Kath ( Nee )Ryan our grandmother , born in Walhalla, Victoria

Kathleen above, in her nineties with Mary Houston, her daughter

family tree of kathleen ryan

Page 1 Kath Rollason's memoirs

Page 1 Kath Rollason’s memoirs

Page 2 Kath Rollason's memoirs

Page 2 Kath Rollason’s memoirs

Page 3 Kath Rollason's memoirs

Page 3 Kath Rollason’s memoirs

Page 4 Kath Rollason's memoirs

Page 4 Kath Rollason’s memoirs

( In Kath’s memoirs, she talks about travelling to Tasmania to a sheep station near Gladstone to visit her mother’s aunt. This would have been most likely  relations of Kath’s Mother’s  Mother, who was Mary Ann Bowen(1842-) – born and married in Tasmania to Jacobus Andrew Du Moulin ).

Kath, our grandmother, was the daughter of Herbert and Kate Ryan( nee du moulin). Kathleen was born in Walhalla in 1898 and died in 1997. Herbert Ryan b. 1871 , her father, was the son of James Ryan 1837- 1902). Kathleen was the youngest of three, she had two younger brothers, ( Dermitt and Russell). Her father, Herbert was the newspaper editor at the Walhalla Chronicle. ( He took over the business after the Walhalla Fire in 1888 and he was only 17). Herbert continued as editor until he enlisted in WW1 in 1915. At this time, Kath’s father and two brothers went to war and all came home.

Before 1904 – when her brother Russ was born, Kath went to live in Berwick, Victoria  and went to school there. By 1910, Kath had gone back to Walhalla and would have gone to school there run by the Tidall family until just before 1912.   Constance Tisdall ( 1877- 1968) and her family opened a school in Walhalla and ran it for 20 years.  .   ( Constance left Walhalla as a small child however ).

The entire Tisdall family left Walhalla  in 1868 and opened a second school in Melbourne , a private girls boarding school called Rosbercon. The Rosbercon school was officially opened in 1906 and by 1912 Kathleen was at this school. The school finally closed in 1933. ( The school was known as teaching self management to the girls – something like Montessori today I suppose).


Walhalla was a gold mining town high in a mountain cleft in Gippsland. Supplies arrived there in a round about fashion, first shipped from Melbourne to Port Albert, then hauled by bullock to Bald Hills where they were broken up in packhorse loads, the road being too steep for a team to negotiate. Quite a common way for children to get there was to sit them in empty gin cases strapped on either side of a horse. The Long Tunnel mine was a big draw and many , including Herbert Ryan, had shares. ( The two major mines closed in 1911 and 1913). Walhalla once supported 15 hotels, 40 shops , two breweries, four churches, a school, jail and newspaper. )

Long tunnel gold mine

The above photo shows the walhalla chronicle office behind the flag , where kath would have grown up. Either they lived in the office or other, we just don’t know at this point. Hopefullly one day we will find out.

Kath then spent her childhood in Berwick and Beaconsfield, after Walhalla. She later completed a secretarial course and worked in a Melbourne office, boarding with family friends.

It was through them in 1924 that she met Philip Rollason, always known as “Tim”, a tea planter on leave from Ceylon.( Tim was three months into a 6 month break from Ceylon when they met). After a whirlwind romance they married and were back in Ceylon two weeks later. The new bride knew nobody there, she hardly knew her husband. It was a daring adventure in those days.

ROLLASON-RYAN.-On the 2nd July, 1924 from The Argus 9th August , 1924.

Church of England Grammar School Chapel, by    the Rev. Leonard Arnold, Philip J., second son of Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Rollason, Maneroo,Albany road, Toorak, to Kathleen Cue, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert H. Ryan,Yaralla, Trafalgar. (Present address, Kirribat-galla Estate, Nivitigalla, Ceylon.)  

(Nivitigala estate is situated at Weddagala village bordering the singharaja forest. Cold condition and the humidity prevail in this are always produce lush green tea bushes with. This is situated 60Km away from the main city of rathnapura.)


nithitigala, ceylon

nivitigala, ceylon

Kath settled in well to life on the tea estate. She ran their household efficiently and took an interest in the garden. She played tennis and bridge at the local club, the hub of their social life in Ceylon.

Two years later Kath returned to Melbourne for the birth of their daughter Mary. She took the two month old baby back to Ceylon by ship. Their second daughter Joan , our mother, was born in colombo four years later. (1930).When it was time for Mary to start school in the early 1930’s, the family returned to Melbourne where Kath busied herself with suburban life. When her neighbour and great friend Edith Pardy founded the first auxiliary to help mental hospitals Kath became very involved.

