Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Manilla NSW Australia

Manilla is a small quiet country town in northwest NSW, with a population of approximately 2800. It is my hometown. I started school here and grew up in Manilla during the 1950s-1960s.

My first summary/inaugural story was written a few short years ago. It is now in a book format.

For Information about the Book, and How to Purchase, Click on any picture on the left for the Link - Or Here

The Book with pictures, has been written and spans 260 pages. It can now be purchased - click on the left picture. I'm happy with the quality of print, with matt gloss pages and pictures, gloss cover, and the book is weighty. It has a quality feel and look about it, which is what I was trying to achieve. It is a good size 230mm x 155mm. 👍 

As a young boy living in Manilla in those times, life was created through initiative and imagination. Life was simple and peaceful, and externally, is still the same today. Much of life was spent outdoors, without computers, TV, air conditioners, and all the electronic devices of today. With a dirt road out the front, and with our small timber and fibro home, with an outdoor dunny just near the back door, we lived in luxury. We had a roof over our heads, food, a home, and the great outdoors that Manilla offered.

This web page, and my book-story about living in Manilla, is my legacy of Manilla NSW.

This site documents aspects of Manilla, and shows areas of Manilla, that are part of Manilla's heritage history.

"Life can still be captured within simplistic interests, if current social paradigms change. Detaching ourselves from the materialism of our society and reaching within, enables our connection with nature for solitude." 
(Mitchell Zen)

There is a separate Page for the Weir. Click below Link Picture
* Looking for "Manilla Extra History" from 1800s-1900s, with Articles and Pictures? *
Please scroll down to almost half way to locate this section.

 The following is a range of pictures of the main street of Manilla, buildings and park area. The street still maintains the centre garden area as it was in the 1950's.
In the centre of Manilla Street, the main street, is a clock that still stands tall, symbolising a time that reflects a heritage. This clock was erected in June 1938 and documents important milestones for Manilla. In 2016 the historical information on the clock was updated.
Right: Looking south from the veranda of the Royal Hotel towards Tamworth.

Side A: Bridge erected over Namoi River 1887; Railway to Manilla 1899-1987; Electric light installation 1913; Manilla Street centre gardens established 1932; Manilla Hospital 1906-2012; Manilla MPS 2012; Manellae Lodge 1994; Memorial Pool 1967; Town Clock erected 1938. Water Installation - Main town 1934; North Manilla 1953; Split Rock Dam 1987. Sewerage Installation - Main Town 1953; Southbrook 1965; North Manilla 2000. 

Side B: Rural Pursuits/Attractions: Wool Sheep Cattle & Poultry Production, Grain Growing, Warrabar National Park, Lake Keepit State Park, Split Rock Dam, Fishing & Fish Hatchery, Bush Walking & River Walk, Paragliding and Hang Gliding, Manilla Historical Museum Royce Cottage,  Annual Manilla Show.

Side C: First Settlement est 1858. Population: 1866 - 50, 1901 - 780, 1938 - 2250, 1978 - 3100, 2016 - 3200. Incorporated as Municipality 23.7.1901. Mandowa Shire Incorporated 3.6.1906. Amalgamated to form Manilla Shire Council 1.1.1960. Amalgamated to form Tamworth
Regional Council 17.3.2004.

Side D: Graphical location NSW North West Slopes and Plains; Lat -30' 44' 51.43". Longitude 150' 43' 12.71". Road Distance: From Sydney 512 klms. From Brisbane 573 klms. Altitude 363 metres. Average Rainfall 675 millimetres.
Right: Beside the Post Office there is a chair where you can watch the activity around the main area of Manilla during the day. Left: Looking north towards the bridge and north Manilla.
Main Street Gardens
Left: Manilla and District Soldiers Memorial Hall and the building on the right of the hall, where community events were/are held. In the 1950s they had music and dancing functions providing energetic and enthusiastic entertainment. 
The foundation stone of the Soldiers Memorial Hall was laid on the 3rd May 1924. A series of memorials are located within the enclosure near the entrance. The largest (white) is a carved marble honour roll commemorating soldiers from the First World War. Names are listed in two columns. On each side of this memorial are brass plates (grey) engraved with the names of soldiers from the Second World War. Their dedication is engraved on a third plate positioned above the marble plaque. On the walls left and right are two small plaques commemorating the men from Manilla who served in the Boer War. Right: Anzac Day. 
Right: The Manilla Heritage Museum combined with 1884 Royce Cottage - a must visit while in Manilla.

In July 1878 a telegraph line had been erected as far as Manilla and almost to Barraba. The telegraph line necessitated the services of a telegraph operator and a resident postal officer. Mr Edward Dane was appointed to the position on August 10th, 1878. He was Manilla's first recognised official postmaster. The Post Office was situated in Manilla Street, a timber building near Mackenzie’s store.

In January 1879 the Postmaster General had taken steps to procure a suitable block of land in Manilla to build a Post Office. In 1889 a tender was accepted from T.J. Bowen for £1148 ($2296). Additions were made in 1898 and 1908. A manual telephone exchange was added in 1923 and the Manilla Street façade changed in the 1960s. I find it hard to believe the facade was changed so dramatically, rather than preserve historical significance. 

In 1872 a mail contract was let to Wilkinson and Bowden to convey mail twice weekly by coach from Tamworth to Warialda via Manilla. Prior to 1872 the mail was conveyed on horseback. Country mail services started in September 1899 from Manilla to New Mexico and Hobden and in 1901 to Lowrey, Glendon via Halls Creek and Mundowey and to Chapman's on the upper Namoi River. All country roads and by-roads were serviced by mail contractors. Wilkinson's mail coach made its last trip to Warialda on December 3, 1906. Since 1872 it had regularly passed through Manilla and Barraba on its bi-weekly trip to Warialda.

During the two World Wars, 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945, thousands of letters to and from the troops passing through the Post Office. On July 12th 1967, Manilla was given its postcode 2346.

On July 1st, 1975 the Postmaster Generals Department was disbanded and Australia Post and Telecom Australia were raised in its place but activities at Manilla Post office continued as before. The Post Office has now been privatised and as well as its traditional mail business, it now has a strong retail business. During these transitions, the original architectural counter was dismantled leaving a stark modernized clinical appearance. 

A Bridge was built over the Namoi River in 1887 and has a 15-tonne load limit. Right: Looking down from the bridge to the Namoi river.
A second bridge a short distance east was completed in 2021

Top: Main Street 1960s. Left: The Palais theatre and main street Manilla in the 1960s. The Palais was built in the 1920s. Right: Manilla Cafe. A popular place when open. Note the Juke Box at the rear.
M.C. MacKenzie built a general store and opened in 1876. Left: 1912 Right: MacKenzie staff 1960s. MacKenzies was a popular large store in Manilla as can be seen from the number of staff. 

The Palais Picture theatre was the centre of weekly entertainment in Manilla during the 1950s/1960s. With timber floors, brown vinyl swing up seats, it provided a variety of sustainable entertainment that transported patrons to different daydreaming worlds; that developed imagination for varying personal development. The Saturday Matinee, with its stable choice of cowboy serials and G movies, allowed parents to send their children away to "the pictures," for the afternoon. A safe and secure haven for children in the country setting of Manilla. With a simplistic half time enjoyment purchase of a packet of fruit tingles and a can of Fanta, we relished in this atmosphere of leisurely pursuits with no need for more. We had what we wanted.
A time where cafes were ordained with hand craftsmanship of the era; providing an ambiance that reflected our thoughts of security.
Left: The 1950s was a time when contact with someone required a call by picking up your black phone at home, the telephonist at the Post Office asked for the number you required and then dutifully plugged your line into the line of the person you wished to communicate with, and rang their phone at home. After I left school, and at 16 years of age, I was employed on the night shift as a telephonist, with a camp bed next to me. If I had a chance to get some sleep. Right: Mackenzies, the local department store, operated a Cash Carrier system, where your cash was catapulted to the Cash Office at the back of the store. They would then calculate your change and catapult it back to your location. An efficient system built with lines and pullies throughout the store.
(This and more details are included in my book "Growing Up In Manilla NSW In The 1950s 1960s." (Link)

A time where schooling in the early years was conducted on fine timber table and chairs and writing performed with nibs and ink. Where the three R's were rigorously ruled. If you misbehaved you gained the wrath of the teacher who proceeded to expedite a punishment from the cane. The number varied from 1 to 6 leaving fingers red and sore and making it difficult to hold a pen and complete the days schooling. When parents were advised they generally responded with, "You probably deserved it!"
Manilla started the 1960s music revolution with trendy clean-cut artists and catchy lyrics of emotional complexity. The class of 1962, and Manilla Central School as a whole, were caught up with this music that stirred their soul. Del Shannon, Neil Sedaka, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, Connie Francis and more. Either listening to these hits via radio, tuning into Mike Walsh at 2SM Sydney, or playing records at home or friend’s homes, and even the Café Juke Box. Life was an adventure and carefree. We were content with what we had. We were in Manilla NSW Australia.

In 1962 the 12/13-year-olds at Manilla School dutifully posed for their yearly photograph. Not knowing their future and really didn't care. Life was an adventure in Manilla NSW Australia.

An era when Chubby Checker's Twist was attempted at the Masonic Centre Hall opposite Manilla Primary School on the Social Night. A time when teachers asked who was who on the Beatles album cover. And a time when fashion changed considerably and hair grew longer. MacKenzies got with the groove with pointy toe shoes and Beatle sox, and we entered the era of the Groovy 60s, and somehow survived.  
(All documented in more detail in my book) (Link)

The Manilla Park is located at the southern end of Main Street Manilla. It is a tranquil setting with shady trees and seats to enjoy the natural surrounds.
It still has the guns captured by the 33rd battalion, 1914-1918. The white marble inscription reads: "These guns were captured by the 33rd Battalion on the Western Front in the Great War 1914-1918." On the right of the guns is the historic brick toilet block. This brick toilet block was demolished and replaced with a metal structure.
Right: On the top is a sundial (see below) 
   Left: "This sundial was erected by the Manilla Shire Council and the Manilla Community to Commemorate the turning of the Century 1.1.2000." Right: The park was the site of H. Baker's Coach and Wagon Factory from 1902 to the 1940s.

The Manilla Heritage Museum is located at 171 Manilla Street (northern end) and incorporates Royce Cottage built for G.H.Royce in the late 1800's. The museum is full of historical memorabilia and archives relating to the history of Manilla. Situated next to Royce Cottage is the Yarramanbully School House, a one teacher house operating during the 1920's. There is also the Manilla and District Rural Collection in Alexander Lane plus a Chinese Memorial Garden at the rear of the Museum. The museum is well worth a visit and their website can be linked to below.
Left - Royce Cottage - restored and part of the Museum. Right - Entrance to the Museum on the right and walk through to Royce Cottage.
Yarramanbully Schoolhouse (to the left of Royce Cottage)

The first Yarramanbully one-teacher school was built before 1920. Parents of children on farms too far away from the school in town asked to be sent a teacher, to give lessons in their own community. The farmers then built a one-room primary school for pupils from Year 1-6. The second Yarramanbully school was built in 1935, when a new generation of children required the school to be re-opened. Around six families from the Yarramanbully community sent their children to school here until Year 6. The families employed the builders Hunt and Lynch of Tamworth to construct the school, and it opened for classes on 31 July, 1935. The school remained open until December 1953, by which time all pupils had moved on to other schools for their secondary education. The Gallagher family donated the Yarramanbully School building to the Manilla community for the town's centenary of Public Education in 1977. Manilla Historical Society volunteers restored the building, which had been left intact with all its contents on the Gallagher property at the close of classes in 1953.

Jim Maxwell recalls the early days:  The Manilla Historical Society was formed from humble beginnings 50 years ago in 1972, after a small Group requested the then Shire President Brian Byrnes if he would convene a Public Meeting to gauge if there was enough interest in forming a committee to set up a group to preserve the History of Manilla and District. So began the Manilla Historical Society.

A meeting was held in the Town Hall and after much discussion it was decided to form the Manilla Historical Society. On the night a challenge was issued by Jack Maxwell (father of Jim), who said if he donated $100 would at least 9 others do the same. The challenge was taken up giving the committee a seeding bank account. 

A small Committee was formed to investigate the possibility of setting up a small Museum. A shop previously Noel Simpson's Chemist Shop was their first venue. The society quickly outgrew this venue. The society fought hard to get the Old Council Chambers in Stafford Street which was unsuccessful, but instead settled on Royce Cottage in Manilla Street, which is the oldest building in the Main Street. The building was restored with the aid of a RED Scheme Grant (To help regional unemployed people). The Grant finished in 1974, and the present Museum was established.

With the help of many people over the years, including the former Manilla Shire Council and currently Tamworth Regional Council the Society is still doing what it was set up for - keeping as much of Manilla’s History as possible. This can only be done by the generosity of families who share their history with others.

In 2022 on the June Long Weekend, 11th to 13th June, the Manilla Historical Society held a birthday party, called “Back to Manilla” celebrations, with 2 objectives: One to invite former residents back to Manilla to meet up with other former residents and two, also in doing so, to collect more history.

On the June Long weekend in 2022, the Manilla Vintage Machinery Group held their Annual Machinery Rally in Manilla and turned back the clock in Historic Manilla NSW. The Vintage Machinery Rally is planned each year on the June Long Weekend.

Link: https://manillavintagemachinery.com.au/

Left: Showing the vast range of the community archive folders and collections.
An old dentist's chair on the left.
An old manual operated telephone exchange on the left.
Rooms have been set up to re-create an era of the past.
An old cash register on the left that was used in the 1950s-1960s. I was able to secure the same for my shop in the early 1980s. A local store was closing and auctioning all their items. On the right a washing tub and wringer. We used a similar in our home in the 1950s. 
Visit the Manilla Rural Museum in Alexander Lane Manilla.
The Chinese Memorial Garden at the rear of Royce Cottage with head stones and texts. The headstones originally marked the burial places of Manilla's early Chinese farmers and market gardeners who grew vegetables and tobacco on plots and farms along the Manilla and Namoi Rivers. These monuments were removed from their original sites during property transfer. In 1987 they were brought to the grounds of Royce's House and a section of the grounds was set aside for their permanent relocation. Here they were placed and dedicated in acknowledgement of the Chinese Community's contribution to Manilla's early development, their provision of fresh produce to the townsfolk, and their working life on the farms hereabouts. This Memorial was opened on May 4th 1996.

It is important to acknowledge Manilla Heritage Museum and all the people involved in it's establishment, and continued development to preserve Manilla's History. Their contribution towards some of the historical photographs/information on this web page is important and necessary to recognize.

The rail line was opened in September 1899 and provided an important link to centres surrounding Manilla and was an impressive technical feat for those days. It is now closed but stands as a heritage reminder of years gone by.

The Manilla Railway Bridge (Viaduct) was completed in 1905 and crosses over the Namoi River, through the Showground and to Manilla Railway Station. (the station is not there anymore)
In the 1950's it was a daring journey as a young fella to walk over the bridge, climbing up the embankment west of the Namoi River, firstly laying down and listening with an ear on the train track to see if a train was coming, and then commence the walk across the bridge towards the Manilla Showground. Stepping from one timber plank to the other, looking down to the river and hopefully reach the other side without falling through the spaces, and before a train arrives. Fortunately, some stayed behind, as during one crossing a rail repair carriage was approaching and with arms waving to stop the workers, they slowed down and collected the walkers halfway across. The walk was achieved by some where they climbed down to ground level at the showground. (Detailed in my book "Growing Up In Manilla NSW Australia 1950s-1960s") (Link)
The bridge near the Manilla Oval
Left: The Railway Bridge over the Namoi river.
   Right: At the entrance to Manilla is an old railway crane and (below) a plaque detailing this area.

Manilla Railway Station 1950s
 These pictures show the types of trains that used to travel to Manilla in the 1950's - 1960's. Called steam hauled mail trains with all wooden carriages. Some had sleepers and it was an interesting ride to Sydney overnight, listening to the click-clack of the wheels in the quiet of night - a peaceful sound. The train to Manilla was called the North West Train. It was this type of train that I left Manilla on in 1965.
Pictures from the 1950s
Left: The Manilla Railway was opened on 21st September 1908 and ran for 99 kilometres north along the Manilla valley to the town of Barraba, from the main north railway line at West Tamworth.

For more information and pictures of the Manilla Railway please visit http://www.manillamuseum.com.au/ They have an amazing range of historic memorabilia.
The Chinky-Chow bridge is located towards Southbrook on Manilla St. We road our bikes (or walked) towards Southbrook and under the small railway bridge. It was always a dare to stay under the bridge as the train moved over us. Intimidating, as these locomotives were large and noisy and thundered along like a beast on heat. Right: The bridge is not there anymore.

For a comprehensive informative page with pictures about the Manilla Weir, click on this Link:  https://manillaweirnsw.blogspot.com/

If you would like to travel further afield from Manilla Township, and surrounds, two places are Borah Creek and Warrabah National Park.
Borah Creek is a 30 minute drive along the Rangari Road and Longarm Road, north of Manilla. (Link) The Borah Creek runs into the Manilla River and is just a 10 minute drive towards Upper Manilla. Warrabah National Park is a 40 minute drive along the (winding) Namoi River Road, north east of Manilla. Right turn into Warrabah Trail Road, and you'll find the Warrabah Campground and Picnic Area. Click Here for Link
Borah Creek. (Link)  Warrabah National Park. Click Here for Link
If you really want to get away and be totally free of society, either of these two places would provide your escape.

As a young fella in Manilla the best way to get around the countryside is via a pushbike. You can explore many areas and enjoy the solitude country provides. This was my main mode of transport and looked after for my numerous travels around Manilla. Was this a precursor for the future? It could be, as I am doing the same today - but this time on a Motor-Horse. 

There are a number of heritage style homes in Manilla. Many with verandas, as during summer the temperature rises significantly. I placed a thermometer outside in the summer one year and it rose to 120 degrees (48c). It was hot!
The Holy Trinity Church of England Church in Manilla, was an integral part of many families lives in the 1950s-1960s. 
The Historic and Heritage Manilla Holy Trinity Anglican Church of England Church. It was called the Church of England in the 1950s. The Church of England (Holy Trinity), with the 'Cuerindi' memorial tower. The Baptistery and the Cuerindi Memorial Tower were a gift of the Allen family of Cuerindi in memory of their father and mother.

In 1938 the foundation stone for the western end and tower was laid by Bishop Moyes. A tube was placed at the back of the tablet containing a script, two copies of the Manilla Express, a copy of the Tamworth Leader and an order of service for the day.

On February 19th, 1939 the Cuerindi Memorial Tower and the western end were dedicated by Sir Charles Rosenthal - the first stage built by Walter Jackson, the second stage completed by W.C. Grantham.

Cannon Quayle officiated the church services during the 1950s - the father of John Quayle, a rugby league player, who found success in Sydney first as an NRL player and then an administrator. On the right is the Ministers Home. 

Preserving our Cultural, Heritage and Historic Past is an important contributor to our Future, as if we don't, the Future has no basis from where our Contemplation is derived. Contemplation with the Past is our direct link to our stable future. Without this we fall short of knowing Ourselves. It is important the History and Heritage, internally and externally, is preserved at the Holy Trinity Church in Manilla to reflect our Souls of Peace, and in turn preserve the History of Manilla NSW.

On the 25th November 1962 a large number of younger congregation members were Confirmed into the Church. Confirmation indicates one's deepening relationship with God. It marks the point in the Christian journey at which participants affirm their faith and their intention to live a life of committed discipleship. Confirmation is the doctrine and ethos of the Anglican Church.
Above right is the house opposite the Church of England Church. A very stately home with large grounds and I think a market garden at the rear of the property. I used to mow lawns and do gardening at these premises for 50c an hour. 
These pictures are of Durham Court Homestead owned by Otto Baldwin in the 1950s. It is only 4 kilometres from Manilla township and on the banks of the Namoi River. Durham Court has been held by the Baldwin family since 1848 (Until 2016)My mother used to drive out there in our little light green Anglia and look after the household requirements to gain a little more money, where Otto was introduced to fresh vegetables from our garden. His purchase became an extra helpful income. My mother was very thrifty with her money. Carefully selecting items from the supermarket, paying at the manual checkout she was given a print out of the cash register docket and at home meticulously inspected each item's price. If there was an error in charging she went back to receive her refund. Money was so tight even 5 cents made a difference to the household budget. I still had a roof over my head, healthy meals and my own room. What else could I ask for? It was a safe environment even when we left the doors open and unlocked overnight when the heat rose in the summer time.
The Interior of Durham Court
On the left is Cora-Lynne Homestead, and on the right Oakhampton Homestead. Cora-Lynne Homestead overlooks the Namoi River. In the late 1800s it was owned by Matthew and Maria Hall and they called it Highlandale. It was sold in 1908 to the Fermor Family and they changed the name to Cora-Lynne.

Over 175mm of rain caused rapid rises in the Namoi and Manilla Rivers forcing the evacuation of one third of the population. The approaches to the Namoi River Bridge were cut off and the bridge over the Manilla River on the Boggabri Road was washed away. The town was completely isolated overnight on the 15th January 1964.

In our house in River Street, we had nearly 8 feet of water in the house, causing destruction of much of our possessions. We were watching the large flow of water in the Namoi River across the road and hoped it wouldn't get higher. 

Then we watched as the water slowly made its way along the side of the road and moved into our yard. My parents went inside to stand as much as they could on solid furniture while I stayed outside and put most of the outside garden chairs and other items on top of our small shed.     

My mother came outside with all the family photo albums and other priceless possessions and put them in the car. I was directed to drive the car towards the back lane and drive the car to higher ground while they finished what they could inside. They eventually waded out towards the lane and reached higher ground. It was to no avail. The water just came so fast and so high and swamped our house and River street homes and beyond.

As fast as it rose it decreased quickly also. We, and the rest of River Street residents, arrived the next morning to view the destruction. Four inches of mud in the house and all over our possessions. As my mother opened the back door and moved inside she burst into tears. Almost 10 years of hard work was now ruined. The backyard shed was gone, the chook run, the bird aviary, the vege garden, everything.... and even my prized Phantom comic collection! It was noticed the house had moved on the foundations and fortunately stayed put. One house was washed away. 

Left: Water everywhere. Right: The next day at the northern end of River Street.
Right: Ruth and Graeme Ridley's house in River Street the next day. The front window had a large tree trunk protruding out.
Right: River Street the next day.
Numerous newspaper articles were written about the Manilla Flood. On the left is Win Rogerson, featured in the Manilla Express, who lived at 87 River Street. Behind her is Glen Harley.

Geoff Ayling Manilla Story 1939-1948

Manilla’s first Show was held on March 2nd and 3rd, 1932 and has always been a big annual event on the Manilla calendar. 
The widespread Manilla farming community are drawn to this event each year and it is a time when the relative isolation of farming becomes integrated as a community of farmers at the annual Manilla Show. Not only farmers. Manilla township gathers together their community spirit and participates in this celebration of country. The Pavilion features farm produce, arts, handcraft, horticulture, photography, wool and displays from the local schools. Outside the cattle and sheep judging produced some fine species; while the camp draft highlighted expert horsemanship. The oval contains the equestrian contestants, executing maneuvers only a specialist could achieve. While the surrounding areas are filled with cars, utes, 4WDs, horse trailers and caravans. The area suturally murmurs with a laid-back attitude, all mixed in with animal aromas, where their waste is sowed with regularity. 

Since 1932, the Manilla Show has provided local people with an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and enjoy a break from day-to-day routine, with a combination of serious competition and light entertainment. These annual shows acknowledge and rewards the hard work and skill of primary producers as well as the continued effort of the organisers of the Annual Manilla Show.

As a young fella in the 1950s, the Manilla Show was the event we all looked forward to. Watching all the trailers arriving in the weeks before the big day with their side show alley equipment. Checking it out almost on a daily basis to see that was going to unfold. The operators camped on the bank of the Namoi Weir and we could smell their cooking in the early evening when we ventured down to view these intriguing scenes. They travelled around NSW - we lived a stable life in Manilla, and this was different. We tried hard to be patient for the Big Opening Day, as the Manilla Show days were always the pinnacle of our imagination.

The Manilla Show is documented in more detail in my book "Growing Up In Manilla in the 1950s-1960s." (Link)

In the 1950s there was a variety of entertainment that tempted us to experience. The tattoo lady, dwarfs, the haunted castle, the hairy lady, and the pea shooters, where you could shoot the flat metal ducks down to win a prize. All this was pretty dramatic entertainment for us country people. The Wall of Death motorcycle ride being a spectacle on its own. Riders defying gravity and riding motorcycles horizontal to the ground, and performing skills that defied any imagination that these were possible. The Sharman boxing tent provided continual entertainment, with the travelling boxers, and our local contestants, lining up on the elevated front stand area. A drummer beating his large bass drum; a sound that boomed around the grounds, and always in the background of your attendance. The spruiker's loud voice regularly enticing anyone who wanted to have a round or two with the travelling boxers.

