Steps to History

My father was a stonemason. He spent years of his life chipping away at stone. To this day, he still bears the marks of his work on his rough and calloused hands. As a child, I often marvelled at the things he could create from the stone with just a few simple tools like his hammer and chisel. Our family home, built more than twenty years ago by my father and grandfather, lays on a foundation of sandstone; the steps leading up to our front door were carefully smoothed by his hands. Even our letter box, although old and weathered now, was built from sandstone.
I have always had a connection to old buildings. I think it is because they remind me of my father, our family home and my own history. Perhaps, this is also why I am so intrigued by the many historical buildings along Alison Road, in the old town of Wyong. These buildings, which include the Old Court House, Chapmanā€™s Store and the Railway Station, are all enduring remnants of years gone by. Built with aging brick and stone, they are the only remaining markers of the time in which Wyong was first founded over a century ago.
More than just the buildings themselves, it is the stories of the people behind them that captivate me the most. In the past few weeks, I have spent hours trawling through archives, newspapers and books, searching for people with connections to the buildings along Alison Road. Slowly, I am piecing together a narrative about the past lives and ways of the pioneers of Wyong.
So far, I have read stories about William Ponton, a bricklayer by trade who built the Post Office adjoining the Old Police Station, who was famed throughout the town for laying more than 1000 bricks a day. I have also uncovered numerous newspaper reports about the first postmaster of Wyong, Mr. Stafford, who disappeared from his lodgings at the Court House one morning along with a considerable sum of money from the till. It is stories like these, about the buildings of Wyong and the people who built them, lived in them and visited them, that I will endeavour to share in my walking tour of Alison Road.
Erin Blanchfield
I am working alongside Wyong Family History Group to develop a walking tour of the historical buildings along Alison Road in Wyong. For further information about the group, please visit; http://www.wyongfamilyhistory.com.au/

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