Category Archives: biography

Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: The Quiet Desperation of Getting Older…and Being Gay!

Recently, anothe member of a group I am a member of posted that, at 45 and again single, he felt that it was now so hard to meet people that he feared he was destined to never have a serious, long-term relationship again. At 60, a short two years ago, I was at the end of a 16-year relationship – monogamous on my part, polygamous on his – and churned back to my single status. I had thought -naively – that this would be the relationship that I would grow old(er) in, that may finally give me the security of home-ownership, of stability, and a sense of contentment. Being cast adrift into the sea of old age – at least as far as the gay community is concerned – has given ne cause to consider this situation exactly as that much younger man has…that I will probably never have a relationship again. It is a scary prospect, though in the gay world, not unique to me.

The one thing technology has not given us is the tools to meet people. The whole online/app approaches to dating or even attempting to meet others with views to friendships or relationships is just not happening for many of us. In a past time – not all that long ago, mind you – meeting people was as easy as planning a night out to your local pub or bar. Going out to your “local” gave you an impressive number of alternatives for how, planned or unplanned, your night could pan out. You could ring friends and arrange to meet them; go out on your own and choose to be solitary; just turn up, knowing there was a good chance of meeting people you know. Having progressed this far, the middle and end of the night also offered many alternatives, all in the atmosphere of the bar, or in the convivial company of friends. You could get pissed, go home and pass out. Or you could peruse the bar, decide the pickings were slim and go home alone. You could make plans with your friends to move on, or decide that the guy you are playing eye games with could be a bit of fun, and so you stay, buy him a drink, sit down and have a chat, and if the vibe is right, decide where to take it from there! However it did – or didn’t – turn out you, still had a set of alternatives all based around a real place, with flesh and blood people. There was potential for scenarios to happen, and you had control over them. But this us a bygone world! You didn’t have to lie about your age, or your body type, or your sexual preferences…it was there for everyone to see!

Unless you want sex and nothing else but sex, the world of online gay dating abd apps is an alien one, full of lies, deception and fakery. I spent 12-months – unsuccessfully – on them! It has left me disillusioned, feeling belittled and degraded,  and with an eerie sense of futility. It is a shallow, dishones, ageist, prejudicial, and stigmatising world! To enter this world at 60, subtract 10-15 years from your ago, drop – or lie about –  around 15-20 kgs of weight, tell everyone you are versatile, add a few centimetres to the length of your cock, lie about uour HIV status, don’t admit to any disabilities, and upload a profile photo that is a few years old. I’m not kidding! You need to invent-a-person…but it doesn’t really matter, as you are unlikely to mert anyone for a date, and anyone you invite over for sex isn’t going to be there long enough to evaluate. I subscribed to Grindr, Gaydar, Scruff, Squirt, Man Hunt, BBRT, and a HIV+ apps or sites. At the beginning of last year, I either deleted or stopped using them altogether. The list of my encounters from these “dating” services is brief, and tragic.

  • Gaydar – Michael. A guy I just messaged out-of-the-blue because I liked his profile. We messaged each other for a while, then arranged for him to come over for dinner one night. We hit it off really well, had a great night, and decided to meet again. He “forgot” about our second meeting. Messages got more and more abrupt, and I took the hint. I still don’t know what happened. Lecko – a Russian boy. Yes, I do know what it was all about, but I wanted the experience of seeing where it went. I called it off, but I did let him know that I realised where it was heading. Some guy who kept conracting me, and telling me that taw sex needed discussion, despite me messaging him back a number of times to tell him it wasn’t open to discussion. Yes, I do negotiate raw sex – I’m a mature adult, and hopefully dealing with same. I have done so since the 80s.
  • BBRTS – Phil. Phil liked playing hard-to-get. I wore him down, and we finally met up at my home, in the company of mutual friends. Phil had evidently worked for Bretts Boys back in the 80s. We liked the look of each other (he was 55, and like me, lied about his age on dating sites). However, he was either damaged, or screwed up. He liked the tease, but that was as far as it went. Turns out he had his 80yo parents flating with him, who actually dictated what time he should get home. I know…very sad! Once again, messages got vety abrupt and I eventually gave up. Not even a head job there! Also the site for my one and only encounter with blow ‘n go sex – the coldest, most unfulfilling sexual encounter of my life. Just leaves you feeling empty and used. Daniel. Nice guy, but a bit too hairy, and a bit too overweight for my taste…though good sex. We arranged to meet again, but then with my eye operations, and a potential return to Sydney, it never happened. Out of a sense of politeness, I messaged him that I was returning to Sydney. He couldn’t remember who I was! Nice! Oliver. Just messaged me out of the blue one night and asked if he could visit. He turned up shortly after…good looking, very tall, and stating that he was waiting for a message from a friend he was about to visit in Logan. I really couldn’t work out what he was about. He got his message, and left. 2 glasses of wine wasted.
  • Grndr – nothing but wank chat – something I’m (evidently) good at, judging from the number of return requests. Probably due to me having a vivid imagination, and taking them on a sexual journey. Good for them – you always knew when they had blown, as chat suddenly stopped – but not for me.
  • Scruff – see above, but really massively overweight, overly hairy American guys. The ultimate turn-off for me, and I ignored return requests. 

So, that was the sum total of my online sex life. Sending winks, woofs or anything else to other guys resulted in either being ignored, or a nice thanks-but-no-thanks. The only people who consistently contacted me were Asians and Indians, despite my profile stating I was only interested in Caucasian guys. The whole sordid affair was unpleasant, and I just breathed a sigh of relief when I gave it all away. I have since subscribed to Elite Dating Services, and Disabled Dating, but as soon as they start hassling me to subscribe – at between $25-$40 a month, I just dropped it. I’m setiously not thst desperate!

So, I am reconciled to the ageist, body fascism of the gay community. I am very fit for a 62yo, but my days of six-packs and bulging muscles are long gone. And I really don’t need to impress people that way anymore. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong! I think I have a lot to offer a guy. I’m past the shallow stage of my life, and I know who I am, and what I want. I’m not dog ugly, have a full head of hair – a plus at my age, I’m still slim, and when I have the opportunity to work out, quite fit looking. I eat a healthy diet, I have a university degree (and several others), a great sense of humour, intelligent (I can hold a conversation), articulate. I’m a great cook, love entertaining, love eating out, and know a good bottle of wine. I dress well – fashionably, but not to extremes – and groom well. I’m houseproud, and collect glass and Asian teawares…all controlled collections. I love technology, have a modernist view to social issues, not bogged down in tradition, and still get the urge to throw an Ecstacy down my throat (or some acid, if I could get my hands on it) and let my hair down on a dance floor in a nightclub – though I’d rather be leaving at 1am than arriving!

So, I have it all to offer. The oroblem is, the only people I have to offer it to are friends and acquaintances! That is not going to get me anywhere, and there is no longer any other alternative. With the disassembly of the gay ghetto, there is really nowhere I can go to meet anyone. Oh yeah, I could go to places like The Bank, or Coopers…but I’d be in with a younger, and baducally straight, group. It is a true contradiction that the very community I belong to, and with a reputation for acceptance, intergeation and tolerance is, in fact, the fery community that alienates those who reach an age whereby they no longer fulfil the perceptions of youth. The straight community seems to be better placed as far as dating services go, and though sex is there, is not the defining end to getting to meet someone. Likewise, their gars are far more inclusive, and orientated to having a good time, and potentially going able to meet someone. For me to sit on my own in a gay gar these days – if I could find one I felt comfortable in – is to be ignored. 

So, like many others, I’m reconciled to a life of quiet desperation. As I joked with a friend recently, I’m glad my hand is a good kisser! Short of meeting someone by sheer coincidence, it’s the single life from hereon in. Not something I am going to relish. If there us light at the end of the tunnel, it is not as yet visible to me. Though I have made the conscious decision to not let it bother me, in the recesses of my mind the doubt lingers. 

In the words of Mae West “Save a boyfriend for a rainy day – and another in case ut doesn’t rain”

Tim Alderman (C) 2016


    2015 in review

    The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

    Click here to see the complete report.

    World AIDS  Day

    I remember these lost friends and acquaintences today.

    “They sparkle like jewels in my mind, like stars at night”.

    Steven Breeze

    Andrew Todd

    Trevor Eyden

    Gavin Murdoch

    Mark Silcock AKA Marcus Craig

    Kenneth John Smith

    Mark ‘Davo’ Davies

    Geoffrey Gordon Smith

    Michael Fletcher

    Michael Lavis

    Peter Greentree

    Leslie Albert Heathfield

    Glen Evans

    Gary Mayall

    Stuart ‘Stella’ Law

    Damien ‘Alexis’ Colby aka Damien Guy

    John Doyle

    Allen John Deith

    Peter Bringolf

    John ‘Goanna’ Ellison

    Peter Vanzella

    Frank Currie

    Jonal Fenn

    Jack Allen

    Gareth Paull

    Michael Bradley

    Philip Boyd

    Shane Pascoe

    Graeme Baird

    Vincent Dobbin

    Peter Fehlberg

    Gerald Lawrence

    Peter Shepherd

    Ray Hopkins

    Paul Costello

    Michael Beazley

    Michael Gregory

    David Edwards aka Sr Mary Daisychain OPI


    John ‘Sway’

    Kevin Bailey

    Gary Salton

    Steve Allen

    Philip Metcalf


    Australian Icons: Henri L’Estrange – the Australian Blondin

      Portrait of Henri with waxed moustache, sitting backwards on a chair, 3/4 to camera, wearing a formal jacket and white bowtie. Studio portrait of Henri, 1876

    Henri L’Estrange, known as the Australian Blondin, was an Australian successful funambulist and accident prone aeronautical balloonist.[1] Modelling himself on the famous French wire-walker Charles Blondin, L’Estrange performed a number of tightrope walks in the 1870s, culminating in three walks across Sydney’s Middle Harbour in 1877. He remains the only tightrope performer ever to have walked across a part of Sydney Harbour.[1] L’Estrange was an early balloonist, and attempted a series of flights in the early 1880s – one being successful, one ending in Australia’s first emergency parachute descent, and the last culminating in a massive fireball causing property damage, personal injury and a human stampede. He tried to return to his original career of tightrope walking but, with new forms of entertainment, humiliating falls and other Blondin imitators, he found success elusive. Public benefits were held in his honour to recoup financial losses and he dabbled in setting up amusement rides but ultimately he faded from public attention and was last recorded to be living in Fitzroy, Victoria in 1894.

