Dr and Mrs Menzies
Robert Menzies was born in 1812 in Scotland where he graduated in medicine and joined the Royal Navy. He made at least one voyage to Jamaica where he admired the bright coral trees, some of which he later brought to Australia to form a beautiful avenue for the drive at Minnamurra, claimed to be the first coral trees brought here. In 1838 he married Margaret Tindell bringing her immediately to Australia. He was 27, she was 22.
Mrs Menzies, nee Margaret Tindell, was born in Scotland in 1817. So she was 21 when married. As her journal shows she was seriously minded even when young. "She had strong and abiding religious convictions which she carried out in practice and which sustained her in death." Not only in church matters was this true, but in all her conduct. She was indeed a gracious lady and was loved by all who knew her.
The 300 acres which he bought from Dr Thomson had been originally bought by Mr J L Spencer in September 1837. He sold it to Mr H Fisher in November and then to Mr Fisher and Dr Thomson in December. So it is almost certain that when Dr Menzies bought the property there was no building on it except perhaps , a cabbage tree hut, and that only a few acres were cleared.
The estate lay on the north side of the Minnamurra. To the north and west of it was a large 2560 acre estate, Curramore, beloning to Dr Foster. on the south of the properties of Mr Cullen, Mr Hyam and Mr Malcolm Campbell, the last soon to be bought by Mr James Marks and Mr Waugh. Source Unknown
MRS MENZIES DIARY
This transcript from a handwritten account (author unknown) was lent for copying by Mrs Oke of Jamberoo, 18th May 1988.
(Transcribed May 1988. It is thought that this account, with explanatory notes, was compiled by Arthur Cousins, author of 'Garden of Illawarra'. It is thought that the original diary is now in the National Library Canberra. It would be interesting to have those sections which the compiler of this account has summarised.)
DR. & MRS MENZIES IN AUSTRALIA.
The 'Earl of Durham', with Dr. and Mrs. Menzies aboard reached Sydney on Wednesday January 2, 1839, 107 days after leaving the Downs. She brought 20 first class passengers and 36 in steerage.
Mrs. Menzies writes: "Most happy to see the habitations of man once more. I was much struck with the beauties of Port Jackson and the Cove.
The soil is extremely barren and sandy, but studded with many nice houses, with numerous rocky islands and promontories and is highly picturesque". immediately on arriving in Sydney, Captain Coombes of the 'Hope' came on board and "to our delight told us Uncle was still here -I wrote to him to Liverpool".
On Wednesday evening Dr. Menzies went ashore to secure lodgings and the two left the ship on Thursday.
Mrs. Menzies writes.."Left the Earl of Durham with extreme good will most happy to set my foot on shore and find myself in a large though empty room. Sydney is not what 1 expected, and yet 1 cannot day 1 am disappointed. It is the most irregularly built town 1 ever saw and such a wretched set of inhabitants. It is quite fearful to be among them."
(This was the state of things found by Mrs. Caroline Chisholm. The streets ware crowded, largely by homeless immigrants brought to Australia by a Government that made no adequate provision for them. In the half year ending 30th June, 1839, there were only seven ships bringing convicts, one of which brought only 6 convicts and 29 First Class passengers. In that time there were 18 ships bringing immigrants, five of them bringing first class and steerage passengers. In addition there were 29 ships bringing passengers who paid their own fares.
The convict system was drawing to a close, their place being taken by immigrants. Mrs. Chisholm got to work at once personally helping these stranded immigrants and urging the Government successfully at last, to help them also. Mrs. Chisholm, besides looking after their comfort in Sydney, set about securing employment for them and finding means to transport them to their new homes. She took them in bands to country centres, a leader like Moses, loading them to their promised land. In 1843 she had 30 families conveyed to Captain Towns' estate between Shellharbour and Albion Park 240 souls - to take up clearing leases, a-ad appealed to the inhabitants of Illawarra to. supply them with rations and seeds for the first six months.)
On Friday Uncle Sandy came to Sydney and told the doctor he had been looking out for him and had two places in view. in Sydney he apparently introduced them to Mr. and Mrs. Miller where they dined. They found Mrs. Miller a pretty little woman whom Mrs. Menzies liked very much.
On Monday the doctor and Mrs Menzies went to Liverpool where they stayed with Dr. and Mrs. Hill for nearly two months. During this time properties were examined at Mittagong and Windsor and found unsatisfactory. Then Dr Menzies and Uncle Sandy went, to Illawarra and found two adjoining properties, each 300 acres, which pleased them very much. So when they returned to Sydney they bought the two one from the Government, the other from Dr. Thomson.
From Scotland they brought with them Charles and Jessie. Charles seems to have come to be a farm manager and Jessie a house maid. These were left in Sydney when the doctor and his wife went to Liverpool, but followed them to Liverpool next week.
Having bought the land Dr. and Mrs. Menzies went to Sydney to buy furniture, securing a room at Mrs. Pearson's "not at all comfortable, but dining with Mr. and Mrs. G. Miller "who were extremely kind". On 22nd February Uncle Sandy sailed in the Hope for England.
The section dealing with the purchase of land is dated 29th January, 1839. The next entry is made, at Kiama on 18th April, and deals with the purchase of furniture, Uncle Sandy's departure, the journey to Kiama and life in Kiama up to 18th April.
Preparations were made to go to Kiama. Mr. Menzies and Charles went to Sydney and had the furniture and other goods put on the 35 ton schooner, engaged in the cedar trade, leaving for Kiama on Saturday lst March, and taking Charles and James, as well as-the doctor's goods.
