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ASHA NEWS


Jennifer Jones-Travers, GML Heritage

INTRODUCTION

Defence Housing Australia's (DHA) new Akuna Vista residential development is currently under construction at the site of the former Schofields Aerodrome in Schofields, NSW. GML Heritage, led by excavation directors Dr Jennifer Jones-Travers and Abi Cryerhall, completed historical archaeological excavations to mitigate the impacts of development on three sites associated with the c1820 homestead of the Pye family.

The Schofields Aerodrome was established as an airfield by the Royal Australian Air Force in World War II and remained in use until it was decommissioned in 1994. Prior to establishment of the Aerodrome, the site comprised part of a large homestead established by Joseph Pye, son of emancipated convict John Pye, in 1816. The Pye family occupied the site until 1938.

These investigations focused on three sites depicted in a plan showing the property in 1842 (Figure 1):

  • Cottage Site—a rural nineteenth-century cottage with evidence of brickmaking;
  • Orchard Site—a purposefully planted orchard landscape with potential contact period archaeology providing evidence of early interactions between the Pye family and local Aboriginal groups; and
  • Homestead Site—the site of the 'Waawaar Awaa' homestead established by the Pye family by 1825, with remaining evidence of outbuildings and landscape modifications.

Historical archaeological remains recovered at the former Schofields Aerodrome provide rich evidence associated with rural industry, early colonial lifeways, interaction between Aboriginal groups and European settlers, early modifications to the natural landscape and military use of the site.

This blog post consists of a summary report of the remains that GML recorded on the site. A downloadable pdf summary report is also available on GML Heritage's website.

CONTENTS

Figure 1, Detail from ‘Plan of Part of the Windsor District’, drawn by Surveyor J Musgrave in 1842. (Source: SLNSW)

TIMELINE

Date Event
Time Immemorial Archaeological evidence for Aboriginal occupation on the flat terraces of Eastern Creek's banks started to accumulate 6,600 to 5,600 years ago, when locally available silcrete gravels were brought to and worked on raised flat landforms adjacent to the creek.
1802 Large areas of land, including the study area, are set aside by Governor King for use as common grazing land.
1816 Joseph Pye, son of emancipated convict John Pye, is granted 85 acres of land including the study area. His father (John Pye) is granted 85 acres of land immediately adjacent to the south. Joseph and John Pye continue purchasing adjacent properties and enhancing the Pye Farm landholdings. Joseph Pye marries Elizabeth Ward; they eventually have six children.
1825 The site is established and has been cleared by convict labourers. Pye Farm is advertised for lease for not more than seven years. The following description of the site is provided in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser:
It consists of 870 acres, 60 of which are stumped, and 670 enclosed in Paddocks, and in luxurious cultivation. It is well watered, being at the Banks of an extensive Creek. There is a good garden, dwelling-house, farm, out-houses, and newly-planted garden and orchard, of 5 acres.[1]
The homestead is named 'Waawaar Awaa', meaning 'fresh water' in Dharug, likely in reference to its proximity to Eastern Creek. The house is described as being 'tri-level', ''for at the back the ground fell away and a two-storey section backed onto the main front section'.[2]
1842 Plan of Windsor created by Surveyor J Musgrave, including Pye Farm, with an orchard, cottage, roads and 'Burial Ground of the Blacks' to the northwest (Figure 1).
1845 China and common oranges from Pye Farm orchards win awards at the Floral and Horticultural Show.[3]
1852–1853 Elizabeth Pye and Joseph Pye die in 1852 and 1853, respectively.[4] Ownership of the farm transfers to David Pye.
1858 David Pye marries Janet Dick, and the couple proceed to have eight children. David became known as one of the best orchardists and authorities on stock in the colony of NSW.[5]
1 Dec 1864 Railway between Richmond and Blacktown completed, extends along the east side of the study area.[6]
1893 David Pye subdivides the farm and distributes it to his three sons, with Sydney George Pye granted the homestead, James John Pye the land to the north and Charles Ward Pye the land to the east. [7]
1938 James Pye dies and his ageing brother, Sydney George Pye, sells both farms to brothers Joseph and Harold Langlade who establish 'Langlade's Dairy' at the former Pye Farm. [8]
1939 World War II breaks out and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) begins searching for suitable sites to build satellite airfields to RAAF Station Richmond.[9]
1942 Langlade's style='mso-bidi-font-family: Dairy property commandeered by the government. Waawaar-Awaa homestead demolished in June 1942. RAAF Station Schofields formally occupied by September 1942. [10]
1944 Aerodrome loaned to the Royal Navy's Air Arm of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) and commissioned as HMAS NABTHORPE, recommissioned as HMAS NABSTOCK after World War II declared over. [11]
9 June 1946 Aerodrome returned to RAAF Station Schofields.
1949 Royal Navy buildings at aerodrome used to house approximately 300 male migrants escaping Europe until 1951.[12]
c1950 A disused portion of the airstrip is used as part of a 2.3-mile racing circuit used in the 1950s, closed in 1958.[13]
1951 Schofields Aerodrome came under control of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), recommissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS II, RANARY, Schofields.[14]
1953 Site recommissioned as HMAS NIRIMBA.[15]
1955 HMAS NIRIMBA downgraded from a 'Repair Yard' to a 'Care and Maintenance' facility.[16] In 1956 it also became a naval apprentice training ground.
1993 HMAS NIRIMBA officially decommissioned.
1994 Schofields Aerodrome closed.