    Early performance

    Henri L’Estrange was born about 1842 in Fitzroy, a suburb of Melbourne.[2] Little is known of his early years, family or private life. He first came to public attention in 1873 as a member of a Melbourne performance group, the Royal Comet Variety Troupe, a gymnastic, dancing and comedic vocal combination with Miss Lulu L’Estrange and Monsieur Julian. As part of this troupe, L’Estrange performed in Melbourne and Tasmania throughout 1873 and 1874, with Henri and Lulu performing together on the tightrope.[3] In 1876, L’Estrange performed solo for the first time in Melbourne, and quickly gained a reputation as a fearless performer.
    Tightrope walking had grown in popularity in Australia through the 1860s, following reports reaching the Australian Colonies of the exploits of the great French walker, Charles Blondin, who crossed Niagara Falls in 1859. By the mid-1860s, Australian wire walkers (funambulists) were modelling themselves on Blondin, copying his techniques, with several even calling themselves “the Australian Blondin”. The popularity of the name surged after the original Blondin visited Australia in 1874, performing his highwire act in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. By the mid-1880s, there were at least five “Blondins” performing regularly in Sydney and elsewhere.

    L’Estrange began using the moniker “the Australian Blondin” from early 1876. Arriving in Sydney from Melbourne, L’Estrange erected a large canvas enclosure in the Domain and began a regular series of performances on the tightrope, copying the location and stunts of the real Blondin who had performed there in August 1874.[4] His opening night on 26 January 1877 attracted a reported crowd of between two and three thousand people. Newspaper reports commented that his performance was so like that of the original Blondin that people could be forgiven for thinking they had seen the world-renowned rope-walker. With his rope suspended 40 feet (12 metres) above the ground, L’Estrange walked backwards and forwards, walked in armour, walked covered in a sack, used and sat on a chair, cooked and rode a bicycle, all on the rope. His show also included a fireworks display for the public’s entertainment.[5]
    L’Estrange performed in the Domain from January through to April 1877, but not without incident. On 7 February 1877, as L’Estrange neared the end of his wire act, sparks from the fireworks going off around him fell into the nearby store of gunpowder and fireworks, igniting them. The store’s shed was demolished, a surrounding fence knocked down, part of L’Estrange’s performance tent caught fire, and two young boys were injured.[1]

    Sydney Harbour crossing

     L’Estrange, the Australian Blondin, crossing Middle Harbour in the Illustrated Sydney News 28 April 1877.

    In late March 1877, advertisements began to appear in the Sydney newspapers for L’Estrange’s proposed harbour crossing. The first public performance was set for Saturday 31 March, with L’Estrange having organised 21 steamers to convey spectators from Circular Quay to a special landing stage close to his performance area. L’Estrange advised those wishing to see his performance to travel on his steamers as they were the only ones with permission to land passengers. This, of course this did not stop other entrepreneurs and captains from carrying spectators of their own.[2] Whilst the event was profitable L’Estrange considered that the majority of viewers were non-paying “dead-heads”.[6]
    Prior to the public performance, L’Estrange undertook the crossing for a select audience including members of the press. That crossing was a success, and was well reviewed in the papers, no doubt adding to the crowd’s anticipation for the Saturday show.[7] Sadly, bad weather postponed the performance, which did not go ahead until 14 April.[2][8]
    At 1 o’clock on Saturday 14 April, the steamers began leaving Circular Quay, conveying 8,000 of an estimated 10,000-strong crowd to Middle Harbour – a large crowd considering the alternative attractions that day of Sydney Royal Easter Show (known then simply as “the Exhibition”) and horse racing.[2] The remainder were reported to be walking from St Leonards, with a toll being collected along the way. Spectators clambered up the sides of the bay for vantage points, while hundreds more stayed on board steamboats, yachts and in row boats below.[2] The rope was strung across the entrance to Willoughby Bay, from Folly Point to the head of the bay, a reported length of 1,420 feet (430 m), 340 feet (100 m) above the waters below.[7] The distance meant that two ropes were required, spliced together in the centre, to reach the other side, with 16 stays fixed to the shore and into the harbour to steady the structure.
    Everything being ready, precisely at 4 o’clock L’Estrange come out of his tent on the eastern shore, dressed in a dark tunic and a red cap and turban. Without hesitation or delay he stepped onto the narrow rope, and, with his heavy balancing-pole, at once set out on his journey across the lofty pathway. As has been before stated, the rope is stretched across the harbour at a great altitude, the width apparently being three hundred yards. At the western end it is higher than at the eastern, and as the weight of the rope causes a dip in the centre, the western end is at a considerable incline. Starting off amidst the cheers of the spectators, L’Estrange walked fearlessly at the rate of eighty steps to a minute across the rope, until he reached a spliced part near the centre, some twenty feet in length, which he passed more deliberately. Then he stood on his right foot, with his left resting against his right leg. This feat being safely accomplished, he dropped onto his knee, and afterwards sat down and waived [sic] his handkerchief to the crowd of spectator. Next he lay on his back along the rope. Resuming the sitting posture, he took out a small telescope and for a moment or two surveyed the onlookers, who warmly applauded his performances. Raising the balancing pole, he lifted one foot onto the rope, then the other, and continued his walk. He took a few steps backward and then proceeded up the inclined part of the rope steadily to the western shore, at the slower speed of about sixty steps a minute, the rope swaying considerably as he went. The remaining part of the distance was safely traversed, the last few steps being walked more quickly: and the intrepid performer stepped on terra firma amidst the enthusiastic cheers of the spectators, the inspiring strains of the bands of music, and the shrill whistling of the steamers.

    — Sydney Morning Herald, April 16[2] and 4 May 1877[8]

    The successful crossing was greeted with enthusiastic cheers, the tunes of the Young Australian Band, the Albion Brass Band and Cooper and Bailey’s International Show Band, who had all come to entertain the crowds, and the shrilling of the steamers’ whistles. L’Estrange soon reappeared in a small row boat to greet the crowds, although many had already rushed the steamers to leave, resulting in a few being jostled into the harbour.[2]
    While the Illustrated Sydney News proclaimed it a truly wonderful feat, performed with the greatest coolness and consummate ability, not all of Sydney’s press were so enthusiastic. The Sydney Mail questioned the worth of such a performance beyond the profits made, commenting that it was, “…a mystery to many minds why such large concourses of people should gather together to witness a spectacle which has so little intrinsic merit. There is nothing about it to charm the taste or delight the fancy.”[9]
    Despite the criticism, L’Estrange performed at least once more at Middle Harbour, although crowds were down to a few hundred, requiring only four steamers to transport them. The same night he was guest of honour at a testimonial dinner held at the Victoria Theatre where The Young Australian Band played “The Blondin March”, a piece composed specially by their conductor Mr J. Devlin. He was presented with a large gold star, engraved with a scene of his latest triumph, the date of his public performance. Measuring 3 inches (76 mm) across, it was centred with a 1½ carat diamond and suspended by a blue ribbon to a clasp featuring the Australian coat of arms in silver. An illuminated address and a bag of sovereigns, collected from his admirers, were also given.[10] L’Estrange thereafter took his show on the road, going first to Brisbane in May 1877,[6] and reportedly afterwards to Singapore, England and America.[1]


    In April 1878, L’Estrange reappeared on the Australian scene with a new performance – gas ballooning. The first balloon ascent in Australia had been made in Melbourne in 1853, with Sydney following five years later in December 1858. The idea that people could be lifted from the ground to fly and return safely fired the imagination of the public, and the novelty of balloon ascents continued to draw large crowds through the 1860s and 1870s. No doubt the very real chance of disaster and injury added to the crowd’s keen interest, as mishaps were not uncommon.

    L’Estrange came to Sydney with his balloon in November 1878, accompanied by reports of successful flights already made in India.[11] In a confident appraisal of L’Estrange’s new venture, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote:
    [L’Estrange’s] balloon has been fitted with the newest applications, amongst others a parachute, which in the event of anything going wrong, would prevent the too rapid descent of the aerial voyager. Another novelty is the fixing of bags of sand round the mesh which covers the balloon, the principle of which is that by emptying these, and so lessening the weight, the balloon will ascend. The process is chiefly intended to be an easy method of avoiding buildings… He is perfectly confident that he will prove successful in travelling amongst the regions of the clouds, and, if so it will prove an agreeable variety after the many failures we have had.

    — Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 1878[11]

    In a letter to the Sydney City Council, L’Estrange sought permission for the use of the Exhibition grounds in Prince Alfred Park, behind Sydney Central Station for his first attempt.[12] L’Estrange struggled to fill the balloon through the afternoon of 17 November 1878, with gas supplied by the Australian Gas Light Company. By 5pm, the crowd was getting restless and L’Estrange decided to attempt liftoff, despite the balloon not being fully inflated. To lighten the load he removed the car in which he was to sit and instead sat in a loop of rope. The balloon managed only to drag him across the park before clearing the fenceline and landing on a railway truck in the yards of Sydney’s Central railway station next to the park. L’Estrange blamed the failure on having been supplied with “dense” gas and a filling pipe that was too narrow and leaky.[13]
    L’Estrange wrote to the Council again, this time asking for permission to use Belmore Park for a second attempt.[14] Much like his first attempt, the second ended in failure. Once again the balloon took much of the day to fill, with the lift going ahead at 5 pm on the afternoon of 7 December 1878. The first attempt dragged him approximately 100 yards (91 m) through the crowd. Returning to the start point, L’Estrange tried again, shooting up into the air approximately 50 feet (15 m) and sailing away towards the south, before descending again and being dragged across the park. The crowd feared the balloon would crash but once more it lifted, up and over the roof of Carters’ Barracks. L’Estrange, realising that the balloon was not going to lift higher, threw out the anchor, which caught in the spouting of a building and threw the balloon into the drying yard of the Benevolent Asylum, where it caught in the washing lines and wires and was practically destroyed.[15] Still, L’Estrange’s place in Sydney hearts had been established and a well-attended benefit was held at the Theatre Royal on 19 December 1878.
    L’Estrange survived an even more disastrous attempt in Melbourne less than six months later at the grounds of the Agricultural Society in a balloon named Aurora. Having been supplied with a much higher quality gas from the Metropolitan Gas Company he miscalculated the speed at which the balloon would ascend. Having floated much higher than originally anticipated the balloon greatly expanded and a weak seam in the calico fabric suddenly burst. L’Estrange had the presence of mind to deploy the silk parachute which slowed the rate of descent. His landing was softened by a tree and although severely shaken, L’Estrange was uninjured. The whole journey took nine minutes.[16] The “catastrophe” was widely reported with the story appearing in local newspapers in Adelaide,[17] Canberra,[18] Sydney[19] and Brisbane[20] within the week. This was the first emergency descent by parachute in Australia,[21] predating the Caterpillar Club by over 50 years.
    Despite these setbacks, L’Estrange persisted, returning to Sydney in August 1880 to prepare for another attempt. Success finally came with a flight on 25 September 1880 from Cook Park, Northwards over the Garden Palace and Sydney harbour to Manly.[22].

