The Quest to find Prendergast family continues.
Genealogy begins with you! To ensure that no stone is left unturned, we begin the challenge of putting the family history pieces together with the information that we already know but may not have collated about our family. Our siblings, parents and grandparents are our most immediate source of information.
We then move on to the next generation who by the time we commence our genealogy research may have passed on and we are relying on discovering details of their lives through older living relatives or at the various on line sites or at various repositories.
The most accurate way to gather information is to visit your living relatives and in a relaxed atmosphere, talk about their memories of family members. Along the way they may dig up documents to show you that you can then photo copy and add to your research. Nothing beats sighting a primary document.
It is always a good idea to let your relatives and the various repositories know of your plan to visit well in advance. Tell them what you are hoping to discover and enlist their valuable help. Once you have set your dates ask them to keep these dates free so that you don’t miss seeing them as they have prior engagements for these dates. This saves a lot of time and disappointment in not seeing that very special person that you really want to find that important detail from!
And so, the quest to find Prendergast family continues.
I decided that the fastest, most accurate and fun way to piece together the missing parts of my Australian branch of the Prendergast family is to visit them, sit down over a cup of tea and chat about what they know of the Prendergast family.
I have let them know that I am coming to visit through other relatives, emails and telephone calls. I have advised the dates that I will be in the region and when booking accommodation in these regions have let the owners know of my quest to find Prendergast family. Already I have had success!I have a team of very enthusiastic Prendergast family members, Archivists, Librarians, Conservationists and even local Mayors awaiting our visits. This is so exciting.
As you can see from the Map above this will be one epic journey. We will travel through 4 states, stay in 12 locations and stop every two hours while we are driving. We will cover more than 6,000 kilometers in 27 days and we will stay in 12 different types of accommodation. Everything from Riverside cottages, City Executive Apartments, B&B farm stays, Self catered duplexes, country homes, grand country homes to hotels and Motels.
Because the weather varies in each area that we will visit, we will need to pack seasonal clothing including warm weather and cool weather clothing.
We will also be traveling with our beloved fur baby Sasha the miniature Poodle so her needs will also have to be factored in to our travel plans. We will need to pack her bedding, food, safety equipment, grooming tools and toys.
And so the Journey begins.
Wednesday 8 February, 2017
We set out bright and early from our Cannonvale home in the Whitsundays with the warm wishes of our dear friends Lynnie and John, Jo, Dorothy and Norm who will all be taking care of our home while we are away. We drove along the Bruce Highway (so named after the Minister of Roadworks, Henry Bruce) through lush green tropical scenery, past fast growing Cane fields due to our recent rain and hot sunshine into Rockhampton. There we enjoyed a peaceful stay in our Riverside cottage.
Thursday 9 February, 2017
Following an early morning photo session of Rockhampton where at one stage I was given a personally conducted tour of the Customs house by the Surveyor on site, we continued driving on the Bruce Highway down to MiriamVale. We stopped off for a comfort stop utilising their well designed and spotlessly clean rest rooms (even have the signs in Braille) We sat under shelter at a picnic table in their well manicured garden with beautiful weed free lawns and enjoyed a delicious lunch of home made pies, fresh tropical fruit and a cup of tea.
After lunch, with a number of unscheduled stops due to the heavy road works along the Bruce Highway, we arrived in Brisbane at around 6pm. We dropped our baggage at our Apartment in Ascot, phoned Kellie my younger sister to let her know that we had arrived, did a quick freshen up and drove to her home for a great get together and delicious dinner.
Sasha was privileged to be able to come with us as Kellie has just moved into a beautiful new home and is very house-proud. Sasha charmed the family and behaved perfectly. We had a lovely evening reminiscing about the Prendergast family and heard hilarious stories about Ruffie the dog. He is quite a charmer! Excitement was in the air as it was the evening before Madeleine’s formal. As school Captain Madeleine had to make the formal welcome speech. Kellie was expecting 40 guests for a pre-formal party on Saturday night.
Friday 10 February, 2017
After a delicious breakfast at Ascot, we drove into the city of Brisbane where I made a bee line to the State Library of Queensland where I met with Rachel Spano who showed me the Lab on the 5th floor where the Library conducts Preservation, Restoration and Conservation. I then took the lift to the 3rd floor where I introduced myself to Stephanie who is the Ireland expert and conducted some research using Mocrofilm and Fische on the “Mutch” Records and by turning the pages of the red volumes of the 1800 census, discovered some very interesting details of John Prendergast.
Saturday morning the sun was beaming down and the heat during the day increased to 39 degrees centigrade. It was a scorcher!
We made a slow progress to Coffs Harbour along the Bruce Highway and stopped several times for toilet and water stops for Sasha. When we arrived the air was crisp, the sun was shining and and the beach was beconning.
