Stu's Stories as at 2022

111 | P a g e The Sneddon brothers are credited with bringing the first gold dredge to Australia. It was brought overland to Tamworth and then floated up into the Nundle hills by damming the river and floating it forward, part by part. This had to be quite an accomplishment. A visit to the Nundle area, today known tourist-wise as "The Hills of Gold", shows the huge difficulties under which our forebears laboured. It also led me to the grave site of George Sneddon at the old Hanging Rock Cemetery. Further research shows he committed suicide on 18th December 1868. Commemorative plaques have been fixed to several large rocks by a local historian, Thomas McClelland, listing all those known to be buried there. (See photo) James made his home at "Burnhead" farm on the Manilla Road, just out of Tamworth. James and Mary had 13 children: Mary Ann (1864), George (1866), William (1867), James (1869-1869), James (1870), Elizabeth (1873), John (1875), Isaac (1876), Richard (1878), Alfred (1879), Thomas (1881-1883), Alice Harriet (1882) and Evaline (1884). Thomas died at the age of 2 years 5 weeks. Over the years I often heard the rumour that James had found a third reef of gold in the Nundle area but, not needing more money at the time, the "canny" Scot covered it up "for a rainy day", but died refusing to disclosing its whereabouts. I was always sceptical of this story until, in 1970, an old aunt, Charlotte Creanor (sister of Hannah Huldah Hewett, my great-grandmother) contacted my mother saying she knew the whereabouts of the hidden reef and would only disclose it to her. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in Nundle she had become quite weak and her mind wandered too much to be able to pin-point anything. However, she did say she had sent samples away for testing and they sent back a report saying it was "fool's gold", a claim she refuted as rubbish: "I grew up with gold and know the difference between Fool's Gold and the Real Gold, and this was real gold". She died shortly afterwards. She did relate to us the whereabouts of the reef (I recorded the conversation) and I believe I could locate it without too much difficulty. However, when I checked, I found that the large conglomerates had leases covering the whole area. So, the mystery of the hidden reef, supposedly far richer than either of the previous mines, remains just that, a mystery. Certainly, no one appears to have ever stumbled on it. As I said, I know roughly where it is, but appears it may also go to the grave with me as I am not about to do the work for any large company. The Sneddons and their offspring were among the pioneers of the Northern Tablelands, including the first to successfully grow tobacco in the region. Local historians have asked about the name "Lady Mary". However, Les Sneddon, in typical Scots fashion, refused to tell them. “That’s our business!” he said, and went on to tell me that James held his wife in such high esteem that he always referred to her as "Lady Mary". Hence the name of the mine.

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