Friday, 30 May 2008

Hampton Park

The area that is now called Hampton Park, is part of the Parish of Eumemmerring. Until the Hampton Park sub-division in 1917-1918 rate payers of the area were listed variously as living in Eumemmerring, Dandenong or Lyndhurst. The area was locally known as Garner’s Paddock, after the owners, the Garner family of Dandenong.

The first European settlers in the area were the Edey family, Isaac and Catherine and their two sons William and Tom. They selected 231 hectares (572 acres) of land around Hallam Road in 1842. Their homestead was situated about where Ormond Road is now. Isaac (1808-1886) and Catherine (nee Davis 1820-1875)  had two sons, William and Tom. William married in 1874 to Mary Anne O'Leary and they had five children - Emily, Maggie, Lily, William and Percival Isaac, who all worked at home on the farm.

Other early settlers in the area were Peter Davis who purchased 128 hectares (316 acres) of land in 1852 and then another 358 hectares (885 acres) in 1854. This land was purchased for one pound per acre. The other early settler was David Duncan who purchased 163 hectares (156 acres) in 1863. These three original land owners subdivided their land during the last part of the nineteenth century into smaller farms of up to 40 hectares (100 acres) . The Reedy family were one of the purchasers. Jack and George Reedy returned to their dairy farm after serving in World War One. Jack’s wife, Dolly, was Secretary of the Progress Association for 30 years. Their son, Ken, has had the Ken Reedy reserve in Hampton Park named in his honour as recognition for his community work. The Scott family purchased part of Garner’s paddock and run a dairy farm on the south side of Somerville Road.

An interesting fact about Hampton Park was that it used to be the site of the Cranbourne Pound.
According to Niel Gunson the author of  The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire the area had originally enclosed the Dandenong Pound (later known as the Cranbourne Pound).  The ‘pound’ Paddock was later owned by the Garner family of Diamond Hill, well known in Dandenong as undertakers and coach builders. When W. Garner was gored by a bull the paddock was purchased by E.V Jones of Somerville Road, Footscray. It was Jones that created the Hampton Park subdivision in 1916 (more on this below). The Dandenong Pound was officially established November 20, 1849 and the name was changed to the Cranbourne Pound in July 1868. This pound was closed in January 1887 and relocated. Pound Road led to the pound and that is why it is called that. You can read more on Pound Road, here.

Hampton Park sub-division map, c. 1920
State Library of Victoria 

Further subdivision took place after the World War One into blocks between 2 and 8 hectares. This subdivision was named the “Hampton Park” estate by the developer Edward Victor Jones of Somerville Road, Footscray. These settlers were the first residents of the town of Hampton Park. They were tradesmen or worked on the red gum timber, in the clay deposits at the Hallam pits or for local farmers. Among the settlers were the Norris, Robjant and the Kirkham families. The Norris family owned the store. Mrs Annie Norris had the honour of cutting the ribbon to open the Primary school. Mr W Norris and Mr F Kirkham were secretary and President respectively of the Progress Association. Mr Fred Robjant donated land for the Methodist Church. The first Post Office was conducted by Mrs Norris (no relation to the other Norris family).

The small town of Hampton Park soon grew and community organizations were formed. The Primary School was opened in February 1922 with 28 students enrolled. The Hampton Park Progress Association was established around 1925, possibly 1923,  and the Public hall on September 8, 1937. You can read a report about the opening celebrations, here.  In the late 1930s or early 1940s electricity was connected to the town and the Fire Brigade established. In the 1960s town water was connected. The very early settlers of Hampton Park had to rely on water from the Dandenong Creek or a dam on Scott’s farm. The 1960s also saw the establishment of the Tennis Club, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the establishment  of St Kevin’s Catholic Church, in Somerville Road. The St Kevin's building was re-located from Glen Waverley.

The former St Leonard's Church from Glen Waverley was relocated to Hampton Park and opened in late 1961. Pictures from A Parish carved from the Bush : the centenary history of the Dandenong parish (St Mary's) 1883-1983. (Published by St Mary's Church in 1983). Click on the image to enlarge it.

