Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Dandenong Journal and local Progress Associations

Trove, the National Library of Australia digitised newspaper website, are in the process of adding the Dandenong Journal from 1927 until 1954. You can access Trove at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/

The Dandenong Journal has coverage of the old Shire of Cranbourne and Shire of Berwick so you can find lots of local content, it’s not all just about Dandenong. This post looks at the activities of local Progress Associations mainly through the correspondence they wrote to the local Councils. Many towns had Progress Associations from the late 1920s to the 1950s - Bayles, Clyde, Dalmore, Garfield, Hallam, Hampton Park, Koo-Wee-Rup, Lang Lang, Lyndhurst South, Pakenham, Pakenham South, Tooradin and Warneet to name some. Like many community organisations which rely on volunteers some formed, then were disbanded and then reformed years later. There was naturally less reporting on the Associations during the Second World War – I guess complaints about road conditions and drainage issues seemed trivial at the time, plus the community was involved with supporting the War effort.

Warneet Progress Association formed in December 1945 and one of their  activities in December 1947 was to fill the vacancies on the Warneet Foreshore Committee and to have  a site set aside for  a Public Hall (the hall still hasn’t been built). In 1953 the Progress Association asked for the construction of two ‘public conveniences’ (one at each jetty)  as even though the town had only five permanent resident families there was a big weekend population, with 40 to 50 car loads of visitors. The town had already received a grant of £1280 from the Tourist Resorts Fund but wanted the Cranbourne Shire Council to put in the remaining 25 per cent and to take responsibility for the buildings. The Council was happy to subsidise one building but felt that the Warneet Foreshore Committee should be responsible for the upkeep.

In another coastal town, the Tooradin Progress Association asked for assistance in 1928 to carry out works on the Tooradin picnic grounds but the Cranbourne Shire said no funds were available. In the same year, they complained about the state of the ‘main coast road’ – the South Gippsland Highway and also complained about the action of the Koo-Wee-Rup Progress Association in diverting traffic from Koo-Wee-Rup along to Pakenham (so thus avoiding Tooradin).

Tooradin Camping Ground, 1940s.

Dalmore Progress Association was established before the War and it re-formed in 1953 with 60 members attending the first meeting. Some of their first activities included holding a Ball, entering a float in the Coronation day procession at Koo-Wee-Rup, forming a badminton Club and notifying Council about the state of local roads and drains. In 1953 the Pakenham South Progress Association complained to the Council about Ballarto Road; they wanted it graded and the drains cleared out.

The Bayles Progress Association in 1928 asked the Cranbourne Shire Council for four lamps that they had promised them for street lighting. The same year they said that ‘approximately 20 services would be required in the sanitary area at Bayles’  -  as this would require the Council  ‘night man’ to empty the toilet pans at these properties, the Council decided that the service would be too costly. A year later they wanted a bridge built to give access to the Recreation Reserve; I am not sure where this Recreation Reserve actually was.  In 1947, they asked the Council to fence off the local bridges to assist farmers and drovers with cattle. They also asked the Council if they could take over some adjoining railway land to extend the park at Bayles, described by one Councillor as ‘a nice little park’ which had been established by the Association.

Looking west towards Harmer Road, Hallam, mid 1950s.

In August 1926 the Hallam Progress Association complained about the destruction of the red gum trees on the Princes Highway due to the construction of a telephone line by the Post Master General’s Department. They also advocated for the establishment of a branch of the Commonwealth Bank at Hallam. In July 1930, the Association was once again concerned about trees, this time, they complained about the type of trees being planted by the Country Roads Board and they felt ‘a more suitable tree should be used as the ones already planted seemed to make very little headway’. In February 1942 the Hallam Progress Association asked the Berwick Shire Council to apply to the Bill’s Trust for a water trough at Hallam. An interesting request as obviously there was still a large number of locals travelling by horse and cart, not motor vehicles, if they required a horse trough. In June 1953, the Progress Association, in conjunction with the Hallam State School ‘screened a colour film’ to mark the Coronation. In November 1954, the Association complained to the Berwick Shire Council about the lack of  a Recreation Reserve at Hallam. This was in response to the Shire purchasing land at Pakenham for a Reserve – the Hallam Progress Association ‘cannot see what development there is in Pakenham compared to Hallam in the future’ and they accused the Council of ‘lacking in foresight’ At the same Council meeting the Progress Association asked 'waht area constituted Hallam proper' -  Kays Avenue to Tinks Road, Heatherton Road to the Shire Boundary with Cranbourne Shire - the eastern section is now called Narre Warren and  the northern section is now called Endeavour Hills

Dandenong Journal November 17, 1954

In January 1944, the Pakenham Progress Association requested that the Berwick Shire widen the Main Street by reducing the size of the footpaths. The spokesperson said ‘that five feet of each footpath served no other useful purpose than to grow grass and there could be some serious accidents as some motorists parked four feet out from the kerb’

The Koo-Wee-Rup Progress Association in 1928 wanted permission from the Cranbourne Shire Council to plant trees in Rossiter Road from Denham’s Road to Henry Street. A year later they were complaining about the state of Moody Street. In June 1944, the Association put in ‘numerous requests’ to the Council - the Dandenong Journal uses this head line on more than one occasion.  ‘No less than seven requests’ were before the Council - amongst the requests they wanted a foot bridge over the Station Street drain for use of the flax mill employees; they wanted a section of Sybella Avenue sealed and they wanted Boundary Road put into a ‘serviceable condition’ The next month they put another long list of requests in including some repeat numbers from the last time, because they regarded the replies to the original list as not being satisfactory. In 1947, the Progress Association agitated for the re-location of the Shire Offices from Cranbourne to Koo-Wee-Rup which was ‘a more central situation’. There was bit of discussion about this issue and a Councillor complained that the Progress Association was always late with their correspondence (thus presumably this could not be read before the meeting) and had to be put into extra correspondence and that the ‘Association was very critical of the Council and what the Council doesn’t do’ and ‘it’s time they woke up to themselves’

Because the Dandenong Journal gave full reports on the Cranbourne Shire and Berwick Shire Council meetings including the names of people who wrote letters to the Council about various issues, and  there is also news about various local families including obituaries so if you have a long time connection to what is now the Casey Cardinia area then you might find some mention of one of your family members.  You can access the Dandenong Journal on Trove at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/.