Author Archives: Wayne Olling

Early Historical Extracts from the Sydney Gazette

Sydney Gazette 26 March 1803

Extraordinary Interposition of Providence –- On Saturday night last, as several carts were stopping to bait near the First Pond on the Hawkesbury Road, a tree of prodigious size and immense height, that had been loosened by successive tempests, fell among the travellers, and broke the carts to pieces, without injury either to the drivers or horses. A child was in one of the vehicles, upon which a forked branch happened to strike. By the violence of the concussion the infant was thrown to the distance of more than 20 yards, but also miraculously escaped unhurt !

Sydney Gazette 8 May 1803

On Thursday 19 boxes of Plants and Shrubs, procured here, were sent on board the Glatton by His EXCELLENCY, to be forwarded to England : many of which, it is supposed, are at present wholly unknown to the British Botanist.

During the night of Sunday the 24th ult. two prisoners in the watch-house at Parramatta broke from their confinement, and although diligent search was made after them, effected a temporary escape. In the course of the two following nights, however, they both voluntarily returned to their recent lodging, which they prudently preferred to the certain dangers of a romantic resort to the woods. This timely submission operated strongly on the minds of the Magistrates, who at all times consider contrition as a recommendation to mercy.

Sydney Gazette 15 May 1803

On Wednesday last the following statement of Timber, &c. sent on board the Glatton on account of Government was concluded, viz. 162 Pieces of crooked and straight Timber, from 41 and a half feet to 10 feet in length, and from 10 to 20 inches in Diameter : The species consist of Mahogany, Stringy-bark, iron-bark, Black and Blue Gum, and Box ; most of which are fit for Ship-building ; the number of solid Feet is estimated at 4,700. 55 Pieces of a Wood resembling Lignum Vitae, lately found ; It dyes a light yellow, and may be useful for that purpose as well as for the Pins and Sheaves of blocks. 30 Casks of Blue Gum Bark, which has been so successfully used in this Colony for tanning Leather. Some Grindstones. 2 Casks of Iron Ore, as a Specimen. Exclusive of the above, 113 Plank and Logs of She-oak have been sent to different individuals.

Sydney Gazette 29 May 1803

No rain (except a few passing showers of no use) has fallen since last July. This long drought has deprived many of the settlers of their late crop of Maize, but nowise injured the Wheat reaped in November last, or the first crops of Maize, owing to the heavy and fertilizing dews that have generally fallen in the nights. Although gardening has been much retarded, yet the rain that fell from Friday to Monday last, came very opportunely for the Wheat now sowing throughout the Colony, a quantity of which is out of the ground. From the long continuance of the heavy fall of rain, it was reasonable to apprehend that Hawkesbury would be laid under water; and it is the opinion of the inhabitants that had it not providentially ceased when it did, a flood must have been the consequence, as during the last day of the rain a heavy fresh made its appearance, and the water raised many feet above the usual height.

Sydney Gazette 26 June 1803

On Thursday two young Emues, procured at King’s Island, were sold to a Master of a Vessel for seven Guineas, a price by no means exorbitant, as they come under the denomination of WILD FOWL.


The following melancholy account has been given by John Place, who now lies in a very weak state in Parramatta Hospital, of an attempt made by him and three of his fellow prisoners, to escape from this Colony John Place declares, that he, John Cox, William Knight, and John Phillips, all late of the Glatton (prisoners) formed a resolution on the road from Castle-Hill to Hawkesbury, to attempt their escape. They formed this determination in consequence of having heard people say on board the Glatton, and while at work at Castle-Hill, that they could get to China, by which means they would obtain their liberty again ; being all married men (excepting one) they were very anxious to return to their families. On the seventh of May (three days after their arrival at Hawkesbury) they left Cornwallis-place, resolved to pass the Mountains, and took with them only their Week’s Ration, which they received on Saturday and consumed on the Wednesday following ; after travelling for seventeen days, in hopes of passing the Mountains, and despairing of accomplishing the object on which they set out, they resolved (if possible) to return. After they had eaten their provisions they found nothing to subsist on but wild-currants sweet-tea leaves, and had been oppressed with hunger for twelve days. Before they set off to return, John Phillips left them to gather some berries and they saw him no more; they heard him call several times , but could render him no assistance, they being so reduced by hunger and concluded he perished. Being asked in what direction they went, Place says, that they travelled the whole of the seventeen days with the sun on their right shoulder, and found great difficulty in ascending some of the Mountains, and also attempted to return by the direction of the sun. After travelling for upwards of Twenty-days, all (except Phillips) reached within five miles of Richmond-Hill, when William Knight, unable to proceed any further, lay down, where Place says he must have died. On the same day Place and Cox made the river above Richmond Hill, and in attempting to cross the Fall the current carried them down. One was carried to one side of the river, and the other to the opposite side, with difficulty pull- themselves ashore by the branches of the trees. Cox had only his shirt and shoes on, Place saw him lain along the bank, where, being very weak, and the night extremely cold, he supposes he died. Place also lay down, despairing of life, and was found on the day following by a man, who, with some of the natives, was in quest of kangaroos : he was then too weak to walk alone, but was led by the natives to the nearest hut, where he remained all night; in the morning he was taken to Hawkesbury, and from thence sent to the Hospital at Parramatta. None can read the above account without pitying the ignorance, and commiserating the sufferings of these deluded prisoners ; and it is fervently to be hoped, that the inconceivable hardships they have endured from hunger and cold, with the almost constant prospect of death before their eyes, will deter all other prisoners from either advising any of their companions or from making a similar attempt themselves. It is well known, that those are not the only unfortunate men who have perished in this wild attempt, many others have never returned to relate the hardships they underwent, and must therefore have perished under every accumulation of misery by their rashness and folly. Place who appears to be the only survivor, resigned himself to despair and death, and was found, within a few hours of eternity. He seems to have been preserved by a particular providence, to give the above awful admonition to all others who now do or shall in future, entertain any idea of regaining their liberty by a similar act, in which nothing but inevitable death must be the final event.

