In 1855 Anastasia Burke, a 27 year old woman from Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, migrated to Adelaide, South Australia. For many post-Famine Irish emigrants there was no guarantee of a welcome in the host country and the following year, the South Australian government launched an enquiry into the influx of single Irishwomen to its shores.
Anastasia stayed in South Australia for ten years before joining the exodus to the new goldfields in Victoria. Stockyard Creek, a goldfield in South Gippsland, ultimately became her permanent home.
Widowed after a brief marriage to William Thornley, Anastasia was a successful businesswoman who owned several gold mines and blocks of land in South Gippsland and the biggest hotel in town, the Exchange. Anastasia visited her homeland in 1901 and returned to Victoria to renovate her hotel in palatial style. She was tough and she was a survivor.
This is the story of one remarkable Irish immigrant to nineteenth-century Australia and her never-failing support of Irish causes. Her legacy resonates today in both Callan and Foster (formerly Stockyard Creek).
About the authors:
Dr Liz Rushen is Chair of the History Council of Victoria and has written several books on the migration of women from Great Britain and Ireland to Australia.
Kathlyn Gibson is a social worker interested in researching the socio-political and cultural histories of people and their communities.
See what others say:
A wonderfully rich, textured portrait of a remarkable woman. Rushen and Gibson have given us a story as fascinating and complex as Anastasia Thornley herself. Like a glistening nugget or a cold draught, this book is one to savour.
Dr Clare Wright, Associate Professor in History, La Trobe University Historian Author, Broadcaster.