New England's History

Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

New England's built landscape - building order in the bush

Vision: John James Galloway, the surveyor who created the core street patterns for many inland New England towns.This is the ninth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture.

Next post.

The golden age of New England homestead construction that began in the 1800s and extended to the outbreak of the First World War also saw expansion in town building.

Like the homesteads, the first town buildings were roughly constructed from timber slabs with bark roofs near main tracks and water supplies. Those little centres were straggly places.

At Armidale, the biggest Northern settlement outside the lower Hunter in 1851, horse races were held in the dusty main street, while stringybark huts dotted the landscape. It was a rough and ready male dominated place. Order needed to be imposed.

To the Government in Sydney, order was necessary to allow proper registration of land title and collection of revenue from land sales. The Government was also concerned about the development of private as opposed to official townships. Surveyors were appointed to undertake the necessary mapping.

Born in Leith, Scotland, in 1818, John James Galloway came to Australia with his family in 1837. In 1847 he was appointed surveyor for New England and Gwydir and setting about his task of imposing order. In so doing, he created the basic grid structure that would underpin the later streetscape in inland New England.

Sometimes he had to compromise. When he surveyed Armidale in 1848, Galloway had to deal with existing buildings. The grid was meant to run north-south, east west, but Galloway was forced to shift this slightly to accommodate those building, giving Armidale streets in the old city that slight skew that exists today.

The area covered by the grid pattern that would become the Armidale municipality and then city was limited in size to a bit over 3.2 square miles, 2,060 acres, on the old measurement. It remained this way until 1961 when the city boundaries were finally extended.

You can see the effects today if you look at a map. The old city grid is clearly evident, set within the more varied surround of later developments.

A government desire for order was not the only force at work. In social terms, the male oriented frontier society was progressively replaced by families who (and especially the women) demanded an ordered society and increasing comfort. Shops, schools and churches were needed, while those who could afford it began to demand bigger, more ornate dwellings.

The result was a period of town construction that gave us much of the built landscape that we value today. To a degree, the pattern of that built landscape is all about money, as well as time, materials and changing fashion and technology..

In my next column, I will look further at the evolution of that built landscape.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 1 November 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here  2017.  

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Designs with success in mind - grand designs of New England

Langford, Walcha: Completed in 1904 and designed by Maitland architect J W Scobie for grazier William Fletcher, the 22-room Langford with its five-storey tower is an assertion of prosperity and success.This is the eighth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture. 

The new homestead construction across the North that began in the 1880s accelerated into the 1890s and the early part of the twentieth century. This was also a period of substantial building activity within the towns. Many of the buildings now so prized by local communities date from this period.

The 1880s saw the construction of Stonehenge near Glen Innes(1887), St Aubins at Scone (18817-90), Saumarez(1888 stage one) and Booloominbah (1899) at Armidale.

Homesteads constructed during the 1890s include Moonby House near Tamworth, Clerness, Torryburn and Abington near Bundarra. In the 1900s construction included Langford at Walcha, Inverell’s Blair Athol, Gostwck near Uralla, Belltrees at Scone, Waterloo, Palmerston at Armidale and King’s Plain’s Castle near Glen Innes.

There were many more, including more modest if still substantial constructions such as The Croft (c1886-90) near Armidale.

We are now firmly in the age of the architect.. Today we forget just how important Maitland was as the North’s first big town. By 1861, its population had reached 8,922. It would be 1870 before Newcastle equalled Maitland in population.

The majority of private clients wishing to use architects chose from either Sydney or Maitland.

In building Booloominbah, the grandest of the new homes, Frederick White chose Sydney based John Horbury Hunt as his architect.. In building Saumarez, his nephew Frederick chose Maitland’s John Wiltshire Pender. J W Pender was also chosen by the Hunter Valley Whites to design Belltrees.

Arguably the most prominent Northern architect in the colonial era, J W Pender was born in Scotland in 1833 and trained as an architect at the Royal Academy in Inverness. In 1863 he established his architectural practice at Maitland, building a big practice whose clients extended as far north as Armidale.