Sydney Gazette 3 July 1803

S Y D N E Y.

On Tuesday the 21st ultimo HIS EXCELLENCY ordered a party of Men from Parramatta to survey the Wild Cattle at the Pastures, and to slaughter one of the cast-off Bulls : In pursuance of which a young Bull was killed on the Friday following, which was brought into Parramatta and Sydney, and proves of an excellent quality.— The GOVERNOR has since directed, that a Butcher with several assistants should be employed in Killing and Curing the single Bulls until further Orders ; for which purpose they were on Monday last furnished with proper implements and necessaries. The inattention of the lower orders to the duties of the Sabbath has lately been such as render coercive measures necessary. Persons in all quarters of the Town have openly employed themselves in their customary weekly avocations, and others have preferred strolling idly about the streets to attending Divine Service. A number of these were on Sunday last taken into custody by order of the Magistrates ; but were afterwards reprimanded and discharged, upon a promise of amendment.

The night of the 24th ultimo, upon which the daring outrage was committed in the house of John Larkham, in the neighbourhood of Parramatta, Mr, Williamson’s Farm Residence was also attempted, it is supposed by the same party of villains, who there missed their aim ; and some evenings before, a quantity of poultry was stolen from an out-house of Mr. Evans, in the same neighbourhood, the villains having first barricaded the doors and windows of the dwelling-house, to prevent egression or alarm.—

Soon after the Robbery on Larkham’s premises, Thomas Dobson, a prisoner, was apprehended on suspicion of being accessary to the offence, or of knowing the perpetrators. This man has for some time absented himself from Government labour, and frequently took refuge, under a pretence of being off the Store, in the house of Larkham, in which he slept on the night of the burglary. Larkham’s Wife, who had been treated with much barbarity, declared on the examination, that four villains with their faces blacked, rushed into the house, which they ransacked, and afterwards cooked and eat a number of eggs ; during which interval Dobson lay near the fire, and was familiarly addressed by the robbers, one of whom she believed promised to see him in the morning, but the exact words, or their precise meaning, she could not ascertain. Dobson was forced to remain in custody, and every means taken that might leade to a discovery.

The dismal consequences that have invariably resulted from the rash project of crossing the Mountains, have proved, upon the most fatal evidence, the impossibility of its accomplishment, and the certain wretchedness and destruction of those who ignorantly presume on the attempt. From the numbers that have at different times fallen victims to the dangerous desire of emigrating, and who have absconded from the several Settlements under an illusory persuasion that an Establishment exists on the other side of these immeasurable heights, it becomes the duty of every well-wisher to his fellow-creature, by reasonable argument to point out the impracticability of performing such a journey, and the egregious absurdity of fostering the idea of an imaginary Settlement. It has been reported, by persons who were careless whether they asserted facts or falsehoods, that the natives of the interior have made mention of a set of people whose manners and customs strongly resembled our own ; and others, willing to give a still more improbable colour to the imposture, asserted in addition that these distant inhabitants were possessed of bells, churches, masted vessels, a sterling specie, and every other requisite that might seem calculated to convey the idea of civilization. The natives, upon whose verbal testimony this suggestion is pretended to have been founded, have too frequently convinced us of their ingenuity in dissimulation, to obtain the most distant shadow of belief where a doubt possibly could support ; and we are also well aware of their readiness to acquiesce in every thing, however absurd, that may obtain to them encouragement, or administer to their immediate wants. That such chimera may have so originated we cannot altogether question ; but nevertheless venture to affirm, that were two or more of these reports compared, the delusive supposition must vanish into nothingness, and this establishment prove indebted for its existence to the fertility of a romantic brain. To suppose that a body of civilized people should assemble on a coast, by shipwreck or other possible cause, and although possessed of the means yet entertained no desire to communicate with or return to their native country, would be as unreasonable as to imagine them set down in secret, and never after, become a subject of enquiry, as no transition has ever hinted at a circumstance that could possibly have given birth to so truly unreasonable, so preposterous a conjecture.

Were it therefore possible that an individual could make good this journey, and safely pass the numerous and large Lagoons by which these Mountains are intersected, no other reward awaits his fatal curiosity, than death under accumulated miseries. Missions, well directed and equipped, have indefatigably endeavoured to explore them, not in pursuit of a chimerical establishment, but upon useful discovery ; and they, altho’ provided with every necessary for the long and laborious travel, have been successively compelled to abandon the design, after an absence of many weeks : What then must be the portion of the rash and inexperienced few, who unconscious of the difficulties they are unprepared to encounter, yet dare to venture on the project ? Sorry we are to say, the consequences have already been too manifest—three out of four have L A T E L Y fallen victim to their rashness, and too late repentent of the credulity to which they were about to come the most wretched victims.

We understand HIS EXCELLENCY during his late visit to the Out Settlements, has given directions for making a more convenient Road to Hawkesbury from Parramatta, by which the mischief occasioned to Horses and Carriages from the necessity of crossing the Seven Hills will be totally removed.

