Train to Kiama and back – 16 – Minnamurra to Albion Park

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Lurking there behind the bushes is Dunmore House, about which there is a delightful ghost story recounted on the Kiama History blog, much as my father told it to me 60+ years ago! Shellharbour Council has more, taken from the 1959 book Green Meadows by W A Bayley. I used to have a copy bought in 1959 when I accompanied my parents and Grandfather Roy Christison to the centenary of Shellharbour Public School, of which my grandfather was then the oldest living headmaster.

George Laurence Fuller arrived in Australia aged 7 years. He had sailed from Ireland in 1839 with his father William, mother Ann, and six brothers and sisters. During the voyage typhus fever broke out among the passengers and Mr William Fuller died just thirteen days before reaching Sydney. Ann gave birth to a son who also died on the voyage. Two-year-old Charlotte died in quarantine in Sydney.

Ann Fuller opened a store in Corrimal Street, Wollongong, placing her young children in Liverpool and Parramatta Orphanage until she could afford to bring them home.

On leaving school, George assisted his mother in her shop keeping business. In 1852 he left for the goldfields on a small sailing vessel with a cargo of goods via Port Fairy Victoria, then by bullock team to Ballarat, a venture that established him financially.

In 1859 George Laurence Fuller married Sarah Miller of Gerringong. George purchased the “Victoria Stores” at Kiama that his brother Thomas and brother-in-law George Waldron had established.

In 1865, the southern division of the Peterborough Estate of Shellharbour was advertised for sale – 2,560 acres on the Minnamurra River adjoining the Terry’s Meadows Estate. George Fuller bought the property and named his new estate Dunmore after his old family home in Ireland. He built ‘Dunmore House’ of rubble blue metal, locally obtained.

By 1880 George owned some 9,000 acres of the Peterborough Estate extending from Lake Illawarra to the Minnamurra River and west to Croome Albion Park. By the 1880s he had established a blue metal trade at Bass Point.

George and Sarah had thirteen children, George Warburton, Robert Miller, Frederick William, Ada Annie, Florence Elizabeth, Alfred Ernest, Sarah Emily, Edith Mary, Charles Laurence, Minnie Cunningham, Colin Dunmore, Archie Douglas, and Bryan Cecil.

George Warburton Fuller, born 1861 was to become the Hon Sir George Warburton Fuller Premier of New South Wales. Lieutenant Colonel Colin Dunmore Fuller DSO had a distinguished military career.

George Laurence Fuller is noted for his generosity to Shellharbour’s development. He gave 2 acres for a new school in 1883 called Minnamurra School built of local basalt at Swamp Road Dunmore. He contributed largely to the Municipality, providing tenant farmers to work the land, expanded the blue metal trade in 1885 providing cottages and work for the quarrymen. He gave land for the Shellharbour General Cemetery in 1894 to replace the old sand cemetery that was washing away at the foreshore and in 1896 gave land and a cash donation to build the Shellharbour School of Arts in Mary Street Shellharbour. He also established a racecourse on cleared land at Albion Park Rail between the railway line and Macquarie Rivulet.

George Laurence Fuller died in 1917, and is buried in the Presbyterian section of Bombo Cemetery, Kiama, leaving an influential and famous family.

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Lieutenant Colonel Colin Dunmore Fuller DSO

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Near Oak Flats

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Albion Park Rail

Train to Kiama and back: 6 – Dunmore or Shellharbour

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The train pauses here as the line from here on is a single track. My father was born in Shellharbour in 1911 and my mother and father married there in 1935.

The history of the station and the line may be found at Dunmore (Shellharbour) Railway Station and Residence.

The township of Shellharbour was laid out in 1851 around the port of Shellharbour, on the Peterborough Estate. Shellharbour (Municipal) Council was constituted on 4 June 1859 and the chambers, built in 1865 was located in Addison Street, Shellharbour. Dunmore had a post office in 1890. The Council relocated to Albion Park in 1897, coinciding with the decline of Shellharbour (Village) and the growth of Albion Park as a lucrative beef and dairy cattle district. (Our History page on http://www.shellharbour.nsw.gov.au).

The Illawarra railway line from Wollongong to Scarborough was opened as an isolated line on 21st June 1887 with an extension to Bombo (North Kiama) from Wollongong opened on 9th November 1887. Finally on 3rd October 1888 the connection to the northern Sydney section was made. An extension of the line from Bombo south to Bomaderry was completed in 1893.
Dunmore (Shellharbour) Railway Station was in the section of the line opened in November 1887. The awningless Platform 2 building is original (1887), the Out-of-room (aka old milk shed) was constructed in 1891 and extended in 1908. The signal box was constructed in 1925 (plans dated 19.12.1925).

