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Windeyer, Henry Watts (1830–1922)

On Sunday last the death occurred at his residence, West Port Macquarie, of an old and respected resident of the town, in the person of Mr. Henry Watts Cory Windeyer. The old gentleman, who had reached the advanced age of 91 years, was blessed with marvellously good health until quite recently. Up to within a couple of years ago he thought nothing of a five-mile walk to Tacking Point in the heat of a mid-summer day, and in addition would spend hours prospecting the black sand of the beach for gold. Even until quite lately he actively engaged in the work of tending his garden, in which avocation he was very skilled in the days of his strength and vigor. About a fortnight ago he walked from his home to town, and we had the pleasure of a chat with him. His sight and hearing were defective, as they had been for some time past, but otherwise he was battling bravely against the pressure of the years, and gave no sign that the sands of life had so nearly run out. He was a wonderful example of the vital faculties being retained until the end of a very long and strenuous life. Deceased, who in his time played many parts, was a relative of the late Judge Windeyer. He was born in Sydney, and at the age of 40 was married at Bombala to Miss Annie Skillicorn. In his early days he found the lure of the gold diggings suited his taste for an adventurous life. He followed mining with pronounced success for a time, but fickle fortune's smiles at length turned to frowns, and the gold he had won in considerable quantities was lost by Mr. Windeyer in other speculations. He was in turn storekeeper and newspaper proprietor — owning and conducting the 'Bombala Times' and the 'Tumut Times.' In the first-mentioned occupation at least he amassed considerable money. However, all his life he seems to have found that gold, if not 'hard to get, was heavy to hold.' Many years ago he settled down as District Court bailiff for the Manning, Hastings, and Macleay. The work was arduous, necessitating an immense amount of travelling in days when facilities for so doing were not so expeditious or so comfortable as they are today. However, the work was remunerative, and Mr. Windeyer stuck to it until he was well advanced in years, when he retired on a small pension. After his retirement he by no means allowed himself to rust away in idleness, but expended his energies principally in gardening and prospecting. Like most men who have at any period of their lives followed gold mining, pursuit of the elusive yellow metal had a charm for Mr. Windeyer almost to the end of his days. He devoted much time to trying to solve the problem of separating the gold from the black sand of Tacking Point beach. The gold is very fine, and too widely distributed probably to ever pay for the expense of its concentration and recovery. However, Mr. Windeyer tried many ingenious methods for making it a payable proposition, and in pursuit of his hobby would camp for weeks at a time at a place which at best is a rather bleak and inhospitable spot. And he did this at an age when most men of his years find it difficult to hobble about with the aid of a stick. Mr. Windeyer was a well-educated and well read man, and added to his knowledge of men and things by his personal experience in a wide and diversified field of action. He was a very kind hearted man, bubbling over with good humour, and keenly appreciative of the cheery side of life. From the storehouse of a retentive memory he would, when in reminiscent mood, tell stories of the hectic days of the gold diggings, when he and his contemporaries looked at the world with the joy of youth, and the hope that the goddess of chance would make real their golden dreams. Mr. Windeyer passed away quietly in his sleep from enteritis and pulmonary congestion. His passing removes one who has long been a well-known figure from our midst. He leaves a widow and six surviving children out of a family of nine, viz., Messrs. William Windeyer (Wee Waa), Septimus (Port Macquarie), Octavius (Sydney), Mrs. Lester (Sydney), Miss Florence Windeyer (Port Macquarie), Miss Myra Windeyer (Sydney). We extend our sympathy to the bereaved relatives.

He was interred on Monday — the wildest day of the year — when deluges of rain and fierce wind squalls deterred all but the bravest from paying their respects to the dead. Rev. H. B. Madden conducted the burial service.

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'Windeyer, Henry Watts (1830–1922)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/windeyer-henry-watts-28743/text36189, accessed 20 September 2019.

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