Sydney Gazette 10 July 1803


By His Excellency PHILIP GIDLEY KING ESQUIRE, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty’s Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, &c. &c &c. WHEREAS there is great reason to suppose some Persons not duly Authorised, do make a Practice of going to those Parts beyond the Nepean, where the Strayed Cattle Resort for the purpose of Killing them, whereby several are Wounded: –To prevent which, it is hereby Ordered, That if any Person whatever frequent the Cow Pastures, or pass the Nepean, without a Permit Signed by the Governor, stating for what purpose that Permission is given, He or They will on Conviction, be put to Hard Labour for Six Months as a Vagrant. And if any Person whatever, not authorised, shall presume to kill any of the above Black Cattle, Male or Female, they will be Punished to the utmost extent of the Law. This Proclamation to be in force from and after the 15th Instant. Given under my Hand, at Government House, Sydney, in New South Wales, this 6th Day of July, 1803. (Signed) PHILIP GIDLEY KING. GOD SAVE THE KING! (By Command of His Excellency) W. N. CHAPMAN, Secretary.

From the irregularities practised by the Passage Boatmen that ply between Sydney and Parramatta, to oblige them to be more circumspect in their conduct towards their Passengers, the Magistrates are directed to make the present Proprietors an offer of their Licences being continued under the following Terms, viz.— The Proprietors to enter into a Bond of 50 Pounds Sterling, and two Securities in 25 Pounds each, for the due performance of the Regulations, by those they employ as well as themselves.

The boats to be always kept tight, furnished with at least four Oars in case the passengers may wish to assist in rowing, and with one Mast and Sail. To treat the passengers with civility, and any improper treatment on the part of the Boatmen, to be considered as a forfeiture of the Bond, unless mitigated by two Magistrates before whom the complaint is to be made.

A Bell is to be rung at the Hospital and Parramatta Wharfs, half-an-hour before the departure of the Boat, to give notice to those who mean to take a passage by it.

The boats to leave Sydney at the first low water, and Parramatta at the first high water, between Sun-Rise and Sun-set. The Boatmen stopping at any place morethan ten minutes, unless from necessity, will subject the proprietors to a forfeiture of the Bond and Security.

Any person not licenced by the Magistrates and approved by the GOVERNOR, plying the passage between Parramatta and Sydney for payment, will on conviction before two Magistrates forfeit two Pounds to the Orphan Fund. The Passage boat is not to go along-side any vessel for parcels or luggage of any kind, without acquainting the Wharfinger.

A Book is to be kept by the proprietors where all Goods, Parcels, &c. are to be booked for which one penny is to be given, which makes the proprietors responsible for the delivery.

Sydney Gazette 17 July 1803

On Thursday last a stump of a tree of prodigious size was removed from the end of South Row by a number of labourers, and thrown into the hollow of the Spring. The removal of this obstacle was attended with much labour and difficulty, which are however amply recompensed both in point of appearance and general convenience.

The Rains during the last week will, we hope, be found beneficial to the standing crops which have been hitherto much in want of seasonable falls.

Sydney Gazette 7 August 1803


The Military have at length completed the Streets in their respective District ; in the performance of which Eighty men have been employed Twenty-one Days. They have removed from their places of nativity Thirty-two Stumps of Trees, many of which were of a monstrous bulk : One in particular deserves remark — it’s circumference measured Nine Yards, and employed Sixteen Men Six Days to loosen and bury it in a gulph that was necessarily prepared close to the spot on which it grew. In turning it over into its place of interment, Ninety strong men pulled with all their might, and broke a two-inch tackle two different times ; by which sudden jerk numbers of the men were- thrown in heaps to the ground : but providentially no material injury sustained. By the above Improvement a more direct and commodious Road is opened from Sydney to Parramatta. The Street improvements and Repairs have made a sudden halt ; and change the Regulations have in most instances been duly attended to, yet from remissness and tardiness in others, they can at present only be said to disfigure the old style. The upper end of South Row forms a many-sided figure with which the Mathematics are entirely unacquainted.

A Parrot of a species perfectly distinct from any hitherto found, was lately taken at Kissing Point, and is now in the possession of the JUDGE ADVOCATE. Its size differs little from the Lowry, but the feather is by no means the same: those of the neck and breast are of a rich scarlet, with the head, wings, and tail of a clear straw colour. Whether this class may be possessed of the powers of SPEECH cannot yet be ascertained, but appearance declares it to be “a bird of promise”.

It may be justly wondered that the Tank or Bason at the foot or the Spring should be so totally neglected, at the same time that it is so essentially serviceable. A quantity of sand and rubbish has accumulated within the bason, which cannot be supposed to contribute to the purity of the stream —

Few will deny the justness of the remark, and none that are supplied from this valuable reservoir would perhaps be unwilling to contribute to its cleanliness ; but in its pre- sent neglected state it only furnishes us with a picture of “The Dog and MANY Masters.”

Sydney Gazette 14 August 1803




On the Use of Spiders as Prognosticators of the WEATHER.

It is generally known that the state of the atmosphere has a visual effect upon certain animals, and that, for instance, cats, dogs, frogs, hogs, &c. have a very strong presentiment of every change which is preparing in it. The spider possesses this quality in a more eminent degree than all other animals, and is peculiarly fit to serve as an unerring barometer. The spider says M. D’Isjonval, is a more unerring indicator of impending change in the atmosphere than the best barometer. These insects have two different ways of weaving their webs, by which we can know what weather we are to have. When the weather inclines to turn rainy or windy, they make the principal threads, which are the foundations, as it were, of their whole web, very short, and rather thick ; whereas they spin them much longer, when fine and warm weather is to be expected. Thence it appears clearly, that the spiders have not only a near, but also a distant presentiment of the changes which are preparing in the air. The barometer foretells the state of the weather with certainly only for about twenty-four hours whereas we may be sure that the weather will be fine twelve or fourteen days, when the spider makes the principal threads of its web long. It is obvious how important the consequences of this infallible signification to the state of the weather must be in many instances, particularly with regard to the operations of agriculture ; for which reason it has been frequently lamented, that the best Barometers, Hydrometers, Thermometers and Eudiometers are principally in the hands of consumers, and very rarely in those of the planters of the harvest. How fortunate is it therefore, that provident nature, amongst other gifts, also has bestowed upon the cultivator of the country such a cheap instrument, upon the sensibility and infallibility of which, with regard to the impending changes in the atmosphere, he can rely! The barometers are frequently very falliable guides, particularly when they point to settled fair ; whereas the work of the spider never fails to give the most certain information. This insect, which is one of the most economical animals, does not go to work, nor expends such a great length of threads, which it draws out of its body, before the most perfect equilibrium of all the constituent parts of the air indicates with certainty that this great expenditure will not be made in vain. Let the weather be ever so bad, we may conclude with certainty that it will not last long, and soon change for settled fair, when we see the spider repair the damages which his web has received. Those who will take the trouble to watch the operations of this useful insect, will be convinced by experience, that Mr. D’Isjonval deserves the thanks of his contemporaries on the communication of his important discovery, and in future show more indulgence to this object of almost general abhorrence than they have done hitherto.

