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Gollan, Hector (1843–1922)

from Manning River Times (NSW)

Hector Gollan, n.d.

Hector Gollan, n.d.

photo privately sourced

After a period of illness extending over several weeks, Captain Hector Gollan, J.P., died at his residence, Tinonee, on Saturday afternoon last, in the 82nd year of his life.

The deceased gentleman was probably the most widely known man in the Manning Shire, and was well known in the commercial and industrial centres of the State. Wherever he was known his name was held in high esteem. His was a warm-hearted, breezy personality, which attracted lasting friends.

The late Captain Gollan came to the Manning with his parents in the long ago, when the history of Australia was in its primer stage. A narrative of his long, useful and well spent life, in which were mixed hardships, trials, and successes, would fill a large book, and would be highly interesting reading. The late Mr. Gollan was not only a pioneer of the soil – he was an industrial pioneer, and no man who ever lived in the district did more for development along sound lines than he did. He was not a superman and did not claim to be one, but he was a man of dauntless courage and energy, one who would not be set aside from the course he mapped for himself because he saw difficulties and dangers ahead. The first portion of land he cleared was near the Dawson, and on it he grew a crop of corn, the grain of which was promptly eaten by white cockatoos. Later he directed his energies towards the timber trade specialising first in cedar and other softwoods, and in later years to hard wood. Always a handy man with tools, he determined to build vessels to trade between the Manning and Sydney. His shipbuilding yard was at Tinonee, and the first vessel he turned out was the schooner Isabella Gollan, which had a long career on the coast. The ketch Maggie Gollan was next, then followed tugs Christina Gollan and John Gollan. The last named is now doing harbor work at Harrington, and the fact that the hull is practically as sound to-day, after being buffeted for 35 years by the waves of the treacherous Manning bar, is a great testimony to the honest work put into it by the conscientious builder.

The story of Captain Gollan, when in command of the ketch Maggie Gollan, is more like a romance than a tale of coastal trading. After the launching of the vessel, the builder decided to go to sea in her, and qualify for a master’s certificate. Putting a skipper on board, and working as a sailor, he mastered the secrets of seacraft and obtained his ticket in course of time. He then took charge of the trim little vessel, and for years made regular trips between Sydney and the Manning. There was no tug at the heads then to help vessels in or out across the dangerous bar, but Captain Gollan was singularly free from accidents, and is admitted to be the only man who ever sailed a vessel from sea into the river at night. For years the Maggie Gollan was the "farmers’ friend," taking their maize away and bringing back supplies from Sydney. All of this is reminiscent of the days of little sailing vessels on the water, and bullock drays on the land; and brave and industrious men, and equally brave and industrious women, on the lonely homesteads in the bush. It is worthy of note that none of Captain Gollan’s vessels ever carried insurance while they were under his control.

Captain Gollan loved Tinonee, that prettily-situated hamlet which was once the commercial and shipping centre of the Manning. He fought hard to retain it, and to develop it, but he did not have the assistance in his efforts which might have been extended to him, and the forces of Taree and Wingham proved too strong, and Tinonee faded. But the old captain still clung to the old place, and ended his days there, leaving worthy sons to perpetuate a worthy name and bequeathing them a noble example to follow. Tinonee will miss him – miss the grand old man who ever had a cheery word for the child in his street, for those in lowly situations as freely as for those in higher. "King of Tinonee" was a term affectionately bestowed on him by the people of the town who knew his sterling worth.

The late Mr Gollan was a man of charitable nature, but, true to the spirit of his race, he disliked all ostentation. He never allowed "his left hand to know what his right hand did," but through the long years of his life generosity was an outstanding trait of his character, and those of the second and third generation can speak of acts of kindness by Hector Gollan to those who have passed to that silent somewhere in which he joined them on Saturday last; and many who are comfortably situated today have a good deal to thank him for.

Although a very busy man in his own affairs, the late Captain Gollan, before the snows of time had gathered so thickly on his head, took and active and intelligent part in all civic district matters, and sat as committeeman and oftimes president of the Agricultural Society, M. R. D. Hospital, Progress Association, and kindred bodies. For a term he was one of the representatives of C riding in the Manning Shire Council. He was also a man of deep piety, and a life-long adherent of the Free Presbyterian Church, retaining to the end in his household the beautiful pen-picture of family life painted by Burns, in Cotter’s Saturday Night.

Original publication

  • Manning River Times (NSW), 4 July 1922

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Citation details

'Gollan, Hector (1843–1922)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/gollan-hector-1598/text1692, accessed 15 September 2019.

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