KOSCIUSZKO HUTS ASSOCIATION

Search Our Site

Extract from Matthews Cottage Conservation Study, prepared for NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service by David Scott, October 1993.

 

HISTORICAL SUMMARY

The Site prior to the Existing Cottage

The site of Matthews' Cottage, Lot 4 Section 12 of Kiandra, was initially sold at an Auction of Crown Land to George Venterman on 29 June 1874. George, who is recorded as a "miner of Kiandra", paid the sum of 10 shillings 3 pence for the land(1).

 

Gregors, in the draft Kiandra Precinct Plan, records two buildings at or adjacent to the site during the period 1862-1870. These comprise a hotel owned by William Kidd (building #49), and a building owned by James Young (building #48)(2). Photographic evidence supporting the existence of these buildings was not uncovered/available. As the site was centrally located within the town, directly opposite the Gold Commissioner's Office and on the main street, it would appear likely that it would have been occupied. Without tenure over the land, such buildings are likely to have been temporary structures of calico and/or slab construction.

Such structures may have existed at the site during the period of Venterman's ownership. In March 1879 the land was sold to Frederick Blaxland of Binjura, and subsequently to William John Foley of Kiandra(1).

William John Foley

"Bill" Foley was born at Goulburn Jail in 1879, the son of a warder. By the age of 16, Bill was working on the mail coach from Kiandra to Cooma. This work often proved to be exciting to the young Bill, particularly as the coach frequently carried gold for the banks. At these times a Gold Escort of 6-8 armed men would accompany the coach(3).

Bill was later employed on mining dredges, initially at Adelong and later at Myrtleford in Victoria. His departure from Myrtleford was on a pushbike; he rode all the way to Grahamstown, near Adelong, for his wedding with Jenny Bradley(3). The Bradley family has a long association with the Snowy Mountains, various branches of the family having settled at Talbingo, the Yarrangobilly Hotel, Yarrangobilly Caves as the first caretakers, and Kiandra.

During 1900 the Foleys moved to Kiandra where Bill found work at Oliver Harris' store. Work comprised the butchering of livestock and subsequent transportation of the meat by pack horses to miners at Lobbs Hole(1).

 

The Original Cottage & Life at Kiandra

Photographic evidence indicates that the original Cottage was constructed for the Foleys at some time between 1900 and 1906(4). The Cottage was a simple three roomed building with a verandah facing the street. Construction was of weatherboards with a corrugated iron gable roof and the interior was lined with timber boards. The construction utilised modern techniques and materials, due to the technology available within a typical rural town at the time and the easy access to major centres via reasonable roads.

The builder is not known. It is likely that the sawn timber framing would have been obtained from one of the local sawmills such as Alpine Creek. The lining boards, windows and doors are likely to have been obtained from outside the region.

The use of basalt stonework in the fireplace is relatively uncommon, although the Kiandra Courthouse and Police Lockup were constructed entirely of basalt. A quarry would have been cut to supply basalt for these buildings when they were constructed in the 1880s. The basalt for the Cottage fireplace may have been obtained from the same source or possibly from mining spoils in the basalt country between Kiandra & Tabletop Mountain.

At the turn of the century, Kiandra was still a reasonable sized community. The town included a courthouse, police station, post office, school, several stores and hotels aside from residences. The town was thriving to a resurgence in mining activity in the area(4).

Foodstuffs and other domestic commodities were readily available. Cooking would have been undertaken over the fireplace in the main room.

Entertainment generally consisted of regular trips to Adaminaby to visit relatives and attend the horse races(3).

The other recreational pursuit was brumby running. The Kiandra locals used to scour the northern high plains and chase the brumbies into the town, trapping them in the streets where they were trapped in barricades. Injuries were common. Bill suffered the rest of his life with badly ˜chipped elbows, obtained whilst chasing brumbies through thick scrub - bent low, arms across his face for protection. On another occasion, trailing a brumby through the backyard of a house at Kiandra he was wrenched off his horse by a clothesline which left a deep gash across his upper lip. For the remainder of his life he sported a moustache, supposedly to conceal the scar(3).