Sydney Gazette 21 August 1803

A curious little native Animal, partaking in appearance of the squirrel & native cat is at this time in possesion of Dan M’Coy.- – The tail is of a remarkable length, the eyes rather prominent, the breast of a deep tan-colour, and the back a dark mixture. On either shoulder, a thin skin expands itself, which probably assisted in its flight or spring from tree to tree. From its hoarse droning noise when handled or molested, it at present passes under the appellation of the Buzzing Squirrel.

Sydney Gazette 4 September 1803

Some days ago a small Hive was found in the hollow of a Tree that had been brought into Town as fuel. When taken out a prodigious swarm of small Bees flew out upon the bystanders and nearly covered the person who held it in his hand, but without stinging him or any other person. About A pint of honey was taken from it, and the hive afterwards presented to a Gentleman.

Sydney Gazette 11 September 1803

A small viper was on Wednesday last killed in a house at the upper end of Chapel Row : It had concealed itself among some rubbish, in removing which it was at first perceived, and though very small, measured upwards of four feet in length.

A native Owl is in possession of the Judge Advocate, and may be worthy the notice of persons who may not have before seen any of its curious species. It chiefly resembles the European Owl in its inclination for sleep, and a total want of animation during the day. Its appearance is perfectly uncouth and grotesque, the beak sharp pointed, but of an unusual width next the throat, the eye is yellow, large and glaring; but the whole head during its slumbering state, is nearly concealed in the feathers of the neck and breast. Nature seems in the appearance of this bird to have consulted its security, as thousands might pass it as the fragment of a decayed bough.

Sydney Gazette 18 September 1803

A dog belonging to W. Miller, at the Hospital Wharf, has lost the use of his limbs from a feebleness and languor supposed to be occasioned by the ground tick burying in him; one of which was taken out from below the ear. The creature refuses nourishment, and appears to endure much pain.

A Snake of extraordinary size was killed last week on the Banks of George’s River, its length measuring more than 17 feet.

Sydney Gazette 2 October 1803

A Kangaroo of a species perfectly distinct from any hitherto taken was lately killed by Richard Palmer of the Brickfields, about a distance of 30 miles North of Richmond Hill. The animal, which the natives declared to be a very young one, weighed upwards of 80lbs, the Fore quarters differing little from the hind, but both are very different from those of any other species. The flesh he reports to be much finer than that of others, the skin differing in colour, being nearly black. Some of these NEW-DISCO- VERED creatures, if his account be accurate, may without exaggeration be estimated to weigh upwards of 200 lbs.

Sydney Gazette 9 October 1803

General Orders.

FROM the improvident method taken by the First Settlers on the Sides of the Hawkesbury and Creeks, in Cutting Down Timber and Cultivating the Banks, many Acres of Ground have been removed, Lands inundated, Houses, Stacks of Wheat, and Stock, washed away by former floods which might have been prevented in some measure if the Trees and other Native Plants had been suffered to remain ; and instead of cutting any down to have planted others to bind the Soil of the Banks closer ; and rendered them less liable to be carried away by every inconsiderable Flood ; nor is this the only evil:- – – The Public convenience having suffered by the numerous large Trees lying in the Stream, and fallen across, rendering water carriage on the Creek, almost impracticable, and in some Part of the Hawkesbury very dangerous.

As several Settlers have been, and are now fixing the Lower Part of the Hawkesbury, along the Nepean, South Creek, and Georges River, in Situations where the above Evils may be presented. It is hereby directed that no Settler or other Person, to whom Ground is Granted or Leased on the Sides of any River or Creek where Timber is now growing, Do on any account Cut Down, or Destroy by barking or otherwise, any Tree or Shrub growing within Two Rods of the Edge of the Bank, except for an Opening, One Rod wide, to have Access to the Water. ‘Mr. Evans, Acting Surveyor, of lands, is directed to communicate this Ordinance to those lately settled ; and to give the GOVERNOR a List of those who have not yet cut any Timber down in the above Situations, that it may be made a Condition in their Grant: And should they not be sufficiently sensible of the general and individual Benefit arising from this necessary Regulation, the Magistrates are hereby required to Levy a Fine of Fifty Shillings for each Tree cut down ; the Penalty to go to the Informer prosecuting to Conviction before two Magistrates.