    Final balloon flight

     Buoyed by his achievement, L’Estrange set himself a second flight day in March 1881. With his reputation already well known in Sydney, and a successful flight on record, a crowd of over 10,000 turned up in the Outer Domain.
    As a result of high atmospheric pressure and heavy dew weighing down the balloon, inflation took longer than anticipated, and the crowd grew restless. The officer representing the company supplying the gas also refused to provide a new supply. L’Estrange was presented with what was described as a “Hobson’s choice”,[23] “…either to abandon the attempt and risking being seriously maltreated by the mob, or proceed heavenwards without the car, accepting the attendant [risks] of such an aerial voyage.”[24] He chose the latter and the lift commenced at 9.30 pm with L’Estrange sitting in a loop of rope much like his attempt three years previously. At first all seemed well, as the balloon lifted above the heads of the crowd, hovering for a moment before first heading over Hyde Park. He described the rest of his voyage in a letter to a friend:
    I then got into a westerly current that took me out to sea, on which I determined to come down to mother earth without delay, but picture to yourself my horror when I found the escape valve would not act. I tried with all the strength of the one hand I had to spare to move it, for with the other I had to hold myself in the loop of rope, but all to no purpose, it would not budge an inch. In sheer desperation I took the valve rope in both hands, and it opened with a bang ; but in the effort I had lost my seat in the loop, falling about six feet, and there I was dangling in mid air, clutching the valve rope, the gas rushing out of the balloon as though she had burst…

    — printed in Illustrated Sydney News, 23 April 1881[25]

    Managing to right himself, he became faint from the escaping gas and lashed himself to the ropes to prevent a fall. Realising the attempt was now a danger to himself and the balloon, L’Estrange set out the grappling hooks to catch onto something and bring the balloon down. However the ropes had become tangled and the hooks were too short.[23]
    L’Estrange’s balloon descended rapidly over the rooftops of Woolloomooloo, slamming into a house near the corner of Palmer Street and Robinson Lane. L’Estrange managed to disentangle himself and fell first onto a chimney then a shed 25 feet (7.6 m) below. He scrambled down from the rooftops to a waiting mob, who whisked him away to Robinson’s hotel on the William Street corner and would not let him leave.[25] At the crash site, during an attempt to free the balloon, the escaping gas was ignited when the resident of the house opened a window to see what the commotion was and the gas came into contact with the open flame of the room’s chandelier. The resulting fireball destroyed the balloon, burnt a number of bystanders and was bright enough to “…cast a brief but vivid illumination over the entire suburb”.[24] A panicked crush developed as groups tried to both flee from and rush towards the brief, but extremely bright, conflagration while those further away at the launch site assumed L’Estrange had been killed.[23] Several people were injured in the crush or burned by the fire with one lady reportedly being blinded.[26]
    Although a Masonic benefit was held in his honour to try to recoup some of his financial losses, the fiasco spelt the end of L’Estrange’s aeronautical career.

    Return to tightrope walking 

    In a change of direction in March 1882, L’Estrange applied to the Sydney City Council to establish a juvenile pleasure gardens at the Paddington Reservoir. The fun park was to have a variety of rides, a maze, merry-go-round and a donkey racecourse. L’Estrange proposed the park to be free entry with all monies being made via the sale of refreshments on site. While he was given permission, the park does not appear ever to have opened.[27]  Studio portrait of L’Estrange demonstrating riding a bicycle on a tightrope

    Following the disastrous balloon attempt and the failed pleasure grounds, L’Estrange decided to return to what he knew best, tightrope walking. In April 1881 L’Estrange, given top billing as “the hero of Middle Harbour”, performed at the Garden Palace on the high-rope as part of the Juvenile Fete, with other acrobats, contortionists and actors.[28] With proof of the continuing popularity of the rope act, he decided to return to his greatest triumph; the spectacular crossing of the harbour in 1877 which had still not been repeated. On 23 December 1882, L’Estrange advised the public that he would cross the harbour once more, this time riding a bicycle across Banbury Bay, close to the site of his original success.[29]
    As with his previous crossings, steamers took the crowds from Circular Quay, although this time only four were needed, while another 600–700 people made their own way to the site. The ride was scheduled for 3 pm on 23 December, but delays meant L’Estrange did not appear until 6 pm. Although the length of rope was over 182 metres, it was only just over nine metres above the water. The stay wires were held in boats on either side, with the crews rowing against each other to keep it steady. L’Estrange rode his bicycle towards the centre, where, with the rope swinging to and fro, he stopped briefly to steady himself but instead, realising he was losing his balance, he was forced to leap from the rope and fell into the water below. Although he was unhurt, it was another knock to his reputation. A repeat attempt was announced for the following weekend. Again steamers took a dwindling crowd to Banbury Bay where they found L’Estrange’s rope had been mysteriously cut, and he cancelled the performance. The Daily Telegraph reported that many in the crowd, who had paid for tickets on the steamers, felt they had been scammed.[30]

    Late career 

    With his reputation in tatters after the balloon crash and the attempted second harbour crossing, L’Estrange slowly slipped out of the public eye. In December 1883 he was reported as performing again on the highwire at the Parramatta Industrial Juvenile exhibition. While his act attracted favourable publicity, “his efforts were not received with the amount of enthusiasm they certainly deserved”.[31]
    In April 1885 a benefit was held for L’Estrange, again at the Masonic Lodge, like the one held after his balloon misadventure. It was advertised that the benefit, under the patronage of the Mayor and Aldermen of Sydney, and with Bill Beach, world champion sculler in attendance, was prompted because L’Estrange had “lately met with a severe accident”.[32] The nature of the accident is unknown, but it is speculated to have been a fall from his tightrope, explaining the end of his performances.[1]
    His apparent decline in popularity may have been as much a reflection of the public’s changing taste for entertainment as it was a comment on his act. By the time L’Estrange returned to Sydney to attempt his second harbour crossing in 1882, the city was awash with Blondin imitators performing increasingly dangerous, and probably illegal, feats.[33] At least five were performing in Sydney from 1880 under variations of the title from the “Young Blondin” (Alfred Row) to the “Blondin Brothers” (Alexander and Collins), the “Great Australian Blondin” (James Alexander), the “original Australian Blondin” (Collins), the “Great Australian Blondin” (Signor Vertelli), the “Female Australian Blondin” (Azella) and another “Australian Blondin” (Charles Jackson).[1]
    In 1886 L’Estrange again applied to the Sydney City Council for permission to establish an amusement ride called “The Rocker” in Belmore Park. The Rocker consisted of a boat which, propelled by horsepower, gave the impression of being at sea. Permission was granted but like his juvenile pleasure grounds, there is no evidence that it was ever erected.[34] After this, L’Estrange slipped from view in Sydney. In 1894 Edwin L’Estrange “who a few years ago acquired some celebrity as the Australian Blondin” appeared in court in Fitzroy, Victoria having been knocked down and run over by a horse and buggy being driven by a commercial traveller. The driver was fined and L’Estrange’s injuries are not recorded.[35]

    ^ a b c d e f Mark Dunn (2011). “L’Estrange, Henri”. Dictionary of Sydney. Dictionary of Sydney Trust. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ a b c d e f g “(?) ROPE-WALK OVER MIDDLE HARBOUR.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 16 April 1877. p. 5. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ The Mercury (Hobart). 28 February 1873. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)

    ^ “BLONDIN’S FIRST APPEARANCE.”. The Empire (Sydney: National Library of Australia). 31 August 1874. p. 2. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ “CRICKET.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 27 January 1877. p. 3. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ a b “Intercolonial News.”. The Queenslander (Brisbane: National Library of Australia). 28 April 1877. p. 27. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ a b Town and Country Journal. 7 April 1877. p. 540. Missing or empty |title= (help) Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ a b “SOCIAL.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 4 May 1877. p. 7. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ Sydney Mail. 21 April 1877. p. 496. Missing or empty |title= (help) Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ “The Sydney Morning Herald.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 24 April 1877. p. 4. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ a b “The Sydney Morning Herald.”. The Sydney Morning Herald date=1 November 1878 (National Library of Australia). p. 4. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ City of Sydney Archives, 2 November 1878, Letters Received 26/154/0981. Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ “AMUSEMENTS.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 18 November 1878. p. 5. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ City of Sydney Archives, 21 November 1878, Letters Received 26/154/1044. Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ “AMUSEMENTS.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 9 December 1878. p. 5. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ “A BALLOON CATASTROPHE.”. The Argus (Melbourne: National Library of Australia). 15 April 1879. p. 5. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “A BALLOON CATASTROPHE.”. South Australian Register (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 18 April 1879. p. 5. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “A BALLOON CATASTROPHE.”. Queanbeyan Age (NSW: National Library of Australia). 19 April 1879. p. 3. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “VICTORIA.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 16 April 1879. p. 5. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “Melbourne.”. The Brisbane Courier (National Library of Australia). 16 April 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ Frank Mines. “A Draft History Of Parachuting In Australia Up To The Foundation Of Sport Parachuting In 1958: The First Emergency Descent”. Australian Parachuting Foundation. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “L’ESTRANGE’S BALLOON ASCENT.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 27 September 1880. p. 6. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ a b c “L’ESTRANGE’S BALLOON ASCENT.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 16 March 1881. p. 6. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ a b “L’Estrange’s Balloon Ascent.”. The Queenslander (Brisbane: National Library of Australia). 26 March 1881. p. 406. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ a b “The Ballon Explosion in Sydney.”. Illustrated Sydney News (National Library of Australia). 23 April 1881. p. 14. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “DISTRIBUTION OF AWARDS AT THE EXHIBITION.”. The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne: National Library of Australia). 9 April 1881. p. 113. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ City of Sydney Archives, 22 March 1882, Letters Received 26/183/475. Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ “Advertising.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 16 April 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “Advertising.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 23 December 1882. p. 2. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “The Blondin Fiasco”. Daily Telegraph. 1 January 1883.. Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ “PARRAMATTA INDUSTRIAL JUVENILE EXHIBITION.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 31 December 1883. p. 4. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “Advertising.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 14 April 1885. p. 2. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    ^ “DANGEROUS SPORTS.”. The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 19 February 1880. p. 8. Retrieved 19 December 2011.

    ^ City of Sydney Archives, 12 January 1886, Letters Received 26/209/0105. Cited in Dictionary of Sydney.

    ^ “FITZROY.—THURSDAY.”. Fitzroy City Press (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 28 September 1894. p. 3. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

    This Wikipedia article is substantially built upon the essay “L’Estrange, Henri” in the Dictionary of Sydney

    written by Mark Dunn, 2011 and licensed under CC by-sa. Imported on 18 December 2011 (Archive of the original)

    Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: Christmas In July!

