Enter 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.
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'.

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.”

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 adapted to 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.

Badge of the 'Rejected Volunteers Association'. Rickard sought to encourage their work in the new settlement of Warrimoo

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. This building once stood on the corner of Waratah Street and The Avenue, but was burnt down and replaced by a 'Jehovah's Witness' Hall, now converted to a residential dwelling. There is one still standing on 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]

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…

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]

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.

The Mysterious Name of 'Warrimoo'

We already know that Arthur Rickard had the political clout to have ‘Karabar’ renamed ‘Warrimoo’--he was often seen in the company of illustrious conservative politicians throughout his career--, but we do not quite know exactly how this was possible. Renaming a place is a major bureaucratic operation, although during World War I quite a large number of German-sounding place names had been altered to become more ‘British’ and thus patriotic (eg ‘Germanton’ to ‘Holbrook’).

Thus, in the Warrimoo Historians’ quest to establish the origins of the name ‘Warrimoo’, the year 1918 looms as significant, for reasons that shall become clear later. One thing is for sure, after consultation with local people, ‘Warrimoo’ is not a Darug or Gundangarra word. After perusal of the available literature[19], it may well be an Aboriginal word, but from another district.

To be fair, it is even unclear (at this point) whether Arthur Rickard actually proffered ‘Place of the Eagle’ or ‘Eagle’s Nest’ as the definition of the word ‘Warrimoo’. In his initial promotion extolling Warrimoo as ‘the box seat’, the phrase ‘The Eagle’s Nest’ is simply bracketed underneath.[20] The intention may feasibly have been that Warrimoo was the name of a place where eagles frequent—which was indeed the case for some time, owing to the amount of dead stock and road-kill along the sides of the Highway and the prevalence of carrion eaters at various points along the way. In other words, the place name and the existence of eagles there may have been coincidental.

Regardless, a simple Google search reveals another possible source of the name: a ship called the ‘SS Warrimoo’. This vessel appeared as one of the first iron-hulled steamships to arrive in Australasian waters when in 1892 it sailed from Newcastle on Tyne--where it was built--to Sydney in a miraculous 37 days. It was a beautiful state-of-the-art 5,000 tonne passenger/cargo vessel that surely caused a stir when it cruised into Sydney, then Melbourne, and finally Auckland harbours.[21] Arthur Rickard, with his interests in immigration and regional trade, would certainly have taken careful note.
Painting of the 'S.S. Warrimoo', one of the earliest iron-hulled steamships to grace the trans-Tasman run between the eastern seaboard of Australia and New Zealand. It's chequered career as a passenger-cargo vessel saw it carry Mark Twain from the U.S. on a speaking tour.
It is true that the first association of 'Warrimoo' and 'Eagle' occurred in reference to the name of this ship, when the South Australian Register mentioned that the vessel's name was a Victorian Aboriginal word for 'eagle'.[22] An observant reader has informed Warrimoo Historians that the word has been found in a small dictionary of the Ladjiladji people, whose country can be found in the Mildura region of borderland NSW and Victoria. This is the best proof of the actual origins of the word to date...

The ‘SS Warrimoo’ was owned by the 'New Zealand and Australasian Steamship Co.', an Australian--or at least an Australasian-- company that also carried the ‘Warrimoo’s’ sister ship, the ‘SS Miowera’, though the interesting thing was both these vessels’ ‘home base’ was to be Auckland, where they would carry on the Trans-Tasman run.[23] After a few years ownership, however, possession passed to the 'Canadian-Australian Royal Mail Steamship Co.' and its duties stretched to cargo/passenger voyages to Canada and the United States. Mark Twain sailed to Australia for a speaking tour on the ‘SS Warrimoo’ in 1895 during which voyage the vessel famously crossed the international timeline and the equator diagonally on New Year's Eve/Day 1899, thus leaving the passengers in two hemispheres, timezones and centuries all at once.

The ship soon passed to the '‘Union Steamship Company of New Zealand’[24], to carry cargo and passengers to a variety of routes between Australasia and South East Asia.[25] The ‘SS Warrimoo’ remained in New Zealand hands until 1916. Indeed, it was the troopship that took the first Maori ‘Pioneer’ military contingents to Gallipoli in 1915.[26] Logically, given the long-serving New Zealand connection, Warrimoo Historians considered that ‘Warrimoo’ might also, conceivably, have been a Maori word, since many of the other ships in the shipping lines there had Maori-inspired names. Unfortunately a search of all available Maori dictionaries and place-names could not verify such an assumption…

The only connection to New Zealand that could be found was a reference to the home of Joseph Kinsey, high-profile owner of the Kinsey Shipping Line which had assisted Scott and Shackleton in their voyages to Antarctica. Kinsey lived in a magnificent residence in Papanui which he had named ‘Warrimoo’. Given the fact that Papanui was a noted Maori site in New Zealand, it is feasible that Kinsey named his house after a person or place from the area—this may well have been the original source of the name ‘SS Warrimoo’, since Kinsey was a well-known shipping magnate who had moved to New Zealand in 1880 (twelve years prior to the launch of the Steam Ship) and had named his mansion ‘Warrimoo’.[27]

Nevertheless, Kinsey may also have picked up the word from its Australian source: the Ladjiladji people, and this may even have been conveyed to him by an Australian (such as Rickard!), since at that time (the 1890's) Australia and New Zealand maintained very close ties indeed and were considering 'Federating' together as one nation.

Joseph Kinsey photographed with his special guest, George Bernard Shaw, probably outside Kinsey's home at Papanui, named 'Warrimoo'. Kinsey was a celebrated NZ shipping magnate who sponsored Scott and Shackleton's expeditions to Antarctica.
But the story does not end there. In 1916, as a troopship, the ‘SS Warrimoo’ was transferred to a Singaporean shipping company, which continued to use the vessel to transport troops and war materiel throughout the war-zone, and especially in the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of Africa. On the 18th May 1918, six months before the end of hostilities, the ‘Warrimoo’ was sunk off Tunis when it collided with the French Destroyer Catapulte “…after depth charges exploded” (!)[28]

This whole incident—the sinking of the ‘Warrimoo’-- is shrouded in mystery. According to TROVE, all references to the ‘SS Warrimoo’ ceased when war was declared, so that even the sinking occurred without the Australian public being informed of the fact. ‘Official records’ give us no indication of the losses involved, or even the name of the Captain, and the report on exactly how and why the ‘collision’ occurred leaves more gaps than filler. Only one thing is certain: the ‘SS Warrimoo’ went down in May 1918, although we also know that the first advertisement for the 'Warrimoo Estate' occurred in March of the same year, two months before the ship went down. What is less clear is the amount Rickard knew about it and what connection it has to the christening of his estate.

In its later years the 'S.S. Warrimoo' operated as an ANZAC troopship and war cargo carrier in the Mediterranean Sea, where it met its end in May 1918. In an amazing coincidence, the 'Warrimoo Estate' had been announced two months earlier, in March of the very same year.
Arthur Rickard almost certainly would have known about the ship’s existence and its role during the war, but did he apply the ship's name to his new estate in that same year? Apparently he had run a 'Naming Competition' throughout Sydney via the 'Realty Review' and arrived at three name suggestions from the general public (WH are not aware of what these suggestions were). These suggestions were submitted to the Railway Commissioners to name the station, and thus the new subdivision. Allegedly the venerable Commissioners ignored the three suggestions and opted for the name 'Warrimoo', though it is hardly credible that they sought to overrule Arthur Rickard, given that he was subsidising the building of the new station with its surrounding estate...

We may never know why Kinsey called his Papanui residence ‘Warrimoo’, or why the Railway Commissioners chose this name and thus we may never know the source of the word which betokens our township. It would have been romantically satisfying for our home to have been the Aboriginal ‘Place of Eagles’, with due respect being paid to the language of one of our First Nation peoples, but considering Arthur Rickard’s own sympathies and the timing of events leading up to the release of his estate, it is far more likely that Warrimoo received its name from the high-profile steamship, months later suffering tragic loss in World War I. It was a coincidental, ironic, muted and unintended tribute to those who would not return from that great conflagration.

Warrimoo in the ‘Roaring Twenties’

The Blue Mountains fully discovered itself as a tourist destination in the 1920's. This promotional pic for the Blue Mountains' 'Roaring 20's and all that Jazz' festival, shows Claudia Chan Shaw modelling the period fashion. Photo by David Hill.
In truth, the newly-born settlement of Warrimoo didn’t do much ‘roaring’ in the 1920’s. Maybe that was left to Sir Arthur Rickard’s snazzy automobiles as they ploughed up the dusty Highway to ‘Cadia’, or possibly the loco on the new ‘Caves Express’ throwing clouds above and about as it thundered past laden with excited tourists.

‘Warrimoo’ was too young to ‘roar’. In 1920 it was a myopic infant, groping for its future, trying to establish an identity, self-absorbed with survival. One newly arrived young boy was Lawrence William Way[29]. Lawrence recalls…

When the war came to an end, six wooden homes were built for returned soldiers to move into the area. We rented the house near (the present) primary school after (my father) paid a deposit on three blocks of land, Lots 4 and 5 in Florabella Street (and another in Albert Street). Another house was built where the Todd family lived in Florabella Street and two houses in Rickard Road, one in The Boulevarde and another one in Waratah Street. Waratahs were numerous on the western side of this ridge and beautiful scented Boronia grew in this area.[30]
Portrait/pic of Lawrence Way, whose vivid autobiography, My Story tells us much about life in Warrimoo in the 1920's. He donated his book to Warrimoo PS library in 2011.
So, there was a minute population in Warrimoo at the outset of the 1920’s. According to available records, the only fully recognised “residents” of the estate were Thomas Smiley—worryingly, his wife and child (children?) shown in an earlier photograph, are not mentioned—who presumably lived near the station or the railroad crossing because his occupation was still listed as ‘Railways’.

Then there was Mrs Simpson, the War Widow who lived in the home supplied by the Rejected Volunteers, which Warrimoo Historians consider to have been at some position on the Great Western Highway. A War Veteran by the name of Henry Varlow had occupied the shop building[31], Henry Todd lived on the corner of The Avenue and Florabella Street, neighbouring Lawrence’s parents, Walter and Ellen Way[32].

That was it. The ‘pioneers’ of white settlement in Warrimoo. In the absence of photographs, one can only paint a presumptive sketch of the area. There would have been some very occasional weatherboard buildings, plus the brick exemplar in The Boulevarde, and the shop on the Highway. ‘Thinned’ bush would have prevailed throughout the rest of ‘Warrimoo’, intersected by unsealed roads and very basic drainage. Service provision was non-existent: no electricity, no town water, no sewerage. All settlers had to be self-reliant in this regard.

The nearest institution to supply ‘service provision’ at the time was ‘Blue Mountains Shire Council’ which met at Lawson between 1907 and 1947. It was not yet amalgamated with the Katoomba City Council nor the Municipality of Blackheath, so it was poorly serviced with rates and focused on rural issues—it tended to be slow in catching up with costly modern developments such as water conservation and electricity generation. Nevertheless, by the end of the 1920’s it was able to supply basic electric lighting to sections of the Highway, and households that could afford connection.
Opening of a 'new' stretch of the Western Road near the Bridge Road access during the mid 1920's. Note the bush situated in the direction of Blaxland, and, as yet, no street-lights.
Sometime in the early 1920’s the ‘Warrimoo Progress Association’ was formed to make representations to the Council on behalf of local residents. A ‘Mr. Neal’ represented Warrimoo at the launch of Lower Mountains electrification at Glenbrook in 1928, and at a subsequent meeting there the President of the Warrimoo Progress Association, Mr. H.C. Lewis, proposed a vote of thanks to the Blue Mountains Shire Council…

I feel sure that we as residents of this lower end of the mountains are under a debt of gratitude to the Shire Council and what they have accomplished, he said. (Applause)[33]

Lawrence William Way 1920--?

