History Notes - 'Barraba' in the Hunter Valley

13th September 2023

History Notes

Another busy week for Society members continuing to re-organise the Dean Room. The September meeting is corning up and the Annual General Meeting is due in October so memberships are now due.

There were two questions about "Barraba" last week and I have found one in the Early Days of Windsor where there is the story of the big fire in Windsor.

Apparently, it broke out in George Street near the site of the Gazette office at 2pm on Wednesday 23rd December, 1874, and burnt out the whole block. The Barraba Hotel stood on one corner of the block and buildings, such as the Methodist Church and parsonage, were burnt but not the School Hall. Only one life was lost in the fire.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in this small book to help with the history of the Barraba Hotel and I can only guess that it was named by someone who had heard of the town of Barraba or an early visitor to the area. Referring to another volume I have found "the Royal Exchange on the corner of George and Johnson Streets was opened by Isabella Bushell in 1875, the year after she had lost the "Barraba" in the Great Fire. She built up a reputation as a popular hostess during the 33 years she conducted it."   There were Bushells around Gulf Creek.

Consulting a reference in this book directed me to Paul Bushell who arrived in Australia in 1792. By 1802 he was a successful landholder. He married Jane Sharp and after her death he married Isabella Brown, by whom he had four sons, George, David, Alfred and Paul and two daughters. He died in 1853. The Gulf Creek Bushell family have similar names to this family - there is a Paul and Alfred in the Gulf Creek family in the 1870's family born in the Barraba district.

There is also a reference to a Bushell carrying the mail down the Horton River in the 1870's in 1876.

Returning to the Hunter Valley Barraba. The only reference I have is from a letter published in a newspaper in 1978 from Roger Reid. He was interested in the connection between Barraba near Morpeth and in northern NSW. The original grant went to Rev.C.P.N. Wilton, who sold it to William Carter circa 1828 and the name was quoted in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in January, 1834, which went on to describe the property which William Carter had evidently sold. The Rev. Wilton was ministering to the Hawkesbury River area in the early days and could be responsible for naming his property, Barraba.

The property was 16 miles from Morpeth by a bush road and 25 miles from Maitland by the main road but I doubt if anyone can find it now.

News for September 2023