Old news from Armidale and New England

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June 1925: Oil In New England.

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Glen Innes Examiner, Monday, 29 June, 1925


Company Formed.

A Company, No Liability, to be called ‘The Northern Shale and Oil Prospecting Company,’ is being formed—with a capital of £4000 divided into 200 shares of £20 each. A contract entered into on behalf of the proposed company is dated June 2, 1925, and made between William James Mulligan (of Cangai, grazier), James Henry Mulligan (of Mosman, Sydney, company director), Robert John Mulligan (of Cooney Creek, near Armidale, grazier), and Joseph John Glasser (of Brockley, near Guyra, grazier), vendors, of the one part, and Harold Joseph Price, of Grafton, articled clerk (trustee of the proposed company), of the other part, for the acquisition of the vendors’ rights over the mining properties particularised in the prospectus, and for the appointment of Mr. W. J. Mulligan as manager of the company.

The company is being formed for the purpose of prospecting and developing certain mineral lands near Wongwibinda Station, close to the surveyed route of the proposed Guyra-Dorrigo railway line. Mr. W. J. Mulligan, A.I.M.M., well known as the successful manager of Cangai copper mine, reports that the shale, and particularly the valuable deposits which occur in it, are rich in hydro-carbons, and that among the many derivative products to be secured from the deposit which is found are included motor spirit and oil, which can be extracted by low temperature distillation, and in addition there appears ground for expecting also a substantial production of gas for town gas purposes and for power production on a large scale.— “Express.”

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January 19, 2021 at 3:27 pm

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News from around Armidale, August 1865.

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The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893), Saturday 19 August 1865

District News.


GUYRA AND GARA STATIONS – This long-pending case, which had been referred to Messrs. Oliver and Greaves, has been submitted to an umpire, who, for a few days past, has taken all the evidence, which has been, as usual in cases of this kind, conflicting. The award, I hear, will shortly be made, and it may possibly end this lengthy affair, caused in the first instance, doubtless, by the different runs not having been properly described when taken possession of by the owners.

Grafton Road – A petition to the Minister for Lands is now being numerously signed, for transmission to Sydney, and it is hoped that this road, so beneficial to the interests of both this town and Grafton, will at once be placed under proper repair, at least so far as the sum voted will allow of.

Our Hospital – I am glad to report that the efforts of our collectors in town have been so far successful in the work of charity; and though not any of the lists have yet been handed in as complete, I hear that many of our townsmen have most liberally contributed to assist the funds.

Coroner’s Inquest – Mr Markham, our district coroner, held an inquest on Wednesday last, at Mr Galvin’s inn, on the remains of a shepherd who came into Armidale for medical relief. Several witnesses were examined, and the verdict was, “Died from natural causes.” The deceased was named William Weeks, and prior to his death gave over about £40 to Mr Galvin, requesting to be buried in a respectable manner. Mr. Galvin complied with his request, and the remains were consigned to the grave in a hearse and full-mounted coffin. The balance in hand will be given over to the Government, as it did not appear that he had any relations or friends near.

Our School of Arts. – We are most likely to have a boisterous meeting next Friday, which has been called for by three members and subscribers contending that the late election to the offices of president, vice-president, &c, was illegal, and not in accordance with the bye-laws of the institution. It will be, of course, an evaporation for the time being, and end in a nine days’ wonder. I do not offer any opinion as to these contests.

Rifle Corps. – This corps is likely, I hear, to be established. The preliminary meeting to propose rules, &c, was favourable to the affair, and it may be inferred that Armidale will shortly add, to other signs of advancement, a military force, consisting of many of our young men, possessed of ardour in the cause of “protection,” when needed against an aggression which at any future period may be attempted, the hon. secretary to the meeting will no doubt use his best endeavours to further the movement.

Streets. – A new culvert is nearly completed at the east end of Beardy-street; and, though these culverts are now and then complained of by a few, they seem to be well formed of the material to hand, and our municipal officers seem determined not to be in debt if possible – a praiseworthy resolution.

Our racecourse. – The appearance of the grandstand on this ground is most unsightly. We have a racing committee, and the repairs of this shed, or an improvement in its appearance, is worthy of notice, and I trust that the attention of the committee may be attracted to this scaffolding. Query, whether is be safe in its present shaky days?

