Wednesday, 24 December 2008

1839 - the first Casey Cardinia Christmas

1839 is the earliest account I can find of Christmas being celebrated by settlers with a connection to this area. The account comes from Niel Gunson's book The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire (1). Robert Jamieson and Samuel Rawson had taken up land on the Yallock Creek and began to move cattle to the Station from November 131839. A second trip was made in December and the pair then returned to Edward William Hobson’s Kangerong run at Arthurs Seat. On their journey on the December 23 their evening camp was caught in a sudden downpour. 
Rawson reported that even though they were under the dray, in about five minutes they were all soaked thro, it was so hot we could not bear any clothes on, the thermometer being about 95 degrees everytime I fell asleep I was awoke by Jamieson who was thrashing away with the branch of a tree to keep the mosquitoes off, at that hour the weather changed and it became deadly cold and the rain changed into a mixture of hail, rain and snow…our horses were so cold they could hardly stand, our saddles were like sponges & in this condition we had to ride 30 miles, the rain still descending in torrents (2).

They travelled the 30 miles and arrived at Hobsons, where on Christmas Eve they were wassailed or toasted with a bowl of hot toddy (a drink made from spirits, usually whiskey, hot water, sugar and lemon juice). 
Christmas was celebrated in Old English style with champagne and Rawson wrote we were a merry party that evening sitting in a hut, which a beggar in England would hardly live in, the walls full of holes, the roof covered with bark through the crevices of which a person might have crept with the greatest ease, the floor the natural earth and situated in the middle of the eternal forest whence 18 months before a white man had never trod (3)

Samuel Rawson
Image - The Good Country: Cranboure Shire by Niel Gunson.

Samuel Rawson was appointed an Ensign in the 28th Regiment in October 1838. This Regiment had arrived in Sydney in 1835 and embarked for India in 1842. Rawson went with his Regiment and left Jamieson to manage the Station with Rawson's brother Will. The Station was sold to Henry Moor and Septimus Martin in 1845.

(1) Gunson, Niel The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire (F. W. Cheshire, 1968). Dr Gunson has taken the accounts from Samuel Rawson’s Journals, held by the National Library of Australia. 
(2) Gunson, op. cit., p. 21.
(3) Gunson, op. cit., p. 21.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Frederick Bayles

Bayles Railway Station, 1924. Photograph from the Bayles Fauna Park collection.

The area where the town of Bayles is now located was originally known as Yallock, however when the Strzelecki Railway line went through in 1922, the station for the Yallock settlement was called Bayles, after Frederick Bayles. All I knew about Bayles was that he was the first member of the Railway Construction Branch to be killed in World War One (WW1), so I thought I would do some research, through freely available resources, and see what I could find out about him. Because we know he was killed in WW1 the first place to start was the Australian War Memorial (A.W.M.) in Canberra. Their website,, has digitised copies of the WW1 Embarkation Rolls which are details of approximately 330,000 AIF personnel, recorded as they embarked from Australia for overseas .The Embarkation rolls tell us that Frederick enlisted on August 20th 1914. He was 30 years old, of the Church of England religion and his occupation was listed as a Clerk in Government Service. His address on enlistment was 64 Hoddle Street in Abbotsford. His next of kin was his brother George Bayles of 6 Watery Lane, Merton Park in London. The War Memorial also has digitised copies of the Nominal rolls, which are details of approximately 324,000 AIF personnel, recorded to assist with their repatriation to Australia from overseas service. The Nominal Rolls tell us that Frederick was a Private in the 7th Battalion and he was killed in action May 8th 1915.

H.M.A.T Honorata - Frederick embarked on this ship on October 19th, 1914.

We can access Frederick’s entire Military records through the National Archives of Australia site All the Military records from WW1 have been digitised and can be printed off or saved (the first page of Frederick's record can be seen below). His Military Records give us some personal details about Frederick, such as his height (5 feet, seven inches) and his weight (11 stone 4 pounds). He had a ‘fresh’ complexion and blue eyes and fair hair. The Examining Medical Officer found that he was fit for active service. We also find that Frederick embarked on H.M.A.T Honorata from Melbourne on October 19th 1914. He was a bugler, in ‘A’ Company of the 7th Battalion. Frederick was killed in Action at Gallipoli, less than two weeks after the ANZACs landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, on April 25th -26th.

Frederick’s brother, George, was listed as his next of kin on his enrolment form. Frederick’s Military Record has copies of various letters sent between the Army and George. George enquired about his brother’s personal effects and any wages that Frederick might be owed. There is no information as to whether George received any of Frederick’s personal effects. George was, however, sent a memorial plaque, a memorial scroll and some war medals.

From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website at we can discover that Frederick has his name on the Helles Memorial in Turkey which serves a memorial to the Commonwealth service men who died on the Gallipoli Peninsula and have no known grave or were buried at sea. This site lists Frederick’s parents as John and Louisa Bayles of Battersea in London.

The Helles Memorial, in Turkey, where Frederick has his name listed.

