Photographs provide a rare glimpse of a particular second in time, which will never again be repeated. This is especially true for events that occurred before the development of television or digital technologies.
The photographic work of Roy Dowle is a collection of glass plates found their way to The Oaks Historical Society and have recently been digitized by the society.
Digitizing The Roy Dowle Photographic Collection
Trish Hill and Allen Seymour
Roy William Dowle was born in 1893, the first child to Charles and Madeline Dowle (nee Dominish) and his siblings were Frank (1896), Edgar (1898) and Leonard (1904). Charles Dowle purchased their “Collingwood” property in Quarry Road, at The Oaks around the time of Roy’s birth. It is presumed that Roy lived there until his marriage to Emily J Smith in 1915.
Roy & Emily’s home was in Camden at the top of Barsden Street. Roy was a photographer and the Camden News of March 26th, 1914 records that he received an award for photography in the amateur section at the Camden show.
In 1937 he supplied photographs of Camden to the Council for use by the railways in their passenger carriages. Roy worked for Whitemans, and in 1943 he was called on to make a presentation to Charles Whiteman when the latter retired. The Dowle’s also had a holiday home at Erowal Bay – St George’s Basin.
Roy died in 1955, but fortunately, a large number of his glass and film negatives survived. These were donated to the Wollondilly Heritage Centre in 2016 by Roy’s grand-daughter. An index book came with the collection, but unfortunately, a lot of the negatives were not in their original boxes, making identification of the people difficult. The photographs range in age from around 1910 to the 1940s.
The Wollondilly Heritage Centre was successful in obtaining a New South Wales Community Heritage grant in 2019 to digitize the collection which consists of 1100 glass plate negatives and a further 120 plastic film negatives.
There was considerable work in preparing the negatives for digitizing, as they all had to be cleaned and numbered. This was done by volunteers from the centre over several weeks, and they were then transported in batches to Digital Masters at Balgowlah for digitizing. Most were still in excellent condition, and the quality of the scanned images is superb.
Roy photographed a lot of people, with weddings, babies and young children being popular subjects. He also photographed local buildings and houses, views, animals, local events such as parades or sporting events.
Buildings photographed include St Johns church (inside also), Camden Hospital (even inside shots), Camden Inn, Plough & Harrow Hotel, Narellan Hotel, Oakdale wine shop, Maloney’s store, Narellan school, Mt Hunter school, Camden railway station, Camden Milk Depot, Mater Dei and others.
The unveiling of the Mt Hunter war memorial (pictured) was also covered by Roy, along with Mt Hunter School and some beautiful interior shots which show honour boards with photos of local soldiers.
Some really fascinating photos are of children in fancy dress, and two that stand out, are of the same girl dressed firstly as a wedding cake, and then as a lampshade!! A number of the houses have been identified as still being in Camden, and other more easily identified homes include “Edithville” in Mitchell street, the former Methodist parsonage in Menangle Road and Harrington Park house.
Among the groups photographed are St John’s Choir, returned servicemen, cricket teams, football teams, Masonic dinner, the Royal Forrester’s, staff and children from Macquarie House, visiting school teachers and Sunday school groups. One photograph of a group of three male cyclists picnicking may be one of the first selfies, as we believe the centre one is Roy himself, holding a string which runs to the camera. Soldiers were another popular subject, and there are also some women dressed as soldiers. Roy also copied photos. This was done by photographing it, and a lot of the soldier photos have been copied this way.
Some of the views are of Wollongong, Bulli, Burragorang, Douglas Park, Theresa Park, Chellaston Street and some great shots taken from St Johns steeple. There are also numerous flood scenes around Camden. Animals didn’t escape Roy’s camera, and there are shots of cattle, horses, poultry, dogs. Even a camel. Some other remarkable photos are of a shop window display featuring Persil washing powder. Some of these have been dated to 1910.
A lot of the film negatives show his holidays, with some taken at their holiday home, while others are taken whilst on a trip to the north, and scenes have been identified as Cessnock, Dungog, Taree, Kew & Paterson. There are some photos of Warragamba Dam in the very early stages before any concrete was poured, and a magnificent shot of the winding drums of the overhead cableway.
Several Roy’s photos have already appeared on the Back Page and in numerous publications on local history because his subjects were local and numerous copies of them have survived in private collections.
The scanned photos can be viewed either on a computer or in albums at the Wollondilly Heritage Centre & Museum, open on Saturdays, Sundays & public holidays.
Check out old photographs from the Roy Dowle Collection at the Wollondilly Heritage Centre Website Click here.
The Cowpastures emerged as a regional concept in the late 18th century starting with the story of the cattle of the First Fleet that escaped their captivity at the Sydney settlement.
The region was a culturally constructed landscape that ebbed and flowed with European activity. It grew around the government reserve established by Governors Hunter and King. It then developed into a generally used locality name centred on the gentry estates in the area.
Regionalism in the Cowpastures
The geographers call this type of area a functional region. A functional region is based on horizontal linkages within a particular area that are to an extent self-contained. The region was relatively self-cohesive when compared with linkages between regions. The key concept is self-containment for the activities of those within a particular area.