COTTAGE SITE

The 'Cottage' site, shown on the 1842 Plan of Windsor, contained evidence of early brick manufacture, a cottage, outbuildings and landscape features. The industrial landscape of brickmaking and habitation was legible and provides insight into how the larger 'Waawaar Awaa' estate site was established.

Brick Making

Evidence of a large clamp, a single-use brick kiln with linear flue channels, was found at the southeast corner of the Cottage site (Figure 2). Clay quarrying was undertaken at the northwest and west parts of the site, with deep extraction completed to remove the naturally occurring orange-red clay with veins of ironstone nodules throughout. The site is low-lying and adjacent to a waterway—ground water begins rising at 1m to 2m below current ground surface. This has rendered the clay in this area softer, damper and more malleable than clay encountered at other parts of the former Schofields Aerodrome. Clay extraction focused on this soft, malleable clay, with outcrops of denser basal clay left in situ with evidence of pick and shovel marks from extraction (Figure 3).

A pug pit for mixing and tempering clay was found at the northeast corner of the site alongside a stratified deposit of charcoal and ash, possibly from repeatedly cleaning out the clamp site between firings. Two rectilinear timber outbuildings, identified as likely being associated with brick manufacture, were located at the site. Stratigraphic context identified that they pre-date later additions to the domestic components of the site, though no structural evidence beyond postholes remained to identify their function.

All structures through all phases at both the Cottage site and at Waawaar Awaa used visually identical sandstock bricks. These bricks have ironstone inclusions and no frogs. The bricks are irregularly fired, with some friable and under-fired, while others were black and nearly vitrified from over-firing. Further analysis of brick samples collected from structures across Pye Farm will be undertaken to clarify the extent to which bricks manufactured at the Cottage site were used.

Brick manufacture was likely established at the site to enable construction of Waawaar Awaa house and associated outbuildings. Demolition rubble with large quantities of brick matching those from the Cottage were found in a drainage channel near the historical mapped entrance to Waawaar Awaa and may represent the remains of the house. The Cottage site could have been established in the early 1820s, and material culture recovered from the site supports this phasing.

Further work will be completed to compare the brick making components from the Cottage site with other early nineteenth-century rural brick manufacturing sites in the region. Reconstructing the final volume of quarried clay and an estimate of the resulting number of bricks that could be produced will assist in identifying the scale of brick production at the site.

Figure 2, Fire-reddened and charcoal stained bands in the earth provide evidence of the brick clamp. (Source: GML 2018)

Figure 2, Fire-reddened and charcoal stained bands in the earth provide evidence of the brick clamp. (Source: GML 2018)

Figure 3, Brick clay quarry pit in section, showing gradual stages of in-fill and temporary use as a dam. (Source: GML 2018)

Figure 3, Brick clay quarry pit in section, showing gradual stages of in-fill and temporary use as a dam. (Source: GML 2018)

Cottage

Excavations at the Cottage site uncovered evidence of a one-room timber cottage with brick hearth (Figure 4). The cottage had four large, round corner posts and timber walls with vertical planks held in place by brick fragments, while the interior had timber plank and brick paved floors.