Pender was not the only influential Maitland architect. Another was the prize winning architect J W Scobie who was commissioned by William Fletcher to design a mansion suitable for his growing wealth and success.

Completed in 1904, Langford is a rather spectacular grand two story building constructed of locally produced red brick, featuring 22 rooms and a five story central tower that overlooks the circular entrance driveway and extensive surrounding gardens.

The majority of the bigger homesteads were built of brick, although Stonehenge south of Glen Innes is a rare example of concrete construction. The architectural styles adopted generally reflected prevailing fashions across the three decades that marked the height of the building period.

I will look at those changing styles next week and also introduce you to the changing patterns of urban architecture. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 25 October 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here  2017. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New England's built landscape - a new wave of mansions begins

Aberglasslyn House: The monumental Georgian pile designed by architect John Verge for George Hobler remained unfinished following Hobler’s insolvency in the crash of the early 1840s. This is the seventh in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture. 

The economic collapse in the early 1840s that followed the excesses of the previous two decades brought to an end the first phase of mansion building.

At Aberglasslyn outside Maitland, Aberglasslyn House, the monumental Georgian pile designed by architect John Verge for George Hobler, remained unfinished following Hobler’s insolvency.

At Dalwood, George Wyndham took his family north in search of new opportunities, leaving Dalwood House vacant for a number of years. At Port Macquarie, Lake Innes House went into decline as Archibald Clunes Innes’ financial difficulties worsened.

While severe, the downturn was relatively short and was followed by four decades of economic expansion. Wool prices were good, while the gold rushes created a demand for meat and other agricultural products. With greater security and more funds, the squatters began to invest in new homesteads.

 Yugilbar Castle: It took Ogilvie and his German workers six years and £8,000 to complete the 40 room dwelling to Ogilvie’s satisfaction.

In 1859, Edward Ogilvie returned from Europe with his new wife. Determined to establish a home that would match his dynastic ambitions, in 1860 he began construction to his own somewhat idiosyncratic design of the building that would become known as Yugilbar Castle.

Built from local materials with imported decorations and finishings, it took Ogilvie and his German workers six years and £8,000 to complete the forty room dwelling to Ogilvie’s satisfaction.

Another surviving homestead from this period is Strathbogie near Glen Innes. Built for Hugh Gordon in 1868 to a design by Sydney architect John C Dury, the twin gabled homestead is built from local pink granite.

In 1861, the passage of the first Robertson Land Act had a significant effect on the New England built landscape. The legislation was intended to break up the big squatting stations making land available for closer settlement, but had two opposing effects.

Some land was opened for closer settlement. The free selectors had to occupy and improve their blocks, leading to the creation of smaller and simpler homesteads, the development of new small settlements. We can still see this pattern in the local landscape.

While some land was open to closer settlement, the squatters were also able to use the legislation to expand their own freehold title, using a variety of sometimes dubious techniques such as dummying. This involved sponsoring someone to select land on the basis that they would subsequently sell it back to the squatter.

These actions came at a cost, leaving station owners with smaller runs, more freehold title, but also greater debts that had to be serviced. As debt reduced, the now second generation owners began to plan new homesteads.

The result was something of a building boom, creating some of the bigger mansions that now form such a prominent part of the built landscape.

 Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 18 October 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A note on the latest DNA results for Tianyaun Man.

Regular commenter JohnB pointed me to this piece by Ann Gibbons in Science that I had missed, Was this ancient person from China the offspring of modern humans and Neandertals?
(Oct. 12, 2017).

