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

References:

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

New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages, https://familyhistory.bdm.nsw.gov.au, accessed 23 June 2016.

Ryerson Index http://ryersonindex.net/search.php, 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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/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, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/86058512, accessed 23 June 2016.