Thursday, 2 December 2010

Devon Meadows

The Devon Meadows area was part of the Sherwood run, until it was sub-divided by the owner Benjamin Cox in 1912. According to the Shire of Cranbourne Rate Books, Cox purchased 1191 acres (480 hectares) consisting of Allotments 31, 32, 33, 40 & 41 from John Brown (I presume Browns Road was named after him) in 1911 and the next year he purchased the 640 acre Carnmallum Pre Emptive Right. This land is clearly seen in the extract from the Sherwood Parish Plan shown below. A Parish Plan, shows the owners of land after the Crown - the original owner of Allotments 32, 33, 40 & 41 was J. Bruce and Allotment 31 was owned by G.Poole. Cox named his estate Devon Meadows. Cox was from Melbourne and would be described as a developer today, however his occupation was listed in the Rate Books as 'gentleman'

Sherwood Parish Plan showing Benjamin Cox's land holdings -  Allotments  32, 33, 40 & 41 (original owner J. Bruce)  and Allotment 31 (original owner G.Poole)  He also had the  Carnmallum Pre Emptive Right

Advertisement for the Devon Meadows land 
The Argus, September 17 1913
Click here to see the full advertisement

There were many advertisements in the papers from 1913 advertising the Devon Meadows Estate, including this one shown above from The Argus  of September 17 1913.  Devon Meadows was advertised to Men of small capital to purchase the one, five, ten or twenty acres for an annual payment less than a rental. According to the advertisement Devon Meadows was also specially suited to French farming. French farmers apparently know that small farms pay best. Other selling points of the land was that is was a good start for new arrivals and even a good birthday investment for the members of your family. The reality was not quite as rosy as the advertisements would have you believe. Rhoda Rawlins*, who we met in the last post, said that many people paid a deposit on the land but couldn't keep up with the payments so the same land was sold over again. Rhoda also said the roads were just winding tracks through the bush and that water was was obtained from the public well near the Hall. In spite of the grandiose advertising if appears that many of the Devon Meadows farms were too small to support a family and many of the men had to find employment in the Cranbourne Sand pits, the Mayfield dairy at Cranbourne and local farms.

However a community soon developed. In 1916 the school was established with an enrolment of 46 pupils. Harriet Bury was the first teacher and by 1932 there were three teachers working in the one room, so an extension was added, another extension was added in 1955 and the school was divided into two rooms. In July 1917, the School held a bazaar and social to raise money for the Red Cross. At times, the Mechanics' Institute was leased to provide additional space for students. This Hall was opened on October 1, 1925 on five acres donated by Benjamin Cox. Funds to repay the debt on the Hall were raised by Sports Days, Balls, Bazaars and Exhibitions. The Sherwood Dramatic and Musical Society of Devon Meadows not only entertained the locals but also raised money for Hall. In 1925 a public telephone was erected at the Five Way store. The phone was connected to the Clyde Exchange.

In the 1930s Devon Meadows also had a Horticultural and Agricultural Society, which as we found out in the last post, ran the local flower show.

The Argus, Friday July 26, 1935, p.3

Devon Meadows has long had a connection to the horticultural industry with the establishment in 1959 of Faceys Nursery by Rex Trimble. In 1971, the Wood family moved Woodlyn Nursery which had been established in Clayton in 1937 to Five Ways. Devon Meadows is also home to the Schruers Vegetable Farm, a major producer of vegetables including leeks, lettuce, celery and endive. Peter Schreurs had started growing vegetables on his 20 acre (8 hectare) farm in Thompsons Road in Cranbourne in 1958. He purchased the 500 acre (202 hectare) Royston Park in Devons Meadows in 1989. With their farms at Devon Meadows, Clyde and Cora Lynn the family grow vegetables on a scale that most of the original Devon Meadows small farmers could only dream of. There are some interesting videos on the history of the Schreurs Farm and also of vegetable production on their website

*Rhoda was interviewed for the book Uncovering Devon Meadows: a collection of local lives. Published by the Devon Meadows Primary School, 1985.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Rawlins Cottage, Devon Meadows

Rawlins Cottage, on Worthing Road in Devon Meadows, is listed on the City of Casey Heritage database as well as the National Trust Register. Even though it was only built in the 1920s the suite of buildings are considered significant. The following is from the National Trust significance statement This group of owner-built pole and pug structures of twentieth century date, comprising a farmhouse and outbuildings of 1922 and later, is significant at a State level as an example of primitive structures. They relate to a tradition of pole and pug building which was especially prevalent on French Island from the 1890s, and of earlier wattle and daub structures on both French Island and the Mornington Peninsula. The house itself, the creamery and one shed to the north-east, are substantially of this construction and, though severly decayed, illustrate the method very well. Two other sheds also contain fragments of pole and pug.

Two views of the Cottage, above and below. The photograph, below, clearly shows the construction method. The photographs were taken in 1994.

One of the out-buildings.

