Monthly Archives: August 2015



To coincide with NSW History Week, Frank Walker will be speaking at Five Dock Library about his recently published book Commandos.

Frank Walker is a veteran journalist who has previously written books on the Vietnam War and British atomic tests in Australia. His latest book Commandos is a gripping military history written from the perspective of those who lived it. The talk will be at Five Dock Library on Thursday, 3 September 2015, at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Bookings can be made online.

NSW History Week from the 5-13 September 2015 focusses on the theme ‘War, nationalism, identity’. For more information on activities see History Council NSW.

Rhodes art work remembers local soldiers

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A new art work by Olev Muska at McIlwaine Park commemorates the service of local soldiers during the First World War.

Olev (left) has drawn on images from the Local Studies photographic collection, Canada Bay Connections and the Australian War Memorial to create a fascinating work. Against the background photograph of the unveiling of the Rhodes Honour Roll in 1919 can be seen images of Walter Brooks, the Seabrook brothers and a Field Post Office card sent by Harry Jeffery to his mother before going into battle.

The art work ensures that those who served in the First World War are remembered as ‘More than just a name’.

Discover Yaralla

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Sydney Local Health District and Soldier On will be hosting an open day at Yaralla on Sunday, 13 September 2015, 10am-2pm.

Soldier On, a charity dedicated to linking returned servicemen and women and their families with health services, will soon take up residence at Woodbine Cottage on the Yaralla Estate. This continues the long tradition of Yaralla’s association with health care services.

Prior to the open day, Concord Library will be hosting a special morning tea for Seniors with guest speaker Patricia Skehan who will be sharing stories of Yaralla and the original owners of the estate, the Walker family, on Wednesday, 9 September 2015, 10am for 10.30 start.

The photograph shows part of the magnificent gardens at Yaralla.

Remembering their sacrifice

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The Second World War ended 70 years ago on the 15 August 1945 when Victory in the Pacific was declared, following the unconditional surrender of Japan. Conflict had ended three months earlier in Europe on the 8 May 1945, known as VE Day (Victory in Europe).

In 1945 there was a thanksgiving service to mark Victory in the Pacific at the corner of Flavelle and Wellbank Streets, Concord near the site of present-day Concord Library. The 70th anniversary will be commemorated by a special service at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway on 15 August 2015 at 2pm.

The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway is a beautiful memorial to veterans of the Second World War, in particular those who served in the South West Pacific. The 800 metre rainforest walk links Concord Repatriation General Hospital, where many veterans were nursed back to health, and Rhodes Railway Station. A series of 22 stations along the walkway highlight places of significance in the New Guinea campaign and pays tribute to the tremendous sacrifice made by Australian soldiers.

A look back at working life

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CSR Chemicals Limited commenced manufacturing operations at Rhodes in 1953. The site near Rhodes railway station had previously been occupied by Hoskins pipeworks.

A wide range of chemicals and associated products were produced at the plant, ranging from cellulose acetate to ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The first cellulose acetate, used in acetate rayon and plastics, to be manufactured in Australia was produced at the Rhodes plant in September 1953.

Recently, the Birkett family donated digital copies of photographs of CSR taken in the 1950s by John Birkett, to Local Studies. John Birkett worked as an industrial chemist at CSR. The images provide a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day workings of an industrial plant in the 1950s.

The photograph, above, shows a worker at the sorbose grinder which was part of the process of ascorbic acid production. Other photographs may be seen on Canada Bay Connections (simply type ‘CSR’ in the search box).

The CSR site has since been redeveloped.

Tantalising tales

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The magnificent estate of Yaralla at Concord West is one of the few large nineteenth century estates in Sydney to survive largely intact. The story of Yaralla is closely entwined with the history and development of the local area.

Local author Patricia Skehan will be sharing some tantalising tales of Yaralla at a special morning tea for Seniors to be held at Concord Library on Wednesday, 9 September at 10am for a 10.30am start. Patricia is the author of The Walkers of Yaralla, Eadith: Concord’s royal kin and Where the blue wattle grows, all of which are available at City of Canada Bay Libraries.

Bookings may be made online or by calling 9911 6210.

A Canadian connection

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In 1837-1838 revolts in Lower Canada (Quebec) by Patriotes over grievances against British rule were severely crushed. Some rebels were executed and others sentenced to transportation. In 1840 the ship Buffalo transported 91 English speaking rebels to Port Arthur in Tasmania while 58 French speaking Canadians were sent to Longbottom Stockade, a convict depot near the present site of Concord Oval.

The good behaviour of the French Canadians led to free pardons being granted between November 1843 and February 1844. All except Joseph Marceau opted to return to their homeland. Marceau was a widower at the time of his transportation. In 1844 he married Mary Barrett and settled at Dapto where he lived until his death in 1883, aged 77 years.

Recently, Pierre Marcoux in Canada kindly sent a photograph of Joseph Marceau’s home in Saint-Cyprien-de-Napierville, Quebec (above) to Canada Bay Connections. Pierre also donated images of The Patriots Monument, Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery, Montreal, Quebec which includes the name of Joseph Marceau. In Concord, Marceau Drive is named after him.

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Canadian Exiles in Australia.