Name: Nina SINCLAIR
Birth: 24 APR 1901 in Bostobrick, NSW
Burial: Dorrigo Catholic Cemetery, NSW
Death: 26 FEB 1994 in Dorrigo, NSW
Information Source: BDM 10850/1901. Notes From The Catholic Weekly, 7 Sept 1994:- "Not only did Nina Phillips receive the OAM, she received the highest Red Cross and Hospital Auxillary honours.
This tribute to her appeared in the Don Dorrigo Gazette, Wednesday, July 6, 1994:
"We bring nothing into the world, we take nothing out" But what do we leave? Some of us, practically nothing, others some things - but what of people like Nina Phillips?
She has left so much to consider. Her life was full of giving: her love which she shared with all people, her fun, her work. To Nina life had to be lived. During this time of living she found it right that she should love the world around her, its people: she never really had time to be part of negatives - there was work to be done. Her family and her home were the first priority, following that, the activities within the community the Red Cross, the Hospital Auxiliary, the North Dorrigo School of Arts, the Parents & Citizens association, her church: the list goes on. Her membership to some of these organisations reached back to over 50 years: her involvement was not spasmodic but staunch & strong. How many babies did she bring into this world? How many people did she see out? The stories where do we start - the list is endless.
Nina was her best at daylight, starting the fire, cooking the scones, preparing the food for heaven knows who or how many may be calling: her home was always open, the table always full. These were the times of depending: these were the times which left their mark on Nina and set her along the road to caring. We seem to have lost some of the pioneering spirit: her home was a focal point of the Sinclair family: she knew them all and they loved her.
This unique lady was born at Bostobrick. After the Death of her mother she lived for some years with relatives in Armidale. She and her life-long mate Gus were married in 1923, moved to North Dorrigo and lived there the rest of there lives. Nina was a twin sister to Baden the second youngest children of W J and Jane Sinclair; the two families of W J Sinclair consisting of 24 children. Nina and Gus had five children: Jim, Lexia, Bill (dec.), Noel, Raymond (dec.). These surviving children together with their descendants are left now to remember "a great lady, a very great lady." Nina was buried with Gus in the cemetery at Dorrigo. We know that they Rest in Peace - life's work well and truly done.
"Nina's Story.....reflections of a bygone era", by Kath Cook taken from "Harbour Views), June 14, 1985.
Nina Phillips is truly one of the great characters of the Dorrigo District. A spritely 84 years young, Nina's amazing recolection of "days gone by" warrants a national trust clasification.
Bound into her family history is the story of Australia from the days of the convicts to the present era. Nina has spent a lifetime helping people, so it came as no surprise that she should try & help this humble reporter as I came in from a typical Dorrigo day of rain and mist to a cheery kitchen fire, never ending cups of tea and home made damper. "I though it would help you remember the story if I wrote it down for you," an assured Nina told me. Apolegeticallyshe explained: "I was a bit rushedwhen I wrote it last night so you will have to forgive my spelling mistakes. Her story is printedhere largelyunchanged, butfor comments Nina madeduring the course of the interview. It providesa rare insightinto the spirit of the era in which Nina grew up:
My father, William James Sinclair, was born in Sydney on november 5, 1844. His father, Jamie, was a soldier in the 99th regiment who had been sent to Austalia in 1842, where he served for 3 years before being sent to New Zealand to fight in the Maori uprising. On returning to Australia he was retired through ill health & died in May 1850. Newly-widowed my grandmother was given a position at Victoria Barrickswhere she remained until she met Michael Clogher whom she later married. Micael Clogher had been transported to Australia in 1838 with his sister Winifred, from Roscommonon in Ireland, for stealing sheep, and was sent to Port Macquarie where he served his time. The government rehabilitated him & he was given a job as police trooper. Soon after he was transferred to Armidale as lock up keeper and subsequently was assigned to the Guy Fawkes area to hunt down the blacks who had massacred the Mason family at Meldrum Station. Clogher & his new family came to Bostobrich Via the New England and there built a small home on land which is now owned by Michael Gilbert.
By that stage the blacks he had been tracking had killed several people on the Macleay. Finally he and the Armidale police sergeant tracked them down to the Bora Ground on my brother Baden's property - whic was then crown land - and chased them away. This was about the time of the cedar getters and the Big Scrub.
There was no road to Bellingen then, and the cedar getters came in via the New England. There was no Dorrigo yet either. The Cerdar getters built their little stringy bark and shingle huts along the river at Paddy's Plain and went back to armidale to fetch their wives. All their little seleections were named according to whim or circumstance, places like Grass Tree Flats & Frying Pan and Wash Rock. Thet built huge pits for their cross cut saws and worked the timber in twos - one man sawing above and the other on the other end of the saw, below. Once the timber was sawn, they'd take it by bullock train to Armidale, a six weeks trip all told, most of it on foot.
