Thursday, 30 July 2009

Narre Warren and District Family History Group

National Family History Week takes place from Saturday, August 1st until Sunday, August 9th 2009. We have our own Family History Group based in Casey Cardinia, the Narre Warren and District Family History Group. The Group has just celebrated their 20th anniversary and are still going strong.

The members of the 20th anniversary sub-committee, cutting the birthday cake. Left to right - Faye McCoubrie, Pam Lowther, Lorraine Taylor, Wendy Goodwin, Lynne Bradley and Eileen Durdin.

The first meetings of the Group were held in Lorraine Taylor’s living room at her house in Sweeney Drive in Narre Warren on May 10th 1989. Resources were owned personally by the members and shared with others at each meeting. In June 1989 the Group affiliated with the Genealogical Society of Victoria and in July they produced their first newsletter, Spreading Branches. The Group fund-raised to purchase resources, and from October 1990 the meetings moved to the Presbyterian Church meeting room in Narre Warren. When the Narre Warren Library opened on November 21st 1992 they moved into a room there, and have been with the Library ever since.

The Family History Group has a well resourced Research Room staffed with knowledgeable, helpful and friendly volunteers. The Group also produces valuable research about the Casey Cardinia area – they have transcribed registers and created Indexes to the burials at Harkaway, Berwick and Pakenham cemeteries. Another great and on-going project is their Casey Cardinia Index, a combined index of every local history book written on a town, organisation or person in the Casey Cardinia area.

They have also produced a history of their first 20 years, called
Kindred Spirits.  It is an interesting account of the Group from the first meeting in May 1989 to the successful group they are today, with over 100 members.

If you have been involved in Family History research you will know how much change there has been in genealogical resources over the past twenty years - index cards have been replaced by microfiche which in turn have been replaced by on-line resources, such as Ancestry database. In fact, it has got to the stage now where people expect to find their whole family tree complete and sitting there on the Internet waiting for them. One of the early projects which the Group undertook was transcribing the Shire of Berwick Rate books, by hand, onto individual index cards. The City of Berwick and the Cardinia Shire have since microfilmed the Rate books and they are available on CD-ROM.

The Shire of Berwick Rate Cards. Each rate-payer had their own Index card. It was a labour of love and dedication to produce these cards.

The Group were based at the Narre Warren Library until September 2017 when they shifted to rooms in the Cranbourne Library Complex (65 Berwick-Cranbourne Road). Check out their website for opening hours, meetings and other information.

Come along to check out their resources, get some advice and find out for yourself what a supportive friendly group they are.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

B.J Wallis Gardens and the Lily Pond at Pakenham

Near the Cardinia Shire Offices, in Henty Way, at Pakenham are the B.J. Wallis Gardens, created from an old quarry, and the Lily pond, which is off Duncan Drive. The B.J. Wallis Gardens were officially opened on May 30th 1993 by the Shire President, Cr Bill Ronald.

The old quarry before the gardens were complete. The Lily pond is on the right, towards the top of the photograph.

The gardens were named in honour of the Shire Secretary, Barry John Wallis. Mr Wallis was Shire Secretary of the Shire of Berwick from 1966 until 1973 and the Shire of Pakenham from 1973 until 1982. A report in the Pakenham Gazette of June 2nd, 1993 which covered the opening of the Gardens mentioned that Barry Wallis grew up in Pakenham and regularly visited the quarry as a child and that during the construction of the Shire Offices (officially opened July 28th 1983) he recognised the potential of the quarry to become a landscaped garden. The Gardens now include a rotunda and a series of walking tracks.

The B.J Wallis Gardens, shortly after completion.

The gardens were created around a quarry, originally owned by Thomas Henty of Pakenham Park. Thomas was the grandchild of Thomas and Frances Henty, who with their children James, Charles, William, Edward, Stephen, John, Francis and Jane had arrived in various Australian colonies from 1829 to 1832.

Thomas Henty was born in Launceston in 1836 to James and his wife Charlotte (nee Carter). Thomas purchased the property Pakenham Park from Dr James Bathe in 1865. Henty was a member of the Berwick Shire Council from 1866, and Shire President on two occasions from 1869-1872 and 1873-74, and from 1884 to 1887 he was a member of the Legislative Council. He married Lucy Pinnock in 1869 and they had eight sons and two daughters. The first regular Church of England services in Pakenham were held at Pakenham Park and Thomas Henty purchased six acres of land in 1871 for the ‘old’ Church of England, on the corner of Main Street and McGregor Road. He also laid the foundation stone for the building on December 7th 1883. He named the Church St James, in honour of his father. The first service at the Church was held in May 1884.