The 1887 Dunmore (Shellharbour) Station Master’s residence is a relatively early brick example of the J2 design Station Master’s residence, having been constructed in 1887 prior to the issue of the series of standard plans by the office of Henry Deane (Engineer-in-Chief for Railways Construction 1891-1901) for these buildings in 1899. Though Henry Deane was acting in this position from 1889 (after the retirement of John Whitton, Railways Commissioner), due to the 1887 construction date of this Station Master’s residence, association of the design with Henry Deane is uncertain.

Plans dated 1907 show the railway station with (from south to north) a Gatekeeper’s cottage (no longer extant) at the Shellharbour Road level crossing; platform with ramps at each end and a ramp north of the platform building; a milk shed; platform building with water tank at south end; lamp room and separate WC (toilet) building; cattle yards to the northeast of the platform building; and the Station Master’s residence with underground water tank to the northeast of the station.

In 1923 a small line was linked to the main line at Dunmore (Shellharbour) Station to allow the blue metal quarry at Dunmore (which had operated since at least c. 1905) to access the rail network. The extra rail traffic generated by this may have given rise to the 1925 refurbishment plans which led to the construction of the signal box and the refurbishment of the 1887 platform building to provide a ladies’ waiting room at the southern end; refurbished central waiting area in the centre (marked on plans as “waiting shed” indicating its open nature); a refurbished room at the northern end of the building for multiple use as Station Master’s office, booking office and parcels office; and an awning roof to connect the Station Master’s office etc. to a doorway into the new 1925 signal box at the southern end of the platform building. Plans dating from 1929 also show proposed additions to the Gatehouse.

Plans dated 1940 with later notations show the station in a similar form to those of 1907, however with the platform extended (notation on platform “Earth filled – Sleeper face – Timber top”); an enlarged milk shed; the earlier WC crossed out (indicating its demolition); the stockyards noted as “recovered 1968” (demolished); and a new ramp to the northeast of the platform building marked “Pioneer Concrete Pty Ltd Siding No. 2 40′ ramp”.

Plans dated 1970 show the Gatekeeper’s cottage no longer extant; the goods siding clearly shown to the east of the platform and platform buildings, with an unloading platform and shed adjacent to the west of the siding; and a gent’s toilet at the northern end of the platform. At this time the platform building is shown with 2 water tanks (one at the southern end, one between the signal box and the platform building) with an internal plan showing (north to south): parcels office, waiting room and ladies toilet.
The goods siding and associated structures have all been removed since 1970.

The residence, seen from the train:

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Shellharbour – a double post

This is for both Neil’s Second Decade and Neil’s Sydney Photo Blog. See also Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days.

There’s quite a contrast between the Shellharbour my father and mother met in and Shellharbour today.

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Shellharbour 1917

Contrast the aerial view (1930) and the latest Google Earth image. The place has evolved from a fishing village to a suburb, the most dramatic phase being since around 1970. The large bush area in the 1930 photo is Native Dog Hill, now the suburb of Mount Warrigal! It gives some idea of the blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) forest that used to cover much of this region.

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My grandfather Tom, my Uncle Ken, and my cousin Una, Ken’s daughter, wouldn’t know the place – well Una may be an exception as she certainly was alive and well through quite a lot of those past forty years. (Such is the passing of time and the etiolation of family connections that I have only just discovered that Una’s husband, Andy Gerke, died last year. I had last seen him at Beverley Whitfield’s funeral in 1996.)

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Tom, my grandfather; Ken; Una

Ken is remembered here:

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Shellharbour 2 – Beverley Whitfield Pool

I used to enjoy telling people I coached Beverley — and I did, in Year 10 English! The Wikipedia article there is very good, clearly written by someone who knew her well.

Beverley Joy Whitfield (June 15, 1954 – August 20, 1996 in Shellharbour, New South Wales) was an Australian breaststroke swimmer of the 1970s, who won a gold medal in the 200 m breaststroke at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. She was coached by Terry Gathercole and Don Talbot.
The daughter of a fitter and turner who worked in the Wollongong steelworks for more than 35 years, Whitfield was taught to swim along with her sister and their cousins at the age four by her maternal uncle, who was active in the local Learn to Swim program. Along with her sister and cousins, she was a childhood member of the Shellharbour Swimming Club, and was mainly taken to local swimming competitions by her father and uncle. This became even more pronounced following the death of her mother from cancer…

Her father Max was my cousin, so she was my second cousin then. Sadly she died suddenly of a heart condition in 1996.

Marge, Beverley, Max, Margaret in the early 1960s.


The pool as it was in my childhood.


Salt spray and sun have faded this a bit.


The ocean pool, Shellharbour.

See for more information about Shellharbour and the pool Shellharbour – Beverley Whitfield Pool.

Shellharbour 1 — progress (?)

This post is also my theme month entry for January.

As you may see on My Second Decade I have a 60+ years association with Shellharbour, 120+ years in terms of the family. Here is Shellharbour as I remember it from childhood.

Shellharbour c.1950

Here it is today:

Shellharbour 5 January 2009


I'll tell you more about the pool in the next post.

Historical photographs of Shellharbour are from the magnificent Shellharbour Images Collection.