Desmond Bear 1










Hello from me, Editor Des. Well do you know what?  We went to  the city of Goulburn on a special pilgrimage.  My guardian Rob Conolly’s  ancestor William Conolly used to live there when it was just a little town.  This is him;


Hmmm…not the most handsome fellow, but he couldn’t help that could he? He came from Rathmines in Dublin, where he was a wine and spirits merchant, but not making much money.  Well, to be fair, times were very hard in Ireland. Anyway, before he went completely broke he decided to emigrate.  When he arrived  in Australia with his little family  in  1854  he met a man who owned a  flour mill in Goulburn (southern New South Wales).  So he decided to give flour a go  instead of plonk, and bought the lease, and then the whole business. Here is a lovely drawing of the mill.

Conollys Mill drawing

William sent  flour  from his steam driven mill all over the country, and  won first prize  at an international  exhibition in Sydney for five years running.  People everywhere cooked  his wheaty porridge for breakfast. This is probably why Rob Conolly  still makes porridge every morning. Yuk!  Unfortunately, me and his wife Pauline have to eat it too.

Conolly's Porridge
Conolly’s Porridge

Now our William was not above giving local farmers some advice, even if they didn’t ask for it. 😎 The following snippet was published in 1863.

Below  is a photo of the mill taken about 1870. The man in the white coat is miller William, and behind him is  his son George Wallace  (Rob’s great-grandfather).


Sadly, it’s the only image we have of George Wallace, but here is a photo of his son Wallace with his wife Maude, taken about 1950.

Wallace and Maude Conolly
Wallace and Maude Conolly

And here is the Conolly family’s first house in Goulburn, called Argyle Cottage. It might be still there, but nobody can find it because we don’t know what street it’s in. If it’s still standing that is. I like the neat picket fence.

Argyle Cottage
Argyle Cottage

Unlike Rob Conolly, William went to church a lot.  He helped raise  money to build  the city’s  lovely Anglican  cathedral, called  St Saviour’s.   In 1987, when he had been dead for a hundred years,  all the family (including Rob and Pauline) went to  a  big reunion in Goulburn. 

By this time the mill had moved to the city’s old public baths building. The move had taken place in the early 1900s.

Here is the Conolly clan in front of the mill, which was then a bowling alley!   I forgot to say that  the last flour had been milled in the 1960’s.


There was  a special service in the cathedral and a minister cousin from Melbourne, the Rev. David Conolly,  preached a sermon of thanksgiving  for the life of William.  A brass plaque in the old chap’s  memory   was put  up under  the Conolly family stained  glass window. Wasn’t that lovely? Except the cleaners have been a bit too free with the brasso,  and now the plaque is really  hard to read. For goodness sake!

GoulburnToGeelong 006

Anyway, the window is pretty. It was actually put there in memory of Harriet Conolly, William’s sister-in-law, who was even more churchy than he was. She came to Goulburn from Dublin  after her husband Richard Conolly died. Well he was a minister, so that’s why she was so religious I suppose.

GoulburnToGeelong 007

Old William is buried in St Saviour’s Anglican cemetery, which is right beside Goulburn’s maximum security gaol. I don’t think he would like that really, but never mind. The family  visited his grave  during the reunion and Reverend David gave another little sermon.

The graveyard service.

Then they all went off and played cricket, which is a very Aussie thing to do. Rob said he was a shining star, but I don’t believe him. Pauline said she thinks he got out for a duck, from a fast ball bowled by minister David.

A cricket game is the perfect finale to a family reunion.


Thanks for reading my history story…, Editor Des xxx

  1. Dear Editor Des
    I really enjoyed your article on Dr Bob’s family. It was quite amusing in parts. You must feel proud that your Guardian’s family were part of the pioneer history of NSW.
    I am afraid I couldn’t find Pauline or Dr Bob in the family photograph or you either for that matter. Were you in the photograph?. I suppose you would be more interested if they had kept bees and had a honey factory. That way you could have honey for breakfast every morning instead of porridge.
    Keep up the good work des as all your articles are good experience for when you write your first book.

  2. Just browsing the internet and found your article on William Connolly. I was just typing up a para about how William Henry Dawes and Mary Ann Flanagan met – whilst working in Goulburn in a flour mill owned by Mr. William Connolly in 1857-59/60 and up came your wonderful page with photos to boot – I hope I can use the photos in my Dawes family history story? William was from Cornwall and Mary Ann Flanagan of course was from Ireland.

