Bridge View Inn 150th Celebrations

On 6 December 2022, Rylstone and District Historical Society (RDHS) celebrated 150 years of the Bridge View Inn with a community birthday party.


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The new publication is a 108 page history of the Bridge View Inn that includes chapters about:

  • the historical context of early Rylstone in the 1850s, 60s and 70s.
  • the hotel’s physical characteristics as a country hotel built with a high level of craftsmanship; the building’s significance and recognition as an item of State heritage
  • the Hall families, responsible for the Bridge View Inn and the two colonial cottages on the corner of Louee and Dabee Streets
  • the seven publicans who held the licence at the hotel between 1871, when it opened, to 1895 when it was repurposed to become a bank
  • the bank era when the bar and associated room became the banking chamber and the rest of the building was used as a staff residence
  • the short period in private hands during the late 1950s and 60s, and then the period of use by Rylstone and District Historical Society and the various tenants who have leased space in the building
  • conservation efforts to maintain and develop the building since the 1960s
  • the rare 19th century mural in the dining room, its conservation and the artist thought to be responsible
  • the building in the 1940s and 50s when Helen Norris was a child living there, including Rylstone social history
  • the building in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Per and Helen Kristensen worked to conserve deteriorating fabric and operated a restaurant
  • sources for the interested reader to follow up on the material in the book

The book is well illustrated with photographs and plans.

The book price is $25.00.  It is available from Rylstone and District Historical Society Cottage Museum (open Sundays from 10 to 3 pm), from the Rylstone Newsagency, or from the ‘We’ve Got It Made’ shop in the Bridge View Inn during business hours.

If you would like to have a copy sent to you through the mail, email the Society on

Add $10 for postage and handling. Pay first via electronic funds transfer (total $35.00) as follows: 

Bank: Reliance Bank

Account Name: Rylstone and District Historical Society

BSB: 882 000

Acct No: 300028331


In your email include the bank’s receipt number and be sure to provide your full name and the mailing address. Once the payment has been processed the Society will mail you your copy.

Heritage Interpretation Project proudly funded by the NSW Government

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Trash and Treasure Fair

Saturday, 4th June 2022

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POSTPONED: Trash and Treasure Fair












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‘Five Good Squadrons’ by Robin Droogleever

A Regimental history of the 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles in the Boer War (1899-1902)

Five Good Squadrons by Robin Droogleever

The five squadrons that constituted the 1st Regiment of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles which joined the British campaign in South Africa in 1900 were initially a mix of trained militiamen, supplemented two months later by volunteers who were prepared to ‘give it a go’. Accepted on the basis of whether they were healthy and could ride and shoot, they were made up of professional soldiers, farmers, landowners, labourers, students, teachers, policemen, gentlemen of leisure, railway and tram workers, unemployed men, and those who had crossed the law. Over 600 served. More than 50 never came home. The regiment played a significant role in the course of the campaign and were described by one British Commander as ‘The finest mounted infantry material in the world’. Their reputation in the Boer War had an impact on the development of the Light Horse Brigades that went on to serve Australia so well in the First World War. 

The book covers not only the campaign history of the regiment but there are 185 pages of biographies of all the men who served. There are also 150 pages of photos, most of which have been generously donated by descendants, and which provide a wonderful panorama of social life at the turn of the 20th century.

Included in the book are details about three Rylstone lads: John Larkin (born in Rylstone in 1877); John Hector McLean (born in Rylstone in 1877), and Prince Richard Taylor (born in Rylstone in 1876). There is a fourth, Walter Pope, who died in Rylstone in 1946 but there currently little known of the extent of his involvement in Rylstone.

Now the cost: $60 plus postage of $12.50 in the Australia Post medium sized red bag which is waterproof and can be tracked. Total: $72.50. Not only do Australia Post seem to give priority to their red bags it is definitely the most secure way of despatch. 

Payment can be through Direct credit to my bank account which I will provide upon requests for the book. An alternative form of payment is in the form of a cheque made out to Robin Droogleever and sent to P.O.Box 42, Bulleen, 3105, Victoria. 

Contact: Robin Droogleever on email at or phone on mobile 0455-346-777 (or feel free to use the P.O.Box number).

