The Legacy. Written by Corrie Formston (Mrs Mac)

      Excerpts reproduced with permission.

My father, George Heyne, and his wife Cornelia, were early settlers of the Matcham Valley, in that portion now called Holgate. My Dad was born on September 22 1880 in Madras, India of British parents. He died in Sydney on July 17, 1959 and his ashes were immured in the Columbarium at Christ’s Church, Gosford where he was joined by my mother almost twenty years later. My mother was born on April 4th 1884 in Java of Dutch parentage, and she passed away in Gosford on December 30. 1976 aged almost 93 years. She was in full control of her faculties until the day before her death, writing in her diary daily.  When my parents first came to Australia in 1908 they bought 70 acres of heavily timbered land on the flat where Fires Creek ran and became Erina Creek. Their selection was all that part between Wattle Tree Road, Coachwood Road and Oak Road. There were no roads formed at that time, only bullock tracks. Everything had to be carried from Kirkby’s Corner at the junction of Carlton Road and The Entrance Road which was then called Tuggerah Beach Road.

A total of 72 acres of land were sold to my parents by Frank Measures a land developer prior to subdivision of the area. When this was completed and the road finally surveyed my father lost several acres in the process. Dad brought his mother, his brother Allan and his sister Mary (Maggie) to his new selection. My mother’s brother Hugo van Harrevelt also joined them there.
My parents had come from India and Java where they had been the “Sahib” and “Memsahib” the white rulers in those then oppressed lands. They came to the wilderness as pioneers with none of the accustomed servants or trappings of “civilisation”. They had to learn the simplest of farming skills. By trial and error they worked and cleared the forest. They lived temporarily in a shack owned by Domenico Talarico, at a weekly rent of four shillings. With great difficulty they cleared an area on which to build a small shack, which formed part of the house they called “Forest Home”. The house was not completed for many years. Work continued for many years just to clear a ten acre patch for cultivation. My parents raised cattle and pigs and sold the timber from their land. They had to learn how to handle the bullock teams which they used, and they had to learn the hard way. My Dad had been a telegraphist with the Eastern Extension Cable Telegraph Company; my mother was one of the first ladies to be employed in the Bank of China in Singapore, Java and India. When they came to the rough conditions of the bush they were very uncomfortable and often very afraid.

Mary and her mother had been sent “back home” to England so that Mary might finish her education. My parents returned to India in 1909 leaving Hugo and Allan to manage the property. In 1912 they came hack to Australia but the war was imminent and my father who was in the Reserve Officers in the Indian Army was called up. My parents returned again to India in 1913. When the First World War broke out my Dad saw active service in Mesopotamia,
Afghanistan and Persia (1911 to 1920). In 1919 my mother joined my father in Persia. Where I was horn in an army camp tent hospital behind the lines. My birth was registered at Somerset House in London. Soon afterwards there was an uprising of warring hill tribes and my was mother led on a donkey with me. a babe of four days old to Basra, the Base Hospital on the coast. In 1920 the war was officially over but war in the Middle east has never really ceased; it goes on to this day.
While my parents were away from the land Mary used to walk from Matcham to Gosford twice a week to take instructions to become a Post Mistress. When she had passed her exams she went to Yamba on the North Coast as Post Mistress. She took her mother with her.  My uncle Allan joined the AIF and went to Gallipoli and France. Hugo stayed on as manager but it was too much for him alone. He disposed of the animals and left the farm to work on the tramways in Sydney. Later he returned to Java. So my parents’ farm was left unattended until after the war when they returned with me as a small child, in 1921.

By this time numerous families had settled in the valley. Dirt roads had taken the place of the bullock tracks and there were shops at Erina: Ducker’s Store on the hill opposite the Memorial, a butcher’s shop, a grocery store and a Post Office.  My uncle Allan was wounded in the war, and many years later he died of his injuries. When the Matcham Erina War Memorial was built at the corner of Terrigal and The Entrance Roads my uncle’s name was not included because he had not actually been “killed in action”. Nevertheless, he had been a casualty of the war. Aa child I resented very much that my uncle’s name was not there: although at the time he was still alive. Such is a child’s logic!  There was a period of a few years when I was too young to remember much, but I was told later of things that took place. There was the flood which swept away the bridge over the creek between Wattle Tree Road and Oak Road and other similar disasters. Men killed by falling trees and drowning were not unknown and snake bite was common.  My Dad relied heavily on two near neighbours. In particular, Marsh White and the Shelleys.

Marsh White worked for Dad and put in most of the boundary fence around our property.  My mother had to learn how to boil up the copper and keep the fire going. She had never done anything like that before. My father learned to harness the horse, use the plough, shoe the horse and to put the axe to good use, but only at the expense of many blistered hands at first.

In the early years things had to be brought in by train to Gosford and by wagon from Gosford to Erina and carried along bush tracks to where the house was. The first crossing of Erina Creek was by punt pulled across the narrow neck of the creek near East Gosford; hence the name “Punt Bridge”. The first Punt Bridge was a drawbridge which allowed quite large vessels to pass through. The remnants of the first bridge are still visible on the north side of the present bridge. which now stands much higher. The road across the tidal flats and mangrove swamps between East Gosford and Erina (or Woodport, as it was known) was made of hardwood logs laid side by side and the corduroy rippled effect could be felt when driving over it even after much resurfacing. Parts of  the old road now form picnic and fishing areas on the bank of the creek. When floods occurred the only way from our place to Gosford was on horseback over The Ridgeway to Springfield or Narara.  While my uncle Hugo had been alone on the farm he had suffered a serious accident. He had let his axe slip from his shoulder, the blade cutting him deeply between the shoulder blades.  He could not see it, nor could he reach the wound so he walked the two miles to Wilson’s Store where Mrs Wilson stitched the wound and dressed it for him for several days. Such were the dangers of working alone in the bush in those early days. It was into this wild place that my genteel parents brought me.