Friday, 11 June 2010


Some of the earliest Europeans who passed through Tooradin were Samuel Rawson and Robert Jamieson. They took up the Yallock Run, at the northern end of Western Port, in November 1839. They over landed their cattle and goods to Tooradin from Melbourne and they were then blocked by the undrained Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, so used Sawtell’s Inlet at Tooradin as their port and continued on by boat.  For the same reason, other land owners from further around Western Port Bay at Red Bluff, Grantville, Queensferry and Corinella also used Tooradin until the Western Port Road was built around 1860. There is a plaque in a picnic shelter on the South Gippsland Highway between Koo-Wee-Rup and Monomeith that marks the location of the Yallock site.

The Tooradin area was part of the Toorodan Run of 16,000 acres (6,475 hectares) taken up by Frederick and Charles Manton in 1840. Edwin Sawtell, a Melbourne merchant, had an interest in this run, before the Manton Brothers took it over. He is the source of the name of Sawtell’s Inlet. Sawtell died at the age of 95 in 1892. The town took its name from Manton’s Toorodan run  and is an Aboriginal word for  “swamp monster” or “bunyip”. 1851 saw the arrival of Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall in the area. John Mickle (1814-1885) and John Bakewell (1807-1888) were business partners in Melbourne from 1847 and they were soon joined by William Lyall (1821-1888) whose sister Margaret was married to John Mickle. They had numerous runs in the Western district and in 1851, they acquired the leases of the Yallock and Tobin Yallock and Red Bluff Stations; in 1852 Manton’s Toorodan run and in 1854 they acquired the Great Swamp run,  all in all about 27,000 acres, which they collectively called their Western Port runs.

After the partnership split up the land was divided between the three partners with  Lyall receiving part of Yallock Station. Lyall and his wife, Annabella, built Harewood house, just out of Tooradin, on this property.  The construction of Harewood started around 1857 and the property remained in the Lyall family until 1968. Harewood is of State significance and is on the Victorian Heritage Database. Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall and their descendants are remembered in Tooradin, Cranbourne and Koo-Wee-Rup where streets were named in their honour.

A map of an early land subdivision at Tooradin. Evans owned all of Allotment 5 and subdivided these fifteen blocks in 1887 or 1888. You can see Steer's property where the Bridge Hotel was located. The '1 chain road' is now Mickle Street

The Tooradin township was laid out in 1854, and this included a reserve for a bridge and wharf. Early land sales took place in 1869, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that the township took off. In January 1870, John Steer applied for a Beer Licence for his Bridge Inn. John Steer died in May 1876 and the Hotel was taken over by Matthew Evans in 1877. Later publicans included Larry Basan who took over the licence in 1888 and rebuilt the hotel in 1895. The hotel was demolished in 2016.  The other Tooradin Hotel, the Sherwood Hotel, which was closer towards Cranbourne, had opened in 1869.

A tender to construct the Tooradin State School was accepted in October 1874 and the School officially opened on April 12, 1875 with Mrs Adelaide Dredge as the teacher. John Woodfield Thrupp opened a store around 1875. The Post Office and a store  operated by Mr F.M  Woolley opened in August 1877. He only lasted a year and the Store was taken over by Mr G. Walker, and in 1898 by Frederick Atyeo. Two years later, his son George, took over and added a coffee palace.  To meet the spiritual needs of the residents, Anglican Church services were held from 1875, most likely in the School, and from 1883 in the Hall until the Christ Church was built in 1900. The Catholic Church, St Peters, was built in 1922, services also having been previously held in the Mechanics’ Institute. The Church is now part of St Peters College at Cranbourne.

Tooradin Mechanics' Institute
Photo from : Tooradin : a history of a Sportsman's Paradise, 1875-1975. Complied by D.J. Mickle.

The Tooradin Mechanics’ Institute (pictured above) had officially opened on Boxing Day, 1882. The current Hall was built in 1938, having replaced the original hall, which burnt down the previous year. Another boost to Tooradin was the construction of the Great Southern Railway, which reached Tooradin in October 1888. It was extended from Tooradin to Loch in November 1890. The Station was a few kilometres north of the town and the source of the road name Tooradin Station Road.

As the town developed community groups were established – in the 1920s a Country Women's Association; the Fire Brigade started in 1945;  the Infant Welfare Centre opened in 1949 and ten years later the Kindergarten; the Scout Group was established in 1964. The Tooradin Dalmore Football Club started in  in 1919 and the  Netball Club in 1954.  The Avenue of Honour to commemorate the World War One soldiers was planted in 1922, unusually it consists of flowering gums.

Matthew Evans (1836-1909) was an early resident of Tooradin. He had purchased land in 1869 and built Bay View house in the early 1870s. He also purchased other blocks in Tooradin, some of which he sub-divded and sold around 1887 or 1888 (see map above). Evans, as we saw before, was the owner of  the Bridge Inn for  a time was a Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1879 to 1881, a trustee of the Mechanics Institute and donated the land for the Anglican Church. Evans built Isles View, which is on the City of Casey Heritage Scheme, in 1898 and it is thought that Bay View house was shifted to form part of this new house. The Isle to which the name refers to is French Island. Mr Evans is the source of the name of Evans Road. Matthew married Harriet Swalling in 1860 and she sadly died at the age of 21 in 1862. He then married Fanny Sweetnam in 1865 and they had ten children Arthur Ernest (b. 1865), Herbert Hill (1868), Lance Hill (1870), Frank Austin (1871), Walter Matthew (1875), Florence Fanny (1877), Nellie Banks (1879), Lena Bessie (1880), Rose Alice (1884) Leslie Rubin (1887). Fanny died in 1931, aged 87.

