Monday, 26 August 2013

Federal Electorates in the Casey Cardinia Region

It’s election time, and as you would know, Australians vote for a candidate that represents an Electorate. Historically, for the first nearly five decades of Federal elections,  most of the Casey Cardinia region has been part of the Flinders Electorate. Flinders was named after the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814). Flinders was a navigator and a hydrographer who, amongst other achievements, circumnavigated Tasmania with George Bass from October 7 1798 to January 12 1799 and proved that it was an island and not attached to the mainland. 

Matthews Flinders.
From the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

Flinders was one of the original 75 electorates constituted after Federation and, in the first election held in March 1901, the seat was won by Arthur Groom (1852-1922)  of the Free Trade Party. Groom was a Stock and Station Agent, with William Hamilton & Co., and they operated yards in and around Leongatha and Korumburra. Groom did not contest the 1903 election.

Arthur Groom, the first Federal member to represent the people of the Casey Cardinia region.
From the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

There are now 150 electorates, so the number of Federal politicians has now doubled - but considering the population of Australia was around 3.7 million in 1901 and it is now 23 million, a six fold increase, it is interesting that that the amount of politicians hasn’t also increased by the same amount. If it had then we would have around 450 politicians representing us. I love watching the election coverage on election night, but even  I would find that the novelty of having to go through the results of 450 electorates would eventually wear off.

Flinders was originally much bigger geographically than it is today - in 1903 it covered basically Dandenong to Trafalgar, all the way to Phillip Island, Wonthaggi and Yarram.  It also covered the Mornington Peninsula to Portsea. As the population grew, new electorates were added and the boundaries of the Flinders electorate shrunk -  McMillan was formed in 1948 and named after Angus McMillan (1810-1865) pioneer and explorer. La Trobe was established in 1949. La Trobe was named after Charles La Trobe (1801-1875) first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria from 1851 to 1854. As this area began to move from rural to suburban, other electorates were established.  Holt, was established in 1968 which was named after the Prime Minister, Harold Holt, who disappeared whilst swimming off Portsea in 1967.  Casey also also established in 1968. Casey was named after Lord Casey (1890-1976), Governor General of Australia from 1965 until 1969.

Emerald, Macclesfield and Lysterfield had a short time in the Mernda Electorate, although by the 1909 rolls they were in Flinders.

Because Flinders has historically covered the entire Casey Cardinia Region we are going to have a look at three of the past sitting members. Flinders has produced one Prime Minster, Stanley Melbourne Bruce (1883-1967) who was Prime Minister from 1923 to 1929.  Bruce was listed in the electoral rolls as a merchant, as he was part of the firm Paterson, Laing and Bruce, started by his father in 1878. He represented Flinders from 1918 to 1929 for the National party (a different party from today's National Party) and from 1931 to 1933 as a United Australia Party candidate. These parties are both fore-runners of the Liberal Party. Bruce was then appointed High Commissioner to Britain until 1945 and in 1947 was created a Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne. He could then sit in the House of Lords.

Stanley Melbourne Bruce,  Prime Minister of Australia.
From the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

James Valentine (Jim) Fairbairn, succeeded Bruce as the member for Flinders and he was Minister for Civil Aviation in the Menzies Government of 1939; and when World War Two broke out he was appointed the Minister for Air. He was a keen flier and flew his own plane. Fairbairn was killed in 1940 when the RAAF plane in which he was flying crashed near Canberra Airport. The Canberra Airport is named Fairbairn in his honour. Fairbairn never actually lived in the Flinders electorate; he had a property at Derrinallum in the Western District.  Fairbairn was succeeded by Colonel Rupert Ryan (1884-1952), who did live in the electorate, in very grand style as he had inherited Edrington and 1,000 acres from his aunt, Winifred Chirnside. He did share this inheritance with his sister, Lady Casey, the wife of Lord Casey after whom the Federal Electorate (and the City of Casey) is named. Ryan represented the Flinders Electorate until he died suddenly in August 1952

 This is an advertisement for Colonel Ryan for the 1946 election. It is from the Pakenham Gazette of September, 13 1946. In the interests of electoral fairness, I have also supplied an advertisement for the Labour Party candidate for the same election. This was on the same page of the Pakenham Gazette as the advertisement above. I don't know what Mr Lee's given names were, most reports in the papers years ago rarely used names, only initials.  There were preliminary results in the Pakenham Gazette of October 4, 1946 - Ryan had 33,029 votes and Lee had 27, 430 votes with 915 informal.

For more information on all the Members of Parliament and the men that the Electorates were named after - go to the Australian Dictionary of Biography
Fore more information on current Electorates go to the Australian Electorate Commission website
The voter rolls from 1903 until 1980 are available on Ancestry database which you can access free, at any of our Libraries

Friday, 16 August 2013

Pakenham Gardens or Dr Bruce Cox Gardens at Pakenham

I have recently been scanning some slides, from our Archive, that were taken by the Shire of Pakenham in the early 1980s. Some of them show the construction of the carpark behind Main Street in Pakenham and what was Pakenham Gardens or Dr Bruce Cox Gardens. The Pakenham Library was later built in this area, but the Library, the car park and the Dr Cox Gardens were demolished in 2009 to make  way for a shopping centre.