The womenfolk were the bravest that ever lived, I am sure. They feared the Aborigines, and for six weeks at a timewould barricade themselves inside there houses. Grandma Phillips, my husbands mother, told me stories of how she would sit up all night guarding the children by the light of a slush lamo - a tin of fat with a wick in it. They made these themselves - it was all the light anybody had.
My father married his first wife, Esther Edwards, in 1867, and together they raised 13 children - 12 boys and one girl. By 1870 he had selected Donnybrook, now part of Meldrum Station, where they lived until Esther passed away in 1889, at the age of 42. She was buried near their home in the same grave as their twin son William James who had died in May, 1870 soon after birth.
My father then marrieed Jane Hiscock of Armidale - my mother - who gave him 11 children, making 24 children in all. My twin brother baden & I are the only two of the 24 still living. We were 9 years old when our mother passed away, at the age of 41. The first resident doctor in Dorrigo, Dr Gatenbey, made his first house call to our house to attend her death.
With the death of our mother, the children old enough to help on the farm stayed, but the six younger ones including myself were shipped off to live with relatives until we were old enough to return to Dorrigo and take up enployment. I was sent to an aunty in Armidale who owned a boardinghouse, and I worked there before and after school. I attended the Urseline Convent.
My mothers death was a great loss to our family. I cried all the way to Armidale, and was very unhappy there because I wasn't allowed to see my people. It was 6 years before I could come home again - just before the end of the First World War.
I had many positions on cattle stations when I returned to Dorrigo, until I began work at the old Coffee Palace in 1921 - it used to be where the Masonic Lodge is now. It was a beautiful big building - 12 bedrooms up & down stairs, and a dining room which streched the lenght if the building.
The HydroElectric Scheme was being constructed so we had all the workers boarding there, as well as the manager, and all the staff of J>H>Davis and all the bank clerks in town. Mrs Kirton was the proprietor and another girl and I waitressed. On the days the Butter Factory meetings were held, all the families from the outlying areas would come in for a big dinner.
It was so exciting then - they were happy times, no matter where you were. We had a booming town then, thriving. All the farmers were prosperous and they were a great asset - we had the Dairy, the Butter Factory, a billiard room, a dance hall & a picture theatre. Crowds would come to the pictures - it was marvellous. And did we laugh at Charlie Chaplin! My God, he was good! In 1923 I left the Coffee Palace to marry Gus Phillips, whose family was one of the original pioneering families of the district - they were cedar getters - the Phillips, Hewitts, Dillons, Bassings, Kirkpatricks, Davidsons, Edwards and Spokes. Jack Spokes was the first white child to be born in Dorrigo.
Nina said that the "death" of Nth Dorrigo was tragic. "Why, at Nth Dorrigo we had a big wine saloon, two stories with big stables out the back - we had a bank, two butcheers shops and a dance hall. There were dozens of houses there then - a proper little village- but a lot were burned down and The Depression of course finished off the town. Many little families were on the dole and we had to watch them trudging up to the police station to collect their eight shillings worth of food - there was no money on the dole then. But we helped each other you know"
People were the same then as they are today - women ran away and had their little babies. The only difference was that it was all swept under the carpet then. Today people are so open, so honest...and the government has been wonderful to support the little mothers with their children - because they should be, dear. Because they had nothing in days gone by. They had to either abandon their babies or give them to their parents or do something else. Let me be honest. The new settlers have revived this little village. People say the hippies are this and that. There is good and bad people everywhere but new people in town? They are the best thing that has ever happened to us. The destruction of this little town came about by locals taking business elsewhere and not supporting the local merchants - nothing more, nothing less.
The idea of being isolated up here never entered my head. We pitch in together up here. We've rallied together during the wars and the Depression and we'll do it again. The closure of the abbatoirs was a great dissapointment to the town, but I say Dorrigo existed before the abbatoirs. We are not finished, no way! Its lack of local support that has done Dorrigo in not the abbatoirs.
Father: William James SINCLAIR b: 05 NOV 1844 in Sydney, NSW
Mother: Jane HISCOX b: 25 OCT 1865 in McIntyre Flat near Armidale, NSW
Agustusus (GUS) PHILLIPS b: 1896
in Dorrigo, NSW
- Jim PHILLIPS
- Lexie PHILLIPS
- Living PHILLIPS
- Living PHILLIPS
- Living PHILLIPS