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Richard Fitzgerald and ‘Dabee’: a Bathurst connection

Richard Curran has explored the connections that Richard Fitzgerald, of Dabee near Rylstone, had with Bathurst and its early convict history. For further information on his research, visit his work at the following locations:

Richard Fitzgerald’s Bathurst Convict Establishment in 1828 (Part 1)

Richard Fitzgerald’s Bathurst Convict Establishment in 1828 (Part 2)

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Rylstone Bicentenary Commemorative Dinner – 23 April 2022


You are invited to attend a dinner to commemorate 200 years since Colonial Settlement began in the area of the former Rylstone Shire. Not only will that important ‘milestone’ be commemorated but key events that have helped shape the Rylstone District as we know it today will also be acknowledged.

Time & Date: Saturday April 23rd 2022 at 6:30pm (changed from April 2nd)

Place: Rylstone Memorial Hall, Louee Street

Tickets: $70 per head – refer details below

Drinks: complimentary drinks on arrival and then a ‘cash bar’ operating in the hall

Dress: Semi-formal

RSVP: 8th April 2022

Our records indicate that some of you may be descendants of early settlers, and as such we would welcome you bringing any photos, newspaper clippings, family histories that you would be willing to share.

For further information and/or to purchase tickets, either email ( with your name and contact number, or call into the Cottage Museum on any Sunday between 10:30am – 2:30pm.

Yours in Preserving the Past for the Future,
Peter Monaghan – President of RDHS inc.

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Open Weekend at ‘Macquarie’

includes an exhibition by “Mountains & Metal” of contemporary jewellery and silverware – in the Convict Barracks

Date: weekend of 6-7 April 2019

Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm daily

Location: 3397 O’Connell Road, O’Connell (near Bathurst)

Phone: Bonny 0405 442 025 or Paul 0405 442 026


Evidence supports the assertion ‘Macquarie’, containing the original 1000 acre land grant to Lieutenant William Lawson by Governor Lachlan Macquarie as Lawson’s reward for his contribution in finding a way across the Blue Mountains, is the oldest farm and oldest continuing residence west of the Great Divide. In it’s 200 years of European history ‘Macquarie’ has only had two owners prior to the Hennessys, namely, the Lawson and McKibbin families. Accordingly, it remains remarkably unaltered.

The work of ‘Mountains & Metal’ will be on display for the weekend. This group of jewellers, silversmiths and artisans from the Blue Mountains and surroundings welcome you to view their work in this unique setting. All items are for sale – come and meet the artists.

Welcome to Country will commence at 10.00 am on both days.  Tables and chairs will be set out on the lawns and refreshments will be available. 

‘Macquarie’ is situated approximately 12 kilometres south east of Bathurst on the O’Connell Road and approximately 8 kilometres from the Great Western Highway. 


$10 – $25

(Adult $10 Child $5 (over 6yrs) Pensioner/Senior $7 Family $25 (2A & 2C) Entry fee includes booklet. Entry and refreshment proceeds will go to St Vincent de Paul Bathurst to distribute to drought affected farmers)


  • Carpark
  • Coach Parking
  • Family Friendly
‘Macquarie’, c. 1863 (Photo: National Trust)

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Rebellion on the Turon

Be part of the 1853 Turon Rebellion re-enactment and tremble through a weekend complete with cannons, floggings, shootings and duels, market stalls, exhibitions and more. At any time bushrangers may stick you up for your gold (coin).

For those interested in Bathurst’s gold history and that of the Turon River and Sofala then make sure you join with the residents of the Turon Gold Fields, N.S.W. Corp of Marines, and Lithgow Living History in a day of historical re-enactments and displays. It starts at 10am with the firing of the 1820s cannon. The Redcoats will be there with pistol and sword duels. Ride a Cobb & Co coach, see the penny farthings and then visit the 1850s surgeon’s tent. Kids, be sure you visit the archaeological dig. The re-enactment of the “Rebellion on the Turon” with the Turon Diggers uprising against the gold licensing fee and the march on the Police Barracks will be sprung after a fresh corn lunch at 1pm.

You can have a chat with one of several Marines marching around on the day. Don’t miss the firing of the loud cannonade with plenty of smoke, if you can take it at the right second on your camera. 


17 March 2019

10:00am – 3:00pm

Denison Street, Sofala NSW 2795

Phone: 6337 7587


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Snapshot of our Heritage

Some good news on the heritage front!

