Her love of the great outdoors, and sharing that with children, features in just about everything she did and wrote, while her passion for photography captured scenes and animals of here we may not recognise in some cases. Ella's words paid numerous tributes to our environment and bore witness to seeing the little things as much as the great landmarks that have not changed much since she first visited. Her responses to her child and young adult readers spoke of the peninsula and shared tidbits of information on everything from the flowers to the Seasons and weather and what can be found where.
Ella May McFadyen was born a second generation 'Australian' (or third generation if you take into account her mum was born here) on November 26th, 1887 at 'Burrundulla', John-street, Stanmore. Ella was one of five girls and two boys born to Donald and Mary McFadyen. Soon afterwards the family moved to 'Airlie' in Garfield street, Five Dock. The suburb of Five Dock was named, apparently, 'from the fact of there being five natural inlets or docks on the western bank' - or there were. The earliest documented reference to Five Dock is in the Sydney Gazette, February 3, 1805. In 1806, Governor King granted this bay to surgeon John Harris, who named it 'Five Dock Farm', and this comprised the entire bay, including the current-day suburbs of Five Dock, Abbotsford, Drummoyne, Chiswick, Russell Lea and Rodd Point.
(1880). Parramatta River, Five Dock, Port Jackson, New South Wales, ca. 1880 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-140536671
The farm was eventually sold and broken up into smaller parcels of 30 to 60 acres and, being so close to town, began to be developed. By the 1890's, when the McFadyen family lived there, a tramway system had been installed making this area popular among those who had families who they wanted to have space and fresh air and who had to catch a tram to town to work.
While the family lived in Five Dock her two brothers were born as was another sister, while her youngest sister was born at Point Clare, Brisbane Water, in 1904, when the family moved there for a short time.
Her father was a businessman and did a far amount of travel as part of his job with photos which show some of the places, and buildings, he visited among the collection Ella McFadyen images held by the State Library of New South Wales. A bit about him:
Ella's Father’s photo from: The Produce Trade of Sydney.—Some Views of Sussex-street. (1903, August 12). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 32. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71484758
THE FRESH POOD AND ICE CO.
The New Manager.
Mr. Donald M'Fadyen, who has been appointed manager of the Fresh Food and Ice Co., Ltd., in succession to Mr. Lance, was born at Morpeth on the Hunter River (N.S;W.), in July, 1863, and consequently is now close on 39 years of age. He came to Sydney 15 years later, and entered into the services of his uncle, Mr. J. R. M'Fadyen, who was then carrying on business In Sussex-street as a produce merchant. In 1881, three years after his arrival in Sydney, he joined the old South Coast and West Camden Co. (now known as the Farmers' Co-operative Co., Ltd.) as a junior clerk, and by degrees worked his way up to his present position as manager of the company.
During his 21 years service he has worked through the various departments connected with the business, and in February, 1899, was made general manager. The business connected with the company, It may perhaps be Interesting to note here, embraced every branch of agricultural product, but dairy produce forms the great bulk of the trade, The operations of the company are very extensive, as will be j seen by the fact that In April alone the turnover, so to speak, amounted to £55,643.
Mr. M'Fadyen has made a special study for many years of the export butter trade, and the administration of the company's affairs has naturally brought him in touch with the whole of the Australasian markets, and he has at different periods visited the several States in connection with the butter trade. At his special request the company sent a representative to England last year to supervise the distribution of the company's consignments in the home markets.
Mr. M'Fadyen takes over his new duties as manager of the Fresh Food and Ice Co. on July 1 next. The appointment to him is naturally the more pleasing seeing that he did not seek It. The high esteem in which Mr. M'Fadyen is held by his associates in the Farmers' Co-operative Co. may be perhaps best understood by the. following resolution passed by the directors at a recent meeting —
"That the board learns with regret of Mr. M'Fadyen's retirement from the Farmers' Co-operative Co., with which he has been associated for very many years, and to which he has In the position he has occupied, and at present occupies, given his able and loyal support: at the same time the board congratulates him upon his appointment to the very honourable and responsible position which he has accepted in one of. the largest firms of the State, and heartily wishes him every happiness and prosperity in his new career."