Multiple phases of construction and repair were identified. The cottage appears to have existed on site prior to and during brick manufacture at the site though extensions were made afterwards. A semi-circular verandah of poorly fired waster bricks was constructed at the front of the cottage. A sandstock brick spoon drain was constructed to the southeast of the cottage and connected to an earthen-walled drainage channel draining into the clay extraction pits, while at least one tree was planted at the front (north) side of the cottage. There is evidence of work to correct for the boggy terrain and re-stabilise the walls of the cottage and one corner post was re-excavated and corrected, while crushed brick was laid at two sides of the cottage, possibly to build up the terrain and improve drainage.

The absence of material culture post-dating 1850 suggests it was abandoned by the mid-nineteenth century and supports the notion that it was situated on a marginal, low-lying part of the site selected for its proximity to suitable brickmaking clays kept soft and malleable by an adjacent waterway.

The Pye family had convict labourers to clear the land and work in the fields at their estate. It is possible that the Cottage was occupied by a convict overseer, the brickmaker, a hired labourer or a tenant farmer. Analysis of structural remains and material culture recovered will make comparisons with c1820 convict huts and other employee residences at rural estates.

Figure 4, Timber cottage with brick paved and timber planked floor. Semi-circular curved brick verandah at the front of the cottage, sandstock brick spoon drain at the southeast corner of the cottage. (Source: Guy Hazell 2018)

WAAWAAR AWAA HOMESTEAD

The Pye family homestead, 'Waawaar Awaa', was constructed c1820 on a rise overlooking Eastern Creek. Historical archaeological excavations encountered evidence of outbuildings and landscape elements associated with occupation and use of the homestead. Further analysis of features excavated will provide new insight into life on the property.

Stable/Workshop

A stone paved structure with timber walls, preliminarily identified as a stable or workshop, was excavated towards the centre of the site. Large dressed sandstone flagstones (approximately 500mm to 950mm in size) pave the north half of the structure, while a cobble paved surface covers the southern portion of the structure which measures 3.9m wide and at least 8.8m long (the southern end was truncated by later disturbance).

Timber planks, likely wall foundations, extend along the north and west walls of the structure and timber posts formed the corners of the structure. Brick post bases on the east side of the building indicate that the building may have been partially or completely open-fronted (Figure 5). Timber planks extending through the cobble paving on the south side of the building created an internal division, possibly for stalls.

Machinery and electrical parts found within the cracks of the flagged floor indicate it remained in use into the twentieth century.

Figure 5, Sandstone flagged paving, with a posthole at the corner of the structure and timber wall base along the north wall. (Source: GML 2018)

Brick Hearth

A hearth base of sandstock bricks, 1950mm by 970mm in size, was located at the northwest corner of the landform on which Waawaar Awaa was situated. A deposit of ash and charcoal was found within and extending out the front of the hearth. Two remnant square timber posts are on the interior edge of the hearth base and a possible wall cut or drainage channel is associated with the face of the feature (Figure 6). The areas surrounding the hearth were highly disturbed and the original function of the structure and associated hearth has not yet been identified.

Further investigation will consider the hearth in association with neighbouring structures and activity areas across the homestead site to try and determine feasible historical uses.

Figure 6, Sandstock brick heath base, view to northwest. (Source: GML 2018)

Brick Privy

A rectangular structure 1840mm by 1720mm in size and constructed of soft, friable sandstock bricks was located at the south end of the site and has been preliminarily identified as a privy. The walls of the structure were two courses wide, the remaining footings were only two courses deep and cut directly into natural clay substrate (Figure 7). No cess deposit or pit was found in association with the structure, suggesting that it may have been a pail closet with an above-ground waste receptacle emptied as required, as opposed to a cesspit.