    I must confess to not understanding the whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing, or why people go ape over it, trundling themselves off to the coldest climes to celebrate something that has no relevance here whatsoever. This is Australia, and Christmas means heatwaves, bushfires and flies. If you are an American, or English, it kind of makes sense to want to have snow for Christmas, but if you’re an Aussie, and only ever associate Christmas with summer, it just doesn’t work. And apart from that, it is hard to imagine Christmas happening in the middle of the year – snow or no snow.The whole Christmas thing in Australia has always been too tied up with English and European traditions, and catering to our climate at this time of the year never seems to be something anyone used to consider. I remember my mother slaving over hot stoves months before Christmas even started to get the cake and pudding done on time for it to mature before being reheated and eaten with hot custard in steamy 30-odd-degree heat. Everyone sweated in the hot house, just wanting it to end so that they could kick back with a cold beer. When I lived with my stepfamily back in the 70’s, I remember my poor sister-in-law catering a hot lunch for twenty people every Christmas day. Her reward was a stinking headache, and near dehydration. You have to query if this is the right way to celebrate Christmas day in Australia, especially with our tradition of breaking traditions, and our usual irreverence for anything considered over-the-top.

    When I lived in Darlinghurst, I used to cater a orphans Christmas lunch on Christmas day, for anyone who had nowhere else to go. I used to do the full traditional thing for anywhere from 12-15 people, with glazed ham, pork, turkey and pudding. I used to get to bed at about 3am on Christmas Eve, to be back up again at 7am to finish all the prep work. After my last of these – many years ago now – and finding myself with a migraine, I decided it was time to change my approach to Christmas eating.

    My partners mother was quick to realize the advantages of having a chef in the family. She swings a couple of hundred dollars my way, and I do the whole thing – but not the old way. I have started a tradition of fresh oysters in the half-shell, with various toppings arranged in small bowls, as an entrée. Everybody in his family – bar his Grandmother – loves them. We go to the fish markets about 10pm on Christmas Eve to get them – take this as a time hint. This is followed by cold ham, cold lamb and cold chicken with a range of salads, and finished off with an ice cream fruit pudding. On a hot day, this is a really refreshing meal, and no one has sweated themselves into oblivion to put it all together. I still do mince fruit tarts, a cake and shortbread but this is all easy to do, and involves little stress on my part. If you are still doing it all the traditional way, I suggest you consider a rethink, and start your own Christmas traditions.

    I hope everyone else can enjoy a stress-free and refreshing Christmas day.

    Tim Alderman (C) 2015


    Political Snippet: Paris & the Facebook Flag.

    I have chosen to NOT nake my Facebook profile picture a French flag. I wasn’t surprised to see it appear on FB profile pictures only hours after the Paris violence. This is a typical social media response to what is a huge tragedy. But there is more to this than an apparent simple, empathetic responce from social media, and those who use it.

    Mark Zuckerberg posted an opinion on the FB flag app that, whether you like the man or not, pretty well hit the nail on the head.

    My nterpretation of the above is:  It is the response tothe Paris attacks that is part of thethe problem. We are so selective in how we – “we” used in the universal sense – chose which tragedies are important enough to warrant a widespread response – or a FB flag app – and which aren’t. It is a response that is basically saying only certain human lives have value. Other deaths due to extremism of any – and many – types happen every day, and yet go unacknowledged both in news services…and on social media! The incidents are either too remote, or victims too poor, or of no political value, or of no financial value or – horrifically – insignificent! The whole world doesn’t revolve around iconic cities, which is how it could be viewed, though knowing that, I also live in a city that is a potential target. Surely in a world where we hope for universal compassion, universal responses to terrorism of ALL types, universal sorrow and empathy…even the death of one bystander would be considered too many, and worthy of a universal response. Unfortunately, thousands die, and go unacknowledged…by FB, or otherwise. 

    In another article I read – which was empathetic, but realistic – they stated that “By making ISIS go viral, we are helping them promote their own sadistic ends” which was exactly my initial thinking a day after the tragedy, when the blanket reportage ramped up to hysterical levels. They don’t need a PR machine – they have our nedia to keep their name up in lights. The ISIS hierarchy must be clapping each other on the back, and saying…job well done! 

     Sometimes I wonder if we are not our own worst enemy. Reporting the same information over and over infinitum dulls us to the impact of it, as we change channels again, as yet another news service blanket covers the event. The dead of Paris deserve better! 

    Facebook blows with the wind. If it’s a gay issue, create a rainbow flag app. If it’s a sensationalist terror attack, create a flag app for (insert name of country here)! What of Kenya! Palestine! Beirut! What of the “collateral damage” in Syria and Iraq! Perhaps multi-flag profile pictures will come next! 

    Despite my assumed cynacism of how we now approach tragedy, I do send my heartfelt sympathy and empathy out to Paris. I would be a poor example of humanity if I felt otherwise in the face of so many innocent people dying. It is just that my FB profile picture will not indicate so!

    Liberty; Equality; Fraternity!

    Tim Alderman (C) 2015

    Australian Icons: Wonderland City, Tamarama NSW. Formerly the Royal Aquarium and Pleasure Grounds.


    To look at Tamarama beach today, it is hard to envisage that it was once the site of the largest open-air amusement park in the southern hemisphere, nor that there were attempts in the early 20th century to ban swimmers from the area.

    Originally the site for the Royal Aquarium and Pleasure Grounds (commonly referred to as the Bondi Aquarium), it was an amusement park situated in Fletcher’s Glen at Tamarama beach.

    It opened on the 1st October 1887 and touted a Great Military Band, merry-go-rounds, swings, shooting gallery, water boats, Camera Obscura, Punch ‘n Judy show, and dancing in the Grand Hall.

    There were huge marine aquarium tanks featuring many fish varieties, sting rays, lobsters, turtles, wobbegong and tiger sharks. Seals shared a pond with a solitary penguin. There was a switchback railway, a roller coaster ride above the sand on Tamarama beach, two roller skating rinks, which eere “illiminated by the electric light”. Every Wednesday, Pain’s Grand Fireworks exploded overhead, and there were Sacred and Classical concerts every Sunday.

    In typical early 1900s tradition, feats of daring-do were a must. Alexander, an Australian wire walker, walked a wire from cliff to cliff. Captain George Drevar floated on a “cask raft” in the surf. There was a Grand Balloon Ascent and Parachute Descent. Headliners from the Tivoli Theatre perforned on the Aquarium Curcuit.

    Fire destroyed the Aquarium and Pavilion on 11th July 1891, but it rose from the ashes in September the same year, and continued on. The ladt known concert there was a fund-raiser for the Waverley Benevolent Society in 1906. Ownership and management chantes several times over the coarse of its existence, and it was finally sold by Mrs Margaret J Lachaume to William Anderson in 1906. He transformed and renamed it Wonderland City.                                                                        IMG_0232
    Anderson was a Prominent theatrical entrepreneur, leased the land in Tamarama Park, minus a 12-footbstrip of coastline, to allow the public access to the beach. He also leased a further 20-acres of land in Tamarama Gully – formerly Tamarama Glen, or “the Glen” – and started to transform it into an amusement park.

    The main entrance was a large white weatherboard building in Wonderland Avenue near the point at which it joins Fletcher Street. The entry price was 6 pence for adults and 3 pence for children with all rides costing an additional fee.

    Opening on Saturday, 1 December 1906 Wonderland claimed to equal ‘those amusement grounds… of the far famed Coney Island, New York, or White City, Chicago’. William Anderson also claimed “there weren’t sufficient trams in Sydney to transport the crowd … for the opening.” On this opening night approximately 20,00 people travelled out to Wonderland to go on fairground rides, view the novelty attractions and walk among the natural beauty of Tamarama Glen, which was lit by strings of electric lights and described as a ‘fairy city’.

    Some of the attraction included an artificial lake; the first outdoor ice skating timk in Australia; a roller skating rink which doubled as a boxing ring; double-decker merry-go-round; Haunted House and Helter Skelter; steam-driven swutchback railway; maze; circus ring; fun factory; the Airum Scarum, an airship that moved on a cable from cliff to cliff, was supported at bith ends by huge wooden structures, and at high tide moved over the sea; wax works; Katzenjammer Castle; Hall of Laughter; Box Ball Alley; Alice the elephant; a sea pond and aquarium; Japanese tearooms; Alpine slide;  and The King’s Theatre – a music hall – that could seat 1,000 people.


    Employing over 160 people, Wonderland set a new standard for Australian outdoor pleasure grounds. Large crowds, estimated at 2,000 people came every summer weekend, with seventy turnstiles at the entrance doing a brisk trade. Wonderland was known for its novelty and ‘shocking’ acts, with William Anderson the consummate showman. He organised for a couple to be married at Wonderland, and then paraded through the grounds on the back of Alice the elephant. One daredevil performer,  Jack Lewis,  roller skated down a ramp, through a hoop of fire and landed in a tank with sharks – much to the horror of the crowd. Miraculously Jack always survived unharmed.

    Unfortunately, conflict with swimmers was bound to happen. Despite the 12-foot public beach access strip being excluded from his lease, William Anderson erected a 8-foot high wire fence over it anyway, insisting it wss hecessary, as fare-evaders wrre using the strip as a way to access the park via his beachfront boundary fence.

    The barbed wire fence extended down the cliff on the southern end of the beach, across the rocks and sand to the rocks at the beach’s northern end. However this wire fence also blocked access for swimmers to the beach. Some of these swimmers were influential businessmen and having their local beach cut off incensed them. The swimmers started an ongoing battle with Anderson; they would cut his wire fence, he would repair it and contact the police. The police would arrive and warn the swimmers and the following weekend the same scenario would be re-enacted. George B. Philip, the foundation President of the Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club, was one of these swimmers and he later recalled how he got around one particular wire fence gatekeeper. ‘I scaled under the barbed wire fence practically every day, I knew every nook and corner of it – until I was caught by the gatekeeper. The outcome of this was that I came to an arrangement with him whereby that if I carried his billy of tea from the kiosk to (the) main gate at 5 o’clock each day, I could walk in and out when I liked (much to the envy of my mates, who were not caught)…’

    The stalemate between the swimmers and William Anderson continued, with the swimmers eventually taking a deputation to NSW Parliament. On 6 March 1907, the Minister for Lands, James Ashton, issued an order to resume the 12-foot strip of land fronting the beach to “give free access for all time to the beach at Tamarama Bay.” At the Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club’s centenary celebrations Ken Stewart, grandson of one of the original fence cutters Bill Stewart, reenacts his grandfather’s cutting of the barbed wire in 19061907 Many of these victorious swimmers formed the nucleus of a new surf club, the Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club. On 11 February 1908 the first surf ‘gymkhana’, equivalent to a surf carnival, was held at Wonderland on Tamarama Beach and was held each year until Wonderland closed.