A useful way into a regional study like the Cowpastures is an environmental history, which is a multi-disciplinary approach. This would cover the physical and cultural landscapes.
The boundaries of the Cowpastures region were both culturally derived and natural, where the landforms restricted and constrained European activity. The story of the Cowpastures regions has many layers of history that can be peeled back to unravel its bits and pieces.
The story of the wild cows and more, a cultural landscape
The story of the Cowpastures begins with the wild cows. The First Fleet leaves England in 1787 and HMS Sirius which collected 4 cows and 2 bulls at the Cape of Good Hope on the way out to New South Wales. They were Cape cattle.
The cattle did not think much of their new home and after their arrival, they took off within 5 months of being landed and disappeared. The cattle escaped and found heaven on the Indigenous managed pastures of the Nepean River floodplain. The cattle occupied and seized the territory of the Indigenous people who were wary of these horned beasts.
Before the Cowpastures district was even an idea the area was the home for ancient Aboriginal culture based on Dreamtime stories. The land of the Dharawal, Gundangara and the Dharug.
After European occupation, the Dharawal people became known as the Cowpastures tribe by 1805.
In 1795 the story of the cattle is told to a convict hunter by an Aboriginal, who then tells an officer and informs Governor Hunter. Hunter sends Henry Hacking, an old seaman, to check out the story.
After confirmation Governor John Hunter and Captain Waterhouse, George Bass and David Collins head off from Parramatta, cross the Nepean River on 17 November 1795.
The party climbed a hill (Mt Taurus) and spotted the cattle, and named the area the Cowpastures. Governor John Hunter marked area on maps ‘Cow Pasture Plains’ in the region of Menangle and elsewhere on maps south of Nepean. By 1806 the herd had grown to 3,000.
The Europeans seized the territory occupied by the wild cattle, allocated land grants for themselves and displaced the Indigenous occupants. On their occupation, they created a new land in their own vision of the world.
A countryside made up of large pseudo-English-style-estates, an English-style common called The Cowpasture Reserve and government men to work it called convicts. The route that Governor Hunter took became the track to the area became known as the Cowpastures Road, starting at Prospect Hill and progressing to the crossing of the Nepean River.
In 1803 Governor King issued a proclamation in July 1803 banning any unauthorised entry south of the Nepean River to stop poaching of the wild cattle. (The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday 10 July 1803 page 1)
Governor King ordered that a constable be placed at the Cowpasture crossing of the Nepean River and that a small hut be built to house them. (Historic Records NSW Vol 5, pp. 719-720) The government reserve for the wild cattle was strengthened under the Macquarie administration.
Government Cowpastures Reserve
Bigge Report 1822-1823
The government reserve was never really defined and just a vague area occupied by the Wild Cattle. The 1823 Bigge report described the Cowpastures this way:
The county of Camden contains the extensive tracts known by the name of the Cow Pasture, which which five of the cattle that were landed from His Majesty’s ship Sirius, soon after the first arrival of Governor Phillip, had strayed from their place of confinement. They were discovered in these tracts in the year 1795 by a convict, and appear to have been attracted to the spot, and to have continued there, from the superior quality of the herbage. Since that period their numbers have greatly increased: and they have latterly occupied the hilly ranges by which the Cow Pastures are backed on the south, and have been found in the deeper ravines of the hills of Nattai, and on the banks of the Bargo River. It does not appear, however, that they have penetrated beyond the Blue Mountains, or the barren tract that is called the Bargo Brush. The Cow Pastures extend northwards from the river Bargo to the junction of the river Warragumba and the Nepean. To the west they are bounded by some of the branches of the latter river and the hills of Nattai. They contain by computation about sixty thousand acres; and the soil, through varying in fertility, but always deepening and improving on the banks and margin of the Nepean, consists of a light sandy loam, resting upon a substratum of clay.
(JT Bigge, Report of the Commissioner of Inquiry on the state of agriculture and trade in the colony of NSW, 1823, Vol 3)
Public Buildings 1822 Bigge Report
At the centre of the government reserve
A Brick Built House for the residence and accommodation of the Superintendant and principal Overseer of Government Stock in the Cow Pastures, reserving two rooms for the occasional accommodation of the Governor, with Kitchen and other necessary Out Offices, together with a good Kitchen Garden, well enclosed.
A Weather-boarded House for the accommodation of the Subordinate Overseers and Stockmen.
Four large paddock of 100 acres each enclosed with a strong Fence for the grazing of the Tame Cattle and Taming of the Wild Cattle, and cleared of the standing and dead Timber.
A Tanning House and Tan Yard for Tanning the Hides of the Wild Bulls for the use of Government.
Several other Paddocks and Stock-Yards enclosed for the Government Horses, Homed Cattle, and Sheep, grazing in other parts of the Government Grounds in the Cow Pastures. N.B.—Cawdor is the principal Run or Grazing Ground for the Government Horned Cattle and Sheep in the Cow Pastures on the western side of the Nepean River, consisting of about Fifteen thousand acresof land, and ought never to be alienated as long as it may be deemed expedient and advisable for the Government to possess and maintain Herds and Flocks.
