Some Notable People of Warrimoo

1. William Dawes 1762-1836

The first (documented) white person to set foot in the vicinity of Warrimoo was Marine Lieutenant William Dawes, who had been sent to New South Wales to assist the military keep order in 1788. He was a cultured man, who took an avid interest in astronomy (the telescope at Dawes Point) and in the local Indigenous people and their languages. So much so, that when Pemulwuy killed Governor Phillip’s gamekeeper and the Governor ordered him to go on a punitive expedition against the natives, Dawes refused to go. He argued that the gamekeeper, John MacIntyre, had caused provocation to Aboriginal people around the harbour, and may have deserved his fate. In the event, Dawes was prevailed upon to go on the expedition, which proved utterly fruitless. Nevertheless, the bad blood this whole incident brought between Dawes and the Governor ultimately led to his leaving the colony in December, 1791.
William Dawes--the first recorded European to have passed through 'Warrimoo', did so in 1789, in a direct 'line of march' from Mt. Riverview to Mt. Hay (then called 'Round Hill'--visible from Warrimoo).

However, two years earlier this same William Dawes, along with Watkin Tench, had discovered the Nepean River and with a small party and minimal provisions, Dawes determined to explore further westward. In December 1789, he commenced his journey:

To the ‘line of march’. The first day he headed due west from Emu Ford to the crest of the first ridge, in the vicinity of Mt. Riverview, and from here had a direct view of ‘Round Hill’ (Mt. Hay).

Dawes moved his ‘line of march’ to a straight traverse and made a bee line for Round Hill crossing the now line of highway just near the Sydney side of Warrimoo. [1]

In other words, Dawes scaled the escarpment at present day Mt. Riverview and took a direct westerly march, keeping a mark on Mt. Hay directly ahead. This route misses the areas of Glenbrook and Blaxland entirely, but if such a forthright strategy was to continue, it was clear Dawes’ path would be an extraordinarily difficult one, obliging him and his party to climb and descend continuously.

Early Warrimoo historian, Maisie Lupton[2] continues the story...
...he would have passed by the foot of the ridge which is now Florabella Street on his unsuccessful trip to find a route across the Camarthen Mountains, as the Blue Mountains were then known. It is believed that his ‘line of march’ would have taken him along a course similar to that of the high tension electricity line which crosses the Highway, near the (now defunct) Westward Ho Cafe, and continues across the gullies and ridges in a westerly direction...
William Dawes--same portrait, different perspective. Dawes has become widely known through his makeshift observatory at Millers Point (now 'Observatory Hill), as well as his interest in the local Indigenous people of Sydney. He became a campaigner for social justice and the abolition of slavery.

Dawes and his small party marched on, and most of the conjecture (Dawes did not keep a detailed diary--merely some trigonometric readings and his distance covered) has him stopping somewhere between 
Linden and Lawson because provisions began to run low and exhaustion had set in. More recent examination of his readings, however, concede that his party had, in fact, covered the necessary distance to Mt. Hay before turning back.

The number of subsequent attempts to cross the Blue Mountains is now legion: Paterson, Bass, Everingham, Wilson, Barallier and Caley to name the most prominent. The most famous were Blaxland Wentworth and Lawson, to whom the township of Warrimoo has held a variety of dedications throughout its history.
A celebration commemorating the later (1813) crossing of the Blue Mountains by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. The reception in Warrimoo was organised by the Warrimoo Citizens Association in May 2013, and it welcomed descendants of the three explorers at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Terrymont Road.
 After leaving Sydney in 1791, Dawes took up a position as a colonial administrator in the West Indies, where he became notable as a campaigner for social justice and the abolition of slavery.

[1] PAISH, Lindsay, Heritage, Newsletter of the Blue Mountains Association of Cultural Heritage, issue #10, July-August 2010, p1
[2] LUPTON, Maisie et al, Warrimoo Public School, The First Twenty-Five Years, magazine published by Warrimoo Public School Anniversary Committee, 1987, p.11

2) Sir Arthur Rickard

Arthur Rickard in the 1920's--at the height of his powers

(Sir) Arthur Rickard—Biography[1]

Arthur Rickard (1868-1948), real estate developer, was born on 17 November 1868 at Currawang near Lake George, New South Wales, son of Cornish parents William Heath Rickard, miner, and his wife Mary, née Bennett. At 13 he left Bathurst Public School and found employment with E. Webb & Co., hardware merchants.

Moving to Sydney aged 17, he worked for Tillock & Co., wholesale grocers, as a commercial traveller. On 28 February 1889, at the age of 21, he married Annie Eliza Addy, at Waverley. The marriage was not a happy one. Possibly Arthur considered Annie inferior to his ambitions. She may have been a ‘loose woman’ or a drinker, for despite giving birth to two children in the marriage, she lost them. Rickard divorced Annie in December 1901 and gained custody of their son and daughter. On 19 March 1902 he married Nellie Crudge, daughter of architect Thomas Rowe, at St Mark's, Darling Point.

By 1893 Rickard had set up as a mercantile broker and agent for Chaleyer Fisher & Co. Ltd, East India merchants of Melbourne. He himself began importing and about 1899 entered the wholesale grocery business with S. A. Joseph. They secured some government contracts but had trouble with imported foodstuffs infested with weevils.

 In 1904 Governor Sir Harry Rawson objected to Rickard's proposed appointment as Portuguese consul because Joseph & Rickard had been found supplying goods 'unfit for human consumption' to asylums. Late in the year, in financial difficulties, they broke up the partnership.

Governor Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson (1843-1910). He was Governor of NSW from 1902 to 1909--'Straight forward to the verge of bluntness', he refused to appoint the ambitious Arthur Rickard Portuguese Consul on the grounds of his suspect dealings.
A natural salesman, Rickard sought a business requiring less capital than the grocery trade. In January 1904 he registered Arthur Rickard & Co. Ltd, a real estate firm, and developed inventive advertising strategies in contrast to most current property advertising. His strikingly illustrated advertisements urged families to buy rather than rent, availing themselves of 'Rickard's Easy Terms'.
In 1905 he subdivided 152 acres (62 ha) at Woy Woy into waterfront residential sites, poultry farms and orchard blocks. A superb self-publicist, in 1909 he launched Rickard's Realty Review, a quarterly (sometimes monthly) magazine which continued to appear until 1927. 'Rickard's Solar System' described a map of Sydney with a series of radiating arcs and dots pinpointing the extent of his land offerings. On his return from Europe in 1912 the Sun named him as 'Sydney's subdivisional specialist'.

By 1916 the 'Solar System' extended to Wyong, the Blue Mountains and Port Hacking. He even persuaded the railway commissioners to build stations at Warrimoo (1918) and Bullaburra (1925) to service his estates. In July 1918 the Review declared that members of the firm were 'fowlanthropists'—specialists in poultry farmlets. Rickard House at 84 Pitt Street opened about 1920.
Arthur Rickard's offices in Pitt Street, photographed in the 1920's. Rickard became one of the biggest developers in Sydney during this period, although the Great Depression dragged him back, somewhat.
Rickard was a foundation president (1912-48) of the Millions Club, established in the belief that accelerated British migration would make Sydney the first Australian city to reach a population of one million. He used the club (whose membership included many leading politicians and businessmen) as a platform for pronouncements on immigration, socialism (he was vehemently against it) and the economy. He published a pamphlet entitled Population: the Cash Value (1915) in which he argued that the State's population should be increased to nine million. He actively supported the war bond campaigns and was appointed K.B.E. in 1920.

Inside the Millions Club, 1924--as a foundation member, Rickard presided over this club, while he was also pre-eminent in the Japan-Australia Society. You will note a Japanese naval officer in the foreground of this photograph. (Photo courtesy of http://sirarthurrickardblogspot)

On returning from overseas next year Rickard stressed his preference for the White Australia policy and approved of the way the United States of America had 'wiped out' saloons, horse racing and gambling. In 1926 he was a member of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations General Assembly.

Rickard attacked the failure of State governments to populate Australia and called on the Commonwealth to take over migration. He was active on the executives of organizations which aimed to foster migrants, including the State branches of the New Settlers' League of Australia, the Big Brother Movement, Dr Barnardo's Homes and the British Empire League.

French Aerial Daredevil Maurice Guillot (Guillaux): without Rickard's sponsorship, he would not have made the first airmail flight from Melbourne to Sydney in 1914. The flight took nine and a half hours. (Photo courtesy of http://sirarthurrickardblogspot)

In the 1920s Rickard's business interests included many directorships and part-ownership of the Hotel Sydney, Usher's Metropolitan Hotel and The Windsor, Melbourne. He was a director of Sydney Hospital (1917-27), a council-member of the Sydney Regional Plan Convention (1923-24), a fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute (1912), and of the Royal Geographical Society of London (1924), vice-president of the Defence of Australia League and president of the Japan-Australia Society—although he considered the Japanese unsuitable immigrants, he admired their ambition and social welfare system.