    Meanwhile, bad publicity dogged Wonderland. The conflict with local swimmers and the wire fence incident soured the public image of Wonderland, as did complaints that the animals were being poorly housed and mistreated. The occasional breakdown of the Airem Scarem airship above the dangerous surf caused accusations of safety breaches and resident opposition to the weekend revellers at Wonderland grew.

    The crowd numbers dropped but Williams Anderson fought back bringing in famous entertainers and more daring acts from his national touring circuit to perform at the King’s Theatre. Anderson responded with more elaborate public exhibitions, but the public was tiring of Wonderland and the crowds dropped. It struggled on from March 1908 to December 1910 with poor crowds and low revenue, finally closing in 1911. William Anderson is said to have lost £15,000 on Wonderland City. Wonderland was the precursor of Luna Park, setting unprecedented standards for popular outdoor entertainment in Sydney. In its day it was the largest open-air amusement park in the Southern Hemisphere, and its decline does not diminish the grandeur of William Anderson’s vision.

    Although little visible evidence of Wonderland survives today, with the possible exception of the two paths on the northern boundary of Tamarama Gully, the NSW Heritage Office still considers the site to be of archaeological significance. Today a mural commissioned by the Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club on the side of their clubhouse celebrates the history of Wonderland and the part it played in the formation of their club.



    Published by Waverley Library from sources in the Local History Collection, 2008.

    Tamarama Beach today. The beach us popular with the gay community, and us referred to as “Glamarama” due to the number of muscle boys who like to pose around there.

    Exorcising Demons!

    I hate my parents! No…perhaps that is a bit strong, having now written it. I dislike my parents…closer to the point, but now a little too soft.. I’m indifferent towards my parents is perhaps closer to the truth. Yes, I choose to ignore them, and in many instances, regret having to admit that they ever existed at all.

    Maybe they loved each other, maybe they didn’t. God knows, love wasn’t exactly a subject openly discussed or displayed as my brother, Kevin, and I grew up. It is sad that Kevin had to be the one to pay the price for whatever did not exist ( and for what was not discussed, in their relationship. Did we have a happy childhood? In truth, I would have to say yes, though I’m aware that having said that, it is only myself that I speak for. Kevin may have been of another opinion, though, of course, we will never know if that is so.. He has been in his grave for the last 49 years, but I can assume that he would agree with me on that one point – a happy childhood.

    It wasn’t difficult to have a happy childhood in the 50’s, and early 60’s. In fact, it appeared that childhood was destined to be that way, almost as if preordained. The weather was perfect – though there are those who say that idyllic weather is part of a co-joined memory of everyone’s childhood – we had perfect neighbour’s, perfect house, perfect pets, and apart from the fact that this is Australia we are talking about, it could almost have been a real-life episode of ‘Father Knows Best’. I was given reasonably free rein to roam Sylvania with my mates, and my dog, Trixie. Kevin in those days was a bit of a millstone around an older brothers neck, but who did not see younger siblings in that light? A necessary evil, in fact.

    My childhood, like most who lived through those times was, in many respects, an urban myth. Up until the end of the first decade of our lives, the Easter bunny still delivered Easter eggs, the tooth fairy still left money for dearly departed teeth, and Santa stll came on Christmas Eve to deliver pre-ordered gifts. The only swear word I knew was ‘bloody’ – and had my backside beaten for using it – girls were definitely yucky; and when a school pal whispered into my ear one day about what I actually had to do to a girl to get her pregnant, I screamed, threw my hands in the air and ran!. Nobody would ever do anything that disgusting! Perhaps an inkling of my future lifestyle there! Anyway, I had watched a movie on television by this time, and had it on full authority – in my own mind – that women got pregnant by being kissed, which is why I went out of my way to avoid those situations.

    Was it obvious that my mother was unhappy, and planned to desert our happy home? I wouldn’t say it was obvious, but I certainly knew that something wasn’t right. When I got home from school the afternoon she left, and found her gone, I can’t say I was really surprised. In later years, when I was temporarily reunited with her after my fathers suicide, she confided to me that she knew my father was having an affair. She also confided to me, with a lack of detail thankfully, that he was a deviant. I never took this accusation too seriously. Considering her upbringing and conservatism, ‘deviancy’ could have been something as simple as oral sex. I was more concerned with the issue of her leaving us with a father who was to prove mentally unstable. She claimed that when she left, she had no idea where she was going, or what she was going to do. She couldn’t have managed dragging two young children along with her. I accepted that explanation though must admit to never being entirely happy with it.

    That my father was unfaithful to her, I never doubted. Within a fortnight of her leaving, a housekeeper named Nancy was suddenly introduced into the home. It wasn’t that she was identified as ‘housekeeper’ so much as the fact that she knew a little bit too much about us, was a little too familiar with the house. Add to this the fact that she spent the first night on the divan on the back verandah, then suddenly moved into the master bedroom – on my mother’s side of the bed – and even a twelve-year-old doesn’t have problems doing the math. Kevin and I hated her from day one. She was trying to act like a mother, but she knew she wasn’t, so discipline was a problem from the beginning. I hated her because she wouldn’t take orders – well, not from me at any rate. As far as I was concerned, housekeepers took orders. That was something else I learnt from television, and it also proved to be a lie.

    For my poor brother, life became an absolute misery. You have to remember that these were still days of witchcraft, and ignorance. If my brother had lived another ten years, he would inevitably have been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). However, in a time of witchcraft, his chronic disobedience, his problems with learning, and his hyperactivity were considered to by symptomatic of mental deficiency, and that was exactly how Nancy treated him – as someone who wasn’t ‘all there’. I had no problems with him, he was my brother, and pain in the neck or not, I had the patience of a saint with him, teaching him language, and reciting nursery rhymes to him until he knew them verbatim. He spoke what my parents referred to as ‘double Dutch’, and even though they had trouble understanding a single thing he said, I was always there to translate. I could never work out why they could never understand him! He spoke quite clearly, as far as I was concerned. But Nancy wasn’t even liberal enough to want him to have a translator. She just wanted him out. She was about to get her way.

    Nag! Nag! Nag! God, if Nancy could do anything, she could nag. Some women are just born to it, and she was one of them. She treated Kevin and I like criminals and outcasts. We were watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and nothing crept by her – believe me, I tried. But worse than dobbing on me to my father for my occasional raids on the sacred biscuit tin, worse than alienating us from our friends and neighbours – you wouldn’t believe how many people she poisoned my father against, or in turn poisoned them against us – was that she picked on Kevin. I couldn’t protect or defend him from her. She was like an unrelenting demon from hell. If he looked at her the wrong way, if he spoke to loudly, played when she wanted him to sleep, spoke when she wanted him to be silent, she was on his case. And she made sure the old man knew all about it when he got home from work – and that was ever the threat. Finally he cracked, just caved in to what she wanted.

    Fuck, he was a weak man! I think that shits me more than anything. He sprouted all the morality and principles on God’s earth, but when it came down to brass tacks, he just gave in to whatever was easiest. I could never believe that just getting rid of Nancy never seemed to be an option. Fuck knows, nobody else would have put up with her. Compared to my mother, she lived a life of royalty. I have tried to work out over the years how she
    managed to stretch the money my old man gave her to do things that mum never seemed able to manage. The only conclusions I can come to are that he either gave her a hell of a lot more money than mum ever saw, or she had an income outside of what she earned housekeeping for us. It is a question that will never be answered now. Christ, she even moved her son into the house, who in turn became Demon from Hell #2. My old man even did up a car for him, and moved him into my brothers bed, which heaven knows he had no need for, being dead at this time. Which I guess brings us to Nancy’s revenge, and what was to be her downfall.

    That Kevin would never have gone over The Gap at Watsons Bay, on that fateful 16 December 1965 night if Nancy had not come along is not even a debatable point.nit would not have happened. Full stop! Even my mother suffered unaccountable guilt over my fathers actions, beating herself up over leaving home, leaving us in such volatile predicaments. Did Nancy herself ever feel guilt over what happened? In my observations…no! To her, a oroblem had been removed and life went on. Her alienation of people we knew now carried over to visiting sympathisers, close family, the media! She closed ranks, and not because it protected anyone, but because it was a further extension of her power. My curiosity at trying to come to terms with what had happened, trying to comprehend the sheer personal agony of it, was met with icy emotion, steel resolve that nothing and nobody was going to offer me any enrapturing arms, and sympathetic tears.

    While all this turmoil went on, several other events occurred – I was, at no time, informed about what was going on with my father! I was kept completely in the dark, and apart from what I have been able to glean from press reports at the time, I am still in the dark about. I wasn’t even jotified of his fourt cases! There was an attempt by my mother to take me back, which happened with such sudden and unexpected ferocity that it had the opposite effect on my to what it should have had…it scared the life out of me, and sent me bolting to a heighbours home for protection. And there was a custody battle between my mother and father, accompanied by threats – truly – from jy fathers sisters on what I was to say to the judge to ensure my father – certainly not my parent of choice – retained custody. Nobody gave a flying fuck about what I wanted…it was all about spite, vindictiveness and control! Being a 12 year-old in the 60s was not to have ant rights. You just did what you were told! 

    As for my fathers brief incarceration, there was one visit, and ai was “encouraged” to write regularly, whether ai wanted to or not.  Upon his release, Nancy stage nanaged his coming home to be a scene out of “Leave It To Beaver”, complete with me running up the road and his loving arms! It was done reluctantly, I can assure you. My father and zi effectively had no relationship from that time on, and when he committed suicide via darbon monoxide poisoning in 1978, there were no tears shed on my part. After hus return, life’s disruptions continued, with the selling of our Melrose Ave home, moving to a shoebox flat in Kogarah – still with Nancy in tow – a name change from Pickhills to Phillips, and me having to change schools, leaving behind everything and everyone I knew. I ended up at a Marist Brothers boarding school in Campbelltown.

    Still, there was one consolation – and again, it was unexpected, and came like a bolt from the blue. Dad arrived home at the flat one day, just in time to hear Nancy in one of her vitriolic tirades at me, for having helped jyself to a buscuit from the Sacred Biscuit Tin! Now, whether he suspected that this may have been going on, or whether he was surprised to find it going on I will never know. Suffice it to say that, for the only time in our relationship, he stuck up for me, and bundled me into the car and took me to an aunties. I never saw Nancy again! Like ai cared!

    My father and I never reconciled over Kevin’s death. Like with most of the unpleasant things that occurred in his life, he just pretended it never happened. Not Nancy, not my father, nor any of his family ever mentioned Kevin’s name again. It would be 35 years later before ai felt comfortable, and able, to write about his death, to tell his story. A reconciliation with my mother just after his death likewise proved futile and fruitless. Too kuch water under the bridge by then. I believe she is still alive, and in yer 80s. If my stepfathers death is any gauge, I will hear of her death several years after the event. I am not expecting to shed tears over that event, either’!

