Archive for October, 2007

ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 21 21.22
In 1869 a debate was held, chaired by the Mayor, Mr Marks, at the Courthouse by the Kiama School of Arts on the topic

“Has the British Government done justice to the Aboriginals of New South Wales?”

A complete text of this was published in the Kiama Independent of the day and is truly a remarkable document for its day. It specifically refers to the issue of land rights and Aboriginal land use, and mainly comprises a long essay written by  John Taylor, farmer of Jamberoo, which took an hour and a half for him to read. This is truly a remarkable document and details many aspects of local Aboriginal culture and land use, and also instances of injustices and even massarces in the colony. He holds the remarkable position that the Europeans could have negotiated with the Aboriginals, like they were forced to do with the Maoris in New Zealand. and goes onto make many other remarkable statements, which echoe the sentiments of Sorry Day these days.
King Mickey with his plate. Was this justice?
Here is a comprehensive history of King Mickey

To the credit of the Kiama residents of the day, the motion that justice had not be done was carried, with one dissenter.

It would be a perfect re-enactment for Sorry Day 2007, on May 20 as part of Reconciliation Week.



Update 1st May 2009

The full text is available at the Pilot’s Cottage museum, for some reason it won’t post here. I have posted a part of it on the top this page, but here is some of the text form the Kiama Pilot’s Cottage museum.

“Debate 1869

On April 29th, 1869 a debate was held in the Kiama Court House during a meeting of the Kiama School of Arts.

The Chairman for the night was J Mark, Esq., the Vice-president of the institution


Have the British Government done justice to the aboriginals of New South Wales?

What Followed

The debate was opened in the negative because the first speaker was absent.

First Speaker : John Taylor spoke for an hour and a half.

Click here to see transcript of part of his speech.
Next Speaker: Dr Taylor continued. Here are some comments

The government in a certain sense had treated the blacks kindly, but that what had been done to them was very paltry. On looking over the Blue Book he had noticed that the sum of £400 had been expended in blankets etc for the blacks. Yet he also noticed that the Government was able to make a provision of £200 for the Queen’s Plate, a prize for horse riding at the late Homebush meeting.
“The people of the earlier times in the colony were allowed to take unlawful means against the natives for destroying them and banishing them from their territories. They were regarded as infectious – injurious to the squatters, as the cattle strange to say would not graze where they could smell the scent of the aboriginal which is a remarkable instinct of animals.”
Therefore the squatters regarded them as noxious, and it was to their interest to have the nuisance removed. The government had allowed the squatters to get rid of them as they might, and they were shot down as though they were not human beings.
The doctor gave credit to Mr Plunkett as the first to put an end to this state of things, by bringing punishment upon a number of whites who had been murdering the aboriginals at a wholesale rate. He quoted a case that had just resulted in the execution of the murderers and he deserved the applause of all humanity.
Before this he believed that no justice had been done to the aboriginals.

Next Speaker: Mr Crawford ( public school teacher of Petterborough, Shellharbour asked permission to speak even though he was not a member.

He said he had considerable experience with the blacks and thought he was pretty well acquainted with their character.
He thought they were a very low and dishonest race of people and the government was too too liberal with them
What right had they to the soil of the country any more than the British subjects. They were indolent – they live on the land itself and did not produce anything by labour. Why should they be allowed to hold valuable land if they were too lazy to produce anything on it.
He disagreed strongly with Dr Plunkett’s actions.
As to Christianity: … they will never become Christians; they can never be made give way from their own religious ideas.
He didn’t think the squatters over interferred with their fishing and hunting grounds as was stated in Mr Taylor’s essay. Although shooting is a severe punishment still they had no alternative. It was no doubt wrong but if they did not do this they were in danger of being slaughtered themselves. No injustice had been done to the aboriginals.

Next Speaker: Mr D.L. Dymock

Approved of the essay and believed he aboriginals to be an honest and humane race.
He thought the previous remarks were uttered without thought.
Next Speaker: Mr Burgess-Born

Found aboriginals to be honest and had it not been for alcohol they might have always continued to be so. The government had made laws to prohibit publicans from selling them spirituous liquors, but this law had not been strictly enforced. He remembered visiting a college containing a number of aboriginals, which supplied many matriculators. He knew of many who could take their place at university and they were far from a ferocious race. He said that Bishop Selwyn of Lichfield, did all he could to put the British Government against the blacks.

Next Speaker: John Taylor replied

Spoke in high term of the honesty of the aboriginals, saying that if anyone wanted to leave their homes for any time, an aboriginal was usually left in charge.

The question was put by the chairman , when there appeared to be only one person in favour of the affirmative side of the question.

These are some of the first speaker’s notes.

Aboriginals of the Colony
Extracts from Essay read by Mr John Taylor

Seeing the interest that archeologists, antiquaries, and geologists take in the stone implements found in the alluvium of rivers in Europe, we would naturally think that a race of men, using those implements and knowing no others would be the objects of intense interest and study. Yet we have been in contact with the aborigines for nearly ninety and know less about them than any other race.
J Taylor then quoted from writings of Gideon Lang and Sir George Gray’s journals which were very sympathetic to the aboriginal cause.
Throughout the essay he used wider examples from elsewhere across Australia but they are not included here.

But the following extracts appear to be observations of aboriginal life around the Kiama district..

