Friday, 9 December 2016

Harkaway Lutheran Chuch

I wanted to find out about Lutheran Church at Harkaway so I started with one of my key resources for the history of the area  Early Days of Berwick and its surrounding districts and this (inter alia) is what the book said about the Church -
In 1869 it was decided to erect a school building. Under the guidance of builders Weise and Mayer, the settlers built a substantial weatherboard building more generally known as the German Church. On weekdays this served as a Church and on Sundays, a Church..... Because the school was  to be also used as a church, a bell was erected bear the building in 1869.....The earliest known Lutheran Pastor was Mattias Goethe, whose signature appears on the early marriage certificates. Then came Pastor Herlitz, who was suceeded by Pastor Schramm. Rev Hermann Herlitz was Pastor of the Lutheran Church at Melbourne and head of the Lutheran General Synod of Victoria.....At Harkaway during the Pastor's  absences the service swere conducted by  Dr G. Wanke. His son, the late Immanuel, acted as organist. (Early Days of Berwick, 3rd revised edition, 1979)



This photo of the Lutheran Church and bell tower is from Early Days of Berwick, 3rd revised edition, 1979.

This didn't tell me when the Church was demolished, neither did one of my other key resources In the Wake of the Pack Tracks, so I emailed Lyn Bradley, President of the Narre Warren & District Family History Group to see if the Group had any information on the Church and she sent me back a great document from 1935,  that they have in their Research Room. We don't know who wrote the article or where it was first published but it did tell us about the closure of  the Church  -   In later years due to many changes, the church in which the early settlers took such an active interest was closed. The organ was sold in 1912 and the building disposed of for removal -  so I assume the closure date was 1912 or a bit earlier and the building removed about the same time  - however there is more about the closing date below. The following is what the document had to say about the Church -

On December 11 1869 the local members of the Lutheran Church, desirous of erecting a church building secured a site having a frontage of 100 feet to Hessell's Road. The land was purchased  from the late Dr E.Wanke for the sum of 1 pound. Five trustees were elected, namely Messrs Louis Linsing, Ernest Hillbrick, John Fritzlaff, Heinrich Edebohis and Peter Erdman. As a result of a combined effort the church members erected a building which fulfilled the dual purpose of church and State school. By voluntary subscripion a bell was obtained, its weight being 210 lbs and its pleasing tone was the pride of the pioneers.  For many years Pastor Herliz (whose son, Dr Herliz, lives at Cheltenham) made the journey from Melbourne to conduct the services. He was very popular and the services were always well attended. In those days the late Mr I.G Wanke was one of those who presided at the organ.

The late Jacob Hessell conducted school for some time until transferred to the present school building.

On July 6 1882 five new trustees were appointed, Messrs Jacob Hessell, John Fritzlaff, Rudolph Halleur, August Dubburke and Rudolph Anderson. In later years due to many changes, the church in which the early settlers took such an active interest was closed. The organ was sold in 1912 and the building disposed of for removal. Two cypress trees that were planted many years ago by the late  Goulob Aurisich,   are still growing on the site. At the  special request of the then two remaining pioneers, the  late  I.G Wanke and R Anderson, the bell was retained, and being close to the cemetery. it is tolled on the occasion of funerals, and is always rung on New Years Eve.  Those interested having passed away the site was developed into a 'no mans land'.Consequently, on  on February 25, 1935 a public meeting was held in the local hall. Cr D Boyd presiding, and those members of the Lutheran Church who attended appointed three trustees for the site Messrs H.I Wanke, J.W Nicol and H. C Weist. Mr Wanke is chairman and Mr Weist secretary and treasurer. On Saturday last, June 8. the new trustees entered into possession to carry out out their duties

Emulating John Batman, who had 100 years ago turned the turf with  atwig on the bamsk of the Merri Creek, the chairman turned the turf on the site, but with a spade, and each trustee planted a tree to commemorate the occasion. The bell was removed, and the dangerous tower pulled down  after a service of more than 60 years. Thanks to the generous spirit of Mr Nicol and several other enthusiasts, material and labour is to be provided for a new tower fro the bell which, it is hoped, will ring out the old and welcome in the New Year for many years to come.  

The Bell Tower was officially opened on December 28 1935.