    Tim Alderman (C) 2015


    Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: Genealogy Trendies!

    imageThe current “trendiness” of genealogy, and the push by sites like “Ancestry” to get people interested in their family history has a downside – apart from hundreds of trees that are started and then deserted – for those of us who take it seriously. I do use “Ancestry” – indeed, have my whole tree up there – and it can be very useful for filling in gaps that you can’t find information for…though only if the names you draw from other peoples research have themselves been researched. Like many others, my tree is public, and anyone is free to take information, sources, documents and citations from it. However, there is a tendency for many trendies to want to take shortcuts, so just take information from trees without researching themselves, thus passing on information that is often not correct, which in turn has a pyramid effect as others take the information and add to their own trees. There are also those who are just headhunters and only interested in how many people they can add without checking anything at all. A guy on a genealogy page recently was bragging about the 20,000 people he had on his tree. When challenged about whether he had checked the sources for all of them, his comments suddenly stopped. Obviously…no!
    I have just add d a convict to my tree – one of several who are closely related. This one is directly related to my maternal Grandmother’s sisters son’s wife…in other words, the wife of a first cousin. Thinking to check information against other trees, the results were fascinating, and a lesson on checking sources. Incorrect spellings of a prominent name, due to an obvious transcription error, was shared amongst the three trees I looked at. Incorrect naming of children, adding children twice – they were using census…as most of us do for England…but had added, for example, an Evangeline D born 1838, and an Evangeline Dorinda born 1838. The error there seems pretty obvious to me! They had made this error with three children, as if the family wasn’t big enough already without an extra three. They had poor Thomas Street arriving here in 1811 to start a 7-year sentence, then arriving again in 1816 to serve another 7-years. Poor bugger! A bit of research, and tying together some facts from the Colonial Secretary’s Papers – it’s all there – would have shown the 1811 arrival to be correct. As it is, the guy has a really interesting history here, and made quite a bit of money after being pardoned – something they don’t seem to have picked up on.
    And people hate being corrected when they make mistakes. I have commented on three trees about inaccuracies, and been ignored. One woman, who I had quite a bit of correspondence with, made three errors with MY bloodlines…she added one colourful son to a cousin (he not only had different parents, but was born in a totally different area) who, despite my pointing out the incorrect parentage, is still there in her tree. She also had an incorrect birth date for a GG aunt, and had attributed her to a non-conformist meeting house record…despite the Priscilla she attributed it to having a different mother. All three errors are still there. Needless to say, I don’t trust any of the information on her tree.
    I love seeing an interest in genealogy, but making people think that you just type in a name and off you go, and a little leaf popping up next to a name will give you all the correct information you heed is total bullshit. It is all about filtering and researching. There are no shortcuts!

    Tim Alderman (C) 2015

    Bad Eggs, Weirdos, and Heroes: A Story of Families

    There is an adage that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family…and fortunately – or unfortunately – it’s true. And oddly, as distinct from family groups in centuries past where family history and lineage was often passed down through word-of-mouth, these days we seem to know very little about our family history, or who we are, and how we are related to others in our “group”.

    I attempted to trace my family roots in the early 80s. I had the basics – mothers parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters and their families. My fathers sisters and their families, but that was about it. Tracing family history back then, in the dark ages, wasn’t as easy as it is now. There was no internet, no Ancestry or Family Search, no apps for tracing BDM, graves or potential record matches for family members. No little leaves popping up against names. I contacted my mother with a list of dates and relationships I required to move forward, only to find she wasn’t interested in family, and could only supply limited family information. With my father deceased, and his family alienated, my chances of getting very far looked grim. I entered up what info I had in a large family bible – the only thing that had family tree pages – and put it all on the backburner.

    Fast forward to ten years ago. The internet is in full bloom, and Mr Google is a knight-mine of information. I put Pickhills into a search engine, and suddenly all this information came to light through the newly published sets of census from England. A full, colourful family history, hidden from a blinkered families sight, came into full bloom. My family had no idea what they had missed by cutting themselves off from the curiosity to know what their forebears had done! No one knew of my Great Great Grandmother (Paternal) Elizabeth Pickhills nee Appleyard, who was dragged all over Yorkshire by her husband, Rickinson, gave birth to 12 children and had most of them die in her lifetime, who visited her 2 sons in South Australia, was arrested twice, was shipped back to England (presumably) because she was too much of a handful for her kin), and died of “senile decay” – dementia – in Tooting Bec Mental Asylum in London. Nor of my Great Grand Aunt Clara who married into the prestigious De Bomford family in Tasmania, nor my Great Grand Uncles who captained steamers up and down the Darling, Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers. One of these uncles led such a prolific life that I have a whole arch-folder dedicated to him, and it is suggested that the book “Dreadnought of the Darling” by the famous Australian war correspondent Charles Bean was based on the recollections of Captain George Rickinson Swan Pickhills’ life on the Darling River. Nor would they know that my Great Great Great Geandmother, Clara Pickhills nee Rickinson, was related to the very old and prominent Rickinson family from Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. What a shame that all this colourful heritage was lost to my family, caught up as they were in the dross of their own lives!

    The family tree currently stands at around 8,500 people, related either through blood or marriage. Lineages grow exponentially, so in reality there are no ends, and finding beginnings can be difficult. I am sure the tree is 95% accurate, and I am currently working on sorting out a couple of messy lines. It has proven an interesting experience, and many characters involved have had a hand in world history. We have Cornish miners (my mothers family) who travelled all the way here, hoping for a getter life than that offered in Cornwall and established themselves in South Australia, Broken Hill and Cobar; a Rickinson who was an engineer on Ernest Shackleton’s exprdition to Antartica; many who died in mining accidents; those who fought in WWI and are buried in Villers-Brettoneux; there are several protestant ministers; at least four convicts; bankrupts; relatives in England, Wales, Ireland, the Channel aislands, America, Canada, Germany and New Zealand. We are related to the Henschke – yes, the South Australian wine people – family in South Australia. We have humour, like Happy Victoria Morris marrying Spencer Lemon, thus becoming a Happy Lemon. And, as described below, a host of cads to keep everyone on their toes. Welcome to the world of family!

    Errant Family

    Elizabeth Pickhills nee Appleyard (my Great Great Grandmother) arrived here after the death of her husband Rickinson. They had 12 children within a short space of time, and of the 12, Edward, Jane, Frederick William 1, Walter and Mary died either in infancy or within a few years of birth. Henry Moorsom joined the Admiralty at 14 and died of Cholera in Bengal when he was about 21. Frederick George, George Rickinson Swan and Clara all moved to Austrlia at a fairly young age, and Charles Edward died while visiting his brothers here. Whether she intended originally to emigrate or just visit is unknown, but her stay was memorable! Anyway, she did ship herself here, and for a while probably lived with George Ruckinson and his wife, Ellen in Goolwa, South Australia. According to the South Austrlian Police Gazette, June 21, 1876 ” .A warrant has been issued at Yankalilla for the apprehension of Elizabeth Pickhills, a widow, and mother of Captain Pickills, of the Goolwa, for larceny of 2lbs. of butter from Messrs. Smith & Swan, sheep farmers, Bullapabaringa. Offender is said to be living at Mr. Luffin’s, Goolwa.” Not quite the thing you can imagine GG Gran doing. We know nothing more about the case except for this note in the South Australian Police Gazette, May 1, 1878 “re – Larceny from Smith and Swan – The warrant for Elizabeth Pickhills has been withdrawn.”. One has to wonder if George hadn’t had a few words to Smith and Swan about his mothers mental condition, and got them to be lenient. It didn’t end there. A writ appears with the Goolwa police dated 2nd May, 1889 against Elizabeth Pickhills . She appeared before a Justice of the Peace, Thomas Goode, charged with that on the 28th April 1889 she did “unlawfully use abusive words in a certain public place, to wit The Parade in North Goolwa, with intent to invoke a breach of the peace”. She had to pay a fine of £2. This incident received a mention in “A Land Abounding – A History of the Port Elliot and Goolwa Region, South Australia” by Rob Linn, chapter 5, page

    On the evening of 16 December 1965 at Sylvania, Frederick Lindsay Pickhills – my father – .took his 7-year-old son Kevin out to The Gap at Watsons Bay, and jumped over with him. Frederick survived, but Kevin’s body was found 3 days later by fishermen, floating in Broken Bay.

    Colin Edward Campbell...gaoled sheep stealing.

    William Thomas Onions went missing whilst supposedly leaving Broken Hill and heading to SA or WA, leaving his wife, Agnes, and 5 children in destitute circumstances.

    Above listed as. Cess-pit attendant in the 1895 Wagga Wagga borough expenses.

    19 jul 1851 Joseph Onions charged with larceny
    25 January 1928 William Joseph Onions (25) indecently assaulted Edna May Hollis (14) and committed for trial at Goulburn Quarter Sessions. On 15 February 1928 was acquitted.

    James Greenwood broke into home of Rickenson Pickhills and stole some dresses and a firearm.

    John Magg – family convict ancestor. Convicted in Surrey Quarter Sessions in 1822, and sentenced to 7 years in NSW. Arrived here onboard the Surry in 1823.