(JT Bigge, Report of the Commissioner of Inquiry on the state of agriculture and trade in the colony of NSW, 1822, Vol 1)
End of Government Reserve
A regional identity had emerged by the time the government reserve was dissolved in the early 1820s and the land sold off.
The usage of the Cowpastures as an identity extended into the second half of the 19th century.
The extent of the Cowpastures region by the 1840s
The extent of the Cowpastures by the 1840s was:
North – Bringelly Road – taking in the upper South Creek Catchment – west to Bents Basin and Warragamba River
East – Wilton Road north through Appin – ridge dividing Nepean and Georges River catchments – generally the Appin Road – following ridgeline north dividing Bow Bowing Creek and South Creek.
South – Stonequarry Creek catchment – bordering Bargo Brush – line following Wilton Road in the east – through Thirlmere – ridge line between Stonequarry Creek and Bargo River – west to Burragorang Valley
West – Burragorang Valley
Cowpastures as a regional identity
The graph below shows the usage of the locality name Cowpastures in newspapers listed on the National Library of Australia Trove Database in 2017 using QueryPic.
Usage of the locality name ‘Cowpastures’
The usage of the Cowpastures regional identity persisted into the late 19th century.
1836 Glendiver Estate
In 1836 Glendiver Estate at The Oaks was advertised for sale with the given address as The Cowpastures. The sale notice boasted that the estate was one of the finest dairy farms in the colony of New South Wales with ‘the finest soil’ and ‘abundance of water’.
The notice claimed that the owner could run ‘double the stock’ of any other part of the colony because of the ‘beautiful district’. The estate for sale came to 2390 acres. The estate had 70 acres under wheat the property suited a ‘wealthy grazier, horse or cattle-dealer’. (Australian (Sydney, NSW: 1824 – 1848), Friday 5 August 1836, page 4 (4))
1838 the estate of Narellan
In 1838 the estate of Narellan in the Cowpastures was advertised for sale on behalf of Francis Mowatt consisting of a desirable homestead and 800 acres of ‘rich productive’ land. The property was fenced with 12 miles of fencing and watered by Narellan Creek. The property fronted the Cowpastures Road for ¾ of a mile.
The ‘commodious and comfortable’ cottage has ‘out-offices’, ‘excellent stables in good repair’. The garden has extensive fruit trees and ‘grapery’. The sale also include household furniture, harnesses, saddlery, and ten horses. (Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 – 1842), Saturday 3 February 1838, page 3)
Cowpasture Estates of 1840
In 1840 MD Hunter released the Cowpasture Estates on former properties owned by Sydney businessman John Dickson in the Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser for auction by The Australian Auction Company. The properties offered were Orielton, Nonorrah, Moorfield, Eastwood, and Netherbyres with a total of 7000 acres.
The properties were offered in lots ranging from 300 to 30 acres. The sale notice stated that Orielton had a ‘substantial Stone Barn, Threshing Mill, and Offices’, Nonorrah boasted a ‘spacious and elegant Cottage with Gardens, Stables, and Offices’. (Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW: 1838 – 1841), Friday 5 June 1840, page 4 (4))
The northern extremity of the Cowpasture Estates
The northern extremity of the Cowpasture Estates was the Bringelly Road. (Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, 16 July 1840)
1843 Charles Cowper in the Cowpastures district
In 1843 the Sydney Morning Herald announced the presence of Charles Cowper in the Cowpasture district. Mr Cowper arrived at Mr James Chisholm’s Gledswood and joined a procession of horses followed by carriages and gigs of around 150 men and women. Mr Cowper took a seat in Mr Hassall’s carriage.
The procession headed for by Mr Hovel of Macquarie Grove. with Mr John Wild of Picton bringing up the rear of the carriages. The procession then moved to Mr Chisholm’s house on his property Wivenhoe. (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Tuesday 11 July 1843, page 2)
1843 GCP Living of Raby in the Cowpastures
In 1843 auctioneer Mr Stubbs announced the sale of the household effects, stock and farming implements for the insolvent estate of GCP Living of Raby in the Cowpastures.
The stock included heifers, bullocks, calves, dairy cows, steers totaling 165 beasts and five horses. The farm equipment included dairy utensils, and transport equipment including carts, drays, and wagons. (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Monday 6 November 1843, page 4 (3))
1843 SR Swaine of Narellan of the Cowpastures
In 1843 Mr Beck advertised the sale of furniture of the late Mr SR Swaine of Narellan of the Cowpastures. (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Friday 15 December 1843, page 3)
1845 Bridge repairs in the Cowpastures
The Camden District Council meeting in 1845 reported on the state of repair of the bridge across the Cowpasture River. (Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature (Sydney, NSW: 1843 – 1845), Saturday 14 June 1845)
1847 Cowpastures population
In 1847 the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the population growth of the Cowpastures district which nearly reached 3000 people. The press reports described the schools in the villages of Narellan, Cobbitty and Camden, with the reporter visiting The Razorback and the properties of Raby, Gledswood and Harrington Park.
