Sunday, 22 December 2019

An Acrostic Seasonal history of the Casey Cardinia region - Festive Season!

We take an acrostic, historic and eclectic look at the Casey Cardinia region looking at themes suggested by the letters in Festive Season. In 2018, we looked at Holidays, and in 2016, we did Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

F is for Females. Traditionally women were hidden from history, as many history books concentrated on public history - politicians, business owners, explorers etc - and they all tended to be men, while the women stayed in the background raising families, prevented from voting or standing for Council amongst other impediments to public life. Here are some of my favourite women - Sarah Fagan - hotel keeper and shipwreck survivor from Lyndhurst; Martha King - farmer from Clyde who was later granted the 15,00 acre Bunguyan run at Tyabb in her own right; Eliza Gooch another publican and ship wreck survivor; Elizabeth Andrews - a farmer from Hallam; Sister Hollis and Sister Lewis, Infant Welfare Centre Nurses at Pakenham and Kathleen Kinsella, Army Nurse.

Sarah Fagan

E is for Ewes and rams - or sheep as they are collectively known.  We don't really consider this a sheep growing area - it's more of a Western District activity - but we did have  an early sheep industry. The book Rural Industry in the Port Phillip Region, 1835 - 1880 by Lynnette J. Peel (Melbourne University Press, 1974) lists livestock numbers in selected areas. These are the sheep figures in the Berwick region - 1856/57 - 1,600; 1859/60 - 2,597; 1871 - 10, 994 and 1880/81 - 30,777. In comparison here are the cattle figures - 1856/57 - 4,212; 1859/60 - 15,438; 1871 - 20,406 and 1880/81 - 22,149. As you can see sheep farming in the area took off in the 1870s, however these sheep numbers were dwarfed by areas such as Sunbury and Bannockburn which in 1880 each had over 116,000 of the animals. Some of the early sheep farmers were William Lyall, who farmed Cotswald sheep in the 1850s at his Yallock and Tooradin properties; Duncan MacGregor breed Leicester sheep in the 1870s at his Dalmore property and Alexander McMillan who had Merinos at his Caldermeade property. Rural Industry in the Port Phillip Region, 1835 - 1880 is an interesting book, I will do a post on it one day

S is for Shows - Agricultural Shows. The earliest show society was the Mornington Farmers' Society (Mornington being the County of Mornington, the land administration area that covers this district) established in 1856. They held their first show, in the form of a ploughing match,  in 1857 at Mr Walton's farm at Narre Warren -  now the location of the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. The 1858 show was held at the farm of the Reverend Alexander Duff in Cranbourne. Read about these shows, here. The  Mornington Farmers' Society became the Berwick and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society in 1918.

T is for Trees - The first thing about trees that comes to mind is the notable tree grower, Carl Nobelius  Carl started the Gembrook Nursery at Emerald in 1886. Nobelius produced  a yearly catalogue and by 1903 Nobelius was advertising over one million trees for sale and this had increased to three million trees just before the First World War. The nursery concentrated on fruit and ornamental trees and supplied trees world wide, including to South Africa to replant their orchards after the Boer War. Read more about the Nursery on the Emerald Museum website, here. Another significant set of trees are the Oak trees that line the Princes Highway at Narre Warren, planted in 1890 by Sidney Webb. You can read about them here. The trees were supplied by the Nobelius Gembrook Nursery.The area also has some Avenues of Honor, planted in memory of Great War Soldiers. I have written about some of them here. The City of Casey have also published a booklet on their Avenues, Our Living Memorials, read it here.

The Nursery at Emerald. Photographer: Rose Stereograph Co.
State Library of Victoria Image H2001.88/10

I is for Infant Welfare Centres. The Baby Health Care movement began in Victoria in June 1917 when Dr Isabella Younger Ross opened a centre in Richmond. She was one of many experts who   emphasised the importance of teaching women hygiene, nutrition etc with the ultimate aim of lowering the child mortality rates. Infant Welfare Centres started a bit later in this area than in the City and the first mention I could find was in 1935 when both Garfield and Bunyip had a Centre. Read more here.  They are interesting because many of these buildings were established due to women organising local committees to fund raise for the buildings and once they were opened women were on the Committees to manage the operation of the service. One of the more unusual Infant Welfare Centres in the area is the one at Emerald. It was opened in March 13, 1940 and built in the Art Deco style.