The City of Casey Heritage database says the Cottage complex is significant as a rare surviving example in the Devon Meadows area of a farm complex, which illustrates the development of the area as a result of closer settlement during the interwar period. Thomas and Alice Rawlins moved to Devon Meadows around 1920 from Lawloit, between Kaniva and Nhill in the Wimmera district. They moved because Mr Rawlins wanted to go somewhere which had green grass. They had four children Roy, Rhoda, Cyril and Phill. Rhoda was interviewed for the book Uncovering Devon Meadows: a collection of local lives* and she says that when they arrived there was only a little hut on the block and then her father built the house, he dug up the soil around and made the mud and put it in between the sticks. The house consisted of three bedrooms, a lounge and a kitchen and had only kerosine and candles for light. The family milked cows, grew their own vegetables and Mr Rawlins also had a horse and a single furrow plough. The photographs show Thomas (1880-1969) and Alice  (nee Eva Alice Lee, 1877-1956). The photograph of Mrs Rawlins was taken in 1942. In the next post we will look at more of the history of Devon Meadows.

Rawlins Cottage. Mrs Rawlins was obviously a keen gardener, as you can see in the photograph above. She won many prizes in the 1935 Devon Meadows Flower Show.

The Argus Saturday, November 23, 1935 p.18

*Uncovering Devon Meadows: a collection of local lives. Published by the Devon Meadows Primary School, 1985.
All photographs are from the Casey Cardinia Library Corporation Archive.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The mystery of the Quietly Club

I had an email from the Dandenong & District Historical Society asking if I knew anything about the Quietly Club in Berwick. They had received an email on this subject from Maurice Mishkel from Canada, a collector of stamps and envelopes. Maurice had purchased this envelope, below, addressed to Horace Bennett.

I passed the query onto Judith Dwyer and Corrine Brewis of the Berwick Mechanics’ Institute (BMI). The BMI have scanned their Minute Books and Attendance Registers and Judith recognized the art work. The artist was John Warne, a Berwick painter and decorator, who with his brother Charles a plasterer, had started a business in Station Street (now Gloucestor Avenue) Berwick in the late 1880s. In 1901 John married Henrietta Searle, the daughter of Henry and Jane Searle. Henry had operated a blacksmiths on the corner of Wheelers Street and High Street (known as Searle’s Corner) in Berwick from around 1860. Sarah and John had four children - Joseph Thomas (known as Tom) b.1902, Marian Hilda (known as Hilda) b.1904, Jack b.1907 and Samuel Charles b.1910. Tom followed his father and also became a painter and signwriter.

John Warne's illustration from the Attendance Register of June 18, 1894.

From 1893, until she married, Henrietta was the Librarian at the BMI. From the attendance books we know that both Horace and John Warne were regular visitors to the BMI and that John frequently ‘annotated’ the attendance book (see above) Horace’s last visit to the BMI was November 3 1894, and he added Fare the Well after his signature.

Horace's last visit to the Berwick Mechanics' Institute, November 3, 1894.

So what was the Quietly Club? – we don’t know but can only surmise it was a bit of an in-joke with John and Horace and the other lads. Perhaps it was to do with Libraries encouraging silence or the Library may have been quiet after Horace left.

Tarcoola Station is near Pooncarie on the Darling River and was firstly occupied by William Campbell. It was taken over by Charles Nicholson in 1851 and at the time consisted of around 30,000 acres. A series of amalgamations with other properties saw Tarcoola having over one million acres in the 1880s, with 21 workmen employed as well as Managers, cooks, maids, grooms, stable hands, a black smith and Chinese gardeners. Tarcoola was broken up in 1918 into ten leases. We don't know what Horace's role was at Tarcoola. An entry in the Attendance Registers lists Horace as a butcher, so may be that was what he also did at Tarcoola, nor do we know when he arrived at Tarcoola. The only other thing we know about Horace was that he was T.H Bennett, and that it is likely his father was also called Horace.

Horace is listed as a butcher, above, on January 10, 1894 and in the entry, below, of July 18, 1894 there is a reference to Good old Bennett, what price fish, so perhaps he also sold fish?

However as you can see, below,Horace also signed in as H.R.H The Duke of York October 8, 1894 and on November 1 of the same year he was The Humble Horace Bennett - so it does appear he was a bit of a joker.

The entry from March 6, 1894 - there's John Warne's signature and we think Horace Bennett is the father of Horace of Tarcoola. What does B.C.B stand for?

The whole Horace Bennett Quietly Club mystery brings up a few issues – first the importance of networks. There are hundreds of Local History and Heritage Societies in Victoria, many of whom keep in touch through regional networks such as the South Eastern Historical Association. We have our own network here in the Casey Cardinia Region, the Local History Reference Group, who meet quarterly. It’s good to know that if you can’t answer a query, then you can pass it onto someone who may be able to help. Secondly, it brings up the issue that the role technology now plays in Local History – without email we could never have passed around this query so quickly and if the BMI had not decided to scan all their records would Judith and Corrine have had easy access to the original registers and recognized the art work? Scanning has made all these old Registers immediately available at the click of a mouse button and another click can have these images whizzing around the world.