In 1916 Bill Foley was appointed manager of Wyangle station north of Tumut. The station of 11500 acres was owned by Mrs WH Capel and the appointment followed Bill being recommended personally by prominent grazier Frederick Lampe of Talbingo. The Foleys departed Kiandra although they retained ownership of the Cottage for many years. Bill Foley remained at Wyangle until his death in 1961, aged 82(3).

 

The Bolton Family Occupies the Cottage

Thomas Bolton moved from his house on Snowy Plain (now known as Davey's Hut) to Adaminaby in 1913. Between 1924-28 Thomas was employed to undertake the mail run from Adaminaby to Kiandra. The winter runs were the most arduous: the mail was taken by sulky to Delaney's Hut; there the mailman transferred to horseback for the short leg up to Sawyer's Hut; the final leg of the run was on snowshoes. Bill Paterick frequently skied out from Kiandra to help Thomas bring the mail in(5).

During the 1920s and early 1930s the Bolton family spent the winters in Adaminaby and the summers in Kiandra(5). For the first few years the summers were spent in a house owned by the Jeffries, opposite the Cottage, and later at the Cottage itself. Presumably the Boltons were renting the Cottage from the Foleys.

The Bolton children attended school at Kiandra. Cooking was still undertaken over the open fire using camp ovens and billies. During this time, the exterior of the Cottage is believed to have remained unpainted(5).

In 1929 Thomas Bolton was killed in an accident whilst working for the Department of Main Roads. The family ceased spending the summers in Kiandra during the early 1930s.

 

The Pattinsons

In January 1938 William "Bill" Pattinson acquired the Cottage from the Foleys(1).

Bill Pattinson was born at Parkes and moved to Kiandra with his parents. The family lived in a house at New Chum Hill where Bill's father managed the sluicing claim. Bill would soon turn his hand to fossicking, working at various diggings in the area, but after 12 odd years he had nothing to show for his efforts(6).

In 1902 Bill Pattinson married Kathryn Byatt of Tumbarumba. Kathryn was the Post Mistress at Kiandra and the family took up residence in the Post Office Quarters. Bill acquired a combined store & butcher shop(6).

After the acquisition of the Cottage in 1938, the family continued to live in the Post Office Quarters whilst renting out the Cottage(6).

During this time, Bill obtained a small slab hut which he moved to a position behind the Cottage and adjacent to the steps leading to the back door. Jim Pattinson recalled "they put a few long slabs under it and towed it down the hill with a bullock team", from its previous location on the opposite side of the street and slightly up the hill. During the mid-1930s the slab hut had been occupied by Bill Allen and an elderly Pether, one of the Pethers from Talbingo. They lived in it for a couple of years while reworking some alluvial leads in the area, and they could frequently be observed driving an old 'A' model Ford around Kiandra. Following the death of Pether in the late 1930s, Bill Allen went to work with Bill Paterick in a mine tunnel located up towards Pig Gully on the southwest side of Township Hill. The slab hut had original been moved into Kiandra from one of the outlying diggings(6).

The Cottage was rented out until the mid-1940s when Bill Pattinson retired there following the death of Kathryn. During the summer months he enjoyed the company of a young stockman who rented the slab hut from him as accommodation(6).

Dudley Bolton also stayed in the slab hut during the late 1940s. At the time Dudley was responsible for the Adaminaby to Kiandra mail run and frequently stayed overnight in the hut during the winter months when the run was slowed by snow over the roads. After heavy snowfalls he was forced to resort to walking in on snowshoes whilst the road remained impassable. Heavy snow clearing equipment was not available; at one time Wally Reid (owner of the Kiandra Chalet) had to use his recently acquired four wheel drive to clear the road and compact the snow so that a horse rider could get through from Adaminaby(5).

