In memory of lost homes

The cynical French epigram “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (The more change she is paid [when shopping], the more a lady will choose…)* describes it nicely: someone who has money left over from his purchase of a house will use it to choose additions and alterations and then, unsatisfied with the change he’s got out of it, will bowl the whole thing over and build a new home for himself on the cleared site.

* [perhaps I have not translated exactly 😉 ]

Many of the houses I recall from my childhood and later years have been destroyed by their new owners.

Of course the new owner is entitled to rebuild, and – who knows? – the new house may be more comfortable. It is not cheap to maintain an old house, and some new houses may be measurably better in every way. Even so, it is sad to see a place you knew and loved simply discarded like a worn-out shoe.

The house I grew up in and where we spent the first 30 years of our married life was bulldozed by its new owners.

The beach house my parents built when I was a child was badly damaged by termites, which had penetrated the concrete foundations. This was discovered too late for the house to be saved and it had to be torn down.

old St Barbary

My parents’ beach house when it was newly built in the 1960s

My paternal grandparents’ house in Adelaide was bulldozed by the people to whom it was sold.

My maternal grandparents’ house was extensively renovated after their death.  Although parts of it remain unchanged, the re-modelled house has quite a different feel to it.

19 Ridley Street about 1966

Me on my scooter outside my maternal grandparents’ house

The house of my mother-in-law, in Albury, was sold after her death. Then her pretty garden was cleared. Soon afterwards the house itself went.

Hovell Street Marjorie bush house

Greg’s mother Marjorie Young nee Sullivan in front of her bush house in the back garden

Hovell Street Greg 1966 Jim Windsor's car

1966: Greg sitting on the bonnet of a 1959 Plymouth. Jim Windsor, a family friend and the car’s owner is behind the wheel. Not sure who is in the passenger seat, probably Greg’s mother Marjorie. The car is parked in the street outside the Young family home.

Hovell Street Greg 1966

Greg outside his home in Albury 1966

My children liked playing in the garden, my son took some of his first steps clinging to the front fence, and there was the most magnificent and prolific lemon tree in the back garden.

Greg’s maternal grandparents’ house in Castlemaine, which he remembers as a lovely old place with chooks and a vegetable garden, has gone. Next door there’s now a car-wash. Down the road is a large estate of new houses, all made out of ticky-tacky. They all look just the same.

Sullivan Home 19 Elizabeth Street Castlemaine

There is an exception. The house of Greg’s early childhood in Ballarat still stands. Out the back Greg can remember a large stable. It’s still there.

505 Drummond Street about 1993

Ballarat snowman back yard 1949

1949 snowman in the back garden of the Ballarat house

For the most part the houses as physical structures have gone, but I will continue to remember them as warm homes I used to know and love.

Longing for ancestors

This week’s prompt for the 52 ancestors series is “Long Line”.

Here’s a long line: (with many millions of other people) I can trace my family back to William I of England, one of my 28th grandfathers. I’m lucky to have forebears whose doings were documented, doubly lucky that the relevant records were preserved. This was their long suit.


Bayeaux tapestry: Duke William raises his helmet so as to be recognized on the battlefield of Hastings. Eustace II, Count of Boulogne points to him with his finger.


Another long line: one branch of my descent has had a long, enduring association with Whitmore, a Staffordshire manor, in the same family for more than 900 years. No long division there.

Whitmore Hall 1841

Whitmore Hall in 1841


And there’s long line as in the line of the surname ‘Long’. I can do this one too (my family tree is wide as well as long):

  • Harriet Frances Jane Long (1857 – 1938) was the mother-in-law of one of my husband’s great aunts.
  • James Long (no dates) was the husband of the sister-in-law of my first cousin six times removed
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882), the American poet, was the father-in-law of my 3rd cousin 4 times removed.

Perhaps occasionally family history feels a bit like long-lining, a commercial fishing technique, where hundreds or thousands of baited hooks are set out in the hope of catching at least something. You can never be sure quite what you’ve dredged up, but it’s a long path that has no turnings, be in it for the long run, every crowd has a silver lining, and for those with Irish ancestors, including me, it’s a long way to Tipperary. Take the long view, go long in the market, and line them up. Just don’t be long-winded.

Related posts

Mitchell family arrival on the Swan River 1838

On 4 August 1838, my fourth-great grandfather the Reverend William Mitchell (1803 – 1870), accompanied by his wife, four children, and a governess, arrived at Fremantle, on the mouth of the Swan River in Western Australia.