We just had to take off our shoes and go for a run with Sasha along the beach. It was wonderful! We enjoyed a delicious lunch of fish and chips at a little cafe overlooking the fishing harbour at Coffs Harbour before climbing back in the car to continue on our way to Harrington and our over night stop at the Water Tank B&B.
After a long day’s driving, 8 ½ hours, it was such a welcome sight when Jan greeted us and in very quick time had a refreshing cup of tea with Banana cake and Anzac slice on the table in her conservatory room. Surrounded by rolling pastures of green, with the the blue Eucalypt clad mountains in the background, we couldn’t help but unwind from the days stressful driving.
We drove into the lovely new estate of Harrington and enjoyed watching the sun set and dinner eaten under the stars whilst sitting by the river. It was very romantic.
Photos of Harrington.
We slept soundly at Water Tank B&B and awoke to the sounds of bird song. We strolled past other farms and returned for a delicious home cooked breakfast of fresh fruit salad, yogurt, muesli, locally grown eggs that were perfectly scrambled and delicious coffee. A great way to start the day.
Sunday 12 February, 2017
We waved goodbye to Jan and started out again on the next leg of our epic journey. It was a blistering hot day. With catastrophic warnings of bush fires along the route we were to take, we made fewer stops along the way. We had no desire to get caught up in a bush fire. We stopped just twice for comfort stops for Sasha and to buy some delicious peaches that we saw signs for on the Highway. They were large, juicy and sweet. Perfect.
On our arrival at our duplex at Balgowlah, Greg was waiting to greet us. He even had a bottle of Champagne chilled for us. We decided to dine in as the change of weather had come through and the temperature dropped suddenly from 39 degrees to 25 degrees with specks of rain. We enjoyed a delicious Indian take away from an award winning restaurant, in Sydney Road Balgowlah.
Monday 13 February, 2017
An important part of traveling to Sydney is not only to catch up with Prendergast family members but to catch up with the Wood family children and grandchildren. We hadn’t seen Barry’s grandchildren since they came back from England where they enjoyed an exciting White Christmas with their other grandparents and had fun making snowmen and throwing snow balls at each other – a vastly different type of Christmas from what they would have experienced in the heat wave that has been affecting the New South Wales area.
We were also delighted to be able to pop in to have a surprise birthday party with Nicky bringing flowers and Birthday cake to celebrate the day. The children loved it!
Tuesday 14 February, 2017.
We got up bright and early to a much cooler morning. The temperature has dropped considerably since the weekend. A welcome relief for the dedicated New South Wales Fire fighters.
After a lovely early morning stroll through the lush and picturesque Wellings Reserve, we enjoyed a delicious freshly baked Muffin and great coffee at CKs Bites, Balgowlah Heights.
I then ventured into Stocklands Mall for a spot of grocery shopping but got waylaid by the sight of Berkelouw Books, operating since 1812 and drooled at their range of new, secondhand and rare books. I always find the most amazing books there and the staff are always friendly and helpful.
I had to tear myself away to buy lunch essentials and return to our duplex in time for cousin Mark and Elaine’s visit and trip to Campbelltown Cemetery to view Elizabeth Prendergast(nee Dwyer) grave followed by a visit to Waverley cemetery to view the Martyr’s Wall.
The grave at St. John’s Catholic cemetery is both very relevant and very sad. It is the last resting place of my 4x Grandmother Elizabeth Prendergast who died at the very young age of 39 years on December 6, 1847. Also interred in this same grave is her son Thomas who died 16 December, 1847 aged just 13 years. How sad for John Prendergast to loose both his wife and his son just 10 days apart! John Prendergast donated funds to the Catholic Church to establish the Catholic Cemetery at Campbelltown.
We drove back to Sydney and out to Waverly to visit the 1798 Memorial dedicated to all those who suffered and died during this rebellion. It is a magnificant structure built of Carrara Marble and situated over the tomb of Michael O’Dwyer, the Wexford chief. Inscribed on the reverse side is the name of many of the Martyrs. Father Prendergast and Patrick Prendergast are mentioned in this dedication
Week Two. – Go to Week Three
Wednesday 15 February, 2017
This morning I enjoyed morning coffee with Alison, a fellow genealogist whom I met at the SAG Society of Australian Genealogists Seminar at the State Library of New South Wales last November.
The Boilerhouse Restaurant was the venue for our meeting and the time just flew. We had so much news to catch up on including Alison showing me the beautifully presented and very well researched book that she self published in 2014.
I always enjoy chatting with other genealogists because I always learn something new. For instance, I learned today that in Scotland right up until recent times, Marrying couples exchanged their vows in the Wife’s family home and the marriage was then recorded in the church register. If the Wedding took place in a church, which was rare in those days, the marriage would be recorded as “in front of Congregation”. Also, burials were rarely recorded but if the family of the deceased hired a burial cloth to cover the coffin, a record of this transaction was recorded. If a family was wealthy enough to own their own Burial cloth, there was no record of the hire of the cloth, therefore no monetary transaction and therefore no burial record. We had a very interesting and enjoyable morning.
This afternoon Barry, Sasha and I drove to Windsor to meet with the Hawkesbury Council Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett.
I had written to Cr. Lyons-Buckett and told her about my impending trip to Ireland in May this year where I will deliver a paper at the Clans and Surnames Conference in Nenagh, Tipperary followed by my hosting a High Tea at Enniscorthy Castle on May 30th.
I asked Cr. Lyons-Buckett to write a letter to Chairman Wexford County Council Paddy Kavanagh and proudly explain the historical role that the Prendergast family along with all the Rebels, Convicts and other immigrants played in being first settlers in the Hawkesbury region and in helping Australia to become the wonderful country that it is today.
With the help of the lovely Robyn, Cr. Lyon-Buckett’s Executive assistant who liaised with me for a couple of weeks, I was able to drive to Hawkesbury to collect the letter today.
Cr. Lyone-Buckett was in chambers and graciously invited me in for a chat and then presented me not only with a warm and welcoming letter addressed to Cllr. Kavanagh, but also with the most beautiful present to take to Enniscorthy in May to present to him as well. This presentation will take place at the High Tea in Enniscorthy Castle. I was also thrilled to be given a Corporate pin that has the Stylised letter “H” representing the river, land and sky. I will wear this pin with pride during my visit to Ireland.
I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet with Cr. Lyons-Buckett and very grateful that she had made the time to sit and chat with me today.
Thursday February 16, 2017
Cousin Mark collected me from the Duplex in Balgowlah at 9.30 am to begin a day of following the Prendergast trail in the Hawkesbury area. He took me to the farms that our 5x Grandfather John Prendergast, his sons John Prendergast Jnr. and half brother James Prendergast farmed the land.
The first land grants were at Currency, Pitt town, Cornwallis and other areas in the Windsor area. It was interesting to note that although much of the land is being used to grow Turf, some of the original land has Wheat and Maze crops along with Vegetables growing on it. There were also fruit trees lining the Hawkesbury river, areas we know that John Prendergast first farmed.
After our drive around the outer Hawkesbury areas, we drove into Windsor and decided to visit the St. Mathews church of England which was established in 1820, hence a number of Roman catholic deceased had their burial services held in this church but on their death certificates were noted as “buried by the Catholics”. The Catholic St. Mathew’s church was established in 1840. Our John Prendergast’s burial service was held on 29th January, 1833 at the Church of England St. Mathew’s church as the Catholic St. Mathew’s church was not built at the time of his death.He has the notation buried by the Catholics marked on his death certificate.
As we drove to the St. Mathew’s church of England a Funeral was taking place with all the pomp and circumstance bestowed upon a dignitary. We learned that a retired Air force Commodore was being buried and he received full military honours with a guard of honour along the road outside the church yard as the Hearse drove through and a fly over by two RAAF Hercules. It was a very moving ceremony.
After our visit to Windsor we drove to the site of the Vinegar Hill battle in Australia that took place in 1804. This was a continuation of the battle of Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy that took place in 1798. The Rebel Convicts who staged this battle were severely punished, some being hung, the others flogged.
This evening Mark organised a family picnic at Clontarf where I was delighted to meet 3 generations of the Prendergast family. We toasted the event with Champagne and enjoyed delicious picnic food including a very tasty Rocky Road made by Elaine my 4th Cousin. It was a really lovely evening
Friday February 17, 2017
Up before dawn to beat the traffic out of Sydney, we had a dream run from Balgowlah to Benalla stopping briefly to buy a Peach Pie at Bryant’s Pie shop in Goulburn. Buying pies at Bryant’s Pie shop has been a family tradition in my Prendergast family for as long as I can remember. Every road trip that we took from Bairnsdale to Canberra or Sydney enjoyed a pie stop at Goulburn. And the pie today lived up to expectation. Delicious.
We made one other stop at the Gundagai Dog sat on the Tuckerbox memorial. This has always intrigued passersby and attracts a lot of tourists.
Saturday February 18, 2017
We departed from Benalla with the sun shining and at 8am it was about 18 degrees. Sadly the weather deteriorated as the day progressed.
We back tracked along the Hume highway to Glenrowan to take a a look at the sight where our famous Australian Bush Ranger Ned Kelly staged his last stand, a siege took place and he met his sad demise.This historic event has been captured on film and also poster documentation at the very spot where the event took place.
