Old news from Armidale and New England

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News from around the Armidale Diocese

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The Catholic Press (NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 23 October 1930

Armidale Diocese.

His Lordship Dr. P. J. O’Connor, Bishop of Armidale, visited Sydney last weekend on business.

At the advanced age of 89 years, one of Bendemeer’s oldest residents, Mrs. Jane Burt, died on Saturday, 11th inst. The late Mrs. Burt was one of the most popular figures of the district, and was held in wide spread esteem. Despite her great age, she had a most retentive memory, and could relate to interested listeners entertaining stories of the days of long ago. For many years she kept a store at Bendemeer, and gained the reputation of never refusing to assist those who appealed to her for help. Her husband and three sons predeceased her, and the surviving members of the family are: Messrs. Thomas, James and John (Sydney), Selby D. (Geraldton), and Percy (Armidale). The funeral took place after prayers in Holy Innocents’ Church, at Bendemeer, Rev. Father O ‘Connor (Walcha) officiating. Despite the heavy rain a large attendance of sympathising friends paid their last respects to their departed neighbour. — R.I.P.

This year’s Intermediate class of De La Salle College, Armidale, is numerically the biggest in the history of the college, and, therefore a record number of students — 40 in all, and representing the full strength of the class — is being presented for the examination, a splendid picture programme was screened at the college last Saturday evening. An electric panotrope recently installed was used for the first time, and proved a great success.

The candidates for the Intermediate Examination from the Ursuline Convent, Armidale, commenced the test on Wednesday, and were 15 in number, the greatest number to be entered from the college since this examination was constituted. There are also four candidates from St. Anne’s High School, the secondary department of St. Mary’s Girls’ Primary School.

Rev. Father O’Connor, of Moree, and formerly of Inverell, has been transferred to Quirindi, as assistant priest to Ven. Archdeacon Harrington, P.P. Father O’Connor has been assistant at Moree for about four years. Rev. Father Tuttle, a newly-ordained priest, who is at present at Quirindi, will take Father O’Connor’s place at Moree.

A wedding of interest to both Armidale and Maitland dioceses occurred last month, when Desmond, son of the late Mr. J. P. Fitzgerald and Mrs. Fitzgerald, of Kunderang Station, Macleay River, was married to Gladys, daughter of the late Mr. J. and Mrs. Richardson, of Gresford. The marriage was solemnised by the Rev. Father M. Kiernan at St. Helen’s Church, Gresford. Dr. Charles Fitzgerald, of Lewisham Hospital, brother of the groom, was best man, and the bridesmaid was Miss Joan Richardson (sister of the bride). The bride, who was escorted to the altar by her brother, Mr. Alfred Richardson, was smartly frocked in beige georgette, with hat en suite, whilst the bridesmaid was charmingly gowned in powder blue crepe de chine. After the ceremony the bride and bridegroom left on their honeymoon, which is being spent on a motor tour of New South Wales and Queensland.

Written by macalba

April 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

A Kunderang / Moree connection

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Molong Express and Western District Advertiser (NSW : 1912 – 1922), Saturday 26 June 1915



The marriage of Mr. Joseph Patrick Fitzgerald, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Fitzgerald, of “Kunderang,” Armidale, with Miss Kathleen Bridget Cahill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Cahill, of Lavender Bay, took place on Tuesday, June 15th, being quietly solemnised at St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Lavender Bay. The bride, who was led to the altar by her father, wore accordean pleated ninon over flech satin and draped with white satin charmeuse and richly trimmed with silver lace and caught with true lovers knots of silver ribbon and finished with square train and tuelle veil, with wreath of orange blossoms; and carried a shower bouquet of white asters, tuber roses, carnations and maidenhair fern, a gift of the bridegroom. Miss Florence Cahill (sister of the bride) and Miss Aileen Fitzgerald (sister of bride groom) who acted as bridesmaids, wore ivory white ninon over shell pink satin and accordean pleated frill of pink ninon, finished with black velvet girdle and silver trimmings; black velvet hats underlined with pink, trimmed with upstanding tulle and scroll mount; and carried shower bouquets of pink roses, carnations, sweet pea and asparagus fern, together with coral and diamond necklets, gifts of the bridegroom. Mr. Des. Fitzgerald (brother) acted as best man and Dr. Fitzgerald as groomsman. Paston Cooper’s ” Ave Maria” was sung by Miss Madolene Cahill to the accompaniment of Miss Tracey (organ) and Miss Nonie Donohoe (violin), who afterwards played the Wedding and Bridal Marches.

