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Gardener William Smith dies aged 106 in Rushall Park

April 29, 2019

Had William Smith been alive today he would probably have ascribed his longevity to living an outdoors life, and eschewing tobacco and alcohol.

Smith moved into the ‘Old Colonists Homes’ in Rushall Park two months before he died in November 1918.[1]  He was nearly 107 years old – possibly the oldest person to have lived at Rushall Park.

Before moving in, Smith had supported himself as a gardener working in the Tahara and Mount Talbot stations in the Western District.

Smith’s life and back ground is something of a mystery.  Born in Devonshire 1812 [2]he was said to be a Botanist, and part of a British Government funded group surveying the land ‘west of Port Jackson’.

He was aboard HMS Rattlesnake circa 1833/36 [3].   This 28-gun corvette, a warship of the British Navy, arrived at the Port Phillip area from Sydney in 1836 to survey the Southern coastline.  Captain Hobson had been directed to report on Batman and Faulkner’ unauthorised settlements for the British Government, three (un-named) Surveyors were on board.  On this tour, Hobson’s Bay was named by and for Captain Hobson, and Mount Eliza for his wife, Eliza Elliott.

Whether Smith was Smith is also questioned. Reports suggest that he was in fact John Roberts, and related to Lord Roberts.[4]

What is agreed upon, however, are obituary reports[5] that he was a non-smoker and a teetotaller for 75 years.  His final resting place is unknown.
[1]OCAV AGM Minutes 1918/19
[2]Musselbrook Chronicle14/12/1918 p.3
[3]Weekly Times7/12/1918, p.28
[4]Ibid 2 above.
[5]Young Witness3/12/1918 p.2 and Albury Wodonga Express p30

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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