Doug Rochester, from information from his mother, Nellie Rochester and local historian Laura Wallis.

The Mudgee Guardian, 'Take a Tour through our Past' by Diane Simmonds.


Apple Tree Flat p1

by  Diane Simmonds(c)

Photos coming


Apple Tree Flat is just out of Mudgee on the Sydney Road - a very pretty thoroughfare on the way to Sydney. But little do you realise the history contained in that historic area.

Let's take a tour, beginning at Horse Flat Lane, just before the old windmill on the right hand side going to Sydney.

This site, just on the corner of Horse Flat Lane, Mudgee side, was once a butter factory. Granny Ward lived in a slab hut in Horse Flat Lane. Opposite the lane on the river was once a two storey stone house owned by Cadill, then Bowman. Convicts once lived and worked there. Just before Mullamuddy Bridge, on the right hand side where the poplars are, was once a pub where Cobb & Co stopped. Some of the old bricks from the building still remain.

Drive past Mullamuddy Creek, Horse Flat Lane, Cumins Lane, Pages Lane, then on the right hand side, toward Sydney, the two tiny doll like houses in this area were once dairies. Up behind these dairies was Martin's Hill, the place where an old bullock driver was killed. The road has since been changed and Martin's Hill is now on the left hand side just ahead toward Sydney.

Pull in immediately at the bottom of Martin's Hill and look back toward the river and you will see  a large white cross near the river, which marks the spot where a priest died crossing the river whilst visiting someone on the other side.

Further along, on the left hand side is an old concrete house with a tree growing through the centre. Maurice Condon once lived in this house and the Appletree Flat tennis court was here. From Martin's Hill to this spot was the Appletree Flat recreation area, with a community dancing hall, shops, a post office and another Cobb & Co stop.

On the right hand side of the house, near the road where the Kurrajong tree is, the old tin Catholic Church once stood. Maurice donated the church to the community, but never went into it to pray. He lived a good Catholic life, but never went into the church.

Two old miners lived near the shop toward the cross. One was a Russian, who used to give the children a threepence wrapped in a handkerchief for a Christmas present.

It is said that Jimmy Governor used to walk through here with a swag on his back. The family lived in a place  beside the Cudgegong Hotel, near the Rylstone turnoff. They used to sing as they came along and could be heard a long way off.

Opposite, on the right hand side going to Sydney, up on the hill near a dam topped with a gathering of trees, is a grave with a wrought iron fence around it. This grave belongs to old Jim Prince. There is also a cement square here to mark the spot where Charlie Prince died.

Keep driving to Sydney, and on the left hand side is an old wind mill. Opposite this, on the right hand side, is Stubbs' old Cobb & Co horse change called 'The Half Way', being half way between Mudgee and Cudgegong. There is another tiny mud brick dairy here as well.

Just past this on the same side you can just spot another tiny mud hut, crumbled now, but once a gold digging area called 'The Gulf'. Some of the best gold in the area was reported to be found here. Mining stopped because of too much water in the ground. Bocoble is straight behind his area, with some limestone caves near there. You can see up on the hills at the rear, the tree line where the gold diggings were. Many members of the Rochester family lived in this area.

Riverlea Road on the left hand side was called 'The Sand Hill' because of the sandy soil. The Best family lived in this area. On the right hand side, there is a small collection of houses. Jim Goodman lived in the original old tin house, Mary and Bil in the original slab house, which had four rooms in it. Granny Goodman lived in the slab and tin house.

The Tunna Butta Cemetery is on the left hand side of these buildings. Some of the names buried here include: Rochester, Goodman, Best, Clarkson, Steward, Gale, Bates, Broadbent, Bennett, Hanchard, Cooper, Duff, Frandson, Hendricks, Sargeant, Shields, McManus, Condon. Many babies and children are buried here: Gwenneth 1921, 14 months; Joyce 1926, 2 days; two Hendricks children, one 8 years in 1883 and one 3 years in 1883 and Jack, 3 1/2 years old.

On the Sydney side of the cemetery is the Tunna Butta School House, still standing.

Travelling toward Sydney again, on the right hand side was the first Apple Tree Flat exchange. In the group of houses on the right was the original mud hut belonging to the original settler in this area, Elis, related to the Rochesters.

