carved in stone

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Each workday from my desk (courtesy of a recent fortuitous reshuffle) I now gaze at a reminder of the way my and the G.O.’s  ancestors arrived in this country. By ship. Through Sydney Heads. For me it’s a reminder of how fortunate he and I are that they did.

Sydney Harbour, and Heads in the distance... vista through glass which at 29 floors up gets a little grimy in between window cleaner visits!
Sydney Harbour, and Heads in the distance… vista through glass which at 29 floors up gets a little grimy in between window cleaner visits!

Four of the G.O.’s ancestors came on convict ships of the Second and Fourth Fleet, and were part of the very early settling of Australia. For several generations there was an inclination for people to overlook or hide their convict heritage. Fortunately, no longer, as evidenced by an intrepid stonemason Ray Collins who with ancestors on both the First Fleet and Second, created the monuments and the First and Second Fleet Memorial Gardens at Wallabadah in country NSW.

“The First Fleet Memorial Gardens consist of eleven circular gardens, representing the ships of the First Fleet approaching a large garden in the shape of Australia. A winding cobblestone path connects the Gardens, each of which has a number of surrounding sandstone tablets inscribed with the names of the persons who sailed on that ship.

Within each garden is a stone tablet featuring the name and a pictorial sketch of that particular ship. The Second Fleet Gardens consist of two gardens with stone tablets arranged by ship. Both gardens have interpretative signage largely drawn from the logs and memoirs of the participants.

These gardens are dedicated to the sailors, marines, spouses, children, convicts and free men of the First & Second Fleets. The Gardens tell the story of both these voyages and the early settlement of Sydney largely in the words of those who participated.

The interpretative signs and the content were done by Neil McGarry & Associates.”

I encountered a link to information on these gardens late last year when dabbling in some Google based family history research, shared it with the G.O. and promptly forgot about it, until en route to Tamworth late in August to celebrate our anniversary. As part of our scenic route roadtrip along the New England Highway we were approaching the village of Wallabadah both of us reminiscing about other times we’d passed through. Bing! I remembered the gardens just as we were coming up to the turn off. The G.O. obviously having paid little attention earlier, had no idea of why I was asking him to turn off but accommodating adventurous as he is, he did.

Other of my and the G.O.’s ancestors came to Australia as free settlers and assisted migration via ships from the United Kingdom and Europe; precursors to what has become known as the Fifth Fleet fleeing post-war Europe and Asia, and ongoing immigration and seeking of asylum. All of which contributes to the legacy of our wonderful multicultural country, so with due and fair process we can share and share it again.

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now”
Martin Luther king, Jr
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36 thoughts on “carved in stone

    fergie51 said:
    September 18, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Very interesting!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 18, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Thank you. Dabbling in family history is a gift that keeps on giving…

      Like

    katechiconi said:
    September 18, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Sometimes I regret having no Australian ancestors to investigate, but console myself with the fact that I am the pioneer, having left behind friends, family and everything familiar to make a new life in this amazing country. Sadly, I’ll never see any familiar names carved in stone…

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      You never know. Besides your own pioneering efforts, you may unearth a connection somewhere. I love family history… anybody’s… so it doesn’t take much to set me on the scent of a trail.

      Like

        katechiconi said:
        September 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm

        There’s some quite interesting history back in the UK and in the Netherlands. My brother is doing the digging over there.

        Liked by 1 person

    memoirsofahusk said:
    September 18, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    What a cracker of a view Dee – wowser! I think Australia is back on the list of our ‘one day’ trips – it was never on mine but between you and one other blogger (who is no longer there to visit, sadly) and an old schoolfriend – well, I’ve changed my mind – and you never know! Liverpool has given me a poignant insight into the terrible injustic of the convict transports – I admit I never really thought about it much – the majestic neo-classical St George’s Hall was among other things a court and had cells in which people were held before transport. Terrible – for such minor offences. Anyway, thanks as always for an illuminating post. And I love your judicious (ahem) use of strike-through!

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 18, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      The bright side to convict transport was some intrepid souls used it as a means to an end. I feel for those who never acclimatized and then had to make an arduous return journey for what were originally petty crimes.
      I have a long list of ‘one day’ trips, including to the UK, despite my aversion to long flights. Travel and exploring the new is attractive, but more so I think when you have some sort of connection 🙂
      The view is one of the consolations of being a captive audience 5 days a week. In my office-work career it’s literally a high point as opposed to corners, internal offices and basements!

      Liked by 1 person

    davidprosser said:
    September 18, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Our loss has long been Australia’s gain.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 18, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      Those days were a difficult time for many. But without the benefit of twenty twenty hindsight the powers that were couldn’t have imagined the people some considered crooks and reprobates would build a such a nation 🙂

      Like

    Gerlinde said:
    September 19, 2015 at 7:59 am

    EllaDee, your posts are informative . I knew about the convicts being shipped to Australia but that’s about it. I love the Martin Luther King quote. When I was a child many people in Germany immigrated to The United States or Australia. Little did I know that I would do the same things some years later. Have a nice weekend.

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thank you, I simply share what I find down the ‘rabbit holes’ I venture! The G.O.’s great grandmother came from Germany with her Kachel family as a young girl, and I have Prussian ancestors on Mum’s Dad’s side… back to a Vox ancestor who fought on the side of Napoleon.

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        Gerlinde said:
        September 20, 2015 at 2:50 am

        EllaDee Kachel means tile in German. The word Kachel I believe was used for making tile stoves. Fliesen are tiles used for kitchens, floors and bathrooms. Maybe your ancestors were crafts people for the beautiful tile stoves that you can find in old houses in Germany.

