Diaries & Memoirs
Diaries & Memoirs
Contemporary historical reports in the form of diaries and memoirs present an eye witness account of the life and times as seen by ordinary people. In time these works, diaries especially, become an invaluable source of information about daily life, opinions and facts as they were usually written with no hidden agenda, just a record of what was observed by the writer.
Memoirs are a little different, relying on the later recording and interpretation of events which may have happened some time before. However, they are usually based on facts, with memories sometimes dimming or fluctuating with time. Nevertheless, they give us hints which can then be researched further using other resources, allowing us to make up our own minds.
Please note that there may be variations on spelling of old names and localities in the indexes so it often advantageous to browse the index for relevant articles too.
A chronological selection of diaries and memoirs relating to the district.
(further books on the area can be sourced at “Researching Hill End – books”)
Mary Maclean (Marshall): Shipboard diary
In a book, published in 1995, titled No privacy for writing: shipboard diaries 1852-1879 editor, Andrew Hassam, has gathered together the shipboard journals of a selection of immigrants and has allowed the writers to present their impressions of that perilous journey. One story of special interest is that of Scottish lass, Mary Maclean, who set off from Glasgow in 1862 to join her brother in New South Wales. Her diary was discovered in an old writing box in a ruined house in Hill End almost one hundred years later.
Mary describes the trip and we hear firsthand how she coped with the day to day living on a ship with 442 other passengers, all headed to a new life. She later married into the well-known mining Marshall family (the “Little house” Marshalls) in Hill End. With her husband and sons often away because of their mining business, Mary had to take responsibility for the daily running of the house, orchard, as well as the horse yards, blacksmiths, the wheelwrights, the assay office and other activities that were based on the ten-acre property.
1860s – 1890s
George Charles Johnson (aka Paul Twyford, Cooyal and G.J.G. etc) Newspaper articles
Born in England in 1839 George Charles Johnson was allured to the goldfields and arrived around 1858. After prospecting at Lambing Flat, and Gulgong he was also known to be in Sofala in 1863 when he paid 10/- for a Miners right (now in the State Library of NSW collection).
In 1907 G.C.J. mentions his early journalistic career when he was running a manuscript paper, The Illustrated Sofala Times in mid-1859, recalling that he attended numerous meeting concerning the Legislative Assembly elections at that time.
He was remembered in his obituary as having a “facile pen (in either verse or prose) and a wonderful store of knowledge”, thus his contributions to the press commanded attention. He wrote many entertaining yarns of his adventures in the gold mining days for a number of regional newspapers under the pen names of “Paul Twyford” “Cooyal” and “G.J.C.”.
He subsequently managed the Windsor and Richmond Gazette and was prominent in various local affairs. He was still writing until 2 years before his death, aged 88, in July 1924.
In the latter half of 1906 he penned a series of articles in the Molong Argus on the “Recollections of Captain Wm. Crockett and other old worthies – Being reminiscent of old Mitchell’s Creek [now Sunny Corner] in the early sixties” which includes references to a number of Hill End & Tambaroora identities.
His material is best accessed through Trove using his name or pseudonyms with his series being syndicated over many publications including those under the heading of “After many years” and “Sketcher”.
1860s – 1920s
Harry Hodge: The Hill End Story, Books 1,2 & 3
Once considered the “bible” on the story of Hill End and Tambaroora, this series of 3 books, original published between 1964 and 1972 forms a basis for much further research on the goldfields. Revised and updated by family members it still presents a great yarn, supplemented by contemporary press extracts and reports. The third volume “Memories and Vignettes” deals with the authors memories of the area in his childhood, from 1904 until 1915 when he moved to Bathurst for his schooling.
Now out of print, copies are available on the second-hand market. Indexes to all 3 volumes are available on our Book indexes page.