Lawrence was to become one of the truly unique characters of Warrimoo’s history. Much of what we understand about the infant township in the 1920’s is drawn from the recollections in his amazing autobiography, My Story, which he donated to Warrimoo PS Library in 2011…

Lawrence was the son of a World War I veteran of the AIF, Walter William Worsley Way, avowed athiest. Shot in the jaw on the Western Front in France Walter met his bride-to-be, Ellen Gertrude Chatteris while convalescing in a London hospital. Gertrude was fifteen years younger than Walter, and she already had a two year-old son named Harold.
Ellen Gertrude and Walter Way on their wedding day, toward the end of WWI in England. Believe it or not, the child in the centre is William's older brother, Harold. Within 5 years, the Way family would be living in a humpy in Warrimoo.

It was a whirlwind romance. Immediately after discharge the couple were married in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, then sailed for Sydney where they rented homes first in Broadway, then West Ryde. Walter worked as a cook in the Australia Hotel. Lawrence was born in Paddington Hospital in April 1920, just as the ‘Warrimoo Estate’ was being opened up. As an ex-serviceman, Lawrence’s dad was able to purchase land at Warrimoo at significantly reduced rates: he bought two blocks in Florabella Street and one in Albert Street. The story is best in Lawrence’s words…

When we moved from West Ryde to Warrimoo in 1922, we lived in a rented house (a returned soldier’s house) in Florabella Street for a while. Dad built a two-room humpy on Lot 5 Florabella Street covering the wooden frame and roof with a roll of tarred ruberoid. We lived in this until a small house was built on the Albert Street block…

While we were still living in this humpy, news came that my mother, who was in hospital, had just had a stillborn baby…

We moved to our house in Albert Street later in 1923. Around this time I had…a trauma…I had jumped off the verandah and had ripped part of my rear end. This time (the doctor) did not use the knife but stitched me up but I did not appreciate it as much as I should have. I screamed loudly as in those days we did not receive an injection to relieve the pain. I remember twelve years later the pain I experienced when the dentist hit the tooth nerve a couple of times when filling a tooth. How different things are today!

Things were changing in 1920’s and weekenders were popping up here and there. Many people were buying blocks of land. By 1923, Warrimoo could boast of at least twenty houses. At our Albert Street house we had used some bricks which we collected from the first shop in Warrimoo. This shop was the front of a small house and had burnt down around 1925. It was near the corner of The Boulevarde and the Highway.

Harry Todd lived in the house (No. 3) on the corner of Florabella Street. He collected bottles and built a beautiful glass garden with the words at the top “Moms regime meaning mountain queen”. …We came to know the couple who lived there well. Another house was built shortly after on the opposite corner and a family whose surname was Watts lived there. They were Church of England and shortly after settling there, Mrs Watts came to see my mother. I remember as she looked at me she remarked about my fair skin and I hid behind mum. Mrs Watts was looking for people who would be interested in a Church of England meeting. The Church of England minister came from Springwood and a meeting was held on their back verandah.

Warrimoo had a small corner shop and we used to get our bread delivered by horse and cart. It wasn’t uncommon for the bread deliverer to stop and talk, leaving the person’s bread on the horse’s rump before the buyer took possession of it. The meat was delivered in a motor bike sidecar in all kinds of weather. In later years, the meat was sent from Penrith by rail and picked up from the railway station…[34]

The astounding thing about Lawrence’s account is the ‘normalcy’ of his perception. To most of us, what he was experiencing in Warrimoo was little more than ‘hardship’, but to the young boy Lawrence it was just what life was like. There were positives, too…

One day when we were going to Springwood my mother told me she had left her glasses at home. She told me when the train comes tell the driver I will be back in a moment. I did this and the train driver held up the train for about one minute until Mum arrived. It was an early morning train consisting of a tank engine and three box carriages. I marvel as I look back on this incident with many others how people went out of their way to help in any way they could…

…Dad worked in the mid-1920’s as a cook in the northern cane fields. He often obtained clothing from a Queensland warehouse and during the depression days he would still send for clothes from there. I remember going to Parramatta with Mum and, as Dad had returned from the cane fields, he had given her five pounds for shopping to buy clothes etc. Trousers were only a few shillings. In fact, ten years later, I bought myself good quality long trousers for ten shillings at Lithgow.

My sister Helen (who became known as Nell) was born in January 1925 and our verandah sleeping quarters ceased to exist. My brother Harold and I were assigned to a tent just near the kitchen door.

There are two things I recall about this time. One being that in 1926, Dad took us to the zoo.[35] A photo was taken of me sitting on a small column. It was a day of absolute wonder to see so many animals. The other thing was that on Christmas Day 1926, there was a little wooden boat in a Christmas stocking which I was thrilled with…

William Way, photographed at Taronga Park Zoo in 1926. He was six years old. At this time, Taronga had been open for ten years.

…Dad took to digging wells for watering gardens as we grew most of our vegetables. One day I was playing near a well full of water about 12 feet by fifteen feet and fell in. Dad dived in and rescued me.

Another house was built around 1926 on the fourth corner of Florabella crossroad (No. 3 Florabella Street). There were hardly any children in the area and I took up playing with a girl also named Laurie spelt the same as my name and also my age. The four corners of the crossroad were now built out as a weekender existed at No.2 which was the first house backing off Florabella Street. The Watts’ house fronted The Mall, which was the continuation of The Avenue. Also at the back of the Todd’s place, people by the name of Newton were clearing the land in preparation for building next year. It was the last block of two acres in The Avenue and joined onto our two acre block, Lot 5, which was to be 11 Florabella Street…

Springwood Public School in 1927--somewhere in that group of young lower mountaineers, two boys from Warrimoo are lurking...later they will be able to attend the newly built Blaxland Public on the Highway
…My brother Harold travelled to Springwood school from Warrimoo and at the age of six, the beginning of 1927, I started school (also)…We used to walk nearly a kilometre to the railway station to catch the train just before 8.00am across the dusty highway with an occasional car appearing. One day a lady stopped and asked where we were going. She travelled to Springwood to work and offered to take us to school. It was an almost new model T Ford and we thought this was wonderful. Those days the school was near Springwood station…
The model-T Ford--the most affordable vehicle in the world during the 1920's, and the most frequently seen on the Western Highway at the time.
…One day when Harold and I were on Warrimoo station two fire balls came from the highway direction across the eastern end of the station near the overhead bridge near the middle of the station. We saw them moving side by side down the valley towards Long Angle Gully. We would often meet trains to pick up parcels of our meat from the butcher at Penrith (“West” by name). This would mostly be on a weekend and my little sister Helen would come with us. When she was not there it was not uncommon for the guard to ask “Where is your little sister?” or similar questions…

(Shortly Lawrence came to be enrolled at the newly built ‘Blaxland Public School’ on the Highway)…About the end of the first year at Blaxland School, a school picnic was arranged at the swimming pool in Long Angle Gully about one kilometre down from Warrimoo station where there was a creek from the flat at Valley Heights. These flats were originally a crater of a very large volcano. It was where Arthur Rickard or someone was influenced to build this swimming pool. It had a concrete wall with a spillway.
Warrimoo Pool at the time of William's accident. You can see the concrete weir and spillway in the foreground of the picture. Where William fell is open to conjecture...
On one occasion we had actually been playing across the pool at the other end and I and a boy around the age of five from a family near us were walking across a tree trunk when he slipped. He was holding my hand and pulled me into the water. We were quickly pulled out by a couple of swimmers. Circumstances of this nature are seldom forgotten…

…It was around 1926 when electric lights were added to streets. They were very poor lights, perhaps 60 watt, and it was quite dark between the lights. If we were not home by dark we would run between the lights…

...One time I was down at the house in The Boulevarde at the bottom of our street. It was dark and I was afraid to go home by myself. One of my friends said, “I will go to your house with you,” which he did. But no way was he going back on his own! So I then had to take him back and make a dash back the second time on my own. I did not think I would live to tell the tale.

Another time we were at the tennis court opposite the shop when a friend decided to run across the road before he realised a car was coming. He just made it but lost a shoe. We were not sure if the car clipped his shoe or if it just came off. It was certainly close.

So ends some excerpts from Lawrence Way’s vivid account of a young boy’s life in 1920’s Warrimoo. By the end of the decade new settlers were coming to live in this brave new settlement on the edge of Mountain bushland. Most led happy, interesting lives, but some were not so fortunate…

Arson in Warrimoo? The Christmas night Fire

On Christmas night, 1919, the new 'shop building' at Warrimoo burst into flame so that by the early hours of the following morning it was 'too far gone to be saved'.
This is the somewhat tragic story of Henry Varlow[36], one of the original white settlers (1919) of the new Warrimoo Estate--returned serviceman, family man and alleged arsonist. He was the first occupant of the double-storeyed ‘shop’ on the Highway opposite Warrimoo Railway Station, and his stay in the infant community was a rocky one, indeed.

Originally Henry Varlow was from Leura, further up the ‘Mountains. He was a ‘plumber’ there, and had settled at Mount Street with his wife, Ella Irene Varlow and their two children, when war was declared in August 1914.

Varlow volunteered to fight overseas on 3rd of September of the same year. In other words, he was one of the ‘first wave’ of enthusiastic patriots destined to fight in the Middle East against the Turks, for the greater good of Empire.

Volunteers line up to join the AIF, September 1914. Henry Varlow, after already serving in the Light Horse for the Boer War, was one of them...
Why a man of 38 years would want to leave his wife and children to go and fight in climes as far away as Europe and Egypt is worth pondering. Was he bored with work and life in Leura? Was he inspired by the tide of patriotism that swept the country in the wake of Germany’s invasion of Belgium and France? Or was it rather, having been born in Stepney, London, Henry felt an overwhelming loyalty to his Mother Country, coupled with a yearning to see it again?

At 38, he was no spring chicken. He had already served in the Imperial Light Horse at the “cessation of hostilities” of the Boer War fourteen years previous. When he signed up for his physical he was described as 5 foot 7 inches tall, 10 stone in weight, fair complexioned with grey eyes. He was to be paid 9 shillings a day.

‘Light Horse glamour’ was not to be his calling this time, however. He was to be a member of the 4th Infantry Brigade in the 7th Company of the Army Services Corps. The range of jobs in the Services Corps could be anything from stable-hand, to cook, to transport provision and construction. This may have been a disappointment to him.

Whatever the circumstances, Henry Varlow’s service record grew steadily more miserable. It began with minor misdemeanours such as ‘untidy quarters’ but then a series of complaints about his ‘sciatica’ had Henry in and out of hospital as an increasingly disgruntled soldier. Was he a ‘slacker’? The AIF reports are careful to avoid the charge, but ultimately the Army could bear it no longer—Henry Varlow was discharged due to ‘medical unfitness’.

Warrimoo must have offered Henry and his family an opportunity to put the war behind them and start afresh: to build a new and successful life. A sympathetic landlord in the form of the Rickard Company, a double storeyed dwelling leased to him at discounted rates, and the chance to build a shop’s clientele within a growing community. It required patience and dedication…

The Varlows may well have thought Warrimoo would grow more rapidly and become a modern cosmopolitan centre for tourists--maybe it was all too slow.
Christmas Day 1919, however, did not bring the cheer the Varlows may have wished for. On that night a fellow ex-serviceman, Henry Todd of Florabella Street, noticed a major blaze in the direction of the shop and sounded the alarm. The fire burned so fiercely that by 3.00am the shop was “too far gone for anything to be saved…”.

The Blue Mountains Echo of 2nd January 1920[37], takes up the story, under the heading ‘BIG BLAZE AT WARRIMOO’…

…Varlow, who is an ex-Leuraite, was charged as the perpetrator of the blaze. The investigation was held before the District Coroner Arthur Judges on Monday last. Varlow’s statement was to the effect that he went away with his wife and family on the 24th and was away till the afternoon of the 26th ultimo. The fire, which took place on the evening of the 25th, was an enigma to him. He was partly insured (for contents--WH) for 150 pounds and Rickard and Co. had the house insured for 1,203 pounds. Varlow said he was drawing 7 pounds 7 shillings per fortnight from the Repatriation…

In short, Henry Varlow’s alibi was that he wasn’t there. He wasn’t rich, but he wasn’t poor. At this stage, the level of business at the store was slight, but there was a good chance the settlement would grow and that Highway traffic too, would increase.