There were some minor residential sub-divisions off Somerville Road in 1955 and again in 1961. Large scale sub divisions began in the 1970s, no doubt spurred on by the connection to the sewerage system in 1973. With the new housing came a new population and the need for increased community facilities. The 1970s saw the construction of another primary school and a shopping centre. In the 1980s the Senior Citizens, the Community House were established as well as the Secondary College which opened in 1987. St Kevin's Catholic Primary School was established in 1988 in Somerville Road and relocated to the current site in Hallam Road in 1990. A new Church and Parish Hall was built in 1991. This decade also saw the expansion of Hampton Park east of Hallam Road. Parks were established, including the Marjorie Eastick Reserve. Mrs Eastick was a long term resident of Hampton Park and involved with the Progress Association and other community groups.

Hampton Park may no longer be the small country town that it was in the 1920s but it has a strong community spirit which has seen the residents and the Hampton Park Progress Association continually work for new community facilities. This is reflected in the new Community hall, the Arthur Wren hall, that was opened in 1994 to replace the 1930s building, and more recently the opening of the Hampton Park library in January 2004.

Much of the information about the early days of Hampton Park comes from The history of Hampton Park by Roy R. Scott, written in 1970 and  published in the Dandenong and  District Historical Society Journal, Gipps-land Gate.

I have created a list of newspaper articles about the early days of Hampton Park on Trove, click here to access the list.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Railways - The Strzelecki Line

The train leaving Yannathan Station, Easter 1940, on the way to Bayles.
From the Bayles Fauna Park Collection.

In this post we will look at another railway line which traversed the Casey Cardinia region -  the railway line which used to run from Koo Wee Rup to Strzelecki. At its opening in 1922 it was known as the Koo Wee Rup to McDonald’s Track Railway. McDonald’s Track had been surveyed between 1860 and 1862 by George McDonald. It ran between Lang Lang, Poowong, over Mt Worth to Moe with the aim of providing a stock route through to Sale. The Gippsland Railway line through to Sale was completed in 1879 and early McDonald’s Track settlers, especially those around Poowong, soon began to agitate for a railway line to help ease their transport problems through the densely forested, damp hills. The 32 kilometres (20 miles) or so between Poowong and Drouin took over a days travel and all goods and produce were carted on pack horses or drays.

Various routes for a railway line were suggested including one from Drouin to Welshpool via McDonalds Track or Drouin to Poowong via Longwarry. The Great Southern Railway line to Port Albert via Koo Wee Rup, Leongatha and Foster was opened in 1892, by-passing Poowong. The opening of this line coupled with the draining of the Koo Wee Rup Swamp saw fresh demands from the McDonald Track settlers and the Swamp settlers for a new line. The Swamp was a large producer of dairy products and vegetables and there was also a growing sand mining industry. In 1912 a new Railway line was proposed from Koo Wee Rup to McDonalds Track via areas of the newly drained Swamp.

The Koo Wee Rup to McDonalds Track Railway Construction Act was proclaimed on October 12th, 1914 and construction began on August 4th 1915. Construction of the line was slowed by the re-allocation of resources during the First World War and didn’t resume with any pace until 1919. Construction was carried out in three stages. The Swamp area from Koo Wee Rup to Heathhill, the foothills area of Heathhill to Triholm and the mountain area from Triholm to Strzelecki. The line officially opened June 29 1922 although the Bayles Station commenced operation over a year earlier on February 10, 1921and Catani was operational from June 1921*.  The finished line was 49 kms (30 and a half miles) in length and unfortunately for the people of Poowong they were bypassed once again. 

The first timetable had three trains per week carrying both passengers and goods but lack of patronage saw the Strzelecki station close in November 1930 and less than 20 years after their opening Triholm, Topiram, Athlone and Heathhill closed in August 1941. The passenger service also closed in August 1941. Yannathan was now the terminus.

The train at Bayles. 
Image: Bayles Fauna Park Collection.

The farm produce, cattle and milk and the sand mining from the Koo Wee Rup Swamp kept the Catani and Yannathan Stations open until April 1950 and Bayles to February 1959. The site of the Bayles Railway station is now the Fauna Reserve and various remnants of the Railway service can be seen there. There is also a display of historic photographs.