Frederick was listed as single on his enlistment form but I wanted to find out some details of his family. The Ancestry Family History database has copies of the English Census data. You can access Ancestry free at any of the Casey Cardinia libraries. As we know his parents names, it wasn’t that hard to locate the family. It seems that Fred was the youngest child of John and Louisa. He is listed as being born in Battersea in London. Their first child was Louisa (b.1869), Annie (1871) Eleanor (1873), Arthur (1875), Alice (1877), George (1882) and then Fred (1884). John, their father, was a stonemason. In the 1901 Census, the final census currently open to the public, there were just three children still living at home - Alice, 24, a tailoress ; George 19 a farmer and Fred, who was listed as a clerk. Their address was 59 Tyneham Road, Wandsworth, London, the same address where they were living in the 1891 census. This was just around the corner from where the family were living in the 1881 Census, at Ashbury Road

When did Frederick arrive in Australia? There is a record of a Frederick Bayles, aged 29, arriving in Melbourne on the Norseman in August 1913, so this most likely our Frederick. This was from the Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923, available on the Public Records Office of Victoria website,

We now know that Frederick arrived here in August 1913, and was employed with the Victorian Railways as a clerk. Then a year after he arrived, he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force and by the following May, he was dead. You would have to surmise that he had made a big impact on his fellow workers because seven years later, they honoured him by naming the Bayles Railway Station after him. According to the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books (available at our Libraries) by 1923-1924, the name had spread to the small settlement surrounding the Station, so the town is memorial to Frederick and, in a sense, his fellow soldiers who were killed during the First World War.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ball of the Century

Some of the entrants for the Belle of Berwick Shire, Centenary Ball, September 14th 1962.
Click on photograph to enlarge it.

On Friday, September 14th 1962 the Ball of the Centenary was held at the Pakenham Public Hall to celebrate the 100th anniversary of local government in the Shire of Berwick. This was the anniversary of the creation  of the Berwick Road Board on September 29, 1862, the fore-runner of the Shire of Berwick. The Pakenham Gazette reported that more than 700 people crowded into the Hall, the frocking was magnificent and youth and age gaily came together to celebrate the achievement of the Municipality's first century and to give Century Two a joyful start on its way.

The Guest of Honours included the Shire President, Cr Dan Cunningham and Mrs Cunningham ; the Shire Secretary, Miss Beatrice Thomas; Mr A. Buchanan, M.H.R and Mrs Buchanan and Cr L.J Cochrane, M.L.A and Mrs Cochrane. The highlight of the night was the selection of the Belle of Berwick Shire. The judge for this honour was Miss Dot Jones of the Sun News Pictorial newspaper. There were 22 girls who had entered this competition each representing a town in the Shire.
I will list them here and if by chance any of the girls are reading this blog, then I would love for you to leave a comment about the occasion. Margaret Bishop, representing Dewhurst, Maree McMillan - Tynong, Bronwen Taylor - Pakenham Upper, Carol Gilbert - Officer, Diane Robert - Pakenham, Carol Entwistle - Nar Nar Goon North, Lorraine Brown - Cora Lynn, Sonja Little - Doveton, Jeanette Barnes - Beaconsfield, Maureen Fitzsimons - Beaconsfield Upper, Geraldine Dyer - Gembrook, Kath Cotter - Narre Warren, Kerry Fox - Narre Warren North, Patsy Cunningham - Nar Nar Goon, Beverley Price - Bunyip, Susanne Bassed - Garfield, Jan Lia - Maryknoll, Marlene Thorne - Iona , Marla Kennedy - Modella, Audrey Haysom - Five Mile, Annette Dean - Berwick and Coral Stone - Cockatoo.

The Pakenham Gazette reported that the girls had to dance the Pride of Erin and two Fox Trots and in addition to her pleasant manner the successful girl got good marks for grooming. The winner was Miss Diane Robert, who was representing Pakenham. The judge, Miss Dot Jones, said that choosing the Belle of Berwick Shire was a difficult decision and that Diane managed to look happy all the time, whereas some of the other girls looked as if the boys were treading on their toes. Diane wore a frock of watermelon pink cotton shantung with a chantilly lace bodice. She had a french roll hair-do and wore pearl ear rings.

Unfortunately the only photograph we have of the Centenary Ball (top) doesn't include the Winner, however it does picture eleven of the other belles.

As an aside, Dot Jones, as well as being the Belle of the Centenary Ball judge is more importantly one of the people responsible for the Moomba Festival. Dot and Tom McCaw of the Melbourne City Council discussed the idea for a festival over lunch. They then presented the idea to Councillor Maurice Nathan who promoted the idea of an open-air Festival. The first Moomba was held in 1955.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Narre Warren Library

Narre Warren Library, at Fountain Gate, under construction, 1992.
Click on the photographs to enlarge them.

If you visit the Narre Warren Library you will know that it has recently been refurbished with new carpet and new paint. The Library was opened on its present site on November 21st 1992, by the Governor of Victoria, Richard McGarvie. When it opened it had a book stock of 30,000 and the same space now houses around 90,000 items. The building was designed by the Architectural firm of Lines Macfarlane and Marshall and was constructed by the company J.P Cordukes Pty Ltd whose tender for the building construction was $1,266,418.00. This Library replaced the previous library in Malcolm Court, which had opened on March 7th, 1978 - see photo below.

Narre Warren Library in Malcolm Court - the Library is on the right and the community centre on the left.

