Working at Elizabeth Farm

Working as a guide at a historic home sounds, for many people, like a dream job. But is it? Last year I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Jacky Dalton, who works at Sydney Living Museums. I subsequently asked her about how she came to be in her job and this is what she told me. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS My first connection with Elizabeth Farm was a ghost tour almost 16 years ago, and I immediately felt a connection with the property even though I had no experience, or interest, [...]

2018-03-24T01:33:07+11:00March 14th, 2017|Colonial History, Life|7 Comments

Australia’s First Piano – belated update

The keys of the First Fleet piano. Surgeon George Worgan, thirty-three, improbably managed to bring a piano with him on the First Fleet. In 1790 he gallantly began to tutor Elizabeth Macarthur, telling her she’d ‘done wonders in being able to play off God save the King and Foots Minuet’ and that she was ‘reading the Notes with great facility.’ Worgan went so far as to make Elizabeth a gift of the pianoforte upon his departure in 1791. In early 1810 Elizabeth bought a pianoforte for £85 at [...]

2018-03-25T12:18:30+11:00December 23rd, 2016|Colonial History|7 Comments

Eat Your History by Jacqui Newling – Review and Interview

Hands up if you love to cook? Keep your hand up if you are interested in Australian history? Still with me?  Then do I have the perfect book for you (or for someone you know - Christmas is just around the corner and books are ever so easy to wrap...) Eat Your History: stories and recipes from Australian kitchens is a wonderful, and very beautiful, collection of recipes, social history and historical insights. According to the author, "This book invites you to share forgotten tastes and lost techniques, and rediscover [...]

2018-03-24T02:15:05+11:00December 16th, 2016|Book Review, Colonial History|3 Comments

Camden Park House

Camden Park House Source: Adventures in Biography Took my family to Sydney for the weekend, ostensibly for a quick sightseeing stopover but actually so that we could attend the annual open day at Camden Park House. We were lucky with the rain, and managed to explore the house and extensive gardens before it poured. * * * * * During the first week of June 1805 the signal was made at Sydney Harbour's South Head and Elizabeth’s prayers were answered. John Macarthur, having left NSW for England in [...]

2018-03-25T13:09:33+11:00September 26th, 2016|Colonial History, Work in Progress|7 Comments

Elizabeth Macarthur’s Quilt at the National Gallery of Victoria

The gallery had sold out of the glossy, colour catalogue for Making the Australian Quilt: 1800–1950 by the time I saw the exhibition last week. But I had a terrific chat with the young woman serving at the museum shop while I placed an order to have the catalogue mailed out (at a discounted rate, no less). "Isn't it interesting," she said, "how contemporary some of those quilt designs are. It's amazing to think they predated modernism by decades.  But not acknowledged, of course." She gave me a gorgeous, wry [...]

Mrs Macquarie and the tragic accident

Headstone of Grace and Richard Veale, Elizabeth Macarthur's sister and father. St Bridget's churchyard, Bridgerule. Source: Adventures in Biography One of the problems of being a researcher of women's history is all the dead children. Over and over again the archives yield stories of families broken by illness, accident and disease - so many stories that they are in danger of seeming commonplace. But of course the death of each child was, to his or her own family, an occasion of enormous tragedy. Elizabeth Macarthur lost [...]

The Cook and the Curator

© Sydney Living Museums The Cook and the Curator is a wonderful blog published by Sydney Living Museums. Sydney Living Museums cares for a group of 12 of the most important historic houses, gardens and museums in NSW. Formerly the Historic Houses Trust of NSW, the new identity was launched in 2013 and attempts to: ...bring our museums to life through a dynamic and diverse program of exhibitions, research and events such as walks, talks and tours so that our visitors can experience Sydney's past as if they had [...]

2018-03-27T19:40:52+11:00April 21st, 2016|Colonial History|2 Comments

The Journals of Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie

Elizabeth Macquarie (1778-1835) Today's amazing online resource - the Journals of Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie - is generously brought to us all by Macquarie University and the State Library of New South Wales. Click here for full transcripts of diaries written over thirteen years by Lachlan Macquarie, governor of colonial New South Wales between 1810 and 1822, and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Macquarie’s diary describes the couple’s journey to Australia in 1809, including accounts of Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, and Cape Town. Her husband’s diaries are [...]

2018-03-24T23:26:17+11:00March 18th, 2016|Colonial History|10 Comments

Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling by Larissa Behrendt – Book Review

Eliza Fraser's story is one hell of a tale.  No doubt you've heard it before: young woman shipwrecked off the Queensland coast in the 1836, long days at sea in an open boat, cast ashore on a large island inhabited by Aboriginal savages, husband killed and Eliza rescued from 'a fate worse than death' just in the nick of time. Perhaps you came across Eliza's story in Patrick White's A Fringe of Leaves.  Maybe you've seen Tim Burstall's 1976 film Eliza Fraser (with Noel Ferrier as the husband and Abigail [...]

2018-03-27T20:27:04+11:00February 27th, 2016|Book Review, Colonial History|0 Comments

Sydney Gazette – a treasure from Trove

© Stephen Beaumont, Dreamstime Stock Photos Was there ever a more aptly named site than Trove?  I've been having a lovely time searching through copies of the Sydney Gazette from 1805. Along the way I stumbled across the following, marvellous snippets.  An eloping goose, dingoes, eels, goats and even a pot-smoking Reverend. A grey goose last week eloped from its owner, after a long and faithful servitude in different families. It came originally from Hawkesbury, and is, or possibly was considered of sixteen brothers and sisters the only [...]

2018-03-21T14:55:34+11:00November 4th, 2015|Colonial History|0 Comments
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