Three influential families, linked by marriage and social influence, had a profound impact on the development of Mount Wilson
The earliest images of Patrick White in Mt Wilson are to be found in an album belonging to Jane Smart (nee Wynne, 1923-1995). Jane and her husband Bill Smart were the owners of Wynstay at Mt Wilson until 1999. Wynstay, originally known as Yarrawa, belonged to Jane's great-grandfather Richard Wynne. Jane's father, Richard Owen Wynne, renamed the property Wynstay, when he and his wife, Mariamne, completed the present neo-Georgian colonial residence in 1923.
Henry John Wynne and Marian Cecile White married in 1891. Their two children, Richard Owen and Dulcie Marion, were cousins to Patrick White.
Henry John was born in 1859. Henry was a bright lad at school and an excellent horseman. He attended the Royal Agricultural College (Cirencester, England) winning prizes in Veterinary Science and Estate Management in 1880; he was a founding member of the Sydney Lancers.
Marian Cecile, born in 1865 at Bando Station, on the Liverpool Plains, was the daughter of Henry Charles White of Havilah, Mudgee, and Isabella Mary Lowe. Henry Charles was Victor White's uncle, and brother of James White who founded and created the White wealth through property and pastoral activities at Belltrees in the Hunter Valley.
Patrick White's parents were distant cousins. In the Hunter Valley the Whites and Withycombes were neighbours. Ruth Withycombe's father, James, came to Australia in 1856, but died in England in 1899. Her mother, Winifred, was born into a prosperous family from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. In 1910, Victor (Dick) White and Ruth married at St Philip's Church in Sydney.
In the social class system of the 1880s in NSW, the White family would have been seen as local aristocrats, being pastoralists and successful graziers. Richard Wynne, then owner of many acres in Mt Wilson - a recognised Hill Station - and a successful businessman, would likewise have been considered a member of the upper classes.Richard Owen inherited Yarrawa from his grandfather. He returned from England to live there after distinguishing himself as a Lieutenant Colonel DSO with the British army in World War I.
But there were other Mt Wilson residents, who were not rich and privileged, who formed strong relationships with Patrick White. Matt Davies had served as Colonel Wynne's batman during the War. His wife Flo had served in a number of wealthy homes in England, such as Blenheim Palace. The young Patrick loved staying with the Davies at Wynstay, writing that it was for him the "real world" and that Mt Wilson was "a paradise of my childhood".
His visits to Mt Wilson became more frequent when his parents purchased Beowang in December 1921.
Significantly, White's attachment to Mt Wilson strengthened deeply when his beloved Nanny, Lizzie Clark, married Sydney Kirk, a saw miller and the eldest of the seven Kirk brothers, all born and bred in Mt Wilson. Syd introduced Patrick to the magic, mystery, beauty and wonder of Mt Wilson. In Flaws in the Glass White writes: "Syd Kirk showed me lyrebirds, the wombat tracks, zircons in the trickle of the creek. He taught me to unravel bush silence".
Until Lizzie Clark's death in 1975, Patrick White and his partner Manoly Lascaris returned regularly to Mt Wilson to visit Lizzie and Syd Kirk, and Matt and Flo Davies, the people whom he loved and admired throughout his life.