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Mike Scanlon revisits an Upper Hunter monument that’s isolated, yet always surrounded by curious tales | Newcastle Herald

news, history, history, Scanlon, Upper Hunter, Peter, Clark, bushranger, Blandford, monument

FOR every piece of history recorded, there’s often more that remains unknown. That’s why I was fascinated to receive a call recently from a Coalfields reader telling me more about a highly unusual monument to a bushranger’s victim in the Upper Hunter. This historic, isolated memorial, now 158 years old, was erected near Blandford, out of Murrurundi, in 1863. It’s on part of the original Old North Road. This now bypassed 8 kilometres of road between Wingen and Blandford is today a stock route amid lonely, rolling hills. But once this track was the gateway to the top of the Hunter Valley, and briefly the haunt of a bushranger called Wilson who soon became a killer. The bushranger bailed up a Hunter drover called Peter Clark, who, after a struggle, was fatally wounded. The much-loved Clark, of Bulga, was only 25 years old and engaged to be married at the time. The bushranger with the itchy trigger finger was caught and later hanged at Maitland Gaol. Meanwhile, mourning Upper Hunter residents quickly raised enough cash by public subscription to erect an impressive, permanent monument to the tragedy on site. The now weatherworn colonial obelisk, today in the middle of nowhere (pictured), still defiantly stands the test of time and is unique in the Hunter Valley. It also may well be the biggest civilian monument in Australia to a bushranger victim. Ages ago, I wrote about the remote stone memorial to Peter Clark as it remains virtually unknown to many people because of its location. That’s what aroused the interest of my Cessnock reader. I encouraged him to tell me what he knew of later developments. “I once worked with a person up here who I believe was a direct descendant of the late Peter Clark,” my informant said. “I was told the first male of that Clark family born each generation is still named Peter in honour of their lost relative, that bushranger victim so long ago,” he claimed. “Besides the name still being carried on, the Peter I knew was then very upset a few years ago, believing somebody, possibly Murrurundi Council, had a proposal to shift the historic memorial from near Blandford and re-erect it in a town park to better protect it after fears it might be vandalised where it is. “The Clark family descendants protested vigorously, I understand, and that’s why the monument has remained at its historic site. It’s hard to find anyway,” he said. Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts, Weekender was unable to contact possible relatives to either confirm or deny the stories, although they seemed credible. Members of some Hunter Valley historical societies said that they had heard similar yarns. Bushranger historian, author and Lake Macquarie resident Greg Powell said later he hadn’t heard of any Clark family Christian names being carried on. “But, if there is any truth to the tale the monument might be moved, well, that’s a shocker,” Powell said. “That would be a terrible thing as the monument is on the site, or very close to it, of where brave Peter Clark died, and it’s very atmospheric where it is. “Shifting it would defeat its very purpose.” Powell said he last visited the Upper Hunter monument two years ago leading a heritage group. The old obelisk didn’t appear then to have been vandalised, despite its age. “I can understand why though there might have been a proposal to better protect the monument and honour Clark’s memory. His own grave up that way is also very ornate,” Powell said Meanwhile, here’s an odd, coincidental link again with bushrangers and another shooting victim, also called Clark (but with an ‘e’), but at Wallsend, in the Lower Hunter. It comes from none other than talented Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis. He was told recently by a history buff that it’s likely he’s distantly related to the pioneering Clarkes of present Wallsend. For today there’s even a Clarke Street, near Federal Park. And there’s also the Lemon Grove Hotel nearby in Nelson Street. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Wallsend and the site was once part of the large Lemongrove Farm owned by William and Ann Clarke. William was one of the original free settlers in the district. The farm is now the suburb of Wallsend and what was Plattsburg. Back in 1842, William’s elder brother, John, was visiting from England when bushrangers intent on plunder descended in the darkness on the farm. Amid the confusion in the gloom, William shot an ‘intruder’ in his doorway who fell at his feet. To his horror, William found he had instead mortally wounded his brother John. An inconsolable William also died less than a year later. Both brothers are buried in the old Christ Church Cathedral cemetery. Widow Ann continued to live alone at the farm until her death 17 years later. PEOPLE find the strangest things during house renovations. Take Louise Tillman who’s been renovating her late father’s house at Rutherford before selling it. “Dad was obviously not a builder, but I do remember him on his bicycle carrying timber,” she said. “We were still surprised though to find the base of his kitchen cupboards were made out of old wooden boxes. “We took up the contact adhesive and I said, ‘Oh, my God’ these drawer boards are not even nailed down. They didn’t even fit the spaces, being about an inch short at the end. “Most timbers were plain, but we then found one which was from the lid of a box of explosives,” Tillman said. She said her father had obviously recycled potentially useful things when times were hard and money short back decades ago. The lid (pictured) was the most exciting thing she had found so far. Still in good condition, the box contents are stamped as: ‘Nobel’s Explosives Company Ltd – Glasgow’ although the box itself is marked Made in Australia. Tillman said her father had been a beekeeper at Pender Brothers at Maitland, was active in community affairs and she believed he once started Maitland Repertory. He was also a bit of a hoarder, especially where work tools were concerned. Another odd find in the house was a cricket ball concealed in the house cross beams. “It was just sitting there. He must have put it there to use later,” she said. “We’re going to leave it there now. When we are finished renovating, we’ll just re-sheet over it. “It’ll be a piece of house history to be discovered again.” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Mike Scanlon revisits an Upper Hunter monument that’s isolated, yet always surrounded by curious tales | Newcastle Herald Source link Mike Scanlon revisits an Upper Hunter monument that’s isolated, yet always surrounded by curious tales | Newcastle Herald

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