The Clements family in Windsor NSW

Herbert Australia Clements was born in Windsor in 1865. At the age of twenty he married Mary Ann Butler, daughter of Edward and Mary Ann Butler of Windsor. The couple had six children: Herbert (born and died 1885), Miriam Clarice (born 1887), Pearly(ie) Grace (born 1889), Percy Edward (born 1891), Dorris Freda (born 1893) and Carlton Herbert (born 1896). Having lost their first-born baby in 1885, tragedy struck again in 1902 when Pearlie died aged thirteen years, after suffering with Bright’s Disease for four months.

Herbert Australia Clements 2

Herbert Australia Clements in Masonic Lodge regalia c1920s/1930s. Photo courtesy of his granddaughter June Irving and great-granddaughter, Julie Sinfield.

In 1892, H.A. Clements opened a grocery store on the south-western corner of Catherine and George Streets in Windsor. The store was popular and a great financial success for the Clements family, selling everything from ‘prime pickled pork, hams, bacon, fresh lard’ to ‘groceries of top quality at bottom prices, crockery always on hand and farm produce at lowest market prices’.

Percy Clements married Violet Amelia Hammond in 1923, Dorris married Bertie Milsim Hornery in 1928 and Carl (known as Mick) married Mona Mary Williams in 1950. The Clements family members were all musical. H.A. ‘Pop’ Clements, sons Perc and Carl and Bert Hornery played in the Windsor Band, while Dorris played piano and organ at the Presbyterian Church in Windsor for many years. Cousins, Harry and Colin (Bubs) Gardiner also played in the band. Miriam (known as Clarice) did not marry. She suffered ill health for many years and died in 1954.

H.A. and Mary Ann Clements were in the grocery business for thirty-seven years before they retired to the new home they built at 7 Macquarie Street, Windsor. They called the house ‘Hermar’ derived from their first names of Herbert and Mary. This area of Windsor, close to The Peninsula and Thompson Square, became a hive of activity for the Clements family. Perc and Vi Clements lived nearby at 21 Bridge Street, Bert and Dorris Hornery lived across the way at 46 Court Street in the brick home they built in 1928.

Clements house 7 Macquarie St Windsor Feb 2010

Clements family home Hermar, 7 Macquarie Street, Windsor. Photo Carol Roberts 2015.

Also in 1928, Carl Clements opened the Hawkesbury Motor Garage on George Street facing Thompson Square. The garage became a family business and an icon in the town: Perc Clements went to work for his brother Carl, who was the proprietor, and they were joined by their brother-in-law and my uncle, Bert Hornery, a motor mechanic who later ran his own refrigeration business just down the road.

Mary Ann Clements died in 1934 and Herbert Australia Clements died in 1957. They are buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Windsor with their daughter Miriam. The dark brick, solid, substantial brick homes the Clements family built in Macquarie and Bridge Streets and the Californian Bungalow built by Bert and Dorris Hornery on the corner of Bridge and Court Streets still stand, as solid as when they were built nearly one hundred years ago. They are prime examples of the late 1920s/early 1930s architectural style which forms part of the heritage landscape of Windsor and other areas of the Hawkesbury.

Clements shaped Windsor 18 May 2016

‘Clements shaped Windsor’, article by Carol Roberts for the National Trust Hawkesbury Branch, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

copyright Carol Roberts


‘Town Gossip’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 1 May 1897, Trove, National Library of Australia,, accessed 1 May 2016.

‘Obituary’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 12 April 1902, Trove, National Library of Australia,, accessed 1 May 2016.

‘Week to Week’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 2 October 1914, Trove, National Library of Australia,, accessed 2 May 2016.

‘Personal, About Men and Women’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 23 March 1928, Trove, National Library of Australia,, accessed 2 May 2016.

NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages,, accessed 2 May 2016.

Hawkesbury on the Net, Cemetery Register, Windsor Presbyterian Cemetery, accessed 2 May 2016.

Family genealogical information from Carol Roberts, Windsor.

Photograph of H.A. Clements from his granddaughter June Irving and great-granddaughter, Julie Sinfield.

The ubiquitous fibro house

A shortage of building materials after the end of World War II, combined with an acute post-war rental housing shortage, saw the increased use of one of the wonder products of the twentieth century: fibro.

44 court st circa 1960

My childhood home at 44 Court Street, Windsor, c1960. My mother Iris Cammack is in the driveway. The house now has a brick facade. Photo Bert Hornery (my uncle).

While building figures in Windsor revealed that from 1930 to 1936 seventy timber and fibro cottages were built for a cost of £23,419 (approximately £335 per house), by 1948 the cost of building a basic two-bedroom fibro house had increased to approximately £1,100. The same house with land could not be purchased for less than £1,600. By the end of 1958, Wunderlich had produced ‘a vertical grooved sheet…in tune with modern design…which brings real glamour to the most economical of building materials’. At the peak of the 1950s housing boom, one-third of new homes were owner-built and most were constructed of fibro with timber frames. Many had corrugated fibro or iron roofs, but terracotta roof tiles were gradually becoming more popular.