Figure 7, Sandstock brick privy. (Source: GML 2018)

Stone Paved Structure

A rectilinear structure 6m by 4.6m in size with a semi-circular entrance or hearth stone on its east side was encountered at the northwest corner of the homestead site. The floor of the structure is elaborately paved with small dressed blocks and sub-angular cobbles of sandstone notably harder and greyer than the Sydney or Hawkesbury varieties. The large semi-circular entrance or hearth stone on the east wall is surrounded by fine cobble paving, and a diamond is incorporated to the adjacent paving at the interior of the structure (Figure 8). A potential drain or wall base of smaller cobbles extends north–south near the eastern wall. Extensive brick rubble was recovered to the north and overlying the paving in some areas. It is likely that at least part of the structure was constructed of brick.

Figure 8, Stone paved structure with semi-circular entrance or hearth. (Source: Guy Hazell 2018)

Gardens, Drains, Paths

A range of landscape elements provide evidence of historical attempts to work with and on the landscape at Waawaar Awaa homestead. Evidence of water management includes a large concrete-rendered sandstock brick beehive cistern with a range of drains and later water pipes and sumps forming a network extending from it. A long, curving sandstock brick path extends north of the cistern (Figure 9), while a small section of a second brick path extends east–west of it.

Rich, dark organic soil with small artefacts throughout was encountered at the northeast end of the site and edged in some areas by a single course (width and depth) of sandstock bricks. Two separate garden plots were identified and surveyed, diagnostic artefacts were collected and soil samples were taken to assist with paleoethnobotanical analysis to identify some of the plants cultivated on site.

Figure 9, Curvilinear sandstock brick paving leading towards the cistern and drains. (Source: GML 2018)

Royal Australian Air Force Camp

A deposit of artefacts from the early 1940s—including date-stamped institutional ironstone china, heavy gauge shell casings, belt buckles, glass salt and pepper shakers, ointment pots, hair tonic bottles and a lead bullet—was recovered at the northwest corner of the land formation on which Waawaar Awaa was situated (Figure 10).

These have been interpreted as likely resulting from use of the site by the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. Tent camps were erected within the site to accommodate soldiers and the artefacts recovered are consistent with a semi-institutional residential setting.

Figure 10, Artefacts associated with twentieth-century military use of the site, including belt buckles, a bullet, salt shaker and plumb bob. (Source: GML 2018)

ORCHARD AREA

An area depicted as an Orchard in an 1842 map has provided potential evidence of early interactions between Aboriginal groups and the Pye family as part of a broader contact period cultural landscape. The Orchard site also provided evidence of early orchard practice and possibly failure of some species.

Contact Archaeology

Contact archaeology provides rare evidence of early interactions between Aboriginal groups and European settlers, as well as experimentation with and adaptation of new materials by Aboriginal groups. High concentrations of Aboriginal lithic materials, as well as small pieces of white refined earthenware and glass with evidence of knapping, were found during historical and Aboriginal archaeological excavations at the Orchard site (Figure 11). Preliminary historical research has identified accounts of ongoing peaceful interactions between the Pye family and Aboriginal peoples in the area.

The Orchard site is located within a significant historical Aboriginal landscape, located in proximity to the Blacktown Native Institution, the Iron Bark Ridge silcrete quarry, the Nurragingy and Colebee land grant, and a site marked 'Burial Ground of the Blacks' to the northwest. It is possible that the Orchard represents a site of ongoing habitation and activity by Aboriginal peoples in the area.

Further analysis will be completed by Aboriginal artefact specialists to confirm whether glass and ceramic artefacts have been worked or knapped and represent contact-period Aboriginal archaeological deposits. Ceramic patterns represented in the collection will be analysed to see if they match materials collected from the Cottage or Waawaar Awaa.

Figure 11, Examples of ceramic fragments recovered from the Orchard site. (Source: GML 2018)

Orchard

Square cuts for planting trees with burnt tree boles, spaced approximately 5m apart, were located within the area of the site identified as an orchard in the 1842 Plan of Windsor. Root systems and tree boles were not extensive; this and the lack of formally established drainage described in historical accounts suggests that this part of the site was not used as an orchard for long. The award-winning mid-nineteenth century orchards may have been situated north of Waawaar Awaa.

