Anzac Day 2020

Anzac Day this year will be very different to any previous Anzac Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Anzac Day we will focus on Roy Dollin who at just 23 enlisted and served at Gallipoli, coming home to his family with shell shock and nervous tension, going on to work at the Small Arms Factory in Lithgow only to succumb to Pneumonic Influenza (Spanish flu) in the pandemic of 1919.

Private Roy Dollin – service number 845 – AIF D Company 25th Battalion

Born in St Marys, Roy was just 23 when he joined the Australian Infantry. A bricklayer by trade, he enlisted in Brisbane and left on the HMAT Aeneas on 29 June 1915. He served at Gallipoli for several months and was part of one of the last battalions to evacuate from the Peninsula. By October 1915 he had been admitted to the Beach Hospital at Anzac Cove. According to his service record he was blown up by a high explosive whilst at Gallipoli which left him with shell shock. It is unclear whether this happened in October or later. There was particularly heavy shelling on 29th November with war historian Charles Bean noting that this was the “first occasion upon which Australian infantry in trenches were subjected to heavy modern bombardment”. This bombardment resulted in many shellshocked soldiers and the collapse of trenches suffocating others.

According to his service record Roy was moved to Mudros, Lemnos where the 3rd Australian General Hospital was located. Due to winter approaching in England it was decided to send the Australian troops coming out of Gallipoli to Egypt rather than England for convalescence, rehabilitation and training. Roy was sent to Abassia with the No. 3 Australian General Hospital. After Abassia he was placed at Ghezireh Palace Hotel which was being used as an overflow for the No. 2 Australian General Hospital at Mena House. In March 1916 he also spent time in hospital for an injury to his scrotum. In April 1916 he was sent to Tel El Kebir – a training camp for the AIF.

It is unclear from his service records what happened to him in 1916 apart from his time in hospital recuperating.

In April 1917 a recommendation was made for him to be sent to England for a change. He was at Rollestone possibly the training camp or more probably one of the Command Depots where Australian soldiers were sent to recover and recuperate. According to the Nepean Times (3 March 1917 p4), while still in Rollestone, Roy wrote to his parents asking them to thank the people of St Marys for the Christmas Cheer Fund parcel – also letting his parents know he had met up with his old friend William Garner (Garner died in August 1918 in the Battle of Amiens). Roy was still in England in June 2017 when he was penalised 7 days pay for being insolent to an officer and failing to salute.

He was in hospital for 3 and half months. His medical notes noted he was unable to sleep at night, adding that “the least excitement brings on violent shaking”.  The report from 20 April 1917 also notes his present condition as being “a very nervous individual with marked tachycardia and fine tremors”.

In August 1917, the Medical Board at Rollestone changed his classification from temporarily unfit for general service to “permanently unfit for general service”. Eventually on 26 November 1917 he returned to Australia and was sent to the 6th Australian General Hospital (Kangaroo Point) in Brisbane Australia. He was at the hospital until 18 December 1917. However according to the Nepean Times (1 December 1917) he was welcomed home to St Marys in late November with a large community gathering.

By 1919 Roy was working at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory when he tragically succumbed to pneumonic influenza and died at his boarding house.

The article below from Trove announces his death at this terrible time.

If you want to view his service record you can access it from the link below

If you would like more information on the Dollin family visit

Bean, Charles E. W. Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918 Volume 2 The story of Anzac from 4 May 1915 to the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula (11th edition) Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1941 p849

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WIN a Dymocks book voucher!

For the month of April, Penrith City Library will be running a weekly quiz on the Library’s Facebook page. Each Tuesday we will ask 3 questions about Penrith’s history. Please visit the Library’s Facebook page for more information:

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Important Notice

Penrith City Library services are temporarily closed until further notice.

Research Services staff are available to answer any queries Monday to Friday
9am – 5pm via

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Penrith City Library 2020 History Calendar

Celebrate our local sporting history.
Our 2020 history calendar is now for sale.
Visit your local library branch to purchase your $10 calendar.

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Convicts and Colonists History Conference and Family History Fair – 31 August 2019

The Library’s Convicts and Colonists History Conference was opened by the Mayor on Saturday to a packed theatrette. The conference theme was based around the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Emu Plains convict farm in September 1819.

Conference attendees travelled from across NSW to attend and were well informed and entertained by the end of the day. The conference commenced with the Mayor launching Library staff member Lorraine Stacker’s revised book on the Emu Plains convict farm – Chained to the Soil on the Plains of Emu. After the launch the U3A Henry Lawson Theatre Group entertained everyone with a musical rendition of the 1829 Exile of Erin poem.

Conference speakers were Lorraine Stacker, UNSW Professor Grace Karskens, Martyn Killion from State Archives and historical land researcher Steve Ford.

Many local historical and genealogical groups were also on hand to speak to those who attended. A big thank you to all staff in Research Services for running yet another great conference for the local community. A special thank you to the Mayor for generously giving his time to attend our event, and to Research Services for organising the event.

