1 About

Sherbrooke is sometimes spoken of – but many people don’t know of its existence at all. It was a village up on Bulli Mountain, and was predictably known as Bulli Mountain in its early days.

In 1956 Bill Bayley described Sherbrooke, 50 years after its demise for Cataract Dam – Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin 1956.

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The Sherbrooke Sisters (see photograph below) wanted to discover its lost secrets and share them to make sure Sherbrooke never truly dies.

Bron Chamberlain - Sherbrooke Sisters

Sherbrooke School

Sherbrooke School

Their efforts have been recognise through the One Place Study Organisation when they recently showcased Sherbrooke. Click to read more : Sherbrooke a One Place Study.

There was a push to change its name because of confusion with all the other “Bulli’s”. At first it was proposed by John Loveday to be called Beaconsfield (refer Illawarra Mercury 24/4/1883 & 8/5/1883), and instead it was changed to Sherbrooke, after Lord Sherbrooke (Robert Lowe) – click here for more on Lord Sherbrooke. Sometimes it was also called Ferndale too, but that was actually the name of the Brown’s Orchard property on Bulli Mountain, which was part of the Sherbrooke community.

Bulli Mountain had some settlement on it in the 1850’s (Map) along the track cut by the Hawkesbury born – former Campbelltown Constable, Benjamin Rixon in 1847, now known as Rixon’s Pass, south of Westmacott’s Bulli Pass. Though some considered Rixon’s track dangerous in 1849, and by 1857 the locals preferred the proposed new road to be down Bulli Pass. So the settlement growth was more to the north – see also an 1872 list of residents. Sherbrooke was above Bulli Pass, and was quite large in area, spread from above southern Thirroul in the north,  along to west of  Broker’s Nose Corrimal in the south – but the main area was just above the top of Bulli Pass (see 1902 resumption map).

And Sherbrooke, as a community, still existed until around 1903, when the Water Board began to resume all the properties for the Cataract Dam’s catchment – they did have a ranger there in 1907. But back in 1888, farms at Sherbrooke were considered Splendid Illawarra Property, and none could have imagined what lay 15 years ahead.

Robert Trevis Clifford Jones - his collection of photos inspired this Sherbrooke web site.

Robert Trevis Clifford Jones – his collection of photos inspired this Sherbrooke web site.

It seems that Sherbrooke may have started out with as many as 16 families  on Bulli Mountain, and then it grew by the time the village was resumed to more than 60  families that had lived there over the years. The families included … Allen, Blinkco‘s, Brown’s, Campbell’s,  Cram’s, Dumbrell’s, FritzHaberley’s, Keen’s, King, Knights, Loveday’s, Martin’s, Molloy’s, Parsons, Reeve’s, Roberts, Smithers, Spinks-Jones, Vidler, Wales, Wilson.

There are still some descendants of the Sherbrooke Village families around the Illawarra – many of their ancestors had moved down to Bulli and Woonona, setting up farms there. The Jones later  set up on the Bulli Pass, and Robert Trevis Clifford Jones‘ treasured collection of  the Reeve-Spinks-Jones family photo’s from the Sherbrooke days was passed down in their family – which has inspired the “Sherbrooke Sisters” to create this site … And we have been grateful to the Black Diamond Heritage Centre at Bulli Railway Station East, for the support they have given us.

The Spinks-Jones inter-married or been connected into other early Illawarra families like the Brookers after whom Broker’s Nose was named, & the Chilby’s (Childerley’s);  as well as the Smithers, and so may be all inter-connected (see map), including into the Webb-Jones of Thirroul.

Additionally, many of the stories would have been lost forever without the Trove digitisation project by the National Library of Australia. Wollongong City Library and the University of Wollongong have partnered with the Trove team to undertake  the digitisation of the Illawarra Mercury and South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus. As the digitisation progresses, many more stories continue to emerge of Sherbrooke, on Bulli Mountain.

There was a sad story written 80 years ago, in the Grenfell Record & Lachlan District Advertiser, 12.10.1933, about forgotten lost villages like Sherbrooke.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Love coming back here now and then to read about Sherbrooke……always seeing some small detail I’ve missed before .


  2. Posted by Marilyn Woodward on June 6, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Hi I have finally organised myself to get to the Museum this Sun ( 10 Jun). I want to see everything but I’m really interested in the Sherbrooke material as my grandfather Andrew Paynter was one of the first rangers after everyone had left. I would be really grateful if someone with knowledge of Sherbrooke was around for me to talk too if at all possible.
    I have contacted you some years ago so I know there’s not much info on the years in question but I’m I’m excited to actually get to see the museum. Thank you. Marilyn


    • Posted by Ian on December 22, 2019 at 7:26 am


      I was a young boy at Darkes Forest in 1948/9 and I believe the waterboard ranger at the time was Les Thew, he and his wife lived in the remaining house at Sherbrooke. He often stopped for a chat and cup of tea while doing his rounds and after he retired they visited our family for some years, they were particularly close to an early Darkes Forest resident, Leslie Smith. I can only guess at his retirement of about mid 1950’s. I can visualize the face of the next ranger, but now have no idea of his name.



      • Posted by Ian on December 22, 2019 at 8:09 am

        Following my previous post. I drove into Sherbrooke about the mid 1960’s to see what I could see. I only found 1 beautiful sandstone cottage, it may have been school and I guessed it was where Les Thew and his wife previously lived.


  3. Posted by Ian Clarke on May 15, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Born and raised in Bulli . I didn’t know about Sherbrooke.👍


  4. Posted by Alan Harper on November 20, 2019 at 11:19 am

    I am trying to find my ancesters the Haberleys burial site. John Gottlieb and wife Helena Haberley. Any help would be greatly appreciated Regards
    Alan Harper


    • John was buried at the Bulli General Cemetery according to his death certificate – corroborated by his entry in St Augustine’s Parish Register for 1909. Helena died before the St Augustine’s Anglican Bulli Cemetery and the Bulli General Cemetery were commenced. According to her death certificate she was buried in the Wollongong Presbyterian Burial Ground which dates from the 1840’s at least. I am familiar with this old Presbyterian Cemetery in Wollongong as a number of generations of my own family were buried there. It’s not a large cemetery but I don’t recall seeing any Haberley graves there. However many of the gravestones have deteroriated and also some may not have had stone gravestones but timber one’s which have been lost over time.
      I have responded to via email with images of the death certificates and the St Augustine Anglican Bulli Parish Register entry for John
      Kerrie Anne Christian


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