    • Pauline

      How lovely to think that a romance blossomed at the mill Joan. Will add this my story…..Editpr Des. xx

  3. Delighted to have come across this. Brought back happy memories of the Reunion in Goulburn in 1987, which I enjoyed organising. I hope Pauline is still alive and well. Would love to hear from her. Maybe she could drop me an email? ([email protected])

    • Pauline

      I will ask her to contact you Reverend David, Editor Des

  4. Well Pauline and Des, I for one love porridge and my grandchildren say I am just the best porridge maker (everyone has to be good at something!) It seems that the Conolly traditions move in mysterious ways. I enjoyed your website . I went to visit William’s grave just the other day. It was full of weeds, so much so that they had obscured his good name. I spent a good part of an hour weeding it- a little bit of love and gentleness from a distant relative. Then when I had finished, and could see his name and dedication again, I sat down and had a sandwich with him.
    So proud of William and what he had achieved in his lifetime.
    Unfortunately I could not get to the reunion that Des speaks of. My dear Uncle David, a fast bowler eh. What a hoot! Though I suspect Uncle’s shining days of fast bowling may be behind him now, he still tenderly cares for many family stories: histories which I now pass on to my grandchildren. We are such an interesting mob!

    • Pauline

      Hi Elizabeth. Editor Des and I are delighted that you tended William’s grave and shared your lunch break with him.

  5. Lovely work, Des. Sorry to spoil some of the fun. No way did I ever bowl a ball at Rob. Sport was never my ‘thing.’ Argyle Cottage was never found because, after careful research by Stephen Tazewell (former Sec of the Goulburn Historical Society, now sadly departed) its general site was calculated and it had clearly been demolished at some stage. It’s also fairly certain that William C’s wine and spirit business in Dublin failed due to the desperate poverty of Ireland following the great famine. His flour mill was a thriving business. The 1850s saw a huge emigration from Ireland to both the USA and the Australian colonies, partly to escape the situation at home, partly because of the discovery of gold in both places. No sign of William trying the gold fields, though! He was apparently a very kind and gentle man, much loved by his big family, and very involved in the local community, not only through the church but in many other ways (he was also a Justice of the Peace). I agree that photo is rather grim, but that was taken in his early days here when no doubt he had a big job settling and starting his business. We have a much more genial one of him, taken later when he was more relaxed (and no doubt prosperous!). Anyway, well done, Des. Thanks you for the hard work you’ve done.

    • Pauline

      Des is a bit disappointed about the myth of your bowling being exploded, cousin David. He says it was my fault for providing false information. William’s life in Goulburn sums up the true spirit of the Australian pioneer.

      • Poor Des! Sorry about that. But I love his article about William – he did the old boy proud. I agree that William was a fine pioneer, an ancestor to be proud of.

  6. just came across this story that helped fill in the picture of my great grandfather’s lifestyle.
    He was a manager at Connelly’s mill in the early 1900’s. I have some stationary and share Certificates from Conolloy’s mill.
    I also have access to some records that show other members of my family that travelled for Connolly’s Mill buying wheat from farmers in the regions around Goulburn.

    • Pauline

      How interesting, Margaret. What was your father’s name? Do you still live in the Goulburn area?

  7. Dear Margaret, would we be able to arrange an electronic copy.? I’m sure the various Conollys would love to see a copy,

    • Pauline

      Hi Eliza, yes my husband Rob Conolly would be so pleased to have copies of anything related to the mill.So would the Rev. David Conolly.

      • ooops i haven’t been back here recently.
        I will make copies and send them to you or post them on this site

  8. Great stuff! I’d love to see photocopies of the stationery and share certificates, if that’s possible. Happy New Year, dear Pauline and Rob!

  9. A friend sent me the link to your Conolly website. In November I am doing a powerpoint presentation in St Saviour’s Cathedral on some of the folk memorialised in the stained glass windows, and plan to include Harriett Conolly. I have some biographical information on Harriett but no image of her. Do you have more information on Harriett than is in the notes in this chain? an image?
    What is the relationship between Harriett, nee McFarlane, and James Allan MacFarlane of London, died may 1879, aged 23 years … the inscription on Harriett’s headstone ? Daphne

    • Pauline

      Hi Daphne, no I’m afraid don’t have any further information of image of Harriett. You have stirred my interest though. I will have to check with the family.

  10. Hi. I’m in those photos. I helped organise the reunion with my Dad. Geoff Conolly. And Uncle Jim and his family were there. As was Aunty Betty and some of her family. It was most probably me that bowled that old Uncle out. I loved the cricket as did great Aunty Jean Conolly. Dad always thought the reunion was a great success.

    • Pauline

      It was a very special occasion. Well done you for helping. But which one is you in the photos?

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