Wagga Wagga Seminar

Carmody's Royal Hotel, cnr Baylis Street and Forsyth Street, c. 1950s

Carmody’s Royal Hotel, cnr Baylis Street and Forsyth Street, c. 1950s [from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/492]

The Royal Australian Historical Society, in conjunction with the CSU Regional Archives, the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society and the Wagga Wagga and District Family History Society, is holding a two-day seminar in Wagga Wagga on 1st and 2nd August 2014.

The lectures and workshops planned include topics on:

  • Land research
  • History in the virtual world
  • Multicultural local history, including Italian, German, and Chinese immigrants and their presence in Australia’s 19th Century view of history
  • Wellington’s men in Australia
  • Lebanese families in the Wagga Wagga area
  • Chinese migration and settlement in the Wagga Wagga area
  • The Romany in Australia
  • Occupying the land – different types of tenure
  • The CSU Regional Archives collection

If this sounds like your kind of thing, please join us – everyone and anyone is welcome to come.  It is sure to be a very interesting couple of days!

For a seminar programme, please visit www.rahs.org.au/events and select “RAHS Regional Seminar: Wagga Wagga”

Bookings are essential.  To book your place, please call History House: (02) 9247 8001 or email: history@rahs.org.au

When:

  • Day One – Friday, 1 August (8.45am - 5.00pm)
  • Day Two - Saturday, 2 August (8.45am – 4.30pm).

Cost:

  • $30 per day or $50 if you are attending both days
  • RAHS Member: $25 per day or $45 for both days

     Prices include morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

Where: 

  • Blakemore Building
    South Campus of Charles Sturt University
    College Avenue, Wagga Wagga

     If you are unsure about where this is, please contact us and we will happily provide you with directions.

140 Years of Bikes

With the Tour de France on at the moment, we thought we would revisit this article on bicycle clubs in Wagga Wagga written for our “At the Archives” page from 2011:

Many people contributed their ideas to bring the bicycle from the German “Dandy Horse of 1816” through to the sophisticated special-purpose cycles of today. The wooden-wheeled iron-tyred “boneshakers,” followed by a very large high wheeled cycle which was nicknamed the “man killer”, likely first made their appearance in Wagga Wagga in the 1860s or 1870s.

As early as 1872, there were definitely bicycles in the Wagga area.  On November 6, 1872, a Grand Bicycle Race was held as part of the sports programme for the Prince of Wales’ birthday at Wagga Wagga.  The advertisement for the event stated that the bicycle race had been added to the programme “by request”; we might assume from this that it had not been the organisers’ original intention to include the race, but that they had been approached by a couple of enthusiasts.

A later article in the Wagga Express noted that three competitors were entered in that particular race. However, the Nov 13th edition of the Wagga Express, following the athletics day, made one short mention of the results of the bicycle race, saying, “Although some bicyclists were on the ground the match did not come off.”

Cyclist Dick Mutton [Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society Collection, CSURA RW5/27]

Australian champion cyclist (c.1900), Dick Mutton of Bathurst (from the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society Collection, CSURA RW5/27)

The Wagga Bicycle Club

The first Bicycle Club in Wagga was formed in September 1882, with the Mayor, AT Bolton, as President and ED Leyshon as Captain.  Initially, there were 21 members and all was looking very promising.  However, the club had disbanded by 1884.

On November 29, 1887, at a meeting chaired by A Faunce and attended by G Evans, J Boyd, P Hayes, C Douglas and J Gormly, a second Bicycle Club was formed and following a second meeting held on December 5, 1887, it was decided that Wagga Club would join the Bicyclists Union of New South Wales.  Joseph Gormly was Secretary-Treasurer and G Evans, the Captain. The uniform of the club was a navy blue suit and white straw hat with a navy blue band.  Regular races were held at the cricket ground, often in conjunction with foot races.

As interest grew in the sport, a new venue was sought and a twelve acre block at the corner of Fitzmaurice and Travers Streets was obtained for the club’s new track; after considerable work was done on the track, which was named the Trapezium, the first race was held on August 4, 1897.