Tianyuan Cave (photo) is near modern Beijing. In 2007 researchers found human remains radio carbon dated to between 42,000 and 39,000 years ago. That is well after the first groups of Aboriginal people arrived in Australia. Now the results of new DNA analysis have been published in Current Biology. The formal summary of results follows. Further comments follow the summary.
By at least 45,000 years before present, anatomically modern humans had spread across Eurasia, but it is not well known how diverse these early populations were and whether they contributed substantially to later people or represent early modern human expansions into Eurasia that left no surviving descendants today. Analyses of genome-wide data from several ancient individuals from Western Eurasia and Siberia have shown that some of these individuals have relationships to present-day Europeans while others did not contribute to present-day Eurasian populations. As contributions from Upper Paleolithic populations in Eastern Eurasia to present-day humans and their relationship to other early Eurasians is not clear, we generated genome-wide data from a 40,000-year-old individual from Tianyuan Cave, China, to study his relationship to ancient and present-day humans. We find that he is more related to present-day and ancient Asians than he is to Europeans, but he shares more alleles with a 35,000-year-old European individual than he shares with other ancient Europeans, indicating that the separation between early Europeans and early Asians was not a single population split. We also find that the Tianyuan individual shares more alleles with some Native American groups in South America than with Native Americans elsewhere, providing further support for population substructure in Asia and suggesting that this persisted from 40,000 years ago until the colonization of the Americas. Our study of the Tianyuan individual highlights the complex migration and subdivision of early human populations in Eurasia. 
Melinda A. Yang, Xing Gao, Christoph Theunert, Haowen Tong, Ayinuer Aximu-Petri, Birgit Nickel, Montgomery Slatkin, Matthias Meyer, Svante Pääbo, Janet Kelso, Qiaomei Fu, 40,000-Year-Old Individual from Asia Provides Insight into Early Population Structure in Eurasia, Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 20, p3202–3208.e9, 23 October 2017
Recognising my knowledge limitations, I drew the following main points from the latest results. My indebtedness to Anne will be clear if you look at her article. :
  • The date ranges mean that Tianyaun Man. is probably at least 20,000 years younger than the first Aboriginal occupation of Sahul, the name given to the bigger Australian continent when sea levels were lower.
  • The DNA results show elements of Neanderthal genes but no trace of the Denisovan genes to be found in Aboriginal DNA. On the basis (as seems to be the case) that the Denisovans were reasonably widely spread across Eurasia, this suggests to my mind that  Tianyaun Man came from a later migration wave,
  • Tianyuan Man shares DNA with one ancient European—a 35,000-year-old modern human from Goyet Caves in Belgium. But he doesn’t share it with other ancient humans who lived at roughly the same time in Romania and Siberia—or with living Europeans.
  •  Tianyuan Man is most closely related to living people in east Asia—including in China, Japan, and the Koreas—and in Southeast Asia, including Papua New Guinea and Australia.This suggests that the Tianyuan Man was not a direct ancestor, but rather a distant cousin, of a founding population in Asia that gave rise to present-day Asians. 
  • Tianyuan Man was a distant relative of Native Americans living today in the Amazon of South America, such as the Karitiana and Surui peoples of Brazil and the Chane people of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia. But he is not an ancestor to ancient or living Native Americans in North America, which suggests there were two different source populations in Asia for Native Americans. 
Postscript 28 October: 2017

Current Anthropology has an interesting article by Professor Robin Dennell, "Human Colonization of Asia
in the Late Pleistocene: The History of an Invasive Species" (Current Anthropology Volume 58, Supplement 17, December 2017) The summary reads:
 Narratives of “Out of Africa 2”—the expansion of Homo sapiens across Asia—emphasize the pattern of human dispersal but not the underlying processes. In recent years, the main debates have been over the timing and frequency of dispersal. Here, I treat these issues as subordinate to biogeographic ones that affected the behavior of humans in Asia as an invasive species that colonized new environments and had negative impacts on indigenous hominins. I suggest that attention should focus on three issues: (i) geographic factors that molded human dispersal across Asia, (ii) behavioral changes that enabled humans to overcome previously insurmountable barriers, and (iii) demographic considerations of human dispersal and colonization of Asia, including interactions with indigenous competitors. Although a strong case can be made that humans dispersed across southern Asia before 60 ka, this should not detract from attention on the underlying processes of dispersal and colonization.
I found the article provided a useful summary framework. The geographic analysis in particular filled a gap in my knowledge The MIS in the paper, by the way, stands for Marine isotope stage. I wasn't really familiar with the term so looked it up. According to Wikipedia:

 Marine isotope stages (MIS), marine oxygen-isotope stages, or oxygen isotope stages (OIS), are alternating warm and cool periods in the Earth's paleoclimate, deduced from oxygen isotope data reflecting changes in temperature derived from data from deep sea core samples. Working backwards from the present, which is MIS 1 in the scale, stages with even numbers have high levels of oxygen-18 and represent cold glacial periods, while the odd-numbered stages are troughs in the oxygen-18 figures, representing warm interglacial intervals. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

A note on the Sunghir DNA results from an Australian perspective

ANCIENT NETWORKERS  DNA from four Stone Age people — including the two shown here as they looked when excavated, top, and at the time of death, bottom — suggests that hunter-gatherers have long formed groups with few close relatives. Aside from discouraging inbreeding, that social structure encouraged cooperative ties among groups and rapid cultural advances, scientists say. 

Interesting piece in Science News by Bruce Bower, Ancient humans avoided inbreeding by networking (5 October 2017) on the results of DNA analysis of four individuals from the Sunghir site in Russia, Sunghir is situated about two hundred kilometres east of Moscow, on the outskirts of Vladimir, near the Klyazma River.

The story is based on an article that appeared in Science. If you follow the link through you can access the original article, You will need to register, but that is free. The article's abstract reads:  
Present-day hunter-gatherers (HGs) live in multilevel social groups essential to sustain a population structure characterized by limited levels of within-band relatedness and inbreeding. When these wider social networks evolved among HGs is unknown. Here, we investigate whether the contemporary HG strategy was already present in the Upper Paleolithic (UP), using complete genome sequences from Sunghir, a site dated to ~34 thousand years BP (kya) containing multiple anatomically modern human (AMH) individuals. We demonstrate that individuals at Sunghir derive from a population of small effective size, with limited kinship and levels of inbreeding similar to HG populations. Our findings suggest that UP social organization was similar to that of living HGs, with limited relatedness within residential groups embedded in a larger mating network.
Martin Sikora1, Andaine Seguin-Orlando, Vitor C. Sousa, Anders Albrechtsen, Thorfinn Korneliussen, Amy Ko, Simon Rasmussen, Isabelle Dupanloup, Philip R. Nigst, Marjolein D. Bosch, Gabriel Renaud, Morten E. Allentoft, Ashot Margaryan, Sergey V. Vasilyev, Elizaveta V. Veselovskaya, Svetlana B. Borutskaya, Thibaut Deviese, Dan Comeskey, Tom Higham, Andrea Manica, Robert Foley, David J. Meltzer, Rasmus Nielsen, Laurent Excoffier, Marta Mirazon Lahr, Ludovic Orlando, Eske Willerslev, "Ancient genomes show social and reproductive behavior of early Upper Paleolithic foragers", Science 05 Oct 2017. eaao1807, DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1807
Bruce's report focuses on what the results might show us about mating patterns among hunter gatherers (HG). I looked at the results from a slightly different perspective. First to summarise some key points as I understood them:

  • The DNA of four individuals was analysed. The remains dated from around 34,000 years ago.
  • The DNA of the three individuals buried together share both mitochondrial and Y-chromosome lineages  That is, they formed part of the same group. However, none of them were closely related (that is, third degree or closer). Third degree relationships includes first cousins, great grandparents and great grandchildren. 
  • Modelling provided a refined estimate of the time since admixture with Nenaderthals at 770 generations (95% CI 755-786). Accounting for the uncertainty of both the admixture estimate and 14C ages, this corresponds to an admixture date between the ancestors of Sunghir and Neanderthals of between 53.6 and 58.1 kya (at 29 years/generation. However, the results from one individual suggested that there could have been a more recent admixture.
.The Aborigines arrived in Australia perhaps 60-65,000 years ago. That is before the estimated admixture date between the Sunghir and Neanderthals. They too carry Neanderthal genes, although they also carry Denisovan genes, suggesting a later mixing with Denisovan peoples. So the evidence continues to suggest that we are dealing with long and overlapping periods of interaction between different hominin species.

 I am not quite sure what conclusions to draw from the DNA results so far as breeding patterns within the Sunghir group are concerned. However, it would not be surprising if they had kinship arrangements designed to prevent in-breeding.. Aboriginal kinship arrangements have that effect while also fitting people into social structures. Those arrangements probably evolved with time. We cannot assume that those holding among Aboriginal people at the time of European occupation were the same as those holding 65,000 years before.