Isles View house, this photograph clearly shows the weatherboard section which is believed to be Matthew Evan's original 1869 house, Bay View.

A fleet of fishing boats were also based at the Tooradin and some of the earliest settlers were fishermen.David Mickle* writes that George Casey was the first fisherman and settler, followed by Jimmy Miles and  then in 1876 Henry Forman Kernot and his wife, Elizabeth (nee McNaughton)  came over from Hastings. The couple had married in 1861 and their children were Charles Edward (b. 1861, married Annie Collins), Henry William (1863, married Sarah Winchester), Clara Johanna (1865, married Gilbert Kerr), Amelia Eliza (1867, married Henry Alexander Mundy),  Caroline Jessie (1869, married Peter Peterson), Charlotte (1871, married William Mentiplay), Georgina Alice (1873, married Alexander Greive), Isabella Lucretia (1874, married Frederick Poole), Thomas James (1876, married Elsie May Lee), Maria Martha (1877, married Frederick Rawlings), Mary Adeline (1880, married Thomas Henderson) and George Robert (1881, married Mabel Robertson).  Caroline's husband, Peter Peterson, and Isabella's husband, George Poole, were half brothers - you can read about the family here.

 Isabella Kernot Poole owned the Fishermans Cottage  from 1910 to 1949. It is now the home of the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society.  The Cottage is one of the few remaining examples of the fishermen’s houses that originally dotted both sides of Sawtell’s Inlet in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The last of the professional fishermen, Henry Kernot and Arthur Johnstone (son of Ted Johnstone and Hilda Kernot (the daughter of Henry and Sarah (nee Winchester) Kernot listed above), surrendered their licence in 1999. 

Fisherman's Cottage. This house is thought to have been built by Matthews Evans and some sources date it's construction to c. 1873 even though the land was part of the 1887 subdivision shown in the map above.

Tooradin attracted not only the professional fisherman but the sports fisherman as well. The fishing, plus quail shooting on Quail Island, deer shooting, cycling club and other typical pursuits of the time gave Tooradin a reputation as a 'Sportsman’s Paradise'. This reputation was fostered by the publication of the booklet Around Tooradin : the Sportsman's Paradise by Hawkeye. It was published, in serial form, in late 1888 and early 1889 to promote the sale of land in the area. Today Tooradin is still a haven for recreational fishing, is the service centre for the coastal towns of Cannons Creek, Warneet and Blind Bight. It’s natural landscape of tidal flats and mangroves are a haven for bird and marine life. When I was growing up at Cora Lynn (in the 1960s and 70s)  we always went to Tooradin to the beach - my parents used to water ski and we’ll have a swim or just go over and get fish and chips and eat them on the beach. In fact, Tooradin fish and chips seem to be fondly remembered by many people.

Tooradin was the birthplace of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria in 1903, you can read about  this here.

  • The photographs of Isles View and the Fishermans Cottage are from the Heritage of the City of Casey : Historic sites in the former City of Casey, by Graeme Butler and Associates, 1995.
  • Photo of Matthew Evans is from Tooradin : a history of a Sportsman's Paradise, 1875-1975. Complied by D.J. Mickle.

*Tooradin : a history of a Sportsman's Paradise, 1875-1975 . Complied by D.J. Mickle. (published in 1975 by the Tooradin 'Back to' Committee)


Claudia Lawrence said...

You have a very good blog that the main thing a lot of interesting and useful!hope u go for this website to increase visitor. BTW keep posting!!!

Heather said...

Thank you, Claudia.

Anonymous said...

My 2nd great grandfather was John Steer. He is mentioned in your blog as applying for a beer licence in 1870 for his Bridge Inn .
Are there any photos of the Bridge Inn and does it still exist?
Thank you for your blog. Very interesting.
Kind regards,
Judy Dunne

Unknown said...

My 2nd great grandfather was John Steer. He is mentioned in your blog as applying for a beer licence in 1870 for his Bridge Inn .
Are there any photos of the Bridge Inn and does it still exist?
Thank you for your blog. Very interesting.
Kind regards,
Judy Dunne

Heather said...

Hello Judy - The Bridge Inn (Tooradin Hotel) is still there but has not been used as Hotel for many years - I.m not sure how much of the original building still remains. The State Library of Victoria has a photo of the hotel taken in the 1970s by John Collins - this is the link to the photo. I don't have any other photos sorry. Thank you for you kind comments about the blog,
Best wishes

Nacnud said...

Hello Harold Basan is my great great grandfather. He ran the Bridge water hotel till his death.1900. Do you have any information on the Basan family? When they arrived their cattle property etc. Thanks Duncan

Matthew Evans said...

Good afternoon,
My Great Great Grandfather was Matthew Evans (I share his name). I was hoping you may be able to advise if there are any other references or information available about him or anyone you could point me to that may be able to assist? Thank you for the information on this website.
My email address is
Matthew Evans

Unknown said...

My granndfather John Honan -marriage cert says he was born in Tooradin in 1882 to parents Andrew Honan, a farmer in the area and Elizabeth McLennan So far I have not been able verify this information. My grandmother (decd) or father (decd) had no knowledge of contact.

He was married in Brisbane in 2011.Do you have a historical centre where any of this information can be found.

Glenda Honan