Thanks to Maurice for sharing his envelope and giving Horace Bennett and the Quietly Club a place in our history. I would love to hear from you if you know anything about Horace. The information on Tarcoola Station came from The history of Pooncarie and District by Rob Lans, Thelma Smith and Bill Smith. It was published by the Pooncarie School Centenary & Historical Committee c. 1988.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lang Lang

Here are some interesting early views of Lang Lang. The photograph below is the Main Street (Western Port Road) taken in the 1920s. Amongst the shops in the photograph are a a General Store which sold The Argus as well as Texaco products; Tomlinson's Store which sold drapery, footwear and china; Glasscock's Grocery and ironmongery and the Post Office

The Cardinia Shire Heritage Study describes the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Ltd building (above) as one of the more architecturally sophisticated buildings for the district and the era. Its classically inspired rendered two storey parapeted form is unusual for commercial buildings in the Shire's townships. It was built in 1929.

The Masonic Temple was built in 1926. The Lang Lang Lodge, No.236, was consecrated on October 27, 1915 and met in the Mechanics' Institute until their Temple was built. The first Master of the Lodge was William Eason, who was the Head Teacher at Koo-Wee-Rup State School from 1914 to 1936.

The Soldiers Memorial Hall was originally built as a Mechanics' Institute. The original Hall had been built at Tobin Yallock and re-located into the new town of Lang Lang (based around the railway) in the early 1890s. In 1925 the Hall became a Soldiers Memorial Hall and the brick front was added. The Hall burnt down in November 1966.

Finally, a lovely view of Railway Avenue. The construction of the Great Southern Line was responsible for the development of Lang Lang. Lang Lang's fore runner, the town of Tobin Yallock, was based around the intersection of McDonald's Track and what is now the South Gippsland Highway. The nearest railway station to the Tobin Yallock settlement, called Carrington, opened in February 1890 and was re-named Lang Lang in the December.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Pakenham High School

If you went to Pakenham High School in the early days, then this book should interest you. It is written and produced by a past student, Roger Harvey, who has his own website
The book, Packy High: the good, the bad and the ugly (1969 to 1974) is a fantastic record of the time. It is produced in scrap book style, A3 size, from contemporary photographs, articles from the local paper and Roger's illustrations and writing. Roger is now a professional cartoonist and illustrator and lives in New South Wales.

Secondary Schooling in Pakenham had been provided at the Consolidated School from when it opened in 1951; the 'forms' went up to fourth form, or Year 10. The High School was established in 1967, still using the Consolidated School buildings and it started at its existing location in 1970. Pakenham students had also attended Koo-Wee-Rup High School, which was established in 1957, though Form One to Form Four education was available from 1953 when it was the Koo-Wee-Rup Higher Elementary School.

Pakenham's first Principal was Alex McCulloch, then from 1969 it was Lindsay Thomson. When he was was appointed in the February of 1969 there were 426 students enrolled, a huge jump from the 290 enrollments of 1968. By February of 1971 this had increased again to 733. At this time, the Pakenham catchment area went all the way from Berwick to around Nar Nar Goon. Berwick did not get its own High School until 1977. According to the book, Mr Thomson is now 86 and lives in Berwick.

A few pages from the book, you can see the eclectic style of the book (click on images to enlarge them)

Roger writes that this book covers the rites of passage as some 140 of us kicked off in 1969, until about 50 wrapped it up in 74's H.S.C Group. This was about the same ratio, i.e one third, who would have gone through to the Higher School Certificate at Koo-Wee-Rup High School when I was there from 1971 to 1976. After Form Three or Year Nine, when most students were about 15, and a large proportion left to take up apprenticeships or office jobs, many more left after Form 5 to work in Banks or for , the girls to take up Nursing.

I wonder where all these students are now? Once again, click on the images to enlarge them.

This book really is an amazing work and an amusing tribute to the School, the teachers and the students. If you have any connection with Pakenham in the days when it was a country town or went to any Government High School during the time of this book, then this is a book worth looking at.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Inebriates Asylum at Beaconsfield

On September 30, 1889 the Governor in Council ordered that the buildings and premises situate at Beaconsfield and hitherto known as Craik’s Boarding House shall be an Asylum for Inebriates. Thomas Elmes was appointed the Superintendent of the Asylum on October 1, 1899.

Victoria Government Gazette, October 4 1889, p. 3320. The Victoria Government Gazette can be found at

On November 4, 1889 the Governor in Council ordered that The buildings and premises belonging to Mrs M.H.Blair, situate at Beaconsfield, and known as Walnut Gove, shall be an Asylum for Inebriates, to be used for the care and treatment of female patients only.

Victoria Government Gazette, November 8, 1889, p.3834.

Inebriates were defined as a person who habitually used alcoholic liquors and could be committed to an Inebriate Asylum for detention and curative treatment for up to three months. Inebriate Asylums were established in 1888, previously inebriates were committed to the Lunatic Asylum. Beaconsfield was the first Asylum to be established, and one was also established at Northcote in 1890.

The Victoria Government Gazette of December 20, 1899 lists the Regulations for the Management, Supervision and Regulation of Asylums for Inebriates. The Regulations covered the amount of food allowed to each inmate; intoxicating liquor was banned; inmates were banned from having money or stamps and all letters were opened before being handed to inmates. Regulations also covered what to do if an inmate became insane (they were sent to a Lunatic Asylum) or died (a letter was sent to the local Coroner and to the ‘person who shall have made the last payment on account of such patient). The Fees were also set out - £2 per week for patients on the ‘lower scale’ and £5 per week for those on the ‘higher scale”

On May 15, 1891, the Victoria Government Gazette reported that Thomas Bissell, a patient was missing. The Argus of July 21, of the same year, reports that his skeleton was found in the Gembrook ranges, about 12 miles from the Asylum.

