Friday, 8 January 2021

Dr John James Helsham of Cranbourne

In 1866, James H. Watson, who later became the President of the Royal Australian Historical Society, spent some time on Quail Island, at the northern end of Western Port. You can read his account of his time, here. Of interest was that he described Cranboure at the time - Two or three small cottages, and the ruins of another with a big stone bush chimney still standing, completed the town of Cranbourne. The ruined cottage is mentioned because in it lived, or rather existed, the local doctor - a clever man, but one who had the habit that many an otherwise good man has fallen a victim to. The minister kept his books and instruments, and, for special cases, he was sobered up for a couple of days, the hotel being tabooed to him till he had completed the case in hand (1).

I have done some research and discovered that the local Doctor, who was sadly addicted to drink was John James Helsham.

Dr Helsham was born c. 1833 in Dublin in Ireland (2).  He was a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 1857 (3). Family trees on Ancestry list his parents as Captain George Paul Helsham and Elizabeth Anne Conway, even though they do not list any sources. The trees list five or six other siblings including George Macklin Helsham (4). We know that George Macklin Helsham had a brother called John James Helsham. They both joined the Freemasons Lodge, No. 37 Kilkenny; George on January 4, 1853 and John on December 13, 1853 (5). Also, in 1875, John and George were listed in the Encumbered Estate (6) register as the sons of Captain George Paul Helsham. 

Encumbered Estates Registry, 1875 showing that there was a John James Helsham who was the son of Captain George Paul Helsham and the brother of George Macklin Helsham.
Ireland, Encumbered Estates, 1850-1885, Ancestry

George Macklin Helsham had also come to Australia and his 1870 Queensland Death Certificate lists his parents as George Paul and Elizabeth Ann Helsham (7).  The question is this - is Dr John James Helsham the same John James Helsham who was the son of Captain George Paul Helsham? There is every possibilty that there were two men of that name born around the same time in the same location; anyone who has done a lot of genealogical research would know that this occurs. However, I am leaning towards our Dr Helsham being the son of Captain Helsham and his wife Elizabeth Conway.

After our Doctor graduated he left Ireland for Victoria and the first account I can find of his life in Victoria was in November 1859 when Dr Helsham had a letter published in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser claiming that he had been libelled in another newspaper report concerning his treatment of a patient, John Bragg. In the letter he writes that  I took him from the wagon with the assistance of some friends, and carried him in, but medical assistance was of no avail. He never spoke one word, and was utterly unconscious until the time of his death, which occurred in less than half an hour, after reaching Longwood (8).  I don't have the full story, however it does place Dr Helsham in the Longwood area in 1859.

The Barkly Navarre Goldfield, c. 1861. This is a landscape that Dr Helsham would become familar with after his appointment to the area in 1860. 
The Barkly Navarre Goldfield. Photographer: Richard Daintree. 
State Library of Victoria Image  H9324

In 1860, he was appointed as the Public Vaccinator  for the district of Crowlands and Navarre (9).  The towns are both on the Ararat-St Araund Road. In August 1861, he performed a small operation on William Broadfoot who was suffering from varicose veins; he lanced an abcess on the man's leg  and apparently cut into a vein and Mr Broadfoot started bleeding. Helsham was called again and was satisfied with the patient's condition, however Mr Broadfoot later bled to death. An inquest was held into his death and in Mrs Broadfoot's evidence she said this about the doctor at the time I do not think Dr Helsham was sober. Another witness, William Smith, said on the second visit Dr. Helsham was tipsy (10).  The Ballarat Star in their report of the incident was quite scathing about Dr Helsham - this is how they reported the case - Unfortunately for him, some of his friends introduced, on Sunday last, a medical gentleman, from old Navarre, styling himself Dr Helsham. After manipulating the ailing limb of Mr Broadfoot, he expressed a most extraordinary surprise that another medical gentleman who had seen the swelling in the leg did not lance it at once. The bouncing charlatan tucked up the sleeves of his coat and commenced lancing what he deemed an abscess (11).

The Coroner ruled that the decased, William Broadfoot, came to his death having cut varicose veins and not taking proper precautions to stop the bleeding and he committed Dr Helsham for trial for manslaughter (12). The manslaughter trial was held at Ararat in October and the Doctor was acquitted (13).

The next two references I can find to Dr Helsham were both appointments as the Public Vaccinator in February 1862 to the district of Barkly (14) and then in May 1864 to the district of Dimboola (15). Two years later, according to James Watson's report of his trip to Quail Island, the Doctor had moved to Cranbourne. In March 1867, he held an inquest into the death of  a man found dead at Bass, a normal duty for  a country doctor to perform (16).  He was also the secretary of the local Court of Foresters Lodge (17) and in December 1867 was appointed the Public Vaccinator for the district of Berwick (18).

In July 1868 an inquest was held into the death of four year old Mary Mead, of Cranbourne, who was badly scalded when she accidently tipped a billy of hot water over herself. The Age reported that no doctor attended the child on the day of the occurrence, because the only practitioner in the neighborhood, Dr. Helsham, refused to come to see her. He, however, gave some dressing for her; and the resident surgeon at the hospital, where the child was removed the next day, deposed that medical aid would have been of no avail. A verdict of 'accidental death'  was recorded (19)

The Weekly Times reported on October 30, 1869 (20) that Dr Helsham had died of snake bite - this turned out to be untrue - he was bitten by a snake, but he did survive. The Herald of November 4, 1869 gave a report of the true version of events and it is worth repeating in full as an example of the medical treatments available at the time -
As a garbled account of this accident has found its way into print, a correspondent furnishes the following narrative: A very severe and almost fatal case of snake bite occurred at Tooradin, in Cranbourne district, on Wednesday, 27th October. The following are the facts as related by a young man who attended on the sufferer. As Dr. Helsham was out snipe shooting on the morning of the above day, his dog pointed to what he took to be a snipe, but on nearer approach found to be a black suake, about three feet long; he directly fired at the reptile, standing about a yard distance from it. The dog immediately rushed forward to seize the snake, which the doctor prevented, when the snake sprang up and bit him very severely on the second finger of the right hand. He then killed the snake, bound a ligature tightly round the finger, and walked to the homestead a distance of a mile, carrying the snake in his hand all the way. 

