Friday, 11 March 2011

Parish and Township Plans

Parish and Township Plans are available on the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) website. These Plans are a great resource for both local and family history as they show the ownership of land after the Crown, so if your ancestors purchased land at a Government Land Sales or acquired land through a Closer Settlement or Soldier Settlement Scheme - then you might find their name on a Parish or Township Plan. To access these plans go to the PROV website and on the left hand side of the home page, click on "Access the collection", "Searching", "Search within a Series". The Series number (or VPRS) is 16171. Type in the town or Parish you are interested in. Plans can be saved (they are PDF files) or printed off. Alternatively, if you search by the "Find by Number" option (and type in 16171) then you can browse all the digitised plans.

The Series, officially called "Regional Land Office Plans Digitised Reference Set", have three consignments or components - (1) Parish and Township plans (2) Soldier Settlement and Closer Settlement Plans and (3) County and Parish Index. All these Plans are working plans, so some have annotations, tears and what appears to be coffee stains.

The Plan, above, is the Pakenham Parish Plan, part of the County of Mornington. The Pakenham township, shown on the Plan, is the original town on the Highway, near Toomuc Creek. This town grew up around the Latrobe Inn, established around 1850 by Michael and Kitty Bourke. Michael Bourke also acted as Post Master for nearly 30 years. Kitty Bourke kept the Hotel and Post Office from the time of her husband’s death in 1877 until 1910. The Latrobe Inn was a Cobb & Co. coach stop and for obvious reasons was later known as Bourke’s Hotel. The town, which developed around the Pakenham Railway Station, was officially known as Pakenham East until the 1960s. The Railway line from Oakleigh to Bunyip was completed in October 1877.

The township map, above, is of Emerald. Emerald is said to derive its name from nearby Emerald Creek, which had been named after an early prospector Jack Emerald. Jack had been found murdered in his hut; it is thought the culprits believed he had a quantity of gold hidden there. Gold was discovered in the area in November 1858 but the rush lasted only a few years, however some settlers remained in the area and small eucalyptus distilleries were established. A school was opened in 1878 at what is now called Avonsleigh or East Emerald. However the seminal event in Emerald’s history was the establishment of the Gembrook Nurseries by Carl Axel Nobelius in 1886.The name Gembrook Nurseries was taken from the Parish of Gembrook, where Emerald township is located.

Cockatoo is also in the Parish of Gembrook, and in common with Emerald has a Railway Station on the Puffing Billy line. This town was originally named Cockatoo Creek in 1859 by gold diggers, because of the abundance of cockatoos. The town was settled in the 1870s. The Railway Station was originally called Devon when the Puffing Billy line opened in 1900 but reverted to Cockatoo Creek in 1901and then shortened to Cockatoo in 1904, though the Post Office retained the named of Cockatoo Creek until the First World War. The School opened in 1907 in a corn store and moved into a new building in 1918. This building was re-located to its current site in 1951. A Public Hall and library opened in Cockatoo in 1914. Sadly, Cockatoo suffered badly in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires when seven people died, 289 houses were burnt, 8 other buildings, including the Hall, were destroyed.

The second component of this Series are the Soldier Settlement and Closer Settlement Plans. The Chirnside Estate was a gift from Andrew Chirnside of Melville Park (later Edrington). The gift of land was reported in The Argus, a digitised version of which is available on the National Library of Australia's Trove

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), Thursday 4 April 1918, page 9.

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