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Anna Maria Magdalene Bidstrup nèe Zwar (E2)

  • Born: 6th April 1855 Dry Creek near Melbourne Australia
  • Parents:
    Michael and Agnes Zwar nee Zimmer
    • Married:
    • George Bidstrup
  • Lived:
    in Broadford District, Victoria, Australia
  • Died: 17th September 1942 aged 87 years
  • Buried:

Detailed biography


Anna was born at Dry Creek (Thomastown near Melbourne) on 6th April 1855. Her mother Agnes was staying with her parents, the Zimmers at Dry Creek near Melbourne. Her father Michael Zwar was up at Broadford clearing the property he had recently bought.

(In later life Anna hated the length of her name as it would not fit on any document she had to sign. Her father Michael had two sisters named Maria and two named Magdalena in Germany. Three of them died as children, but one sister Maria grew to adulthood.)


Anna was baptized by Pastor Goethe at Dry Creek [now Thomastown] on 6.5.1855, exactly a month after she was born. Pastor Goethe, the first permanent Lutheran pastor in Melbourne, had married Anna’s parents several years earlier shortly after he began his ministry in Melbourne.

A few weeks later Anna, along with her brother Adolphus and their mother, moved up to Broadford.

The Sugarloaf is a small mountain near Broadford and presents people with the challenge to climb it. Anna was apparently carried up the Sugarloaf when she was only six months old.


Like the rest of her family, Anna walked to school in Broadford. Anna attended the Church of England school, which had opened in 1857 with Julius Armstrong as teacher. (from Broadford History p. 95). Michael Zwar applied to the Government with several others for finance to start a German school in Broadford, but it was refused as there were not enough students. (George Carlos)

Busy Home Life

Anna was kept busy helping her mother and the young brothers and sisters who continued to arrive. When Anna was ten years old she had four brothers and two sisters to care for. As the oldest girl most of her time was taken up with housework. When her youngest brother Henry was born there were 10 children and Anna was 18 years old. At this time a Danish carpenter’s son, George Bidstrup, began courting her.

Courtship and Marriage

There is a story passed down about the courtship. One night Anna went to a dance in Broadford. Afterwards she was to walk home alone about 2 kilometres up Zwar’s hill. Her father found her in the company of young George at the Dry Creek Bridge as her father was returning from an evening at the hotel. This led to a scene in which father suggested that the two might as well be married. Anna was delighted with the idea, not only out of her love for George but also the opportunity to escape from the endless housework at home.

On 27th April 1874, Anna and George were the first couple to be married in the new Broadford Church of England. The new brick Church had only been dedicated the day before. It replaced an old timber one. Reverend A. Toomath married them.

George Bidstrup

George Bidstrup was 24 years old. He had been born in Adelaide on 19th July 1849 while his father was refitting the barque Calcutta.

His father had arrived in Adelaide as a carpenter in 1845. On the voyage out, when some of his shipboard companions suffered from frostbite, Bidstrup had the unenviable task of removing limbs with his saw.

In Adelaide, George married Esther Hounson, a cook from Sussex, and they lived in Hindley Street. In 1851 they moved to Collingwood, Melbourne, five years later to Kilmore and finally to Broadford in 1861. In 1866 when young George was 18 years old, his father died, leaving a widow with nine children, the youngest only five years old.

Broadford Butcher

After their marriage George and Anna lived in the main street in Broadford where George was a butcher. Their first four children, Charles, Frances, George and Walter were born there.

Hawthorn Farm

In July, 1880, Anna’s father, Michael Zwar attended the auction of Mr. J. Stafford’s farm on the Sugarloaf Creek. It was the custom of the auctioneer to put on a free keg of beer while people looked over the property before the auction began. Michael enjoyed this generous act of hospitality to the full. The next morning when he could think clearly again he learned that he had successfully outbid everyone else at the auction and was now the owner of a 110 acre property called ‘Hawthorn Farm’. This was quite a problem for Michael because he did not really want the property himself, so he persuaded his son-in-law, George Bidstrup, to take it over, confidently assuring George that he could eventually also buy out the surrounding farms of Gilbert, Wade, Jones, McCulla, Seymour and both J. and P. Farrell. George agreed.