When he reached home, a young man on a visit to the place took him in hand, and first cut the piece out with a razor, and scored the finger to the bone from the root of the nail up to the second joint, and rubbed in some gunpowder. By this time, some brandy and ammonia, which had been sent for, had arrived. This was administered: half a tumbler full of brandy and ten drops of ammonia every half-hour. Within one hour of being bitten he became drowsy and insensible, and it took the united efforts of two men, slipping, pricking, pinching, and dragging him about to keep him awake. After a time, even these failed. After about two hours he became convulsed, frothing at the mouth very much; pulse became weak, almost ceased to beat; hands, face and lips turned black, extremities cold, and life almost despaired of. Ammonia was then applied to the wound, to his nostrils, and sprinkled over his face. This lasted for about half an hour, when he seemed to rally a little and breathe easier, and was allowed to sleep twenty minutes, and was afterwards only kept awake by the most severe treatment, being quite unable to walk and altogether paralysed. 

Towards four o'clock p.m., seeming a little better, he was taken to an hotel two miles distant. A medical man by this time having arrived, he continued the same treatment which had already been used. Between his removal to the hotel and two o'clock next morning he relapsed twice, both times his life being almost despaired of; but large doses of brandy and ammonia being given and vigorous efforts being used to keep him awake, he again rallied, and by four o'clock a.m., or eighteen hours after the accident, he had recovered sufficiently to walk about a mile to a friend's house, and was considered to be out of danger, although very weak and sick from the effects of the bite and the treatment (21)

Ammonia was a common cure for snake bite at the time and you could purchase special syringes to inject the liquid. Warning: Do not try this at home!

There are a few references in the newspapers to Dr Helsham after his recovery from snake bite - he conducted an inquest in 1874 (22) and was appointed Health Officer for the Shire of Cranbourne in 1876 (23).  He died suddenly at the age of 45 (24), on August 11, 1878 whilst at the Grantville Hotel, which was owned by John Payne.  This was a Sunday and evidence from the witness statements tell us what happened.  Dr Helsham had come to Grantville to examine James McMahon in the billiard room of the hotel. Afterwards, at around  6.00 p.m., he was having a meal with some others. Witnesses decribed him as his normal self, cheerful, pleasant and that he appeared sober. He was eating beef steak when he suddenly threw his head back made a choking sound and then he was dead. The Constable, George Ardill,  from Griffiths Point (San Remo) was called, and he took witness statements from Michael Richardson, James McMahon, Catherine Conner, Abram Field and John Payne. The information was passed onto the Coroner who decided than an Inquest was not necessary as there were no suspicious circumstances (25).  His death certificate says that Dr Helsham was buried on August 16, 1878 at the Grantville Cemetery; the undertaker was John Payne and that there was no minister of religion present but three witnesses - John Monk, James Cain and William Matthews.

What was the reaction in Cranbourne to the death of their Doctor? The South Bourke & Mornington Journal reported that the sudden death of of Dr. Helsham at Grantville seems to have caused general regret in the Cranbourne district where he had so long resided, and dissatisfaction is expressed that a proper enquiry as to the cause of death was not instituted, it being believed by some that it may be possible he died from choking whilst eating. The supposition is that apoplexy was the cause (26). However for some there was no regret. At a Cranbourne Shire Council meeting discussing Helsham's replacement as the Shire Health officer,  Dr Phillips, who was addressing the meeting said that the late doctor was never fit for his duties (27). In response, Councillors Patterson and Poole spoke in favor of the late Dr Helsham, passed high eulogiums on the manner in which he had carried out his duties, and both very much regretted Dr Phillips remarks about him (28). 

It does appear that Dr Helsham had a drinking problem, he may even had been sent out to the Colonies  by his family for this reason either to make a fresh start or to rid them of an embarrassing problem. By 1861, when he was charged with manslaughter and he was only 28 he already had a reputation as a drunkard and a bouncing charlatan.  But in Cranbourne he still had friends, including the local Presbyterian Minister, the Reverend Alexander Duff (29), who looked after his books and instruments. I understand that Crabourne and other communties deserved a  better Doctor than Dr Helsham, but I can't condemn him completely and agree with James Watson's description of him as a clever man, but one who had the habit that many an otherwise good man has fallen a victim to.

Trove list
I have created a list of articles on Dr Helsham on Trove, access it here.

(1) On June 20, 1927, James H. Watson,  the President of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Sydney presented a paper to the Historical Society of Victoria - Personal Recollections of Melbourne in the 'Sixties. It was a look at various events and activities of the 1860s including this story - Dipping Sheep on Quail Island. The story was published in the Victorian Historical Magazine, v. 12, June 1928 available on-line at the State Library of Victoria  Niel Gunson also quotes this account on page 68 of his book, The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire (Cheshire, 1968) which is where I first saw it.
(2) His death certificate said he was born in Dublin and and he was 45 years old when he died in 1878, which makes his birth date c. 1833, although a family tree on Ancestry lists the birth date was 1831, see footnote 4. 
(3) Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 1857 - that is how Dr Helsham is listed in the 1875 UK & Ireland, Medical Directory, which are available on Ancestry