Sharman was a boxer and showman from NSW who was famous for his travelling troupe of boxers and wrestlers. With catchphrases such as: “who’ll take a glove?” and, “a round or two for a pound or two”, Sharman invited locals who fancied themselves as fighters, to challenge his boxers in the ring and win some prize money. Sharman's son Jimmy, took over from his father in 1955 after playing as a professional rugby league footballer.
Another popular event on the Manilla Calendar is the Manilla Vintage Machinery Group's Rally each year. Link below:

Friday was heritage day at the 2014 Manilla Show, and the Manilla Primary School attended a special Heritage Day Event in heritage clothing. It was a day full of activities including demonstrations and games. The Manilla Vintage Machinery Group was in attendance providing demonstration information on their well maintained machinery. There were shearing demonstrations, leather work, whip cracking, and animal husbandry. Two games included the egg and spoon race and the three legged race (which were popular in the 1950s) and horse shoe throwing. It was a fine and sunny day and certainly enjoyed by everyone in attendance - the smiles on their faces said it all.

Manilla Central Primary School Photographs from the 1950s 1960s

Keepit Dam on the Namoi River (actually, it is the combined Namoi and Manilla Rivers as the Manilla River runs into the Namoi at Manilla township) was proposed as early as the 1890s to boost agricultural production in the Namoi Valley. Farmers relied on artesian water to supplement variable river flows but by the 1930s water levels were falling. The Dam would also provide water for stock and household needs in the Namoi Valley. In 1939 work finally began on Keepit Dam, was halted in 1941 by World War II, resumed in 1946, and was completed by 1960. 

The Lake Keepit State Park is located 34 kilometres from Manilla on the Rushes Creek Road. The Dam is equal the size of Sydney Harbour (425,000 ml). 

In the 1950s we used to water ski along the Namoi River in between the willow trees. The water was very calm and provided an excellent water ski area. It was possible to camp on the bank, water ski along the river, turn around at a larger expanse of water and return to the start.

When word was out the Dam would be completed the local water skiers got together a few working bees and started to cut down a number of gum trees in a large area, and burn them. It was also a good opportunity for many to cut up wood for the fires at home. 

Lizards and bird life had to find other homes, and they did. Plenty of gum trees left. We found a birds nest of galahs and took one home for a pet. We called him Sam. Scrawning little things at this stage, but grew up to be a nice bird specimen after feeding him on warm milk and weetbix. Bacon and eggs weren't going to work. Also found a lizard and decided it would be a good pet. Put him under my hat and took him home also. The Manilla country side's life of adventure in inquisitiveness.  

It was at this stage the Water Ski Gardens were named. When the Dam filled there was a large area free of trees. In the early stage’s logs appeared on the surface and had to be removed. Didn't want to take the chance of a broken ski, or even a foot or leg. The Water Ski Gardens are located 20 klms from Manilla on the Rushes Creek Road.

The only problem with this large area, if the wind came up it was choppy and rough. Nothing like skiing in the calm waters between the Willows. But it still gave a large area for skiing, parking, trailers and camping. And so started a new chapter of water skiing at Keepit.

In the 1950s Rushes Creek road was a virtual dirt track in many stages, so precautions had to be taken to protect the boats on trailers. It was a time when inboard timber ski boats ruled the waters. 

Water Skiing at Keepit, is documented in more detail, in my book "Growing Up In Manilla in the 1950s-1960s." (Link)

Scouting started in Australia in 1908 and in 1953 The Scout Association of Australia became an independent Member of the World Scout Conference. In 1909, Major Chuck of the New South Wales Forces, and the Scout Master for the Tamworth District, came to Manilla Public School to swear in the 1st Manilla Boy Scout Troop.

The Scouting Organisation is a voluntary movement and its leadership is based on the willingness of highly motivated men and women at local level to dedicate themselves to the service of young people.

While attending Cubs and Scouts in the 1950s at Manilla my leaders were Jack Harding, George Harley and Mady deSmid.

Three dedicated individuals that devoted many hours, and were an integral part of the further development of young boys and teenagers in Manilla.

I look back now with appreciation. Without their involvement and guidance many of the young boys in Manilla would have missed out on this opportunity, and the experiences in life they taught. (Pics: Manilla Scout Hall, and George and Mady with a group of Manilla Scouts and Cubs)

In my book, "Growing Up In Manilla 1956-1965," Scouting in Manilla NSW is dealt with in more detail as it was a major influence for us all while exploring life in Manilla NSW Australia. 

The Manilla River Walk is a relaxing and naturally peaceful walk from either of two points: Start under the Bridge (1) or head down Market St, adjacent to the Manilla Museum (2). Both walks take you to the Junction of the Namoi and Manilla Rivers and towards Higgins Bridge, just below the Showground.  
At the junction, in 1853, George Veness built a slab hut, store and inn, sited on the bank. He established the first postal service at “The Junction” and named the town Manilla, when the postal service was set up in 1856. A plaque at the timber arch, at the top of the path, marks the 150 year anniversary of Manilla’s founding.
   The corner of River and Market Street shows the entrance to the River Walk.
Continue walking under the archway towards the river junction.
The Plaque reads: "Manilla Shire Council. The Manilla Historical Pecinct and Nature Walk Project was undertaken by Council as part of the Celebration of the Centenary of Federation. This Community Project was funded by a Commonwealth Federation Grant together with financial support from Council and was officially opened by the Federal Member of New England Mr Stewart St.Clair. M.P. on Saturday 1st September 2001."
Left: Just below River Street at the start of the walk near the river. During the 1964 Flood the water rose to almost the top of these trees. Right: Entrance to the other end of the walk near the Showground area and Higgins Bridge.
Walking down the bank and water,it provides private areas to sit and feel the natural surrounds. Climbing under the trees on the right, shows an area where the young used to go 'craw-bobbing' during the 1950's-1960's. 
Plaques are erected along the walk providing wildlife information
Right: Entrance road to Higgins Bridge
Higgins Bridge area has some nice fishing and swimming spots. Not much water when these pictures were taken. 

The Book is Finished and Printed. For Information Click Here

Below is a tranquil excerpt from my book about living in Manilla NSW.

Although one could assess this story about Manilla as nostalgic and a journey down memory lane, it is distinctly more. The processes for this story were born a few decades ago. At that particular time, I had no idea the extent of a collaboration with My-Self had in store for later years. It was a steady growth. A steady growth of experiences that foreshadowed the meaning behind an impetus to sit and write.

Experience did manifest this dual nature of life within myself, but without also sitting and contemplating what meaning the experiences have upon ones-Self, we cannot derive any benefit for our lives. This takes focus and intent, which in turn requires the knowledge for Self to be consciously aware of our life holistically.

This also takes an awareness outside what we see in society and an awareness and curiosity to ask the question, “Is there something else?” There is. If we don’t ask this question within our-Self we fall short of understanding who we really are. Not a clone of what society expects of you, but an entity that participates in the formation of your True-Self. Away from the abnormal influences of society.

No matter what our circumstances are when growing up, whether they are good or bad, we need to penetrate our psyche to enable an articulate observation of our-Selves during that life, and also the years that follow. With this we find the meaning of our existence.

Without understanding our childhood, we fall short of understanding our life as an adult.


The following details Manilla NSW District History during the 1800s-1900s. 
George Anton Englert and his family moved to Manilla around 1905. George worked as the head blacksmith at the H. Baker Foundry. The building sat on the north-west corner of Manilla and Court Streets until its demolition in the 1940s.

The land is now named Rotary Park. A plaque is located in the park commemorating the H. Baker Foundry.

The Englert’s lived in three homes while in Manilla. The second is an historic brick cottage built in the late 19th century.

George was an accomplished musician who led the Holy Trinity Church of England choir at Manilla. The 1912 photograph (in the picture) shows George as choirmaster, with daughter Guerle.

George was an important contributor to the Manilla NSW “Odd Fellows” Lodge.

Odd Fellows is an international fraternity consisting of lodges first documented in 1730 in London. Odd Fellows promote philanthropy, the ethic of reciprocity and charity.

The Odd Fellows started as a way to care for their members in a time when there were no systems in place to insure one’s welfare, health or job protection. Back in the early days, insurance companies and government programs that provided sick and death benefits did not actually exist. Sickness or death of a breadwinner frequently meant poverty and the responsibility of burial depended on the family.

During the 19th century, life insurance was available only to the wealthy and beyond the financial ability of the average working class. For these reasons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows took on the responsibilities of visiting the sick, burying the dead, educating the orphans and caring for the widows as a way to support widows, orphans and families in need.

Geoff lived in Manilla from 1939 to 1948. He has written a short story about his recollections of Manilla in those days, and has asked a number of questions in his story, and would welcome any comments and answers to his questions. Contact via this page.

The Link to his Story is: https://geoffayling.blogspot.com/

Geoff is an Australian sport shooter, specialising in the rifle. He has competed in the Commonwealth Games, representing Australia at Edmonton 1978 and Brisbane 1982, and winning a gold medal. He represented his country with distinction at these two Games. He was selected for the Edmonton Games in 1978 and finished just out of medal contention. But in Brisbane in 1982 he shot superbly and won the gold medal in the pairs with his NSW team mate, Stan Golinski.

His shooting record is unparalleled in Tasmania - in fact, he ranks in the top echelon of the all-time great Australian shooters and started his career in 1953 as a 14-year-old, having competed around the world both as an individual and as an Australian team member. On the local Tasmanian scene - at club championships and one day aggregates - he amassed a staggering 350 plus wins, including six Tasmania Queen's Prizes.

At the Australian level, Geoff won four other Queen's Prizes and a National Queen's as well. Internationally, his successes include a 1980 Queen's in Barbados, a 1981 World Championship Gold medal at the 'home' of shooting at Bisley in England and in that same year, he won the coveted Queen's Prize at Bisley, where 1700 competitors vied for that honour.

Geoff is also Partner and Principal Researcher at The Forrest Project located in Sydney.

Geoff Ayling AM MSc CChem
Forensic Scientist, Principal Researcher on The Forrest Project.

Thomas John Bowen was a prominent builder in the Gunnedah/Manilla/Tamworth region of NSW, and involved in the early development of these towns. He is believed to have first come to the area about 1884 to assist G. H. Royce, NSW chief engineer, for the construction of the iron traffic bridge over the Namoi River (1884-86), an important milestone in the development of Manilla.

Thomas John went on to construct many major buildings in Manilla including the Courthouse, St Michael's Anglican Church and various hotels. He is also said to have re-built the (timber) Mechanic's Institute as a substantial brick building around 1900 - now the Manilla & District Soldier's Memorial Hall.

Thomas John is thought he constructed E.G. Royce's own house, which now houses the Manilla Museum and is listed on the Register of the National Estate.

Thomas John was sufficiently important in the community to be elected to Manilla's first Municipal Council in 1901.

Thomas John Bowen was a son of Martin Bowen and Elizabeth Seage (1834-1910). Martin Bowen had been tried in Kilkenny Ireland as a 16-year-old illiterate for "feloniously killing a sheep". Sentenced to transportation for life he arrived in Sydney on board the ship St. Vincent in January 1837. Martin was given his Ticket of Leave in 1847 and a conditional pardon in 1853. He was assigned to the Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens, established in the early days of the colony as a land development company with the assistance of a land grant from the British Parliament's Crown Grant of 1,000,000 acres in the area. Sometime later Martin found his way to Bathurst where he met Elizabeth Seage. They married in 1850, first living in Evans Plain near Bathurst before settling in the Dubbo/Trangie area.

Thomas John’s wife, Roseanna ("Rose Ann") Allingham, came from a well-established family. The first Allinghams arrived in Australia in 1841 from Ireland (like Thomas John's own ancestors), with the family spread throughout country NSW over the next few decades. Thomas John and Rose Ann were married in 1886 and had six children, including Thomas James, his eldest boy in 1887. Thomas John is buried in a joint grave at Gunnedah with his grand-daughter, Marie Therese as the two died within a few months of each other in 1920. Thomas John Bowen 1855-1920.

Thomas James Bowen (Thomas John’s son) married Mary Veronica in September 1914. They had three children, the first of whom, Marie Therese, died as an infant in 1920. Sometime soon after that death the couple appear to have moved from Gunnedah NSW to Sydney, where Patricia was born a year later. Thomas James was a builder, like his father. He may have had early success but family tradition is that he suffered badly financially during the 1930s Depression.

Mary died in Sydney in 1942 and the next year Thomas James remarried, to Katherine Kennedy. By the late 1950s Thomas and Katherine were living at 11 Arthur St, Moss Vale where his daughter Patricia would visit, along with grandchildren Margaret and Katherine Robinson.

Margaret remembers her grandfather as rather severe person, a view she believes that her mother also shared. But she also remembers that Thomas James was a keen handyman, with his Moss Vale home littered with various hobby projects on which he would be working. Thomas James died in 1961.

The Farmers and Settlers Association organised annual farmers' carnivals from 1907 to 1915 and continued again after WW1. The first farmers' carnival, held in June 1907, attracted a crowd of 1,500 to watch the ring events and view the displays of horses, sheep, cattle, fruit, vegetables, grains and other farm produce.

After the Manilla Agricultural Society was founded in 1930, an annual Agricultural Show was established, with exhibits of produce and stock, and a host of events such as horse racing, trotting, camp drafting and sheep dog trials.

The first Show was held in March 1932 with over 5,000 people attending on the first day. After the success of the first event, the Agricultural Society built a pavilion and a number of other buildings and yards at the Showground.

During the 1920s and 1930s the merino flock sheep ewe competitions, conducted by the Upper Manilla Agricultural Bureau, the Manilla agricultural show and the Manilla ram sales, all encouraged local farmers to develop more scientific breeding programs. On Tuesday 3rd July 1928, 25,000 sheep were yarded for auction by V. J Byrnes, Stock and Station Agent, Manilla NSW.

Like the sheep industry, the cattle industry also benefited from the development of more scientific breeding programs.

Manilla became a major centre for stock sales, and the best-known stock and station agent in town was V. J. Byrnes, who began as an agent in 1913. In 1935 Byrnes established his own sale yards in Manilla and built up one of the largest one-man businesses in Australia. In 1939 Manilla was described as the premier stock selling centre in the north of New South Wales, and Byrne’s sale yards as the largest and most up-to-date set of stock yards north of Sydney. Three-quarters of a million sheep were sold there between March and December 1939, a record for any one office in Australia, outside the capital cities.

The Agricultural Show continues to be a major event in the Manilla social calendar. In addition to the annual show the Agricultural Society has organised regular field wheat and fodder conservation competitions.

The fortieth Manilla Show held in 1974 was opened by the member for Tamworth, Mr E. N. Park. Highlights of the show were the Horticultural Society's floral display in the pavilion, and the Historical Society's display of photographs, ribbons, trophies and other memorabilia from past shows dating back to the early farmers' carnivals.

Cricket has not just been the choice of sporting endeavours for men. Women’s Cricket Teams were fielded as early as 1914 in Manilla, Halls Creek and Wongo Creek. The Manilla women's team even travelled to Sydney to play against Bexley Ladies Club and a representative team from Parliament.

They were accompanied by two chaperones to protect them from the vices of the city.

The first recorded women’s cricket match was in 1874 in Bendigo Vic. The first official organised women’s cricket match in NSW was between the Fernleas and the Siroccos, on 15 April 1887 at the Association Ground, now the Sydney Cricket Ground. A crowd of 600 attended and raised money for the Bulli relief fund. Australian women have always been enthusiastic spectators at cricket matches and soon proved themselves to be just as keen players of the sport.

Almost 100 years after that first game, women were making international history by participating the first World Cup in the sport in England, with seven teams competing. Both at home and abroad, women were establishing themselves as pioneers on the pitch, creating a style of play that would change how men approached the game.

Mr Wells told ABC Sydney, “Women invented round-arm bowling and they did this out of sheer necessity because of their crinoline skirts. They couldn't bowl underarm in the early 1800s like the rest of the men were because they simply couldn't negotiate the width of their skirts. A woman by the name of Christina Wiles, of Kent, in 1807 bowled round-arm deliveries to her brother, starting a specific style which would overtake the underarm bowling style which dominated. They discovered that, in doing that, they could get a bit more purchase on the ball, and they could make the ball move off the wicket, and so the men copied them."

In 1931, the Australian Women’s Cricket Council (AWCC) was formed to promote and support the sport. The first international women’s cricket team to visit Australia was the English team, invited to tour in the summer of 1934-35, to play a series against an Australian team captained by Margaret Peden.

Three Test matches were played against Australia and one against New Zealand – the first ever women’s Test matches. Although the English women had to pay their own way out, the newly-formed Australian Women’s Cricket Council (AWCC), sponsored the tour, paying all in-country costs and retaining match profits. Betty Archdale, captain of the English team, was praised in the press for being a fair and professional player.

The first time a team of Australian women toured overseas was in 1937. The Australian team had to raise their own funds to travel to England for the tour. Proceeds from many Australian matches during 1936 went to the Australian Team Fund.

Under captain Margaret Peden, the Australian team arrived in England in May 1937. The rules of the tour were strict: no woman was permitted to smoke or drink, or be accompanied by a husband or companion.

The team played matches all over England, including three Tests, of which England won two. The women were not permitted to play on the grounds at Lords, (until the mid-1970s), but another famous cricketing ground was opened to the women – The Oval – where they attracted a crowd of over six thousand.

One of the longest-serving players and administrators for women’s cricket in New South Wales during this period was Lorna Thomas. Thomas retired as a cricketer in the late 1950s after a long career playing district and interstate matches. In 1960 she took up team management and went on to manage five international teams including four overseas tours. In 1978, after almost a lifetime's involvement with women's cricket, she retired from her position as manager of the NSW and Australian teams. She was awarded an MBE for services to cricket and was made a life member of Women's Cricket Australia.

In 1958 Australian cricketer Betty Wilson, was inducted into the International Cricket Council's Hall of Fame, made history for both genders by making the first ever century by any Test player while also taking 10 wickets in the same test. The very first World Cup was an all-women's affair in England in 1973. It predated the men's first World Cup by two years.

* The Men’s Manilla Cricket Club became the Manilla Cricket Association in 1901. The Association fielded teams against Tamworth, Barraba, Upper Manilla, Wongo Creek and Halls Creek and participated in interclub matches as far afield as Newcastle, Uralla, Armidale, lnverell and Guyra.

In February 1901 the Attunga team visited Manilla to play a return match against Manilla. The Manilla team included: Dight, Telfer, Kennedy, Priest, Bignall, Brady, Allen, Hall, Ellis, Hartley and Simpson.

During September 1911 the Manilla Cricket Association held its Annual Meeting at the Mechanics Institute. Present were Messrs. W. M. Trenerry (chair), W. D. Hartley (secretary), F. Moore, H. Gurton, A. C. Veness, A. E. Moore, C. K. Vincent, and Dr. Catchlove. The Annual Report showed the season was successful both from a financial situation and cricket also. There were five teams participating and Mr. A. J. Teller's trophy, for the most sportsmanlike player in the competition, was won by Mr. C. Norris, captain of the Klori team. Praise was given to the Klori cricketers for the way in which they carried out their engagements during the season. Mr. Trenerry's trophy for the highest individual score in matches played under the association was won by Mr. A. M. Gabriel, of the Albion Club, who scored 140 not out.
Manilla Scouts and Cubs were very popular in the 1950s/1960s with over 60 Cubs and Scouts enrolled.

The Scouting Organisation is a voluntary movement and its leadership is based on the willingness of highly motivated men and women at local level who dedicated themselves to the service of young people.

Scout Groups started in Australia in 1908. In 1909, Major Chuck of the New South Wales Forces, and the Scout Master for the Tamworth District, came to Manilla Public School to swear in the 1st Manilla Boy Scout Troop. In 1953 The Scout Association of Australia became an independent Member of the World Scout Conference.

In the 1950s, the Principles of Scouting, as identified by the Founder, Lord Baden-Powel, are that man should serve God, act in consideration to the needs of others, and develop and use his abilities to the betterment of himself, his family and the community of which he lives, so that they can take a constructive place in society as responsible citizens.

As a young Cub you commit to a Promise and the Cub Law. The Cub Promise is: “On my honour I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Cub Law.” The Cub Law is: “A Cub is loyal and obedient, and does not give in to himself.” Fairly straightforward directions to move yourself forward in life with a responsibility to yourself and others around you.

As a Cub, and after following a well-devised program suited to your level of development, a Cub progresses in life towards being a Scout, at about age eleven. As a young boy our life is generally play, work and experiences. Cub activities surrounded this development in life and are in the spirit of make believe. They are games played to develop a Cub’s character without the Cub being conscious of the underlying reasons of why they participate in these activities.

Cubs speak of a Jungle atmosphere and this is wrapped up with the life and adventure of Mowgli, Akela, Kaa and others taken from Rudyard Kipling’s stories. Akela (also called The Lone Wolf or Big Wolf) is a fictional character in Rudyard Kipling's stories. Cub Leaders are known by the name Akela.

The handshake and three finger salute are valuable as it gives the Cub a sense of brotherhood. The left handshake was formulated after Captain Baden-Powell entered the capital city of the Ashanti people. The chief explained, “In my country the bravest of the brave shake with the left hand.”

Manilla Express 15th January 1926: “The first Manilla Troop of Boy Scouts struck camp at Tamworth last Tuesday morning, marched to the railway station and trained for home arriving safely at 10am. The lads were browned and sunburnt, but all expressed pleasure at the camp holiday, and the open-air life, and are looking forward to the next camp which will be held during the Easter holidays. Scouting is essentially an open-air life, but embraces not only physical training, but mental and moral.”

Alton Richmond “Magpie” MacLeod (1887 - 1951)

After joining Massey-Harris Co. Ltd to supervise experiments with a new harvesting machine, Alton Richmond MacLeod travelled to Manilla NSW to give a demonstration of the harvesting machine. After giving this demonstration, he decided to settle in the district and bought the local Massey-Harris agency in 1911.

On the 18 June 1913, Alton married Lily Hall (1891-1982), in her father's home “Hillside” at Gunnedah. Alton and Lily had three children: Marion Lily, Douglas and Effie Jean.

Having conducted the Massey-Harris agency profitably, in January 1919 Macleod bought the Manilla Express, a bi-weekly newspaper which he edited from October 1923. He was also an executive-member (1920-39) and president (1933-34) of the New South Wales Country Press Association, and a vice-president (1933-36) of the Australian Provincial Press Association.

In 1919 Macleod had been elected to the Manilla Municipal Council. He served as an alderman (1919-21 and 1926-50) and mayor (1930-34 and 1942-50). He was an initiator of the town's sewerage, water and beautification schemes, and was active in more than a score of community organizations, including the Parents and Citizens' Association, hospital board, show committee and the Caledonian Society. A drinking-fountain was erected (1934) at the Municipal Chambers in recognition of his community service.

He was also founding president (1936-38) and secretary (1939-50) of the Manilla Bowling Club.

Alton’s younger years: At the age of 13 Alton left North Codrington Public School to help on his father's mixed farm. Alton was Apprenticed to a coach smith at Lismore in 1903, and transferred to a Mullumbimby firm in the following year. From 1907 he worked in Queensland at mining-fields on the Atherton Tableland and the Roper River, but suffered a bout of malaria which affected his health thereafter.

While employed at the Hambledon sugar-mill in 1908, Macleod attended the mill's night-school where he was tutored by an old journalist, using the pseudonym 'Magpie.’ He had a string of contributions published by the Bulletin. From May 1909 he studied privately in Sydney until his health again broke down.

Two years later he bought the Massey-Harris agency at Manilla NSW in 1911 where he settled for the rest of his life.

Alton was a rifleman of note. In 1917 Macleod had represented Country against Sydney. In 1927 he won the Country championship and captained the New South Wales rifle team on its New Zealand tour. Next year he was a member of the State team which won the Gordon Highlanders' trophy in Perth. 'Mac' set an Australian record in 1929 by scoring 22 consecutive bull's-eyes at 900 yards (823 m) in the Weinholdt aggregate and the King's prize in Brisbane.

He was a councillor (1924-50), life-member (1935) and vice-president (1946-50) of the National Rifle Association of New South Wales.

It was well known that whatever he did, he put his heart and soul into it. Macleod believed in work, and in relaxation - through gardening, sport and reading, particularly poetry.

After selling the Manilla Express in 1947, he wrote a history of Manilla - The Transformation of Manellae (1949).

Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, he died of myasthenia gravis on 8 July 1951 at Arthur Street Manilla NSW and was cremated.

Alton is the eldest son of William Alexander MacLeod (Born 12 Sep 1856 in Tomago NSW) and Augusta Caroline (Hermann) MacLeod (married 15 Sep 1886) and the brother of William, Charles Stanley, Annie Marian, Effie Harriet, Margaret May, Edith Jean, Sydney Bruce and Janet Muriel (MacLeod) Johnston (see picture).

Manilla-Keepit Water Skiing - City-Country Exchange Program - Manilla Central School.

It appears the people in the photograph are Arthur Bell and his son, and the girl in the boat is Christine Unsworth.

A number of Manilla residents owned ski boats, including Ron Wilson, the local milkman.

Christine arrived in Manilla with other young teenagers from Sydney on an exchange program between the Manilla Servicemen’s Club and the Hurlstone Park Servicemen’s Club. Each person was billeted with a family in Manilla and provided with bus trips to country attractions not normally experienced in Sydney – like shearing sheds. Likewise, the Manilla teenagers were taken to centres around Sydney that they had not experienced before – like the Zoo. It was a successful program for all involved and all relished in this informative program.

Arthur Bell and his family lived in Southbrook and owned a Land rover and an inboard ski boat. A number of young children sat in the back on metal top side seating while travelling out to Keepit for Water Skiing. A bumpy ride on unsealed country roads with no seatbelts.