Last day at the Malcolm Court Library in 1992.

 Library services had been provided to the Narre Warren Community before this time by the Narre Warren Railway Station Mechanics' Institute. In the nineteenth century the term ‘mechanic’ meant artisan or working man. The Mechanics’ Institute movement began in 1800 when Dr George Birkbeck of the Andersonian Institute in Scotland gave a series of lectures to local mechanics. They led to the formation of the Edinburgh School of Arts (1821) and the London Mechanics’ Institute (1823). The movement spread quickly throughout the British Empire.The first Victorian Mechanics’ Institute was the Melbourne Mechanics’ Institute established in 1839 and renamed The Melbourne Athenaeum in 1873, which continues to operate in its original building in Collins Street. Over a thousand were built in Victoria and 562 remain today including the Narre Warren Railway Station Mechanics' Institute, which was opened on November 9 1891, on land  donated by Sidney Webb.
It had Railway Station added to it's name to distinguish it from the Mechanics' Institute at Narre Warren North. The building was used for lectures, concerts, Balls, billiards, and meetings. It also housed a subscription lending library which initailly was open 3.00pm to 4.00pm on Saturdays and 4.00pm to 5.00pm on Tuesdays. In 1898 there were 990 books in the Library and this had grown to over 2,000 in 1905. The Library ceased operation in 1941, when the books and the shelving were sold. The building itself continues to play an important role in the Community life of Narre Warren.

Narre Warren Mechanics' Institute, opened 1891

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Pakenham South : a short history

Pakenham South Public Hall, formerly the State School.

The area south of Pakenham wasn't closely settled until around 1900 when the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp was well underway. Pakenham South originally covered the area we now know as Cardinia but the locality is now centred around Hall Road and Ellett Road and McDonalds Drain Road. This fluidity of place names is reflected in the names of the State Schools. The first school called Pakenham South opened in April 1874, working, at times, part-time with Toomuc Creek then Officer. In 1881 the school changed its name to Cardinia Creek and closed in May 1906.The next school to be called Pakenham South opened officially on January 1st 1913. The School was built on land purchased from H.Sawyer and Eva Bird was the first Head Teacher. It closed in 1951 when the pupils transferred to Pakenham Consolidated School.

Pakenham South State School, 1927.

The School and Fogarty’s store were located in Hall Road (formerly called Fogarty’s lane). Post Office facilities were available in the area from around 1913 when Miss Bird, the School teacher, was Post Mistress. The O'Brien family took over the Post Office in the 1920s. From 1932 until 1968 the Post Office was located in Ellett Road in the residence of John Ellett. Mr Ellett was Post Master until 1946 when he sold it to Jack Knight , who sold it a year later to Wally Francombe. Mr Francombe was Post Master until the closure of the Post Office in 1968. The Post Office took over the service provided by the Rythdale Post Office when it closed down in the 1940s.

Pakenham South Post Office, taken the year it closed, 1968.
Image is from the National Archives of Australia Post Office Collection , image no. B5919,

Some of the early families in Pakenham South include : Michael and Sarah Shelton, on Ballarto Road, who arrived in 1898 ; John and Jane Ellett, on McDonalds Drain Road, who arrived in 1901 ; Thomas and Eliza Jeremiah on Koo-Wee-Rup - Pakenham Road, south of Hall Road, who arrived in 1902 ; James Arbuthnott, also on the Koo-Wee-Rup - Pakenham Road, who arrived in 1902. The farm continued on in the name of his daughter and son-in-law Dove and Will Rogers ; Samuel and Mary Stephenson, on Ballarto Road. They arrived in 1907 and in 1925 purchased “Rosebank” near McDonalds Drain Road ; William Wadsley and his brother John. They had land on the corner of Hall Road and Five Mile Road ; Peter Milroy arrived in 1908 and his farm was carried on by his daughter and son-in-law, Betty and Jack Sewell ; John and Mary Ann Blackwood, and their 10 children, came to Pakenham South in 1911 ; Richard and Elizabeth O’Hehir (nee Killeen) moved to the Koo-Wee-Rup – Pakenham Road in 1914 and George and Mary Atkins came to McDonalds Drain Road in 1920.

The Pakenham South area has always had a strong sense of community - Church services and Sunday School were held in the School building, a tennis club and cricket club was formed in the 1930s as was a Calf-Club, a sort of Young Farmer's Club. A Red Cross branch was established in 1939 to raise money for Comfort Funds, and the Progress Association was established in July 1946. The Hall Committee was established in 1952 to raise funds to purchase and renovate the disused School building from the Education Department, for use as the public hall.
The Pakenham South War Memorial, on the corner of Hall Road and McDonalds Drain Road.

Much of the information for this post and the School photograph was taken from Look to the Rising sun : Back to Cardinia 1984 - a history of Cardinia and District, including Rythdale and Pakenham South. By Eileen Williams and Jewell Beard. (Published by the Back to Cardinia Committee, 1984)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Australian Dictionary of Biography

The Hon. James Buchanan. M.L.C., and his wife Anne (nee Wilson) with their daughter Annie, and her two children Nancy and Effie Wilson. Annie had married her first cousin, William Wilson. Taken about 1900.
Photo from: Berwick Nostalgia published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society. 