1875 UK & Ireland, Medical Directory: Practioners resident abroad. 

(4)  From information on Ancestry - Captain George Paul Helsham (1802-1861) married Elizabeth Ann Conway (1809 - 1841) in 1830 in Paris. He is listed in various sources as belonging to the  Irish Militia, Kilenny Fusiliers or the  Royal Irish Fusiliers.  In 1829, whilst in France, he shot  a man dead in a duel. It was reported in the Australian papers The Colonial Times of Hobart, January 29, 1830, see here and then there was a subsequent murder trail reported in the same paper on February 18, 1831, see here. His great, grandson John George Douglas Helsham was killed at Gallipoli and his obituary in the Bendigo Independent said that Captain George Helsham was the recipient of an inscribed dagger from the hands of H.R.H. Prince Albert. Private Helsham, therefore, is of a fighting family, and it was his lot to inherit a gold repeating watch and a gold seal which had been handed down from generation to generation for many years (Bendigo Independent June 12, 1915, see here)  George and Elizabeth had six children - the birth dates are approximate - George Macklin (1830-1870), John James (1831 or 33 - 1878), Elizabeth Ann (1833 - 1872), Rebecca Blount (1834- 1900), Amelia (1835 - 1835) Paul (1836-1836).
(5) Ireland, Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland Membership Registers, 1733-1923, available on Ancestry. Technically, the fact that they both joined the same Lodge does not prove they are brothers.
(6) Encumbered Estate - This definition is from Ancestry The Encumbered Estates' Court was established to facilitate the sale of Irish estates whose owners were unable to meet their obligations because of the Great Famine, regardless of whether the land was entailed. The need for the Court was caused by the impoverishment of many Irish tenant farmers during the 1840s famine, rendering it impossible for them to pay their rents to the landlord who in turn could not make his mortgage payments. Until this Court was established, the lending bank could not get a court order to sell the mortgaged land because of the entail.
(7) George was the Town Clerk of Dalby in Queensland. He died in tragic circumstances at the age of 39. He was rushing to help out at a fire and run into a tree stump and sustained internal injuries and not recover. He left a wife and four children. You can read accounts of the accident in the Darling Downs Gazette February 12, 1870, see here, and the Queensland Times of February 19, 1870, see here. It was George's grandson who was killed at Gallipoli, see footnote 4. 
(8) Ovens and Murray Advertiser, November 5, 1859, see here.
(9) The Age, August 4, 1860, see here.
(10) An account of the incident can be read in the Ballarat Star of August 22, 1861, see here. The two quotes about his sobriety are from the Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser of August 28, 1861, see here.
(11)  Ballarat Star August 22, 1861, see here.
(12) Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser, August 28, 1861, see here.
(13) Ballarat Star, October 19, 1861, see here.
(14) The Herald, February 19, 1862, see here.
(15) The Argus, May 27, 1864, see here.
(16) The Age, March 25, 1867, see here.
(17) The Leader, September 21, 1867, see here. The Court of Foresters was a Friendly Society, which were formed to help members pay for medical care. Read about Friendly Societies here
(18) The Age, December 7, 1867, see here.
(19) The Age, July 29, 1868, see here.
(20) The Weekly Times, October 30, 1869, see here.
(21) The Herald, November 4, 1869, see here.
(22) The Argus, May 7, 1874, see here.
(23) The Argus, September 30, 1876, see here.
(24) He was listed as 45 years old on his death certificate.
(25) The information about his death comes from his Inquest record held at the Public Records Office of Victoria and which is also digitised on Ancestry.
(26) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, August 21, 1878, see here.
(27) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, October 2, 1878, see here.
(28) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, October 2, 1878, see here.
(29) Reverend Alexander Duff (1824 - 1890), read more here.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Patrick O'Halloran's General Store at Pakenham

I bought this postcard the other day of Patrick O'Halloran's store in 'Old Town', Pakenham. The 'old town' was the town on the Gippsland Road (Princes Highway) near the Toomuc Creek. New Pakenham or Pakenham East was the town that developed around the railway station from 1877. I don't know when the store opened; Patrick is listed in the Electoral Rolls of 1903 as a grocer and that is the first reference I can find. His father, John, is listed in the Shire of Berwick Rate books at Pakenham from 1885/1886 as owning 'house and land, Henty's subdivision'. According to the 1884 Rate books, Thomas Henty owned 4,421 acres of land, being Lots 1, 2, 8, 11 to 20, 46 to 46, so John must have purchased some of this land after it was subdivided.

Thomas Henty's land sale
South Bourke & Mornington Journal, November 25, 1885

Patrick is not listed in the Rate Books until 1914/1915 and he then has '23 acres William's subdivision'. I am unsure where that was. Part of the problem with tracking the family through both the Rate books and the Electoral Rolls is that their surname is sometimes listed as Halloran and sometimes as O'Halloran. What we do know is that Patrick's store was on Gippsland Road or the Princes Highway and this is where the photograph on the postcard was taken.

Patrick was one of the advertisers in the first edition of the Berwick Shire News of September 8, 1909. The newspaper was the forerunner of the Pakenham Gazette.

Patrick's last advertisement when his store was located in 'old Pakenham.'
Pakenham Gazette November 19, 1920

In November 1920, Patrick left old Pakenham for new Pakenham and removed to new premises in Main Street, next to the Post Office.

Patrick advertising his move to Main Street, Pakenham East.
Pakenham Gazette November 26, 1920.

In August 1927, Patrick sold his business to Mr Jackson of Korumburra. 

South Bourke & Mornington Journal August 18, 1927

Mr Jackson's first advertisement.
Pakenham Gazette September 2, 1927.

Patrick was the son of John Halloran and Johanna Scanlon, who had married in 1873. They had nine children, the first two were registered at Berwick and the last seven at Pakenham, which gives us some idea when the family moved to Pakenham.  The children were -  Mary Ann (1875 - 1966, married Charles Maltby in 1915), John (1877 - 1955), Johanna (1878 - 1954, married Syndney John Donahoo in 1920), Michael Patrick (1880 - 1943), Timothy (1881, Killed in Action in France July 1916), Stephen (1883 - 1957), Dominick (1884 - 1958), William (1886 - 1891), Thomas (1887 - 1964). John died April 19, 1922 aged 78 and Johanna April 18, 1934 (1)

This is part of John's obituary which was published in the Pakenham Gazatte of  April 21, 1922 - The deceased gentleman, who was a native of County Clare, Ireland, was an old and much respected resident of this district, where he had lived for about 40 years, and he will be sadly missed by many friends. He was for many years connected with the Railway Department and on his retirement form service he settled in Pakenham. He always took a keen interest in public matters and was a great lover of sport, especially football.

Patrick, our store keeper was Michael Patrick. He married Jane Elizabeth Dillon and 1907 and they had two children, James and Marie. He died on May 18, 1943 at the age of 62 and Jane died on July 1, 1949, also aged 62 (2)

The Pakenham Gazette of May 21, 1943 published the following obituary of Patrick - 
Prominent Pakenham Man Accidentally Killed
District saddened by death of Mr. M. P. Halloran
A gloom was cast over the whole district last Tuesday afternoon, when it was learnt that Mr Michael Patrick Halloran had been killed by the falling of a limb of  a tree at  his property, Gembrook road, Pakenham.

Mr Halloran had gone to cut down a tree which had been partly burnt through, and apparently it came down unexpectedly and one of the limbs struck him on the head. Death must have been instantaneous.
Discovery of the sad event was made by Mr Halloran’s daughter (Miss Marie Halloran) who on noticing that sound of chopping had ceased and that one of her father’s dogs  which followed him everywhere had returned to the house without him, went to discover if anything unforeseen had happened.

