Some great captures of the life and times of Lilyvale during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Times were tough for the hardly folk who lived in these areas.
Timeline: 1889 – 1911
.28th May 1889
On May the 28th 1889; seven months after the grand opening (3rd October 1888) of the Illawarra Railway, a heavy weather pattern descended on Sydney resulting in widespread flooding throughout the Sydney region and beyond. Telegraphic and mail communications were affected along with several land slippages. The line between Helensburgh and Otford was hampered by a land slip which caused inconvenience to the rail traffic. Source
25th April 1900
Lilyvale was host to some of the best timbers, (cedar and turpentine) in the area, which sprang forth a booming timber trade. The Bulgo Valley hosted several saw mills in the late 1800’s and beyond, with the felled timber being mainly used in the mines. James Forster created a mill at the southern end of Otford in 1899 and this may have been the mill sold to the following timber merchants.
The following appears in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday 25th April 1900:
Messrs. Gartham and Angus, timber merchants, of Hurstville, have purchased the steam saw mill at Lilyvale, and intend to make extensive improvements to the plant. A railway line two miles in length will also be constructed for the purpose of conveying timber to the mill.
Railway laid exclusively for the timber industry was very common during these times. I wish to one day locate the site of the mill and establish where that rail line may have went. (I’m assuming it tracked somewhere in the present day Royal National Park).
5th August 1907
Fruit growing at Lilyvale had become popular around 1907 with a great insightful article appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 5th August 1907.
Until latter years Illawarra has only been famous for its dairying and coal-mining industries, but the time is fast approaching when this district will take its place among the first fruit-producing centres of the Commonwealth. During the past 12 months many acres of land have been secured between Port Hacking River and Bulli for fruit-growing and market gardening. In the vicinity of Lilyvale large areas have been taken up both by purchase and lease. These blocks extend from on either side of the Port Hacking River at National Park to Otford. Mr. Marshall, who has purchased about 80 acres near Lilyvale, last year planted portion of it with fruit trees, and is now preparing to put at least 20 acres of his property under orchard. Mr. Marshall is confident of success, as before securing this land he was careful to note that fruit grown on adjoining property was equal to any that can be produced in the State. Mr. P. J, Carrick also purchased about 20 acres, and some time ago set out a variety of fruit trees, including orange, peach, nectarine, and plum, all of which are thriving. He has also grown samples of planter’s friend and maize, equalling that of the northern rivers. On this block vegetables of all kinds were grown to perfection, as well as the following grasses, which were planted by Mr. Carrick as an experiment, and their growth exceeded his expectation, viz, paspalum, cocksfoot, Rhodes grass, and clover.
A number of leaseholders have also obtained small areas in this vicinity, ranging from 3 to 40 acres, and many of them are already supplying adjoining townships with all kinds of vegetables, and have also planted orchards with a variety of trees. The following are some who have leased land at Lilyvale:—Messrs. W. G. Green, E. Johnson, C. Hargraves, J. Parker, John Emmett, T. Biffen, J. Williams, and C. Pederson. Mr. Pederson berries. Last year he planted a small portion of his holding with strawberries, and did remarkably well.
Interactive Map Provided by © Bing Maps.
.12th October 1907
AN ENGINE DERAILED.
The five minutes to 6 o’clock passenger train, Sydney to Nowra, last night arrived at Clifton nearly 2 hours late, the delay being caused through the engine of the train being derailed near Lilyvale. The carriages were in couples from the engine, and an engine from Waterfall pulled them back from the derailed engine. By the aid of sprangs and other timber the engine was got on the rails, and coupled on to the carriages and taken to Otford, where the engine was detached. Another engine brought the train through. So far there is nothing to show what caused the derailment.
Around this time, surveyors were in areas between Waterfall to Clifton working on a route for the railway deviation. The aim was to ease the grade by making it 1 in 80, while duplicating the line is deemed necessary to accommodate the growth in traffic. In 1909 Chief Commissioner T. E Johnson produced a report to the Parliamentary Committee on Public works. The deviation would not arrive at Lilyvale until 30 May 1915.
25th October 1907
In late spring a dry spell had parched the Port Hacking Creek below the Otford pumping station. Residents were forced to obtain water from the pools in the creek bed. Lilyvale residents had requested the Railway Commissioners to stop pumping operations as their water supply would diminish to nothing if the pumping continued. Source
21st September 1908
Blackberries vines were prevalent in these days and vines stretch from Lilyvale to Bulli. [Even when I was a child I would pick blackberries near my family home in Otford Road Helensburgh, as the vines with their thorny barbs would catch me out from time to time while attempting to reach that one big juicy blackberry that was just out of reach].