In addition to having had great experience in the commercial line of business, he was at one time connected with municipal matters. For eight years he was an alderman, and out of the eight four were spent in the chair as Mayor of Five Dock.
MR. D. M'FADYEN. THE FRESH FOOD AND ICE CO. (1902, May 26). The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 - 1909), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229059319
Ella's father was the son of John McFadyen who was born on the Isle of Coll, Argyll, Scotland in 1829 as had her great grandfather, Roderick, in 1801 and her great great grandfather Donald McFadyen in about 1773. In a 1972 interview Ella states that her grandfather spoke Gaelic and he and his wife, Margery (nee McPherson), would speak this in the house when they didn't want the children to know what they were speaking of.
Roderick McFadyen and his family came to New South Wales in 1856 as things weren't too good on the Isle of Coll and those living there were encouraged to emigrate to places such as Australia and Canada. John McFadyen was already 26 when he arrived here and took up farming with his brothers and sisters.
On her mother's side there was a strong Irish influence, her grandfather on her maternal side, was Thomas Wilson (1814 to 1871) while her great grandfather was a Tim Kelly who came to Australia aboard the ship, 'Isabella Watson' with the 99th regiment.
Her father bought a paddock at Five Dock which Ella described as then being a green place 'with just a few pegs to tell you where the new streets were to be'. In her 1972 interview Ella describes going with her father in a motor car from Kempsey to Grafton for a trip (his work) and being the first to do so.
Her childhood at Five Dock is described as having pets - including a pet wallaby!, horses, a vegetable garden and a swimming pool. Her love of drawing animals both from nature and at the Museum filled her days.
Her father's firm was one of the first to use electric lights and he told stories about using electric lighting to speed up the construction of the Garden Palace, which burnt down soon after. Her father also told stories of the Hunter River including rescuing a drowning cow and sustaining it on the second floor of the house, until the water subsided. Her father liked horses but not gambling. Her mother disliked horses and forbade the children to go near them.
Ella was home schooled by her Mother despite the old Five Dock Public School being just across from the McFadyen 'paddock'. She learned Latin and grammar and although ruminated over having mother as teacher credited her sound sense and use of 'Gardiner's analysis' as providing her with the correct use of words and as words became her career, of seven decades in length as a poet, wordsmith, story teller and editor, her mother did very well indeed. Ella remembers reading Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' when aged 10!
alike those on the Isle of Coll, Ella did not attend school but ‘instead finding companionship in her dolls and the books her father scattered thoughtfully around the family home. In a sign of what was to come, she often spent her time reading, sketching birds at the local museum, looking through old diaries and notebooks, and pretending to publish newspapers…..’ [2.]
When Ella was almost 16 her mother fell in love with Brisbane Water - just across from Barrenjoey Headland, during a visit there during Autumn. It was at Brisbane Water that Ella's passion for writing rhymes, previously created for her younger siblings, began to be shared with others. While living there she visited places along the waters in a little skiff and on one adventure found the stone in which Australian poet Henry Kendall had carved his name. Ella climbed a tree and took a photo of this using her little box camera and it was published in the Sydney Mail years before she joined that paper to run her two page Children's Page - known as 'Cinderella's Page' to generations of children and young adults.
We found that little story and Henry Kendall photo taken by Ella:
BY ELLA McFADYEN.
We left the road where it swerves upward through the orchards to Penang, and soon the mangroves aud ti-trees and wind-rustled swamp grass were left behind, and the bracken bristled up from the white sand track, all dimpled with the little hollows of the ant-lion.
The track leads down to the stone-paved ford, but we turned off past the old house beneath whose roof Kendall must many times have slept. Convict-built, of solid stone, and some 70 years old, it nestles among its grey orchard trees, and the sunlight draws warm tones from its weather-stained shingles and mellow-tinted stones.
Beyond Narara Creek our climb began up the rugged grey face of the range, till, breathless and weary, we halted upon a green tableland starred with flannel daisies and red Christmas bells, while from the slopes below us the coveted pink tops of the Christmas bush beckoned. Presently we came upon a little loitering stream, sunken under the sand here and there, only to reappear a few paces further on tumbling in a mimic cascade into little pools where the crayfish crawl and the dragonflies hover. Before us stretched a splendid panorama.
