Site of 'Fairview' and grave of Frances Peat | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Site of 'Fairview' and grave of Frances Peat

Item details

Name of item: Site of 'Fairview' and grave of Frances Peat
Other name/s: Site of George Peat's Inn; Peats Ferry Burial Ground
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Cemeteries and Burial Sites
Category: Isolated Grave/Burial Site
Primary address: Located off Pacific Highway, Mooney Mooney, NSW 2083
Local govt. area: Central Coast
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Located off Pacific HighwayMooney MooneyCentral Coast  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The grave of Frances Peat is of State significance based on its clear association with George Peat and the earliest period of post-contact settlement in the Mooney Mooney region. It is the resting place of one of Peat’s five daughters and may yield rare physical evidence of the Peat family's period of occupation at Mooney Mooney in the 1840s. Much of the area surrounding George Peat's former landholdings once bore, or currently bears his name including Peats Ferry, Peats Ferry Road, Peats Ferry Road Bridge and Peats Ridge. George Peat's greatest legacy is often regarded as being the overland route that he blazed linking Sydney with Brisbane Waters. This route, including the punt service across the Hawkesbury River, became known as Peats Ferry Road and provided the historic basis for the future Pacific Highway.

The archaeological site of Fairview, the Peat family residence built c. 1840, is considered to be highly significant, although the extent of the remains and the integrity of the deposits are unknown. Fairview was described as being a fine dwelling comparable with the best houses of Sydney of the time. It was used as an inn for travellers on Peats Ferry Road from 1844, and thus was a significant feature of the road’s development. The house was burnt down following George Peat's death in the 1870s, and the ruins were later scavenged for materials. As little information is known about Fairview through historical resources, all archaeological material associated with the house is considered to be highly significant. The archaeological site is thus conservatively assessed as having Local heritage significance.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: unknown
Builder/Maker: Built by George Peat
Construction years: 1843-1843
Physical description: Frances Peat's grave:
The grave is located on the northern side of the hill on Mooney Mooney Point and is accessible by a unsealed access road located off the Sydney to Newcastle Freeway. The grave consists of an inscribed headstone, a footstone and an overlying gravestone. A white picket fence has also been erected around the grave and a plaque has been placed nearby indicating that this is the site of Frances Peat’s grave.

Fairview was the family home of George and Frances Peat, and was later converted into an inn to accommodate travellers on Peats Ferry Road in the 1840s. It was a two-storey sandstone and brick structure with two smaller structures located at the rear.

The building is no longer standing and no evidence of it is apparent. The integrity of the archaeological remains is uncertain, due to probable post-depositional disturbances including scavenging and road works.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Frances Peat's grave:
The structural integrity of the grave is good and the archaeological potential is high.

The archaeological integrity of Fairview is dependant upon a number of factors including past scavenging, and impacts associated with the construction of the Pacific Highway, the Peats Ferry Bridge, and the Sydney to Newcastle Freeway including the Hawkesbury River Bridge. The archaeological integrity of the site is conservatively assessed as being low to moderate.
Current use: Public Reserve
Former use: Residence/Inn/Cemetery


Historical notes: George Peat was born in Sydney in 1792. At an early age he undertook a ship-building apprenticeship with the Government Dockyards in Sydney and later worked as an independent ship-builder. Peat's first connection with the Hawkesbury region can be dated to the 1820s. During this time, Peat maintained a house at 247 Kent Street, Sydney, and a house in Portland near Wisemans Ferry (Johnson & Christie 1905: 13).

On 21 April 1831, Peat was authorised to occupy 60 acres of land at Fairview Point, Mooney Mooney, opposite Spectacle Island on the Hawkesbury River (RAHS 1943: 245). This land had been promised to Peat by Governor Darling in 1830, although it was not officially issued to him until 16 March 1840. On 4 January 1836 Peat was granted an additional 50 acres 'at the head of a creek flowing into the Hawkesbury River at its confluence with Berowra Creek.' (RAHS 1925: 198) This second grant was located opposite Fairview on the southern side of the river and was later known as Peats Bight (Schofield 1988: 42). These two grants represented his major landholdings.

