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.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Beaconsfield and the Royal Connection

One of the things that I love best about history are the connections that pop up between people and places and events. I do love a Royal connection so that's why I was happy to find out that the Dovetons (after whom Doveton was named) are both descendants of King Edward 1 (1239-1307) and his wife Eleanor of Castille (1241-1290) and now I am going to tell you about Beaconsfield and it's Royal connection.

In 1855, David and Janet Bowman who held the lease on the Panty Gurn Gurn Station, were granted a licence for the Gippsland Hotel, near the Cardinia Creek on the Gippsland Road. It was known as the Gippsland Hotel as the Cardinia Creek was the border of the Port Phillip district and the Gippsland district. David Bowman died in 1860 aged 54 and Janet Bowman continued running the Hotel and put it up for sale in May 1866.

An Advertisment for the Gippsland Hotel
The Argus, June 6, 1866

It was still for sale a year later but by 1869 the Souter family were the licensees. In that same year, Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh (1844 - 1900)  stayed at the hotel for several days. The Prince had taken over the Inn and staffed it with members of his ship, the H.M.S Galatea. The Government had built and furnished two extra rooms to accommodate the Prince. These rooms were made of brick, with a slate roof as opposed to the rest of the Inn which was of wattle and daub. Prince Alfred, was the second son of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert and he had the distinction of undertaking the first ever Royal tour to Australia from October 1867 to June 1868. During this time, he was seriously wounded by an Irishman, Henry James O’Farrell (who was hung for the crime) at a picnic in Sydney in March 1868. However he recovered and made a private visit to Australia from January to April 1869 and it was during this time he visited Beaconsfield. In 1874, he married the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, the daughter Tsar Alexander II and in honour of this marriage, an English bakery made the Marie biscuit, with her name imprinted on it. So next time you eat a Marie biscuit or use them to make chocolate hedgehog or lemon slice, remember the Grand Duchess and her husband, Prince Alfred.

Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, stayed at the Gippsland Hotel

Getting back to Mrs Bowman, who was described as enterprising, courageous and a devout Presbyterian, in 1861-62 she paid to have a 50 mile track cut from her Hotel to the Hughes Track which went to to the Jordan Goldfields (around Wood's Point). The track was said to have cost £1500. Some said that Mrs Bowman cut the track so miners would go past her door however she maintained that she did it because the Government had announced that it would compensate people who provided tracks to the Goldfields. After much fighting, in 1878, the Government awarded her £300 (or £500 depending on sources) as compensation. Janet Bowman died in 1904 aged 93 having outlived six of her eight children. Bowman's Hotel, later called Souter's Hotel is now known as the Central Hotel. The current Mediterranean style building was in 1928.

The Gippsland Hotel, 1860. 
This illustration comes from the book The Early Days of Berwick.