George Gorton was born at Bundabah in 1834.1 From the age of 28 he managed ‘Tibbuc’ Station on the Upper Manning. After marrying Martha Finch in 18662 the couple moved further upriver to manage ‘Coneac’ Station, a pastoral holding of “George Gorton and Son”.3 In the ten years that George managed ‘Coneac’ he raised a considerable profit and was nicknamed ‘Coneac George’.4
Aware that the Copeland Gold Rush was an opportune time to establish a business, George, Martha and their daughters settled in Gloucester. With the flow of gold miners through the area, George established ‘Gorton’s Family Hotel’ in January 1879 and soon after he opened a butchery.5
Tragedy struck in August 1879 when a great flood hit the town of Gloucester. Constable Edwin May saw two men driving horses through the Australian Agricultural Company’s paddocks which were partly submerged with water. The men mistakenly rode into a flooded gully and disappeared with their horses emerging riderless. A search immediately started and the body of George Gorton was found a mile from where he had tried to rescue the horses. ‘Long Jack’ who worked as a groom for Gorton was found drowned several days later. The groom was a new arrival to the colony and no one was sure of his name.6
George was buried in St John’s Churchyard at Stroud aged 45 years. His wife Martha, who was only 31 years old at the time kept the hotel. She remarried Donald McInnes in 1884 who took over the hotel licence and then in 1888 they sold to August Reichert.7
Author: Marilyn Boyd
NB: Gorton’s Family Hotel was on the site where the Avon Valley Inn is at 82 Church Street, Gloucester in 2021.
1 NSW BDM, birth index for George Gorton, No. 867/1834.
2 NSW BDM, marriage index for George Gorton and Martha Finch No. 880/1866.
3 NSW Government Gazette, 10 February 1871 [Issue No. 33], 322.
4 J M Clarke and G T G Irwin, “Brothers George & Joseph Gorton, Pioneer Cattlemen”, p.26.
5 NSW Government Gazette, 7 February 1879 [Issue No. 40], 528; J M Clarke and G T G Irwin, “Brothers George & Joseph Gorton, Pioneer Cattlemen”, p.26.
6 Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 1879, 3; Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 25 October 1929, 9; NSW Police Gazette, 27 August 1879, 322.
7 NSW BDM, Marriage index for Martha Gorton and Donald McInnes No. 5588/1884; Donald has licence in 1885 – NSW Government Gazette, 19 August 1885 [Issue No. 352 (Supplement)], 5400; Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 17 May 1888, 1.