Samples of wood collected from the tree boles are being analysed to identify the tree species planted in this orchard and see if the Pye family had tried planting something different that was less successful than their famous oranges (Figure 12).

Figure 12, Burnt tree bole from the Orchard site. (Source: GML 2017)

ENDNOTES

[1] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 7 November 1825, p 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2184642

[2] Robb, R 1993, The Flight of the Pelican, Tugiri Books, Picnic Point, NSW, p 7.

[3] The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September 1845, p 3.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12882393

[4] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 14.

[5] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 15.

[6] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 14.

[7] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 15.

[8] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 16.

[9] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 21.

[10] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 21.

[11] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 21.

[12] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[13] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[14] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[15] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

[16] Extent Pty Ltd, Former Schofields Aerodrome, Nirimba Drive, Quakers Hill—Heritage Impact Statement, prepared for Defence Housing Australia, May 2015, p 22.

Written by John Prickard

Regarding fencing wire:

About the most wires can usually tell you is that it is post-1788. And you knew that anyway! The earliest Australian record for wire in rural fences I now know of is 1840. A few years earlier than what I published several years ago. (Yes, even I engage in the "my site is older than yours" race.) Galvanised wire was advertised in mid-1850s. Barbed wire may give a more precise date, depending on the type. In general, barbed wire is post mid-1870s, but specific types were patented later, and may help you put brackets on a date of occupation.

Iron and steel fence posts, and steel droppers may also help because most (but certainly not all) were patented. But you must be aware of later re-use of older scavenged components.

Send me some images of your wire / post / dropper, and I may be able to help you. (This sort of advice and help is really expensive: a coffee when I next see you.)

BTW: all of my fence-related papers including my 2010 PhD are on Dropbox as freebies. Help yourselves:  HERE

Copies of the diagrams, images, etc. are available from me, please don't just screen-dump them.

Fencing wire references:

I guess that most of you are aware of Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/texts), but if you aren't, then you should be.

Internet Archive is a treasure trove of FREE downloadable scanned books on everything from A to Z and beyond. These include hundreds of early mechanical, technological and agricultural encyclopaedias and books that will certainly help you better understand how things were done in 19th and early 20th centuries. If you want to know about just about any form of technology, this is the place to start. Any historical archaeologist worth her salt should have at least some of the zillion books from Internet Archive in her digital bookshelf. However, be warned: Internet Archive can be seriously addictive!

There are also hundreds of early Australian books, and if you are looking for some historical account that is only held in the Rare Books section of some library, then you should always start with Internet Archive. It is truly surprising what you will find.

Many of the titles were scanned by Google, and some appear to require payment to download them. If it looks like this is going to happen, you can bypass it by clicking on the "All files HTTPS" or similar button. This will get you to a page with options of downloading in a range of formats including PDF.

The search function is a bit clunky, and the way the items are described is painful to say the least. You can't distinguish between the same item from different libraries.

Here is one my favourite sources, Holtzapffel. A series of five volumes from mid-19th C. with extensive discussion of materials, and how things were done. The titles are not truly indicative of the encyclopaedic contents, there is considerably more than you might think from the titles. The URLs are to the PDFs (mostly 40 - 70 MB), there are other formats available. Other historical archaeologists will have their own lists of useful titles.

Holtzapffel, C. (1852). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Volume I. Materials; their differences, choice, and preparation; various modes of working them, generally without cutting tools. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica01holtuoft  

Holtzapffel, C. (1856). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume II: The principles of construction, action, and application, of cutting tools used by hand; and also of machines derived from the hand tools. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica02holtuoft         

Holtzapffel, C. (1850). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume III: Abrasive and miscellaneous processes, which cannot be accomplished with cutting tools. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica03holtuoft         

Holtzapffel, C. (1881). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume IV: The principles and practice of hand or simple turning. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

http://www.archive.org/details/turningmechanica04holtuoft

Holtzapffel, J. J. (1884). Turning and mechanical manipulation. Intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs. Volume V: The principles and practice of ornamental or complex turning. London, Holtzapffel & Co.