Building contractors and owner-builders found that it was easy to extend or renovate a fibro house and although considered a little bit ‘low class’, one big advantage of fibro was that it was fire-resistant. With fibro or timber strap work covering the joins, fibro was popular for houses, garages, sheds and shops and was painted with Kalsomine in pastel colours of cream, baby blue, green, pink or white. For many, the concept of freshly-painted white walls with red roof tiles represented an ‘overall effect of cleanliness’.

One drawback to living in a fibro house is that fibro does not insulate as well as brick and the rooms are freezing in winter. However, the fibro era was about cheap, modest, affordable housing and home ownership and to some, the fibro house ‘was stunning in its excellence…a complete house…in its own garden’.

Fibro house 2 Dec 2015 edit

My article published in Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 2 December 2015.

Fibro became an expression of the Australian identity. Artist Reg Mombassa comments that fibro was ‘the wonder building material of the 1950s and 1960s…inexpensive, durable and ubiquitous’, while the author, Patrick White, writes that ‘at night the fibro homes reverberated’ with the noise and excitement of families.

The house at 44 Court Street, Windsor, built by local builder Arthur Mullinger in 1952 for Iris and Alf Cammack, epitomised for the owners the dream of a detached dwelling on one level on a large, quarter-acre block in the town. No 44 had red terracotta roof tiles, nine foot ceilings, a large lounge room with a brick fireplace, separate dining room and kitchen, two bedrooms, bathroom, laundry (with second toilet) and a rear verandah which was later converted into a third bedroom. The block of land allowed room for the building of a large garage by the owner, as well as poultry, fruit trees and extensive gardens. Fibro, for many post-war ‘baby-boomers’, is a reminder of the Australian suburban backyard associated with memories of growing up with space to dream, run and play.

copyright Carol Roberts


Carol Roberts, ‘When fibro was norm’, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 2 December 2015.

Pickett, Charles. The Fibro Frontier: a different history of Australian architecture, Powerhouse Publishing and Doubleday, Haymarket, Sydney, 1997.

‘New record, Windsor building figures, big 1936 increase’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 22 January 1937, National Library of Australia Trove Article 86044095,, accessed 26 September 2015.

‘Fibro house’, Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday, 31 August 1948, National Library of Australia Trove Article18083078,, accessed 26 September 2015.

‘Fibro retains its lead’, Western Herald, Friday, 12 December 1958, National Library of Australia Trove Article 103993038,, accessed 26 September 2015.

Family information from Carol Roberts (daughter of Iris and Alf Cammack), at

Photograph of Iris Cammack in front of 44 Court Street, Windsor, c1960, courtesy of Carol Roberts (photograph by Bert Hornery).

Caring for our aged – the District Home for the Infirm in Windsor, NSW

Home for Infirm

Photograph of The Home for the Infirm (now demolished) which stood in Brabyn Street, Windsor. Courtesy of Carol Roberts from the collection of her mother, Iris Cammack.

From 1811, The Windsor Charitable Institution provided monetary support and/or stores relief to flood victims, as well as caring for the poor and infirm. This institution was gradually absorbed into the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society from the end of 1818, to assist the aged and infirm of ‘Windsor, Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Portland Head’. Pioneers present at the inaugural meeting were William Cox, the Reverend Cartwright, Dr Mileham, Lieutenant Bell, Captain Brabyn, Thomas Pitt, John Jones, Henry Baldwin and George Hall.

During the early years of the Society, income was gained from sources such as donations, subscriptions and the sale of property and cattle from the Society’s herd on the Liverpool Plains. Additional funds of several thousand pounds were accumulated over a period of almost one hundred years from an annuity dating from the death of Richard Fitzgerald in 1840.

The Society acquired a one-acre Government grant between George and Macquarie Streets and in 1836 built a brick, two-storey home on the south-western side of Brabyn Street, Windsor, ‘for the reception of the aged and destitute of the district’. Before this building was completed, the aged and infirm poor were housed in a small timber cottage on the Society’s thirteen-acre property near the junction of George and Macquarie Streets in South Windsor. This property was the site of the Windsor Grammar School from 1885 until 1915 when in 1920 it was sold to J. McCann and in later years became known as McCann’s Flats.

After the Society obtained the use of the Government Hospital in Macquarie Street from 1846, the ‘aged inmates’ were transferred to the Asylum wards on the ground floor of the hospital building and the two-storey brick building in Brabyn Street was later let as a hotel. Extensive building works were carried out at the hospital from 1909/1910, so the elderly patients were moved back to the home in Brabyn Street. The increasing cost of repairs to this building caused financial concern and a decision was taken by the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society and Hospital to build a new home on the site.

