Strathearn @ Geraldton

Strathearn @ Geraldton

Sarah and I hosted the launch of the Capital Campaign at our home ‘Geraldton’ on Sunday 28th April 2013. The plenary address was presented by Dr W E J Paradice AM. The featured image shows many of the visiting luminary guests seated in the courtyard. Things have changed since this announcement. Strathearn is now a fully owned subsidiary of HammondCare.

Media Release – Strathearn House – Capital Campaign

29th April 2013

Strathearn held its inaugural launch to establish a Capital Fundraising Campaign for the new Strathearn House (Aged Care Facility) on Gundy road.  The launch was on Sunday 28th April at Historic Geraldton.  Commencing at 11:30am the event was attended by over 80 persons, and there was a lot of interest in the future development of Strathearn and Aged Care Services.

Strathearn Village Ltd is a community based organisation – owned by the community and responding to the needs of the Upper Hunter Community since 1972.  Strathearn is a Not for Profit organisation, limited by guarantee, overseen by a voluntary board drawn from the local community.

The Capital Campaign has been established with the sole goal of raising funds for Stage One of Strathearn House under a Capital Campaign Committee whose members are;

Dr W.E.J. Paradice AM, Bill Howey, Sarah Howey, Gordon Halliday, Ron Martin, Matt Downie (CEO)

The existing Nursing Home largely only eventuated through the very generous donations from the local community and support from the then Scone Council.  Just as happened forty years ago Strathearn are seeking funding support from the community to ensure Strathearn can continue to provide the highest level of care for our elders for the next 40 years.

Mr Matthew Downie, Strathearn CEO, spoke on the strongly emerging issue of Dementia Specific Care, “Dementia is currently the third leading cause of Death in Australia, and there is no cure, and no signs of any cure on the horizon.  Within 15 to 20 years, Dementia will become the leading cause of death in Australia. Providing a suitable built environment to care for those with Dementia is certainly a primary focus of ours with our new Aged Care Facility, to be known as Strathearn House.”

“I can also advise, that in the last couple of weeks, we have received several donations and are now already at a fund balance of some $760,000 – which is truly fantastic and a wonderful reflection on the spirit and values of this local community!” Mr Matthew Downie said.

Equine Genetic Research Centre For Scone

Equine Genetic Research Centre for Scone

This is the best possible news for all of us who’ve been involved in equine research for so long. It at last justifies the establishment of the Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre.

The Featured Image is of EGRC Director Dr Natasha Hamilton and staff Dominique Dolgenar (EGRC Manager), Taelor Mackenzie and Emalyn Batley (EGRC Laboratory Technical Officers) at the new Centre

More information on the Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre can be found at:  

Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre ‘officially’ opened at Scone

Official opening of Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre at Scone

Monday 23rd April 2018

THE new Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre represents the strong future the horse industry has within the Upper Hunter Shire, according to deputy mayor Maurice Collison.

The nation’s first laboratory service of its kind was officially opened at Scone on Monday by Racing NSW’s Russell Balding and former chairman, and local identity, John Messara.

The facility – located within the Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre complex – will undertake DNA typing of all thoroughbred foals to confirm parentage and establish a unique pedigree that is accessible throughout its life.

It’ll also provide services to 30 other horse breed societies across Australia.

An estimated 20,000 tests will be analysed at the centre each year.

“Council is elated that Racing Australia chose to locate Australia’s inaugural equine genetics research lab at Scone,” Cr Collison said.

“This centre is a perfect example of business investment in the area.

“Through building this facility in Scone, Racing Australia has endorsed the importance of the region to the Australian thoroughbred breeding industry.

“Their investment is great for the economy, offering local employment for four staff – two of which are relocating to the shire, a third is already a resident in town; and a fourth regularly commutes to Scone from Sydney.

“On behalf of council, I’d like to congratulate those involved with the development of the Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre; as well as their determination to enhance the integrity of Australian racing and breeding.

“Their commitment will help solidify Scone as the ‘Horse Capital of Australia’ and build on the proud history the shire has with the industry.