Victoria Government Gazette, May 15 1891, p.2021.

On January, 6 1892 The Argus reported that an inmate, Francis Key had committee suicide, by shooting himself, after being admitted to the Asylum suffering from alcoholism and in week state. Apparently his wife was aware that he had a gun in his room, and she wrote to the Asylum expressing her concern and telling them of her husband’s suicidal tendency. In spite of this it appears the gun remained in his room and as the Inquest noted ‘sufficient precaution was not exercised by the Officials’.

The Argus, January 6, 1892 p. 6 The Argus has been digitised by the National Library of Australia and can be found at

Both Beaconsfield and Northcote were closed in 1892, Beaconsfield in September 1892 (see news report below) Another report in The Argus of September 4, 1894 says that the Asylum buildings were destroyed by fire. The owner, Mr Craik of Kincraik Boarding House, had the buildings insured for £700.

The Argus, July 6 1892, p.6

The Asylum gave its name to the surrounding area and even as late as 1925 a report in The Argus called the area Inebriates Hill. It is now known as Guys Hill.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Woods Street, Beaconsfield by Ann Taylor and Charles Wilson

A street sign along the Old Princes Highway has been changed! An ‘S’ has been added to the Wood Street to make it Woods Street. The controversy over this street name has now been resolved. The Beaconsfield Business group contacted the Council querying the sign “Wood Street” on the Highway and Woods Street on the street pole. The Council has confirmed it is “Woods Street” and requested that Vic Roads change their two green directional signs to conform.

An early picture of Woods Street, from the Beaconsfield Progress Association collection.

The first record of Woods Street appears in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of October 5, 1889 when the Berwick Shire Council approved the alignment of this new street. It was named after John Woods (1822-1892) a member of the Victorian Parliament from 1871 to 1893, and Commissioner for the Railways 1877-1880. When the railway line from Sale to Oakleigh was opened in April 1879, there were stations at Berwick and Officer but none at present day Beaconsfield. In 1876, entrepreneur William Brisbane of Berwick, knowing the rail line was being built, and realising there was a great demand for sawn timber and firewood in rapidly expanding Melbourne, entered into partnership with John Day, and built a sawmill near the present day Central Hotel, then called the Gippsland Hotel. Brisbane needed a rail siding to get his timber to Melbourne, and knew a siding would also benefit the new selectors in hills district- now Upper Beaconsfield, and Little Berwick, the small settlement near Cardinia Creek, later named Beaconsfield.

Brisbane wrote to the Commissioner for Railways several times, requesting a siding at this site, but without success. In a flamboyant gesture, Brisbane invited 120 ladies and gentlemen from Melbourne to lunch at his guesthouse in Upper Beaconsfield on Saturday November 30, 1878.
The guests included three M.L.A’s - Dr. L.L.Smith, Bosisto, and John Woods, all of whom had selected 20 acre blocks in the Upper Beaconsfield area, so would have benefited from the proposed station. The visitors were picked up in horse drawn vehicles at the Berwick Station and on the way to Upper Beaconsfield were shown the place where a station was required.
At lunch, a toast to John Woods the Commissioner for the Railways was proposed. In reply Woods said he accepted Brisbane’s suggestion, and agreed to open a station. He then proposed a toast to Brisbane.

Beaconsfield Railway Station, 1910.

On the December 1, 1879 Beaconsfield Railway Station opened for traffic - passengers, and goods. The Station sign stated “Beaconsfield Station”, “Passengers for Beaconsfield Ranges alight here.” The Station was an immediate boost to the local economy. The first post office was opened at the station in 1883. When State School No. 3033 opened on its present site on June 5, 1890, it was officially called Beaconsfield Railway Station School. In 1951, the name was shortened to Beaconsfield School.

Woods Street was so named to acknowledge John Woods contribution to the early development of Beaconsfield. Beaconsfield soon grew as well with both homes and shops in the Woods Street area. There are still some early 20th Century cottages along Woods street which have been lovingly restored by their owners. In the early 1900’s Adamson’s hardware store was established and served the town from 1906-1983. Woods Street also had the Post Office and Jim Parke's butcher shop along with the Grosby factory (which operated from 1945 to 1951) and is still a mix of residential and businesses today. The War Memorial was built in 1920 and still stands at the end of the Street.

John Woods was born in Liverpool England on November 5, 1822. He was the son of a railway man and John trained as a locomotive engineer in Liverpool and then on the Leipzig and Dresden railway. He won first prize for axles at the 1851 Great Exhibition. He was married to Sarah Gibbons and they arrived in Victoria in 1852 and went to the Goldfields where he led passive resistance to the licence fee. At Ararat he was elected to the local court and then to the Mining Board and from 1859-1864 he was a member of the Legislative Assembly, from 1871-1892 representing the seat of Crowlands and then the new electorate of Stawell. He sat on many Select committees, mainly about railways. He was a commissioner for the 1880 Melbourne International exhibition and honorary commissioner to the 1883-84 Calcutta Exhibition; from 1890 he was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways. He died on April 2, 1892.

