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EDITOR : I searched the Internet for Australian Pioneers with the name of Munro and came across Alexander Munro who well and truly falls into this category
Alexander Munro, from Ardersier in Inverness-shire, Scotland, was one of the pioneers of the Hunter Valley wine industry. In the mid 1800’s, he established the ‘Bebeah’ vineyard on the outskirts of Singleton, NSW. At one stage Munro was the largest wine producer in New South Wales claiming to hold 125,000 gallons of mature wine in stock. He is also reported to have won over 2000 Trophies, medals and awards including 511 champion and first prizes.
Alexander’s early story is not such a successful one for we find that by the time he was fourteen, his father was dead, the family had moved from Ardersier to Inverness and was in dire straits. Alexander roamed the streets and with two others, broke into a grocer’s shop, was caught and came before the magistrate. Although it was a first offence, he was sentenced to transportation – an extremely harsh sentence for one so young. As we know he made good in Australia and he spent much of his life trying to atone for his early mistake. This paragraph from “Munro’s Luck” puts Alexander Munro’s life and achievements in a nutshell.
“Alexander Munro died in his home, Ardersier House at Singleton on 26 January 1889. He was described as a vigneron, ‘a prominent philanthropist and one of nature’s gentlemen’ and ‘the father of Singleton,’ in the lengthy obituaries published in the Maitland Mercury and Singleton Argus. The funeral cortege, which stretched for half a mile, was led by Masons and Oddfellows in their regalia and wound through the streets of Singleton before his burial in the Glenridding cemetery which he had donated to the town. A tall but simple granite column, which Alexander Munro himself had purchased and imported from Scotland, was erected in his memory, to his wife Sophia, who died later in the same year and to the family of his adopted daughter Harriet. The inscription on the memorial states: ‘After life’s fitful fever, they sleep well’. Was the reference to ‘life’s fitful fever’ an allusion to their conviction and transportation?”
One cannot help but wonder what would have happened to Alexander Munro and so many others like him if they had not been transported to Australia and given a chance that they would never have had in their native Scotland.
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Clan Munro (Association) Australia
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Google image of Horses drinking from Munro's fountain in George Street Singleton c1900