(The diary says 29th February, an impossible date in 1839)
The doctor and Mrs. Menzies left Liverpool on 28th February, "after experiencing Dr. and Mrs. Hill's kindness for nearly two months and rode to Campbelltown, a distance of 13 miles where we remained all night, and next day started at 6 o'clock. Reached Appin 11 miles to breakfast, meeting Mr. H. Osborne on the road, and left there at 10. After a tiresome ride arrived at Wollongong, 25 miles at 7 o'clock evening, quite overcome. But notwithstanding my fatigue, was much struck with the oriental appearance of the mountain separating Illawarra from the sandy wilderness we passed through - saw some beautiful heaths - numerous birds - the palm or Cabbage tree - and a richness of soil and freshness of verdure which was a most pleasing contrast to that part of the county I had been in the last 2 months".
(Nine hours seems an extraordinarily long time to ride 25 miles. But the road was rough and it is unlikely that they went out of a slow walk. Besides, they probably had a rest and some refreshment on the way. Although Mrs. Menzies does not say so in an entry made 7 weeks after this journey, it is almost certain that Mr. Henry Osborne invited them to Marshall Mount and told them of his brother, Dr. John Osborne living just outside of Wollongong.
The drab condition of the country about Liverpool was probably due to the drought condition then prevailing "The country was in a dreadful state for wantof water, and from 2nd January till about the beginning of April we had scarcely a drop of rain excepting occasional thunder showers which did not at all benefit the ground. Complaints were heard from all quarters of the want of water for man and beast, and even in this district which is truly a Paradise when compared to other parts, was parched and the grass withered up - Everything rose tremendously in price and dreading there would be no wheat crop next year, ships were to be sent to foreign ports for supplies. First flour is now 46s. per cwt and second do. 43s., an immense price and actually ruinous to those who like ourselves are newly arrived and have to lay out money for everything. We ought to be thankful for having the needful and trust next year may be better. The rain came about the 1st April and we had several days of continued and heavy rain which has done an immense deal of good. It is truly wonderful the change that has taken place I could imagine I saw the grass growing, and although we have some very dry days since, what before was a field of black earth is now covered with green grass, and although short, affords a good picking for the horses".
(As mentioned above the entry covering all events between 29th January and 18th April was made on 18th April and the one above showing weather conditions in that period was made on 23rd April)-
Arriving in Wollongong they "passed a very uncomfortable night, suffocated with spirits and tobacco and eaten up by bugs".
(Mrs Menzies does not say at which of Wollongong four hotels she stayed. Was it Alexander Alliott's Wollongong Hotel, Samuel Coulston's Traveller's Inn, Cornelius Hoolahan's Governor Bourke, or B. McAuley's The Harp? How well supplied were even small towns at that time.)
Next day, Sunday 2nd March they left this uncomfortable hotel in the morning and had lunch with Dr. John and Mrs. Osborne at Garden Hill, at that time just outside the town, but now part of the city. She found Dr. Osborne "a gentlemanly man, not so sterling as Henry". But she was not well impressed by Mrs. Osborne or the children.
(They evidently followed the new road, at least to Marshall Mount, going back along the road they had come, as far as the turn off on the slopes of Mount Keira, thus avoiding Spring Hill, Charcoal or Berkeley (Unanderra) and other parts through which travellers mostly went then, and through which the main road now goes).
On Sunday afternoon they rode through the upper part of Mr. Jenkins' Berkeley Estate, across Charcoal or Allan's Creek, across Dr. Gerard's Kembla Grange, Mullet Creek, Mr. George Brown's Ship Inn and property at Dapto, then through the grants of R. Brooks and W. Brown, recently bought by Mr. Henry Osborne and on to Marshall Mount, Mr. Osborne's home, where they stayed that Sunday night. They found "Mrs. Osborne a very gentle nice woman hope to know her better, and Mrs O one who I think will be a valuable neighbour to dear Bob. They wished us to remain but I felt anxious to finish my journey and we left next morning calling at O'Meara's on the way where I had my first meal in a log hut".
(Mr. O'Meara's hut was just across the Minnamurra from the Woodstock Mills, the largest building in the district. It seems strange that no mention of the Mills is made at this stage. It is perhaps because the description of the journey was made 7 weeks after the Journey. It is strange, too, that Mrs Menzies does not mention the fact that a considerable part of that journey was made through beautiful cedar brush with, its giant fig trees, dense jungle growth, vines, ferns, cabbage palms etc., all described by Mrs. Huxley who travelled over the same route some years later in a bullock dray.
Mr. O'Meara's hut was most probably one of those huts so common in early days with walls and roof made of split trunks of the cabbage tree. These huts had no glass windows, simply coverings to put up in wet weather. Most of them had earth floors. This Mr. O'Meara had, in 1838, given 2 acres as a burial ground to the Roman Catholic Church. It has not been so used for many years. But it is still there on the road leading to Moss Vale with its graves still kept in order).
To get this far they had to cross Macquarie Rivulet at what is now Albion Park, then Turpentine Creek, a tributary of the Minnamurra and the Minnamurra itself., Turpentine Creek had a steep approach from the north but the crossing was good.- The crossing over the Minnamurra was broad, though shallow, but very good, being gravelly except when heavy rain rolled some big round stones into it.