Mid Western Regional Council has received significant funding for a major project titled “Snapshot of our Heritage”. Peter Monaghan and Virginia Hollister are both volunteer members on Council’s Heritage Committee and this is news just to hand.

The grant will provide funding to:

(1) photographically document all 400+ heritage listed buildings in the council area.
(2) create ‘statements of significance’ for the same 400+ buildings
(3) provide an opportunity for owners and interested members of the public to:
a. share any photographs, further information, stories and history about these buildings and
b. suggest other buildings and sites that should be considered for listing in the future.
(4) create a website to hold and share the above information.

This is a great opportunity for our heritage to be better documented!!!

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“Blue Water Warriors” by Craig Harris

Craig Harris, author of Blue Water Warriors, has just completed an historical memoir that mentions Robert Fitzgerald “Fitz” EVANS, who was at one time the owner of Dabee, near Rylstone NSW. During the late 1940s, Fitz’s famous yacht, Mistral II, participated in many Sydney to Hobart races.

The book, Blue Water Warriors, tells the story of the early Sydney to Hobart yacht races drawing on log books and memories of the navigator on a legendary competing yacht, a living part of Australia’s maritime history.
Mistral II’s crew encountered dangers and hazards not generally faced by today’s competitors, without life rafts, radios and no propeller — it had been deliberately removed. At one point, Mistral II came terrifying close to being smashed against the tremendous cliffs of Tasman Island.

There are many contemporary photos, invitations, souvenir programs, and letters, including an introduction letter from Captain John Illingworth RAN one of the founders of the race.

Further information can be found at Craig Harris’ website at


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Album Tells a Family Story (Kandos History)

Sometimes an object strays into our hands and jolts us back to the past.

‘Here. You should look after this now,’ my older sister said, a few years ago, and held out a book. I almost snatched it from her because I knew my hands were the right hands…

This article by Colleen O’SULLIVAN appeared in the Mudgee Guardian in April 2014.

The featured image shows the first page of Mary Ann BROWN’s album, which was given to her by her brother William Thomas BROWN, just before she married Arthur LLOYD.

To download and read this article click below:

Kandos History: Album tells a family story


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New Kandos History website

Local Kandos historian, Colleen O’Sullivan, has announced the launch of a new website to promote the town of Kandos and provide a forum for its history.

The website, Kandos History, can be found at


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Rylstone property clocks up 150 years of family ownership

The Keech family from the Rylstone property “Drayton” are celebrating 150 years of continuous family ownership. Situated in the locality of Camboon, around 10 kms north-west of town, fourth generation owner Greg Keech lives on the property with his mother Nita who is 95 years old and who, with her late husband Frank Keech, were the previous owners. The property was originally selected by William Keech in 1867. 

The Keech family from the Rylstone property “Drayton” celebrating 150 years.

The Keech family from the Rylstone property “Drayton” celebrating 150 years.

William bought the first 50 acres of his property from the government on the proviso that he could not purchase any more land until he had removed all the trees except for a few in one corner for shade. He eventually increased his holding to around 1400 acres.

The first home at “Drayton” with William and Martha Keech and family members.

The first home at “Drayton” with William and Martha Keech and family members.

Over the four generations there have been three homes built on the property. The first was demolished, the second was removed and located to the property “Camp Hill” nearby and the third was built around 1926.

Source: Mudgee Guardian, internet article,, accessed 19 January 2017.


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George Roy William McDONALD (1883–1951) – Kandos Cement Works

Originally by Heather Radi

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

George Roy William McDONALD (1883-1951), politician and businessman, was born on 29 January 1883 in Sydney, son of George McDONALD, Canadian-born contractor, and his wife Margaret Amy, née McNAMARA, from Brisbane. Known as Roy, he entered the public service in April 1898 and was deposition clerk, Broken Hill, before serving in Sydney and then as assistant clerk of petty sessions at Goulburn, Albury and Bathurst. In 1908 he resigned to become a land agent at Tamworth, and in 1911 moved his business to Sydney. In 1910, as Labor candidate, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Bingara, defeating the secretary for lands, S. W. MOORE. He proved to be highly critical of the Labor government’s land legislation: a move in 1914 to bar land agents from election to parliament seems to have been directed at him.