One of my favourite resources is the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). The ADB - which has an 18 volume  print version and an online version and covers people who died before 1990.   The ADB can be accessed online:

It's not just people who were famous on a National level who are in this Dictionary, there are many people with a local connection and I am listing just a few here. W.A.C A'Beckett of The Grange, Harkaway; James Buchanan, an early Berwick resident (pictured above); Lord Casey, after whom the City of Casey was named; Carlo Catani, the engineer who worked on the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp; Edwin Greaves of The Springs, Berwick; Joseph Hawdon, a Eumemmerring squatter; William Hill, founding President of the Victorian Farmers Union, and Parliamentarian who died at Nar Nar Goon; William Lyall of Harewood, Tooradin; Duncan MacGregor, early land owner at Dalmore; Carl Nobelius of the Gembrook Nursery at Emerald; Nettie Palmer, the writer, of Emerald and Jessie Traill, the artist, who lived at Harkaway.

The database allows you to search by name, occupation, religion, nationality and any key word. It a great resource for local and social historians.

Jessie Traill, c. 1920, proofing an etching by subdued light. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2000.63/6

The artist, Jessie Traill. Jessie was a woman of independent means who studied under Frederick McCubbin at the National Gallery School, she nursed in hospitals in France during the First World War and built a studio at Harkaway in 1924 where she worked and lived until she died in 1967. You can read more about Jessie Traill here.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Hallam - Part 3 - Hallam School, No.244

Aerial shot of Hallam, December 1963. The first stages of suburbanisation had commenced with the establishment of Princess Domain Drive, Windsor Street and Edinborough Street, ending in Regal Avenue. You can also see Spring Square and seven houses in Alexander Street. the new Primary School is surrounded by trees in Harmers Road (on the left of the picture). Click on image to enlarge it.

In our last two blog posts we have looked at the early landowners and settlers of Hallam. (Click here and here to read the previous two posts) In this post we present a short history of Hallam School, No.244. This School was established in 1858 and was known as the Eumemmerring Denominational School, it then became a State School, changed its name to Hallam’s Road in 1906 and to Hallam in 1923. In 1894 the School became an adjunct to the Dandenong State School. It wasn't until 1902 that the Education Department recommended that the School be separated from Dandenong. A new school building was erected and opened in November 1904. The original school was located next to the Hallam Hotel, on Andrew's family land.

Hallam School, No. 244 taken in 1924. Photograph from the collection of Jim Alexander, a copy of which has been donated to our Archive.

Due to increasing enrolments in the early 1960s, the Hallam Public Hall was used for classes. Unfortunately this involved children crossing the Princes Highway and a tragic accident resulted in a student losing his life in a car accident in October 1962. Community agitation saw the construction of a new school on its existing site in Harmers Road and this opened in November 1963. The earliest available Pupils registers for the School date from 1905 and early names appearing on the roll include Burton, Kane, Wyman, Battersby, Higgins, Watson, Savage, Johnstone, Hicks, Byron Moncrief, Kirkham, Knights, Kane , Lynn and Graham. All were from farming families except two and their parents worked on the Railways. The railway line from Oakleigh to Bunyip opened October 1877 and the Hallam Railway Station was opened in 1880.

Hallam School, February 1921, on the occasion of the opening of the second room. Photograph from the collection of Jim Alexander, a copy of which has been donated to our Archive.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Hallam - Part 2 - Community builders

In our second post on Hallam, we will look at some of the earliest settlers in the area who lived and worked in the town and helped build the Hallam community (to read the other two posts, click here and here) These families included the Andrews family, the Hallam family and the Frawley family. John and Bridget Andrews settled on 118 acres (about 48 hectares) of the south side of what is now the Princes Highway, in 1854. John and his brother James had been sentenced to transportation and seven years hard labour for stealing two sacks of wheat, two hives of bees and owning a dog, thought to be used for poaching. They served their time in Tasmania and then arrived in Melbourne, where they had a market garden at Brighton. John married Bridget Tracy in 1841. They had eight children. After John died in 1879 the farm passed to his eldest son Thomas, who sold it to his siblings Elizabeth and Frank. Bridget lived with her daughter Elizabeth until her death in 1890 at 75 years of age. Elizabeth run the farm operating a dairy and sold her butter and eggs at the Dandenong market, which she transported on her cart, pulled by Tim, her black pony (pictured below). She died in 1934, aged 85, ending the eighty year Andrews connection to Hallam. Elizabeth is pictured in 1924, above left, with her great-niece Marie Dempsey. Frank and his wife Margaret also had a house on the farm, which is pictured below. Frank was only 39 when he died in 1893.

Elizabeth Andrew's cart, pulled by Old Tim.

John and Bridget Andrews sold land to the Education Board for School No.244, which began as Eumemmering Denominational School, then became a State School, changed its name to Hallam’s Road in 1906 and to Hallam in 1923.Which brings us to the Hallam family, after whom the suburb was named. William and Mary Hallam purchased the 50 acres (20 hectares) in 1856 between the Andrews farm and Hallam Road.They established a store and a Post Office and eventually operated a 'licensed house' which they sold, with their land to Edmund U'ren, in 1885. Edmund operated the premises as a Hotel until his death in 1892, when his wife Elizabeth took over. This Hotel has also being known as Hallam's Road Hotel, Uren's Hotel, Hallam's Eumemmering Hotel and various other combinations of those names which once again reflects the fluidity of the early place names. You can read about the Hallam Hotel, here.

