Riversdale Ramble: Enlist our history, lest we forget

As we approach Anzac Day, our thoughts turn to the incredible contributions made by so many women and men in war, and the First World War in particular which ended in an Armistice 100 years ago this year. As our vibrant young nation went to war in 1914, the towns and villages of the Goulburn plains certainly did their part. Riversdale’s Twynam family was no exception, with three connections to Gallipoli with fascinating stories to tell.

Riversdale’s Alice Twynam receiving the Royal Red Cross Medal from the future King Edward VIII. Photo supplied

Riversdale’s Alice Twynam receiving the Royal Red Cross Medal from the future King Edward VIII. Photo supplied


Alice Joan, the youngest of the Twynam’s eight children, had served in the Bush Nursing Service before joining the Australian Army Nursing Service of the AIF soon after the war broke out in 1914. Alice was one of just 6 Australian nurses who joined the first Australian troops and the 2nd Australian General Hospital at the time of the Gallipoli Campaign on hospital ships and the Cairo base, commended in despatches for her Cairo role in 191. Later serving in the field and at hospitals behind the Western Front, Alice was ultimately promoted to Head Sister and awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal (First Class) by the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) “… in recognition of her valuable service with the armies in France and Flanders”, returning to her career in Australia in early 1919.

Her brother Edward (“Ned”), the sixth child, was in the fledgling Australian army before the war. On 20 August 1914 he joined the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) that immediately successfully captured German New Guinea territories that provided radio and coal stations to the German Navy. This expedition is considered the first ever independent military operation carried out by Australia (Parkin 2003). After returning in early 1915, Edward joined the AIF as a Captain based at Mudros off Gallipoli in late 1915, was promoted to Major in 1916 and then served in France before discharged home in 1917.


But another Twynam connection really takes the cake though. At age 22, Andrew Twynam Cunningham, son of second daughter Mary Twynam at Lanyon, signed up immediately in August 1914 as a private in the 1 st Light Horse Regiment. He served at Gallipoli where he was wounded twice in May and August 1915. Rising to the rank of Captain in the machine gun core, in 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross and was mentioned in despatches for gallantry and valour. However, in 1918 he received a severe reprimand for “Conduct to the prejudice and good order of Military Discipline”. The reason? “That he, at the Continental Hotel Cairo, at about 11pm on 10 June 1918, did insult Mr Makkabaty, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Egypt, by knocking his tarboush off his head.”


“Joining up” is just as valid today at Riversdale, so with Mother’s Day approaching on May 13, why not give the gift of a National Trust membership? As a National Trust member your mum receives free or discounted admission to over 180 properties around Australia and over 800 around the world. Best of all, you enable us to conserve more of our heritage; and if you sign up at Riversdale the money goes straight into our upkeep! Single, household, concession and senior rates are available so call or email us for more information or come out and see us.


This Sunday, April 15 we again want to enlist your support for our special Devonshire Teas! Come and show your support and enjoy our famous scones with a hot cuppa in our courtyard, take a trip through history with our Exhibition and chat to our volunteers working the autumn gardens. You can even “sign up” for our Archaeology Guessing Competition to win an annual membership or National Trust shop voucher. Every dollar goes to the upkeep of the property for Goulburn’s ongoing heritage!


The 170-year-old tree keeps on giving, and in our annual commemoration of its mighty survival against summer and winter offensives, we have made yet another batch of our famous “Medlar Chutney”. The work involved in making a batch is akin to churning your own butter for a week so why not come out and buy a jar or two in honour of those who served!


Last month we put a call out for much needed garden materials. Lo and behold, thanks to our wonderful locals Chris and Sue O’Keefe of Goulburn, we have had delivered a large supply of clean bricks, concrete blocks and pine logs. We have already begun laying them out – so thank you so very much Chris and Sue! We appreciate greatly all local support as we must find funds ourselves to maintain and upgrade our wonderful historic gardens.


We seek a couple of spare wheelbarrows in good condition to help with our work. If you can help please email us at riversdale@nationsaltrust.com.au


Did you know … after four and a half years continuous nursing service on the battlefields of the Middle East and Europe, Alice Twynam arrived home on the ship HMAT Anchises on 18 April 1919, 99 years ago next week. After all the horrors of war the world had changed forever – but what a relief it must have been to come home to Riversdale, still the same, safe and secure!

  • Riversdale Homestead (National Trust NSW) is at  2 Twynam Drive North Goulburn. Open Monday, Tuesday Thursday 10am to 2pm, Sunday 10am to 3pm. Phone 4821 4741