Varlow's alibi was that he was elsewhere on the night of the fire. Surely a cursory check of his whereabouts on Christmas night would have established its truth or otherwise...
But suspicion fell upon Varlow for two main reasons. One, the Coroner was convinced that the fire was deliberately lit, and two, a witness said he saw a man whom he ‘thought and believed’ to be Varlow at Blaxland station on the night of the 25th…

Night officer Hartigan said on the night of the 25th, he let a man whom he thought and believed to be Varlow out at Blaxland, one and a half miles from Warrimoo. Witness said he had never been introduced to Varlow, but he knew him by his prominent teeth and his voice.

Guard John Lysaught testified to setting a man down on the night of the 25th and collecting his ticket. He could not identify the man, as he did not take much interest.

Station Master J.T. Neale,* relieving officer, said he received one ticket (produced) on the night of the 25th…[38]

One fact stands out in this evidence: clearly it was unusual for travellers to use the train on Christmas night. Much moreso than today, Christmas was the opportunity for families to attend church in the morning, stay at home for Dinner and remain together for one of the few special days available throughout the year. An individual travelling on such a night would have stood out quite noticeably. Was it impossible for police to clearly identify this man?

Apparently so, since after an adjournment of a week, the prosecution could come up with no further concrete evidence to fit Varlow to the fire. As to motive, there appeared to be none. While a piano had been removed from the property some weeks beforehand, Mrs. Varlow testified that the couple had lost 105 pounds on furnishings and equipment in their lodgings. The central claimant for insurance damages had been A. Rickard and Co., for the destruction of the building. This was for the amount of 1,203 pounds.

Accordingly the Coroner reluctantly declared an ‘open verdict’—the fire had been deliberately lit, but by ‘persons unknown’. Varlow was discharged.

For Henry Varlow, however, this was the end of Warrimoo for him and his family. He could no longer live in a community where he was ‘under a cloud’. He left and returned to Leura.

Lawrence Way speaks of another shop operating on the corner of The Boulevarde and the Highway while he grew up in the early 1920’s. The renewed shop opposite the station was not rebuilt from insurance funds till 1926, when it was taken over by ‘the Breakspears’[39]. William Way’s dad was able to use the bricks available at the ‘corner store’—presumably these were the rubble from a fire—to build their own dwelling in Albert Street. There was always a shortage of building materials, which didn’t ease until the 1960’s.

The Timbergetters

No history of Warrimoo in the 1920’s would be complete without reference to the main industry carried out on the northern side during this time, “Timbergetting” or “Logging”.[40]

The area covered by logging activities ran from the rear of Cross Street and Warrimoo Oval across Long Angle Gully to Sun Valley and Singles Ridge Road, which contains rich volcanic soils. The combination of soil fertility, moisture from water sources and sunbeam direction gives this part of Warrimoo some very unique and impressive vegetation, most especially tall, straight timbers.

The magnificent 'Mountain Blue Gum' (Eucalyptus Deanei)--a feature of any bushwalk on the northern side of Warrimoo, and the principal target of early Loggers such as the Baxter Brothers
Trees most prized were the ‘Mountain Blue Gum’ (Eucalyptus Deanei—so named after the Railways Engineer who designed much of the Blue Mountains railroad, including the Newnes tunnels, Henry Deane); the ‘Cabbage Gum’ (Eucalyptus Amplifolia), and the turpentine (Syncarpia Glomulifera), a row of which now grows on the Great Western Highway between Warrimoo and Blaxland.

'Mountain Blue Gum' from a distance. You can see why they were so prized for telegraph and electricity poles. They occupy a special part of the Blue Mountains Significant Tree Register
The Mountain Blue Gum is a stunning and magnificent tree. So valuable is its preservation in the ‘Mountains that bush regenerators have worked hard restore its habitat in the present-day ‘Deanei Forest’, which can be found surrounding the Council Depot at Springwood, just off Hawkesbury Road. Clearly, the timber derived from the Eucalyptus Deanei is tall, straight, and hard.

Henry Deane (1847-1924)--the tree was named after him in 1904, when he was Engineer-in-Chief of  construction for the NSW Railways, and a keen amateur botanist

At the turn of the century government institutions required such timber for products like railway sleepers and telegraph/electricity poles. Thus evolved the enterprises of two timbergetting families, the Goddard and Baxter brothers, the latter of whom lived on Singles Ridge Road.

The Loggers cut trails down into the valleys and hauled logs out by bullock teams. Bruce Cameron provides some details:

‘At one stage the Baxters used a light rail system to remove logs to a ridge-top saw mill driven by a boiler, near Rickard Road, Warrimoo. They also operated a bush saw mill built by the Goddard brothers (c. 1918), near the present day Springwood Golf Course. This was close to their home in Singles Ridge Road, where another sawmill operated. A mill was also located in the vicinity of the (old) Sun Valley Nursery, near the highway.

When the Baxters were cutting timber they tapped into all the principle stands around Long Angle Gully. The main product was used for power poles. When the Mountains were first hooked up to the electricity grid, the Baxters supplied poles to the Blue Mountains Council. Other timber was cut primarily for firewood consumption.

The local market was supplemented with orders from other areas. Poles were cut and then loaded onto steam trains for transport to the required location.

This scene at Faulconbridge station gives us a clue as to similar sites at Warrimoo, where loggers loaded timber for various destinations up and down the Mountains. Log freight was one of the primary reasons why the siding at Karabar was reopened early in the 20th century and continued spasmodically till 'Warrimoo Station' was updated in the 1920's (note all the telegraph poles in the picture).
The Baxters often camped overnight in make-shift timber camps. Signs of crude bush huts and relics can still be found in the bush near Sun Valley. Old trucks, machinery and watertanks are rusty reminders of the days when the valleys echoed with the sound of the logger’s axe. Numerous slot marks where loggers could place cutting boards in tree trunks can also still be seen. An old dug-out saw-pit is located on private property not far from Long Angle Gully.
This picture reveals the combined usage of both Bullock and 'Blitz' power to haul logs up to the mill and/or station at the top of the ridge
In later years the Baxters used an ex-army ‘Blitz’ four wheel drive to assist the bullock teams remove logs from the gullies around Long Angle. In the Depression they would save petrol tokens so the Blitz could be used to remove timber. Both the bullocks and the Blitz would tow a large log trailer or ‘jinker’. In the disastrous fires of 1936 the trailer was destroyed by fire near Yellowrock Road. The old loggers road that ran off Singles Ridge Road is now known as Long Angle Gully Road.
The Baxters were fine axemen and often entered woodchops at shows and competitions. They also cut timber near Glenbrook Creek and along Blue Gum Swamp, at Winmalee.[41]

For the most part, today, the impact of the logging industry on Warrimoo is largely obscured by the intensive forest growth of the past two decades. It is hard to envisage the thin bush landscape that prevailed at that end of Warrimoo during the 1920’s and 30’s.

Awesomely beautiful Mountain Blue Gum stand on the Sun Valley/Fitzgerald's Creek Walk on the northern side of Warrimoo--a walk well worth doing!
If, however, you are game to do the ‘Sun Valley Trail’ either from the Rosenthal Lane entry (Sun Valley) or the Warrimoo Oval side—if you are game to enough to endure the cacophony of birdcalls along the route, and you keep your eyes peeled, you just may come across some of those evidential remnants and relics of that bygone era.

Developments in the 1920’s

According to Lawrence Way’s account, some 40 or 50 houses had sprouted in Warrimoo by the end of the 1920’s. A good proportion of these were very basic weekenders made from weatherboard or portable fibrous cement (‘fibro’), with one or two simple rooms and no amenities. Yet there were feasibly 100 people living at scattered addresses around the township by this stage.

Electricity was connected to road lights in 1928, and homes subsequently got connected when they could afford it. Water was supplied by rainwater tanks and, in some cases, wells. Public transport was limited to the hourly steam train, though many locals got lifts from friends with sulkies or motor vehicles, or just thumbed a ride on the Highway.

A bushfire also occurred in 1928 and destroyed a house on The Avenue owned by the Newton family, and Lawrence’s own family’s original ‘lean-to’ in Florabella Street also met its end.[42]

The Great Western Highway was widened and smoothed, and a bridge replaced the level-crossing over the railway line, a little closer to the station platform, but still further westward than where the Citizens’ Hall currently stands.[43]

As events transpired, the bridge didn’t turn out to be the asset first imagined. It was erected at too drastic an angle to the Highway and cars did not brake sufficiently to turn over the bridge safely. The result was, according to Lawrence, a series of prangs into the bridge’s brick wall which meant constant repairs. One car knocked the brickwork onto the tracks and left its two front wheels dangling, necessitating urgent telephone calls to Springwood Station to warn off the oncoming train to Sydney. Warrimoo even then, it seems, was beset with Highway issues… [44]

The 1930’s…

Photo shows the interior of 'Everglades', an Art Deco mansion built during the Depression and now managed by the National Trust.

Ironically, in the period when Australia’s economy struck a collapse of markets leading to awful Depression and widespread unemployment, Warrimoo experienced the kind of growth that established it as a permanent community with nascent institutions and an effective economy. Apart from the ongoing timber-felling industry, the 1930’s saw the development of poultry/egg farming, some attempts at orchardism and the establishment of a local dairy.

Main Street, Katoomba, showing tourist bus of the 1930's
A raw kind of tourism chimed into the opening up of Katoomba and the Upper Mountains to visitors from Sydney, anxious to free themselves of the pong of pan toilets and smoky coal-fired industrialism. Tuberculosis and bronchial sufferers escaped to the peace and ‘clean air’ of the sanatoria of the Blue Mountains and in doing so passed through Warrimoo, another important link in the chain of stops encountered in a full day’s journey to a ‘different world’ of cool, clear climate and healthy atmosphere.

Even the unemployed sought respite in the ‘Mountains and Warrimoo—the blocks along Torwood Road were said to have been Warrimoo’s own ‘shanty town’ of makeshift shelters and desperate attempts to ‘grow one’s own’ survivalist veggie patches during the ‘hard times’.

While this Electoral Roll is labelled '1930', it is in fact for '1920'. These are the original white residents of Warrimoo who had settled on Arthur Rickard's 'Warrimoo Estate', or at least those who had registered to vote, and who were over the age of 21.
Certainly, the population grew. A comparative perusal of the ‘Electoral Rolls’ for Warrimoo in 1920, 1930 and 1934[45], provides evidence of the increasing number of residents, as well as their addresses in the township and their occupations.

Registration for voting in Federal elections became compulsory in 1912, so that all citizens of Australia, men and women over the age of 21, were recorded on ‘Electoral Rolls’. Naturally, children, and by all accounts there were quite a few straying the dirt roads and bush tracks of Warrimoo, are not mentioned, so we must draw rather general conclusions about their number in the township during the 1930’s.

The Roll of 1930 shows a substantial jump in the number of residents. However, ‘Mrs Simpson’, the war widow who won possession of the ‘Volunteers’ residence, is notable by her absence. ‘The Duchles’—and there are several alternative spellings of this name in other publications, most notably ‘Duckles’—have arrived and are managing ‘The Store’ (present day Monte Italia Pizzeria). They will play a substantial role in Warrimoo’s history from this point.
Warrimoo's Electoral Roll for 1930. Note the wide variety of occupations listed. How many of these suffered unemployment in the coming years--1931-32--is anyone's guess, since these were the worst years of the Depression when unemployment hit 30%, a rate unheard of today.

The Watts family lived on the corner of The Avenue, The Mall, and Florabella St., diagonally across from the Ways’ poultry farm, which was directly opposite Henry Todd’s place. The house currently standing on their corner still bears the historic name “Watts’ Bella” (‘Beautiful Watts’).

Henry Todd lived opposite on the Florabella Street corner (Number 3). Henry was one of those for whom the ‘Rejected Volunteers’ and Arthur Rickard had set up the Warrimoo estate—he was a war veteran, but after signing up in 1916 and serving in France he was medically discharged in July 1918 with ‘premature senility’[46]…Given the relative ignorance of the authorities at that time, it can be supposed that this diagnosis in effect refers to what we call “shell-shock” today. According to Walter Way[47] he built a beautiful glass garden dedicated to his wife, titled “Mons Regina”—“Mountain Queen”. Sadly, he too had gone by the time of the 1930 Electoral Roll.

