Lake Macquarie History

Moss End, Pacific Highway Belmont

Moss End was a house situated along the Pacific Highway between Belmont and Charlestown at Bennetts Green.

It belonged to Mr Tom Jack and was named after his birthplace Mossend Lanakshire, near Edinburgh in Scotland. Mr Jack was born in 1876 and came to Australia in 1880. The house was well known for it's collection of over 100 statues and other novelties which decorate the grounds, and was somewhat of a tourist attraction in the area in the 1940s and 1950s.

The collection started as a hobby for Mr Jack, but was soon attracting many visitors as a landmark while driving along the highway.

Such was it's popularity that a postcard was produced by the Jacks to sell to visitors.

The Newcastle Herald of 28th February 1948, described the property as follows:

"Moss End is the home of Mr and Mrs Tom Jack. A life-size white horse is one of about 100 statues and novelties which decorate the grounds. Red, white and blue paling fences, painted concrete figures in a blossom-filled garden, and painted tyres hung under a vine-covered drive, make the show place a riot of colour. Thousands of people, from many parts of Australid and overseas, have seen it.Among the figures in the garden are Puss in Boots, an emu family, a dog that looks like Toto, kangaroos, swans, penguins, polar bears, gnomes, an aboriginal boy, a pelican with a fish in its beak, a tree of birds, and an Australian coat of arms. There are concrete or china dolls on every fencepost. Two large model planes hang from cables strung between trees, and a dud smoke bomb dangles over the entrance."

The figures were mostly made of concrete, but there were also a few live exhibits including peacocks, a crocodile, cockatoos, turtles and a frill neck lizard. There was also a statue of Mr Jack himself, as the Newcastle Herald of 29th December 1948 reported.

"Since Christmas Day, more than 700 tourists and holidaymakers have called to see Mr. Tom Jack's novelty garden at Moss End on the Pacific Highway between Charlestown and Belmont. The garden contains more than 100 concrete figures and other novelties. Among them is a concrete model of Mr. Jack, which was recently added to the collection. It was made by a Kahibah resident, who worked from a photograph, and shows Mr. Jack sitting down to smoke his pipe. 'People going past in a bus would swear blind it was me,' said Mr. Jack."

Forced to quit his career as a miner because of ill health around 1910, Mr. Jack took a variety of lighter jobs in Queensland and New South Wales, then opened a fruit and vegetable shop at the Bank Corner in Newcastle. At one time, he had six shops, and was a well known character and local identity for his fruit and vegetable business.

Thomas Jack died in May 1957.

Reference

1948 'TO-DAY'S TOPICS', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 29 December, p. 2. , viewed 26 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140356807

1948 'Wooden Horse', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 28 February, p. 3. , viewed 26 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134326721

"SUBURBIA—This Week Pigmy Has Faces On Its Feet" Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 28 February 1948: 3. Web. 26 Mar 2019 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134326723>.