Travelling along Armidale - Dorrigo Road

Commencing mileage from end 60 zone on the eastern outskirts of Armidale

1. Hillgrove turnoff. 24.5 km (98 km from Dorrigo)
Worth a visit as it is the place where Grandma Mary Alice Sinclair( McCarthy) was born and some of the Sutton family also lived there.The graveyard is on the right as you come into Hillgrove where you will find several of the family graves, including some of the Hopkins(on) family, a baby Sutton & some of the McCarthy family.

2. Wollomombi Bridge. 39.4 km Grandfathers horse died. (83.1 km from Dgo)
As you pass Wollomombi towards Dorrigo, there is a large cement bridge about 1km past the turn off to Wollomombi. At one time Great Grandfather Billy Sinclair was racing a horse from Tryingham to Wollomombi to get to the closest phone so that he could ring for a Doctor. A neighbor was having difficulty in childbirth. He raced his horse so hard that the horse collapsed at the creek near the current bridge & died at the foot of the hill. Grandfather had to run up the hill to the local store to make the phone call. His effort saved the life of the woman.

3. Snowy Mountains. 69.2 km Clogher's Police Station (52.6 km from Dgo)
The first police station on the Guy Fawkes was built just near the road at the left of the entrance to the driveway into this property. About 20 metres from the driveway. Great-Great-Grandma Elizabeth Sinclair (Harvey) & Michael Clogher with Great-Granfather Billy lived there for several years until Michael left the police force & bought a property near Bosterbrick.

4. Guy Fawkes Town. 72 km (50.5 km from Dgo)
Just before you enter the "T" intersection with the Guyra-Ebor Road the town of Guy Fawkes was built on top of the rise on the left side of the road. Most of the buildings were built by Great-Grandfather Paddy McCarthy in the late 1880's, including a new police station, hotel & several houses. All the wood for the buildings was pit sawed. The township was soon moved to the present site of Ebor, as there was no available water at that spot.

5. Homestead. 72.9 km (49.6 km from Dgo)
On the left hand side on top of the hill is a farmhouse built in the 1930's, however Great-Grandfather Paddy McCarthy built the original building in the late 1880's. When they rebuilt the house they used all of the original timber to build all the sheds at the rear of the house. These large boards were pit sawed by hand & are still in excellent condition. If approached the owners will let you have a look at the original construction to see how Grandfather Paddy's work has lasted over all these years.

6. Maida Vale Station. 84 km (38.5km from Dgo)
On Maida Vale Station, my father (Patrick Sinclair) had his first job as a "gofur" for the men building the fence beside the road on the right hand side & assisting in the milking. Dad was paid 6 pence a day plus his lunch for the time he was working there.

7. Warialpa. 85.4 km (37 Kms from Dgo)
During the 1860's Great-Great-Grandma Sarah (Ward) & Great-Grand-Grandfather Edward Edwards lived on a house on the property not far from the turn off to Dorrigo. It appears they were never married. Edwards, married Mary Briggs in Grafton in 1870 and was said to be a bachelor on their marriage certificate, yet according to Sarah's mothers death certificate (Sophia Jane Ward - nee Crolston) Sarah was still alive in 1874. At the family house on Warialpa, the kitchen was a separate building. They had a hole dug in the floor where Thunderbolt would hide when being chased by the police. They would pull a wood box over the hole and invite the police to come in for a cup of tea seating them on the wood box. Over the years a floor had been added to the kitchen and in the early 1980's the old homestead was pulled down. To the amazement of the current owners the man-sized hole in the floor was found to be still there - confirming the family stories of Thunderbolt's hiding place. It is interesting that Great-Great-Grandma Sarah disappeared around the same time as the "death of Thunderbolt". It is my belief that Grandma Sarah went to America & then Canada with Thunderbolt in August 1870.

8. Hernani School, (several Kms along the Grafton Rd from the Dorrigo turn off.)
In the early 1890 Great-Grandfather Paddy McCarthy built the first school in Hernani however when his first grandchild was to start school there in the early 1910's he decided it wasn't good enough for his grandchildren, so he volunteered to build a new school for Hernani. My father, Patrick Sinclair, actually only attended school for just over three years, despite later being regarded as a fairly well educated man.