Mr Halloran was born at Pakenham 62 years ago and had spent practically the whole of his life in the district. For a number of years he conducted a general store at Old Pakenham and later established at Pakenham East the business which is now conducted by Messrs J. J. Jackson and Sons, who purchased it from him some 17 years ago.

On his retirement from business Mr Halloran erected a residence at his orchard property on Gembrook road and continued to reside there up to the time of his death. 

As a young man he was prominently associated with most of the sporting activities of the town as well as generously supporting all movements for the progress of the district.

In business affairs and in public and private life Mr Halloran was known far and wide as a man of high principle – upright in all his dealings and ever ready to assist any in need of a helping hand. These sterling qualities and his bright and cheerful nature won for him many deep and lasting friendships; and with his death the district has lost one who will be greatly missed.

The heartfelt sympathy of the whole community goes out to the sorrowing widow, son and daughter, also to Mr Halloran’s brothers and sisters at this sad time.

The funeral, which was very largely attended, took place at Pakenham Cemetery yesterday morning, following Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church. Mr Halloran’s nephew (Rev. Father L. Halloran), assisted by Rev Father Sullivan, officiated at the Church and at the graveside. The coffin bearers were Messrs P. Brown, W. Stone, B. Bourke and R. Miers, and the pall-bearers Messrs W. and B. Doherty, J. and T. Carney, Milo Bourke, P. Clarke, T. Fuller and M. Mullane.

(1) Family information comes from the Indexes to the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages  You can read Timothy's story on the website A Century After the Guns Fell Silent: Remembering the Pakenham District's WWI Diggers 1914-1918, here
John's death notice was in The Argus, April 21, 1922, see here. Johanna's death notice was in The Argus, April 19, 1934, see here.
(2) Jane's death notice was in The Argus, July 2 1949, see here.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Cranbourne District State Schools Sports days

These are photos of two winning sports teams from Cranbourne State School, No. 2068.

Cranbourne State School, Basketball Premiers 1926

In 1926 the Cranbourne A team won the district schools championship basketball competition. Basketball, the game that was played, is called netball today. The teams came from Clyde, Clyde North, Cranbourne A and Cranbourne Z. Cranbourne State school was a much larger school than the other two. The final took place on Friday August 13, 1926 and Cranbourne A defeated Cranbourne Z for the pennant. The pennant was funded by a social at the Shire Hall and it was presented by the member for Dandenong, Frank Groves, M.L.A.

Report of the semi-final of the school basketball competition.
South Bourke & Mornington Journal August 5, 1926

Report of the basketball  final and presentation

The next year the boys won the Cricket Cup. In September 1927, the Cranbourne District State Schools held their annual combined Sports day and Cranbourne won the Cricket Cup. There were six teams - Cranbourne A, Cranbourne Z, Clyde, Clyde North, Lyndhurst and Devon Meadows. The school with the most points was Clyde and Clyde North girls won the district cup for basketball.

Cranbourne State School, Cricket Premiers 1927

Report of the Cranbourne District State Schools sports day.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Stormy Weather

Here are some reports, from one hundred or so years ago, of fierce storms in the area

Pakenham - October 1892
A hurricane storm passed over the township on Tuesday, and residents here of 40 years' standing never remember such a storm. Fences were laid flat, and trees by the hundreds were broken and uprooted in all directions. Many houses were damaged by the roofs being blown off. Great anxiety was felt for Robertson's Gembrook coach. Happily the driver and horses returned after having an exceedingly rough trip, and it was a miracle that they escaped from the falling timber. 
(The Argus, October 13, 1892, see here)

Berwick - September 1898
A terrific storm - One of the severest storms experienced for years passed over the colony on Saturday, and left wreckage in its track from Portland to Gabo Island.... Forty-four points of rain were registered in the city, but in some of the country districts the downpour was much heavier. At Berwick 118 points  fell. Vivid lightning, with loud thunder, accompanied the downpour, aud although in the city the lightning had no very serious effect, houses were damaged and many trees were splintered. At the telegraph office, according to the statements of some of the employes, a blinding flash of lightning travelled from one end of the room to the other, almost paralysing one of the messengers with fear, and setting the switch board rattling like the noise of exploding crackers. The office was immediately "cut off" and no business could be done for nearly an hour. 
(The Age, September 19, 1898 see here)

Pakenham - January 1902
Remarkable Dust storm - The heavy gale which raged throughout Tuesday night swept over the greater part of the state, and caused considerable damage in many places, principally in the unroofing of houses, blowing down of light buildings, and the destruction of orchards and gardens. The dust-storms were the worst experienced for a very long time, and extraordinary effects are reported from various places in the country. At Pakenham - The orchards suffered very severely. At Toomuc Valley orchard and also at Mr. Hatfield's, the ground is covered with fruit. It is estimated there are 2,000 to 3,000 cases of fruit blown off the trees at these orchards alone. It will be a total loss. 
(The Argus, January 23, 1902, see here)

Pakenham - February 1903
The weather last week was very unseasonable, and terminated on Saturday in a violent n.w. hurricane, carrying clouds of dust, and finally a welcome downpour of muddy rain fell, registering 90 points.
 (South Bourke & Mornington Journal, February 18, 1903, see here)

Gembrook - March 1903
A terrific storm occurred this afternoon, and great damage was done by a cyclone half a mile wide. In its course trees were blown down, roofs torn off houses, sheds and outbuildings destroyed. The roads on the track of the cyclone are all blocked with fallen trees. It is still raining. More than one inch has been recorded. 
(The Age, March 4, 1903, see here)

Pakenham & Koo Wee Rup - February 1905
Last night a heavy storm passed over here. The wind blew furiously, and 106 points of rain fell. At Koo-wee-rup South* a regular cyclone passed over the place. At the state school two outhouses were blown over and smashed to pieces, and a bedroom window was blown from the head master's house into the school yard. Some of the weatherboards were also torn off. The school is in an exposed position. 
(The Argus, February 13, 1905, see here).

