36th Brownlee Family Reunion

The 35th Brownlee Family Reunion was held at Oatley Park Castle, Oatley Park NSW Australia on Sunday 25th January 2015 from 10am to 5pm.

Due to recent low attendance at the Brownlee family reunions a decision was made to not hold a reunion in 2016. We will however look at the possibility of holding a reunion in 2017. To be advised of any future reunions please email <ian at brownlee dot com dot au> to place yourself on the mailing list.

A History of the Brownlee/ie Family Reunion Home

The first Brownlee Family Reunion was held in 1981 when the descendants of James Brownlee (born 1846 in Wishaw) and Catherine Bell Duncan (born 1854 in Edinburgh) arranged a family gathering at Oatley Park. The family had always been close, but as the years went by, the families of the sons and daughters of James and Catherine drifted apart and only saw each other at weddings and funerals. A decision was made to meet on the Sunday of the Australia Day weekend in 1981 and to hold a picnic at Oatley Park.

That first year, the picnic was held in a clearing not far from the "Castle" where the reunion is now held. It was such a success, with 120 in attendance, that it was suggested that it be made an annual event. The nearby "Castle" was discovered and the following year, Nellie and Jack Blackberry and Raymond and Enid Harrison arrived very early for breakfast to secure the site. They would bring their mops and brooms to "clean up" before everyone arrived. This began a family tradition to hold the reunion on the nearest Sunday to Australia Day. These days it is necessary to obtain a permit from Hurstville City Council to ensure that we can use the site. The advantage of this is not only to ensure that we don't miss out, but to also ensure its cleanliness.

In 1982 Ian Brownlee drew up a family chart that was taped up and extended the full length of the back wall of the castle between the windows. Family members would mark their corrections and additions to the chart and the next year a new chart would appear redrawn with all corrections and additions made. In 1988, Michael Burge, a Grammar School student who was gaining "work experience" at Brownlee Printing, redrew the chart. Michael was an art sudent who also illustrated THE BROWNLEE STORY book that was launched in that same year. That chart was used for many years until Ian redrew the chart that is used today. It has been now many years since the chart was redrawn and "additions" are marked in different coloured ink. 2007 was the first year that the chart was not mounted.

In 1983, Ian Brownlee had been corresponding with Lindsay (Allan Lindsay Arnold) Brownlee from "Baldovan Park", Strathbogie in Victoria. Lindsay was the author of the book, THE BROWNLEE FAMILY published in August 1970 and Ian had sent information for inclusion in the book. Ian and Lindsay talked of publishing an updated edition of the book. They started planning its' production and began to jointly carry out research. Both Lindsay and Ian spent many hours at libraries and genealogical societies, pouring through records searching for "Brownlee / Brownlie / Brownley" and other varient spellings of the name. The plan was now set to mail out invitations to Brownlees globally to participate by supplying family chart information for inclusion in this new edition, preorder copies of the book and register as a member of THE HOUSE OF BROWNLEE.

In the meantime, Ray and Greta Brownlie, who lived in Sydney, were planning a trip to Scotland in 1983. Ian and Lindsay had gathered Brownlee / Brownlie / Brownley addresses from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, England, Ireland and Scotland. Ray and Greta took the Scottish addresses and hand wrote letters to each of the Scottish Brownlee households and posted them locally. Ian, Lindsay and his wife Betty set out to mail to the "rest of the world". Ian being a printer, printed up the letters and "expression of interest" form and completed the mailing.

Lindsay, Betty, Ray and Greta were invited to join our family at the 1984 reunion and so began a long association of "other" Brownlee / Brownlie families supporting the reunions. Ray and Greta attended together for many years but recently, due to illness, Ray has been attending alone. Ray hasn't missed a year since his first picnic in 1984. Lindsay died in 1985 and the book was published by Ian in December 1986. The official launch was at the reunion in 1987 when we had other Brownlie/ie visitors: Emily Galvin and her cousin Betty from USA and Beverley and (James) Barry Brownlee from Albion Park.

In 1988, Australia's bicentennial year, THE BROWNLEE STORY by Ian Brownlee was launched at the reunion - a history of the descendants of James and Catherine Bell Brownlee from Wishaw, Scotland.

Ian had been supplying printing for Manly Bus Company proprietors, Chris and Miriam Brownlee. Chris' father and mother, Ozzie and Vi Brownlee along with Chris and Miriam, became regular attendees of the reunion. Ozzie would bring his chart as a display and always erect it on an easel just inside the main entrance under the window. Over the years a number of other Brownlee/ie families have occasionally joined us.

With numbers dwindling to an all time low in 2006, Ian and Doris Brownlee decided to send a mailing inviting all Brownlee/ies to attend. 120 letters were mailed within the Sydney and surrounding Sydney regions - south to Wollongong, west to the Blue Mountains and north to Newcastle. From this mailing only 9 letters were returned unknown, 13 new people attended and a total of 10 different Brownlee/ie families were represented. Ian and Doris had again intended to do a mailing during the latter part of 2007, however with Doris passing away on 8th December 2007 and her illness in the months leading up to that, it wasn't done.

In 2009 numbers picked up again with 33 attending (previous best was 36 in 2000)

2010 was the 30th Brownlee Family Reunion and had the largest "gathering of the clan" for some years with 42 in attendance.

For any enquiries please email Ian at ian@brownlee.com.au


Select the year to view photographs from past reunions - these will be gradually uploaded over the next few months. If anyone has any photographs from past reunions, we would be very interested in receiving them.

1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
2011 2012 2013 2014
2015 2016 (No Reunion held)