The bottom two photographs were taken water skiing in the river area before Keepit Dam filled up and before the Water Ski Gardens were created.

The Namoi River flows adjacent to Manilla township and along Rushes Creek Road for approximately 20 kilometres to the Dowe National Park. Construction of Keepit dam began in 1939 but was halted in 1941 due to WWII. Work on the dam restarted in 1946 and was completed in 1960. When Keepit Dam was built the water from the Namoi was banked up and created a vast amount of water in this area, equal to the size of Sydney Harbour (425,000 ml) and has a catchment area of 5,829 square kilometres.

Previous to the dam being built, there was sufficient water in some river areas to enjoy water-skiing between the willow and gum trees growing on the banks. To reach this area required a drive out along the Rushes Creek Road, where much of this road was a dirt track.

As construction of the Dam progressed in the 1950s, it was an opportunity to build what is now called, The Ski Gardens. Working bees were organised to cut down and clear all the trees in a large area. The dam was built, the river flowed, and the dam gradually filled up. The Ski-Gardens were now a reality.

This era portrayed a country life with memories of Manilla Public School and warm bottles of milk at recess, where we hoped it didn’t get too hot by the time recess arrived, while it stood in the open under the pepper corn tree. It was, but we would forget the taste at lunch time, via a fresh tasty meat pie with sauce from the Bignall store across the road. A time where only the bravest (or?) would take on Noel Sing in a boxing match - and still lose. A time when Noel Watts was a one-man-dynamite on the rugby league field and won games single handedly. While not forgetting Tony Bull, who always excelled with proficient speeches at assembly.

Chubby Checkers twist arrived and was attempted at the school social - many failed - but there was always the stomp, because it was simple. The Fox Trot tied your feet in knots not to mention your head, and the Barn Dance produced up close opportunities for everyone.

The city kids were hip and cool coming to Manilla with the exchange program, and couldn’t understand why we didn’t wear shoes and why we didn’t have a B/W TV. While in Sydney there were so many cars one bloke from Manilla thought it was a never-ending funeral procession. Because most of us had never seen a line of cars that long in Manilla – except for a funeral.

The Beatles arrived with their first album and their hit “Love Me Do.” A female teacher brought her vinyl album to class one day, because she didn’t know who was who on the cover. We did.

It was a time to remember, and is a time to remember and reflect - “We never know what we miss until we miss what we should have remembered.”

The Life and Work of the late Mr J. D. Kennedy - Manilla NSW Australia.

Mr John Duncan Kennedy was the last surviving member of the first Manilla Municipal Council, which was formed in 1901. He had served on the council continuously for 37 years, during which time he was Mayor for several terms.

Mr. Kennedy, who died at the age of 80 (1872-1953) was one of the best-known figures in the professional and public life of Manilla. He took a prominent part in the activities of Manilla, being associated with most organisations and committees.

He was one of the first patrons of the Returned Soldiers' League, and held the office until his death. Mr. Kennedy was a committee man and director of Manilla Hospital since its establishment in 1905. He was Treasurer of the first committee, which was formed in 1905. During his years of association with the hospital, Mr. Kennedy was chairman for several terms.

He was associated with the Mechanics' Institute, and was Secretary from 1901 to 1911.

John Duncan was the principal of the firm of John D. Kennedy and Sons, solicitors, of Manilla, where he had practised for over 50 years. He was a noted authority on land matter and practised as a solicitor for 57 years. He was also the District Coroner at Manilla for many years.

Although not a committeeman of Manilla Show Society, Mr. Kennedy was patron of it over the last 13 years of his life, and was one of the prime movers in the formation of the annual exhibition. He was also patron of the Manilla Bowling Club since its inception in 1935.

John Duncan was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and had been closely associated with its affairs and had been one of the foundation members of the church. John Duncan had achieved the honour of being appointed an Elder.

At the funeral service, held in the Presbyterian Church, the Rev. J. Mitchell referred to John Duncan as a “pillar of the church,” and made special mention of the part he had played in the work of the church. Representatives of all sections of the community attended the service. They included directors of the Hospital Board, Municipal and Shire Council members, business men, Bowling Club members, Masonic Lodge members, and Ex-Servicemen. It was mentioned his death would mean a big loss to most organisations and committees in Manilla.

In excess of 300 people attended the funeral and there were about 150 persons who could not be accommodated in the tiny church, who listened to the service through the doors and windows.

The Mayor of Manilla (Mr G. F. B. Grills) said that Mr. Kennedy was one of the town's most public-minded citizens. His advice on legal and personal matters was always sought by townspeople. He was held in high regard by the residents of the town.

Mr Kennedy is survived by two sons, Mr. Allan K. Kennedy (Tamworth) and Mr Donald H. Kennedy (Manilla).

The Marriage of Mr J. D. Kennedy and Miss Ruby Hartley:

Mr John D. Kennedy was married to Miss Ruby Hartley on the 17th August 1901. Ruby was the youngest daughter of Mr. D. Hartley of Manilla. The event aroused a large amount of interest, due to the factor the bride-groom is such a prominent member in the public life of Manilla, and that the bride is a native of Manilla, and a direct descendant of the oldest family in the town – George Veness 1823-1895.

The church was densely packed on the occasion, with a large number of persons occupying the porch, while others were forced to remain in the church yard. The interior of the building had been beautified by the arrangement of a large wedding bell above the spot where the young couple stood, with large white streamers stretching from the bell to the adjacent walls.

The choir, of which the bride was a leading member, rendered appropriate music during the ceremony, which was conducted by the Rev. P. Norman (Presbyterian Minister of Scone), assisted by the Rev. W. J. Walker. The bride was given away by her father, and was attended by Miss Matheson (cousin) and Miss Kennedy (sister of the bride groom.)

The bride's dress was composed of white figured silk, chiffon, and lace trimmings. She wore a veil and wreath of orange blossoms, and carried a shower bouquet of choice white flowers. Miss Matheson wore a costume of dove-coloured French voile and silk, with guipure lace with ribbon trimmings. She carried a bouquet of pink roses. Miss Kennedy was attired in white silk and lace, trimmed with blue silk, with white hat to match. She also carried a bouquet of pink roses. Each bridesmaid wore a gold brooch, a gift of the bride groom. Mr. Frank S. Mackenzie acted as best man. A very pretty occasion was provided at the conclusion of the ceremony: with the wedding-bell aloft, rose leaves descended from the interior on man and wife beneath.

A private wedding breakfast was served at the residence of the bride's parents.

Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy departed for Tamworth during the afternoon, en-route to Sydney, where the honeymoon was spent.

Durham Court - The Baldwin Family - Manilla NSW Australia

“First and foremost among Manilla’s pioneers were the Baldwins - Otto and his nephew Charles.” A.R. MacLeod.

Baldwin Family - Durham Court is a 1352acre (547ha) property located just four kilometres outside of Manilla on the banks of the Namoi River. Durham Court has been held by the Baldwin family since 1848 until it was sold in 2016.

Edwin (Charles) Baldwin (1829-1906), pastoralist, was born on 12 October 1829, at Wilberforce, NSW. He married Mary Ann Crowley (1837-1872) on the 10th June 1856. In 1875 he married Mary Ann Gorrick (1840-1932).

Edwin (Charles) is the son of Edwin Baldwin (1805-1868), farmer and grazier, and his wife Alice, née Clarke. His grandfather, Henry Baldwin, was of Welsh descent and had arrived at Sydney in the Admiral Barrington in October 1791. He settled on the Hawkesbury River at Wilberforce and by diligent farming, husbandry of livestock and purchase of farms at Kurrajong and on the Hunter River, built up an estate worth more than £5000 (Today: $1+million) which he left to his family when he died on 6 June 1843.

Edwin (Snr) son, Otto, was amongst the first to take stock across the Liverpool Range, where as a squatter he was dispossessed when Warrah was granted to the Australian Agricultural Co. in 1833. With his brother Otto, then squatted near Manilla, where his run, Diniwarindi, covered 30,720 acres (12,432 ha) in 1848. In 1858 ownership of Dinnawirindi was transferred to Charles.

On the 10 June 1856 Edwin (Charles) married Mary Ann, daughter of John Crowley. They had three sons and six daughters. He had built a new homestead, imported the highest quality furniture and had also acquired an expensive new carriage.

The family had a terrifying experience when the Diniwarindi homestead was swept away by flood in 1864. Rain fell constantly and the Namoi floodwater was rising ominously. Charles realized that he and his family were in dire peril as the water had already entered the house. He put his eight children, his wife and two female domestic staff in a boat but because of the swirling water and its battering logs, other timber, and flood debris, and being a constant danger in the darkness, he chose to tie the boat to the back porch of the house and wait until the morning light. The flood continued to rise. At first light he set off and row to safety, half a mile away. As soon as the boat and its passengers had drawn clear, the house collapsed and was swept away. It was a narrow escape.

Although the family narrowly escaped with their lives, there was little food. Mary Anne’s health was greatly affected by these events and she never recovered from this tragedy and died aged 35 in February 1872 leaving eight young children.

On 13 April 1875 Charles married Mary Ann, daughter of Isaac Gorrick. They had three sons and two daughters. A large new homestead, on the opposite northern side of the Namoi River, was built in 1876, where in 1885 the property name was changed to Durham Court.

In 1899 Charles celebrated his golden jubilee of living at Durham Court. At least five of the staff had been employees for 40 years and many had been born there.

Charles Baldwin died on 25 November 1906 aged 77, at his residence, and was buried in the Church of England cemetery at Manilla NSW.

Edwin (Charles) is the father of Emily Dowe, Eva Baldwin, Jessie Baldwin, Grace Baldwin, Otto Baldwin and 10 others. Edwin (Charles) is the brother of Henry Baldwin, Alice Baker, Elizabeth Baldwin-Dight and Harriet Baldwin, and the half-brother of William Frederick Baldwin, William Baldwin, George Rowland Baldwin and John Harbourne.

Early progressive years: Edwin (Charles) went to Diniwarindi as a young man of nineteen, yet from sixteen years of age, he was taught stock trade by his uncle Otto, the son of Harvest Baldwin, who soon moved to Singleton and left Charles to manage the run. Charles reigned for nearly 60 years at Durham Court.

His most outstanding characteristic was his love of high-class stock. He bought high quality Australian cattle, imported many pedigree bulls from England to improve his herds and won high repute for the Durham Court Shorthorn stud. He also imported blood horses and established a stud. It became his special interest and he was founder and patron of the Manilla Race Club. Horses bred at Durham Court won such prominent races as the St Leger, Epsom, and Sydney Cup. Havoc was one of his most successful sires.

Baldwin was prepared to pay high prices to acquire fine horses. The stallion Machine Gun, was bought for nearly 1000 guineas just before Baldwin's death, and was sold in 1908 for 1500 guineas (Today: $3.5million). His thoroughbreds and Shorthorn cattle had a marked effect on the standard of Australian stock.

Charles had been specializing in the breeding of Durham cattle (Shorthorn) and the skills he displayed had made Durham Court a leading stud in Australia. The magnitude of this breeding programme is illustrated by the sales. In 1882 in one sale alone, Charles sold a line of 157 bulls to "Warroo" in Qld.

Edwin (Charles) had a retiring disposition and a keen sense of humour. He was severe in his criticisms but shrewd in his perception of human nature. He was also generous in supporting worthy causes. He made donations to various churches. In 1892 he subscribed £50 (Today: $5,000) towards the building of the first Church of England in Manilla and gave £500 to Tamworth Hospital for the establishment of an operating theatre in 1901 (Today: $50,000). He was also a justice of the peace.

After his death in 1906, Durham Court was auctioned in 1908, and parts of it were bought by members of the family. The homestead section became the residence of Otto Francis Baldwin (Snr).

Otto Francis (Snr) married Beatrice Alice Grady (1912-1992) on 4 April 1934, in Manilla and they had three children, Judith Mary (1937-1938), Charles Peter (1935-1955) and Otto Francis (Jnr) (1939-2016).

Durham Court is described as a heritage landmark of the Manilla district; draped in a rich history which includes the renowned Durham Court Shorthorn and Thoroughbred studs. The property remains an iconic piece of northern New South Wales pastoral history.

Otto Francis Baldwin (Snr) passed away on 15 Aug 1975 aged 74 years.

Durham Court (1352 acres-547 Ha) was offered for sale by the O. F. Baldwin Estate in 2016, after Otto Francis (Jnr) died (1939-2016) and was purchased by the neighbouring Coombes family in 2016 for $3.35m.

The Historic and Heritage Manilla NSW Holy Trinity Church - Incorporating - * Confirmation - * The Cuerindi Memorial Tower - * Cannon and John Quayle - * Cuerindi History and the * Hall and Allen families.

The Baptistery and the Cuerindi Memorial Tower were a gift from the Allen family of Cuerindi, in memory of their father and mother.

In 1938 the foundation stone for the western end and tower was laid by Bishop Moyes. A tube was placed at the back of the tablet containing a script, two copies of the Manilla Express, a copy of the Tamworth Leader and an order of service for the day.

On February 19th, 1939 the Cuerindi Memorial Tower and the western end were dedicated by Sir Charles Rosenthal. Sir Charles Rosenthal (1875-1954) was an architect, soldier and musician, and joined the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914 and sailed with the first convoy as lieutenant-colonel commanding the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. The Manilla Park displays captured guns from the 33rd Battalion on the Western Front in the Great War 1914-1918.

The first stage of the Memorial Tower was built by Walter Jackson, and the second stage completed by W.C. Grantham.

The History of Cuerindi:

The Hall Family of Cuerindi originated as one of the founding 12 inhabitants of the new town of Manilla (The Junction). Together with the Allen Family they are established pioneers within the Manilla Historical culture of time and with other pioneers, influenced life and times during this period.

The Hall family established “Cuerindi Run” in the early 1830's. By 1862 the town population could almost be counted on both hands. “Cuerindi Run” is approximately 10 klms north of Manilla.

The following details are a summary of the Hall Family from Cuerindi. A future post will show more complete details regarding the Hall Family.

Maria Adelaide (Davey) Hall (1840-1916) was born on 19 December 1840, when her father was 30 and her mother Hanastatia Sarah (formally Byrnes) was also 30. Maria married Matthew Hall (1830-1891) in 1861 at age 20, while Matthew was 30 years of age. They had twelve children during their marriage. Maria’s mother-in-law, Frances, was also living on the property and on hand to assist with the birth of Maria’s second child. Maria and Matthew were married for 30 years.

Maria’s father, Benjamin Robert, died just three years after Maria was born. Her mother, Hanastatia Sarah (Ann) Byrnes, died in Manilla in 1864 aged 54 years.

The marriage of Maria and Matthew was performed on the property and accorded to the rites of the Church of Scotland by minister John Morison. The witnesses were Frederick R. Rogers and Elizabeth Davey (Maria's sister). The wedding was registered in the District of Tamworth Register by John MacDonald, registrar.

Matthew and Maria’s early residency at Manilla initially comprised of a group of timber slab buildings on the eastern bank of the Namoi River just below the junction of the Namoi with Halls Creek. This spot is now a little north west and down from where the modern-day homestead of Namoi Park is located.

North Cuerindi Estate originally comprised of 20,100 acres. This changed in 1909 when the estate was subdivided into 28 settlement areas of 200 to 2300 acres. Ten of these blocks have a Namoi River frontage.

The Allen Family of Cuerindi:

Richard Duke Allen (1846-1903) came to Manilla in 1876 to manage “Cuerindi.” In 1902 Richard became the sole owner of the station and also of “Springfield.”  Richard married Emma Harriet Abbott and had 11 children in 26 years while residing at Cuerindi. Most of the children continued their residency at Cuerindi and/or within the Manilla district.

One of Richard and Emma’s children, Agnes Polke Allen (1887-1962), was born when her father was 40, and her mother, Emma, was 33. While residing at Curerindi, Agnes married Austin George Veness (1898-1965 Manilla) in Manilla in 1936, when she was 49 years old. Austin George died in Manilla in 1965 just three years after Agnes died. They had no known children.

The extended Allen family of eleven children have had a long association with Cuerindi and Manilla district. Their donation towards the Cuerindi Tower at the Holy Trinity Church in Manilla is a mark of reverence for church, family and Manilla as a whole. This contribution marked an historical milestone for the Allen family and also Cuerindi’s history.

During the 1960s, Cannon (James Orry) Quayle lived at Manilla with his wife (Mabel Anna) and officiated the church services at the Holy Trinity Church in Manilla NSW.

Cannon (James Orry) Quayle is the father of John Quayle, a rugby league player, who found success in Sydney first as an NRL player and then an administrator. John was known as "Cannon" and grew up in Manilla NSW and played all his junior league at the local club. In 1968 John joined Easts and was a second rower. He played 51 first grade games for the Roosters and played in the 1972 grand final. After the 1972 grand final John switched to Parramatta in 1973 and played 57 first grade games for the Eels from 1973 to 1976. While he was at Parramatta, he played 2 games for NSW and 3 tests for Australia.

John married a local Manilla girl, Diane Todd, in 1968.

Confirmation at the Holy Trinity Church (see picture): On the 25th November 1962 a large number of younger congregation members were Confirmed into the Holy Trinity Church. Confirmation indicates one's deepening relationship with God. It marks the point in the Christian journey at which participants affirm their faith and their intention to live a life of committed discipleship. Confirmation is the doctrine and ethos of the Anglican Church.

There have been recent attempts to disband the structural historic interior of the Holy Trinity. It must be remembered preserving our Cultural, Heritage and Historic Past is an important contributor to our Future, as if we don't, the Future has no basis from where our Contemplation is derived.

Contemplation with the Past is our direct link to our Stable Future. Without this we fall short of knowing Ourselves. It is important the History and Heritage, internally and externally, is preserved at the Holy Trinity Church in Manilla to reflect our Souls of Peace, and in turn preserve the History of Manilla NSW. Please support this endeavour to Save the historical significance of the Holy Trinity Church, and also Manilla as a whole.

Pioneer Settlers of Manilla NSW Australia

Prior to the pioneer settlers in Manilla, exploration parties were prominent in exploring land in the Manilla District. In 1818 John Oxley crosses the Peel River, 30km south-east of Manilla, where today Oxley’s Anchor is located near Hallsville, on the road to Tamworth. In 1823, another exploration party, led by Allan Cunningham, discovers and names Pandora’s Pass over the Liverpool Range, and continues north, crossing the Namoi River. In 1827 Allan passes through the district again on his way north. A year later, 1828, Thomas Mitchell travels the Namoi River.

During the early years of the 1830s Major Nunn is sent north by Australia’s Colonial Administrator to quell alleged problems with the Aboriginal people. He arrives with 23 mounted police. The local tribe of Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay people are ambushed by Nunn’s party at the Namoi River and they scatter into the bush.

In the late 1830s the Pringle Family take up land around Somerton and Bective. Somerton is located 24 klms south of Manilla. Bective is located just west of Attunga.

A short time later Teamsters and Carriers ferry goods from the Hunter district, through goldfield settlements and cattle stations, travelling north towards Manilla.

The first known pioneer settler in Manilla was George Veness (1823-1895) who arrived in Australia in the 1840s and settled in Manilla in the 1850s. He selects land at the junction of the Manilla and Namoi Rivers and sets up a store and wine shop. George, with wife Sarah and son John, established the store to supply stranded travellers with goods and services at their campground. This led towards town settlement. During this period John George Rideout builds a boarding house on the northern side of the Namoi River.

The population of Manilla was 50 in the 1860s and grew to 888 by 1901. (Upper Manilla 381)

George gave Manilla its name, as Manilla was previously named Manellae (1842). The pioneers in the Manilla district (men and women) laid the foundation for its rural industries and its commercial and business undertakings. They spent long hours labouring and often were short of food. Starvation was a constant concern during the colony’s first few years.

During the 1860s Arthur Dewhurst maps out Manilla streets and names them after his family, his chainman (surveyor), his home town, and himself.

The first free settlers to Australia arrived aboard the Bellona in early 1793. To encourage free settlement among the less wealthy, the British colonial government began to pay the transportation costs for many migrants in the early 1800s. In the 1830s and 1840s the British public and the Australian colonists grew critical of the British practice of shipping convicts to Australia. This ended in the 1850s.

During the late 1800s electricity supply was caught up in political debate on the federal constitution. However, progress succeeded and by 1906 there were 46 electric light and power stations in Australia. The first lighting company was formed in Melbourne in the 1880s. In the late 1800s, Tamworth, with a population of 5,800 in 1901, switched to arc (an electric arc across two electrodes) and incandescent (emitting light as a result of being heated) lighting. Electric light installation arrived in Manilla in 1913.

A reminder that sewage installation in Manilla didn’t arrive in the main town until 1953, Southbrook 1965 and North Manilla 2000.

Without any modern facilities available today, the pioneers of Manilla District certainly fostered a desire for self-development during the early years. We owe them a sense of reverence (deep respect) for the life we have today in Manilla Country.

With less than ideal conditions during the early to the late 1800s, many new settlers occupied land in the Upper Manilla and Upper Namoi Valleys. The land settlers were industrious men, improving their land, and also commenced producing wheat. By 1865 the number of settlers established in the Upper Manilla valley included Nixon, Bowman, Barling, Costelloe, Cameron, Iliffe, Hall, Byrnes and more.

Thomas Bowman selected 1,868 acres of land in Upper Manilla at Woodville and over the years steadily increased his holdings to over 12,000 acres. Purchasing 1,280 acres from North Cuerindi Station and 1,400 acres from Manilla Station. He also acquired the Borah Farm, Springfield and Wimbourne properties and runs at Tarpoly Creek and Tarpoly. Thomas became a well-known breeder of merino sheep and shorthorn cattle and was one of the first in the district to grow wheat.

Thomas’s brother Edward selected “Buena Vista” in 1870, moving his wife Emma (nee Collins) and young family from the Hunter Valley, after he had established a home. Buena Vista remained in the Bowman family for almost a century until it was sold in 1964.

John Nixon (1849-1932) and his brother George settled in Upper Manilla in 1870. Like the Bowmans, they had travelled widely through north-western NSW with their bullock teams and noted the fine country of the Upper Manilla Valley. John selected a block of 70 acres at Upper Manilla, at the junction of Oakey Creek and the Manilla River, which he named Oakhampton, while George selected land at the mouth of Borah Creek, where he built “The Pines” homestead. John Nixon ran the store at Upper Manilla for many years with the help of his sister Mary Ann. John married Mary Jane Hall in 1892 and had one son.

John and Mary’s son Adam (1898-1945) went on to develop the family property, Oakhampton, enlarging his land holdings, establishing a well-known Hereford stud, and breeding Clydesdale horses for show and for use on the property. Adam Nixon had diverse interests, involving himself in many community activities. During his time at Oakhampton, he was President of the Farmers and Settlers Association, a member of the Manilla Show Committee from its inception, a member of the Graziers Association and the North-West Irrigation League and a Councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society. He strongly supported the development of medical services in Manilla, furnishing the children’s ward in Manilla Hospital when it opened in 1937. Adam married Dorothy Brooks Stocker in 1926 and had six children.

James Costelloe came to Glen Riddle Station in Upper Manilla in 1862, where he worked for seven years before selecting land in the area. His son Thomas Costelloe was one of the first to occupy land in the New Mexico district. New Mexico is 15klms west of Manilla.

Patrick Byrnes (1840-1914), a native of County Galway, Ireland, settled in Upper Manilla in 1868 on a property he named “Moss Vale”. Patrick married Catherine Kilkelly in 1880 and had four children.

A number of other selectors first came to the Manilla district as station hands on large stations such as Durham Court, Keepit, Manilla and Glen Riddle, then selected land. These included Richard Cummins, who was employed at Durham Court from 1851, and William Smith, who was also employed at Durham Court from 1865. Both went on to acquire their own properties in the district.

Charles Baldwin of Durham Court purchased 339 acres to the west of Manilla at the price of £1 ($150 today) an acre, while at the same sale several acres of land within the surveyed boundary at North Manilla sold for £8 an acre ($1200 today).

From the 1860s to the turn of the century Manilla grew apace with this development. From a population of 50 in 1866 it grew to 888 by 1901.

Sheep production increased with this closer settlement and wool became the major industry of the Manilla district. Regular streams of horse and bullock teams loaded with wool bales passed through Manilla on their way to the rail head in Tamworth. John Nixon, at Oakhampton Station, had 9,000 sheep to be shorn and was short of shearers.

One of the larger stations was Bective Station. During the 1900 season 100,000 sheep were shorn there. Bective Station is located just west of Attunga.

During 1907 over 13,000 bales of wool passed through Manilla Railway Station, with much of it coming from the Barraba district. In 1907 Manilla topped the prices at the Sydney wool sales, selling at approx. 14 shillings per pound. (Today: $80.00 per pound or $40 per kg)

Wool from Manilla continued to command high prices, and during the boom period of the early 1950s sold for as much as 300 pence per pound. (Today: $90 per pound or $45 per kg)

In 2022-2023 wool production in Australia is worth $3.5 billion. China continues to be the largest buyer of Australian raw wool, buying 79% of all wool exports. In 2021 fine wool growers commanded above $25 per kg. Australia produces around 25 per cent of greasy wool sold on the world market and is regarded as among the world’s best. NSW produces the greatest volume of wool, followed by Vic, WA and SA. In 2021-22, 71.6 million sheep were shorn in Australia.

Manilla Post Office NSW, and the developing Telegraph Communication.