V is for Volcanoes. On Wednesday, August 17, 1904, Mr J.H.L. Morgan gave  a lecture at the Berwick Mechanics' Institute on Geology. You can read the report in the South Bourke & Mornington Journal, here. This is part of Mr Morgan's talk - We had at least several distinct periods of volcanic activity, that latest being the great lava flows which spread over the whole of the south western part of the State. Berwick, Cranbourne, Flemington and Collingwood are instances of older volcanic periods. It was explained that Berwick hill was not an extinct volcano as is commonly supposed, but a dome of concretionary lava, the result of some plutonic force. From the hills here may be had a splendid view of the great valley of Victoria which extends from the far western boundary right through to the Gippsland Lakes. The southern boundary of this valley is almost worn away, probably as a result of the great subsidence which resulted in is Bass Strait. The Otway Ranges and the South Gippsland Ranges only remain. Striking evidence of volcanic activity existed in Narre Warren  North in the form of columnar basalt, part of an thick lava flow. You can read about this here.

E is for Entertainment - the Movies or Picture Theatres.  The 1920s was a boom time for Picture Theatres. The Garfield Picture Theatre opened with a Grand Ball on Monday, December 22, 1924. Apart from the Picture Theatre locals could also view movies at the Wattle Theatre at Koo Wee Rup, which opened July 1927 and King’s Picture Theatre at Pakenham which opened September 7, 1927. Harrington’s Electra Pictures had been shown at the Garfield Hall and films were shown at Tynong - there is still a bio box or projection room, which is currently inaccessible, at the Hall.  The original Bunyip Hall also showed movies however, when it burnt down in March 1940, the ‘picture plant’ was destroyed. The Garfield Theatre closed in the early 1960s although it did reopen weekends in 1970 and 1971. There was also a picture theatre at Berwick, it was built by the owners of the Pakenham Picture Theatre and opened September 5, 1928.

Garfield Picture Theatre, 1920s.
Image: Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society

S is for Seaside resorts - Tooradin and Lang Lang. Not quite miles of golden sand beaches, more Western Port mudflats, but we used to to go to Tooradin for swimming and water skiing, when I was a girl in the 1960s and 1970s. The Lang Lang beach hosted the annual Sun newspaper Beach Girl contest in the 1950s, the winner of this and other local competitions then competed for the State title.  This competition was hotly contested and women came from everywhere to compete - the 1952 winners were Miss Joan McDonald, of Elwood, with Miss Vilma Rennell, of Glen Iris, and Miss Beth Clyno, of Loch, second and third respectively (Dandenong Journal, January 30, 1952). The Beach Girl competition was one of the ways the community raised money to construct the  Lang Lang swimming pool at the beach which opened on New Years Day in 1956. The local State Schools held their swimming carnivals there. The Lang Lang Pool was closed after the opening of the Koo Wee Rup pool in February 1975.

Lang Lang Beach Girl competition report
Weekly Times  January 23, 1952

E is for Explorers - and it is also for the book Early Days of Berwick, which is full of interesting information, including this - Mrs Fanny Hume Hutchinson, who was a resident in Peel Street, Berwick, for twenty-nine years, was the granddaughter of Hamilton Hume, the early explorer who came to Australia in 1790 and with Hovell made their memorable journey to Port Phillip in 1824Early Days of Berwick also tells us Mr James W. Ogilvy and his family lived on Buchanan's Road for many years. The son of one of Melbourne's earliest solicitors Mr Ogilvy .....witnessed the departure of Burke and Wills Expedition in 1860.

A is for Accouchement - or giving birth. A dangerous occupation in the past (and still is in many third world and war torn countries). Large families were the norm in the 1800s. For instance, Catherine Bourke, who with her husband Michael established the La Trobe Inn, on the Toomuc Creek in Pakenham  in 1849, had 14 children between 1839 and 1864. Susan Bain, who operated the Berwick Inn on High Street Berwick had eleven children between 1860 and 1880, of which eight pre-deceased her.  Australian figures show that  maternal mortality remains high at 500 to 600 per 100,000 live births until 1937. In 1937, the maternal mortality drops, and continues to tumble in quite an extraordinary way to reach around 109/100,000 by 1950, and below 10/100,000 by 1975 (1). Those early figures mean five mothers would die for every 1,000 live births. According to recent Government figures the maternal mortality rate for 2012 - 2014 is now 6.8 per 100,000.