    Richard Blinksell – a wife-basher and thief: Transcription of article from the Queanbeyan Age dated 18 May 1883; “THREATENING LANGUAGE; Richard Blinksell was brought up in custody charged with threatening the life of his wife Sarah Blinksell, of Molonglo. The prisoner had been arrested on this charge by Constable Goodhew, having been given into custody by his wife. After the evidence of the arresting constable, Sarah Blinksell, on oath stated – I am the wife of the defendant now before the court. I gave him into custody of the police on the 11th of the present month for threatening to do me some harm. On Sunday evening, the 6th inst. defendant accused me of stealing his mare, and said to me, If the mare is not brought back to-night I will jump your ____ out. This occurred between one and two o’clock. I said, I never touched your mare. Defendant said, You are a ____ liar; and whatever row we have had before it will be nothing to what there will be to-night. He then went and laid down on the bed. While he was lying there I ran away. I stayed at my father’s house (John Edmonds) for three days. I then came home to my husband again, and brought my daughter and son-in-law with me. As soon as I came in the door the defendant jumped up and asked me why I did not bring his mare back that night. I told him I had never touched her. He told me I was a ____ liar, for he saw me take her. I told him then that I did not want to live with him any longer; I only wanted my three little children. Defendant told me I could take the ____. I called my children together and gathered up their things. As I was going out of the door with them, he called them all back again. I told him he could keep his children, but I did not intend to stop myself. He caught hold of me and was pushing me about to bring me back again. When my daughter found he would not let me go she went for the police. I mean she went to Carwoola and telegraphed to Queanbeyan for the police. I went into the house with my son-in-law; but when the latter went out defendant got up and barred the door against him. I remained with him all night. After staying there some time he told me to take my frock off and go to bed. I did so. After I was in bed some time he asked me if I was asleep. I was not, but did not answer him. He said, You had better enjoy it for it may be the last ____ sleep you’ll ever have. He kept using unbecoming language to me all night. I got up in the morning and prepared his and the children’s breakfast. On leaving to go to my father’s place to do some ploughing defendant walked up to me and spat in my face, making use of some expression which I forget. When he left the house I ran away into the bush and stayed there until the policeman came. I then went with the policeman to my father’s house and gave him in charge. From all that has passed I am afraid to live with him, fearing he might do me some bodily harm. I therefore pray that he may be required to find sureties to keep the peace towards me. To the Bench – I never laid my hands on the mare since the 18th of April last when I rode her home from my daughter’s place. Defendant has often struck me before – both me and my daughter. The last time he struck me was on the 20th of April. To the defendant – I was lying on the bed with my little child when you ordered me to take my frock off. I was trying to get the child to sleep, and did not wish to go to sleep myself. Defendant was then sworn, and stated – I am a farmer and live at Molonglo. On last Sunday week my wife went away from the place and told the children she was going to meet the little boys with the sheep. That led me astray. She had not returned at dark, and when I got my little children asleep I went to look for her, fearing something had happened to her. It was raining hard and I got off and washed my feet in the floods. I heard the next day that she was at her father’s place, and I sent her two messages to come home for an hour or two. She never came home till late on Thursday evening. I asked her how she came to go away in such a clandestine manner without telling me. The daughter then said something; she was there with her husband, Anderson; they came with my wife. I got Anderson and his wife out of the house, and shut them outside, and my wife, my children, and I remained in the house altogether that night. I told my wife she would not be obliged to herself for fetching her son-in-law there. I never that night attempted to raise my hand to her. I did say something to her, but I ‘disremember’ what it was”.

    January 19, 1857 at Wheeo. William Apps charged with theft of two cows & 2 heifers.

    March 29 1854. Narrawa. William Apps cautions people not to harbour his daughter Ellen, who has abandoned her family home without cause.

    William Apps: William was tried at Canterbury on 7th April 1826 on a charge of stealing corn. Found guilty, he was sentenced to seven years transportation to NSW, arriving at Port Jackson on 26th November 1826 on the vessel “Speke”. In 1831 William was granted his Ticket-of-Leave only to have it cancelled on December the same year for receiving a blanket under false pretences from his former master, Mr. William Broughton. For this misdemeanour Apps was sentenced to a week on the treadmill at Hyde Park Barracks. This punishment completed he was re-assigned, but his spirit was unbroken and within days he escaped from his new assignment. His re-capture was notified in the Sydney Gazette on 22nd December 1831. Finally Apps received his Ticket-of-Leave in 1833. From Convict Indents it is known that he was a short man, standing 4 feet, 11 inches tall with a fresh, unmarked complexion, brown eyes and hair. In April 1935 William Apps, aged 32, made application to marry Margery Campbell. Following their marriage, William and Margery Apps continued to live in the vicinity of Sydney and were in Parramatta in 1837 when their oldest daughter, Ellen, was born in that year. By 1849 the family moved to Wheeo, being among the earliest in that district.

    Margery Campbell (wife of William Apps), from Sligo, Ireland, was the daughter of William Campbell. When she was 23 she was tried in County Down for receiving stolen goods. For this offence, her first, she was sentenced to seven years transportation. She sailed on the “Palambam” from Cork on 23rd March 1830 arriving in Sydney on 31st July the same year. Margery was 4 feet 11 inches tall with a ruddy, freckled complexion and hazel to grey eyes. On her disembarkment in the colony she was assigned to Mr. James Taylor of Sutton Forest.

    Jane Langley – Jane’s story begins on the 14th of September 1785 when she was tried at the Old Bailey with Mary Finn for stealing five guineas from a Robert Robinson, on the 29th of July 1785. Jane’s parentage is unclear but she was possibly the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Langley, at St George Parish Hanover Sq The birth occurred on the 16th of September 1761 at the Holborn lying in hospital in Endell St. At the time of her trial Jane was a Tambour worker and was described as a tall dark girl with very curly hair, she appeared to be self supporting and doubt exist as to her need to be involved in crime. On the 6th of January 1787 she was boarded on the “Lady Penrhyn” during the Voyage to Australia Jane Langley had the first of her children a daughter Henrietta born on the 23rd of October 1787. There is some speculation regarding Henrietta’s father, Phillip Scriven or Shewring who was a seaman on the The Lady Penrhyn or Thomas Gilbert the ships Master on the Charlotte was also throught to be her father.

    Henrietta Shewing (1787—1828) Married to Edward Fletcher 1807 Henrietta, one of twenty little souls born on the convict transports known as the First Fleet, was to be always known as English, and never in England. Henrietta is the only child born on the First Fleet known to have Australian descendants [1]. Henrietta was born on board the Lady Penrhyn at Capetown Harbour, South Africa on 23rd October 1787 [2]. Three of the women convicts on the ship were known to be midwives: Mary Parker, Ann Colpits and Sarah Burdo. The ship’s surgeon Arthur Bowes Symth was definitely not present, and even recorded later Henrietta in the surgeon’s log as male. The ship’s log at least got the sex correct! Rev. Richard Johnson came on board to baptise the baby on the 4th November 1787, an event well liked by the crew because they received an extra ration of grog. The sailors who also had fathered children had the opportunity to buy tea and other little extras at Cape Town for their women [3]. Henrietta arrived on the shores of Port Jackson 6th February 1788, a sultry stormy evening. The next two years were hard and famine was severe in the colony, taking its toll especially of the small children. It was decided to send five of the surviving children and their mothers to Norfolk Island. That in itself was an adventure, as they arrived in high seas and were only at great peril able to be landed at Cascade with the seas breaking into the boat which was very frightening and caused much panic and screaming. That night the Sirus was swept on to rocks and shipwrecked. Henrietta lived on Norfolk Island for the next five years and in that time her mother married the marine Thomas Chipp. A brother Robert was born (and died) and a sister Ann, and a third child is recorded. I think this could have been little Thomas Chipp whose death is recorded early 1795 but most members of the family think the evidence is too flimsy. There were school classes taken by a number of individuals and eventually in 1792 Thomas McQueen was appointed schoolmaster and Susannah Hunter his assistant for seventy five pupils. We could imagine Henrietta would have been one of the pupils. Norfolk Island had passed from its early idyllic days to a wilder rougher life, and Thomas Chipp and his family decided to leave there and return to Sydney Town which had also become a pretty wild and rough place. The Governor’s wife Mrs. King started an Orphan School to house the homeless girls living on the streets of Sydney. This first Orphan School stood on the corner of Bridge and George Street. Not all the girls in the institute were orphans. In two of her letters Henrietta refers to having been in the Orphan School. The family was on record as being “on stores” in 1804. Stores were the equivalent of social security. On the 23rd March 1807 nineteen year old Henrietta was married to the convict Edward Fletcher by the Reverend Henry Fulton at St. John’s Parramatta. Edward had been working for the Knights as a servant, as was her thirteen year old sister Mary Chipp, so we assume they met through mutual acquaintances. This is the period of time Henrietta’s stepfather would have had land at Toongabbie (Seven Hills, later to be known as Bella Vista) and Isaac Knight had the adjoining farm. Henrietta applied for a land grant and a cow on the grounds she had been an inmate of the Orphan School and was granted a thirty acres at Bankstown. Today the land is occupied by Liverpool Hospital. Governor Macquarie revoked all the land grants made by the Rum Corp after the overthrow of Governor Bligh and Henrietta reapplied and was granted the Liverpool land again. The annual rent was to be 2 shillings a year after 5 years. Thomas Moore [4] apparently wanted the grant Henrietta had at Liverpool but probably helped her to obtain the grant at Narellan plus an extra ten acres, which became known as Fletcher’s Farm, and today is the land near Springs Road, Narellan. Henrietta had six children: Edward born 8th March 1808 in Campbelltown, baptised at St. Luke’s Liverpool; John born the 10th May 1810 at Cowpastures and baptised by the Reverend Samuel Marsden at St Luke’s on 15th May 1810. Eliza was born at 12th August 1812 at Campbelltown. Susanna was born on the 12th May 1815 at Fletcher’s Farm, Campbelltown; Blanche was born 17th December 1823 and Elizabeth 26th April 1828. Since 1810 Edward had been employed as a constable in the Cowpastures District. Henrietta’s health had declined over the years and by the time she died at the age of forty-one years, she was blind and crippled. Thirteen year old Susanna was working for the Rev Thomas Hassall as a maidservant on a nearby property, but William Boyle Henrietta’s nephew was living with the family, his father having died. William’s mother Mary was not coping with the change in her circumstances and her sisters took in her children. Edward had a reputation for drinking, but it was said he was always kind and thoughtful to his wife and children, and Henrietta was described as “an exceedingly reputable woman who bestowed great pains in bringing up her children”. In 1828 there was the first outbreak of whooping cough in the colony and two thousand people died as a result of it. One could be excused for wondering if Elizabeth and Henrietta were two of the victims. Henrietta and Edward Fletcher are buried in St. Peter’s churchyard Campbelltown in a well-cared-for grave, which also has a First Fleeter’s plaque for Henrietta. Though Henrietta never lived to see her grand children she had thirty six grand children. There are other family graves St Peters churchyard including Susanna Chapman’s Henrietta and Edward’s daughter. Thomas Chipp always accepted Henrietta as part of his family, and Henrietta was involved in her sisters’ marriages and lives. Thomas was the only grandfather her children knew. NB Surname: Henrietta is variously quoted with the surnames Scriven, Shewring, Skirwin, Chipp and Langley before marriage. Grandson: MH has also written a piece about William Henry Fletcher who was a grandson of Henrietta. Notes [1] A number of children born to marines on the journey, returned with their families to England. (‘Orphans of History —The Forgotten Children of the First Fleet’ by Robert Holden). [2] The baby was born at 1pm so in navy parlance was dated the 23rd as their dates changed at noon. She was also recorded as the child of T..G.. which 198 years later was to cause speculation on who was T..G.. With the passing of sailing ships the navy parlance for calling sailors after their job had been forgotten. Philip Scriven was the foremast man responsible for the Top Gallant sail.[3] As recorded in Jonathan King’s book ‘The First Fleet’.[4] This is the same Thomas Moore who is credited with founding Moore Theological College. He was a land dealer in the early colony.NMargaret Hardwick, 2009

    Lynn Shepherd
    was indicted for robbery in 1838, found guilty and sentenced to life on Norfolk Island