The telegraph line was one of the great engineering feats of 19th-century Australia and probably the most significant milestone in the history of telegraphy in Australia.

The requirements of nineteenth century telegraphy meant the Overland Telegraph Line initially required repeater stations every 250-300kms to boost the signal. The repeater stations contained two power sources -- the line was powered by Meidinger cells - a variation of Daniell cells, as well as Leclanche cells, for the local equipment. The repeater stations had a staff of four to six, including a station master, telegraphists and linesmen. Later Aboriginal people used the ceramic conductors to fashion spear heads and cutting tools.

A Daniell cell is the best example of a galvanic cell which converts chemical energy into electrical energy. A Leclanche cell is a battery invented by Georges Lechlanche, which contains an electrolytic solution, a cathode and an anode. A cathode is a negatively charged electrode by which electrons enter an electrical device. The opposite of anode.

The private Melbourne Telephone Exchange Company opened Australia's first telephone exchange in the 1880s. Around 7,757 calls were handled in 1884.

Government-operated post office and telegraph networks - the largest parts of the bureaucracy - were combined into a single department in each colony on the model of the UK Post Office: South Australia in 1869, Victoria in 1870, Queensland in 1880 and New South Wales in 1893.

At Federation (1901), the colonial networks (staff, switches, wires, handsets, buildings etc.) were transferred to the Commonwealth Postmaster-General's Department responsible for domestic postal, telephone and, telegraph services becoming the responsibility of the first Postmaster-General (PMG). With 16,000 staff (and assets of over £6 million-Today $700 million) the PMG accounted for 80% of the new federal bureaucracy.

Public phones were available in a handful of post offices. Subscriber telephones were initially restricted to major businesses, government agencies, institutions and wealthier residences. Eight million telegrams were sent that year over 43,000 miles of line.

The first Post Office in Manilla was established in the 1850s. This was followed by the Manilla Post Office building in the 1880s, additions followed in the 1890s, and then 1908 and 1923.

In the 1880s a telegraph line had been erected as far as Manilla and almost to Barraba. The telegraph line necessitated the services of a telegraph operator and a resident postal officer. Mr Edward Dane was appointed to the position. He was Manilla's first recognised official postmaster. The Post Office was situated in Manilla Street, a timber building near Mackenzie’s store.

Prior to the present position of Manilla’s Post Office, it was located in Upper Manilla in the 1870s. Miss Nixon was in charge of the post office since it was established in the district, and then transferred to Mrs. Johnson. This was met with disapproval by the residents and a meeting was held at Messrs. Nixon's new house with the object of the meeting to protest against the action of the Postmaster-General in refusing to comply with the wishes of the residents. Two petitions were sent to the Postmaster-General, urging upon him the necessity of cancelling Mrs. Johnson's appointment, but no notice was taken of them.

In the late 1870s the Postmaster General had taken steps to procure a suitable block of land in Manilla to build a Post Office. In the late 1800s a tender was accepted from T.J. Bowen for £1148 (Today $140,000). Additions were made in 1898 and 1908. A manual telephone exchange was added in 1923 and the Manilla Street façade changed in the 1960s.

In the 1870s a mail contract was let to Wilkinson and Bowden to convey mail twice weekly by coach from Tamworth to Warialda via Manilla. Prior to this the mail was conveyed on horseback. Country mail services started in the late 1800s from Manilla to New Mexico (just west of Manilla) and Hobden (North of Upper Manilla) and in 1901 to Lowrey, Glendon via Halls Creek and Mundowey (25klms east of Manilla) and to Chapman's on the upper Namoi River. All country roads and by-roads were serviced by mail contractors. Wilkinson's mail coach made its last trip to Warialda in December 1906. Since 1872 it had regularly passed through Manilla and Barraba on its bi-weekly trip to Warialda.

During the two World Wars, 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945, thousands of letters to and from the troops passed through the Post Office.

During the 1930s Mr. John Albun Colls (1873-1946), and the head assistant, Mr C. N. Woods were in charge of the Post Office.  During the 1940s, Mr E.T. Sparks, a Senior Postal Officer, was in charge.

In July 1967, Manilla was given its postcode (2346) and eight years later in July 1975 the Postmaster Generals Department (PMG) was disbanded and Australia Post and Telecom Australia came into being. Activities at Manilla Post office continued as before. Today the Post Office is now privatised as well as its traditional mail business and has a strong retail business. During these transitions, the original historical architectural counter was dismantled, rather than retained, leaving a stark modernized clinical interior appearance.

During the early 1900s to mid-years, a considerable number of employees were employed by the PMG and Telecom (later changed to Australia Post and Telstra).

Prior to the widespread use of automatic telephones for immediate communication today, people would use a telegram form to write out a telegram. This message would cost a certain amount per word to send. The message was transmitted from one post office to another, initially by morse code, through telegraph wires but later by telephone and teleprinter. The transmitted message was then written out, or typed on a typewriter, and hand-delivered to the addressee by a messenger on a bicycle.

Morse telegraphy during the 1900s required a Morse qualification before employment at the PMG.

Telegrams were first used in Australia from 1858 when Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were linked by telegraph lines. The use of telegrams peaked during the 1950s, but declined after this due to the increasing number of telephones in both businesses and homes across Australia in the late 1960s-early 1970s.

Before the transition to automatic phones, telephonists were employed by the PMG, whose job was to answer the phone for a business or other organization (see main picture). Telephone users would pick up their phone at home, where it connected immediately to the switchboard. The telephonist would answer, “Number, please?” The caller would say the number and the telephonist would reply, “Hold the line please” as she expertly removed and inserted jack plugs to connect the call. If the number was on the operator’s switchboard, they would connect the call by plugging the ringing cable into the relevant jack. If not, they would transfer the call to the correct exchange in another town, where another operator would be able to connect the caller. As the network expanded, suddenly there was a new employment opportunity for women. One that gave them some economic independence and an identity outside the home.

The rapid increase in demand for telephones and reliable connections posed a problem for the telephone companies. More lines meant more switchboard operators which was an expense they were keen to control. As fast as the telephonist worked, operators could be overwhelmed by the volume of calls at busy times, leaving callers queuing for a line.

In smaller neighbourhoods, the switchboard might be operated by a single individual. The village PMG employee’s ability to listen in on private conversations (strictly forbidden but difficult to prevent) soon taught phone users to be careful what they said.

By the early 1970s, STD (subscriber trunk dialling) had arrived and gradually the manual switchboard telephone exchanges were phased out, replaced by automatic exchanges.

Prior to the early 1970s, teleprint operators were employed by the PMG to send telegrams to other Post Offices in Australia. Teleprinter operators were required to type efficiently, free from errors, with a speed in excess of 40 words per minute. They gained this experience, and other qualifications, by attending a training course in Sydney over a period of months. The typed telegram would arrive at the required Post Office and delivered by pushbike to the resident or business. This was standard practice during the 1960s.

During these times mail was delivered by pushbike. The postman was required to blow his whistle at each residence. This was much to the annoyance of the resident’s angry pet dog, who attacked the postman as he left the mail. The event was reported to the Postmaster at the Post Office. A letter was sent to the resident asking him to chain the dog up or keep him locked inside the yard. This was ignored frequently leaving the postman to fend for himself.

Manilla was undergoing substantial growth during the period of the 1950s-1960s. Employment was abundant, where residents felt a sense of achievement and personal growth.

Harry M Miller (1934-2018) – Dunmore Stud and Showbiz Promoter – Halls Creek Manilla NSW Australia.

The late Harry M. Miller was best known as a legendary music promoter and agent to the stars, but in rural Australia, it was his work in the cattle arena that gained him a reputation.

He was instrumental in introducing the Simmental breed of cattle to Australia in the 1970s.

Miller purchased Dunmore Stud Halls Creek, Manilla NSW in 1971, the same year he met veterinarian Wendy Paul, whom he married the following year. Halls Creek is located approximately 20 minutes east of Manilla. Dunmore was originally established in 1902 by Mungo Park, with Miller only the second of the families to have lived and worked it.

Mungo Park (1878-1966) is the son of Adam Park (1837–1926) who settled in the Manilla District in the 1860s and (firstly) purchased acres at Glen Barra, Watsons Creek. Watsons Creek is located a little further east of Halls Creek. Adam Park is one of our major pioneer settlers in the Manilla district during the 1800s. Adam’s life and family, are documented in detail within a future post for Manilla Memories and the Manilla NSW Blogspot. It is a fascinating and compelling story of diversity and hardship that led Adam towards his ultimate established success in Australia.

Miller and his wife Wendy established one of the largest and most reputable Simmental studs in the country until its sale in 1990, and capably assisted by managers Paul Quigley and Peter McWilliam. This sale event attracted buyers from across the country and set a record at the time for any dispersal sale in Australia. Dunmore, situated at Halls Creek, has five kilometres of river frontage on the Namoi, and is just 15 minutes from Manilla and reported as a 3,800-hectare rural property, with a six-bedroom 1902 Federation era homestead.

Richard (Dick) Vincent OA, the inaugural president of the Australian Simmental Breeders Association (ASBA), remembers Miller as a high achiever. Mr Vincent was also an early breeder of Simmental helping to establish the breed with his stud Hamelin Park at Williams in Western Australia.

"If you said the word street sense you would think of Harry Miller because he was a great achiever," Mr Vincent said. "He was a very resilient character; he had a pretty good dry wit but he was a survivor and he had a great deal of street sense. Initially Harry did a hell of a lot for the Simmental Association. His connections with Germany were invaluable and, all our success at Hamelin Park Stud is due to two Dunmore bulls I bought from him, and they were real game changers. He could see opportunity and he could seize on it, and he could see the Simmental breed had something to offer and achieved a lot for the breed."

Renowned cattle breeder Peter Howarth OAM from Wombramurra Black Simmentals at Nundle, 100 kilometres from Dunmore Stud, said he knew Miller quite well in the early days.

"He was the real founder of bringing the Simmental breed into Australia," he said. For Harry to get the cattle here he had to actually buy the cattle in Germany and then transport them to New Zealand where he collected the heifers in embryo transplant. He actually brought those heifers into Australia. Eventually from those 13 in embryo transplant, he bred over 300 calves."

Mr Howarth said that Harry, with a great team supporting him at Dunmore, was responsible for putting the Simmental breed on the map.

“He had a chap from New Zealand called Peter McWilliam who was the stud master, and Millers wife Wendy, who was a vet, and Harry on promotions. They did a great job of not only promoting Dunmore Manilla NSW but also promoting the Simmental breed," Mr Howard said.

Mr Howarth said Dunmore had the biggest sale of the Simmental breed every year.

"In the 1970s they were showing cattle in three states of Australia, and in 1988 they bred a bull called Dunmore London Times and this bull was the Supreme Champion at Rockhampton Beef Week in 1988. Interestingly enough only two months ago Wendy and her daughter, Harry's daughter, were invited back to Rockhampton Beef Week to celebrate 30 years of the foundation of that event. Harry was so passionate about the Simmental breed that he even encouraged TV presenter Graham Kennedy and celebrity chef Peter Russell Clarke to start their own studs. That was Harry. He could talk people into most things," Mr Howarth said.

"But overall, he had a great desire to improve the genetics for the beef breed industry in Australia, and he certainly achieved that. He really did love the land, he loved cattle and most people don't know that because of his success in other areas. He was also very good at managing people and having the right people working for him, and he didn't mind spending the dollars to get the best. He was very fair but he was tough."

Harry also created one of the greatest entrepreneurial showbiz businesses in Australia.

In his early days Harry began working as a farmhand, joined the Merchant Navy, sold fry pans in a department store and even sold Holeproof socks saying, “You have got to have An-Edge.”

Born on 6 January 1934 in New Zealand, Miller grew up in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. When Miller was two years old his father broke his spine in a fall. He died six years later.

His first taste of show business was running a “peepshow” for fellow students – a shoebox with cellophane windows through which he would wind a comic strip: “I used to charge kids a marble.”

In the late 1950s he established himself as a show business promoter and entrepreneur and moved to Australia in 1963, where he established Pan Pacific Productions with Keith and Dennis Wong, from the nightclub Chequers. Harry had a unique and intrinsic aptitude, coupling chutzpah with charm, good looks and a keen business sense.

Harry brought many people to Australia: Louis Armstrong, Del Shannon, the Everly Brothers, Arthur Rubinstein, Herman's Hermits, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Chubby Checker, Eartha Kitt and Shirley Bassey. He represented hundreds of people, as the likes of Alan Jones, Frank and Kerry Packer, Graham Kennedy, Maggie Tabberer, Lindy Chamberlain, Ita Buttrose, Barry Humphries, Stuart Wagstaff and Carmen Duncan.

In 1969, Miller discovered 16-year-old American singer Marcia Hines in Boston, Massachusetts, while casting African-American performers for the Australian stage version of Hair, which he was producing. Hines flew to Australia, unaware that she was already six months pregnant, and Miller acted as her legal guardian in Australia until she turned 21. Miller went on to produce the Australian productions of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972 and The Rocky Horror Show in 1974, both of which used many of the production staff from Hair, including director Jim Sharman.

In 1957 Harry married Zoe von Uht, produced a son, Simon, but it ended in 1962. He married Patricia Mitchell, in 1963, but ended four years later when she took their two children back to the US. In 1972, after the death of his mother, Sadie, Miller married 23-year-old vet, Wendy Paul. They had two daughters, Brook and Lauren. Wendy helped with running both the Harry M Miller Group and their large Simmental cattle property Dunmore, at Manilla NSW.

In the 1990s Miller met society caterer and businesswoman Simmone Logue, whom he described in 2010 as “the love of my life”.

He retired in 2009 and handed his business to his daughter, Lauren.

Harry died in July 2018 at age 84, with his long-term partner Simmone Logue, daughters Justine, Brook and Lauren, and their mother Wendy by his side.

Bective Station – South east of Manilla NSW, near Tamworth.

James Fisken Vickery (1876–1956)

James married Jean Frances Husband (1880-1978) when she was 25 years old, on the 19th July 1905. They had three children during their marriage - Emily Margaret (1906-1990), James Thomas (1908-1989), and Jessie Frances (1912-1978).

Successive generations of the Vickery family have owned and operated the well-known Bective district grazing property since 1890. At one point the property ran 100,000 sheep and were sustaining a 44-stand woolshed.

Mr. James Fisken Vickery is a member of one of the oldest pastoral families in Australia, and a leading figure in Hereford breeding circles throughout the Commonwealth. He was born at Bendigo, Vic. and was a son of the late Mr. James Swanton Vickery, who bought Bective when it was known as the Robert Pringle Estate.

Robert Pringle: Robert arrived in the Colony (Australia) on the Denmark Hall (an 1814 merchant ship) in 1824 where Robert was then engaged by the Australian Agricultural Company. When he first arrived in Australia, he managed Carrington Park for about six years. Bective was part of an 1822 grant of 2000 acres to merchant Thomas Horton James.  During this time Robert built up his own flocks and acquired an extensive land holding “Bective” on the Liverpool Plains, as well as several other leases of sheep and cattle stations at Liverpool Plains. He purchased part of the Carrington Park Estate in the mid-1830s. The Liverpool Plains (Shire) is a large area of land just south east of Manilla NSW.

Robert Pringle married Mabella, the daughter of John Inches in August 1837. Mabella died in 1860 and Robert at Bective in 1875.

James Fisken went to Bective in 1891, when he was 15 years of age, and was appointed manager at the age of 18. James had a desire to succeed, and with personal initiative that developed his diversities, he forged ahead towards his future successes. With his brother, Stanley, they controlled the Bective Estate, which became the home of one of the leading Hereford studs in Australasia. No expense was spared in securing the best stud cattle to ensure top quality in the Bective stud. They bought the senior champion Hereford bull at the Sydney Royal Show, South Boorook Brimfleld, in April 1954, at an Australian record price of 6,700 guineas ($315,000 today).

James Fisken was also a director of Freehold and Leasehold Lands Pty. Ltd., which controls several leading properties in NSW, including the well-known Willandra Merino stud, in the Riverina. His other interests were wide and varied, and the knowledge he acquired from his long association with pastoral and grazing activities was always available to younger members of the industry, and particularly to soldier settlers.

At his death James was survived by another brother, Mr. Arthur Vickery, with large pastoral and business interests. James left a widow, two daughters, Emily (1906-1990) Boggabri NSW, Jessie (1912-1978) Attunga, NSW, a son Mr. James Thomas Vickery (1908-1989) of Bodikin, Bellata, NSW and two sisters, J. Britten and E. Ritchie, who live in Sydney. Bellata NSW has a population of approximately 800 people and is located 170 kilometres north of Manilla between Narrabri and Moree NSW.

Bective Post War Settlement: The Returned Soldiers Settlement Act, 1916 allowed the settlement of returned soldiers on Crown Land. Bective, became a Soldier Settlement after the First World War. The Daily Observer, 1918, reported, "Applications could now be received from returned soldiers for blocks on the Bective Estate subdivision." By February 1919, 51 applicants had been selected to join the settlement and 40 had taken ownership of their farms. In line with support, developed by many communities for the Australian Forces, a Bective Patriotic Association was formed.

He newspaper report continued: “This should relieve the anxiety of those returned soldiers in the district who had been disturbed by the disquieting rumour that blocks were being allotted to soldiers in Sydney without the preliminary notification usual in such cases. Mr. Nesbitt, M.L.A., elicited the information from the Minister for Lands that no preferential certificate had been granted to any settler for any block on the estate. The Minister also gave the definite assurance that no blocks would be allocated to soldiers away from the local district. The Minister now announces that returned soldiers holding qualification certificates under the Returned Soldiers Settlement Act, may apply to join the group purchase settlement to be established on the Bective Estate. Applications on the necessary form to be forwarded to the Director of Soldier Settlement, Sydney, up to November 2nd.”

WWII Soldier Settlement: As the program gathered pace, Bective was slowly resumed for subdivision, reducing the size of the original holding to the point where other forms of enterprise needed to be examined to maintain the viability of the business.

After the Second World War, a large timber Honour Roll Memorial was constructed. It has a classical pediment at the top and three carved columns, which frame the two panels on which the names are painted in alphabetical order. The workmanship demonstrates the skills of a cabinet maker. The honour roll is now located in the Somerton War Memorial Hall. Somerton is 26 kilometres south west of Manilla between Tamworth and Gunnedah on the Oxley Highway and has a population of about 400 people.

Lola Gwen Allsopp recalls living at Bective during the 1930s-1940s. She was born on 9th May 1931 at the Bungalow Private Hospital in Murray Street, Tamworth.  The Bungalow lay near the underpass on Peel Street. She was baptised in the parish of Manilla on 26th July 1931 at the Church of England Church, with no godparents.

Lola’s father was working for Mr Vickery in about 1935, and Lola grew up playing with her four older brothers, Francis (Mick), Alan, Donald and Gordon (Pop). Lola started school at the age of six and brother Gordon doubled her 3 miles (5klm) to Bective school on his push bike. The teachers were Mr Bendeich and his wife. Mrs Bendeich mainly taught the girls sewing. When Gordon left Bective School, Lola rode an old horse named Maudie to school.

Lola moved on to Tamworth High School, situated where East Tamworth Primary School is today, and finished 3rd form when aged 14. Her best subjects were science, religion, home duties and sport. After school Lola stayed home to help her mother until she was 15 years old.  They had a big home and a large family to look after. The chores included housekeeping, tending to the large vegetable and flower gardens, orchard, and cooking. At the same time Lola attended Tamworth Technical College to learn dressmaking and tailoring.

Lola finished Technical College in 1950 when she was nearly 19 years old.

Bective, by the late 1960s, had developed a semi-intensive bull feeding facility to prepare its own and clients’ sale cattle. During a dry year in 1970, a mob of 100 Hereford steers was added to the pens as a feeding experiment. Rob Vickery recalls, “We were a little better at it the second year, than the first. Dudley Lennox, then manager at Anderson’s Byron Bay abattoir offered us some very good money for grain fed bullocks in 1971, and the feedlot business grew from there.”

During the onset of the Beef Slump in 1974 the feedlot closed, but opened again when opportunities started to re-emerge some years later. A stronger focus on Japan started about 1985, when the Vickery’s bought a controlling interest in Anvic Meat Exports, operators of the Wingham abattoir. Wingham abattoir is located north of Newcastle, in the Taree district.

For many years Bective provided a custom-feeding service for other clients, as well as feeding cattle it had bred and bought itself. For a period after the late 1980s, a sizeable portion of the cattle on feed were designated for Korea, through a joint venture with Korean company, Samsung.

Bective grew in capacity over several stages from 2000 head to 7000 head, including a major renovation of facilities in 2004. At an industry level, Rob Vickery played an important financial management role in the early history of both ALFA (Australian Cattle Feedlot Industry) and one of its state-based predecessors, the NSW Lot Feeders Association.

He spent long periods during ALFA’s first 30 years as the organisation’s treasurer, serving until 2001, the same year he was awarded life membership of ALFA.

Historic Bective Station, was sold in 2022, and became the centrepiece of AAM Investment Group’s production supply chain in NSW, following the completion of a walk-in, walk-out sale agreement. The deal will see AAM’s Diversified Agriculture Fund further expand its portfolio of assets spanning four Australian states and territories.

Bective Station was owned by just two families since it was first settled in the early 1800s. The property covers a little over 4000ha and includes more than 3000 head of cattle, plant and equipment, and irrigation water licenses, and sold for an estimated $50million, with cattle negotiated separately.

The acquisition of Bective will take ADAF’s asset value to more than $600 million across an expanding and diversified geographic footprint in Australia.

The life of Gwerle Alma Vera Englert (and family) who arrived with her family in Manilla around 1905.

The Englert family lived in three homes. Their third home was a double brick home located at 98 River Street (see picture) and was built for George and his family in 1910. This home sits on 3.7 acreages.

After George left Manilla, it was owned by Sister Greenhalgh (medical) and used as a private nursing home. A few years later Sister Greenhalgh left Manilla for the Binnaway Subsidiary Hospital, as a Matron. Binnaway is a small town located in central western NSW near the larger centre of Coonabarabran, 35 kilometres to the north. At the monthly meeting of the Binnaway branch of the United Hospitals Auxiliaries they welcomed Sister Greenhalgh and presented her with a shoulder posy made by Mrs Pryer.

98 River Street was also lived in and owned by the proprietors of Adie’s General Store. Later by Manilla’s local Chemist, the Simpson family, until it was sold in 1999.

In the 1930s Adie’s was known as Adie’s Economic Store where Miss O’Neil was in charge of the showroom, providing a display including a full range of lady’s hats, dresses and gloves, together with ladies and children’s wear. Mr Pollack was in the haberdashery department, while the grocery and hardware departments were presided over by Messrs McDonald and Flett.

During August 1912 a fire broke out just on closing time. Fortunately, it was discovered immediately otherwise a serious disaster would have occurred. All hands with buckets of water and a patent fire extinguisher put the fire out after a strenuous effort by everyone in attendance.

Manilla’s local chemist, Mr J. E. Simpson operated the Manilla Pharmacy and was known chiefly as a dispensing chemist and dentist, where stocks of patent medicines, drugs, soaps, perfumery, sponges etc could be found within his small shop. In 1901, Mr Simpson was described as an indispensable member of the community when he installed his business in commodious and an up-to-date two-story premises next to the Express Office in Manilla Street.

Audrey (Guerle’s sister) Englert’s understanding is that her parents were living at 98 River Street when she was born in 1908. Her father George was an accomplished musician who led the Holy Trinity Church of England choir at Manilla as choirmaster, and Guerle was an important contributor within the choir also. 

As reported in a previous post, George worked as the head blacksmith at the H. Baker Foundry. The building sat on the north-west corner of Manilla and Court Streets until its demolition in the 1940s. He was also an important contributor to the Manilla NSW “Odd Fellows” Lodge. Odd Fellows is an international fraternity consisting of lodges first documented in 1730 in London. Odd Fellows promote philanthropy, the ethic of reciprocity and charity, and cared for their members in a time when no systems were in place to insure one’s welfare, health or job protection. Sickness or death of a breadwinner frequently meant poverty.

After leaving Manilla George ran a motor trimming business which operated into the 1930s. George’s son Jack Englert was trading as a car body builder and also opened a car dealership, Jack R Englert and Company, selling new Fords and used cars. In August 1932 Jack Englert officially became a Ford dealer.

Gwerle Alma Vera Englert was born in the NSW town of Quirindi in 1892. She was the second child and first daughter of George Anton Englert (1865-1939) and Elizabeth Murray Englert (Towns) (1866-1952). She was also welcomed into this world by her 5-year-old brother Bertie. The Englert’s moved from Quirindi to Tamworth by 1896 and to Manilla around 1905, where Gwerle’s youngest sibling, Audrey Phyllis, was born in 1908 - George and Elizabeth’s 8th child.

In 1911, aged just 19, Gwerle married butcher James Thomas Martin, age 20 (1891-1923) in Manilla NSW. James was the son of James and Matilda Martin, born at Drake (near Tenterfield, NSW) in 1891. They lived together in Manilla where they had four children: James A Martin was born in 1912, Trevor G Martin was born in 1913, and Jack M Martin was born in 1915, followed by Natalie.

James Thomas Martin had seven sisters and one brother, and all were born in Hillgrove NSW. Hillgrove is located just east of Armidale.

