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