Along the route, we dropped into Seymour and stopped for a picnic lunch at the pretty riverside gardens and picnic site.
After lunch I took the wheel for the last leg to Mornington Peninsula. The Ring road proved a bit tricky and we ended up going the long way around. We took the scenic tour and skirted around the city. Upon our arrival in Mornington it poured with rain and the temperature dropped dramatically. I ended up having to buy some warm Winter clothes as I do not own any because it never gets chilly in the Whitsundays.
After we finished our shopping, we checked into the “Gables” a beautiful holiday house in Mornington. A lovely surprise awaited us with a gift for Sasha.She was thrilled with the treat and we were delighted with the lovely decor, attention to detail and the thoughfulness of the owner.
Sunday February 19, 2017
Our bed was warm and cosy and with a cold, wet and windy day to greet us, it became increasingly difficult to get up for the day.But at around 9am we departed for the day.
We decided to brunch at the award winning Winey Cow Restaurant where Barry enjoyed Waffles and I ate Scrambled Eggs on Rye toast.
After breakfast, we did a little sight seeing around Mornington following some retail therapy. It really has a beautiful seaside village atmosphere with great scenery and excellent shopping.
We visited our family in Mornington for lunch and enjoyed great food and conversation with the added joy of being able to spoil the Grandchildren.
Monday February 20, 2017
Today we enjoyed a quiet day in readiness for the continued driving of our epic trip tomorrow. We will drive from Mornington to Bairnsdale.
It was a cold, wet and windy day so we opted to catch up with our emails and conduct some research at the Mornington Library.
Along the drive we have found that not many of the B&Bs that we booked into have wifi so catching up on emails and writing my blog has been spasmodic at best. I have sat in the car near a Telstra booth, visited the Library and even sat in the occasional park where wifi is available. Not to mention asking friends if we can use their wifi.
This evening we again visited our lovely family who cooked delicious dinner of Lasagne with salad followed by a very rich and delicious Chocolate self saucing pudding. Yum!
Tuesday February 21, 2017
Up bright and early to a sunny and much warmer morning, we packed and departed from Mornington early.We had passed the turn off to Melbourne by 8am
Luckily we did as there was a tragic accident along the Tullamarine Freeway where a commercial Aircraft had crashed at Essendon Airport and all traffic was blocked. Although this was not our route, the route we took was affected with drivers looking for different routes to the city of Melbourne.
We made good time as the Princes Highway is well designed and very safe with very little road works taking place at present.
We visited Barry’s sister just outside of Churchill for lunch and then continued on to Bairnsdale where my Mum Lorna, a fellow genealogist was eagerly awaiting our arrival.
Mum and I have so much to catch up on but we were just happy to chat, enjoy a delicious Chicken salad and home grown Nectarines whilst Sasha played with the toy “Nanny” had bought her
We are staying at my Cousin Rodney’s lovely B&B “Henley” a former Church of England Manse that once hosted a concert in the Ballroom by the famous Australian opera Singer Dame Nellie Melba.
Week Three. – Go to Week Four
Wednesday February 22, 2017
This morning I took time out to have my hair styled at dear school friend Josie’s hair salon. I have know Josie since I was five years old. I always leave her salon feeling wonderful.
At lunch time I was invited to my sister Maureen’s home for a delicious lunch with family and friends to chat about family and exciting plans.
This afternoon I met with my dear friend Margaret. We have known each other since we were 15 year old school girls. Our lives have evolved but we have never lost touch.
This evening we dined at Mum’s home and discussed our plans to chat with family members to find out more about the Prendergast family history.
Thursday February 23, 2017
As the East Gippsland Mayor Jo Retino is on leave, I met with his deputy David Radford for half an hour at the East Gippsland Council Chambers. We discussed the role that the East Gippsland Shire council will play during my presentation at the Enniscorthy Castle High Tea on May 30th. David and the Mayor Joe Rettino are delighted to be involved and I will explain their role once it has all been confirmed. I am very excited about what the council of East Gippsland has offered to do to enhance the East Gippsland segment of the Australian presentation at the High Tea.
After a morning of shopping for essentials, we visited Mum and then the East Gippsland Family history group to glean information for our road trip to Omeo and Benambra tomorrow.
We later visited my lovely friend Margaret and her very clever husband Dr.Geoffrey Macfarlane(retired) who was awarded an OAM for his amazing work in the diving industry. We toasted our friendship in champagne and enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Margaret who is a superb cook. The delicious meal of Salmon with Asian greens and scrumptious Strawberry tart was enjoyed by all.
Their lovely home Cairnholme, a very historical and beautiful house built in the late 1800’s is now on the market as with all the family living away, it has become too large for them.I know they will miss living in it, as will I visiting as it holds many happy memories for all of us.
