Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Casey Cardinia and the End of the World - Nevil Shute's 'On the Beach'

Casey Cardinia has a  double connection to the 'end of the world' and the connection is through Nevil Shute and his book,  On the Beach, published in 1957. On the Beach is set mainly in Melbourne after a nuclear war has wiped out everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, however a deadly nuclear cloud is slowly making it's way down to the southern hemisphere killing off all humans and animals as it goes. So what is the Casey Cardinia connection? Nevil Shute lived in Langwarrin when he wrote the bookLangwarrin, used to be part of  the old Cranbourne Shire until the 1994 Council boundary changes when it then become part of the City of Frankston - so as it was written in the Shire of Cranbourne then that's a positive connection to the Casey Cardinia Region.

Here's the proof that Nevil Shute Norway lived in Langwarrin. He is listed in the Shire of Cranbourne Rate Books 1950/1951 as having 47 acres and 30 acres. You might need to click on the images to enlarge them.

The other connection to the area was that when the book was made into a film starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner in 1958 and 1959  scenes were filmed at George Wilson’s property at Harkaway Road in Berwick. This filming took place in January 1959 when the temperature was 106 to 109 degrees (41 - 42 degrees Celsius).  Only four of the nine Berwick scenes ended up in the final cut. Shute Avenue and Kramer Drive in Berwick are lasting memorials to the film location.

You can read about the making of the film, directed by Stanley Kramer, in this account written by Philip Davey, here https://2015.acmi.net.au/acmi-channel/2009/film-essay-on-the-beach/  Philip Davey is the author of the book When Hollywood came to Melbourne : the story of the making of Stanley Kramer's On the beach, published in 2005.

Here are some photos we have in the Archive, donated by a member of the Wilson family, of the filming of On the Beach in Berwick.

Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck

The following account of Nevil Shute's life is taken from Julian Croft's article published in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, you can read it in full, here. Nevil Shute (real name Nevil Shute Norway) was born in London on January 17, 1899 and went to Oxford University and became an engineer. He started his working life at de Havilland Aircraft Co. and also learnt to fly. He then worked at Vickers Ltd. During this time he was also writing novels which he had published under the name of Nevil Shute, so as not to compromise his professional engineering career. In 1932 he established his own company, Airspeed Ltd, which was quite successful - however he parted company with Airspeed Ltd, amicably it seems, in 1938 and received a large payout that allowed him to write full time. 

Portrait of Nevil Shute by Ian Hassall, 1962. 
National Library of Australia https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-134347151/view

In 1950 Nevil, his wife Frances (nee Heaton) and their two daughters migrated to Australia, to Langwarrin. A town like Alice which was published in 1950 was written at Langwarrin, other novels followed and it was in 1957 that On the Beach was published.  Nevil died on January 12, 1960 of a cerebral haemorrhage. He was cremated at the Necropolis at Springvale.

Anglican Church of St Thomas, Lanwarrin
Photo from the Parish website http://www.lpac.org.au

Nevil Shute generously left 8,000 pounds in his will to build a new Anglican Church at Langwarrin. The Architects were Wynstan Widdows and David Caldwell. The builders were John Wolt and Staff. The Church Church, named in honour of St Thomas, was dedicated on August 29, 1964. It is quite an interesting design, described as highly mannered Modernist Church design... exhibiting some Frank Lloyd Wright inspired characteristics*  In the end the final cost of the Church was 15, 825  pounds and the parishioners raised the rest of the money.   The 8,000 pounds was a generous bequest for the Church, given that Mr Shute's estate was valued at 100,000 pounds, according to the newspaper report, below, although a report a few years later said the Estate was worth 154, 000 pounds at the time of his death and in the four years hence had grown to 230,000 pounds.

This report was in Canberra Times of May 20, 1961

Canberra Times August 12, 1964

* The information about the Church comes from  the book Church of St Thomas, Langwarrin: a potted construction history - celebrating the centenary of Nevil Shute Norway written and published by David Caldwell in 1999. Mr Caldwell was the Architect who worked on the Church.  The description of the Church being 'highly mannered etc' was from Graeme Butler & Associates from their 1997 Frankston City Heritage Study and quoted by Mr Caldwell.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Quail Island

Quail Island is situated at the northern end of Western Port Bay across Rutherford Inlet from Warneet. Adjacent to Quail Island is Chinaman Island. You can see Quail Island on the left of the aerial, below, and Chinaman Island in the centre under the Warneet township. Cannons Creek is at the top of aerial.