“And, it’s not just about racehorses either.

“The Upper Hunter produces, trains and spells a wide range of equine breeds, including heavy draught horses, those for carriage work, endurance and other sports such as polo, polocrosse, dressage, racing and recreational use.”

Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre chairman Bill Rose was thrilled with the facility’s location, ahead of Sydney or Melbourne.

“The establishment of the Equine Genetics Research Centre in Scone brings enhanced integrity to Australian racing and breeding,” he said.

“We are delighted Racing Australia has made the decision to establish a world-class facility in the heart of our thoroughbred breeding region.”

Dr Natasha Hamilton was appointed by Racing Australia as the inaugural director of the Equine Genetics Research Centre.

She has worked at the University of Sydney as a researcher and lecturer, most recently teaching neurophysiology and equine science within the Faculty of Science.

Dr Hamilton is also a contributing member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Gene Doping Control Subcommittee, the International Equine Genome Mapping Workshop and the International Society of Animal Genetics.

“Today is a proud moment for me – and my team,” she said.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to become a contributing member of the industry that I have loved for so long and I am particularly excited about the research possibilities of this role.

“I look forward to working closely with industry participants to ensure Australia’s racing industry continues to be the world’s leading thoroughbred industry.”

Breednet – Media Release – Wednesday, 25 October 2017 – Racing Australia Release

Australian racing’s first equine genetics research laboratory service is to be established at the centre of one of Australia’s premier Thoroughbred horse breeding districts, the Chair of Racing Australia, Ms Frances Nelson QC announced today.

The Equine Genetics Research Centre will be located at Scone in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales.

“Locating these new laboratory facilities in the heart of one of Australia’s internationally recognised breeding regions makes perfect sense given the vital functions it will perform for the Australian Thoroughbred racing industry,” said Ms Nelson.

“The work of the Centre will be critical to the ongoing integrity of Australian racing. Its DNA testing underpins both the breeding and racing sectors of our sport.”

“To ensure the Centre met world standards, Racing Australia worked with the International Society of Animal Genetics to successfully gain approval and institutional membership,” Ms Nelson concluded.

The new facility will be established within Scone’s Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre complex and is expected to be operational by April 2018. Building works are due to be completed by the end of this year.

Chairman of the Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre, Bill Rose welcomed the new facility.

“The establishment of the Equine Genetics Research Centre in Scone brings enhanced integrity to Australian racing and breeding and we are delighted Racing Australia has made the decision to establish a world class facility in the heart of our Thoroughbred breeding region” Mr Rose said.

The Centre will undertake DNA typing of all Thoroughbred foals to confirm parentage and establish a unique pedigree that is accessible throughout its life. It will also provide services to 30 other horse breed societies across Australia. An estimated 20,000 tests will be analysed at the Centre each year.

Ms Nelson also announced that Dr Natasha Hamilton had been appointed by Racing Australia as the inaugural Director of the Equine Genetics Research Centre.

Dr Hamilton has worked at the University of Sydney as a researcher and lecturer, most recently teaching neurophysiology & equine science within the Faculty of Science.

She is also a contributing member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Gene Doping Control Subcommittee, the International Equine Genome Mapping Workshop and the International Society of Animal Genetics.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to become a contributing member of the industry that I have loved for so long and I am particularly excited about the research possibilities of this role. I look forward to working closely with industry participants to ensure Australia’s racing industry continues to be the world’s leading Thoroughbred industry,” Dr Hamilton said.

The Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre (EGRC) was officially opened on Monday 23 April 2018 by Russell Balding AO Deputy Chair Racing Australia & John Messara AM former Chair Racing Australia.


Russell Balding AO Deputy Chair Racing Australia & John Messara AM former Chair Racing Australia
(Photo courtesy of Rod Thompson of The Scone Advocate)


Located within the Hunter Valley Equine Research Complex in Scone, Racing Australia now has a permanent presence in the heart of Australia’s leading Thoroughbred and Equine Breeding region.