Friday February 24, 2017
The Quest to find Prendergast ancestors in Omeo and Benambra continues in earnest!
Barry, Mum, Sasha and I started out bright and early driving along the Omeo Highway. Our route took us through Bruthen, Ensay, Swifts Creek before arriving at Omeo. The road is sealed and well maintained but very, very windy.I was worried that Sasha was going to fall off the back seat even though she always wears her harness!
We popped in to the Terry Peterson art gallery and admired his magnificent paintings of the Victorian Plains. He has captured both their beauty and the pioneering spirit in his artwork. I was delighted to meet him in his studio as he was hard at work creating a magnificent oil painting of the Victorian gold field with all the gold diggers from around the world. He explained that the British gold diggers constructed square shaped mines but the Chinese made round ones as they believe that it is bad Feng Shui to build square ones as bad spirits lurk in the corners.
At Omeo I visited the Information centre which is also the library and the very helpful Tania pointed me in the right direction. She said that there was a resident historian who was very knowledgeable at the courthouse by the name of Jeffery Cooper in residence who knew everything that there was to know about the local Omeo history and its residents past and present. “Everything”? That is not possible, I thought. But Tania was right! Jeffery was an Encyclopedia and only too happy to pass it on.
As Barry strolled around the Courthouse, Museum and outer buildings taking photos, I gleaned a wealth of Knowledge from Jeffery.
The minute I asked if he knew anything about the Prendergast or Pendergasts as they are known around these parts, his eyes lit up and he said that the place was full of them! I knew that I had struck gold – which by the way was one of the reasons that people flocked to this region in the first place – the gold rush.
Jeffery showed me around the courthouse with photos of James and Matilda, the omeo Tennis team and various honour boards with the Pendergast names on it. We then ventured into the complex with outer buildings where the Pendergast wash house brought tales of children being cared for during the day while the parents were working. One of the activities that the children conducted was being given some flour and water to make paste along with bundles of newspapers and they would plaster the walls with heritage wall paper. These still remain today and when the anthrapologists visited and measured the thickness of the paper, stated that this activity had taken place over many years possibly dating back to the 1870’s.
We took photos of the beautiful “Snow Quilt” that two of the Pendergast daughters had crafted. It is made of flour sacks, cut into circles and sewn together. It is really beautiful.
After our visit to the Museum, we lunched at the Omeo Bakery in the outside area where Sasha was made feel very welcome. As we dined, Jeffery Cooper drove up and said “You were hard to find” He had hunted every where for us before we left town to give us some copied information for our research.
We drove to the various lookouts to take photos of the beautiful sweeping plains and mountainous region. The lake has plenty of water in it now and its mirror like surface added to the beauty of the Victorian High plains region.
We visited the Benamabra cemetery and I managed to get sunburnt whilst taking photos of the Prendergast graves. By then the temperature had climbed to about 30 degrees- a tad different from last weekend when it was so cold it snowed!
Saturday February 25, 2017
Mum Lorna had let all the Pendergast family in the East Gippsland region including the Victorian High Plains know that I was visiting Bairnsdale this week.
Judy Pendergast, a well known Pendergast family historian and Paula Connley(nee Pendergast), sister-in-law and great friend from Benambra drove down to Bairnsdale with a large collection of photo albums to show me. Paula is the sister-in-law of Ken Connley who is famous for being the stunt rider who made the daring horse ride down a steep mountain in the movie “The man from snowy river”
Judy and Paula showed me images of family members who I had heard about but not seen photos of. They could tell great stories about the different people and identify each family member in their large collection of photographs.Their knowledge is invaluable as I have no other way of finding out who each of the people in the photographs are.
We had an amazing afternoon sitting around chatting, laughing and reminiscing in Mum’s lounge room. Judy baked a delicious fruit cake laced with Brandy, Mum made a very yummy chocolate Ripple cake and I let the team down by buying scones!
With Judy and Paula filling me in on our family members and the antics that they got up to as well as me telling them of my research trip to Ireland in 2015 with the impending plans for my trip in May this year, the time flew!
Sunday February 26, 2017
The quaint township of Paynesville with a population of approximately 3000 people in the Gippsland Lakes area is the venue for the yearly Jazz festival each last weekend in February.
Paynesville was also our venue for a get together with old sailing friends at the Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club.
There were quite a few visitors in town for the Jazz festival and as we stepped out of our car I could hear the beautiful music in the background. A Pontoon had been erected on the Lake with the bands performing and people with their chairs sitting on the waters edge listening to the music and enjoying an outdoors picnic in the glorious sunshine.