The beauty of other properties mentioned in the story included Orielton, Wivenhoe, Denbigh, Matavai and Brownlow Hill. (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Thursday 23 September 1847, page 2)
1870 shepherd Hugh McGuire in the Cowpastures
In 1870 the Australian Town and Country Journal reported a claim for compensation on the colonial government by a shepherd Hugh McGuire for services for supervising a team of men in the Cowpastures district. (Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW: 1870 – 1907), Saturday 2 April 1870, page 10 (4))
1870 Camden flood in the Cowpastures
In 1870 the Sydney Morning Herald reported on a flood in Camden which was located in the Cowpasture district. There was a heavy downpour with a violent gale that continued through Wednesday night on the 26 April. The lowlands presented a ‘uniform sheet of floodwater’ and were just below the ‘tow great floods of 1860’. (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 18 May 1870, page 7)
1877 Cowpastures River
In 1877 the Sydney Morning Herald one letter writer that as the late 1870s the Nepean River was still known as the Cowpastures River. (Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Saturday 24 March 1877, page 8)
1878 Campbelltown next to the Cowpastures
In 1878 the Australian Town and Country Journal reported on the state of the town of Campbelltown and the surrounding area which was adjacent to the ‘fertile flats and alluvials’ of the Cowpastures. (Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW: 1870 – 1907), Saturday 16 March 1878, page 20)
1882 wheat growing in the Cowpastures
The Australian Town and Country Journal reported on the state of the wheat growing in the colony in 1882. The story stated that wheat for bread making used to be grown in the ‘Camden, the Cowpastures, Hawkesbury, Hunter, etc’. In this area, hay production had replaced former wheat growing. (Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW: 1870 – 1907), Saturday 2 September 1882, page 20)
The end of the Cowpastures region and a village is born
The beginning of the end of the Cowpastures region was the development of the Camden village from 1840 by the Macarthur family on their estate of Camden Park
The Camden district eventually replaced the Cowpastures regional identity.
Revival of the Cowpastures during the Interwar period
The Sesqui-centenary of the colonial settlement of New South Wales sparked a revival of the story of the Cowpastures during the early 1930s.
There was also the revival of national pioneering heroes that it was felt provide a sound basis of the story of a new nation and one of those was John Macarthur of the Cowpastures.
Macarthur was the ultimate Cowpastures oligarch and he had many colleagues who also fitted this description.
It is hard to imagine now but in days gone by the township of Camden was the centre of a large district. The Camden district became the centre of people’s daily lives for well over a century and the basis of their sense of place and community identity.
The district grew to about 1200 square kilometre with a population of more than 5000 by the 1930s with farming and mining. Farming started out with cereal cropping and sheep, which by the end of the 19th century had turned to dairying and mixed farming. Silver mining started in the late 1890s in the Burragorang Valley and coalmining from the 1930s.
The district was centred on Camden and there were a number of villages including Cobbitty, Narellan, The Oaks, Oakdale, Yerranderie, Mt Hunter, Orangeville and Bringelly. The region was made up of four local government areas – Camden Municipal Council, Wollondilly Shire Council, the southern end of Nepean Shire and the south-western edge of Campbelltown Municipality.
Cows and more
Before the Camden district was even an idea the area was the home for ancient Aboriginal culture based on dreamtime stories. The land of the Dharawal, Gundangara and the Dharug.
The Europeans turned up in their sailing ships. They brought new technologies, new ideas and new ways of doing things. The First Fleet cows did not think much of their new home in Sydney. They escaped and found heaven on the Indigenous managed pastures of the Nepean River floodplain.
The Nepean River was at the centre of the Cowpastures and the gatekeeper for the wild cattle. The Nepean River, which has Aboriginal name of Yandha, was named by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1789 in honour of Evan Nepean, a British politician.
The Nepean River rises in the ancient sandstone country west of the Illawarra Escarpment and Mittagong Range around Robertson. The shallow V-shaped valleys were ideal locations for the dams of the Upper Nepean Scheme that were built on the tributaries to the Nepean, the Cordeaux, Avon, and Cataract.
The rivers catchment drains in a northerly direction and cuts through deep gorges in the Douglas Park area. It then emerges out of sandstone country and onto the floodplain around the village of Menangle. The river continues in a northerly direction downstream to Camden then Cobbitty before re-entering sandstone gorge country around Bents Basin, west of Bringelly.
The river floodplain and the surrounding hills provided ideal conditions for the woodland of ironbarks, grey box, wattles and a groundcover of native grasses and herbs. The woodland ecology loved the clays of Wianamatta shales that are generally away from the floodplain.
The ever changing mood of the river has shaped the local landscape. People forget that the river could be an angry raging flooded torrent, set on a destructive course. Flooding shaped the settlement pattern in the eastern part of the district.
A village is born
The river ford at the Nepean River crossing provided the location of the new village of Camden established by the Macarthur brothers, James and William. They planned the settlement on their estate of Camden Park in the 1830s and sold the first township lots in 1840. The village became the transport node for the district and developed into the main commercial and financial centre in the area.
