Joseph William Robley, the son of Joseph Robley and Ellen Melton and the grandson of Christopher and Mary Robley was born at Inveralochy, Goulburn, NSW in January 1849. he was baptised by the Presbyterian Minister in Goulburn in October of the same year.
Little is known of Joseph Williams early life. Things cannot have been happy in the Robley home, however, with father, Joseph, away in the Goldfields and of a suicidal frame of mind. Nor can things have improved when his father returned home and continued drinking to excess! One can only speculate on the final upset the family experienced when Joseph finally succeeded in killing himself. Perhaps a feeling of some relief that a constant threat had been finally realised and it was possible for the family to move on.
Shortly after the tragic death of his father, Joseph, his mother, Ellen had her third child and two years later, married again this time to Joseph Wade a local baker. Until her second marriage Ellen continued to work as a dairy maid to support her three children. As Joseph Wade was a widower, he already had a family of four children and this can only have added to the general family disruption.
It is hardly suprising therefore that Joseph William ran away from home as a lad, possibly around 1865 although this is speculation only, and went to work on the construction site of the new Zig Zag railway line near Lithgow. There is also a suggestion that following Ellen's marriage both Joseph William and his sister, Mary Ann, were not brought up in the new family, but this is unsubstantiated.
The Great Zig Zag Railway, the original rail line into the Lithgow Valley, was opened in 1869. The line was hailed as an engineering masterpiece of the 19th century. Today, the historic railway traverses the 7.5 kilometre track, operating steam trains and vintage diesel locomotives. A series of gently sloping ramps in the form of the letter 'Z', the Zig Zag passes through two tunnels and over three magnificent sandstone viaducts, all surrounded by the beautiful Blue Mountains escarpment.
The next thing we know of Joseph William is in 1877 when he married Sarah Hayes York in Mutton Falls, Tarana. It seems likely therefore that when the Zig Zag line was completed in 1869 he worked in the pastoral industry for the next eight or so years.
Sarah was born at Fish River, Kelso. Sarah's father, Joseph York was a Wesleyan and despite her mother, Margaret Hayes being a Roman Catholic from Limerick Co. Munster, Ireland, the couple's children were brought up as Protestants. The couple lived at Mutton Falls for a while following their marriage.
Mutton Falls homestead dates back to the 1840ís built by Richard Mutton and made a home by his sister Ann Webb and her 5 children. It sits nestled in the picturesque Tarana Valley next to the Fish River. Mutton Falls is surrounded by a stunning avenue of poplar trees, rolling hills and rural pastures. Originally run as a family home and rural store it is partly rammed earth and wattle daub construction and still stands today. It was unsuccessfully held up by Bushrangers, Mutton Falls has a lively history.
In 1881 Joseph William rejoined the Railway Department remaining with then until he retired in 1919. Joseph was stationed at Rydal near Tarana where most of his ten children were born. He patrolled the railway track on his manually propelled 'Tryke' while carrying out routine inspections between Tarana and Eskbank.
As a special treat he would take along a couple of his children for a ride. On one occasion he had Charlie and Violet on the tryke with 9 year old Charlie holding 2 year old Violet on his knee. Violet's leg slipped down and was caught on the wheel. Her leg was badly lacerated and she lost most of her calf muscle.
In 1910 the family left Tarana and transferred to Bowenfels where they lived in the Railway Cottage near the Railway Station. Sarah Robley died after a long illness with stomach cancer at Bowenfels in 1915
Joseph continued to live at Bowenfels until his retirement in 1919 at the age of 70 years. Then he went to live with his son and daughter-in-law, Arthur and Edie Robley first in Rozelle and later in Gladesville where he died in September 1926.
Joseph and Sarah are buried together in the C of E section of the Bowenfels Cemetery, Lithgow.
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
Lithgow Cemetery. Anglican Section. No.1
Written by John Robley, from the research of the late Eileen S.Young.