They had left Portsmouth four months and three days before, sailing on the “Shepherd”. Their only intermediate port of call was Porto Praya off the west coast of Africa (now Praia, the the capital and largest city of Republic of Cabo Verde), where the ship took on supplies.

The Swan River Colony – now Perth – was established in 1829 following exploration of the region in 1827 by James Stirling, later Governor of Western Australia. Fremantle was the settlement’s main port.

Swan River 1827 nla.obj-134156746-1

Captain Stirling’s exploring party 50 miles up the Swan River, Western Australia, March, 1827. Oil painting by W. J. Huggins in the collection of the National Library of Australia retrieved from

William Mitchell had been ordained a minister of the Church of England in 1825. In 1826 he married Mary Anne Holmes (1805 – 1831), and soon afterwards, the family moved to India, where Mitchell served as a missionary. They had two daughters and a son. The second girl, Susan Augusta, born on 11 April 1828 in Bombay, was my third great grandmother. Around 1830 Mary Anne became ill and the family returned to England, where she died in 1831. William married again, to Frances Tree Tatlock (1806 – 1879) and returned to India, where this second marriage produced three more sons. Frances and the children returned to England in 1834 and William returned in 1835. In 1838 William was appointed by the Western Australian Missionary Society to be clergyman for the residents of the Middle and Upper Swan regions of the new colony of Western Australia.


Reverend William Mitchell portrait from “Mitchell Amen” by Frank Nelder Greenslade

The oldest child of the Reverend William Mitchell, born to his first wife Mary, was Annie (1826 – 1917). She was 12 when the family arrived on the “Shepherd”. In her memoirs, written many years later, she described their arrival:

The ship “Shepherd” anchored off Garden Island on 4 August 1838, after a voyage of four months and three days. We landed at Fremantle by the ships boats. The first sight we witnessed was a very large whale lying on the sea beach at Fremantle, from which the natives were cutting large pieces and carrying them away on spears.

We lodged at Fremantle for a week and then proceeded to Government House where we were entertained by Sir James Stirling and Lady Stirling. It was usual practice at this time for new arrivals to call at Government House on arrival. We stayed at Judge Mackies house for a while (he was the first Judge in the Colony). After this we went to Henley Park, on the Upper Swan, by boat. Major Irwin was landlord at this time. He was Commandant of the troops in W.A. We stayed with him for a week or so then went to the Mission-house on the Middle Swan where we settled.

The whole of Perth at this time was all deep sand and scrub. There was no road or railway to Perth. All transport was done by water travel. The banks of the Swan River were a mass of green fields and flowers, with everlastings as far as the eye could see.

At the time of arrival, there were only two vessels, the “Shepherd” and the “Britomart” plying between London and Western Australia. When a ship arrived, a cannon was fired to let people know that a vessel had arrived. The people used to ride or row down to Fremantle to get their letters. There were then about seven or eight hundred people settled in W.A. mostly along the banks of the Swan.

There was no church in the colony at this time and the services were conducted in the Courthouse by the Revd John Wittenoom, the first colonial chaplain.


Panorama of the Swan River Settlement, ca. 1831 by Jane Eliza Currie (wife of explorer Mark John Currie)

The Mitchells lived at Middle Swan, now a Perth suburb, 12 miles from the city centre.

In 2000 we visited Mitchell’s church at Middle Swan. The original octagonal church, built in 1840, was replaced in 1868 by the present-day building.

St Mary's Octagonal Church Middle Swan

St Mary’s Octagonal Church, Middle Swan, sketch published in “Mitchell Amen” page 14


St Mary’s Church, Middle Swan photographed 2006 by Wikipedia user Moondyne

William Mitchell died at Perth and is buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s Middle Swan with his second wife and his son Andrew (1846 – 1870).

Mitchell gravestone Middle Swan

William, Frances Tree & Andrew Forster Mitchell, gravestone at St Marys, Middle Swan. (Photograph provided by a 3rd great grand daughter of William Mitchell and used with permission)


Related post

Hans Boltz’s school photograph

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt photo, taken in the 1920s, shows a group of children.

My maternal grandfather, Hans Fritz Boltz, was born 1910. Among the photos we inherited from him was a school photograph, probably taken about 1920 when he was 9 or 10 years old.