This is a report on the election of the Church Trustees as reported in the document, above.
Dandenong Journal March 7 1935

We have found this snippet of information in the Berwick Shire Council report in the Pakenham Gazette in 1917 (see below) which refers to the 'old Lutheran Church'  so this presents two possibilities - the Church building was still there in 1917 and hadn't been removed or else the site was locally known as the 'old Lutheran Church' even though the building did not exist.  


Pakenham Gazette June 8 1917

To throw another possibility into the mix the Narre Warren & District Family History Group also have a copy of  the Harkaway Cemetery: a brief history* in which an historic overview of Harkaway was written by Val Exell on September 29, 2000.  Mrs Exell writes this about the Church - On this site the belfry and the Lutheran Church were built in 1869, the bell coming from Germany. Until destroyed by fire the building was used for school on weekdays and Church on Sundays and closed in 1912. So the 1912 closure date is confirmed but Mrs Exell says the building was burnt down and not 'disposed of for removal'  

In the end whether the Church building was burnt down or removed (or possibly both) it doesn't really matter but I was a bit surprised that the Church closed as early as 1912 given the prevalence of the German ancestry amongst the Harkaway settlers, but the building was 43 years old by then and the Harkaway Hall was only three years old (it opened on June 9, 1909) so this would have been an alternate gathering place. 


This photo of the Church is from Oak Trees and Hedges:  a pictorial history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway (published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society in 2002)

*Harkaway Cemetery: a brief history was created through a Work for the Dole program and published in 2001 by the Peninsula Training and Employment Program Inc.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Start of the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre

These fourteen photos are labelled 'the start of the Fountain Gate  Shopping Centre' They were taken by a now unknown City of Berwick staff member and show, as the name suggests, the start of the construction of the Shopping Centre.  The Fountain Gate Shopping Centre was opened on March 11, 1980 by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Winneke, so these photos were most likely taken early 1979.


This is the view looking back towards the Civic Centre, which was officially opened on December 8, 1978, also by Sir Henry Winneke. Sir Henry was the Governor of Victoria from June 1974 until March 1982.


Another view looking towards the Civic Centre


Another view to the Civic Centre - there is the double storey section and what looks a bit like a colonnade on the right is section that faces the carpark on the Library side, you can see it better in the photo, below.



Similar views as above.


This is taken from the verandah on the east side of the Civic Centre, looking north.


I believe this is a view to the houses in the Fountain Gate Housing Estate on the west side of the Centre, possibly Raven Court or Fountain Drive and Summerlea Road, looking over what would be the Max Pawsey Reserve.



I believe this is looking north towards the transmission line that runs parallel to Brundrett Road in Narre Warren North


A nice row of pine (or are they cypress?)  trees - is it the same one as in the shot above? In the aerial below from January 9 1978 there are a few hedges of pines or cypress, not sure which one this is.


This is aerial of the Civic Centre (centre of photo)  and the Fountain Gate Housing Estate (top left of photo)  was taken January 9, 1978. I've included it here to see if it will help me get some orientation on the photos, hasn't really helped but it might help you. It does however show the landscape before the shopping centre was constructed. The building on the right of the Civic Centre is the Brechin Homestead, built in 1937 and demolished around 1990. You can read about it here.


I feel that this is looking north towards Narre Warren North


I think this is looking west to the Fountain Gate Housing Estate and Tinks Road


This is what became Magid Drive looking towards the Princes Highway


Looking west and the one below is looking south west. The trucks are an International Loadstar and an International Acco - both would have been made at the International Harvester Factory at Dandenong.



Friday, 18 November 2016

Flood - July 29 1987

These photographs were taken by the City of Berwick on July 29 1987


Beaconsfield Park showing the flooded Cardinia Creek. The Beaconsfield Park sign was erected in 1939 and refurbished and reinstalled in 2011 (it was then stolen and a new sign was made. I believe the old sign has just been found and that specific people living locally are 'helping police with their enquiries' )


Beaconsfield Upper Road


Beaconsfield - end of Adamson Street, looking west over Cardinia Creek and the Edrington property


Beaconsfield - Soldiers Road, north up the Cardinia Creek.


Hallam - Eumemmerring Creek looking east from end of George Avenue. 


