The Heather to the Hawkesbury

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jan 7, 2016 - Immigrants - 212 pages
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The story follows four Scottish Highland families who, because of the potato famine in the Scottish Hebridean Islands have to emigrate to Australia and start new lives! Mary Macdonald with her husband Murdoch and children; her Brother Fergus and his family; Murdoch's sister Caro and her family; and cousins Alec Fraser and his family. They are sponsored at 3 per head by the Clan Chieftain, in this case it was Lord Macdonald. They settled in New South Wales Australia and learnt how to carve a new life for themselves. They learn new farming skills and a new way of Life. Our Highlander characters did not have to face the scary scenario of being forced out of their huts like others in their country, but due to famine and lack of work they had to leave. Many of their family had to stay behind in Skye. It was a fearful and sad time. The Clan Chieftains, called Lairds, subsidised the fares through the Highland and Island Emigration Society, for the clansmen to travel to either Canada or Australia. This story brings them to the Hawkesbury River area west of Sydney, Australia. It follows some of the families through four generations in this new land and new home. The Heather to The Hawkesbury is based loosely on fact and is typical of what many of the Scottish emigrants would have had to face.

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About the author (2016)

Sheila Hunter née Macdonald was passionate about her family and loved to research their history. This story is gleaned from a mix of both her husbands and her own Scottish families and their settlement and contribution to our country. Her parents were children of Scottish immigrants and both were brought up on the Victorian goldfields. Sheila's husbands family were also from Scotland (McLean's) and came out as described in the book. They were of the low illiterate class from the Isle of Mull, speaking only Gaelic. The McLeans became students of John Dunmore Lang and his wife. They were taught to cut trees, farm, milk cows, make cheese and they learnt with gusto turning these skills into what later became Norco Dairy Co-Op in Northern NSW. Sheila was born in New Zealand to Murdoch & Mabel McDonald moved back to Melbourne with her family when Sheila was 4 yrs old. She was a nurse by training, but an adventurer in her life! A wife and mother she was a great story teller, often making up very long stories for both her children and grandchildren. In 1999 Sheila was awarded one of 20 Federal Recipients of the Year of the Senior Citizen Awards. Life was tough - growing up during WW2 in a single parent family (her dad had left them to back to the two children from his first marriage who were still in New Zealand). They lived on the docks in Melbourne in a family Service Station. She went to school during the day and worked in the Service Station after school, weekends and at nights. She won a full 'Cello scholarship about this time, but it was during the war and on arriving home one day found that her mother had sold her 'Cello to help pay the household bills! On leaving school she enrolled in Nursing only to be the butt of jokes from her family, but she not only succeeded but excelled at this caring role, ending up as acting Matron of "Roma" Private Hospital in East Gosford NSW. Sheila married Norman M Hunter in 1955 and they lived in Avoca Beach all their married life. They were a well known on the Central Coast NSW as Norman was a Real Estate Agent who also built, owned & operated Avoca Beach Picture Theatre in Avoca. It was soon after their marriage that they faced the loss of Normans orchard "Nerrigundah" on the Nepean River at Birds Eye Corner, Castlereagh, due to dust from the Gravel pit from the next door farm at Castlereagh, near Penrith NSW. Together they amassed a Shell and Natural History Collection that was known world wide.

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