“Through the establishment of this Genetics Research Centre here at Scone, Racing Australia is proud to be returning to regional Australia some of the support it has always given the Australian Thoroughbred industry”. said Russell Balding AO.

The Centre will undertake DNA typing of all Thoroughbred foals to confirm parentage and establish a unique pedigree that is accessible throughout its life. It will also provide services to 30 other horse breed societies across Australia. An estimated 20,000 tests will be analysed at the Centre each year.

The gathering of over fifty guests from politics and the breeding industry were introduced to the EGRC team and toured the facility.

The EGRC team combines experts in equine genetics research, technical scientific and diagnostic skills with a love for horses of all shapes, sizes and colours.


Dr Natasha Hamilton EGRC Director, Dominique Dolgener EGRC Manager, Taelor Mackenzie and Emalyn Batley EGRC Laboratory Technical Officers
(Photo courtesy of Rod Thompson of The Scone Advocate)


With an equine geneticist on staff, Racing Australia will now be able to keep up with the latest cutting-edge developments in horse genetics.

This Centre will also ensure Racing Australia also has the capability to perform its own research into genetic diseases in horses-of all breeds-and offer the findings to others working to improve equine health.

In 2017 Racing Australia participated in the International Horse STR DNA Typing Comparison Test and achieved rank 1 with 100% genotyping accuracy. Rank 1 is necessary to allow parentage verification of Thoroughbreds for the International Stud Book Committee.

More information on the Racing Australia Equine Genetics Research Centre can be found at 

Erudite Medical Trifecta

A few years ago I wrote a tribute to three senior medical colleagues in Scone; all of whom added cachet to the already impressive order of preference in the local medical fraternity. This was to celebrate the trifecta of OAMs which came their way when Dr John William Houston Paradice was eventually and rightfully honoured in the Australia Day Awards in January 2016. I called it Erudite Medical Trifecta which I provided to ingenue journalist Ben Murphy at the Scone Advocate. It emerged as the following. I acknowledge the source; but claim the original.

The featured image actually shows a photograph taken in 2011. Dr Barton had since passed away.

TRIFECTA COMPLETE: Dr Toby Barton, Dr David Warden and Dr John Paradice in late February/early March 2011.

January 26 2016 – 8:00AM

Doctor’s OAM completes local medical trifecta

Ben Murphy

AS the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

It’s been a long time coming, but Dr John Houston Paradice has today been awarded the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his dedication and service to the Scone community over many years.

“I’m a bit overcome because in all the time that I was in medicine I was just doing my job so I didn’t expect this,” he said.

Dr Paradice now joins former colleagues Dr Toby Barton, who learned of his national award of Australia Day 2001, and Dr David Barton Warden, a recipient on this day last year, in winning the medal.

The trio, along with Dr Walter Pye MBE, did exceptional work during their time together at the Scone Medical Practice from the early 1950s through to the 1980s.

Dr Pye was made a Member of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 1973.

Dr Paradice, who retired in 2004 after spending most of his extensive medical career in Scone, said all four men had similar backgrounds and training.

“The Scone practice was well-known as one of the longest established practices in the country,” he said.

“We had a practice that remained a great training ground for rural general practitioners because of the nature of it; we all became skilled in many areas of medicine.

“In those days, we were fortunate in that we were able to do more I believe than the general practitioners in the country.

“For instance, I was the government medical officer carrying out post-mortems which they would never do now.

“It was a rather unpleasant and difficult part of the job.”

Dr Paradice also reserved special praise for the role of nurses throughout his career.

He said a doctor’s work was only as good as the support they received.

Dr Walter Osmond Pye MBE

Dr Walter Osmond Pye MBE

The featured image shows Dr Walter Osmond Pye in consultation with Dr Toby Barton and Mrs Janet Barton in the garden at Belmore House (‘Geraldton’).

I have many illustrious peers in Scone in writing and recording important social history. Nancy Gray would head the list with Audrey Entwisle following closely behind. The latter wrote several books when closely associated with the Scone & Upper Hunter Historical Society which the Grays (Mr & Mrs) instigated.