Hans Boltz school about 1919

Hans Boltz is sitting in the 4th row 2nd from the right

When Hans applied for a position as a cartographer with the Australian Government in 1948 he declared that he first attended the preparatory school of the classical school from the age of six, in 1919 changing to the Realschule in Steglitz, a district of Berlin. A Realschule was of middle rank and provided students with a general extended education. It ranked above Hauptschule, which provided a basic general education, and lower than Gymnasium which prepared students for university.

Hans Boltz course of life beginning 1948

from the National Archives of Australia: MT105/8, 1/6/4531 Page 3 of 143 [file of Hans Fritz Boltz , General Correspondence and Administrative files of the Department of Post-War Reconstruction]

Among our family photographs is a small cardboard wallet of postcards with images of the Realschule Steglitz.

Steglitz Realschule

Collection of postcards of the Realschule Steglitz among the family photographs

The school is now called the Gymnasium Steglitz. It was founded in 1886. The architect Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969) was a pupil.

Hans Boltz as a child

Hans is younger in this photograph than when he is with his classmates above


Further reading

Related posts

Wedding of Linda Victoria Fish and Gilbert Payne Mulcahy at Creswick 1921

Linda Mulcahy née Fish (1895 – 1970), the daughter of Alice Fish formerly Reher née Young (1859 – 1935) and Thomas Fish (1873 – 1949), was my husband’s first cousin twice removed.

On 8 June 1921 she married Gilbert Payne Mulcahy (1894 – 1979). Below is a copy of one of the wedding photographs, given to us by Lindsay and Mary George in 2011. (Lindsay, grandson of Elfleda Cecilia Anna George née Reher (1884-1970), is Greg’s 3rd cousin. Elfleda was the half-sister of Linda Fish.)

Fish Linda marriage to Mulcahy 1921

With the women, hair bobbed, wearing straight, short, drop-waist dresses, picture hats low on the foreheads of the bridesmaids, and the enormous bows of the flower girls, the photograph is easily dated to the 1920s.

The marriage was announced in The Argus of 13 July 1921:

MULCAHY—FISH.—On the 8th June, at Presbyterian Church, Creswick, by the Reverend K. C. Billinge, Gilbert Payne (late A.I.F.), youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Mulcahy, of Auburn, to Linda Victoria, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T Fish, of Creswick.

I have not been able to find a newspaper report of the wedding, and I cannot identify everyone in the bridal party.

The father of the bride, Thomas Fish, is on the left. It seems odd that Alice Fish, mother of the bride, was not included in the photo. Perhaps she was taking it?

Linda’s sister, Alice Pretoria Emma Fish (1900 – 1958) is standing beside her father. Alice married Ernest George Aldrich in 1922.

The groomsmen are not named, nor is the second bridesmaid. She was probably one of Linda’s half sisters: Gertrude, Elfleda, or Mary Reher.

The flowergirls are Gertrude Isabel George born 1915, daughter of Elfleda George née Reher, and Pearl Ramelli born 1913 who in 1936 married Elfleda’s son Norman George (1912 – 1968); Pearl is the mother of Lindsay George who gave us the copy of this photograph.

John Narroway Darby

One of my husband’s 3rd great-grandfathers was a compositor and printer named John Narroway Darby.

John Darby was born in 1823 in Exeter, Devon, son of a joiner and carpenter named Joseph Darby (abt 1780 – 1865) and his wife Sarah Darby née Narroway [sometimes spelled Narraway]. Joseph and Sarah were married in 1807. They had at least six children of whom John, baptised on 3 March 1823 at Saint Mary Major, Exeter, was the third.

At the time of the English census of 1841, John, then a printer’s apprentice, was living in Exeter with his parents and three siblings.

In July 1842 following the publication of banns, John married Matilda Priscilla Moggridge (1825 – 1868) at St Mary Arches, Exeter. The consent of Matilda’s parents had been given.

Five months later Matilda and John emigrated on the Westminster to New Zealand. The Westminster was the first planned emigrant ship from England to Auckland. It sailed from Plymouth on 4 December 1842 and arrived 31 March 1843.

On a February 1844 list of all men within the District and Town of Auckland in the Colony of New Zealand and liable to serve on juries, there is a John N. Derby, compositor, living in Queen Street, Auckland.

Auckland Queen St 1843

Queen Street Auckland in 1843 from page 53 of The Project Gutenberg EBook of The City of Auckland, by John Barr, first published 1922 and retrieved from

In April 1844 John Darby wrote to the editor of the Auckland Chronicle with his views on the future of the Government Printing Office.