Hallam - Eumemmerring Creek looking west from end of George Avenue.


Hallam - Gunns Road looking north to James Cook Drive and Hallam North Road. The photos were labelled in red texta, which was good as we know what they are, but the downside is that the texta has marked other photos. 


Hallam Road North looking west.


Hallam Road North looking south west.


Hallam Road North looking south to Belgrave-Hallam Road


Hallam Road North, Eumemmerring Creek looking east.


Hallam Road South, east side, looking south to the Railway line. Hallam Station is on the far right


Hallam Road South, east side, looking south to the railway line. This adjoins the photo above,


Ovals near Fountain Gate Shopping Centre and the retarding basin.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Gold Mining in Beaconsfield and Berwick region

The Berwick Beaconsfield area was once the location of gold fields.  What do we know about this gold discovery? The Early Days of Berwick (first published in 1948) had this to say about the subject  There were numerous gold mining companies about this time in 1870. To mention two, there were the Berwick Amalgamated Quartz Mining Co. and Happy-Go-Lucky Gold and Quartz Mining Company. As they brought numerous cases before the Court for non-payment of calls they could not have been too payable. In later years I heard my father speaking of another gold mining show in the district called the Go Bung which did not had a  very promising name to say the least of it. (This is from page 22)

This is also from The Early Days of Berwick   In even earlier days it is interesting to note that that the population of Beaconsfield exceeded that of  Berwick no doubt due to the gold mining activities carried out in Beaconsfield.... The gold mining was carried out in gullies named Mayfields, Walkers, Sailors and Haunted Gullies. An explanation of the latter being so named was said to be due to a miner wandering about the bush in the nude and appearing ghost like to his mates who were more or less in a similar condition of inebriation. (This is from page 115) Haunted Gully is now part of the Beaconsfield Reservoir.

This is what it says in the In the Wake of the Pack Tracks book
In 1872 H.J Valentine found gold south of Beaconsfield Upper in the Haunted Gully, now covered by Beaconsfield Reservoir. Prospecting was also carried out in Mayfield Gully to the east and Sailors and Welcome Gullies to the west. At one time over 200 miners were reported to be working in the locality. However yields were small and not payable  and no mother lode located (This is from page 57)

Also from In the Wake of the Pack Tracks (page 54)
For a time gangs of Chinese diggers, many wearing pigtails arrived at the Beaconsfield Railway station by the first train on Mondays and walked in single file up the Chinaman’s track (Bowman’s track) to the Haunted Gully diggings in Upper Beaconsfield.

The Berwick Amalgamated  Quartz Mining Company was registered on July 23, 1866 and as you can see from the notice in the Government Gazette, below, there were many familiar  local 'names' as shareholders - John Brisbane, Robert Bain, James Gibb, William and Ralph Brunt to name  a few.

Victoria Government Gazette July 27, 1866


The Happy-Go-Lucky Gold and Quartz Mining Company was registered on April 26, 1869. The General Meeting of the Company was held in January at Souter's Gippsland Hotel at Beaconsfield where William Brisbane, James Gibb, S.W Brooke, David O'Shea and Charles Souter were elected Directors. You can read an article in the Gippsland Times about this meeting here.

Victoria  Government Gazette April 30, 1869

There seems to have been a few different stages of gold discovery in the area - the establishment of the Mining Companies ( Berwick Amalgamated  Quartz Mining Company and Happy-Go-Lucky Gold and Quartz Mining Company) in the late 1860s, possibly as speculative ventures, then the actual discovery of gold in the region, which according to various reports on Trove was in 1873 and then there was another small gold rush in the early 1890s.