An early photograph of the Hallam Hotel, taken sometime before 1931 when it was modernised and extended.

Another early family was the Frawley family, remembered in the area by Frawley Road. Mary Frawley acquired 60 acres (about 24 hectares) in 1857 on the north side of the Highway. It then passed to her son James, who died in 1906 aged 76. James was married to Roseanna Cosgrave (though she is sometimes listed as Rose) and they had eleven children. After the death of James, the Shire of Berwick Rate Books list the land as being owned by his widow and their son Jeremiah. Jeremiah farmed with his sister Rose and they both remained unmarried. In 1909 the land is listed as being owned by William (another son) and Jeremiah. Rosanna died in 1914, aged 76. Jeremiah retained his ten acres (4 hectares) until 1934 and William sold his remaining land in 1943, 86 years after the Frawley family first arrived in the area.

The house owned by Frank and Margaret Andrews.

Sources :
A small farm at Hallam : the Andrews 1854-1934, complied by Deborah Stephan, from information written and provided by Marie Carson (nee Dempsey). (City of Casey Historical pamphlet 1) Marie is pictured at top with her great aunt. The photographs are from this booklet.
Hallam 1830-1930  by Deborah Stephan. (City of Casey Historical Pamphlet 2)
Call back yesterday: Eumemmering Parish by Jean Uhl (Lowden Publishing 1972).

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Hallam - Part 1 - Early land owners

Over the next few blog posts we will be looking at the history of Hallam. Hallam is a relatively new name for the area, dating from 1905. Before that, the district was known as Hallam's Road after William and Mary Hallam (you can read about them here) and earlier on it was sometimes referred to as Dandenong or Eumemmering, which covered the area basically from the Dandenong Creek to what is now Hallam Road, on both sides of the Princes Highway.

 Hallam formed part of the 14 square mile Eumemmering Squatting Run, first taken up by Dr Farquhar McCrae (1807 - 1850)  in 1839 and transferred to John Vesey Fitzgerald Leslie Foster (1818 - 1900)  in the same year. He was apparently known as “alphabetical Foster’ and was amongst other things a first cousin of Sir William Stawell after whom Stawell Street in Cranbourne was named, as well as the town. He also, in 1843, challenged Dr McCrae to a piston duel over a land sale, when McCrae refused Foster whipped him and his horse with a horse whip. He was later fined £10 and had to pay £250 in damages. Foster went on to help draft Victoria’s constitution, acted as the administrator of the Colony between La Trobe and the arrival of Hotham and suggested that the licence be abolished and replaced by a gold export tax, this was not accepted by Governor Hotham and he actually more strictly enforced the fee, which as we know led to the Eureka uprising at Ballarat.

Back to the Eumemmerring Run -  Foster held the run until 1842 when it was taken up by Edward Wilson and James Stewart Johnson until 1846 when Thomas Herbert Power (1801-1873) took it on. The property then went from around the Dandenong Creek/Power Road all the way to Berwick.

 The large squatting runs were gradually broken up into smaller farms in the 1850s and early land owners included George Darley Boursiquot, the proprietor of an early Melbourne newspaper, The Port Phillip Patriot. This paper was started by John Pascoe Fawkner in 1839, taken over by Boursiquot in 1845 and renamed the Melbourne Daily News in 1848. Another early landowner was the Reverend Hussey Burgh Macartney, the first Dean of Melbourne.

Reverend Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799 - 1894)

The grandly named  Reverend Hussey Burgh Macartney was born in Ireland in 1799 and went to University and became an Anglican Priest.  He married Jane Hardman in 1833 and they had five daughters and three sons. His children were Jane, Frances, Henrietta, Charlotte, John, Hussey and Edward. The family arrived in Melbourne in 1848. He was at various churches then he became Dean of Melbourne in 1852.  The Macartney’s first bought land in the Hallam area in 1852 and in the end they had 417 hectares of land.  You can read his biography here on the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

Another ‘famous’ family connected to the area was the Gunn family after whom Gunns Road was named. Robert Gunn, was an auctioneer and stock agent in the area. His brother Aeneas, was married to Jeannie Taylor, the author of We of the Never Never. Aeneas and Jeannie met in the Hallam area in romantic circumstances.
Jeannie was staying with friends near Narre Warren and driving into the township to attend a
concert one night, the horses in the buggy became restless … Jeannie suggested that she climb down and hold their heads…..She was about to take the last step over the wheel and the horses suddenly backed and Jeannie was thrown into the arm of a man who had gallantly rushed forward to assist. That man was Aeneas Gunn who “having had a woman thrown at him in such a manner, felt it his duty to hold on to her”. They married in 1901 and moved to Elsey Station on the Roper River in the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, their married life was cut short by the death of Aeneas in March 1903. You can read more about Jeannie Gunn here, in the on-line version of the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

In our next post we will look at other early land owners in Hallam, who may not have been famous, but settled in the area and built the community. In the third post we will look at the history of the Hallam State School, No. 244.

