Monday, 23 June 2008

Dewhurst

Dewhurst lies between Beaconsfield Upper and Emerald and was originally known as Beaconsfield North. The Progress Association had the area named Dewhurst in the 1920s. A mail service was established, with Mr Wain as the first mail man, and a Post office was opened in Mr Cation's house. The Dewhurst State School was erected in 1934 and operated until 1953 when it closed down, having at the time, only nine pupils enrolled. In the 1950s the town had the Post Office, a Public Hall, a Fire Station, a Methodist Church, the Falls Guest House. The first house in the area was said to have been built by Dr Louis L Smith in 1888, he called his property Louisville, but is was later known as Bim Bim Be. Other early residents in the area include Mr Mulcahy of Edgevale, later owned by the Harris family; Mr Ricketts; Captain Jones, an Orchardist; Frank Knapton; Mr Shanks, who built the Methodist Church; Mr Spivey; Mr W. Care; Mr Bateman, who ran a piggery; Carl Hepner; Mr Dacks of The Towers; Mr McMeekin of View House and Mr Bunt an orchardist. Most of the residents were farmers or orchardists. The town was in an attractive bush setting, which attracted 'week-enders' one of the most famous being Harold Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia from January 1966 until December 1967. The bush setting also had a dark side, with bush fires being a constant worry. The original town is now under the waters of the Cardinia Dam, which was completed in 1973.


This information comes mainly from From Bullock tracks to Bitumen, a forerunner of In the wake of the Pack Tracks. If you are a reader of Local Histories, published 30, 40 or more years ago, you will know that authors rarely seemed to refer to local identities by their given names, which is why many of the early residents listed above have surnames only. This photograph comes from the book In the Wake of the Pack Tracks. 

Friday, 20 June 2008

In the Wake of the Pack Tracks : a history of the Shire of Berwick


In the past three blog posts we have covered some of the key Local Histories for the Casey Cardinia Region - The Good Country, which traces the history of the old Shire of Cranbourne, The Early days of Berwick, which covers the Eastern end of the old Shire of Berwick and The Story of the Dandenongs which looks at the hill towns. My final key resource is In the Wake of the Pack Tracks : a history of the Shire of Berwick, now the City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham. This books covers the entire Shire of Berwick, from Doveton to Bunyip. It was complied by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society. Its predecessor was From Bullock tracks to Bitumen, published in 1962, now out of print (but certainly worth chasing up through a second hand book dealer as it contains some information not in the new book).

In the Wake of the Pack Tracks has a history of the early pioneers in the area, a history of the Shire of Berwick, a look at early hotels and transport routes and a chapter on every town in the Shire from Doveton, all the way down the Railway line to Bunyip, south of the railway line it looks at Cora Lynn and Iona and north of the railway line it covers Harkaway, Narre Warren North, Beaconsfield Upper, Dewhurst, Cockatoo, Gembrook, Pakenham Upper, Maryknoll and Tonimbuk. This is a very accessible Local History, good for school projects. Copies are available for loan from our Libraries at Emerald, Endeavour Hills, Doveton, Narre Warren and Pakenham. The book is also available for sale from the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society. They operate a Museum at the Old Shire Offices, corner Main Street and McGregor Road, Pakenham. (enter via service road off James Street). It is open Sunday afternoons.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Story of the Dandenongs 1838-1958 by Helen Coulson

In the last two blogs we have looked at two of of my 'frequently referred' to resources and in this blog I will look at another great Local History Story of the Dandenongs 1838-1958 by Helen Coulson. This was published in 1959 and is a history of the old Shire of Fern Tree Gully. Even though many of the towns, covered by the book, are not part of Casey or Cardinina we still have strong historical, social and physical links (such as the Puffing Billy Rail line) to these towns.The Scoresby Ward of this Shire was, until 1889, originally part of the Shire of Berwick. Clematis, Emerald and Avonsleigh returned to us after the 1994 Local Government changes. The towns covered in the book include Emerald, Macclesfield, Avonsleigh, Narre Warren North and East, Clematis, Menzies Creek, Ferntree Gully, Bayswater, Wantirna, Scoresby and Lysterfield and the rural part of Cockatoo. There is a full list of Fern Tree Gully Councillors to 1957 and a great index, for those seeking family history information.

