Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Pakenham South : a short history

Pakenham South Public Hall, formerly the State School.

The area south of Pakenham wasn't closely settled until around 1900 when the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp was well underway. Pakenham South originally covered the area we now know as Cardinia but the locality is now centred around Hall Road and Ellett Road and McDonalds Drain Road. This fluidity of place names is reflected in the names of the State Schools. The first school called Pakenham South opened in April 1874, working, at times, part-time with Toomuc Creek then Officer. In 1881 the school changed its name to Cardinia Creek and closed in May 1906.The next school to be called Pakenham South opened officially on January 1st 1913. The School was built on land purchased from H.Sawyer and Eva Bird was the first Head Teacher. It closed in 1951 when the pupils transferred to Pakenham Consolidated School.


Pakenham South State School, 1927.

The School and Fogarty’s store were located in Hall Road (formerly called Fogarty’s lane). Post Office facilities were available in the area from around 1913 when Miss Bird, the School teacher, was Post Mistress. The O'Brien family took over the Post Office in the 1920s. From 1932 until 1968 the Post Office was located in Ellett Road in the residence of John Ellett. Mr Ellett was Post Master until 1946 when he sold it to Jack Knight , who sold it a year later to Wally Francombe. Mr Francombe was Post Master until the closure of the Post Office in 1968. The Post Office took over the service provided by the Rythdale Post Office when it closed down in the 1940s.

Pakenham South Post Office, taken the year it closed, 1968.
Image is from the National Archives of Australia Post Office Collection , image no. B5919,

Some of the early families in Pakenham South include : Michael and Sarah Shelton, on Ballarto Road, who arrived in 1898 ; John and Jane Ellett, on McDonalds Drain Road, who arrived in 1901 ; Thomas and Eliza Jeremiah on Koo-Wee-Rup - Pakenham Road, south of Hall Road, who arrived in 1902 ; James Arbuthnott, also on the Koo-Wee-Rup - Pakenham Road, who arrived in 1902. The farm continued on in the name of his daughter and son-in-law Dove and Will Rogers ; Samuel and Mary Stephenson, on Ballarto Road. They arrived in 1907 and in 1925 purchased “Rosebank” near McDonalds Drain Road ; William Wadsley and his brother John. They had land on the corner of Hall Road and Five Mile Road ; Peter Milroy arrived in 1908 and his farm was carried on by his daughter and son-in-law, Betty and Jack Sewell ; John and Mary Ann Blackwood, and their 10 children, came to Pakenham South in 1911 ; Richard and Elizabeth O’Hehir (nee Killeen) moved to the Koo-Wee-Rup – Pakenham Road in 1914 and George and Mary Atkins came to McDonalds Drain Road in 1920.

The Pakenham South area has always had a strong sense of community - Church services and Sunday School were held in the School building, a tennis club and cricket club was formed in the 1930s as was a Calf-Club, a sort of Young Farmer's Club. A Red Cross branch was established in 1939 to raise money for Comfort Funds, and the Progress Association was established in July 1946. The Hall Committee was established in 1952 to raise funds to purchase and renovate the disused School building from the Education Department, for use as the public hall.
The Pakenham South War Memorial, on the corner of Hall Road and McDonalds Drain Road.

Much of the information for this post and the School photograph was taken from Look to the Rising sun : Back to Cardinia 1984 - a history of Cardinia and District, including Rythdale and Pakenham South. By Eileen Williams and Jewell Beard. (Published by the Back to Cardinia Committee, 1984)