Following Bill Pattinson's death in 1949, Jim Pattinson and his brother-in-law Percy Crain obtained the title to the Cottage whilst executing Bill's last will & testament(6). Arrangements had already been made to sell the Cottage to Peter Fountain, and the title was transferred in November 1950(1).

 

Peter Fountain

Peter was a master butcher in Vaucluse, Sydney(1). Known as a fanatical trout fisherman, he had been frequenting the mountains, particularly Talbingo and the Rules Point Guest House, whilst he was in the process of separating from his first wife(7). The Cottage was purchased to serve as a fishing and skiing retreat.

Peter also had a keen interest in skiing; becoming president of the Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club by the late 1950s(7). In around 1957, Peter set up a T-bar on Township Hill opposite the Cottage. This could possibly have been the first T-bar to be used in Australia(7), as opposed to rope tows which were common.

The T-bar installation included an engine shed and a separate building which housed a snack bar and tow operator's residence(6+7). The residence was a comfortable place consisting of two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. A large donkey (pot belly stove) sat in the middle of the living room whilst the kitchen had a wood burning range. Betty Pattinson sub-let the snack bar lease from Peter during 1961. Apparently she did a roaring trade from SMA workers that were eager to impress a young lady(6).

In the late 1950s/early 1960s Peter purchased the old lodge of the Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club following the decision of the club to shift its base to Perisher Valley(6). Later, Peter would holiday at the lodge following the sale of the Cottage. Peter's love of the area is evident by his marriage to Phylla Allen being celebrated in the church at Kiandra during the early 1960s; possibly the last wedding performed at the church as it was removed shortly afterwards(6).

 

Major Additions in the 1950s

Peter Fountain undertook extensive alterations to the Cottage shortly after acquiring it(6+7+8). The front verandah was in poor condition. The continued exposure of the verandah to snow, accentuated by snowploughs pushing snow from the road onto the verandah, had resulted in the decay of the flooring and distortion of the verandah structure(6). Peter rebuilt the verandah as two enclosed rooms, one a storeroom and one an extensively glazed living area.

At the rear of the Cottage, the slab hut was removed and a kitchen, bathroom and laundry were added(6+7+8). This included the installation of a septic system for sewerage, the installation of a large wood-fired donkey and steel storage tanks to provide a hot water service, and a wood fired-range in the kitchen(8). The kitchen was fitted with cupboards and a bench with a stainless steel sink and drainer. The bathroom contained a bath with shower, and a toilet. The laundry contained the donkey, concrete tubs. Most of the built in furniture remains today.

The water supply is believed to be piped from a spring on Township Hill; a source previously used to supply Bob Hughes house (since been removed)(6).

In the centre of the Cottage, part of the wall between the south bedroom and central living room was removed. This created an alcove in which Peter built a bar for entertainment(8). A scotsman who enjoyed a regular drop of scotch, it was not unheard of for Peter to consume a bottle in a day(7). An additional window was installed opposite the bar to provide light and ventilation to the living room following the enclosure of the verandah(8).

 

The Matthews and Minor Alterations

In 1960 Peter Fountain sold the Cottage to William "Bill" Matthews(8) to pay off a debt(7). Bill was a fellow scotsman and keen trout fisherman, who purchased the Cottage with the intention of spending his retirement there.

As a youth, Bill had been sent out to Australia in 1928 following his parents divorce. His father had paid his fare and given him 20 pounds to get by on until such time as he could find work(8).

Bill served with the RAAF during the Second World War and was married to "Jimmy" immediately afterwards. After a brief attempt at managing a chicken farm in South Australia, they moved to New Guinea in 1948. There they had a profitable business growing coffee on a property called Kinjibi, located in the Waghi Valley. Aside from managing the property, Bill flew Douglas DC-3 and Norseman aircraft for Robert "Bobby" Gibbes company Gibbes Sepik Airways. In 1959, after 11 years of negotiating aircraft through the rugged highland terrain Bill retired from flying - indeed he swore that he would never again travel in a plane!(8)

Bill and Jimmy returned to Australia and moved to Tumut. Here they rented a house for about 16 months before buying the Cottage and moving to Kiandra. Despite purchasing the Cottage in 1960, the title was not transferred until july 1963(1).

