Holly Kerr Fo­rysth: a con­vict fam­ily’s legacy.

The en­ter­pris­ing spirit of a teenage con­vict girl is ev­i­dent at her son’s his­toric prop­erty in Tas­ma­nia

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & DRINK - HOLLY KERR FORSYTH

If ever there is an ex­am­ple of how much can be achieved in this coun­try — if you have en­ergy and ap­pli­ca­tion — it is the story of Thomas Reibey, who in 1819 built En­tally House near the vil­lage of Had­spen in north­ern Tas­ma­nia. Thomas was the el­dest son of Mary Reibey who, as 14-year-old Mary Hay­dock, was trans­ported to the colony of New South Wales in 1792 as pun­ish­ment for steal­ing a horse.

The day af­ter her ar­rival, in a let­ter to her aunt Mrs Hope in Lan­cashire dated Oc­to­ber 8, 1792 (the old­est sur­viv­ing let­ter sent from the colony), Mary wrote:

I write this on Board of ship but it looks a pleas­ant place — I will Watch ev­ery op­per­tu­nity to Get away in too or 3 years But will make my self as happy as I can ... I am well and hearty as ever I was in my life ...

In 1794 she mar­ried Thomas Reibey, a ju­nior marine of­fi­cer, and to­gether they had seven chil­dren.

Af­ter her hus­band’s death in 1811, Mary (whose face is fea­tured on our $20 note) took over his busi­nesses and, through hard work and tal­ent, amassed vast land­hold­ings in NSW and Tas­ma­nia.

She wrote to her cousin Alice in 1818:

The Es­tate that I have lately pur­chased at Van die-mans Land of 2000 acres that I pur­chased as an en­tail on my Chil­dren ... so that my yearly In­come is one Thou­sand pounds ... but no one will do well that is not thrifty cor­rect and Sober this place is not like Eng­land you are un­der the Eye of ev­ery one and your Char­ac­ter Scru­ti­nized by both rich and poor ...

In 1821, her son Ge­orge praised her in a let­ter to his cousin David Hope in Glas­gow as “a Mother — whose long anx­ious and the great ex­er­tion for the im­prove­ment and fu­ture hap­pi­ness of her chil­dren was scarcely ever sur­passed”.

In the way of many colonists who, once they be­came suc­cess­ful, sent their chil­dren “home” to be ed­u­cated, Mary’s great grand­son was sent to Eton: his let­ters can be read in the Mitchell wing of the State Li­brary of NSW.

To­day, En­tally House is set in 35ha of park-like grounds and gar­dens; the con­vict-built house, chapel, coach house and sta­bles are open for in­spec­tion.

You ar­rive through a long drive bor­dered with ma­ture oaks planted in the 1820s and edged in English box ( Buxus sem­per­virens) over which rhodo­den­dron spill, in full flower in mid-Novem­ber. The end of the drive is punc­tu­ated by a mas­sive Hi­malayan cedar ( Ce­drus deo-dara) thought to be more than 180 years old, the seed brought back from one of the over­seas voy­ages made by Thomas’s son.

An At­lantic cedar ( C. at­lantica), with its beau­ti­ful grey nee­dles, is set in the middle of the ex­pan­sive lawn, shad­ing the homestead. To the east a large green­house and pick­ing gar­den, ren­o­vated in the 1970s, is to­day filled with lupins, iris, roses and aqui­le­gias. This area would have been planted orig­i­nally for food pro­duc­tion, with veg­etable and flower gar­dens close to the kitchen.

The or­chards were planted fur­ther from the house.

The end of the drive is punc­tu­ated by a mas­sive Hi­malayan cedar, thought to be more than 180 years old

A new veg­etable gar­den is the ini­tia­tive of the lo­cal TAFE col­lege, which runs its horticulture cour­ses in the grounds and sup­plies beans, let­tuce, corn, toma­toes and herbs to the new En­tally cafe. The con­ser­va­tory, the old­est in Aus­tralia, houses a mar­vel­lous be­go­nia dis­play.

A long bor­der, op­po­site the house with its invit­ing, shaded veranda, is filled with heav­ily scented roses, par­tic­u­larly ru­gosa roses: the hot pink ‘Bleak House’ and the sil­ver-pink ‘Frau Dag­mar Has­trup’. Other roses in this bed, which is con­strained by a sweep of cat­mint ( Nepeta faassini), in­clude ‘Climb­ing Pinkie’, the golden ‘Lady Hilling­don’, and the blowsy moss rose ‘Marie de Blois’, named for a daugh­ter of Louis IV. This bor­der also houses del­phini­ums, tulips and daf­fodils. Th­ese de­light­ful gar­dens are tended by vol­un­teers, who also guide peo­ple through the house and re­late the rich

his­tory of the Reibey fam­ily.

PRUN­INGS

• En­tally hosts Gar­den­fest each Novem­ber. Wed­dings are held in the grounds ev­ery week­end dur­ing the spring and sum­mer. For in­for­ma­tion on open­ing days and hours, and for other events held at this lovely prop­erty, go to en­tally.com.au. • An­other mar­vel­lous dis­play of be­go­nias can be seen in Cook Park in Or­ange, cen­tral west NSW. Prepa­ra­tions for the city’s 25th an­nual food week, to be held April 8-17, are in full swing and the F.O.O.D. web­site for 2016 has just been launched. Go to or­ange­food­week.com.au.

En­tally House, the his­toric home of the son of con­vict set­tler Mary Reibey, left, has a gar­den filled with roses, herbs, rhodo­den­dron and some im­pres­sive trees

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