At the peak of the rail traffic in 1926 Koo Wee Rup Station had a staff of eleven and had 48 passenger and mixed trains and 72 goods trains per week.

This information comes mainly from Steam to Strzelecki : the Koo-Wee-Rup to McDonald’s Track railway by Merilyn Ramsay. Published by the Australian Railway Historical Society in 1991. Unfortunately it is now out of print.

*Date of Bayles Station comes from Mickle Memories of Koo Wee Rup: for young and old, v.1 by Dave Mickle (The Author, 1983) p. 75. The date of the Catani Station openeing comes from The Argus, June 23, 1921.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Railways - The line that never was

The Pakenham Gazette and Berwick Shire News, from 1909-1965, is available to view at our Libraries on DVD. I came across this article from the Berwick Shire News of Wednesday, October 19th, 1910.

At a meeting of the Ferntree Gully Shire Council on Saturday, Councillor Crichton moved that Mr Keast, M.L.A be asked to approach the Government with a request to extend the Gembrook line to the New South Wales border via Wood's Point and Omeo. This motion was agreed to unanimously. Cr Crichton then went on to say that it was estimated there were over 4,000,000 acres of Crown Lands between Beenak and the New South Wales border, occupied by dingoes and wallabies only. At 3000 pounds per mile the 200 mile narrow gauge railway would cost 600,000 pounds. It was suggested that the cost of the rail would be off-set by the sale of Crown land, which should realise 625,000 pounds. The article continues If this scheme were carried out it would add 200 miles of railway to the State at practically no cost to the Government and would open up a large area of mineral country to the miner. Clearing the country would find work for the unskilled labourer all the year round and the adoption of the scheme would do away to a great extent with the necessity for buying large estates for closer settlement.

It would probably not surprise you to know that this rather ambitious railway line was never built.

Monday, 12 May 2008

The Railways - Puffing Billy line.

Photograph from The story of the Dandenongs by Helen Coulson. (Published by F.W.Cheshire, 1959

In this blog we will look at the third railway line in Casey Cardinia, the famous and much loved Puffing Billy line. The railway line had been extended from Ringwood to Upper Ferntree Gully in 1889 and locals were keen to have a rail service to Gembrook. A Gembrook Railway League was established, as was a Sassafrass Railway League. This community agitation paid off with the passing of the Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook Railway Construction Act on August 151898. The railway that was built was of narrow gauge (2 feet 6 inches) and opened officially on December 181900. The Stations on the line at the time of the opening were Upper Ferntree Gully, Monbulk (later called Belgrave), Menzies Creek (at one stage called Aura, until it was changed back to Menzies Creek), Emerald, Devon (later called Cockatoo Creek, then Cockatoo) and Gembrook. By the 1940s the Stations were Upwey, opened 1901; Tecoma, opened 1924; Belgrave; Selby, opened 1904; Menzies Creek; Paradise, later called Clematis, opened 1902; Emerald; Nobelius Siding, opened 1904; Nobelius, opened 1927; Lakeside, opened 1944; Wright, opened 1904; Cockatoo; Fielder, opened 1929 and Gembrook.

The Little Train ,as it was affectionately known to locals, was not allowed to travel at a greater speed than 15 miles per hour (about 24 kph) and the 40 mile (about 65km) journey from Melbourne to Gembrook took four hours.

Carl Nobelius of Gembrook Nurseries at Emerald was an early supporter of the line and he had his own Siding built in 1904, beside his packing shed. By the start of the First World war the Nobelius Nurseries occupied over 80 hectares and produced 3 million trees for sale.

Nobelius Siding in 1904. Taken from Nobelius Heritage Park : an illustrated guide by Jo Jenkinson.
(Published by Emerald Museum, 2002)

The Little Train was popular with the locals though the line generally made a loss. It was recommended for closure in 1936 but a public outcry kept the line open for timber, potatoes and market garden produce. A landslide near Menzies Creek, in August 1953, blocked the the line and it was announced that it would close permanently in mid 1954, but once again the public rallied. The Puffing Billy Preservation Society (P.B.P.S) was formed on June 8 1955. The name Puffing Billy, a nick name for the various locomotives, has been in use since 1903 but became prominent in the 1950s.