Bridge in Marsh street – The tenderer for the getting and delivery of timber is to have it on the ground by the 1st September next. The sum tendered for £15.

Butchers Meat – I observed a large draft of cattle en route toward our town on Sunday last and no doubt these fetched full prices. The high price of cattle published in your and the Sydney papers, leave little doubt but that our friends of the “cleaver” will be making a good thing, consequent upon the sudden rise – I cannot say unexpected, for, with the severity of the season, no other conclusion could be arrived at.

Grafton Mail – It is impossible to state when the usual regularity of the departure and arrival of this mail will be resumed. On Sunday last, at four p.m., no mail, and due on Friday last, at six p.m. Our residents are much inconvenienced by this failure, and I trust that a fresh tended may be accepted on the 23rd instant, in order that we may have a regular transmission of correspondence.

Agricultural. – Our farmers are in good spirits at the appearance of the young crops, which is highly gratifying to those concerned, as well as generally. I hear that a large quantity of grain from the last season is still on hand, and our mills are now in full work; but fears are entertained that a rise in flour may take place, from the quotations at Sydney and elsewhere.

August 14.

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May 18, 2013 at 11:52 am

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Inverell – Guyra railway

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The Tamworth Daily Observer (NSW : 1911 – 1916), Tuesday 21 March 1911

The Chief Commissioner for Railways, examined by the Decentralisation Commission, says the best route for railway communication between the North-West and a port north of Trial Bay would be from Inverell through Guyra and Guy Fawkes, to join at Dorrigo railway, which has already been sanctioned between Dorrigo and Glenreagh; and that the proposed line from the neighborhood of Walcha to Woodside on the North Coast line would give the best communication with Port Stephens.

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May 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Criminal business

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Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW), Saturday 20 February 1897

At the Armidale Hospital on Feb. 11 a man named Robinson Crusoe pleaded guilty to a charge of receiving property stolen from the Imperial Hotel, Armidale. On February 12 the accused was sentenced to two years and six months’ hard labor. There were three former convictions against Crusoe. Richard Greentree, a youth, aged 16 years, was found guilty of indecently assaulting Alice Lever, aged 15½ years, at Guyra. The accused was sentenced to three months. The jury in the Rockvale larceny case were unable to agree, and were discharged on February 12. The accused McDowell was remanded to the next Armidale Quarter Sessions, bail allowed. Thos. Cooper, a witness in the case, was sentenced by Judge Coffey to three days in Armidale Gaol for appearing in court on Feb. 11 in a state of intoxication and unable to give evidence, he having been detained in the lockup since then. In the case of Brigetta Morton, charged with stealing fencing wire at Cooney Creek, near Hillgrove, the jury found a verdict of not guilty. This concluded the criminal business.

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October 3, 2011 at 8:09 am

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Armidale; then to Tenterfield by train in 1887

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The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Tuesday 21 June 1887

A Journey due North.

Armidale to Tenterfield.

(By Bruni in the Australasian.)

Armidale, the oldest and most important town on the New England plateau, is a place of considerable importance. It is the principal business centre of an extensive pastoral and agricultural district, of which it is considered the capital, and is the residence of a Church of England and of a Roman Catholic bishop. I find it is much smaller in size than I anticipated, and with no appearance of rapid advancement, but it has an air of quiet respectability befitting the leading town of a large and steadily-improving district. The oldest part of the town is situated close by the bank of the rivulet that runs by the place, and consists of a group of extremely quaint old-fashioned wooden houses, huddled together as if for mutual protection. The principal portion of the town is situated on some gently-rising ground on the western bank of the stream. The houses are built in a much more modern style than those of the first settlement, but here and there one meets with one of those homely square brick dwellings, with small windows, low ceilings, high shingled roofs, and attic-windows, that are so frequently seen in all the older towns of the parent colony. Though having no pretensions to architectural beauty, they are generally roomy, comfortable places to live in, and I have frequently found them inhabited by the children, grand-children, or even more remote descendants of the pioneers who erected them. They are solidly built, and though presenting often a somewhat weather-beaten appearance, will yet last longer than the more pretentious run-em-ups of later days. It is quite a noticeable feature in rural life in New South Wales that families should remain on the land taken up by their fathers in the early days of the colony. Sons and daughters may marry and go out into the world but there ever remains a representative of the family at the old home. This is quite different to what one finds in Victoria, where change seems to be the order of the day. Though the country is still so young it is a very rare thing to find a rural property still remaining in the hands of the original settler or his family. Even the farms that have been reclaimed from the stubborn forest change hands as readily as so many chattels. This may denote progress, but I am old-fashioned, and prefer the mode of life which obtains in these pleasant but somewhat sleepy old towns of New South Wales.

