Hope of The Vale

The First Edition of Hope of The Vale was a typewritten photocopied book limited to five hundred copies, printed by a member of the family, Gordon Hill [AH4115, WC4115], assisted by his staff at Snap Instant Print, Perth, Western Australia. It was prepared for the Family Reunion held at Bathurst, NSW, on May 11 and 12, 1985, which was attended by seven hundred members of the five families commemorated in the book.

Hope of The Vale LodgeHope of The Vale Lodge, Queen Charlott's Vale (taken 1984). The Hall was built in 1892 and demolished in 1995. The cottage on the left was occupied by George Peacock in 1897.As a history, it was incomplete then and is still incomplete, since a study of this kind is an ongoing one. Having committed to print what was known at that stage, we motivated a number of members of the family to do further research; and, as a result, this edition, in a more attractive and more permanent form, contains much new material. As far as the list of family members is concerned, a number of corrections and additions have been made; this can be added to ad infinitum into the future. Research into earlier generations is a much slower process which requires careful proving - but much progress in this has been made in the intervening years. However, further painstaking work is still required, and it is to be hoped that there will be volunteers from the younger generations to pursue the task.

The story concerns a group of five families who settled in the Bathurst district in NSW - in Queen Charlotte's Vale and across the hill on the Campbell's River. They were neighbours living within sulky distance of one another, whose lives intersected and whose members inter-married at a number of points.

Eeorge EvansGeorge William EvansThe Campbell's River, which unites with the Fish River just south-east of Bathurst to form the Macquarie River, was discovered by George William Evans, the NSW Assistant Surveyor of Lands, who was sent by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1813 to extend Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth's route from Mount York to the Bathurst Plains. He crossed the Campbell's River, which was named in honour of Robert Campbell, Governor Macquarie's Secretary, who was given land grants in the Bathurst district, about where the village of The Lagoon now stands, and explored both banks of the Macquarie River down as far as Mount Pleasant, in December 1813. William Cox was sent with a party of convicts in 1814 to build a road from Sydney to Bathurst. His aide-de-camp was Lieutenant Thomas Hobby, the progenitor of one branch of one of the families whose history is traced in this book . The road was completed by January 14, 1815, including a bridge across the Campbell's River at The Lagoon, and Governor Macquarie himself set out with his wife and a retinue of attendants to examine the newly explored territory. The party included Sir John Jamison, some of whose descendants later joined our family tree . They travelled down the Fish River and arrived at the junction with the Campbell's River on May 3, 1815. Macquarie explored both the Campbell's River area and, five days later, Queen Charlotte's Vale, and described them in his Journal:

Lachlan MacquarieGovernor Lachlan MacquarieWednesday, 3 May
After tracing the Fish River to its junction with the Campbell River, we rode up along the right Bank of the latter till we arrived where a bridge is made acrofs it about three miles above the Confluence of the two Rivers. Here we found Mrs Macquarie in the Carriage had arrived long before us, as well as all the Baggage Carts had arrived before us. Here we arrived at 2 P.M. and took up our Ground for the Night; the distance from our last stage at Sidmouth Valley being 13 miles. Dined at 5 and eventually to bed.

Thursday, 4 May.
Sent off our heavy Baggage for Bathurst Plains at 8 a.m. and breakfasted at that Hour. After Breakfast we mounted our Horses and rode up for 3 miles along the Right Bank of the Campbell River to take a view of "Mitchell Plains", which is a fine rich Tract of Land extending for a mile and a half along the River and for nearly Half a Mile on each side of it; the land being very fit for small Farms, both on account of its richnefs of Soil on the low ground for Cultivation and the Hills in the rear thereof being excellent for Grazing. We saw great numbers of Water Moles in the Campbell River at Mitchell Plains. We came back again the same way we went from Mitchell Plains to our first ground at the Bridge over the Campbell River, from whence we set out in the Carriage for Bathurst Plains at 11 a.m.

