Dennis Toohey

Posted on Monday, 17 August, 2015 by Trudi@CWL
Elizabeth and Dennis Toohey. Image courtesy Kathleen Morgan.

Elizabeth and Dennis Toohey.
Image courtesy Kathleen Morgan.

Dennis Toohey was born in Galway, Ireland, in 1848. When Dennis was orphaned at ten years or age he travelled to Melbourne to join his older brother, Jeremiah. The brothers tried their luck in the Victorian gold fields near Beechworth, and, in 1861, journeyed on horseback to Forbes.

In 1864 Dennis – an accomplished horseman – undertook a contract to operate the mail coach three times a week between Orange and Parkes, a distance of 70-miles. Toohey was paid £10 a week from his mail contract, and charged 35/- for a passenger fare between the two towns. He established the Coach and Horses Hotel at the half-way point of Manildra, a business that he operated for 13 years. [The hotel later became known as Westphalen’s; it was demolished sometime after WWII, having lain derelict and fallen into disrepair.]

In November 1878 the Central West was inundated with torrential rain; low lying dwellings were swept away and two men drowned. The newly built bridge on the Parkes to Orange road was submerged by more than a metre of water, and mail deliveries in the district were severely disrupted. Mr Toohey, however, was determined to deliver his mail on time; he swam 100 yards across the Mandagery Creek, and 300 yards across the Bundagundry Creek to do so.

Dennis Toohey later moved to Parkes, where, in 1889, he built Tattersall’s Hotel, which he and his wife Elizabeth operated for many years. The couple later leased the Commercial Hotel at Peak Hill and the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes.

By all accounts Dennis was a generous and charitable family man with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. He died in Parkes in October 1925, aged 77. In his obituary the Western Champion claimed: “He was a man of unimpeachable integrity, of a most kindly disposition, with a good word for everyone.”


Australian Town and Country Journal, 9 November 1878, p. 39.

Tindall, RT 1982, Parkes, one hundred years of local government, Council of the Shire of Parkes, Parkes NSW.

Western Champion, 15 October 1925, p. 13.
Obituary. Mr Dennis Toohey

Manildra Public School centenary

Posted on Tuesday, 8 May, 2012 by Trudi@CWL

Delays slow start of schooling at Manildra in 1882

The establishment of Manildra’s Public School one hundred years ago was dogged by delays until teacher, Miss Mary Powell, took the matter in hand and opened the school herself.

She opened the doors of the Gregra Anglican Church for her first pupils on August 1, 1882 and promptly wrote a decisive memo to the Education Department.  “I took charge of the school on August 1st, 1882”.

The Anglican Church, which housed the school until December 1884, was leased for the yearly sum of “one peppercorn”.  There were 30 pupils on the first roll and one hundred years later, more than 118 pupils and five teachers will be among hundreds who’ll be in Manildra this weekend for the school’s centenary celebrations. Read the rest of this entry »

Allen Angus

Posted on Tuesday, 8 May, 2012 by Trudi@CWL

‘He’d take aim and belt it into me’

School days were a bit of a lark until the cane caught up with you back at the Merinburn school at Manildra in the early days of World War I.

Allen Angus, a retired farmer, ought to know.  He admits he was a “bit of a larrikin” and he tested out his schoolmasters, Messrs. Olde and McAllister during their terms at the school. Read the rest of this entry »

Stan Wenban

Posted on Tuesday, 8 May, 2012 by Trudi@CWL


Stan Wenban, a craggy, articulate man of the bush, is the grand old character of Manildra town.

And at 91 he’s obstinate about one thing – he’s a bushranger – and “I’ve been one all my life”.  He’s scoured the bush and highways from Manildra to Muswellbrook.  He began in the footsteps of Ned Kelly, he’ll tell you, back in the early 1900s while he was still at school. Read the rest of this entry »

Businesses survive a century

Posted on Friday, 4 May, 2012 by Trudi@CWL

The great survivors of Manildra town are two families who’ve been operating successfully since the early part of the century.

One, a motor garage, the other a stock and station agency, have survived droughts, depression and the threats of close provincial cities for almost 80 years.

Allan Tom began repairing bicycles, along with his brother, James in 1914.

They worked from an old wooden slab hut converted into an office and shop, almost in the same spot where Allan Tom’s garage now stands.

From bicycles they progressed to cars.

Allan bought his first automobile – a second hand Model T Ford – for £150 in 1919 from E.C. Cameron in Orange.

He used this as a hire car and brought people regularly to Orange each Thursday to attend stock sales.

He charged $1 a passenger.  The car held four people.

“We began servicing our own cars and eventually the business grew”.

Allan took over the business himself on the death of his brother in 1937.
Mr and Mrs Ian Giffin, of Manildra, operate Ian’s grandfather’s original stock and station agency that opened its doors soon after the turn of the century.

Richard Frogley began trading in Manildra first as a grocer and later established a stock, station and commission agency, R. Frogley and Co.

It trades in the same name today.

Over the years there were several changes in the structure of the business until Richard Frogley was joined by his son-in-law Geoffrey Giffin.

Following Mr Frogley’s death in 1950, Geoffrey Giffin bought the business and with the help of his wife, Jean and son, Ian they traded together until Geoffrey died in 1963.

Ian Giffin and his mother continued trading until Mrs Giffin retired in 1974.

The business is now operated by Ian and his wife Bernadette.

Today the business is primarily a commission agency.

Until the drought hit the district the Giffins also ran a nursery in conjunction with the agency.

Central Western Daily 1982, ‘Businesses survive a century’, Manildra Public School Centenary supplement, 21 October, p.13

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