Wednesday, July 28, 2010
In the distance in Newcastle East is a row of houses with historical significance, is it because they are a good example of a certain age and style?
I know of two people who have past connections with the houses and the port of Newcastle.
Italian ancestors of a Newcastle-ite lived there in the beginnings when father worked on the life-boats. In another instance, the father of a family was one of those in a fatal accident on the drawn-out harbour deeping project in about the 1970s. Update: a fatal blast did occur in 1979 but my long held belief as to who was involved seems to be in error.
A curious story was part of the Italian ancestors background and went something like this.
A French entrepreneur adventurer 'get-rich-quick' Charles Marie du Breil, Marquis de Ray, overcame big obstacles and organised 317 people who sailed on the ship India in 1880 for a new colony, Nouvelle-France aka New Ireland in Papua New Guinea. Once there, in the jungles their situation became desperate - the remaining men, women and children undertook another nightmare journey to the penal colony in New Caledonia.
From there, the group became refugees to Australia.
Sir Henry Parkes did not hesitate to allow them to be brought to Australia as 'shipwrecked mariners'. 'After a year of arduous travel in search of better things, they were at last finding themselves in the midst of a heartwarming society in full expansion'.
Sydney-siders, including the big end of town, took up the cause of the new arrivals and provided help. ( in fact, some benefactors received honours from the Italian government).
The refugees settled in Sydney and far beyond. Some became part of New Italy on the northern rivers where crops, livestock and timber getting was established.
Today part of this venture can be seen beside the Pacific Highway - unless a new freeway bypasses it.
Turmoil - tragedy to triumph The story of New Italy by Anne-Gaabrielle Thompson ISBN 0 86774 000 0