In 1843, at Jamberoo, a young blackman informed me that he had been sentenced to have 50 spears thrown at him by the Shoalhaven tribe; that the tribes would meet on the long beach for that purpose during the fishing season in the Crooked River, when there would be plenty of food for them; and that he was to work on for the blacksmith at Terry’s station for covering his shield with a plate of iron. He did so. Several of the district went and witnessed the ordeal. The delinquent stood up to his knee in the water upon one foot and the other thrown out behind him. He turned every spear either over his head or to the right or left, but always presented an oblique surface of the shield so the spears glided past; time was marked while the spears were thrown.
I came to Jamberoo in February of 1842; and in May following the blacks held a corroboree in what was then known as Wood’s Forest, prior to engaging the Shoalhaven tribe in battle on the very long beach. The moon was near the full and the ground was evidently skillfully selected to give the greatest effect of light and shade. A clear portion was allotted to the performers…… About fifty women were seated under the trees fronting the ground and Captain Brooke, their poet stood behind them and chanted the words of the corroboree, while the women sang as he repeated the words; and Mangy the chief led in the different scenes. The old men and women and also the young women with children in their arms, and the children sat behind the orchestra; while the young girls just merging into womanhood glided like spirits of the forest in the shade. It was no dance but a skillfully got up presentation, consisting of four different scenes; between each scene the actors retired to the light of the fire at a considerable distance and repainted themselves. Of course I understood as much as I would of a drama announced in a foreign language. The blacks were then perfectly harmless. The dense brushes, the proximity to Sydney and the small areas occupied for agricultural purposes, had effected the blacks less than those of the squatting districts, although the whites were much more numerous.
The first whites were cedar cutters and at first were protected by the military, from Sydney; and the black that committed any outrage were secured, tried and punished, some of them were hanged at Berrima. They have as much fear, I might say reverence as any Englishman and when convinced that they will be overcome by the enemy they endeavour to avoid every cause of offence, and live at peace with him; therefore, although the boldest spirits were shot or hanged, the tribe was comparatively unbroken. There were about two hundred warriors, many of them near or quite six foot high, and about twelve stone weight. There were many white men present, some of whom after the corroboree was over commenced to make bargains with their fathers and protectors of a criminal nature in reference to the young women. With pain I then foresaw what would be the end of the race.
In Europe the children of degraded mothers form the city arabs and criminal classes; and here the future mothers of the whole race were doomed to degradation.
At that period every settler had two or more convicts as assigned servants. There was a stockade of convicts forming in Wollongong harbour and a company of soldiers guarding them and several gangs of convicts on the road. There were seven assigned servants at Woodstock, and fourteen emigrants, thirteen of them young, unmarried men and too many of these were licentious in the extreme, the natural consequence being the degradation of the natives and loathsome disease.
The black fought this battle next day. They met in single line at about sixty yards distance, and exchanged spears for some hours, every spear being turned by the shields, until Neddy, a Jamberoo black was speared in the thigh. Then one of the Shoalhaven blacks was speared through the shoulder, when they considered justice satisfied, and separated and formed camps to attend the wounded men.
In 1843 I was returning from Wollongong and reaching Terry’s River about sundown a whole tribe of blacks were camped on the banks, they had been engaged in mullet fishing and the banks were covered with fish. They had eaten their supper and were distributed in groups around a gunyah, in which sat a story teller.— the younger men and boys sitting close to him, the girls and young mothers outside them, but all the picture of perfect enjoyment; while the young women glided through the forest with a lightness and elasticity of motion as if gravity had no influence over them.
One girl, tall and light glided from amongst the trees towards me, singing like a syren of the river. Her dress was of an opossum cloak, the flesh side out, of one uniform light grey colour; the skins were squared, beautifully sewn together, and ornamented with delicate red lines and dots arranged in geometrical regularity. That cloak must have cost her more labour than does the most superb dress of the European lady; her hair was divided in front and hung in regular and glossy ringlets on her back and shoulders; the cloak hung gracefully on her person over the left shoulder and under the right arm, which was exposed with her right shoulder. comparing her with her civilised sisters, she had not their intellectual expression, and was void of the expression of care regarding infringement on the rules of etiquette. But her ebony countenance bespoke the full enjoyment of pleasure, and her eyes sparkled from under her long eye lashes were full of benevolence.
She stood where the old krodgi was seated holding forth with Dr Ellis, then a boy, sitting at the feet evidently drinking in his discourse. At this time the tempers began to arrive amongst them was a neighbour of mine from Jamberoo, a man with the education and the address of a gentleman.
He made an illicit bargain with the father of the girl; but she being betrothed to a young blackfellow was faithful and disappeared.
I asked Mangle what was her name; he said “whitefellow call her Maggy.” I asked what the blacks called her; He said “Morgana”. I asked what Buta was in English; he told me it was the name of the clan of her tribe, and that they called the men Kumbo; and that Morgana meant a spring of water with the sun shining on it, or a clear sparkling spring.
Who I ask is the most barbarous, the uncivilised black or the white who would pollute the clear sparkling spring?
Some months later I was thrown from my horse on the Five Islands run; my tipsy companion galloped from me; I was greatly shook in the head and back, and my left wrist was dislocated – I felt in a dream like stupor, but I saw two old grey haired black women digging amongst the bushes near me. They immediately came to my assistance – one naked but the other slightly dressed; they talked in Kamilaroi, but there was no mistaking their sympathetic actions.
One of them went away but returned soon with a bangelo leaf full of water, with which she bathed my brow with a hand as light and soft as my mother’s whilst the other washed my hands; and when they saw my dislocated wrist they both cried.
The water revived me and a profuse perspiration broke out which the dressed one wiped off my face with a corner of her dress. When I spoke she told me in broken English that I belonged to Woodstock and I was at the Corroboree; I asked her to direct me to Wollongong, which she attempted but not understanding she offered to conduct me ; when near Wollongong I gave her a shilling and told her to go back; but I asked her where Dr O’Brien resided and she would not leave me until we reached the doctor’s, who hunted her off with his dogs.
In 1844 I began to split a piece of freestone of about 40 tons weight; it was grooved all over and a number of worn out stone tomahawks was lying around. As we were driving the wedges the chief (Mangy) and three other blackfellows came to grind their tomahawks; he told me that it was their grindstone; that their fathers had used it time immemorial, and that other tribes had the right to use it. He asked me how I would like them to steal my grindstone;
and told me that we were robbers and intruders, also the name of the tribe and the name of the rightful proprietor of the ground, trees etc. and cursed the whole white race and the stupidity of his fathers for allowing us to set foot on their soil.
In 1845 when returning from Shoalhaven I was overtaken by a fearful thunderstorm and deluge of rain at the Little Meadow on the south boundary of the municipality; the tribe was camped there in a circular hut built with sheets of bark. They offered me shelter and I accepted; they took the saddle off my horse and hobbled him with stirrup leather. The women first covered their own persons, and then the men and all behaved with a propriety that the most fastidious could not find fault with, and with hospitality that astonished me. They were very much alarmed and said that Baiama was speaking.
He then went on to mention an incident at the first agricultural show in 1846. Briefly a knife had been lent to an aboriginal by Mr Newnham, he put it on his gunyah and it was stolen.
The aboriginal saw the knife and told the whitefellow that it had been belonged to Mr Newnham.
A number of settlers sitting on a log opposite the inn ….. would have assulted the black if I had not interferred….
Later Mr Newnham appeared and the black walked towards him. The settler called the black and gave him his knife.
The aboriginal said ” that is not right either. When you thought it was a blackfellow’s knife you would steal it and punch me for saying it was mine, but when you find that it belongs to a gentleman and see him coming you give it up.”
About this time a blackfellow named George took a clearing lease at Crawley’s Forest.He repeatedly brought me wheat of his own growing to grind and while waiting would talk with great intelligence. He told me that for six years he had been on whaling voyages, and he had saved some money and the ship was at New Zealand when Captain Hobson arrived as Governor — that he was ashore with the captaina and mate at the Meeting of Waitanga.. that he had heard the moori speeches and the captain got them in English for him – that the Maoris were not such fools as the Murris, that they made the government pay for the land and reserved enough for themselves, while the Murris (his fathers) had allowed us to take their land without a single reserve – that plenty of blackfellows would now cultivate and grow wheat on their own land if they had any, but it was a stale game to clear land that justly belonged to them for whiteman.
That Mr Hindmarsh’s farm at Gerringong was his native inheritance and that Sandwa Swamp and Weree Creek belonged to the whole tribe.
I tried to translate their poetry, but I misunderstood the genius of their language. It appeared to me to consist almost wholly as nouns. I now understand that the nouns by a slight change become most flexible verbs, and that the language is capable of expressing the nicest shades of thought. They were at loss to find an English verb to express the correct sentiment; and I concluded that that they were altogether deficient in them. The sentiments related to mainly war and love, but they seemed to possess a strong sense of the ridiculous and much wit different from the soft flowing humorous wit of the Irishman, and more resembling the ironic biting wit of the Scotchman. But every piece they concluded with a wail for the whites taking their country from them.
I distinctly understood them to say that Baiama created all things; that the thunder was him speaking but he was never seen, that the woods and waters were full of wundas or spirits; that the greatest spirit of the wood was Yako, and the waters Bunyip; and at their sacred circles (one of them I saw near Good Dog), where they made the boys into men and the men into councillors, that the cobon wunda or arch fiend, who inspires the krodgis, appears to the krodgis in the form of a snake that he sometimes attacks and spears the moon which becomes covered with blood and dark, that they then cry to Baiama who dresses the wound and the moon shines again.