In 1915 McDONALD stated his support for conscription but, unwilling to give his reasons for not enlisting, had avoided participating in recruitment campaigns. He frequently condemned strikes where arbitration was available to workers. When he resigned his seat and Labor Party membership in 1916, R. J. STUART-ROBERTSON said he had never been a Labor man. McDONALD held Bingara as an Independent at the subsequent by-election and as a Nationalist in 1917. He was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1920.

McDONALD had repeatedly protested at attempts to dismiss from public office persons of German descent. In 1914 he had defended Dr August SCHEIDEL, naturalized since 1890, from critics seeking his internment; SCHEIDEL had reported slate and limestone deposits near Rylstone in which McDONALD acquired an interest. When Kandos Cement Co. Ltd was formed in 1919 to take over the cement works and colliery, McDONALD became a director and ceased to act as a land agent. He was also a director of Western Australian Portland Cement Co. Ltd and of the Southern Union General Insurance Co. of Australasia, and chairman of Carroll Musgrove Theatres Ltd and the New Caledonian Meat Co. Ltd. A founding vice-president of the National Roads and Motorists’ Association in 1924, he was a director of N.R.M.A. Insurance Ltd. He was later associated with several blue-metal quarrying enterprises, including the Brisbane Metal Quarries Ltd in which J. C. WATSON also invested. By 1928 Kandos Cement had extended its activities to New Zealand, but excess production led to its amalgamation with Australian Cement Ltd in 1929. As returns from cement and blue metals fell, he formed a company to buy the Imperial and Mount Victoria hotels.

Hon. George Roy William McDONALD

Granted nine months leave from the Legislative Council in 1923, McDONALD married May Camille DEZARNAULDS, from New Caledonia, on 4 September at Woollahra. As well as overseeing his business interests, he studied law and on 26 August 1927 was admitted to the Bar. His political views narrowed to protection of his own business interests and he opposed most of Labor’s reforms. In 1930 he resigned and stood unsuccessfully for Barwon; later he contested the Federal seats of Wentworth (1940) and Gwydir (1946). When a quota system for Australian feature films was introduced in 1935 he led the opposition from distributors. On 12 August 1937 he was admitted as a solicitor and established the firm, G. R. W. McDONALD & Co.

On 28 July 1951 McDONALD died of cerebro-vascular disease at his Bellevue Hill residence and was cremated with Anglican rites. His wife and son survived him and inherited his estate, valued for probate at £28,588.

Source: Heather Radi, ‘McDonald, George Roy William (1883–1951)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 3 January 2017.

Image source: ‘The Hon. George Roy William MCDONALD (1883 – 1951)’, Parliament of New South Wales,, accessed 3 January 2017.Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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Owner calls for government support to restore a slice of history

INLAND Australia’s oldest two-storey convict barracks could tumble to the ground within two years unless the money is found to restore them.

The dilapidated two-storey barracks stand beside an 1820s homestead on historic Macquarie, between Bathurst and O’Connell.

The home and barracks were built by convict labour on 1000 acres of land granted by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to William Lawson for his role in crossing the Blue Mountains with Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth in 1813.

The barracks housed up to 28 convicts at a time until the 1850s and most remained in the district following emancipation as a condition of their release.

CONVICT HISTORY: Paul Hennessy with the 200-year-old two-storey convict barracks on Macquarie, the former home of Blue Mountains explorer William Lawson. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

CONVICT HISTORY: Paul Hennessy with the 200-year-old two-storey convict barracks on Macquarie, the former home of Blue Mountains explorer William Lawson. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

Many of today’s generational Bathurst families are direct descendants of those convicts.

Macquarie remained in the Lawson family until 1918 when it was sold to the McKibbin family.

Paul and Bonny Hennessy became just the third owners of the property in 2012 when they bought it with a commitment to restore it to its former glory.

Since then they have employed more than 250 tradespeople and labourers to work on the homestead as they slept in the shearers’ quarters out the back – without receiving a cent in government support.

“This property has great historical significance as the oldest farm this side of the Blue Mountains and it’s here due to the patronage of the father of Australia, Lachlan Macquarie, and the property carries his name.

“There remains a question over whether Macquarie ever came to the farm but I believe he did.

“We know he had been to The Grange [a short distance away] and there is an entry in his diary that says Lawson has a fine homestead and 200 acres of wheat, the best he had seen in any country in the world.”

Mr Hennessy said their situation highlighted the difficulty private owners faced “doing their bit” to retain and restore significant heritage items for the broader benefit of the community.