The picture of the Reverend Macartney comes from the National Library of Australia collection (nla.pic-an9653347). It is an engraving by H.S.Sadd from a daguerrotype by Batchelder.
The account of the meeting between Jeannie Taylor and Aeneas Gunn comes from Call back yesterday : Eumemmering Parish by Jean Uhl. (Lowden Publishing, 1972)

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Old Bailey Proceedings

The Old Bailey is the nickname of the Central Criminal Court in London and the Proceedings of the Court, from 1674 to 1913, are available on-line at It is a fabulous site and contains the details of over 210,000 criminal trials and the biographical details of approximately 3,000 men and women executed at Tyburn. The Proceedings, which contain accounts of the trials, were published on a regular basis from 1674 until 1913 and were initially targeted at a popular audience. These Proceedings are now digitised and are fully searchable.

You can search by Crime e.g. Theft by pocket picking (there are 13, 656 of those) or by punishment e.g. Transportation (there are 41,515 of those) or you can combine the punishment and the crime and the you will discover that 4,942 people were transported for Theft by pocket picking.

You can also search by name so you might find an ancestor listed as either a defendant, a witness or an official. One simple trial from April 1832 lists John Roach, as the defendant, Edward Grubb, as the victim, and John Jefford and George Robins who are members of the Police force or the Watch. John Roach was 20 at the time of his offence and sentenced to 14 years of transportation. There are also accounts of high profile trials such as the trial of Oscar Wilde for 'gross indency' in 1895. Some of the more interesting punishments include Death - death and dissection and Death - Drawn and Quartered.

They are a fascinating resource for both social and family historians.
A trial in the Old Bailey in 1773. The Old Bailey sentenced over 41,000 people to transportation, firstly to British colonies in America, which stopped after the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. From 1787 they were sent to Australia with the first convicts (736 in all) arriving at Botany Bay with the First Fleet on January 18th, 1788. The First Fleet is pictured above.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Ash Wednesday Bushfire Photographs

Over the past year we have been involved with a State Library of Victoria initiative, the Memory Victoria Project. This has been a three part project with the aim of better management of the Local History collections in Victorian Public Libraries. History Collections in our Library and other public Libraries were assessed by professional historians. Library staff were then given training to help conserve these collections. Thirdly ‘treasures’ were selected from the collections and toured 12 Libraries in Regional Victoria in a Memory Victoria Roadshow.

The material selected for the Roadshow told the unique story of a local area and all the material displayed was linked to the themes of life on the land and community connections. Photographs taken immediately after the Ash Wednesday fires at Cockatoo, by Shire of Pakenham Officers, were chosen from our collection. These photographs documented the aftermath of the fires and the devastation that they caused to the town of Cockatoo. They also show how the Community came together after the Fires.

The Memory Victoria project had a number of benefits for us – our collection was assessed by a professional historian and expert advice was given to help conserve the collection. Secondly, the Roadshow display gave many people a chance to view a part of our collection not normally on public display. Finally, material was displayed from only five public libraries, so it was a privilege to be part of the Roadshow. It is also an honour that Casey Cardinia Library Corporation has a collection of photographs considered to be of State significance, some of which are shown here.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Edwin Flack - our first Olympian

Casey Cardinia has our own Olympic Champion, Edwin Flack. Edwin took part in the first of the Modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896. He came first in the 800 metres, in a time of 2 minutes 11 seconds and first in the 1500 metres (4 minutes, 33.2 seconds).

Edwin Harold Flack was born in London on November 5, 1873 at the family home, 52 Mildway Road, Islington, Middlesex. He came to Australia with his parents, Joseph Henry and Marian (nee Smith), in September 1874, on the Durham. The family settled at Ilfracombe, Murphy Street in South Yarra and another son, Henry Reginald, was born in 1876.* Edwin attended Melbourne Grammar School, then in 1892 he joined his father in the Accountancy firm of Davey, Flack and Company. Edwin took place in various athletic competitions including winning State titles in one and two mile races and in 1894 held the New South Wales record for the two mile event.

He left to work for Price, Waterhouse and Co. in London in 1895 and also joined the London Athletics Club. Edwin was keen to attend the Athens Olympics and used his Annual Leave, paid his own way to attend and paid all his own expenses once he arrived. The trip from London took 6 days. The Games were officially opened by the Greek King on April 6, 1895. Flack raced in his old Melbourne Grammar uniform. The track and field events were dominated by the Americans and Flack was the first non-American to win an event, the 1500m, on April 7. The next day he competed in the Singles Tennis and the Doubles Tennis, he then went on to win the 800m race. He recorded in his diary that he 'won comfortably'. The day after that, April 9, Edwin entered the 26 mile Marathon, but collapsed after 23 miles and didn't finish the event. It is no wonder that he gained the nickname The lion of Athens. Edwin returned to Melbourne in 1898 and worked as an Accountant.

The Panathenean Stadium in Athens.
The opening ceremony, on Easter Monday, April 6, 1896, drew a crowd of almost 80,000.
311 athletes took part in the Games of which 230 were Greek.