The stream led us to the abrupt, lichen-spotted lip of a rock-faced gully that dropped sheer at our feet. Over it the water leapt into music-haunted shadow, and the wind beat back on us a fine-spun veil of spray. A detour led us down steeply to the rocky floor of the gully till we stood beneath the fall—
that Silver singer far away
By folded hills and hoar.
Close by is the rough grey boulder with the clearly-cut inscription, 'H. KENDALL, 1874,' and below the letters 'G.L.F.'
Standing in that remote and hidden sanctuary, with the written music of the poet blending in one's ears with the voice of the water dripping down the moss-boarded ledges, one might well indulge the hope that as it has lain undesecrated these 35 years past, so may it lie aloof and ever sacred from the hands of that old vandal — Change.
I wonder if the leaves that screen
The rock-pool of the past
Are still as soft and cool and green As when we saw them last-!
I wonder if that tender thing.
The moss, has overgrown
The letters by the limpid stream —
Our names upon a stone !
KENDALL'S GLEN. (1909, May 5). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 29. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164294203
Boronia ledifolia - Sydney Boronia
Faeries play a prominent and very important role in Scottish and Irish folklore, from the time that every waterway, well and loch had a name, and an ancient faerie that looked after or 'spoke' for it. Even people with strong religious beliefs embraced the notion of fairies, kelpies, and brownies in centuries past. Scottish fairy lore is rich with descriptions of these creatures and their habits.
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” - Sir J. M. Barrie, Scottish journalist, writer, and dramatist (1860-1937)
“Fairies use flowers for their charactery.” - William Shakespeare, English dramatist and poet (1564-1616)
Happy it is in the blossom time,
In the blossom time of spring,
When the morn is in its golden prime
And birds are on the wing.
Blue of the tide upon either hand,
From the sea to Broken Bay,
And the grey old lichened boulders stand
Knee-deep in flow'ry spray.
Blithe at the heart for the wattle's sake,
And the scent the warm wind spills,
Where the Hawkesbury lies, a gleaming snake,
Amid the deep blue hills— ;
Stirring the bee's with their honeyed load
From the blossom feast beneath,
Happy it is to take the road
That winds across the heath.
WEST HEAD. (1929, January 4). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85927422
SANDS OF MORNING.
by Ella McFadyen.
Summer breathed over the hills to-day,
A waft of the bush and a wind from the bay,
And my truant thoughts went straying: Pittwater flickered with nor'east flaws,
The surf ran high 'tween the Lion's paws,
And the spring-fed runnels' were playing.
I saw the hills that drop to the sea,
And a honey-bird's call was a call for me
And the great grey sandstone boulders
Were elephant's browsing, heath to the knees.
And the rosy waxflowers, clotted with bees,
Fondled their lichened shoulders.
To-morrow I'll rise and be ready to roam
In the starlit hour when the cats come home,
Ere ever the birds are waking,
When each needlewood thorn is a dewdrop's place,
And her thread-like blossoms arc fairy lace,
And the whole world's mine for taking! I must seek the lairs where I used to lie,
Curtained by trees and under the sky;
I must find and touch and recover
The sights and sensations laid away,
Where the Lion lies couchant at Broken Bay,
To welcome me back like a lover.
The strong white feet of the winter rains
Have trodden the campfire's cold remains,
The lizards my hearth are keeping;
I must find the cave where the fairy-mouse
And her wee pouched kindred kept their house,
And-the nest where her babes are sleeping.
Grape-blue the hills in the dawn shall be,
And the sun shall rise from a white-gold sea,
With light for the day's adorning,
Where the rain-washed track is a virgin sheet
For the printed tale of a pilgrim's feet;
My feet on the sands of morning.
SANDS OF MORNING. (1935, March 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17171195
The Boomerang Walking Club
Cinderella' s Post Bag
MY DEAR CINDERELLA,— Wahroonga. It is such a long time since I last wrote to you that I thought I must drop you a line. At Christmas time we spent two glorious weeks at Narrabeen. The weather was ideal for surfing, so we made the most of it. I always had an idea that the surf was rather dangerous there, but only on two or three occasions we found the undertow strong. One day we hired a boat and went up Deep Creek. It was rather a hot day, and my arms got a bit sunburnt. On each side of the creek people had pitched their tents, and they looked so nice dotted here and there amongst the trees. People were bathing in the water, and we had to steer the boat in a zig-zag fashion practically all the way alone.