Rickard (at Left) photographed at Martin Place with Eric Campbell, one of the more notorious right-wing figures of NSW politics in the 1930's

A member of the Sane Democracy League, he worked for several taxpayers' associations advocating public economy and in 1935 attacked taxes on mortgages. Rather square-faced, with a dark, clipped moustache, he enjoyed golf and motoring and belonged to the Imperial Service Club. In 1928 he donated an elaborate floral clock to Taronga Zoological Park.

The Floral Clock at Taronga Park Zoo, which became an icon as memorable as the Elephant Rides at the Zoo. Rickard's profile remained large in the 1920's due to such notable generosity--he was a master of self promotion

One of Rickard's advertisements in 1922 had proclaimed 'we are in business for all time'. He did not, however, foresee the Depression nor how difficult it would be to sell his landholdings on the urban fringe. Many of the blocks sold on 'Rickard's Easy Terms' were returned to the company which had to pay rates on land which had no immediate sales potential. Arthur Rickard & Co. Ltd went into voluntary liquidation in 1930 with Rickard as liquidator.

In the same year, the family's heavily mortgaged mansion—Berith Park at Wahroonga—was sold and they moved to a more modest home at Killara.
In a city preoccupied with real estate Rickard was the outstanding land developer of his era, his extroverted personality showed through most of his advertisements. He died in the Scottish Hospital, Paddington, on 13 April 1948 and was cremated. His wife, their two sons and two daughters, and the children of his first marriage survived him. His eldest son Lieutenant-Colonel A. L. Rickard, M.C., D.S.O., served in both world wars and his youngest son Douglas was chairman of the Australian Postal Commission in the 1970s. Sir Arthur left a modest estate valued for probate at £12,623. His portrait by John Longstaff is held by the successor to the Millions Club, the Sydney Club.”

Dowell O'Reilly wrote in 1913 that the country around Bankstown had been cut up into lots 'suitable for anything from poultry-farming to the residence of the Governor General'.

Arthur Rickard’s Contribution to Warrimoo

Arthur Rickard invites us to ride in his canoe. The 'Warrimoo Estate' was launched in 1918, the last year of World War I...
It is not difficult to assess Arthur Rickard’s contribution: without Arthur Rickard, there would certainly have not been a ‘Warrimoo’, for even the name was contrived by him. How he managed to change the area’s public assignation from ‘Karabar’ to ‘Warrimoo’, and why, is the subject of another entry in this blog.[2]

Even before World War I, Rickard had started buying land in the mountains. He had already set up his Real Estate business in 1904, and was primarily interested in land acquisition on the fringes of Sydney for future development. While busily campaigning for greater immigration and thus more home-buyers, he was surveying land purchases at Woy Woy on the Central Coast, Narrabeen, Bankstown and the Sutherland shire for future release.

Warrimoo--the 'Box Seat'--accessible to the city of Sydney but not as 'rugged' as upper Mountains locations. This newspaper ad. announced the first estate release

The Subdivisions

The Karabar properties were bought in 1918, but Rickard went further than the Richardson and Wrench offering—he bought blocks on the northern side of the railway/highway as well. When releasing his estates, Rickard generally did much more than the average developer. He always had a ‘vision’ for his subdivisions that generally revolved around a combination of residency and primary industry: it seems he was keen to support some level of ‘self sufficiency’ or ‘sustainability’ not available in standard urban blocks at the time. For Warrimoo, it appeared to be poultry and orchards he sought to encourage.

An excerpt from the first Warrimoo Estate subdivision along Rickard Road and Railway Parade. You will note that all the Lots are roughly the same size and dimensions throughout.

Clearly anxious to 'move things along', Rickard altered the design of the Estate in 1922--now, every third or fourth Lot extended well beyond the 'normal' suburban block to enable some additional pursuit such as orchards or poultry farms. Some buyers attempted it, most did not.

When you examine the layout of the plan for the 1920 ‘Rickard Road’ development, you will notice that initially, the Lots were arranged in a standard suburban pattern of roughly equal ‘quarter acre’ size. These mustn’t have moved quickly enough for Rickard’s liking, so that a new, 1922 version of the Warrimoo Estate had every 3rd, 4th or 5th block in a much larger battleaxe, running back into bush at the rear of the properties—this is to allow the pursuit of some form of animal husbandry or small scale agriculture to supplement the resident’s diet or income.

A vision of Rickard's ideal: 'Fowlanthropy'. Settlement that engaged residents with their surrounding habitat and encouraged some form of rural pursuit
Blocks on Railway Parade, Cross Street and the Highway were arranged in similar manner, and remain so today.

On the southern side he redesigned the blocks so that the ones in The Avenue and The Boulevarde that had stood facing Victoria and Albert Streets, now faced continuously along the longer streets. The Boulevarde was “bent” a little instead of running straight, and the extensions to Victoria and Albert Streets were now cut off by blocks for sale. A special ‘display home’ was constructed on the corner of Victoria Street and The Boulevarde, most feasibly to profile the possibilities of building in the new township, and to encourage others to follow in the new, modern style.

A further road, ‘The Mall’ extended eastwards to a dead end, and ‘Florabella (meaning ‘beautiful flowers’) Street’ stretched southwards towards a Walking Track specifically cleared by Rickard to promote the ‘Mountains character’ of the development. It followed a small creek through to the back of Blaxland, which was itself developing apace at the time.

Plan of Warrimoo as it exists today--the extra large battle-axe blocks exist on both sides of the township
A Special Place in Rickard’s Heart?

The Railway Station

There is substantial evidence to indicate ‘Warrimoo’ held a special place in Arthur Rickard’s heart, despite the broadness of his holdings elsewhere. In Warrimoo he had arranged for the rebuilding of a rail platform and bridge. Already (in 1918) he had negotiated the renaming of ‘Karabar’ to ‘Warrimoo’, and moved the site of the platform 2-300 metres eastwards so that it stood opposite Rickard Road and the General Store, which was also constructed under his auspices.

 Why the platform was moved is anyone’s guess. According to Lawrence Way[3] work did not really commence on the new platform till 1924, when he witnessed the blasting of a wider cutting further west to accommodate the dual track platform being built. Apparently Lawrence’s father worked on extensions to the platform to make it more adequate, “Horses were used pulling cartloads of earth to build up the station and widen the area for the rail to be on the other side of the platform as well.”[4] The wooden pedestrian bridge above the station existed from the outset, and linked both northern and southern sides of Warrimoo.

The General Store

As previously mentioned, Arthur Rickard had a special purpose two-storey General Store built on the highway, opposite the station, to service the future community. The owners or lessees of the shop could live upstairs. There is evidence that a smaller corner shop already existed at Warrimoo [5], but the larger one came to dominate. This was certainly the centrepiece of a dramatic fire and subsequent court case shortly after its completion in 1919.[6]

The 'General Store' as it appears today. This building has been the centre of many dramas since its erection in 1920, and is surely worthy of consideration as the building most eminent for heritage-listing throughout the township.
3 The Boulevarde
Another extant building already noted is the special ‘show-home’ at number 3 The Boulevarde to encourage more of the same. It was built in ‘modern’, ‘monumental style’, with two massive pillars at the front and covered with ‘ash plaster’[7]. This bungalow was offered for sale by auction on the opening day of the subdivision's launch. It remains an impressive building today and has an intriguing history all its own[8].

The famous bungalow at number 3 The Boulevarde. Offered at auction on the 'sale day' of the Warrimoo Estate, it stood as a beautiful testament to the stylish architecture of the period. Sketch courtesy of Warrimoo artist, Terry Dernee.
The ‘Big Signs’

There appears to be little alternative other than to attribute a famous six foot ‘WARRIMOO’ sign, standing where the present Antiques shop is, to the promotional enthusiasm of Arthur Rickard himself. A legendary picture of four young women seated within the ‘W’, testifies to the sign being in place in 1930, welcoming motor tourists driving westward along the Highway. Another subsequent sign implored visitors to ‘Be kind to yourself and live in Warrimoo’[9]

The now legendary pic of four girls perched on the 'W' of the huge 'Warrimoo' sign once situated where the current 'Antiques' shop on the 'Highway now stands. Another contribution of one Arthur Rickard
Of course, it is possible that the Warrimoo Progress Association or the Blue Mountains Shire Council had a hand in these spectacular gestures, but neither of these august institutions was renowned for their wealth, nor a tendency to spend lavishly, and other townships do not appear to have had such imposing advertisements.  No, the Big ‘Warrimoo’ Signs bear the mark of the inimitable Rickard imagination, employed in his customarily expensive yet memorable way.

Presumably both signs were later destroyed by bushfire, one of which swept through the township in the mid 1930’s. There is no trace of them now.