Soon after moving in, the Matthews made several additions and alterations to the property. The first of these was the purchase of a fibro shed from Harvey Palfrey at the Kiandra Chalet, which was relocated to a site at the rear of the Cottage(8). The shed had been one of many erected at the Chalet during the 1950s when the SMA had established a camp there. Palfrey acquired several of the sheds when the SMA departed(6). The Matthews' shed had been a single mens quarters and comprised a single room with a donkey (stove) in one corner. It was used as a storeroom by the Matthews(8).

The second addition comprised a corrugated iron shed which was constructed by Bill at the rear of the Cottage. This was to house a 32-volt generator which had been obtained from Bill Paterick. The generator provided power solely for a lighting system throughout the Cottage. Until that time, kerosene pressure lamps were used for lighting(8).

As they had no undercover area for storing or chopping firewood, the Matthews decided to seal the Cottage fireplace. The old donkey water heater in the laundry was removed along with the kitchen range. A reticulated gas system was installed, fed by several bottles located outside the laundry. The system supplied gas heaters in the living room and kitchen, a gas stove in the kitchen, and a new hot water service in the laundry(8).

The Matthews also planted a considerable number of exotic species around the Cottage, many of which are still evident. These include the row of Hawthorn trees to the north, the elderberry tree to the south, a lilac tree and numerous flowers(8). The Lupins which now cover the site, were given to the Matthews by Mrs Pattinson who is believed to have propagated all of the Lupins at Kiandra(7). The Matthews also grew gooseberries and some vegetables, to the delight of the local wombats!(8) A raised planter bed is located under the kitchen windows at the rear of the Cottage.

Life at Kiandra 1960 - 1980

The Matthews spent most of their waking hours in the kitchen, which the northern orientation and extensive glazing made the sunniest room in the house. Trout fishing was a significant part of their lives. The trout was smoked in the fireplace on an old rack from a refrigerator. Sawdust was obtained from the mill in Adaminaby and combined with prunings off the elderberry tree next to the shed, to give a distinctive flavour. The smoked trout would keep for months in the meat safe Bill had constructed in the laundry(8).

Kerosene was used to power refrigerators and portable heaters. The generator for the lighting plant was notoriously unreliable with parts difficult to obtain. Telephone, battery powered television and radios provided contact with the outside world(8).

A tennis court provided some entertainment for the locals. Originally located between the Cottage and Yan's Store, the site was found to be too windy so another was subsequently established near the Tow Operators Residence(8).

During 1962 Peter Fountain mentioned to Bill Matthews that he was intending to relocate the T-bar to one of the newly developing resorts in the southern part of the Park. The winter snowfalls at Kiandra were proving erratic; some seasons the T-bar couldn't operate at all, whereas the new resorts promised a reliable operating period of several months. Bill had never expressed any real interest in skiing yet he now decided to purchase the tow, partly to create a winter pastime to keep him occupied out of the fishing season(8). Prior to purchase, he needed to find someone who new enough about skiing to generate ideas for managing the tow and who knew enough about engineering principles to understand the operation of the machinery. He phoned a skiing friend in Tumut, Colin Myers, and asked if he could find him someone with such qualifications and who would be interested in running the tow. A short while later Colin phoned back with a suitable person - namely himself! The partnership was born and they duly purchased the T-bar and residence/snack bar(7+8).

The Tow Operators Residence was partitioned to create a bathroom, whilst a septic system was installed(8). The residence was rented out as a ski lodge to friends and acquaintances(7+8).

The next few years included heavy & regular snowfalls at Kiandra. The tow was a great success and proved highly profitable. Parties more like drinking binges were held on most nights, either at the Tow Operators Residence or at the Kiandra Chalet. The Pattinsons, Fountains, Myers and Matthews were all regular participants(8). Colin Myers spent the first winter living out of a caravan adjacent to the back of the Cottage and the second winter with the Pattinsons at their house(7).

