I have always admired the lovely house that sits on the corner of Florence and Wynter Streets, Taree. The property was part of the original Taree estate granted to William Wynter in 1839, but was not sold until 1921 when newsagent, William Alfred Hill, bought the vacant land.1 Hill was a progressive townsman who had a number of residences built in Taree after WWI to relieve the then housing shortage.2 He chose Lot 10 of Section 77 on which to build his own home and by 1923 the Hill family were living in their new ‘bungalow residence’.3
When the Hill family left Taree in 1926, the house was sold to school teacher Charles Manning Evenden who had transferred from Mount George to Mitchells Island School.4 He travelled to the school each day in his car via two punts that operated from Cundle to Oxley Island and then across Scotts Creek to Mitchells Island. On 10 October 1928 a tragedy occurred when a young student, Edna Brook, fell over the side of the punt while washing her hands. Without hesitation Evenden jumped out of his car and into the river to save her. He reached Edna but there were no lifesaving devices on the punt and eventually the teacher and student drowned.5 Evenden’s bravery was recognised throughout the region and a tablet was unveiled in his honour at the school.6
Evenden’s wife Ada subdivided the land in 1949 and continued to live in the house until her death in 1960.7 Since then there have been several owners including Emerton, Scarle, Giorgi and Roff.8 In 2020 the house operates as a bed and breakfast called ‘The Birches of Taree’.9
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW Land Registry Services, Primary Application 231A, various titles including Vol-Fol: 8-142 and 3187-244.
2 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 28 October 1931, 4.
3 Taree Municipal Council rate and valuation books 1920-1925, https://midcoaststories.com/taree-rates-books-4-2/; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast District of NSW, 9 October 1926, 8.
4 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast District of NSW, 9 October 1926, 8.
5 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 16 October 1928, 4.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast District of NSW, 22 October 1930, 6.
7 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 3340-12; NSW BDM, Death index for Ada Amelia Evenden, Index No. 5163/1960.
8 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 6023-182.