The Home for the Infirm was erected in 1914 on the site in Brabyn Street now occupied by the Macquarie Tower group of shops. It cost eight hundred and fifty pounds and was opened by Fred Flowers, the first Minister of Public Health. Honorary medical officers were Drs Callaghan, Davies, Helsham, Donovan and Johnstone. Matron Taylor was in charge of the home from 1910 to 1941 and Matron Friend from 1941-1945. In 1946, Matron Prendergast took over and remained until 1954 (she then served in a part-time capacity).

In 1959, the name ‘Home for the Infirm’ was changed to Fitzgerald Memorial Hostel in honour of the pioneer and benefactor Richard Fitzgerald. The hostel was sold after 1989 and the four hundred thousand dollars raised from the sale went towards the building of the present Fitzgerald Memorial Hostel on Hawkesbury Valley Way.


Photograph of The Home for the Infirm (now demolished) which stood in Brabyn Street, Windsor. Courtesy of Carol Roberts from the collection of her mother, Iris Cammack.

Carol Roberts, ‘Our Home for the Infirm’, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 25 May 2016.

Bowd, D.G. History of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society and Hospital 1818-1947, Official Opening of the Nurses’ Quarters, 22 November 1947.

‘Hawkesbury District Hospital and Home for Infirm’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 18 February 1916, National Library of Australia Trove Newspapers Article 85881038,, accessed 19 May 2016.

Nairn, B. ‘Flowers, Fred (1864-1928)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 23 May 2016.

Nichols, M. ‘Windsor Hospital’,, accessed 23 May 2016.

Steele, J. ‘Hospitals and Benevolent Society – Old Asylum, Brabyn Street’, Early Days of Windsor,, accessed 23 May 2016.

Steele, J. ‘Hospitals and Benevolent Society’, Early Days of Windsor, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 4 September 1914, National Library of Australia Trove Newspapers Article 85861152,, accessed 23 May 2016.

Sydney Aged Care Facility, Fitzgerald Memorial Aged Care,,_corp._profile_history.html, accessed 19 May 2016.

‘Windsor – Past and Present’, William Freame, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 30 October 1909, National Library of Australia Trove Newspapers Article 85863472,, accessed 19 May 2016.

One Voice on the Hawkesbury: Una Voce at Lower Portland

Bruce King’s Una Voce Tourist Resort at Lower Portland was one of the most renowned guest houses on the Hawkesbury River from the 1920s right through to the 1960s. King purchased the property from George Gosper in about 1915, and in 1947 King comments that he ‘bought property on the Hawkesbury at Lower Portland over thirty years ago’ and it is recorded ‘that Mr George Gosper has sold his property, the buyer being Mr Bruce King of Ashfield’.

Una Voce launch c1930s

Photo of Bruce King’s Una Voce launch c1930s, courtesy of Juniors on Hawkesbury Resort at Lower Portland.

Ted Lawler, a former licensee manager, comments that Bruce King and Frederick Robert McKinlay bought the property in partnership. Bruce King married Jessie May Dunstan in 1908 and Fred McKinlay married Elizabeth Jane Dunstan in 1910: both were daughters of William Dunstan and Mary Lamb and granddaughters of John Lamb and Alice Wall from Lower Portland, so they had connections with pioneer families on the Hawkesbury.

Lawler records that ‘disagreements arose, so King purchased McKinlay’s share – and aptly named the guest-house ‘Una Voce’, meaning ‘One Voice’. King’s 28-foot boat, the Signet, equipped with a steam engine, was sailed out from England – and used for ferrying guests across the Hawkesbury’. Extensive renovations were carried out on the guest house in 1937 and by 1945, guests had access to ’60 acres fruit trees, bush trees, recreation hall, tennis, riding, boating, swimming, Greens and Putting Greens’ all for fourteen shillings per day and sixteen shillings a day over Christmas and Easter holidays. The entrepreneurial Bruce King ran a bus from Sydney to Una Voce for people staying at the guest house.

Bruce and Jessie and their two daughters, Phyllis Dunstan King and Elva Dunstan King took an active role in community life on the river and there were many concerts, receptions and tennis parties held at Una Voce. Bruce King was active on various committees, such as President of the Lower Portland Agricultural Bureau, Secretary of the Hawkesbury River Cooperative Transport Company, Vice-Commodore of the Sackville Motor Boat and Water Ski-ing Club, Hawkesbury delegate to the Fruitgrowers’ Association and on the Hawkesbury-Nepean Tourist Region Association.