The Berwick Shire Rates Books show that John Woods purchased land, 20 acres Lot 130 Parish of Pakenham in 1878 and held it till his death in 1892. Lot 130 is off Hughenden Road just down from the intersection of Telegraph Road in Upper Beaconsfield. Woods was one of the first batch of selectors of 20 acre lots after the land was subdivided by the government in 1876-77.

This article was first published in The Beaconsfield Banner, June/July 2010 edition, the community newsletter produced by the Beaconsfield Progress Association. Ann is a regular contributor to the Beaconsfield Banner and the late Dr Charles Wilson, was a local historian, generous with his knowledge and research. Sadly, he passed away on June 5, 2010 at the age of 90.

Biographical details from Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 6 Melbourne University Press, 1976 pp. 434-435.
South Bourke and Mornington Journal 1889
Beaconsfield the school and it' s district: 1890-1990 by Audrey Dodson.
In the wake of the pack tracks by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Victorian Community History Awards 2010

This blog has won a Commendation in the Victorian Community History Awards. The Awards, are organised by Information Victoria (1)  and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and 'recognise excellence in historical method'. The six Award categories acknowledge that history can be told in many formats, thus prizes are awarded for the Best Collaborative or Community Work; Best Print Publication; Best Audio Visual or Multi Media; Best Exhibit or Display; Best Walk or Tour and Best Community Research or Registers. 

The Award Ceremony took place at the State Library of Victoria on Thursday, August 19 2010 and the awards were presented by Peter Batchelor, Minister for the Arts. It was very exciting and it was fantastic to have our Blog recognised. But, the best part was that there were 153 entries in various formats, all completed in 2009 and whether they won or not, that represents 153 different stories written about Victoria's history and 153 aspects of our shared history researched and recorded for the future. So in the end, the winner is our history and that's a good thing.

(1) They are now organised by the RHSV and the Public Records Office of Victoria

Friday, 13 August 2010

South East Victoria Family & Regional History Expo

Ancestry database now has Australian Birth, Marriage and Death records. The information covers much the same sort of information you can get from the Digger CD-Roms or the on-line Indexes available through the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It also covers the same range of years. For privacy reasons, most of the Birth Indexes generally only cover births which took place 100 years ago, Marriages which took place 60 to 80 years ago and Deaths which took place at least 30 years ago, although it varies from State to State. This is a welcome addition to Ancestry and significantly adds to its Australian content. Ancestry database is available to use, free, at all our Library Branches.

If you are new to family history then you might want to know what is significant about these Records. They are essentially the Indexes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages and include the Registration number, which you need to apply for the Certificate, from the various State Registry Offices of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Why would you purchase a certificate? Firstly, you usually get a lot more information. For instance, this is the Ancestry database record (above) of my great grandfather, James Rouse, who died in 1939 at Bunyip. James, a widower, arrived at Cora Lynn in 1903 with his nine year old son, Joe. They took up land on Murray Road. If we had his death certificate then it would potentially tell us who his parents were, where he was born, when he was married, how long he had been in Australia, what his cause of death was and what children he had. This is a treasure trove of information for genealogists. I say it will 'potentially' tell us, because obviously information on a Death certificate comes from family members or friends who may not be aware of all the circumstances of the deceased's life.

I have the birth certificate of James' son, Joe (my grandfather) and it includes the signature of James Rouse, and that is another reason why you might purchase a certificate. We don't have many photographs of James and, sadly, many of the people who knew him are no longer with us, so its lovely to see a sample of his handwriting. You will also get to see your ancestor's signatures on their Marriage Certificate.

This is a photograph of James (1862-1939) with his daughter, Lucy (1898 - 1981) and grand daughters Nancy and Dorothy, taken in 1929. Nancy and Dorothy are the children of Joe, and nieces of Lucy.

If you want to trace your own family tree and want some great advice and see some great resources, then the Narre Warren and District Family History Group are holding a Family and Regional History Expo on Saturday, August 28 at the Beaconsfield Community Centre, Old Princes Highway at Beaconsfield. There will be over 40 different exhibitors, including Casey Cardinia Library Corporation, 100s of records to research and lots of advice and information will be available.

Open 10.00am to 4.00pm, entry is $8.00, children under 15 free. There is also the chance to win a door prize of a 12 month World Deluxe Subscription from Even though we would still like you to come to one of our Libraries to use Ancestry, this is a great prize and means you can access all the Ancestry records, twenty four hours a day, from your home computer.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Salvation Army and the Lasseter connection

Army Road and Army Settlement Road in Pakenham are named after the Salvation Army Home which was located in the area. According to an article in the March 1914 Victory, the Salvation Army journal, the Salvation Army settlement at Pakenham began as a Labour Colony, during the 1890s depression. They had 300 acres (121 hectares) and 60 to 100 men were there at one time working on the farm, clearing the land, cutting wood for sale and making fruit boxes. When economic conditions improved, the need for this facility decreased and it was turned into a Boys Home or a Reformatory for boys who were taken over by us from the State, as the Victory wrote. The Boys Home operated from 1895 to 1897 when the Salvation Army opened its Bayswater Home.

