Monday, 27 July 2015

Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook line or the Puffing Billy Railway line

Puffing Billy is one of Victoria's most popular tourist attractions and is also one of the most popular tourist railways in the world, it has around 350,000 visitors each year. You can read all about Puffing Billy activities and access the time table on their website http://puffingbilly.com.au/  - the website also tells you how you can become  a volunteer with Puffing Billy - they have over 1,000 volunteers who undertake  a range of roles. 

The Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook line opened on December 19, 1900, closed in 1954 and re-opened as a tourist railway 1955 to 1958 and then  re-opened again  in July 1962 and had been going strong ever since. You can read more of the history here. Puffing Billy starts at Belgrave, the next stop is Menzies Creek and the other four stops - Emerald, Lakeside, Cockatoo and Gembrook  are in the Cardinia Shire, so here is look at some historic photos of the Puffing Billy or Free Tree Gully and Gembrook line as it was first called, from the State Library of Victoria photograph collection.


View of encampment near railway line, possibly Gembrook. This photo has Gembrook inscribed in pencil on the back and was possibly taken during the construction of the line, late 1890s.
Max Thomson Collection, State Library of Victoria Image H2013.70/9


Gembrook, c 1900
State Library of Victoria Image H35215/27


A new railway line, a new opportunity for pranksters! This photo is called 
'Accident - Gembrook railway - a joke' Photographer: Mark James Daniel. Dated August 26, 1900.
State Library of Victoria Image H92.200/359


Railway Station, Gembrook, c, 1900
State Library of Victoria Image H35215/26


Gembrook Train, c. 1900
State Library of Victoria Image H35215/25


Railway line, Gembrook, c. 1907
State Library of Victoria Image H41019


Steam train dropping off passengers, Clematis Station, c. 1910s. This station was called Paradise Valley when it opened in 1902, the name was shortened to Paradise in 1908. The area was known as Paradise until 1921 when a public meeting voted to change the name to Clematis, after the wild clematis creeper that grew prolifically in the area. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2009.29/85


Gembrook Train, Victoria, c. 1912. This is a great photo - the women in their lovely hats, the interesting hand tinting of the photo, the lack of cars which is a reminder of the days when most people walked to all local activities.
State Library of Victoria Image H84.414/11


Railway Station, Gembrook.
 Date range listed is 1920s to mid 1950s.
Rose Series postcard, State Library of Victoria Image H32492/2159


The narrow gauge train, Cockatoo.
Date range listed is 1920s to mid 1950s.
Rose Series postcard, State Library of Victoria Image H32492/2165


Puffing Billy, 1950s. Photograph is dated at SLV as 1950-1954, but this may be taken between 1955 and 1958 when it first ran as a tourist line.  Photographer: Percy Spiden
State Library of Victoria Image H2008.121/51


Lakeside Station. Lakeside opened 1944, but this looks like it was taken late 1950s or early 1960s.
 I wonder who these people are?
State Library of Victoria Image H2010.137/17


Greetings from, Emerald Lake, c. 1976
State Library of Victoria Image H41350

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Yannathan State School re-union November 28, 1964.

This is an account of a reunion, held November 28 1964,  of pupils who attended Yannathan State School. It is an interesting list of names and surprisingly for the time includes the women's maiden names and married names and, as it also has a few snippets of Yannathan history, it is a valuable source of family and local history. We don't have very much about Yannathan on this blog, so I have transcribed the article for you.

Koo-Wee-Rup Sun, December 2, 1964.


Big crowd enjoy reunion at Yannathan

Every pioneer family who selected land in the Yannathan area was represented by one or more of their children at a get-together of ex-pupils at the at the Yannathan State School last Saturday afternoon.

The re-union was held for pupils who had attended the school in the 1900 to 1914 period. Over 150 former pupils and friends attended the occasion coming from many areas as far away as N.S.W.

The oldest scholar was Mr Joe Smethurst of Melbourne who is 84 and attended the school 77 years ago.

Original school buildings
The school building was built 88 years ago in 1876 and except for a few new windows the present school is the original building. It was originally built near the site of the present Yannathan store and moved to its present site about 1890. 
Beautifully cut, trim lawns and gardens provided a delightful setting for the occasion. The school and grounds had been prepared by the head teacher, Mr Palmer, assisted by Peter Aldrick.

After the picnic lunch, old pupils who had not seen each other for years swapped yarns and recalled incidences from their old school days at Yannathan. So busy were the old friends chatting together that there was hardly time for any formal speeches, however a former pupil, Mr Norman Ridgway of Yea, moved a vote of thanks to the organisers on behalf of all the visitors. This was seconded by Mr Harry Smethurst of Athlone.