However the winters were proving detrimental to Bill Matthews health. He contracted pleurisy towards the end of the first two winters, and during the third year caught pneumonia. It was obvious that he could no longer live at Kiandra during the winter months. The Matthews purchased a large caravan off Peter Fountain and towed it to Narooma, to a caravan beside the golf course. From 1963 onwards, the Matthews were to spend the winter months patronising the Narooma golf course and the summers up at Kiandra, escaping the South Coast tourist plague. Later their son Bruce would acquire a block of land at Narooma and build a house for them(8).

Colin Myers bought out Bill's share in the ski tow. From this inauspicious beginning in the ski industry, Colin would go on to bigger and better things. Later he would be involved with the operation of the Tumut Ski Club's rope tow at Kings Cross; this was later relocated to New Chum Hill. For a while Colin would jointly operate the Kiandra Chalet following Harvey Palfrey and prior to its acquisition by the DMR, and eventually he would help establish the Mt Selwyn ski resort(8).

In November 1963, the Matthews spent a fortnight at Yarrangobilly Caves House as caretakers whilst the managers, Joyce and Harvey Palfrey were absent on holiday(8).

The Matthews entertained many guests at Kiandra during the summer months, most of whom were there to enjoy the trout fishing. One such visitor was Tom Cole, a notable Australian author and close friend of the Matthews, who had previously visited the Matthews in New Guinea and to whom Bill was to teach the finer points of trout fishing whilst at Kiandra(8).

For many years they accommodated a mixed group of professionals. They included Bill Barry, a doctor from Narrandera, Reg McGoffin, an architect from Sydney, Chris Housegow, an eye specialist, and others with professions ranging from dentists to lawyers. Jimmy Matthews was amazed how such people would wear the scruffiest clothes imaginable and somewhat disgusted by their adoption of infrequent bathing practices. They inveritably arrived each year on the last day of February, in time to celebrate Chris Housegow's birthday on 1 March. On one occasion they decided to celebrate Chris' birthday with a dinner at the Kiandra Chalet. Apparently Harvey Palfrey was quite shocked at the appearance of this appalling bunch of no-hopers and derelicts that arrived with the Matthews, and then stood with jaw agape as he was introduced to doctor so-and-so, barrister so-and-so, ad infinitum(8).

The Cottage was burgled regularly from the mid 1960s onwards. Linen, clocks, furniture and various items, some which had been wedding presents, were all taken. In later years, anything remotely valuable including the generator was transported to Narooma each winter(8).

 

Under NPWS Management

The Cottage was resumed by the Crown on 5 December 1968(1) for inclusion within the proposed National Park. The Kosciusko National Park was declared in 1969, and the Cottage gazetted as part of the KNP on 22 May 1970(1). The Matthews were granted a permissive lease over the Cottage to continue their occupation.

By the early 1970s, all of the buildings at Kiandra had been resumed by the Crown for inclusion within the KNP. The majority of buildings had fallen into disrepair and many were removed including the Tow Operators Residence, the T-bar having been relocated elsewhere. Several long-time residents and clubs were also issued with a permissive lease over houses including the Pattinsons, Hughes, Myers and Mrs Crane. During the early 1980s a number of these buildings were removed, often following the death of the leaseholder, including the Crane house, Hughes house, the Youth Hostel, Cologne Hutte Ski Club and the "Poachers Club", later followed by Yan's Store. The Cottage is currently one of only four buildings remaining at Kiandra including the Pattinson house, Wolgul Ski Club and Kiandra Chalet (originally Courthouse & Lock-up).

The Matthews continued their seasonal occupation of the Cottage until 1986, when on 6 August Bill Matthews died of pneumonia whilst at Narooma(8).

