Mark Pearce and I meet in a quiet café. He can trace his ancestors back to the earliest days of the Colony.

His 3 X great grandparents, Matthew and Martha Pearce, sailed to Sydney in May 1794 as Free Settlers on the convict transport “Surprize”, landing at Port Jackson on October 25th of that year. The journey had been gruelling and tragically their little boy did not survive the voyage.

In 1795 Matthew was granted 160 acres in the Toongabbie area and with hard work, his property grew to 1,100 acres. For 40 years he farmed his land growing citrus fruit, cattle and sheep. After his death in 1831, his widow Martha and their five children carried on the lineage.

It was Mark’s great grandfather, Edward Henry Pearce who built ‘Bella Vista’ when he took over the farm in 1865 and the family lived there for the next 85 years until 1950.

When Mark was born, the house had already been sold. He recalls his father pointing it out, but he never visited it. When he joined Blacktown Historical Society and learnt more of its history, he realised the importance of the farmhouse and its surrounding buildings and became a passionate advocate for its preservation.

When the Water Board threatened to demolish Bella Vista farm and its buildings, Baulkham Hills Council stepped in and saved it for a token amount.

In 2006 the Council decided to set up a support group and the Friends of Bella Vista was formed.

These volunteers have been the saviours of this fine building which is an important part of our colonial history. Mark, along with Carolyn Gould and Sharon Rawstron, all active committee members, have spent months creating its chronology and this will soon be published.

The Pearce Family Cemetery is the only original piece of land still in possession of the family which they have owned for the last 215 years.

“At least we know where we’ll end up,” Mark says.

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