Old timers recalled how pupils came many miles to attend the Yannathan School, some walking from Bayles and Yallock, while others rode ponies from Monomeith and Caldermeade. In its hey day there were 62 pupils on the roll at the school and many at the re-union expressed amazement at how they ever fitted into the tiny school.

Her father opened the first Yannathan store
One of the ex-pupils at the afternoon was Mrs Liddle of East Malvern, formerly Vida Nelson, whose father, the late William Nelson, opened the first general store in Yannathan in the 1870s, on the site where the present store stands today.

The fist mail run
Another visitor, Mr Norman Ridgway of Yea is the brother of Walter Ridgway who delivered the first mail run in the Yannathan district. Travelling by horse and jinker the mail came from Monomeith to the Yannathan Post Office and onto Heath Hill.

Another old timer at the re-union was Mrs Willis of Oakleigh, formerly Annie Smethurst, aged 79. The youngest pupil at the afternoon was Mrs Howlett of Glenroy, formerly Crissie McKay The oldest mother at the gathering was 86 year old Mrs Mark Ridgway of Frankston who was presented with a gift by Mr Norman Ridgway.   To conclude the re-union afternoon tea was provided by the Yannathan Mothers Club, followed by the singing of Old Lang Syne.

Amongst old scholars present were: Elsie Anderson (Mrs Stewart, Sandringham); Annie Orchard (Mrs Bateson, Archies Creek); George Beer (Blackburn); Ted Cozens (Monomeith); Millie Casey (Mrs Chandler, Dandenong); Bert Coates (Mathoura, N.S.W); Eardley Coates (Koo-Wee-Rup); Jessie Coates (Mrs Wadsley, Koo-Wee-Rup); Ruth Carson (Mrs Clarke, Templestowe); Dorothy Carson (Mrs Adeney, Sandingham); Les Edey (Yarram); Claude Einsiedel (Koo-Wee-Rup); Vic Lineham (Deniliquin); Ruby Lineham (Yannathan); Elsie McCraw (Mrs Greaves, Croydon); Gladys McCraw (Mrs Greaves, Kyabram); Ethel McKay (Mrs Wilson, Box Hill); Maggie McKay (Mrs Bowman, Glen Alvie); Myrtle McKay (Mrs Grayson, Ashburton); Pearl McKay (Mrs Trewin, Archies Creek); Chrissie McKay (Mrs Howlett, Glenroy); Claude McKay (Glen Alvie); Edie Matthews (Mrs E. Dwyer, Koo-Wee-Rup); Frank McCraw (Yannathan); Dorothy McLeod (Mrs Head, Yannathan);  Harry Hawkins (Warragul); Jessie Hawkins (Mrs Collins, Warragul); Marjorie Hawkins (Mrs Rhodes, Warragul); Maud Leeson (Mrs Crispin, Kew); Alf Leeson (Lang Lang); Ted Leeson (Longwarry); John Orchard (Inverloch); Rich Orchard (Almurta); Dave Orchard (Glen Alvie); Mavis Patullo (Mrs M.McCraw, Yannathan); Silvia Patullo (Mrs Greaves, Bairnsdale); Norman Ridgway (Yea); Vera Ridgway (Frankston); Tom Hatty (Yannathan); Ruby Stephens (Mrs Thompson, Bayles); Vida Nelson (Mrs Liddle, East Malvern); Joe Smethurst (Melbourne); Annie Smethurst (Mrs Willis, Oakleigh); Herb Smethurst (Blackburn); Harry Smethurst (Athlone); Myrtle Smethurst (Caulfield); Clarrie Smethurst (Mlebourne); Nita Smethurst (Mrs Gardiner, Mooroolbark); Jessie Wright (Mrs Luke, Mornington); Nellie Wright (Mrs McFadgen, Moorabbin); Alice Wright (Mrs Pither, McKinnon); George Wright (Shepparton East); Arthur Wright (Shepparton East): Dick Wakenshaw (Cora Lynn).

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Your Council - 100 years ago - Shire of Berwick

This is a report form the Dandenong Advertiser of July 1, 1915 about the Shire of Berwick Meeting held on June 19, 1915. What were rate payers concerned about? Basically roads and drains.  






Dandenong Advertiser of July 1, 1915


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Duck pond at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre at Narre Warren

As many of you are aware, the City of Casey is building Bunjil Place at the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre at Narre Warren. This is a 125 million dollar project and will house the Council Offices, the Library, an Exhibition space, 800 seat theatre and an Art Gallery and amongst other community facilities. You can read about Bunjil Place here http://bunjilplace.com.au/project

Many people have asked about the duck pond which was a feature on the corner of Magid Drive and the Princes Highway. Sadly, the duck pond has now gone, the new Complex will be built over it, but I sure that the ducks have all safely moved on to other ponds in the area.There has also been some discussion about how long the duck pond has been in existence. 