Among the many fine tributes recorded by Audrey is her possible personal apogee: ‘Walter Osmond Pye 1905 – 1994 A Celebration’. I treasure the copy I have. When I was Chairman of the Board of Strathearn Village I purchased all the last available copies from the Historical Society. I presented them to fellow Board Members and the new CEO as ‘mandatory homework’. I’m not sure if it worked or not?

Audrey’s encomium embraces the full circle of life of an outstanding rural medical practitioner. In her foreword Audrey says there is no doubt that Scone’s “Man of the Century” is Dr Walter Osmond Pye. Many would agree. Federation Publication No. 3 of the Scone and Upper Historical Society 2000 chronologically lists the litany of achievements of this ‘leviathan’ medico. There are tributes from fellow doctors and nursing sisters. Three great totems to Walter Pye endure in the form of the Upper Hunter Village Association (now Strathearn Aged Care); Scone Aerodrome and St Luke’s Anglican Church. Memorials in his honour are the MBE awarded in the 1973 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for ‘Services to the Community – especially Medicine’; Walter Pye Wing at the Scott memorial Hospital; Inaugural Hunter McLoughlin Citizen Award; ‘The Town Says Thank You’ celebration at St Luke’s Parish Centre on 13 October 1991 and Aged Care Australia’s Award of Life Membership of the Upper Hunter Village Association.

‘Hobbies and Interests’ is Audrey’s finale tribute. These are many and varied and include dairying (‘Little Fields’ Dairy); Scone Golf Club; Cars including the vintage RR and Model T Ford; Scone Historical Records Centre and finally his last resting place at “Oakland”, Coraki. At his funeral service in St Luke’s the Reverend Paul Robertson summed up Dr Pye’s life with exactitude:

“God gave many gifts to Walter Pye and used them well. He will be remembered by a grateful Scone and Upper Hunter Community as a dedicated medical practitioner, a fine community srvant, and generous Christian benefactor. We mourn his death, we celebrate his life and its achievements, we express our thanks to him and to God for his life’s work among us.”

Dr Walter Pye’s prevailing philosophy in founding the Upper Hunter Village Association is summarised as follows:

“People should be able to remain among their friends and their workmates, hopefully close to their family, their doctor, their clubs, their pub, friendly trades-people and neighbours where they are known”.

“In retrospect it would seem that the greatest and kindest care would be the ability to allow people to be able to die peacefully and quietly in their own home and to supply the comfort and care which is required to do so”.

“People living far out of country towns would need to be cared for in the towns (hostel or villa) where the auxiliary services are available”.

Remember: The height of any civilization can be judged by the manner in which they care for their aged. This community must rank high”.

Dr H J H Scott

Dr H J H Scott

I wrote earlier about an outstanding professional who chose to make his home in Scone in the late 1800s. This was lawyer J A K Shaw. If anything he was surpassed by one of his closest friends in Dr H J H ‘Tup’ Scott. They shared similar backgrounds in proving to be outstanding sportsmen in their chosen fields: Shaw in Rugby at Sydney University and Scott in cricket for East Melbourne and Victoria. Scott achieved even greater renown as the Captain of the Australian Test Team in England in 1886. This was only the second (white) team to make the journey. An Aboriginal side had pre-empted them both earlier in the century.

The featured image shows the Robertson Electorate Cricket XI in 1895. (Federation Publication no 2 – Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society). The equivalent team today would be the Upper Hunter Select XI. Charles W. Rock (second left back row) was also an outstanding individual and sportsman. He grew up in Tasmania and excelled at Launceston Grammar School. A brilliant scholar Charles Rock attended Clare College, Cambridge where he was considered to be the best amateur cricketer in England. He returned to teach at Launceston Grammar School and then at William Pullings’ Scone Grammar School. He was selected to play for Australia in a Test Match in 1888 but had to forgo the opportunity due to illness. It can safely be claimed that Pulling, Scott, Rock and Shaw formed an exceptional and eclectic sporting professional claque. I wonder if it has ever been exceeded as a cabal. It is almost certain that rising writer, journalist, sportsman and bard A B ‘Banjo’ Paterson visited Scone on regular occasions to catch up with his friends Scott, Shaw & Co.