9. "Donnybrook" on Coutts Water. 93.5 km (29 km from Dgo)
Great-Grandfather William & Great-Grandma Esther Sinclair selected "Donnybrook" soon after their marriage in 1867. It was said that the road from Warialpa crossed Coutts Water just below their farm & that Grandma Esther, after first going to the farm, never crossed over Coutts Water again. The homestead markings can be reached by following the track from the gate on the Dorrigo road north for about 3kms staying close to the creek. You pass through several gates until you come to a group of trees on a slight rise above the creek. These were left by the family when they cleared the site. If you look carefully at the area you will find the stone markings of several small rooms which constituted the house, & stone markings of the garden marked out by Grandma Esther. About 50 meters further north you will find a large heap of rocks to which is attached a plaque marking the burial site of Esther when she died in 1889 and one of the twins, the first William James Sinclair born on 5th May 1870 & died a few days later, were both buried near the homestead

10. Meldrum Station. 96 km (26.5 km from Dgo)
At the top of the next hill is the old homestead of Meldrum Station. The owner of the station got sick of giving handouts to the aboriginal tribe the in the late 1850's so started adding strychnine to the flour he was supplying them. After the death of several of them, they realised what was happening, so they waited for the owner to be away for several days & set out to attack the homestead. In approaching the homestead they met & murdered two male staff then proceeding to the home murdered the wife & all the children but one who had hidden under a bed. In retaliation Michael Clogher (our step g-g-grandfather), the local policeman was sent out to seek revenge. It is said that the whole tribe of around 200 members was chased by Michael & jumped over the cliff to their death rather than face the wrath of Michael Clogher. If you look to the south-east just past the homestead, you will see, in the distance the cliff Michael Clogher is said to have chased the Aboriginal group over.

11. Fernbrook Hall. 108.9 km (23.6 km from Dgo) Arresting escaped prisoners.
In the early 1960's coming home from church at Dorrigo I was approached by a citizen & asked to join in a hunt for two escaped men from Grafton jail. As they were reported to be armed, we were advised to take loaded guns with us. On reporting to the farm where they had robbed the farmer, 6 of us were asked to go out to Fernbrook hall & collect some crockery to supply all the searchers lunch. We were told that the area had been searched but several of us were to have a look through the bush area at the bottom of the hill on the left hand side coming out from Dorrigo, while one of the men drove up to the hall to collect the crockery.

By chance I was on the right-hand end of the group closest to the road near the hall. When the man reached the hall he found the two escapees in the hall.They threatened him with a carving knife that they had taken from the hall, but they then took off through another door. Being unarmed he ran off calling out for us to come over to help. By the time I reached the hall I was about 100 meters ahead of all the rest only to see the two men heading off across the paddock. It was left to me to call out for them to surrender or I would shoot. Seeing we were with guns and as in fact, they were unarmed, they immediately dropped to the ground, face down and put their hands behind their head. I thus had the "glory" of arresting the two men at gunpoint.

12. Turned over my first car. 112 km (10.5 kms from Dgo)
On setting out with Aunty Coralie for a trip to Sydney in my new, second hand car - a 1939 Hillman model - I drove the 10kms out of town to the then end of the bitumen onto the loose gravel & hit a large pothole causing me to loose control rolling the car end over end. As it started to roll my door flew open & I was ejected seat & all landing on my car seat in the middle of the road uninjured, only to see the car turning over & over with Coralie still on board. As you can imagine the top caved in & it finally came to rest upside down with Coralie still inside. I hurried to the car in fear at what had happened, to find Coralie also uninjured still inside. The car was a write off after only 2 weeks, with no insurance. It had cost 500 pound & I still owed for repairs I had done to it after I bought it.

13.Dorrigo Statue. 122.5 km

If anyone has further stories to add to this please send them on to me.

Email me on:- barrymor@tpg.com.au
or write to me at
Unit 15, Valentine Cl
129 Lanhams Rd
Winston Hills
2153

Last updated on November 8th, 2004