Even a conservation management plan for the site cost $50,000 and Mr Hennessy said he would appreciate financial support or fee relief from the tiers of government to help with the project.

With work on the homestead almost complete, Mr Hennessy’s focus is turning to restoring the barracks.

“The brickwork is the major problem and it is deteriorating rapidly,” he said.

“It’s possible the barracks have a life of less than two years before they are lost.

“In Bathurst we have wonderful sporting and cultural facilities but until recently our heritage assets have been overlooked.”

Mr Hennessy said he would like to see the barracks restored and converted to a convict museum to display many of the colonial artefacts they have found on the property, including farming tools, shoes and household items, along with a roll of names of the convicts who stayed there.

He said he would happily welcome school groups keen to learn more about colonial Australia.

“We [Mr and Mrs Hennessy] see ourselves as custodians of this property for future generations and we are fortunate to be in a position at our stage in life to put money into restoring what we can,” he said.

“But heritage buildings have just as much legitimacy as sporting and arts facilities when it comes to government support, and some would say more.

“As years go by there will be even more focus on the stories of convicts and this could become a major attraction for the region.”

(Source: Western Advocate,, accessed 13 November 2016)Facebooktwitterpinterestinstagram

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Former Rylstone resident tells tales of yesteryear in new book

Rylstone District Historical Society’s Cottage Museum has available copies of a book written by a former Rylstone resident Jack Turner and his daughter Jacqui Halpin. The book, called ‘A Long Way From Misery’ was inspired by Jack’s father’s stories which always began with “Down on Misery…” Misery was the farm his father grew up on.

Hot off the press, ‘A Long Way From Misery’ is available at the Cottage Museum, Rylstone.

Hot off the press, ‘A Long Way From Misery’ is available at the Cottage Museum, Rylstone.

The co-author Jack Turner was born in Rylstone in 1926, the eldest of 10 children. In his own words – “I never had an education – at least not one from a classroom. I got me education in the bush…”

His daughter Jacqui is a children’s author whose stories have won prizes. Her fathers’ knack for telling stories inspired her own love of storytelling.

A Long Way From Misery takes you on a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear. It’s a great read and is available for just $20 at the Cottage Museum. It’s full of local history and memories, lots of photos. The Cottage Museum is open every Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

(Source: Mudgee Guardian, accessed 25 October 2016,

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Spring is in the air: historic houses Open Day in Hill End

The popular Hill End Open Day enables visitors to access a number of unique gold rush buildings not normally open to the public. The combination of buildings available to view give a fascinating glimpse into the past life of a bustling, frenzied mining town.

In the boom year of 1872, Hill End claimed the second biggest population in the state, yet today it is but a sleepy remnant of its illustrious past.

Register at the Royal Hall where pioneering ancestors will gaze upon you, before heading out to visit St Paul’s Church, miners’ cottages (some now residencies and studios for visiting artists including the home of renowned artist Donald Friend), the Court House, School and La Paloma pottery. There is almost too much to see properly in one day, so come early!

Experience the ambiance of these incredible gold rush buildings set in the isolated landscape of the NSW Central Tablelands. Arrive by sealed roads from Mudgee or Bathurst and remember to always bring a jumper or jacket to Hill End as weather can cool down in mornings and afternoons.


Adult $25.00; Concession $18.00 –  Bookings essential.

For further details and bookings Phone: (02) 6337 8306 or Email:



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Wallace Keith “Wal” PILZ – RDHS Member

PILZ Wallace Keith
15.09.2016Much loved husband of Patricia (dec), father of Richard, Helen, Chris, Katharine, Elizabeth and their families. Cherished grandfather and great grandfather.

Aged 89 years

Family and friends are invited to attend Wallace’s Funeral Service to be
held in the Magnolia Chapel, Macquarie Park Crematorium, cnr of Plassey and Delhi Rds, Macquarie Park on TUESDAY (September 27th, 2016) at 1 pm.

Cremorne 9953 3379
Proudly Australian
Member AFDA



Published in The Sydney Morning Herald from Sept. 17 to Sept. 21, 2016 – See more at:


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The road to Gallipoli: The Anzacs in Egypt

The first men to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) were sent not to Europe, as they had expected, but to Egypt for further training and to protect British interests in the Middle East and the Suez Canal.  Australian soldiers wrote long letters home describing their adventures. 