The only time I observed anything like prayer was when riding along the Minnamurra River. I saw old Nangle standing over the river on a nearly horizontal fishing; he suddenly screamed and called on Baiama. When I got to him there was a large and beautiful seal at the root of a tree and between him and the bank. The seal left at my approach. Nangle said that the seal was a wunda. I asked him Baiama would help him and he said that Baiama helped the blacks before the whites came.
I have repeatedly seen them mourning their dead on Pheasant and Bombo Points. Their distress is extreme. At the day break the whole tribe sing for a considerable time. I was anxious to see the burials and joined the tribe on Bombo Point. They treated me with courtesy but before they lifted the corps a blackman came from Kiama in seeming great agitation and told the tribe that a man had been drowned from a boat in the harbour and they were grapling to recover the body. The black regretted that they could not leave the funeral to assist. I went to Kiama and found nothing the matter. I returned immediately but the funeral was over, and the women in an agony of distress.
For their burial grounds they select the most picturesque and beautiful spots. Porter’s Garden was a spot of surpassing beauty until made a desolation of its beautiful vegetation.
I have said that Mangy was the last of his tribe. Within seven years of the corroboree every physically fine man was dead. The reason was the utter breaking up of their tribal organisation and substituting no other. The men were employed by the settlers, and accustomed to clothing and shelter; while the old people were allowed to wander and pick up whatever existence they could in the bush, the young women being prey to every licentious European. The working men were too often too often paid with rum. No family intercourse being provide for them, family longings would come upon them after two or three month’s work, they would then go to camp and strip themselves to show they were as good blackfellows as ever. The result would be a cold , often severe inflammation of the lungs, but always some pulmonary disease.
They would be carefully attended to in the camp by the women and would die: that together with rum and disease – that return for their country that we gave them – soon finishes the race.