His actual connection to Casey Cardinia doesn't come about until 1916 when he purchased three parcels of land in Berwick , 75 acres, 48 acres and 44 acres (all up, around 67 hectares). This included the property Burnbank, of which the earliest section dates from c. 1854, where Flack established a Friesian stud. He died on January 10, 1935 at the age of 61, was cremated, and has a headstone in the Berwick cemetery. He never married. His brother Henry Reginald, married Dorothy Martha Wilson in 1915. Dorothy was the daughter of Osbert and Lily (nee Gutheridge) Wilson. They had one son, Paul Reginald Ashley Flack (1917 - 1994),  and he had no children.*

Edwin established a Trust in his Will that had been distributing grants since his death in 1935. It is the Marion and E.H. Flack Trust which supports the following areas - Medical research, Services to aged care, Services that assist the elderly, Services to disadvantaged groups or organisations, Services that directly support children, adolescents, adults and families who are disadvantaged due to education, financial, and/or social circumstances, Services to community health Services, Creative arts and Organisations that undertake activities that offer services covering two or more of the categories above. See the website, here,

Edwin Flack has been honoured with a Statue in High Street Berwick, opposite the Berwick Inn.

* The details of Edwin's birth place, the family arrival in Australia, his brother's marriage and family and the Flack Trust are from Mrs Janet Ellis, of Sydney, whose husband's mother was a Flack. (Personal conversations August 2019)

Some of this information comes from Edwin Flack : the lion of Athens by Peter Sweeney (Published by the Author, 2004). Available for loan at Casey Cardinia Libraries. 

The photographs on this post were taken from a now defunct page on the City of Casey website. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

National Archives of Australia - Post Office photograph collection

Gembrook Post Office, late 1960s. (Image no. B5919/741)

Narre Warren Post Office, late 1960s. (Image no. B5919, 1537)

I was searching the National Archives of Australia site ( the other day and I came across a most fabulous resource. They have photographs of Post Offices, on line. Most of the photos are taken in the late 1960s, but there are some older ones, some from 1901 and some taken from the Victorian Post Office Photo Album of 1943/44. In the rapidly changing Casey Cardinia region, these photographs are a glimpse of our past, when most of our towns were just that, country towns.
Vervale Post Office, 1967. ( Image no.B5919/2186)

To access the Post Office photographs, on the National Archives of Australia website, , click on Photo Search in the top right hand corner, then Search, then enter the name of your location and the words Post Office.

Cockatoo Post Office, late 1960s. (Image no. B5919, 531)

Yannathan Post Office, late 1960s. (Image no. B5919/2378)

These photographs belong to Series B5919, which as well as containing photographs of Post Offices, also has photographs of Post Office equipment, transport and Uniforms. The whole Series occupies 30 metres of shelving and has over 5,400 photographs.

Doveton Post Office, 1966. (Image no. B5919/601)

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Carlo Catani

Drainage works on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp
Illustration published in the Illustrated Australian News January 1 1892
State Library of Victoria Image IAN01/01/92/20

There are a number of towns in Casey Cardinia, named after local identities. We have already looked at Pearcedale, which was named after early settlers, Nathaniel and Mary Grace Pearce. The town of Catani is named after Carlo Catani who was one of the Engineers in charge of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Drainage scheme. I thought it would be interesting to find out a bit about the man behind the name.

Carlo was born on April 22 1852 in Florence in Italy. He was the son of Enrico Catani, who was a merchant, and Augusta Geri. He was educated as a Civil Engineer at the Technical Institute of Florence. Carlo and his two friends, Pietro Baracchi and Ettore Checchi, arrived in Melbourne, via New Zealand, in September 1876.

The trio were employed as draftsmen by the Department of Lands and Survey. In 1880, Catani was registered as a Surveyor and in 1882 he and Checchi joined the Public Works Department as Engineering draftsmen. By 1886, they were both assistant Engineers. Checchi (1853 - 1946) went on to become an Engineer with the State Rivers & Water Supply Commission when it was established in 1906. Baracchi (1851 - 1926)  became the Acting Government Astronomer for Victoria and later joined the Commonwealth Government as an Astrologist and Meteorologist.  Catani was promoted to the Head of his Section in 1892. In 1893, the Public Works Department resumed the control of the Swamp drainage works from private contractors and Catani was appointed as the Engineer.
Catani implemented the Village Settlement Scheme. Under this Scheme, all workers had to be married, accept a 20 acre block and spend a fortnight working on the drains for wages and a fortnight improving their block and maintaining adjoining drains. The villages were Koo-Wee-Rup, Five Mile, Cora Lynn, Vervale, Iona and Yallock.

Lubecker Steam Bucket Dredge in action. 
I suspect that this must have been taken shortly after it arrived in 1913 by the number of interested observers.
State Library of Victoria Image rwg/u866  You can see more of these photographs here

Catani was also responsible for the first mechanical equipment used on the Swamp. He had ordered the Lubecker Steam Bucket Dredge in 1912 and it arrived in 1913 at a cost of £4,700. It weighed 80 tons and had a capacity of 61 cubic metres per hour. A labourer at the time dug about 8 cubic metres per day. It was used on the Lang Lang River, then on the Main Drain, Cardinia Creek and Yallock Drain.