In 1880 George and Anna and their 3 children moved to ‘Hawthorn Farm’ where they and their descendants would farm the property for over 100 years. Over the years they also acquired every farm Michael Zwar had confidently predicted they would buy except P. Farrell’s.

In 1980 over 70 of the descendants came together at Broadford to celebrate a centenary of Bidstrup history on the property, which had now grown to 3500 acres. The celebrations began with a service of thanksgiving in St. Matthews Church of England, where George and Anna were the first couple to be married. A time capsule was buried on the Bidstrup property.

Melbourne–Sydney Road

The road running along the front of the property had been the first ‘road’ from Melbourne to Sydney. The carriages had a lot of trouble ascending and descending the steep and rocky far side of the Sugarloaf creek.

One can still see where some of the rocky outcrops had been partially cleared, but it was still a dangerous and difficult steep bank to negotiate.
One of the first country hotels in Victoria stood on the edge of Bidstrup’s property. It was no longer in use as the main road from Melbourne to Sydney had moved to avoid the dangerous steep bank of the Sugarloaf Creek.

Life on ‘Annadale’ Farm

When George and Anna Bidstrup moved onto ‘Hawthorn Farm’ in 1880 they renamed it ‘Annadale’, the name by which it is still known today. On the farm they had poultry, dairy cows, pigs and sheep. It was mainly a dairy farm. They milked about 25 cows and took the milk a mile down the road to a creamery. They milked 75 cows at the peak. A diary records they milked 71 cows in 1905. Their sheep were shorn on a tarpaulin in the paddock – probably about 150 sheep.

Anna loved fishing. Sometimes she would get through the milking early so she cou1d spend the evening fishing down in the creek. She loved growing vegetables. She also did beautiful crochet work and made a supper cloth for each of her granddaughters.

The last 3 children were all born on the farm. Alfred (1882), Helena (1885) and Ernest (1886).

Anna’s younger sister Emily used to help out whenever a new Bidstrup baby arrived. Thomas Marchbank had been courting Emily for a number of years and he put the hard word on her father Michael that if Emily didn’t stop going off to look after Bidstrup babies he’d go and look for a wife somewhere else!

When they first moved to ‘Annadale’ there was an old house there of two or three rooms – later it became the workshop. (from an interview with Ernie Bidstrup.)

A new house was built with an imposing and large curved verandah at the front. 
It is said that the bushranger Dan Morgan slept a night in an old slab hut behind the Annadale homestead.

The Story of A Family – Annandale Broadford, by Mrs Frances Williams.

Annadale had a long passage dividing two bedrooms in the front, followed by two more bedrooms, then the living room, with Uncle Ernie’s roll—top desk, and on the other side the large drawing room, opening on to the verandah, which then encircled the house on the other three sides. A passage crossed the back with a door leading into the large kitchen, with its big range and bread oven in the wall. Always there was a cast iron kettle or urn boiling on the stove. With an entrance only from outside one came to a sort of underground room, (this is the only way I can explain it): and then beyond that two rooms that were out of bounds to me. I think that any man helper slept there; though maybe when all the seven children were at home they were used by the family themselves.

Many a bath Auntie Helene gave me in the wooden trough in the outside wash—house, and I can still remember how cold it was after leaving the shallow warm water. Maybe it was just as well that I think this tribulation only happened once or twice a week! Probably it was when Auntie Betty came to Annadale as a Bride, that the end of the kitchen was cut off to make a bathroom, and a new kitchen and storage added, – and the old kitchen became a living room.

Outside, even in Wendy’s toddling days was the underground well with this pump, always an interesting thing to the children. I guess this well might even have been the cause of Uncle Ernie getting into trouble at school, when on being told that people couldn’t do two things at once, he answered, “Please Sir, I can, I can hold the billy and turn the tap!”

The stables, the cowshed, the dairy with its separator, the chooks and sheds nearby where things were mended etc. the two big fruit trees in the front and the large mulberry tree in the back, the shed where in 1910, Mum and Dad had their wedding reception, the cottage, the shearing shed with its pens and wool press, and the sheep yards nearby, all find a memory tucked away in my mind.