World War 1 - Bertie Englert: Very early on the morning of 31st May 1918, in the French village of Allonville, two German shells struck two barns in which members of the Australian 14th Battalion were sleeping. Seventeen soldiers, including Bertie Englert, were killed instantly. A further 12 died later of their wounds.

Tragedy struck the family on Easter Sunday, 1st April, 1923. Gwerle, James, their three young sons (aged 7, 9 and 11) and friends, including local butcher William George Witcom, went for a picnic by the Namoi River at Manilla near the Geddes woolshed. Around 3.30 in the afternoon, Gwerle’s husband James, and William Witcom, hopped aboard a narrow rowboat on the river. Within seconds it had capsized and the two men were in the cold and murky water. William swam ashore. James was seen to come to the surface, clutch at the upturned rowboat, and then sink; his arms appearing stiffened. Police were called. Constable Clark and Dr Thomas arrived within minutes. James’ lifeless body was dragged from the river by the policeman at 4.10pm. Mouth to mouth resuscitation was performed without success. James was 31. The tragedy was witnessed by Gwerle and her three young sons. The subsequent Coronial inquest found James Martin accidentally drowned following suffocation or heart failure.

On 9th April 1926, three years after the tragedy, Gwerle placed a memorial notice in the local paper which concluded “inserted by his loving wife and children, Jim, Trevor, Jack and Natalie”. This would suggest that at the time of the drowning in 1923, Gwerle was pregnant with their fourth child, Natalie.

In 1930, at 38 years of age, Gwerle married Denis John Gray, son of Thomas and Margaret Gray at Burwood NSW. They later lived at 16 Swinson Street Blacktown. On 26 November 1949, Denis passed away suddenly at the home. The death notice placed in the newspaper by Gwerle on 28 November 1949 described Denis as the “fond father of Peter, Margaret, Jim, Trevor, Jack and Natalie”. After Denis’ death, Gwerle and the five children moved to 11 Potts Street Ryde, NSW, the home of Elizabeth Englert.

Gwerle Alma Vera Englert passed away in NSW in 1978.

Early Pioneer of Manilla - Vincent J Byrnes – (1888-1963)

Vincent James Byrnes was born on 14th August 1888, in Manilla NSW. His father, James Thomas Byrnes (1853-1924) was 35 and his mother, Catherine Ann Boland (1856-1932) was 32. Vincent married Mary Charters (1891-1960) on 15th June 1914 in Barraba NSW. They were the parents of four children: Brian, Frank (Doctor), Bruce and Claire. Son Brian married Beryl Jean Owen Cull in 1939, who died in 1977. Brian married Catherine (Kate) in 1979, and in 1980 Brian received his OAM (Service to Local Government and to the Community). Brian was a well-respected councillor and Manilla Shire President for many years. Brian died in 1988.

As testament to Vincent’s prominence in Manilla, Manilla’s lookout is named after V. J. Byrnes. It has expansive views of the Manilla town centre and district.

During his teen years, Vincent established his aptitude as a pastoralist working for his father James. At this stage there were only approximately 1000 people in the Manilla district. Sheep production increased during this period and regular bullock teams, loaded with wool bales passed through the Manilla Railway Station – 13,000 bales in 1907. (about 500 bullock teams)

James and Vincent were now established pastoralists in the Manilla District, where Manilla became a major centre for stock sales.

His aptitude and perseverance laid the foundations for his successes in life, and in 1913, at just 25 years of age, Vincent commenced his career as pocket book stock and station agent, leading to him becoming the best-known stock and station agent in town, and progressing to his appointment as the Mayor of Manilla Shire Council.

In 1935, Vincent established his own sale yards in Manilla and built up one of the largest one-man businesses in Australia. In 1939 Manilla was described as the premier stock selling centre in the north of NSW, and Vincent J. Byrne’s sale yards as “the largest and most up-to-date set of stock yards north of Sydney”.

Three-quarters of a million sheep were sold there between March and December 1939, a record for any one office in Australia, outside the capital cities. During the same period 21,000 cattle were sold.

In 1925 the Manilla Municipal Council comprised of:  Mayor V. J. Byrnes, C. F. Hayward, Morris, Stoddart, Kennedy, Wearne, and Veness.

Earlier history: In March 1901 a meeting was organised to implement a feasibility study for the construction of a road in Upper Manilla, through the gap, known as “The Inlet.”

James Thomas Byrnes (Vincent’s father), a farmer and grazier, and resident of the district since 1865, stated he had 3200 acres, of which he has cultivated 400. He said the average return from the district was from 15 to 20 bushels to the acre, and as the population was increasing, the line would help the farming industry considerably.

They wanted the best market and quickest facility to get produce away. The line did not pass through his holding and if it did, he would give his land free. He had ridden through the Inlet gap, and could not see any difficulty in making a road, which would slope in the direction of Upper Manilla. About £400 or £500 (Today $60,000) would make a road to bring a reasonable load through. The road from New Mexico would be shorter to Upper Manilla, through the gap, than the road to Manilla at present. (New Mexico is a large parcel of land adjacent east of Manilla and approximately 102 square kilometres in size)

About 900 or 1000 acres of his land was cultivable. James was eight miles from Manilla, and would avail himself of the Upper Manilla line if built. This being the whole of the evidence, the Chairman promised to get an expert opinion on the cost of making a road through the gap, known as "The Inlet."

In May 1945, Vincent Byrnes, was re-elected president of the Stock and Station Agents' Association of NSW, at the annual dinner of the association in Sydney. Tributes were paid by members to the work done by Mr. Byrnes.

In January 1953, Vincent was gored by a bullock at the Manilla saleyards. He had got down into a pen of bullocks, and one of the beasts gored him. He sustained a fractured rib and superficial abrasions and suffered shock, and was admitted to Manilla Hospital, where his condition was reported satisfactory.

Vincent J. Byrnes, was a leader in his field and represented significant fortitude for growth in Manilla and Australia as a whole. He is remembered as one of the many Local Identities as Important Pioneers involved in the Future Development within the District of Manilla NSW Australia.

** As a testament to Vincent’s high community standing in Manilla, THE LAND NEWSPAPER, on Friday 15th 1937, wrote a distinguished two-page article featuring the opening of the new V. J. Byrnes saleyards in Manilla.


The new saleyards at Manilla were officially opened on Friday last. By far the best in the north, they are comparable with, the most up-to-date country saleyards in the State. Convenient, efficient, and serviceable, they are capable of accommodating 45,000 to 50,000 sheep and about 1,600 cattle. Following the official opening, 40,000 sheep were submitted for sale, and of these 37,000 were sold under the hammer. The yarding was easily a record for the North.

More than 1,000 people attended the official opening ceremony and the sales. They came by plane, train, motor car, motor lorry, and omnibus, while quite a few local people either walked or travelled by horse-drawn vehicles to the yards. An exceptionally big gathering for a town the size of Manilla and for a function of this kind. Those who fore gathered witnessed what can be regarded as a milestone in the progress of one of NSW's wealthiest pastoral towns.

(Headline) THE OFFICIAL OPENING. The hundreds of people who attended the official opening included the district's leading pastoralists, business men, and officials. There were no fewer than five shire presidents, the mayor of Manilla, police superintendent, and other departmental officials, not to forget prominent graziers. Cr. Mungo Park, president of Mandowa Shire Council, declared “the saleyards officially opened.” He detailed the events leading up to their establishment, and emphasized that they were the same as public saleyards, although established by Mr. V. J. Byrnes, stock and station agent, of Manilla.

Other stock and station agents, he said, could sell at the new saleyards as well as Mr. Byrnes. "I think we now have the best yards in the North," he added, amid applause. He warmly complimented Mr Byrnes for his enterprise and public spirit. Other speakers, including the mayor of Manilla, the chairman of the Tamworth P.P. Board, and Mr. Thompson, M.H.R. added their congratulations, as did those gathered by giving three hearty cheers for Mr Byrnes.

(Headline) THE OLD MANILLA SALEYARDS AND THE NEW. The old saleyards at Manilla were established about 33 years ago shortly after the town was incorporated as a municipality. They were built to accommodate only 2,000 sheep, and they were provided with only one drafting race - a single race.

From the outset business at the saleyards expanded steadily, and soon they were inadequate to cope, with requirements. They were patched up and added, from time to time, but finally they became so obsolete and caused such great inconvenience, that the erection of new saleyards became absolutely essential.  About five years ago overtures to 50,000 sheep, and about 1,600 cattle, the proper authorities for the provision of better facilities were commenced, but year after year passed without anything satisfactory being done. Eventually Mr. Byrnes undertook to do the work himself. The new saleyards are a monument to his initiative.

(Headline) BEST IN THE NORTH. They are easily the best in the north. Provision has been made for accommodating between 45,000 and 50,000 sheep, and about 1,600 cattle.

The yards, which exceed 300 in number, have been planned and built with great forethought. No space has been wasted, but at the same time there can be no cramping. On the contrary, every consideration has been given to freedom and facility of movement.

No fewer than 10 lanes run east to west of the saleyards, and one runs right through the centre of the yards, north to south. Every yard has access to a lane, and sheep may be moved quickly without inconvenience.

In size the yards are everything that can be desired, varying from large receiving yards to small yards which are calculated to meet the desires of the most fastidious consignor. At strategic points three drafting yards have been built. These also are of modern design. One will draft three, one four, and the other five ways. The sides of the races in these drafting yards are of sawn timber, arid the floor is of concrete, which eliminates dust or mud. In addition, there is a dosing and mouthing race with a two-way draft. At a central point an office, linked up with telephone, kiosk, and care-taker's residence has been built.

(Headline) RESTING PADDOCKS. The welfare of stock is an important consideration at any saleyards, and it is doubtful if better, or as good provision, than is now available at Manilla, can be found at any similar establishment elsewhere in the State.  There are approximately 20 resting paddocks, securely fenced, and nil of them contiguous to the saleyards and the Namoi River.

(Headline) OCCUPY 400 ACRES. The yards, resting paddocks, etc, occupy no less than 400 acres. Already - in their unfinished state - they command favourable comment. When completed they will be something to proudly boast of. Work yet to be carried out includes provision of a water supply, construction of a sheep dip, the supply of a two-stand plant for crutching etc., and the planting of some 200 trees for beautification and practical purposes.

(Headline) THE MAN WHO MADE THE NEW SALEYARDS POSSIBLE. The credit for the construction of the new saleyards at Manilla is due to Mr. V. J. Byrnes, who, during the last quarter of a century, has been a driving force in the development of the district and has helped more than anybody else to bring Manilla to the forefront as a sheep centre.

His career provides an interesting story. He is a member of a family of 10 and the son of Mr. J. Byrnes, who migrated from Ireland some seventy years ago and selected 40 acres at Upper Manilla. This selection, which was added to from time to time and became known as "Moss Vale," is still in the Byrnes family, being occupied by V. J.'s brother, Charlie.

Mr. V. J. Byrnes was educated at St. Joseph's College, Sydney, and with his school training over, he returned home and worked on his father's farm for a time.

(Headline) AGENT’S CAREER BEGINS. Mr. Byrnes was ambitious and before long he blossomed forth as an agent. At first, he operated in his native district and was what is known as a “pocket book” agent. An agent with no office. After a while he obtained a horse and sulky and later still, he was able, on terms, to afford a Ford car and some furniture for an office.  In the meantime, he had shifted his seat of operations from Upper Manilla to Manilla.

All the while Mr. Byrnes' business grew and it was not long before he found it necessary to secure bigger offices. In the years that followed he made several changes and ultimately moved into the Commercial Banking Co’s building, where he still is and which is an ideal office.

(Headline) BIG ONE-MAN BUSINESS. The stock and station business of V. J. Byrnes is now probably the biggest one-man business of its kind in Australia. For the 12 months period from June last it is likely that the firm will sell not fewer than half a million sheep. Many cattle will also have been handled at the end of that term. Just selling stock is not, however, Mr. Byrnes' only business. He soon realised that it was most desirable when, arranging sales, to arrange finance and probably his ideas in this direction have helped him as much as anything to build up his present huge business. And this financial policy has been responsible for the rehabilitation of a large number of men.

(Headline) SOUND BUSINESS. All through, Mr. Byrnes has stuck to the principle that sound business makes firm friends, and this has paid him and his clients. He loves a busy life and likes to do things.

(Headline) STICKLER FOR EFFICIENCY AND VALUES GOOD STAFF. The offices of V. J. Byrnes, of Manilla, are extremely up-to-date. A great stickler for efficiency and smooth working, Mr. Byrnes has had installed Telephonette, Dictophone, electric bells and other modern office conveniences. He recognises, however, that the human element is the '' most important factor in any business and nobody appreciates more than him the value of a good staff.” He says that his assistants are as competent as could be found. He particularly values the services of his assistant manager, Mr. P. C. Woollaston, who has been associated with him for many years. His son Brian who has now entered the business and taken out an auctioneer's licence, will, he thinks, also be successful and a great help.

Remembering these Local Identities were Important Pioneers involved in the Future Development of Manilla NSW Australia and Australia. They laid the foundations for Manilla’s future development and their determination made it possible for our present generation to enjoy and the public amenities they share.

The Manilla NSW Historical Society and the Manilla Museum

The Manilla Heritage Museum is located at 171 Manilla Street and incorporates Royce Cottage, built for G. H. Royce in the late 1800s. The museum has a vast range of historical memorabilia and archives relating to the history of Manilla.

Situated next to Royce Cottage is the Yarramanbully School House, a one teacher school operating from the 1920s. At the rear of the Museum is the Manilla and District Rural Collection in Alexander Lane, plus a Chinese Memorial Garden adjacent to the Museum.

Royce Cottage: The Royce family stayed in their cottage until 1886 after which the building served as general offices until 1889. It was then used as doctor’s rooms. In 1908 the IXL Bakery was established by Mr Bates. He extended the house at the rear to include a bakery and kitchen and at the front to create tea rooms and a shop front. Bakery operations carried on until the 1960s, after which the building became a private rental residence, prior to acquisition by the former Manilla Shire Council. It is the oldest building of its type in Manilla Town.

Main picture: Foundation Members are pictured on the occasion of the opening of the first Manilla Museum in 1973.

The Manilla Historical Society was incorporated in 1972. Manilla Heritage Museum is the only Australian site apart from the National Museum of Australia documenting the ground breaking platypus research by Harry Burrell.

Royce Cottage, now the Manilla Museum, was opened in 1975. Today, the Manilla community collection is acknowledged as a significant archive of Australian Rural Community History. In April 2012, the Rural Museum extension was officially opened by James Treloar, in appreciation of his interest in Manilla’s rural history and his financial contribution to the project.

Since incorporation of the History Group in 1972, Royce Cottage is now renamed Manilla Heritage Museum. Today, the Manilla Community Collection is acknowledged as a significant archive of Australian Rural Community History.

Jim Maxwell recalls the early days: 

The Manilla Historical Society was formed from humble beginnings 50 years ago in 1972, after a small Group requested the then Shire President Brian Byrnes (OAM) if he would convene a Public Meeting to gauge if there was enough interest in forming a committee to set up a group to preserve the History of Manilla and District. So began the Manilla Historical Society.

A meeting was held in the Town Hall and after much discussion it was decided to form the Manilla Historical Society. On the night a challenge was issued by Jack Maxwell (father of Jim), who said if he donated $100 would at least 9 others do the same. The challenge was taken up giving the committee a seeding bank account.

A small Committee was formed to investigate the possibility of setting up a small Museum. A shop previously Noel Simpson's Chemist Shop was their first venue. The society quickly outgrew this venue. The society fought hard to get the Old Council Chambers in Stafford Street which was unsuccessful, but instead settled on Royce Cottage in Manilla Street, which is the oldest building in the Main Street. The building was restored with the aid of a RED Scheme Grant (To help regional unemployed people). The Grant finished in 1974, and the present Museum was established.

With the help of many people over the years, including the former Manilla Shire Council and currently Tamworth Regional Council the Society is still doing what it was set up for - keeping as much of Manilla’s History as possible. This can only be done by the generosity of families who share their history with others, and also the volunteers that donate unlimited time for the Museum to function in the capacity it was designed for.

In 2022 on the June Long Weekend, 11th to 13th June, the Manilla Historical Society held a birthday party, called “Back to Manilla” celebrations, with 2 objectives: One, to invite former residents back to Manilla to meet up with other former residents and two, also in doing so, to collect more history.

Yarramanbully School:

The first Yarramanbully one-teacher school (located east along the Hall’s Creek Road) was built in the early 1900s. Parents of children on farms located away from the school in town asked for a teacher, to give lessons in their own community. The farmers then built a one-room primary school for pupils from Year 1-6.

The second Yarramanbully school was built in 1935, with a new generation of children. Around six families from the Yarramanbully community sent their children to school. The families included: McKeon, Berry, White and Gallagher. The teacher was Miss McRae, followed by Miss Chaffey and then Miss Sloman.

The families employed the builders Hunt and Lynch of Tamworth to construct the school, and it opened for classes on 31st July, 1935. The school remained open until December 1953, by which time all pupils had moved on to other schools for their secondary education.

The Gallagher family donated the Yarramanbully School building to the Manilla community for the town's centenary of Public Education in 1977. Manilla Historical Society volunteers restored the building, which had been left intact with all its contents on the Gallagher property at the close of classes in 1953. The school now proudly sits beside the Manilla Museum in Manilla Street.

Joan Galpin (Gallagher), a pupil at Yarramanbully School from 1950-1954, recollects these times.

My grandfather, Edward Gallagher, selected land and settled in the Yarramanbully area in 1893. In 1898 he married Mary Ellen Moore. Their first child was born in 1899.

There were other settlers in the district.  The McKeons, the Mahers and the Balkans also had young families, and education became a pressing need. Transport consisted of a horse and cart, and the only available schools were at Attunga which was 12 miles distant, or 16 miles to Manilla. A solution was needed.

In NSW from 1903 parents could apply to the government for a subsidy to educate their children in places where there were not enough pupils to run a school. These were subsidised schools, not public schools. I think there had to be 7 pupils and the parents were responsible for the school premises and the hiring of a teacher. If a school had been closed, they were allowed to use that building, but of course this did not apply to our newly settled locality. The parents cut and sawed timber at “Tarrabah” and carted it to a location central to all the families where they erected a schoolroom. The qualification required of the teacher was to be at least 16 years of age and to have acquired the Intermediate Certificate.  The Government subsidy was the teacher’s wage and varied according to the number of pupils in attendance. If any were absent her pay was adjusted lower accordingly.  The parents advertised locally for a teacher, and so was born the Yarramanbully Subsidised School.

The first teacher was Miss Margaret Ann (Annie) Kelly who taught from about 1900 to 1906 when she married Charlie Wilkinson, a local man.  Then there was Miss Gertie Cantrell who stayed for a few years. After that Imelda Morris (who later became Mrs. Keith Blanch) took over and was followed by Beatrice Gallagher (a former pupil) who taught till the school closed. The school, not in use, burnt down. And so ended the first phase of the school’s life.

My father, his brothers and the neighbours of their generation repeated history. Besides the Gallaghers there were and Mrs. R Berry, Mr. and Mrs. D McKeon and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur White. Now the next generation needed education. My mother took on the organization and applied for the subsidy and advertised in the Northern Daily Leader for a teacher.  This time the parents employed the builders Hunt and Lynch of Tamworth to erect another school on a site not far from the old one. This school had the modern conveniences of a fire-place, two outdoor bush toilets and a rainwater tank.  The government supplied benches, desks, a table, a cupboard and a blackboard.

My brother, John, was among the first pupils when classes began on 31st July 1935. The first teacher was Miss McRae, who only stayed for a short time. Next was Miss Nancy Chaffey who began in April 1936.  She married Dad’s brother, Edward, in 1937.  Miss Roma Sloman then taught from 1937 until the school closed in December 1953.

The Yarramanbully school building now sits in the grounds of Pioneer Park, next to Royce Cottage, Manilla Museum, Manilla Street NSW.

The Hall Families of the Manilla District originated as one of the founding 12 inhabitants of the new town of Manilla (The Junction) in the 1800s.

The Hall family stretches far and wide across NSW, plus, their family inter-relationships were in some areas complex. This required consistent re-chronologizing the aspects, to establish coherency. I have concentrated on the Manilla district only.

Long before white people lived in the township of Manilla there were pioneers living on properties around where the town now stands. The Hall family established one such property, Cuerindi Run (approx. 15klms north east of Manilla) in 1832. Just 30 years later the town population could almost be counted on both hands.

Halls Creek was named for the George Hall’s Family, who established and expanded cattle grazing beyond the Liverpool Ranges in the early 1830s. One was Cuerindi Run on the Namoi. This Run included sheep and cattle. The Halls ran around 60,000 cattle and 25,000 sheep by the 1840s. Another pioneer of the district, David Hartley, was also living on Cuerindi Run.

Another David Hartley (Snr) was a convict charged with poaching from a noble’s property and arrived in the Colony (Australia) in 1807. He was pardoned in 1811. David Laughton Hartley's (1783-1863) grandson David Hartley (1845-1924) married Emma Veness at Manilla on 11th May 1869. Emma was the daughter of George Veness and wife Mary Sarah (Fegan). George Veness is acknowledged as the founder of Manilla. Their story is documented in more detail in another article/post in the future. 

Bordering Cuerindi Run is Halls Creek. Halls Creek is a large area of land east of Manilla and stretches from Upper Manilla down to Bendemeer, bordering Watsons Creek on the east and west towards the township of Manilla. The Liverpool Ranges are south of Manilla.

Hall’s Creek is about 15klms east of Manilla, following the Halls Creek Road. It is the location of Dunmore Stud where Harry M. Miller was instrumental in introducing the Simmental breed of cattle to Australia in the 1970s.

Sheep were important to pioneers living in isolated regions as they provided wool and food. The greasy wool was ideal to create waterproof and windproof weather seals between gaps that developed between external timber slabs of their homes. Wool could also be spun, knitted or weaved to create clothing. While the hide could be tanned for rugs and clothing. Lamb provided fresh meat.

George Hall (1764-1840) came to the colony (Australia) with his wife Mary (1769-1827) and four children. They arrived at Sydney Cove on 13th June 1802. In 1803 each family was granted 100 acres of land. George was well educated, which served him well as a migrant family. Both understood farm procedures and animal husbandry. George and Mary ended up having 10 children.

One of their great achievements was the introduction of a new breed of working cattle dog (1832). They were originally called Hall’s Heelers developing to form the foundation breed for the Australian Cattle Dog. They are now called Blue Heelers.

When George died by accident in 1840, his estate comprised of much developed land throughout NSW. George’s family and children were adventurous and travelled vast distances to achieve their successes. Their success in the Manilla District included Cuerindi Run Namoi River (55,680 acres) and the adjoining Mundowey Run Namoi River on the east. (Namoi River, previously Muleurindi) (Manilla River, previously Muneela)

Prior to his death in 1832, his son Thomas Hall (1808-1870), led a party north across the Liverpool Ranges, onto the Liverpool Plains, and followed a path previously explored by Allan Cunningham. They reached the Junction of the Namoi and Manilla Rivers, where Thomas chose to explore upstream along the Namoi, discovering the rich Upper Namoi Valley. This is where Thomas established Cuerindi Run (a nest in the hills). This was the first. They proceeded further upstream and established Mundowey Run, which adjoined Cuerindi, for Joseph Fleming. Joseph was a nephew of Thomas and a brother-in-law. These two properties comprised of 107,200 acres of choice grazing land with protective surrounding hills. Mundowey is located on Halls Creek Road on the way to Halls Creek.

Thomas eventually left Cuerindi Run and sent his younger brother Matthew Henry Hall to establish Cuerindi Run. Matthew Henry remained on Cuerindi Run for some 20 years. Matthew Henry produced a son Matthew in 1830 and they both worked on Cuerindi Run.

Matthew (1830-1891) married Maria Adelaide (Devey) (1840-1916) in 1861 at age 20, while Matthew was 30 years of age. The marriage was performed on the property and accorded to the rites of the Church of Scotland by minister John Morison. The witnesses were Frederick R. Rogers and Elizabeth Davey (Maria's sister). The wedding was registered in the District of Tamworth Register by John MacDonald, registrar.

Matthew and Maria’s early residency at Manilla initially comprised of a group of timber slab buildings on the eastern bank of the Namoi River just below the junction of the Namoi with Halls Creek. This spot is now a little north west and down from where the modern-day homestead of Namoi Park is located.

They had twelve children during their marriage. Maria’s mother-in-law, Frances was also living on the property to assist with the birth of Maria’s second child. Maria and Matthew were married for 30 years.

Maria’s father died just three years after Maria was born. Maria's mother, Hanastatia Sarah (formally Byrnes), and step-father were occupying the first town dwelling house erected in Manilla.

At Christmas 1862, Maria's family made the journey of about six miles along the rough bridle path from their home in Manilla to visit Cuerindi Run. Maria's mother gave her the family bible which Maria's father had brought to the colony. Maria’s name was recorded on the flyleaf, and underneath was written “Cuerindi Run - Namoi River 25 Dec 1862. Dob 21st Dec 1840.” Five days later, on 30th Dec 1862, Maria gave birth to a son, named Rueben Namoi Hall, and this event was proudly recorded on the face sheet of her newly acquired family treasure.