The "Embassy' cinema in Katoomba--1930's--note the 'Art Deco' style yet again. Going to the 'Flicks' was an essential part of life in this decade, and Warrimooians dressed up to the nines if they were ever to engage in such a palatial night out.
Nevertheless a new family had moved in (probably the “Ozannes”—Elizabeth and Thomas). Indeed this particular intersection could be said to be the densest population of Warrimoo in 1930, and a veritable hive of activity, with Mrs Watts perpetually encouraging all and sundry to attend Anglican Church services every Sunday.

By the time of the 1934 Electoral Roll the number of registered residents had more than doubled, with a wonderful cross-section of occupations evident, ranging from Bus Driver to Hairdresser to Miner to Bricklayer and Dressmaker, Cabinet Maker, Plumber and Labourer. Warrimoo Historians wonder whether the “Harry Charles Swain, Bookseller” of The Boulevarde was in fact the same “Swain” who came to own an extensive chain of bookstores throughout Sydney.

The 1934 Roll--massive upheavals had happened in Australian political life: two Labor Governments, the State under Jack Lang, and the Federal under James Scullin, had been swept out of office. Fascism was on the march in Europe and Asia. Yet the township of Warrimoo had grown by over 100% in the same period...
One must not become too fazed with the broad term used by many women to describe their roles—‘Home Duties’—with any sized family and little support from electrical home appliances we have today, this was indeed a full-time and demanding job, often supplemented by other very worthwhile activities. We already know, for example, that “Catherine Yousen” acted as an “Attendant” for the Warrimoo Station—basically, ‘Station Master’. Many of the women mentioned would have been executing valuable skills such as sewing, boot repair, and vegetable gardening the supplement the family income.

Whatever the case, Warrimoo was becoming a true ‘melting pot’ of varied skills, classes, and interests, maintaining a solid component of mutual respect and assistance common in many Australian communities at the time. There was no real ‘crime’, and people helped out with a cup of sugar or a bowl of milk or a lift when it was needed. Without neighbourly support, life would have been miserable indeed.

A Boy’s Eye View of Depression Warrimoo

By the time the Great Depression hit in 1930 William Way was ten years old. His youthful impressions give us a sharp picture of life in Warrimoo during that bleak decade, when unemployment remained as a threatening black cloud until the outbreak of war again in 1939…

As the depression worsened, Dad lost his job as a cook at Tweed Heads. As we children were all growing all we could do to survive was to go to school in the same clothes, we did not have any shoes. During this time many men became tramps. Swagmen were looking for anything they could do. A carpenter was offered keep for six months and twenty nine pounds for building a house at Blaxland bordering Warrimoo on the highway and many families were applying for the dole.

These men are workers on an 'Unemployment Relief' project. They are wearing fairly typical work clothing of the period, and they hold some commonly used tools, including the omnipresent kerosene tins, which were used to carry just about anything..
A man named Mick Donnelly sometimes called on us as he travelled the mountain route looking for work. With Dad out of work we were sent out early on spring mornings, after it had rained, from daybreak to late morning scouring the flats for mushrooms and we would often come home with enough for a few days.

Dad also assigned us to setting up a stand where the (Citizens) hall now stands where we would sell fruit, flowers, etc. to people driving back to Penrith, Sydney, or returning from higher up the mountains. Cars would be going slower as they had just crossed the railway on a bridge which went at a right angle over the line. It was a wide open area to pull into. We sold strawberries for ten pence a punnet, passionfruit for threepence a dozen, and other fruits in season.

'Waratah Road' earned its name because it was a part of Warrimoo flush with the beautiful red emblem of NSW. Yet it was also a prized addition to many tourists' lounge room vases. Hence they are difficult, if not impossible, to find in that vicinity today...
We sold waratahs, mountain Boronia which had a very pleasant perfume, and flannel flowers etc.. The road at this stage had been tarred to Springwood and beyond and more people were using it.[48]

In the early 1930’s, the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge captured the imagination of the young boy, Lawrence Way. It was such a major thing that the progress of the ‘marching arch’ was followed by the newspapers regularly, so it was a central talking point among the residents of Warrimoo…

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was one of the engineering wonders of the world in the 1930's--its construction was followed closely by local Sydney siders and Warrimooians alike. Sixteen of its workers died building it, but only two of those from falling off.
The work on the Harbour Bridge continued and the progress was continually in the paper. The steel arch was lengthening from both sides. The progress on the bridge was always a thing of great interest especially as we watched the joining of the arches for with that event it would only be a year or so to it being used.

After Premier Lang had cut the ribbon and dignitaries and troops had crossed the Bridge, the general public, including Lawrence Way and family, could stroll across. Note the railway line on both sides.
I think it was Australia Day 1932 when we heard that the day for the Harbour Bridge opening was to be celebrated. On the opening we all went to Sydney for the occasion and walked across it using the walk way and the road way. As well as the thousands of pedestrians a large number of goods and steam engines were on it. We were told it had to do with strength testing.[49]

There was another connection of the Harbour Bridge to Warrimoo. Premier Jack Lang, who opened the Bridge by cutting a ribbon already famously slashed by New Guard member Captain de Groot, was to mysteriously visit Warrimoo and seek respite there, shortly afterwards.

Subsequent to the loss of his father’s job, life became more difficult for the whole Way family. When an ‘Unemployment Relief’ project was set up in Warrimoo, Walter jumped at the chance and Laurence came to help out too…

In the Depression days Dad was able to get work for the dole on a scheme set up by council or through council by the government. This work was making* a three mile track from Florabella Street Warrimoo down into Florabella Gully, across two adjoining creeks with a section for picnic tables. From here up to the next ridge that crossed the creek further down then up to Bridge Street in Blaxland. I helped him lift the heavier stones for making steps. I think it was my willing attitude that led him to offer me threepence (called a ‘tray’ in those days, WH) if I hurried home from school and spent an hour chopping a barrow load of wood for the house…[50]

A 'Work for the Dole' project in action. Some might question the credibility of the scene because it seems 'posed' and some workers have bare feet. But one of the first unaffordable items of the Great Depression was expensive leather shoes. Much of the population, especially children, went without shoes for most of the time, and their feet grew hard and tough as a result--most 'kept' shoes were for special occasions, such as the opening of the Harbour Bridge. Not work or play.
Let’s deal with ‘Florabella Gully Track’s’ construction*. The Relief project mentioned here didn’t literally ‘make’ the track. That had been done at the outset under Arthur Rickard’s instructions as part of the ‘Warrimoo Estate’s’ attractions. There are several references to this track prior to the work done by Lawrence’s dad and his fellow unemployed.[51] Indeed, many visitors to Warrimoo had made the trip to Florabella Gully to specifically observe and record the diverse botany, wildflowers and creek settings so sought after in the Mountains generally.

However the level of sophistication of this track, like many others elsewhere in the Mountains, might have left something to be desired. Florabella Track required a serious upgrade if it was to match the inspiring ‘tourist walks’ being constructed around Leura, Katoomba and Blackheath at the time, and believe it or not, the residents of Warrimoo were generally proud of the drawing power of the settlement’s natural gifts. Hence the wisdom of the Council’s choice of Relief Projects.

Thus the Florabella Track was ‘civilised’ thanks to the Depression: it now had a designated, carved pathway through rocks and bush and over streams, as well as constructed steps, guideposts, and even a picnic table and seats in a clearing next to the creek—and there was ample evidence that it was used, too, not only by Warrimoo schoolkids taking the ‘shortcut’ to Blaxland PS, but by willing tourists soaking up the energising variety of diverse walks in all parts of the Blue Mountains.

Despite a fine legacy though, the story today is somewhat different. In contrast to the high usage of the ‘Fiveway’ tracks on the northern side of Warrimoo, Florabella Track seems to lag unobtrusively behind, with a rundown entrance at the end of Florabella Street, deteriorating steps and occasionally dangerous gaps as well as, at times, confusing direction. Unfortunately, it has simply been allowed crumble.

Entrance to the Florabella Pass Track today. It is overgrown with weeds and ill-cared for. Neither Council nor National Parks nor local residents seem moved to repair its entrance nor the full length of the walk.
Only the collective efforts of Warrimoo residents, one way or another, can save the Florabella Track from complete obliteration.

The Warrimoo Train Smash—1930

At 6.25pm on Monday 27th January the excursion train service consisting of two steam locomotives along with 8 carriages filled with passengers and a brake van, left Mount Victoria headed for Sydney Central. It was a drizzly summer evening and the tourists on board were weary from the eager pursuit of Mountains’ bushwalking exertions—it was the end of the Summer school holidays .

'Coupled' steam locomotives of the type used by NSW Government Railways in the 1930's

But there was something different about this journey: earlier in the day a freight derailment between Warrimoo and Blaxland had blocked the ‘up line’ to Sydney (all rail lines leading to Sydney are ‘up’ lines, all those leading away are ‘down’ lines, regardless of whether the train is going uphill or down). Thus, trains heading to Sydney had to be diverted from the ‘up’ line at Valley Heights to rejoin it at Blaxland. They were thus travelling on the ‘down’ line in the opposite direction to that normally taken. This was not drastically abnormal, and in fact, 8 trains had already travelled that way in the hours prior to the arrival of the 6.25 from Mt. Victoria.

Everything works well as long as the track ‘points’ along the way are all adjusted for the reverse direction—especially since this excursion train had two locomotives leading it, an extra one being necessary for work at Blaxland. Both locos had a Driver, Fireman and a Pilot lookout on board as the train edged eastward beyond Warrimoo Station at about 10 miles per hour (15kms per hour).

Warrimoo Station as it would have appeared in 1930. The wooden structure is the 'Waiting Shed' and the overhead bridge is in place. The 'Up' track is on the far side, and the 'Down' track on the near side of the platform.

Most Warrimoo residents were feasibly completing their evening meal and settling down to a good night’s sleep when they were jarred from their peaceful routine by raucous screeching noises and a heavy crunch of iron coming from the railway. The newspapers take up the story…

The excursion train was travelling at a very slow speed when the mishap occurred, and this fact, no doubt, prevented a grave disaster, in which many passengers must have been involved. The leading engine passed safely over the catch-points about a quarter of a mile (400-450 metres--WH) on the Sydney side of Warrimoo, but the second engine fouled the points and left the rails. The heavy locomotive bounced along the permanent way for some yards and then took a sudden lurch to the right and "nose-dived" over a 16ft (5 metre—WH) embankment.

Realising their extreme danger the crew of this engine leapt clear, and were uninjured. The sudden lurch of the engine, however, threw the leading locomotive off the rails and caused it to turn over on its side with portion of it projecting over the brink of the embankment. Those in the cabin of the engine, including McGarrity, were pinned down by the twisted ironwork, and it is believed that the driver and fireman were killed instantly.

The brake-van was derailed, but the carriages did not leave the line.

Newspaper 'picturegram' of the crash--the second engine has pushed the tender of the first into the cabin, where two crew members were killed instantly and Joseph McGarrity was pinned for several hours. This angle is the 'shallow' side of the wreckage, the other side is the steep embankment above Railway Parade.
As the second loco lurched forward to push the lead engine off the rails and down the embankment, it crushed the cabin containing Driver Harold Hanna, 32, and Fireman Edward Smith, 26, both of Springwood, killing them instantly. Yet a 16 year old ‘Junior Porter’, Joseph McGarrity of Station Street Blaxland, survived with his arm and leg pinned amid the heavy iron of the wreckage. His account is as follows…

Although the night was cloudy the track was not so dark, and I heard the fireman call out loudly to the driver: 'Hold her, driver. The points are open!' After that I remember a screech of brakes and then we toppled over. Everything went black. When I came to I was in great pain. My right leg and hand were jammed and I was held up by my hand. The leg hurt very much, but the pain of my hand was worse. I thought I would never be rescued; I was almost smothered. I noticed the feet of the driver and fireman dangling over me, and I felt blood trickling down on to me.[53]

In the hectic moments that followed, the crew from the second engine sought to calm the rattled passengers, some of whom were disembarking and wandering towards the scene. It was a miracle the remaining carriages did not come off the rails. Help was immediately sought by telephone from Warrimoo to Blaxland Station and Valley Heights, and a repair carriage was sent from Penrith post haste. Railway Headquarters at Eveleigh sent a full Repair Train to the accident site, complete with crane and other heavy lifting equipment.