Peat proceeded to build his 'Fairview' residence on the northern portion of his land at Mooney Mooney with his second wife Frances. The exact date for the erection of the house is unknown although it is estimated to have been built around 1840. Prior to this Peat may have squatted at his Peats Bight property, although no permanent residence appears to have been erected there. Fairview was described as being 'one of the best dwellings outside of Sydney' capitalising on the surrounding beauty of the Hawkesbury (RAHS 1925: 200). It was a two-storey sandstone building which featured two smaller structures to the rear.

By 1843, Peat had established a bridle track connecting Brisbane Waters with Sydney via Cowan. The blazing of this track appeared to have been initially motivated by the need to transport livestock and produce from his and neighbouring properties to market. It should also be noted that it is unlikely that Peat's punt was operating at this time although a punt was in operation by a Mr Taylor of Mangrove further upstream.

During that year, one of Peat's five daughters, Frances, died and was buried on the Fairview property. Whilst it may have been Peat's intention to build a family plot, neither he nor his wife were interred there. The site retains Frances' tombstone which reads:

the Memory of
Frances Peat,
Departed this life
March 23rd, A.D. 1843.
Aged 19 years and 9 months.
Pray, dear parents, as you pass by;
Look on my grave, and do not cry;
But hope my soul has gone to rest
With my dear God, Whom I love best.'

It is difficult to ascertain whether any other bodies were interred at Peats burial ground at Mooney Mooney as only Frances' tombstone is evident. However, the death certificate of local resident Isaac Cole, who died on 20 May 1872, states that he was buried at 'Peats Ferry' cemetery. Records also show that William Burton was buried there on 31 August 1875, as was James Seymour on 1 November 1875 (Richmond 2003: 5-6). The uncertainty arises as both Kangaroo Point (on the southern side of the river) and Mooney Mooney Point were both described as ‘Peats Ferry’ during this period. Therefore such references may also refer to Brooklyn Cemetery near Kangaroo Point, although there are no records referring to their burial at this location either.

By 1844, Peat had established a punt across the Hawkesbury between Fairview and Kangaroo Point. The punt was described in the Sydney Morning Herald on 12 December 1844 thus:

'Mr Peat has at present a substantial horse punt afloat, which crossing the entrance of Mooney Mooney Creek where the tongue of land on which the property is situated, abuts into the main river to the opposite point, enables the traveller to save an immense extent of cheerless and difficult bush riding and conveys him into Lane Cove, about eight miles below Pennant Hills..'

Once the punt was in place, Peat opened Fairview up for travellers. The previous account continues:

'Mr Peat has been at considerable expense in fitting up his splendid new building, which in point of comfort, convenience and respectability we are credibly informed may vie with most the leading houses of accommodation throughout the colony.'

Another of Peat's daughters, Mrs Campbell stated that Fairview was run as an open-house for travellers, and that settlers of the Lower Hawkesbury gathered there for Sunday church services (RAHS 1925: 203). She also stated that the property was used by Lord Sherbrooke for numerous vacations, and that regular visitors included E.H. Hargraves and Captain Wiseman.

Following the success of the punt, pressure was put on the Government to find a better public route to the north instead of the Great North Road which had fallen into a state of disrepair. Peat's track was considered to be the most preferable route, and work on the road commenced in 1847 using convict labour. The road was opened to wheeled vehicles five years later (Schofield 1988: 42).

By 1850, Peat appears to have upgraded the ferry to accommodate the increasing traffic volumes. Deputy Surveyor-General, Captain Perry described the punt in 1850 as being like a 'chasse maree', having sails but worked by sweeps and wholly unfit for the purpose intended. It is implied by Perry’s statement that he foresaw the crossing as a major thoroughfare, rather than the stock transport originally envisioned by Peat. He recommended that the Government establish control over the crossing, which it did by 1852.