Darby John 1844 letter

Auckland Chronicle and New Zealand Colonist, Volume 2, Issue 37, 18 April 1844, Page 2

In December 1844 John Narroway Darby was in court over a forged promissory note, and in March 1845 he was indicted for issuing a shilling forged debenture. He was acquitted by the jury.

On 12 April 1845 Darby, with his wife and two children, left Auckland on the Sir John Franklin for Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania]. The Hobart Courier described the voyage as “a tedious passage of twenty five days.” The schooner carried 33 passengers, including 26 children, with a cargo of 12,000 feet of New Zealand timber and 12 parcels of printing apparatus. The ship brought news of the Maori Wars. The Tasmanian and Austral-Asiatic Review stated that the schooner was “laden with families flying from the Maories”

Matilda Frances Darby, the younger child of John Narroway Darby and Matilda Darby, was baptised in Hobart on 30 November 1845. She had been born on 14 March 1845.

Darby baptism 1845 RGD32-1-3-P588

from Tasmanian Lincs database Name: Darby, Matilda Frances Record Type: Births Gender: Female Father: Darby, John Harroway Mother: Matilda, Elizabeth Date of birth: 14 Mar 1845 Registered: Hobart Registration year: 1845 Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1089444 Resource: RGD32/1/3/ no 2603

Apart from a mention on the shipping record, I have found very little about the other child of John and Matilda Darby. He, or she, appears to have been born in New Zealand about 1844 and seems to have died in Australia before 1855.

Sometime before 1850 John and Matilda Darby separated. In 1850 Matilda had a child, Margaret Hughes, born at Ashby near Geelong, Victoria. The father’s name was David Hughes. Margaret died in 1858. Ten years later, on 4 May 1868, Matilda Darby, claiming to be a spinster, married David Hughes. She died one month later, on 5 June.

It seems to me likely that Matilda Darby, knowing a formal union with David Hughes would be bigamous, refused to marry him until she had news that her first husband John Darby was dead. It is also possible that Matilda Darby, very ill, with not long to live, sought to regularise her relationship with Hughes as best she could. They had lived together for nineteen years; a form of marriage was possibly a kind of consolation
for them both.

John Darby appears to have been less concerned than his wife Matilda about committing the crime of bigamy. When on 21 July 1855 in Portland, Victoria, he went through the form of marriage with a woman called Catherine Murphy he claimed he was a widower, the father of two children, one living and one dead.

Darby Murphy Portland marriage

Name John Darby Spouse Name Catherine Murphy Registration Place Victoria Registration Year 1855 Registration Number 2765

In August 1855 John Darby of the Portland Guardian advertised for a printer’s apprentice.

In 1856 John Darby was listed on the electoral roll in Portland, living at Gawler Street, printer, entitled to vote as receiving a salary of £100 from T.E. Richardson.

I have found no further mentions of John Darby or  Catherine in Australian birth, death or marriage indexes, nor in other records.

In the Tumut and Adelong Times of 22 October 1866 a John Darby is recorded as having successfully sued the printer of the Braidwood News for £6 3s. wages. It is possible that this is our John Darby but I have found no further records of John or Catherine Darby in New South Wales.

DNA evidence links Greg and his cousins to Matilda Frances Sullivan née Darby but as yet no further back on the Darby line.