After Thomas Henty died in 1887 the land was taken over by his son, James Reginald Henty, who retained the homestead block until he died in 1929. James Henty enlisted in the Boer War, was a Berwick Shire Coucillor and Shire President 1913-1914. A boulder, near the Shire Offices, marks the place were his ashes were scattered. After Henty died the land was purchased in 1932 by Frank and Evelyn Duncan, after whom Duncan Road is named.

A view of the Rotunda and Quarry walls, taken shortly after completion.

Henty’s quarry supplied stone used for the construction of the Melbourne to Sale railway line. The Oakleigh to Bunyip section opened October 1877. During the construction of the line a canvas town developed on Henty’s hill, with a population estimated at 400. The men worked on the line and worked in the quarry.

The Lily Pond was also part of Henty land and was originally of eight acres (around 3.2 hectres). It is pictured below in 1929.

These photographs were taken in 1929.
The original inscription on the photograph above is The dam at Pakenham.
The original inscription on the photograph below is Seddon gathering lilies, Pakenham Park dam.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Pakenham in the 1980s and early 1990s.

We have many treasures in our Archive including these interesting photographs of Pakenham, taken in the 1980s to early 1990s. They are interesting because they show Pakenham when it was changing from a country town to the outer suburb of Melbourne which it is today. Our family has a connection with Pakenham over the past fifty years - we all went to Pakenham Consolidated School in the 1960s and early 1970s, we went to the Presbyterian, later Uniting, Church and did our shopping at Pakenham so I do remember Pakenham when it was a country town and have seen the development over the past twenty five years. If, like me, you knew Pakenham as a country town then these photographs will bring back memories and if you have a more recent connection to Pakenham, then these photographs will show you a part of Pakenham's 'modern' history.

Main Street in Pakenham, taken November 1985, looking south to Henty Street, the Safeways complex and the railway line. Click on the photograph to enlarge it. The roundabout is the intersection of Main Street and John Street. On the right is the old Methodist Church. This was built in 1914, though the Pakenham Methodist Home Mission Station had previously catered to the Methodist of the district from 1885. The Church was demolished around 1986-1987. Next to the Church, on the right, are the Erica Place units, apparently the first set of units built in Pakenham. They were constructed around 1982. Heading east down Main Street on the left side of John Street was N.N. Webster Real Estate Agents, pictured immediately below, taken around the same time as the aerial photograph. Continuing down Main Street we come to the Old Pakenham Post Office, with its distictive terra cotta roof, which is also pictured below.

Noel Webster's grandfather had arrived in Pakenham in 1892, and had a butchers shop in the Main Street. Noel purchased the Real Estate business from H. Hogan in 1947. According to this advertisement from the Back to Pakenham Souvenir booklet of March 1951, H. Hogan commenced his business in 1900.

The Pakenham Post Office was built in 1924 in 'Georgian revival' style. This Post Office actually began as the Pakenham East Post Office, as the original town of Pakenham was centred on the Princes Highway and Toomuc Creek and the town that developed around the Railway Station from 1877 was known as Pakenham East. It was still referred to as Pakenham East well into the 1960s. The Railway Station also contained the first Pakenham East Post Office. This Post Office building was demolished in the late 1990s.

As we wander further east down the Main Street we come to Robinsons SSW supermarket, later taken over by Safeways. This wasn't Robinson's first store, they were originally closer to John Street, and the business was also an advertiser in the Back to Pakenham Souvenir booklet of March 1951.

This aerial was also taken November 1985, looking north up Main Street. Click on photograph to enlarge it. If we turn left at the roundabout at John Street you can see the old premises of the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society (pictured below). On the northern right hand side of this intersection is the original Shire Offices, which were extended and partly concealed in a new structure in 1962. The Railway line is on left as is Safeways and the vacant land is the site of what is now Coles and Target.

The headquarters of the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society. Sadly, no amount of creative photography could make this building look attractive. The Historical Society commenced in 1962 as the Historical Society of the Berwick Shire. They moved from this building to space at the Pakenham Library (built 1991) and are now in the re-furbished and re-located Old Shire Offices on the corner of Main Street and the Princes Highway. The original Shire Offices were built in 1912 on the corner of Main Street and John Street and remained virtually intact in spite of their modernisation in 1962. The building was moved it's current location in 2004.