https://archive.org/details/HoltzapffelVol5_1884
(Unfortunately this is the only version available and it is a really poor scan, and the PDF is 1.2 GB. Yes, GB, not MB)

Please contact: blog@asha.org.au for John's email address

Written by The Dry Stone Wall Association of Australia

The Dry Stone Walls Association of Australia (DSWAA) are holding a weekend away at Bathurst, NSW that  ASHA members may be interested in:

Weekend away at Bathurst, NSW, May 11-13 2018
Planning is well underway for a fabulous weekend of heritage and discovery in and around Bathurst. We start with drinks at the magnificent Abercrombie House; built in the 1870s by the Stewarts - pioneers of Bathurst. On the Bridle Track you can imagine yourself as a drover on horseback heading up the narrow track to the village at Hill End, the beautiful Turon River below.

It's also a rare trades weekend at Bathurst where we could see violin making, photo restoration, shingle splitting, lace and whip making, and much more - and of course our own dry stone wallers; Wayne Fox and Emma Knowles will be in action.

If you stay for Monday you will see Cox's Road - the original track across the Blue Mountains - and the historic Mayfield Gardens - a lovely property and garden rich in dsw.

For more information, please see: http://dswaa.org.au/bathurst-heritage-weekend-11-13-may/

Compiled by Blog Editor

Members may be interested to hear that a young man from South Australia, Josh Corke, has challenged himself to photograph every heritage-listed place in the state. So far has taken photos in and around Adelaide, the Murrarylands and the Fleurieu. As yet Mr Corke is unsure what he will do with the compilation of images when the project is complete.

For more information, see: www.murrayvalleystandard.com.au
And Mr Corke's flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jorcoga/



Dr Iain Stuart, JCIS Consultants

In 1884 the Crown Lands Act divided New South Wales into three divisions; Eastern, Central and Western. This was not some whimsical classical elusion to the Gallic Wars but the outcome of deliberation on the results of Free Selection since its introduction in 1861. Free selection was established in the various states throughout Australia as a way of establishing a class of “Yeoman farmers” to form a solid buttress against the squatters and to bring land considered underutilised into production.

In New South Wales the legislation introduced in 1861 clarified the tenure of the Squatters, who held most of their land as leasehold and allowed free selection of up to 640 acres before survey. The farm size of 640 acres was deemed as suitable for a small farm.

In 1883, a major review of the working of the Lands Acts in New South Wales, the so-called Morris Rankin report, recognised that it was difficult to apply one size of holding over land that varied in quality, environment and distance to markets, all critical factors in making a farm viable. They proposed the split into three divisions across NSW with varying regulations applying in each division.

The Crown Lands Act (1884) followed the recommendations of the Morris Rankin report although with some amendments and created the three divisions based on the boundaries of the Land Districts created in 1883 under the previous act (Lands Acts Amendment Act, 1875). Selection within the Eastern division still retained the 640 acre upper limit but within the Central division and upper limit of 2560 acres was allowed. Selection was prohibited in the Western Division except that special areas could be created to allow selection if required.

In the research for my Ph D. thesis I could never find a map of the three divisions except for the one used in the Morris Rankin report which was altered by the legislation. In a fit of GIS inspired enthusiasm I recently decided to make one. The first thing I located was a boundary of NSW – these shapefiles are readily available from varying sources, mine was sourced from PSMA (surprisingly they are all identical).

In NSW, Spatial Services portal leads you to a site called Clip n Snip where you can essentially clip a section out of the NSW Digital Topographical Data Base or Digital Cadastral Data Base and download the results in the form of shapefiles. This used to be a paid service but about a year ago it was unexpectedly made free with the result being I spent a fortnight downloading the whole State (you are now limited to 5 downloads per day!) This gave me access to useful things such as shapefiles representing Counties Parishes and Land Districts which are part of the Digital Cadastral Data Base. Note I also added the pre-federation boundaries of the Counties of Cowley and Murray, now partly in the ACT.


Figure 1. The three Divisions of NSW showing elevation and drainage.