Joan Rollason our mum

Joan Rollason our mum

Notice Her father’s pearl army pin which i have with his medals.

Mary Rollason, mum's sister

Mary Rollason, mum’s sister

From Thirza McPhee:

…….The other 2 photos are of Kath (your Gran) on her 90th birthday with the Australian Governor General and his wife – Sir Ninian and Lady Stevens at the Australian Bicentennial Celebrations. She was the oldest living Canberra resident with a birthday on Australia Day 26th January 1988 so she helped lower the Bicentennial Capsule (it must be buried somewhere near Parliament House). Kath must have sent these photos to Mum (Elsa) at the time and I have scanned their back showing her explanations. I remember the Bicentennial event as she was so very proud of her involvement. It was also around that time when I took her to the place where she was born? … lived  at Harkaway near Berwick. We visited the old house which is now a boutique B & B www.burnbankretreat.com.au The description says it was the home of Edwin Flack Australia’s first Olympic medalist until his death in 1935. I don’t know how that can be when my father (Russ Ryan) was born there in 1904 and there are many stories of the Harkaway days. Apparently the Ryan family were friendly with Lord and Lady Casey of Berwick and it was their chauffeur who came to collect the Ryans (Kate and Herbert) in the first automobile they had ever ridden in. Kath told me that story, I remember she said their maid came running in shouting ‘automobile, automobile’. After Kath & my visit there in 1988 she corresponded with the then owners of Burnbank for many years, I think their name was Robinson. However it has probably changed hands many times by now as it is a B&B. I have driven up the Burnbank drive many times but only went inside that one time with Aunty Kath.



http://www.britishpathe.com/video/lord-casey-sworn-in-as-new-governor-general-of-aus  ( 1965 swearing in of Lord Casey as Governor General ).



Berwick was  the home of Edwin “Teddy” Flack, Australia’s first Olympian and Olympic gold medal winner (800 metres (870 yd) and 1,500 metres (1,600 yd)) at the inaugural Athens Olympic Games). He was laid to rest in Berwick Cemetery, and is commemorated by a statue in the main street.[10] The Edwin Flack Reserve includes several sporting grounds, such as the Edwin Flack Oval, Edwin Flack Athletics Track and Edwin Flack Netball Courts, all named in his honour. They are located alongside Berwick Secondary College.

Richard Casey, later Baron Casey of Berwick and Governor-General of Australia was a resident of Berwick. His home of Edrington has now been converted to an aged care facility.


During the war years, Kath took a full time clerical job and also worked for the Red Cross and Comforts Fund, raising money by knitting and making jam. It was open house at the Rollasons, there was always a bed and a meal for a serviceman on leave passing through Melbourne.

Kath Rollason's poem

Kath Rollason’s poem

'Melboure Sun' article on Kath Rollason

‘Melboure Sun’ article on Kath Rollason

7th May 1951: Tour:

Letter from Kath Rollason , her trip from Melbourne to Cairns. This would have been the time when they selected their retirement area of Redland Bay  perhaps!

melbourne to cairns granny rollason 1 – 23 1951

Melbourne to Cairns p 24

This is very interesting reading and below are some aspects of her trip including the movie she went to with “Tim” her husband below in Sydney.

Kim movie

Kim movie at Sydney

hides hotel cairns

hides hotel cairns- stayed in 1951 as per the letter

http://www.paronellapark.com.au/history.html  An ex cane cutter’s widow and son built this park (1930’s?)that is still around today!Somewhere Kathleen visited with Tim.


please see photos above of Paronella park where kath and tim took a tour and lunch possibly on the picnic tables that are also featured .

kuranda station established in 1888

Kuranda station established in 1913- tim and kath went on the Kuranda scenic railway

roylen-brampton-1972 boat  granny went on  at the Barrier Reef

roylen-brampton-taken 1972 boat granny went on at the Barrier Reef- was used in the war I believe

(TAA DC3 from Mackay to Brisbane)

golden fleece hotel scone, NSW

golden fleece hotel scone, NSW

telegraph hotel, tenterfield , nsw

telegraph hotel, tenterfield , nsw



At the end of the trip:”How we longed for Sunny Queensland that cold morning,although it was good to be home again. We broke the news to the family that we were intending to return to live in Queensland,having bought  a block of land at Redland Bay – unfortunately they were not too keen on the idea, but we think they may change their minds when they come home in the middle of the winter!”

After the war, the responsibility of caring for her elderly parents ( Herbert and Kate) fell on Kath’s shoulders and she did everything possible for them. In 1952 when they retired, Kath and Tim decided to move to a warmer climate. They settled at Redland Bay QLD and Kath’s parents went with them. Kath took an active interest in the church and was president of the CWA for several years. They loved their garden with its abundance of flowers and vegetables.