Track Riders at Wagga [Tom Lennon Collection, CSURA RW1574/612]

Joe Power, Barry O’Hagan, Dennis Tilden, Norm Power and John Demmery on the track, c.1960s (from the Tom Lennon Collection, CSURA RW1574/612)

The Wagga Wagga Cycling Club

The fortunes of the Wagga Bicycle Club waxed and waned through the next fifty years; some years no meetings would be held at all and then an enthusiastic group would gather to reboot the club once again (usually by changing the name of the club ever-so slightly).  The club went into recess during the early 1960s; however, on July 31, 1975, the Wagga Wagga and District Police Citizens Boys’ Cycling Club held their inaugural meeting where discussions took place regarding the formation of a new official Cycling Club.

An organising committee of 11 members was formed to investigate the possibility of track cycling returning to Wagga Cricket Ground; Barry O’Hagan was elected President.  And so, with some hard work by passionate committee members, cycle racing was returned to the sporting calendar.

In August 1976, a ladies auxiliary was formed with Roslyn Tilden as President, and Dianne Poole as Secretary; Jan Lloyd and Shirley Tucker were in charge of records. The funds raised by the hard-working committee were greatly appreciated by the members.

Today the Wagga Wagga Cycling Club is still going strong and has a huge calendar of events each year.

This article was initially compiled by June Dietrich for “At the Archives” [The Daily Advertiser, 12 March 2011].

References: Wagga Wagga, a History, by Sherry Morris; Sydney Morning Herald – 23 Jan 1890, Jan 22, 1926; Wagga Wagga Express – 26 Nov 1872, 13 Nov 1872; The Gormly Index - CSURA; The Daily Advertiser – 23 June 1939, 6 Jan, 1956;Wagga Wagga and District Police Citizens Boys’ Club – Minute Book, 1975-78 [RW171/13 - CSURA]; http://www.waggacyclingclub.com.

MIA Lantern Slides

Jump over to our Flickr site and have a look at some images we’ve recently uploaded relating to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Settler's Home - Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA)

The images are part of a Wagga Experiment Farm (later, the Wagga Agricultural College) collection of lantern slides. Our assumption is that the slides were originally part of some large photographic collection from which the teachers at the Farm made selections to show their students.

S Richards and Co, Leeton - Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA)

The slides we’ve uploaded so far only relate to the MIA, mostly with a focus on Leeton. Hopefully we’ll soon have the rest of the collection up for your perusal.

At the Races

Did you attend the Wagga Gold Cup on Friday? Or perhaps the Town Plate the day before?  You may have dressed to impress the Fashions on the Field judges or have had a flutter or two.  In all the excitement, did you ever think about the history around you?  Did you wonder about others who for over a hundred years have stood in the same spot as you, screaming out “Go! Go!” during a race?  The generations of women who, like you, had spent weeks working out what they were going to wear?

Horse racing at Wagga Wagga has a history going back over 160 years.  The Murrumbidgee Turf Club was established in 1860 and five years later the land for a racecourse was dedicated; but even before that, horse racing had been extremely popular in Wagga.  The first recorded horse race was organised by publican Ginger Roberts on St Patrick’s Day 1849 (the main prize was a silver trophy worth 50 guineas) which was before the Village of Wagga Wagga had even been officially gazetted!  And who could forget the legendary (read: notorious) Ten Mile Race of 1868?

A crowd turns out for race day, 1966 (CSURA, RW17)

A crowd turns out for race day, 1966 (CSURA, RW17)

Some well-dressed gentlemen walking towards the MTC Grandstand, circa 1900 (from the Michael Pym Collection, RW2735/32)

Some well-dressed gentlemen walking towards the MTC Grandstand, circa 1900 (from the Michael Pym Collection, RW2735/32)

The busy betting ring at the back of the MTC Grandstand, 1959 (CSURA RW17)

The busy betting ring at the back of the MTC Grandstand, 1959 (CSURA RW17)

A very fashionable lady at the Wagga races in September 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/259)

A very fashionable lady at the Wagga races in September 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/259)

The MTC Gazebo (from the Michael Pym Collection, RW2735/31)

The MTC Gazebo (from the Michael Pym Collection, RW2735/31)

A punter at the Wagga races, 1966 (CSURA RW17)

A punter at the Wagga races, 1966 (CSURA RW17)

A very young-looking jockey at the Picnic Races, April 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/256)

A very young-looking jockey at the Picnic Races, April 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/256)

Fashions on the Field, 1966 (CSURA RW17)

Wagga Fashions on the Field, 1966 (CSURA RW17)

A race meeting at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club, 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/253)

A race meeting at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club, 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/253)

