On a windy little spring Saturday in September 2019, Best family members from all over came together to celebrate the history behind their pioneering ancestor, Thomas Best. They travelled to Dural from Queensland, Victoria, Tumut, Orange and even the UK and they brought with them anecdotes and family treasures on the day that marked the beginning of History Week.

The current owner and resident of Glenroy Cottage, Elizabeth Pellinkhof is a direct descendant of Thomas Best who was one of the first settlers in the Dural area in the 19th Century. The day revealed wonderful tales about the Best family and bushrangers who had committed robberies in the Dural area, and allowed local historians and dignitaries, as well as family members and members of the local community an opportunity to come together and celebrate one of the area’s most important historical homes.

Around 9:30am, Nana would coo-ee the men up from the orchard...

Elizabeth’s grandfather, Fred Best built Glenroy Cottage in the 1930s and worked the orange orchard for a living. Today, the land has been sub-divided and Elizabeth and her husband Eric have created a garden that her grandparents would be proud of.

“We have a mini orchard of a fig, loquat, orange, lime, apple and persimmon trees. It now houses a native bee colony and magnificent honeysuckle vine. There is a large jacaranda out the front which is as old as the house, and we have large deciduous trees such as Australian Cedar, Cape Chestnut, Nyssa’s Crepe Myrtles and maples. The citrus trees are a nod to Fred and Ness’s beautiful orchard,” she said.

On the property is what’s fondly known by the family as ‘Fred’s Shed’, which today is a fantastic space for parties and gatherings. The shed is particularly significant for Elizabeth, because it holds many fond memories of visiting her grandparents as a child.

“Around 9:30am, Nana would coo-ee the men up from the orchard and pack a basket with tea, Sao biscuits with cheese and tomato and some scones or Arnott’s biscuits. They’d sit around the fruit boxes chatting, dipping their Scotch Fingers in their tea and then back to picking. I loved the buzz of the shed when they were grading the oranges; the freshly picked fruit was tipped into the grader at one end then they’d fall into bins in order of size. The men would pack them into wooden boxes, nail the lids down and send them off to market.”

Inside the home there is a special ‘museum room’ where family artefacts and treasures still live to this day.

“My grandparent’s 1930s club chairs are housed in the museum room, along with family portraits, the family bible, a tiny yet functional fireplace and Great Uncle Roy’s 1905 church organ from St Jude’s Anglican Church.”

Due to the difficulties that local council faces with the cost of maintaining historical buildings, Elizabeth and her family members have worked hard to restore and maintain all of the historical homes of their ancestors. Glenroy Cottage burnt down in mysterious circumstances and had to be resurrected by the family members into the cottage that stands on Glenroy Street today. A glimpse at the photos shared with Greater Sydney Living reveals the uniqueness of this special property, and is testament to the hard work that the descendants of Thomas and Mary Best have put into keeping Glenroy Cottage standing in the Dural community to this day.

“It was wonderful to be part of the 200 years celebrations of the Best Family Dural and to learn more about our wonderful history right here in the Hills. It was incredible to see the cottage and the barn and to meet family members who gave me a real insight into what life would have been like in Dural 200 years ago! It is important that we remember and celebrate our history and ensure future generations have an appreciation of where we have come from as a community and the people who have shaped our community over the past couple of hundred years,” said Hills Mayor, Clr Michelle Byrne.