Dene Hollow – the story of a Mosman mansion

'Dene Hollow' Mosman

Dene Hollow about 1910

The subtitle of this post could have been “Almost Rich”. It tells the story of a mansion bought by my great-grandmother in about 1909.

Here’s the quick story. You can read the full story here.

  • My great grandmother Barbara Herring was the granddaughter of a convict transported to Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1809.
  • My great grandfather David Daniel Hill was the son of a convict transported to Van Demon’s Land (Tasmania) in 1822.
  • They married in 1877 in Balranald, NSW. They were poor – David was a blacksmith.
  • David died in 1893, and Barbara then married John Zanovi Ziymack. John was a farmhand and they were still poor.
  • Barbara’s uncle died in 1898. He was the richest man in Australia at that time.
  • Barbara inherited £80,000 after probate in 1900. (About $11 million in today’s money.)
  • The day after, Barbara told Ziymack to leave the house. This he did, taking their daughter with him, beginning an ugly and very public custody case that Barbara finally won.
  • About 1909 Barbara bought Dene Hollow, a mansion overlooking Mosman Bay on almost an acre of land just two minute’s walk from the wharf.
  • Barbara Ziymack in 1913 aged 66

    Barbara Ziymack in 1913 aged 66

    She moved there with her five surviving children including my grandfather, John Frederick Roland Hill.

  • Neither of the two sons worked a day of their lives.
  • David Daniel Hill Jnr. squandered his inheritance, was disowned by his mother and declared bankrupt.
  • My grandfather, John Hill, committed suicide in 1934.
  • After Barbara’s death in 1922 her estate continued through the courts for years before reaching probate.
  • The only winner was the legal profession.

Only small change filtered down to his widow and her nine children.

I was just two generations away from being rich.

You can download a copy of the full story here: 
PDF download

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