At the first view of Armidale one immediately perceives that the climate is entirely different to that of the country lying between Newcastle and Tamworth. The air is sharp and bracing, but with nothing unpleasant in it. In winter the climate is said to be very severe, but in spring, summer, and autumn it is admitted by everyone to be most delightful. A better holiday ground for the sunburnt residents of Queensland and the hot plains of north-western New South Wales it would be hard to find, and when the rail is carried over the short gap between Wallangarra and Tenterfield, New England will doubtless be a favourite place with those who are anxious to escape from the terrors of a Central Australian summer. The streets of the older portion of Armidale are narrow and irregular, but a marked improvement is shown in the newer portion of the town. No attempt has been made to beautify the place by planting trees in the streets, though nowhere have I seen the elm with such a splendid mass of foliage as in the gardens of Armidale. They were just touched by the first frosts of winter when I saw them, and the contrast between the yellow of the outside leaves and the dark-green of the rest of the foliage was very fine. English fruit trees grow well in this district, and so, I believe, would all English flowers, but one sees very few of them. There is a notable absence of cottage gardens, though pocket-handkerchief allotments were not the fashion when the town was laid out. Indeed, in Armidale a cottage garden may be said to be the exception and not the rule, and few of the larger houses have gardens. This is one of the peculiarities of the place that is at once noticed by a visitor. The business portion of the town is of small extent, and to judge by the appearance of the shops, the trade done is a very quiet one. The most attractive feature of the place is the pleasant villas that surround the town, and these have a very pretty appearance, peeping through the foliage of the forest that hems the town round. The little valley in which Armidale is situated is bordered by lines of low hills, composed of a poor white-coloured soil, with frequent outcrop of rock. The forest that clothes the hills is of a very poor description, stunted in growth, and useless except for firewood. These barren hills give one a poor opinion of the surrounding country, but almost immediately beyond them is a large extent of fertile land, scattered over which are many farms, the comfortable homesteads on which indicate well-to-do proprietors.

In the centre of the town is a large square, which has been planted with ornamental trees. Surrounding it are all the leading places of worship. I was shown the cathedrals of the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church. Had I not been told they were cathedrals I would have taken them for well-built, unpretending village churches. The Government buildings are extensive, and each department has a large staff ; Armidale being a Government as well as a business centre for the New England district. There is a large hospital just outside the town on a fine site. The public schools are of considerable size, and are attended by a numerous troop of sturdy, rosy-cheeked, young Englanders. The railway station is situated a considerable distance out from the north-western corner of the town, and, magnet like, is drawing the town towards it. A good deal of building is going on, the material used being invariably brick. A better building material could not be found than the bricks made in Armidale ; they are dark in colour, and almost as hard as flint. My stay in Armidale was a brief one, but I saw much that pleased me. Nature had done much to make this an attractive summer residence for the dwellers in tropical and semi-tropical Australia. The air is pure and invigorating, and nowhere have I seen anything so closely resembling the lovely turquoise blue of the Tasmanian skies as in Armidale. Even in winter the cold is not unpleasant, though the frosts are sharp and frequently last till late in the forenoon. Often in winter one may sit on the leaside of a house and enjoy the genial warmth of the sun, while on the shady side the air will be freezing. On such occasions the different sides of the street have widely different climates. It is a remarkably healthy district, and there is no tonic that I know of like the air of this elevated plateau. To judge by the substantial repasts prepared to satisfy the heroic appetites of their guests, this fact had been forced upon the attention of the local hotelkeepers.

