From Scone to the Head Waters of the Hunter. A Survey of Properties and People Following the Gundy Road and Various Side-roads Along the Way 1896-1897
M. H. (Mac) Bridge
Including descriptions of areas such as Gundy, Moonan Flat, Moonan Brook, Belltrees, Ellerston, Omadale Brook, Stewart’s Brook, Brushy Hill
Written by Malcolm Henry (‘Mac’) Bridge of Muswellbrook in 1963
Transcribed and indexed by his granddaughter Margaret Ashford in 2016
The following recollections were written by Malcolm Henry (Mac) Bridge of Muswellbrook, dated 10/1/1963.
They have been transcribed by his granddaughter, Margaret Ashford, Lambton, in June 2016, from a photocopy of a handwritten document.
As the document is addressed to the Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, it is assumed that they hold the original.
Some punctuation and paragraphing have been added for clarification purposes.
Explanatory notes or corrections have been added in italics inside square brackets.
The PDF contains scans of the original manuscript with transcription.
Digital version prepared by Gionni Di Gravio 2016.
To the Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society
In 1896-7 from memory those who owned or lived adjoining and near the road leading from Scone to the head waters of the Hunter.
This road branched to the right from the Great Northern Road near the southern approach to the town of Scone near what is now (1963) Rotary Park.
After leaving the town the property on each side as far as the three miles peg belonged to the St Aubin’s Estate owned by William Bakewell. On the right about opposite the 1 mile was John Newman’s Brick Kiln.
On left near the 3 miles peg stood the home of the Montgomery Family quite near the boundary of St Aubin’s. The head of the family was an employee on the estate. Directly opposite the house, Bakewell’s dam.
After passing the boundary on the right the land belonged to the Segenhoe Estate, at the time was owned by the “Scottish Widows” and managed by Harry York.
About the 3 1/2 mile a road branched right leading to the Segenhoe homestead, a branch from this road led to Brushy Hill and was used as a short cut bridle track from and to Rouchelbrook. On the right Segenhoe property skirted the Upper Hunter Road from the 3 to near the 7 miles peg.
On the left from the 3 to the 6 miles pegs was the property of George Milton Capp who also had a property where he resided near Allandale between Greta and Lochinvar on the Lower Hunter. The property on the Gundy Road was originally part of Segenhoe at the time the home on the place near the 6 mile was occupied by John Bridge and wife nee Susan Clifford. John managed the place for G M Capp. Shortly after the property was purchased by James Leighton Tulloch and became known as Leighton Park. James Tulloch was a horse buyer chiefly for the Indian market.
Near the 6 mile the road crossed the Page River. The crossing later became known as Tulloch’s Crossing. From Tulloch’s to the Cedar Crossing near the 7 mile, as well on the right the country on left also belonged to Segenhoe and extended over the river and on into what is known as The Glen, on Glen Creek. After crossing the Cedar Crossing near the 7 mile on the left the paddock belonging to Belltrees used as a camping paddock for stock travelling between Belltrees and Scone, and also used as a camping ground for the station teams when on the road. This was known as their Glen Paddock. On the opposite side of the river near this spot the bluff end of the brush known as Brushy Hill ends at the river bank.
A short way on, about 7 1/4 miles the Page River is again crossed at the Peach Tree Crossing. From that to the next known as Moran’s Crossing the road passed through Crown Land. This later became known as Bob’s Reserve. This is where a part aborigine Robert Stevens, made his home. In his younger days he was known as a first class stockman and had been employed on various properties on the Hunter including Segenhoe, Belltrees and Glen Rock, and was spoken of as Yellow Bobbie.
After leaving Bob’s Reserve the river was crossed at Moran’s Crossing. On the left after crossing the river shortly before reaching the 8 miles peg stood the home of Thomas Moran Senior and his wife nee Meehan. Thomas Moran owned the land on both sides of the road hereabouts. It was he who was fairly constantly employed with horse and bullock teams for 50 years carrying between Scone and Belltrees. At one time Thomas Moran held a licence to retail colonial wine which he served in a room in his dwelling.
Then on over Moran’s Hill on the right the home of Mrs Riley senior. Next on the same side before reaching the 8 1/2 mile the home of son George Riley and wife nee Jones was passed. On the opposite side of the river the home of John Davidson and wife nee Stevenson, then a road led to left and a short way up Carragan’s Creek the home of John Wharton and wife nee Nettle.
Then on right of main road Charles Jones Senior and wife nee Riley. The locality hereabouts was called Gunda Gunda or Gundy Gundy.
The road crosses Carragan’s Creek near the 9 miles peg, a short way from right of road the home of James Wharton Senior. At the time James was a widower, son James Junior and wife nee Dearman lived nearby.
Near the 9 1/2 miles the road crossed the river at the crossing known as Rocky Crossing. Land on right owned by James Wharton Senior. Between the Rocky and next crossing known as Oaky Creek Crossing is where in the bed of the river on flat rocks aboriginal carvings could be seen, believe they were covered by gravel etc during the 1955 flood.
Before crossing at the Oaky Creek a track led right up the river to Elgin Valley the home and property of James Bridge and wife nee Mary Bowles. Then over Oaky Creek Crossing on left the home of Charles Jones Junior and wife nee Agnes McCue. Oaky Creek Crossing takes its name from the fact that Oaky Creek which heads somewhere in the Elmswood country, enters the Page River near the crossing.
After leaving Oaky Creek Crossing the land on either side is belonging to Belvue Estate as far as the next crossing, a short way before the 11 mile is reached. On the right before reaching the river crossing Belvue House stands, was occupied as well as the property by John Wiseman who was a widower, sons Percy and “Anno” for Anstruther and daughters Bee and Constance resided with their father.
Then across what was known as Minch’s Crossing, a stock route turned right at the crossing and on the bank of the river passed the home of Ben Ellery and wife nee Dearman. It has been said it was in this house the one-time world’s heavyweight boxing champion Paddy Slavin was born. [In a different, unidentified, handwriting there is the following margin note – Paddy Slavin was never world champion but was a noted fighting man. His greatest fight was with Peter Jackson, who defeated him.]