After camping four nights at Bathurst, Macquarie embarked on further exploration:

Monday 8 May 1815.
The two largest and principal Vallies seen in the course of this day's Excursion I have named "Queen Charlotte's Vale" in Honor of Her Majesty; and "Princefs Charlotte's Valley" in Honor of the Princefs Charlotte of Wales, the former extending for about 20 miles in a S. West and West Direction and joining Bathurst Plains at the latter point; and the latter extending for about 18 miles in an East and Westerly direction, and opening to the Macquarie River near Mount Pleasant at its Western extremity; the two Valleys being separated by a Bridge of Hills, where they respectively terminate. Both these Valleys are remarkably well watered by large Ponds at regular distances contiguous to each other, which are even full of water at this extraordinary dry Season. These two Vallies are well calculated for both Grazing and Agricultural Farms, and would soon repay the labour of the Husbandman and Grazier.

We halted near an Hour at the Head of the Queen Charlotte's Vale to rest and feed our Horses, and then continued our Journey Homewards through this beautiful fertile Vale.

This, the first recorded assessment of the areas which our settlers were later to inhabit, is a glowing one.Our story will locate some of the members of the five families on some of the land described by Macquarie on the Campbell's River and in Queen Charlotte's Vale; and some of them also took up land in Princess Charlotte's Vale, (at Moorilda, Wimbledon and Evans Plains).

Queen Charlotte's Vale extends from the Macquarie River at Bathurst to the hills beyond Caloola (the Three Brothers) to the south. From the earliest times, the local people referred simply to the Vale, usually as ignorant of the full name of their valley as they were of the identity of the Queen after whom it was named. They spoke familiarly, even affectionately, of the Vale Creek, and travellers emerging from Bathurst towards the south spoke of going by the Vale Road. The creek, by and large, was beneficent and friendly; farmers' children along its course swam in good seasons in holes gouged out by the most recent flash flood leaving small pools about four feet deep; and at one time in the late 1930s a large pool of Olympic proportions was created in this fashion right in the centre of the village of Perthville for the delight of children and teenagers. The competition with leaches was only a minor irritant. There were no fish in the water, only frogs and tadpoles. Occasionally platypus were still sighted swimming out of holes in the bank below water level; where they went when the creek was dry no one seemed to know. Water birds such as cranes, ibis and wild ducks proliferated along the valley, living on the edges of water holes and swampy areas away from the creek itself, mixing with the kookaburras, magpies, peewees, curlews, plovers and butcher birds, as well as the smaller birds such as sparrows and willy wagtails. There were also tiny cuddly quail, no doubt imported, but early settlers found them such delicacies to eat that their numbers were soon sadly reduced. The wild duck provided sustenance in lean times, but their gamey flavour did not make them a favourite dish. The cicadas suddenly breaking into orchestrated music in summer - strings, flutes, drums - were probably also imported, perhaps with the willows. Sometimes a very shallow stream trickled down the centre of the creek, but most times its sandy bottom was dry. As the years of settlement progressed that inevitable corollary of clearing and cultivation - soil erosion - filled the creek with more and more sand, exacerbating the problem of flooding along the lower reaches when heavy rains occurred at Cow Flat or along the Three Brothers mountains.