Resuming my northward way, I left Armidale by a goods train after an early breakfast on a bright frosty morning. The train travelled at a marvellously slow rate, and I was thus enabled to have a good view of the country we passed through. About a couple of miles out of town I was shown the fine mansion lately built by Mr F. White. It is on a very pretty site, and overlooks the little valley, which is here of much greater extent than at Armidale. The train for a few miles passes through low hills on which a thin layer of cold poor soil produces only a forest of stunted, worthless trees. Then a welcome change took place, the light coloured stiff clay gave place to a rich chocolate soil, and the country was dotted over with pleasant looking and substantially built homesteads. Stock feeding is much practised about here and every little steading was surrounded by numerous large and well built stacks. I noticed that many of the farm horses in the fields we passed by were rugged, a sure sign of cold climate, and of care on the part of the stock owners. Much of the forest near Eversleigh would be greatly improved by ring-barking, but the practice is not in favour with the residents. Though we were now approaching the highest part of the tableland traversed by the railway, the views were never extensive, and only disclosed a series of low wooded hills in every direction. The formation was now granite, and the cuttings along the line were very heavy. This portion of the railway must have cost a large sum per mile, and for a considerable distance it runs through an almost uninhabited country, in which the natural resources are apparently very small. The line appears to follow the summit of the mountain range ; sometimes the fall is to the east, and then, again, it is to the west. On more than one occasion I saw the fall of the country east and west from the line at the one spot. At Black Mountain we had reached an elevation of a little over 4300ft. ; there was a bright sunshine, but the air was sharp and cold. Like the greater portion of the tableland, there was a large quantity of young timber springing up through the forest. From the appearance of the patches that have been ringbarked, clearing this country will be a very difficult operation, as, owing to the climate, the native trees have a strong vitality. Beyond Black Mountain the country is flat and swampy, and at Guyra the train runs by a very large marsh named “The Mother of Ducks,” but the ducks had deserted their mother at the time I passed. The formation about here is basalt, and if the surface were drained it would make excellent. grazing ground. At Ben Lomond we were 4471ft. above the sea, the highest point reached by any railway in Australia. The station is a pretty one, with comfortable quarters for the railway officials. The hamlet is small, the most noticeable building being a diminutive wooden church. To my surprise I saw a calico poster announcing the fact that there was to be a large sale of business and villa allotments on a day in December last. In a cutting beyond the highest point I noticed that the formation was still basalt. The descent beyond Ben Lomond is rapid, the train running down a narrow valley, and at times I got a view of a forest country extending a long way to the north, with blue mountains outlined against the sky. As we went on, the little mountain glen opened out into a large valley, and I got a fine view of the country to the northward. There were plenty of both cattle and sheep on the hillsides, and the grass was everywhere abundant. The lower we ran down the valley the more extensive became the flats, which were composed of the finest black soil. The temperature rapidly became higher as we descended the valley, and orchards, maize-fields, and small farm-steadings were frequently met with. The prevailing grass all over this country was kangaroo grass. Beyond a place named Glencoe we got into granite country again, and at Stonehenge passed an immense number of granite boulders standing high above the surface of the ground. The granite country lasted till we reached Glen Innes, where I anticipated there would be a halt for refreshments. To my intense disgust, there was a long wait, but nothing eatable or drinkable was to be obtained, and this is a country where the appetite is sharpened by the fresh mountain air.

