20 August 2011

About the Sydney letters

I'm feeling pretty clumsy in this project as I find my voice and figure out how I want to present the letters. It seems to me that some regular commentary and background will help put things in perspective.

I don't want to intrude on the letters themselves, so I'll keep the commentary in separate posts. I'll use the "labels" feature liberally so that subjects can be tracked. And I'll regularly update the page Who's Who as new recurring people are introduced (and I figure out who they are and what their relation is.) Let me know if you have any other ideas.

From Melbourne (A) to Sydney (B) overland
is almost 900 kilometers
The first two letters were addressed to Noel in Sydney. I'm not sure how he traveled from Melbourne to Sydney, probably by ship is my guess.*  He traveled to Sydney by rail.

George wrote several letters before Noel left and addressed them to the ship, to be delivered in different ports of call. These letters are dated 18 June and 19 June. The second letter that Noel received in Sydney was sent after Noel had departed Melbourne, dated 23 June, so it had a little family news. (I will be posting the letters in the order that Noel received them, which is how he ordered them when he bound them together in a book, and not by date.)

There is a comment made in the 23 June letter about ringing relatives in Sydney. Noel's great-uncle, Henry Willis, was a prominent Sydney-area resident, being a member of Australia's first three Parliaments. His home was a bonafide castle, named Innisfallen, which still stands today in a part of Sydney's Middle Harbour known as Castle Cove.

Innisfallen Castle from an old undated postcard
that my grandfather saved.
I had tea at the castle in 1980 on a trip to Australia. I was 11 years old. Two of my grandfather's cousins, Calliope and Urania, were still living in the main part of the castle, while their nephew lived in the tower section.  Originally the castle was on a huge estate of wooded land, out in the middle of nowhere. Most of the property was sold off over the years, though, to cover estate taxes.

When we visited in 1980, the road there was through a suburban neighborhood and onto a cul-de-sac.  I remember it as house, house, house, castle, house. Very memorable.


I don't think the castle is owned by the Willis family anymore. About 5 or 6 years ago I did a Google search for Innisfallen Castle and found a Sotheby's Real Estate listing for it.

See related posts: No. 1 -- 19 June 1931 and No. 2 -- 23 June 1931

*Addendum 28 Aug 2011: Through a contact on Flickr I was informed that, "About that time coastal shipping had ceased, so it was an overnight train journey from Melbourne to Sydney, with change of gauge at Albury, took about 16 hours by express train."