Within the two Rods of Timber left on the Banks, another Rod is to be left for a Public Road along the Sides of the River or Creek ; which three Roads are not in future to be measured in the respective Allotments. it is earnestly recommended to those who already hold Farms by Grant, situated on the Side of any River or Creek liable to Floods, and which have bean cleared of Timber, to Replant the Banks with such binding. Plants and Trees as they can procure. By Command of His EXCELLENCY, W.N. CHAPMAN, Sec. Government House, Sydney, Oct 4. 1803

A hen belonging to a Settler at Hawkesbury lately hatched a clutch, amongst which an infant Cockatoo made its appearance, but whether the egg was introduced into the nest by accident or design we cannot exactly ascertain. The little intruder, which is described as the most uncouth in appearance of the unfledged brood, in common shared the good old hen’s regard. This chicken was the master’s favorite, and, as is commonly the case, repaid his indulgence with ingratitude: neglecting to clip the wings, as soon as the bird collected sufficient strength, it joined a flock of its own species, and has never since been recognized.

Sydney Gazette 16 October 1803

S Y D N E Y.

The inclosure of the Tank, undertaken by Government, will when compleated considerably improve the Town in its appearance, and render universal benefit in the preservation of its excellent stream Every appearance of rubbish has been removed from its sides, and the chrystal current flows into the basin with its native purity. A dam secures it from the heaviest falls on the side that lay exposed, and a high pallisade will cut off all access to the stream, save from the superflax of the grand Receptacle.


We are sorry to state, that the Hot Winds prevalent on Sunday last were productive of very disagreeable consequences at Parramatta, Prospect, the Northern Boundary, and places adjacent, where many fields have sustained a severe blight, Several Orchards in and about Parramatta shared the same fate: Upwards of 10,000 Peaches fell to the ground in a single garden, and many trees have lost their promising appearance. We have received no accounts which can authorise an apprehension on the part of Hawkesbury; and we sincerely hope that the injury sustained at the above places may have been exaggerated before it reached us. The Thermometer at Parramatta was at 92 ° in the shade at midday, and nearly the same height at Sydney. The Wind all the morning was at W. N. W ; at half past one it changed to S. S. E. in a violent gust at the commencement of which the Thermometer fell from 92 to 70 degrees in less than ten minutes.

Sydney Gazette 11 December 1803

S Y D N E Y.

Our last week’s Paper reported HIS EXCELLENCY’S excursion yesterday sen’night to the Cow Pasture Plains; Mrs. KING accompanied the excursion, and at about one o’clock the PARTIE halted on the Nepean,about 24 miles from Parramatta, without much fatigue. At day light the morning following HIS EXCELLENCY, attended by several Gentlemen, crossed the River, and proceeded towards the places chiefly resorted to by the Wild Cattle. The River was passed and repassed in the course of the day by Mrs. KING, who, we may confidently affirm, is the first and only Lady that has ever crossed the Nepean. On Sunday evening they returned to Parramatta, and on Monday morning HIS EXCELLENCY, accompanied by His Honor Lieutenant-Governor FOVEAUX, came to Sydney, but set out again for Parramatta in the afternoon. The GOVERNOR has also visited the Public Agricultural Settlement at Cornwallis Place, Hawkesbury, where the Harvest is nearly completed. Some of the Cattle at the Pastures appeared to be lame, from whence it is suspected that they have been wounded with fire-arms by persons frequenting the Pastures, although HIS EXCELLENCY’s Orders on that behalf have been so excessively determinate and conclusive. An opinion was ventured that the Cattle would in the course of time become so numerous as to be compelled to return towards Parramatta for want of sufficient Pasturage ; of this however, from indubitable authority we understand no probability exists for 50 years at least from the present period, allowing that they continue to increase in the same proportion that they have hitherto done from the time of their departure from the Settlement, and are not disturbed during that period. Exclusive of the very fine pasturage, the soil appears equally well calculated for tillage as are the Banks of the Hawkesbury, and these Plains are well watered by chains of small ponds, generally not more than half-a-mile apart, and which, though stagnant, are well tasted, and appear never to become putrid. There are also several kinds of grass, the principal of which is a species of wild oat, which grows in great luxuriance, and in fields that are each several acres in extent. Kangaroos, Emues, and Wild Ducks are in great abundance, and in all respects these extensive plains surpass any conception that can be possibly formed upon report.

Also 11 December 1803

The Thermometer on Tuesday & Wednesday last presented a phenomenon in the almost unchangeable position of the quick-silver, and consequently the unaltered heat of the weather during the greater part of those days. In the shade on Tuesday morning at 8 o’clock it was up to 79, and before 12 at noon it rose to 91 ; at 4 in the afternoon it sunk to 84, and between the hours of 4 and 8 it rose again to 90, where at 9 and 11 o’clock it appeared stationary, and there is much reason to suppose but little variation took place, as it was up to 88 at 8 o’clock on Wednesday morning. At 12, by the same Thermometer, it rose to 101; by 4 in the afternoon it had fallen to 96, and at 8 at night to 90, exactly where it was the night be- fore at the same hour. A Thermometer kept in a room to which the very sultry winds had no access, was only at 97º at the hottest time, and another in a position somewhat cooler, rose no higher than 94, but the latter, when taken into the air, rose 10 degrees in the space of a few seconds, being then so high as 104, which the Gentleman in whose possession it was accounted for from its being hung opposite to a wall upon which the sun set in at the time, by which the heat was so powerfully reflects as to occasion a difference of 3° from that which had been kept in the shade throughout. The Thermometer at Government House, Parramatta, on Wednesday, was in the air and shade 119° ; in the house and shade 93.

Sydney Gazette 18 December 1803

General Orders.