On left after crossing the river The Northern Miner’s Hotel stood, kept by John Jospeh Minch and wife nee Annie Murphy. Around the hotel was a real hive of industry, mostly run in the name of J J Minch which in addition to the hotel he employed a wheelwright, a blacksmith and did undertaking work. Also a baker, a bootmaker, and butcher. On the premises was an independent saddlery. James Bruce and son Gordon ran this business. And John Ralston occupied a room where he ran his tailoring business.
The crossing known as Minch’s Crossing was number 7 on the Scone-Gundy Road. That was in the days when it could be called a wet road. In about 1909 it became a dry road.
On the left after passing the hotel was Minch’s Wheelwright and Blacksmith’s Shop where Bill Orr was employed as wheelwright and Bill Stanbridge as blacksmith with Bob McMillan who did carpentry and cabinet making work, such as a coffin if one was needed.
Next on the same side was the General Store kept by C A Green and wife nee Dodd.
The Gundy Post and Telephone adjoined the store and was conducted by Mr. Green. In his employ was a nephew, Alf Green, and Harry Ayling. The latter later went to and lost his life at the Boer War. Harry was a son of the late Rev. Ayling, Presbyterian Minister, in the early days in charge of Scone care [?] which went as far as the head waters of the Hunter. The home of Mr and Mrs Green adjoined the store as also did the home of Thomas Barnes and wife nee [sic] Mrs Dodd, she being the mother of Mrs Green and Mr Barnes her [Mrs Green’s] stepfather. [A note in a different hand, same as the previous notation, reads ‘Thomas Barnes’ wife did not live in Gundy’.]
In a land at the rear of the store was the home off Joseph Meecham and wife nee [corrected to ‘formerly’ in the handwriting of Heather Ashford, a daughter of Mac Bridge] Mrs Keene, son Charlie and daughter Ann lived with the old couple.
On past the store in a lane lived John Molloy and wife nee Jones along with their family of sons and daughters. The family of John Molloy who saw service in the Crimean War numbered 10. 4 sons and 6 daughters. 5 of the daughters had the letter M as the initial letter of their Christian names. At the rear of the Molloy home is the Gundy Recreation Ground. It was in the Page River near this spot that in about 1904 the late William Laing lost his life through drowning whilst bathing in the river. It was Gordon Bruce who in the night dived and recovered the body. Some years later Gordon Bruce had the same unenviable experience when he went into the flooded Sandy Creek near Denman and recovered the body of a man who was drowned after being washed off his horse in that stream.
Then on past Molloy’s at Gundy near the lane is where Duncan McColl Senior and wife nee O’Brien lived. Duncan had a small orchard near his home. He followed the calling of a drover and said he hoped he would die in harness. His wish was gratified. He died whilst on the road with stock.
The road to Waverley and Timor branches left in Gundy and passed on its right St Matthew’s English Church.
Next was a cottage owned by Charles Walters Senior and occupied by William Bridge and wife nee Morrison along with members of their family including the writer. A short way on a road crossed the river to Nectar Bank, the home of George Budden Senior and wife nee Jane Graham. Incidentally George Budden Senior was born at Belvue mentioned earlier.
A short way on on the right was the home of James Bruce, saddler, and wife and family. At the rear of Bruce’s home lived Tom Jones and wife nee Martha Meecham along with their family.
Then across Kiley’s Gully on over the hill on the right lived John Ralston along with wife and family, next on same side lived George Clifford and wife nee Elizabeth Batterham and family.
On the opposite side of the river on a hill known as Fair View was the home of Bill Jones and wife Adinah Hodges and family.
About 1 mile from the Gundy Post Office the Waverley boundary is passed through. Near here lived Tom Green and wife nee Dolly Booth. Tom was in the employ as a boundary rider of H E A and V White of Belltrees. He was affectionately called “Tommy no time”, a saying of his was, “I’d do so and so if I had the time”.
The road from here on up the Isis River and on through Timor appeared in an earlier writing. Now back to near the centre of the village, where Church Street leaves the Waverley road. On the right is St Matthew’s English church and grave yard where many of the old hands of the locality lie buried. A short distance on on the left the Presbyterian church and graveyard where also many of the old timers lie buried. At the time Rev Philip Norman of Scone held service here at regular intervals.
On opposite side of Church Street the Gundy Public School, teacher in charge William Laing whose wife’s maiden name was Nephveuer. The late William Laing mentioned earlier as being drowned in the river. He was a native of Lithgow.
After passing the church on the left is where Tom Adams and wife nee Eliza Jones lived. And at the rear of this cottage was Mrs. Jones Senior who lived with bachelor son James and adopted daughter May. Still on the left was the Catholic church, alongside was one grave, infant child of Tim McNamara and wife of Brushy Hill.
Now back to the junction of Belltrees and Waverley roads. On the right St Matthew’s Rectory. This was a brick building occupied by the Rev C T L Yarrington, a bachelor who employed a housekeeper. On the left the main entrance to St. Matthew’s church also a brick building. I believe the church was in use as the first public school in the village. “January 29th, 1902 foundation block laid St Matthew’s Gundy. Same day block laid Rectory Gundy. May 23rd 1903 St Matthew’s second church Gundy consecrated by Bishop Stanton”. Notes and dates from Diocesan Churchman.
Next after the Rectory was a blacksmith’s shop and cottage, the property of Mat Hayne, and occupied by Gus McCue whose wife’s maiden name was Mary (Polly) Roe, daughter of Joe Roe of Waverley and wife nee Aldridge.
Next on right was a cottage owned by George Budden Senior, occupied by Fred Eipper and wife nee Ayling, daughter of Rev Ayling.
Next a cottage, Gowrie, occupied by Mrs Daniel Campbell. She being a widow and with her lived a widowed sister, Mrs Ferguson, she being the mother of Mr Justice Ferguson. Her husband lies buried at the rear of the old Presbyterian Church in Muswellbrook and was a member of the Ferguson Family who founded the business in Muswellbrook (storekeeping) which Malcolm Campbell acquired on March 17th, 1862 and later carried on and up to the present day as M Campbell and Coy.
Perhaps I could be pardoned for leaving the Upper Hunter Road and taking the reader for a short stay on the coast of Western Australia where a sixteen years old girl, Grace Bussell, saw the steamer “Georgette” wrecked some distance from the coast. On her horse she rode into the surf and rescued men and women two and three at a time who clung to her stirrup irons. The riding back and forth lasted some two hours. Surely she should be looked on as Australia’s Grace Darling. The fact is vouched for by Bill Beatty in his book titled “Australia the Amazing. Believe”. Bill Beatty. Unfortunately, no date is given.
