII conflicts, past Parliament House and onto the Mitchell Library, part of the State Library of NSW.
At the library we checked out the exhibitions, particularly Dead Central, which focusses on the old Devonshire Street Cemetery, now the site of Central Railway. The six episodes of the podcast, The Burial Files, provides great background to the exhibition.
Image Credits: Jane, Robyn and Mel
On Friday, 26 July an intrepid group met at the Old Newcastle Railway Station. We visited the old post office in Hunter Street and heard stories from the descendant of John Tucker and a little of the history of the Westminster Hotel. We then moved to the Convict Lumber Yard and heard from a descendant of William Eckford and heard the story of the Newcastle flogger. An extended visit to Fort Scratchley and a walk past the site of the Newcastle Gaol was followed by lunch. After a long walk up the hill to Christ Church Cathedral we listened to the history of the church and its location. This was followed by a tour where we were able to view the restored Birdwood Flag, the Gallipoli Flag and the Victoria Cross of Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries V.C. We finished the day with a tour of Cathedral Park where the restoration of the few remaining headstones could be viewed.
Images: Robyn and Jane
Visit to Wiseman's Ferry
At 9.45 am on Friday 28 June an intrepid group of members and friends met at the Spencer Village shops on Wisemans Ferry Road. From there they drove to the Dharug and Lower Hawkesbury Historical Society at Gunderman to have morning tea and inspected the original convict bonnets on display. From there the group travelled to the start of the Great North Road where the guide Jan pointed out the significant sites along the historic trail that eventually reaches Wollombi and Singleton.
After returning to our cars we crossed the river on the ferry to the Wisemans Ferry Hotel for lunch and a tour of Cobram Hall, Solomon’s home, built in 1826 by convict labourers and constructed of hand hewn Hawkesbury sandstone. After lunch visited the cemetery and viewed Wiseman's grave and the grave of Peter Hibbs, a pioneer who sailed with Cook and then returned as a member of the first fleet.
It was a fabulous day with lovely weather, once the fog listed. Our thanks go again to Pat who pulled all the threads together for the tour.
The State Library of NSW
Our intrepid events organiser arranged two trips to the family history section of the NSW State Library to help members discover and access the wealth of information available. The tours ran on 15 March and 17 May. Most people travelled by train to Sydney where we met up and made our way to Macquarie Street for a course that gave a thorough overview of the Family History resources held by the State Library. After the course each group was taken on a tour behind the scenes underground into one of the stacks below the Library. Cafe Trim was a popular venue for lunch and then everyone investigated their past!
Image credits: Melodie, Pat and Jane
Visit and Tour of Wollombi
A merry group met at Wollombi Cemetery on Saturday, 27 April and found graves of the early pioneers and some ancestors and relatives. After moving into town the Wollombi Endeavour Museum was visited and more of the history of this fascinating location was uncovered. Some of the group travelled on to Mulla Villa for a tour of the restored homestead and a two-course meal. In the afternoon the group visited the Great North Road, viewed the remains of the original convict construction at Murray’s Run and Fernance’s Culvert before we returned home.
Visit and Tour of
A number of members met for a tour of this historic and very beautiful cemetery on Friday 29 March 2019. It was wonderful to meet Sydney members of our Facebook group who were able to join us on the day. A car tour by our guest speaker from March, Mark Bundy was extensive and informative.
After lunch, there was time for individual research opportunities and much assistance was given by the staff of the General Office and the Catholic Office and our organiser Pat who did all the co-ordinating.
Photo credits go to:
Robyn, Melodie, Mike and Lis
Our Stockton Walk was very popular and provided an opportunity and the impetus to do something different. A similar get-together to our Stockton Walk was planned on Friday, 22 February. We visited the Newcastle Museum and examined the displays highlighting Newcastle's history. There were a number of fascinating displays. Those who attended enjoyed a convivial chat and then feasted on a lovely lunch at the Clarendon Hotel.
Seniors Week 2019 Open Day
Saturday, 16 February was an opportunity for visitors from our community to visit our rooms. From 10.45am until 3.15pm our volunteers chatted, advised, assisted in researching and gave tours to the many people who came to the Society to visit. Our library was packed and during the day we all thoroughly enjoyed the 'morning' tea that our members provided. Thank you to our volunteers for their help and advice and a big thank you to the visitors who came. I think everyone went home with some new ideas to help them in their research. We were so busy we forgot to take any pictures!
Share a story - Shipwreck Walk, Stockton
Our first Share the Story Event for 2019 at 10.00 am on Friday, 25 January took 15 people to the Stockton Breakwater to walk the Ship Wreck Walk. In the group there were descendants from the lifeboat crews and discussions about various aspects of the harbour were shared. Most of the group returned to share more stories over coffee and a delicious light lunch at Lexie's on the Beach. The weather was kind and an onshore breeze helped to keep us cool.
Christmas Visit and High Tea
at Miss Porter's House
Two groups of keen visitors - a total of nearly 40 members and friends - had a delicious morning or afternoon tea on 7 December 2019 at the delightful Miss Porter's House, the only National Trust property in King Street, Newcastle. The house contains a closed collection so nothing further has been added since the elderly sisters died. The bequest of the house to the National Trust has prevented the widespread development of this block between King and Hunter streets. The rooms and garden are a series of pictures in time.
A big thank you from all who attended and to Mel who arranged the day.
Centenary of Armistice - 10 November 2018
Our November speaker was Keiran Jeffriess, a researcher and avid collector of War Memorabilia. He returned to the Society and displayed some of his extensive and comprehensive collection at our rooms. Over 100 people visited the rooms and we were especially crowded ay 11.00 when Keiran's son played the Last Post on a WWI bugle.
This was a fantastic display and the Society thanks Keiran and his family for their generosity and for Ken and Maree for helping to bring it all together.
Images courtesy of Margaret, Mel and Jane
A browse through our Facebook Page will provide details of men who served in the 1st AIF and who are commemorated or buried in Sandgate Cemetery and in 2017 NFHS published details of the War Memorials in the Newcastle Council area.
The Lambton Time Capsule Excavation - A Message from Robert Watson
The Time Capsule Excavation happened last Wednesday under the supervision of a professional archaeologist from Sydney. The operation started at 7am and finished at 4pm.
With such a careful procedure, we couldn’t expect a thousand people to be patient on a Saturday while we did this work. As it turned out, the bottle was concreted in and buried so deep that people outside the fence couldn't actually see the bottle at all.
Also, we expected the contents to be a soggy mess, and the archaeologist extracted the rolled up wad, placing it immediately into tissue paper. Then it went straight to the Museum’s workshop in town. There it will be carefully dried, unfolded, and photographed.
So, on 20 October, the Celebration will include 'revealing' the contents and displaying them, and people can file past and see it all. There will be a lot of action happening, and we are working hard to recreate a picnic feel, much like Lambton had when it was a small township a century ago.
Robert has provided us with a Facebook video giving information about
the dig. Make sure your sound is turned on and you have clicked the
full screen mode (- bottom right corner of video. Use the escape key to
This project is a joint effort between the Lambton Residents Group
and the City of Newcastle.
Robert's account of the historic reburial of the new time capsule may be found on the back page of our December 2018 Journal (Issue 224).