Sunday 22nd OctoberWatts Cottage

See how the Watts family lived in the 1870s.

Watts Cottage Mr and Mrs Watts

Mr and Mrs Watts from NHS Collection

A programme designed to showcase the rich oral history associated with our 1870s Pioneer Cottage and the Watts Family. Bring the kids along to participate in games and fun activities centred on the Cottage and Museum. Hear stories of bygone times in Sorrento recounted by presenters in period costume.

Watts Cottage living room

Watts Cottage – Living Room

827 Melbourne Road Sorrento
Sunday 22nd October
Guided Tours of Watts Cottage will be run at 10am and 12 noon.
Adults: $5 Concession: $4 Children free

Monthly Meeting Sept 1st 2017

8:00 pm at The Museum

backius suitcase

Topic: “Unearthed – a Treasure Trove of History in a Suitcase.”
The generous donation to NHS by June Robertson (nee Croad) of a suitcase packed with carefully labeled photos and documents has led to the revelation of an intriguing Sorrento story. Long time volunteers in the Archives at NHS, Bergliot Dallas and Maggie Broadhead, put this story together. On Friday 1st September they recounted it to over 40 most appreciative people at the museum.

Sandarne, his house in Ocean Beach Road, was built to the design of Albert Backius in around 1915 and was named after his home town in Sweden. Albert built boats in the shed behind this house. How he came to live in Sorrento after many adventures around the world was fascinating. And his connection to the Croad family added to the local flavour.

albert backius

Albert Backius from ‘The Suitcase’

This excellent presentation showcased one example of the invaluable work conducted at NHS.  Many more stories to be revealed ….

Note: There is more on this story coming in the September edition of ‘The Nepean’

Monthly Meeting, November 6th 2015

The Sorrento Fossil Monster


Zygomaturus – pic from Australian Museum

Speakers at the NHS – David Pickering Palaeontology Collection Manager for the past 10 years at Museums Australia ( Victoria) and David Thomas ‘The Accidental Palaeontologist’ and Sorrento local who walks this beach frequently.

The two Davids told us a marvellous story of discovery and perseverance.

Bone pieces were spotted high up in the ocean beach Bay of Islands rock arch by keen eyed locals in early 2012. Chris and Allan Willox were the first to report them followed two weeks later by David Thomas who, fearing a human body, contacted police.

Museum Paleontologist David Pickering organised a meeting onsite. Another key player in this story is Bruce McFadyen, knowledgeable local Parks Vic Ranger and issuer of permits allowing exploration of the site.

The site was dangerous: access was only via a very steep rock cliff and rock falls from the arch were frequent. More paperwork for OH&S considerations for the workers was essential. Mining engineers had to be called in to advise. A big storm caused a huge rock collapse and new retrieval methods had to be devised. Masses of rock pieces had to be painstakingly examined.

But more and more pieces were identified until the skull (found by David Thomas) and jawbone with teeth proved it was the precious fossil specimen of a rare Zygomaturus.

Zygomaturus skeleton drawing

These large marsupials lived in groups. They had huge cheekbones and a big rubbery nose. This fossil is possibly 2.6 million years old. Small marks of predation can be seen on the pelvic piece – who had attacked this ‘Zygo’?

The audience were fascinated and afterwards clustered to see the actual skull of the ‘Zygo’ that David P. had brought for us and David T’s photos of the site. And we also were shown beautiful fossils of a perfect shortfaced kangaroo jaw recently found at Gunnamatta Beach.

Zygomaturus skull

Zygomaturus Skull

A great night for all … and NHS hopes to have a model of the Zygomaturus on display one day.

Note of interest – David Pickering is particularly adept at extracting minute fossil teeth. He has two extinct animals named after him a Pleistocene marsupial – Palorchestes pickeringi -and a Devonian fish from the Kimberley,  Pickeringia.


From Sorrento to Mudgee

by  Peter Munro

It is an oppressively hot Friday in March as I stood beside the grave of Trooper William Croome in the Mudgee Cemetery. Beside me stood William’s great niece Helen Shearman. As we read the inscription on the headstone, my thoughts were with William’s five mates who were buried on the Sorrento Cemetery and of the ‘Drayton Grange’ that ill-fated, ill equipped troopship who through sickness and death is the catalyst for the connection between these two towns.

Helen Shearman with Peter Munro

Helen Shearman with Peter Munro

Sorrento to Mudgee is quite a distance, even by to-day’s standards with the comforts of plane and hire car. Back in August 1902, the trip would have been considerably longer for William Croome who made his final journey from the military hospital at Fort Franklin, Portsea, to his home town of Mudgee, N.S.W. This was a homecoming poor William would never see. Continue reading

1913 In Review

It was in 1913 that the name of Australia’s capital city was launched. Our first postage stamp with a kangaroo inside a map of Australia appeared, as did the first Commonwealth banknote the ten shilling note which, in that year, was considered a good week’s wage.

1d original-stamps

In Melbourne, with its population of 651,000, it was ‘the year of the dome’, with the opening of the domed reading room at The State Library of Victoria. For the first time, lost dogs had a home in North Melbourne, The Eye and Ear Hospital was completed, and the demolition company of ‘Whelan the Wrecker’ was starting to make its mark upon Melbourne’s skyline. Daniel Mannix, who was to become Melbourne’s Roman Catholic Archbishop for 46 years, arrived in Australia, and half a million people came to visit Luna Park in its first year of operation……..”just for fun”.

Sorrento in 1913 seemed to offer more subdued pieces of news than in the previous year, which contained a drowning, a shipwreck, a hotel fire, misplaced vice-regal property and a conflict of local judicial interests.

Continue reading