Yannathan - February 1915
On Saturday afternoon last a storm of unprecedented violence swept across the district, and was particularly severe at Yannathan. All day the weather had been threatening, and thunder showers which visited other parts of the district left this locality untouched. But at about 4 o'clock, while about 30 ladies and gentlemen were witnessing a cricket match in Mr Stewart's paddock between the Lang Lang and Yannathan teams, a densely black cloud, lit up constantly by vivid flashes of lightning, was seen approaching from the south-west. When the first drops of rain fell players and spectators left the field for the shelter of the Mechanics' Hall, and while there the storm burst, and for about ten minutes the elements were in almost indescribable tumult. A hurricane blew jinkers about the hall yard, and everything in the shape of boxes and loose timber was lifted by its violence. Then something in the nature of a cloud-burst descended, and rain and pieces of ice fell in such density that looking across towards the Union Church, only a shadowy outline of the building could, be seen, and the hall yard was soon under water. Deafening peals of thunder and constant flames of lightning combined with the downpour, and twice the crash of a falling tree was heard. The door of the church being opened, all made a dash from the hall and entered, but were drenched in doing so. As suddenly as it broke, the storm abated, and very little rain fell during the remainder of the afternoon.

At Yallock the storm was also very severe. Mr Bourke, of Monomeith Park, registered 68 points of rain But, strange to state, practically no rain fell at Lang Lang, while along the coast the storm was of exceptional severity. Near Mr Pearson's it did some damage by washing away the road formation. The hurricane appears to have divided itself into two channels, one sweeping across Cranbourne, Clyde and the Swamp, and culminating at Yannathan in the severest storm ever known there, while the other portion followed a track along the coast.

During the afternoon we regret to state that a young man named Dan Cameron, 17 years of age, employed by Mr W. H. Gardiner, of Yannathan, was struck by lightning and killed instantly. He had been employed off and on by Mr Gardiner for some years past and for the past eight or nine months had been at work constantly at his place. He was out in the paddock, and between 4 and 5 p.m. he was evidently caught in the storm, and found shelter under a tree - a very dangerous situation during the occurrence of lightning. While there he was struck by a lightning flash,and it is thought that death must have been instantaneous, because his hand was found placed behind his back, a favorite attitude of the deceased. The tree under which he had been standing was shattered to pieces and deceased's clothing was torn to shreds, down his breast being a distinct impress of the tree beneath which he was standing. The parents of the deceased, who reside at Beaconsfield, were communicated with, and the interment took place in the Berwick cemetery.

The same afternoon four sheep belonging to LeRoux Bros, at the Red Bluff were struck by lightning and killed. 
(Lang Lang Guardian, February 24, 1915, see here)

Yallock - October 1917
During a violent thunder-storm on Sunday afternoon, Mr J. Orchard, of Yallock, had the misfortune to have a horse struck with lightning, and the animal was killed instantly.
(Lang Lang Guardian, October 17, 1917, see here)

Clyde - June 1919
Squally, stormy weather was experienced here during the week-end. On Sunday at about 7.30, the strong N E wind which had been blowing all day increased to a hurricane, and travelling in a south westerly direction, and for a width of about 3 chains carried everything before it. Limbs of trees were seen lying in all directions, and the iron roof of Mr Hunter's barn was lifted bodily, and some of the iron sheets was carried for a distance of 100 yards. 
(South Bourke & Mornington Journal, June 19, 1919, see here)

Bayles Butter Factory, 1923.
Photo: Bayles Fauna Park collection

Bayles - May 1928
At 12.30 p.m. to day some men working in a butter and cheese factory owned by Sage and Co. Pty. Ltd, Melbourne, heard an extraordinary noise, which appeared to be caused by a sudden roar of wind, ending in a thunderclap. They rushed out of the factory, and as they did so the roof seemed to be lifted bodily and was swept away at a terrific speed. Later on the greater portion of the tin roof, measuring 60 feet by 20 feet, was found half a mile away. The cyclone was awe inspiring, and struck terror into the hearts of those who witnessed it. The men working in the factory were not injured, and after finding out where the rest of the roof had landed they returned to work. The machinery was not damaged. The weather had been fine up to the time of the cyclone, but after that it ruined heavily. 
(The Age, May 12, 1928, see here)

Bayles and Cora Lynn - May 1928
Shortly after midday on Friday a cyclone, travelling from the coast, passed through Bayles in the direction of Cora Lynn, a few miles from Koo-wee-rup, leaving wreckage in its trail. The roof of Sage and Co.'s butter factory lifted off, and portion carried in the air for half a mile. Stables, in, which horses were feeding, were swept away, haystacks and telegraph poles blown down. The horses in the stable were not harmed. 
(Weekly Times, May 19, 1928, see here)

We will finish up with not only a storm but an earth tremor - the town of Cardinia is spelt as Kardinia in this report.
Tooradin - August 1935
About 8 p.m. on Saturday a violent electrical storm at Tooradin was heralded by two distinct earth tremors. During the earlier part of the evening what is described by local residents as an eerie light was
visible in the sky to the southward, extending over Bass Strait. At 8 p.m. Mr. J. Conroy, farmer, of Kardinia, seven miles from Tooradin, was sitting at home with one foot on the chimney ledge when he felt the chimney distinctly sway. Doors and windows throughout the house rattled, and about
ten minutes after the tremor had subsided the thunder storm broke. Heavy peals of thunder shook the house, and heavy rain set in, which continued throughout the night. 
At Tooradin the earth tremor was also reported by Mr. D. M. Henderson and Mr. McFarlane, the local station master. It was followed almost immediately by the breaking of the thunder storm. The storm was the most severe experienced in the district for a number of years. The thunder was particularly violent and the lightning of an unusual type. It appeared in the form of a centre of fire, gradually widening laterally until the whole vicinity was illuminated.
Torrential rain fell for about twenty minutes, and then steadied to a downpour, which continued through the night. The storm worked southward, and appeared to lose its intensity over Bass Strait. Rain fell intermittently throughout yesterday, and it was still raining at 6 p.m. Should this continue throughout to-night flood conditions will be imminent. The "canal" and local main drains are already running bankers and cannot accommodate any further falls. 
No damage is reported from the earth tremor, which was felt over a wide area. Some settlers in outlying portions report two distinct shocks.
(The Age, August 5, 1935, see here)

* You may find it hard to believe but Koo Wee Rup South was actually Koo Wee Rup North.  There have been five primary schools called Koo Wee Rup and ironically the original Koo Wee Rup State School, No.2629, was actually called Yallock, until 1903 when it was changed to Koo Wee Rup. The Cora Lynn State School, No. 3502, was known as Koo Wee Rup Central when it opened in January 1907 and changed its named to Cora Lynn in September of that year. The Modella State School, No.3456, was known as Koo Wee Rup East when it opened in January 1904. The Koo Wee Rup North State School, No.3198, at Five Mile, was initially called Koo Wee Rup South when it opened in July 1894. Finally, the Iona State School, No. 3201, was originally known as Koo Wee Rup North.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

'Native Cats' or Quolls in the Casey Cardinia region

I came across this snippet in the book Early Days of Berwick (1), first published in 1948. It was referring to farming areas around Berwick - The native cats were a pest amongst the poultry but they appeared to contract some form of epidemic and they died out and now appear totally extinct (2). What are native cats? They are a type of quoll, a carnivorous marsupial - the Eastern Quoll - Dasyurus viverrinus - and were described by a writer as - the colour of native cats varies greatly. I have seen them practically all black, except for the characteristic white spots, but in others the colour has been grey, brown, bluey-grey, yellow, and a mixture of the above colours, but always with the white spots (3). They are about 60 cm in length, including the tail. Eastern Quolls are considered to be nearly extinct on the Australian mainland, but still exist in Tasmania (4).