Related posts


  • FindMyPast  
    • Record set Devon Baptisms  First name(s) John Narroway  Last name Derby Birth year 1823  Baptism year 1823 Denomination Anglican  County Devon Baptism place Exeter, St Mary Major  Mother’s first name(s) Sarah Father’s first name(s) Joseph
    • Matilda  Last name Mogridge  Banns year 1842 Banns date 03 Jul 1842  Parish Exeter, St Mary Arches Spouse’s first name John  Spouse’s last name Darby Residence Exeter St Mary Steps Spouse’s residence Exeter St Mary Steps  Denomination Anglican County Devon Country England Archive reference 332A/PR/1/13 Archive South West Heritage Trust  Record set Devon Banns Category Life Events (BDMs)
    • English 1841 census Class: HO107; Piece: 267; Book: 4; Civil Parish: St Mary Major; County: Devon; Enumeration District: 14; Folio: 25; Page: 45; Line: 23; GSU roll: 241331
    • Jury Lists: Auckland 1842-1853
    • Tasmania, Australia, Passenger Arrivals, 1829-1957 Reports of ships arrivals with lists of passengers; Film Number: SLTX/AO/MB/3; Series Number: MB2/39/1/8
    • 1856 electoral roll for Portland, Victoria, Australia
  • Whyte, Carol. “Passenger List of Westminster, Cork, 4 December 1842 to Auckland.” New ZealandGenWeb Project, Carol Whyte, 2014,
  • PapersPast – an online collection of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals
  • Trove – online Australian digital reproductions of newspapers, journals, books, maps, personal papers, as well as archived websites and other born-digital content compiled by the National Library of Australia
  • from Tasmanian Lincs database   Name:  Darby, Matilda Frances  Record Type: Births Gender:  Female Father: Darby, John Harroway  Mother: Matilda, Elizabeth Date of birth:  14 Mar 1845 Registered: Hobart Registration year:  1845 Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1089444 Resource: RGD32/1/3/ no 2603
  • Victorian births, deaths and marriages
      • Name Margaret Hughes Birth Date Abt 1850 Birth Place Ashby, Victoria Registration Year 1850 Registration Place Victoria, Australia Father David Hughes Mother Matilda Registration Number 22395
      • Name Matilda Priscilla Craddock Spouse Name David Hughes Marriage Place Victoria Registration Place Victoria Registration Year 1868 Registration Number 1485
      • Name Matilda Hughes Birth Year abt 1825 Age 43 Death Place Victoria Father’s Name Mogridge John Registration Year 1868 Registration Place Victoria Registration Number 3957
      • Name John Darby Spouse Name Catherine Murphy Marriage Place Victoria Registration Place Victoria Registration Year 1855 Registration Number 2765

500 Sepia Saturday prompts

Inspired by the work of Kristen Cleage, who blogs about her family history at Finding Eliza, here is a collage of images from my own responses to Sepia Saturday blog prompts since 2013.

Sepia Saturday prompts started in 2009, aiming to provide bloggers with

… an opportunity to share their history through the medium of
photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind (they don’t have
to be sepia) become the launchpad for explorations of family history,
local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

In December 2019 Sepia Saturday reached a milestone of 500 prompts.

Sepia Saturday 500 Prompt Image

Sepia Saturday 500 Prompt Image

My first post inspired by Sepia Saturday, in August 2013, was about my
grandfather’s cousin John Champion de Crespigny (1908 – 1995). It was my 27th blog post.

I continue to read the blogs of the community who post in the Sepia Saturday group. I am always interested to see how fellow bloggers interpret the prompt photo and I have found the prompts have indeed inspired me to explore my family history.

I am very pleased that I came across the Sepia Saturday blogging community. Thank you to Alan Burnett, Kat Mortensen, and Marilyn Brindley for prompting writing about family and social history with inspirational photographs.


My posts inspired by the Sepia Saturday prompts:

  1. Sepia Saturday 192 : John Chauncy Champion de Crespigny (1908 – 1995)
  2. Sepia Saturday 193 : Richard Geoffrey Champion de Crespigny
  3. Sepia Saturday 194 : Eureka
  4. Sepia Saturday 195 : International Day of Peace
  5. Sepia Saturday 196 : Sick Children
  6. Sepia Saturday 197: a blurry photograph
  7. Sepia Saturday 198 – a launching
  8. Sepia Saturday 208: A Christmas Gift
  9. Sepia Saturday 211: First World War faces – Wentworth Rowland Cavenagh-Mainwaring at Gallipoli
  10. Sepia Saturday 214: Emil and Helene Manock at the piano
  11. Sepia Saturday 218: My grandfather’s back garden
  12. Sepia Saturday 238: Plaisteds Wine Bar
  13. Sepia Saturday 249: coach rides
  14. Sepia Saturday 255: A silhouette of Mrs Cudmore
  15. Sepia Saturday 269: Martha Berkeley : The first dinner given to the Aborigines 1838 (Adelaide)
  16. Sepia Saturday 285: Largs Bay Hotel
  17. Sepia Saturday 286: Fishing
  18. Sepia Saturday 289: Deaths at sea
  19. Sepia Saturday 290: Tropical Hotel – Kissimmee, Florida
  20. Sepia Saturday 292: A run on the bank in Beaufort
  21. Sepia Saturday 308: Kanu-Club Wannsee
  22. Sepia Saturday 329: shepherding near Murrumburrah, New South Wales
  23. Sepia Saturday 333: William Smith Daw (1810 – 1877)
  24. Sepia Saturday 349: street photography
  25. Sepia Saturday 350: burglary
  26. Sepia Saturday 380: A Quiet Life: Gordon Mainwaring (1817-1872)
  27. Sepia Saturday 397: Fishing for the right word
  28. Sepia Saturday 398: Swings
  29. Sepia Saturday 480: Swimming in Bendigo

Trove Tuesday: 1905 Bushfire precautions

Daniel Henry Cashel Cudmore (1844 – 1913) was my 3rd great uncle, one of the sons of my 3rd great grandparents Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore and Mary Cudmore née  Nihill. Like his father and brothers he was a pastoralist, settling stations on the Darling River above Wentworth, New South Wales.