In 1854, the Colonial Secretary advised the Surveyor General that 570 pounds per annum should be spent on the maintenance of Peats Ferry Road between Sydney and Wollombi including the operation of a punt at Peats Ferry. At this time mail was run to Gosford via Peats Ferry Road, although Wisemans Ferry had replaced it as the favoured route by 1859 (RAHS 1943: 252). The ferry appears to have ceased operation by the 1880s.

In 1930, two new vehicular ferries, the George Peat and the Frances Peat, were established at the site following the upgrade of Peats Ferry Road by the Main Roads Board. These two ferries continued to cross the Hawkesbury until they were replaced by the Peats Ferry Road Bridge which was completed in 1945. The crossing was ultimately upgraded in 1973 following the construction of the Hawkesbury River Bridge and the Sydney to Newcastle Freeway.

George Peat died in Sydney on 9 August 1870. Following his death Fairview was left vacant for many years before being burnt down, after which time it was simply referred to as 'The Ruins'. Some time after the 1880s, material from the site was removed to construct a church elsewhere in the district (RAHS 1925: 204). In 1925, the remains of Peat’s property included the ruins of Fairview, a colonial oven and the gravestone of Frances Peat.

Currently, the grave is the only feature retained on the landscape although there is some potential for archaeological remains of Fairview and its period of occupation to be present. A number of other historic features are located in the vicinity on non-RTA owned land including a sandstone boat wharf, rusted ferry cables and timber piers.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Migration-Activities and processes associated with the resettling of people from one place to another (international, interstate, intrastate) and the impacts of such movements (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Frances Peat was the first European person to be interred at Fairview Point, Mooney Mooney, and her burial represents the commencement of the Peats Ferry burial ground in 1843. Whilst this is the only confirmed burial at the site, historical records indicate that three others may have been interred between 1872 and 1875. The grave is also significant as it is located on land originally owned by George Peat, the first European landholder in this part of the Hawkesbury, and represents the first family burial site at Mooney Mooney.

'Fairview' was built as the family home of George Peat c.1840. The building was described as being a fine, two-storey structure, comparable with the best houses of Sydney. The house took on special prominence following the blazing of Peats track connecting Brisbane Waters with Sydney and the implementation of the ferry. During this period, Fairview was opened up as an inn to travellers passing on Peats Ferry Road. The house was used as a vacation destination for a number of prominent settlers including E. H. Hargraves and Captain Wiseman, as well as being the venue for early community church services.

The grave and the site of Fairview are both assessed as having high local significance based on their direct association with the history of Peats Ferry.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Frances Peat was the daughter of George and Frances Peat. George Peat was the first landholder at Mooney Mooney and Kangaroo Point, and is credited with blazing a bridle track linking Brisbane Waters with Sydney via Cowan; a route which would later provide the basis of the Pacific Highway. The area surrounding Peat’s landholdings was generally known as 'Peats Ferry', named after the punt service he established in 1844 to connect both sides of the Hawkesbury River. Peat's family house, Fairview, was used as an inn by travellers using Peats Ferry Road, and was a prominent historical feature associated with the road's development.

Frances Peat's grave and the site of Fairview are both located on Peat's former Mooney Mooney property and are intrinsically linked to the historic achievements and life of George Peat.

Frances Peat's grave is assessed as having state significance based its direct association with George Peat, who was instrumental in the development of the Peats Ferry area and who provided the foundations for the future route of the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Gosford

Fairview has been assessed as having high local significance based on the assumption that archaeological remains are retained at the site.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The grave of Frances Peat is publicly accessible via an access road, although there is no signage to indicate its location. The grave consists of a simple, decorated sandstone headstone featuring an inscription and a 'radiance' design, a foot stone and an overlying gravestone. A white picket fence has been erected around the grave to help maintain its integrity and enhance its prominence amongst the surrounding overgrowth. A small plaque has been added identifying the grave as the burial location of Frances Peat. The grave is not considered to be aesthetically distinctive in terms of its design, but it is evocative in terms of its setting as a lone, isolated, historic grave site. In these terms, the grave is assessed as having moderate local significance

As Fairview is no longer a standing structure it is not considered to possess scenic or landscape qualities.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The grave would have a specific association with descendants of George and Frances Peat, as well as descendants of Cole, Burton and Seymour who may have been buried at the site. As the grave directly relates to the Peat family who developed the Mooney Mooney and Kangaroo Point area, it would have some significance to the current local community as a personal and historic remnant associated with the area’s history. The grave is identified as having high local significance.

