Historical fiction brings to life early Parramatta history

Historical fiction brings to life early Parramatta history

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Angela Sanderson’s historical fiction,‘The Vineyard’, brings to life the history of Parramatta’s first free settler farm and its grand colonial home demolished for a carpark in the early 1960s.

Her story starts with the German free settler, Phillip Schaeffer, who with his young daughter arrived in Port Jackson on the Lady Juliana, on 6 June 1790, having survived the ill-fated voyage on the convict transport ship, HMS Guardian.

Schaeffer was given the second land grant of 140 acres by Governor Arthur Phillip, making him the first free settler to establish a mixed farm and vineyard in NSW. His little known story provides a glimpse into the challenges and hardships that the early small farmers endured at a time when Pemulwuy waged a war against the occupiers, spearing soldiers and settlers, raiding farms, and slowing settlement beyond Parramatta for more than 10 years.

“A well researched novel bringing together the entire history of the Vineyard – Subiaco story in one entertaining book.” – Jeff Allen, President, Parramatta and District Historical Society.

She weaves her story around the succession of colonial families who lived on the small farm, located on the Parramatta River, at what is now Rydalmere. These families included Captain Henry Waterhouse, William Cox, Gregory Blaxland and Hannibal Macarthur.

The second part of the book imagines what life would have been like for the Benedictine nuns who converted the grand mansion into a private girls school after the Reverend John Bede Polding purchased the estate for the Benedictine Order in 1849 and renamed it ‘Subiaco’.

The book was launched by the Parramatta and District Historical Society on 15 March 2021 at its first meeting since COVID restrictions forced the society to close its operations.

The book is also for sale at Books Plus, Howick Street, Bathurst, Phn: 6331 5994 and Parramatta and District Historical Society, Hambledon Cottage, 63 Hassall St, Parramatta, Phn: 96356924.