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Historic Picton: telling the stories of pioneers of the district – the good and the tragic

Testing cars is not just about their features and performance.  It is about how well you travel in them and what you can do when you get to a destination.

On a trip to the Highlands for the launch of some new Audis, we passed through Picton.

We sat in a park just near St Marks Anglican Church and Pioneer Cemetery.

One tombstone hints at the tragedy of Janet Robinson’s life. Born in Scotland and died in Australia in 1903 aged just 31. It would be nice to know some more details.

While more details of her life are not available, beside 12 graves there are little plaques with a QR reader symbol on each one individually.  You point your phone at it and you can hear a short recording of some historical details of the person or persons buried there.

The stories behind twelve of the graves have been researched, compiled and written by Elizabeth Villy know to all as Betty, whom we managed to catch up with and have a chat.

Betty covered a range of subjects including:

  • The story behind the lives of Mary Horton and her son Claude Stafford
  • Claude’s father died when he was 5, his mother died when he was 12. When he was about 18 he died in Mt Kembla Mine disaster of 1902 along with three cousins and along with 92 other men and boys.
  • The horrendous working conditions in the mines in 1902
  • Why she is researching a range of people, not just the rich and well connected
  • Modern research systems let you search through old records for keywords, but the old methods mean you look at not only the story but the whole newspaper page, including the ads, and thus get a sense of the times in which the person lived.
  • Betty also did some research on the old Razorback Road.

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