Our friends had all gathered for a coffee at a near by out doors cafe when we arrived. We then strolled across the road together to the sailing club in the glorious sunshine admiring once again the sparkle on the water dotted by all manor of yachts with competitive sailors anxiously waiting to begin their Sunday racing.
As we sat on the balcony admiring the view and reminiscing about old times, a number of sailing friends popped by to catch up on all the news. We heard all about their sailing adventures and they heard about our life in the Whitsundays and my forthcoming trip to Ireland. It was a truly lovely gathering.
In the afternoon we returned to Bairnsdale via the cemetery where visited my beautiful dad and brother Brendan’s graves. Both died in the last year and a half. They are greatly missed and always loved,. The world is a better place because they lived in it and left valuable contributions to it.
This evening we enjoyed a healthy vegetarian Pizza and delicious Mango Sorbet made by my sister Maureen and enjoyed a delightful evening together in her lovely home.
Monday February 27, 2017
Lindenow, once famous for its dairy industry, is now world famous for the delicious and healthy vegetables it grows in its rich alluvial soil.
We had been told by a number of our friends how good “The Long Paddock”restaurant in Lindenow was and decided to find out for ourselves.
On entering this rural restaurant, I was impressed by the professionalism but friendliness with delicious smells wafting around. I could see all the delicious food being baked fresh for the day.
I introduced myself to the manager/owner only to find out Tania Bertino was the niece of a former school friend Rhonda. Tania had grown up “just around the corner from here” It is a small world!
We enjoyed the delicious rustic breakfast and sat outside in the glorious sunshine admiring the broad and lush landscape of vegetables growing with the mountain ranges in the background.
After our lovely breakfast, we drove around the countryside admiring the view and then continued on to Metung another area famous for its great sailing conditions and annual Regatta. The Pelican swimming on the Lake in front of the Metung Hotel seemed to be saying to me “take a photo of my best side, Jen”So I did!
This evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner at my mum’s home and then stayed on to watch the Oscar presentation show on Television. My sister Maureen who lived in L.A. for 28 years and has worked in the Television and film industry was very interesting to listen to as we watched the programme as she knows a lot about the background of the film stars and Oscars ceremony.
Tuesday 28 March, 2017.
Up bright and early to another day of driving, we said farewell to Bairnsdale and started on our journey to Cooma in the Snowy Monaro district of New South Wales.
We stopped for morning tea at Cann River, the “Venice of the East” as I like to call it, as it is the intersection of both the Princes Highway and the Cann Valley Highways.
The Cann River bakery sells gorgeous little dolls houses.
Once again the scenery changed as we drove along the Cann Valley highway through the Monaro district which at this time of the year is very dry but still incredibly beautiful. In winter the paddocks can be thick with snow.
We arrived at Cooma at lunch time and this afternoon I visited the Cooma Library where two Pendergast family members were waiting to meet me and discuss their branches of the family. Joan and Sue were most helpful and I learned a lot about the Prendergast/Pendergast family of the Monaro district.
I went to the Snowy Monaro Council office to let them know about my trip to Ireland later this year.
This evening we met up with my gorgeous brother Terry who had driven from Canberra to have dinner with us. We enjoyed a delicious Chines meal at the China Town Restaurant jollied along with friendly banter and lots of teasing and joking.
Wednesday March 1, 2017
I awoke to the sound of Roosters crowing, not a sound I usually hear when I wake in the Whitsundays. Outside our gorgeous cottage it was cold and foggy and the air took quite a while to warm up.
By mid morning we were on the road again. This time to visit ancestors at the Jindabyne, Moonbah and Gegedzerick Cemeteries. Barry did comment that most people went on holiday to visit living relatives but that I spent most of my time visiting the dead ones!
We located a lot of ancestors at these cemeteries but it was niggling me that I could not find John Pendergast/Prendergast Jnr. my 4x Grandfather.
We drove back to Cooma as I had arranged to go to the Snowy Monaro Council to collect a letter and gift for me to present to Cllr Kavanagh at the High Tea at Enniscorthy Castle in May.
I missed seeing Dean Lynch by just moments but he had a lovely letter and gift waiting for mewith his EA at the Council office for me. Thank you Dean. You really are a go-to Administrator and the Snowy Monaro Council and community is in safe hands during the transition period of the Council Amalgamation. I appreciate your kindness and I am sure Cllr. Kavanagh in Wexford will love your gift.
We returned to our gorgeous ” Woodvale” Cottage. A very cozy cottage made of stone and built in C.1853. Marie the manager takes great care of it and she popped in to say good-bye as we will leave tomorrow.
I mentioned to her that I was disappointed that I had not located my 4x Grandfather John Pendergast’s grave because we did not know where Cottage Creek Station was.