Widows and Veterans’ Homes

Being a proud and very public patriot who had avidly supported Australian involvement in the war, Rickard was keen to make Warrimoo a showpiece of Australian gratitude to returned servicemen and war widows after the Great War. Rickard donated one block to the ‘Rejected Volunteers Association’ and sold five others to them at half price.
The ‘Rejected Volunteers Association’ consisted of men who, for medical or other reasons, had been unable to fight in World War I. Clearly these men had suffered the social stigma of not wearing a uniform during the Great War, and were now anxious to repair their standing after the slaughter of the previous four years.

Formed in the latter years of the war, the Association’s President was Sir Edward John Cox, an executive of the NSW branch of the British Red Cross, and its aims were to construct homes for war widows and veterans using volunteer labour. It was thought that the widow’s pension could be supplemented by taking paying guests and the cottages were designed by Mr. Bates, honorary architect, with this in mind.  They had seven rooms and two large sleeping-out verandahs and the land (c60 x 200ft) was planted with 40 fruit trees.  War widows with children and no other means of support were invited to apply and the same conditions as those in the Voluntary Workers Homes were applied.[10]

A rather poor newspaper photo of the hand-over of a 'Rejected Volunteers Home' at Warrimoo to war widow, Mrs. Simpson. Precisely where this building is or was is open to debate, but most likely on Florabella St., The Avenue, or The Boulevarde

The quality of these architect-designed weatherboard ‘homes’ is open to question. Certainly there was much fanfare with the opening of the first one, built on Rickard’s donated land:

The first cottage was handed over on 14 December 1918 to war widow Mrs. Simpson, with speeches about the sacrifices of many brave women and men.  A return thanks on behalf of Mrs Simpson was made by the Rev. Mr Kellett.  Other rejected men were urged to link up with the Association.[11]

There is little proof that war widows lined up in droves to take up the offer of being boarding house concierges and orchardists in the middle of pretty rugged lower Blue Mountains bushland. Lawrence Way writes of “six wooden homes…built for returned soldiers to move into the area”[12], probably located in The Avenue, The Boulevarde and Florabella Street. Lawrence’s father, Walter, rented one of these homes in Florabella Street while he built his own home in Albert Street.

Leisure Facilities

The Tennis Court
Arthur Rickard certainly had his finger on the popular pulse. The 8-Hour Day and the 44-Hour week were being entrenched. He knew of the common demand for more leisure time on weekends, and was fully aware that Saturday afternoon was rapidly becoming an opportunity for working people to pursue healthy sporting and social activities that had previously been reserved for middle class relaxation.

Tennis was one such pursuit. In city suburbs wealthy families were able to afford the construction of a clay or lawn tennis court in their back yards—something denied working class people who generally lived in tenements or flats. Now, Rickard was offering a clay tennis court, just outside the southern side of Warrimoo Station and across the Highway to the General Store. Now, if the community was prepared to maintain and manage it, tennis would be available to anyone who lived in the estate. Brilliant!

The Swimming Pool
Playing on the stereotypical mountain image of trickling waterfalls and natural pools, Rickard arranged for the concrete blockage of a creek running from Sun Valley around below Terrymont Road and Cross Street—about a kilometre from the station, if one took the direct track downhill, cleared by the Estate. The concrete used in creating the weir is still in existence today, though in dilapidated condition.[13]

Costume of the woman by the pool suggests early 1920's. Note the pathway to the water and the 'Changing Shed' in the background

Over time, the ‘Warrimoo Pool’ became one of the most popular swimming spots for visitors to the Lower Blue Mountains throughout the 1920’s and 30’s. It came to possess seating and change rooms, and a site for picnics, although maintenance of the pool was to become a serious bone of contention throughout its effective life. Its popularity declined after the Second World War when maintenance was neglected and Olympic pools were constructed at Springwood and then Glenbrook.

 Florabella Track
Bushwalking, too, had become a popular pursuit in the early decades of the 20th century. Rickard’s advertising ensured that Warrimoo was touted as a botanical treasure-trove, and Waratah Street was so named because at the time it was rich in abundance of the bright red native flower.

A page from Rickard's 'Realty Review', with Warrimoo being in pride of place compared to his other subdivisions. Overall prices for properties ranged from thirty pounds to several hundred pounds.
The name ‘Florabella’ suggested a wide preponderance of beautiful flowers and the Track, carved out at the behest of Rickard, was a convenient one, running down the end of Florabella Street, along a pretty watercourse to join Glenbrook Creek and Blaxland, and emerging at Ross Crescent.
Warrimoo schoolkids as well as tourists, used this route as a handy shortcut between the two townships, and to and from Blaxland PS prior to the construction of Warrimoo PS in the 1960’s.

The First Station Mistress

 The final piece of circumstantial evidence revealing Arthur Rickard’s relationship with Warrimoo relates to Catherine Ann Youson (1881-1972), the first Station Mistress of the newly built trainstop.[14]

She was an extremely competent crochet worker and would even crochet her own dresses in her favourite lilac.  Ann was a great talker and one could hear her talking as she came up the path to the house!  In the 1950s there was a terrible bush fire which burnt the toilet and water tank stand, but the house was saved…
Ann was a tremendous walker, through the bush, down the roads etc.  Once she even became lost in the thick bush.  She had two cats at one stage – “Blackie”, who followed her around, would even make the long walk along Rickard Road over the railway line to the church in the park.  Blackie would curl up and have a sleep whilst the service was on, then follow her home again![16]

Catherine Ann Batkin had married a tailor, Thomas Youson, in 1913 at Newtown, although Thomas was soon diagnosed with the killer disease, tuberculosis, and needed fresh clean air if he was to have any chance of survival, so the couple moved to Lot 14 Rickard Road where they built a basic fibro house  called ‘Lilac’ and settled.

It is difficult to assess the prime motivating factor for Ann and Thomas’ move to Warrimoo, for we do know that it was Arthur Rickard who told Ann about the proposed new station and the forthcoming need for a Station Master/Mistress there. Apparently Mr. Rickard was aware of Ann’s mathematical adroitness and felt she could handle the role admirably.[15] Had she been a Rickard employee when the couple had learned of Thomas’ diagnosis, or had they already moved to Warrimoo when Ann was ‘tipped off’ about the railways job?

In the event, Ann Youson got the position as Warrimoo’s first Station Mistress, and Thomas died of his disease in 1925. Ann’s income from the railways would have been a useful supplement to the scant entitlement of a Widow’s Pension and her work enabled her to become a singular character in the infant township for years to come.

 Ann’s niece, Leonie Campbell, remembers…

Ultimately---possibly soon after the 1953 fire---Catherine Ann Youson transferred to Muttama, near Gundagai, to continue her calling as Station Mistress. Warrimoo had lost an outstanding woman who had made her mark: she had become part of the fabric of the place and had seen it grow from a miniscule settlement to a developed community. Throughout, the township’s growth had been overseen by a woman proudly contributing in a Public Service dominated by men—not many (if any!) settlements can boast such a feat during the ‘male breadwinner’ era!

So, can we make any firm conclusion about Sir Arthur Rickard’s attitude towards Warrimoo? Without doubt he contributed a range of features to the township which made it unique and which largely framed its character from the outset. It is also true that Rickard possessed an impressive ‘family holiday house’ in Lawson called ‘Cadia’.[17] Every time he motored up the ‘Mountains in his impressive automobile from Sydney, or even took the train, he would have passed through Warrimoo, which must have spurred his creative imagination.

However it is important to remember that Sir Arthur Rickard operated at ‘the bottom line’—selling land for profit. His advertisements for the ‘Warrimoo Estate’ offered properties from ten shillings per foot up to three pounds ten shillings per foot. The bottom end price, if the frontage of the property was sixty feet, would amount to six hundred shillings or thirty pounds. At the time—1920—the working man’s ‘Basic Wage’ (deemed by the Arbitration Commission to be the amount of weekly pay required to sustain a man, his wife and two children) was four pounds, so that it would not have been a difficult thing, on ‘Rickard’s Easy Terms’, to pay off the block in reasonable time—four to five years at two shillings per week or two to three years at four shillings per week. Of course, those more preferred blocks at three pounds ten per foot would’ve been a different proposition, probably amounting to hundreds of pounds.

Rickard was supremely confident that real estate investment was the surest thing since sunrise. ‘Rickard’s Realty Review’ explains…
…Land that was bought but a few years ago at shillings per acre is now being sold at pounds per foot. Fortunes, great and small, are being made on all sides. Money that has been returning 3 per cent in banks for years is being withdrawn to earn 100, 200, or even 300 percent for the prudent investor in real estate. Given the exercise of a little common sense, or the acceptance of advice from experienced men, an investor can hardly go wrong in Sydney. There is no boom-- just a big, steady increase in value. Desirable property anywhere, up to twenty miles from the city, cannot fail to receive added value from Sydney’s wonderful growth…[18]

Rickard provides his economic philosophy in the 'Realty Review'. His optimism did not prove accurate in the short run
The 1920’s was truly Arthur Rickard’s heyday. From the award of his knighthood in 1920 to the collapse of the market in 1930, Sir Arthur Rickard rode the Real Estate Express and shone like a beacon over Sydney society. Yet in Warrimoo the advance was not spectacular. The various schemes to attract ex-servicemen and war widows had limited success. He tinkered with the Lots on sale to make them more attractive, and that’s where the ‘fowlanthropy’ came in--although the larger lots did not create masses of orchards or a major poultry hub, some newcomers did at least try. Businesses simply didn’t find Warrimoo attractive enough to set up—the Highway blocks became residential or remained vacant. The main industry appeared to be logging in gullies nearby.