About half way up we pulled in towards the bank, and K everybody hopped out to have a look round. After I having afternoon tea we started for home. My sister I took several snaps, and they came out very well. It was about five o'clock when we got back to the boatshed, and everybody said what a glorious day we had had.
Another day we walked up Deep Creek-road towards the Elanora Golf Links. After walking some distance we turned off the road, and climbed the hill. When we reached the top we were rewarded with a lovely view of Narrabeen Lakes. Walking further on we could seethe ocean and coastline. On reaching home everybody was feeling rather hungry, so we voted for an early tea. Our second long walk was from Narrabeen to Collaroy. Leaving the main road we went down a side street and then up a steep hill. Reaching the top we had a glorious view of the ocean, and could see all over Collaroy, and Narrabeen away in the distance. I enjoyed the holiday very much, but the two weeks went too quickly. Ruby Litchfield, my old correspondent, is quite well again. 'Darkie's' address is Carruchan, Kennedy, North Queensland, now. She still writes me nice long letters. Trusting you are quite well, and not forgetting Ali Baba. With love from 'CHERRY BLOSSOM' (O.I.).
(Dear 'Cherry Blossom,' — Like myself, most of our old brigade will be very much interested to see your name on the C.P, once more. I know Elanora as a place of very fine views, and you must have enjoyed your Narrabeen holiday very much. Thanks for sending me word of Ruby and 'Darkie,' to whom I owe a letter. — Cinderella.) Cinderella's Post Bag (1932, March 9). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 47. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160081879
Boomerang Club Notes
By Number One.
OUR Easter walk from Gordon to Broken Bay added fresh laurels to those invisible wreaths that adorn our members' heads — their old felt hats notwithstanding. Cinderella had so little spare time at Easter that the walk had to be compressed between Sunday night' and Monday night. As speed was essential, only a small party likely to maintain an even pace was selected. To grade as a Boomerang one must, among other qualifications, be able to walk 20 miles in a day without serious fatigue. To graduate as Big Boomerang one must be able to face an emergency of 40 miles within 24 hours. Several senior members have possessed this qualification for years.
Starting from Gordon about 8 p.m., twelve moonlit miles brought us to our supper on a rocky site where uncontaminated water and plentiful firewood were available. The midnight march was resumed, despite a vivid electrical storm to seaward, and we lay down in the pre-dawn chill on our old camping ground at Elusive River. A camp-fire of redgum, a snack, and an hour or so of sleep under our coats, and we were off for the cliffs above Broken Bay and that lovely panorama of Hawkesbury River, the Bay, Brisbane Water, Pittwater, Lion Island, and the sunlit ocean, which we believe to be uneclipsed by any scene on the coast. A hot breakfast, a doze, and a little loitering and we are back on Elusive River — which is only mapped as such by the cartographers of Fairyland — for lunch. Our last meal was at dusk, near country sadly desolated by road-making, and then with our backs to the bush it was the hard road under our feet again. The 'Secretary Bird' and 'Beetle' marched well and earned packs round about 201b weight. 'Lilac Blossom' and 'Ashie' (a new recruit' from Queanbeyan, where 'Toad' has been training her) proved very stout fellas and finished swingingly at four miles an hour, making Gordon by 10.30 p.m. The mileage, irrespective of camp-making and rambling, was 20 miles of hard road and 26 of tracks, much of it cluttered with loose stone. The 46 miles total was a creditable performance — and everyone was able to get into city shoes and go to work next day.
Cinderella, will see her young friends every Tuesday morning between 10 and 12 at the 'Sydney Mail' Office, 'Herald' Building, Pitt and Hunter Streets. Business girls may call from 5 to 6.30 p.m. last Tuesday in each month. Cinderella's Page (1938, May 4). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 47. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166227905
- TROVE _National Library of Australia
- A slight bias towards eels and lizards by EMILY GALLAGHER, 8 March 2019, Inside Story, Retrieved from https://insidestory.org.au/a-slight-bias-towards-eels-and-lizards/