This is  a 1979 photograph of Magid Drive and the Princes Highway and there is no duck pond. I also have a similiarily dated aerial which confirms this. The photos below were taken in 1993 and 1994 and the pond looks well established, so the best date I can come up with at the moment for the establishment of the duck pond is 1980s.

So, here is  a nostalgic look at the dear, late departed duck pond, play ground and Rotary Club BBQ shelter.


Duck pond, December 30 1993


A majestic pelican with his duck friends. May 17, 1994.


The ducks on  October 28, 1994


The Rotary Club BBQ shelter, October 28 1994, looking across to the Civic Centre.


Here are two photos of the playground - taken December 1993 (above) and undated but around the same time, below.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

That haven under the hills: memoirs of Yallock Village 1928-1940 by Freda Thomas


The Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society has a small booklet written by Freda Thomas about her time spent living in Yallock.  Yallock was a settlement based around Finck's Road, O'Brien's Road, School Road and Hall Road  - the use of the name Yallock began to decline after the Bayles Railway Station opened in 1922 and the area is now known as Bayles. The Thomas family - father Wallace, mother Louise and daughter Freda, had been living on a farm in Caldermeade when, due to the Depression, the landlord had to sell the farm so the family had to move and they began searching for a property. What follows are some of Freda’s memories. This has been transcribed it in the same manner that it was written. 

‘There’s a fifty acre farm for lease at Yallock Village’, said Uncle Tony Pellissier, who then lived near the Yallock Creek on the Koo-wee-Rup Swamp.

The said property was situated on O’Briens Road, near the Yallock Hall, advised Mr Albert Woodman, Land Agent in Koo-Wee-Rup township.

We motored out to inspect the farm and assess the possibilities in August 1928.

Yes, there it was, almost square in survey with surface fall to the back - creek direction to roadside frontage - a 5 roomed weatherboard house with a high 'snow thrown’ corrugated iron roof and surrounded by an orchard of ‘mixed’ fruit trees. Further to explore big hay and milking sheds.

Acreage expanse also boasted 4 ironbark gum trees and 2 small conifers for shade and a boxthorn hedge for a windbreak. Mid farm an antique windmill delivered waterstream from a bore. Pasture was poor - weeds mostly as the land had been ploughed in an attempt to grow root crops (potatoes)

Strangely, at a distance of half a kilometre the soil changes to a famous ‘swamp peat strip’, where many greatly productive potato crops were later grown. This was heavy clay soil and proved to be unsuitable for cultivation but with appropriate drainage and planned attention to topsoil would be ideal for growth of rye grass and clovers. As my parents intended to pursue dairy farming this would be suitable ground cover.

After much parental discussion and deliberation -  ‘this farm is exactly what we need’ said my father - the one who made decisions - and he proved to be so right.

We moved into ‘Avalon Park’ on 6th October 1928. It was a beautiful spring day and as we gazed at the distant blue hills forming a half loop around the area, we were positive that we found our ‘Haven under the hills’.

I, Freda May, soon settled in at the local school, about 30 pupils.

One schoolroom for all grades and one teacher, at that time Mr Harry Stride. He and his wife lived in the adjacent schoolhouse. The land block was about 2 acres in area and included playing area with tennis courts (2) shelter shed and a  pony paddock (as many scholars travelled to school on horseback)  Later teachers were Mr William Wilson and Thomas Dunne - temporary teacher was F.H Duffy.


Yallock State School, 1933
Photograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection


Local social areas also included a Large Public Hall with Soldiers Memorial Hall (1914-1918)  attached (big hall later removed to Bayles), the Anglican Church (St Saviours) a Methodist Church and the Yallock Village Post Office was housed in a room at the home of Mr Richard Games.  ‘Post Office’ was identified by a large red Posting Box at the gate - but in my memory always housed a hive of very active bees!!

School, Hall, Churches and Post Office were all situated some distances apart - School on School Road, Hall on Hall Road, Anglican Church on Games Lane and Methodist Church on Hall Road, half a mile from the Hall.

As a child I never could see the reason for this spread of buildings except to believe early settlers had expected a great city to develop in the years ahead. Later it was revealed that the donations of land by various settlers had dictated the building sites.

My parents soon went about their plans and endeavour to improve our farm buildings and pasture and establish a profitable way of life, erstwhile wresting with attendant economic problems of the times which were many and extreme

We soon began to meet and know our neighbours and local community. As it was a farming area we had all in common with shared problems. Very few people had cars, a few Fords and Chevrolets (4 cylinder jobs - indestructible engines) soft tops (£190 to purchase; petrol  29c per gallon.)