In 1930, burdened with increasing debt upon properties that demanded rates but could not be sold, Rickard’s Company on the Stock Exchange collapsed and went insolvent. Rickard himself remained a high-profile dealer in real estate, but the lustre had gone. No amount of largesse from right-wing politicians nor celebrated appearances could restore the status of those halcyon years.

Sir Arthur Rickard as KBE--'Knight of the British Empire'. He received his award in 1920 for 'services toward the war effort', no doubt in purchasing and promoting war bonds.
Throughout these years circumstantial evidence would seem to point to a special attachment of some kind to Warrimoo, but he was without doubt an enthusiastic promoter wherever he instituted new developments. His estates, whether in Woy Woy, Narrabeen, Bankstown or the ‘Mountains, were always characterised by original publicity and a unique approach. Without any clear statement from the subject himself, it would require a comprehensive comparison with the measures taken at other projects to fully ascertain the ‘special’ features of those taken at Warrimoo.

It is to be hoped future ‘Warrimoo Historians’ will be able to undertake such a task.


[1] This biography is entirely drawn from Peter Spearritt's contribution to the Australian Dictionary of Biography,

[2] ‘The Mysterious Name of Warrimoo’

[3] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011, p.11

[4] Ibid, p.11

[5] Ibid, p.11

[6] Cf. Chapter in this blog entitled Arson at Warrimoo?

[7] Op Cit., My Story, pp 10-11

[8] Cf., Chapter in this blog entitled The Big House on The Boulevarde

[9] LUPTON, Maisie et al, Warrimoo Public School, The First Twenty-Five Years, magazine published by Warrimoo Public School Anniversary Committee, 1987, p.11

[10] Evans, Shirley & Smith, Pamela - REMEMBRANCE: Springwood District Honor Roll 1914-1919, p.14

[11] Ibid, p.14

[12] Op Cit., My Story, p.9

[13] Exactly who constructed the Warrimoo Pool is the subject of some contention, since Maisie Lupton had suggested her family had ‘built the pool’ in the 1930’s. Yet the chronological evidence and Rickard’s own advertising relating to a pool on the estate in the early 20’s is pretty incontestable… Feasibly, Maisie’s family had repaired the pool to make it operable again—something that was repeatedly required in sustaining a ‘natural’ swimming hole such as the one at Warrimoo.

[14] RICHARDSON, E. and MATTHEW, K, Warrimoo History Project, 2010—this whole section was researched and compiled by Evelyn Richardson and Kate Matthew. Their references will be duplicated below as footnotes to their work

[15] Ibid., biography of Ann Yousen

[16] Quoted from Leonie Campbell’s account as provided to RICHARDSON, E. and MATTHEW, K, Warrimoo History Project, 2010—this whole section was researched and written by Evelyn Richardson and Kate Matthew.


[18] Rickard’s Realty Review, Vol 1., No. 1., George Wilson Ed, Sydney Nov. 10,

Dorothy Wall, Blinky Bill and Warrimoo

Dorothy Wall was no shrinking violet. She was a proud and determined author, illustrator and mother. Her time spent at Warrimoo was a true distillation of her character.
Born, raised and educated in Wellington New Zealand, Dorothy Wall travelled to Sydney in 1914, the year the Great War began. She was twenty years of age and seeking adventure, as well as wider horizons for her creative talents. She was influenced by the success of May Gibbs, and began drawing bush characters in charming and unique ways. It was a period of growing Australian nationalism, and many parents wanted to cultivate ‘Australian’ values in their children.

A young and beautiful Dorothy Wall as she arrived in Australia in 1914. Her youthful gaze holds a confident, optimistic hopefulness, and just a hint of ambition.

In 1921, Dorothy married the swashbuckling war hero and pilot, Andrew Delfoss Badgery (‘Del’), a descendant of the same family after whom ‘Badgery’s Creek’ is named. The couple moved from flat to flat, living at twenty one addresses during the first two years of their marriage. Dorothy was a restless soul, and could find no satisfaction in her homes and neighbours, with whom she invariably clashed.

Andrew Delfoss Badgery, 'Del', swashbuckling pilot of the First World War. Surely he was the perfect match for an adventurous young woman from New Zealand, eager to make her mark...
Eventually, Dorothy and Del bought a home in Dee Why and subsequently Dorothy gave birth to a son, Peter Badgery, in 1925. The marriage was in deep trouble, however, and by 1932, at the onset of the Great Depression, the couple had separated. The first ‘Blinky Bill’ book, “Blinky Bill—The Quaint Little Australian” was not written in the Blue Mountains but in Sydney, during this intense period of turmoil in Dorothy Wall’s life.

Blinky is baptised by the Reverend Fluffy Ears. In this illustration, Blinky's father looks on, but he is soon murdered by a bush shooter leaving Blinky to survive alone with his mum, just like Peter and his matriarch/author parent, Dorothy Wall.

When it was published, in 1933, Dorothy had already moved to Blaxland and enrolled Peter at Blaxland Public School. Shortly afterwards she moved into a rented cottage at 3 Albert Street Warrimoo—a very basic weatherboard with an outside ‘loo, a wood stove, no window screens, no town water supply, no sewerage, no telephone and no mail delivery. The basic building still stands today but fibro extensions have been added.

The house at 172 Great Western Highway, where Dorothy and her young son, Peter, first lived in the 'Mountains--the rental, however, was too high, and the young mother and son were soon obliged to move to cheaper digs at Warrimoo. Today the Blaxland house is a Denture Clinic ...
Warrimoo in those days was a rudimentary residential settlement that had been subdivided some years earlier. There were few houses. What was appealing to Dorothy was the surrounding native bushland, the railway station, and the existence of a general store. For Peter Badgery, it was “…a great place for a kid to grow up in.”

Dorothy Wall's 1930's home as it appeared recently (2017) at No. 3 Albert Street. Extensions had been added around the original two-roomed cabin. If you look at the roof-line where the chimneys appear, you will get an idea of the original size and box-like shape of the dwelling.

The site as it appears today...the old house was built with asbestos and was unsaveable.
In her first few months at Warrimoo she wrote the seminal Blinky Bill story, “Blinky Bill Grows Up”, about a young and mischievous Koala Bear who embroiled himself in the perils of bushland life. Illustrating the book herself, it is clear that Dorothy loved the vibrancy of the native plants and wildlife surrounding her and Peter, who was undoubtedly the inspiration for Blinky’s character.

Peter and Dorothy took walks along a bush track that begins at the end of Florabella Street and descends, through angophoras, stringybarks, mountain devils and banksias, beneath overhanging rock ledges and amidst a plethora of birdcalls, to a narrow, sheltered fern-gully stream that ultimately flows into Glenbrook Creek. Here, one can envisage the lyrebird mimickry and dancing taking place at the “bushland bazaar” visited by Blinky Bill himself.

One of the seminal scenes from 'Blinky Bill Grows Up', where Blinky stumbles upon the 'Bush Bazaar'. Scenes like this were conjured by Dorothy's walks with Peter down the Florabella Track, at the end of the street of the same name.

Being masterpieces of natural observation, the Blinky Bill books are a wonderfully entertaining education for young children in the mysteries of Australian flora and fauna:

“’Ah! I know who you are!’ Blinky said very cheerily.’You’re Willie Wagtail.’

‘Quite true’ came the reply. ‘I’m sorry I woke you, Mr. Koala, but I’m in such a hurry to finish my nest. My wife is growing quite impatient because she wants to lay her eggs and the nest is not quite ready. Do you mind if I gather a few more hairs from your ears? They are so silky and pretty, and besides, I think the colour will look very well with the grass I have gathered.’

‘Go ahead,’ Blinky answered. ‘Only don’t pull too many at once.’” 
( from Blinky Bill Grows Up)

 At first, Dorothy Wall was a frequent visitor to the village general store and post office, a two storey building on the Highway standing opposite the station, run by Mr. and Mrs. Duckle. Today, it is the ‘Monte Italia’ Pizzeria, hosted by the energetic and affable ‘Danny’, but in those days it was quite different, with a cluttered décor over-arched by dangling flypaper. Dorothy considered the Duckles to be busybodies, and resented using the public telephone inside the store for fear of being overheard. She thus launched a letter-writing campaign to the Postmaster General for a free standing outside ‘phone-box, which ultimately proved successful.

