The Lovegrove Family Gathering
  In Mudgee during 2002 Australia Day Weekend 

A report of this very successful event now follows.

During the Australia Day weekend, 26-28 Jan 2002, in excess of 130 descendants of George and Sarah Lovegrove(nee Hazelett) met in the beautiful NSW country town of Mudgee to celebrate the first family gathering since George and Sarah arrived in Australia on 24 June 1853.

Also celebrating with us were six descendants of David James and Mary Ann Lovegrove (nee Copper), George's first cousin, once removed who arrived in Australia in 1913.

Massed Lovegrove descendents

Although some setting up of the Assembly Hall of the Mudgee Public School took place on the Friday afternoon, the morning of Saturday was spent displaying genealogical charts, photos, artifacts, issuing nameplates and in meeting new family members and greeting well known faces.

After lunch, administrative matters took a short while after which, Graham Lovegrove set the scene by running briefly over the genesis of our Lovegroves, firstly in the UK and then within Australia. Reference was made to the colour coded charts to help those attending to understand just where they fitted into the picture.

Attentive Audience

An invitation was issued encouraging family members to come forward and relate anecdotes concerning their ancestors. This received a good response and some interesting tales were told.

Photographs were taken of the group and of the separate lines of the family before all left to prepare for the gathering dinner. Kindly click the following link if you would like to view the Lovegrove Family Photo Album which contains some more photos of this event.

The dinner was held in the reception room of the Mudgee Soldiers' Club which was a picture, decorated as it was in national colours of green and gold. Serving as centerpieces in the room were celebratory cakes made by Patricia Lovegrove of Coolah and Maureen Gleeson of Ettalong Beach. Not only were they superbly decorated, they were most palatable as well.

A happy table at the massed Lovegrove dinner 

A plentiful meal of excellent food was complemented with some superb local wines. The courses were interspersed with musical items performed by Lovegroves or Lovegrove spouses.

Kids ham it up on stage

Worthy of particular mention was the guitar and keyboard playing and vocals of Richard Cootes who also composed the following "Ballad of George and Sarah" which we all sang to the tune of "The Shores of Botany Bay".

Now George he was a carpenter
But work was hard to find, 
So he made the brave decision
To leave it all behind.
He said to his wife and children
"I can't take it any more!"
He told them straight
"We're gonna emigrate
To Australia's distant shore."

So here's to George and Sarah
Here's to the life they made.
And here's to their descendants
Who are gathered here today.
If it weren't for George and Sarah
Then we would not be here!
Lets drink a toast,
Salute them both
The Bramley pioneers.
They sailed from Plymouth Harbour in 1853
And stepped ashore at Morpeth
But, oh what tragedy'
For Jane their eldest daughter 
Was dead within six days
Oh the times were tough
And life was rough
In early New South Wales

In the little town of Cassilis
The family made their stand,
And George took up his trade again
On Alex Busby's land.
Building sheds and stables
They made a bold new life,
And so you see
Our family tree
Was born of toil and strife.


Presentations were made to Molly Roach, who in her ninety-second year, was the oldest relative present, to William Dunn who, at two years of age, was the youngest and to Dawn Giddings (nee Lovegrove), who travelled furthest to attend. A further presentation, a fancy "Autograph Book", signed by most of those attending, was presented to Graham and Trish Lovegrove for having organized the gathering.

William Dunn presents certificate to Molly Roach

The Sunday saw one coach and some twenty cars head out in convoy to travel the 80 km or so from Mudgee to Cassilis to visit sites of family interest.

The first stop was at "Ballantyne" station where we inspected the shearing shed built there by George in 1860. The heritage-listed building is essentially in excellent condition considering its age and the relatively harsh conditions it would have experienced over the intervening years. A collection was made to assist with the maintenance of the shed and a sum in excess of $ 200.00 was passed to the custodians, Sarah and Nick Thompson, the owners of "Ballantyne".

"Ballantyne" Shearing Shed

Visits were also made to the two surviving churchyards where many early and some recently deceased relatives were buried and to one de-consecrated pioneer graveyard where George and Sarah's son David was buried in 1860.

After a welcome picnic lunch, the entourage drove some eleven km out of town to visit the property presently known as "St Antoine" but better known to the Lovegroves as "Hampton", where Ambrose and Sarah Lovegrove(nee Regan) lived and raised their family of twelve children. Little evidence of their presence remains other than a collapsed woolshed a pile of rubble where the homestead once stood and the washpool in which the sheep were washed before shearing.

Returning to Cassilis, the Catholic families attended a memorial mass conducted specifically for our gathering by Father John McInerney of Merriwa. Those not attending drove to the "Willy Wally", a Rawlinson property established by David and Mary Ann Rawlinson (nee Lovegrove) in the 1870s and still farmed in 2002 by their great-grandson, Ken Rawlinson and his son Trenton. Returning to Cassilis, the churchgoers rejoined the convoy for an uneventful drive to Mudgee.

Although at that time the main activities were over, a large number of people arrived on the Monday morning to remove Lovegrove items and restore the School to its normal state. Even this chore was a most pleasurable one.


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