SOME unpleasant Complaints having recently been made of the Non-attendance of particular Individuals to the General Order of the 14th of October, 1802, HIS EXCELLENCY is reduced to the necessity of repeating that necessary Order, and insisting on its being strictly enforced, viz. If any person whatever is detected in throwing any Filth into the Stream of Fresh Water, cleaning Fish, Washing, erecting Pig-styes near it, or taking Water up but at the Tanks, on Conviction before a Magistrate their Houses will be taken down and forfeit, 5l. for each Offence to the Orphan Fund ; and if a Prisoner, on or off the Store, they will be punished by Imprisonment and Hard Labour for Twelve Months— Every Person, Civil or Military, and all others, are required to detect and bring forward all Offenders against this Order after the 17th Instant. It having appeared, that with a view to avoid detection, and with security to defeat the intent and meaning of the above Ordinance, whose only object is to preserve the Stream from Nuisance and Impurity, and thereby to prevent the Health of the Inhabitants from being impaired or hazarded, some Persons have privily found access to it by the means of Paling that may be removed at pleasure :—To prevent the possibility of future Complaint, therefore, it is His EXCELLENCY’S positive Order, that all Fences forming the Lines of Inclosure to the Running Stream be forthwith repaired, and that such Repair be henceforward duly unremittingly attended to ; as should any future Imperfection upon Examination appear, the Occupier of the Allotment of Ground to which that portion of the Fence belongs will be held responsible for a Breach of Orders, and, upon Conviction before a Magistrate, incur the full Penalties already specified in the General Order of the 14th of October, 1802. By Command of His EXCELLENCY, W. N. CHAPMAN. Sec. Government House, Sydney, December 16th, 1803.

Marsden Park North – Riverstone Wetlands

Community members seem to be running into dead ends with bureaucrats and politicians in efforts to protect a unique and very important wetland habitat for shore birds which travel from Russia, China, Japan and around Australia to forage in North-West Sydney. It’s as if the bureaucrats and politicians are not interested in matters of high ecological significance. Surely environmental sensitivity is part of the role which they occupy. It is a sorrowful indictment on our society today that many actively destroy unique aspects of our natural heritage or they turn a blind eye to those who do.

Retaining these wetlands and accommodating the annual migration of birds to the site will be a real boon to Riverstone/Marsden Park North in terms of tourist interest especially those from around Australia and the world who are interested in bird spotting.

Provided below are extracts of a brochure produced by community members which identify the values of the site and makes suggestions of what you can do:

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Flora Workshops Spring 2016

FLORA WORKSHOP – Spring 2016

Presented by Teresa James (Botanist/Ecologist)

Derived Grasslands Workshop

Native Grasslands derived from Cumberland Plain Woodland in western Sydney have only recently began to be recognised for their conservation values, but are still poorly mapped and documented. During this workshop we will cover the following:

  • The importance of derived grasslands and “paddock” trees in western Sydney
  • Mapping and condition assessment
  • Identification of grasses and herbs
  • Threatened species

Date: Two dates are planned if sufficient interest.

Friday 18th November (9 am to 3 pm) and Sunday 20th November (9 am to 3 pm)

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

Venue: TBA but we will be visiting 2-3 sites with car pooling between sites.

If interested in any of the above workshop please complete the registration form and return to Teresa James

Copies of Teresa’s latest Identification Guide Native Flora on Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain Woodland (2016) are also available for purchase ($38).

Spring Flora Workshop 2016

Registration Form




Contact Address:



Please copy, complete and return completed form to asap. An invoice will then be sent out with payment details.

Biodiversity Legislation Review – Comments

Review of Proposed Biodiversity Legislation

Summary: The draft Act would change the nature of NSW biodiversity protections:

· From our current regulatory system where the impact of development proposals is assessed (where unacceptable impacts are refused and/or challenged in court);

· To an offset based system where developments are approved so long as funds are paid to protect and restore biodiversity elsewhere (with no effective refusal or challenge in court)

The draft Act would remove virtually all legal avenues for the public to effectively oppose developments which harm our endangered wildlife. Illegal direct action would become the only effective avenue for community to oppose unacceptable impacts on our natural heritage.

Reduced scale: The draft Act has lower objectives than the current acts. It’s stated objectives are to maintain (not restore) biodiversity and to ‘facilitate’ sustainable development’.

The scale for biodiversity conservation is broadened from local to bioregional & state only. So while existing declarations for endangered populations remain it would be difficult to list any in the future.

The draft Act provides for continued habitat loss with the scale and rate of loss managed through offsetting. Developments will no longer need to consider indirect impacts such as climate impact, pollution, introduction of pests or other indirect impacts on endangered biodiversity (6.3). Instead a payment will be made to secure a future offset for direct (clearing) impacts only.

Ending legal appeals (Ministerial power): The draft Act removes almost all grounds for appealing developments in court, and gives almost unlimited discretionary power to the Minister for Environment.

There will no longer be avenues for appeal when environmental assessments ignore endangered species, and no avenues for appeal against the merits of proposals. Conversely the draft Act provides numerous appeal rights for those doing the wrong thing: for illegal clearing, failure to meet conservation offset actions (8.23) or if you are refused a licence to harm a protected species (2.16).

The Minister for the Environment can determined developments as they see fit and in the unlikely event the Minister refuses a proposal the developer can submit it to the Premier to resolve (quoting the act) ‘as the premier thinks fit‘ (5.17)

Corruption risk: The ICAC has strongly criticised the proposal for broad Ministerial powers noted above. The new Act goes further and allows for those regulating development offsets to personally invest in the same offsets they approve (6.6). This provides extremely high risks of mismanagement and corruption.

Public information about offsets: The OEH can choose to restrict any information they choose from the public register of offsets (s 9.10) making public oversight of the scheme impossible. OEH already restrict data on BioBanking making it impossible to see where funds for development offsets go – an alarming situation.

There would no longer be a requirement to publicly list submissions lodged against a development (9.3 pt2) and developers could choose to ‘summarize’ ecological assessments for public consultation as they see fit, rather than publicly exhibit the full assessment (9.2 part 4)

Offsets not like-for-like: the draft Act repeatedly claims that offsets will be made for the same species or community which is lost by clearing. In reality the Act details allows offsets to be for a different species or vegetation communities so long as they are considered more threatened.