Dorothy's stay at Warrimoo was feasibly the happiest time of her life, because Peter was under the tutorship of Blaxland PS teacher William Wurth, allowing her to pursue the many avenues of her talent without anxiety over her son's future.
Concern over Peter’s education drew his mother into a happy situation at Warrimoo. When enrolled at Blaxland Public, Peter was eight, and would have been obliged to walk to school from Albert Street. Dorothy arranged for him to be tutored by the (soon to be retired) schoolteacher, Mr. William Wurth, who visited to instruct Peter in the basics, and to carry out a Rousseau-esque style pedagogy in the bush, encouraging the boy to learn from his observations of nature as well as readings from the Sydney Morning Herald.

There has been much conjecture over the relationship between Dorothy Wall and William Wurth. Dorothy was fully divorced in December 1934, but she was struggling to survive on paltry royalties from her books and some small maintenance payments from ‘Del’—certainly she was reduced to begging Angus and Robertson for advance royalties on her work at this time.
An example of the kind of graphic art Dorothy excelled in--she was frequently employed by newspapers and women's magazines on a casual basis to portray recent fashions or changes in style...
So, was the relationship a business one, or platonic, or a romance? It was quite close, because William acted as proof-reader for much of her work at Warrimoo, and Peter testifies that he was the only man to whom his mother had shown any kind of affection. But William Wurth was 25 years older than Dorothy, retired, at the end of his career, and she simply wasn’t the kind of woman to engage in affairs—her work was too important. To foist any particular kind of relationship upon them would surely be presumptuous.

Whatever her personal situation, it’s true that Dorothy Wall’s stay at Warrimoo was prolific and satisfying from a creative perspective. Apart from the completion of Blinky Bill Grows Up, she designed a stream of dustjacket covers for other Angus and Robertson books, illustrated two books by other authors, wrote and illustrated a further book titled Brownie, and completed yet another text for older children called The Muddles of World’s End, which never saw the light of day.
One of the more famous dustjacket covers: Ion Idriess' 'The Desert Column', an account of Australian Light Horse heroics in World War I. Dorothy Wall had a brilliant eye for dramatic design.
She would have stayed in the ‘Mountains, but by 1936 Dorothy was looking towards Peter’s secondary education, and wanted him enrolled at Sydney Boys’ High. This necessitated a move to Randwick. The change provoked further restlessness and frustration, moving from school to school, address to address, project to project.

All the while she struggled to keep her own and Peter’s heads above water. She strove to have Blinky Bill animated like Mickey Mouse, or syndicated as a cartoon strip character, or promoted on china ware, or in any form possible, but failed on most counts. In 1937 she came back to the Mountains, this time taking up residence on the Hawkesbury Road at Springwood, where she wrote the third book of her series: Blinky Bill and Nutsy.

Over the three books of 'Blinky Bill', the artistic style evolved from 'naturalist' to 'cartoonist'. This mural at Telstra's Warrimoo exchange reflects the latter technique. Wall never gave up on her dream of world-wide recognition for her bush characters, along the lines of Disney's 'Mickey Mouse', who had burst upon global imaginations in the late 30's.
Again, Dorothy Wall’s stay in the ‘Mountains was productive and Springwood must be entitled to some bragging rights, but her stay there was briefer, and they (Springwood/Faulconbridge) have Norman Lindsay. It’s appropriate that Warrimoo, the “teacher and children village”, should have adopted Blinky Bill, Dorothy, Peter and William as their own.

Dorothy Wall moved back to Sydney and thence to Auckland, New Zealand, where she worked as an artist for the New Zealand Herald until mid 1941, when the lure of wild bush spaces and character-filled native animals lured her back to Australia. When she returned to Sydney to live at Neutral Bay with her sister Marjorie, she was just up the road from May Gibbs’ ‘Nutcote’. The contrast between the two women authors could not be more complete, nor galling: May Gibbs was well off and a celebrity in her own lifetime, living in an architect-designed cottage overlooking Sydney Harbour and receiving the MBE for her services to children’s literature, while Dorothy continued to battle to make ends meet.*
More earnest, matronly and demure now, Dorothy Wall is photographed in Sydney just prior to her premature death in January, 1942.
In January 1942, before she could return to her beloved Blue Mountains, Dorothy Wall contracted pneumonia and died shortly afterward in Lanchester Hospital, Cremorne. Penicillin had already been invented and could have saved her life, but it was not publicly available till some few months later. She was forty eight.[1]

[1] Information for this summary biography came exclusively from: Dorothy Wall, the creator of Blinky Bill, Her Life and Work, A Biography by the inimitable Walter McVitty, to whom Warrimoo Historians are most grateful, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1988.

* Ironically there are also unconfirmed reports that May Gibbs, author and illustrator of the famous 'Gumnut Twins', once stayed at Warrimoo, visiting a relative in Rickard Road.

Ardill and Warrimoo (1936-1945)

George Ardill may have had some earlier association with Warrimoo, but his influence only becomes clear in the nine years between 1936 and 1945. He was due to turn 80 in 1937, and it would seem logical that he may have been planning some form of ‘retirement’ from his frenetic charitable activities in Sydney by moving to the quieter environs of Warrimoo.

Ardill in mid-life--he moved to Warrimoo as he approached 80 years of age. His wife Kelsie was frail and needing attention. Possibly Ardill was seeking some rest from the constant demands of his charitable work in Sydney when he arrived in the mid 1930's.
Around this time, Lawrence Way speaks of a new neighbour building a home next door to his poultry farm and making his acquaintance…

…our neighbour …asked me if I would like to do some work weeding the gardens and other jobs. I readily agreed as I was growing some vegetables to get some money and there was not much in that. I was surprised when I received six shillings for the day…[1]

Lawrence gives some picture of Ardill’s activities at the time…

Our neighbour Mr. Ardill had a hall built in Rickard Road. He worked in Sydney at the Jewish rescue organisation and was showing slides as to what was happening in Israel. I was always interested in pictures and had sometimes gone to the Springwood picture show which only cost nine pence if under sixteen years old. I attended this and found it was broadening my outlook on the wider world. Mr. Ardill’s aims were not so much that type of motivation but rather moral and spiritual incentives. Because of this, he tried to get me to go to the Sunday evening service…It was not long before I was yielding to his persuasion and my wild life was mellowing[2]

This further testament to George Ardill’s arrival, in the construction of the Gospel Hall on Rickard Road (now the Baptist Church), was widely reported in the local media. After personally supplying the cost of land and building materials via one of his institutes, and with construction and painting carried out by willing volunteers, Ardill oversaw the opening ceremony taking place under much religious fanfare on February 8th, 1936.[3]

The Gospel Hall as it appears today. A brick facade has been added to bring modernity to a structure built by voluntary labour in 1936. Several upgrades have occurred over the years so that the overall size is considerably larger than the original building.

The Progress Association

The Gospel Hall became a hub of activity over the following decade, with church services, ‘invitation teas’, hymn singing evenings, Sunday Schools, fund-raising events and yes, even Warrimoo Progress Association meetings happening there. Indeed, the latter organisation appears to have been resuscitated within its hallowed walls…

A meeting of property owners and permanent residents was held in the Gospel Hall, Rickard Road, Warrimoo, on Saturday, 27th March, to form a local progress association. Mr. W. T. Ely was voted to the chair, and Mr. G. E. Ardill, convenor of the meeting, acted as secretary.

After preliminary discussion, it was resolved to form an association of property owners and residents of the district, to be called “The Warrimoo Progress Association.” The following were elected office-bearers for the ensuing year:--Chairman, Mr. W.T. Ely; Vice Chairmen, Messrs G. W. Duckles and T. Pritchard; hon. Secretary and Treasurer, Mr. G. E. Ardill. It was arranged that meetings be held on the fourth Saturday in each month.[4]

The Gospel Hall became a hub of community activity during the 'Ardill Years'. Apart from Sunday Services, there were film nights, invitation teas and of course, meetings of the revived 'Warrimoo Progress Association'.

A ‘Warrimoo Progress Association’ had already existed to serve the community in the 1920’s, and must have lasted (at least, according to Nepean Times reports) till 1933. This was the Progress Association of Mudie/Neall/Watts which must have somehow faded from view. Either Ardill was unaware of this or he chose to recreate the organisation under new auspices with the inspiration of ‘A New Movement’.[5] The signed up membership was eighteen in number with the optimistic proviso that those who were ‘unavoidably absent’ were nevertheless keen to join at some later date.

 Issues most concerning the new Association were to be addressed immediately…

…officers were empowered to continue the agitation for the improvement of the turn-off from the Great Western Road into Railway Parade, which is considered at present to be very dangerous to motorists. The necessity for extra street lights at this point and also in Florabella Street was also referred to and it was decided to support the request to the Blue Mountains Shire for these facilities. The urgent need for a permanent water supply for the district was brought under notice, and it was decided that the secretary make enquiry as to the probability of an extension from Springwood.