Glen Innes is a small town, but a very “live” one. It is fully alive to the advantages of railway communication with the coast, and the inhabitants seem thoroughly in earnest in their determination that their town shall be the point of departure of the line to the coast and of that for Inverell. I intended stopping at this interesting town on my return journey, but unfortunately had not the time to spare. The soil around Glen Innes is remarkably good, and some of the very best is contained in the Furrucabad estate, lately purchased and cut up into farms by a syndicate. Though granite rock crops out all over the district, the soil is of the blackest and richest I saw in New England. The agricultural resources of the district surrounding Glen Innes are very great. After passing through a large area of rich-soil country, we come into a poorer soil on which there are very few habitations to be seen. The cuttings are numerous, and some of them very deep and long. We were rising again beyond Deepwater, and the incline was so steep at times that the engine could only just keep the train moving. On the summit of the range called the Bolivia Mountains a halt was made to let the brakes down, a precaution we soon found was absolutely necessary. If the hills were steep on the southern side, they seemed to be much more so on the northern side. The train plunged down among a series of wild rocky hills. The sudden curves on this part of the descent showed the necessity for strong brake power. In some respects this place resembles the famous Zigzag on the Blue Mountains, but to my mind is much more beautiful. The hills are wilder and the view more extensive, while below is seen a most charming valley, in which the groups of bright-foliaged apple-trees have a very fine effect. On reaching the valley I found it consisted of a wide extent of rich black soil, on which there was a heavy sward of grass. Here I saw a good many well-bred cattle all of which were in excellent condition. From below, the prospect of the mountain side, with the bold sweeping curves of the railway, was almost as attractive as that from the summit. Soon after leaving the Bolivia station night closed in, and the remainder of the journey was performed in the dark. The train reached Tenterfield a little after 7 o’clock, having taken 10 hours to perform a journey of 121 miles. The line from Newcastle to Tenterfield is 381 miles long, and there are no less than 66 stations on the way, an average of a station to every 5-2/3 of miles. During this long ride I was surprised to see so much good soil, the greater portion of which is as yet unimproved. It is a splendid country, and appears capable of producing all descriptions of agricultural produce in unlimited quantities. To me, the most attractive portion of the journey was the run across the New England tableland. With its immense area of splendid soil and glorious climate it has capabilities that are as yet undreamt of by the inhabitants. When the railway is completed to Sydney, and the carriage tariff arranged on a scale that will encourage traffic, there will be a great awakening all through this important district. In many respects the country resembles the plateau that extends eastward from Ballarat, but it is more than a hundred times larger. For growing all the fruits of a temperate clime, for dairy produce, for agriculture, and for grazing, I know of no district of equal size that can compare with New England, when the great natural resources of the land are fully developed.

Written by macalba

September 18, 2011 at 8:07 am

A Wright Wedding

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Wednesday 26 October 1960, The Australian Women’s Weekly

SIR BERNARD CROFT, Bt., and Lady Croft will entertain at their home, “Salisbury Court,” Uralla, after the wedding of their daughter Margaret to David Wright, of “Wallamumbie,” Armidale, at St. John’s Church, Uralla, on December 3. They’re hoping for good weather so that the reception can be held in the garden. Margaret will be attended by her sister-in-law, Mrs. Owen Croft, Frances White of “Bald Blair”, Guyra, Mary Thompson, of Neutral Bay, and youthful maids, her sister, Camilla Croft, and six year-old Anne Weaver, of “Prospect,” Spring Ridge.

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March 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

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Appalling Railway Accident

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Saturday 4 June 1887, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

(Armidale Express.)

A terrible accident, attended with fatal results, happened to a man named Michael Purcell, at Guyra, last Saturday night. The unfortunate man, who was a fettler on the line, was run over by the up mail train and killed. A coroner’s inquest was held on Monday. Later accounts show that the accident was one of a most frightful nature. The man is supposed to have been lying asleep between the rails, about 1½ miles on the southern side of Guyra, and 100 yards from his own home. The deceased was actually cut to pieces, and two bags of human remains were picked up by a search party from Guyra immediately the sad affair became known. The train was stopped shortly after it appeared to have run over something, and hair and portions of flesh and skull were found adhering to the last pair of wheels. It was then thought that the train had run over some beast, till further examination revealed the terrible truth, and human remains were found scattered for a distance of about 100 yards. From the hair and flesh adhering to only the hind wheels, it is conjectured that a great portion of the train must have passed over the deceased, who, waking from his sleep, attempted to rise, and was immediately cut to pieces by the roar of the train. The unfortunate deceased was a hard-working man, formerly an old resident of Walcha, and he leaves a wife and large family to mourn their sudden and untimely loss. We learn that the unfortunate wife fainted away on hearing the awful truth, and now lies in a very precarious condition. Mr. W. M. Stevenson and other residents of Guyra, together with the railway officials, are to be commended for their promptitude in turning out to search for the remains of the deceased as soon as the calamity occurred.