Rural activity was concentrated on the new village of Camden. There were weekly livestock auctions, the annual agricultural show and the provision of a wide range of services. The town was the centre of law enforcement, health, education, communications and other services.
The community voluntary sector started under the direction of mentor James Macarthur. His family also determined the moral tone of the village by sponsoring local churches and endowing the villagers with parkland.
Manufacturing had a presence with a milk factory, a timber mill and a tweed mill in Edward Street that burnt down. Bakers and general merchants had customers as far away as the Burragorang Valley, Picton and Leppington and the town was the publishing centre for weekly newspapers.
The Hume Highway, formerly the Great South Road, ran through the town from the 1920s and brought the outside forces of modernism, consumerism, motoring, movies and the new-fangled-flying machines at the airfield. This re-enforced the centrality of the market town as the commercial capital of the district.
In the western extremities of the district there were the rugged mountains that made up the picturesque Burragorang Valley. Its deep gorges carried the Coxes, Wollondilly and Warragamba Rivers.
Access was always difficult from the time that the Europeans discovered its majestic beauty. The Jump Up at Nattai was infamous from the time of Macquarie’s visit in 1815. The valley became an economic driver of the district supplying silver and coal that was hidden the dark recesses of the gorges. The Gothic landscape attracted tourists to sup the valley’s hypnotic beauty who stayed in one of the many guesthouses.
The outside world was linked to the valley through the Camden railhead and the daily Camden mail coach from the 1890s. Later replaced by a mail car and bus.
The valley was popular with writers. In the 1950s one old timer, an original Burragoranger, Claude N Lee wrote about the valley in ‘An Old-Timer at Burragorang Look-out’. He wrote:
Yes. this is a good lookout. mate,
What memories it recalls …
For all those miles of water.
Sure he doesn’t care a damn;
He sees the same old valley still,
Through eyes now moist and dim
The lovely fertile valley
That, for years, was home to him.
By the 1980s the Sydney urban octopus had started to strangle the country town and some yearned for the old days. They created a country town idyll. In 2007 local singer song-writer Jessie Fairweather penned ‘Still My Country Home’. She wrote:
When I wake up,
I find myself at ease,
As I walk outside I hear the birds,
They’re singing in the trees.
Any then maybe
Just another day
But to me I can’t have it any other way,
Cause no matter when I roam
I know that Camden’s still my country home.
The end of a district and the birth of a region
The seeds of the destruction of the Camden district were laid as early as the 1940s with the decision to flood the valley with the construction of the Warragamba Dam. The Camden railhead was closed in the early 1960s and the Hume Highway moved out of the town centre in the early 1970s.
Today Macarthur regionalism is entrenched with government and business branding in a area defined as by the Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly Local Government Areas. The Camden district has become a distant memory with remnants dotting the landscape and reminding us of the past.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie, accompanies by Mrs Macquarie, made his final visit to the Cowpastures and the Campbelltown area in January 1822.He inspected the area around Cawdor, Camden Park, Brownlow Hill, and Macquarie Grove.
Maquarie also descended into the Illawarra and travelled through the area around Tom Thumb Lagoon and Lake Illawarra (Allowrie)
Read his diary entries:
Wednesday 9. January 1822.
I set out from Sydney this morning in the Carriage, accompanied by Mrs. Macquarie and Lachlan, at 7 o’clock, on a short Excursion to visit the Revd. Mr. Reddall & Family at Macquarie Field, and the Cow Pastures; having made an appointment with Sir Thomas Brisbane to meet us at the latter Place. —We arrived at Liverpool at 1/2 past 9, Breakfasted at Dillon’s Inn, and staid afterwards at Mr. Moore’s till 12 o’clock. We then pursued our Journey to Macquarie Field — where we arrived at 1 p.m. — and were most kindly & hospitably received by the Host & Hostess.
I found Mr. Meehan here, who had arrived from Bathurst on the day preceding.— My Servants & Baggage for my Tour to Illawarra had also arrived here last Night. —We sat down to Dinner at 5 o’clock, and went early to Bed.—
Thursday 10. January 1822
We got up early, and Mrs. M. and Lachlan set out with me in the Carriage a quarter before 7, o’clock this morning for the Cow Pastures, intending to spend a couple of days at Cawdor the Government Principal Station there.—
We found the Cow Pasture Road, generally, very rough and bad for Travelling and it took us two Hours and a quarter from Mr. Reddall’s to the Ford over the River Nepean at the old Government Hut, which is only a distance of 14 miles.
The Ford itself, and both Banks being very steep, we found much difficulty in passing; but we accomplished it without sustaining any accident. —From the Ford it is near 4 miles to the Government Cottage at Cawdor — where we arrived at a quarter before 10. a.m. the weather being extremely hot at that time. —Mr. David Johnston met us on the Road on the Eastern side of the River Nepean, and conducted us at Cawdor. Here we found Mr. De Arrietta a Spanish Gentleman who has lately obtained a grant at the Cow Pastures.—
This is the first time of Mrs. Macquarie’s visiting Cawdor, which she admires very much.