Misusing bequests & covenants: Some landowners have made the ultimate gift and covenanted their bushland property to conserve it forever after they are gone. Many landowners have done this explicitly to ensure their property is not used to justify or offset development elsewhere.

The draft Act will allow their properties to be converted from the covenant (after death or sale) and be used to offset development (technically: the existing covenants automatically become a Conservation Agreement Tier 2 and can be upgraded to a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement Tier 1).

This is an appalling breach of trust with the gift these landowners have made. Land gifted to the Nature Conservation Trust with restrictions would also have these restrictions removed (10.8 to 10.9)

Some covenants have also been forcibly created under compliance (i.e. as offsets for illegal clearing) – these could now be cashed in by their owners, rewarding illegal activity and justifying even more land-clearing.

Offsets not to be protected in perpetuity: Offset sites are not in perpetuity but can be cleared by simply ‘offsetting the offset’. Mining rights and mining prospecting override offset sites and their landowners (5.18) and the landowner is not entitled to compensation for the lost biodiversity payments (5.18 pt 8). Offset sites can be developed with consent from the Minister for Environment (s5.10 & 5.16 b) for example or for ‘a purpose of special significance to the state‘ (5.16 c)

No need to have offsets available: Development can proceed by payment into a Biodiversity Conservation Fund even if offsets are not available. Shortages of offsets are likely to be frequent – a current example is the Badgerys Creek Airport development which refuses to pay landowners enough to secure offsets for endangered Marsdenia viridiflora, so will instead fund other actions to ‘assist’ the species. For example offsets could be research and ‘education’ (3 b) rather than conservation of habitat.


Cumberland Land Conservancy – Land for Security

Cumberland Land Conservancy is well down the path to taking up ownership of a a 38ha property adjoining Mulgoa Road and Mulgoa Creek, Mulgoa for management in perpetuity for conservation.

An aerial photo of the site they have named “Wallaroo” is provided herewith.

On an afternoon which threatened rain, around 25 members took the opportunity to inspect the site on 20 March 2016 and all remained dryMulgoa Property.

A sub-committee is to be appointed to develop a Plan of Management for the site in consultation with the Nature Conservation Trust.

Autumn Flora Workshops 2016

Flora Workshop


Presented by Teresa James (Botanist/Ecologist)

1. Introduction to identifiying western Sydney plants (NEW)

Date: Sunday 17th April (10 am to 1 pm)

Details: A field based practical introduction to identifying native plants. No previous knowledge is required. Learn how to identify plants based on simple, user friendly keys, descriptions and photographs. Please bring a hand lens or magnifier if you have one. We will be using my latest book Native Flora of Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain – An Identification Guide (2016) – this is an expanded version of Native Flora of Cumberland Plain Woodland (2013).

Cost: Option 1 includes a copy of Native Flora of Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain: $75

Option 2 – workshop only : $40 Venue: TBA

*Class copies of the book will be available for use on the day

2. Grass Identification Workshop – western Sydney (NEW)

Date: Wednesday 20th April (9 am to 3 pm)

Details: A one day field-based workshop. We will cover the importance and types of grasslands found in western Sydney, basic grass morphology and terminology, main grass groups, common genera, how to examine a specimen and use a simple botanical key. The focus will be on native species but common or easily confused exotic species will be included. Please bring a ruler and a hand lens or magnifier if you have one.

Cost (including workshop notes): $140 Venue: TBA

3. Shale Sandstone Transition Forest Workshop

Date – Saturday, 23rd April, 2016 (9am – 3.30 pm)

Details: A single day workshop to assist in identification of the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest critically endangered community and explore natural variability within the community. There will be an indoor presentation, field survey along the shale sandstone transition and inspection of a few contrasting local sites (within the Hills Shire).

Cost (including workshop notes): $125 Venue: In The Hills (TBA)

All inquiries and bookings to Teresa James:

Meeting – Government’s Biodiversity Legislation Review

The NSW Government is rewriting land clearing laws and the news isn’t good for biodiversity and communities across the State, including Western Sydney. With the Government’s draft legislation due for public release in March 2016, join us to learn more about the Government’s proposed changes and be empowered to make your voice heard.

This event is organised by the Total Environment Centre and Nature Conservation Council for NSW, in collaboration with the Blacktown and District Environment Group, as part of a series of events across Sydney.

What: Baird’s War on Trees: Time for Action! (Western Sydney meeting)

When: Wednesday 10 February 2016, 6.30-8.30pm

Where: Community Room, Level 4, Westpoint Shopping Centre, Blacktown

Directions: The Community Room is located off the Level 4 open car park which is best accessed from Alpha Street at the roundabout and up the ramp. There is 3hr free parking in this car park.  For those travelling by train, enter Westpoint Shopping Centre near the railway station, take the escalator to Level 4 (where the theatres and restaurants are), turn right after the elevator, head west down the steps or ramp past the games shop, proceed to the end of the gallery and turn left.  The Community Room is about twenty metres further on.

RSVPs: By 08/02/2016

For further information about the NSW Biodiversity Review, go to: 

For further information about this meeting, email Corinne Fisher –

Sydney Zoo Proposal for Eastern Creek/Doonside

Western Sydney Parklands Trust has become noxious to Conservationists in Western Sydney.

When former Premier Bob Carr announced establishment of the 5,500ha area to be Western Sydney Parklands in 2004 he uttered the words “open space, never to be developed, a great part of our environment.”

In the lead up to that announcement the NSW Government had been resuming land for the parkland. The 300ha former OTC site at Eastern Creek/Doonside (previously known as Bungarribee Estate) was included in the acquisitions.

