This page is presently being updated as more photos become available from family members.

This reunion came about after several family members wanted to place a memorial plaque in Killalea State Park in memory of Leanne Kellalea.  Over the years Leanne had not only organised 3 reunions at Shellharbour for the Killalea family but she also fought to save the Park from development for all to enjoy its natural scenery.  Sadly, Leanne passed away in 2010 after a long battle with cancer at the age of 52 years.

Family Group
Killalea Family after the Plaque Unveiling on 11th October 2014

The planning really got underway after a visit from Gary Killilea (Irish Consul) and his wife Diane in 2013 when they did a stop-over in Sydney as part of a New Zealand holiday.  Gary had wanted to see the Park for a few years and said on arrival “I’m hoping to be the first Irish born Kill-a-lay to set foot on this land since Edward the Convict”.  A few of the Aussie family members met them at Shellharbour and soon after plans were underway for the reunion with the help of Nathan Cattell the Park Manager together with his staff & volunteers.

Killalea Family Members Gary & Nathan  Kill*leas
Gary, Steve, Simon, Elva & Diane Gary & Nathan sharing a joke Gary, Diane, Elva, Steve & Terry 

The previous World Kill*lea reunion had been held in Galway, Ireland which Gary and Diane had attended and had been organised by Patrick Killelea from U.S.A.  Both Patrick and Gary had informed us of their interest in attending a reunion here in Australia and that others from around the World had also indicated to them they would like to visit a Park with the Killalea name too.

The program for the reunion was as follows:-

Friday 10th October – BBQ at Killalea State Park Camping Area (6:00 – 10:00pm). 

This was planned to be a casual get together as people arrived for the weekend and turned out to be a great evening.  We not only had descendants of Edward & Maria Killalea meeting for the first time, there were other Kill*lea families from Australia, USA and Africa.

The evening was topped off by Jodi Edwards and her young Aboriginal Group.  Jodi carried out the traditional Aboriginal Cleansing & Welcoming Ceremonies.  This was followed by Jodi’s daughter Taliah singing our Australian National Anthem in the Dharawal language.  Jodi then led the other younger dancers performing the Kangaroo and Pippy dances accompanied by Nathan Cattell (Park Manager) on the didgeridoo and Taliah playing the sticks?.

Taliah singing Jodi Dancers Nathan playing didge
Taliah Singing Jodi leading the Pippy Dance Nathan playing Didgeridoo

The family would really like to thank Jodi for organising the Aboriginal involvement which added so much to the evening, especially for those visiting from overseas. (40 – 50 attended).


Saturday 11th October – Tree Planting & Unveiling of the Plaque in Memory of Leanne (10:00 – 11:00am).

Although the weather forecast wasn’t good, fortunately we ended up with a beautiful sunny morning.  The activities started off with Jodi Edwards and Layla Cattell (Nathan’s daughter) carrying out the traditional Aboriginal ceremonies to welcome the family.

Steve Killalea spoke on behalf of the Killalea family and gave a brief history of the Killalea families connection to the Park.  Leanne’s sister Wendi Spencer spoke on behalf  of Leanne’s immediate family and Leanne’s three children Belinda, Michael & Natalie unveiled the plaque.  This was followed by Michael planting a Moreton Bay Fig tree near the plaque.

Jodi & Layla Plaque Unveiling Michael Tree Planting Terry with Leannes family
Jodi & Layla Belinda, Natalie & Michael Michael planting the tree Terry with Leanne's family at Plaque
  After the more formal activities, Wendi officially handed back to Nathan Cattell (Park Manager) the old sign which had been in Victoria for many years.  Wendi's grandfather Herbert Kellalea had souvenired it from the property you drove through to get to Killalea Beach back in the 1960's.  Wendi returning plaque

A special thanks must go to Nathan and his staff for not only assisting us with transport to and from the plaque for those who needed it.  Others were involved in finding, relocating and preparing the rock and attaching the plaque to it.      

Other photos from the Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning   Saturday Morning Saturday Morning   Saturday Morning
Saturday Morning   Nathan & Jodie Saturday Morning  Saturday Morning 
 Saturday Morning Saturday Morning   Tamara & Jodie Saturday Morning 
 Saturday Morning Saturday Morning   Saturday morning Saturday Morning 

Thanks to Jenny, Wendy-Anne and Lani for providing additional photos and it's not hard to figure out who was looking after Terry's camera whilst the WIN TV interviews were going on by the "Selfies" found on it later.


Saturday 11th October – Visit Old “Stella Maris” Catholic Church in Shellharbour Village. (2:00 – 3:00pm).