1961 redland bay kath rollason with jen stubbs(3) and phil stubbs(1)

Redland Bay’s claim to fame in 1953 was the opening of the Qantas Flying boat base. A flying service to New Guinea and the South Pacific Islands. In readiness they renovated the waterfront Redland Bay Hotel. ( The flying base stopped in 1971).

Redland Bay Hotel in 1953

qantas flying boat 1950s

After the loss of her parents, the arrival of Jennifer their first grandchild, Joan’s daughter(me)brought a new interest to their lives. Kath was a loving and caring grandmother who enjoyed her grand children’s early years. I have memory of playing in the very large back garden of Redland bay – if i remember a lot of open land, farmland in those days. We had a swing and a sandpit and unfortunately her terrier jumped up and bit me above the eye. A scar i still have today! All I remember of the house was an old Queenslander style on stilts. Mary says it overlooked the sea , but i do remember it was  not on the water . Yet the photos indicate it did overlook the water .

1960/61 kath centre, phil right, joan left front, mary right front

kath left, mum ( joan), mary and phil redland bay ? 1961?

1972 granny on a cruise with phil left,mum, kath, jen (right ) and dear little matt

Two years after Tim died in 1967, Kath decided to move to Canberra to live in the granny flat with Mary and Jack Houston. She lived there for nearly twenty years. She settled into life in Canberra and kept busy with the garden and the new Anglican church in the parish of St. George. Kath worked towards raising money toward building the church . She drove until her mid eighties and she celebrated her 90th birthday on Australia Day 1988. She was asked to write something for a time capsule in Commonwealth Park on that day.( Which are the memoirs at the beginning of the blog).

Kath Rollason AustraliaDay1988

Kath Rollason AustraliaDay1988

Inscription on back of Kath's Australian Bicentennial photo

Inscription on back of Kath’s Australian Bicentennial photo

Australian Bicentennial capsule

Australian Bicentennial capsule

Inscription on back of photo of lowering of Australian Bicentennial Capsule

Inscription on back of photo of lowering of Australian Bicentennial Capsule

In 1989 she went to live at Goodwin Village nursing home by which time she was very frail and needed full care. She was hospitallized briefly before spending her last few weeks of life at Kankinya Nursing home.(1997) Kath will always be remembered as very energetic , outgoing and friendlsy , always willing to help at any time. She was a few months shy of turning 100 when she died.

kathleen rollason 93rd

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4 Responses to Kath ( Nee )Ryan our grandmother , born in Walhalla, Victoria

  1. Beverley Holmes says:

    It was very nostalgic to read about Kathleen, I met her when she would visit Walhalla, full of vim and vigour and talking enthusiastically about family history in Walhalla. One of the lovely things I remember her saying was that she kept busy doing things for the “old” people, and she was 86 at the time!
    Can you tell me whether the photo is definitely from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 as the Walhalla Heritage League is re-creating the parade for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in June this year and this is a great photo. All best wishes to the family and happy memories of a lovely lady. Beverley Holmes

    • Beverley Holmes says:

      I don’t think this photo is from 1897 as the Star Hotel was decorated differently for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, however the parade looks the same as it did then. The focus in the photo was no doubt on the Chronicle office located on the hill behind, and I wonder whether .the family knows that the office has been rebuilt and fitted out as a print shop. It would be lovely for descendants to visit Walhalla and see the print shop and the town as it looks today. Make sure to register your details in the Descendants book in the museum. Beverley

      • Hi there Berverly , Nice to hear from you. I believe I got the photo from the Walhalla historic society a couple of years ago. Pretty sure of it, but would have to try to go through papers and things to check that out the date that they gave me. I would contact them, as they were the ones that sent it to me … By the way, the reproduced print shop i have visited a few years ago and I am not certain that this was the original building for the newspaper. I think that they have made the print shop in once was the general store. Check with the historic society. When did you know Kath? did you grow up in Walhalla. ? Do you know her daughter Mary who she lived with in Canberra for many years? He daughter Joan, my mum died in 2007. But Mary is still alive. ( Mary Houston).
        Our Ryan family have beeen to the Walhalla cemetery and have placed a stone and plaque there for the Cue Ryans. Walhalla is a magical place, I would love to go visit again soon. ( Although more difficult as I am in Canada).

        Please feel free to email me your details to : stubbsjennifer3@gmail.com and then we can communicate.

    • Thanks and take a look at what I have emailed you. again, i would really love some photos from walhalla for this year’s jubilee celebrations.
      I do hope you find the information that I have sent you useful to get a better sense of the ryans.

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