Mapping the Western Division was easy as the main boundaries were the State boarder and then along main rivers. These were able to be traced in ArcGIS. There was an odd gap and that needed to be mapped using historical county plans either available from TROVE or from the Historical Land Records Viewer (found on the LPI site). The counties could easily be imported into ArcGIS and georeferenced to the County shapefiles. The location of the division boundaries was marked on County and Parish plans in dashed lines. It was relatively easy to trace these.

The Central Division was easily started by tracing the boundary of the Western Division and then the north and south State boundaries. However the eastern boundary was more difficult to establish. The reason being that it changed as the Land Districts boundaries were changed. This caused some head scratching around the general areas east of Gundagai and Wagga Wagga. To overcome this,  once I realised what had happened, was to use the 1890 Parish maps to map the boundary. These can be downloaded from the Historical Land Records Viewer and georeferenced to the Parish shapefiles and the original boundaries plotted.

The Eastern Division was completed using the Auto trace features of ArcGIS. I might note that it used the County boundaries largely as someone else had digitised them and presumably had decided what was the location of the High Flood Level of the Murray River and the HWM of the coast, both issues when establishing the boundaries of NSW.

I have presented some the maps of the three divisions. The first one (Figure 1, above) uses the 1:250000 map sheet contours and the second one (Figure 2, below) uses a DEM that I found on the Mines website as a digital download and clipped to the state boundary. Both really show the differences in elevation, terrain and to some extent drainage between the three divisions.


Figure 2. The three Divisions of NSW over a the Digital elevation map of NSW

Like all illustrations maps are heuristic devices and as soon as you look at them there are questions. For me the question is one of boundaries – in the south there is an area that looks like it should be in the Western Division. Actually this is roughly centred on Hay. There is another area of the Western Division that looks as if it could fit into the Central division – this is the Cobar area. If you are so inclined you can ask why?

What happened next? The third figure shows this. Using the distribution of grain silos as an analogue for grain growing areas, the location of NSW’s primary grain growing areas can be seen and they all fit more or less neatly into the Central Division and more particularly the elevated areas of the Central division.


Figure 3. The Divisions of NSW and railway and grain silo distribution.

Historically we know that the grain growing areas of NSW moved west, and that this was accompanied by a shift in demand for harder wheats, and that the famous Federation wheat was developed in the late 1890s mainly by William Farrer to fit into the new environment. We can see that being in the Central Division farm sizes potentially could be greater allowing more economies of scale in production. So a suite of changes occurred to allow the development of NSW’s wheat belt.

To return to the original purpose of the project I now have a map of the Land divisions, and I can return to the discussion of the effectiveness or otherwise of the Crown Lands Act (1884) which I began in my Ph. D. thesis.

I am happy to discuss this further or provide the Land Divisions file in gdb or shp format. Contact Iain_Stuart@optusnet.com.au

References

New South Wales. Inquiry into the State of Public Lands Operation of the Land Laws. (1883). Report of Inquiry into the State of the Public Lands and the Operation of the Land Laws / instituted 8th January 1883. (Parliamentary paper (New South Wales. Parliament); 1883). Sydney: Thomas Richards, Government Printer.

Stuart, Iain M 2000, ‘Squatting landscapes in Southeastern Australia (1820-1895)’, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Sydney.

Spatial Data

Note: citing spatial data is a slightly tricky process as there are limited guidelines on how to do it and often the metadata is difficult to convert into a citation.

Geological Survey of NSW 2016, Digital elevation map of NSW, First edition. Scale 1:1 500 000, Projection: Lambert Conical Conformal, Geological Survey of NSW, Maitland.

NSW, Department of Finance Digital Cadastral Data Base, accessed (January 2017)

PSMA Australia 2016, 'Administrative Boundaries', Projection GDA 94, PSMA Australia, Griffith, Canberra



Ross Bertinshaw

We received a question from the daughter of a local farmer in the Calingiri area of Western Australia confirmed the continuing presence of two wells constructed for the Benedictine monks of New Norcia in the 19th Century.


The original enquiry provided some photos and asked if they could be Benedictine wells. The pictures and their approximate locations were suggestive of New Norcia wells and the later provision of GPS coordinates then allowed the locations to be checked on Google Earth and against georeferenced Lease Plans from the 1890s.