Every squatter brings up blackboys, and finds them invaluable as horsebreakers and stockmen and generally healthy until they reach manhood; when they visit the camp and return the victims of pulmonary disease.
We charge them with treachery and cowardice, while we glory in our own natural history, because our forefathers from being able to form more powerful combinations were able to drive the invaders from their soil; but we can use their courage and bloodthirstyness for the destruction of their own race.”

King Mickey of Kiama with King Billy of the Shoalhaven.

The modern experience is much more positive.
Photo from Kiama independent article

Here is a great article on Kiama Aboriginal history at the Kiama Library

and includes the meanings of local place names
Local Aboriginal place name meanings

Attunga – high place
Bombo – from Thumbon (renowned head man) (this is disputed in other sources, may be the sound of the sea)
Bong Bong – big swamp (also well known tribal/family group up on the Southern Highlands, who fought the ‘Battle of Fairy Meadow’)
Coolangatta – splendid lookout or view
Gerringong – fearful noises on beach
Elanora – Home by the sea
Illawarra – from the aboriginal words Elourera or Allowrie, meaning high place near the sea
Jamberoo – track or meeting place
Kembla – from Djembla (wallaby)
name of the father spirit of Eastern NSW (Kiahma or Baiame) Biame is very well known in many stories, which could mean it was a very special place.
fish caught from rocks
where the seas roar
Minnamurra – sheltered camping ground , lots of fish
Moruya – home of the black swan
Nowra – Black cockatoo
Terrara – scrubby place
Tongarra – Place of cabbage trees
Toolijooa – place of emus
Warrigal – wild dog
Wollongong- from Wollonyuh or Wollonga, meaning sound of the sea or hard ground near water


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Captain Taylor Penfold, the Australian aeronaut
Captain Taylor Penfold Australian aeronaut

In the archives of the Pilots Cottage is a gem of  a thing, the original submission of Captain Taylor Penfold , the Australian Aeronaut,
to exhibit at the Kiama Show in 1911 or 1912.
It details his considerable fame and success, including demonstrating aerial bombing over the American Fleet in San Francisco in 1908. He toured the shows in Australia and would drop from a balloon and do the triple release, which is to have three parachutes release one after other, in red white and blue, before finally alighting on the ground safe and sound.

Sadly no record of him exhibiting is yet found, though the Kiama Independent of the day would be the first place to look.

Some of his interesting history can be found at:



Here he is in an inflatable suit


Here is a postcard he sent

“July 2nd 1910 from Sydney to the Minister of Defence and the contents were as follows: “Dear Sir, Kindly advise me if final time has closed, for entering a machine for the Commonwealth Aerial Prize. To oblige, truly yours, Captain Penfold, The Australian Aeronaut, Box 1564, G.P.O.”

V.P Taylor in rubber suit
V.P. Taylor [in inflatable rubber suit] floating on San Francisco Bay, Sept. 29th, 1926

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 17 17.32
Taylor Penfold balloon about to ascend at Clontcarf, 1910, part of a postcard series.

Other coverage of his exploits include;
)from http://www.westernsydneylibraries.nsw.gov.au/westernsydney/air.html)
Captain Penfold
In November 1911, as part of the 50th Anniversary of Local Government in Parramatta, death-defying balloonist Captain Penfold (Vincent Patrick Taylor) planned to arrive dangling from a balloon on a trapeze, wearing full dress military uniform. The flight, like most of Captain Penfold’s ballooning exploits, was doomed to an early finish: the balloon his a tree and Penfold had to cut himself free, falling to the ground. Penfold had twice been rescued from San Francisco Bay: once by USS South Dakota and once by USS West Virginian while visiting the American Atlantic Fleet. His enthusiasm for ballooning was not diminished by the accident: he took his act overseas, and had to be rescued on a number of occasions after similar stunts, including crashing on his head while flying over London dressed as Santa Claus.”

His brother George Augustus Taylor was a pioneer of heavier than air machines and flew a glider the same day Houdini flew his powered glider.

here is a biography of V.P. Taylor from”
VINCENT PATRICK TAYLOR (CAPTAIN PENFOLD). The most outstanding of theBalloon Era parachutists was Vincent Patrick Taylor (1874-1930).Vincent Patrick Taylor was born in 1874 at 137 King Street, Sydney opposite the stallsentrance of the Theatre Royal. His parents were proprietors of a shop at 137 King Street,selling cut flowers, fruit and confectionery. Later they branched out into catering in a bigway from a factory in Darlinghurst. From there they supplied racecourses, sportingfixtures and picnic beach resorts with wholesale cut sandwiches, pies, cakes and softdrinks. Members of the family all worked as partners with a share of the profits.Among the other members of his family were his brother George Augustine Taylor(1872-1928) who worked with Lawrence Hargreaves on the development of gliders andwho founded a number of construction journals. George Taylor’s wife, Florence MaryTaylor (1879-1969), was an architect and the first woman in Australia to fly in a glider, atNarrabeen on 5 December 1909. A stone monolith was dedicated at Narrabeen by theNew South Wales Premier, R W Askin, on Saturday 25 September 1965, commemorating the first flight in Australia in a heavier-than-air machine, by George Augustine Taylor, atNarrabeen Heads, on 5 December 1909 (Wings, November 1965). A sister, Mrs ChristinaLogue, lived in Darlinghurst, Sydney.Taylor and others of the aviation circles he moved in were to become part of theintellectual and literary group that was connected with the Sydney “Bulletin”, includingsuch literary and artistic figures as Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and the Lindsays. Taylor and Lawson were friends but conversation was difficult as they were both partiallydeaf.Taylor also knew Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. Before one of Smithy’s ocean-crossingflights Taylor said to him: “Smithy, why not take some parachutes along with you.” Smithyreplied: “Vince, if we are ever unfortunate to come down into the drink, we will probablysettle for harps.”As he grew up Taylor was articled by his family to a Sydney solicitor to learn the elementsof law prior to entering Sydney University. Finding this tedious he gave up law andentered politics, opposing Sir George Reid, a prominent New South Wales politician and,after Federation, one of the early Prime Ministers of Australia, for the electorate of King,but (not surprisingly) Taylor was unsuccessful.He then became a bookmaker’s clerk. After clerking for several well-known Sydneybookmakers he took out a licence and worked as a bookmaker on racecourses aroundSydney.Bookmaking eventually proved boring. In the meantime he had read about ballooning andparachuting in a book and decided to become a balloonist and parachutist.In 1900 with what limited knowledge he had gained from his reading he made severalballoon ascents at Clontarf, Balmoral and Wonderland City.These adventures convinced him there was a lot more he needed to learn about ballooning and parachuting. He decided the place to learn was America.Having made financial provision for his family he signed on as an able seaman on an American windjammer sailing for San Francisco at the end of 1906.In the United States, Taylor worked as an advertising agent, an extra with several theatrecompanies, and as a representative for a canvas awning firm.One day he learnt that a balloonist was appearing in Oakland, a suburb of San Francisco.Taylor introduced himself to the balloonist as Captain Penfold, the Australian parachutist,although he had made no descents at that stage. By working with the other parachutistsand observing what they did and said he made quick progress in the art.Taylor’s involvement in ballooning brought him to public notice on a number of occasions. On 8 May 1908 he was involved in the breakup of an airship belonging to J A Morell ofSan Francisco. This craft was 450 feet in length, 36 feet in diameter and had motors of200 horsepower. On 14 May 1908 he bombed the United States fleet in San FranciscoBay with firecrackers, proving their vulnerability to air attack.
Late in 1908 he left the United States and arrived back in Australia before Christmas.Beginning early in 1909 he made parachute descents every Sunday at Clontarf, usuallyfrom about 3000 feet. Taylor also took the opportunity of his balloon rides to take photographs and claimed to be the first aviator to take photos from the air in Australia. (The Australian Encyclopedia, third edition, 1977, says that in 1904 Melvin Vaniman tookthe first Australian aerial photograph from a captive balloon moored 300 metres above aSydney racecourse.)Taylor was also sponsored by businesses and local government bodies to do balloonascents and parachute descents at 25 pounds a day. Taylor would be costumed in whitepants, gold braided blue coat and gold braided peak cap. He would be equipped with ananeroid barometer. Thirty-three per cent of the takings would go to the local hospital.Taylor set up a factory in Sydney to manufacture balloons and parachutes. The balloonsweighed over two hundredweight and were made of Japara silk cloth.“A warehouse floor was rented with ample space in a building in Castlereagh Street,between Park and Bathurst Streets. The strong Japara silk cloth material was purchasedfrom Sam Walker, later knighted, who was Lord Mayor of Sydney for several years andCommodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron until his death.“Walkers would supply, on hire, their best sewing machine and a good strong usefulwoman machinist who knew her trade well. The material was cut into special patterns orgores of sixty to seventy feet lengths. Then sewing began.” The balloon was doublesewn and finished with new cordage.In 1912 Taylor went to England to get his pilot’s licence and received Royal Aero Clubcertificate No 376. While there he fitted in some balloon ascents and parachute descents,including a Santa Claus jump for a chocolate firm. According to Flight, London, 4 January1913, “Through Messrs. Aeros, Ltd., he secured the use of one of Messrs. SpencerBrothers’ balloons of 45,000 cubic feet capacity, which, piloted by Mr. Henry Spencer, andcarrying a cinematograph operator, left the gasworks at Battersea at 12.45 p.m. on 23 ult.” The following account of the jump is taken from Sir Hubert Wilkins’ autobiography. Hewas working as a movie cameraman with Gaumont at the time.“On the morning of December 23, Gaumont sent me down to the Brixton gasworks in theBattersea section of southwest London with instructions to film a balloon ascension.“The flight was to be a publicity stunt for Sandow’s Chocolate, named after Sandow, theGerman strong man, who publicized his product as a health food: ‘A Perfect Sweetmeatand a Perfect Food.’ A daring flyer named Captain Penfold was to parachute from aballoon wearing a flowing white beard and dressed in a red Santa Claus suit. Uponlanding he would distribute Sandow’s Chocolate from a sack to the children in Hyde Park.“It was a risky stunt, because Hyde Park lay two miles to the north of the gasworks wherethe balloon was being filled. If the wind held true from the south, the flyer could drop intothe big park safely. But if the wind should shift, the leaping Santa might find himselfalmost anywhere over the jagged roofs and chimney pots of London.
“The balloon was owned by the Spencer brothers, a pair of Australians who performed indemonstrations all over England. Their entire capital was tied up in the craft.“When I arrived at the gasworks, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, with a gustywind shifting from south to south-west. Low clouds were scudding over the city. But theballoon boys were game to go. Frank Spencer was troubled because there was notenough weight in the basket – a wickerwork affair just about big enough for three, withballast bags hanging over the edges.“On an impulse, I said, ‘Why don’t you take me along? I can add the weight and takepictures from the air.’“Without even thinking it over, Frank said, ‘Come on, Bert. Hop in!’“I climbed into the basket clutching my precious motion-picture outfit and a still camera,and squeezed in between the parachutist-Santa and Frank Spencer, while his brotherdirected the crew in preparations to cast off. But now the difficulty was reversed, becausewith the added weight, plus the wind and the chill air, the Spencers feared we night notrise quickly enough to clear the massive iron framework of the gas tank just downwind ofour starting point.“The large envelope swelled and swelled; every foot of gas possible was forced into it. Someone shouted, ‘Boys, unless you give the basket a mighty heave she’ll never clear.’“The boys heaved with a hearty, ‘Up she goes!’ And up we went, angling steeply towardsthe menacing iron girders. We didn’t clear them. The basket caught, almost capsized,and it was a miracle we were not thrown to the ground. My cameras were strapped in, butI was photographing with one when the jolt came. I was flung halfway out of the basket,but Frank, hanging on for dear life with one hand, grabbed my collar and prevented mefrom falling. It was a narrow escape. The great balloon swung and bobbed, straining ather ropes. We pushed and heaved, and after a few minutes of desperate strugglemanaged to free the basket from the iron framework, and lurched clear, sailing up at anangle. The houses sped by below us.“We caught a glimpse of the Thames beneath us and then we were lost in the clouds -clouds so thick they blotted out every sign of the great city down below. I suddenlyrealized what kind of pickle my impulsive offer to join the party had got me into but therewas no point regretting it now. We were cold and miserable up there, and felt quite alonein our strange and somewhat ridiculous situation, yet each of us wanted to carry out hisjob: Penfold somehow had to deliver those ‘palatable, digestible, economical’ chocolatesfor the Sandow Chocolate and Cocoa Company; Frank Spencer had to do his best(despite the wind and clouds) to deliver him; and I had pictures to shoot and then deliverto Gaumont. Naturally enough, all three of us wanted to get out of all this alive and in onepiece.“We drifted for a long while, during which it became obvious that wherever Penfoldjumped, it would not be in Hyde Park, which must have been left behind in the first fiveminutes of our wild ride. He had intended to swing out from the basket on a trapeze togive the viewers down below a thrill before dropping earthward on his Yuletide errand ofgood will. But that part of the show was definitely out now.
“We were discussing the dilemma when suddenly beneath us there was a patch of clearsky and open country. Whereupon the parachutist, without a moment’s hesitation,stepped to the basket rim and jumped with his load of chocolates, and I leaned oversidedesperately trying to snap him as he fell.“What with the relief from his weight and the mighty shove he gave as he leaped into theair, the basket tipped and swung violently, Frank and I almost went over the side with him- and we had no parachutes. But we managed to hold on as the balloon shot skyward. The plan was for Frank to release gas at the time Penfold, left, so that the balloon,relieved of so much weight, would not rise too quickly. By the time we had recovered ourbalance, however, we were up to fifteen thousand feet, with the gas release cord whippingviolently as we swung, and so entangled in the shrouds above us that the gas valve couldnot be operated. The more we pulled, the tighter the tangle. Now we were in a fix,because there was no possibility that we could climb into the shrouds and release thevalve by hand. We would have to wait until the gas cooled and for much of it to escapethrough the fabric before we could hope to descend. Frank estimated we might be alofttwenty-four hours, perhaps thirty.“It was bitterly cold at that altitude, we had no suitable clothing, and we were still rising. Soon we were up to twenty-two thousand feet. The wickerwork basket gave no protectionfrom the wind. But we were at least thankful that a balloon drifts with the air currents, soits occupants are not blown too hard. Otherwise, at the temperature we were in we wouldsoon have been stiff and frostbitten. We shivered for hours and rubbed and slappedourselves for warmth, except when we were in clear sunshine now and then as we swungfrom cloud top to cloud top.“But it was not long before we were aware of a new hazard, for the wind was fast carryingus towards the cold seas to the northeast of England.”“Penfold’s” landing at the end of his jump is described by his son, George Augustus Taylor(1902-1972), also a parachutist, in an article written for an aviation magazine many yearslater. “…when Taylor (Penfold) regained consciousness after landing on his head, hefound himself in a field near Chelmsford, some 35 miles north-east of Hyde Park;undaunted , he distributed his chocolates among the children who, with their parents,came rushing to his assistance.” (Australian Flying, January 1968)A large scale land and sea search was set in motion for Spencer and Wilkins but after acouple of days they returned safely to land. Gaumont were not pleased to find that theheavy movie cameras had been tossed overboard to prevent the balloon from going intothe North Sea. The chocolate company received publicity beyond their wildest dreams.On his return to Australia he made what may have been the first B.A.S.E. jump inAustralia, on Friday 5 June 1914. To test out an emergency parachute he had designedfor airmen, and for escaping from high buildings, he made a jump from the North SydneySuspension Bridge linking Cammeray and Northbridge, at a point 150 feet above the mudflats of Middle Harbour. The canopy opened in 40 feet. Taylor was reported as landing inthe shallow water exactly seven seconds from the time he had released the patent catchby which the canopy was attached to the ironwork of the bridge. The jump was watchedby a large crowd which loudly cheered the performance. (Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June1914) The bridge was replaced in 1939 by a reinforced concrete bridge.
Although over age, Taylor joined the A.I.F. during World War I as an artillery driver. Heserved for two years. He was Army No 9081, Driver, 10th Battery, 4th Field ArtilleryBrigade, Second Division. In July 1916 Taylor was wounded. After the Somme battle of15 November 1916 he was invalided out of action with severe shell shock and sent backto Sydney for discharge. He was discharged in 1917.During his service he reportedly obtained captain’s rank. Discharge papers from theRoyal Flying Corps were found in his pockets at the time of his death (Aircraft, 16 January1931). Among the duties he carried out in the A.I.F. was instructing soldiers in thehandling of gas-filled observation balloons at the Sydney Showgrounds in 1915.He returned to civilian parachuting. Up till 1918 he had jumped under the name he hadadopted in America – “Captain Penfold” – but after that date he jumped under his ownname of V P Taylor.In the twenties Taylor went to the U.S.A. where he continued his career until his death in1930. Apart from working as a stunt man for movie companies, Taylor engaged in a variety of ballooning, parachuting and underwater activities in the United States. He madeparachute jumps off the Niagara Falls River Bridge and the Snake River gorge Twin Falls-Jerome bridge in Idaho, 476 feet above the water. He also went over the Niagara Fallsand other waterfalls in barrels. He tested underwater gear of his own design.In 1930 he was hospitalised in the charity ward of the County Hospital, Jacksonville,Florida, suffering from a failure of his digestive system. Taylor neither drank nor smokedand was a physical fitness enthusiast, so the cause of the condition is unclear. Efforts atartificial sustenance failed and he died.At the time of his hospitalisation the British consul, Hon. Walter Mucklow, had promptlycabled his son, George, in Sydney. The Sydney branch of the Returned Soldiers’ Leaguegot in touch with the American Legion to see that he was buried with the honour due to hiscareer. A solemn requiem mass was celebrated at the Church of the Holy Rosary. Afterwards he was buried with full military honours in St Mary’s Cemetery. A militaryescort was provided by the Florida National Guard. The casket was draped with the UnionJack and the Australian and American flags, and the service and funeral were attended byrepresentatives of the American Legion and local dignitaries. The expenses connectedwith his hospitalisation and funeral were borne by the American Legion and the Daughtersof the British Empire.(Aircraft, 16 January 1931; Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 1931) Taylor’s own views on parachuting were expressed in an interview published in the SeattlePost-Intelligencer on Tuesday 7 August 1928:“Parachuting is the poetry of motion. In an airplane, one is being dragged along. In a freeballoon, he is pushed by the wind, but in a parachute he is supported and carried downlike a babe in its mother’s arms.”George Taylor junior, V P Taylor’s son and assistant in his Australian ballooning andparachuting activities, was also a parachutist and made his last balloon ascent at Casinoin New South Wales in 1920. The activities of barnstorming pilots made ballooning less ofan attraction to spectators.
(Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 1964; People, 4 May 1966; The Sun, 24 September1968; Australian Skydiver, December 1972)”

Here is an account from a NZ newspaper of Penfold stowing away on an airship, just before it crashed. (11 August 1908 Poverty Bay Herald)
Penfold stowaway

and here taking part in the first balloon race in Australia (Wanganui Herald, 16 November 1909, Page 7)
first balloon race

and when his balloon caught fire
balloon on fire

Here is a fantastic article on him in the Sydney Morning Herald. – 16 May 1964 complete with some fantastic photos.
ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 17 18.14
This was when he famously ‘bombed’ the US fleet with fireworks to show that aerial warfare would make battleships obsolete, in 1909
ScreenHunter_03 Oct. 17 18.17
V.P. Taylor and his son George about to make an ascent
ScreenHunter_05 Oct. 17 18.20

V.P. Taylor, pilot, at the Bristol Flying School, 1912

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t12kgul.jpgVery few people would be aware of the Sydney University glider club, run by Dr Hayden that ran off Fred Weir’s farm north of Gerringong, at the Kiama bends. A Museum volunteer, Jock Marks,  remembered it and asked Kiama Local History to research it. He recalls a friend of his who has or had an old Ford with ‘Kiama Gliding Club’ painted on the side!

Pictures of Doc Heydon’s Slingsby Gull can be found in the Australian War Memorial Archives at


This is what has been found so far…


Bessie East’s obituary mentions the novel way Bruce East used to get back form Sydney while they were couritng…


A typical glider of the era, the ‘Bat’.

A comprehensive history of early gliding, including the first recorded soaring at Saddleback Mountain by Phil Hamilton in 1936.


Gliding really took off when the first Slingsby Gull came to Australia in 1939.

It was the first  glider to cross the English Channel, in 1939 and compehensive detail photos can be found here.


The history of the Slingsby Gull 1 can be found here


and more comprehensively here


A vintage sailplane club still exists


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P1010978The Pilot’s Cottage recently had a visit from the Allen family of County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, who were surprised to learn of the family connection to the area, through the Allen stores in Jamberoo and Kiama, operated by John Allen and William Allen. One of the visitors was called John William Allen! They were even more surprised to learn of the possibility of the Kiama Penny Treasure Hunt! Read the link on the blogroll for more details.
Here is some detail from here
"In 1850, J C Thornthwaite, an English seal engraver who had arrived in Sydney the previous year, made the first attempt at producing an Australian made token. A crude, uniface penny piece resulted from his early attempts. In 1852, he was engaged by Samuel Peek to produce tokens for Peek and Campbell's Tea Stores. With no sophisticated machinery or raw materials, Thornthwaite made do with what he could find. At first, copper blanks were cut from the end of a copper rod by hacksaw. Later, they were cut from a discarded steamship funnel. A drop hammer was used to strike the tokens.
Thornthwaite's lack of facilities meant that the quality of his work was never high. In 1855, he made penny tokens for William Allen at Jamberoo and John Allen at Kiama. Each of the brothers rejected their tokens because of the quality. The tokens were subsequently sold and used by the Annandale tollkeeper on Sydney's Parramatta Road. Ironically, the rarity of these tokens (particularly those of John Allen) now make them among the most valuable of the Australian & New Zealand token series. "
I note the 'John Allen penny' is unvalud here. Hmm.
An explanation of why tokens were so important in the 1850s in Austrlalia
“1850’s – Tokens
Australian businesses had a problem. Officially distributed sovereigns and half sovereigns were all very well, but what could average people use to buy small items like bread? And what could a business use to give them change?

The answer? Tokens.

Tokens were not real coins, but issued by individuals and businesses to fill the void left by the extreme shortage of low denomination currency. Most were struck in copper and bronze, nominally as pennies and halfpennies, with a handful of threepences and even one shilling piece.

Their design usually incorporated the names of the companies that issued them, so surviving tokens give us an insight into the role played by individuals and their businesses in the commercial development of the colony.

There are no accurate figures to tell us how many tokens were produced, but it’s believed that a million pieces of all types were issued over a 16 year period.

The first tokens manufactured in Australia for general use were for the Tea Stores, owned by Samuel Peek of Samuel Peek & Co. Issued in 1852, they were made by John Thornthwaite, medallist and die-sinker, who had emigrated to the colony as a free-settler in 1849.

The primitive tools available to Thornthwaite meant that his tokens were struck in very limited numbers. His name is attached to some of our greatest token rarities, including pieces such as the Jamberoo and Kiama Penny. Very few examples are known to exist and they stand shoulder-to-shoulder in value with some of our great coin rarities.

Another legendary token, the Mason and Culley, is regarded as a symbol of its time. Its fame really began in 1930 when renowned collector Ed Wills paid £100 for one of only three known specimens – passing on the Holey Dollars that were offered to him at £7.

Perhaps the most famous Australian token is the Aborigine Threepence. Struck by Sydney jewellers Hogarth and Erichsen, this very rare token was the only colonial piece to bear the design of an indigenous person.

After being made illegal in Victoria in 1863, tokens were also banned in New South Wales in 1868. Western Australia became the last state to declare tokens illegal in 1878. ”

and here
“These days, as the boss of Noble Numismatics in Sydney’s CBD, Noble still has to keep an emotional distance from the tokens he buys and sells on a daily basis. Occasionally, he says, he is still very tempted.

$150 Barber’s cheques are also collectable. These nickel tokens were made for Winn & Langley hairdressers, Melbourne.

$6000 The Jamberoo penny is among the most desirable tokens. It was produced for William Allen General Stores, Jamberoo, by J.C. Thornthwaite in 1855. This example was estimated at $2500 before auction but fetched much more.

$30,000 Another example of the work of J.C. Thornthwaite. This 1852 Peek & Campbell Tea Stores penny is considered one of the rarest tokens. There are only six known examples.”
And here
“Thornthwaite’s best tokens were made from the copper funnel of an old steam-ship by several trial and error methods, but earlier efforts had included hand-sawing blanks from copper rods and using a press that did not have sufficient power -then over-weighing a drop-hammer stamper to the extent that the blanks were expelled from the machine like bullets.

The variances in quality were very obvious in regard to the finished products.

Thornthwaite perservered, however, and in 1855 he produced 34mm. Penny tokens for General Storekeepers, John Allen of Kiama and William Allen of Jamberoo, New South Wales as well as an undated Penny for Bell and Gardner, Iron mongers of Rockhampton, Queensland. ”
I have five clues I have worked out as part of the Kiama Penny Treasure Hunt, and which the Kiama Scouts are considering taking on as part of their loclahistor badge. Post a comment if your want to know more!

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The Pilot’s Cottage recently had a visit from a Historical society from a small village in North Hampton, England, the village of Yardley Gobion.

After a lovely visit they gave Kiama Local History the details of their website back home, and here it is.


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