A general overview of the Pakenham Shopping centre area, taken around 1985. If you click on this photograph to enlarge it you will get a good view of the old Shire Offices, referred to above. In the foreground is Henty Street.

In the left foreground of this November 1985 aerial are the current Shire Offices. Behind it is the Pakenham Secondary College. Secondary education, up to Form 4 or Year 10, had been provided in Pakenham until 1966 at the Pakenham Consolidated School. When Pakenham High School was established in 1967 it continued to use the Consolidated School for accommodation, until its own premises were opened in February 1970.

The official opening of the Shire of Pakenham Municipal Offices and Council Chambers by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Brian Murray with the Shire President, Cr Austin Bastow on July 28th, 1983.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Cannons Creek, Warneet and Blind Bight - Part 2

In our last blog post we talked about the two squatting runs, Kilmore and Balla Balla. These two runs were eventually broken into smaller farms and one of these farms was developed as the township of Blind Bight. The development was approved in 1968 and the first 80 blocks were sold in 1974. Two years later there were 13 residents and in 1981 just over 60, and by 1987 around 320. A Progress Association was formed in 1976, Foreshore Committee in 1982, a general store opened in 1986. Warneet and Cannons Creek had a similar start to each other in that they began as fishing camps with a few holiday shacks and it wasn’t until the late 1960s – early 1970s that most of the permanent residents moved in.

In the previous blog post we showed a part of Maritime Chart Aus 151, which covered much of the same area as this October 1986 aerial photograph. In the centre left of the photograph is Rutherford Inlet, to the left is part of Quail Island. The island in the centre is Chinaman Island, immediatley above it is the township of Warneet. At the top of the photograph, towards the right, is Cannons Creek township.

Now is a good time talk about about the place names used in the area. In 1920 the Cranbourne Shire Rate books list the address of an early resident of the area, Nicola Nicolella as Pearcedale, though the year before it had listed the previous owner of the land as living in Tooradin. This fluidity of names went on for a few years as the first Warneet land sales in 1930 were listed as Cannons Creek or Watson’s sub-division and Warneet didn’t appear in the Rate books until 1933, and the area was locally known as Crouch’s Beach after Les Crouch. The name Cannons Creek most likely comes from the Cannon family. William Cannon is first listed in the Shire of Cranbourne Rate Books in 1871, owning one acre in the Parish of Sherwood. In 1874 he is listed as owning 12 acres and Thomas Cannon owning 20 acres with a house. They are both fishermen and both disappear from the Rate Books after 1883. Quail Island is named after the birds on the island and Chinaman Island is named because Chinese fishermen were said to live on the Island.

Early land owners of Cannons Creek included Sir Aaron Danks, a merchant who is listed in the Rate Books from 1920 until he died in 1928. His land was sub-divided in early 1930s. Sir Aaron was the son of John Danks, who founded the hardware firm John Danks & Son in 1859. This Company now owns Home Timber and Hardware. Sir Aaron, was a devout Methodist and donated £6000 in 1919 to the Methodist Church to buy the property in Richmond which housed the original Epworth Hospital. As we mentioned before, the fisherman, Nicola Nicolella also purchased land in the area in 1920 (and was listed as a landowner until 1944) and Lancelot Watson owned land from 1925 and it was some of his land which was sub-divided for the first Warneet land sales in 1930. The Watson name features thrice more in the history of Cannons Creek. Bert Watson is said to be the first permanent resident on Cannons Creek and he built a house in Hardy Avenue in 1940. Bonnie Watson left land to the people of Cannons Creek and this is now called the Bonnie Watson Bushland Reserve. I haven’t worked out how these Watsons are connected, so if you know, then I would be interested in hearing. Watsons Inlet, further around Western Port Bay, is named after James H. Watson who visited Quail Island in 1866.

The view up Rutherford Inlet from Oliver's  jetty, built in 1955.
Image: Heather Arnold

Oliver's Jetty, Cannons Creek
Image: Heather Arnold

It was in the late 1940s and early 1950s that weekend and holiday shacks were built in Cannon’s Creek. A small community developed and in 1955 the small private jetty was built, by Gus D’Oliveira (also known as Oliver) and others, which is still being used by the Community today and maintained by his son Bill Oliver, a Cannons Creek identity. The jetty is pictured above.