The Argus of June 16 1873 had this to say about the gold discovery in Berwick in 1873 -

The new gold field lately discovered in the ranges near Berwick about 30 miles from Melbourne, has excited some little interest, and new life has been infused by the discovery into the hitherto somewhat dull township. The scene of the operations can be reached without much difficulty. The road as far as Berwick is the main road to GippsLand, and in dry weather presents few difficulties, but in the rainy season some parts of the road are rendered almost impassable. The worst portions of the road are between Oakleigh and Mulgrave, where an attempt has been made to mend the road with clayey mud, the effect being anything but pleasant to travellers. The diggings lie about five miles north-east of the township of Berwick, amongst the spurs of the Dividing Range. The nearest way of reaching the gold-field is from the Gipps Land Hotel, near Kardinia Creek. A track leads from there to the diggings and is easily passable on horseback or on foot, but the steep ranges render the road scarcely suitable for vehicles. The mining operations are confined almost entirely to Haunted Gully and the immediately adjacent gullies. It is about two years since the prospecting for gold was commenced in that locality by some men employed by Mr. C. Wiseheart, of Melbourne, and other persons who were convinced that the country in that direction was auriferous. Some of the gullies were tested, and the result showed that the belief was not ill-founded. A shaft was sunk in Haunted Gully last year by a man named Valentine, and a quantity of washdirt was obtained averaging 6dwt per load. A prospectors' lease of 30 acres in the gully was applied for by Mr. Wiseheart and those who were acting with him, and the ground was pegged out. The news of the discovery however soon spread and in a short time the place was rushed. The ground which had been already secured by Mr Wiseheart was taken up, and in consequence of the difficulties which arose the matter was bought under the notice of the Minister of Mines. A compromise which, according to the nature of compromises, was not considered satisfactory by either side, was effected, and it was decided that Mr. Wiseheart should be allowed to choose 10 acres. He has selected 10 acres in the upper part of the gully, and the remainder of the ground which he applied for has been taken up by the other miners. The foregoing facts show the circumstances which have already transpired in connexion with this new discovery of auriferous country, but a description of the present appearance of the gold-field will doubtless prove of more general interest. You can read the rest of the article here.

There are other articles in the newspapers about the dispute between Mr Wiseheart and the other miners. I have created a list of many of the articles on Trove relating to these goldfields, you can access the list here.

There was also another minor gold discovery in the region in 1893. Clearly as Beaconsfield did not turn into another Ballarat, then the discovery must have also been economically unviable.


The Age May 7 1891

As mentioned before, I  have created a list of many of the articles on Trove relating to these goldfields, you can access the list here.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Bunyip Byways Tourism map

I came across this Bunyip  Byways tourism map the other day. The Bunyip Byways was a joint tourism promotion from the City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire.



Click on the images to enlarge them.

Bunyip Byways was obviously established after December 15 1994 which is when the two Councils officially came into being, but I was unsure of the exact date. However, through the wonders of a Google search,   I came across a reference to it in the Village Bell, Issue 117 from August 1997. The Village Bell is a community newsletter, run by volunteers from the Upper Beaconsfield Association. This newsletter has been produced continuously since July 1978, a remarkable achievement. Not only that, but you can access them all on-line through the Upper Beaconsfield Association website  https://upperbeaconsfield.org.au/

The article by Jo Carter from the August 1997 Village Bell had this to say about the Bunyip Byways project:  You will have noticed the signs Bunyip Byways which have appeared throughout the Shire, signposting the Bunyip Byways Trail. In an endeavour to attract tourists to the area, the Casey Cardinia Tourism Association has drawn up a trail which promotes the many interesting features and places of natural beauty within our communities. The name 'Bunyip' (Buneep) is derived from a local WOONGI (aboriginal) legend of a mystical water-based creature TOO ROO DUN who lived in the great Koo-Wee-Rup swamp. The cost of the Trail has been met by grants from the Federal Department of Tourism, and Casey and Cardinia Councils. The Trail forms a circular route through Berwick, Harkaway, Cardinia Resevoir, Emerald, Cockatoo, Gembrook, Tynong, Bunyip, Garfield, Cora Lynn, Bayles, KooWee-Rup, Tooradin and Cranbourne. There is a Bunyip Byways tourism map available which will assist travellers to find both well known and lesser known places of interest to explore. The Beaconhills Golf Club and the local restaurant Japonica Jelly are noted on the map. And of course we have many walks in Upper Beaconsfield which are not mentioned in the Bunyip Byways Trails. "This area does have significant attractions and natural features," says Ian Hall of the Tourism Centre. "We want visitors to view the wildlife on the edge of the City, walk in the nature reserves and bushland, as well as try the wine, buy the antiques, visit the nurseries, eat the natural produce and relax in the many restaurants and pubs." The article finishes off with some contact details, which I wont list here, as the holders of  the phone numbers may well have changed in the past 20 years.