Leaving Mr. O'Meara's hut, Dr. and Mrs. Menzies rode across Tate's Creek, rather a muddy crossing and then along the cedar track cut by Mr. Michael Hyam to Kiama. This track was practically all of the way through dense bush. Some small creeks had to be crossed and one part of it was called the Glue Pot because it was so boggy in wet weather. It led over two steep long hills, Spring Hill through Mr. Robb's property and Pike's Sill in Kiama Township Reserve.
They arrived at Kiama at 5 p.m. on Monday 3rd March. "Heartily glad my journey was over, but surprised the "Alexander McLeay" had not reached this harbour before us. We remained in great anxiety respecting it until the Monday following when she arrived and our cargo, living and lifeless, in safety, but the former quite sick of the sea. That evening and the next day we got all our goods on shore and took possession of our three rooms which we rent from Smith at £2 per week".
(Mrs. Menzies did not realize how such small sailing craft could be delayed by contrary winds and so many other things.
The Mr. Smith mentioned was Mr. David Smith who had been a cedar cutter. In 1832 he applied for and obtained from the Government, half an acre of land in the Kiama township reserve. This was 7 years before the town was surveyed. In 1831 barracks wore built on the site now occupied by the Methodist Church. on that half acre of land Mr. Smith erected the first inn to be established at Kiama. It was one of those long weatherboard buildings, one storey, with shingle roof and a long verandah extending all of its length. When Kiama township was planned in 1839 this building was in Manning Street, south of Bong Bong Street. That long verandah though facing Manning Street was not in exact alignment with the footpath, the southern end being on the line, the northern end some distance back. It was necessary to alter the shape of the land to make it accord with the plan of the town. So it occupied two allotments one quarter acre each. This building remained in place till the railway line was built in the late eighties when the land was resumed for railway purposes and the old house destroyed.
In the seventies David Smith was a well known figure in the town, a tall man, well built, with one of those big beards so common in those days. He had then retired from business, and spent a good deal of his time on a comfortable chair on that long verandah of what had long ceased to be an inn, looking out over what is now the surfing beach and watching the traffic to and fro. Of course he would go to the steamer, to the sales and to Adam's Steam Packet Hotel where he was fond of laying down the law, and hence was called "Davy the Lawyer". The year after the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Menzies, in this very inn it was decided, at a meeting of landholders, to build a road to Gerringong at their expense. The Chairman of that meeting was Captain Collins of Woodstock Mills, and the assessors were Mr. Michael Hindmarsh and Mr. Mackay Gray. The first two of these are mentioned in the diary.
To get passengers and goods ashore from such a schooner it was necessary to use a rowing boat which was brought up to that little beach near Kiama Post Office. There was no wharf at that time, nor into the fifties, when first a small wharf for rowing boats was made and then a jetty into the bay to be destroyed by one of those occasional violent storms from the north. These rowing boats were large strong ones and were used to convey the cedar slabs to the waiting schooners and at that time, the timber and some flour from Captain Collins' Mill, as it was called. No-one in the locality seemed to know that the principal shareholder was Mr. Hart in England.
It seems strange that, in this manner, a piano and a sideboard together with cases of crockery, and other bulky articles could be handled without breakage. The rowing boat was pulled right up on to the beach in the same way as, in the seventies, the blacks used to pull up their big rowing boat laden with schnapper, even after the Kiama Basin was opened.)
Two days after his arrival in Kiama "Robert had been to the farm and saw our huts commenced. He and Charles have been going out every second day.
But Connor the Carpenter being given to drink gets on very slowly and keeps us anxious about being settled there before winter sets in".
(Of course the first thing that Dr. Menzies had to do was to ascertain how much timber he wanted and order it from Captain Collins at Woodstock Mills. The story of these mills is appended.)
Dr. Menzies was "very pleased with his Property which we have named Minnamurra from the rivulet which bounds it in part, and everyone says he has been very fortunate, which I think we will soon be. I have no doubt we should, with the Blessing of God, get on very well. Charles went to Sydney and hired a farm servant who arrived here last Saturday, and on Monday he and Charles went to Minnamurra and commenced erecting a hut for themselves which they took possession of last night and intend being busy erecting our houses and putting in some garden seeds etc. John Cusack is a strong and seems a willing man, an Irishman. Hope he will turn out better than Garrick Lynch our first servant who was sent to Wollongong to bring back the horse that Charles rode - got drunk - was put in the watch house and did not return till a day after his time. He was dismissed instantly for his bad conduct. Most happy I was to get him off having disliked him from the beginning."