Catani’s other work with the Public Works Department included flood mitigation works on the Yarra River. He was responsible for planting the elms, oaks and poplars along Alexandra Avenue. He designed the Morrell bridge. The laying out and planting of the Alexandra Gardens was also carried out under Catani’s direction. His last major project was the reclamation of the St Kilda foreshore. The gardens he designed at the end of Fitzroy Street were named after him as was the Catani arch bridge on the St Kilda foreshore. There is a bronze bust of Carlo Catani on the Clock tower on the St Kilda esplanade. 
Contemporaries of Catani said that he 'saw possibilities to which others were blind' and that he had 'unfailing courtesy and a kindly nature.'

Carlo was naturalised in 1892. He married Catherine Hanley of Port Fairy on May 18 1886 at the Free Church of England in Fitzroy, by the Reverend Nathaniel Kinsman. They had six children, Edward (b.1886 and d.1887), Elvira May (1888-1947), Enrico Ferdinando (b.1891-killed in Action in France in 1916), Ettore Luigi (1893-1967), Eugenia Anastasia (1895-1915) and Enid Marguerite (1899-1950). Catani died July 20,  1918 at the age of 66 and is buried at the Brighton cemetery. Catherine died in 1925, aged 68. None of the children married.

Carlo Catani
 Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photo.

I looked at Enrico's Military Record and found that he was Killed in Action on July 29 1916. Enrico was a Second Lieutenant, had served at Gallipoli before serving in France. He was buried at Cemetery Post Station, near Pozieres. However in a interesting and poignant twist, in 1932 the body of an 'unknown' soldier was exhumed from another location and this was identified through the identification disc and other personal effects to be Enrico Catani. There are a series of letters in Enrico's Military file between the Australian War Graves Service and Enid Catani regarding this discovery. In the end Enrico was buried again in the Serre Road Cemetery near Beaumont Hamel, in France. The body of the Officer, who was initially thought to be Enrico, now has a headstone stating that he is an 'unknown Australian Lieutenant'. In one of the letters Enid sent to the Government regarding the discovery of her brother's body, Enid said that her surviving brother, Ettore, had never recovered from the shock of Enrico's death and is under the care of the Master-in Equity of the Supreme Court. The Master-in-Equity looked after people who did not have the legal capacity to care for themselves. It sad to think that effectively, the family lost two sons to the First World War.

You can read more about Carlo Catani, here, on a blog devoted to his life and works.

Most of this information comes from the article on Carlo Catani, written by Ronald McNicoll, in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. 

The information on his children comes from the Victorian and New South Wales, Indexes to the Births , Deaths and Marriages. 

The information on Enrico's Military Service can be found on the National Archives of Australia website The National Archives has digitised the records of all the First World War soldiers and they can be printed or downloaded, free.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Endeavour Hills

Endeavour Hills, early 1970s.

Endeavour Hills was officially gazetted as a suburb on July 14, 1971. According to the Endeavour Gazette : the official newsletter of Endeavour Hills, the project was first conceived in 1970 when Lewis Land Corporation purchased the 1,032 acre site (about 420 hectares). The developers wanted to create a modern suburb that would make use of as many advanced town planning ideas as possible. Endeavor Hills was designed with large areas of parks and sports grounds. Schools, Churches and shops were integrated into the design plan and all the power lines were underground. The first land sales, from the Lewis Land Corporation, took place on November 24, 1973.

The first Endeavour Gazette, where much of the information for this article came from.

As the suburb was being developed at the same time as the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Captain Cook in the Endeavour, it was considered fitting to name the suburb after the Endeavour. There are over 80 streets in Endeavour Hills named after crew on the Endeavour. Daniel Solander was a Naturalist, Zachary Hicks Crescent was named after the second Lieutenant, Howson Close was named for William Howson, the Captain's servant, who joined the ship at age 16. Other streets in the suburb have been named after historical figures such as David Collins, Deputy Judge Advocate, who arrived with the First Fleet and later established the ill fated settlement at Sorrento and John Fawkner and Thomas Mitchell. Other early suggestions for names for the new suburb were Pine Hill and Piney Ridge, due to the number of pine trees in the area, as you can see in the photograph at the top of this post.

An early aerial view of Endeavour Hills. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The first stage of the development consisted of 312 sites. These sites were located on James Cook Drive ; Isaac Smith Drive and the six Closes running off Isaac Smith Drive - Nicholson, Rearden, Terrell, Howson, Manley and Slatterly ; Joseph Banks Crescent and the eight Courts off Joseph Banks Crescent - Hughes, Parker, Dawson, Jordan, Ramsay, Haite, Hardman and Sutherland. Early residents could choose from three different building companies and prices started at $14,500 for a 13.8 square house to $18,200 for a 17.25 square house. A block of land cost about $12,500.

Lewis Land Corporation Sales Office, early 1970s. 
The Sales Centre was on the corner of Heatherton Road and Joseph Banks Crescent.

An early sales brochure.

Endeavour Hills was promoted as a prestige suburb with good capital return, being close to Dandenong, near the Freeway and near the Churchill National Park. New residents received a voucher for a free supply of native plants and shrubs for their garden.