With that Marie’s eyes lit up. “That is just up the road!” She said. Maria knew the owners of the property and rang them to introduce us. She left a message on their answering machine as no one was home and let them know that we would like to visit the grave.Marie assured us that it would be fine to visit the grave even if no one was home as the owners were lovely people and would not mind. We decided that we had better get moving as it was getting late. “Be careful of the snakes” Marie quipped and with a few clear instructions we jumped in the car and raced up the Church Road. We got to the area that Maria had indicated should contain the grave of John Pendergast Jnr.
I would love to be able to tell you that”hey presto”, it was right in front of us. Sadly no, it took quite some time looking around as no-one was home. We drove over stock grids, up to empty houses, said hello to the friendly dogs, knocked on the house door, called out to the owners. We carefully opened farm gates, making sure to close them again so no stock got in or out. We walked through farm yards and finally, as Barry felt we should give up, I spotted a structure that Barry volunteered to take a look at. It turned out to be a water trough. Just as he returned to the car, Barry turned around and said “There it is!” I thought he was joking at first as it was so far away.
We drove down a dusty lane, parked beside metre high weeds, opened a gate, closed the gate, did the cow poo tango across the empty cow paddock and arrived at a rusty barbed wire fence. About then I decided to take photos of the graves from a distance use the zoom lens. I had no intention of climbing through this fence and getting scratched from the rusty barbed wire.
My hero Barry risked life and limb – and ripping his shorts to climb through this fence and take some great photos for me. I was so thrilled, but felt very emotional seeing the grave of my 4x Grandfather and I have made John a promise.” I will find your mother Catherine” I told him.
Thursday March 2, 2017.
After a quiet night in with a light meal of scrambled farm fresh eggs made with eggs laid by the farm hens at Woodvale Cottage, we arose to another cool and foggy morning.
The Monaro Highway from Cooma to Canberra was good so we made excellent time and arrived at 11am at “Abode”, the Apartment Hotel that is dog friendly and our next two nights accommodation .Our room was not ready so we came back and checked in at 2pm. We are very happy with the accommodation it is very modern but has absolutely everything you could possibly want. Jess and Daisy on reception are really nice. They even gave me a Bowl, Treats, a Ball and doggy bags.
While we waited for our room to be made up, we drove to the National Library of Australia and enjoyed a cappuccino at Bookplate, the al fresco cafe where Sasha was made feel welcome with a bowl of fresh water. It was lovely sitting in the by then warm morning sunshine.
I decided to undertake some Prendergast family research while I was at the National Library of Australia.
I have a membership card for the National Library so that I can access their online collection at home. If you don’t have a library card you can purchase a Temporary Ticket from a kiosk. This is available in any of the Library’s reading rooms. It can be used for printing, photocopying and scanning.
I found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Right from the Receptionists on each desk to the Librarians, nothing was too much trouble.
I would like to make mention of Scotia, enquiries Librarian, who when I told her about my Prendergast Quest and the Workshops that I hold at the Cannonvale Library, was only too happy to print out a copy of the handout that she has written on practical techniques for Document Conservation.
Conservation of family documents, how to fill in a Pedigree and family group sheets will be discussed in my “Workshop 1 – Getting started with family history” on March 15 at the Cannonvale Library.
Tessa, Librarian in the Family History department was very helpful when I needed to enquire about shipping records and how to find the latest information with historic Newspapers.
Friday March 3, 2017
Last evening at the closing of the day I saw the “Last Post Ceremony” at the War Memorial. I had been told it was very moving but to see it for myself, I had to wipe away the tears as the reality of the situation hit me.
Here was I standing surrounded by the names of 102,000 people who had all lost their lives fighting to defend out country. The service began with the Australian National Anthem and respect paid to the traditional land owners. This was followed by the story of one particular soldier read out, wreaths laid by the families of the fallen, a lament was played on the bagpipes and finally the notes of the ” Last post” floated to the heavens, there was not a dry eye. As one we repeated “We will remember them”
This morning I visited the National archives that is presently housed in the old Parliament House.The Staff were very friendly and Penny and Diep were very happy to help with my queries. The National Archives hold records since Federation which was in 1901 so I was able to find out more about the 271 fact sheets that can be downloaded from their site. One of particular note is the Guide to collections fact sheet 116 that explains what records the National Archives holds. Records for the years 1901 – 1992 are available
Sadly at present no primary documents can be viewed as due to the relocation of the National Archives to the new building that is due to open in July 2017.
This afternoon I returned to the War Memorial to participate in the tour of the First World War exhibition and to conduct some research on my Grandfather, Great Uncle and Great Grandfather.
Angela, a former Navy Officer and Volunteer took us on a 1 hr. 15 minutes guided tour and offered an excellent introduction to the War Memorial, the honour walls with all the names of the fallen and all aspects of the First World War exhibits. She was very knowledgeable and offered a very interesting tour.