Dr Cox, and his wife Kath, arrived in Pakenham in 1956, when Pakenham was just a country town. He joined the practice of  Dr George Farrell, who died in April 1962. Dr Cox, like many country doctors at the time, carried out a medical practice as well as working in the Bush Nursing Hospital, undertaking surgery, general health care and delivering babies. In fact, Dr Cox was the first Doctor in Pakenham to allow husbands to stay with their wives during labour. Dr Cox was also the Shire of Berwick Medical Officer*.  Dr Cox passed away in August 1988 and the Pakenham Gardens were renamed the Dr Bruce Cox Gardens in honour of the contribution he had made to the community.

In June 2012, a new memorial garden was opened to honour Dr Cox. near the new Hall and Library complex.

Construction of the car park, circa 1980.

The Pakenham Gardens, taken after the car park was finished, 1980 or 1981.

This slide, above, was developed in August 1982, but I suspect that it was taken a bit earlier as it doesn't show the toilet block, which is shown below, in slides developed in October 1981. 

There were at least 15 slides of this toilet block, it was obviously a source of civic pride, and if you remember what the old toilet block was like in Pakenham, then you would know that it is well worth a photograph (or 15). The old toilet block was in John Street, when it was a dead end, before Safeways was built in the early 1980s. I  remember it was a dark, clinker brick building that smelt of disinfectant blocks. 

The car park after the construction of the toilet block, most likely taken 1981.

The gardens are still called the Pakenham Gardens. This photograph is from a series of Shire of Pakenham photographs that we have, taken in the mid to late 1980s.

The construction of the previous Pakenham library in John Street, which was opened officially May 19,  1991 and demolished in 2009. The gardens have been renamed Dr Bruce Cox Gardens.

*Information from Somebody's baby: history of Pakenham & District Hospital 1926-92 by Heather Shallard (published by The Hospital, 1992)

Monday, 5 August 2013


The Bunyip Historical Society has republished Call of the Bunyip: History of Bunyip, Iona and Tonimbuk 1847-1990, written by the late Denise Nest. This is a comprehensive look at the social history of the area and covers the Churches, Schools, the Hospital, Sport and Community Groups such as the Red Cross, Country Women's Association and Masonic Lodge. There is also a section on the War Memorial and the Returned Services League. Lastly, there is a section on local families. The present town of Bunyip owes its existence to the Railway line. The Gippsland line to Sale opened in stages - Sale to Morwell in June 1877; Oakleigh to Bunyip on October 8 1877; Moe to Morwell in December 1877; Moe to Bunyip in March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879.

A reporter from The Argus did the trip to Bunyip, a few days before the official opening, and presents a fairly bleak picture of the township, as we can see from the article reproduced below.  Bunyip did overcome this bleak start and soon community institutions developed - the Bunyip State School opened in January 1880; the Anglican Church began services in 1879 in a hall and the picturesque St Thomas Church opened in December 1902. The Methodist Church opened in October 1899. A Mechanics' Institute opened in 1906. The Post Office had opened with the Railway Station and moved into town in 1906. A Police Station was erected in 1903.

 The Argus, October 4, 1877

Both Bunyip and Garfield benefited by the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp which opened up thousands of hectares to farmland to the south, after settlement started from 1893.

Before the railways there were two other townships called Bunyip. In 1847  a road was surveyed from Dandenong to Gippsland along the edge of the ranges and when this proved to be impassable in places, a new road, which became the coach route, was surveyed in 1859.  Where this road crossed the Cannibal Creek, a small settlement was surveyed in 1860 and the township of Cannibal Creek was born and the Pig and Whistle Inn was established.  The road continued basically along the modern day road of Ellis Road to the old township of Buneep on the Bunyip River. The Melbourne to Sale telegraph line followed this route in 1865, which eventually gave the road the name of Old Telegraph Road (see mud map*). 

In 1867,  David Connor’s New Bunyip Inn was  built on the Bunyip River on the Gippsland Road, as the Princes Highway was then called. The coach route then changed direction at Cannibal Creek and turned south east to this Inn, and became known as Old Sale Road (see mud  map). A small settlement developed around the Inn, including the establishment of a bakery by William Snell.  However, with the arrival of the railways, the new settlement at Bunyip eclipsed the Old Sale Road settlement.

I have done some research into the men from Bunyip who served in the First World War and are on the Bunyip War Memorial and the Bunyip Methodist Church Honour Roll

You can buy a copy of the book from the Newsagency in Bunyip or you can email the Bunyip Historical Society on

* I made up the map and have no cartographic training whatsoever, so it is more a representation than a map. Heather