Past the Travelling Stock Route (TSR) on theleft hand side, and on the right hand side was where the village for the Windamere Dam workers lived. There was originaly about 20 buildings, but only 2 left. The yellow house on the road is one of them.

Continue onto the Windamere Dam picnic area. Stoney Pinch is where the dam wall is now, in the picnic area. The original road went through here, and be seen looking over the wall at low level. There was once a Cobb & Co holdup here.

Back on the Sydney Road, when you come to the truck stop on the left hand side, pull in and turn sharply left, back toward Mudgee and up the hill. This road leads to the old Cudgegong Cemetery. The road is not good, not even for a 4 wheel drive, but you could walk it. Some of the oldest graves in the district are here, plus views of the dam covering what was once Cudgegong township.


Aarons Pass; Past & Passing

by Mickel Murphy Cowie (C)   Michael Cowie

Aarons Pass so named by James Blackman circa 1820 to acknowledge his native guide’s help in marking the trail from Bathurst to the Cudgegong River Valley. Soon after Lieutenant W M Lawson’s diary records “they crossed the Turon River, went North East to Crudene (sic) to a long granite hill where “the guide Aring or Aaron” after pointing out the direction of the country they were seeking, resolutely refused to move any further, as he feared the hostility of the tribe beyond his own saying: “Baal that not my country, there is where you are seeking, me go no further” and no inducement could alter his resolve.”

But it seems Aaron soon overcame his fears, perhaps assuaged by the white settlers protection for Lawson journal entry for 26 November circa 1821 records that Ering the black native led him “S.E. by S. through a fine grazing country to Troben called Davy” (Dabee or The Dabee Plains).

Aaron’s collaboration with the white settlers was also acknowledged in August 1822, W M Lawson, then Commandant at Bathurst requested brass plates for five of the local aboriginal chiefs, including Aaron “Chief of the Tabellbucco Tribe”.

Soon after W M Lawson was exploring the Goulburn River his journal entry on the 30th November 1822 says he enquired of his native guide “Ering” (Aaron) regarding the mouth of the river and the native replied “where the white man sits down”. Identifying Newcastle as the confluence and confirming the Goulburn as a tributary of the Hunter River.

In September 1823 Thomas Hawkins, was the acting coroner investigating the brutal murder of Peter Bray an assigned servant of William Lee at Bathurst Plains. Hawkins reported to the Judge Advocate “Earing, (Aaron) a black Chief of the Tabellbucoo Tribe states that he went to the hut in company with the Jurors and saw the tracks of the natives”…”the Jury are of the opinion from the statements of Earing, that the deed was perpetrated by the four Black Natives known by the names of Jackey, Taylor, Charley and Cougo-gal.” There is no evidence of any investigation into the events that precipitated the murder of Peter Bray or the motive of the four natives that Earing identified as the perpetrators.

In his History of Mudgee circa 1910, GHF Cox tells of Aaron’s aid to the Cox family “the faithful native guide Aaron having so frequently mentioned Dabee, in high terms” the Cox’s investigated and selected the property later known as “Rawdon…for many years it was used as a breeding station”. And then adds “Aaron, who was killed in a tribal warfare between the blacks at the long-water hole at Dabee”.

Rumours of Aaron’s death moved a correspondent identified as “Candid” to write to the Editor of The Sydney Gazette on Thursday 12 August 1824; “Do not the despatches, that arrived at Head-quarters (Parramatta) in the beginning of this month affirm, that in an affair that took place at or near Mudjee (sic) five blacks were killed? Is old Aaron dead or alive? If dead in what way did he die?”  A press clippings from the Cox family papers says “immense number of the native men women and children were slaughtered at Mudgee….And amongst them poor old Aaron, he was shot in the long reach of water at Dabee.” Thus Aaron’s forebodings were realised, murdered in alien tribal country probably by associates of the white men he led to the Cudgegong Valley and Dabee Plains 

The pioneer Blackman; Lawson; Cox and Lee families lost a willing guide and servant commemorated at Aaron’s Pass. But I suspect the Aboriginal tribes of the Cudgegong, Capertee and Goulburn River Valleys had mixed feelings about Aaron, the Wiradjuri Tribal Chief who eagerly led the white dispossessors to their tribal country.

Mickel Murphy Cowie



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