This edition also had an interesting article about Tasmanian Tigers in Upper Beaconsfield, hence the masthead of the newsletter.   


There is still a Bunyip Byways sign near the Cardinia Reservoir, on Wellington Road, but that's the only one I know, I should take  a photo of it one day to record it for posterity. And congratulations to the Village Bell team at the Upper Beaconsfield Association who have taken the time to not only produce a newsletter for nearly 40 years but to make the interesting local information available to everyone by digitising the editions and putting them on their website.

Friday, 21 October 2016

"Settlers and Sawmills" and Bellbrakes, bullocks and bushmen" - the local timber industry

In this post we will look at two great local histories, both written by Mike McCarthy and published by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia  Settlers and Sawmills: a history of West Gippsland Tramways and the industries they served and Bellbrakes, bullocks and bushmen: a sawmilling and tramway history of Gembrook, 1885 - 1985.

I can't believe that I haven't spoken about these two books before because they are both fantastic local histories - meticulously  researched, great information, great photos, great maps and and they cover one of the very early primary industries in this region - the timber industry. Settlers and Sawmills looks at mills and tramlines at Beaconsfield, Officer, Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon, Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip and then continues down the road to Longwarry, Drouin, Warragul to Trafalgar. Bellbrakes, Bullocks and Bushmen covers Gembrook, Gembrook South and Beenak.

As I said before, apart from farming the timber industry was one of  first industries in this area and it was spurred on by the establishment of the Gippsland Railway line that was opened from Oakleigh to Bunyip in October 1877 and fully opened from Melbourne to Sale by 1879. This provided easy transport access to the Melbourne market which needed timber for houses, fences, fuel etc  Early mills that opened in the Gembrook area originally used this line until the Puffing Billy line or Gembrook line was officially opened on December 18, 1900.

Both Officer and Garfield began as railway sidings for the transport of locally harvested timber and then a settlement grew up around the sidings and the towns developed.

I do have a personal interest in this area of our history because my great grandfather, Horatio Weatherhead, and some of my great uncles, Fred, George, Arthur, Frank and Alf Weatherhead are mentioned in this book. Horatio was granted a 2000 acre (just over 800 hectares) sawmilling area at North Tynong in 1908 and the family moved their timber operations from the Wombat forest at Lyonville in 1909. His sons also operated their own mills and Arthur's sons Roy, Max and Cyril also operated a mill, which was worked solely by Roy until 1979.

The books extensively cover the tramways and the mills but also looks at some family history, railway history and the history of some of the local towns.
You can still buy these books from the  Light Railway Research Society of Australia  or you can borrow them from the library - click on the titles for availability  Settlers and Sawmills: a history of West Gippsland Tramways and the industries they served and Bellbrakes, bullocks and bushmen: a sawmilling and tramway history of Gembrook, 1885 - 1985. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Mount Burnett or Gembrook West - the early days

Mount Burnett is a small town, north of Pakenham Upper and south of Cockatoo and Gembrook. It is known for its Observatory, which was opened by Monash University in the 1970s. When Monash University closed the observatory it was taken over by a small group of  astronomers and it is now a community astronomical observatory. You can read more about it on their website   http://mtburnettobservatory.org/

What else do we know about Mt Burnett?  According to the book From Bullock Tracks to Bitumen: a brief history of the Shire of Berwick (Published by the Berwick Shire Historical Society in 1962) The original Gembrook (which by the way is the only settlement of that name in the world) was thus named on account of the precious gems to be found in the local streams and was mostly  settled from Berwick.....This original settlement is the area to the south and is what was later called West Gembrook and is now known as Mt Burnett.

The present town of Gembrook evolved around the Railway Station when the Puffing Billy or Fern Tree Gully to Gembrook Railway, as it was officially known, opened December 19, 1900. So we know that Mt Burnett was the original town of Gembrook, even though it seems that Upper Gembrook or Gembrook North  developed contemporaneously with West Gembrook. Having said that the term Gembrook West has been used in  newspapers from around 1884, so if it was the original town then it wasn't known as Gembrook for long, as clearly by 1884 it was already 'west' of what they considered to be Gembrook - which may have been around the intersection of Mountain Road and Ure Road as this was where the Gembrook Union Church was opened in 1879. The original Gembrook Post Office opened October 5, 1877.