Too a degree, too, this type of arrangement depends upon population size. In-breeding is more common among smaller groups.    

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The construction of comfort: building upon the necessities of shelter

Balala Station: one of the original slab hut homesteads subsequently extended. This is the sixth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture. 
Next post.

While the first mansions such as Dalwood House or Lake Innes House were emerging in the Hunter or at Port Macquarie, the first slab huts now being built on the New England by the European occupiers remained rough structures, quickly constructed to provide shelter and a base.

This was a male society in which comfort ranked second to the basic necessities of shelter. Even then, there were some who wanted more. Crown Land Commissioner George James Macdonald was one such.

A sometimes melancholy and in the end tragic poet, Macdonald was a neat man whose sensibilities demanded order and a degree of comfort. When in March 1843 a party travelled up from the civilisation of Port Macquarie to attend the Armidale races, one of the party (Mrs Annie Baxter) expressed surprise at the Commissioner’s hut. While small and badly finished, it was well and tastefully furnished.

As women and then children arrived over the first decade after occupation, more was required. In some cases, the original homestead was extended or incorporated into new structures.

At Balala south of Uralla, the original homestead built by George Morse and Thomas Toule in 1841 became part of a complex around a courtyard. On one side was a slab schoolroom and bedroom, on the other bedrooms built in part of basalt and granite.

In other cases, new buildings were constructed. On Ohio outside Walcha, Abraham and Mary Nivison purchased the Ohio run outside Walcha in 1842 and moved into the original slab homestead standing on the property. Nivison wanted a better home for his family and began construction of a new homestead.

The first stage was finished in 1845. It included four bedrooms, a hipped roof structure and chimneys in every room and was built of stone rubble and covered with a lime mortar render. The design and construction method drew in part from Dumfriesshire in Scotland where Abraham and Mary were born.

With increasing prosperity, the homestead was renovated in the 1850s. A new kitchen and store were added, while the roof was raised to accommodate a loft. Six dormer windows were installed which remain a distinctive feature of the home’s appearance today. .

To my knowledge, dormer windows are not a feature of colonial New England architecture. I can’t help wondering, I don’t know, whether or not Ohio’s windows influenced the later design of Armidale’s Mallam House.

I will continue this story next week looking at what was, in may ways, the golden age of New England homestead and construction design.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 11 October 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Local history stories New England media - weekly round up 2

It is actually just over two weeks since my last round-up, but I do want to maintain the weekly format if I can. Please let me know if there are stories that I have missed. That way the series builds up as a resource for all those interested in local histories within the North.You can find the whole series by clicking on local history under labels on the sidebar.

To this point I have not included my own columns in these round-ups because I post them here anyway, if with a lag. However, it does seem sensible now to include them, partly for the sake of completeness, partly because some columns run in more than one paper. Because my columns often span areas, I am including them under a new heading, broader New England.

Broader New England

Balala Station: one of the original slab hut homesteads subsequently extended to increase comfort and meet new needs.

I have continued my series on the built landscape and architecture of New England. The latest columns:are:
  • Number six in the series: The construction of comfort: building upon the necessities of shelter looks at the extension and replacement of the initial crude slab hut homesteads to increase comfort and accommodate families. 
  • Number seven in the series: A new wave of mansions (the first wave was in the Hunter and at Port Macquarie) traces the start of the second major homestaed mansion building phase begun by second generation settlers as wealth accumulated.   . 
Northern Rivers

At ABC North Coast, Kim Honan's Curious North Coast: Why were camphor laurel trees introduced in the Northern Rivers region? (4 October 2017) looks at the story of an introduced tree loved by many, loathed by others.

Newcastle and the Hunter

In The Singleton Argus, Elise Pfeiffer reports (11 October 2017) on problems facing the Singleton Museum. It's a good museum. I took the kids several times on our way north to Armidale. In an earlier story in the Argus that I had missed ( Ready for its official launch 'The Round Ball' the history of Association football in Singleton), Louise Nichols reports on the launch of a history of soccer in Singleton.