Augustus Baker Peirce (Pierce): Knocking About: Being some adventures of Augustus Baker Peirce in Australia, his autobiography, edited by Mrs. Albert T. Leadbeater“Gus” Pierce was born in Massachusetts in 1840 and travelled to Australia as a sailor, jumping ship to head to the goldfields. Over the 10 years he stayed here he followed numerous occupations, scene-painter, pub keeper, actor, shepherd, coach driver, showman gold digger, photographer, baker, cartoonist journalist, painter advertising agent and riverboat captain. Truly a man of many talents. His autobiography Knocking About was accepted by some critics as a largely true, if sometimes exaggerated, account of his travels and experiences.In 1872 he was living in Hill End and performed with William B. Gill in his Varieties Theatre. He was well known for his panoramic series of scenes, representing a sea voyage around the world, painted in distemper on canvas. In his autobiography he describes his adventurers and life there, in his theatre and as a mining investor and surveyor.The book was published posthumously by Yale University Press in 1924 and is available on the second hand market.
1870 – 1920s
Will Carter – newspaper reminiscences Index to these articles
William Alexander Carter, born in 1867, began his teaching career in 1888 and spent forty years as a teacher in New South Wales country areas including 5 years as coordinator of the NSW Education Department’s Correspondence School from 1916 to 1921. Carter then returned to teaching until his retirement in 1928. Following his retirement Carter moved to the Hurstville district where his interest in writing found expression in the publication of his works under the banner of ‘Australianities’ in the local newspaper the ‘Propeller‘. He penned historical articles, poems, and stories based on his memories and those of people he met during his country service.
Much of Carter’s journalism then found broader publication in various regional newspapers in the 1930s and early 1940s, often writing under a variety of pseudonyms.
Carter wrote of his reminiscences in over 380 Australianities articles under a number of series titles. The following bear special reference to the Western Goldfields area:
The Goldfield Days (articles for the “Grenfell Record”)
Old Goldfields Times Recalled (Tambaroora Nos 1 – 9)
Old Goldfields Times Recalled (Hill End Nos 1 – 6)
Australianities (Tales of the Old Days) and
Tales of the Old Days and other Australianities.
These items have been accessed and indexed by Annette Sheen in 2013 and are based on articles available in a number of newspapers that had been digitized at the time, including the Grenfell Record and Lachlan District advertiser, The Southern Mail (Bowral) The Sydney Morning Herald, Albury Banner and Wodonga Express. These newspapers are available online on Trove.
1880 – 1900
Henry H. Neary – Ghost on the goldfields – pioneer diggers and settlers on the Turon. Index
Born in 1868 at the foot of Wyagdon Hill, Henry Neary grew up knowing the local identities of the Turon goldfields. In 1940 Neary illustrated and published his reminiscences of the early days of the Turon goldfields around the Turon, Wattle Flat and Sofala and Sunny Corner. He recorded that, after sixty years he was “attempting to perpetuate the memory of events that re fast fading into oblivion” including a list of the Turon district’s men who made good in business, sport, politics and life in general. Neary was also an occasional contributor to the regional newspapers in the area.
His book was reprinted by his grandchildren in 1983with the help of the Mitchell College Printery in Bathurst and copies are now available on the second-hand market.
An index to names mentioned in the book is available on our Book Index page.
1896 – 1918
A.E. (Bert) Howard: Born on the Hill End Goldfield. Index
Bert clearly had a sound memory and a knack for story-telling, and he maintained a life-long connection with the town of his birth. His book captures the town through the eyes of a child and young man, up to and during the final burst of commercial gold mining activity (1896-1918) until the Howard family moved to Wellington in 1923.
These tales are intermingled with stories he probably heard as a child (many of which bring a smile), and his experiences hunting, fishing and gathering food to provide for the family. It contains a wealth of names, both from Hill End and from farther afield. The book is based on Bert’s memories and was written over a long period from the late 1970‘s until it was published in 1987.
Privately published it is now out of print however, copies of this book are available on the second-hand market.
An index to names mentioned in the book is available on our Book Index page.
1923 – 1930
Mary Walpole’s Diary 1923 – 1930: personal diary. Index
This transcription of Mary Walpole’s diary dates from 5 August 1923 to 16 March 1930. It describes the day to day life of Tambaroora and Hill End during the period prior to the Great Depression and records in many ways, the waning of a once prosperous gold mining area. Many of the local population are mentioned and it is a wonderful source of information about births, deaths and marriages as well.