Except for one winter during the late 1980s when one of the Matthews grandchildren occupied the Cottage whilst employed at the Mt Selwyn resort, the Cottage has remained unoccupied. The Cottage was initially kept locked by NPWS but the lock has been damaged and there is evidence of the building being used by the public. Some doors and fittings have been removed from the interior but vandalism has been slight when compared to other roadside buildings within the KNP. However damage due to the natural decay of the building fabric is extensive and the building has become structurally unstable.

 

CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT

Kiandra township is of national significance through the influences of the gold rush & subsequent mining on the surrounding regions, and for the early development of recreational skiing in Australia. Matthews' Cottage is associated with both of these factors; being constructed at the turn of the century during a resurgence in mining activity, and later serving as the residence for the managers of the first ski tow at Kiandra.

Matthews' Cottage is one of only four buildings that remain in the township of Kiandra, which once contained approximately 100 buildings. The Cottage remains as the only purpose-built residence at Kiandra; the only other residence - Pattinson's House - is a converted shop.

The original building was a particularly fine example of a small residence. The form and use of materials demonstrate the technology and stylistic influences of the late 19th century. The chimney features basalt stonework, rare within the Kosciusko National Park. These qualities are obscured by the latter additions.

The latter additions are associated with the changing use of the building reflecting the social structure at Kiandra changing from a pastoral/mining base to a recreational base. The Cottage is associated with the Fountains, Myers and Matthews, pioneers in the establishment of alpine skiing and use of T-bars in the Kosciusko National Park.

The sheds possess negligible significance as individual items, however their association with the latter use of the Cottage makes them a complement to the 1950s extensions. The exotic plantings demonstrate the creation of cultivated gardens that formed an integral part of a village residence, and are the largest group of such plantings that remain at Kiandra.

In general, the remaining buildings, sites and goldfields of Kiandra are very highly valued by all of the local communities and are of national significance related to 19th Century gold mining and the development of skiing in Australia. The Cottage is associated with many families still resident within the Tumut-Monaro region including the Foleys, Boltons, Matthews, Myers & Pattinsons, all of whom take pride in their link with Kiandra.

In such a heavily modified landscape as at Kiandra, their is inevitably strong potential for archaeological remains to exist under the existing building or concealed in the overgrown garden, but there is nil apparent at this time.

 

ACCESS

Matthews Cottage is located beside the Snowy Mountains Highway at Kiandra, closest building to the chalet. In 1990 the NPWS installed a Heritage Walk through the site of the Kiandra township. Interpretative displays were installed including one adjacent to the rear of Matthews' Cottage.

The building is generally kept locked as it is in an unsafe condition. Works are expected to commence in the summer of 1995/96, when the Cottage will be restored to its original appearance by removing the latter additions - which are all in very poor condition. The future use of the building is currently being considered.

 

FOOTNOTES

1 NSW Land Titles Office - titles register, Volume 367 Folio 155.

2 Gatis Gregors -Kiandra Precinct Plan (1982 Draft), NPWS report, chronographic development maps.

3 Bill Foley -interview at "Wyreema", Lacmalac, 18 January 1992.

-personal photograph collection.

4 Gatis Gregors -Kiandra Precinct Plan (1985 Draft), NPWS report, historical notes.

5 Ossie Bolton -interview at 80 Bombala St, Cooma, 29 February 1992

6 Jim & Fanny Pattinson -interview at Kiandra, 13 January 1992.

7 Colin Myers -phone conversation 12 January, 1992.

-interview at Lacmalac 18 January 1992.

8 Mrs Jimmy Matthews -interview at Eastaway Avenue, Narooma, 17 January 1992.

-personal photograph collection.

 

OTHER SOURCES

Gatis Gregors - "A Survey of NSW Alpine Architecture 1840-1910", BSc(Arch) Thesis, Uni of Sydney, 1979.

S.Feary & A.Henchman - Kiandra Precinct Plan (1992 Draft), NPWS report, conservation policies.

Valma Howe - personal photograph collection.

DG Moye - Historic Kiandra, Cooma-Monaro Historical Society, 1959.

NPWS records - Tumut District, South East Region, Head Office.