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Rock Valley's family of sporting heroes

George Mihell, cricketer, 1934
George Mihell, cricketer, 1934

MANY times you will find that there is an outstanding athlete in a family who will excel in a particular sport.

Sometimes there will be several members of a family who are very good at sport.

However, it is rare to find a whole family whose members are all fine players and excel in several sports. One such family was the Mihell family of Rock Valley.

The Mihells appear to have come to Australia about 1856 and to have settled in Sydney.

Alexander William Mihell (or Myhell) and his wife Emma (nee Collyer) had six children at the time.

Another five children were born in Sydney but one of these died at birth.

They were left with seven boys and three girls. The Mihell and Collyer families both originated from Kent where their families had been seamen.

Some were probably Cinque Ports pilots.

Alexander and Emma's third child, Charles Collyer Mihell, married Emma Louisa Shilling in 1877 and they had nine children.

Their eldest son, Albert Charles (Bert) Mihell was born in 1882 and it was he who came to the Richmond District.

Possibly he obtained work as a farm labourer at or near the Hayter property at Newrybar as in 1905 he married Clara Ellen Hayter, a daughter of William Hayter who had come to the area from Camden.

William had divided his properties between his sons and one of these properties, at Rock Valley, he had given to his son Oliver.

It was here that Albert and Clara Mihell settled as share farmers. In 1935 they purchased the property.

Albert and Clara had five children. All had been born at Rock Valley and all attended the local school.

They excelled as athletes and most were musical, some playing an instrument. Others were interested in local theatricals. They built a tennis court beside the family home and each day someone would be there practising.

Charles, the eldest, played rugby league, cricket, tennis and he also excelled in athletics, swimming and diving.

George was a brilliant cricketer and tennis player. He often teamed up with his sister Sylvia to win Mixed Doubles Championships. However, he loved his cricket best of all, and in later life it was golf. He married Merle Somerville and their son, Robert, followed his father's interests. Among his achievements he represented Queensland in Sheffield Shield cricket and obtained a "Blue" at Queensland University for tennis.

Bert and Clara Mihell's three daughters, Dorothy, Ellie, and Sylvia, were not to be outdone by their brothers. They were all great tennis players and dancers as well as good horsewomen. They were instrumental in establishing a Women's Cricket team at Rock Valley. Ellie and Sylvia were notable cricket players for a number of years. Sylvia was particularly gifted as a slow bowler and frequently topped the ladies bowling averages. She also scored 100 not out against the dreaded Coraki Ladies' Cricket Team at Oakes Oval in Lismore. After the girls were married they concentrated more on table tennis and bowls.

In 1941 Bert and Clara Mihell sold their Rock Valley property and retired to Kirra Beach where they purchased a block of flats. Clara died in 1958 and Bert died in 1965.

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