Quolls or 'Native Cats'
Wild cats, c. 1880s. State Library of Victoria Image H29681/2

I did a search on Trove to find any references to quolls in the Casey Cardinia region in newspapers. The first report came from October 1872. This was a sad account of a farmer, named Wilhelm Tinzmann, of Dandenong, who committed suicide in October 1872 by drinking strychnine. He had legally obtained the poison from a local chemist to kill 'native cats'. Thirty four year old Wilhelm had been suffering from great pain in the head and had been desponding of late (5).

In April 1880, there was a report on the activities of the Acclimatisation Society, later called the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society, who had released Californian Quail into Victoria and they reported that it has succeeded wherever the scrub, as at Gembrook, is sufficiently dense to enable it to escape from its numerous enemies, in the shape of hawks and native cats (6). The activities of this Society were reported on regularly and in another report from April 1886, the Society was sent one white native cat, from Mr Staughton, near Pakenham to add to their collection (7).

In October 1884 there were various reports about the tragic death of eleven year old Edward Williams of Tynong who died after having been bitten by a snake. Edward had put his hand into a hollow log, in which he thought a native cat lay concealed, only to find that it actually contained a four foot tiger snake (8). This happened at eight o'clock in the morning and shortly afterwards he began to feel the deadly effects of the poison, and his father, alarmed at the lad's appearance, hurried with him to the railway station, and took him to the Alfred Hospital. The boy was quite insensible when admitted, at about two p.m., and was evidently dying. He expired very shortly after admission (9).

In 1899, the West Gippsland Gazette reported this story, which took place at an un-named location in Gippsland - A boy, son of a selector climbed a high white gum after a magpie's nest, but slipped from a bough, and, falling, just managed to catch a limb, from which he hung by his hands. After making repeated efforts to draw himself up he abandoned the endeavour as hopeless, and remained hanging, calling for help all the time. When he had been in this position for about a minute, a native-cat crept along the limb and smelt at his fingers. It then bit them. The boy shrieked at the animal, but it took no notice,and set deliberately to work to eat his hand. After the third bite, the youngster let go; and fell to the ground, breaking a rib and stunning himself in the fall. When he recovered consciousness, the cat had descended the tree, probably with the intention of resuming its meal if conditions were favorable. But the boy left (10)

A story was published in 1907 about life on the Koo Wee Rup Swamp, shortly after the Village Settlements were established in 1893. The story outlines the trials and tribulations faced by the settler and his family including the native cats killed the fowls.... and a vagrant kangaroo dog stole the baby out of the gin case cradle, and only dropped it after a two mile chase through the ti-tree (11). The last part  is particularly interesting given what happened to Lindy and Michael Chamberlain's baby, Azaria, in 1980.

This story was published 1912, but took place some time before and is a perfect example of why rabbit traps are now illegal - A mate and I were rabbiting in the Beaconsfield district, Victoria, and in one week we bagged [trapped] four sheep, one native cat, two opossums, one water-rat, one flying squirrel, one curlew, two magpie larks, and several hares. In addition, to these we also trapped a farmer's pet wallaby and our own fox-terrier dog. The animals that made the most noise were the hares, which screamed like terrified women. Native cats, as a rule, quickly tore themselves away, leaving behind a bunch of fur, and perhaps portion of a leg. Probably the week's trapping was even more varied, because several ot our traps had entirely disappeared — chains, pegs, and all. On another occasion we trapped a bull-frog (12).

The Australasian from August 1940 published this memory - "In the early 'nineties," writes Mr. A. H. McKibbin (Croydon), "I lived at Lyndhurst, near Dandenong. Immediately opposite our home was a primeval area of redgum bush which was a great stronghold of the native cats. These animals were a serious menace to our poultry, and some mornings I picked up as many as a dozen dead fowls resulting from carelessness in not closing the hen house door as tightly as it should have been shut. My father's method of dealing with these spotted terrors was kerosene case box traps with a drop door set on an internal trigger with bait attached. If the trap was sprung then without doubt the marauder was inside (13).

The Eastern Quoll
The spotted Opossum, 1789.  Engraver: Peter Mazell. 
State Library of Victoria Image 30328102131546/16.

The articles also talk about various urban locations where these quolls were found. This report is from 1910 -  the common native cat was until a few years ago very plentiful. In the early eighties it was not an uncommon occurrence to capture one or more of these creatures in the old Museum work-shops in the University grounds. The old stone fences around Coburg afforded good shelter, and here they were commonly hunted with terriers. In 1902 a female and two half-grown young ones were trapped by an old inmate of the Immigrants' Home on St. Kilda road (14) and brought to the Museum. In Victoria of recent years it has become so rare that it will soon be numbered with the animals of the past (15).  In 1926 a small colony was reported at Ivanhoe - the journalist from The Herald described them thus with its brownish coat, spotted and mottled with white, the native cat is almost a handsome creature (16)As late as 1956 there was  an isolated colony in one of the wilder parts of Studley Park; and every now and again the body of one is brought into the Museum after being dazzled and knocked over by a car at night on Studley Park rd, or the Yarra Boulevard (17). 

As we have seen, the 'native cat' was not very popular with the early settlers, primarily because they attacked poultry. The quoll would kill multiple chickens in one session, unlike the fox [which] will usually take a fowl and depart, but the native cat is apt to kill a dozen or more before calling it a night (18). Because of this farmers seemed to have engaged in an all-out war against the quoll - they used poison, guns, traps - both rabbit traps and native cat traps - after which the captured animals were either shot or beaten to death. As quolls lived in hollow logs they were sometimes burnt to death if the timber was being burnt and if they escaped from the burning logs they were killed by waiting dogs (19). Interestingly, quolls were not killed for their fur, even though fur from all types of animals, both native and introduced species, was used extensively in the nineteenth century for garments (20). The skins were never valuable; in fact, it was such an unpleasant job skinning them that few men bothered about the skins at all (21).