Horse drawn jinkers, bicycles or even walking was the general rule for visiting or business trips.

Meeting grounds socially were at Church or local hall. The latter being venue of bi-monthly Euchre Party (cards) and Dance (old -time!) or Christmas tree annual celebration. These occasions were organised by the ladies of the Church Guild or School Mothers Club and caused great excitement. Everyone attended; all ages came to enjoy the time spent together.

People visited from Catani, Bayles, Yannathan and Koo-Wee-Rup but it was evident that a definite Yallock Community existed. Those included came from an easily defined areas of about 50 farms.



 Yallock State School. It closed in the 1970s or 1980s and I believe the building has been demolished.
Photograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection

Friday, 8 May 2015

General Motors Holden - aerial photographs

Here are aerial photographs of the General Motors Holden (GMH) plant in Dandenong.  The factory opened in 1956, I don't have an exact date, even though I like to know these things. The factory was in the old Shire of Berwick and along with the neighbouring International Harvester plant and Heinz factory had an immediate impact on the area.  The factories required workers and even though a Railway Station was built for GMH and opened in the October or November of 1956, it was good if there was a pool of workers living close by, thus Doveton was established  as a suburb in 1954 by the Victorian Housing Commission. The factory also accelerated development in Hallam, Hampton Park and Cranbourne from where people could drive to work and park in the 1,000 space car park.


Aerial view of International Harvester, Heinz and General Motors Holden. 
Photographer: Charles Daniel Pratt. State Library has it dated as pre-1960. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2008.41/43. 



GMH, December 27, 1963.


General Motors Holden, 1964.  Photographer: Wolfgang Sievers. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2004.49/6  


General Motors Holden, taken January 13, 1965. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2014.1008/11. 



This was taken in 1970 and shows the Princes Highway, Kays Avenue and the factory on the right, with the Railway behind it.


Another 1970 aerial, showing  Kays Avenue and Doveton Avenue with the Princes Highway and the GMH factory.


This aerial, dated January 23, 1974, shows The GMH factory, backing onto the Railway line. The road on the right is the yet to be constructed South Gippsland Freeway (I believe that this is what the Eumemmerring by-pass continuation was called)


This is also January 23, 1974 and shows the factory to the left of the South Gippsland Freeway.



January 1978. In the four years on from the previous aerial, there has been more housing development and the South Gippsland Freeway has been constructed.


 GMH, taken January 20, 1981. GMH is shown between the Princes Highway and the Railway line. The South Gippsland Highway is at the bottom left.


May 4, 1994. GMH is at the bottom to the left. Industrial development has taken place to the right of the South Gippsland Highway.


This was taken the same day, as above (May 4, 1994) GMH is centre top. Hampton Park is on the right. The industrial Dandenong South is on the left.


This is from 1996, GMH is in the centre.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Lions of Berwick

There are two lions near the War Memorial in the centre of High Street in Berwick, In 2009 Jim Mynard wrote an article in the Pakenham Gazette about the lions. He had been in contact with Mrs Janice Digby-Beste from Queensland. Mrs Digby-Beste said her husband's great grandmother, Ellen Trestrail, paid 5000 pounds to have them made in New Zealand in the 1880s. They were then shipped to Melbourne and placed outside their house at 181 Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park.


Berwick War Memorial, High Street, June 1986. 
You can see one of the lions to the left of the Memorial.

The lions were a yellowish colour and were thought to be oamaru. They were in Middle Park until the family home was sold in 1961. The lions were sold for 100 pounds by Ellen Trestail's then elderly daughter-in-law to what sounds like  a smooth talking stranger, so they went out of the family and the family had no idea where they went. The  statues were painted white when they were in Berwick.

Brentwood gates, Clyde Road, Berwick
Photographer: John T. Collins. Photo date June 22, 1968. 
State Library of Victoria Image H90.100/1962   

The lions were placed at the front gate of Brentwood farm on Clyde Road in Berwick by the owner, Henry Wells Rowden, who possibly purchased them from man who purchased them from the Trestrails.  Rowden purchased Brentwood in 1962. In the late 1970s  the Brentwood Housing Estate on the Rowden land was started and  the lions were moved to High Street from Brentwood  around 1985.


This is an aerial of the Brentwood area taken January 9, 1978. You can see the Brentwood farm  property at bottom left, sadly we can't see the lions, and the start of Bermasyde Drive. Click on image to enlarge.


Here's a later aerial dated May 4, 1994. Bermasyde Drive is almost around to Brentwood farm. There has been a lot of development in the 16 years, and it was about this time that the lions were re-located to High Street.