Grave of great, great, grandfather, Sidney Grandison Watson and his first wife, Isabella Robinson, at Walwa Homestead on the Upper Murray River, Victoria. “Grandie”, as he was known, was the father of Harry, Sidney and Greg Watson who settled Gregory Downs in 1877.
Rumour also has it that one day at Walwa the twins, Harry and Sydney, had saddled their horses and were about to mount when their father questioned their intentions. They replied they were going up to the hills to dig up two young Kurrajong trees to plant near the homestead. Their father told them not to be stupid as Kurrajong trees would only grow in the granite of the hills and not the river flats. Many years later, when he died the twins dug up two young Kurrajongs and planted them near their father’s grave near the “Walwa” homestead on the flats. Both the grave and the Kurrajong trees still exist today.
There was an additional stone lying beside the graves (visible in photos, old and new) that used to be on the top of the headstone. The story goes that the Watson boys held a celebration there at some time to toast the success of the growth of the Kurrajong Trees and during the celebrations knocked the stone off the top. This stone lay on the ground for many years and has only just been restored to it’s rightful place atop the headstone by the current owners, John and Jeannie Blackman (possibly in 2021)
it was also rumoured that one of his sons removed the gold fillings from his teeth before burying him – because gold was “too bloody hard to get out of the bloody ground without bloody well burying it back again.”
INSCRIPTION ON OTHER SIDE OF HEADSTONE:-
IN LOVING MEMORY of ISABELLA wife of SYDNEY GRANDISON WATSON
born 25th march 1826 Died 3rd August 1861
Also of SYDNEY GRANDISON WATSON born 22nd June 1816
arrived in Australia 1836 Settled in Walwa 1845 Died 11th December 1891
10 thoughts on “Grandie Watson of Walwa, Upper Murray”
Hi Greg, great post.
Do you know if Grandie kept a station diary for the Walwa run? if so, do you know if its accessible or not?
Can I also ask, do you know which of the brothers was killed in Queensland ?
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I haven’t heard of a Diary for Walwa. May have been burnt as Grandie’s son Prof Archie instructed in his own will that his own personal papers be burnt. Grandie married twice and son from marriage to Constance Armstrong was killed on Cape York. I have copied a Link to that story. If I can’t attach it here I will post it as a story.
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Thanks Greg. Fascinating story and family and it was good to seen Grandies grave and the trees after reading so much about them.. You should post this story.
When I was researching Archie I read of a descendent that did have excerpts of a station diary that she provided an author / researcher but I got the impression that it was very restricted access. Being one of the first in the area,
His insight would be really valuable into relations with the Dhudhuroa and Wolgalu. Thanks for the research tip – I’ll be sure to chase it up once the area recovers from recent events.
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Check out the Story Links on my WordPress site for a story on the Watson Bros that settled Gregory Downs. None of the Gregory Watsons from Isabella Robinson marriage were speared or killed by aborigines. I believe that they were kind to aborigines and saved Old Drummer north of Cloncurry from being shot by police. Also one of your stories refers to the drowning of a possible third dark skinned companion of Grandies. On the 15th May 1847, Isabella Robinson’s younger sister, Hester Elizabeth (Hessie) Robinson drowned whilst crossing the Hume at Jinjellic Station with Grandie Watson. This was documented in a diary by Jessie Watson, one of Grandie’s daughters. There was a book called Grandie written by Norman Hutchinson and published in 2010. It may be hard to find a copy now as Norman has passed away. The author you refer to may be Jennifer Carter who wrote a book on Prof Archie “Paint the Islands Vermillion”. There was also a descendent of Constance Armstrong that had a lot of letters. I will look for her name however I think she may also have passed. On Isabella Robinsons side a grand daughter of Harry Watson did supply information by way of interview to Jennifer Carter and some of this is with the South Australia Museum. There was talk of Grandies father’s first wife (and Grandie’s mother) being a sister of an Indian Rajah however the only reference to her is as Sarah McCulloch who no one has heard of. This story may be confused with that mentioned by Carmody as to Grandie having a third dark skinned wife. The other family member descended from Constance Armstron, who did a lot of research was Brian Watson, however he too has passed. I will look for links to the station diary. Cheers Greg
A number of letters from Grandie to his father, Archibald have been transcribed by Cynthia Aked (Nee Watson, born 1937) who is a direct descendant of Grandie’s second wife Constance Armstrong. These letters were provided to Norman C Hutchinson, the author of “Grandie”, by Grandie’s great granddaughter Maxine Horsfall through her daughter Katie Scully.
The is a letter that Archie wrote- I am unsure to who- that verifies that he has received the skull of Gentleman Jack and that if any other ‘goodies’ ( that was the word he used) were found then he would like to be remembered. It would certainly help to repatriate the old ones home . I wonder if Hutchinson is still with us ?
Unfortunately Norman Hutchinson has passed away.
Your best research on Archie may be through Adelaide University.
Archie was the subject of a book by Jennifer M T Carter called “Painting the Islands Vermillion: Archibald Watson and the Brig Carl” (1999) The research papers for this book were donated to the University of Adelaide in 2015. Included with these papers is material on General Archibald Watson including Carter’s notes on the possible Watson Connection with the Maharajas of Patiala.
The current owners of Walwa Homestead, Jeannie and John Blackburn may be able to help with information. Jeannie’s father worked for Prof Archie Watson who had inherited the property from Grandie. Another useful historian is Betty Walton of Tintaldra Store, also built by Grandie.
Sadly Betty Walton passed away on May 21st 2920
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