In 1864 the great flood descended onto the Manilla District. Matthew and his men hoistered a large dray by ropes to the branches of a huge apply tree. Matthew, Maria (with baby Reuben in her arms, and pregnant), Frances Hartley, David Hartley and others were able to survive the flood by taking refuge in the dray for two days and nights, suspended above the swirling waters (a dray is a cart without sides, for delivering heavy loads).

Maria’s mother, step-father and sister Elizabeth were less fortunate. They were living in their home close by the junction of the Manilla and Namoi Rivers. During the night, the home and occupants were swept away by the flood waters, and they all drowned. Mr Fitzgerald’s body was found near Gunnedah.

In 1848 the returns of the Liverpool Plains Lands Commission list Matthew Hall, aged 19, a grandson of George Hall, as managing the Cuerindi Run on the northern bank of the Namoi. Young Matthew would have been among the first patrons of the store and wineshop set up by George Veness in 1853 at the junction of the Manilla and Namoi Rivers, only a few miles from the Cuerindi run.

In 1855 a commissioner’s report records Matthew Hall in charge of Mundoway with the owner being Thomas Simpson Hall as well as Cuerindi. Cuerindi being 10 x 8 miles in extent, with 8 horses and 3,842 cattle, whereas being owner-Estate of George Hall.

Matthew Hall died in 1891 after suffering paralysis for thirteen days. He had last seen his doctor, Dr. Walley, on 29th June, just six days before he died. This would have been a very hard time for Maria as by year's end she was left with four sons at home whose ages ranged from seven to seventeen years, while the remainder of her children had married. Matthew is buried at the Manilla cemetery.

Matthew Hall only survived his father by just over two and a half years. Almost exactly one year after Matthew Hall's death the mortgage was discharged in full, and the following month, on 1st August 1892, Portion 1 was transferred into the name of Maria Adelaide Hall.

When Matthew died, they owned a property called Highlandale. In 1908 it was sold and renamed Cora-Lynne by the Fermor family.

Maria, after suffering from Broncho Pneumonia and Asthma for eight and a half days, died in August 1916.

Reuben Namoi Hall (1862-1919) a child of Matthew and Maria, married Matilda Mary Hill (1869 - 1943) in 1889, and donated the land for the cemetery to Manilla. Reuben and Matilda had twelve children.

Another Hall family had connections with the Halls Creek district. In 1877 John Hall, eldest son of William Hall, a veteran of the battle of Waterloo, settled with his wife and family on a property they named “Hallsville” on the Tamworth-Manilla Road. Hallsville is a satellite town of Tamworth.

Son Robert, married Sarah Quick (1864-1935) and their daughter Lily married A. R. MacLeod, the editor of the Manilla Express Newspaper (for a quarter of a century) and author of the book “The Transformation of Manellae.”

In Hallsville, John Hall donated land opposite his home for a Methodist church, built in 1894. The town is named after John Hall who came to the area in 1877 with his wife Jane (née Gulliver) after they were married in Maitland NSW. John and Jane Hall were instrumental in establishing the Hallsville Methodist Church in 1894.

During 1878 Hallsville Sunday School was started by John and Jane Hall in their home. In 1880 a Sunday School picnic was held with 130 people present. In 1894 Rev. C. Graham and his wife went out from Tamworth and met with the people of Hallsville. As a result, on Empire Day, funds were raised to build a Church. During August 1894, a committee decided to build the Church of timber instead of brick, as originally planned and in September, after a tender was received from Mr Sneesby.

John and Jane are buried in the graveyard behind the church, now the Hallsville Uniting Church. The church is located on Manilla Road (Fossickers Way), halfway between Tamworth and Attunga.


Bullock Trains in the 1800s Transported Goods to the Manilla NSW District and Outback Australia.

In the early to mid and beyond 1800s, Bullock trains were teams of oxen that pulled heavy loads on carts or wagons across the vast and rugged Australian landscape. They were essential for the development of the colonies, especially in remote areas where roads and railways were not yet built. Bullock drivers, or bullockies, were the men who drove these teams with skill and courage. They faced many challenges and dangers, such as rough terrain, harsh weather, bushrangers, and hostile natives. They also had to care for their animals, which often became their loyal companions.

Remembering George Veness (1823-1895), acknowledged as the founder of Manilla, didn’t settle in Manilla until the 1850s - at just 30 years of age. While just 10 years later, the population of Manilla was only 50. In 1856 Manilla is officially named.  In 1885 Manilla is proclaimed a Town.

Yet, before this, in 1832, the Hall family established Cuerindi Run, just north of Manilla. Bullock Trains thus became an important characteristic towards the development of Manilla. Our early Pioneers relied on this service.

Bullock trains were used for various purposes transporting goods across the rough Australian landscape. The early explorers, Hume and Hovell in 1824 and Charles Sturt, later in 1828-9, also used bullock teams during their explorations. They were fundamental to the development of the Australian nation. Bullock teams pulling drays carried essential food and other supplies to isolated country areas.

A bullock (or ox) is a mature, desexed bull. With a characteristically sturdy and quiet nature, bullocks were easily bred, cheap to feed, easy to train and require minimal gear and infrastructure in comparison to horses.

Bullock trains could haul up to three tons of cargo (almost two medium cars) in summer, and travelled about 15klms per day. It would take at least 30 days to travel from Sydney to Manilla NSW and more, considering they had to travel over the Great Dividing Range towards our New England District. For George Veness to receive goods for his store, he would have used Bullock Trains, bringing essential food and station supplies to our isolated country areas.

The number of bullocks in a team ranged from 12 to as many as 30, depending on the load and the terrain. The bullockies used long whips and verbal commands to control their teams, and sometimes had the help of a dog and off-siders.

Bullockies often chose Devon cattle because they were plentiful, hardy, tractable and readily matched up the team, which was often a source of pride to the owners. Teams had to be educated to perform their respective tasks, too. The first part of a bullock’s education began when the bullocky tied two young bullocks together with two heavy leather collars and a connecting chain. Thus connected, they were turned out to graze and rest until they accepted the close presence of their partner.

John Coote (Snr) and his son John were prominent breeders of Devon cattle on their property North Querindi Manilla NSW. This story is coming up soon on Manilla Memories.

Bullock trains were a common sight in Australia until the late 1800s, when they were gradually replaced by railways and, as road terrains improved, motor vehicles. However, some bullock teams continued to operate in the timber industry and on farms until the 1950s. Bullock trains are remembered for their contribution to the nation’s growth and prosperity.

On return trips they transported wheat, wool and timber by drays drawn by teams of bullocks to shipping ports before the advent of rail. They travelled constantly across the landscape, servicing the pastoral stations and settlements far from regional transport hubs and urban centres. Some of the larger stations in outback Australia maintained their own teams for local use when harvesting and transporting wool.

A typical bullocky wore a cabbage tree hat, a twill shirt of that period, moleskin trousers, blucher boots and carried a long bullock whip which in many instances he had made. A cabbage tree hat is a wide-brimmed, low-crowned hat woven from the leaves of the cabbage palm. Moleskin trousers are trousers made from a heavy and densely woven cotton fabric, while blucher boots are laced boots. A twill shirt is a shirt with a twill weave in a diagonal pattern.

It takes a good man to make his entire Bullock team pull together. His eyes have to be ceaselessly on them. This is where a good dog is of great assistance. Commencing at the hindmost off-side bullock, the dog will make a bite at his heel, and then with lightning speed to that of the one in front, following up to the next along the line, and so on. He then wheels back, dodging dextrously in and out between the wheels, with only a bare inch or so to spare from being crushed to death.

A good bullocky has perfect command over his team. Anybody can drive a horse, but it is not everybody who can drive bullocks.

Bullock-driving was seen as a man’s job, but there were some exceptions. Agnes Buntine became the first female bullocky in Australia, acquiring a bullock team in the 1850s. Aged in her early 30s, Agnes supported her family, carrying goods from Melbourne throughout Gippsland. When gold was discovered at Walhalla in 1862, she was the first to arrive in the town with supplies. The next day she slaughtered a bullock to feed the miners.

Agnes Buntine (1822-1896) was a Scottish pastoralist and bullocky. Born in Glasgow, Scotland as Agnes Davidson, she and her family moved to Australia in 1840. She became a bullocky there, frequently making trips across different cities to transport merchandise, and opening two stores. When working as a bullocky, she wore thick clothing and boots, unlike the clothing of most women at the time, which saved her life when she was caught in a large bush fire. She was able to find a safe patch of ground to stay at until the fire ended, and although she received severe burns from the incident, she survived due to her thick clothing and boots.

Agnes and her husband Hugh had six children.

As a bullocky, Buntine was described as a "steam boiler on horseback" with "strong, heavy-set, almost masculine features, with her clear, intense eyes being her most marked attribute.” Agnes had two pistols contained in her belt and smoked an old black pipe. She retired in 1873 at age 51 and the same year married Michael Dawe Hallett (2nd marriage), an English farmer who was aged 29 at the time of their marriage. Agnes was a unique individual, as were all male Bullockers who travelled the Australian landscape, building our country centres, just like Manilla NSW Australia.

** Establishing Bullock Trains in Australia firstly required - The Transportation of Our Pioneers to Australia.

Pioneers arriving from England in the 1850s Sydney, were greeted with a bustling English seaport. Steamships ran between Europe and Australia and mail arrived in 135 days rather than the 275 days it had taken in the early nineteenth century. The trip, however, from England wasn’t as attractive and it would have been a sigh of relief they arrived safely.

Before Steamships, it took three months to travel from Liverpool to Melbourne. The cheapest ticket, in steerage, below the waterline at the very bottom of the ship, was risky. Risking one’s life was one obstacle but exposure to unhygienic conditions was daunting. It was crowded, dark, a lack of air and damp, with limited sanitation, and with days of total darkness if the weather was bad. Candles and oil lamps were not permitted in this highly flammable environment. Limited sanitation and stormy seas often combined to make it dirty and foul-smelling. Rats, insects, and disease were common problems.

In the mid-1800s, the Australian continent was only sparsely populated by convicts, soldiers, and pioneer settlers. Then the British government established the Emigration Commission which offered assisted migration schemes to NSW and Van Diemen’s Land for those who could not otherwise have afforded it. Over one million immigrants (either assisted or unassisted) arrived in Australia from the United Kingdom during the 1800s.

The promise of a new and better life was tempting, as the 19th century population explosion in the UK saw millions living in poverty or, when faced with disaster such as the Irish potato famine, even starving to death. Emigration was seen as an opportunity to seek better conditions or a new life, even if it was to a rugged and somewhat inhospitable country landscape in Australia.

Most of the first modern migrants to Australia were unwilling arrivals - convicts from Britain sent to the penal colony of NSW. Until the mid-1800s, the population was dominated by British and Irish people, but the discovery of gold near Orange NSW, in 1851, triggered a gold rush that changed the face of Australia. Between 1851 and 1860, more than 600,000 migrants arrived. Most were from the UK but around 10 per cent came from elsewhere in Europe and seven per cent from China.

As a comparison, between 1945 and 1965 more than two million migrants came to Australia, where in those early days and country centres like Manilla, sewerage disposal was relegated to outdoor dunnies away from the house. The full can was collected each week or fortnight and replaced with an empty can.

DNA evidence suggests the first people to migrate to the Australian continent most likely came from South-East Asia between 40,000 and 60,000 years ago, according to the Immigration Department's official history. Estimates of the size of the Aboriginal population before European settlement range between 300,000 and 1.5 million with some 600 tribes speaking more than 200 distinct languages.

Today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for 2.8 per cent of the country's 24 million people.

After arrival in Sydney in the 1800s, the Pioneers had to travel over the Great Divide in arduous, rough and hostile environments to reach the New England and the Manilla District. This is where the Bullockies and Bullock Trains played their role in developing Manilla NSW District and other centres in Country Australia.

Our Australian Pioneers were hard workers on the land and it would have taken a strong sense of fortitude to leave England and forge a life in our rugged countryside in the 1800s Australia. For them though, it seemed a lot better alternative than the conditions in England.

These Pioneers need to be looked upon with a sense of reverence (deep respect). Because of them we live the life we have today in Manilla, and Country Australia, and the Bullock Trains, with their Bullockies, played that role within the development of the Manilla NSW District.

John Coote and Family – Manilla NSW District – 1800s to 1900s

John Coote (1835–1922) was born in Little Bardfield, Thaxted, Essex, England and died in 1922 at North Cuerindi Manilla NSW. He arrived in Australia in October 1855.

John married Elizabeth Griffiths (1845-1922) in 1868. They had nine children together.

Their first born was son John Coote (1869–1948) followed by daughter Lydia Sarah Coote (1871–1953), George Coote (1873–1952), Charles William Coote (1875–1964), Thomas Arthur Coote (1877–1954), Alfred Henry Coote (1880–1895), Emily Mary Coote (1881–1960), Eliza Anne Coote (1885–1965), and daughter Frances Harriet Coote (1888–1966).

John Coote Jnr (1869-1948) married Theresa Dowdell in 1895 and they had 10 children. One child Albert Ernest (Podge) Coote (1902-1984) married Linda Vandenberg in Manilla in 1923, and Allen Coote (1917-1988) married Lucy Cochrane in 1938.

George Coote, son of John and Elizabeth, married Muriel Hill in 1894 and had 10 children. Daughter Emily Mary married Alexanda Griffiths in 1904, while daughter Eliza Anne married Joseph Abberfield in Manilla in 1908. One of Eliza and Joseph’s children, Doris May Abberfield (1912-1995) married Eric Oswald Hinton.

Frances Harriet Coote had one daughter with Thomas Brophy and married Laurie Bridge (1888-1972). Daughter of Francis and Thomas, Kathleen Mary Coote (1908-1954) married Allen Gardner in Manilla in 1926 and had one child, Ivan Gardner (1926-1993).

John (Snr) father John Coote (1802–1861) died in Dunmow Essex England. John had six brothers and sisters. His mother Sarah Cockshed (Coote) (1800–1877) died in Essex England.

John’s wife Elizabeth Griffiths (1845–1922) was born in Paterson NSW and died in “Park Hall” Upper Manilla NSW. Elizabeth had five brothers and sisters. Before her marriage to John, Eliza worked at the Crown and Anchor Inn, Morpeth, NSW, (John Sucker family) and stayed until her marriage in 1868. She became close to the Sucker family and named one of her children Francis Harriet after the Sucker family connection.

One of John and Elizabeth’s children, John Coote (Jnr) (1869–1948) from North Cuerindi Manilla, establishes imported Devon Cattle and Lincoln Sheep in the late 1800s, and with his father’s guidance, became a prominent breeder of Devon cattle, with a number of Devons in stalls at the stud stock show in Sydney in 1940.  John had been breeding cattle for over 50 years and his North Cuerindi Stud had been registered for 20 years.

South Devon were one of the few British breeds to have been selected for drought purposes as well as for beef and milk. The first importations into Australia were of milking cows carried on sailing ships. Several large importations occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Devon is one of the oldest British breeds of cattle being gradually standardised in the five south-western counties of England, where they have been recognised as a distinctive breed for at least two and a half centuries. The success of the Devon breed in Australia is associated with the ability to produce top quality beef, both straightbred and as a cross, under varying climatic conditions.

When the first fleet arrived from England to Sydney Cove on the 26th of January 1788, they had on board two bulls and seven cows.

Another son of John and Elizabeth, Thomas Arthur Coote (1877–1954) from Upper Manilla NSW, married Sarah Margaret “Madge” Howlett (1879-1970) in St Nicholas, Tamworth NSW.

Sarah was employed at Tamworth Base Hospital in 1902. She trained for 4 plus years in General Nursing at Tamworth Hospital and was valued by the local doctors of the district, especially around Manilla NSW. They had five children during their marriage. Madge and her siblings attended the small state school of Currabubula NSW. Currabubula is just 30klms from Tamworth.

Thomas and Sarah had four children: Donald (1908-1999), Lela (1909-2006), Doris (1909-2004), Nancy (1911-1986), and Enid (1912-2002).

The family lived at "Fair Mount" just south-east of 2NU radio tower from about 1913.

Donald married Ebbe Milicent Iliffe on 9th April 1932 in Manilla, NSW. They had four children in 11 years. Donald died on 13th May 1999 in his hometown at the age of 90. Donald spent most of his working life in Barraba as a Pharmacist among other activities.

Lela married James Vincent Holmes on 14th July 1943 in Manilla, NSW. They had one child during their marriage. Doris married Eric Golden on 15th June 1932 in Manilla NSW (see picture). They had six children in 11 years.

Doris and Eric’s wedding was presented in the Manilla Express, and an excerpt is below:

A popular wedding was celebrated in St. Michael’s Church Manilla when Doris, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs T. A. Coote Manilla, was married to Eric, youngest son of the late Mr William and Mrs Golden of Armidale. The marriage was conducted by the Rev. Father E. Dignam, M.S.C., followed by a Nuptial Mass. The bride was escorted to the alter by her father and looked charming in a gown of bridal satin. The bride was attended by her twin sister Lela and Miss Joan Townsend, the bride groom’s niece. Two small train bearers were also in attendance – Clare Byrnes and Molly Doring. The bridegroom was attended by Mr John Hardy as best man and his brother Mr A. Golden as groomsman. Mr J. O’Neill presided the organ, playing the “Wedding March,” and as the bride entered the church.

Two of Thomas and Sarah’s children, Nancy Clare Coote (1911–1986) and Enid Madge Cecilia Coote (1912–2002) became Nuns. A nun is a woman who vows to dedicate her life to God, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery or convent. The term is often used interchangeably with religious sisters who do take simple vows but live an active vocation of prayer and charitable work.

Nancy entered St Joseph's novitiate at Singleton on 25th March, 1930 and was received on 24th September that year. Nancy was awarded a University Exhibition and a Teachers Scholarship and professed as Sister M Kostka on 28th September, 1932.

Sister M Kostka (Nancy) taught at Broadmeadow (1932-1933), St Aloysius' High School (1934-1937), St Catherine's College (1938-1952), with the exception of 1940 when she and Sister Anselm spent a year at North Melbourne studying for a B.A. Degree. She also taught at St Aloysius Girls' High School, Hamilton (1953-1964), Glendale (1965-1967), before returning to Hamilton (1968-1984). She was known for her mathematical precision when arranging sport programs for the whole school at Hamilton. In 1977 she was a resident at the Convent of Mercy, Parry Street, Hamilton, Newcastle NSW.

Her sister, Enid Madge Cecilia Coote (1912–2002) entered the Novitiate (Convent of Mercy) Singleton NSW on 25th March 1931 and was received on 24th September 1931. Enid was professed Sister M. Louis on 27th September, 1933 and took as her patron St Louis of France where she was sent to teach fourth class at Tighe's Hill till Christmas.

Sister M Louis (Enid) taught at Broadmeadow (1934-1935), Morpeth (1936-1937), St Aloysius (1938-1940), St Catherine's College (1941), St Aloysius (1942-1952), St Mary's, Muswellbrook (1953-1958) where she was Superior and Principal. In 1953 she was a resident at St Mary's High School, Muswellbrook NSW and was the founding principal of St Mary's Girls' High School. Enrolments grew but the school was closed in 1967 when it was deemed too expensive to implement the Wyndham Scheme. The Wyndham Scheme was a series of reforms to secondary education in NSW.

This was followed by teaching at St Aloysius, (1959-1960). She opened Holy Cross Convent and High School at Glendale in January 1961 and remained there until 1966 when it was announced that the school would close the following year.

In 1963 she was a resident at the Convent of Mercy, Glendale, NSW. Repurposed minor's huts had served as classrooms but, as enrolments grew, investment in new buildings was required. No funds were available. The Catholic Education Office closed the high school at the end of 1967.

In 1967 Sister M Louis (Enid) was in a car accident when returning from Sydney with Sister M Jacinta. Her nose and a finger were broken and eight ribs were also fractured.

From 1967 she taught at Monte Pio Maitland (1967-1969), Singleton (1970-1977), Scone (1977-1984). Sister M Louis was forced to retire due to Illness when she was 72 years old and took up residence at Monte Pio Maitland NSW in 1968, and died in Singleton in 2002.

The Coote family, as a diverse family unit, are well known identities within the historical context of Manilla and district, and continue with their presence around the Manilla District, and will for many years into the future. Their Manilla presence is also well documented within their “Park Hall” residence at Upper Manilla.

Other prominent Upper Manilla residents of this time were the Bowmans, Geddes, McIlricks and Gardners.

The CBC Bank in Manilla Street, Manilla NSW.

The first branch opened in Manilla Street in 1888 next to Royce Cottage. It is reported the new branch was built in Manilla Street 10 years later (further north) in 1898. In 1924 a new branch was built next to the older branch (see picture). Manilla’s population in 1891 was 275.

Frank Maundrell was the manager of the CBC Bank in Manilla during the years 1979-1982.  

In the early 1900s the building was owned by the Tamworth Manager, Mr Robey, who was reluctant on occasions to have necessary maintenance carried out on the premises. Large cracks were appearing on some walls including one in the maid’s quarters where a hand could be thrust through. The maid had to live away from the premises during this time, and this was reported as inconvenient.

The building was also occupied by the Stock and Station Agency, V.J. Byrnes Pty. Ltd., who had also bought the building when the new bank building was completed in 1924. V. J. Byrnes is featured in an early article/post on this FB page.

Frank Maundrell had a long history working for the CBC Bank. He was born in 1944 and joined the Bank at Merrylands in 1959. This was followed by working at a variety of branches throughout NSW.

1959, Merrylands. 1960, Pitt and Bathurst Streets Sydney. 1961, Oxford Street Sydney. 1962, Seven Hills Sydney. 1966, Sydney Head Office. 1972, Petersham Sydney. 1975, Burwood. 1979, Manilla (Manager). 1982, Wee Waa (Manager). 1986, Scone (Manager).

Following the death of Frank’s wife in 1989, in 1991 he was the North West NSW Relieving Manager. Frank served in most Branches in New England and North West NSW.  In 1998 he retired while still in Tamworth.

In 1982 the CBC Bank merged with the National Bank of Australasia to form the National Australia Bank.

Manilla NSW 1898

This picture shows a view of Manilla, in 1898, including the Commercial Bank, Church, School of Arts, Post Office, Mackenzie's store and Olifant's Hotel.

The years leading up to the turn of the century saw a significant development in Manilla. With a population of 144 males and 131 females in 1891 the growth and activity were palpable with the determination of Manilla’s population to provide services that benefited the community.

One leading the way in 1876, was Mackenzie’s, established by Mr. Frank Mackenzie, and at his death his son Mr. M. C. Mackenzie took over the business and built Mackenzie’s store in Manilla in Market Street, opposite Veness’ Store. By 1878 the telegraph line was completed to Manilla.

The first Post Office in Manilla was established in 1856. Followed by the Manilla Post Office building in the 1880s, additions followed in the 1890s, and then 1908 and 1923.

In 1886 the Court House was built, the Methodist Church followed in 1889, and the Namoi River Bridge work was completed. The Manilla Express was first published in 1899, and the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney opens next door to Royce's House Manilla in 1890. The Catholic Church was built in 1894.

Olifant’s (brick) Hotel was built in 1891, by M. C. Mackenzie. G. M. Oliphant purchased the building after completion and he called it the Royal Hotel. In 1898 Oliphant sold the Hotel to James Waddell of Barraba.

By the turn of the century there were four hotels in Manilla: A single story building, The Royal Hotel; the Imperial Hotel, opened in June 1900, and the Court House Hotel, opened in December 1900. A second story was added to the Royal Hotel in the early 1900s, and the Post Office hotel – named in 1913.

Just 15 minutes south of Manilla, a loophole in the Licensing Act, allowed Donald Bernard Harris to become the licensee of the Railway Hotel at Attunga in 1939. He was 17 years of age. Now rebuilt and known as the Attunga Hotel, the pub at the time traded as the Railway Hotel.

At the turn of the century the first Manilla Municipal Council were elected in 1901, the Manilla Hospital Opens in 1905, and in 1906, the Manilla Railway Bridge & Viaduct construction was completed. Manilla’s future was becoming more secure as the years progressed.

* A number of more detailed articles/stories are ready for 2024. Two of these stories include a detailed growth history of Hotels in Manilla, plus Mackenzie’s in Manilla, featuring a picture of his store in 1898. 

Court House Hotel – Manilla NSW - Growth of Hotels - Stage Coach Development and Transport.

The Court House Hotel was opened in December 1900. Both the Court House and Imperial Hotel in Manilla were constructed by T. J. Bowen.

T. J. (Thomas John) Bowen was a prominent builder in the Gunnedah/Manilla/Tamworth region of NSW, and involved in the early development of these towns. It is reported he first came to the Manilla area about 1884 to assist G. H. Royce, NSW chief engineer, for the construction of the iron traffic bridge over the Namoi River (1884-86). Thomas John was sufficiently important in the community to be elected to Manilla's first Municipal Council in 1901.

In 1939 a storm blew the roof off the Court House hotel building. Under the watchful eye of Licensee Mrs Hirschberg, the roof, parapet and verandah were rebuilt. Prior to this event, in 1934, Wally Rooke paid a record price of £91 for the publican’s booth at the show on behalf of Mrs. Hirschberg of the Court House Hotel ($10,000 today). Two years later, Wally Rooke purchased the Barraba Show Booth rights for Mrs. Hirschberg, for around £80 ($8,000 today).