The Salvation Army Home, taken in 1915. The photograph is from In the Wake of the Pack Tracks.

The next stage was a Reform Home for Girls and the Victory goes on to say that the seclusion of the locality was a desirable feature. The girls were moved to Riddell Creek when the Salvation Army opened their home there in 1900. The last stage of the life of the Home was as an Aged Men’s Retreat for men whose laboring days are over... The men had a pleasant retreat for the days of the lengthening shadows... There was no expectation of work... Quietness, wholesome air, spacious accommodation, enough company for each man to find some congenial chum could be found at Pakenham said the Victory. According to the Shire of Berwick Rate Books, the Salvation Army sub-divided their land and sold it off in 1918 and 1919. A report in the Pakenham Gazette of October 23, 1959 said that the building was pulled down and moved to Blackburn.

Audrey Dodson of the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society had heard that Harold Lasseter (1880-1931), the adventurer, had spent time at the Salvation Army Home when it was a Reformatory. Many people, including myself, have a fascination with Lasseter and his story of a discovering a gold reef in Central Australia, so I thought this would be a tale worth following up. In 1930, the Central Australian Gold Exploration Company was formed and financed an expedition to rediscover Lasseter’s Reef. When the main party turned back after no sign of the Reef was found, Lasseter and a companion continued on, they then quarreled. Lasseter then, apparently, lived for about 16 weeks with Aboriginals and died of starvation around the end of January of 1931.
Many books have been written about Lasseter, the earliest and the most famous was published in 1931, Lasseter’s Last Ride by Ion Idriess. Lasseter kept a diary around the time of the Expedition and this was found after his death and purchased by Idriess who included a transcript of it in his book, and also a few photographs of some of the pages (see right). The diary is now at the State Library of New South Wales, who have digitised it. Other books on Lasseter include the 1934 publication by Errol Coote, the pilot of the aeroplane on the Expedition, who wrote Hell’s Airport : the key to Lasseter’s Gold Reef. In 1972 another Expedition member, the Leader, Fred Blakeley wrote Lasseter’s dream of millions.
Lasseter was apparently a man who often re-invented, glossed over or ‘modified’ his past. Murray Hubbard the author of The search for Harold Lasseter has undertaken some detailed research into Lasseter’s early life and can confirm that, in 1896, Lasseter, aged around 17 committed some burglaries in Colac and was sentenced to a Reformatory. Hubbard further discovered that this was the Salvation Army Home at Pakenham. Lasseter arrived at the Salvation Home in October 1896 and absconded in October 1897. I have written before about how one of the most fascinating things about history is the unexpected connection between people, places and events and I was excited that we can confirm a connection between Casey Cardinia and the adventurer, Harold Lasseter, and that this is just one more interesting aspect of our history.
Sources : The Search for Harold Lasseter: the true story of the man behind the myths by Murray Hubbard. Published by Angus & Robertson, 1993. The article from The March 1914 Victory, is held at the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.

Friday, 11 June 2010


Some of the earliest Europeans who passed through Tooradin were Samuel Rawson and Robert Jamieson. They took up the Yallock Run, at the northern end of Western Port, in November 1839. They over landed their cattle and goods to Tooradin from Melbourne and they were then blocked by the undrained Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, so used Sawtell’s Inlet at Tooradin as their port and continued on by boat.  For the same reason, other land owners from further around Western Port Bay at Red Bluff, Grantville, Queensferry and Corinella also used Tooradin until the Western Port Road was built around 1860. There is a plaque in a picnic shelter on the South Gippsland Highway between Koo-Wee-Rup and Monomeith that marks the location of the Yallock site.

The Tooradin area was part of the Toorodan Run of 16,000 acres (6,475 hectares) taken up by Frederick and Charles Manton in 1840. Edwin Sawtell, a Melbourne merchant, had an interest in this run, before the Manton Brothers took it over. He is the source of the name of Sawtell’s Inlet. Sawtell died at the age of 95 in 1892. The town took its name from Manton’s Toorodan run  and is an Aboriginal word for  “swamp monster” or “bunyip”. 1851 saw the arrival of Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall in the area. John Mickle (1814-1885) and John Bakewell (1807-1888) were business partners in Melbourne from 1847 and they were soon joined by William Lyall (1821-1888) whose sister Margaret was married to John Mickle. They had numerous runs in the Western district and in 1851, they acquired the leases of the Yallock and Tobin Yallock and Red Bluff Stations; in 1852 Manton’s Toorodan run and in 1854 they acquired the Great Swamp run,  all in all about 27,000 acres, which they collectively called their Western Port runs.

After the partnership split up the land was divided between the three partners with  Lyall receiving part of Yallock Station. Lyall and his wife, Annabella, built Harewood house, just out of Tooradin, on this property.  The construction of Harewood started around 1857 and the property remained in the Lyall family until 1968. Harewood is of State significance and is on the Victorian Heritage Database. Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall and their descendants are remembered in Tooradin, Cranbourne and Koo-Wee-Rup where streets were named in their honour.