Update February 2020 - Oliver's Jetty was demolished in October 2011.  As it was a private jetty, Bill Oliver was given the option of repairing, maintaining and insuring the jetty or demolishing it and he choose to demolish it. [Information from Don Jewell, February 2020 and also see Cannon's Creek Foreshore Coastal Management plan, here] It seems a shame that whatever Government Department was in charge of jetties that they couldn't find a way to keep it for the sake of history.

In 1925 Les Crouch established a bush camp and a boat shed at Warneet, the Crouch family later purchased land at the 1930 Warneet land sales. The Crouch family built their first house on what is now the corner of Rutherford Parade and Balaka Street. Les and Lillian Crouch's daughter, Peggy Banks was a resident of Warneet until her death in 2008 and Bank Street is named after her and her husband, Lionel Banks. Les Crouch was a prominent member of the Warneet community, helped build the first jetty and slip way in the 1930s and was the first President of the Warneet Progress Association which was formed in 1945, and the inaugural Commodore of the Warneet Motor Yacht Club when it began in 1952 with thirty four Foundation members.

If you want more information on Cannons Creek, Warneet or Blind Blight,
then borrow the book Tooradin : 125 years of coastal history - Blind Bight, Cannons Creek, Dalmore, Sherwood, Tooradin North and Warneet. Published by the Tooradin celebrates together 125 years Education Committee in 2000. It is an interesting book that covers the history of Tooradin Primary School No. 1503, including a list of students who attended Tooradin, Tooradin North and Dalmore schools. It also covers early families in the area and the general history of Tooradin and the six other towns listed in the title. This book is an updated version of Tooradin: a history of a Sportsman's Paradise and the first 100 years of State School No. 1503 by David Mickle, published 1975.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Cannons Creek, Warneet and Blind Bight - Part 1

Cannons Creek is a small town on Rutherford Inlet, Western Port Bay. On the other side of Rutherford Inlet is Warneet and further around Chinaman Island, off Gentle Annie Channel, is Blind Bight.
Part of Maritime chart Aus 151, Published by the Hydrographic Service, Royal Australia Navy 1994. The yellow is land, the green represents mud or low tide . Click on the picture to enlarge it and you can clearly see Chinaman Island, Quail Island, Rutherford Inlet and Gentle Annie Creek.

This area was originally covered by two Squatting runs, Balla Balla also known as Allen’s Station and the Bourbinandera Run. Balla Balla was originally 6,000 acres (2,430 hectares) and first leased by Robert Innes Allen in 1839. The Lease was transferred to C.J Haslewood in 1848, in 1850 the run was reduced to 3,840 acres (1,400 hectares) and the lease was transferred to Henry Foley, two years later to Henry Jennings, in 1854 to Dr James Smith Adams and in 1872 to Alexander McLean Hunter, who also had the lease on Quail Island. Dr Adams purchased the Tobin Yallock run in 1858. Tobin Yallock was of 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) took in the area around the modern town of Lang Lang. Quail Island, of 2000 acres (810 hectares), was proclaimed a wildlife sanctuary in 1928 and is now a site of Geological and Geomorphological significance. It has State significance as it is the least disturbed mangrove and salt marsh area on the mainland shore of Western Port Bay. The Balla Balla homestead is thought to date mainly from the 1870s and is thus linked to Alexander Hunter, however the earlier part was probably built by Dr Adams and dates from 1856.

These two photographs of the Balla Balla homestead are thought to date from the 1940s or 1950s. The view above shows the side of the house which fronts Western Port Bay and Quail Island. The lower portion is built of English bonded hand-moulded brickwork. The palms are Canary palms. The view below show the stuccoed two story wing. The house is built in Colonial Georgian style.

Balla Balla had various owners after Hunter sold the property in 1885 and when it was sold by the Jackson family in 2002 (they had owned Balla Balla since 1938) the homestead was on 300 acres (120 hectares). The Bourbinandera Run was also known as Rutherfords, after the leasee, Thomas Rutherford who took up the lease in 1842. He also gave his name to Rutherford Inlet. It was transferred to Richard Corbett in 1847 and became known as Kilmore. Rutherford Inlet, like Sawtell Inlet at Tooradin, contributed to the area’s reputation as a Sportsman’s Paradise, due to their good fishing. This fact is reflected in the original name of Fisheries Road which leads to Cannons Creek – which was Fisherman’s Road.

 In our next blog post we will look at the more recent history of the area.