We arrived in Tumbarumba on Sunday evening and stayed only two nights and the intervening full day. It’s hard to believe, given the amount we fitted into that flying visit.
As usual, we camped at the local caravan park in our tent. We found the place full of blueberry pickers, seasonal workers who were doing exactly what my great grandfather did all those years ago. Going to sleep on our first night, we could as easily have been in an overseas country, which was a nice touch. I don’t think there was an English speaker amongst them, but most shared a language.
In some ways it was problematic though, as the pickers did not share the usual tourist ethos of using facilities and quickly as possible and freeing them for the next camper. These guys were living there and spent all night in the camp kitchen playing rap music and having huge cookups with the single camp stove. Our phone batteries went flat and we ended up eating at a cafe down the street which was an expense I hadn’t budgeted for. A few fellow tourists were quite disgruntled and cut short their stay in the town. Due to language barriers we had little success if we asked to use the electric jug or a powerpoint. Many of the pickers were sleeping in their cars and the campsite looked a bit like a carpark at times. But they were very friendly and there was certainly no alternative venue for them to sleep in.
Apart from our visit to three families of relatives and the exploration of the house and farms, here’s a summary.
We were given copies of some photographs and I used my camera to obtain more.
We visited the cemetery,
and we went to look at the memorial plaques on the property.
It was a very full day which went from about 5AM till 10PM, but on Tuesday morning we packed up our tent, loaded the car and headed out of town. I very much hope it is not another five years before I can return.
The Snowy Mountains was our furthest point from home. From here we were on the way back. The plan on this Tuesday was to return to family at Wangaratta, an easy drive of 220km. Having left Tumbarumba by 8AM, we had a whole day to fill in. So, I pondered, what was on that route that we could go visit?
By 1861, my great great great grandfather Francis Burleton was a member of the School Board at Bowna, so at that time it was big enough to have a school. It had it’s own cricket team. There was a tennis court and the residents held balls and concerts. This was a properly settled place and must have had a cemetery and a church too. This is where his daughter Mary Ann Burleton was living when she met immigrant John Peard. They were the parents of Burleton Herbert Peard my great grandfather.
All we found was a single sign. Not a house, not a person, not a single lone chimney in a paddock. I can only assume that in the years the road has diverted and this sign refers to the district of Bowna. At two points we could see the odd roof across the paddocks but no way of reaching them. Somewhere in this area is undoubtedly a small cluster of old trees and dwellings. For us, this detour was a bust.
Scrolling through old newspapers, I had recently found a reference to Mrs Peard,the teacher at Moorwatha. My own family of Peards were the only ones I had ever seen reference to, and I wondered if this might be my Mary Ann Peard nee Burleton, in this little community some 80km from where I expected to find her.
As it turns out, this was Mrs Elizabeth Peard and I have absolutely no idea who she was. I have not properly researched my Peard 4th and 5th cousins and had better do so. Some of my unidentified DNA matches might come from this line!
Our journey to Moorwatha was very enjoyable. I’m going to give it its own blog post for the sake of others who might have ancestors there.
This post brings our journey to lunchtime on the sixth day.
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