A map of an early land subdivision at Tooradin. Evans owned all of Allotment 5 and subdivided these fifteen blocks in 1887 or 1888. You can see Steer's property where the Bridge Hotel was located. The '1 chain road' is now Mickle Street

The Tooradin township was laid out in 1854, and this included a reserve for a bridge and wharf. Early land sales took place in 1869, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that the township took off. In January 1870, John Steer applied for a Beer Licence for his Bridge Inn. John Steer died in May 1876 and the Hotel was taken over by Matthew Evans in 1877. Later publicans included Larry Basan who took over the licence in 1888 and rebuilt the hotel in 1895. The hotel was demolished in 2016.  The other Tooradin Hotel, the Sherwood Hotel, which was closer towards Cranbourne, had opened in 1869.

A tender to construct the Tooradin State School was accepted in October 1874 and the School officially opened on April 12, 1875 with Mrs Adelaide Dredge as the teacher. John Woodfield Thrupp opened a store around 1875. The Post Office and a store  operated by Mr F.M  Woolley opened in August 1877. He only lasted a year and the Store was taken over by Mr G. Walker, and in 1898 by Frederick Atyeo. Two years later, his son George, took over and added a coffee palace.  To meet the spiritual needs of the residents, Anglican Church services were held from 1875, most likely in the School, and from 1883 in the Hall until the Christ Church was built in 1900. The Catholic Church, St Peters, was built in 1922, services also having been previously held in the Mechanics’ Institute. The Church is now part of St Peters College at Cranbourne.

Tooradin Mechanics' Institute
Photo from : Tooradin : a history of a Sportsman's Paradise, 1875-1975. Complied by D.J. Mickle.

The Tooradin Mechanics’ Institute (pictured above) had officially opened on Boxing Day, 1882. The current Hall was built in 1938, having replaced the original hall, which burnt down the previous year. Another boost to Tooradin was the construction of the Great Southern Railway, which reached Tooradin in October 1888. It was extended from Tooradin to Loch in November 1890. The Station was a few kilometres north of the town and the source of the road name Tooradin Station Road.

As the town developed community groups were established – in the 1920s a Country Women's Association; the Fire Brigade started in 1945;  the Infant Welfare Centre opened in 1949 and ten years later the Kindergarten; the Scout Group was established in 1964. The Tooradin Dalmore Football Club started in  in 1919 and the  Netball Club in 1954.  The Avenue of Honour to commemorate the World War One soldiers was planted in 1922, unusually it consists of flowering gums.

Matthew Evans (1836-1909) was an early resident of Tooradin. He had purchased land in 1869 and built Bay View house in the early 1870s. He also purchased other blocks in Tooradin, some of which he sub-divded and sold around 1887 or 1888 (see map above). Evans, as we saw before, was the owner of  the Bridge Inn for  a time was a Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1879 to 1881, a trustee of the Mechanics Institute and donated the land for the Anglican Church. Evans built Isles View, which is on the City of Casey Heritage Scheme, in 1898 and it is thought that Bay View house was shifted to form part of this new house. The Isle to which the name refers to is French Island. Mr Evans is the source of the name of Evans Road. Matthew married Harriet Swalling in 1860 and she sadly died at the age of 21 in 1862. He then married Fanny Sweetnam in 1865 and they had ten children Arthur Ernest (b. 1865), Herbert Hill (1868), Lance Hill (1870), Frank Austin (1871), Walter Matthew (1875), Florence Fanny (1877), Nellie Banks (1879), Lena Bessie (1880), Rose Alice (1884) Leslie Rubin (1887). Fanny died in 1931, aged 87.

Isles View house, this photograph clearly shows the weatherboard section which is believed to be Matthew Evan's original 1869 house, Bay View.

A fleet of fishing boats were also based at the Tooradin and some of the earliest settlers were fishermen.David Mickle* writes that George Casey was the first fisherman and settler, followed by Jimmy Miles and  then in 1876 Henry Forman Kernot and his wife, Elizabeth (nee McNaughton)  came over from Hastings. The couple had married in 1861 and their children were Charles Edward (b. 1861, married Annie Collins), Henry William (1863, married Sarah Winchester), Clara Johanna (1865, married Gilbert Kerr), Amelia Eliza (1867, married Henry Alexander Mundy),  Caroline Jessie (1869, married Peter Peterson), Charlotte (1871, married William Mentiplay), Georgina Alice (1873, married Alexander Greive), Isabella Lucretia (1874, married Frederick Poole), Thomas James (1876, married Elsie May Lee), Maria Martha (1877, married Frederick Rawlings), Mary Adeline (1880, married Thomas Henderson) and George Robert (1881, married Mabel Robertson).  Caroline's husband, Peter Peterson, and Isabella's husband, George Poole, were half brothers - you can read about the family here.

 Isabella Kernot Poole owned the Fishermans Cottage  from 1910 to 1949. It is now the home of the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society.  The Cottage is one of the few remaining examples of the fishermen’s houses that originally dotted both sides of Sawtell’s Inlet in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The last of the professional fishermen, Henry Kernot and Arthur Johnstone (son of Ted Johnstone and Hilda Kernot (the daughter of Henry and Sarah (nee Winchester) Kernot listed above), surrendered their licence in 1999. 