Reference was made to the inconvenience to voters who had to travel to other districts to record their votes, and it was resolved to urge the provision of a local polling booth.[6]

Clearly Warrimoo residents still required their own water tanks and wells, used pan toilets in backyard sheds, and town lighting was poor at night, but the Highway overbridge crossing of the railway turned too sharply at this time and as a matter of road safety (several serious accidents had already occurred) George Ardill became obsessed with its rectification. He kept count of the number of accidents and then pursued a letter-writing campaign to all levels of government calling for action. This agitation continued for years.

Finally, in 1944, a new bridge was constructed…

Mr. J. B. Chifley (officiating at the opening—WH), Federal Treasurer, spoke in commendation of the work that had been carried out in the area. The old bridge had been a death trap, and he viewed with pleasure the completion of this new one.

Mr. O’Sullivan, Minister, said that the old bridge had caused quite a number of accidents. There had been nine recorded accidents during the few years since February, 1937, four of which were serious, on one occasion a life being lost. On three occasions the bridge parapet had been demolished, the debris falling on the railway line. This new bridge had been so designed and constructed that there was no interruption of road traffic…and was able to carry the heaviest military loads…[7]

In speeches at the opening, reference was made to the commendable part played, over a number of years, in the agitation for this bridge by Mr. G. E. Ardill, President of the Warrimoo Progress Association.

Activism in Warrimoo

It is some indication of George Ardill’s character and religious fortitude that he had thrown himself into the work surrounding formation of the Progress Association a mere two months after the death of his second wife, Kelsie, on the 7th January, 1937. Here was a woman who had been his Christian partner since 1921, one who had preached with him, worked tirelessly in all his projects and provided secretarial and moral support throughout, now moved to Warrimoo to retire with him—possibly frail and terminally ill, and now dead, with all her funerary considerations fulfilled by him, yet her husband still possessed the 80 year old wherewithal to carry on further community activism. And, so he did.

If Ardill had come to Warrimoo to retire he clearly found it difficult to do so. The first couple of years saw the construction of the Gospel Hall and his own unique but modest home at 13 Florabella Street, as well as the formation of the new Progress Association. Meanwhile, he still commuted to Sydney to continue his supervision of the many institutions that were his prime responsibility—history was to show that after his death most of them faded into obscurity—he was indispensable, even addicted to them.

Arguably the first Women's Refuge in Australia, the 'House of Hope' received homeless and 'fallen' women in secure accommodation in Newtown, Sydney. The women were put to work cleaning laundry. You can see other women at the windows. Here was yet another charitable institution managed by George Ardill.
After Kelsie’s passing he contracted his sister in law(?) to be his live-in housekeeper. He purchased several blocks of land around Warrimoo in The Avenue and Florabella Street and built cottages on them. Being a staunch believer in ‘cottage–led redemption’ these dwellings were primarily reserved for society’s victims: ‘fallen women’, broken families, the poor and destitute, so that they might rebuild their lives through domestic self discipline and home-building. One cottage, however, ‘Rest-A-While’, at 29 The Avenue, was apparently reserved for rental on a more commercial basis.

All the while George Ardill pursued his life-long mission to save souls. His influence upon people like Lawrence Way was indelible…

Mr Ardill was feeling his age and had retired from his work. His wife had died and he was being cared for by a sister-in-law who had moved from Leura to live with him…I was working there one day and I heard her say to Mr. Ardill, “Laurie Way has changed.” I knew myself that my actions and attitudes were becoming different but I seemed to find that, although that was a good thing, more important was the change of the inner life…

…Shortly after, I was riding to Katoomba with a Christian who introduced me to an elderly retired missionary who said she read the Bible through yearly. My reaction was if she could do that, so could I and I have been very thankful for her example. I remember Mr. Ardill being delighted by my new stand…

…My conversion at the age of seventeen was so real to me and despite the evolutionary teaching of my father in my teens (Laurie’s father was an atheist—WH) there has never been any doubt of God’s existence.[8]

Occasions such as Easter and Christmas saw Ardill’s elaborate engagement with the Warrimoo community…

On Sunday, Dec. 24, at the Gospel Hall, Warrimoo, special services were held in connection with the Christmas season. The preacher was Mr. G. E. Ardill, who had the Hall built nearly 10 years ago. Mr. Ardill attained the ripe age of 87 years on the 17th ult. and was preacher twice that day.

At the evening service, in place of the usual sermon, a series of Christmas carols was rendered, and the speaker made comments on the Scripture teaching of each carol when it had been sung.

At the conclusion of this service the congregation adjourned to the Main Western Highway, and under the electric lamp, near the store, rendered another series of carols. Seats from the Hall provided for the comfort of the listeners, many other persons adding to those from the hall.

The speaker, in like manner in the hall, made comments after each carol had been sung…[9]

George Ardill's modest weatherboard home at 13 Florabella Street. He lived  there with a housekeeper, reputedly his sister-in-law, after his wife Kelsie died in 1937. Ardill was neighbour to the youth, Lawrence Way, who admits to the huge influence Ardill had on his life at this time. (Drawing done by local Warrimoo resident, Terry Dernee*)

Death and Legacy

A few months after his Christmas dedications, on 11th May 1945, George Ardill passed away. There is no doubt he left a distinct impression on the people of Warrimoo and upon the township’s character.

For a start, the activities of Progress Association became more focussed and successful. It met regularly, once a month, in the Gospel Hall, had good attendances (ranging between 10 and 30 members), and its Minutes were faithfully published in the Nepean Times and the Katoomba Daily. Continuous pressure was directed to local, State and Federal government representatives to take note of the needs of Warrimoo residents and to act upon them.

Whether it was singularly due to the efforts of Ardill and ‘the Progress’, or as well a convergence of other factors: a growing population, the end of the Depression, infrastructure needs of the War effort, technological advances or pure good fortune, Warrimoo was a better place in terms of amenity than before Ardill’s arrival.

Roads were better, a new Highway Bridge crossed the railway, street lighting was improved and Warrimoo now possessed a concrete water tank on the highest point of the township on Victoria Street to deliver ‘town water’. Things were looking up. More shops were appearing. A fresh crop of war veterans were about to arrive in this welcoming neighbourhood, and Warrimoo was to become something of a religious ‘hub’ for smaller religious groups: apart from the little Anglican church on Arthur Street which has already been built in the 1920’s, he had established an ecumenical (later ‘Baptist’) Gospel Hall on Rickard Road, followed by Methodists (GWH), Seventh Day Adventists (Terrymont Road) and Jehovahs Witnesses (cnr The Avenue and Waratah Road—later Greens Parade).

Ardill was born a Baptist, but his evangelical work involved engagement with Bible Societies and the distribution of the Word of God as broadly as possible. He grew decidedly ecumenical in his days at Warrimoo, yet was buried with Anglican rites at his funeral in Stanmore.
Recognition for Ardill’s evangelist and charitable work arrived in 1934 when he was awarded the MBE (‘Member of the British Empire’) “for services to the community”, indeed, he was probably the most renowned philanthropic missionary in Sydney at this time. Yet, in keeping with his era, his approach to all ‘the fallen’ was paternalistic—he was the good-willed father ordained by God’s wisdom to save the wayward victims of society’s indifference. Whether it was in rescuing broken women, housing deserted orphans, or segregating Aborigines, he knew best.

Paternal righteousness brought a political reaction during his work on the Aborigines  Protection Board. It can be safely said that George Ardill was the principle architect of the ‘Stolen Generations’ policy that developed in the first three decades of the 20th century. Innumerable children were forcibly taken from their Indigenous parents, placed in orphanage-style institutions, then apprenticed to farms or factories if they were males, or allocated as domestic servants if female. All the while he urged legislators to supply more power to the Protection Board to direct the lives of Aboriginal people throughout NSW. Ultimately the policy was accused of creating a slave labour force so that Aboriginal communities and their sympathisers in unions and other churches pushed back. Public opinion began to turn on the Board.

Cootamundra Girls Home was set up primarily under the Aborigines Protection Act and operated under Ardill's studious direction. Taken from their Aboriginal families under the guise of receiving 'useful education' the girls were trained to become domestic servants for well-off and 'appropriate' white families. It did not close till 1968.
Ardill resigned his position on the Protection Board in 1916, but continued to agitate for his views from the outside. His son, another ‘George Edward Ardill’, became a conservative (‘Nationalist’) politician in the NSW parliament and later joined the Board to reflect similar views to those of his father—it was not till after WWII that attitudes and policies towards Aboriginal people began to take a different course.

Whatever his profile in Sydney, Ardill’s standing in Warrimoo remained staunch and respected. As his age reached 86 he may have been showing signs of infirmity, for now the Warrimoo Progress Association urged the naming of a park in his honour…

The members of the Warrimoo Progress Association, in view of the deep interest in the progress of the district shown by the President, Mr.G. E. Ardill, unanimously resolved to urge that the reserve which was granted for recreation purposes, fronting the main Western Road and in the vicinity of the local railway station, be named Ardill Park.