The diary was transcribed by her nephew, Harry Walpole. Harry was the fourth son of Mary’s husband’s brother, John William Walpole. A copy of this document can be located in the National Park & Wildlife Service Family History files in Hill End where it has been placed for use by family history researchers.
This diary was indexed and annotated by our volunteer, Verna Little, who (virtually) grew to know Mary and her family during the transcription project.
Mary Walpole, nee Moore, was born on 1 October, 1869. She was the daughter of John & Catherine Moore and her birth was registered in Rylstone.
Family stories tell us that Mary was an avid diarist and collector of local information and photographs. Thanks to these diaries we have a glimpse of life in a gold mining town in the 1920s, a period in Australian history during which many challenges were thrown at those who struggled to make a living in the years before the Great Depression.
Mary married Francis Archer Walpole in Hill End on 20 June 1896. They had one son, Joseph Francis who was born in 1897 and his birth was registered in Tambaroora. Her husband, Frank, was tragically killed in a mining accident in 1933 and The Sydney Morning Herald of Friday 29 September 1933 gave the following report:
GOLDMINER KILLED – BURIED BY EARTH – CREEK BANK COLLAPSES.
A lonely death overtook Francis Walpole, an elderly miner, at Tambaroora, while he was working alone at his sluicing claim on Red Hill Creek. He was crushed beneath a fall of earth, and he was unable to extricate himself.
Mr. William Kimm, a neighbour, made investigations when he was told by Mrs. Walpole that her husband had failed to return home at the customary hour.
Kimm discovered Walpole buried under a large quantity of earth that had broken away from the creek bank under which he had been working. He was in a sitting position when he was found, and his body was completely covered. His head was free, but his position was such that the weight of the earth on his back had forced his face into loose dirt, making it impossible for him to breathe. Rescuers, working with frantic speed, dug the man out, but he was dead upon release.
When the Hill End Coroner (Mr. W. Hodge), Dr. O’Flynn, and Sergeant Rosser arrived, they found that about 50 miners had hurried to the spot with lanterns, picks, and shovels to give assistance. The body was taken to Hill End. Walpole was a native of Hill End, and he had been engaged in mining in the district all his life.
1920 – 1960
Bruce Goodwin: Gold and People – Recollections of Hill End 1920s to 1960s. Index
Author and long term resident, Bruce Goodwin, presents his recollections of this iconic town in “Gold and People” during the period 1925 to 1965. There were other events that would change Hill End dramatically, including the closure of the Deep Level Mines in 1924 and the influx of people during the Great Depression. More changes were brought on by the further shift in population during World War 2, the discovery of the Holtermann photographs, and the influence of contemporary artists and historians who drew attention to the town. Through all these changes, the unique character of Hill End and its people have left lasting impressions on all those who have lived there.
Published in 1992, this work has been out of print for some time and through the generosity of his daughter, Sheena, we have been allowed to present it as a free ebook on this site.
1944 – 1949
Donald Friend: The Diaries of Donald Friend Volume 2 edited by Paul Hetherington
This volume covers the period 1944 to 1949 and deals with the period that Friend and his artistic colleagues, including Margaret Olley, and Russell Drysdale, “discovered” and settled Hill End. Using a painter’s eye, he vividly deals with descriptions of the town and the local identities.
1964 – 1967
Geoff Walker: Chalkdust on the Turon
In 1964, at the age of 18, and three months after graduating from Wollongong Teachers’ College, Geoff Walker was appointed teacher-in-charge of the small Turondale Public School where he remained for 3 years. As well as teaching the children, he learned so much himself from this experience. This book presents his recollections, 33 years later, and is truly a story based on memory.
This book was privately published however copies may be found on the second-hand market.
1960 – 2010
Malcolm Drinkwater: Hill End Hearsay
Memoirs aren’t confined to “ancient” history. In 2010 Malcolm Drinkwater gathered an eclectic mixture of tales and history based on “hearsay” from the district and these are now recorded for posterity. He has spoken to many of the town’s identities, past and present, and as he states on the title page “They thought their lives were ordinary, nothing special, their stories unimportant – they were wrong”. He has collected together his memories and interspersed the narrative with a wide collection of photographs, both historic and contemporary, in a style that is truly Malcolm’s.
Copies of this book are available for purchase. Check out our bookshop.