(Dr. Menzies, having 600 acres of land was entitled to be assigned prisoners. Three of these seem to have been Connor the Carpenter, John Cusack and Garrick Lynch, only one of the three, Cusack, proving satisfactory. When he was ready, as will be told later, Dr. Menzies went to Sydney and secured his full quota. It was necessary at times for Dr. Menzies to go to Wollongong. During his absence, Mrs. Menzies was lonely. She wrote: "Feel lonely when he is absent, having little variety of work to amuse me. Kiama is a very pretty place to be sold in town allotments and will be most convenient for our sending our crops to Sydney. The harbour being such as to admit of small vessels "
(Some allotments were sold in 1839. The first big sale took place in 1840 when the half acre block opposite the Post office brought £400 and other blocks well over £200.) "The coast is very romantic, has numerous pretty bays and diversified rocks. Indeed, had we only ruinous castles and valiant knights, there could not be a more romantic country. You may lose yourself amidst the vines and creepers of an interminable forest and in five minutes, if you be like minded throw yourself over a precipice into the Pacific Ocean. There is no Society here and I sometimes feel that we have left a great deal behind us. There is some chance of our becoming savages. But while dear Bob is happy I ought to be so too and certainly the great improvement to his health more than makes up for many comforts enjoyed in Scotland, which we cannot expect here. Intercourse with well bred people! One! Mrs. H. Osborne is the only lady near me I expect to enjoy. Went with Robert one day to Mr. Hindmarsh, Alne Bank. Mrs. H. is a regular dowdy and a currency. Kind and well enough, but quite a
money making couple seemingly. Now although money is all very well and certainly the chief cause of our coming to N.S.Wales, it ought not to be the sole aim of creatures born for nobler purposes, and I trust neither R., C.J nor I will ever so far debase ourselves as to make that the chief aim of our existence which should only be sought in so far as it may increase our own comforts and the means of doing good to our fellow creatures in need." (Apparently Dr. Menzies met Mr. Hindmarsh at Woodstock Mills for the doctor went there for his timber and Mr. Hindmarsh had his wheat ground there taking it over Saddleback and through Jerrara. Mrs. Menzies when she wrote the above did not understand the Hindmarshes who were really good citizens. Mr. Hindmarsh had been left an orphan when 5 years old. He had been trained in husbandry by his uncle Mr. Nisbett at Essington Grainge, Northumberland, England, and when 22 came to New South Wales with good credentials. He became an over- seer for Mr. John MacArthur and then for Mr. Hassall, son of the missionary.
In 1826 he married Miss Cecilia Sophia Rutter, also an orphan. Her father had been Superintendent for Mr. G. Blaxland and her mother governess in the same household. In 1827 Mr. Hindmarsh secured Alne Bank as a grant, but paid for it almost immediately. He took a keen interest in local affairs, was with Dr. Menzies on the first committee of the Illawarra Agricultural Society and Chairman of the Kiama of which Dr. Menzies was the first Secretary and Treasurer.
Like Dr. Menzies he became a J.P. and the two often rode together to Shoalhaven in the 50's to preside over courts there. In a letter written by Mr. Hindmarsh to his sister in 1843 he states that he is on intimate terms with Dr. and Mrs. Menzies. He gave an allotment of land to the Presbyterian Church in Gerringong and contributed generously to the building of the church and did the same for the Congregational Church. One of the sisters of Mrs. Hindmarsh married Mr. Thomas Surfleet Kendall of Kiama. Another married Mr. Robert Cooper, junior, a Sydney merchant and after his death, Mr. Thomas Chapman of Chapman's Point, Kiama. There was no road to Gerringong then - only a narrow bridle track through thick bush and steep hills. Dr. Menzies was away two days Thursday and Friday 18th and 19th April. After making the entry about the Hindmarsh family Mrs Menzies wrote: "Had a walk this afternoon, took Morwen and Fay (two dogs) with me. When shall I be on the banks of the sweet winding Fay, again? It only makes me think of and long after Norne and its dear Minister and all to no purpose. I wish I had a letter from Mummie or someone else. How many changes may have taken, place since last September."
(In September she left London on 9th and Gravesend on 14th.) The day after the above entry was made, Dr. Menzies returned to Kiama in the afternoon. The two nights he was away he slept at Marshall Mount, but was returning to Wollongong during the week when Mrs. Menzies purposed going with him "to spend a day with Osborne." But before doing so some other incidents were recorded. "Charles James came down on Sunday and dined with us. A native brought me a fish on Saturday, a mullet, for which I gave him a little tea and sugar. Some of the natives are useful for sending from place to place to deliver their message distinctly. One brought me a lb. of lard from Mick Meara's wife at Jamberoo the other day, a good looking fellow. He had a brass medal round his neck which told that he was William Roberts King of Jamberoo, and a piece of scarlet cloth across his forehead. He told me he was going to Shoalhaven and would call for the basin on his return. But he has not gone yet. Some more blacks came up and this morning 2 or 3 women came with some cray fish and got sugar from Drs. Smith, and Robert gave her 2/- for quarter lb tea and 2 lb sugar and understood perfectly the quantity he should get for his white monies.
(In the seventies it was not uncommon to see black gins carrying live lobsters in sacks from house to house selling them. Never did a black man do this). "They kindled a fire in the wood and after all had partaken of their repast the women and children with 2 men set off again for Shoalhaven, but His Majesty I still see about the place. They are generally ugly creatures and yet very picturesque when seated round their fires and the little children like imps running about. Some of them have a gait that would serve a duchess.
Some weeks since 3 immigrant families arrived in the harbour to take a clearing lease on Mr. Robb's farm. They are from the north of Scotland and only two of them can talk English poor creatures, they have been badly off since coming here, living in the Bush and before they got a hut erected suffering from the rain which commenced about that time, as well as from hunger, having brought no provisions, expecting to receive them from their employer. So, finding they could exist, no longer in that way, have procured places elsewhere. One man goes to Mr. Stevenson, the Mackenzies to Mr. Osborne, Captain Collins or come to us. We took one of their boys, Thomas, who is just beginning to understand what he has to do and his father takes him to Marshall Mount which I am very sorry for, and am uncertain about taking his brother who is a smarter boy but of inferior disposition, being pert and not given to telling the truth I fear. However, if he comes I will try to drive that out of him".
