Tuesday, 5 March 2019


    N.B. Very approximate position

Ever wanted to circumnavigate Australia? We still have a way to go...we'll be going on quite a journey, at least virtually, and clockwise. So as to make sure all states and territories are covered, we started in Western Australia and explored a little of the early history of a small part of this massive state via TROVE...from Rottnest Island to Broome..then across to Katherine Gorge, then Tennant Creek, from there to Darwin on the way to the Tiwi Islands, Bathurst and Melville.

We've had to travel back to Darwin, before leaving the Northern Territory, then across to Cairns, in North Queensland... but we didn't stop there, instead headed to the tropical north, to one of the most beautiful areas you can imagine... isolated yes, but perfect for that great getaway... to Cape Tribulation. It seems you loved that area so well, that Cairns was the obvious place to travel to next... not too far south. That was another very popular place...as was our visit to Fraser Island...

We then headed inland, on an approximately 6 hours flight to a place steeped in history.. what a contrast to the sub tropical island of Fraser ...no waterfalls or clear lakes or rainforest, but Longreach has so much to offer.

We then returned to Hervey Bay, by plane, and then took a short drive of approximately 25 minutes to a town founded in 1847... the charming historical town of Maryborough. So many of you loved that place as I do.

What a contrast the next destination was, though it is also very much steeped in history... a beautiful place, but it was a place of horror, of deprivation and loneliness... St. Helena Island. To get there, we left on a ferry from Manly, across to the island. 

Then we returned to Brisbane, to explore the beautiful, sub tropical capital city of the Sunshine State. Brisbane today, is the third largest city in Australia and growing rapidly... 

It has come a long way from it's beginnings as the Moreton Bay convict settlement, with such an interesting history. In an earlier issue, we explored some of the history of Brisbane, then visited Brisbane of a later period. There is so much to see and do in this beautiful city, once known as the biggest country town in Australia...

After a break, we resumed our travels...  heading in to New South Wales... not too far over the border, to a place that literally stands out, begging to be noticed. It was first given a European name by Captain James Cook...  he recorded seeing " a remarkable sharp peaked mountain lying inland". That place was the very imposing Mt. Warning.. you can refresh your memory here

The New Year saw us travelling again, refreshed and ready to go to yet another beautiful place. Many of you will have stopped there, if only to get a photo taken on the border between Queensland and New South Wales..Coolangatta one side, Tweed Heads on the other. Hard to believe that this was only known as Point Danger in times past, as indeed it was... the lighthouse is a clue... 

That place brought back many wonderful memories for so many of you...it was lovely to read your comments and receive your emails..

We moved south again, to a place that means a lot to my family, but also has a very colourful past. It is beautiful, a popular tourist place, the centre of a very busy district, steeped in Australia's colonial history.. it's the bustling town of Port Macquarie. It is around 5 hours drive south of Point Danger.

I concentrated on the convict history of Port Macquarie, perhaps we will return another time to see how the city has changed.

We then headed down the coast a bit, then inland, to another town connected to my family.. the country town of Aberdeen, where my father and five of his brothers were born, him being the youngest. It seems many of you have driven through this town, but never explored it. You would have passed my family's old home .. on the north side of town, just over the bridge on the left hand side heading north.

After backtracking a few hours and heading back to the coast, we explored the bustling city of Newcastle. It was great to hear that a number of you who thought you knew Newcastle reasonably well found a few new places to check out on your next visit.

It's only a relatively short drive, just a couple of hours away from Newcastle, to our next destination... Wiseman's Ferry. Heard of it, but never been there? It took me many years to actually visit, but I'm glad I did. This is another place that has a family connection for me... this time, on my maternal line... but first, this will give you a better idea of just where it is...

To quote our ever helpful Wikipedia...

Wisemans Ferry is a town north of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Wisemans Ferry is located 75 kilometres north north-west of the Sydney central business district in the local government areas of Hornsby ShireThe Hills ShireCity of Hawkesbury and Central Coast Council. The town is a tourist spot with picnic and barbecue facilities. As well as a rich convict and colonial heritage in the area, the Dharug National Park and Yengo National Park are close by.

The town was originally called Lower Portland Headland, but the name was eventually changed to Wisemans Ferry, named after Solomon Wiseman, a former convict (1778–1838), who received a land grant in the area from Governor Macquarie in 1817.[1]Wiseman established a ferry service on the Hawkesbury River in 1827 for the transport of produce and provisions to the convicts building the Great North Road and was known to many as King of the Hawkesbury.[2]
Wisemans Ferry Post Office opened on 1 January 1857.[3]
Today, two ferry services cross the Hawkesbury River from the town of Wisemans Ferry. The eponymous Wisemans Ferrycrosses the river to a point down-stream of its confluence with the Macdonald River, connecting with the old Great North Road. Webbs Creek Ferry crosses to a point upstream of the confluence, connecting with the St Albans Road that follows the west bank of the Macdonald River.[5


photo: sv1ambo  Some rights reserved
The most famous, once infamous, settler in this area was Solomon Wiseman, after whom the area was named. You can read more about him via the links above in the Wikipedia quotes.. and in his biography here... Monument Australia has more on him..  as does Convict records  Thanks to Community Contributions on the records page..  