The Society operated Puffing Billy trains between Upper Ferntree Gully to Belgrave until February 23, 1958, after which the narrow gauge rails were replaced with a broad gauge and the line was electrified. This journey is pictured at the top.

The P.B.P.S spent the next few years working to re-open the line, beyond Belgrave. The landslide was was by-passed and a new track was built . This work was undertaken as a training exercise by the Citizen Military Forces (a forerunner of the Army Reserve). The track had to be re-sleepered in parts, rolling stock looked after, stations prepared. The Puffing Billy line was officially opened to Menzies Creek in July 1962. Three years later in July 1965 Puffing Billy returned to Emerald, ten years later in 1975 to Lakeside and finally on October 18 1998 it returned to Gembrook. Puffing Billy has carried 8 million passengers since it re-opened in 1962.

That the Puffing Billy train still runs today is a testament to the dedication of the volunteers of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society. The official Puffing Billy website can be found at

A number of books have been been published on the Puffing Billy line - click here to  see what the Library holds.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Railways - The Great Southern line

Cranbourne Railway Station
Photo source: The Great Southern Railway : the illustrated history of the building of the line in South Gippsland by Keith Macrae Bowden

In the last post we looked at the Gippsland Railway line, this blog will present a history of the Great Southern line to South Gippsland. The completion of the Gippsland line in 1879 encouraged settlement in the area as new settlers used the stations as jumping off points and would walk to new selections in the hills. Railway Leagues were established to push for more lines. The steep hills of South Gippsland and the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp meant overland travel for South Gippsland was difficult. Residents from Foster had to travel to Sale and then by rail. People living around Port Albert travelled and received supplies by sea. The Great Southern line commenced construction in 1887 and was opened to Korumburra on June 2, 1891. It was then completed in two more sections, Korumburra to Toora and Toora to Port Albert.

A trestle bridge over the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp
Photo source: The Great Southern Railway : the illustrated history of the building of the line in South Gippsland by Keith Macrae Bowden

The Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp had proven to be impediment to the construction. The contractor had to construct bridges within the embankments to allow water to escape. Each bridge was over 100 metres long and there were four separate bridges per mile (1.6 km). The bridges had 72 piles which were initially dragged by bullock, until some bullocks sank in the mud. The contractors, Falkingham and Son, then had to carry the piles on a locomotive on the existing track, so no bridge could be built until they came to the site. Some of these early timber bridges can still be seen around Koo-Wee-Rup and are in the Cardinia Shire Heritage Register.In fact even after the Railway opened the Swamp was still not completely drained and a journalist travelling on a train reported that when traversing the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, it ‘had the appearance of an inland sea, where water lay deep on either hand and spread far over the land’

Lyndhurst Station
Photo source: The Great Southern Railway : the illustrated history of the building of the line in South Gippsland by Keith Macrae Bowden

The original Stations from Dandenong, in the Casey Cardinia region, were Lyndhurst, Cranbourne, Clyde, Tooradin. This section to Tooradin opened October 1, 1888. Dalmore (originally called Peer’s Lane, then Koo-Wee-Rup West) and Koo-Wee-Rup (originally called Yallock) opened August 191889. Monomeith (originally called Glassock’s), Caldermeade, and Lang Lang (originally called Carrington) opened in February 1890.

The South Gippsland Railway line now stops at Cranbourne.  Passenger services beyond Dandenong ceased in June 1981 but goods services continued to operate. In 1992, the goods trains ceased and this is when the line beyond Leongatha was taken up. The passenger service was reinstated on December 9 1984 and continued to run until July 23 1993. Trains returned between Dandenong and Cranbourne when the line was electrified in March 1995.  Lyndurst Station is no more, although it was apparently used until 2009 for cement. However, Merinda Park Station opened in March 1995 in conjunction with the new electrified line and Lynbrook Station opened April 2012.

Lang Lang Railway Station
Photo source: Public Records Office of Victoria VPRS 12800/P1, item H 4285

The photographs and most of the information in this post comes from The Great Southern Railway : the illustrated history of the building of the line in South Gippsland by Keith Macrae Bowden. Published in 1970 by the Australian Railway Historical Association. Unfortunately it is now out of print.