A reception was held at Baumann’s, Pitt-street, by the mother of the bride, where the usual toasts were honored. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald left later for Medlow and Jenolan Caves, where the honeymoon is being spent, prior to their departure for “Krui,” Moree. The bride travelled in a smart navy-tailored cloth coat and skirt, black velvet hat with fruit and berries, and a set of handsome white Arctic fox furs, which, together with a diamond cluster ring, were gifts of the bridegroom. The bride’s present to the bridegroom was a gold sovereign case. The couple were the recipients of many valuable presents, including several cheques.

Written by macalba

March 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

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Prickly Pear Problem

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Saturday 21 January 1939, The Sydney Morning Herald


Re-growth Thriving.

The Minister for Lands, Mr. Sinclair, said yesterday that it had been demonstrated that a combined policy of biological and mechanical treatment was essential to cope with the prickly pear pest.

“As each year progresses.” he added, “it is found that methods which were considered right at one time have to be discarded in favour of newer methods of attack.

“Not only have we the old natural habits of the pear to combat, but it has been found that the plant altered its habits to endeavour to resist the attacks.

“In different parts of the State the results have varied. In the western division, north from Collarenebri, the regrowth pear has continued to thrive unchecked by the cactoblastis insect.

“In the Bingara-Inverell district, where the cactoblastis did excellent work over a considerable area early in the year, a heavy growth of young pear is in evidence.

“In part of the Moree-Boggabilla district much young pear is growing, while in other areas, particularly in the Belar and Brigalow, country, re-growth is very light.”


Mr. Sinclair said that in the Scone-Denman district the pear had been practically wiped out on the rough sandstone country, while on the basalt country a peculiar position had arisen.

On the lower country, he added, the insects were doing good work, while in the same class of country at higher altitudes they had failed to make any impression on the pear.

“To overcome the position,” Mr. Sinclair said, “Analyses of the various soils and plants are being made in co-operation with the Commonwealth Pear Boards.”

The Minister said that steps had been taken to collect cactoblastis, where they were plentiful, and distribute them in areas where they were scarce.

“While the dry season retarded the growth of the pear in parts of the State,” he said, “it had an injurious effect on the insects.

“Over a big part of the State, particularly in the Hunter River Valley, a very considerable area of scattered seedling pear has made its appearance. Special steps are being taken to require the destruction of this scattered pear before it fruits.”

Last year 461,883 acres of pear were treated by the Prickly Pear Destruction Commission. In addition, many thousands of acres were treated by land owners.

Seventeen prickly pear leases, comprising 13,797 acres, were granted.

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April 13, 2011 at 8:17 pm

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Aftermath of Murulla Train Disaster

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Wednesday 15 September 1926, The Sydney Morning Herald

Bodies Hurled in all directions.

Shortly after 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon Sydney Central Station became the rendezvous of numerous relations and friends of the people on the ill-fated train. Those assembled in groups of four or five around the indicator board which announced the arrivals of the trains from the country centres, and as the word was passed along that the train from Glen Innes arriving about 4 p.m. would convey the first batch of survivors, a steady stream of people poured through the gates of No. 1 platform till almost all available standing space and seating accommodation were taxed.