(At that time most of the cedar in Illawarra had been cut out. Landowners wanted their land cleared for agricultural purposes. In a letter written in December, 1838, Mr. Michael Hindmarsh of Alne Bank wrote "I have got 40 acres of alluvial brush land in a forward state for cultivating, which is very expensive. It would cost from £10 to £14 an acre if I had to employ free men But tbis I did with prisoners, but will soon have to depend on immigrants as the assignment of prisoners is to be done away with".
Mr James Robb secured 'Riversdale' in September 1830. It was a grant of 1280 acres promised to and located by J. Collis in 1829. During the thirties Mr. Robb, who was an architect, got much cedar from the property which was immediately west of the Kiama Town Reserve, and extended from the Minnamurra southward across what is now the road to Jamberoo at Spring Hill. At that time, as there were no stores in the district all provisions and other goods had to be got by the captains of the little cedar vessels. On account of the difficulty of getting labour otherwise, landowners had their land cleared by the clearing lease system, giving about 50 acres to some immigrant family for about 5 years for the work of clearing the land. Most of the larger grants were cleared in this way, and the immigrants had no easy task. First they cleared a small area for their hut in which they lived, many of these huts being built of cabbage palm stems and called cabbage tree huts. In 1843 Mr. Robb had his property cleared under this system by immigrants from the north of Ireland, under the management of Mr. George Grey, grandfather of Mr. George Grey of Greyleigh. Most of these men later became tenant farmers and then secured their own farms, becoming leading settlers in Illawarra and elsewhere. They were - George Grey, William Gray, Henry Gray, William Vance, Joseph Vance, James Hetherington, John lHetherington, Thomas Wilson, James Irvine, Gerard Irvine, James Irving, D. Lindsay, Donald Robinson, Alexander Robinson, Edward Bryant, John Francis, John McLelland, Robert McLelland, William Burliss, Nanty Nethery, John Noble, Thomas Kent and - Martin.)
Next comes the entry: "Last night Mrs. Dawson came down with 'her daughter who swallowed a pin while eating bread at tea. Robert tried to see it but could not, being candle light and before they returned in the morning he was gone to Minnamurra. Expected a dray today and yesterday to take some things to Charles which I expect he is in want of. But it has not come. Hope Robert will hear something of it and wish he would come home to dinner".
(In 1839 candles were the only lights folk had at night. Even in the seventies, in Illawarra it was much the same, all candles being made at home and all candlesticks being provided with snuffers to cut the wicks when too long.)
When the doctor was at Jamberoo on this occasion he saw Captain Collins at Woodstock Mills and paid him for some flour that Charles got. Mrs. Menzies had a rather poor opinion of Captain Collins. She wrote.. "He has a number of new projects in his head and believes himself is to do wonders. If we judge from what he has already undertaken with no great success he had better let them alone".
(How right Mrs. Menzies was may be seen in the appended account of the Woodstock Mills).
Then comes the entry: "Charles has got 30 lb of beef from the fencers which is not good. Am sorry he took it, as ours is very good indeed. But if the bullock driver comes on Monday he will help them to eat it". (Apparently this meat was not tainted but simply of poor quality).
"Bullock driver came and was sent away again, Mr. Osborne having requested Bob to leave them till his ploughing was over."
(It would seem that Mr. Osborne was lending some bullocks to Dr. Menzies, a common practice even in later days.)
Now comes the account of Mrs. Menzies' first holiday in Illawarra.. "Thursday 25th April. Robert and I set off to Marshall Mount. Remained at Minnamurra 2 hours while the rain lasted and reached Mr. Osborne's by 6 o'clock. Was more pleased with the hut at the farm than I expected and only wish it was finished. Charles and John living in primitive simplicity, working hard. Robert left Marshall Mount taking a Timor pony with him which he exchanged with Mr. Osborne for old Charlie, and very glad R. and I were to get rid of the lazy beast. On Sunday Dr. Alick Osborne and family dined at Mr. HO's, and on Wednesday Mrs. 0 and I went there to dinner. They seem a nice family and much more agreeable than Dr. John Osborne's at Wollongong. Mr. H.O. went on Tuesday to the Kangaroo Ground with Mr. Brown".
(This was probably Mr. George Brown, the original settler at Dapto, where he removed the Ship Inn from Wollongong. Besides the inn he had a flour mill, first driven by wind and then by steam. It was he who built Wollongong's first court house. He also cleared - 2 chains wide- the greater part of Major Mitchell's Illawarra Road, using the only available labour - convicts. It was on his land that in 1845 the first ploughing matches were held in Illawarra when Dr. Menzies' team of 6 bullocks with driver won the most important event, ploughing a quarter of an acre in four hours. To these ploughing matches, although the weather was inclement: "A great number of persons were present, equestrians, pedestrians, from the humble equipage of the bullock dray to the four-wheel carriage". Mr. Osborne had recently bought a large property in Kangaroo Ground (Kangaroo Valley) to which he rode on a track leading up the mountain at the source of Macquarie Rivulet and thence via Pheasant Ground and Robertson. Captain Brooks has been given the credit of discovering this track. But it seems to have been used for many years by the blacks. When Mr. Throsby discovered the Kangaroo River in 1818 and followed its course to its junction with the Shoalhaven he met some Illawarra blacks whom he had seen on Macquarie Rivulet, and who must have travelled along that track. In the forties Mr. George Brown, Dr. Alley and others made a picnic excursion up that mountain track or one close to it hoping to establish regular roadway there, a hope that was never realised.)