Another angle of the second locomotive, after the  passenger carriages had been removed back to Warrimoo Station until the tracks were cleared. You can see that it was relatively easy for the crew of this engine to jump to safety--not so for the Fireman and Driver of the first loco.

Amid the chaos someone had the wherewithal to contact two doctors, Baxter and Boser, both from Valley Heights—they were confronted with a horror scene…

When the break down train from Eveleigh (probably Penrith—WH) arrived about an hour and a half afterwards, the youth's leg was freed with the use of oxy-acetylene apparatus, but McGarrity was still pinned in the wreckage by his hand. The youth partly regained consciousness during his terrible ordeal.

The two doctors then performed a remarkable emergency operation. Drizzling rain, at times developing into a heavy downpour, and the escaping steam made conditions decidedly unfavourable for an operation, especially as the light thrown by the flares was very unsatisfactory. Dr. Boser administered an anaesthetic, and then Dr. Baxter amputated McGarrity's hand, and thus freed him. He had been pinned in the wrecked cabin for about two hours. A waiting ambulance waggon rushed the injured youth to Penrith Hospital, where he was admitted in a critical state. A further operation was performed soon after wards, and the arm was amputated.[54]

Young Joe McGarrity was grateful to have survived, though his arm was lost and his leg scorched by his oxy-acetelene rescuers, to testify at the Inquest that followed.

Most passengers were merely shocked and possibly bruised by the abrupt lurch-then-halt of the leading engines, but one notable escapee, Walter Aurisch, 21, of Long Bay, was discovered by a motorist wandering dazed and confused on the Highway. He was taken to Penrith Hospital where he was found to have suffered severe abrasions to the head causing serious shock and disorientation.[55]

The special 'Repair Crew' sent from Eveleigh Workshops rectified the damaged locomotives and repaired wayward tracks the next day. Services on the Mountains' line were interrupted for one day only. The damaged lives of dead  and injured crew members and accused rail employees were not  fixed so rapidly, however.
At the Inquest the Coroner, Mr. A. Judges, found that Robert Rupert Hindmarsh, fettler, and Alexander Angus Gollan, flagman, were ‘guilty of culpable negligence’ for not locking the points in place and not signalling that the points were open to the oncoming train.

McGarrity and the crew of the second loco had both confirmed that the points were seen to be open, and that there was no flagman present to signal the danger. Gollan had testified that he was heading towards Blaxland Station at the time of the smash because Hindmarsh had waved to him on the previous train, indicating that he was relieved and to head towards Blaxland. Hindmarsh for his part, said that he was simply waving to Gollan as a goodwill gesture—in short, the tragedy had occurred through mistaken communication.

Hindmarsh and Gollan were committed to trial for manslaughter and their Superviser, Signalman Berkeley, was severely censured for the casual manner in which he supervised the work of the other two men, who appear to have avoided custodial sentences.[56]

‘Fun Times’

Social life in Depression Warrimoo was by no means all ‘doom and gloom’. By 1930 the 44 hour week had become entrenched in Australian employment practice, meaning Saturday afternoon as well as Sunday were now available for leisure activities. The legendary ‘Great Australian Weekend” was taking hold.

Naturally the Blue Mountains, and this certainly included the Lower Blue Mountains, became the focus of one of Sydney society’s favourite weekend pastimes—hiking and bushwalking. So much so, that a celebrated ‘hike’ of several hundred people drew the attention of the Sydney Morning Herald whose photographer captured highlights of the event as it wound its way from Valley Heights to destinations round about, including Warrimoo…

Since the Great War engagement of women in active rather than purely passive pursuits became a hallmark: women could be seen smoking in public, travelling about unescorted and taking part in a wide variety of sports. One such—extremely popular at the time—sport avidly involving players of both sexes was tennis.

It so happened that one of the truly attractive features supplied to Warrimoo by Mr. Rickard was a set of clay-based tennis courts at Warrimoo, immediately next to the station on the southern side and a stone’s throw across the Western Road to the General Store. Another court was formally opened in Florabella Street by Mr. and Mrs. Powell in 1933. It was positioned roughly where the Warrimoo PS canteen car park is today, and was greeted with orations and fanfare.[57] After all, who could resist a game or two with members of the opposite sex, engaging in cheerful banter which might possibly lead to further activities into the evening?

A very old pic of the General Store, taken in the 1930's. The little girl is next to an indiscernible adult in the shadows, but you can make out the near new front windows and the frontage of the owners' accommodation above. This shop supplied many of the necessities for tennis players directly across the newly tarred highway...

As a theme to this chapter it is worth noting that a new and dynamic group had infused the Warrimoo Progress Association—family names which were to dominate the minutes of the Association, the pages of the Nepean Times as well as the Tennis tournaments themselves, began to appear: ‘Mudie’, ‘Neall’, ‘Bolton’ and ‘Wicks’…In a spritely piece in the Nepean Times they were announced…

The Progress Association, of which Mr W. Mudie is President, and Mr. Arch Neall secretary, is regarded locally as being a very live body, always ready and willing to do its utmost for the welfare, and in the interests of, the district generally.[58]

The Progress Association took a leading role in organising social events, usually with the aim of raising funds for some worthy community cause. The following excerpts from Nepean Times articles explain the process…

During the week-end Warrimoo Progress Association conducted another highly successful tennis tournament, followed by a grand euchre party and dance in the "Kookaburra" at night. Despite the inclement weather, players came from Sydney and Blaxland, and a very enjoyable week-end was spent by all.

Winners: Mixed doubles championship, Miss Bradbury and B. Mudie; runners-up, Mrs Parmenter and H. Powell. Men's doubles championship: O. Powell and J. Sobels runners-up, A. Neall and N. Leaght.[59]

Such ‘Tennis Tournaments’, often held over a weekend, were major events and were a fond excuse to invite friends and relatives to Warrimoo to ‘stay over’ and take part. Numbers often reached over 50 and could grow up to 100 participants. Sometimes high profile players were invited to play ‘exhibition matches’. Guests from the city frequently stayed at the hotels in Springwood, so it was not unusual for them to walk/catch the train back to Springwood after the tournament, refresh and change, then return for the evening’s festivities at Warrimoo.

Tennis tournaments reliably had another purpose other than a purely social one—fund-raising for the Red Cross, local church or the Progress Association itself assisted the community’s growth. A famous visit to the ‘Mountains by Bert Oldfield’s ‘Womens Cricket Team’ inspired the Progress Association to raise pounds, shillings and pence for a very worthy cause indeed…

…A case in point was the recent purchase of three acres of land, at £5 per acre, for the purpose of establishing a local cricket ground—considered to be a long-felt want by the sporting fraternity at Warrimoo. The ground has been named Neall Park (after the Secretary of the Association, Mr Neall), and all work with regard to the clearing of the ground, etc, is being carried out by voluntary labor.

For the purpose of getting funds to help pay for this venture, a tennis tournament was held on Easter Monday and was a great success. About 80 entries were received, and a splendid days' tennis resulted. The following were the prize-winners:—Gent's singles, Mr W. Bolton; ladies' singles, Miss Rene Galicher; men's doubles, Messrs K. Watts and Powell; mixed doubles, H. Powell and Miss Elliott.

A very successful euchre party and dance was held in the Kookaburra Hall at night, and altogether the day's festivities added to the funds the very respectable sum of £4/4/-

Another tennis tournament will be conducted on the local courts on the Saturday of Anzac Day week-end, 23rd April.[60]

A Test Match between England and Australia held at the SCG in 1935. Famous Aussie cricketer Bert Oldfield brought a women's team to play exhibition matches in the Mountains in the early 30's, which inspired local activists of the Warrimoo Progress Association.
‘Enthusiasm’ was key to social activities of the day—people could have a marvellous time for very little cost as long as this key ingredient remained. The ‘cricket ground’ block here mentioned was located ‘at the bottom of Cross Street’ and as mentioned, consisted of 3 acres. It was indeed ‘cleared’, by voluntary labour and used as a cricket field, nominally as a womens’ cricket ground to encourage growth of the game in the ‘Mountains.

Obviously the ‘Warrimoo Cricket Ground’ did not survive the war years and again became overgrown with native bush. It is the surmise of Warrimoo Historians that this block was later purchased by the NSW Department of Education and thus morphed into the ‘Cross Street Reserve’ so avidly fought for by residents several decades later.[61]

The ‘Kookaburra Tea Rooms’
The most common climax of a social day’s or weekend’s jam-packed itinerary was a dance at the renowned ‘Kookaburra Tea Rooms’, located at 230 Great Western Highway, Warrimoo. The manager was Mrs Mary Ellen Griffiths, who along with her bricklayer husband Edward, bought the property in 1928 and immediately set up a commercial ‘Tea Rooms’ for weary travellers..

The business must have been ideally placed for drivers making the arduous journey from Sydney to the Mountains in those inter-war years—ascending the Lapstone escarpment often entailed an overheated radiator stop, and motorists usually carried a tyre repair kit in the boot for the all-too frequent flats that blew out on rugged Mountains’ roads. Overall, it could take the good part of half a day to arrive at Warrimoo, at least, such were the expectations of the day.

Mrs Mary Ellen Griffiths serving up a delicious cup of tea on the verandah of the Kookaburra Tea Rooms. Not only were the Tea Rooms an iconic stopover for motor tourists visiting the 'Mountains, but a hub of social activities from Warrimoo and Blaxland alike.
So the sight of clear off-road parking, a refreshing cuppa and delicious scones with jam and cream would surely have been a welcome one. The ‘Tearooms’ was said to be quite a successful enterprise, with notable identities such as Ben Chifley regularly dropping in on his frequent trips from Sydney adding to the lustre of the place. Of course Chifley was the local Federal Member of Parliament, and would later become Prime Minister of Australia.

Then there were the ‘dances’. By all accounts—and there are a lot of local ‘paper references—they were a pretty regular occurrence, complete with live band from Ryde, ‘Clayton’s Orchestra’ mostly, later transforming into ‘Clayton’s Victory Orchestra’ during the war years, and generally well attended. Warrimoo Historians assumes that the verandah of the Tea Rooms opened into a larger, ‘small-hall’ sized area to accommodate dance-goers of between 50 and 100 people.

Ben Chifley as Prime Minister and Member for Macquarie. Chifley was a familiar sight around Warrimoo in the '30's and '40's, being a frequent visitor to the Kookaburra Tea Rooms and a good friend of the Labor supporter who lived next to the Patmans in Florabella Street.
Like Blaxland Public School, the ‘Kookaburra’ was ideally placed near the ‘border’ between Blaxland and Warrimoo to service both communities so that social interaction between the two small townships was frequent, inexpensive and cordial. Feasibly it may well have been the only social outlet for many battling residents in those clouded years. There is a touching reference to the ‘Kookaburra’ in a brief interchange between Lawrence Way and his mother, Ellen…

…a hall was built on the highway half way to Blaxland where mum would take us once a week. It was called “Kookaburra Hall”…I had to foot slog it home after 11.00pm on those occasions. My mother was 33 years old, so I know now she had to have some outlet. Dad would be away… [62]

As the Depression wore on Lawrence’s parents drifted further apart, and they ultimately separated.

Mrs Griffiths died in 1939, yet it seems that the business continued to operate for some years after that. Newspaper articles from the Nepean Times in 1940 and 1941 detail fundraising dances held at the Tea Rooms to raise money for the Springwood branch of the Red Cross and for the war effort generally.[63] Possibly her aging husband, Edward Griffiths, who did not die till 1956, may have continued to manage or lease the Tea Rooms into the war years, but in September of 1941 the following ad appeared in the ‘Classifieds’ section of the Sydney Morning Herald…
Kookaburra Tea Rooms, main Western Highway Warrimoo, sell or let, reasonable terms—licenced dining hall 3 bedrooms, lounge verandahs etc[64]

Presumably the Kookaburra property was sold and converted into rented accommodation from that time onwards. The building still stands today at the same address, partitioned into 3 flats. It is hard to imagine how this humble timber and fibro abode occupied such an exalted role in the social life of Warrimooians in that age gone by, but it did.  