Conservationists had high hopes the 300ha former OTC site would provide an important flora and fauna habitat near the centre of the City of Blacktown. Our hopes were quickly dashed when personnel within the Department of Planning soon told us that 90ha of the site (and another area near Cecil Hills) would be set aside for housing development to pay for Western Sydney Parklands.

Since then, the Board of Western Sydney Parklands Trust has developed a voracious appetite, cannibalising land which had earlier been said to be conserved, particularly in Blacktown LGA. To satisfy self interest, the Board of Western Sydney Parklands Trust has systematically sold off or leased land for financial gain which former Premier Carr said was “open space, never to be developed, a great part of our environment.” Also, what of those people who were forced off their land by the government under the pretence it was to become parkland yet today they see their former land holding sold off or leased for development – something previous land owners were denied?

The latest and by no means last act of self serving by the Board of Western Sydney Parklands Trust is the leasing of land for the Sydney Zoo enterprise.

The 16.5ha of land proposed for the Sydney Zoo enterprise forms part of an area free ranged by a mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos – part of our natural heritage. It comprises an area in which Greening Australia (with the approval of the Department of Planning) brought in community volunteers to do native vegetation planting in past years. It is another excision of land from the former OTC site land for commercial gain and, when finished its parasiting, the Board of Western Sydney Parklands Trust will have set aside from the former 300ha only a skinny margin of Eastern Creek floodplain for flora and fauna conservation purposes.

Indeed, the question is asked just how much land is conserved for flora and fauna conservation in Blacktown LGA which is not associated with the riparian margins or floodplain of Eastern Creek? Exclude Prospect Nature Reserve from that consideration because it was already conserved before Western Sydney Parklands Trust could get its ‘teeth’ into it.

But not even that skinny margin of conserved land from the former OTC site will be protected from the ‘dead hand’ of Western Sydney Parklands Trust’s self interest. The plan for Sydney Zoo includes removal of part of the riparian margin and, in other areas, landscaping with overseas plants and grasses e.g. African grasses. It is not enough that a wealth of NSW Government grants over decades have been expended through agencies and community volunteer groups to reduce the adverse effects of African Lovegrass in the Sydney Region and now Western Sydney Parklands Trust, with the intended approval of the Department of Planning, is proposing to accommodate a landscape of African grasses alongside Eastern Creek.

It is well known that creek lines are the most difficult and expensive areas to restore and maintain in natural state. Every rain inundation brings seeds from exotic plants and grasses into creek lines from surrounding development. After the ‘wash-in’ and depositing somewhere downstream the seeds germinate to produce weeds which are the bane of bush regenerators.

Yet here it is, the NSW Government backing the self interest of Western Sydney Parklands Trust, about to approve an expansive source of introduced seeds alongside the riparian margin of Eastern Creek. Whether wind borne or carried through drainage into Eastern Creek these introduced seeds will be carried into Eastern Creek, potentially downstream into South Creek and potentially the Hawkesbury River. Somewhere along that route they be deposited and produce unwanted plant species. This is a disastrous regression in the administration of weed management in New South Wales.

Is not Eastern Creek at least a Class 4 stream in terms of the Water Management Act? How close is development permitted to such a stream? How close can a development which is the active progenitor of weed species be to such a significant stream that is Eastern Creek which feeds into major agricultural and conservation areas of Blacktown and Hawkesbury LGA’s?

What an abominable monster the Western Sydney Parklands Trust has become to the natural environment of the City of Blacktown.

How could a semi-government agency become so far removed from the intention of the former Carr Government when announcing establishment of Western Sydney Parklands in year 2004?

This is an indictment on the exigencies of government today. Environmental protection was better a decade and half ago than it is today.

The Sydney Zoo proposal should not be permitted within the former OTC (Bungarribee) site, Doonside. The land should be conserved to honour the statement made to the public by former Premier Bob Carr when he said this land was “open space, never to be developed, a great part of our environment” when announcing establishment of Western Sydney Parklands.

Can government be trusted?

Continue reading

Australia Zoo, Eastern Creek


Blacktown & District Environment group Inc is disgusted with the contempt shown by successive NSW Governments and, more particularly, the Western Sydney Parklands Trust with respect to the former Bungarribee site, Eastern Creek/Doonside.

The Australia Zoo proposal is just more of the same.

What was a 300ha open space flora and fauna habitat a decade and more ago, and much before that the historic “Bungarribee”  has been carved up for money making ventures by the NSW Government and Western Sydney Parklands Trust, none of which ventures sustain or add to the natural and cultural heritage of Blacktown LGA; rather, they subtract.

With respect to the natural heritage we are concerned that habitat and foraging space for our local bird populations and the mob of kangaroos on that land is to be further diminished. Also, the Australian Bass fish in Eastern Creek will likely be compromised, perhaps made extinct, from polluted drainage from the proposed Australia Zoo and other developments imposed or yet to be imposed by the NSW Government and Western Sydney Parklands Trust.

It is all the more galling that former Premier, Bob Carr, and his colleagues when first proclaiming Western Sydney Parklands, said the parklands were “never to be developed.” Society has descended to immorality when government and its agencies do not keep their word. Why should anyone treat anyone honourably when lying is exampled by government? These are the first wisps of a whirlwind of anarchy which consequentially follows.

In taking open space land from the residents of Blacktown the Western Sydney Parklands Trust offers as compensation the trinket and plaything of a zoo to amuse residents and to act as a salve to the real injury.

Further, the area allocated for the zoo was the area where much pains were endured by the community in voluntary plantings and bushcare for Greening Australia. This decision for a zoo on that site just adds insult to the injury of contempt for the community as Western Sydney Parklands Trust derives income to keep its stipended personnel well supplied into the future.

Shame on government and its parasitic agencies.