Fisherman's Cottage. This house is thought to have been built by Matthews Evans and some sources date it's construction to c. 1873 even though the land was part of the 1887 subdivision shown in the map above.

Tooradin attracted not only the professional fisherman but the sports fisherman as well. The fishing, plus quail shooting on Quail Island, deer shooting, cycling club and other typical pursuits of the time gave Tooradin a reputation as a 'Sportsman’s Paradise'. This reputation was fostered by the publication of the booklet Around Tooradin : the Sportsman's Paradise by Hawkeye. It was published, in serial form, in late 1888 and early 1889 to promote the sale of land in the area. Today Tooradin is still a haven for recreational fishing, is the service centre for the coastal towns of Cannons Creek, Warneet and Blind Bight. It’s natural landscape of tidal flats and mangroves are a haven for bird and marine life. When I was growing up at Cora Lynn (in the 1960s and 70s)  we always went to Tooradin to the beach - my parents used to water ski and we’ll have a swim or just go over and get fish and chips and eat them on the beach. In fact, Tooradin fish and chips seem to be fondly remembered by many people.

Tooradin was the birthplace of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria in 1903, you can read about  this here.

  • The photographs of Isles View and the Fishermans Cottage are from the Heritage of the City of Casey : Historic sites in the former City of Casey, by Graeme Butler and Associates, 1995.
  • Photo of Matthew Evans is from Tooradin : a history of a Sportsman's Paradise, 1875-1975. Complied by D.J. Mickle.

*Tooradin : a history of a Sportsman's Paradise, 1875-1975 . Complied by D.J. Mickle. (published in 1975 by the Tooradin 'Back to' Committee)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


When the Railway line was opened from Oakleigh to Bunyip in October 1877 is also opened up the timber industry. Sidings were established to dispatch timber to Melbourne and townships, such as Tynong, developed around these Sidings. Timber mills connected to the rail line by tramways. A number of Mills were established in the 1880s but the area had a resurgence when Horatio Weatherhead and his sons moved there from Lyonville in late 1908.

Horatio Weatherhead's Mill in North Tynong in 1910.

Horatio had a license to mill 2,000 acres of forest and he and his sons operated various Mills from 1909 onwards.

A trestle bridge in North Tynong, 1912. Eva Weatherhead, is standing on the bridge. Eva and her mother Eleanor, arrived from Lyonville to join the rest of the family, after Eva finished Grade 8 around the end of 1913.

One of the earliest public buildings in Tynong was the Mechanics’ Institute. According to The Argus, it was used as a Polling Place in February 1886 and I believe it was built in the previous year. The current Hall was officially opened on January 14, 1927. In The Argus report of the opening, it says that the Hall was new and recently erected at the cost of £900.00. It was wrecked by a gale in August 1959, then renovated and re-opened with a new supper room, kitchen and a ‘ladies ‘room in November 1961. The original Mechanics’ Institute building has been at Old Gippstown since 1974, when it was rescued from an orchard.

This much we do know, however a report in the Pakenham Gazette in 1961 says the history of the Tynong Hall goes back to 1909, in which year the Progress Association purchased the present site from Mr Gault. A year or so later they purchased from the Education department an old Schoolroom and that served as Tynong’s Hall for many years. The book From Bullock Tracks to Bitumen (see citation below) says the first public Hall was originally the School, put on land bought by the Progress Association in 1913 from Mrs Gault and opened in 1917. There is yet another account of a Tynong Hall from the Pakenham Gazette in the 1960s which are the reminiscences of an early resident, Mrs Ryan. Mrs Ryan says Where Wilson’s home is at present in 1918 a partly built house, three rooms and frame work for more. The Centre rooms were at one time a Tynong Hall. It was in the paddock opposite the lane …Mr Jas Smith later sold to Mrs Gault…in the early 1920s Mr Jas Marsden bought it and had a nice 6-roomed home made of it [later] Mr Cecil Brand bought the property and turned it into a nice home and ….at present Wilsons occupy it.

So, were there in fact three Tynong Halls? The 1885 Mechanics’ Institute, the 1927 current Hall and a Hall that was opened in c.1910 or 1917 or was there yet another Hall that became part of Mr Wilson’s house? Tynong is said to be Aboriginal for ‘plenty of fish’ but I believe it must really mean ‘plenty of halls’.

Tynong Hall also has a Projection Room, clearly seen in the picture, above, which is currently inaccessible. I have no confirmed information about this Projection Room. Was it built in 1927 when the Hall was built – the 1920s was time when many Picture Theatres were being erected, so that might be logical? However other notes I have say that in the 1950’s the Hall Committee purchased a film projector and used the Hall as a Picture Theatre.

Apart from being a town with many Halls Tynong also had a School which was opened in 1906 and became part of the Pakenham Consolidated School in 1952.

Tynong also supplied the granite for the Shrine of Remembrance which was built between. July 1928 and November 1934 to honour the soldiers who served in the First World War.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), Friday 31 August 1928, page 12.
From the National Library of Australia Newspapers Beta Project

From Bullock Tracks to Bitumen : a brief history of the Shire of Berwick. Published by the Historical Society of Berwick Shire in 1962. This is the earlier version of In the wake of the Pack Tracks.