After spending a week at Daisy Bank, Dr. Alick Oeborne's home, Mrs. R. Osborne and Mrs. Menzies returned to Marshall Mount where they found that Dr. Menzies had a sprained ankle through a fall off his new pony. After resting two days he was much better "and on Saturday we returned to Kiama and I was glad to be home again although I could not have experienced more kindness than I did from Mrs. Henry Osborne who is a very nice woman and one I hope . to know more of. She has now 6 children. oldest 9 years of age." (Eventually she had 10 children). "Mr. 0. had not returned from his journey when we left. Bob bought a chesnut mare from him which is still there and will be for some time".
The above entry was made on Saturday 4th May. On the following Monday the first load of things went to the farm where two rooms were nearly finished. Then on Friday 10th May Mr. Tait dined at the inn. (He was the Presbyterian minister who came to Wollongong in 1837 when he canvassed the district to get 100 adherents to entitle him to receive £100 from the Government, or more in proportion to the number of adherents. In October 1837 he called at the home of Mr. Michael Hindmarsh of Gerringong and held service there going on to Coolangatta. By 1839 he had the first permanent church built in Crown Street, Wollongong and his parish extended to Shoalhaven. He held services regularly at the homes of Mr. Hindmarsh and Mr. Berry, and from 1839 in Dr. Menzies' barn as well as in the homes of other folk in Illawarra. He left Wollongong in 1841 and was succeeded by the Rev. Cunningham Atchison.
Surely this was Visitation Week' On Sunday 12th May Dr. Alley called with Mr. Brown and Mr Annesley the latter gentleman to see the district. They lunched with us, returned same afternoon.
(Mr. Brown has already been referred to. Dr. Alley was a real live wire, taking a prominent part in all local affairs in Illawarra, and later in Shoalhaven. For a short time he seems to have lived in Jamberoo. He was a frequent and voluminous contributor to the local press).
Then "On the following Tuesday evening a whole cavalcade arrived here from Wollongong, consisting of Lady Franklin, the Governor's Lady of Van Dieman's Land and two companions, the Rev. Mr. Meares and Captain Plunkett. They lunched with us, returned same afternoon.
(Lady Franklin had probably come to Wollongong in the s. s. Maitland of the Illawarra Steam packet Company recently formed, of which Captain Plunkett was a Director. Sir John Franklin was Governor of Tasmania from 1837 to 1843. He had served as midshipman under Flinders in the Investigator, and lost his life in 1847 while endeavouring in the cause of science, to discover the North- West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Captain Plunkett had been Solicitor General for New South Wales. He bought from Gregory Blaxland a property of 1280 acres which he sold in 1836 to Mr. Kellogue, for £l,300. In1840 Mr. Kellogue sold it for ten times as much £13,000. Mr. Plunkett took a prominent part in public affairs, particularly in education, navigation and protection of aborigines.
The Rev. M. D. Meares was Wollongong's second Church of England minister, arriving in the late thirties and serving till the fifties when he was succeeded by the Rev. T. C. Ewing, father of Sir Thomas Ewing. His parish included all of Illawarra and Shoalhaven).
On the Monday between the two lots of visitors Mr. Tait called again on his way back from Shoalhaven and Dr. Menzies went out to Minnamurra. But in the afternoon a messenger came from Shoalhaven and went out to the farm to get Dr. Menzies. "He returned (from the farm) with the messenger, had some tea here in passing, and did not reach Shoalhaven till 6 o'clock. Found the man not so ill and came home next day very knocked up. Hope he will not be called away again. 'Tiz a great nuisance and he is not fit for the exertion".
(This meant, a ride mostly by rough bush track through dense brush, over the Crooked River with its treacherous quick sands, and the Seven Mile Beach which was good travelling when the tide was out but very heavy otherwise, a journey of about 22 miles). How anxious was Mrs. Menzies to get to that small home at Minnamurra. It was not easy to get the goods out by dray. After recording the departure of Lady Franklin on Tuesday 14th May is the entry
"Another dray load away the 5th (probably drayload) expected to get up tomorrow but will be disappointed, one half our goods being still here. If we were there it would save expense and, of greater importance still, be less exertion for dear Bob who is almost knocked up going and returning so often the same road. May 15th".
The next entry reads.. "Left Kiama May 18th. Robert came to Minnamurra two days before and is much engaged with a man at the Mills who had his hand dreadfully lacerated so that when Jessie and I arrived here we found no one to welcome us and the hut in sad confusion. Set about making tidy and by the time Bob came from his Patient had tea ready. Only 2 rooms finished. The one served as kitchen and Jessie's sleeping place and the other as our bed room, sitting room etc. Charles slept in place off, the store erected by himself and John Cusack. Very busy unpacking china etc and soon managed to make ourselves comfortable in the one room where we remained for 4 weeks. Had 2 visits of Dr. O'Brien, 1 of Dr. Alley and 2 from Mr. Tait during our stay there and could not have believed some time ago that we could have put up with so little accommodation and at the same time had things tidy about us. Found our sofa most convenient for sleeping on. It was down every night and up in the morning and was really useful".
(Reference has already been made to Rev. J. Tait and Dr. Allay. Dr. Charles O'Brien was a prominent figure in the early history of Illawarra. He was one of the leaders to get Governor Bourke to visit the district and was largely responsible for the petition sent to the Governor in 1833. His signature was at the head of-the petition, one which led the Governor to visit which led to the construction of the first Illawarra Road, the planning and establishment of the town of Wollongong and Wollongong Harbour. Later he was a member of the first Committee of the Illawarra Agricultural Society and was a most useful citizen of Wollongong.)