We now return to Gundy. After leaving the village a road turns right through a travelling stock reserve and leads to Tanborough and Steve McNamara’s Rock Wood property. This is also the road from Gundy to Elgin Valley, the home of James Bridge and passes on the left a farm belonging to C A Green and on the right a paddock owned by James Campbell of Arden Hall. In this paddock was the Gundy Race Course where horse race meetings were held at regular intervals. Chief meeting of the year was held on St. Patrick’s Day. At the time, St. Patrick’s Day, 17th March, was a public holiday.
The main road continued through the Gundy Common. On the right near the 12 mile peg, the Gundy Cemetery. It was in the latter part of 1906 the cemetery was fenced. The fence was erected by Steve McNamara and Bill Keene. It being post and rail type. Previous to that burials took place in the church yards.On the left between the road and Kiley’s Gully near the back boundary of the common is where in the early 1890’s the bricks were made for use in the erection of Elmswood house.
2 1/2 miles from Gundy and on left off the Waverley and Timor Road, a short way from the cemetery the boundary between the Gundy Common and William Pinkerton Senior’s Gum Flat property.
On the left after leaving said boundary some 1/4 mile from the road a property owned by Mr Jones Senior who lived in Gundy. At the time the house was unoccupied.
Then on up to the top of Pinkerton’s Hill just beyond the 13 mile the boundary between Pinkertons’ and Whites’ Belltrees property was passed through. The road followed a winding course till it came to level ground before reaching the river.
On right of road on the flat was a share farmer on Belltrees named John Brown. A friendly sort of a customer. Till he was asked a question. If a question was asked he immediately left the company.
A short way past the 15 mile the first crossing of the Hunter River was met with and known as Arden Hall Crossing. On the right from the crossing about 1/4 mile from the road, Arden Hall the home and property of James Campbell and his wife, nee Chivers, along with their family. The road then entered a lane, known as Arden Hall Lane. Arden Hall property joined the road on either side.
Half a mile or so further on the road again entered Belltrees property and continued on and about the 17 miles the Hunter was again crossed at Jump Up where there was an open travelling stock reserve. This was a favourite camping place for teams and travelling stock.
A short way upstream from Jump Up, Benmore the property of Tom Hogg came to the river under a precipice. Tom lived at the opposite end of his property about a mile off the road on the right.
The road continued on over a hill and again crossed the river at Red Bank Crossing, so named because Red Bank Creek comes in from the right and joins the river near the crossing.
On the top of the next hill is where Mick Moran and wife nee [corrected to formerly, Heather Ashford’s writing] Mrs Dean lived. Mick was employed on Belltrees as a bullock driver. Mick was pretty handy with a cricket bat and played with the Belltrees team.
The road then entered The Glen paddock and continued on along the left hand bank of the river till Belltrees Crossing in the river was met with about the 19 1/2 mile.
On the left hand bank of the river a short way on right lived Harry Taylor and wife nee Fermor. He was employed on Belltrees as a boundary rider. Shortly after this time three of the Taylor family including Harry himself died with typhoid fever. It was said that after the outbreak of fever H L White shifted this family to a fresh house and burned down the old place with most of its contents. At the time fever patients were treated in isolation.
After crossing the river, on the right was a share farmer George Rossington Senior who lived with his wife and family. Then on up a hill the road passes between two similar hills known as “The Brothers”. After passing The Brothers before reaching the 21 mile on the right about 1/2 mile off the road Kioto the home of Arthur George White of Belltrees and wife nee Ebsworth. There were no children of this union.
Near the river bank near the road to Kioto was the Belltrees horsetraining stables with Jimmie Swan as trainer, with Mack Luddington and Syd Solomon as assistants. A short way upstream from the stables a suspension bridge crossed the river. Chief use for shifting sheep from one to the other side of the stream. Especially in shearing time. The bridge was erected by man by name Hawkins who was employed as station blacksmith. The first woman to walk across the bridge was totally blind. She was the wife of Robert Hawkins, who was also an employee on Belltrees as a boundary rider on Donald’s Creek Tops. She was the mother of Henry and Thomas Hawkins who in 1962 attended the Back to Belltrees School celebrations, date 29-9-1962 if memory serves correctly. The brothers Henry and Tom Hawkins have each passed the 90th milestone on life’s journey, Henry being the elder.
Next along the river the old Belltrees homestead occupied by Henry Luke White and wife nee Ebsworth and two daughters. One of which later married cricketer “Ranji” Hordern who played in international cricket and introduced the style of bowling known as googley bowling and was called the googley bowler. At the old home also lived the bachelor brothers Ernest and Victor White. The latter along with brother Arthur made up the quartet H E A and V White owners of the station.
[Margin note added by Mac Bridge – On this page mention is made that Mr and Mrs H L White had two daughters. The writings refer chiefly to the late 1890’s. This was before the birth of Alf White, present head of the White Family at Belltrees, who is the only son of the before mentioned Mr and Mrs H L White. H L was head of H E A and V White.]
Near the homestead was the station office in which worked Robert Graham as bookkeeper. Near the office hung the station bell which was rung each week morning at 7 o’clock, when station hands chiefly stockmen lined up at a rail to receive the daily orders. Nearby was the blacksmith’s shop where —– Hawkins did the smithy work. Near this the station store and Post Office under the care of William Stanford. It was near here where Viger’s Mail Coaches changed horses. Alf Scriven was employed to care for the coach horses which after being fed were turned out in the station horse paddock to wait for next day’s change.
I omitted to mention that Gundy was also a changing place for coach horses. The horses ran in Campbell’s paddock and were cared for by Arthur Ellery. The driver of the mail coach was Tom Vigers. There was also at the time an opposition passenger coach on the road, owned by Walter Baker Senior of Moonan Brook, driven by Bob Smith.
Near the store and Post Office at Belltrees was the station butcher shop under the care of John Scriven, known as “Jack the Butcher”.