Sapper Ernest Charles Tubbenhauer, a printer who had worked for the Western Post before the war, wrote from the Mena Military Camp, Pyramids Valley, Egypt, on December 14, 1915, where he was with the 1st Division Engineers:

‘We are camped in the Valley of the Pyramids with two of the big Pyramids in sight. They are an enormous size  – a wonderful piece of work…All the Australian troops except the Light Horse are camped out here. The Light Horse are camped on the other side of town. The New Zealanders are with them…The camp is like a huge town.  It is laid out in streets and blocks and each battalion has a block…We have been making rifle ranges, building latrines, making roads, building mess rooms and a thousand and one jobs which are required in a big camp like this.’

Private James Charles (Charlie) Egan, of Wollar, wrote from Detail Base Camp in February, 1915: 

‘It would be a good camp here were it not for the sand. There is not a single thing growing on the desert. It is nothing but a great sandy waste and it seems a pity to see miles and miles of country lying waste. It makes a good training ground, however. Walking through the heavy sand is good exercise and gives us a good appetite.’

“We’re not where we expected to land after all. Gracious me, we having a glorious experience.” – Private Kenneth Keech, of Rylstone, writing from Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 1914

Private George Plows, a 19-year-old railway porter from Dunedoo, had settled into the daily routine: 

‘We get up at 6am and have breakfast (or a slice of bread and butter and a cup of tea), and at 7am we go for a six hours’ march across the desert, in sand up to our ankles. We have dinner at 3pm and tea at 6.30, and often have to do a two hours’ march at night. It is winter here now, and   the nights are very cold. It is fairly hot in the daytime. It is deadly when you look around and can only see sand for miles.’

After a month in Egypt, Rylstone farmer before the war, Private Kenneth Keech, training as a stretcher bearer with the Army Medical Corps, reported on the Australian soldiers’ progress.

‘There is no doubt about Australian fellows now for soldiers. As Sir Geo. Reid told us the other day, we’re like one big machine now. One time we used to drill like lost men. Training works wonders. The training I’m getting in nursing and first aid will never be awkward knowledge to carry.’

The Australian soldiers were the highest paid of any in the allied forces, something the Egyptian business people were quick to take notice of. Private Tubbenhauer wrote: 

‘It was pay day today amongst the troops and the men have been paid right up to date. A big majority of men in our company are drawing their full money and drew from £8 to £14 a man and will spend every penny of it, so you can imagine the difference it makes to this place. However, I understand that the military authorities are only going to pay 2/ [shillings] a day limit while we are in Egypt. That means a lot of the men’s money will be kept in Australia as the men will only be able to draw 14 a week instead of 35/…We are getting a holiday on Xmas day, so after dinner I am going to do a bit of exploring in the native quarters of Cairo. There is a party of ten of us going to Cairo on donkeys. We have our promised leave till 11.15pm so are looking forward to a good time….

There is a lot of Mudgee boys here, Jack Collyer, Harry Collins, Horace Kear and lots of others. With me in the Engineers is a young chap from Gulgong (Alf O’Brien).’

Sergeant Jack Wright, of Buckaroo, in an enlargement from the photograph of the 1st Light Horse, taken at the Pyramids of Cheops (opposite).

Sergeant Jack Wright, of Buckaroo, in an enlargement from the photograph of the 1st Light Horse, taken at the Pyramids of Cheops.

Cairo traders went to great lengths to attract the Australian soldiers’ piastres, Private Egan reported. 

‘All the restaurants and saloons have been renamed in Cairo, such as the Triple Entente Dining Room, the Allies Cafe. But the Australians seem to take precedence also, for everywhere you will see the names such as The Australian Bar, the Kangaroo Cafe, and the New Zealand Bar, and they have special prices for the Australians and the New Zealanders. If you happen to stop to look at anything displayed for sale, the shopkeeper will come out and say ‘Come Inside Australia, for Australia very Good’…If you go out to the Pyramids, the guides crowd around you calling out ‘Australia very good. Me show Australia. Australia plenty money.’ But it amused me to see the Wattle Blossom Bar in Cairo the other night. I have not seen the Waratah yet, but expect that it is stuck up somewhere in Cairo.’

Private Jack Colless, a railway porter from Mudgee, spent a Sunday off duty climbing to the top of the Cheops Pyramid with a mate, Harry Judd. 