I had a few questions that she referred to the Senior Archivist and historian Eric in the Research room. He expertly checked some information for me with very interesting results. I had always thought that my Grandfather was an Anzac. I now find that my Great Uncle Keith and my Great Grandfather James Pat Prendergast were also Anzacs. They were all awarded the Star Medal and each have a number printed on the page where their medals are listed.
A comment that our tour guide made that I believe is very poignant is that Parliament house is in a direct line of sight to the War Memorial. She hopes that each time a politician looks out his window at the War Memorial and reflects that there are 102,000 names of dead Australians on the walls who gave their life to keep Australia safe, that they consider the cost of war and that we never send our young Australians off to a foreign country to fight again.
Saturday March 4, 2017
This morning we started out early as we had a long day’s driving ahead of us. The weather forecast was for heavy rain along the coast so we decided to drive inland and follow the Newell Highway from Canberra to Narrabri.
It was 17 degrees, cold, wet, windy and at times very foggy. The road was slippery and very busy with trucks. It did not make for pleasant driving.
By the time we reached Cowra we decided to take a break at the beautiful Peace Gardens there.
Cowra is famed for imprisoning Japanese during the Second World War and there being a prison breakout during that time. The gardens are not planted on the site where the outbreak occurred but are a commemoration of the Prisoner of War camp just up the road.
I recall reading in the beautifully painted portraits of pioneers of the Monaro, a story about a Prendergast/Pendergast Prison officer who was awarded a bravery medal during the Cowra breakout. He quipped some remark to the effect that he never fought against the Japananese during the War and wondered why he was awarded the medal. He even stated that he had never traveled to Japan or been overseas. I don’t own this book so cannot check the details. If there is anyone reading this blog who can enlighten me, I would be very grateful.
We arrived in Narrabri exhausted and only too happy to have a night in at our Motel dining on take-away Chinese food.
Narrabri is World famous for its 6 2m Telescopes. Although we did not get to see them, I believe they are quite spectacular.
Sunday March 5, 2017.
Early on today it was just 17 degrees in Narrabri but by the time we reached the New South Wales – Queensland border it was in the mid 20s. At 3.3pm when we arrived at Kingaroy the temperature had climbed to 30 degrees, hot and sunny. There is a lot of new growth around this district so I feel sure that there has been considerable rain over summer.
Kingaroy is famous for its Peanuts, fresh produce and Flo Bjelke Peterson’s Pumpkin scones so I intend to sample their Peanuts, fruit, vegetables and Flo’s Scones before we leave.
Monday March 6, 2017
After another long drive of about 8 hours, we arrived at Byfield Creek Rainforest Retreat and true to its name, it really is a retreat. It was a cool haven to rest for the night. The lovely couple who own it, Jen and Barry greeted us on our arrival. They had the air conditioner turned on which we welcomed as we had driven through heat that reached 41 degrees at lunch time. The rainforest garden leads down to a very pretty running creek.
Tuesday March 7, 2017.
We enjoyed a very relaxing evening dining on salad meats, fruits and vegetables that we had bought along the way at Yeppoon and watching Television.
Byfield Creek rainforest Retreat
Wednesday March 8, 2017.
We woke up in our own bed today, the first time for a month. Over that month we have stayed at 12 different properties, many historical, along the East Coast of Australia. We have driven 7,800 Kilometres and taken 970 photos.
We have visited 6 cemeteries, photographed 30 Prendergast Graves, stopped at 10 Historical Monuments along the route.
I have consulted with Archivists, Librarians, Conservators, Historians, Genealogists and family members happy to share their stories.
I have been enthusiastically encouraged in my Prendergast family history research by the Mayor of the Hawkesbury, Mary Lyons-Buckett, Administrator of the Snowy Monaro Regional Council Dean Lynch, Mayor of the East Gippsland Shire Council Joe Rettino and offered warm letters of greeting to take to Ireland and gifts to present to the Chairman Wexford County Council Paddy Kavanagh at the High Tea I will host at Enniscorthy Castle in May.
I am looking forward to meeting with the Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Wilcox now that I am back in the Whitsundays and receiving his warm Whitsunday message for Councillor Kavanagh. I know that he is just as enthusiastic as the other three Mayors.
I have shared meals with treasured family members and met lovely family members who, before I began my quest to find Prendergast family in both Australia and Ireland did not know. The comment that Mark’s lovely Mum Elaine made was “I feel like I have known you all my life” And, do you know, when family re-unites that feeling is present. Family connections break down any inhibitions and it is really easy to talk and find out all the stories that put the pieces of the jigsaw together – that is family.