The harvest season provides mining families with additional income and 3 to 4 shillings could be made in a day. The harvest total last year that left Bulli for Sydney was an astounding 120 tons of fruit. In the farming communities the blackberry is considered a pest that needs to be eradicated. The blackberry has a tendency to run rampant and spread very quickly making good farming lands unusable.
In this article a property owner demonstrates a technique for clearing lands of Blackberry.
3rd January 1909
SCENES OF DEVASTATION.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN RESCUED.
FOWLS AND DUCKS BURNT.
These were the headlines of the days following the massive bushfires that ravaged through the area between Heathcote and Bateman’s Bay, starting sometime around boxing day, and spreading rapidly around the whole of Sydney and beyond. On Monday the 4th of January 1909. Clifton was to hit temperatures of between 43 and 45 degrees celsius accelerated by the intensity of the fires raging around it.
Lilyvale was to cop the full force of the bushfire which utterly devastated everything in Lilyvale. At midday a dwelling caught alight and was quickly a smoldering ruin in moments. Several men attempted to save belongings but needed rescuing themselves. The Lilyvale Railway Station had a narrow escape with the stations platform catching fire several times, and quickly being extinguish by the same steely men that saved several home that day. Lilyvale residents reported that they could hardly believed the transformation of the scene as thick undergrowth had been incinerated clean throughout the whole area. Gardens and fruit trees were destroyed along with fowls and ducks lying dead all over.
In the late evening of Tuesday the 5th, a southerly change came to the relief of Lilyvale residents. The flames were blown away from the area and the rains came.
To read the whole article which I fully recommend, please click the links below:
13th January 1909
Not long after the fires devastated Lilyvale the Blackberry picking season was commencing at Clifton. The crops which spanned the Illawarra Range, (from Bulli to Clifton) was jam-packed (pun intended) with Blackberry vines laden and weighted down with fruit. Lilyvale vines were destroyed in the recent fires, but vines on the mountain slope of the eastern side of the escarpment could be cultivated. The call for pickers was spoken, but due to mines producing much work at the time, the need for supplementary income was not as high for mining families as in the past. Source
6th February 1909
A month after the fires, the gardens were alive with all manner of fruit and vegetable in Lilyvale. The fruit crop this season was free from any disease and was of excellent quality. Fruit such as strawberries (the size of hens eggs), pumpkin, cabbage and potatoes were flourishing. Before Federation in 1901, the Illawarra region was known as the “Garden of the Colony” as fruit and vegetable farms flourished the length of the escarpment and beyond. Source
8th February 1911
As a result of last months phenomenal rain fall the blackberry season this year in the Illawarra district will be a record one. Picking is just now in full swing at Otford, Lilyvale, Austinmer, and Bulli, and it is expected that the total yield will be about 300 tons, valued at over £4000. A little difficulty has been experienced by the jam companies’ agents in acquiring a sufficient number of pickers, otherwise the yield would be heavier. The rate offered – £10 per ton is a slight increase on last year’s. Still it is insufficient for a single hand to depend upon for a living, and for this reason the bulk of the picking confined to families. It can easily be understood that a family of five or six boys and girls picking 30lb or 40lb or berries each per day, can considerably augment the father’s earnings in the mine. In the cool of the evening; if he is on the front shift, the latter usually takes a stroll among the vines, and gives the children a hand to fill their tins.
In the northern section of the district between Wollongong and Otford and Lilyvale that the mountains slopes present the appearance of wild sea of dark green. The owrk of eradicating in the locality would be an almost superhuman task. Very few people, however, in the mining communities regard the blackberry as a pest, consequently no steps are taken to check where it threatens the encroach upon the orchard or the garden. South from Wollongong, however, right through to the Victorian border, every precaution is taken by the dairy farmer to prevent its spread. Burning off is practically useless; the vines must be dug out by the roots and burnt.
In the deep valleys and rugged steeps on the mountain side these vines cause little inconvenience, but when they begin to crowd over cleared areas they become a decided pest. At present there are hundreds of acres of fertile land in northern Illawarra overrun with the vines, and if the matter is not taken in hand by the local government bodies ere long the blackberry in Illawarra promises to give as much trouble as the prickly pear in the north-west.
.Part 3 coming soon.
Images/Photos, and Article © Ian Piggott 2013 – all rights reserved,