The Story of the Dandenongs tells us about one of the early families in the area, the Row family, after whom Rowville was named in 1903. Frederick Row was a co-founder of Goldsborough, Row and Company, Melbourne wool brokers. He acquired land in the area in the 1860s and called his property Stamford Park. Frederick and Elizabeth Row built a magnificent house there in 1882 (pictured below) which is listed by the National Trust and on the Register of the National Estate. The Rows entertained lavishly , especially during the Spring racing season and lived extravagantly. Mrs Row used to spend 100 pounds on a Melbourne Cup outfit (the equivalent of about $5,000 today) and had the reputation of being 'the haughtiest woman who ever stood in a pair of boots'. Frederick Row was also said to have been the first person to introduce sparrows and hares into Australia. Stamford Park remained in the Row family until 1909.

Stamford Park, built 1882.


Friday, 13 June 2008

Early days of Berwick and its surrounding districts

In the last post I talked about The Good Country : Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson. In this post I will look at another of my well used resources Early days of Berwick and its surrounding districts - Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North, complied by Norman Beaumont, James Curran and R.H Hughes. It was first published in 1948, revised in 1959 and 1979 and finally republished with an index in 2005. I know it is a bit dated, especially in its attitudes to Aboriginals, and some people say it has a number of errors, however it is still one of my favourite resources.

The joy of this book is that it was written by locals, with long term connections to the towns which they write about, so it is very good on the early European settlers and early properties. For example the section on Berwick, which looks at early residents of the town and surrounding areas, tells us that Two Crimean War veterans, Mr Drummond and Mr Adams, resided in High Street, Berwick. These two old gentlemen, wearing their Crimean War medals, could often be observed sitting in the Boulevard, enjoying the sunshine. It was said that Mrs Drummond was a contemporary with and associated with Florence Nightingale, nursing at the Crimea. It's this type of information which makes this book such a great resource for people with family connections to the area.

You can buy the revised 2005 edition from the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.They operate a Museum at the Old Shire Offices, corner Main Street and McGregor Road, Pakenham. (enter via service road off James Street). It is open Sunday afternoons.

The Good Country : Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson

My role as Local History Librarian is to answer any Reference questions from patrons on the history of the towns, families, groups or events in the City of Casey or Cardinia Shire. Amongst the resources I use is the Casey Cardinia Archive and a few key Reference books. One of my favourite local histories is The Good Country : Cranbourne Shire written by Niel Gunson, with contributions by Leslie Key. It was published by the Shire of Cranbourne in 1968. It is a well researched, authorative publication. This book is especially good on the early European settlers including the squatters and early land owners in the region. There is a chapter on the development of the town of Cranbourne and the Shire of Cranbourne. The Shire of Cranbourne originally covered Lyndhurst, Hampton Park, Tooradin and the coastal towns, Dalmore, Cardinia, Koo-Wee-Rup, Catani, Yallock and Bayles, Lang Lang, Yannathan, Monomeith and Caldermeade. Gunson covers the development of infrastraucture in the Shire such as roads, railways, schools and churches.There is a chapter on the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and one on the Soldier Settlements in the area.
The Appendix includes a full list of Councillors to 1982 and an interesting article on the families at Yallock by H.J. Boxshall. If you have any historical connections to the old Shire of Cranbourne, then this book is a 'must read'.

A sequel was published in 1988, The good Country : Into the dawn of a new day (1968-1988). It was written by Fred Hooper, the Head Master at Koo-Wee-Rup High School in the 1960s and 70s. Both books are available for loan at our Cranbourne Branch.