 The following information about the local schools comes from Vision and Realisation:  a centenary history of State Education in Victoria      The first application for a school at Gembrook West was in 1879, and as you can see by the letter below from The Age, the  parents applied many times for  a school, but State School  No. 3211 did not open until August 9, 1894, with Joseph Morgan as the Head Teacher. The School worked half time with Gembrook South  No. 2155, until it closed just over  a year after it opened on October 31, 1895. This probably indicates that there wasn't much of  a population in the area. Gembrook North State School No. 2506 had started in January 1879 and also worked part time with Gembrook South, No 2155, with the school teacher, Alex Gough riding the 12 miles between the schools on alternate days. Gembrook No. 2506 was made full time in 1883 and is still going so obviously had a larger population base that Gembrook West to sustain a full time school.



The Age January 3, 1890


Gembrook West had another try at obtaining a school, this time in 1920 when the residents sent a petition to the Minister of Education. Vision and Realisation says that four acres were purchased from J.A and W.F Crichton, and the community built the school which opened on October 6,  1921. Once again there were very low numbers and the school officially closed on October 5, 1923 however kept working until the end of the year. The students could attend Gembrook No. 2506 or Cockatoo No. 3535. The land was retained.

The parents of Gembrook West made another attempt to get a school for their children and on July 2 1932 the Mount Burnett School, No 4506,  opened, it worked part time with Army Road No. 3847 but only had six children enrolled and closed January 1933. The school was housed  in 'a large room in Mrs Creighton's house' Three years later in January 1936, another school opened, also at Mrs Creighton's  house. The average attendance reached 22 and a new school was built on a block of land owned by the Education Department, presumably the site of the old Gembrook West School and this new building opened February 15, 1937. There is a very grainy photo of the school and the pupils in the report below, from the Weekly Times. As was the fate of the previous three schools in the area, enrolments dropped and by 1946 only 11 children attended the school and the school finally closed on October 24, 1949,according to Vision and Realisation, although an article in the Dandenong Journal says it closed in April 1949,  and the children went to Pakenham Consolidated School.



 Opening of the Mt Burnett  School in February 1937 - Weekly Times March 13 1937


Dandenong Journal April 6, 1949

Some of the teachers were Thomas Francis Lee who was there in 1938, when he was listed in an article as the President of the newly formed Affiliated Labour Teachers' Union, Norman Teychenne McMahon who was there from at least November  1943 until he passed away at the age of  51 in November 1946. 

So what else was there at Mt Burnett? There was a Post Office, then called Gembrook West,  which opened in January 1885. A source in Wikipedia says that the name changed to Mt Burnett in 1921 and it closed in 1978. I don't have any other sources that confirm this, however the school that opened in October 1921 wasn't called Mt Burnett and the first reference I can find to the name in the local newspapers on Trove was in 1924

Gembrook West Post Office
Victorian Government Gazette January 23 1885   http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/

There was a Mt Burnett Progress Association. I can find reports in various newspapers about this organization  from 1937 and from 1954. This reflects reportage on other local Progress Associations when there seemed to be very little activity during the War Years as communities were focused less on local matters and more on 'the War effort'.  

There were some reports in the Dandenong Journal from 1940 to 1944  about the activities of the  Mt Burnett sub-branch of the Dandenong Red Cross  - amongst  the reports it was said that Mt Burnett and other sub-branches still continue to do their part well with donations of cash and knitted goods and only have a small group of workers.



The Weekly Times April 4, 1945

There was a Young Farmers Club which was established in late 1944 - they were indeed young farmers as you can see from the article above  Geoffrey and Graham McMahon who rotary hoed a paddock at the school were only 10 and 8 years old.

What else was at Mt Burnett? I don't know - I presume there may have been a shop, but I can't find any reference to it and given the size of the school enrolments it was only ever  a small town, so perhaps that was it. I'd love to hear from you if you know of any other establishments in the town. 

I have created a  list of newspaper articles about the early days of Mt Burnett from Trove, click here to access the list.