Although the railway from Manilla to Tamworth was operating from 1899 there were still Coach Services available. During the 1800s, coachbuilding was a popular trade in Australia. The company Cobb & Co began building their own coaches in the 1860s, and workshops were established in Victoria and NSW.  The company grew to great prominence during these times, carrying passengers and mail to various Australian regional and remote areas of the Australian outback.

Nowland's Lochinvar Coach services, established in the 1840s, were another manufacturer who developed a major colonial trade and communication route connecting Newcastle, Maitland, and the developing inland settlements. Nowland was one of the earliest Royal Mail contractors and established routes spanning from Maitland to Morpeth (near Maitland), encompassing the Hunter Valley settlements and inland regions towards Armidale. Armidale is just east of Manilla.

The Jindera German Wagon was another, which made arduous treks by wagon in 1867 and 1868. The first wagon was originally used by a German migrant family who moved to the Jindera district in the Riverina.

It is reported the last coach probably ran on the Hebel-Goodooga-Brewarrina routes in 1913.

Passage through the country was notoriously uncomfortable and bushrangers would wait for the coaches on isolated roads to rob the mail runs. Frederick Wordsworth Ward (1835-1870), known as Captain Thunderbolt, stuck up the coach between Walcha and Tamworth, whilst also robbing a jeweller of a large sum of money. William Hill’s Hotel at North Manilla was also targeted by Ward.

This story/article about Captain Thunderbolt is completed, and is coming up soon. Also, the history and growth of the Manilla NSW Hotels.

Accommodation and transport throughout NSW, and Manilla, were key elements in the growth of Manilla. The hotels created a need for accommodation, and Hotels (pubs) became a growth industry in Manilla. By the turn of the century there were four hotels in Manilla. Large numbers of farm workers came to town during the wheat harvest season, to also quench their thirst, and trade was brisk in the hotels of Manilla.

Wheat harvest was very labour intensive in those days. In the absence of machinery, large numbers of men were needed to cut a crop in time (story coming up soon).

The railway (1899) increased rural settlement in Manilla and caused the wheat industry and Manilla to grow considerably. In 1899 Manilla saw a very successful season for wheat growing and harvest – an estimated 125,000 bags – causing much wealth to flow into the township. A bag of wheat contained about 4 bushels (equivalent to 145 litres) which weighed about 240lbs (nearly 110kgs). A heavy weight for one person to manoeuvre. 125,000 bags is equal to nearly 14 million kilograms, or equal to about 9,000 medium size cars - transported from Manilla in 1899.

There was much discussion dating back to 1883 to reduce the size of the bags to 200lbs (90kgs). This continued for over 20 years.

Coach travel was not the only choice for many in the 1800s. Walking and horseback were also popular ways to travel, while bicycles were also popular. Speedwell was a bicycle manufactured by Bennett & Wood in 1882 in Sydney, while the Speedwell motorcycle was built in the early 1900s. Alfred Veness (1870-1951), the son of George Veness (founder of Manilla) sold Speedwell bicycles and motors in his store in Manilla NSW. This story, with pictures, is coming up soon.

A trip from Tamworth to Manilla by bicycle would take a minimum of 4 hours and walking about 10 hours. In 1897 cars had a speed of 10 to 12 miles an hour, which meant it would take about 2 hours travel to Tamworth, while Stage Coaches would have taken about 4 hours. Tamworth is 44 klms from Manilla.

The first cars arrived in Australia in the 1890s. The first were steam driven. By 1914 there were about 37000 cars and trucks in Australia. Most had been imported from the USA. Holden Brothers began making car bodies in Australia for an American company in 1917. The first mass produced car in Australia was the Holden. The first one ran off the assembly line on 29 November 1948 at the factory at Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne.

From Bullock Trains supplying goods and services to NSW and the Manilla District, tracks started to appear on the NSW map in the 1860s, which made it easier for travel by coach. These tracks developed into roads, which then made it possible to travel by car as the 1900s developed.

Growth of Manilla District Country Schools and Colonial Education 1800s Australia

By the early 1870s a number of pioneer families had settled in Keepit, forming a nucleus of settlement that rivalled Manilla. Keepit was the first school in the Manilla district not in Manilla where a full-time school was built. The school operated as a provisional school until 1880, then was upgraded to a primary school. When pupil numbers fell at various periods during the 1890s and early 1900s, the school became either a half-time school or a provisional school.

At this time the population of Manilla was 160, where a school was also built in Upper Manilla. There was also a private school on the corner of Rowan and Strafford Streets Manilla in 1873.

Initially the Upper Manilla school was 4 metres x 9 metres in size and constructed of split sleepers, a bark roof and bark ceiling. In the early 1880s many of the slabs had fallen out of the walls, leaving large holes, allowing wind, sun and rain to enter the school. In the early 1900s it was replaced. There was also a school located nearby at North Cuerindi.

An application was sent to the Council Government for a Government teacher in the late 1800s as the number of students increased.

A small Union Church had been built in 1875 at North Manilla, and in support of their application to the Council of Education for a government school in their town, the residents of Manilla offered the use of the Church. Classes were held there from September 1877. There were about 30 children enrolled and were under the charge of John Marshall, appointed to Manilla as the first public school teacher. Children from the surrounding properties walked to school or rode their horses along the rough bush tracks.

A request for a larger school resulted in builder S. Lambert been given the contract at a price of 856 pounds (about $180,000 today). In the late 1870s a brick school to accommodate 50 pupils and a teacher's residence was built on the hill at North Manilla. In a far-sighted gesture, a glass time capsule was placed in the foundations of the building, dated 26th February 1879, containing the builder’s contract, a description of the laying of the foundation stone of the building, in the forty second year of the reign of her most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, and copies of four newspapers: the Tamworth News, the Tamworth Observer, the Maitland Mercury and the Maitland Evening News. The capsule was discovered when the building was demolished in 1939.

At the opening celebrations the hotel keeper at North Manilla, J. T. Flynn, organised a basket picnic for every child in the town and in the evening 150 people attended. A magic lantern lecture was given by the postmaster E. Done. Pupil numbers increased steadily and five years later another classroom was added to the school. (Magic lantern lectures illustrated different events, including scientific lectures, entertainment, current events discussion, missionary fundraising, and humanitarian causes)

At this time, school enrolments totalled 112 pupils, with an average attendance of 87. Classes were held there for 21 years, until the building could no longer accommodate the growing number of pupils.

From 1879 to 1886, Emily Hely Sampson (nee Hutchinson) taught at the school. Emily married her brother-in-law Horatio Sampson, after her sister Harriet died. While her husband studied law, Emily prepared lessons and taught over 30 children of varying ages and abilities. She also ran the household, and cared for seven stepchildren in addition to her own three young children, who were born between 1879 and 1885. When school was over for the day home chores had to be done - milking cows, washing and ironing, and scrubbing floors.

The building at North Manilla remained the residence of the Manilla School Headmaster until 1938 where it was sold and removed. The bricks were used to build a new home on Crow Mountain road (Crow Mountain Road is 15klms east of Upper Manilla).

By 1896 the population of Manilla had grown to 650, where the majority lived on the south side of the river. The location of the north school was no longer central with the growth of population.

In the late 1890s there was a move for a school in central Manilla. Local residents lobbied for several years, proposing that the land on the corner of Court and Arthur Streets be resumed for the site of a new school. The Department of Education finally agreed to the proposal. Tenders were called and builder S. Harris was successful, at a price of 1300 pounds (about $240,000 today). This included a weather shed and school fittings. Construction began in 1900. On 26 January 1901 Manilla Public School, with accommodation for 200 pupils, opened in its new central location. Henry Rudd was in charge of the school with 200 pupils.

The Premier of NSW had been invited to open the school but Queen Victoria died four days before the event, and a period of national mourning was declared. All Government functions were cancelled, so the school was never officially opened.

By 1917 the average student attendance at Manilla School was 230. The school continued to grow as the town of Manilla prospered. From January 1923 its status was upgraded to a district school, catering for both primary and secondary school age students. In 1926 considerable additions were made to accommodate 400 pupils. By 1928 the whole of the association liabilities was wiped out due to the Manilla community arranging public functions.

More additions followed in 1933. A domestic science and manual training block was built, at a cost of 4625 pounds (about $480,000 today) Mr L. Frank was Headmaster in 1935, followed by J. R. Ford (1941), A. R. Kearns (1943) and F. W. Vere in 1945. By this stage Manilla School had 430 pupils.

By 1958 enrolments at Manilla Public School totalled 542, the highest on record, and approaches were made to the Department of Education to build a high school at Manilla. In November 1966 the new secondary school in Manilla opened, with an initial enrolment of 167 pupils.

In September 1977 a week-long program of celebrations was held to mark the centenary of public education in Manilla, attended by many former pupils and teachers. The program opened with a procession through the town watched by over 3,000 people, and throughout the week a variety of events were held including fetes, concerts, a combined church service, a bush picnic, open days at the school, and a centenary ball.

Schools in the Keepit Region: As mentioned earlier, Keepit was the first school in the Manilla district not in Manilla, and provided much needed education for children in the Rushes Creek area. Keepit operated half time with Baldwin School for various periods between 1890 and 1946. From January 1900 to June 1901 Baldwin School was a provisional school, and from July 1901 to June 1904 it became a public school. At Keepit, enrolments stabilised when construction of Keepit Dam commenced (1939), bringing many new families into the area.

Keepit and Baldwin are located in the Rushes Creek region, just a few kilometres south west of Manilla.

In November 1919, Baldwin Public School, in conjunction with the residents of Rushes Creek, arranged a meeting where it was decided to erect an Honor Roll in the Baldwin Public school. At this time Mr Fuller was the teacher. This board would contain the name of old pupils of the school and teachers who served in the Great War. The honour roll is decorated with a painting of a crossed Australian flag and Union Jack. The roll contains fourteen names printed in gilt. Four of those listed were teachers, being Messrs Farrell, Fuller, Gross and Sullivan.

The school children collected the funds for the roll and it was completed by January 1920. The roll could be viewed in one of the windows of Messrs M.C. Mackenzie and Sons Ltd in Manilla NSW. The unveiling ceremony took place on Wednesday 24th March 1920. Reverend W. A. Thompson delivered the address and the unveiling ceremony was performed by Miss Coote.

Keepit School retained its status as a primary school from 1948 to 1973, when it finally closed. Pupil numbers were boosted by the building of the Keepit Dam after the second world war, when many construction workers and their families came to live in the district. Keepit Dam was completed in 1960.

Another school featured prominently for local residents at Yarramanbully (located east along the Halls Creek Road). The first Yarramanbully one teacher school was built in the early 1900s. The second in 1935 and accommodated six families in the Yarramanbully District. The McKeon, Berry, White and Gallagher families. The teacher was Miss McRae, followed by Miss Chaffey and then Miss Sloman. The school closed in 1953.

The Yarramanbully School building was officially handed over to Manilla Historical Society as a museum of education and sits proudly beside The Manilla Museum in Manilla Street.


Children in Colonial Australia in the 1800s knew the meaning of tough. They worked on the land with their parents from a young age, and routinely shouldered much of the responsibility of family life, particularly if the working male in the family fell ill or died. The alternative to unemployment was starving to death, and life was very much closer to the edge. Survival wasn’t a guarantee. Boys up until the age of six wore dresses for ease of toilet training, and children were dressed like small adults, with hand me down clothes from family members.

Many classrooms in the 1800s were badly ventilated, with children coughing and had respiratory conditions. There were often no toilets and there was no wash basin. If the classroom was heated, it would be heated by a coal fire.

School was compulsory for children aged between seven and 14, with a segregated curriculum based on gender - girls were expected to learn sewing and other craft. Most of these children were required to work - taking care of other children, doing laundry, helping with farm work or helping in shops. After sitting in a cold classroom with a fire burning making them cough, they're exhausted and sick, and when they get home, they have to do all their chores.

The school object wasn't to make children curious or excited about learning, it was to teach them morality. In country homes right up to the early to mid-1900s, many had dirt floors in their kitchen. (Morality: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour)

Children spent time in copying work from the blackboard, and often had one workbook for all their subjects. Great emphasis was placed on neatness where headings showed fancy lettering featured at the top of each page, together with ornate borders and other decorations.

Children were not permitted to write with their left hand and some “left-handers” had their left arm tied behind their back. Others were hit with the cane on their left hand. The style of writing taught was Copperplate, an ornate style with loops and curves that could be written with speed.

Discipline was strict and full attention was expected at all times. Children had to be silent and speak only when asked to and punished for persistent inattention and moral offences. Giving the students the cane was permitted. Offences ranged from talking, playing, inattention, idleness, carelessness, impudence, impertinence and disorder. Children were hit on the hand, buttocks, and even on the head and shoulders.

Lunch was usually homemade bread or damper with dripping (animal fat from roasted meat), jam or treacle. Also boiled eggs, cheese, meat and fruit if available. Food was wrapped in a piece of fabric and later, when available, newspaper. Often the tank water at the school was undrinkable, in which case the children would also have to bring a bottle of water to school.

During the early Colonial years of 1788-1810 thirty men and women have been identified as having taught in NSW schools at least for one year. Of these thirty a total of seventeen were convicts, four were missionaries, one was a soldier and the others were free immigrants.

The first school to be organised in the colony of Australia was a private initiative of Rev. Richard Johnson who appointed two convicts, Isabella Rosson and William Richardson (first fleeter), as teachers in his school, beginning in about 1790. (A first fleeter is one of the first settlers who sailed to Australia from England in 1787)

* Other Schools in the Manilla District, during the 1800s and 1900s are worthy of mention as they also provided much needed education for the children in each of these regions.

Schools operated at Milliwindi between 1886 and 1888, at Hawarden from 1889 to 1933, New Mexico from 1893 to 1938, and at Borah from 1893 to 1896. There were also schools at Wongan Creek (1885 to 1925), Head Vale (1906 to 1936), Ukolan (1888 to 1928), Tarpoly (1902 to 1903 and 1942 to 1954), Newry Park (1905 to 1916), Lake Keepit (1875 to 1973), Baldwin (1900 to 1928 and 1935 to 1942) and Giants Den (1885 to 1886).

The first teacher at Wongan Creek School was Mr Sampson and he lived in the school house, cooking over an open fire.

Head Vale school was known as Corella until October 1925. The one-room weatherboard school, with verandas on both sides, was built on a two-acre block. It adjoined a similar sized block on which there were two dirt tennis courts and a galvanised iron clubhouse. Most children rode ponies to school and grazed them in the tennis court paddock. Austin Kirk recalls that the tennis courts were out of bounds to the pupils; presumably the adults thought they would ruin the surface for their social competition weekends. The school had one water tank outside, and a fireplace for which the older boys were rostered to cut wood in winter. (Corella is an area of land just west of Manilla and Upper Manilla – near Wongo Creek and New Mexico)

Some settlements just west of Manilla, such as Hawarden, New Mexico, Ukolan (Halls Creek), and Wongo Creek, maintained sufficient populations to support schools for several decades. As was often the case in areas with scattered populations, some schools operated half-time, sharing teachers with neighbouring schools.

Hawarden School, for example, operated half-time with Wongo Creek school between 1896 and 1897 and half-time with New Mexico school between 1898 and 1901 – the same area.

* Schooling in country Australia and the Manilla district in the 1800s, was comparable to home life and life in general – it was tough. Life created an atmosphere of determination to survive. The alternative was hunger leading to sickness – which many suffered. These times created stoic children and adults for the basic reason - survival in the country.

(Stoic: a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining)

Preserving and Understanding our Cultural, Heritage and Historic Past is an important contributor to our Future, as if we don't, the Future has no basis from where our Contemplation is derived. Contemplation with the Past is our direct link to our stable future. Without this we fall short of knowing Ourselves. It is important that History and Heritage, is preserved, read, and understood as this affects, and reflects, our Souls of Peace, and in turn preserves a future of understanding for Our-Selves - to Understand Who we Really Are.

A Study of the Relationships between the Hartley, Hall and Veness Families, and how their Collaboration Developed Manilla NSW during the Colonial 1800s.

David Hartley (Snr) (1783-1863) arrived in the Colony (Australia) as a convict on board the ship Duke of Portland on the 27th July 1807 (age 24). His crime was poaching from a noble’s property. Meaning, taking something illegally from a British upper social class, who usually possess a hereditary title. In Australia David was highly respected by those that knew him. He was assigned to George Hall. George Hall’s family established the Cuerindi Run (cattle and sheep) run just north of Manilla in about 1832, followed by the Mundowey Run, just east along the Namoi River. David soon gained the respect of the patriarch. So much so David was given a pardon in 1811.

David courted the daughter of George Hall’s neighbour and friend, Captain John Grono. The Grono’s were a highly respected family. David married Elizabeth Grono (1791-1871) on 30th March 1811. Their first born was a daughter, Elizabeth, who died as a child. Their second daughter, Frances, was born on the 5th February 1814 and developed a relationship with Matthew Henry Hall (Snr), who’s family went on to discover and establish the area around Upper Manilla in the early 1800s.

Frances (1814-1896) and Matthew Henry Hall (Snr) (1811-1888) gave birth to a son on the 4th September 1830, and was given the Hall name, and baptised as Matthew Hall (1830-1891). Frances and Matthew weren’t married. This family went on to discover the land at North Manilla, and called this area the Cuerindi Run (cattle and sheep).

France’s mother remarried, and became Mrs Fitzgerald, and in 1858, moved to Manilla from Maitland with her husband and her three children, Maria, Elizabeth and Robert. Six years later Mr Fitzgerald drowned in the 1864 Manilla flood.

Her other daughter, Catherine had married Thomas Connor (1813-1886) and they also moved to Manilla in 1858 where they built the first hotel on the bank of the Namoi River. It opened in 1863 and was inundated in the 1864 flood. Thomas saved his family by climbing on the roof. Robert Davey, her son, then worked for Matthew Hall at Cuerindi Run.

Frances Hall (Hartley) (1814-1896) gave birth to a second son, and she named this son David Hartley (1845-1924), where they both travelled to Manilla and Cuerindi Run in north Manilla. In 1856, David was only 11 years old, when he went to live with Matthew Hall on Cuerindi Run and as was required, helped on the farm. Matthew and David were half-brothers.

* Timeline Summary Update: David Hartley Snr married Elizabeth in 1811, produced a daughter Frances, who met Matthew Hall (Snr), and produced a son Matthew Hall, followed by another son, who she named David Hartley (1845-1924). This family were in the Manilla district before the 1850s.

Whilst on Cuerindi Run, David Hartley met and then married Emma Veness (1850-1909) at Manilla on 11th May 1869, and Matthew Hall (his half-brother) was a witness to the wedding.

Emma is the daughter of George Veness (1823-1895), the founder of Manilla, and his wife Mary Sarah (nee Fegan) (1824-1907). David gave his occupation as sheep overseer from Hall’s Creek (just east of Manilla). Emma and David had five children.

The children of Emma and David were: Hilda May (married Alfred Bailey), Sydney George (married Lillian Williams), Lee Maxwell (married Thomasina Isobella Thomas), Ruby Lillian (married John D. Kennedy. John was very prominent in the development of Manilla with the Veness family and other pioneers, Wilfred David (married Lucy Gibson).

George Veness (the founder of Manilla) (1823-1895) along with wife Mary Sarah and son John George, 12 months old, left on the "Harbinger" on 16th Oct 1848 to travel to the Colony of Australia. George was 25 years old. (A synopsis of this travel is coming up soon)

In 1850, when George was 27 years old, his first occupational training was as a printer, and first went to Barraba NSW (45klms north) and worked for William McKidd in his store. He later went to Tamworth and worked in the Public Service for a short time. He then settled at the Junction of the Namoi and Manilla rivers in 1851, and established his own store in 1853 - a slab store, wine shop and residence - at The Junction. He was 28 years old.

George and Mary had six children: Emma, John, Annie, Lucy, Alfred and Sarah.

George Veness is classified as the founder of Manilla (at 28 years of age) when it was then known as Manellae. He gave Manilla its name when asked by the postal authority for a name for the postal delivery. He became the first postmaster at the first Post Office in 1856. After the arrival of a telegraph office in Manilla in 1878, the resident postal officer and postmaster, Edward Done, was appointed as the official postmaster.

His brothers Charles, Stephen and Daniel followed George to Manilla. Daniel becomes the first Mayor of Manilla, while George’s son Alfred becomes the first Town Clerk in the first Manilla Municipal Council in 1901. Both George and Alfred built stores in Manilla (see picture). A story about Alfred is coming up soon.

In 1882, George’s brother Stephen was granted a Hotel Licence for the newly built Junction Hotel in Manilla. The population in Manilla NSW in 1891 was 275 - 144 Males and 131 Females. Barraba had a population of 413. By 1900 Manilla’s population was 620.

In 1864, while the residents of Manilla slept, George Veness’s first store was swept away in the 1864 flood, and four of the town’s 12 residents drowned. 100 years later, in January 1964, another major flood hit Manilla, following torrential rain in the catchment areas of both the Namoi and Manilla Rivers. This flood was classified as the worst flood in Manilla’s history and left behind a trail of devastation. A third of the population of Manilla had to be evacuated.

George built his second store on the corner of Market and Namoi Streets where teamsters’ trails (bullock trains) passed his door travelling north. George built another store on the corner of Manilla and Market Streets (see picture). This store continued to serve the residents of Manilla, business people and travellers for sixty years, until 1913. His second store was demolished in 1906.

Frances Hartley, mother to Matthew and David, lived on Cuerindi Run until the property was sold, and died on the 27th November 1896. The death was reported by her son David Hartley. David died on the 17th February 1924 and lays at rest with his wife Emma (Veness) in the cemetery at Manilla NSW.

The interesting developments within these life’s events, is that the Hartley, Hall and Veness families were all intertwined in the development of the Manilla district from the very beginning. Remembering also, Emma and David’s daughter married John D. Kennedy, a prominent identity in Manilla involved in the development of Manilla. 

Looking at their early years, they were very young, either in their teens or 20s, and developed Manilla during this stage of their life. This requires a certain amount of thought as we could tend to think of them in their 40s and 50s. They weren’t. Plus, they were living in virtual rough uninhabitable conditions when they arrived in the Manilla district, and had to forge a life from these conditions. Their only natural water supplies were via rain/river, no sanitation, and their homes/shelter were meagre timber huts in the early days.

The Hall family history was dealt within a previous post. There is also a book about the Hall Family at the Manilla Museum.

Our Life is Developed by Knowledge. Without Knowledge we do not Grow with Wisdom, and with Our Wisdom, We have a More Knowledgeable Destination to Understand Our Life Today. 

This is an article about George Veness and family, and their travel from England to Australia, and the conditions of this travel in the mid-1800s.

George Veness (the founder of Manilla) (1823-1895) along with wife Mary Sarah and son John George, 12 months old, left on the "Harbinger" on 16th Oct 1848 to travel to the Colony of Australia. George was 25 years old. His family settled in Manilla in the 1850s. A previous article was written about George Veness and his family developing Manilla NSW with other Pioneers like the Hartley and Hall families.

We cannot just say, “They travelled on a sailing ship to Australia and moved to Manilla in the 1800s.”  There are more serious considerations. The reality is, they were determined travellers, travelling to the Colony of Australia in sub-standard conditions, and then had to endure more hardships, and overcome these hardships with a stoic determination to overcome these hardships.

What was it like to travel to Australia in the early 1800s and why? Why, was the promise of a new and better life in Australia. It was tempting, as in the 19th century population explosion in the UK saw millions living in poverty or, when faced with disaster, such as the Irish potato famine, they could even starve to death.

SHIP VOYAGES: Voyages were long. Almost 6 months, uncomfortable and dangerous. Emigrants faced the threat of storms, sickness, fire, icebergs, and shipwrecks. For passengers in steerage, conditions were cramped and levels of hygiene poor. Bad weather meant passengers were often stuck below deck, unable to access their trunks in the hold for clean clothes or bedding. In bad conditions, many emigrants were stuck in damp, dirty clothes and bedding for weeks at a time and sanitation was minimal. If female convicts misbehaved on the ship, they were punished by confining them in the coal hole, and put on a wooden collar fitted around their neck.

When a heavy storm struck the ship, the water filled the cabins and convict’s prison area. Travellers were soaked, and the water broke stern windows, while chests of personal items were floating in water. As the water rose it instilled a fear of doom by drowning. If you survived, the next step was to bail out the water over a period of hours.

The convicts were housed below decks and often confined behind bars, restrained in chains and were only allowed on deck for fresh air and exercise. Conditions were cramped, and they slept on hammocks. Health was a major concern. Many suffered from illnesses - scurvy and dysentery - and some fell overboard and drowned. The hulks were often crammed with individuals chained together, the pungent scent of unwashed bodies, illness and despair permeating the atmosphere.

TRAVEL IN AUSTRALIA TOWARDS MANILLA. The road network in NSW began with simple tracks that were originally built over existing Aboriginal walking tracks, after the pioneer explorers entered regions not developed.  A map of NSW in 1821 shows there are no road tracks over the Great Dividing Range and no town names. Around the 1850s there were some road tracks marked on maps from Sydney to the Tamworth area and beyond, but there is no mention of Manilla on the map.

It wasn’t until the 1860s-1870s where the road, or track network, made it possible for horse and carts to travel to Manilla. This made it easier for the Bullock Trains also, to supply goods to the developing population around the Manilla District. In 1866 Manilla’s population was about 50 and Tamworth about 250.

It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the Great Northern railway line was constructed to the New England District, and completed in 1888. Prior to the completion there were just tracks for travelling by foot, horse, carriage and bullock trains, to transport goods up to the Manilla District.