‘Now, as this place is 450 ft high, it took us a good while to reach the top. Of course, steps 2ft and 2ft 6in apart make the progress fairly easy. However, we reached it somehow. The top is a level of about 20 ft by 20ft, so there is heaps of room to walk about. The most beautiful panoramic view imaginable greeted us on arrival. On one side, we got a splendid view of our camp, which if the people of Australia could only see on paper, would be worth thousands. On another side are the remains of an ancient city, and natives are excavating for hidden treasure, also a number of tombs, which was a wonderful sight.’

Sapper Tubbenhauer, meanwhile, was brushing up on his ancient history: 

‘I got away at 10 o’clock on one of our company bicycles and went to Cairo. First of all we visited the Zoo at Getzea (Giza) which is five miles from camp on the Cairo Road…Have read a lot about the ancient Egyptians and it was a treat to go through the Museum and spend the afternoon there, seeing stuff which is thousands of years old. I saw several mummies, including Ramses II, who according to the guide was ‘damn no good’.’

Some of the units had smuggled mascots into the camp, including George Plows’ 4th Battalion, C Company. 

‘Some of our chaps had smuggled the little nanny goat we had at Kensington (Sydney) on to one of the horse boats and we have it here now. One of our chaps, when we were out on a long march, picked up a little pup and carried it in his knapsack for three hours. It is the pet of the company. 

The 1st Field Company Engineers, possibly including Sapper Ernest Tubbenhauer, pose for a photo with The sphinx and one of the pyramids. Photo courtesy Tubbenhauer family

The 1st Field Company Engineers, possibly including Sapper Ernest Tubbenhauer, pose for a photo with The sphinx and one of the pyramids. Photo courtesy Tubbenhauer family

The 1st Division Engineers were finding ways to vary their diet, Sapper Tubbenhauer reported: 

‘We were working today on a suspension bridge over one of the canals about three miles from camp. We also had a demonstration with gun cotton. We put 2oz of it in a tin and sunk it in the water and exploded it with electricity. The explosion killed a lot of fish. Some of them weighed a lb. We had a tip-top feed of fish for tea.’

Having seen the Pyramids, the Zoo and the Museum, by March, Private Keech was looking for new places to visit. 

‘When I get leave tomorrow afternoon I will go through some of the following places which I am going to visit but it will take more one day to do the lot: School of Agriculture, Boy’s High School, Girl’s School and an immense brewery. I went through a cigarette factory yesterday, where 1,000,000 cigarettes are made daily from Turkish and Greek leaf.’

After four months in Egypt, the men were eager for action. Private George Plows, after completing a 15-hour march, wrote: 

‘All the boys are sick of Egypt. It was all right at first but things are pretty stale here now.’

In April, 1915, the Mudgee Guardian published a short report under the headline: “Australians Gone Forward”. 

‘A post card have been received from Mr E. Tubbenhauer, who is with the Australian Expeditionary Force abroad. It shows that the Australians have at last started from Egypt at the front – presumably for the Dardanelles region. The card reads simply; – “Nothing is to be written on this side except the date and signature of the sender. Sentences not required may be erased. If anything else is added the post card will be destroyed.” Ernest Tubbenhauer had written: I have received your letters dated January 14th and 24th. Letters follow at first opportunity. Ernest C. Tubbenhauer, Feb. 7th, 1915.’

Due to the time taken for letters to reach Australia, the letter was published on April 26, 1915, by which time, unbeknownst to Australians at home, Sapper Tubbenhauer and his fellow Anzacs were fighting for their lives on the beaches and cliffs of Gallipoli.

Group portrait of all the original officers and men of the 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, AIF, on the side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) near Mena camp. The Australian War Memorial had identified the soldier circled as Sergeant John (Jack) Wright, formerly of Buckaroo, near Mudgee (circled). A large version of this photograph is on display at Club Mudgee. Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Accession No: P05717.001

Group portrait of all the original officers and men of the 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, AIF, on the side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) near Mena camp. The Australian War Memorial had identified the soldier circled as Sergeant John (Jack) Wright, formerly of Buckaroo, near Mudgee (circled). A large version of this photograph is on display at Club Mudgee. Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Accession No: P05717.001

Source: Mudgee Guardian, website article,, accessed 2 August 2016.


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