The Vale Creek from the beginning caused problems for local settlers. Even right in Bathurst, where it joined the Macquarie River near the junction of Durham and Bentinck Streets, horse drawn vehicles had difficulty negotiating its banks, especially in wet weather. A most inadequate bridge sixty feet long was built at that spot as early as 1849-50; though the government, who paid the contract for the work, left the bridge unusable for some time, since a great deal of filling was still required at each end. The contractor made this good at his own expense, but there was also talk of community effort. Nearly 90 years later the creek was diverted to enter the Macquarie River higher up, thus removing the problem from the town itself. Out along the Vale Road adjacent to Orton Park, there were problems from early times - at first caused by bogs in wet weather, and later by silting. Road improvements at that time were carried out by the cooperative efforts of local settlers. On October 11, 1851, the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal reported that Messrs Murray and White organised the filling of the mud pools with timber covered with gravel. These two gentlemen had approached the settlers to subscribe to the cost, raising a sum of £30 19s; listed among the subscribers were the names of Dr Busby, Mr Andrew Murray, Mr George Cowal, Mr Hughes (Georges Plains), Mr J McPhillamy, Mr J[acob] Barnes, Captain Brown [of "Brownlea", Dunn's Plains], Dr Machattie, Mr De Clouet [who ran the Dudley Hotel in Stewart Street], Mr John Staines (The Lagoon), S B Serjeant, Mr Goldsby (Rockley), Mr [Andrew] Hamer, Mr Mulvey, Mr Rotton, George Rankin, and Mr G Larnach. Unfortunately, the timber soon rotted and the problem was not alleviated, and agitation continued for more work to be done. A public meeting was held at the Royal Hotel on February 1, 1854, to take steps for the repair of "that slough of Despond the Vale Road", as the Bathurst Free Press called it. This meeting was chaired by William Lane, of "Orton Park", who "dilated upon the presesent [sic] quagmirish and almost impassable state of the road."Mr Andrew Murray, of "Rainham", claimed that he himself had hitherto taken most of the responsibility for the maintenance of the road. A committee was formed consisting of Messrs William Lane, Patrick White, George Palmer, Edward White, Nicholas Lane, Thomas Mockett, B F Hughes and Jacob Barnes, to collect subscriptions. It was pointed out that the state of the road was of concern not only to the farmers who relied on it to get their products to market but also to the people of Bathurst who would be cut off from supplies of wheat, wood and other necessities.

The Bathurst Free Press reported on October 28, 1857, that the "difficulty of fording Palmer's Hole on the Vale Road either on horse-back or with teams has already been productive of some litigation, and will, in all probability, lead to more. "This news item went on to describe the experience of a "small settler of the neighbourhood" who, "in attempting to cross with his team, stuck fast, and was half suffocated with mud, and succeeded only by unloading and puddling through liquid mud, something less than waist deep, Determined upon a right of road through Mr Palmer's paddock."The newspaper related that "a large concourse of Queen Charlotte's Vale and the neighbourhood assembled on Tuesday morning in procession, and proceeded to the spot already indicated, when they took down a portion of fence separating the paddock from the road and drove several teams through. A deputation from the party then waited upon the Warden and informed him of the steps which had been taken, requesting, moreover, that he would visit the spot. With this request, however, he refused to comply, alleging that he had no money at his disposal to spend in repairing the road. "The Carcoar Road (now Blayney Road) was being given priority for government funding. A public meeting was held on July 27, 1859 "at Hood's Inn, next to Crilly's Mill", chaired by Mr George Palmer to initiate a petition to the government, resolving (in part) as follows:

01That the bad and frequently impassable state of the southern road leading to Bathurst, known as the Queen Charlotte's Vale Road, connecting the town with an extensive and populous agricultural district, is productive of serious loss to settlers, and inconvenience to the trading community of Bathurst

02That the Queen Charlotte's Vale Road is second to no other throughfare in importance, as the largest portion of agricultural produce and firewood enter Bathurst by the said road, and no outlay has been made by the Government towards making the road, all expenses having hitherto been defrayed by private subscriptions

03That a petition to the Legislative Assembly be started by the residents of Bathurst and surrounding district, setting forth the loss and inconvenience to the trading community from the state of the Vale Road...."