As no evidence of Fairview is apparent, it is not considered to be important in contributing to the local community’s sense of place. However, any archaeological information available from the site may contribute to the community’s sense of identity. Fairview is assessed as having low local social significance.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
An archaeological investigation of Peat's burial ground has the potential to provide specific information about the life and death of Frances Peat. It may also qualify historical accounts stating that three other burials were interred in the vicinity between 1872 and 1875.

Little historical documentation is available regarding Fairview and the family's life at Mooney Mooney. Archaeological investigation may yield information about this period of occupation including the transition of the house to a traveller’s inn. The discovery of structural foundations may also contribute to our understanding of the size, location, orientation and possible modifications of the house.

In this regard, both items are assessed as having high local significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria f)
The site of Fairview is not considered to be significant under this criterion.

The grave of Frances Peat is considered to be rare in that it is the only identifiable grave on the Mooney Mooney peninsula. The nearest cemetery is considered to be Brooklyn cemetery located on the southern side of the river. It is also considered to be the only rare and intact physical evidence associated with the Peat family’s occupation of the peninsula.

The grave is identified as having high local significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria g)
It is presently unknown whether any archaeological remains of Fairview are retained at Mooney Mooney Point. It is therefore difficult to assess its significance under this criterion.

Frances Peat’s grave is considered to embody a relatively high level of community esteem which is evident through its inclusion on the Hawkesbury-Nepean SREP, the Register of the National Estate and the Register of the National Trust (NSW).

The grave is assessed as having high local significance.
Integrity/Intactness: The archaeological integrity of Fairview is dependant upon a number of factors including past scavenging, and impacts associated with the construction of the Pacific Highway, the Peats Ferry Bridge, and the Sydney to Newcastle Freeway including the Hawkesbury River Bridge. The archaeological integrity of the site is conservatively assessed as being low to moderate.

Frances Peat's grave is in an isolated location and as such has been left undisturbed. The grave retains the headstone, footstone and gravestone, all of which are in relatively good condition. The picket fence erected around the grave has also helped to preserve the integrity of the site. Overall, the integrity of the grave is considered to be very high.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

It is recommended that the grave of Frances Peat be retained in situ and that any future development in the area avoid impact with the site. It would be a minimum requirement that excavation approval be granted from the NSW Heritage Office prior to any disturbance of the grave site. It is recommended that the site be retained in a respectful manner, and that any development be kept to a minimum. It is recommended that any future works with the potential to impact upon archaeological relics associated with Fairview be required to apply for an excavation permit from the NSW Heritage Office.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerHawkesbury-Nepean [SREP] 20 (No 2 - 1997)    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Heritage Assessment - Site of Fairview and Grave of Frances Peat2006 Daniel Percival, RTA Environmental Technology  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenChristie & Johnson1905A bit of river history
WrittenRichmond, T2003Brooklyn Underground: Transcriptions and family histories for Lower Hawkesbury burials
WrittenRichmond, T2002Brooklyn: Federation Village
WrittenRoyal Australian Historical Society (RAHS)1943'Peat's Ferry and the Route to the North' RAHS Journal and Proceedings Vol XXIX pp 244-252
WrittenRoyal Australian Historical Society (RAHS)1925'George Peat and his Ferry' RAHS Journal and Proceedings Vol XI pp 195-206
WrittenSchofield, C1988The Shaping of Hornsby Shire
WrittenStrom, B1982Gosford/Wyong History & Heritage

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4310592

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