The Blue Mountains Shire approved the proposal, which was then placed before Mr J. M. Tully, Minister for Lands, who has approved of the reserve being so named, and has written stating that the maps of the' Lands Department have been noted accordingly.[10]

And so the most central public park in the township, the one leading pedestrians from the railway station to the Citizens Hall, the one giving pergola solace and picnic space for weary car travellers passing through the Lower Mountains, this park was designated ‘Ardill Park’ by the Minister of Lands Mr. J.M. Tully in October 1944.[11] So it remains to this day.

George Edward Ardill lived long enough to see a Warrimoo Park named in his honour. He had already received an MBE in 1934 for his 'service to the community' generally, but now the citizens of Warrimoo had successfully agitated for public recognition of one of their own...
George Edward Ardill was no doubt utterly convinced of his own good intentions. The Anglican Archbishop Mowll eulogised at his funeral…

G.E. Ardill possessed outstanding qualities. He was never negative, but ever positive. He wrought manfully, fought valiantly, served devotedly, and was ever to be found where the battle was the thickest. He was a born leader, and loved to plan and scheme and contrive in the interests of causes dearer to his heart. Even those who opposed him had to concede that he possessed uncommon qualities and front rank abilities. He breathed the spirit of God, he was a man of unswerving devotion to Christ. His loyalty was absolute. He was a man of heroic unselfishness.[12]

Despite his funeral service being held in Stanmore and his burial in Waverley there were many mourners from Warrimoo attending…his legacy was to live on through the coming decades.

[1] Way, Lawrence, My Story, op.cit, p.43
[2] Ibid., p. 44
[3] TROVE, Nepean Times, Thursday 26th March 1942, p 4.
[4] Ibid. Thursday 1st April, 1937
[5] TROVE, Katoomba Daily, Thursday 1st April, 1937
[6] Ibid
[7] TROVE, Nepean Times, Thursday February 3rd 1944
[8] Way, Lawence, op. cit., pp 45-47
[9] TROVE, Nepean Times, Thursday 4th January 1945
[10] TROVE, Ibid, Thursday 28th September, 1944
[11] TROVE, Ibid., Thursday 6th October, 1944
* Terry Dernee acted as a great source of information and inspiration for this post

WWII: Jack Mudie—Teacher, Soldier, P.O.W., Poet, Peacemaker (1907--2007)[1]

Jack Mudie, one time resident of Warrimoo, had a significant part to play in the inauguration of  this memorial  'Peace Park' and statues at Naoetsu (Joetsu) in Japan.
Jack Victor Mudie OAM, considered once to be Australia’s oldest surviving World War Two ex-prisoner of war, was born at Windsor on April 10, 1907 and spent the early years of his life at Warrimoo. The Mudie family moved into a house on Railway Parade in the 1920's and from the outset, Jack’s father, William (Bill) Mudie played an active part in the growing local community. He was the President of the new and active ‘Warrimoo Progress Association’ and was busily agitating for electricity connection, better roads, and park facilities for the fledgling community.

According to his sister, Maisie (later Maisie Lupton), Jack enjoyed the rugged bush life around Warrimoo and helped maintain the flourishing 'swimming hole' in the valley not far from the Mudie household. Jack had studied to become a teacher and was employed in that capacity at St. Marys Public School where he happily worked until the outbreak of World War II. There are no war memorials at Warrimoo because there were not many young men to enlist, but Jack Mudie's story is an outstanding one...


John Jack Victor Mudie enlisted for service in World War Two on July 3 1940 at Paddington and was drafted into the newly raised 2/20th Infantry Battalion with the rank of lieutenant. He was 34 years-old. The 2/20th formed a part of the 22nd Infantry Brigade of the ill-fated 8th Division, comprised mainly of men from the Sydney, Hunter Valley and north coast regions of NSW. The battalion’s basic training was undertaken at Wallgrove in western Sydney and later at Ingleburn near Liverpool, later transferring to the Bathurst military camp in November 1940. The 2/20th Battalion embarked at Sydney aboard the troopship “Queen Mary” for service overseas on the morning of February 4, 1941 and set off on an unknown journey that would ultimately end at Singapore, not the Middle East as had previously been thought.

After disembarking at Singapore, the battalion was transported by train to the Malay peninsula before moving to Port Dickson on the west coast where jungle training was carried out. In August they moved to Mersing on the east coast of Malaya where they constructed defensive positions against a possible Japanese seaborne attack. Mersing was considered to be strategically important because it could provide a short cut to Singapore and the Australians were left to block this possible route. Japanese landings were made further north in early December 1941 and they were unchecked by British counter-measures.

Fighting on the Malay peninsular was a constant retreat due to Japaneses outflanking movements. This ambush by Australians on a key road at Bakri was successful, but lack of air support and naval power  always created the danger of being surrounded and cut off...

By mid January 1942 it was clear that the Japanese attack would be land based and several encounters with the enemy had already taken place, most resulting in outflanking, defeat, and retreat of the British-led defenders. By late January the strength of the Japanese forces was such that the Australian troops were being withdrawn to the southern end of Malaya

Australian troops arrive in Southern Malaya after efforts to stop the Japanese drive southwards. Other than the Papua/New Guinea campaign, the Malayan campaign saw the greatest loss of life by Australian troops in World War II.

Following the complete withdrawal of Allied forces onto Singapore Island, the 2/20th Battalion was positioned defensively in an area adjacent to Johore Strait where the battalion, facing extensive mangrove swamp, took the brunt of the major Japanese assault on the night of February 8, 1942 with more than four hundred casualties. Jack Mudie is recorded in Volume IV of Australia’s official Second World War history (Army) as being one of the 2/20th Battalion’s company commanders at the time of the Japanese landings on that day.

Defenders' view from Singapore Island near the Causeway to the Malayan  mainland. The tall building in the distance became General Yamashita's Command Post.

Jack Mudie commanded a defensive post facing  mangroves across Johore Strait, but the posts were too thinly spread to stop concentrated Japanese attacks at night. Forced to retreat towards Singapore city and the Harbour, the defenders found shortages of fresh water and ammunition, with no air or naval cover!

Stunning pic of Japanese soldiers crossing Johore Strait on outboard-driven boats.

Japanese naval presence, air superiority and land-based success on the island was unstoppable. The surrender of the British forces on Singapore occurred on February 15, 1942.

The remaining men of 2/20th Battalion, along with many other Australian, British and Indian troops became prisoners of war and while many were consigned to spend the next three and a half years in Singapore’s Changi prison, others were put to work by the Japanese in one or more of the many working parties sent out from Singapore. These included the various ‘Forces’ that were assembled to work on the ‘infamous’ Burma to Thailand railway and the Sandakan airfield in northern Borneo. There were others who were transported to Japan on “hell ships” and then forced to work in coal mines and metal refineries.

 Jack Mudie was one of 15,000 Australians captured at Singapore, along with a further 80,000 British and Indian prisoners. Changi prison was packed with more than 100,000 POW's, so different 'Forces' were created to work for the Japanese Empire elsewhere. Jack Mudie was in 'C Force' and sent, in the hell ship 'Kamakura Maru' to Naoetsu, 300kms north west of Tokyo

As a member of “C Force,” Jack Mudie was among 563 Australian POWs who were sent from Singapore on November 28, 1942 aboard the ‘Kamakura Maru’ to labour camps in Japan, arriving at the port of Moji nine days later on 7 December. On arrival “C Force” was sub-divided into two groups, and Mr Mudie was in a group of 300 sent to the No. 4 Branch Tokyo Camp at Naoetsu, 300 kms north-west of Tokyo, to work in a nearby stainless steel factory.

The work at Naoetsu consisted of endless, backbreaking, loading and unloading of cargo. The guards gained a reputation of cruelty to the point where Naoetsu became the worst of the POW camps in terms of  the ratio of prisoner deaths.

In March 1943 the prisoners were moved to new temporary quarters in the nearby village of Arita and in October the camp was again moved to a two-storey warehouse. While at Naoetsu Jack suffered similar treatment to that depicted in the recent movie, ‘Unbroken’, revealing the abuse of the American ex-Olympic veteran Louis Zamperini.

Mutsuhiro Watanabe, the main tormentor of  Louis Zamperini at Naoetsu, was never arrested nor charged with war crimes. He was allowed to go into seclusion after the war and refused to apologise to anyone for his treatment of POW's in the Japanese Camp system. He lived to a ripe old age.
Jack too, endured endless taunts, starvation, savage beatings and other cruelties from camp guards…

I saw and experienced a lot of cruelty and starvation… I came back a physical wreck…On one occasion a few of us were pulled out of the sleeping quarters to provide entertainment for the Japanese soldiers. We had to crawl around like dogs while getting belted until we collapsed…I lost about three kilograms that night.[2]

During his time as a POW Jack Mudie kept a diary which was later used as evidence in war trials against the Naoetsu Japanese soldiers and guards who were indicted for crimes against the POWs.