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]

George Edward Ardill (1857-1945)[66]

George Edward Ardill (1857-1945), evangelist and social worker, was born on 17 December 1857 at ParramattaNew South Wales, second son of Joshua Ardill, plasterer, and his wife Anna Maria, née Johnson. The family were Baptists.

 After elementary education at Parramatta, he took an office job and then in 1883 briefly set up in Pitt StreetSydney, as a stationer and printer. While still in his 20s he devoted himself to full-time charity organization. Already attracted to the gospel temperance movement, he started the Blue Ribbon Gospel Army, a temperance organization which long remained under his personal direction. He joined the Local Option League on its formation in 1883, and later the New South Wales Alliance, serving it for some thirty years as councillor, honorary treasurer, and secretary in 1900-03.

George Edward Ardill as he appeared in middle age--he was a highly prominent  religious campaigner , starting the Blue Ribbon  Gospel Army temperance group and the Sydney Rescue Work Society to finance the many charities  he was to set up throughout his life.

In taking the gospel to the godless at late-night street meetings, Ardill discovered destitute and homeless women. With characteristic practicality, he set about providing shelter and in 1890 formed the Sydney Rescue Work Society to help finance his work; it became a major charitable organization, attracting support from (Sir) Samuel McCaughey and Ebenezer Vickery. In 1884 an All Night Refuge and the Home of Hope for Friendless and Fallen Women were opened, the latter a lying-in hospital to which later he attached a commercial laundry where the women were gainfully employed and given 'training'. In another home, the Crusade to Women operated to reclaim the penitent, especially those saved from drink. He ran two other homes for discharged prisoners in 1884-91.

So that the mothers from the Home of Hope could take work where a child was not acceptable, Ardill soon was involved in providing for the unwanted children. In 1886 he founded the Society for Providing Homes for Neglected Children, which opened Our Babies' Home that year, Our Children's Home at Liverpool in 1887 and, in 1890, Our Boys' Farm Home at Camden where older boys were to be trained on near-by farms. In the 1890s Ardill was organizing crèches in the city. By then he was reputedly a director of twelve societies: his work was becoming less directed to rescuing the fallen than to providing for the needy.

Ardill pictured outside one of his homes for wayward and homeless children at Concord. This later became a ''Boys Home and was named 'Ardill House'
On 8 September 1885 at the Baptist ChurchBathurst Street, Ardill had married Louisa (1853-1920), daughter of Thomas Wales. She had had experience as an evangelist in England and, after her arrival in Sydney in 1883, in the Blue Ribbon Gospel Army and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She served on the executive of the latter, superintended its franchise department in 1901-02, and represented it on the New South Wales Alliance for many years. Louisa also shared her husband's work, taking prayer-meetings, acting as supervisor from time to time in one or other of the homes and, notably, as matron-superintendent of the Home of Hope hospital, which provided under her direction and instruction a training centre for midwifery: in 1900 seventy-six trainees passed the external examinations, their fees amounting to about a tenth of the hospital's income. As it came to be used more by private patients in separate rooms, it was renamed South Sydney Women's Hospital. Extensions were made in 1904 and 1911, and surgical and gynaecological departments added. Louisa died in 1920 after a long illness but the hospital continued until World War II without government subsidy.

George Ardill's first wife Louisa Ardill (nee Wales)  set up a training centre for midwives, which later grew into South Sydney Women's Hospital. She died in 1920, and Ardill remarried one Kelsie Hannah Starr in the following  year.
Ardill was less successful in extending his other institutions, despite persistent effort and ingenuity in fund-raising, such as publicity in his quarterly magazine, Rescue. By adopting the cottage home as his model, he had considerable staff expenses and substantial mortgages to pay off. Repeatedly in financial difficulties and occasionally vilified in the press for failing to publish accounts, he juggled the funds, paying current expenses from building appeals and foregoing some of the modest allowance due to him as director of the Rescue Work Society.

Although he had successfully sued the Australian Workman for libel in 1891, he was severely reprimanded by the 1898-99 royal commission on public charities for sometimes failing to pay employees and also for his leniency in not forcing his unfortunate women out to work and allowing some to be admitted for a second illegitimate child. Prepared in principle to agree with the commissioners, he was kinder in practice: government subsidies (received since 1893) ceased. Although he remained executive director of the children's and the babies' homes until 1945 the numbers in his care gradually declined.

Using every device at his disposal, Ardill was perpetually seeking to gather funds for his many and varied activities--badges were sold, magazines ('Rescue') were distributed, and prayer meetings convened. His energy in pursuit of his goals was boundless.

 Interested as an evangelist in the Aborigines, Ardill joined the New South Wales Aborigines Protection Association, which financially supported Daniel Matthews's mission. Secretary from 1886, he was involved in the removal of the Maloga settlement. Ardill joined the Aborigines Protection Board in 1897, representing the association. A regular visitor to its stations, he became the board's most active member, a vice-president by 1909 and its effective policy-maker. Convinced of the need for positive policies to change the situation of Aborigines, Ardill set about making them 'useful members of the State' by taking the children away from the Aboriginal community, putting them to work in private homes or on station properties, and placing others, too young for work, in his homes. The 1909 Act conferring the requisite authority on the board to place or 'apprentice' neglected children was largely due to his efforts, as was the reorganization of the board's work.

In 1915, again on his recommendation, amendments to the Act strengthened the board's hand, but were condemned as 'reintroduction of slavery', and by the secretary of the Australian Aborigines Mission as attacking Aboriginal family life. Whether on account of these objections or on other grounds, Ardill had over-reached himself. He had pestered the government for more money and over the appointment of inspectors, and in 1916 was forced off the board.

Ardill was an expert lobbyist. He was a founding member of the Social Purity Society in 1886 and later secretary of its vigilance committee on public morals, and a founder and in 1890 secretary of the New South Wales Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He successfully campaigned for an affiliation Act establishing a woman's right to support from the putative father of her child before its birth, and for a children's court, but failed to get the age of consent raised from fourteen to seventeen. He was convinced that where women were destitute and without recourse to support, infanticide occurred.

Despite living in Warrimoo in his later life, Ardill continued to supervise charitable institutions such as the Ardill House Boy's home (above), and despite being driven off the  Aborigines Protection Board in 1916, he maintained a lifelong influence in policy-making relating to Aboriginal people in NSW.
The Ardills were ecumenical ahead of their times: both were prepared to conduct services or speak in other churches. A member of the Evangelical Council of New South Wales, Ardill helped to organize some of the special missions which in the early years of the century drew attendances of 50,000 to 100,000, and was joint secretary for the J. Wilbur Chapman and Charles Alexander mission of 1908. He later served as local secretary for the Australasian Chapman-Alexander Bible Institute. In his latter years the United Preachers' Association of New South Wales was especially dear to him.

Awarded an M.B.E. in 1934 for community service, Ardill died on 11 May 1945 at Stanmore and was buried in Waverley cemetery with Anglican rites. His estate was valued for probate at £13,356. Survived by a son and daughter, he was predeceased by his second wife Kelsie Hannah, née Starr, whom he had married on 5 October 1921; before and after marriage she helped to run the mission's office. Probably the friend giving the funeral oration came closest to the essential Ardill: 'He loved to plan and scheme and contrive in the interests of causes dear to his heart'.

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…[67]

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[68]

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.[69]

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.[70]

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’.[71] 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.[72]

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…[73]

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.[74]

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…[75]

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.[76]

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.[77] 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.[78]

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.

Warrimoo Industries (a) Poultry

We have already established the prominence of Timbergetting as Warrimoo’s foremost primary industry from the turn of the twentieth century through to the 1920’s and 30’s, but other industries, albeit small, family-run enterprises, sprang up in Warrimoo during the inter-war period, especially the 1930’s.

Lawrence Way’s poultry farm, focussing on egg production, was a prime example. When settling in Warrimoo in 1922 Lawrence’s father, Walter, secured land near the corner of The Avenue and Florabella Street, from which he sought to live in a ‘self-sustaining’ way…

We rented the house near the (current—WH) primary school after paying a deposit on three blocks of land, lot 4 and 5 in Florabella Street (and another block in Albert Street upon which their home was built—WH).[79]

A sketch-map of the Ways' Poultry Farm sheds and the neighbouring properties on Florabella Street.
Walter created a vegetable garden, planted some cereal crops (corn, wheat) and fruit trees, dug up some wells from across the road for water, and built a chicken coop for chooks that could be fed from scraps. It was not unusual for ex-servicemen like Walter to be encouraged to take up poultry-farming by the government, because it was deemed to be a pretty safe bet that demand would continue to grow in both eggs and poultry, and it didn’t take up excessive land-space.

In the event Walter found it necessary to continue his employment as a cook elsewhere—in Sydney and further afield in the Sugar-Cane regions of northern NSW.

A 1930's Egg-Cup. In many ways, the property at the Florabella Street site was ideal for chicken breeding and egg production.
When Lawrence turned 18 in 1938 he secured work on a Mr. Fodder’s poultry farm at Mt. Riverview, starting at 10 shillings a week plus keep, and later rising to 12 shillings. This was Lawrence’s introduction to full-scale poultry farming…

…where you work from sunrise to sunset with an hour or so off for lunch six days a week with a half day off on Sunday.

The general run of things was morning feeding, cleaning out manure from the chicken houses, collecting and packing eggs for market during the afternoon and sometimes all day maintenance jobs.[80]

After WWI, ex-servicemen were encouraged to engage in a wide variety of rural pursuits, but poultry farming was one of the most popular because there was constant demand for both eggs and chickens, and because it required minimal space. Lawrence's father did not persist at Warrimoo, but the young son took up the challenge in 1938.

Lawrence’s father made an offer:

Dad was nearing 60 and was receiving a war pension and still owed a fair amount of mortgage on the land. He told me that, if I undertook to pay it off, he would transfer it into my name…With the money I earned I would take a trip on the bike to Katoomba and pay amounts off the debt periodically. Dad was happy for me to use the Florabella Street land for whatever I wanted and I soon had it paid off.[81]

Lawrence needed little encouragement to set up a poultry farm of his own. He elaborates the steps he took…

I…contacted a chicken hatchery in Liverpool ordering seventy two three week old chickens and enough feed for them for the next six months.

Dad had built a shed about twenty foot by ten foot which was ideal for storing feed and had dug several wells for water for his gardening in the early 1920’s so that was a good start. I needed to build a small shed to raise the first batch of chickens and soon after, a shed for housing them and nests for egg laying. I found a second hand timber yard in Sydney just down from Central railway station. As it was mostly second hand materials I was after, I had it sent to Warrimoo by goods train as I required it from year to year.

Warrimoo PS must stand on top of some kind of aquifer, because several wells and waterholes, a spring, as well as a primitive distillery, have been found on the site. This is a well consisting of corrugated iron and concrete, quite possibly built by Lawrence's father Walter, who passed on the 'Poultry' land to his son, who in turn manually carried the water across Florabella street to water his hens.
In 1939, my first year of poultry farming, we had a very severe heatwave over the eastern states. Sydney temperatures were 113 degrees (45 degrees Celcius)…It involved very heavy poultry losses in the area. I had kept my chickens cool by placing green limbs over the perches sprinkling them periodically with water and keeping pullets locked in their shed. Fodder’s, where I had worked the year before, lost hundreds of fowls as did many others.

The first fowl shed walls were made from wheat bags that I had sewn together which was not an easy thing to do minus my index finger. At times my hand would really ache.