Nancy Moore followed us in the Curricle from Mr. Reddall’s, with Edmund Sorell — whom Lachlan had asked to accompany him to Cawdor. —We had our Breakfast soon after our arrival.—
At 2. p.m. Sir Thomas Brisbane, attended by Major Ovens, Mr. Oxley, Capt. Antill, and Mr. Murdoch joined us at Cawdor. —The Day being excessively hot, we did not dine till 6, o’clock when we sat down Eight Persons to Dinner.—
The Govt. Cottage at Cawdor has lately been very much improved, and enlarged since I was last here — and is quite sufficient to accommodate us all. —We went early to Bed, intending to ride out very early in the morning.
Friday 11. January 1822
I got up at 5, o’clock this morning — and soon afterwards Sir Thos. Brisbane, Mr. D. Johnston, & Mr. Murdoch set out from Cawdor to Brownlow-Hill to inspect the Govt. stock at that Station. —We had a very pleasant Ride along that rich Tract of Pasture Land extending from Cawdor along Mount Hunter Creek to Brownlow Hill, distant 8 miles from the former. —We inspected the Govt. stock there accordingly — and returned Home to Breakfast at 1/2 past 8 o’clock.—
After Breakfast, we mounted our Horses again and rode to Mr. McArthur’s Farm of Camden — where we inspected all his Improvements and Stock and returned Home again at 2, o’clock; having been this day 7 1/2 Hours on Horse-back.—Mrs. M. Lachlan, Teddy, and Nancy Moore went all in a Cart, on our return Home, to view at a distance Mr. McArthur’s Improvements — and returned Home by 5, o’clock.—We dined at 6 p.m. and went early to Bed, intending to rise very early tomorrow morning. Saturday 12. January 1822.
We all got up this morning at Half past 4 o’clock — and set out from Cawdor at Half past 5, o’clock; Sir Thomas Brisbane travelling with Mrs. M. me and Lachlan in our Carriage. —We crossed the Nepean at the Ford of Macquarie Grove, a Farm belonging to Mr. Hassall, and thence we travelled by the Cow Pasture Road to Mr. Meehan’s Farm of Macquarie-Field — where we arrived at 8, o’clock. —We had Breakfast soon afterwards. —After Breakfast, I accompanied Sir Thomas Brisbane to Liverpool to inspect the Public Buildings there, and remained with him till his departure for Parramatta — when I returned to Macquarie Field. The Revd. Mr. Reddall had Mr. Moore, Mr. Throsby, Dr. Hill, and Mr. Meehan to Dine with us, besides his own Family today.—
Sunday 13. January 1822 —
Mrs. Macquarie, Lachlan, and myself, accompanied by Mr. Meehan — and John and Nancy Moore — went this morning before Breakfast to see John Moore’s Farm in Minto District, adjoining that of Mr. Brooks. —We viewed and examined different parts of it — and Selected the fittest Place for building the House & offices on, which John Moore marked out accordingly. —This Farm is distant about 3 miles from Macquarie-field — and Eight miles from the Town of Liverpool.
In honor of their young Master, John & Nancy Moore have named their farm “Lachlan-Valley”. We returned to Meehan Castle at 9, o’clock to Breakfast.—The Revd. Mr. Reddall went to perform Divine Service at Campbell-Town — but returned Home to Dinner.—We dined at 1/2 past 5 — and went early to Bed.— Monday 14. January 1822
Got up at 1/2 past 5. a.m. At 1/4 past 6. Mrs. M. Lachn. Edmund Sorell & Nancy Moore, set out in the Carriage for Sydney — whilst I, accompanied by Mr. Meehan, set out at the same time on my intended Tour of Inspection to Illawarra, through the Districts of Airds and Appin; the Revd. Mr. Reddall accompanying us to Campbell-Town. —On our arrival there, we ordered Breakfast at Bradbury’s and whilst it was getting ready, I accompanied Mr. Reddall to see his Glebe and the Site he had selected for Building his Parsonage House on. —The Glebe is about 2 miles distant from Town, and very pleasantly situated commanding a fine extensive [view?] of the rich and beautiful District of Aids. —We were absent about an Hour and a Half absent [sic] — and then returned to Brad bury’s where we took a good and hearty Breakfast at Ten o’clock.