We were fortunate enough to be able to have the old “Stella Maris” Church opened so family members could view the font donated by Patrick Killalea in 1936 in memory of his parents Edward & Maria Killalea.

Stella Maris Inside Stella Maris
Font Very few people would be aware that Patrick's visit in 1936 is probably the only reason the Killalea name has stayed with the Park.  Whilst in Shellharbour, Patrick went down to Killalea Beach and one of the Fraser boys took him up to the house to meet their mother.  Apparently not long after Patrick's visit Mrs. Fraser changed the name of their property from “Seaview” to “Killalea” because of the confusion with other properties along the coast also called "Seaview". Font plaque

We believe Edward Killalea was involved with having the Church built and a committee member in those very early days.  Several of the Killalea children are amongst the early baptisms carried out in this old Church. 

Thanks to Marie Chin and Clare Woods for opening the Church for us.  Incidentally, Marie and Clare are distantly related to all the descendants of John Killalea & Annie Seymour (Red Tags) and Marie & Clare's grandparents (The McKinnery's) owned one of the properties visitors to Killalea Beach had to drive through many years ago.  (50 - 60 family members visited the Church).


Saturday 11th October – Dinner at Addison’s Function Centre (6:00pm Onwards).

The formal dinner on the Saturday night also went off very well with a 3 course meal and Steve Killalea as our Master of Ceremonies for the evening.  There were also displays of Killalea family history together with a glimpse at Leanne's unpublished 500 page book which is not only a record of the descendants of Edward and Maria Killalea but includes Irish history and a history of the early days in Shellharbour and convict life.

Gary During the evening Gary Killilea (Irish Consul - Zimbabwe), spoke to us about Irish history, the family and how they were forced out of Ireland during the famine to places like USA, Canada & Australia.  Our second speaker for the night Patrick Killelea (USA) told us a little about the last Kill*lea World Reunion.  He then told us about his research into Kill*lea DNA which could help tie the varies families from around the World to their closest relatives as there is a lack of old Catholic records back in Ireland. Patrick
Gary Killilea   Patrick Killelea

Prizes were given out to the "Oldest Kill*lea" and the "Youngest Kill*lea" attending plus "The Kill*lea living the furtherest from Shellharbour".  The oldest who was booked to come, now in his 90's and looking forward to attending injured himself just before the reunion and was unable to make it.  The decision on "Who lives the greatest distance from Shellharbour?" was decided on the Internet with only 4kms difference in around 12,000kms.  The one who would have won was unable not allowed to fly due to medial problems and had to pull out at the last minute.  We also had another canvas photo of Killalea Beach as a "Door Prize".

Oldest & Youngest Furtherest
"Oldest" & "Youngest" with his dad "Greatest Distance from Shellharbour"

Does anybody have a photo of the "Door Prize" winner to add here?

Other photos from the Saturday Evening

Saturday Night Saturday Night Saturday Night
Saturday Night Saturday Night Saturday Night
Saturday Night Saturday Night Saturday Night

Only 24 hours before this event the Function Room looked more like a disaster area as renovations were being carried out and we feared the worst for our dinner.  Somehow they managed to get the mess cleaned out and the venue was perfect for our function.  Pamela and the staff at Addy's did a great job in providing us with a delicious 3 course meal and friendly service. (72 attended the Dinner).


Sunday 12th October.

This was left as free time for family members to visit the Park, other attractions in the area or head for home.


Our reunion created quite a bit of interest in the Park and Tamara and her volunteers at the nearby Tongarra Museum have set up a display about the history of the land now known as Killalea State Park.  This includes Aboriginal history, the families who occupied the land from early white settlement through to today.  The display also includes the old 4/- sign borrowed by a Killalea descendant and held by family members for around 50 years in Victoria.  This will remain a feature at the museum until around Easter 2015 but the museum is only open on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Old Sign Tongarra Museum

The authors of "Shellharbour's Forgotten Cemetery and Selected Pioneers" (Wendy & Terry Nunan) were hoping to have the 506 page book back from the printers before our reunion but unfortunately it wasn't ready in time.  This is about the old Shellharbour Cemetery which is where Edward Killalea was buried and the book contains a lot of old newspaper cuttings about Edward and proves he played a part in the early history of Shellharbour.  The book is available at Tongarra Museum.
Cemetery Book
2015 Calendar The calendar produced for the reunion proved to be very popular containing around 80 photos taken within Killalea State Park, old photos associated with the Park and a little family history.

The majority of them were sold at the reunion although a few may still be available at the Shellharbour Tourist Information Centre or Killalea State Park. (Check with Nathan if they are still available at the Kiosk or Office?)


1986 Reunion     1997 Reunion     2009 Reunion     2010 Tributes to Leanne     2011 Stella Maris 150th

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