Why Wallabadah?

Why Wallabadah?

Featured Image: First Fleet Memorial Gardens

See: http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/wallabadah-nsw

It is the most common question visitors to the gardens ask. – Why is the First Fleet Memorial Gardens four hundred kilometres north west of the original site of the First Fleet landing at Port Jackson in Sydney?

The answer is simple.

The Liverpool Plains Shire Council supported the vision of Ray Collins OAM to build a Memorial as a tribute to Australia’s first white settlers. There is no other Memorial in Australia that lists the names of the people who sailed on the First Fleet. The rejection of this vision by other locales within NSW is why it proudly stands in this quiet little country town of Wallabadah.

Ray Collins is a descendant from both First and Second Fleet convict ancestors. He grew up unaware of his convict origins only discovering that his ancestor’s name had been changed from Cross to Collins to hide the family’s convict ancestry.

The concept of my book Australia’s First Fleet is to put a human face on some of those who became our first white settlers of our country. A short story of Ray Collin’s ancestor John Cross can be found within the first few pages.

The book covers only a small amount of the history of England when transportation of convicts to Australia was being considered and a brief profile of Captain Arthur Phillip who was chosen as the Commander the eleven ships of the First Fleet. The journey, that took just over eight months and the eventual arrival at Port Jackson followed by the hardship of those first settlers are illustrated by stories about and letters from those who survived the journey.

The second half of the book illustrates each of the eleven ships of the First Fleet along with a list of all those who sailed aboard them. In an attempt to give a starting point for potential genealogists, each person has been identified by the ship they sailed upon; classified as either officials, marines, crew or convicts and where possible further information on each convict has been enhanced by noting the place of conviction and the sentence imposed.

The ‘Note from the Author’ acknowledges the many people who contributed to this work being completed and ready for sale. Please take a moment to browse.

If you wish to contact me either to give feedback or to place an order please note the contact email below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Helen Hope


Wallabadah is tiny village that straggles along the New England Highway. It lies surrounded by fine wool, stud cattle and prime lamb country. It has two historic buildings but the main attraction, incongruous in the region, is the comprehensive and sophisticated First Fleet Memorial Garden where visitors can learn about the people who travelled to Australia on the First and Second Fleets.

The Kamilaroi Aborigines, who inhabited the area for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, called the district “Thalababuri”. No one is certain of the meaning. However it is believed that Wallabadah means “stone” in the Kamilaroi language.


* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the district was inhabited by the Kamilaroi Aborigines who called the area ‘Thalababuri’.

* The first European settlers began squatting in the district around 1830.

* In 1832 600,000 acres (242,811 ha) at Goonoo Goonoo were granted to the Australian Agricultural Company.

* The 44,000 acre (17,806 ha) Wallabadah Station was taken up about 1835.

* A village emerged in the 1850s at the road junction where the mail coaches north and north-west met.

* Australia’s first country racing club was established in 1852.

* In 1856 a post office was established in the town.

* On 30 May, 1867 Captain Thunderbolt robbed the northern mail coach at Wallabadah. That year the Marshall MacMahon Hotel and the local public school were both opened.

* When the railway arrived at Quirinda in 1877 the importance of the town declined.

* The Anglican Church of the Ascension was consecrated in 1896. Additions were added in 1912.

* The local racecourse was built in 1898.

* Wallabadah was the location for soldier settlement after World War II.

* In 2005 the First Fleet Memorial garden was officially opened.

* In 2009 the Second Fleet Memorial was added.