After Breakfast we proceeded to take a survey of the Township and the New Church — and which is a very pretty Building. The walls are up to their full Height and fit to receive the Roof, which is preparing and will be put on in the course of the ensuing week. We fixed on the Site of the Burying Ground, within a convenient distance of the Church — and which is to consist of 3 acres of Ground. —The principal Inhabitants assembled to meet us, and expressed themselves highly pleased at the arrangements made on this occasion.— The Revd. Mr. Reddall took his leave of us at 1/4 before 12 at Noon — and returned Home, whilst I and Mr. Meehan pursued our Journey for Illawarra.—
Mr. Bradbury is now building a very good two story Brick-House on his own Farm, and on a very pretty Eminence immediately adjoining Campbell-Town, as an Inn for the accommodation of the Public, and having asked me to give his Farm a name, I have called it “Bradbury Park”.—
Campbell-Town is 13 miles from Liverpool — and 8 miles from Mr. Meehan’s Farm of Macquarie-Field –; it is a very beautiful and centrical situation, surrounded by a rich, Populous Neighbourhood, and making a good stage for Persons travelling to the Southern and Western Districts.–
The Road through Aids and Appin for the first 20 miles from Campbell-Town is tolerably good — but from Mr. Broughton’s Farm all the rest of the way to the Mountain Pass of Illawarra is most execrably bad for any sort of wheel-carriage. —This very bad Road commences at King’s Falls, where we crossed the Head of George’s River very near its source, and from thence nothing can be worse — it being almost impassable for a Cart or Gig — and I confess I wondered at my Baggage Dray and Gig getting on at all without breaking down.
After scrambling over about 8 miles of this horrid rough Road we arrived at 4. p.m. at a Stream of Water in a Deep Valley about 9 miles from Mr. Broughton’s Farm, which I have named “David’s Valley” in honor of Mr. David Johnston who joined us here just as we were about sitting down to Dinner at 6, o’clock; and in this Valley we Pitched our Camp for the Night.—
Tuesday 15. January 1822
We got up at Day-break and had our Baggage Packed up and arranged, sending back the Curricle, and Dray with the heavy Baggage, to Mr. O’Brien’s Farm in Appin; the Road being too rough and bad to admit of their proceeding farther on the Journey to Illawarra. —We therefore put all the Baggage and Provisions required for our Journey on three Pack Horses.—
Mr. Cornelius O’Brien joined us at this station just as we were ready to set out. —
At 10 mins. past 6. a.m. we set forward on our Journey; and after passing over some very bad Road, and crossing the Cataract River near it’s [sic] source, we arrived at the summit of the great mountain that contains the Pass to the Low Country of Illawarra — the Top of this mountain being three miles from our last station. —On our arrival on the summit of the mountain, we were gratified with a very grand magnificent Bird’s Eye view of the Ocean, the 5 Islands, and of the greater part of the low country of Illawarra as far as Red Point. —After feasting our Eyes with this grand Prospect, we commenced descending the mountain at 20 mins. after 8, o’clock. The Descent was very rugged, rocky, and slippery, and so many obstacles opposed themselves to our progress, that it was with great difficulty that the Pack-Horses could get down this horrid steep descent. —At length we effected it, but it took us an Hour to descend altho’ the Descent is only one mile & a Half long. —The whole face of this mountain is clothed with the largest and finest Forest Trees I have ever seen in the Colony. —They consist chicfly of the Black-Butted Gum, Stringy Bark, Turpentine, Mountain Ash, Fig, Pepperment [sic], Box-Wood, Sassafrass, and Red Cedar; but the latter is now very scarce, most of it having been already cut down and carried away to Sydney. —There are also vast Quantities of the Cabbage, Palm, and Fern Trees, growing in the face of the Mountain, the former being very beautiful and of great Height. —
Finding that this mountain has never yet received any particular name, I have christened it the “Regent Mountain”, as it was first descended by Mr. Throsby in the year 1815, when our present King was Regent of the United Kingdom.
We arrived at a Creek containing a very pretty Stream of Fresh running Water about 1 1/2 miles from the foot of the mountain at a qr. past 9, o’clock, and here we halted to Breakfast and to refresh our men and Cattle. —I have named this stream of Fresh Water “Throsby’s Creek”, in honor of Mr. Throsby who first crossed it on his descending the Regent Mountain.
Governor Macquarie then inspected the area around Tom Thumb Lagoon, and Lake Illawarra (or Allowrie)
Wednesday 16. January 1822
We set out from Mr. Brown’s at 1/2 past 8 o’clock to explore the Country to the Southward and Westward; having first sent off our Servants and Baggage towards the Mountain over which the new Road from Illawarra to Appin has recently been made by Mr. O’Brien.