From the georeferenced map it was possible to identify the wells as Toro and Jitocon both Benedictine wells. Abbot Rosendo Salvado held lease holdings surrounding the wells on which he ran the sheep that supported the monks and their missionary activities.

We know a little more about the wells. Toro Well was first dug in 1865 by well diggers Delany and Lavan, both ex-convicts. It was either renovated or a new well dug on the site in 1881 by unknown well sinkers. It was located on freehold title of 40 acres, which was granted in 1876.

Jitocon Well was dug in 1865 by Delaney and Higgins and was located on a freehold title of 10 acres first granted in 1864.

It is great to see agriculturalists and their offspring interested in the archaeology and history of their area and wanting to preserve it if possible.



Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

The Heritage Listed QANTAS hangar at Longreach has turned 95. The hangar was where QANTAS first began it's operations, and is now the location of the QANTAS Founders Museum. The Museum hosted a morning tea to celebrate the hangars birthday, which was added to the Register in 2009. For more information, please see:

https://qfom.com.au/2017/08/07/media-release-national-heritage-listed-qantas-hangar-turns-95/

Image: Photo take on 2 November 1922 on the arrival of the first scheduled Qantas flight from Charleville to Longreach, sourced from above article



Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

Excavations 25 graves, which uncovered the remains of 27 individuals, has recently been completed at Milton cemetery in the south of New Zealands's South Island. The excavations are part of research being conducted in partnership with Tokomaririro Project 60 (TP60) and the Anglican Church. The research will look into the lives of the first settlers to the area - where they came from, what hardships they endured in life, and which current members of the town formerly known as Tokomairiro or Tokomairaro are related to them.

For more information, please see: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/08/16/42910/how-tough-was-life-in-colonial-new-zealand



Simon Blight

Restoration work is currently being undertaken by the Southern Midlands Council on the 1827 Commissariat building (see above image, provided by Simon Blight), the oldest building in the Oatlands Military precinct. The council purchased the Commissariat and the later Victorian shop & cottage, which both stand on the same block at 79 High Street, Oatlands. Both buildings are currently being restored, a process which aims to retain as much original fabric as possible. Wheere this is not possible a like for like approach is being utilised. The restoration work is being undertaken by the Centre for Heritage, Heritage Education and Skills Centre and the Heritage Re-Generation project participants – a heritage building skills training program for youth 16-24 years of age. Once complete, the shop and cottage building will be returned to the community for their use, and the Commissariat will be used for Heritage Education and Skill Centre training.

The Commissariat was built of sandstone atop a steep slope to house provisions for the military and convicts. Originally a guardhouse stood nearby the Commissariat to house the corporal and privates who guarded to convict chain gang. The guardhouse was demolished in the 1970s.

Archaeologically monitored clearance of the underfloor of the skillion has revealed many interesting discoveries from the topsoil, which has not been disturbed for decades. An area of built up soil from the 1840s timber skillion was removed to allow work on the timber framework and to reveal the footing of the building. The soil was sieved  and revealed numerous ceramic and glass fragments, hand forged nails, clay pipe bowl and stem sections, an 1850s trade token and several clay marbles. A clay pipe bowl and list of items received was also discovered in the roof structure.

A close up of etched lettering on sandstone blacks, image provided by: Simon Blight

Perhaps the most interesting discovery so far has been on the Commissariat building itself. During removal of built up soil, the foundation of a chimney was discovered. Etched letters and numerals were uncovered on the sandstone blocks on the external side wall which have been covered by a later addition lean-to shed. The main etched graffiti is the numeral 40, which appears multiple times along the external wall, along with initials and the year 1829. At this stage the meaning of the marks is unknown; convict marks or a regiment number, perhaps?



Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

A 19th century school house has been excavated as part of developments in Googong, NSW. The excavation involved consultant and ANU student archaeologists, and recieved visits from local school children. Artefacts including slate pencils were found among the foundations.

For more information, please see the following links:

http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/anu-archaeologists-unearth-19th-century-history-at-googong-20170605-gwkgqy.html

http://www.archaeology.org/news/5605-170605-australia-school-house