        Like

          EllaDee responded:
          September 20, 2015 at 6:53 am

          Thank you. Very interesting… I’ll do more research on the Kachel’s and see where it leads me 🙂

          Like

    Bill said:
    September 19, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    That’s a great quote. And relevant these days.
    I find family history fascinating. For me, it brings the past to life when I can place some ancestor in the story.

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 20, 2015 at 7:09 am

      For me, family history research has given insight into an aspect of where & who I came from… but I cared anyway about the issues that I’m concerned suffer from rampant NiMBYism, over simplification and historical short-sightedness.

      Like

    Lori said:
    September 20, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Very interesting to learn about another culture and it’s beginnings. What a fun and educational side trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 20, 2015 at 7:01 am

      The UK sent convicts to America, and other places too. Unless we have indigenous ancestry (and they too may originally have been nomadic/wayfaring) almost all of us ancestry-wise came from somewhere else!

      Liked by 1 person

        Lori said:
        September 20, 2015 at 7:18 am

        Yep. My family came from Italy at the turn of the 20th century.

        Liked by 1 person

    acflory said:
    September 20, 2015 at 7:44 am

    What a fantastic place. I had no idea it even existed. Thank you so much!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 20, 2015 at 9:28 am

      It has a nice campground next to it, right on the river, one day I’d like to go back and camp 🙂

      Like

        acflory said:
        September 20, 2015 at 10:26 pm

        Hah! City girl that I am, I think I’d investigate the local motel instead. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    diannegray said:
    September 20, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I love that Martin Luther King quote. And that view from your office is astounding! I’ve had some good office views in my day, but none are as spectacular as this – it’s hard to focus on work (LOL) 😉
    Family history intrigues me and the G.O’s is very special indeed. I really enjoyed watching Toni Collette on Who Do You think You Are. I was tempted to put the photo of her suspected grandfather on my blog to see if anyone knew who he was…

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 21, 2015 at 6:47 am

      I’ve just moved from an inside office, at a hectic time and the view is, as the previous inhabitant of that desk counseled… soothing 🙂
      It’s the intrigues, possibilities and stories of family history that I love. Who Do You Think You Are and Who’s Been Sleeping in My House are great. The RUC would’ve been great for the latter.

      Like

    Francesca said:
    September 20, 2015 at 11:50 am

    You view is spectacular indeed. Some of my ancestors were also ‘boat people’ transported to Australia for petty crime and poverty. Mr T’s ancestors migrated after their land was handed over to sheep, during the Scottish clearances by the English gentry, depriving them of a living. All have one thing in common- they left because life was unbearable and unsustainable.
    Others left in the 1950s, seeking a better life here- they were welcomed. The boat arrivals during the American war ( sometimes know as the Vietnam war) were looked after.
    Not so now. Detention, abuse, children locked up in camps, the story is a sad one indeed.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 21, 2015 at 7:00 am

      That’s the bit that perplexes me… it’s all become so distorted, the lowest denominator of the possibility of negative has overshadowed & influenced the positive. Pack mentality at its least attractive.
      Maybe the humble pastime of family history can be a good influence rather than FB fear mongering 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    sara said:
    September 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Fascinating – I never knew such a place existed. Interesting that all the other councils rejected the twelve fleet garden idea. I think it works quite well :).

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 21, 2015 at 6:52 am

      It’s a nice spot on the river, just off the highway. A campground with facilities and an honour box for fees. One grey nomad couple had their van set up by the river and a campfire going… and I thought about the first & second fleeters et al and all that’s been worked for that lets us choose our way of life.

      Liked by 1 person

    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    September 22, 2015 at 5:35 am

    (Left a comment earlier, but lost connection, so trying quickly again)
    Love your day trips. This is one of the coolest garden tributes I’ve seen. Nice they way the included sailing elements as it’s so appropriate.
    Is there any place on earth that didn’t have migratory waves change the structure, “landscape”, and destiny? Darn few. Important to remember all the building blocks.
    Enjoyed the post (and now let’s see if the shorter version will go…)

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      September 22, 2015 at 6:45 am

      Thank you 🙂 I like the sails and how the elements of the gardens reflect the events… I just like gardens and history! And it’s a good place for reunions and get togethers… community.

      Liked by 1 person

    ardysez said:
    September 24, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Wonderful view from your office. Yesterday we were retracing some of my family history here in Ohio, driving my Mum back to the home of her earliest memory. At 88, it is probably the last time she will see it. She really enjoyed the day. I still find it amazing that Australia has grown out of convict roots, but the strength of so many I have known, no doubt in part, comes from those strong willed convicts and pioneers.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      September 24, 2015 at 6:37 am

      That’s my favorite family history research… people and places 🙂
      Traces of the heritage of their courage, intrepidness and sheer hard work remain evidenced not only in the cultural mix but the architecture of the country… my favorite is the sandstone building blocks with the telling pick marks.

      Liked by 1 person

        ardysez said:
        September 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm

        I remember seeing some of the bricks and blocks with the makers mark on them, very moving.

        Liked by 1 person

    roughseasinthemed said:
    October 9, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Lovely view. How do you get any work done? Oddly, we were discussing today about how few nations are ‘original’ eg aboriginals, First Nations etc.

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      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2015 at 6:56 am

      The change of view was well timed… amidst a project where doc uploading and processing speeds necessitates time to gaze out window during 🙂
      We’re mostly homogenous now… and hopefully will sensibly, practically shed any lingering illusions than otherwise recognizing ancestry for what it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    October 12, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Wow that’s a beautiful place to come into the country. So cool to see how you traced family history. Love the stone monument to the initial settlers. 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      October 12, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      I like to imagine the harbour without all the development after a looong journey from the other side of the world. For some people it was an adventure and opportunity, for others it was heartbreak. Some convicts once they’d served their time sailed back to the UK… I’m not sure I could have managed that.

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