A short way on upstream on left of the track the Belltrees English church. In the church yard stands a monument erected to the memory of Alf Ebsworth who lost his life during the Boer War. He was a brother to Mrs H L and Mrs A G White of Belltrees. The monument was unveiled by Bishop Stanton about 1902. Alf Ebsworth was known from one end of the Hunter to the other as a big hitter on a cricket field and was known as Ebby by his friends and they were legion. Many a tear was shed on the hearing of his death. And dry eyes were few among those who witnessed the unveiling of his memorial, which took place on a day in 1901 or 1902 that horse races were run on the local course to mark the end of shearing that year.
Over the track on the bank of the river was the single men’s quarters where a cook was employed. One about the time that comes to mind was by name Willard.
Next was where lived Jim McGregor along with his family and wife nee Jackson.
Return now to opposite the 21 mile peg the Belltrees Race Course. It was on this course shearers’ races were held. It was within the course the Belltrees cricket ground was located. It was here at the time where the Belltrees Polo Team did their practice. I believe it was Banjo Patterson wrote of them thus – “Belltrees played a heady game and forced the pace alright”. A family team, Alf Ebsworth, Ernest, Arthur and “Dick” White (the “Dick” would be Victor, Dick being his nickname).
Adjoining the Race Course the woolshed and shearers’ quarters. Up to 120,000 sheep would be shorn in the shed. At the time shorn by blades. About three who mostly topped the tallies that come to mind were Donald McPhee, Wilf Barwick and Jack Alterator. At the time there were 20 stands in the shed. It was said that at the drawing for places only 18 names were put in the hat. The remaining 2 were occupied by Wilf Barwick and Jack Alterator. They being so constantly present at shearing time they appeared to have a mortgage on the particular stands. The man who was boss of the board was Joe Roe, who lived at Waverley and had charge of that part of Belltrees. A wool classer was employed by name Homersham. Ben Ellery and mates did the wool pressing (no expert in the days of the blades) [apparently referring to the writer himself]. The men who shore with the blades were by some called “bright swordsmen”. The shed was capable of holding 5,000 sheep against wet weather. Jim McGregor did the penning up of the sheep. It was said it was worth seeing him working with a sheep trained as a leader to decoy the sheep into the various pens as each pen was filled he would pass on through the pens till all were filled. The decoy sheep did not like to be shut in the shed. If by accident he was, would jump out and return to the usual spot to await the arrival of the next mob. The handling of the sheep to the shed was a big job. When the sheep from Ellerston were to come to the shed a drover and assistants were employed. The man in charge of the job was mostly Duncan McColl Senior. The distance from the shed to the top end of Ellerston would be 25 to 30 miles. The woollies had to be brought in that distance and the shorn ones returned to their respective paddocks. The man who did the cooking along with assistants called “Slushies” was Harry Wilson. The shearers and shed hands, known as rouseabouts, or loppies, were all quartered in the same building with I believe separate dining room and sleeping apartments, food all being got ready by the same cook and staff. At the finish of shearing it was invariably celebrated by shearers’ races and ball. Admission to both were free, as far as memory goes. Some distance from the back of the shed was where lived Robert Graham mentioned earlier as bookkeeper. In the absence of the White Brothers orders were given by Mr Graham whose wife’s maiden name was Roe. As far as is known the brothers White each attended to their own particular department such as sheep, cattle, farming and fencing. Henry being the eldest was in supreme command. He had learned the art of surveying and was considered the handy man where the laying out of paddocks was concerned and erection of fences. The brothers all appeared to do their share of the work and have been heard to say, if one did not do his share of the work they might find it hard to expect the employees to do the work while the heads lazed about, and said they enjoyed every minute of their respective jobs.
A short way on the road past the shed were the main cattle and killing yards. Doug Cumming was horse breaker on the station and made extensive use of these yards. After passing the yards on the left the Belltrees Pubic School stands. At the time, the teacher in charge was by name Coleman.
On opposite side of road from school is a cemetery. Along a short way on same side an accommodation house kept by Mr Jackson and daughter Kate. Next on same side Jack Scriven and wife nee Walters lived with members of their family. Sons of Mrs Jackson, Jim and Jack supplied most of the music for dances from Gundy to Moonan per accordion and concertina.
Next on left of road near the river lived a stockman Jack Mitchell and wife nee Mary Jackson and their children. Jack Mitchell was a stockman of the second generation of the name. His father George Lane Mitchell and his wife nee Jane Gardner occupied a house on Belltrees about a quarter of a mile from son Jack, where a family of 9 were reared. George was born on a part of the property known as Aberfoyle. At the time was employed as head stockman. Another half mile upstream near a bend in the river is where Alex Morrison and wife nee Jackson and family lived. Alex was employed on the station as dingo trapper and was fairly successful when following this calling.
Near where Alex Morrison lived is where Stoney Creek junctions with the Hunter. On Stoney Creek is where William T Bridge had a selection of 1280 acres on which he ran sheep. To add to the income Bill did shearing in the season and went as far away as New England and Walgett districts. Later he married Ada Thurlow of Scone. One son Les and one daughter were born to the union. Son Les carries on a Hereford cattle stud on the property. Daughter Joyce followed the hospital nursing profession and had her training at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sydney. When World War II broke out she joined the Army as a nursing sister with rank of Lieutenant and saw service in some of the Islands, where she lost her life. A Baby Health Centre in Scone has been dedicated to the memory of Joyce Bridge. The centre bears her name.
After the road crosses the river near Jack Mitchell’s on the left is where Charles Wilder Senior carried on as a share farmer, growing wheat, maize, etc. On the opposite side of the road a branch road leads to the right, and a short way on another branch road turned right and led to the home and property of Donald McPhee. Donald’s property was close to the foot of Woolooma about the highest mountain in the northeast of the State.
Woolooma can be seen from long distances and can be recognised by its height and shape. It has what appears to be a high round knob at the Belltrees end then a gap and from the gap runs a long flat top. From a distance the side of the mountain appears to be very steep. It stands between Back Creek on the Rouchel side and Stewart’s Brook on opposite side. The top is said to be well watered. Hugh Miller on the Back Creek side used to speak of the green shelves of Woolooma and Con Riley on the Stewart’s Brook side has been heard to say the grass on Woolooma is a foot high and waving.