Dr Scott and Charles Rock together formed the Robertson Electorate Cricket Club. They must have provided formidable opposition? All of them proved to be eminent and outstanding citizens in what seems like a more genteel age. Dr Scott was a magistrate and twice Mayor of Scone. Both he and J A K Shaw shared many common interests with the Local Government, Jockey Club, nascent Polo Club and also the Masonic Lodge. I am indebted to erstwhile friend and direct descendant of Dr Scott Ms Belinda Scott for writing the article on her ancestor in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I have a penchant for acknowledging eminent citizens who have gone before us.

Continue reading →

John Abbott Kingsmill Shaw

John Abbott Kingsmill Shaw

John Abbott Kingsmill Shaw & Mrs Geraldine Shaw

John Abbott Kingsmill Shaw was arguably one of the finest, naturally gifted and most capable citizens to make a home in Scone in its entire history. He showed outstanding promise in his school and University days. Dr Thomas V. Hickie wrote in ‘A Sense of Union – A History of the Sydney University Football (Rugby) Club’: “John Shaw was one of the great University Captains pre-1900. Shaw captained the team to the premiership for three years undefeated from 1887 to 1889. The accompanying letter was included in a photo album the club had specially commissioned to present to him on Christmas Eve 1889 prior to his departure from Sydney. In the album are the certificate and individual photographs of the 1889 team. The album is held by the Sydney University Archives on behalf of the football club.”

Sydney’s loss was Scone’s gain. J. A. K. Shaw was destined to spend the whole of his working professional life in outstanding service to Scone and district until his passing in 1920. J. A. K. Shaw might have been drawn to the Upper Hunter as his mother was a daughter of John Abbott of ‘Murrulla’, Wingen. The Abbott family of Wingen were very active politically prior to and after Federation in 1901. Biographer John Merritt labelled W. E. Abbott as ‘that voluminous squatter’. As a respected solicitor in Scone J. A. K. Shaw first occupied premises in Guernsey Street beside Campbell’s Store which later became Campbell’s Garage. In 1917 he acquired Cornwall Chambers in Kelly Street which were later demolished to permit the erection of the Commonwealth Bank on the same site. From 1903 – 1910 J. A. K. Shaw lived at Mrs Hopper’s House in Kingdon Street which later became the home of prominent Scone identity Mrs Audrey Johnson. This was beside the old Presbyterian Church in Kingdon Street which is now the Masonic Lodge. J. A. K. Shaw purchased Belmore House in 1909 and renamed it Geraldton in honour of his wife Isabel Geraldine Fitzgerald from Muswellbrook who was the only child of Hon. R. G. D. Fitzgerald M. L. C. The Hon Fitzgerald served for 16 years as member for the Upper Hunter in the Upper House of the inaugural Federal Parliament.  The house was registered in the ownership of Geraldine Shaw which was common practice with the professional caste of the day.

Continue reading →

Mathew Barber Miller

Mathew Barber Miller

Mathew Barber Miller was born at Newton Stewart, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1817. He always spelled his first name with one ‘T’. County Tyrone contains large quantities of sandstone and marble and it is thought the man from whom Mathew learned his occupation must have been a master of his craft. Mathew Miller was born to his trade. His father William Miller was a stonemason and his mother Jane Miller (nee Mason) was probably the daughter of a stonemason as many surnames were derived from occupations. Mathew Miller arrived in Australia in 1840 as a free immigrant on the steamship Clyde. He was 22 years of age. Accompanying him were his 21 year old wife Anne who left behind her parents James and Mary Pinkerton never to see them again? Ann was to be reunited with some of her brothers and their families later. Also on board the Clyde were Samuel, John and Margery Dunbar from the village of Ardstraw also in County Tyrone. Both the Dunbar and Miller family names were to become familiar to the residents of Scone. They have had a continuous presence in the district for more than a century since arriving in the colony in the mid-nineteenth century. It appears that both the Miller and Dunbar families came to Scone shortly after arrival. Samuel Dunbar was a bricklayer and worked with Mathew Miller on many of his buildings until his death by drowning in 1864 at the age of 46. Both Samuel and his wife Elizabeth are buried in St. Luke’s Churchyard.