Then the sitting room and bedroom were completed. But the first to occupy the bedroom was the 'Rev. J. Tait. The entry reads:
Mr Tait remained a night with a Mr. Reid from Greenock and fortunately our first bed room was so far finished as to admit of his sleeping in it. Funny that a Minister should sleep the first night in it. We are now, 24th June, fairly settled and comfortable in a nice sitting room 22 feet long, containing a side board, piano, bookcase, sofa, large table and 8 chairs, and a snug bed room off it where we have many mercies and comforts to be thankful for. Getting a Porch made at the door. Weather exceptionally cold".
Next comes the entry "5 assigned men arrived on the 23rd, much to Bob's joy who will now get on with his operations - James Ainsworth we have taken as cook and house servant, and William Jarvis as Groom. Ploughing commenced 4th July. Dr. Allay dined on Saturday with us and on Sunday afternoon Robert rode with him to Wollongong and was to proceed per steamer on Monday forenoon. Had Marmaduke the Gardener (one of the assigned servants) making flower borders round the house on Friday, Saturday and Monday - not finished yet.
John sowed the acre ploughed on last week today the 8th July with wheat. Hope it will grow.
Robert left Wollongong on Tuesday by steamer, arrived at Sydney on Wednesday morning. (The steamer would get to Sydney on Tuesday night, too late to go ashore). Mrs Miller had a daughter that day. Doing well. R. left Sydney on Thursday, slept at Dr. Hill's (Liverpool) that night and returned here on Sunday with a dreadful cold, having had to wade across Jordan's Creek.
Mr. Tait brought a packet of letters from home on Friday, but would not deliver them to me as there was a black seal on the parcel. So that I did not get them till Sunday when dear Bob came home".
(At that time the only post office in Illawarra was at Mr. Palmer's Post Office Store, Wollongong, and it was the custom, when the addressee could not call for mail to have it taken to him by some trusted friend. In this case the parcel of mail was sealed as mail bags are, not to be opened except by the addressee.)
"I found it contained a letter from his mother and mine, Amelia Neist, Susan Atkins and Mary. All well, thank God, and happy, excepting from Mrs. Nolan whose death was expected - McLevis left Perth - Miss Bell married."
Then come a number of miscellaneous entries: Charles went to Wollongong Wednesday 17th wrote Monie at same time. White cow died Tuesday. Obliged to buy milk again (probably from Michael Hyam, the nearest neighbour, across the river.) Much good we have derived from Mr. Osborne's cows truly. We know what we know. During Bob's absence had gardener here putting flower borders in order and sowing vegetable seeds in small kitchen garden behind the house, vines planted round the walls and 4 fruit trees. Dr. Alley fixed on coming to farm in our neighbourhood. Hope they may prove pleasant neighbours. Jessie put her wages in Savings Bank (Where? Wollongong.). Tay had 5 pups, one died. Received a kind letter from Mrs. Hill on Saturday. Wrote Phillis Tompson and Mrs. Miller by Robert - Robert brought back that for P. Tompson not being able to find her brother. (Mr. Tompson and his sister were fellow passengers in the "Earl of Durham". It seems that the doctor took another trip to Sydney, taking these two letters with him but could not find Miss Tompson's address.)
Next comes Mrs. Menziest first experience of a dance in Illawarra. On Friday 26th July Dr. Alick Osborne, Mr. Henry Osborne and Mr. Holden called and invited us to a dancing party (at Daisy Bank, apparently) the following Monday night. Got loan of a horse from Mr. H. Osborne and went. Very tired and passed a wearisome night, disappointed with the party. Left about 5 morning. Went to Marshall Mount and slept a few hours, intending to return home in the afternoon, but prevented by rain. Came home Wednesday morning and think I shall not leave for some time again. No place like home".
"On Sunday 11th August, James Ainsworth and Allen were pleased to take to the Bush. Charles saw Allen in bed at 9 o'clock and James was in at prayers at half past 8. Next morning both were missing. They were captured at Appin on the following Thursday. Robert goes tomorrow to see them tried at Wollongong. Been very busy. Had a bullock killed last week and another this week. Have now plenty of beef in store". (This meant plenty of fresh meat for a few days, and a good store of corned meat for the big household of at least 10 persons, - Dr. and Mrs. Menzies, Charles, Jessie, and six convicts with others probably).
Dr. Alley and family came down last week. Have not seen Mrs. Alley, being unable to walk so far, and Zaroba having strayed. Hear the Dr. is to do wonders with his people. Suppose he will know more about it by and bye. Thursday, August 18th."
"Robert went as intended to appear against our runaways on Friday 19th. They were sentenced to twelve months' work in an iron gang and to be returned here at the end of the time,. R. returned on Saturday afternoon.
Following Thursday, 28th, Bendall came the 6th assigned man received; seemingly a discontented rascal. Next day took Jarvis into the house. He is more active than James was and does things more tidily. Received a kind letter from Mrs. Miller who wishes me to pay her a visit now, but I shall be more at home at Minnamurra, not the less indebted to her however.
Friday 30th commenced ploughing for the barley crop. Finished it on Wednesday 4th September.
Saturday afternoon Mr. Mackay called a settler 30 miles to the southward of Shoalhaven (Ulladulla, a Scotchman, nay a Highlander, and brother of the Rev. Dr. Mackay of Dunoon, editor of the Gaelic Dictionary. We prevailed upon him to remain all night. I played him some Scottish music with which he seemed much pleased.. He is a nice elderly man with the decided Highland accent and knew all the Perth clergy.
