Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - History -

The town­ship of St Al­bans nes­tles in the tran­quil Macdon­ald Val­ley less than 100km from Syd­ney. The drive from Syd­ney takes you through West Pen­nant Hills, Dural, Glenorie and Wise­mans Ferry. Af­ter cross­ing the Hawkes­bury River on the ferry, you will be on the thresh­old of a most beau­ti­ful val­ley that stretches north­west along­side the Yengo Na­tional Park.

The first gover­nor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, sailed up the Hawkes­bury River in 1788 and named this stream The First Branch. He was look­ing for land suit­able to es­tab­lish farms to grow food for the set­tle­ment at Syd­ney Cove.

The Set­tler’s Arms Inn had other name in its early his­tory. In 1848, it was named the Trav­eller’s Arms at Bul­lock’s Wharf by publi­can John Sul­li­van. James Jurd be­came the li­censee in 1853 mak­ing the change to The Set­tler’s Arms. The Jurd fam­ily has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with this fa­mous ho­tel be­ing the li­censee for up­wards of 100 years.

The last of the fam­ily to hold the li­cence was Mrs James Jurd, who, with her hus­band, took charge in 1921. James passed away in 1931 with Mrs Jurd ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in run­ning the business and con­se­quently de­cid­ing to sur­ren­der her li­cence. The peo­ple of the Macdon­ald River Val­ley fought against the sur­ren­der con­sid­er­ing the ho­tel was a great as­set to the dis­trict; some even sug­gested “they might die of thirst”. Mr Ted Berns­dorff and fam­ily took over the ho­tel in 1934 and promised he would bring the old build­ing up-to-date for the con­ve­nience of pa­trons. To visit St Al­bans to­day and see this beau­ti­ful old Ge­or­gian build­ing in its per­fect set­ting is to walk into the nine­teenth cen­tury.

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