A simple Native Cat trap
This illustration, plus full instructions on how to make the trap appeared in the 

How prolific were the quolls? A writer to The Australasian from Gembrook on 1905 said - Throughout the county of Mornington (22) the cats disappeared about 24 years ago, when there was about a rabbit to the square mile in it. At that point and previously, there were about 50 cats to the square mile. Now I believe you could not find one. So far as I can remember the grasshopper plague, then the rabbit one, came soon after the disappearance of the cats (23). There was a theory that rabbits may have been responsible for the decline of the quolls and this was both raised and dismissed by a correspondent to The Australasian in 1918 - The mystery regarding the almost total extinction of the native cat, along with the native bear, has been the subject of controversy in this column for many years past. Yet no one has suggested a theory that can be regarded as satisfactory.The suggestion that it was due to the cats swallowing the fur of the rabbits was frivolous. In Gippsland, for instance, the native cats had practically disappeared before the appearance of the rabbit. The latter pest was extremely scarce before '98. Regardless of this fact, there are still people who persist in the nonsensical theory that rabbits were the sole cause (24).

The theory mentioned in the Early days of Berwick that they died of some form of epidemic is also supported by some writers - Despite the war waged against them by men, women, and children in the sparsely settled areas, the native cats seemed to hold their own, but a strange disease broke out amongst them and so many were wiped out that they never recovered from the epidemic (25). In 1940, Mr McKibbon, who shared his memories of the quolls at Lyndhurst also wrote that Epidemics of disease at the close of last century and first years of the present one probably quite unconnected with the rabbit were responsible for the disappearance of native cats, and naturally the increase of the rabbit was facilitated with the removal of this little marsupial carnivore, which previously destroyed large numbers of the young bunnies (26).

In 2014 the Australian Journal of Zoology published a research paper by David Peacock (Biosecurity SA, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia) and Ian Abbott (Science and Conservation Diviosn, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia) called When the ‘native cat’ would ‘plague’: historical hyperabundance in the quoll (Marsupialia : Dasyuridae) and an assessment of the role of disease, cats and foxes in its curtailment (27). This is the abstract - From an extensive review of historical material, primarily newspaper accounts, we collated >2700 accounts of quolls. We discovered 36 accounts that demonstrate the propensity for quolls to become hyperabundant. The geographical distribution of accounts implies that most refer to Dasyurus viverrinus...More than 110 accounts demonstrate that disease/parasite epizootics occurred in south-eastern Australia, commencing on mainland Australia possibly in the goldfields region of Victoria in the 1850s, or in south-eastern South Australia and south-western Victoria in the mid to late 1860s, and implicate these as the initial primary factor in the regional extirpation of Australia’s quolls. The loss of D. viverrinus populations in south-eastern Australia was reportedly from population abundances and densities that were sporadically extraordinarily high, hence their loss appears more pronounced than previously suspected. Accounts describing the widespread, rapid and major loss of quolls suggest the possible involvement of several pathogens. Ectoparasites such as Uropsylla tasmanica and ticks appear to be described in detail in some accounts. A few others state comortality of Felis catus and Canis lupus familiaris, suggestive of a disease of either or both of these species, such as Canine Distemper Virus, a morbillivirus with a propensity to be non-host specific, that may have caused the decline of the quolls, perhaps vectored by the reported ectoparasites.... Read the full report, here.

The researchers conclude - We emphasise that disease should receive as much focus as the conventional explanatory factors of predation and habitat loss. It would appear then that the book Early Days of Berwick which suggested in 1948 that the native cat appeared to contract some form of epidemic presented a plausible explanation for the demise of the quoll.

Trove list
I have created a list on Trove on articles relating to the 'native cat' in Casey Cardinia region, access it here.

(1) Early Days of Berwick and its surrounding districts: Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North (Berwick Pakenham Historical Society), 3rd edition.
(2) Early Days of Berwick, p. 18.
(3) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(4) Department of Environment and Heritage Quolls of Australia fact sheet, see here
(5) The Argus, October 9, 1872, see here.
(6) The Australasian, April 24, 1880, see here.
(7) The Argus, April 21, 1886, see here.
(8) The Age, October 24, 1884, see here.
(9) Geelong Advertiser, October 20, 1884, see here. The Leader of October 25, 1884 also has an account of the tragic story, see here.
(10) West Gippsland Gazette, February 7, 1899, see here.
(11) Mudgee Guardian, January 31, 1907, see here.
(12) Sydney Mail December 18, 1912, see here.
(13) The Australasian, August 24, 1940, see here.
(14) The Immigrants Home, read about it here on the eMelbourne. 
(15) The Argus, October 4, 1910, see here.
(16) The Herald, April 15, 1926, see here.
(17) The Argus, June 16, 1956, see here.
(18) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(19) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(20) I have written about a furrier, Mrs Mary Jane Gardner and the many types of fur she used in her business in my Victoria's Past: Rescued and Retold blog, here.
(21) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(22) County of Mornington - For Land Administration purposes Victoria was divided into Counties and then into Parishes – all of the City of Casey and nearly all of the Cardinia Shire is in the County of Mornington. Some of the Cardinia Shire north of Emerald, may be County of Evelyn.  The Mornington Peninsula, Bass Coast and Phillip Island are also part of the County of Mornington. You can see a map here
(23) The Australasian, July 29 1905, see here.
(24) The Australasian, April 13, 1918, see here.
(25) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(26) The Australasian, August 24, 1940, see here.
(27) Read the full research paper, here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Identical Post Offices - Pakenham East and Elwood

In our last blog post we looked at the Berwick Post Office which was identical to two other Post Offices built in Victoria in the 1880s, Murtoa and Donald. You can read this post here. In this post we will look at two other identical Post Offices, both of which opened in 1925 - Pakenham East and Elwood.