Always generous, Bruce King supplied citrus fruit to many local families during the Great Depression and through the war years and the family collected nearly $2,000 from holiday-makers at Una Voce for the Prisoners of War and Patriotic funds through World War II. Bruce King died in 1965 aged 79 and is buried in Lower Portland Cemetery. Nearby, a plaque commemorates Jessie, his wife, who died in 1971. Una Voce was then bought by South Sydney Juniors Rugby League Club. The guest house was demolished in 1972 and the 33-room Souths Juniors Tourist Hotel was built at a cost of $500,000. Now known as Juniors on Hawkesbury, the resort continues to operate as a guest house and is popular with groups of all ages.

copyright Carol Roberts


Carol Roberts, ‘River Guesthouse Thrived’, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 6 July 2016.

New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages,, accessed 23 June 2016.

Ryerson Index, accessed 28 March 2015.

Information and photograph from Juniors on Hawkesbury, 251 Greens Road, Lower Portland NSW 2756.

Ian Heads, The Juniors: The Best for the Best, Playright Publishing, PO Box 548, Caringbah NSW 2229.

‘Lower Portland’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 26 February 1915, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 85860498,, accessed 28 March 2015.

‘The Hawkesbury River Cooperative Transport Co., Ltd.’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 1 June 1923, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 85873976,, accessed 22 June 2016.

‘Fruitgrowers’ Apathy’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 12 June 1925, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 85903302,, accessed 23 June 2016.

‘River News’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 22 October 1937, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 86049281,, accessed 6 June 2016.

‘Una Voce’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Wednesday, 28 February 1945, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 86025777,, accessed 28 March 2015.

‘Bus Routes’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Wednesday, 15 October 1947, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 85792783,, accessed 23 June 2016.

‘Bus Routes’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Wednesday, 29 October 1947, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 85793513,, accessed 22 June 2016.

‘Macquarie Memorial’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Wednesday, 13 June 1951, National Library of Australia Trove Newspaper, Article 86058512,, accessed 23 June 2016.

Runaway ferries on the Hawkesbury

I came across this rather interesting piece of more recent Hawkesbury history while researching in our local library. There is also an extract of an oral history associated with this account on the Roads and Maritime Services website (see reference below). My article was published in the Hawkesbury Gazette on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, but I thought I would publish it in its entirety on this site.Reserve Ferry @ Webbs Creek

Photo of spare ferry at Webbs Creek by Geoff Roberts.

During the week before Easter in 1978, three days of constant heavy rain combined with floodwaters from the Colo, Grose and Macdonald Rivers, was enough to cause severe flooding along the Hawkesbury River. Although regulations have changed over the years, in those days once the river reached the seven-metre height of the bridge at Windsor the Sackville and Lower Portland ferries were taken off their cables, followed by the ferries at Webbs Creek and Wisemans Ferry.

The flow of the water was so strong on this occasion that ferries Nos 8 and 55 at Wisemans had pushed together with debris collected all around them. Webbs Creek ferry (No 26) was stranded in the middle of the river after being hit by a one-metre tidal wave coming from the Colo River: ‘the water was like a surf wave and it hit the Webbs Creek ferry full on’. Soon after, ‘a small wooden ferry that had been up on the slipway…floated off in the flood’ and collided with No 55.

These three ferries were then lashed together but soon after, the force of the water and the buildup of debris against No 26 forced the cable to pull out of the bank and the ferry was forced around the bend in the river where it collided with the other three ferries: ‘These ferries were broken away from their moorings by the force of the collision and the four ferries…were carried downstream on the flood’, with Russ Mitchell, Robin Pawsey and Allen Curran on board. As they floated past Laughtondale, the wooden ferry began to sink and had to be cut loose. Webbs Creek ferry was eventually secured in some mangroves.

The combined weight of the ferries and debris was estimated at 650 tonnes, travelling at about 18 knots and there were fears that the ferries would not be able to be stopped before colliding with the bridge at Brooklyn. Two tugs from the Church Point Ferry Service were brought into service to try and control the ferries and the larger ferry was finally secured on Peat Island, while the smaller one was caught just fifty metres before the bridge.

There was constant radio and telephone contact with the Acting Shire Clerk of Colo Shire Council (Garry McCully), the Police and Fire Brigades throughout the drama, but the men on the ferries really owed their lives to a Gosford Council employee who parked his ute on top of Mangrove Mountain to act as a relay station so everyone could maintain radio contact. The men who rode the ferries and other Colo Shire Council employees stayed on Peat Island to help repair and float the ferries back up the river after the flood receded and within a week the Wisemans and Webbs Creek ferry services were back to normal.


Bottomley, Bill. ‘When the ferries got away’, Bill Bottomley’s Cyberfiles,, accessed 29 May 2016.

NSW Vehicular Ferries Sound Files, Part 3, Hawkesbury River ferries, the 1978 flood,, accessed 29 May 2016.

copyright Carol Roberts