Community Contributions

Carol Axton-Thompson on 1st April, 2013 wrote:
Ticket of Leave June 1810
Pardon Feb 1812

Merchant, shipowner, landholder at the Hawkesbury River.
Jane Mott Henriksen on 11th October, 2016 wrote:
Arrived with his wife, Jane Middelton and sons William and Richard on 20/8/1806 at Botany Bay.
Received ticket of leave in June 1810.
Built ferry crossing of Hawkesbury River at Wisemans Ferry (still operating today).
Had a total of 5 children - 4 boys 1 girl.
Married a second time to Sophia Warner on 1/11/1826 (first wife died 20/7/1821.
Owned several sealing ships operating between AU and NZ “Hawkesbury Packet”“MARY ANN”. Ran a pub called “The sign of the Packet”. Built large mansion house at Wisemans Ferry called Cobham Hall.

Many Australians can claim family connections to Solomon Wiseman, including author, Kate Grenville...


It took quite some time to establish access to the area of Wiseman's Ferry, as mentioned in the excerpt of an article in the 

Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), Wednesday 2 January 1828, page 2 
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37072305

and again in May...

Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), Friday 2 May 1828, page 2
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37072661

The roads were making a great difference, notably for all the farmers that had settled in the area, making the most of the fertile lands, but also allowing produce to be taken to other markets. There were not only crops being grown, but dairy farms were being established. 

Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), Wednesday 27 August 1828, page 3 
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36866229

The Traveller site has quite a story about Wiseman's Ferry and the earlier days.. as in this excerpt...

It has been common to think that the early settlers who moved into this area were unchallenged by the local Aborigines. This was not true. In 1799 five settlers from the Hawkesbury River district - Simon Freebody, William Butler, Ed Powell, James Metcalfe and William Timms - were all brought to trial for the murder of two Aboriginal boys.
The trial was remarkably simple. In court Sarah Hodgkinson explained that about three weeks before the murders her husband had been killed by Aborigines. She told the court how her grief had turned to revenge and how she had asked the men to kill the boys. The five defendants were all found guilty. But instead of sentencing them, they were all set free and the case and the sentence were referred to His Majesty's Ministers in England.
Governor Hunter was not amused by the breach of protocol. He wrote to England protesting, 'Those men found guilty of murder are now at large and living upon these farms, as much at their ease as ever...' Three years later the men were pardoned. Such was the unfair treatment of the Aborigines in the Hawkesbury River area at this time.

By 1844, Wiseman's Ferry had become a popular place for travellers and for weekend breaks...

Parramatta Chronicle and Cumberland General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1845), Saturday 27 April 1844 National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article228249127

Moving forward a few years to 1898 when there was quite an event to be celebrated .. the opening of the Post Office... 
Please click to enlarge

Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), Saturday 22 January 1898, page 9 
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66436852

February 1898 brought disaster to the Hawkesbury with the worst floods that had been experienced there for quite some time.

Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), Saturday 19 February 1898, page 12
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66437077

One of the many young families in the area was that of James and Elizabeth. They had seven young children to care for, ranging in age from 16, 13, 11, 10, 8, 4,  to 2.. and Elizabeth was about to give birth to her eighth child. The article above was published on the 19th February ... their eighth child was born a few days later. I wonder when the baby was actually due? Did anxiety about the floods bring his birth forward or did Elizabeth take it all in her stride, after all, she'd been through this seven times before.

 James and Elizabeth Catherine Harriet Swadling ( nee Rose), welcomed Roy Leonard Swadling, on the 23 February 1898 at Wiseman's Ferry, NSW.  Thankfully he was to live a long and generally happy life, along with three brothers and six sisters, two of whom were born after him. Two of his sisters born immediately prior to him were also born at Wiseman's Ferry, as was the first one following him.

I knew him as Pa, my mother's father... a hardworking man who not only survived World War I, but was awarded two Military medals for bravery, and mentioned in dispatches. Not that we, his family, knew anything about them till after he died... he wasn't one to talk about the war, like so many others of his generation.

For so many years, I had heard what a lovely place Wiseman's Ferry was... though we only had limited time there on our last visit, I hope to return and explore more of the area.


photo by A.S. on Trip Advisor

photo by Fabian N on Trip Advisor

You can read more about Roy Leonard Swadling in the posts below...


  1. Very interesting to read about Wiseman's Ferry - I don't believe I have ever been there . Must try to make it one day

  2. It's not a big place, just a little village, but very pretty and so many other interesting villages nearby... well worth the visit.
    Thanks for commenting...

  3. Wonderful article on Wiseman’s Ferry. I have visited many times but it’s always interesting to learn more of the history of a town. My cousin is the current Principal at MacDonald Valley Public school, an area steeped in history.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Veronica. I agree, I'm always wanting to know more about an area. It sure is a beautiful part of Australia and absolutely steeped in history. Our family has a strong connection to the area. I hope to delve into more of the history in a later series.


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