Pakenham East Post Office, 1920s
State Library of Victoria Image H89.105/186

This was the fourth Post Office in Pakenham, or Pakenham East as it was then called. The Back to Pakenham souvenir booklet from 1951 tell us that the post office for Pakenham was originally at the railway station. It moved to the site of what is now Mr J. Lia's butcher's shop , then to the site occupied by the cafe next to the picture theatre, and thence to the present site (1). The building was in Main Street, where the existing (the fifth) Post Office is today. The original Pakenham township was on the Princes Highway near Bourke's Hotel on the Toomuc Creek and the Pakenham East township developed around the railway station which opened in October 1877. There was much confusion between the towns, as this article  from 1912, belows, tells us.

Confusion between the Pakenham and Pakenham East Post Offices

Great confusion occurs in regard to the post offices here. The Pakenham Post-office is situated 1½ miles from the Pakenham railway station while the post-office at the railway end is called East Pakenham. Nearly the whole of the business people reside at East Pakenham. The shire buildings and public hall are also there. During one week over 600 letters addressed to Pakenham belonged to Pakenham East. The postmistress at the latter office has just been notified that £10 per annum is to be taken from her salary and given to the other office for the purpose of carrying the mail to and from the station.

It wasn't just the Post Offices which were rivals as in the early days there was keen rivalry between the 'old' and 'new' towns. Happily that feeling gradually faded away with the passing of the years, With the steady expansion of building along the Highway, Pakenham and Pakenham East are today to all intents and purposes the one town - geographically and in outlook (2). This was written in 1962 and the use of name of Pakenham East faded from the 1970s (3). The Post Office building was demolished in the 1990s (4). 

This photo from the 1980s shows the Post Office when it was called 
Pakenham, with the postcode 3810. 

The identical Post Office that was built at Pakenham East was, as we said, the fourth building there, but in Elwood, it was their first Post Office. The locals had been agitating for  a few years for a Post Office (5) and in 1923 land was purchased on the corner of Glenhuntly road and The Broadway, Elwood for the building (6). It is interesting that Elwood and Pakenham East both had the same Post Office because at the time Elwood had a much larger and growing population. In October 1923,  the Mayor of St Kilda, Cr Allen,  had spoken of the need for a Post Office in the area because  in nine years the population of Elwood had increased from 5,509 to 9,469, and the number of houses from 1,339 to 2,608....At present the nearest post-office to Elwood was more than a mile away, many residents had to pay porterage on their telegrams. It was estimated that at least 2,100 houses would be served by the proposed post-office (7) Compare this to Pakenham East which had a population in 1921 of  324 people and Pakenham of 608. Even twelve years later in 1933, Pakenham East's population was 850 and the old town of Pakenham was 406, still many times less than Elwood's population (8).

The tenders for the  construction of the  Pakenham East and Elwood Post Offices were advertised in April 1925.

Tenders are invited for the erection of the Elwood and Pakenham East Post Offices.

The Elwood Post Office
Image: The History of St Kilda from its first settlement to a City and after, 1840 - 1930, v. 2 (9).

The contract for the Pakenham East Post Office was awarded to the builders, Cant & Bennett of Footscray on May 6, 1925 and it was to be completed by  August 26, 1925. The cost was £2,330. The Elwood Post Office tender was awarded to W. Simmins of Auburn on April 27, 1925, the completion date was September 14, 1925 and cost was £1,835. 

Contracts accepted for a number of projects including the Pakenham East and Elwood Post Offices. 
Click on this link to see the original document on Trove.
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, June 4, 1925

There were issues with place names for Pakenham and Pakenham East, as even in 1912 people were addressing letters to Pakenham which should have been addressed to Pakenham East. Pakenham East people seemed to be content with their Pakenham address; though the erection of the Post Office in Elwood had the opposite effect, and was the source of some consternation.

The Age reported in November 1925 that  Residents of South St. Kilda are at present up in arms against the proposal of the Post Office to include portion of their district, from the Elwood Canal to Dickens-street, in the new postal district of Elwood. To consider the matter a meeting of nearly a hundred indignant South St. Kilda residents, lasting nearly two hours, hotly debated the proposal at the Congregational Hall, Mitford-street, St. Kilda. Cr. Dawkins, in moving a motion of protest, said Elwood was a name associated with a swamp, and no one wanted to live near a place where a swamp formerly existed.  The application of the name to portion of South St. Kilda would cause the value of property there to deteriorate in value (10). In the end the locals were allowed to continue using their South St Kilda address, but the mail came from the new Elwood Post Office (11).  The area is now called Elwood. The Elwood Post Office building is still standing and is used as a cafe.

Elwood Post Office, c. 1920s.
State Library of Victoria Image H89.105/84

Trove list
I have created a short list on Trove of articles relating to the construction of the Pakenham East and Elwood Post Office. Access the list, here.

(1) Back to Pakenham March 3-10, 1951 Souvenir Booklet. The booklet was compiled by W.J. Stephenson on behalf of the 'Back to Pakenham' Committee.
(2) From Bullock Tracks to Bitumen: a brief history of the Shire of Berwick, p. 76-77. This book was published in 1962 by the Historical Society of Berwick Shire.
(3) Use of the name Pakenham East, these two examples of advertising from N. N. Webster, Pakenham Real Estate Agents, who had an office on Main Street tell the story of the use of the name Pakenham East in the 1970s. Source: Newspapers by Ancestry.

The Age March 14, 1970.

The Age February 15, 1975

(4) The Post Office was still there in November 1985 as the aerial below was taken then.

However, by the nineties the corporatised Post Office was in the business of leasing back Post Offices rather than building a community facility. The advertisement from September 1997 tells us that the Post Office was now in 'Pakenham Post Office Arcade' which is on the site of the 1925 building, so it had been demolished by then.

The Age September 20, 1997
Source: Newspapers by Ancestry.

(5) The Herald, October 2, 1923, see here.
(6) The Herald, October 11, 1923, see here.
(7) Prahran Telegraph, October 19, 1923, see here.
(8) Pakenham and Pakenham East population figures from the Victorian Places website
(9)  Cooper, John Butler The History of St Kilda from its first settlement to a City and after, 1840 - 1930v. 2 (City of St Kilda, 1931), photo is opposite page 116. Thank you to my fellow historian, Isaac Hermann, for supplying me with the photograph. I was looking through this book for research on a story on another blog  I have, Victoria's Past - rescued and retold and I saw this photo of the Elwood Post Office and immediately recognised it as the twin of Pakenham East.
(10) The Age November 18, 1925, see here.
(11) The Prahran Telegraph, December 11, 1925, see here.