The old original home is still there, but now there is a lovely new gracious Annadale, just further along the road, past where the old ruined house of the nearest neighbours, the McCullas, used to live. I can remember playing there as a child, but now there isn’t a sign of it left.”

Ernest recalled going to 2 different schools. At first he went to Kur-Kurrac.

“Sister and I rode on a pony through the back paddocks to near the school. It was walking distance. Over a mile. Another school was brought from Lowry, and I finished up in it.”
[Note: The Kur Kurrac Rural School was moved in to Broadford to provide more accommodation for the infant department. … p. 95 Broadford A Regional History*.]

“Lowry was a mile this side of the house, and the other a mile the other side. I went to school for about 9 years. When I left school I worked on the farm. Mostly dairying. Some sheep. Pigs. My brothers George and Walter went to Beechworth to the (Zwar) Tannery. Walter came home. Alf, Walter and I did the work on the farm. Then George and Charlie went to Preston to work at the Tannery.

After I married, my mother lived in turn with Mrs. McNab and Mrs. Figgins at Kilmore. (My father was dead).”.

“My mother was a fine woman. She did a lot of crochet work in later years. She worked outdoors a lot in her younger days. She loved to get the cows milked early in the evening, and then get down to the creek to catch fish for breakfast. She liked to visit her neighbours.”

The outside work included stooking hay. She was of a wiry build. She had a fall in her 80’s and broke her hip and had to have one shoe built up. Ernie used to stay at the Zimmers for holidays sometimes.

“We often went to Epping to visit Annie, Lizzie, Mick, Charlie, Billie and Albert (Zimmer).”

Ernie could also recall visiting the Kaiser family near Melbourne when he was young.

“Every Sunday Anna wrote in copper-plate hand-writing to each of her three sons in Queensland. She also wrote to her sister Ada Crowl, and her own daughter, Fanny McNab, whilst they were in South Africa. It was a family ritual for everyone to gather round whilst she read aloud the replies.” Alan & Esme Bidstrup

Other Information

“My own father Charles Neils Bidstrup had been to the Boer War and Mr. Rogale(?) in Melbourne has been in contact with me for any information as he is writing a History. Fortunately I’d kept books and papers my mother had treasured and Mr. Rogale says one book ‘Fantastic’ and not available anywhere in Melbourne.”
Thelma Lockwood, Letter of 16.10.76

George Bidstrup’s three sons settled at Warra, on the Darling Downs” (in Queensland). [Norm Z. Bowden. Letter of 4.2.1970]

George Bidstrup died in 1920. Anna survived him by another 22 years.

“She left ‘Annadale’ in 1922 after the marriage of her youngest son Ernest. For the next 20 years she lived between her children. When she broke her hip a trained nurse, Sister Hayes, was engaged to accompany her to each home, caring for her personally, even to cooking separate meals for her.”
 Alan & Esme Bidstrup 2001.

Anna passed away on 17th September 1942 aged 87 years, and was buried in the Broadford cemetery.

The Kilmore Free Press recorded her passing 17th Sept 1942

Mrs Anna Bidstrup

“One of the very early residents of Broadford, Mrs Anna M. M. Bidstrup passed away at the residence of her daughter (Mrs J. F. McNab) Ascot Vale, on the 17th inst.

The late Mrs Bidstrup was born at Thomas Town, near Epping, in 1855, and when only six months old came to Broadford with her parents who had purchased a farming property near the town. Her earliest recollections were of a few aborigines that remained in the district and the opening of the Nort Eastern railway line.

In 1874 she married George Bidstrup and in 1881 they settled at “Annadale”, Sugarloaf Creek.

The deceased lady was very highly esteemed by a large circle of friends.

She is survived by six members of a family of seven, her husband and one son having predeceased her. The remains were interred privately in the Briadford Cemetery on the 18th inst. Rev. Wiedemann conducting the service at the grave. Mr. G. Diggle had charge of the funeral arrangements.”

© Kevin P Zwar