Two ladies collecting their winnings at the MTC in 1959 (CSURA RW17)

Two ladies collecting their winnings at the MTC in 1959 (CSURA RW17)

The viewing tower at the MTC, circa 1900 (from the Michael Pym Collection, RW2735/32)

The viewing tower at the MTC, circa 1900 (from the Michael Pym Collection, RW2735/32)

An interesting ensemble at the Wagga races, January 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/255)

An interesting ensemble at the Wagga races, January 1955 (from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/255)

Easter and Anzac Day 2014

There’s a few public holidays coming up soon, so this is just a quick note to let you all know which days we will be closed in the coming week:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 17 (from 12.30pm)
  • Good Friday, April 18
  • Easter Monday, April 21
  • Anzac Day, April 25

HAPPY EASTER!!!

Easter! [from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/638]

from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/638

 

The Magisterial Chair

We recently stumbled across this story in Trove and thought it too good not to share:

The Magisterial Chair at Wagga Wagga

On Monday last Mr. Thomas Hammond, of Junee, was sworn in a magistrate of the territory before Mr. Henry Baylis, P.M. [Police Magistrate], under a writ of dedimus protestatem [sic].  After the oath had been taken, it was of course, competent for Mr Hammond to take his seat upon the Bench, but this was easier said than done, seeing that there was nothing to sit upon.  At present the furniture in the Court-house at Wagga Wagga, belonging to the Government, consists of one chair, or rather the remains of a chair, for it has only three legs and no bottom, and on the whole presents a prospect of anything but security or comfort to the occupant.  Of course it would have been impossible to ask Mr. Hammond to risk his neck on anything of the kind, for, except the position of the Forster Ministry, we know of nothing nearly as rickety as our one Government chair.  After the entire police force had scoured the neighbourhood for some hours, we believe a chair was borrowed, and the first of our new batch of J.P.’s was duly installed.  What will be done should there ever be a full Bench here at one time we cannot conceive and doubt if even the fertile resources for which the chief constable is so noted, and which led to the white-washing of a cell for the accommodation of the jury at the late District Court, will suffice for the exigencies of such a case as we have supposed. – Wagga Wagga Express

The story appeared in “Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Review” on 10 December 1859.

POMMY IN THE OUTBACK – THE SHARPLESS COLLECTION

One of the most interesting and diverse collections of private papers held by the CSU Regional Archives is the Sharpless collection (RW283). Named after Reginald William Sharpless (c.1900-1985), the collection comprises of correspondence, diaries, photographs, newspaper cuttings, memoriabilia and various other items collected by Sharpless during his life.

Born in England, Reg Sharpless worked in his family’s business until 1923. A chronic asthmatic, Sharpless left England aboard the S.S. Narkunda in search of a dry place to help alleviate his asthma. Sharpless settled in Sydney for several weeks, but with no improvement in his health, he was advised to shift to a dryer climate—somewhere west! This meant Sharpless had two choices: Hay or Bourke (as these were the two western most extremities of the railway line at the time). The toss of a coin made his decision for him, and Sharpless headed for Hay by train, a journey which took approximately 20 hours.

Within three weeks Sharpless found himself with paid employment on Mossgiel Station, 30 miles from Ivanhoe, as a jackaroo. His only problem was that he had no idea what a jackaroo actually did! Other obstacles that Sharpless had to overcome included coming to grips with Australian ‘slang’, dealing with dingos and the small matter of learning how to ride a horse.

In time Sharpless learnt that his job entailed everything imaginable—he was literally ‘a jack of all trades’. The working day began at 7am and did not finish often until 6.30pm. This was the routine, six days a week, with Sunday being a time for rest and recreation, which, more often took the form of tennis, shooting, swimming or picnicking. His daily duties included sheep maintenance, mustering and droving, crutching, general maintenance of vehicles and equipment, fencing, mending telephone lines and repairing wells, windmills and bores. Sharpless wrote later in his diary that he had been asked to use skills and abilities from at least eight different trades including carpentry, painting, engineering, bricklaying, coachbuilding, plumbing and shepherding whilst working at Mossgiel. For this type of work Sharpless got board, food and one pound a week in wages.

Mossgiel Station covered an area of 350 square miles or approximately 250,000 acres. Paddock sizes varied from 10 acres to 10,000 acres. These huge portions, in comparison to the ‘mother-land’, were one of the factors Sharpless had to adjust to. Another was the different flora and fauna. Of these, Sharpless had the greatest difficulty with snakes. He recounts on numerous occasions his first few encounters with these ‘joe-blakes’, with the winner not always being one Reginald Sharpless.

