2011 marks the end of an era for Yerranderie, the change of ownership of Private Town and Environs from Tonalli P/L to the Government of NSW. The actual handover was marked by a wonderful Easter Sunday celebration. It coincided with the one hundredth anniversary of St Senans Catholic Church, 24th April 2011.
My cousin, Adrian Spragg, has produced a little booklet of delightful photographs of the event and the one hundred and forty, or so, people who attended the Ecumenical Mass held at St Senans at 10am on Easter Sunday. At 11am, a marvellous morning tea was provided by the Burragorang Heritage Society. Then at noon, there was a tour of Private Town with myself and ten of my former caretakers. Finally a monster barbecue lunch was provided by the National Parks and Wildlife personnel.
For those who would like a copy of Adrian’s booklet about "THE HANDOVER" it is available from Valued Books, 02 9929 8350 or at PO Box 420, MILSONS POINT, 1565, NSW. There is also another twenty-two page illustrated booklet on "EARLY YERRANDERIE AND BURRAGORANG" in which you may be interested, (both at the price of $10.00 each plus postage)
I would like to say a special thank-you to all of those who helped me over the years to resurrect the "Old Ghost Town", as sung about by Frank Ifield. Incidentally, Frank sang of the "Ghost Town of Renown" in the early 1960’s. He said it was flooded by the Warragamba Dam. This was one of the myths spread about by the then "Water Board’. Subsequently I wrote to Frank and asked him to bring the lyrics up-to-date as the tune was great. Can you believe Du Monde Records Australia – produced by Martin Erdman – has released a CD of a group of songs entitled, "The Australian Spirit", in which the new version of the Yerranderie song is featured? So, although the Water Board condemned Yerranderie to death by drowning and also by strangulation of its road to the East, Yerranderie has refused to die. From 1960, I was determined to resurrect it. Now I hope that with the change of ownership, it will give the "Old Ghost Town" and a new lease of life. It is to become a Regional Park, a National Icon and gem in the crown of the NSW State National Parks and Wildlife Service and an Eco-Tourism Heritage Area of "Renown", as Frank says in his song.
I have appended a copy of a letter from Sally Barnes, the head of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Though I have donated the 467 hectares of land and Private Town to the Minister for the Environment (worth about a million dollars) this does not mean I have ceased my interest in Yerranderie. I have arranged for The Oaks Heritage Society to house the large quantity of archives I have gathered over the years. These have been carefully collated by Maria Pozza, and photographed by Arthur Senior, for which I thank them sincerely. I am delighted that future students of Yerranderie’s Heritage will be able to consult The Oaks’ Volunteers at their Wollondilly Heritage Centre (02 4657 1796) for answers to questions about Yerranderie’s pioneering and mining history.
For enquiries about future bookings, ring Yerranderie caretakers (02 4659 6165). Also, you may need to know that Kim de Govrik is the NP&WLS Superintendant at Oberon, and Duncan Scott Lawson is the local Ranger (02 6336 1972).
It is my hope that funding from the Government will maintain and improve the buildings, and provide the public in the future with this very special site for all eco-students, bushwalkers and visitors with a great resource centre for many diverse projects.
I will retain my personal interest in Yerranderie as long as body and brain power permit. At eighty-eight I am embarking on another book sparked off by the collection of Aboriginal Art and Artefacts I had in Yerranderie. It will be called, "The Sunrise of Aboriginal Art".
When I wrote "Yerranderie is My Dreaming", which incidentally is still available from the Tailor’s Shop or from Valued Books (02 9929 8350), I envisaged a three-part series. The first concerns Francis Luis Barrallier, our first white explorer in 1802, his story and the people he met. The second, about William Russell – Werri-Berri – and how he found silver at Yerranderie in 1871, and the resultant silver-mining boom. Then the final one concerning the demise of the town at the hands of the Water Board and its rise again during my ownership, so I have plenty to keep me busy.
For Yerranderie there is another era coming up, that of the Regional Park, and its use as an Eco-tourist destination. I hope this will prove as exciting as I have found the renovation and restoration period over the past fifty years. There never seems to be a cessation of stories of the wonderful people who visit, whether they are geologists, mineralogists, historians, lovers of the unique fauna and flora of the Blue Mountains or just plain Mums, Dads and the Kids, seeking an exhilarating adventure in a very beautiful and scenic spot.
I have retained ownership of three lots in Government Town. They are still in the name of my Company, Tonalli P/L, so I’ll still be around to watch over its future. Not that I can get there very much these days physically, but spiritually I’ll still be around, even if I’m only one of the many ghosts of Yerranderie’s Ghost Town – "The Ghost Town of Renown", as Frank calls it.
Good wishes to all Yerranderie lovers
Click here to listen to Frank Ifield and his song "Ghost Town of Renown".
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