Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Tale of Two Towns; David Ellis Visits the Southern Highlands to Mark a Special Anniversary

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Tale of Two Towns; David Ellis Visits the Southern Highlands to Mark a Special Anniversary

Article excerpt

WITH this, the 150th year since Bowral and Moss Vale were founded side by side in the NSW Southern Highlands in 1863, the folk there reckon theyave plenty to celebrate.

And theyare doing it with 12 months of festivities commemorating memorable Highlandsa a[approximately]firstsa and of tales of convicts, characters and explorers a the more nefarious include bushranger Ben Hall and Lucretia Dunkley, the only woman ever hanged in Berrima Gaol.

And tales of Don Bradman a and even Mary Poppins.

Today and next week weall share some of these tales with you, as well as highlights of this yearas celebrations in a region that began life as cattle country and a summer retreat for the elite of old Sydney Town to their cool mountain mansions amid vast home-country English-style gardens a with even the state governor having a summer bastion here.

And of how the Highlands, at 690m above sea level yet just 90 minutes drive south of Sydney, at every turn brings with them another postcard-pretty small town, village or hamlet connected to the past.

How many know that in January 1798, ex-convict-cum-explorer John Wilson led two other explorers into the now-Southern Highlands, one of them, John Price recording in his diary the first sighting and description by white man both of a koala and a lyrebird? His diary, given to Sir Joseph Banks, is now in the Mitchell Library.

Or who knew that it was in the Southern Highlands that Europeans first recorded flowering waratahs a and that in the underground car park of Woolworthas Highland Marketplace at Mittagong you can see remains of the first smelting plant in Australia, the Fitzroy Iron Works named after then-governor Sir Charles Fitzroy?

When these remains were found during ground preparations in 2005, Woolworths redesigned the complex around them so what little was left of the 1840s rolling mills, furnaces, boilers and chimney bases could forever remain on public view.

And next to the Mittagong RSL Club see where residents in the 1800s drew from a spring whose health-giving mineral waters were also fed into an adjacent bathhouse. That bathhouse has long since gone, but the spring still flows today. …

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