Owing to the enormous distances between properties and people, there were very few occasions where social outings were possible. However, there were some regular events which were never missed by Sharpless and the other jackaroos. These took the form of dances in aid of local hospitals and charities. As a result, people from as fas as fifty miles away would attend, including Sharpless and his drum kit, which became somewhat of a novelty.

Another of his hobbies included photography, and his estimate of six hundred photographs taken during his stay at Mossgiel Station must have been a conservative appraisal. One of these photographs is the now famous shot of the two bogged wool teams, entitled ‘The Bog’ (pictured).

'The Bog' (RW283.7.4.49)

‘The Bog’ – This famous photo was taken by Sharpless in 1925 after severe flooding of the Willandra Creek between Hillston and Ivanhoe (RW283/7/4/49).

Sharpless remained at Mossgiel Station for a period of two and a half years, before returning to England in 1926, as he had promised his family. The collection held at the CSU Regional Archives contains much of the correspondence between Sharpless and his family during this period.

In later life Sharpless began compiling his memoirs which documented his experience as a jackaroo, and in 1982 published them as a book entitled Pommy in the Outback. In his epilogue to the book Sharpless says “On the scoreboard of my life, I mark up those three brief years as the most rewarding of the eighty I have been blessed with.” A copy of this book can be found in the Sharpless collection held at the CSU Regional Archives.

Reg Sharpless died in 1985 at the age of 84.

'Smoko' - Reginald Sharpless takes a break whilst repairing windmills on Mossgiel Station (RW283/7/2/18).

‘Smoko’ – Reginald Sharpless takes a break whilst repairing windmills on Mossgiel Station (RW283/7/2/18).

Land Clearing on Wagga Experiment Farm

These photographs are part of a collection recently donated to CSU Regional Archives by Mr Bruce Mathew.  WF Mathew owned “Hill View”, a farm located on the Coolamon Road, which found itself adjoining the new Wagga Experiment Farm orchard and vineyard in the early 1890s.

“The site of the Farm, on Crown land in the Parish of North Wagga, including part of the North Wagga Common… was dedicated in October 1892.  The Farm covered 2000 acres.  It occupied a virgin site.  There were no buildings, no fences, no water.  The most prominent features of the landscape were the Two Sisters hills.  The boundary on the southern side continued in a line from what is today the eastern access to the winery, across the hill to the Pine Gully Road.  The eastern boundary was the travelling stock reserve on what is now the Coolamon Road.  The land was no better than, if as good as, the majority of neighbouring districts, and in the days of selection had been passed over.”

- Sutherland, June (1996) “From Farm Boys to PhDs: Agricultural Education at Wagga Wagga, 1896-1996” Charles Sturt University

John Coleman was appointed as the first (and only) Superintendent of the Wagga Experiment Farm in January 1892.  He was charged with getting the land ready for use as a new experiment farms and farm school, which would work in conjunction with the brand new Hawkesbury Agricultural College.  His wife and daughter came with him to Wagga, making their home in the nearby Estella homestead. The Colemans left Wagga in October 1895 to start up the Bathurst Experiment Farm. George Valder took over as the first Manager of the Wagga Experiment Farm and it was under his watch that the first students arrived in 1896.

Mr John Coleman, Superintendent of the Wagga Experiment Farm and his workmen, c.1894 [from the Mathew Collection].

Mr John Coleman, Superintendent of the Wagga Experiment Farm and his workmen, c.1894 [from the Mathew Collection, RW3082].

Land clearing on the Wagga Experiment Farm, c.1894 [from the Mathew Collection].

Land clearing on the Wagga Experiment Farm, c.1894 [from the Mathew Collection, RW3082].

Land being ploughed on the site of the future orchards and vineyard of the Wagga Experiment Farm, after the trees have been cleared.  The buildings visible at the bottom of the hill belong to "Hillgrove", the Mathew farm. [from the Mathew Collection]

Land being ploughed on the site of the future orchards and vineyard of the Wagga Experiment Farm after the trees have been cleared. The buildings visible at the centre of the image belong to “Hill View”, the Mathew farm [from the Mathew Collection, RW3082].