By the by Dr. and Mrs. Alley called on Thursday. She is not the person I expected- very short and extremely ebonpoint, quiet et je crois pas très neuvellle. She says they are very uncomfortable, which I can well imagine car il a dès trés, ètranges - je ne l'aime pas de tout.
Primrose or Dolly calved on Monday 2nd September and promises to give a good deal of milk - 4 years that day since poor Betsy died (strange the date of a cow calving takes Mrs. Menzies' mind back to the death of a friend in Scotland). 'Tis strange we do not hear from home again. They are either lazy or unfortunate in their opportunities. Hope to see Uncle in a few months. (Mrs. Menzies had not yet become used to the great irregularity at that time of getting letters from England and Scotland).
The last diary entry is reminiscent. "Minnamurra, 4th September, Took a walk on Sunday with R. and Charles and saw some beautiful creepers, one a scarlet or crimson flowers, very splendid, and another a little simple thing as graceful. Wish the folks, at home could see them".
(It is strange that no mention is made of Mrs. Menzies' nearest neighbours while in Kiama Thomas Surfleet Kendall of Burroul, who married the sister of Michael Hindmarsh of Alne Bank. Nor does she mention the most remarkable natural feature at Kiama - the Blow Hole.)
As an appendix is entered
"Expenses attending an assigned female servant.
Bridget O'Shannessey came to Minnemurra. 28th October
Paid her passage down (to Wollongong) £- 12 6
Sent man and horse to meet her,
Breakfast for him and feed for horse 5 0
Value of day's work to him 2 0
Gown,for her 7 6
Cotton for 2 chemises 7 6
Stuff for petticoats etc 3 6
pair of shoes 7 6
Man going to Wollongong to report her absence 8 0
Paid Ann for week's work 5 0
Apparently a spare horse was sent for her, and apparently she would ride astride about 17 miles to Minnamurra. Probably she would appear in prison garb and therefore need a new outfit. It would seem too, that she soon disappeared as it was necessary to send a man to Wollongong to report her absence. Of course it was necessary to insert that 2 shillings for loss of the man's work. Some time after the death of Dr. Menzies a school was opened at Minnamurra House by Miss Tindall, Mrs. Menzies sister, who arrived in Illawarra in 1843. One of the daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Menzies married the Rev. J. Kinross D.D. who, in the seventies, became, the first principal of St. Andrew's College, another married the Rev. J. W. Dymook, and a third married his brother, Mr. D. L. Dymock who died a few years ago in Queensland when nearly 100 years old. At the back of her journal Mrs. Menzies started to write a summary. Then she wrote some notes on the History of the Roman Empire, apparently for school use.
Next come three Scottish songs
" 'O Nanny wilt thou gang wi' me
Cam ye by Athole
Oh dinna ask me gin I lo'e ye
Next come some notes on conchology and a list of bivalves and one of univalves And there are, in lead pencil a few recipes for puddings. Evidently the book fell into the hands of school children who practised writing and arithmetic, someone making an error in multiplication by 832.
There are also the names of Mrs. Menzies' grandchildren
St. Andrew's College.
and of R. M. Kinross. These were written after 1875 when Dr. Kinross left Kiama for St. Andrew's College.
(R.M.Kinross was a class mate with me at Kiama, and when I went to Inverell in 1898 he was one of the medical men there. He died many years ago, and I believe that all of the grandchildren of Dr. and Mrs. Menzies, the Kinrosses and Dymocks have now passed on. AC.)
Unfortunately a few pages have been torn out.
(Transcribed May 1988. It is thought that this account, with explanatory notes, was compiled by Arthur Cousins, author of 'Garden of Illawarra'. It is thought that the original diary is now in the National Library Canberra. It would be interesting to have those sections which the compiler of this account has summarised.)
Some extra information from Arthur Cousins
Mrs Menzies says in her journal her husband was not physically strong and he died after a long illness on 20th January 1860,at the early age of 48 and was buried in the private cemetery on the estate which already contained the remains of two infant sons and a daughter, besides those of Mrs Tindell (Mrs Menzies' mother) who came out from Scotland in 1859 and died that year.
Unfortunately the January number of Kiama's first paper "The Examiner" is missing from the Mitchell Library so no obituary notice is available. But there is still at the manse in Kiama a record in the Sessions Minutes of a motion by Mr D L Waugh telling of the able and faithful work done by Dr Menzies.
She died on 29th March 1861 at the age of 44 and was buried beside her husband, mother and three children in their private cemetery above the cliff-like borders of the Minnamurra with its beautiful rock lilies as a lasting remembrance of the work done by her and her husband.
Dr and Mrs Menzies left four daughters.
The eldest married Rev. J Kinross the Presbyterian minister in Kiama from 1857 to 1875. While at Kiama he became a Doctor of Divinity and left that town in 1875 to become principal of ST Andrews' College, a position he held till 1901 when he retired and spent the remainder of his life on the Minnamurra estate wher he died in 1908 and was buried in the private cemetery there as was Mrs Kinross. Later his son Dr R M Kinross and grandson used part of this estate and some property near Inverell as stud farms for dairy cattle. Mrs E J Kinross the only surviving grandchild of Dr and Mrs Menzies is still living at Artarmon and owns part of the Minnamurra Estate.
Another daughter married Rev. J W Dymock who was first a farmer with his widowed mother , then on a farm at Jamberoo.
A third daughter married Mr D L Dymock. (Here the manuscript ends). To Top