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