PHOTOS

Foundation stones of cottage where Lawson lived lay hidden in bushland at Como West

Largely hidden in an idyllic bush setting by the water at Como West stand the foundation stones of the cottage where Henry Lawson lived for several years during and after WWI.

Lawson also stayed at Cronulla, and he is seen in a photo [See gallery above] at the official opening of the ocean wharf at Salmon Haul, just inside Port Hacking, on January 26, 1919 - exactly 101 years on Sunday.

Historian Daphne Salt discovered Lawson while minutely examining faces in the crowd, and revealed the historic gem in her 1987 book, Gateway to the South.

In 2006, Salt and others identified the site and found the foundation stones of the cottage Lawson rented in what is now Paruna Reserve, Como West.

"The site is near the former quarry from which the stone for the Como Railway Bridge and the Como Hotel was taken," Salt told the Leader.

Henry constructed a bush timber railing beside a walkway from his cottage to a rock where he would sit, look at the Woronora River, and write poetry.

Historian Daphne Salt

"Henry constructed a bush timber railing beside a walkway from his cottage to a rock where he would sit, look at the Woronora River, and write poetry (on the eastern side of the Bonnet).

"Lawson also spent much time contemplating and scratching his verse in the Bonnet, Periwinkle Cave and along the secluded and peaceful banks of the Woronora River.

"The only access was via the Woronora River. Henry rowed his boat, or hitched a river-ride with a local, to the Como Hotel - tying the boat to a post in front of the door [before Scylla Bay was filled in.]

"He was regarded as a recluse, an aloof figure sitting in the corner of the pub. He didn't take much notice of what people were saying, not joining in the banter and hilarity. This was attributed to his deafness.

"He couldn't hear what was going on around him, but he did enjoy the friendly company and he would sometimes recite his poetry or sell them for drinks; and he had his regular spot in the old pub.

"His mates would come out from the city at the weekend and they encouraged Henry's drinking, often repairing to the Como Hotel.

"Lawson was one of the geniuses of Australian literature - it is indeed sad that he was dragged down by alcoholism."

Lawson's downward spiral followed the breakdown of his marriage to Bertha and their return with their two children from London in 1902.

"Wracked by depression and suffering from acute alcoholism Henry attempted suicide and was admitted to hospital," Salt said.

"His inability to pay maintenance cost him six months in prison over the next six years."

Lawson died at 55 in Abbotsford and is buried in Waverley Cemetery.

Como concerts honoured poet

The original Bushwhackers Band performing Click Go the Shears at the Como concert in 1955. Picture: supplied

The original Bushwhackers Band performing Click Go the Shears at the Como concert in 1955. Picture: supplied

Seven concerts in honour of Henry Lawson were held at Como West, starting in 1954.

They were the idea of long-time Como resident, history teacher and prominent environmentalist Bob Walshe OAM, who died in 2018 aged 94.

A crowd of 600 attended the first concert in a reserve off Wolger Street, which was later officially named Henry Lawson Reserve.

The original Bushwhackers Band played Lawson ballads and 25 Sutherland High School boys performed a play, Saltbush Bill's Second Fight.

Hearing of the 1954 concert, the grand old lady of Australian poetry, Dame Mary Gilmore, wrote that she recalled a visit she had paid to Henry in his "historic Bonnet hut" with Lawson's mother Louisa Lawson.