Monday, 31 October 2016

Bunyip Byways Tourism map

I came across this Bunyip  Byways tourism map the other day. The Bunyip Byways was a joint tourism promotion from the City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Bunyip Byways was obviously established after December 15 1994 which is when the two Councils officially came into being, but I was unsure of the exact date. However, through the wonders of a Google search,   I came across a reference to it in the Village Bell, Issue 117 from August 1997. The Village Bell is a community newsletter, run by volunteers from the Upper Beaconsfield Association. This newsletter has been produced continuously since July 1978, a remarkable achievement. Not only that, but you can access them all on-line through the Upper Beaconsfield Association website

The article by Jo Carter from the August 1997 Village Bell had this to say about the Bunyip Byways project:  You will have noticed the signs Bunyip Byways which have appeared throughout the Shire, signposting the Bunyip Byways Trail. In an endeavour to attract tourists to the area, the Casey Cardinia Tourism Association has drawn up a trail which promotes the many interesting features and places of natural beauty within our communities. The name 'Bunyip' (Buneep) is derived from a local WOONGI (aboriginal) legend of a mystical water-based creature TOO ROO DUN who lived in the great Koo-Wee-Rup swamp. The cost of the Trail has been met by grants from the Federal Department of Tourism, and Casey and Cardinia Councils. The Trail forms a circular route through Berwick, Harkaway, Cardinia Resevoir, Emerald, Cockatoo, Gembrook, Tynong, Bunyip, Garfield, Cora Lynn, Bayles, KooWee-Rup, Tooradin and Cranbourne. There is a Bunyip Byways tourism map available which will assist travellers to find both well known and lesser known places of interest to explore. The Beaconhills Golf Club and the local restaurant Japonica Jelly are noted on the map. And of course we have many walks in Upper Beaconsfield which are not mentioned in the Bunyip Byways Trails. "This area does have significant attractions and natural features," says Ian Hall of the Tourism Centre. "We want visitors to view the wildlife on the edge of the City, walk in the nature reserves and bushland, as well as try the wine, buy the antiques, visit the nurseries, eat the natural produce and relax in the many restaurants and pubs." The article finishes off with some contact details, which I wont list here, as the holders of  the phone numbers may well have changed in the past 20 years.

This edition also had an interesting article about Tasmanian Tigers in Upper Beaconsfield, hence the masthead of the newsletter.   

There is still a Bunyip Byways sign near the Cardinia Reservoir, on Wellington Road, but that's the only one I know, I should take  a photo of it one day to record it for posterity. And congratulations to the Village Bell team at the Upper Beaconsfield Association who have taken the time to not only produce a newsletter for nearly 40 years but to make the interesting local information available to everyone by digitising the editions and putting them on their website.

Friday, 21 October 2016

"Settlers and Sawmills" and Bellbrakes, bullocks and bushmen" - the local timber industry

In this post we will look at two great local histories, both written by Mike McCarthy and published by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia  Settlers and Sawmills: a history of West Gippsland Tramways and the industries they served and Bellbrakes, bullocks and bushmen: a sawmilling and tramway history of Gembrook, 1885 - 1985.

I can't believe that I haven't spoken about these two books before because they are both fantastic local histories - meticulously  researched, great information, great photos, great maps and and they cover one of the very early primary industries in this region - the timber industry. Settlers and Sawmills looks at mills and tramlines at Beaconsfield, Officer, Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon, Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip and then continues down the road to Longwarry, Drouin, Warragul to Trafalgar. Bellbrakes, Bullocks and Bushmen covers Gembrook, Gembrook South and Beenak.

As I said before, apart from farming the timber industry was one of  first industries in this area and it was spurred on by the establishment of the Gippsland Railway line that was opened from Oakleigh to Bunyip in October 1877 and fully opened from Melbourne to Sale by 1879. This provided easy transport access to the Melbourne market which needed timber for houses, fences, fuel etc  Early mills that opened in the Gembrook area originally used this line until the Puffing Billy line or Gembrook line was officially opened on December 18, 1900.

Both Officer and Garfield began as railway sidings for the transport of locally harvested timber and then a settlement grew up around the sidings and the towns developed.

I do have a personal interest in this area of our history because my great grandfather, Horatio Weatherhead, and some of my great uncles, Fred, George, Arthur, Frank and Alf Weatherhead are mentioned in this book. Horatio was granted a 2000 acre (just over 800 hectares) sawmilling area at North Tynong in 1908 and the family moved their timber operations from the Wombat forest at Lyonville in 1909. His sons also operated their own mills and Arthur's sons Roy, Max and Cyril also operated a mill, which was worked solely by Roy until 1979.

The books extensively cover the tramways and the mills but also looks at some family history, railway history and the history of some of the local towns.
You can still buy these books from the  Light Railway Research Society of Australia  or you can borrow them from the library - click on the titles for availability  Settlers and Sawmills: a history of West Gippsland Tramways and the industries they served and Bellbrakes, bullocks and bushmen: a sawmilling and tramway history of Gembrook, 1885 - 1985.