Then back to the branch road mentioned first which leads to Stewart’s Brook. On left of the road was one of the station’s lucerne paddocks. Next was the share farm carried on by Tom Smith. Mrs. Smith’s maiden name was Garland. Her brother Jack Garland was employed on the farm as assistant to Tom Smith. Although Tom was a man who never let the grass grow under his feet and Jack had to follow him Jack was hard working and tough enough to put in part of the nights shooting possums. I believe his sister assisted him by pegging out the skins for him for which he received the princely sum of about six pence per skin.
The next share farm about a mile further on was occupied by a man and family named Cusack. His chief crops were also wheat and maize. In the Cusack family four of the sons were by name Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Within the next mile was the share farm also on Belltrees, carried on by Arthur Hawkins and wife —Morrison nee Taylor. In the household were children of both names Hawkins and Morrison.
Then the road crossed the Stewart’s Brook creek the first time. A quarter mile further on the road passed through the boundary between Belltrees and Miles Valley. The home and property of Samuel Cone Senior and wife nee Stevens. Sons Sam and Tom who were bachelors resided at the old home. This was at the 26 miles peg.
A quarter of a mile further on the road entered crown land which in 1897 was acquired by Bill Tilse as a homestead selection, Amaroo, where he lived with his wife nee Lizzie Mitchell and family.
Then the road again entered Belltrees property. There was a house over the brook on this property tenanted by Jack Martin a road maintenance man.
A short way on on the same side as Martins’ is where lived William Clark and wife a sister to Jack Martin. William Clark was employed as a boundary rider on Belltrees.
About the 28 mile the road entered Glen Fern, the home and property of Joe Cone. Joe was a widower. His wife nee Mary Ann Smith of Rouchel died in 1899, leaving three daughters Adelaide, Beatrice and May. In 1896 Joe’s brother Henry Cone and wife nee Nellie Mitchell lived at Glen Fern whilst waiting for a home to be built on a homestead selection which Harry acquired further up the brook.
After passing through Glen Fern the road again passed through for a short way a paddock belonging to Belltrees. Near the 29 mile which was marked on an oak tree in the middle of the brook, the road entered Wommelguy, the original home and property of the Carter family. At the time Wommelguy was occupied by at least two of the Carter sisters who were spinsters and their three bachelor brothers, James, Edward and Temple. Later Edward and Temple married sisters by name Caban, natives of Wollombi.
Further on homestead selections were about this time acquired by Jim McLachlan Junior, Tom Cone and W Stanford. Their wives’ maiden names were respectively Moran, Collison and Eager. The latter being a daughter of E G Eager of Kars Springs. W Stanford was the one mentioned earlier as being store keeper at Belltrees. And for a long time rode to and from Belltrees each day 10 or 11 miles each way. Stanford’s place’s name was Clydesdale.
Bob Carter of Rouchel had a place nearby named Winterline [?].
Next was the home and property of Henry Carter and wife nee Miller of Back Creek, Upper Rouchel.
Over the next crossing of the brook was the home of Henry Cone mentioned earlier.
Over the next crossing a bridle track leads left to Moonan Brook, known as the Gulf Track. Over two more crossings is where had been located earlier the Ethel May Gold Mines Battery. Over the next crossing and on opposite side of brook from the road stood the Lady Grace Gold Mines Battery. From this point on a description appears in an earlier writing by the present writer.
From Henry Cone’s on, the country was at the time mostly reserved for gold mining purposes with the exception of three small holdings which were held by W L Adams and wife nee McGregor a native of Parkville; Robert Carter and wife nee Jane Miller, sister of Mrs Henry Carter, Robert Carter kept the Stewart’s Brook Post and Telephone office. Also had store and butcher’s shop; and the third holding was located between the two creeks Stewart’s Brook and the North Arm, close to their junction and called The Ring Bark and owned by H E A and White of Belltrees.
Further up on the brook the Bluey Post Office. From the 25 miles peg on this road to the Bluey Post Office near about 37 miles, the brook was forded 26 times. No dry road about that, added to that from Scone to the 25 miles peg the river crossings in the Page numbered 7 and the Hunter was crossed 5 times. 38 in all. Today [1960’s] to at least the 33 miles peg is reached before a running stream has to be crossed.
I omitted to mention that apart from the three properties mentioned within the mining reserve the household blocks were held under Miner’s Rights.
At the time the telephone from Scone consisted of a single wire line. Cut in only at Gundy, Belltrees and Stewart’s Brook Post Offices and from there over the Blue Mountain to Moonan Brook Post Office where it terminated. That was four telephone offices without exchanges in approximately 40 miles. Today [1960’s] almost every house in the area is connected by telephone. The village of Gundy has its own automatic telephone service. It is worthwhile especially for the younger generation to look back over the last 60 years and think or learn what the pioneers had to face on the 37 miles of this one road. About the only regularities they enjoyed were the bad roads, river and creek crossing, the four telephone and post offices and a three times a week mail service from Scone. The extra Post Office, The Bluey, was two miles from the nearest telephone. The telephones were only in use as a means of sending messages in the form of telegrams between offices which were located only at post offices.
Then back from Stewart’s Brook to the turn off from the head of the Hunter Road near the 23 miles peg from Scone and about one mile on up river side of Belltrees Homestead. First the road crossed the stream of Stewart’s Brook, known as the Stewart’s Brook crossing. After crossing the stream on the left is where the brothers Harry and Tom Hawkins were share farming. Harry about the time married Salena Taylor and later Tom married Agnes Cundy of Brushy Hill. Her old home at Brushy Hill would now be submerged by the water of the Glenbawn Dam.
About a mile further on the two razor back crossings in the Hunter River had to be negotiated. After that the road leads on over a fairly level stretch known as Baking Board. A travelling stock reserve is in the vicinity of Baking Board. Before leaving Baking Board a road turns left, crosses the river and proceeds up Donald’s Creek where Charles Walters Senior and wife nee Miller lived. Charles was employed on Belltrees as a boundary rider.
The road carried on to Donald’s Creek Tops where Robert Hawkins Senior was employed as boundary rider also on Belltrees. Robert Hawkins’ wife was the blind woman mentioned earlier as being the first woman to walk across the suspension bridge at Belltrees.