Travellers faced many challenges and dangers along the way, such as rough terrain, harsh weather, bushrangers, and hostile natives. They could travel only about 15klms per day and it would take at least 30 days to travel from Sydney to Manilla NSW. For George Veness to receive goods for his store, he would have used Bullock Trains.

In many instances the bullockies (operators) just carried flour, tea, sugar and salt on their trips, and at the end of the day hunted for food or fished. Eating mostly kangaroo, echidna, wild duck and possum.

Our Australian Pioneers were hard workers on the land and it would have taken a stoic sense of fortitude to leave England and forge a life in our rugged countryside in the 1800s Australia. For them though, it seemed a lot better alternative than the conditions in England.

This stoic determination was continued by other settlers during the 1900s also. A continued directive for families to adhere to stoic tenacity, enabling them to survive, and live in the environment of life they found themselves in.

Jill Ker Conway’s Memoir “The Road from Coorain,” encapsulates this ethos during the 1950s, with these words from her book: "Everyone knew the most important gift to a child was an upbringing which would toughen him up so as to be stoic and uncomplaining about life's pains and ready for its reverses." Also, “The important things in life were hard work, self-sufficiency, physical endurance, and loyalty to one’s mates. When disaster struck what mattered was unflinching courage and the refusal to consider despair. The ideal woman was a good manager, and like a man, mock any signs of weakness or lack of stoicism in her children.”

Reading about the past enables a more enlightened Self, towards a more understand of Our-Selves. Life today, for many, is spontaneously reactive, and thus primes the individual psyche towards a limited attention span. Focussed reading though, enables a growth of wisdom and enlightens the soul for advancement.

The Era and Growth of Stoddart and Hayward and the Palais Theatre in Manilla NSW Australia.

* Stoddart and Hayward (shown right in the picture): In 1860 George Harrington came to Manilla in 1860 and established a market garden on the future site of Stoddart and Hayward. The market garden closed in 1894.

In July 1900 Treloar and Co of Tamworth purchased this land on the corner of Manilla and Court Streets for 350 pounds (today about $40,000) and commenced construction of their new store by local builder T. J. Bowen. The building was open for business twelve months later.

Their first employee was Harry Lane, who stayed employed in the business for 30 years. During this time Harry was regarded as a most respected citizen, involving himself with assistance towards financing Manilla’s district hospital; an active participant in establishing Manilla’s War Memorial; and compiling the list of soldiers whose names appear on the tablet. A sportsman on, and off the field as a committee member - footballer, rifle shooting, cricket and golf - Harry’s participation is acknowledged reverently. Harry also served many years as chairman of the Mechanics Committee.

After purchasing Mr G. Coffin’s well-known business in Gunnedah in the 1930s, Harry left Manilla with his grown-up family.

During 1903 Treloar and Co was dissolved and Henry Stoddart took over the control of this Manilla business. The name was changed to Stoddart and Co. and traded until 1927, when C. F. Hayward entered into partnership with Stoddart. The business then became known as Stoddart and Hayward Pty Ltd – affectionately called "The Corner Firm.”

Henry Stoddart retained an active interest in the store most of his life and died in 1946 aged 84 years. He had also been the Mayor of Manilla for five terms.

In 1952 fire destroyed a major part of the store resulting in 26,000 pounds damage (about $900,000 today).

Stoddard and Hayward was sold to Mr and Mrs Facer in 1969, and just 6 years later the store closed.

* The Palais Theatre (shown left in the picture): The Palais Theatre was constructed by Mr R. Easterman and opened in 1928 with Mr. O. Lindsay as the manager. It was officially opened by the Mayor of Manilla Ald. T. F. Wearne, with upwards of 750 people attending the official opening ceremony.

First class pictures were selected for viewing at the Palais, including “Sorrell and Son.” Providing quality entertainment for the Manilla population. “Sorrell and Son” was released in 1927 with a story line surrounding a decorated war hero, Stephen Sorrell, raising his son Kit alone after his wife deserted them in the boy's infancy.

Bill Harrison, after employment with the NSW Railway, became the Palais’ proprietor, and was well known in Manilla from around the 1950s. During Bill’s time at the Palais, David Ridgewell became a worthy and prominent usher at what was affectionately known as “Bill’s Bughouse.” David’s story is coming up soon. Some of the remembered patrons at this time were Granny Rogers, Mr Munson, with regular patrons the Laws family.

As the 1940s-1950s rolled on Bill always provided the town with many popular movies, including the ever-popular Western movies. Western movies were so popular during this time, 2,700 were made between 1930-1954. And we cannot forget the Palais’ introductory Movie Tone news, followed by a serial at the Saturday afternoon matinee.

Saturday matinee movies were always popular with the school children in Manilla. With Manilla Central School’s 542 pupils in 1958 it almost guaranteed a packed house at the Palais on many occasions.

During the 1950s-1960s we cannot forget popular movies like the Carry-On movies, which were ably assisted in popularity with James Dean, Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis. Followed by Marilyn Monroe, The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, The Dambusters and The Nun’s Story. Everyone was scared when Psycho came to town and entered our life.

The Era of Stoddart and Hayward and The Palais will always be remembered by most residents, as these businesses were part of everyday life in Manilla NSW Australia.

We must never forget History, as Historical Eras develop a Secure Stepping Stone for Our Peaceful Future.

Manilla NSW – Development of the Manilla Street Beautification Program

In July 1930 Manilla’s Mayor, Ald. A. R. Macleod, moved in Council that the time was opportune for the consideration of a scheme of tar paving and beautification of Manilla business centre, Manilla Street.

Background History: Mr A. R. (Mac) Macleod settled in the Manilla district in 1911, and bought the local Massey-Harris agency. In January 1919 Mac bought the Manilla Express, which he edited from October 1923. He was also an executive-member (1920-39) and president (1933-34) of the New South Wales Country Press Association, and a vice-president (1933-36) of the Australian Provincial Press Association.

Mr A. R. Macleod is also the author of the book titled “The Transformation of Manellae – a History of Manilla,” published in 1949.

Alton married Lily Hall in 1913 and they had three children: Marion Lily, Douglas and Effie Jean. Their daughter Marion married Lindsay Bignall and they both wrote the book called “A History of Manilla 1853-1979,” published in 1980. The grandson of Alton and Lily, and son of Marion and Lindsay Bignall is Ian Bignall, who still resides in Manilla NSW today.

Like his grandparents and parents, Ian continued with important community work in Manilla; involving himself in many committees to facilitate and strengthen the growth of the Manilla community. His leadership within the Save the Manilla Viaduct committee, with Kevin Anderson MP, played an important continuing role in establishing a foundation of support, and ensuring the viaduct was not lost. Together with his important contribution over many years as President of the Manilla Heritage Museum, his leadership assured the History of Manilla is in a secured place for the future.

In recognition of A. R. Macleod’s community service, a Drinking Fountain Monument was erected at the Municipal Chambers in 1934. Mac was also the initiator of the town's sewerage and water schemes, and active in more than a score of community organizations, including the Parents and Citizens’ Association, hospital board, show committee and the Caledonian Society. In 1919 he had been elected to the Manilla Municipal Council and served as an Alderman (1919-21 and 1926-50) and Mayor (1930-34 and 1942-50).

You are able to find a detailed article about Mr Alton Richmond Macleod further up in this section.

* Movement towards construction of the Manilla Street Beautification Development.

In 1932, after discussions regarding the beautification of Manilla Street, the matter was referred to the Council’s Works Committee for investigation and report. This report was submitted in the same year.

It was an ambitious scheme and for a time the Council shelved the report. In 1935 the Council appointed a special committee comprising Ald. A. R. Macleod, J.D. Kennedy and J. Coates to fully investigate the scheme submitted in 1932 and to obtain fresh suggestions if they thought fit. This committee reported in 1936, recommending that the 1932 proposals be carried out in their entirety.

This scheme included the removal of existing pepper trees, the laying down of an eight-foot garden centre to be planted with shrubs, a street clock and tar penetration of the whole street. There was opposition both in and outside the Council to the scheme, but eventually the Council proceeded with the scheme, borrowing 2040 pounds (today $230,000) for the purpose.

The work was carried out in the latter part of 1936 and has produced a picturesque business centre for Manilla. The town clock, purchased from Prouds Ltd., was erected in 1938. It contains notices within a glass enclosure, on each four sides, giving valuable information concerning Manilla’s development over the years. Prouds is an Australian jewellery business founded by William James Proud in Sydney in 1903.

In 2014 the information noted on the clock is:

Bridge erected over Namoi River 1887 - Railway to Manilla 1899-1987 - Electric light installation 1913 - Manilla Street centre gardens established 1932 - Manilla Hospital 1906-2012 - Manilla MPS 2012 - Manellae Lodge 1994 - Memorial Pool 1967 - Town Clock erected 1938. Water Installation: Main town 1934 - North Manilla 1953 - Split Rock Dam 1987. Sewerage Installation: Main Town 1953 - Southbrook 1965 - North Manilla 2000.

Rural Pursuits and Attractions: Wool Sheep Cattle & Poultry Production, Grain Growing, Warrabah National Park, Lake Keepit State Park, Split Rock Dam, Fishing & Fish Hatchery, Bush Walking and River Walk, Paragliding and Hang Gliding, Manilla Historical Museum Royce Cottage, Annual Manilla Show.

First Settlement est. 1858 - Population: 1866 - 50, 1901 - 780, 1938 - 2250, 1978 - 3100, 2016 - 3200. Incorporated as Municipality 23.7.1901 - Mandowa Shire Incorporated 3.6.1906 - Amalgamated to form Manilla Shire Council 1.1.1960 - Amalgamated to form Tamworth Regional Council 17.3.2004.

Graphical location: NSW North West Slopes and Plains - Lat -30' 44' 51.43" - Longitude 150' 43' 12.71" - Road Distance: From Sydney 512 klms. From Brisbane 573 klms. Altitude 363 metres. Average Rainfall 675 millimetres. 

The beautification of Manilla Street still provides residents and visitors with a picturesque drive through the main centre of Manilla, and symbolically recognizes the foresight of Mr A. R. Macleod in 1930 to establish these gardens. The town clock stands majestically tall in the centre and provides an important symbol that identifies the past, as well as leading everyone towards the future.

This is a Story written by David Ridgewell about the Palais Theatre in Manilla NSW, while he was employed at the Theatre, during the era 1950s-1960s, with Bill Harrison as the Proprietor.

Titled “At The Palais,” David Ridgewell 1988

I remember with great affection and yet some sadness, the era of the picture show, particularly the Palais and its proprietor, W. P. Harrison and patrons who attended that was once the centre of activity within this small community of Manilla.

I remember the love affairs that began and concluded; the disputes and arguments that seemed to erupt like clockwork within the audience; the blackouts; the breakdowns; and the boy who always failed to part the curtains before at least the national anthem had been concluded and the Movie-Tone News had been running for at least half of its scheduled screening. But most importantly, I remember and still cherish the warmth of friendship that evolved from many nights at “Bills Bughouse.”

I speak with some authority because for a period of 14 years I worked part-time in what we kids felt was the “centre of the universe." The proprietor, William Plumber Harrison, was a self-made man, smart in intellect, possessing a great sense of humour and the peculiar habit of wheeling and dealing in all matters financial. Bill, as we remember, lent himself to all avenues of the running of the Palais – from mixing the glue to post the posters promoting next week’s programme, to making sure the kids were prevented from removing the famous F. W. North soft drink bottle worth threepence on return to Mac’s Café next door, or undertaking major repairs and renovations on the machinery that night after night so magically took all to the four corners of the globe, to outer space or to the excitement of Tarzan in jungle, Hopalong Cassidy on the plains of the Wild West, or Charleton Heston as Moses opening the red sea.

No matter how serious the situation may have been in the smooth running of the Palais, Bill always stated that “a small adjustment is just required,” even if that small adjustment concerned the complete failure of the number two projector. Bill Harrison never became flustered; any problem could be solved, so often to the tune of “cat calls,” “wolf whistles,” or the phrase “give her a Bex.” Bill soldiered on to make sure that those hundreds of patrons who paid five shillings for the privilege of sitting upstairs, or two shillings and sixpence for the “chocolate run” downstairs, achieved their dreams of faraway places.

The patrons, like Bill himself, were legends. There was Granny rogers who, for it seemed 100 years, sat in the same seat in the same row, making things uncomfortable for any other person who managed to take her position. “Granny,” who loved sixpence each way on every race on the eastern seaboard, would laugh a hearty laugh during the saddest or most dramatic parts of the feature film thus resulting in a chain reaction of frivolity throughout the whole theatre, at a time when perhaps tears would have been much more appropriate.

Our dear friend, Mrs Munson, loved the pictures and came almost every night there was a screening; but always insisted on paying only for the first half in case she decided to go home at interval. However, many was the time when she would come for the second half and promise to “close her eyes” for the first half if she could come for the full program and only pay one shilling threepence.

Then of course, there was the case of the threepenny ice cream. A most serious dilemma. Bill Worthington expressed the desire to see Bill Harrison as a matter of great urgency one busy Friday night. It would appear that Dot Worthington – a most colourful character – attended the pictures every Friday night. At interval, Mrs Worthing purchased a 3d ice cream. To husband Bill this was taking the night’s outing just too far, so he tried to enlist the support of our Bill Harrison to prevent this excessive splurge of monetary waste. Happily though, Dot Worthington would enjoy the feature film and that 3d ice cream from McMillan’s for many years after.

It would be almost criminal of me not to mention the Laws family who undoubtably, would have been amongst the most consistent of patrons to the Palais. Through foul weather or fine; through draught or flood, every Wednesday and Saturday night, Mrs Laws, Pod, Glorie, Joyce, Colleen, Arthur, Keith and Patty would take their usual seats in the middle row of the downstairs section, to inhale the excitement of the “Jack Holt” serial, the laughter of “Ma and Pa Kettle,” and the fear of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

Pod, always neatly attired in a white silk shirt with black braid, invariably fell asleep before the conclusion of the National Anthem, but woke precisely at intermission to send the younger members of the family to purchase one large Red Cola and one packet of Sweet acres Jaffas, not only to be shared by themselves but by anyone else fortunate enough to be sitting in that magical middle row. Show-time did present some problems for this lovable family. Was it to be Wednesday night at the Tamworth show and miss the “Jack Holt” serial? To the great relief of all concerned, Bill in his generosity, allowed Mrs Law and Pod to see the serial for sixpence each and then they and the kids, who were charged threepence, could with great contentment take in the brilliance of the fireworks on the Tamworth Showground.

If there was a love affair, it too invariably began or ended at the Palais. Young, old and not so old, it made little difference. For example, teenagers dared to hold hands or perhaps chance a quick embrace at the Saturday matinee. The young ladies of the district, dressed in their very best, every Saturday night, sat on the left-hand side of the projection box, hoping with great anticipation that the young men, equally well attired, hair shining with “Brylcreem” “Californian Poppy” would make that courageous move from their territory, namely the right hand side of the projection box and select one of the young ladies as their partner for the night’s program and, as fate perhaps decided, their partner in many a happy marriage. It reminded me of Robert Taylor as Lancelot receiving from Ava Gardner as Guinevere, her scarf before the tournament.

Like the case of the 3d ice cream, there was, of course, the love affair that was more off than it was on, regularly every Tuesday night. The participants shall remain anonymous, however the patrons to the theatre and the whole listening audience of radio 2TM, knew exactly from week to week at what situation this romance was at. This couple, to the best of my knowledge, never quite sat together – he at the end seat in row 11; she at the other end. Sometimes she sat in seat one, row 12 and he in seat one, row 14. It would seem that this Romeo and Juliet were keen music fans and so religiously every Monday at 1.30pm via the Manilla Hour programme broadcast on 2TM, those budding lovers dedicated musical items to each other and to the situation of their affair.

One week, for example, her request would perhaps be “When you are in love, it’s the loveliest night of the year” and his “Love is a Many Splendoured Thing.” Unfortunately, though, it would appear that Cupid’s arrows were more often off target than on, when her dedication would be “Your Cheating Heart” and his “Fools Walk in where Angels Fear to Tread.” Unlike the case of the 3d ice cream which concluded on a more positive note, this love affair, like the old Palais itself – simply faded away.

Disputes and arguments go hand in hand with crowds, so the situation at the Palais was no exception. Regulars had their regular seats. For example, Granny Rogers always sat in Row 8 seat 1, near the fire exit doors. Mrs Campbell and Margaret, always in the last row near the Entrance and the Pevey family on the wooden sets in the very front row. Sometimes unsuspecting patrons took these ‘sacred’ sites, but were quickly ‘forced’ to re-locate when confronted by the regulars. Many was the time, especially when the Shows came to town, that fights would erupt in, out and around the theatre. One example which comes to mind, was the Saturday night after the Show when the proprietor entertained Jimmy Sharman and his boxing troupe for the feature film. Seated in the second row of the “peanut run” was a rough diamond named Teeny, a 16 year old girl who rode a horse as well as the “stripling from Snowy River” and could fight at “good” as any man. She immediately challenged the complete troupe to 3 rounds per man from centre stage during a 10 minute breakdown, but was quickly pacified with one of Reg McMillan’s meat pies, courtesy of Bill.

The proprietor of the Canberra Café, Bill Glitsos, was selling toffee apples for fourpence each. During one Saturday night’s intermission a regular picture fan who had recently taken delivery of a new set of dentures, purchased an “apply on a stick,” however, was unable to utilise his streamlined teeth on this popular treat. During the coming attraction highlights, he placed his teeth on the railing of the upstairs section. For some reason never to be disclosed, they tumbled down. The patron, on finishing the toffee apple, felt for his “choppers,” but of course they had fallen to the depths below. He immediately accused the unsuspecting patrons sitting around and beside him, causing such a commotion that Bill offered – after suspending the program for 15 minutes – to make and fit another set on Saturday afternoon. I do believe the same patron is still wearing those dentures made by our Bill.

The ”flicks” brought the world to Manilla and the customers, so varied in taste, became completely involved in the evening’s entertainment. In fact, so much so, that fantasy over took reality and so the drama of Susan Hayward being saved from alcoholism in “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” or Gregory Peck as “General Custer” slaughtered by “Sitting Bull” at the battle of “Little Big Horn,” affected so many of those vulnerable patrons for days following the conclusion of the Saturday evening programme. One notable incident which still today provokes amusement, was the night the superstar Elizabeth Taylor acted the role of the poor little rich girl in the film “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She couldn’t keep her man, so in desperation this beauty was about to take an overdose of sleeping tablets in the hope that her love would forgive and forget. The Palis audience was totally absorbed; in fact the atmosphere was electric, when from the heart of the theatre, a woman sprang to her feet, babe in arms and cried: “Don’t do it girl. He’s not worth it – you’ll get over it.” Instantly the place erupted and as was the procedure during periods of emergency at the Palais, Bill closed down the machinery, called for an orange freeze from Mac’s to pacify the distraught woman, a penny ice cream for the baby and after the customary delay, again to the chants of the proverbial wolf whistle or cat call, carried on with the nights exciting schedule.

Bill was never backward in being classified as a charitable fellow and was always to the fore in making the stage at the Palais available for the drawing of a raffle or perhaps the spinning of a chocolate wheel. Priscilla Roach, a tireless worker, regularly took advantage of the proprietor’s hospitality to draw many of her famous thirty-six prize raffles. One Easter Saturday, before the conclusion of intermission, the crowd was all anxiously awaiting the commencement of “North to Alaska” starring the Duke himself, John Wayne, and also waiting with great anticipation, the conclusion of Mrs Roach’s monster competition. A well-known identity, seconded to draw the lucky numbers, had promised to be on hand, but at the vital moment could not be located. A quick search resulted in him being assisted from the saloon of the Courthouse Hotel to the stage of the theatre. So amongst the cries and yells, jibes and jahoos, he proceeded to draw the winners from the Cornflakes Box always provided by the Ready Money Store for these auspicious occasions, Unfortunately, the 36 prize draw proved far and beyond the limits of his endurance and so this very intoxicated celebrity, much to the dilemma of all officials there present on the stage, proceeded to be violently ill directly into the raffle box. To make the situation much worse, only eight of the 36 tickets had been declared. Bill raced to the stage to announce to the restless public that he would guarantee the clean-up of the cornflake box and all contents and that the competition would be finalised in the beer garden of the “top pub” on Easter afternoon. The guest of honour was caried from the stage and again under the direction of our Bill, was left to recover in the orchestra pit.

Empire night always presented a great headache for the management, but for the audience, great fun. “Red double bungers” were the flavour of the day and when these ran out, “throwdowns” were brought into action. Like clockwork, the bungers would be usually thrown from the alley-ways of the old building, either through the swinging fibro windows or the fire exit doors. Instantly Bill sprang to the front of the theatre, the “throwdowns” would explode at the back. Poor Bill, Empire Night was almost beyond him, unfortunately. The night the sky rocket screeched through the theatre was indeed exciting. The movie had been dreary. The picture show appeared to be engulfed in stationary smoke – almost an indoor fog – and the smell of sulphur was intense. All was quiet, so I presume the supply of red double bungers and throwdowns had been exhausted when the skyrocket left it’s launching pad, in this case an empty bottle of what was once the most delicious of drinks, Sparkling Cocktail, at precisely 10.15pm. Heading from the back stalls of upstairs, the rocket soared through the air towards the screen, recently introduced into Cinemascope form. What a sight! Gold and green stars cascading into the audience below, quickly followed by several loud explosions and then again, another series of stars, this time in the most brilliant shade of scarlet. Strangely, as if by remote control, the missile veered from its course – the centre of the screen – where at that very moment the Desert Fox was holding the leading lady in a passionate embrace in the movie, “The Desert Song.” Making a turn of 90 degrees, this flaming projectile went straight through one of Bill’s famous spinning fibro windows with the most thunderous of crashes. Yes, Bill certainly must have agonised over this one night of the year.

Before concluding this most amusing collection of what is just a brief insight into the Palais, of Bill and so many of his patrons, it is of interest to remember the music which was played before the start of the programme, at the intermission and the conclusion. “Mac the Knife,” “Moonlight and Roses,” and “The Blackboard of my Heart” played continuously, session after session for at least 20 years.

The commercial slides, courtesy of Chas. E. Blank, too proved most interesting. “Coorey for Hosiery” was shown in its original form for 35 years. The slide unfortunately had been cracked in two in 1949, but Bill, not to be one to spend money on trivia, stuck it together with an original role of Bear Tape, which made this most famous of slides, when flashed onto the screen, even more outstanding. Another was “J. Priestley for Quality Watch Repairs.” Mr Priestley came to the theatre every Friday night, always attired in an overcoat and felt hat during both summer and winter. He came, it appeared, only to see his slide, so once it was displayed, he quickly left.

Yes, I do remember the bitter cold and sweltering heat of this old building. The bursting of the paper bags. The rolling of the bottles and the throwing of the Jaffas. The Sipple boys, young Bill, the twins, Keith and Jeff, Ivan, David and the baby brother, Barry, always first in line for a ticket, dressed in their very best and not a shoe amongst them. The overpowering odour of Bill’s home-made disinfectant. The torches that never worked. Hanah Ghys reminding us all of “Madame Defarge” from Dickens classic “A Tale of Two Cities,” who knitted as the nobility were brought to the guillotine, so our Hannah knitted as she so faithfully sold the tickets night after night, illuminated by the magnificence of a ten-watt lightbulb. And, who could forget the great piles of rubbish that seemed to engulf the whole theatre after each session.

How fortunate I feel I have been, to have witnessed all this, as I and thousands more, looked in on an era that has now passed into the mists of “Yes, I do remember!”

(c) David Ridgewell 1988

The Post Office Hotel – Manilla NSW Australia

This Article is a Lead Up Article towards the Main Article, which is: The History and Growth of Hotels in the Manilla District.

The Post Office Hotel: In 1882 Stephen Veness (the brother of George Veness) was granted a hotel licence and built the first hotel on the south side of the Namoi River, the Junction Hotel, on the corner of Strafford and Manilla streets. Two years later he sold it to Mr. W. Smart, who disposed of it to W. Sinden in 1887.

In 1902 the Junction Hotel was destroyed by fire, and immediately rebuilt as a two-story building, by the present proprietor, F. J. Swain, who died of a heart attack in 1904 aged 36 years. His wife carried on the business.

Daniel Costelloe, with his brother Michael, arrived in Upper Manilla from Ireland in 1901 and Daniel came to the Junction Hotel in 1911, and became a popular figure in hotel and sporting life in Manilla. He was a prominent footballer and supporter and eventually sold the Junction Hotel to James Corrigan in 1913. Corrigan was a farmer from New Mexico (just west of Manilla) and his mother had already held a wine licence at Keepit, 35 years before. Keepit is just west of Manilla.

Corrigan placed the hotel licence with A. G. Windsor who just 6 months earlier had been acting Postmaster at Manilla. It was not long before Windsor went back to the post-office department. While in the Junction Hotel he changed the name to the Post Office Hotel.

In 1915 Henry Grady, a police officer, resigned from the police force and purchased the Post Office Hotel. He retained ownership until 1946, where his son John. H. Grady successfully carried on the operation of the hotel. Len Ridgewell was the Proprietor of the Post Office Hotel in 1942.


(c) Mitchell Zen

(This History Section will be added frequently with New Information)

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