    Addison Mitchell was indicted for murdering William Ablett on 8 Nov 1856 at the old Lachlan Road. John Collins testified at the trial before Mr Justice Therry at Bathurst Circuit Court] “John Collins, lives at No. 1 Swamp, near Carcoar, I recollect on 7th of November, 1856, being in company with Ablett, and prisoner; in answer to an inquiry made by prisoner, he said his name was Ablett, and he was a native of Cambridgeshire ; I should say he was about 20 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches in height, fair complexion, without whiskers, light hair, dressed in a light tweed cap, plaid jumper, fustian trousers, and watertight boots ; in prisoner’s presence, he told me that if he could find an old horse he would buy it to carry his swag to the Ovens ; I sold him an old bay horse, saddle, and bridle, for £6 ; he paid me in prisoner’s presence, with two £5-notes ; prisoner drew out the receipt; Ablett had a tent with him, and I noticed a shingling hammer (hammer found near fire shown) ; I believe this is the hammer deceased Ablett had; I noticed the boots he wore, and noticed that nails were out in front of the left boot ; to the best of my belief the boots I now see in Court are those I saw on Ablett ; the bridle now produced (found in prisoner’s bundle) is the one I sold to Ablett; I saw Ablett last at Radburn’s, 1 mile and a half from my house; he started, leading the horse with his swag placed across the saddle ; this was on Saturday ; he went in the direction of the junction of the Wagoola and Grabine roads with the Lachlan road; the horse might travel 20 or 25 miles a day ; after I left deceased, and on my return home, prisoner complained of his hands being sore from blisters ; I said we would spell that day, and commence again on Monday morning ; prisoner afterwards went out in the same direction that Ablett took ; about an hour afterwards; I did not see him again until next day, Sunday, about 2 p.m ; he was then very dirty ; he washed himself, and shortly afterwards I received information that my horse that I sold Ablett was near my house ; I went out and found the horse hobbled close at hand; I said, in prisoner’s presence, that the horse had been brought back ; prisoner said he had strayed back ; in the evening I told prisoner that it was no use in saying he did not bring the horse back, as he had been seen riding him ; he said, “well what of it, you don’t know Ablett as well as I do, he is a bolter, and there are constables after him in all directions ; that he was within a quarter of a mile of the place, but was afraid to come in ;” whilst I was sitting near the fire with prisoner, I saw the remains of a pocket-book in the ashes ; it had a clasp like the one I saw with Ablett ; I was frightened to put it in my pocket as I was alone with the prisoner; after prisoner left my house I searched for it, but could not find it ; I identify the handkerchief now produced, found in prisoner’s bundle, as one I gave to Ablett with flour in it, also the saddle and bridle sold by me to Ablett, and found concealed near my hut; on the Monday morning I discharged prisoner being suspicious of him; as he left I saw him pick up the bridle now produced; I identify it as the one sold by me to Ablett; I gave information to the police. Constable McFadden re-called : In consequence of information given by last witness prisoner was apprehended for horse-stealing: it was in looking for and making enquiries about Ablett that I found the camping ground on the old Lachlan road ; there were appearances of a tent having been pitched, there, and about half a mile distant in the scrub I found the ashes of the fire in which I found the bones, buttons, shingling hammer, hair, and buckles, which have been produced ; I made enquiries in the neighbourhood of the camp, but could find no traces of any person answering to Ablett’s description being seen in that neighbourhood. Thomas Radburn, of Carcoar, recollects Collins coming to his hut on 8th November, to change a 5 pound note ; he was accompanied by a young man; witness’s description tallied with that already given by Corby, Wood, and Collins. James Bradburn, son of last witness, gave the same evidence as to appearance and dress of Ablett ; two and a half hours afterwards saw prisoner following in the direction taken by Ablett ; when Collins told prisoner next day that he had been seen riding the horse, prisoner replied, well, what of it ? Katherine Radburn gives same description to that already given of Ablett, and thinks that the prisoner was the man she saw going in the same direction to that taken by Ablett two hours after. Richard Byrne, knows, the prisoner ; saw him on Sunday morning, 9th of November, between eleven and twelve a.m., at a place on the Lachlan road; about two and a half miles from the junction of the Wagoola and Grabine roads with the old Lachlan road; he was riding on a short brown-tailed horse, it was very thin, he had a bundle before him as full as it could hold ; I saw the horse prisoner was riding afterwards at the Court House ; prisoner was very dirty, like a man after a long journey. William Mulaly lives at Black Hill Creek, on the left of the Lachlan road, about quarter of a mile off the road; on Sunday, the 8th of November, prisoner came to my house between 11 and 12 a.m.; he-had a very poor brown horse with him ; I asked him whom the horse belonged to ; he said it was Collins’s he lent it me so that I could come over to you to get employment ; I asked him if his name was Mitchell; he said, yes ; there was neither saddle nor bridle on the horse when I saw him, prisoner’s appearance was that of a man after a hard day’s work, he was very dirty. Cross examined by Mr. Dalley: No appearance of having been engaged about a fire; his clothes were not burnt; he looked like a man after a hard day’s work. John Radburn identified the saddle as being found by him concealed at the foot of a tree near Collins’s hut. John Meiklejohn, constable in Carcoar police: On Sunday morning, the 9th of November, I was on the Lachlan Road, near the junction of the Wagoola and Grabine roads; I saw a fire in the distance, off the road about half a mile. I afterwards was taken to the place by McFadden, and I then recognised it as the place where I had seen the fire on the 9th November; looked for tracks at the junction, but could not find any. James Grant, the prisoner, was in my employment as a shepherd; he knew the country well in the neighbourhood of the junction of the roads to Wagoola and Grabine with the Lachlan road. On Sunday, 23rd November, McFadden and I found remains of a fire in a scrub, half a mile off the road; we found bones, buttons, a hammer, and portions of hair there; at the junction a tent had been pitched ; this was half a mile from the fire in the scrub. ………………The jury, after a short absence, found the prisoner guilty; and the Judge; in a most impressive manner, passed sentence of death upon the prisoner.This case occupied the whole day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    Doris Olive Irene Nunns charged Thomas Henry Roy Jackson of attempted rape on 14 July 1920. He was acquitted.

    Richard Cole Seaton charged with stabbing his wife with a knife and inflicting serious wounds, and also assaulting his niece.

    John Henry Theodore Merrion was killed when falling from a roof during a demolition in Ngahauranga, NZ.

    On 11/5/1903 Ellen Prest was remanded in gaol at Murrumburrah for 8 days due to “unsound mind”

    Private Alfred Sydney Polglase deserted the army on July 21, 1916 and there was a warrant out for his arrest

    Thomas Henry Roy Jackson charged with the attempted rape of Doris Olive Irene Nunns nee Polglase on 14 July 1920. Acquitted.

    Squire Brooks – convict ancestor on my maternal grandmothers side – the Collins family

    1924 Horace William Brooks, 9yo, drowned in Eastern Creek along with an 11 yo friend.

    Sat 28 Sep 1867 at Braidwood Police Court. Thomas & Eliza Hobbs daughter Esther, 10yo, (born out of wedlock) was being prostituted by her father – a drunkard – and his wife – a drunkard and prostitute. Frederick Stephens, a witness, recollected that on Christmas Day saw Esther and a man named Dean naked together in a waterhole..the details here being too lurid to print. He had heard that it was common for liberties to be taken with the girl. Dean was known as a regular with the girl, and had been arrested for sexually assaulting her, but had been acquitted. Her parents received her earnings. The parents were known to often leave all the children on their own for long periods, to fend for themselves. The object of having the girl in court was to save her from her parents. She was sent to the industrial School. The Hobbs family members were regularly in court for drunkenness and foul language…and never argued the charges.  On Friday 18th sep 1874 at Braidwood, the above Dean was admitted to hospital, having been brutally beaten, and died that night. He was found about a mile and a half from the Hobbs house, after having been out drinking. The Coroners Court jury found that death had been caused by person or persons unknown.

    1884 Lynn David Nettleton had a warrant for his arrest issued for disobeying an order to financially support his illegitimate child.

    Ada Camden was excited to be marrying Harris excited, so it seems, that she forgot to divorce Roland Watts. Henry had their marriage dissolved on the basis of bigamy.

    In 1885 Richard Camden alias Crib alias Snow was accused of stealing two horses belonging to James Hemsley and Thompson Ross. He was described as being 5’10”-11″, no age given, stout build, sandy complexion, and sporting Dreadweary whiskers. He was thought to have gone to Tambar Springs. No warrant was issued.

    In 1919, Horace Horder (17) and a group of boys were charged with breaking and entering the home of William Clement and stealing jewellery etc to the value of £10 (part recovered). The boys were committed for trial, bail allowed.

    Baptism Certificate for Sarah Camden in 1852 seems to have some difficulty deciding whether the surname should be Jones, or Camden. The transcriber made a note at the end of the certificate that the minister had added after the mothers name, on the original, that the child was born as the result of adultery. It would appear that the 17yo Richard had a dalliance with the 37yo Elizabeth Hale…with the predictable result. Sarah ended up a Camden.

    In 1883, Gertrude Agnes Finke (the future Mrs Catherine Agnes Bottrill), was admitted to the Adelaide Destitute Asylum, along with 6-month old David. David died shortly after.

    In 1773, at Helston Cornwall, Robert Barwick Scadden and his wife Anne were excommunicated. No clear reason is given.

    24 December 1890, Thomas Ironfield charged with breaking & entering three homes in Leichhardt & Balmain. Jewellery & watches stolen. Later charged with pick-pocketing crowds in The Domain. His wife later charged him with desertion, claiming he had assaulted her for no good reason, then throwing her and her children out of the house. He also had her tossed out of a lodging house. He, in turn, said he had no desire to live with her. He was gaoled in 1898 for the robberies.

    Mining Accidents – CLEAVES William

    Name: CLEAVES William
    Age: 0
    Date: 05/02/1845
    Year: 1845
    Colliery: Hayeswood Coalworks
    Owner: S.S.P. Samborne and Co.
    Town: Timsbury
    County: Somerset
    Notes: Adjoining were old workings which had lain unused for many years and were filled with water. About 100 men descended for the day shift at about 5 a.m. Mr Evans, the overseer noticed there was an unusual appearance of damp but initially he did not become too alarmed as he thought it was only “the bleeding of the coal”. William’s body, along with that of George Palmer was not recovered until the following October. Two weeks later John Flower was brought out. Later another body was found and was buried in the name of Joseph Gullick. The mistake was discovered when the body of Joseph Gullick was found. 11 killed. Left a wife and 6 children.

    17 Feb 1952 Adolphus Stead reversed over Margarey Ann Gould, aged 4, in his car at Broken Hill. She suffered fatal head injuries.

    1903, Elizabeth Stead dies after inadvertently taking strychnine after an afternoon of consuming alcohol. 

    Tim Alderman (C) 2015