Mathew Miller was said to have worked in 1846-1847 on the Hill Street section of St Luke’s Church of England Schoolhouse, now part of the Scone Grammar School reopened in 1990. Mathew Miller was also associated with an architect Mortimer William Lewis (Junior) who was Clerk of the Works at Maitland and later Newcastle. This association was undoubtedly of considerable value to Miller, not only in obtaining suitable and profitable contracts, but in acquiring greater knowledge of design and construction. Mathew Miller’s first major construction was the original Court House in Kingdon Street. First tenders were called dated 28 February 1848 and closing date of 3 April 1848. Notices appeared in the Government Gazettes of 29 February 1848, 7 March 1848, 14 March 1848, 21 March 1848 and 28 March 1848 calling for persons willing to Contract for the erection of a Court House in Scone. The successful contractors were John Laurence, carpenter, and Mathew Miller, stone mason, both of Scone, with a tender of £390. Their sureties were George Grey, blacksmith of Scone and James Phillips of Kareen. Soon after signing the contract Laurence pulled out and Mathew Miller built the Court House on his own.  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser reported on 13 June 1849 that the new Court House at Scone was nearly completed and it was expected that the bench would take possession by the end of the month. “It is a fine building, and the workmanship appears good, and justice done by the contract.” A letter dated October 3, 1849, stated that Mathew Miller had completed the building and would be glad to receive the balance of payment due to him, “as I am a por man” (sic.). Although he was invited to make repairs to the lock-up in 1850 he must have had other commitments as he acted as guarantor to a carpenter, James Graham, who undertook the task instead. In 1853 when the walls of the Chief Constable’s cottage adjoining the Court House were in danger of collapse, “under a spread roof”, Mathew Miller did the necessary repairs. The steady increase in population in the Upper Hunter and the shortage of skilled labour provided plenty of work for the competent stone mason and his builder Samuel Dunbar.

Continue reading →

Earl of Belmore

Earl of Belmore

Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore


Somerset Richard Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore GCMG PC (Ire) (9 April 1835 – 6 April 1913), styled as Viscount Corry from 1841 to 1845, was an Irish nobleman and Conservative politician.

Background and education

Born at Bruton Street in London, he was the eldest son of Armar Lowry-Corry, 3rd Earl Belmore and his wife Emily Louise Shepherd, youngest daughter of William Shepherd. Belmore succeeded his father in the earldom on 24 December 1845, at the age of only 10. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, from where he graduated with a Master of Arts in 1856.


English government

Belmore was elected as a Representative Peer for Ireland and sat in the House of Lords from January 1857 until his death. He served under the Earl of Derby as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department from July 1866 to August 1867, and was then appointed Governor of New South Wales, on 22 August. He was sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland on 17 September.

Governor of New South Wales

Belmore became Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New South Wales on 8 January 1868 at a time when the position was not yet just a figurehead for the colonial government and he was still an imperial officer responsible to the British government. On 12 March 1868 he was attending a picnic with the visiting Prince Alfred at the Sydney beachside suburb of Clontarf when Henry James O’Farrell shot Alfred in the back and claimed to have intended to shoot Belmore as well. Although Belmore did not see the incident, he arranged for Alfred’s transfer to hospital for treatment and passed on to the colonial government the Prince’s request for clemency for O’Farrell, which was ignored. He worked effectively to calm the sectarian passions unleashed by the incident.

Belmore succeeded in having the Audit Act 1870 passed, which established the principle that government expenditure had to be authorised by appropriation through both houses of parliament, which had not been the practice until that time. He found the Sydney summers oppressive and therefore rented Throsby Park, near Moss Vale, as his country house. He resigned to protect his wife’s health and to resume his parliamentary career, and left Sydney on 21 February 1872.

