Friday, 28 May 2021

Moola - a town on the Puffing Billy line

The township of Moola, on the Fern Tree Gully to Gembrook Railway line (as the Puffing Billy line was officially called) was proclaimed on December 16, 1913 (1).

The township of Moola is proclaimed.
State Government Gazette No. 195, December 24 1913, p. 5534.

The town of Moola is marked on this 1926 map - as you can see it is located between Wright's Station and Cockatoo.
Tourist map of Dandenong Ranges, Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook district, created by the 
Victoria. Department of Crown Lands and Survey, 1926.
State Library of Victoria - click on this link to download the full map and a higher-res version

Just over  a week after the town was proclaimed the land, which was Crown land, was advertised by Baillieu, Patterson and Allard. I believe this was the company of William Baillieu (1859-1936) who was also a member of the Legislative Council from 1901 until 1922 (2).  Some might consider that a member of the Government being the agent to sell Government land would be a conflict of interest.

The auction was to take place January 14, 1914 (3). The land was advertised as magnificent week end sites, near the Cockatoo railway station - 
Allotments 1, 2, 3, 4, area about 2½ acres each. Upset, £6 per acre.
Allotments 5, 6, 25, 26, 27, 28, 20, 30, 31, area from 3 to 5 acres each. Upset, £5 acre.
Allotments 7, 8, 24, area from 2¾ acres to 4¾ acres each. Upset, £4 acre.

Advertisement for land sales at Moola - auction to be held January 14, 1914.

Eleven of the sixteen allotments were sold - there were four block with a reserve of £6 per acre and they sold for between £8 and just over £9 per acre. Of the blocks with the reserve of £5 - four were passed in and five sold - only one made more than the reserve and it went for £6/10 an acre. There were three blocks for sale with a reserve of £4, two sold - one for £4/10/ per acre and the other £5/7/6 per acre and there was no report on the other (4). That makes a clearance rate of 68 per cent. 

It does not appear that the rest of the blocks sold very quickly,  perhaps due to the uncertainty of the First World War. Parts of Moola were in the Shire of Fern Tree Gully and in 1920, the Council received correspondence  from Department of Lands and Survey notifying that request that the unsold land at Moola, between Wright and Cockatoo, be offered for sale, has been noted (5).

Letter to the Fern Tree Gully Shire Council

The next report I could find about Moola was in 1941 when there was a report of a Berwick Shire Council meeting about a letter from the Lands Department camec confirmation of the reservation of 13 acres for a swimming pool and plantation at Moola (Cockatoo). The land is to be used for public purposes, and the council is the committee of managmemt (6)It seems an odd place for a swimming pool in what was a non-existent town.

Proposal for a swimming pool and plantation at Moola

In 1950, the Ferntree Gully Shire sold off some allotments because the owners had failed to pay their rates. Even allowing that in the end all the sixteen blocks were sold,  it is interesting that by 1950 six of the owners had lost interest in the blocks or perhaps more likely they were purchased as a speculative venture, had not increased in value and were not worth bothering about (7)

Shire of Ferntree Gully - sale of lands for rates - allotments at Moola.
Mountain District Free Press March 16, 1950

Moola was a short lived locality on the Puffing Billy line and according to Mark Fiddian in his book on the Puffing Billy line (8), the proclamation of the town was rescinded in 1952. Moola Road is all that remains of the town of so-called magnificnt week end sites.

Trove list
I have created a list of articles on Trove on Moola, access it here.

(1) State Government Gazette No. 195, December 24 1913, p. 5534.
(2) William Baillieu - read his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, here.
(3) The Age December 27 1913, see here. The same advertisement was in The Herald and The Argus.
(4) The Argus, January 15, 1914, see here. The results are below and also give the size of the allotments in acres, rods and perches.

(5) Box Hill Reporter, May 7 1920, see here
(6) Dandenong Journal April 23, 1941, see here
(7) Mountain District Free Press March 16, 1950, see here.  
(8) Fiddian, Mark Potatoes, Passengers and Posterity: a history of Puffing Billy's Railway  (The Author, 1978), p. 63.

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