The turnoff to Donald’s Creek is near the foot of Campbell’s Hill. This hill got its name from a happening which took place there. James Campbell of Arden Hall was proceeding down the hill with a team of bullocks and wagons loaded with wool and at one of the turns either the brake on the wagon gave way or the wagon wheel jumped off the shoe. Result the bullocks and wagon careered down the hill and at one of the turns the wagon and load turned over and so brought the runaway to a sudden stop. James Campbell was probably the senior partner in the firm of Campbell and Simpson at the time, of Glen Rock and Tomalla station beyond the head of the Hunter.
After leaving the top of Campbell’s Hill the road passed on its left over the river the home and property of Charles Challis, who added to his income by having a horse team on the Scone to headwaters of the Hunter Road. Later Charles Challis was wed to Mary Ann Caslick, daughter of William Caslick and wife nee Cone, who lived at Moonan Flat. Later, Charlie had two horse teams on the road, one driven by son Bill. It was Charlie Challis who had one of the first motor lorries on the road. His huge Thornycroft became a household word along the road.
The road crossed the Hunter at Colonel Swamp’s Crossing. Near the crossing lived Henry Baker and wife nee Rossington. Henry was boundary riding on Belltrees. Near here is where a road branched left and traversed up Brushy Hill Creek. In about 1906 Jack Bridge had a selection on Brushy Hill Creek, where he lived for a time with his wife nee Emily Budden and their family. Jack had a small cultivation paddock near his house. I stayed at the place one night in June 1906. A crop of wheat had been sown and started to grow in the paddock which was at the time unnetted. I saw Jack run out some loose netting along the brush side of the paddock. He fastened the top to the wire fence and propped the bottom off the ground. He fastened a pull away rope to the props. I said, what is the idea. His reply was wallabies come in in such droves from that side that they will not let anything grow and I want to try and trap and get rid of some of them. Some time after midnight he gave the rope a pull and let the netting fall. About day break Sam Stevens arrived from Moonan Flat and he and Jack each armed with a double barrel breech loading gun. In a few minutes between them they accounted for about 30 wallabies. Even then a number escaped.
After the road passed the turn off on the right is where Jack Collison had a share farm on Belltrees where he lived with his wife nee Garland and their family. Near there the road crossed the river at Rocky Crossing. Hereabouts was known as Long Flat, where James Collison, head of the Upper Hunter family of that name was also share farming on Belltrees. James Collison was a native of the Hawkesbury River and lived at Long Flat with his wife who was a member of Smith family and members of their family. Along with the farm James Collison had a piggery where he killed pigs and cured bacon. He carted the bacon to Scone with a four horse wagonette. One trip after heavy rain with about a ton and a half of bacon, the outfit got badly bogged passing what is now the Gundy Cemetery and only succeeded in getting out of the bog after unloading the bacon.
Then on to near the foot of Cook’s Gap near the 31 mile peg the road passed out of the Belltrees property. From the top of the gap a beautiful view of the village of Moonan Flat is to be seen. Near the 32 mile the road crossed the river twice in quick succession. On the left were some residences where I believe the occupants were also property owners. From memory there lived in the vicinity the families Geary, Caslick and Cundy. Have an idea the Gunters also lived hereabouts.
On the bank of the river over the second of the two crossings was the Moonan Flat Temperance Hotel conducted by the widow of the late Andy Mitchell. Her maiden name was Margaret Pinkerton. The building is now the Victoria Hotel. There was an amount of property adjoining the Temperance Hotel belonging to Mrs Mitchell.
Next on the left the Moonan Flat Public School. Teacher in charge was Mrs Crossing. Mrs Crossing resided at the school dwelling with members of her family. Next on left lived Bill Simpson with young daughter Louisa. Mrs Simpson whose maiden name was Louisa Cone passed away whilst her daughter was very young. Young Louisa in her days of womanhood married Bill Ross. It was on or near Bill Simpson’s home that Jack Gardner of Rouchel about the turn of the century opened a general store.
A road from near here branched right leading to Moonan Brook formerly The Dennison. On the right near the turnoff was the home of Bill Tilse and wife nee Elizabeth Mitchell a member of the Belltrees Mitchells. In 1897 the Tilse Family moved to their homestead selection block Amaroo on Stewart’s Brook near the 26 1/2 mile peg. Bill Tilse’s home at Moonan Flat later became the Police Station in charge of Constable Anderson. Looking back I believe there was a constable stationed at Moonan Flat before the transfer of Constable Anderson from Stewart’s Brook. Name seems to evade me. It may have been Robertson or Robinson. The Moonan Flat Police Station was a transfer of the Police Station from Stewart’s Brook. Perhaps the Stewart’s Brook residents became so law-abiding that a Police Station and Court House was no longer a necessity. No I did not say the reverse was the case for Moonan Flat. Fact is that after the closing of the Gold Mines at Stewart’s Brook, and the exodus of the population, it was found by the authorities that it was no longer a necessity. The Mining Reserve having been taken up by selectors hence the decline in population from small household blocks held with Miner’s Rights.
Back to Moonan Flat where I must confess I cannot recall the name of the person who was in charge of the Post Office at Moonan Flat or its location. A family who also lived in area was the Stevens Family. I am also at a loss to know their location and there may have been other families.
It would be two to three miles up Moonan Brook to where the main settlement was located. First on left was the Commercial Hotel kept by —-Williams. It was the licence from this hotel that was later transferred to the Commercial Hotel at Aberdeen. W R Baker and his wife nee Simpson were the keepers of the Post and Telegraph Office. The Jack Clifford family lived at Moonan Brook. Mrs Clifford’s maiden name was Riley or Blake. There were others located at Moonan Brook that were unknown to the writer. At the time the Fuller’s Reef Gold Mine was in operation with their crushing battery close by. I remember being once there in 1896 and hearing the clang of the stampers and seeing the milky white water from the battery running down the stream.
Then back to the turn off where near here the main road crossed Moonan Brook and turned left and passed on the left the home and property of the McCallum Family. The road then crossed the Hunter.
Perhaps a mile further on on the left near the next crossing of the river was Oak Field the home and property of the Miller Family. Three of the sons that come to mind were Abe who lived on at the old home, Jim who later acquired a homestead selection block on Stewart’s Brook on the left of the 29 mile. Jim married Sarah Stevens of Moonan Flat and Jack who became a member of the firm J A Simpson and Coy, Auctioneers of Scone.
After crossing the river near Millers, the road crossed the Rooty Bank Race Course where horse races were held periodically. Then again across the river the latter two crossings were called the two Rooty Bank Crossings. The Rooty Bank Race Course was in the first paddock belonging to Ellerston which was the property of H E A and V White of Belltrees.
After leaving the second Rooty Bank Crossing about a mile on on the right of road was Blumenthal, ownership at the time unknown to the writer. Present owners and occupiers Granville Budden and wife nee Ivy Challis.
On and near the next river crossing Glenmore the home and property of John Campbell and wife whose maiden name was McPhee. After the Glenmore Crossing the road again entered Ellerston property. The next stream to be crossed before the 37 or 38 mile peg is reached is Omadale Brook noted for the excellent quality as drinking water. Gold has also been won at Omadale Brook about the turn of the century when Stewart’s Brook ceased producing gold. The crushing battery and cyanide plant previously in use at the Royal Standard Gold mine at Stewart’s Brook was transferred to Omadale Brook. The writer is unaware of the doings on the brook and knows nothing of its inhabitants at the time.
The road then crossed the Hunter at the Shallow Crossing. Then a road branches to right leading to Dry Creek which is the fourth and last gold-bearing stream entering the Hunter River from the eastern side. Strange as it may seem, nevertheless it is fact, gold has not been mined for between the western bank of the Hunter and the Dividing Range. The only residents I can remember hearing of on Dry Creek was Christy Field and family and Frank Batterham. The road led on from Dry Creek up the mountain to Tomalla Station, the property of Campbell and Simpson. It is somewhere in this area the Wright Brothers found gold in recent times.
The road leads on from Tomalla along the mountain top to The Barringtons. The highest point being Carey’s Peak. Distance from Scone by road to the peak is about 72 miles. The road continues on from Carey’s peak heading in to the Dungog area. Along this latter road is now [1960’s] located a guest house called the Barrington Guest House.
Hunter Springs Post and Telephone is located in the Tomalla area. I have never been to Dry Creek, Tomalla or the Barrington and what little I know is only hearsay.
After passing the Dry Creek turnoff the road ascends Dicky Dann’s Hill. The river was again crossed at the Ellerston Crossing and near the 41 mile on left the gate leading in to Ellerston homestead. Near the gate was turnoff leading across the river to Puddledock the home and property of James Pinkerton Junior and wife nee Aslyn. On and near the junction of Page’s Creek with the river the Ellerston homestead stood occupied by George Cobb manager and his wife who was a daughter of John Campbell of Glenmore. The store and butchery on Ellerston was cared for by Hannah Wiseman. Not sure if this spelling of his Christian name is correct, it may be Annah. I once saw the name on the fly leaf of a prayer book in St. Mathew’s Church at Gundy spelled Hannah. It struck me as being a convenient name, spelled and read the same from either end.
The Page’s Creek road crossed below the junction in Ellerston property, a mile or two along the road Poley Bull’s Creek [this has been amended by Heather Ashford to Pol Blue] which was mostly dry was crossed, a road led up the creek which came in on the left to the back portion of Puddledock, where later Freeman Caban was in residence as manager. Freeman’s wife’s maiden name was Radnidge and hailed from Murrurundi.
Further on on the right over the Page’s Creek was Glen Vale the home and property of Bill Jackson and wife nee Baker from Well Swamp in the Tomalla area. From there on some distance on either side of the road belonged to Ellerston. The first dwelling met with was occupied by Ted Quinn employed as a boundary rider on the station. Next over the creek was Bob Wakeling also a boundary rider on the station. I believe it was on this side of the creek which is opposite side from the road, that Pierce Hegarty had a selection. It could be in this area that Jerry Londrigan also had a selection. After the death of Joe Roe, Jerry Londrigan took his place as Boss over the shearing board at Belltrees.
The next property entered was the property of Jack Mitchell who resided there with his wife nee Caslick and their family.
Almost opposite over the creek was the home and property of Thomas Nettle, at the time a bachelor. The road passed from Mitchell’s and again entered Ellerston and on the Nine Mile Creek which enters from left lived Paddy Brady also a boundary rider on the station. It was a few miles up Nine Mile Creek where Mat Pinkerton lived on his selection, Fernleigh. Mat’s brother Jack also had a selection nearby. Fernleigh is now [1960’s] the property of Mrs. [E E] Nicholas of New England Highway Scone. At the time both Mat and Jack were bachelors. A mile or so further on is where in early days lived Duncan McColl Senior and his first wife whose maiden name was Rae, with members of their family. Near the spot a road turned right across Page’s Creek and led to Arnleigh the home and property of James Bridge Junior and second wife nee Sarah Edmonds, his daughter Addie of first marriage lived also at Arnleigh. James’ first wife was Addie Nephvieur. There was no children of the second marriage.
Next and last home on Page’s Creek was occupied by John Fermor and wife nee Taylor and family. Further up Page’s Creek leads near Ben Hall’s Gap. The gap was named after Ben Hall, a native of Murrurundi, who in later life joined Gardner’s gang of highwaymen operating in the western districts over a hundred years ago. How his name came to be given to the gap is unknown by the writer.
Back again to Ellerston from where the road leads up along the left bank of the Hunter and passes the home and property of James McLoughlin Senior. After his death son Pierce occupied the old home. Then on about the 47 1/2 mile Branch Creek enters on opposite bank of river. Near the junction is what is called the Branch Creek Caves. Do not know if they have been explored. About a mile up Branch Creek is where Gregory Blenman and wife nee Martha Rossington had a share farm on Ellerston. Further up Branch Creek lived Billy Kiley Senior, a boundary rider on Ellerston. A half mile from the junction opposite the boundary gate between Ellerston and Hunter’s Vale lived Bill Budden and wife nee Margret Bridge and family, Bill was employed on Ellerston as a boundary rider. Hunter’s Vale was the home and property of John Corbett and wife, nee Campbell.
After passing through Hunter’s Vale the road enters Glen Rock Station, at the time the property of Campbell and Simpson. Manager of Glen Rock Station was Jack Simpson known to friends as Big Jack Simpson. I have never been to Glen Rock. Believe it is located chiefly on the Barnard River sometimes called the Barnet River which is the head waters of the Manning River. Glen Rock changed hands a couple of times since the turn of the century. One owner was the estate of the late Ebenezer Vickery. Some of the present shareholders are said to be deeply interested in the British Australian Tobacco Company. I omitted to mention the present owner of Hunter’s Vale. It is James McLeod, General Manager for Pitt, Son and Badgery Ltd., Wool and Stock salesmen of Sydney. James McLeod owns Tomalla station. His manager at Hunter’s Vale is by name [Sid – note added by Heather Ashford] Bridge who hails from the Manning side.
There were at the time various selectors in the Glen Rock area, for instance there was Moonan Bill Mitchell of Gogg’s Top, Belltrees George Mitchell and wife nee Ada Collison in the vicinity of Kangaroo Flat. It was at Kangaroo Flat which belonged to Glen Rock that the main wool shed was located. It was said that this area was noted for heavy hail storms and that iron roofs were built very steep on this account as hail is less likely to damage steep roofs. I believe it was on the Barnard river that George and Archie Campbell of Arden Hall had selections, one by the name Sunrise the other Sundown. It would be one of the Campbells or Simpsons had a place named St. Elmo. There must have been a place Fairview. The station bullock wagon that used to be seen had the name Campbell and Simpson Fairview on its side board. I think most of the selectors later became absorbed into Glen Rock.
On looking back over the Moonan Flat-Moonan Brook area I find I omitted mention of a few who at the time resided in the locations, for instance there was Bill and Dave Williams. In speaking of members of the two families, distinction was made by mentioning the father’s Christian name such as Sarah “Bill” and Sarah “Dave”. The maiden name of Bill Williams’ wife unknown to writer. If memory serves me correctly Dave’s wife’s maiden name was Simpson, sister to Jack, Archie and Jim Simpson and Mrs Baker of Moonan Brook. I do not think it would be a mistake to say five of Dave Williams’ daughters married the following: the brothers Sam and Bob Mitchell of Moonan Flat, Bert Mitchell of Stewart’s Brook (no relation), Les Thompson and Charlie Hill, both of Muswellbrook. Archie Simpson was what may be called a multinomial [query by Heather Ashford – alphabetical] – his Christian names being Archibald Bernard Campbell Daniel and was to his friends known as A B C D Simpson.
In the Moonan area there also dwelt families by name Weibeck, Finch, James, Steinbeck, Mychael, Hush and McInnes. Their properties and location unknown to writer. There may be others that have slipped the memory or were unknown by self. What I do know of some of them was that Jack Mychael drove a bullock team for Glen Rock station. Hush was in some way related to the Moonan Mitchells and the Pinkertons. Two sons in the McInnes family “Bung” and Neil were noted horsemen. In the 1920’s there was at least a quintet of noted horsemen in the locality with the prefix Mc before their names. They were the brothers “Bung” and Neil McInnes, Jim McGregor and at least two by name McPhee. And were spoken of as the fine rough riding Macs. A daughter of James is the wife of Alex Cumming late of Davis Creek Upper Rouchel, now residing in Scone. 
Well that is about all I can sift from the old brain which will in four months time have passed the 80th milestone on life’s journey. Having been born at Rouchel Brook on May 5th 1883. In recent times I have been queried on the secret of long memory. My answer has been there is no secret. It is just there. All the same I believe I inherited the memory from my father, the late William Bridge who residents of the Upper Hunter would know through his writings which appeared in the Scone Advocate in the 1920’s. My mother nee Mary Ann Morrison and her mother whose maiden name was Eliza Gardner were both noted for their memories. So perhaps it is them I have to thank.
And now I will endeavour to add a tail piece. At the time the foregoing is written of – now over 60 years ago – the settlers as well as those before them were the real pioneers of that area. If it was only bad roads and the crossings of streams it would take folk who had hearts that beggar description to face the hardship encountered by those living at the upper part of Stewart’s Brook. From there to their nearest town Scone 38 open streams had to be crossed; Gundy to Scone 7 streams; Belltrees to Scone 11 streams; Moonan to Scone 19 streams; and to Ellerston 29 streams. And more for those living further out. Think if sickness overtook them especially in flood times when the nearest medical aid was at Scone and for a long time only one doctor there. If not cases of extreme urgency it was in cases too far to ask a doctor to travel. Otherwise take pluck and grit in both hands and face the arduous journey. The modes of transport were by saddle horse, horse and spring cart, horse and sulky, horse and buggy. For those more fortunate buggy and pair or dray and four horses.
The women folk were the real game ones who faced life in these parts with the sparse amenities at their disposal. It would be safe to say in over 90% of homes the cooking utensils consisted of a camp oven, a meat boiler, a kerosene tin for boiling clothes on wash day, which often took place beside the running streams. Stoves were practically unknown in the bush before the turn of the century. No push button amenities in those days. Now, 1963, push button amenities can be had at least as far out as Glen Rock, thanks to the County Council. I do not mean that they give them away, they only put them there and charge for them as those who have them in their homes well know. Still the convenience is worthwhile.
In this writing the name of Belltrees appears a good many times also Ellerston. Fact is the property which was known as Belltrees, Waverley and Ellerston, carried up to 120,000 sheep as well as cattle and horses, apart from land farmed on the share system. It was possible to enter the run a mile from Gundy and without crossing the boundary travel to the head of Page’s Creek a distance of 40 odd miles in that direction or to the head of Branch Creek perhaps the same distance and in the other direction through Waverley and on to Green Creek near the Murrurundi-Timor Road, a distance of over 20 miles. In later years Belltrees has been reduced to the vicinity of 30,000 acres.
Some 20 years ago I heard the question asked, why not take a slice of Belltrees for closer settlement? The answer given was “how much closer could it be settled than it was at the time. For there is at least 17 families in residence on the place so leave Belltrees alone whilst they carry on with such good work”.
In this writing there may be some omissions or perhaps misstatements. The whole is written from memory and the writer would welcome corrections and offers apologies for errors. It has been written in what I call bush shorthand and a pretty shaky hand at that. It contains few stops or commas. Capitals often in wrong places. Words perhaps that are misspelled. I put it down to a lack of schooling and crave forgiveness.
M H Bridge
16 Skellatar Street