We proceeded through a very rich Country in a southerly direction for two miles, till we arrived on the left Bank of the Macquarie-River, a very pretty Stream of Fresh Water about 20 yards in Breadth, which falls into the Lake — and is full of Fish — with Cedar and other good Timber growing on its Banks. From the Macquarie River we travelled on in a westerly direction to Col. Johnston’s Farm near the foot of the mountains. This Farm is a very fine one, well watered, and contains some very extensive beautiful Meadows bordering on the Lake and River. We continued our Journey still in a westerly direction to Mount Throsby — which we ascended for the purpose of having a view of those parts of Illawarra which I had not time to visit. On our arrival on the summit of this Hill. we had a most extensive fine view of all the low Country to the Southward and Eastward of us — including the Sea, the Lake, and the River. —At 12 at Noon we descended Mount Throsby — and then directed our course backwards, through a fine open Forest, towards Mr O’Brien’s new Road, which we arrived at 2. p.m. —Having rested ourselves & Horses at a fresh water creek, at the foot of the Mountain we were to ascend, for half an Hour, we commenced ascending the first Range at 1/2 past 2; — and at 4. p.m. we arrived on the Top of the Mountain; which having obtained no particular name before, I have christened it “Mount Brisbane” in honor of the new Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane. I rode up the whole of the mountain, which is about two miles long, exclusive of the Ranges leading to the foot of it — which are at least two miles more in length. —The Road is perfectly safe and passable for Cattle, and is what may be termed a good Bridle Road; — and it might he made a good Cart Road with very little more trouble. —In ascending a very steep part of the mountain through some carelessness in the Driver, one of our Pack Horses with his Load, slipped and tumbled over three [text missing?] several times till he was stopped by a large Tree. —We all concluded he was killed, but the Load preserved him, and after being disengaged from it, he got upon his Legs again without being in the least hurt, or wounded. —We came up with, or rather overtook the Baggage about Half way up the Pass, which was fortunate, as we were thus enabled to afford the People in charge of it our assistance. With exception of this accident we all got up Mount Brisbane perfectly safe, and with great ease to ourselves.—
The face of this mountain is also studded with very large fine Timber of the same description as that on the Regent Mountain, but there are more Cedar Trees on the former than on the latter. —I had one noble Cedar (Red) Tree measured on this mountain which measured 21 feet in Diameter and 120 feet in Height; the size of it being greater, and the Tree itself a finer one than I had ever seen before. —The part of it which measured 21 feet in circumference was Ten feet from the Root of it, and continued to be of the same size for 60 feet above the ground. —I also saw here the largest and finest Box Trees I had ever seen in the Colony.
We had a noble extensive view of the Ocean and part of Illawarra from the Summit of Mount Brisbane. —We rested a few minutes on the Top of the Mountain, and then pursued our Journey towards Appin at 20 minutes past 4, o’clock, over a very good Bridle Road, tho’ a little rough and stony. —At 10 minutes past 7 p.m. arrived at a very pretty thick Forest, with good grazing for cattle, distant about Ten miles from the Top of Mount Brisbane. Here we took up our Ground for the Night, our men and cattle being rather tired. This day’s Journey is about 32 miles. —Mr. O’Brien has named this Place Lachlan Forest in honor of my beloved Boy.—
Thursday 17. January 1822
We got up early and Breakfasted — then had our Baggage packed up and sent off, and set out ourselves from Lachlan-Forest at 1/2 past 8, o’clock a.m. After riding Five miles over a tolerable good Road, through an open Forest Country, we arrived at the Cataract River at 1/2 past 9 a.m. the Banks of which are immensely high and rocky — and almost perpendicular. Here Mr. O’Brien succeeded in cutting out and forming a tolerable good Pass on either side of the River, and altho’ very steep he has brought over a Cart & Team of Bullocks through the Passes thus made on each side of the River. It is frightful to look at — but perfectly safe for Cattle and Persons on Horseback. I rode down the Pass on the Right Bank of the River, and up that on the Left Bank without once dismounting.
It appearing to me that Mr. O’Brien has great merit in constructing this Road (which was by subscription) with such few Hands and slender means, I have christened the Pass of the Cataract River after him, namely — “O’Brien’s Pass”. —He had only six men employed on this Line of Road (about 21 miles from Appin to Illawarra) with Sixty Pounds subscribed by the Principal Gentlemen who had large stocks of Cattle at Illawarra. Having crossed to the Appin side of O’Brien’s Pass, we pursued our Journey. —I called on Mrs. Broughton at “Lachlan Vale” 3 miles from the Cataract River, and remained an Hour with her & her Family. I afterwards proceeded on my Journey, calling at Mr. O’Brien’s Farm, where the Baggage was ordered to Halt — and wait our arrival. —Here I quitted my Horse for the Tandem and set out in it for Sydney at 1/2 past 12, o’clock, leaving my Servants & Baggage to follow next day at their leisure. —
I stopt [sic] at Liverpool to change Horses for Half an Hour, then set out again, and arrived at Government House Sydney at Ten minutes past six o’clock; finding my dear Mrs. M. and our Darling Boy in good Health, and sitting down at Dinner, with a few friends, namely Major Antill, Dr. Ramsay, and the Revd. Mr. Reddall.
I had almost forgot to mention that I left my Travelling companions Mr. Meehan, Mr. David Johnston, and Mr. O’Brien at the House of the latter, where they were engaged to dine previous to their proceeding to their respective Homes.
Harold E Perkins was a smallholder dairy farmer at Cawdor living on the family farm of Verdundale. One of his pastimes was photography.
The family photograph album was donated to the Camden Historical Society by Eliza Adelia Pearl Perkins (nee Starr) who lived at Cawdor and later in Ettlesdale Road Elderslie.
The images range across the years from 1915 to 1928 and illustrate the many aspects of the daily life of the farmers in the Cawdor area. There are also images of parts of life in Camden with flooding of the Nepean River and other disruptions to the daily routine.
The images are full of life and a snapshot of the past. They evoke emotions that contemporary images fall to arouse.