…The next year I ordered two hundred day-old chickens. I reared them using a jar with a tin lid. I cut a slit in the lid for the wick to be in the oil in the jar with an ordinary hurricane burner with the globe to protect the flame. This kept the chickens warm under the brooder. This principle served for a few seasons. There was now a need to build more fowl houses and yards. To do this, I needed more round poles for the houses. This meant selecting large turpentine trees. I chose trees that were straight and would give me the most split poles for fences. The poles would have to be at least eight foot long or a little longer. Once I got a tree that yielded forty two of these eight foot poles. All these poles had to be carried on my shoulder out of the surrounding gully. Three foot rolls of wire netting, fifty yards long, would cost ten shillings those days and were bought from “Grace Brothers” who delivered them to the site…[82]

A Grocery store in Katoomba bought Lawrence’s thirty dozen (360) eggs daily. They were shipped by rail in a case carried to Warrimoo station on his bicycle…

The kind of arrangement used by Lawrence to deliver his eggs to Warrimoo Station, where they were transported by train to a Katoomba grocery store. In Lawrence's case there were 300-400 eggs stacked on the front handlebars, however.
Delivering eggs to the railway station was by means of my push bike by placing them on the front of the handle bars. I only had one mishap over the years. We had about 5 inches of rain the previous day and overnight and, as all our roads were dirt pre-war, one section had a washout and the front wheel dropped into a deep little gutter across the road. The case of thirty dozen eggs went over the handle bars. Only five dozen were cracked and broken and half of them were able to be used for cooking etc.[83]

Lawrence was conscripted in December 1940 and did three months training at Singleton, but poultry farming was designated a ‘vital industry’ for the war effort and he was discharged to continue his business.

This continued to grow despite the fact that his basic chook feeds, pollard and bran, were now unavailable. He adapted to soaked wheat and lucerne feeding…

…When I cleaned out the fowl houses, I would fill a barrow with manure and then put on top of it a tin that would hold about twice as much again and push it up the rise to the block near the street that was used for lucerne cultivation. The lucerne was cut up in a chaff cutter and was used mostly for green feed. As egg production increased, I had to look for another buyer. Small eggs went to the Producers’ Distribution Society (PDS) and the people I was supplying at Katoomba were bought out by “Goodlands” groceries and when they took over, they were happy to be supplied by me. Now I needed a way of taking, not one case, but three at a time. I then built a trailer to take an extra sixty dozen, making a total of ninety dozen (1,080) eggs. [84]

Making a success of his small farm required the youthful dedication that Lawrence clearly had. However, towards the end of the war his interests began to drift towards missionary ideals—he was frequently attending bible studies and religious conventions in Katoomba, and after his sister Nell lost her city job, he included her in the running of the farm to enable his spiritual pursuits.

One winter’s night in 1944, Nell accidentally knocked over a kerosene lantern in one of the sheds—within minutes she had burnt her hand trying to put out the resultant fire and five hundred chickens were burnt to death. 

Lawrence's Wedding Day in 1948--he is second from left. By now Lawrence's interests were in his wife, Noreen, and Mission work across NSW. Increasingly he left the farm work to his sister Nell and her new husband, and the Poultry Farm progressively ran down until it ceased in 1950.

This failed to discourage Lawrence, who upgraded the lighting and watering systems in the sheds and modernised their construction to accommodate more hens. Yet he was still being drawn away from Warrimoo, marrying his wife to be, Noreen, in 1948, and joining the ‘United Aborigines Mission’ at La Perouse in 1950, in the process handing management of the poultry farm over to Nell and her new husband Jack, as well as his brother Harold.

According to Lawrence, for whatever reason thereafter, the poultry farm ‘ended up going to ruin’…[85]

Warrimoo Industries (b) Dairy*

In the years before World War II, most suburbs and towns throughout Australia contained “a dairy”—the source of fresh local milk and cream and maybe other dairy products, deemed at the time as healthy dietary staples to ward off a common childhood disease called ‘Rickets’, caused by a lack of calcium.

The small infant township of Warrimoo was no different. Evidence of a local dairy off  Florabella Street exists from the early 1930’s, when a man called Leonard Jack Bebber purchased a block of 13 acres and, it seems, leased the land and some cows to anyone who might be prepared to do a ‘Milk Run’ in the area.

Hand-milked dairies operated in most towns of Australia in the 1930's--the Patmans commenced with eight or nine cows in 1940

After selling the Run to one Francis Oswald Campbell in 1935, however, Bebber ran into some difficulty. Campbell took Bebber to court and sued for damages to the tune of 325 pounds, the cost of purchase. Campbell claimed that he bought the Run Licence on the promise of milk sales of 14 gallons a week, when in reality they were merely 8 or 9 gallons.

Close perusal of the books led the judge to conclude that Campbell had in fact ‘cooked the books’ to gain his lawsuit, and that Bebber had no case to answer. Nevertheless by 1939, Bebber found it necessary to put the whole business up for sale. It was purchased by Lisle Freeman Spence on behalf of his daughter Beatrice and her husband Allan Patman. Thus commenced the legendary family occupation of the ‘Patman Dairy’ and their seminal role in the nascent Warrimoo community.

The Patman Story

Allan Patman grew up on a sheep property outside Mudgee. When he met Beryl Beatrice Patman (nee Spence) he was managing a sheep property in the district. Beryl also grew up in the Mudgee district where her father was a school teacher. They met in Mudgee and married in Penrith in 1933. Because of Allan’s prowess with tennis, he opened a sports store in Penrith.  They had three sons; Bruce (b.1934), Barry (b.1937) and Graham, born when they were living on the Dairy, in 1942.
Allan Patman--Noted tennis player,  Penrith Sports Shop proprietor, 1930's
In 1939, with WWII looming, the bottom fell out of the sports industry and in 1940, thanks to Beatrice’s father, they took over the already established dairy farm previously owned by Leonard Bebber. As there was no house on the property they lived in a rented house on the north western corner of Florabella Street and The Avenue.  In 1941, when the property next to the dairy, which consisted of a house and non-operating chicken farm, came on the market they subsequently bought it, and moved into the house. 

(The chicken sheds were reopened a few years later, on a small scale, and day old chickens were bought, raised, killed and dressed by the family, for local sale for a number of years.  Eventually the sheds were closed down because of an infection in the ground which could not be eradicated.)                                                                                
Allan Patman prepares for milking. At first there was a small herd of 9 cows, but this increased as the population of the area grew during WWII, and reached a figure of 20.
There would have been 8-9 cows when the dairy, which included milk delivery, was first bought. At that stage Allan would be up at approximately 3:00 am to start the milking, by hand.  During milking, the cows were fed supplements, as well as relying on grazing. At approximately 5:30 am after the milking he would have a large plate of toast, several cups of tea and a “BEX” before starting off on the delivery. Beryl finished the clean up in the dairy, while a neighbour, Mrs. Norman (‘Normie’) often helped in the house doing breakfast for the boys and getting them ready for school. 

Allan and Beryl Patman with the two boys, Bruce (standing) and Barry in the 1930's
Initially a 1926 Chevrolet car was converted to a ute for the milk deliveries. On the ute was a large vat with a tap from which the milk was measured into half pint, pint, quart or four pint measuring cans which had a lid to cover the milk as it was being carried into peoples’ homes. It was then poured into the customers containers. There was also room on the ute for extra cans of milk which were tipped into the vat as it emptied. After the war an army jeep was converted for use as a delivery truck. 

Originally it was all fresh warm milk, with the cream not separated, and there was no refrigeration on the truck. When the milk run was finished all the cans, vat and measures had to be cleaned and sterilized with boiling water. By then it was time for lunch, and with a bit of luck a short rest before the process started all over again at about 1:00 pm in the afternoon with second milking and second delivery and clean up.                                                                                                                                               

The Patman Dairy jeep about to take off on its run--the front vat is used for ladling the milk, extra cans in the back.
Dairy work was 7 days a week and there was no time in these years for outside interests and activities. At first the delivery area covered Warrimoo and Blaxland.  However the herd was increased to over 20 during the war years, as people moved out of the Sydney area (because of the shelling of the harbour) to their numerous weekend homes, and demand for milk grew. At about this time milking machines were installed to cope with the increased herd. As the number of customers increased the delivery area spread as far as Torwood Road near Valley Heights and down to the western outskirts of Glenbrook. It was mostly family run (with the boys sometimes helping with the delivery at weekends), but as the business grew, some outside help was also needed.  Some weekends if extended family were visiting they helped out for the day.

Beryl Patman outside the milking shed with one of the boys. As the Milk Run grew, it was 'all family hands on deck' to help out on the farm. There was little time for social life.
When demand continued to increase, and with limited land capacity to run a larger herd, milk which had been refrigerated was bought from the Nepean Milk Factory in Penrith to supplement the milk from the dairy. Many people resisted the cold milk, preferring the fresh warm milk. When the government restructured the dairy industry and made it compulsory for all milk to be sent to the factory to be pasteurized, the dairy was closed as it was not economical to send milk to the factory and then transport it back again. 
Milk prices in shillings and pence for 1950-52
Milk was then bought in bulk from the factory in ten gallon cans, stored overnight in a cold room, then delivered as before from a vat on the back of the ute. At this time, because of the growing numbers of customers, the milk run was split and more outside help was employed.  Stan Boyle, Barry’s future father-in-law, helped with the deliveries.  Later, about 1952, all milk was pasteurized in the factory and delivered in bottles. This provided a lot more free time and their working life was not nearly so demanding.

Until town water was laid on getting water for the cows was a big problem.  They would cart the ten-gallon cans over to the waterholes near Torwood Street, bringing back enough water to fill the troughs for the cows.  It was very disheartening to fill the troughs only to see the cows empty them again!  There was a permanent spring at the bottom of their land, but they had to keep the cows out of it so that it wouldn’t be destroyed. There were also some beautiful old caves down the back where they would go exploring.

The Patman House around 1940. Milking shed and holding yard are some distance behind.
In the early years, when the children were very young and the work of the dairy so demanding there were not a lot of social activities.  Nevertheless extended family and friends would often visit at the weekends for lunch/afternoon tea.  Beryl was a good cook, and they always liked having visitors.  On the side verandah of the house there was always spare beds for family or friends passing through, and the boys remember often waking up in the morning to find someone had slept there overnight. Beryl Geurtner (founding editor of Australian House and Garden) also stayed there for a time while building a home opposite.

Warrimoo Anglican Church and the Patmans

Church had always held an important place in the Patmans’ family life. The church had been there sometime before Allan and Beryl moved to Warrimoo (it was built in 1926—WH).  It was under the stewardship of the Miss Carters, three sisters who lived in the big house in The Boulevarde. 

Allan Patman (left) and Merv Donaldson working on extensions to the All Saints Anglican Church, Warrimoo  (1950's)
As children of primary school age, Bruce and Barry attended and sang at church. Because services were at 2:00 pm Beryl and Allan were too busy with the dairy and milk run to attend. During the war years the minister, Rev Lambert, came from Springwood to conduct the services. As the population grew Rev. Harold Rawson was appointed to the churches of Warrimoo, Blaxland and Glenbrook. He rode a push bike between each village to conduct services and took a very active interest in the life of these villages.

The Reverend was often a visitor to the Patmans for a meal until he married.  Later in his career he became Canon Rawson at St. Matthews, Windsor.  The families always kept in touch, and he flew to Brisbane when Allan died, to conduct the service.  In the late 40’s as the population grew, Mrs. Webber restarted the Sunday School. All three boys attended Sunday School, Bruce was older and helped as a teacher.

The Patman boys (from Left) Barry, Bruce and Graham, in Sunday best sitting on the steps outside Warrimoo Anglican Church

As Allan and Beryl were spared more time after the closure of the dairy they both took a greater interest in the church.  Allan was a Church Council Warden and Beryl was the Guild Secretary. Church fetes were held on the side lawn at their home a number of times.  Allan and Merv Donaldson built the rear extension to the church – we think in the early fifties.  After Bruce started his apprenticeship in cabinet making, he made a communion table and several new pews. Years later Denise Boyle and Barry Patman returned to the church for their wedding.

After the Patman family had moved to Queensland in the 1960's they were visited by the Boyles from Warrimoo, who had always been close friends. Barry was smitten by Stan Boyle's daughter, Denise (both pictured) and proposed marriage, so the couple's wedding  naturally took place at the All Saints Church Warrimoo, on the 15th January 1966.
On the day of the wedding the temperature hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and everyone sweated in their formal clothes. The Reception was held on the Highway at the classy Swiss Restaurant 'Rolfes'' near Springwood (now the Jim Aitkens Real Estate building).

Barry and Denise cut the cake
The Wedding featured a delightful 'Programme' card with an illustration of a somewhat more elaborate 'All Saints Church' than was actually the case...