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March 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm

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Guyra Requirements

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Monday 22 September 1884, The Sydney Morning Herald


Sir,-Your correspondents from Guyra (late Mother of Ducks), on the Great Northern Railway, have informed you that a good deal of traffic has set in to that place. Of course all tin produced about Tingha, Stannifer, and Middle Creek goes there, and a good deal of the Inverell store and station supplies are also making for some place. But, you will scarcely credit it, little or nothing has been or is being done to the roads leading to it, which being as yet mere tracks in a state of nature, will soon be cut up, and after rains made almost impassable. May we, on behalf of the poor fellows who have to use them, ask your powerful help and aid in getting the powers that be to do something in time towards their improvement ? Again, we are sadly in want of postal, communication with Tingha and Inverell ; our letters only reach us once a week, and this in a round-about way. The Government have laid out a township, and are just about to sell same. It ought to have been sold ere this, so surely we are entitled to a post-office and mail. There is a good district round this place, and very little doubt, independent of the Tingha and Inverell traffic, a large amount of goods will be sent to and from. A post-office, I see has been gazetted for Inverella[1] Station (a most magnificent place on the line), and yet this place left out in the cold. By the way, the name given to that place – Inverella – is one that will yet lead to a deal of confusion in postal and perhaps goods traffic, and ought not to be retained, being only one letter different to the important town Inverell. You will much oblige us by a word in our favour. I had almost forgotten to mention that trucking yards for stock are and will be much wanted ; they have them at Booralong, a few miles distant, and I predict will seldom or ever be used there! Trusting for your aid,

I am, &c., GUYRA.

Great Northern Railway, September 13.

[1] Inverella Station (opened August 11th, 1884) was renamed to be Eversleigh Station a few months later, then again renamed to be Dumaresq Station (in 1888). GS.

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November 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm

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Kempsey area flood

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Monday 29 August 1949, The Sydney Morning Herald


Ray Borger, telephonist at Kempsey Post Office, stayed at his switchboard for 36 hours in three feet of water during the flood.

He was relieved at 10 o’clock yesterday morning, after the water had receded.

Girls who took over stood ankle deep in mud, while volunteer workers cleaned out the exchange.

Geoff McKay, telegraph supervisor, stood to his task and did not leave duty until 10 o’clock yesterday morning.

He came on duty again at 2 p.m.

The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. S. F. Kellock, said in Sydney last night that only 100 of the 600 lines connected with Kempsey telephone exchange were working.

Among the 100 lines operating were those of several doctors, the police station, the hospital, and the ambulance.

Mr. Kellock said he had received information that there was no lighting in the town and the service was not expected to be restored for a week.

The department, he said, had lines operating between Kempsey and Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and Taree, Kempsey and Grafton, Kempsey and Lismore, Kempsey and Port Macquarie, and two lines with Sydney.

South of Kempsey communications were cut off with Fredericktown, Smithtown, Summer Island, Pelican Island, Jerseyville, South West Rocks, Gladstone, Kinchela, Hathead, Clydewolla, Bellinboppina.

Mr. Kellock said that five lines were working with Brisbane, excluding one between Melbourne and Brisbane. One line was operating via Lismore and another via Moree.

Extensive damage had been caused to the telephone lines between Armidale and Glen Innes.

A number of places, including Dumaresq, Exmouth, Black Mountain, Guyra, Llangothlin, Ben Lomond, Glencoe, and Stonehenge were isolated.

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November 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Earth tremor at Guyra

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Wednesday 29 June 1938, The Sydney Morning Herald

Residents Flee From Homes.

The New England district was shaken by an earth tremor yesterday morning.

At Guyra the tremor was the most violent yet recorded, and many startled residents fled from their homes. Walls shook, windows rattled, and furniture was moved. The tremor began about 8.40. There was a loud rumbling noise, and the shocks continued for about three seconds. A well-known resident, Mr. Avers, reported that the car he was driving was moved some distance off its course by the shock. An electrical mechanic working on a pole at a height said the pole shook.

Other towns were not so severely affected. At Armidale windows and doors shook. Apparently no damage was done anywhere.


A very slight disturbance was recorded on the seismograph at Riverview College Observatory at 8.40 a.m. yesterday, but the record was so small that it was impossible to estimate the location of the tremor. The observer said that it must have been very slight and confined to a comparatively small area.

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October 31, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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