The Earl of Belmore visited Scone 17th April 1871 to officially open the Railway Station. He had opened the line to Muswellbrook on 19th May 1869 when the Government ‘promised that the line to Murrurundi would be opened within 18 months’. The Governor could not refrain from a somewhat snide aside ‘about the slowness of the Government in progressing the railway extensions’. It appears nothing much has changed in 150 years?

The visit by the Earl of Belmore must have seemed like the return of the Messiah to local builder Mathew Miller. The latter came from County Tyrone; the home territory of the high profile Aristocrat and Diplomat. He had owned much of the land which was appropriated under the Railway Resumption Plan for Scone 1868 detailing the extension of the Great Northern Railway from Singleton to Armidale. In fact the railway bisected his land allocation of 230 acres on the northern extremity of Scone. As was usual at the time the massive impact of the visit by an ultra-important dignitary was commemorated by naming important local buildings and structures in their honour. The Earl of Belmore was no exception; some of this was ‘crawling’ or smacked of the obsequious sycophant? Mathew Miller went overboard. He named the eastern higher portion of his estate Belmore Heights. He referred to his personal fiefdom as Belmore Estate. His recently completed house became Belmore House. This is the same house now occupied by my spouse Sarah and myself. It was renamed ‘Geraldton’ by a later resident owner J A K Shaw. I’m thinking of going back to the original name? Sarah might not agree! The first iteration of the single story Railway Hotel was also built by Mathew Miller. It was renamed the Belmore Hotel which appellation it still carries today. The two story Belmore Hotel has emerged as one of the major hospitality venues in Scone. It proudly maintains this distinction at the time of writing. I believe the visit by the Earl of Belmore in 1871 will be forever recorded in perpetuity with these names?

I would have loved to be a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ when Mathew Barber Miller and Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore (inevitably) actually met? Verbal communication might have been interesting? I doubt that Old Etonian Lowry-Corry’s aristocrat-speak would be any more intelligible to Miller than the latter’s strident country Tyrone NI brogue would have been to the 4th Earl? Maybe ‘ausification’ in Scone for over thirty years had softened the rough edges?

The visit to Scone by the Earl of Belmore had a family connection. His sister Helen Gladstone had married William Alexander Dumaresq of ‘Furracabad’, Glen Innis in 1870. William Alexander was the only surviving son of William Dumaresq of St Aubins, Scone. Their son Rear Admiral John Saumarez Dumaresq became the first Australian-born officer to command the Australian Squadron in 1919-22.

Continue reading →

Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association Scone: History

I thought this might be worth revisiting; and be of some interest?

See also on this website ‘blog’:

The facts are that only five (5) of the original committee are still extant! Two of them are advanced octogenarians; virtually wheelchair bound and in care. Almost none are still actively engaged in the industry with the one possible exception being Hilton Cope. I still write if that’s engagement? The promo was written originally to celebrate the first-time major sponsorship of the 1996 Scone Race Club Cup Carnival.  Noel Leckie was the instigator. Much has changed since then; but the overarching philosophy prevails. There’s a new broom at the Race Club now.

Continue reading →

Thoroughbred Advisory Panel R & D

Featured Image: Derek Field, Widden Stud.

This is now dated but the best possible news at the time! It’s been a long time coming. My journey has taken me via the Australian Equine Research Foundation (AERF), Hunter Valley Equine Research Foundation (HVERF), Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre (HVERC), RIRDC and Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA). We fought for this; and now its happened. Funding is guaranteed and realistic.

Equally gratifying is the very strong Upper Hunter influence on the panel. Professional colleague Dr Catherine Chicken supports the chairman Professor Nigel Perkins who has been a frequent visitor since elucidating the EAFL dilemma. Derek Fiield is a long term administrator with Widden Stud as well as a Committeeman of both the NSW TBA and HTBA. Even Tas Reilly from Victoria spent many of his formative years at Widden. Jacqueline Stewart as Keeper of the Australian Stud Book is inevitably enmeshed in the district due to her role. It’s a revelation as well as revolution! Fabulous!

Continue reading →