Barry and Denise's 'Programme Card'...the humble 'All Saints' at Warrimoo never quite achieved the English ideal seen here. 
Close friends of the Patmans were Ted and Hazel Davis and family who lived at the corner of Victoria Street and the Boulevarde. Ted was the Bursar at Sydney University of Technology, and also served as treasurer at the church while Allan was Church Warden and Barry did carpentry improvements. 

Another identity of the village was Murray Lewis who was a singing teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He formed a very good choir of church members who were invited to be part of the performance to welcome the Queen to Sydney in 1954. This became the formative basis of the 'Warrimoo Chorale'.

Every year the ladies guild from the Anglican Church would organise a fundraising fete and sometimes this was held in the Patman’s yard.  There would usually be a theme of some sort.  They would make lovely decorations to match the theme - one year it was ‘wisteria’ and another ‘peach blossom’.   

Barry recalls the three ladies known as the ‘Miss Carters’, who lived in the ‘Rickard’ house on the corner of Victoria Street and The Boulevard. They always dressed in black clothes, and one evening as they were walking up the highway Miss Hilda Carter was accidently hit by a car and killed.  A collection was taken up and a memorial bell erected at the Anglican Church.

Patman Family and Social Life

During one of the many bush fires Allan rescued Mrs Ruben Parton in his Jeep from the  massive 1951 fire surrounding her home in Valley Heights and about to engulf it. After driving through the blaze and dropping off Mrs Parton at Florabella Street, he realised the fire was heading in their direction. They were able to 'backburn' the neighbouring houses and save them all. Although the Parton family was safe they had lost their home and all their belongings, so until they were able to obtain a new home they lived with the Patmans.

The 'Daily Telegraph' article on Mrs Parton's rescue. Her daughter, Jan Parton (later 'Welland') was in Penrith working at the time of the rescue, but she too was obliged to stay with the Patmans until a new home  could be found.
As bush fires were regularly a danger in the area Allan was always available to help fight fires as the need arose. There was no organized association until after the war when the Bush Fire Brigade was formed. The closest Fire Station was at Springwood.  The boys tell the story of Allan and Beryl’s father having to shelter under the (Anglican/Arthur Street) church when once fighting a fire. While the fire took the homes each side, it jumped the church (divine intervention?).

There was a run down tennis court on the Patman's property when it was bought, which the boys used for fun.  After closing the dairy and no longer having to milk Allan and Beryl had much more time to enjoy more leisure activities. The tennis court was repaired and it was used for social games and fixtures.  Bruce and a friend, Mark Saba, had the job of rolling and bagging the courts Saturday mornings, ready for the adults A grade fixtures in the afternoon. Then the boys played in B grade fixtures at the Tennis club which was near the railway station.

Barry  Parton and 'Mary' (?) on the tennis court prior to a social game. Tennis remained a major part of Warrimoo's social life throughout the 20th Century.
Mrs. O’Brien (formerly Rene Carroll, leading ladies tennis champion) was the station mistress and also coached any of the young people who were interested in tennis.  On Sunday, friends and family would visit the Patmans and play socially. Because of Allan’s contacts with the tennis fraternity, one year Allan organized a tennis exhibition which included Bill Gilmore (Australian Junior champion, later Davis Cup referee) and Beryl Penrose (top Australian ladies player), to raise money for the church. 

When Barry, Bruce and Graham grew up they, with a number of other boys from Warrimoo, were involved in the Blaxland Scouts. John Webber from Florabella Street was the scout master at that time. Jim Boxsell was also involved with running the group and the boys remember many good times, especially bush walking the mountain trails, and scout camps among their many activities.

As teenagers the boys with their friends travelled to Springwood to attend dances and take part in square dancing.  They also went to the movies in Springwood or Penrith.  By this time Bruce was driving and a group would travel together in the farm jeep.The boys and their friends took it in turns to have square dance nights at each others homes.

Bruce was the designated 'driver' to Dances--after performing his role with the Old Jeep, he purchased this MG 'Classic', which must have been a sight on the streets of Warrimoo!
Barry remembers having slide nights to view photos. Allan and Beryl, as well as  the boys, when they grew older, attended balls organized by the Warrimoo Tennis Club and held in Springwood or sometimes in Penrith.

When Bruce started work in Sydney he caught the 6:04 am train with a number of others. It was always a race between Bruce and Norm Leven to the station: through the fence, over the rail lines and a dash into the last carriage.  Barry travelled on the “Chips” to work at St. Marys. In the morning there were two trains that ran for workers travelling to Sydney. The first, the “Fish” was an express train that ran at approximately 7:15 am. The “Chips” ran about 10 mins later, stopping at all stations to Penrith, then express to Sydney.  Then home after work on the Chips; the Fish left about 5 mins earlier, but did not stop at Warrimoo. Travelling 1 ½ hours each way every day there was lots of time for playing cards, reading and friendships as well as romances developing.

Malcolm King's refurbished view of now-passed Old Warrimooian, George Finey's artistic celebration of 'The Fish' in a Springwood bus shelter--along with 'The Chips', these two city -bound trains were legendary commutes for residents of the Blue Mountains. 
In 1956 Bruce moved to Queensland for health reasons. The family stayed on the property and the milk delivery continued until 1957, when they sold the property.  They then bought and moved to another dairy at Bellingen. In 1960 Barry and Graham also moved to Brisbane, and in 1964 Allan and Beryl sold the Bellingen property and bought another dairy in the Samford area near Brisbane.

*SOURCES for this Post are entirely drawn from interviews conducted by EVELYN RICHARDSON and JENNY DUNCAN on behalf of the 'Warrimoo History Project', of BRUCE PATMAN and BARRY PATMAN, and the notes derived from them in 2009 and 2010. Images come from these sources also.

[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, 1909

[19] Macquarie Aboriginal Dictionary et al

[20] If any reader can supply some written example of Rickard’s clearly suggesting ‘Place of the Eagle’ as the meaning of the word ‘Warrimoo’, please let us know, because then we could accurately source the origins of such a belief to him—this is most likely the case, anyhow, but it is important to be accurate.

[21] (TROVE Hobart Mercury 10/11/1892)

[22] nla.gove/nla.newcastle (TROVE South Australian Register 10/2/1892)

[23] Op.cit: (TROVE Hobart Mercury 10/11/1892)

[24] warrimoo


[26] Op.cit:



[29] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011.. Warrimoo Historians are indebted to Lawrence Way for the timely account of his experiences in Warrimoo. His book is available at Warrimoo PS Library, and it provides most of the observations for this chapter of our history.

[30] Ibid., p.9

[31] More information on Henry Varlow is available in another chapter in this section titled :’Arson in Warrimoo?’

[32] RICHARDSON, E., and MATTHEW, K Warrimoo History Project, Library Records

[33] TROVE, Nepean Times

[34] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011. pp 9-15

[35] Taronga Park Zoo had opened just ten years earlier, in October of 1916

[36] Information on the biography of Henry Varlow comes from a variety of sources, but the overwhelming effort of drawing them together was carried out by: RICHARDSON, E., and MATTHEW, K Warrimoo History Project, Library Records

[37] TROVE, Blue Mountains Echo, 2nd January 1920

* Could this be the same ‘Mr. Neil’ who attended a meeting in Glenbrook, representing Warrimoo Progress Association, and who later appears as the Secretary of the Association in the 1930’s?

[38] Ibid

[39] Op. Cit. My Story, p.14

[40] CAMERON, Bruce. Sun Valley and Long Angle Gulley—A History, Springwood, 1998 pp21—31 Bruce’s booklet provided the vast bulk of information on this topic. WH thank him for his extensive research.

[41] Ibid., pp 21-22

[42] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011. p.27

[43] Ibid, pp. 21-22

[44] Ibid, p 22

[45] Op Cit., RICHARDSON, E., and MATTHEW, K Warrimoo History Project, Library Records

[46] Ibid—War Records, ‘Henry Todd’

[47] Op Cit., ‘My Story’, p.10

[48] Ibid, pp.20-21.

[49] Ibid, pp.31-33

[50] Ibid, pp 31-32

[51] cf., 'Contribution of Arthur Rickard' in this blog

[52] TROVE, ‘Parkes Western Champion’ derived from the story in the SMH, Thurs 30th January, 1930,   p.1

[53] Ibid, p.1

[54] Ibid, p.1

[55] Ibid, p.1

[56] TROVE, ‘Daily Pictorial’ (Sydney), Thursday 13th February, p.7

[57] TROVE, Katoomba Daily, 2nd March., 1933

[58] TROVE, Nepean Times, Sat. 9th April 1932 p.6

[59] Ibid, Sat. 4th Feb, 1933 p.6

[60] Ibid, p.6

[61] Subject to confirmation, it is probable that the ‘3 acres’ referred to was bought by the NSW Education Department after WWII for a future school site. As it transpired, however, the block upon which the current school stands was bought later and became the preferred location, thus leaving the original block available for alternative usage—this became the centre of a protracted struggle between community, Council and State government for the ‘Cross Street Reserve’.

[62] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011, p 14

[63] TROVE, ‘Nepean Times’, Thurs 13th November 1941 p.1

[64] Ibid, SMH Classifieds, Sept. 7, 1941

[65] 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, staying at a place on the corner of Railway Pde.and The Terrace

[66]  This whole text is derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography—

[67] Way, Lawrence, My Story, op.cit, p.43

[68] Ibid., p. 44

[69] TROVE, Nepean Times, Thursday 26th March 1942, p 4.

[70] Ibid. Thursday 1st April, 1937

[71] TROVE, Katoomba Daily, Thursday 1st April, 1937

[72] Ibid

[73] TROVE, Nepean Times, Thursday February 3rd 1944

[74] Way, Lawence, op. cit., pp 45-47

[75] TROVE, Nepean Times, Thursday 4th January 1945

[76] TROVE, Ibid, Thursday 28th September, 1944

[77] TROVE, Ibid., Thursday 6th October, 1944

* Terry Dernee acted as a great source of information and inspiration for this post

[79] WAY, L. W., My Story, Cliff Lewis Printing, Caringbah, 2011, p. 9

[80] Ibid, p. 47

[81] Ibid, p. 47

[82] Ibid, p.49

[83] Ibid, p.49

[84] Ibid, p.51

[85] Ibid, p.52

1 comment:

  1. Just to introduce myself: I am Secretary of the Springwood Historical Society. I am writing "direct" as I want to ask a favour at the end.

    In 2004, I did some research into the naming of Warrimoo. It is nice to have my research confirmed by your much wider spread.

    Could I make some comments on your blog?

    I'm not so sure that Rickard was responsible for the change of name from Karabar. Karabar platform had been closed in 1913 and Rickard did not start advertising until 1917. I'm sure you noted that Rickard held a competition in 1917 for a name for "this New Tourist Resort". In the December 1917 issue of Rickard's Realty Review, the results of this competition were announced. The item commenced "Warrimoo - The Railway Commissioners have decided to adopt this name for the new station" and later went on: "Eventually three names were submitted, but neither of these was among those suggested by competitors." I may be wrong (probably am) but I interpreted these comments as the Railway Commissioners making the naming decision unilaterally without reference to Rickard. I could not locate any item in the magazine as to what were the "three names submitted."

    Re the ship, "Warrimoo": references i looked up regarding Australian shipping all indicated that the Warrimoo (and her sister ship, Miowera) were built for James Huddart for his New Zealand and Australasia Steamship Company, a company separate from Huddart Parker& Co. of which James Huddart was still a partner, shareholder and director. In 1899-1900, Lloyd's Register noted that the Warrimoo was owned by "Canadian-Australian Royal Mail Steam Ship Company Limited (in liq)". Shortly after this both ships passed to Union Steam Ship who did not rename them. I doubt that Union SS had any influence in the naming of the ships. My references also give the date of the sinking of the unfortunate "Warrimoo" as 17 May 1918, which is after Rickard began selling land and the railways naming the station.

    One last comment: I think that the placement of Warrimoo station may have been influenced by the location of the store. What could be more convenient than being able to get off your train, walk across the road and buy your needs on the way home.

    I hope I can still ask: where did you locate the portrait of Sir Arthur Rickard and the "There's room for U in my canoe" images. The Springwood Historical Society is currently undertaking a project linking various street names in the lower mountains to the people they are named for and we have not had a lot of success in finding any of Sir Arthur, which given his talent for self-promotion, we found unusual.