One of the first of the survivors to step out of the Glen Innes train which arrived on Sydney Central Station shortly after 4 o’clock in the afternoon was Mr. Manchee, grazier, of Moree, who was greeted by some anxious friends and relations. Mr. Manchee said the scenes he had witnessed were indescribable. For almost one hour the survivors were left to their own resources to improvise ambulance equipment and relief measures before assistance came. Fires were lighted on the banks on each side of the train, the splintered carriages providing the fuel. The work of rescue was made the more difficult through the darkness, which was relieved here and there by the spurt of a match flame as some group of rescuers groped their way after the sufferers inside the shattered second-class compartment. This compartment, on which the bulk of the rescue work centred, Mr. Manchee described as a shambles. The behaviour of the people was wonderful, and there was an entire absence of panic. The conduct of the schoolgirls in particular was exemplary. They did not scream nor show excitement, but quietly did as they were told.

Mr. J. Squire, of Camperdown, was another survivor who arrived by the 4 o’clock train. Welcomed by his wife on the station, Mr. Squire emerged from the train limping badly as a result of a crushed knee, and he bore his pain with quiet resignation. He was in the carriage behind the shattered compartment, and considered himself one of the lucky ones.

Another to escape almost unhurt was Miss Jones, of Katoomba.


A well-known Sydney business man, who was travelling with his wife and young son on the train, described the appearance of the shattered carriage as one of unforgettable gruesomeness. Heads, arms, and legs were jumbled up in all directions, bodies being piled upon each other in heaps. The whole scene was one of horror. The work of extricating the victims was extremely arduous owing to the darkness, and also on account of the closely wedged position of the victims, many of whom could not be moved, after levering or hacking away woodwork, without seriously hurting some unfortunate sufferer alongside.

A pathetic scene was witnessed as a father fought for an hour to save his ten-year-old son’s life. The boy, whose back was badly injured, lay at the foot of the ill-fated second-class compartment, and his father had literally to hack his way, piece by piece, through the wood to reach the boy, who bore his pain with splendid fortitude.

The bodies of the two men who were on the runaway wool wagons were found, both dead, one badly battered, near the railway fence among some bales of wool. The other had received terrible head injuries. Both had apparently been hurled several yards by the force of the collision.


George Smith, conductor of the following train, said that when he came on the scene he found that the carriage on one of the bogies had been completely swept away, leaving nothing but the bogie and the floor. He considered it was little short of a wonder that things were not worse, as the flames from the burning wool, which were shooting fifty feet into the air, might very easily have caught the train and the unextricated victims.

Survivors described their first impressions of the moment of the collision in excited and vivid fashion. One likened it to a “series of jumps, followed by a bang.” Another described his first impression as a rude awakening from sleep, a hurtling of portmanteaux through the air on to the floor of the sleeper, whilst he himself was tumbling from an upper bunk on top of them.

With commendable promptitude scores of the able-bodied survivors made for the scene of greatest suffering as they recovered themselves, and emerged from their carriages ; and rescue parties worked in groups of twos and threes right up to 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, some going on till daylight. The guard’s van was searched for ambulance equipment, but none could be found amidst the welter of mailbags and packages.


Sheets from the sleeper and handkerchiefs were used as bandages and bindings, and the cushions from the compartment seats were made into comfortable stretchers for the sufferers as they were lined out on the grass. One local doctor, a man of nearly 70 years of age, arrived on the scene in his pyjamas, scarcely an hour after the accident. Suddenly aroused from sleep, this gentleman rushed to the scene with first aid and surgical kit, and performed amazingly hard work in assisting the wounded, and helping with the rescue of the victims. One victim, a man was found jammed between two carriages, whilst a dead man lay wedged on top of him, and the rescuers were compelled to sever the dead man’s limbs to free the man below.


Two school boys, David Secconde, aged 12 and Tom Scholefield, aged 14, said that they were in the first coach of the Moree mail train at the time of the accident, and were precipitated on to the floor. They made a hurried exit from their carriage into some prickly pear by the embankment. Their carriage escaped damage. The elder boy was on his way to Barker College, and the younger to the Beecroft Grammar School. They came from Rowena.

Written by macalba

August 4, 2010 at 8:09 pm

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Train Disaster at Murulla

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[I recently published a news article about the formation of the “Armidale Newspaper Company, Limited”. Jim Belshaw followed up with a story drawn from his history of his grandfather, David Drummond. In that piece there’s a quote relating to the Glen Innes Examiner’s competitive streak having “got a good one on Tamworth”. They’d got the scoop on the story relating to a rail smash.

I’m now following up with the story of that rail smash. GS.]

Wednesday 15 September 1926, The Sydney Morning Herald

Heroic Rescue Work.
(From Our Special Reporters.)

The worst railway disaster in the history of New South Wales occurred shortly before midnight last night, when six runaway goods trucks crashed into the north-west mail between the village of Blandford and the Murulla siding.

The goods train had been pulled on to the Murulla siding to allow the north-west mail to pass, when the coupling joining the six rear trucks to the forepart of the train suddenly snapped. It is understood that the guard of the goods train was standing on the side of the line, directing the shunting operations, when the trucks began to move down the line. Although this official made a frantic effort to clamber on to the runaway trucks he was unable to do so, and they disappeared at a terrific speed round a curve in the line.

It was known that the mail train had passed through Blandford station, and those on the siding were sick with fear and apprehension, but powerless to avert the impending catastrophe. A few seconds later there was a deafening crash as the runaway trucks struck, with terrific force, the mail train, and telescoped several carriages. The red-hot coals from the wrecked engine fell on to and ignited several bales of wool with which the trucks were loaded. The flames most fortunately did not reach the smashed carriages, or a much more terrible disaster would have resulted.


The front of the engine was smashed in, while the two rear trucks of the run-away were reduced to a mass of twisted and shapeless steel. Next to the engine was a first and second class compartment, the occupants of which, with few exceptions, escaped with minor injuries. Next to this carriage was a combined first and second class sleeper, with the roof caved in, while the under-carriage had telescoped the third coach. It was from this latter carriage, which was for second-class passengers, that nearly all the dead and injured were removed. The coach, which crumpled up like a concertina, was smashed to matchwood, and that any one passenger should have escaped uninjured was miraculous.

Following the collision the scene was one of havoc and confusion. The screams and groans of the injured, pinned beneath the wreckage, intermingled with the agonised cries of children, many of whom were returning to school in Sydney, were heartrending. The passengers who had themselves escaped injury worked with all their might to free those who had been entrapped in the wreckage. The first work of rescue was, however, seriously hampered by the lack of axes, saws, and other suitable implements with which to cut through the wreckage, which held its victims pinned mercilessly beneath.

The burning bales of wool, which formed part of the consignment of the goods train, added to the terrors of the survivors, who feared that the wreckage might catch fire.

Mr. H. H. Wright, of Bickham, Blanford station, realising that something terrible had happened, roused half a dozen of his men, and armed with axes, the party was among the first to the rescue. The news of the disaster quickly spread, and within an hour 50 or more willing helpers were assisting in the task of hacking away the splintered timbers.

A preliminary inquiry into the deaths of the persons killed was opened before Mr. G. B. White, District Coroner, at Murrurundi, this afternoon. After formal evidence had been called the further hearing was adjourned until September 29.


A graphic account of the events immediately following the collision was related by Mr. W. C. A. Kay, a resident of Moree, when interviewed by a “Herald” reporter at the Murrurundi Hospital this afternoon. Mr. Kay, who was sitting with his sister in a compartment in the fourth coach from the engine, said that he had, strangely enough, just been talking about the recent train disaster at Aberdeen, when a terrific jolt, which was accompanied by a noise of splintering timber and breaking glass, threw him to the opposite side of the carriage. The next instant he felt his legs become pinioned, and found himself lying with the top half of his body outside the carriage window.

“It was terrible,” he said. “In the next compartment I heard a woman screaming frantically for help, and the piteous cries of a child. Somewhere in the wreckage underneath me I heard a man calling out, ‘For God’s sake lift this off me ; my breath’s going, “Im done!’.”