Mr John Hughes of "Black Rock", Georges Plains, did a survey of traffic travelling along the Vale Road to Bathurst for one week (August 25 - September 1, 1860), which showed that there were 208 bullock teams, 123 horse teams, 65 one-horse carts, 59 gigs and spring-carts, and 139 saddle horses. There were 231 loads of firewood, 119 loads of farm produce, sixteen loads of sawn timber, seven loads of lime, five loads of shingles, three loads of split timber, seven pigs, one flock of sheep and one drove of fat cattle. This report suggests that all this traffic originated from the Lagoon, Rockley and Mountain Run. This is a large volume of traffic; the report does not mention Georges Plains, Caloola or Newbridge as some of the sources of vehicles, but they must be counted. It is likely that some of the traffic came from further beyond those places as well, since the Orange Road did not then exist and the Carcoar Road was just being built.

A correspondent to the Bathurst Free Press, on August 6, 1859, signing himself as "I.W.C.", a Vale Road resident, in a letter headed "Agitate!Agitate!", called the Queen Charlotte's Vale Road "the most filthy and despicable" of all roads in the western district. He said that its condition was bad in all weathers, but in wet weather "it is notorious for its quagmires, its reservoirs of liquid mud, almost sufficiently deep to row a boat and in dry weather it is alike signal for its roughness, and asperity, having holes just axletree deep, and ruts more resembling small rivulets than wheel tracks." He proposed that the road should be raised three feet, with proper drainage.

As the years went on, silting, aggravated by the roots of willow trees, caused the creek to change its course in 1916 and to flow into the swampy area closer to Orton Park homestead. This exacerbated the serious problem that had existed for almost a century; early settlers banded together to collect funds to raise the road at this point, using gravel from Palmer's nearby gravel pit (later owned by the Bayliss family). This section, which was raised, together with the adjoining railway, to its present level in 1916 was referred to as the Old High Road, a constant drain on ratepayers' resources after local government was formed in 1906; and, because of increased silting and consequent flooding, a New High Road had to be built along the section of the Vale Road between "Rainham" and "Roselands". The boggy conditions finally took the cost from an estimated £600 to well over £1000. The low level bridge across the Vale Creek on the side road that goes off past "Bellevue" to Sandy Creek and The Lagoon, between Orton Park and "Rainham", had to be raised in 1907 because the creek-bed level below it had risen so high that all the debris from even very minor floods caught on the bridge. Councillor W J McPhillamy, who had bought "Orton Park", asked the Abercrombie Shire to clear willow roots from the creek while it was dry, but the Council resolved that it was "not within the functions of the Shire to clear out the Vale Creek." That short-sighted decision caused the Shire periodic headaches for many years to come. Work on that section of the Vale Road was "much impaired and interfered with by the phenomenal rains which had fallen during the month [of June], which had not only retarded the work but had damaged some of the filling already deposited." The work had to be stopped altogether because it became impossible for horses to pull loads of gravel through the bog. Because nature had taken a hand - but consequent to man's misuse of the soil and the planting of willows originally introduced by Captain Raine to "Rainham" - there was a protracted wrangle between the Abercrombie Shire and the Main Roads Department as to who should accept the responsibility for building and maintaining the elevated road.

Some benefited from the silting of the Vale Creek. For many years Jack Lloyd and after him his son Ray sent truckloads of sand by rail to Sydney builders, who apparently valued the particular grade of sand. The Lloyds carried it by horse-drawn dray from the creek near the bridge at Perthville for shipment by train to Sydney.

The Vale itself is sheer delight, not too narrowly hemmed in by hills, the line of undulating country on the eastern side allowing a distant view of the Blue Mountains, pleasantly shading from azure to dark blue, depending on the strength of the sunlight and the mistiness that rose from the hidden Macquarie River in winter. The sun coming up over the mountains cast a delicate softness across the landscape kept green in the foreground for most of the year by willows or, when they were bare in winter, by paddocks of lucerne or vegetable crops. The golden leaves of willows and poplars and elm trees, all imported by homesick immigrants, (together with hollyhocks and daisies, chrysanthemums and woodbine, briar and box thorn, almost to the exclusion of native flowers except for clumps of golden wattle and purple flowering sarsparilla vines) provided a pleasant change of colour in autumn. There were also acres of imported blackberry bushes, making an excellent harbour after about 1890 for imported rabbits, but also providing blackberry tarts and blackberry jam by the bucketful that lasted half the year.