At least one obituary of D.H. Cudmore mentioned that he was an authority on fighting bush-fires.

In 1905 D.H. Cudmore published his advice on bush-fire precautions.

1905 bushfire precaution a1905 bushfire precaution b

1905 bushfire precaution c

BUSH-FIRES. (1905, January 14). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from

The technology we now have to fight fires has not made preparation less important nor has it provided a magic bullet to quell fires.

Cudmore DH obituary

DEATH OF MR. D. H. CUDMORE. (1914, January 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from

B-72282 Cudmore Daniel Henry

Mr Daniel Cudmore, probably an enlargement from a carte de visite image. Approximately 1870. Retrieved from the State Library of South Australia [ image B 72282]

Further reading

Related post


A miniature note

A year ago I wrote about a miniature portrait of my grandfather Geoff de Crespigny painted by the wife of his maternal uncle, Olive Amy Hughes née Chatfield (1880 – 1945). Olive married Vyvyan Hughes in 1916. Sadly, he died soon afterwards in a military hospital.

Before her marriage Olive Chatfield lived in Adelaide from about 1910 to 1916. She returned to New Zealand in November 1916.

A de Crespigny cousin has sent me a photograph of a portrait of Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny, Geoff’s father, my great grandfather.

CTCdeC miniature from GM

A miniature portrait of Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny in the possession of a cousin

I think this miniature was painted before my great grandfather left for overseas service with the Australian Imperial Force in May 1915. Or perhaps it was painted from a photograph taken before he left; the portrait is  similar to a photograph that appeared in the Adelaide Express and Telegraph on 20 May 1915.

1915 Off to the front a

1915 Off to the front b photo CTCdeC

1915 Off to the front c CTCdeC

OFF TO THE FRONT. (1915, May 20). The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922), p. 5 (4 O’CLOCK EDITION. SPORTS NUMBER). Retrieved from

Related posts

Fires at Batemans Bay

For most of my life our family has been coming to Batemans Bay for our summer holiday. Our house is close to the beach, in the bush surrounded by large gum trees. It’s a lovely setting but a bad bushfire risk.

Circuit Beach NSW

This summer the fire danger period seems to have arrived earlier. As I write, fires are burning out of control just north of Batemans Bay and the Princes Highway, the main road from here to Sydney, is closed. Last weekend a fire came within a kilometre of Braidwood, a small town on the way to Canberra, and the highway to Canberra was closed.

BBay fire 2019

Bushfire map 2 December 2019 The map has no scale however the drive from Batemans Bay to Canberra is about 150 km or just under 100 miles.


In March 1965 Batemans Bay was threatened by bushfires. I was too young to remember. In those days we used to rent a house for the holidays;  this was before my parents had built a beach house of our own.

BBay fire 1965

Batemans Bay facing crisis (1965, March 9). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), p. 1. Retrieved from


In 1971 there were bushfires again, but we were overseas. Our house came close to being burnt down. The Briggs and Bailey holiday cottages are very near my parents’ house.

BBay fire 1971

Bushfire service in Letters to the Editor (1971, October 7). The Canberra Times, p. 2. Retrieved from

BBay fire cycads

Fires sweep areas of Queensland and NSW (1971, October 5). The Canberra Times, p. 3. Retrieved from (These days it is suggested you dress in more than a t-shirt when near bushfires.)


In 1980 there were worries about the fire season

BBay fire 1980 pic

BBay fire 1980

HOLIDAYS with The Canberra Times (1980, December 15). The Canberra Times, p. 10. Retrieved from


The summer of 1993 /94 was a bad summer for fires, and our house was threatened once again. The flames came very close. My mother, cooking dinner in the kitchen, looked out the window: there was the fire, coming down the hill. My father was busy putting out embers. The wind changed just in time.

old St Barbary

My parents’ beach house when it was newly built in the 1960s

BBay fire 1994

Worst of fires yet to come (1994, January 7). The Canberra Times, p. 1. Retrieved from


As you can guess, I follow the fire news closely. From today’s news we are reading about fires just north of us: