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The weekend of 6 & 7 October was the date set for the Gathering Group Reunion in Hill End. The aim of this reunion was to allow the attendees to walk in their ancestors’ footsteps in “their town”.
Dennis and Ralph shepherded the Sydney coach passengers safely to and from the village as well as providing a personal bus service over the weekend.
The Royal Hall was the venue for the weekend and here we set up displays and in conjunction with Daphne at Hill End Family History we also provided a wide selection of reference & research material.
On Saturday tours of Craigmoor and the village were conducted by NPWS Discovery Ranger, Sandra Thompson who gave a wonderful presentation, incorporating her boundless supply of yarns and putting a personal slant on many of the stories for those attending.
We persuaded Betty Jeffree to come out of retirement and ably assisted by helpers, Peter and Tony, she provided her legendary Devonshire Teas to many of the Group during the day.
The Hill End Ranch was the venue for our Gathering BBQ and Dennis and Rod must be congratulated for their calm cooking skills, (trying turning 160 sausages and 80 tender steaks on a huge BBQ plate – this almost invoked OH&S practices!). They cooked for the 80 participants, and this was supplemented by the tasty salads and desserts supplied by Kerrie and her staff. The conversations over dinner continued well into the night and many new connections were made and friendships renewed.
On Sunday morning we visited the ancestors at the cemeteries and once again local identity, Ted Abbott, was engaged to tell the tales. Some of the younger members of the Group then went gold panning with Ted in Golden Gully and were thrilled with the results.
A few intrepid explorers joined Lorraine for a short bushwalk to Golden Gully where we were able to view the fast disappearing “Golden Arch”. Unfortunately the ravages of climate and erosion have made this landmark very fragile and one wonders just how long it will remain.
A number of optional activities were offered for the rest of the day and people had time to visit the NPWS Museum and History Hill, as well as the Bald Hill Mine. It was pleasing to see that many of the participants who travelled long distances to attend the function either arrived early or stayed a few more days to enjoy the character and ambiance of the place and take the opportunity to see more of the district.
It was very gratifying to speak with some of the local businesses after the event. They were impressed and very appreciative of the enthusiasm and interest taken by the Group and also the amount of financial support which remained in the village as a result of the Gathering activities. We thank all of them and NPWS for their support as well.
Over the weekends we had representatives of the following families in attendance: