On the 8th September, during History Week, the Best Family descendants and friends, celebrated the 200th anniversary of Thomas Best arriving in what is now Middle Dural. The function was held in one of the beautifully restored family homes.
It was an opportunity to think back on what survives of both the oral and built history of other people who chose to settle in the forests to the north of Parramatta. The History Society works hard to record their stories and holds an everincreasing collection of photographs. But what of their homes? The first were small slab constructions fashioned from the huge trees of their surroundings and there are photographs of families proudly standing in front of theirs; some remain. Next came the second home, made from sawn boards with a verandah and shake or iron roof. Luckily more of these remain. We are also fortunate to still have the little “Hudson Ready Cut” cottages that seem to have a charmed life. For how long will all of this early evidence remain so that we and future generations can see and enjoy it before they are demolished by neglect and a lack of understanding of their value?
The two Shire Councils along the Old North Road do have policies to protect the heritage of both the Original Cultures and the European settlers. But policies alone do not solve the problems that arise from the ever expanding Sydney population and the desire to build ever bigger homes. The Society is of the opinion that education might be the best way. There must be education to learn how to love history in all its ages, to learn what exists within our own community and to understand its uniqueness. Education to understand what the Councils are attempting to achieve with their policies. An understanding by Councils that maybe a negotiated compromise is the best way to preserve what we have.
On the 14th September Professor again entertained us with a most interesting talk on the architect William Wardell.
On the 15th and 16th October there will be a full bus of members staying in the Victoria and Albert Guesthouse at Mt Victoria on the way to visiting Highfields Gardens at Little Hartley and then the surrounding district.