Photo of prison guards plus inmates from Naoetsu. Some of the guards have been marked for identification in their respective trials. Eight of the guards were executed. Jack Mudie's Diary was a key part of the prosecution of these offenders.

Return Home…

Australian POW's aboard ship on their way home from Naoetsu, gaining their first square meal in three and a half years. Throughout the war, Japanese civilians themselves were often on starvation rations. Prisoners, generally held in contempt, received paltry leftovers during their internment--Jack's lot was no different.

When the war ended and Jack returned to Warrimoo to his sister Maisie Lupton’s care, he was a shadow of his former vigorous self…

American Airmen Find a Camp
Lieut. Jack Mudie, who before his enlistment with the A.I.F. was on the teaching staff of St Marys Public School, was a very welcome visitor to the “Nepean Times” office on Tuesday. He was with the 2/20th Battalion when Singapore fell and for the past three years has been a prisoner in Japan. He looks well, though hardly at the poundage of pre-war days. He speaks appreciatively of Red Cross comforts when they arrived, which was not too often. The Japs claimed that in the air raid period the bombing was responsible for parcels not getting through. The location of the camp in which Lieut. Mudie was a prisoner was for a time unknown to the Allied forces but eventually they were spotted by American B29’s who thereafter dropped large quantities of supplies to them till they were released. Lieut. Mudie returned to Sydney on one of H.M.S. aircraft carriers with 42 other Australian officers. Also on the carrier were a number of British refugees from Hong Kong. Lieut. Mudie, who is at present staying with his sister, Mrs Lupton of Warrimoo, wishes to thank many friends who have been kindly inquiring about him.[3]

It took some time for Jack to recover his physical and mental stability. He was discharged from the army on November 12, 1945 and as part of his recuperation treatment he travelled to Canberra, where he met a nurse from the hospital, Neno Dorothy Wearne. They were soon married and looking for a home further afield from Warrimoo, at Baulkham Hills. But that was not the end of Jack Mudie’s story.

Being an educated man, Jack Mudie wrote nineteen poems depicting life in and around the prison camp. These were published in 1999 as a monograph titled “And Gum Trees Nodding Under Azure Skies,” with the first stanza of the book’s title poem beginning:

"The last of winter's snow still clings
Upon the distant slopes;
But spring has brought the warmer days
To brighten up our hopes."

He also wrote of the Japanese working women:

“Women toiling
Always doing
Double share
Sometimes dragging
Heavy carts
Human horses
Lions' hearts.”

Subsequently it was found that Naoetsu was one of the worst WWII Japanese prison camps in their whole system, having a per capita death rate higher than any other. Sixty of the Australian POWs in the camp died before the remainder were rescued by Allied forces in September 1945. Mr Mudie wrote the following lines in memory of those sixty Australians who died, overworked and underfed, in the sweat-hole at Naoetsu:

"With head bowed down, I murmur one last prayer,
To those I leave upon this foreign soil;
Whose frames consumed by cruelty and by toil,
Will never more breathe sweet Australian air.
When days were grey, their tired yet steadfast eyes
Would turn to golden sands and rolling plains,
To wheat fields kissed by gentle summer rains,
And gum trees nodding under azure skies.

But now they dwell with dreams in realms of thought
Where Halls of Dawn are filled with angels’ song.
While we enjoy the freedom that they sought,
To bear the fiery torch they passed along.
God grant you peace, you souls who now are free
To join your forebears in Gallipoli.

After the war, at the Yokohama trials, fifteen Japanese ex-soldiers and camp guards of the Naoetsu Camp were found guilty of war crimes against the POWs. Eight of them were executed. Jack had played his part by providing clear evidence of the culprits, but one of the worst offenders, Corporal (later Sergeant) Mutsuhiro Watanabe, strangely evaded capture and punishment, despite his whereabouts being no particular secret.[4]

The Peace Memorial ParkNaoetsuJapan

In 1978 a letter from an Australian ex-prisoner of war of the Japanese established a correspondence with some students learning English in Naoetsu, Japan. In 1988, at the former site of the Naoetsu prison camp a memorial service was held for the sixty Australian POWs who had died there during the Second World War. Those attending the ceremony were told about the Japanese POWs who were killed in the breakout at Cowra in central New South Wales in 1944 and about their reverent burial in the Cowra war cemetery. Six years later a group of local Japanese people who had heard this story formed a committee which aimed to erect peace statues at Naoetsu. In spite of many obstacles they succeeded in erecting the statues and two cenotaphs at the former camp site that had been transformed into a garden called “The Peace Memorial Park.”

Entry to the Peace Park and Exhibition Centre at Naoetsu (sometimes referred to as 'Joetsu', the general district surrounding the town). It was inspired by the Cowra Breakout  Cemetary/Gardens in honour of  dead Japanese POW's there. It must have taken Jack Mudie great resolve, generosity and forgiveness to come to the opening of this Centre in 1995 and speak to all in attendance.
A Japanese sculptor designed and created the statues of peace and friendship that dominate the gardens. Atop two pillars are two angelic figures forming a kind of gateway. The graceful figures are facing one another, one wearing in her hair eucalyptus leaves and the other wearing cherry blossom leaves – a rather lovely symbolism.

Now retired and living at Coal Point on Lake Macquarie Jack was at first understandably reluctant to attend, but Mr Mudie accepted the invitation to be present at the opening of the memorial and gardens on October 8, 1995. Thirty surviving ex-POWs and the relatives of some of those who died at Naoetsu were there. The mayor of the district of Joetsu, where the camp had been, issued the invitation and the Japanese covered all the expenses of those who were invited. Jack Mudie was accompanied by his Japanese son-in-law – a new generation helping to heal the wounds of war.

Mr Mudie gave an inspiring speech on behalf of the surviving Australian POWs, which included the following excerpts:

“Today is indeed a very historic day …. today when a demonstration is made to all the nation that a community like you wonderful people of Joetsu can establish out of the dark days of the prison that was once here, a garden that will shine like a beacon for years and years with peace and good will.”

“If you have children, bring them here to this park often. Tell them that this land now belongs to the people. Tell them that there once stood here a prison camp where 300 Australian soldiers were brutally treated, not because they did anything wrong but because they were men from another nation. And tell them that out of those dark days this garden has been built as a sign to all people everywhere that war must not come again…….”

“Look at these two flags. The flag of Japan has the sun on it. The flag of Australia has the stars. Between them day and night are united, which reminds us that the pledge we are making today will continue on through night and day for all time without ceasing…..”

“If our hearts are full of love, there will be no room for hatred. If our hearts are full of peace, there is no room for thoughts of war. If you visit Australia, we will welcome you from the bottom of our hearts as our friends.”

Jack Mudie addresses the gathering at the opening of the Naoetsu Peace Park in 1995. He was later awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his courage and devotion towards building understanding between Australia and Japan.*
In the 2001 Australia Day honours Mr Mudie was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “For service to furthering relations between Australia and Japan through the development of the Prisoner of War Memorial and Peace Park at Naoetsu.”

Mr Mudie spent his final years living at Coal Point with his daughter Jennifer Walsh.
He is survived by daughters Lynette and Jennifer, son Raymond and their children.
He will be missed by the Newcastle Ex-Prisoner of War Association and all who knew him.  He has honored the name of 'Warrimoo' by spending his early life here. May he rest in eternal peace.

[1] The vast bulk of this entry is taken from an Obituary and Tribute to Jack Mudie by David H. Dial, OAM, the Honorary Military Historian of the Newcastle Ex-Prisoner Of War Association, delivered on March 2, 2007, and published in ‘Hunter River Forums’ by ‘Digger Dave’ on March 17th, 2007. Other, additional references are listed below, according to their source.
[2] TROVE. ‘Newcastle Herald’, September 6, 2006. ‘Sacrifices Honoured’ by Anita Beaumont
[3] TROVE. ‘Nepean Times’, October 4, 1945. ‘American Airmen Find Camp’
[4] WIKIPEDIA:>wiki>Mutsuhiro_Watanabe
* Warrimoo Historians would like to proffer an apology for the poor quality of the picture of Jack Mudie. We would desperately have loved to have had a clearer portrait photo of Jack, but could not glean any. If any blog reader could help out, please let us know in the 'Comments' section.


  1. When I was a student at Penrith primary and high schools, during the 1950s and early 1960s there was, a lady, who I thought was quite old,living in Lilac cottage, Rickard Road. She would come out to her gate in the afternoon to watch the kids walk by. I frequently spoke to her. She was very kind and warm. What always fascinated us was that she was always dressed in lilac, and much of the place was too. Regards.

  2. Thank you for the observation--I am sorry we did not comment sooner.