At Muswellbrook, the Muswellbrook Chronicle's Betina Hughes reports (Muswellbrook Shire Local and Family History Society launch two books for 2017 History Week, 5 September 2017)  on the launch of two local history books written by former Muswellbrook High School teacher Bruce James, Muswellbrook in Picture 1985 and an updated version of Another Walk Through the Town.

Greta Migrant Camp. Photo Maitland Mercury

In the Maitland Mercury, New England's oldest surviving newspaper (the Armidale Express is second), Lachlan Leeming's Memories of a Greta camp kid: Paul Szumilas reminisces on migrant camp childhood ahead of reunion (12 October 2017) records the memories of one of those who lived at the Greta Migrant Camp. This camp forms an important part of Australia's post war history. Lachlan's articles includes links to earlier articles that between them create a valuable picture of the camp and those who lived there for a period.

In the Newcastle Herald, Hunter valley military historian David Dial's Centenary of the Great War (4 October 2017) provides a snap shot of that war along with Hunter Valley enlistments and deaths for the period 1-7 October 1917. For those Facebook, David has a page dedicated to Hunter military history.

Western Slopes and Plains

Back on 2 July 2017, the Northern Daily Leader's Gunnedah's AgQuip celebrates 45 years in August provided an overview of the history of this iconic event. I hadn't seen it before and record in now because it is an interesting and important story that forms part of a bigger canvas.

On 12 October 2017, the Moree Champion had an advertising feature Moree Uniting Church is marking its  150th anniversary that provides a useful overview of the history of the church in Moree.

Northern Tablelands

In the Glen Innes Examiner, Eve Chappell  continues her explorations into local history:
In the Inverell Times, the history reports include:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grand designs for early Northern NSW homes

Lake Innes House: An 1837 oil painting of Lake Innes House then at the peak of its luxury. The house is now in ruins. This is the fifth in my new series on New England's built landscape and architecture. 

European occupation came to Northern New South Wales in waves, waves that are reflected in the varying pattern of the built environment across the North.

The Hunter Valley was first occupied as a penal colony. In January 1812, a small number of convicts were allowed to take up land for farms. From 1817, further settlement was allowed, but it was not until the opening of the penal colony at Port Macquarie in 1821 and the subsequent closure of the Newcastle penal colony that Valley was opened to full European occupation.

From 1826, squatters from the Hunter Valley and Hawkesbury began to seek grazing beyond the Liverpool Plains. In 1830, the Port Macquarie area was opened for settlement, creating a new route to the Tablelands. Whereas those in the Hunter and at Port Macquarie could gain full ownership of land by grant or purchase, those inland or further north were simply squatting on the land.

By the time the New England squatters were building their first slab huts, an established built landscape had emerged further south, one that we can still see today.

The presence small farmers meant that there were smaller homesteads, while some owners began the construction of New England’s first grand homes. The remains of two very early examples survive today.
Fine example: Dalwood House south view from the river. The French doors open into a central courtyard, creating air flows. 
In 1829 in the Hunter, George Wyndham began the construction of Dalwood House, a house later memorialised in Judith Wright’s Generations of Men.

A National Trust property included in the Australian Government’s Register of the National Estate, Dalwood House is the oldest known example of an Australian house built in the Georgian Grecian style that was becoming so popular.

Probably designed by Wyndham himself, the house is built of locally quarried stone and bricks fired on the site with cedar for the fine joinery cut from trees on Edward Gostwyck Cory’s nearby Gostwyck holding on the Patterson River.

It was Cory who discovered the route over the Moonbi Range later followed by the Great North Road and then established Gostwyck, Terrible Vale and Salisbury Plains stations.

Less remains of the second grand house, Lake Innes House built by Archibald Clunes Innes near Port Macquarie using convict labour. .Construction began soon after Innes arrived back in Port Macquarie in 1830 to take up a land grant and continued over much of the next decade.

By 1840, the house had 22 rooms with an underground cistern, a bathroom, privies and a boiler for providing hot water, providing a base for the lavish entertainment and hospitality .Separate bachelor quarters, servants quarters and an estate workers village were nearby, as well as stables and various farm building.