At the northern end of the Vale the Bald Hill rising 550 feet above the valley floor stood prominently out from whatever angle it was viewed, seen even from the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte's Vale if one sought it out from a sufficiently high point. The people of this valley lived in the presence of this hill, bare except for one lone tree - was it always the same one?- on its southern prominence, though more thickly wooded closer to Bathurst. Even from White Rock, in the next valley, the Bald Hill was the dominating feature, rising majestically above the low hills of the exaggeratedly named Mount Tamar. Local people can share the sentiments of one of the moralists in Thomas Hughes's novel Tom Brown's Schooldays (which some of us read at Perthville Primary School) who says: "We were born in a vale, and must take the consequences of being found in such a situation." We can enthusiastically accept Tom's dictum: "I pity people who weren't born in a vale. I don't mean a flat country, but a vale; that is, a flat country bounded by hills. The having your hill always in view if you choose to turn towards him, that's the essence of a vale. There he is for ever in the distance, your friend and companion; you never lose him as you do in hilly districts." The Bald Hill gave the landscape of Queen Charlotte's Vale, and even the lower reaches of the Campbell's River, its essential quality. It was always there, day and night, standing sentinel or offering a challenge, which local children took up at least once a year; or bathed in moonlight, or setting off the brightness of frost-burnished stars, or even the focus of lashing rain and lightning. There was a particularly bright star that stood over it as one gazed from the Vale out Georges Plains way towards Bathurst, that inspired the dreams of young boys; and even the glow over the hill of the lights of Bathurst on a cloudy night had a special attraction, not to mention the glimpse of Sydney searchlights on the clouds over the Blue Mountains in wartime, or the very rare performance of the Aurora Australis. The valley floor was frequently carpeted with frost, sometimes a month long in shaded spots, with deliciously mild sunny days in response. Occasionally there was snow on the brow of the hill. Much of Australia is flat country, featureless, monotonous, but the people who lived in Queen Charlotte's Vale were specially privileged to gaze on hundreds of varied aspects, not fractured by cliffs and rocks and mountains, but gently sloping, motherly and comforting. This valley did not inspire awe but a sense of peace and contentment.

In 1892, when the village in Queen Charlotte's Vale nearest Bathurst had become known as Perth, a number of settlers formed a Lodge of the Independent Order of Grand Templars which they called the Hope of The Vale Lodge. People associated with the foundation of the Lodge included Francis Croaker (an auctioneer at Bathurst who lived at "Shiraz", near Perth), Francis Kenny (a Bathurst solicitor), Peter Furness (who had bought "Roselands" on the Vale Road from a pioneer dairyman named Rodwell), Thomas Hamer (a hay and grain merchant in Perth), Henry Bell (a limestone quarryman from further up the Vale), and Phillip Callaghan (a local farmer and butcher). Some of these appear later in our story. The Grand Templars inspired the loyalty of the farmers and workers for a period, at a time when thrift and temperance seemed important, but faded into obscurity within two or three decades. They built a hall on the corner of Phil Callaghan's farm, which stood for just over a century.

The name chosen for the Queen Charlotte's Vale Lodge has a fine ring to it, and no doubt it caught up the aspirations of the time; it still commands attention and recommends itself as a suitable title for a history of five families of the district. It was hope for a better life that brought the Hamers, Peacocks, Thompsons, Loudons and Cheneys to Australia from the poverty of England and Ireland, leaving behind the glory of economic and imperial might which offered only very meagre subsistence at best or starvation at worst, to seek humble fulfilment in quiet industry, piety, perseverance, family loyalty and friendship. By and large, this hope was fulfilled; despite hardships, disappointments, loss and suffering; the families flourished, multiplied and spread, earning the respect of their fellow settlers, modest success in worldly terms and contentment in matters of the spirit.