Conference speakers (L-R) Steve Ford, Grace Karskens, Lorraine Stacker and Martyn Killion
U3A Henry Lawson Theatre group who performed The Exile of Erin
Janet, Judy and Sally at their Nepean Family History Society stall
Martyn Killion from State Archives
Harry May setting up the Nepean District Historical Society stall
Land researcher Steve Ford presenting his research to Penrith Library on Dungarth (Superintendent’s House), Emu Plains
Gracr Karskens with Lorraine Stacker and her revised edition of Chained to the Soil on the Plains of Emu: A History of the Emu Plains Government Agricultural Establishment 1819-1832
Nepean Archaeology Group
Penrith Library’s Research Services staff
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Convicts and Colonists History Conference and Family History Fair

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Emu Plains convict farm in 1819

at Penrith City Library

31 August 10am – 4pm

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Emu Plains Convict Farm’s establishment and Penrith’s early colonial history.

PLUS – the launch of the revised edition of Lorraine Stacker’s history of the convict farm – Chained to the soil on the Plains of Emu

With the U3A Theatre group performing The Exile of Erin as an encore to the conference

History Conference –
Where: Peter Goodfellow Theatrette
Cost: $25 bookings via

Speakers will explore this early colonial period and give insights into researching your family and local history

Conference Speakers include:

Professor Grace Karskens – historian and archaeologist – Rediscovering Lost Histories of the River: Convicts, Aboriginal People and River Places

Lorraine Stacker – Emu Plains Convict Farm historian – Chained to the Soil on the Plains of Emu

Martyn Killion Tracing NSW Convicts using the State Archives Collections

Steve Ford – historical land researcher – The House on the Hill – Dungarth – Owners and Occupiers

Family History Fair

Where: Library lower lounge
Cost: Free entry
bookings not required

Meet local historical groups from outer Western Sydney and beyond and gain tips and guidance for conducting your own research.

For further information about these events please email:; or phone Lorraine on 02 47327886, or Ann-maree on 0247327860.

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New Research Room launched 9 May 2019

Penrith Library’s new Research Room and study rooms

On 9 May 2019 the Library officially launched its newly refurbished areas. The Library’s Research Room, reading and reference areas and computer zone areas were refurbished. Penrith Council’s Mayor Ross Fowler welcomed everyone providing them with some local library history and anecdotes. Sarah Dean, the Library Services Manager thanked all of those involved with the project. The Library’s two new study rooms have been named after its first two chief librarians, Margaret Trask AM BA Mlib FLAA (1948-56, 1958-63) and Joan Pearson (1956-58). Many members of Joan’s family travelled from Newcastle for the occasion. We thank them very much for doing so.

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Our Research Room Revealed

Connecting People, Places and the Past

Penrith City Library Research Room

Check out the heritage festival website

And Penrith Library events

Monday 29 April l 10am to 12pm 
Q&A and Family history help
with Nepean Family History Society

Tuesday 30 April l 10am to 12pm 
Researching local history using local resources and council records 
with Ann-maree Bonner, Penrith City Librarian
Bookings essential

Tuesday 30 April l 6.30pm to 7.30pm 
Searching NSW Land Records Online
with Researcher Steve Ford 
Bookings essential

Wednesday 1 May l 6.30pm to 7.30pm 
1919: Penrith and the ‘flu – the impact of the Spanish flu in Penrith and St Marys districts
with Lorraine Stacker, Penrith City Librarian
Bookings essential

Thursday 2 May l 10am to 12pm
An introduction to and Q&A 
with Latter-day Saints volunteers 

Friday 3 May l 10am to 12pm 
Penrith Library’s photographic and postcard collections 
with Alison Spencer, Penrith City Librarian
Bookings essential

Saturday 4 May and Sunday 5 May – 9am to 5pm 
Research Room open all day

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Research Room refurbishment well under way

Penrith City Library’s Research Room has moved and its staff are temporarily located in the new room until the staff areas are completed. Everything is on track for 11 March reopening of the refurbished study and computer areas, and Research Room.

For any enquiries about what is happening, please contact us on 02 47327886 or via email

Looking through the Research Room glass wall towards the Library study and computer area
Yes, that is the Nepean Times tucked in behind a pile of archive boxes
Our Research Room collections are in – just. We have some work to do yet to make it looking good before the reopening
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Display of archaeological finds from the Lochwood Estate

In 2016 the remains of a 200 year old cottage, farm buildings and over 1,000 objects were discovered during an archaeological excavation as part of the construction of the new Oakdale South Industrial Estate, just 25 km east of Penrith.

Penrith City Library is hosting a display of a small selection of the 1,000 objects found during the excavation that had been left behind by the many people who had lived on the property. As well as farm and building items, such as nails, bricks and horseshoes, the excavation uncovered personal and household items, such as a brooch, beads, pins, a thimble, a toothbrush handle, marbles, coins, clay smoking pipes, ceramic and glass fragments, and slate writing board fragments and ink wells. The archaeological remains and artefacts from the Lochwood Estate have been assessed as being of ‘State significance’ in demonstrating the daily life and economy of the earliest colonial settlers in rural areas of NSW.

The display has been developed by Artefact Heritage, and kindly sponsored by Goodman.


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