“I put my hand out,” said Mr. Kay, “and felt a man’s head underneath me, but, pinned in as I was, I could do nothing for him. Above me a man was calling out for his wife, but he got no reply. After what seemed an age, but what could not have been more than half an hour, I heard the chopping of axes, and a few minutes later I was released. One woman whom I helped to drag out had been knocked down, and was lying helpless over her six months’ old baby. The infant, which was on the point of being smothered, was rescued in the nick of time, and, apart from a few bruises, was little the worse for its experience.

“I was talking to the engine driver of the train in here this morning,” continued Mr Kay. “The engine driver told me that, coming round a bend he had been horrified to see the runaway trucks bearing down on him. He jammed the brakes hard on, but was unable to pull the train up. A moment later he heard the fireman shout ‘For God’s sake, jump.” His foot caught in a strap, and the next instant there was a rending crash, and he remembered no more.

“When the enginedriver regained consciousness,” concluded Mr. Kay, “he found himself lying in the tender, partially buried by coal. He was not seriously injured, however, and the enginedriver left the Murrurundi Hospital this afternoon, in company with a friend.”

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August 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

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Railway trucks derailed

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Wednesday 9 September 1908, The Sydney Morning Herald


MOREE, Tuesday.

What might have been a serious railway catastrophe was narrowly averted last evening at Mungie Bundie, eight miles from Moree. The driver of the incoming Inverell train noticed a sudden jolting, and immediately applied the brakes. He found six trucks derailed. The passengers were sent to Moree on trucks. The flying gang left Moree last night. It is anticipated the service will be in order to-day. Nobody was injured.

It is surmised the accident was caused by recent heavy rains.

Written by macalba

June 28, 2010 at 6:08 am

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Work recommenced on Moree-Inverell railway

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Wednesday 11 January 1899, The Sydney Morning Herald

MOREE, Tuesday.

Work at the Moree-Inverell line is now in full swing after the holidays. Platelaying, which had been discontinued owing to deficient supply of rails, has been recommenced. It is expected to proceed at the rate of 7 miles per month.

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June 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

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Cuts in rail services

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Thursday 30 August 1945, The Sydney Morning Herald

Result of Coal Shortage

The Commissioner for Railways, Mr. Hartigan, yesterday announced details of the restricted rail services which, he said, he had been forced to introduce because of the coal shortage.

The amended time-tables for country services will come into operation next Sunday, and those for electric services on Monday week, September 10.

The running of sleeping cars will be discontinued after the berths already reserved have been provided.

A cut of 15 per cent, in the number of trucks available for the carriage of general goods, but not perishables, took effect as from last Monday.

The amended time-tables include a reduction to one express train daily between Sydney and the neighbouring capitals.

The following trains will run on four instead of six days a week: Moree, Glen Innes, Cooma, Temora, Albury, South-West, Cowra, Mudgee, Forbes, and Through West Mails.

Trains reduced from six to three days weekly are: Northern Tablelands and Riverina expresses, Kempsey and Tamworth day trains.

The midday divisions of the Intercity (Newcastle) Expresses will be discontinued, as will also the Cessnock Express on Friday and Sunday nights.

Week-end tourist services will be reduced. Electric services on all lines will be at half-hourly intervals between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 11 pm., Sundays excepted.

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June 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

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New State Movement committee

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Friday 15 May 1931, The Sydney Morning Herald

MOREE, Thursday.

Mr. P. Wright, of Armidale, addressed a representative gathering here yesterday, where a committee was formed to assist the New State movement. Mr. J. T. Crane expressed his opposition to the movement, and added that the new movements were only disrupting the forces that should be united to overthrow Communism. The comittee elected was:-Messrs. J. T. W. See, E. J. Cory, H. W. Copeland, R. Thompson, U. Ezzy, P. E. Stirton, J. E. Tomlinson, H. Halstead, P. Murphy, and S. Boughton.

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June 2, 2010 at 6:02 am

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