Exhibition: 145 Minutes in Wagga

145 Minutes in Wagga: The 1954 Royal Tour

February 13, 1954, has long been regarded by many as one of the most important days in Wagga Wagga’s history – the day Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited our city as part of their 1954 Royal Tour.

A special exhibition has been arranged between State Records NSW and the Parliament of NSW to commemorate 60 years since the 1954 Royal Tour and is on display at Parliament House in Sydney and the Western Sydney Records Centre until March 31.

At CSU Regional Archives, we too are revisiting the Royal Tour (from Wagga’s perspective) with an exhibition of material from both our own Collection and the Museum of the Riverina. The exhibition, which includes photographs, commemorative items, and a 15min film of the visit, will be on display in the Archives on CSU’s South Campus until 31 March.

Queen Elizabeth arriving at the Wagga Wagga Council Chambers and meeting the Hon. Eddie Graham, Member for Wagga Wagga, Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Food Production, 13 February 1954. [From the Eddie Graham Collection, RW43/39]

Queen Elizabeth arriving at the Wagga Wagga Council Chambers and meeting the Hon. Eddie Graham, Member for Wagga Wagga, Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Food Production, 13 February 1954.   [From the Eddie Graham Collection, RW43/39]

The Daily Advertiser’s front page of February 14, 1954, (a special Sunday souvenir edition) carried the headline, “Wagga’s Greatest Day”. The Editorial read,

“Yesterday the Queen of Australia rode in triumph through the streets of Wagga. For 145 thrill-packed minutes, the centre of the Riverina became the heart of the mighty British Commonwealth.”

Estimates vary as to the exact number of people who crammed Wagga’s streets to catch a glimpse of the royal couple, but most range from between 80,000 to in excess of 100,000. This number becomes even more significant when one considers that the population of Wagga Wagga at the time was only 18,500 and that the temperature reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit on the day (the hottest of the entire 10 day royal tour).

If you would like to read more about Wagga’s preparations for the Royal Tour and what happened on the day itself, we have written a number of ‘At the Archives’ articles on the subject:

We have arranged some of the images on display in our exhibition into a Collection on our Channel at Historypin.

Photographs from England shed light on station life

In late 2013, the CSU Regional Archives was very fortunate to be contacted by Mr Martin Herring from England, who had in his possession five rare photographs of Toganmain Station taken in 1891. Through the generosity of Mr Herring, these photographs have now been donated to the Regional Archives, and we are now able to gain a pictorial insight into life on one of the Riverina’s largest pastoral properties.

It is believed that the photos were sent back to England by a 15 year old John Shephard who was serving in the Merchant Navy. John was sending the photos to his sister (who is Mr Herring’s maternal grandmother). Unfortunately John died in 1918 when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the Irish Coast. To this day, it is not known how young John came into possession of these photos of Toganmain or if he ever visited the station.

Toganmain Station, located between Darlington Point and Carrathool on the southern side of the Murrumbidgee River, was one of the principal grazing properties in the Riverina. It was first established by Sir Alexander Macleay before being sold to Thomas Robertson in 1876. It then remained in the Robertson family until 1988.

In 1893 (just two years after the photographs were taken) Toganmain Station exceeded just over 300,000 acres in size, and was bounded by extensive Murrumbidgee River frontage. The homestead and accompanying outbuildings resembled a little colony including barracks, stores, carpenter’s and blacksmith’s shops. Even in 1893, the homestead already had electric lights installed, and telephonic communication with the outstations of Toganmain were also in place (in some places stretching over 25 miles).

The Toganmain woolshed was a fine structure measuring 240 feet in length and 80 feet in width. When shearing took place it was not unusual to have 60 shearers engaged, along with rouseabouts, cooks and shearing hands, as well as another 30 men employed on contract to work at wool scouring. In total it was not unusual to have over 150 men employed to complete shearing. Amazingly, in 1891 a total of 218,000 sheep were shorn at Toganmain. The wool clip from Toganmain Station also had an excellent and enviable reputation for both quality and style in Australian and English wool trade circles.

The CSU Regional Archives has an existing collection of records documenting Toganmain and Cooinbil Stations during the mid to late twentieth century. The State Library of NSW also has an extensive collection of earlier records from Toganmain which cover the nineteenth century.

Toganmain Station Hands - 1891

Toganmain Station Hands – 1891

To view the other photos from the Toganmain Station collection, please visit our flickr page at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/csuarchives/