Even if the mother survived the birth process, the baby often didn't. Infant Mortality rates have dropped from an average of  120 from 1870 to 1910,  to an average of 70 in the 1910s, 31 in the 1940s and 13 in the 1970s. It is now around 3.  The Infant Mortality rate is the number of infant deaths in a year per thousand births registered that year. So in the 1870s to the 1890s - each year on average 120 babies under the age of one would die out of every 1,000 born (2).

Susan and Robert Bain and their family in the 1880s, showing their nine surviving children. 
Image:  Berwick Mechanics' Institute and Free Library by Richard Meyers. 

S is for Stones - gem stones. The most obvious place you might search for gems would be Gembrook. Gembrook was named by Albert Le Souef who was a member of  a mining syndicate searching for gemstones in a creek, four miles west of William Wallace Creek, in the 1870s. Le Souef named this creek Gem brook. Emeralds, garnets and sapphires were apparently found in these creeks. This information comes from the history of Gembrook, written by Genseric Parker, Forest to Farming.  All sorts of gemstones can still be found in the creeks - Cardinia Creek and Wallace Creek, west and east, of Gembrook respectively, are known sources of sapphires, topaz, amethysts, agates and pebbles of variously coloured chalcedony....Zircon and cassiterite are also reported in the Gembrook area... sapphires, zircons, tourmaline and agate are reported at Berwick. This is according to the book How and where to find Gemstones in Australia and New Zealand edited by Bill Myatt (Lansdown Press, 1987). Happy fossicking, but before you go and seek your fortune in the local creeks - you will need a permit - all the details on 'Recreational fossicking' are here.

Zircon gems found in the Bunyip River (eastern branch), 17 km north of Longwarry. Photographer: Frank Coffa.

O is for On the Beach - the book and the film. On the beach was  a novel written by Nevil Shute when he was living at Langwarrin, then part of the Shire of Cranbourne. It was published in 1957. It was later made into a film, some of which was filmed at George Wilson's property in Berwick. Shute Avenue and Kramer Drive in Berwick are permanent reminders of this filming - Shute being named after the author and Kramer, after Stanley Kramer, the Producer. The filming in Berwick took place in January 1959 in very hot conditions - it was over 40 degrees. You can read more about Nevil Shute and the filming, here.  You can read about the making of the film in this account written by Philip Davey, here  Philip Davey is the author of the book When Hollywood came to Melbourne : the story of the making of Stanley Kramer's On the beach, published in 2005.

Filming On the Beach at the Wilson property in Berwick, January 1959.
Image: donated to the Casey Cardinia Library Archive by the Wilson family.

N is for Florence Nightingale. We return to Early Days of Berwick for this link to Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910) - nursing pioneer who formalised nursing education and established standards of care for patients and standards of hygiene for hospitals. From Early Days of Berwick - Two Crimean War Veterans, Mr Drummond and Mr Adams, resided in High Street, Berwick. These two old gentlemen wearing their Crimean War medals, could often be observed sitting in the Boulevard, enjoying the sunshine. It was said that Mrs Drummond was contemporary with and associated with Florence Nightingale, nursing at the Crimea. A report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of August 10, 1911 said that Tom Drummond celebrated his golden wedding anniversary on Friday evening and Private Tom wears a couple of Crimean medals of which he is justly proud (see article here) So, now we know Mrs Drummond's husband was called Tom and according to the Electoral Roll, her name was Mary, however that is all I know about this couple - what interesting stories they would have to tell.

Have  a wonderful FESTIVE SEASON

Footnotes for A is for Accouchement
(1) The Australian mortality decline: all-cause mortality 1788 - 1990 by Richard Taylor and Milton Lewis - Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney and John Powles - Institute of Public Health, Department of Community Medicine, University of Cambridge, England. Published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health -  1998 Vol. 22 No. 1

(2) Australians: Historical Statistics edited by Wray Vamplew (Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, 1987) These are the Victorian figures. Interesting they vary quite  a bit within each decade - for instance the figures for Victoria for the 1890s are - 1890 - 117.4; 1891- 126.2; 1892 - 106.8; 1893 - 117.7; 1894 - 104.1; 1895 - 102.4; 1896 - 110.0; 1897 - 103.3; 1898 - 134.4; 1899 -114.2.  In 1959, the year I was born, the rate in Victoria was 21.2

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