Blog Archives

Telling the stories of the Great North Road

Convict marks Great North Road1 (Small)

The Great North Road was built between 1826 and 1836, extending 240 kilometres north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley and originally included 33 bridges.

It was built using convict labour. Up to 700 convicts worked on the road at any one time. Some would be clearing the area while others would be digging drains, quarrying stone, shaping the stone and shifting it in to position. Many of the convicts working on the road were secondary offenders and to add to the gruelling work they worked in leg-irons weighing up to six kilograms.

The Five Dock section of the road is the only section still retaining the original name,’Great North Road’. Locally, little evidence remains of the convicts’ efforts, other than some pick marks which survive at Abbotsford (pictured above).

Over the years the Convict Trail Project has done much to preserve and promote what remains of the Great North Road. The story of the Great North Road has now been brought to life through a series of colourful videos which can be viewed on youtube.

The first postmaster

Scan000195 (Small)

Isaac Nichols (1770-1819) was found guilty of stealing in July 1790 at the Warminster Sessions, Wiltshire and sentenced to seven years transportation. He arrived in New South Wales in the Admiral Barrington in October 1791. After a few years, his ability, diligence and sobriety so impressed Governor John Hunter that he was appointed chief overseer of the convict gangs. When his sentence expired On 20 December 1797, Hunter granted him 20 hectares in the Concord district.

Isaac Nichols named the property Yaralla, an aboriginal word thought to mean ‘camp’ or ‘home’. He developed the property as a mixed farm and established a notable orchard. In 1809 Isaac Nichols had the distinction of being appointed Australia’s first postmaster and operated the post office from his home in George Street, Sydney.

Stephen Brown will be speaking on the early Post Office in New South Wales at the City of Canada Bay Museum on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 2pm. The talk will coincide with an exhibition of coins and postage stamps at the museum.

Canadian Exiles

Concord Oval grandstand foundations (Small)

To coincide with National Trust Heritage Festival, author Patricia Skehan will tell the fascinating story of the French Canadian Exiles who were transported to New South Wales in 1840, following uprisings in Lower Canada (now Quebec). They were imprisoned at Longbottom Stockade now the site of Concord Oval. Their presence along the Parramatta River is recalled by the names Exile Bay, France Bay and, of course, Canada Bay.

Patricia Skehan will be speaking at Concord Library on Thursday, 24 April at 2pm.

The photograph shows trenches which uncovered the original foundations of the Longbottom Stockade when a new grandstand was being constructed at Concord Oval in 1984.