The ruins at Lake Innes are now administered by the NSW Parks and Wild Life Service which offers guided tours. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 4 October 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017. 

Saturday, October 07, 2017

New evidence of possible early (c220,000 years ago) Neanderthal Homo Sapiens interbreeding

Interesting story in Science by Ann Gibbons (Neandertals and modern humans started mating early  Jul. 4, 2017 , 11:00 AM). The piece begins:
For almost a century, Neandertals were considered the ancestors of modern humans. But in a new plot twist in the unfolding mystery of how Neandertals were related to modern humans, it now seems that members of our lineage were among the ancestors of Neandertals. Researchers sequenced ancient DNA from the mitochondria—tiny energy factories inside cells—from a Neandertal who lived about 100,000 years ago in southwest Germany. They found that this DNA, which is inherited only from the mother, resembled that of early modern humans. 
After comparing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with that of other archaic and modern humans, the researchers reached a startling conclusion: A female member of the lineage that gave rise to Homo sapiens in Africa mated with a Neandertal male more than 220,000 years ago—much earlier than other known encounters between the two groups. Her children spread her genetic legacy through the Neandertal lineage, and in time her African mtDNA completely replaced the ancestral Neandertal mtDNA.
Anne's article is based on a 4 July 2017 report in Nature Communications, Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals by Cosimo Posth, Christoph Wißing, Keiko Kitagawa, Luca Pagani, Laura van Holstein, Fernando Racimo, Kurt Wehrberger, Nicholas J. Conard, Claus Joachim Kind, Hervé Bocherens and Johannes Krause.

I suggest reading Anne's piece first and then the source article. This includes some very interesting material, including methodology and qualifications.  

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Building a country landscape

Deeargee shearing shed: Designed and built in 1872 by Alexander Mitchell, this shearing shed with its tiered roof shows the influence of galvanised iron on New England building.This is the fourth in my new series on New England's built landscape and architecture 

There are may ways of classifying the built landscape. Those interested in architecture, for example, focus on architectural styles, usually setting these in a British or European or, later, American context.

While this is a useful and valid approach, I find it confusing because of the number of identified styles.

Some architectural histories, for example, list four styles for the old colonial period (1788-c1840), fifteen for the Victorian Period (c1840-c1890) and twelve for the Federation Period (c1890-c1915). This is hard to manage in a general sense, harder still when the architecture of an area has few or no examples of a style or varies from the conventional classification.

A second way of classifying the built landscape focuses on building materials and methods. Here the industrial revolution transformed building by introducing new materials and associated building technology.

Corrugated galvanised iron or steel more normally know just as corrugated iron is a feature of many parts of New England’s built landscape.

Corrugated iron was invented in the 1820s by Henry Robinson Palmer, architect and engineer for the London Dock Company. It was robust and relatively light weight. As shipping improved and then with the spread of the railways, it became almost ubiquitous in country Australia and New Zealand.

Corrugated iron was used in roofing, creating the roofing pattern you can see in many New England centres including Armidale. It was used in farm buildings, including the shearers’ quarters and woolshed that used to be an ever present feature of New England’s built landscape. Most were simple structures, although the 1872 Deeragee woolshed outside Uralla remains as a unique and spectacular example of shearing shed construction.

A third way of classifying the built landscape focuses on purpose. Why was the building created, how was this done, how did it work? This approach has been really popularised by the UK Grand Designs program with its focus on repurposing industrial buildings for new uses. while recognising their original heritage.

No approach is perfect. In this next part of our journey through New England’s built landscape I am going to take purpose as an entry point, focusing first on the homestead.

The European settlers who occupied Aboriginal lands from 1788 came with limited resources. For those who had travelled north often spending weeks sleeping under drays or canvas, the first priority was to build a base as quickly as possible, Then out huts had to be built for the shepherds or stockmen who guarded the flocks and herds.

The result was the slab hut. Nearby trees were cut and then sawed into a suitable length. These were then split into lengths using a maul and wedge. Rafters were erected on top to create a pitched roof that was covered with bark held down by weights.

The slab hut was a relatively quick and ready shelter that while draughty and uncomfortable at least provided a working base.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 27 September 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.