Aerial from October 19, 1986. Quail Island on the left of the aerial, below, and Chinaman Island in the centre under the Warneet township. Cannons Creek is at the top of aerial. Towards the top of Quail Island you can see a dam, so that would have been in the vicinity of the house that was once on the Island and destroyed in the 1898 bush fires.

Quail Island was so named due to the number of quail in the island. Chinaman Island was named because Chinese fishermen were said to live on this island and they fished for the type of fish eaten by the Chinese, dried them and sent them to China. Quail Island was originally used as a pastoral run - one of the earlier lease holders appear to be Henry Greer and James Wheatley as the following advertisement appeared in The Age of May 25, 1864.

The Age  May 25, 1864

I presume that in the end James Wheatley took over the lease as in August 1864 he offered a portion of Quail Island to the Acclimatisation Society for them to run stock. Whether Wheatley's offer was accepted or someone else took over the lease, the Island was used to stock game  as Quail Island was 'temporarily reserved for Acclimatization purposes' on April 16, 1866. A report in The Age of August 14, 1867 said that 'nine black Indian partridges and seven Cape partridges had been sent down to Quail Island, for liberation'

State Government Gazette April 24, 1866

This advertisement (below) regarding the sale of Quail Island give us some idea of development on Quail Island as by July 1868 the Island had a 'good three roomed house and sheep yards' and was connected to the main land by a bridge. The house was destroyed in a bush fire in 1898. You can see one of the 'permanent lagoon' or dams in the aerial photo at the top of the post. Graham Patterson, in his Coastal guide, quotes an article from The Argus of November 1, 1865 relating the story of the housekeeper on the Quail Island Station and her misadventure in returning home from Cranbourne one day. It's well worth a read, which you can do, here.

The Argus July 7, 1868

As best as I can I have traced the  lease hold holders or owners of Quail Island - it is part of the Parish of Sherwood and was part of the Cranbourne Shire. The first time I could see Quail island itemised in the Rate Books was 1877/1878 when Alexander Hunter was listed. Hunter also had the Balla Balla run at this time. The Island had been advertised for sale in September 1878 (see advert here) so he may have purchased it around then.  Alexander Hunter had Quail Island until 1884/1885. Donald Tolmie is listed in the Rate Books from 1885/1886 until 1887/1888. From 1888/1889 Charles De Arth (also called De Ath) is listed n the Rate Books until at Quail Island until 1889/1900, the next year his name is crossed out and in July 1901 this notice (see below) appeared in South Bourke and Mornington Journal, reporting on the proceeding of the Cranbourne Police Court. After De Arth, James Ridley had the Quail Island lease until 1912/1913 when Francis Callanan took it over. By then it was listed as 2000 acres although it had been variously listed as being of 3,000 or 4,000 acres - perhaps by this time they could accurately measure the island. Callanan was at the island until 1915/1916 when the Rate Books have the annotation 'Abandon' and 'Reverted to the Crown'

South Bourke and Mornington Journal July 3, 1901

In 1908, the Department of Agriculture inspected Quail Island to see if it was suitable for closer settlement or  a labour colony, but in the end both options did not go ahead  for various reasons including distance from the Cranbourne Railway Station. After Francis Callanan abandoned the Quail Island lease I can find no other lease holders and as it did not become  a labour colony or was taken up for closer settlement I presume that it was unoccupied. In March 1928 it was proclaimed a 'Sanctuary for native game.' The next time we hear of Quail Island is when koalas are transferred there from French Island.

State Government Gazette March 21, 1928

The Argus of January 15, 1930 reported that transference of koalas from French Island to Quail Island has began. Many families of koalas were captured and transferred in boats over the five mile strait between the two islands.  The residents of French Island complained that koalas were present in such large numbers that they denuded every gum tree within reach and they asked for permission to thin them out by shooting or alternatively have them removed. As koalas are protected the second option was chosen.

A report in The Herald in May 1932 also spoke about the koalas being removed, so the process of removal to Quail Island and neighbouring Chinaman Island was still taking place. This article (which you can read here) talks about Mr R.H. Bennetts, from the Department of Fisheries and Game as 'the welfare officer for the little migrants' so this must be the same R. Bennetts who took the photograph, below.

Koalas being placed in boxes to be transported from French Island to Quail Island, 1930. 
Photographer: R. Bennetts

Another photo taken at the same time by, Mr Bennetts, of the koalas and the boxes they were transported in from French to Quail Island. 

In April 1933, The Age reported (read article here) that 200 koalas had already been transferred and that it was recommended that another 150 - 200 also be transferred as gums on French Island were suffering from blight but that Quail Island had an adequate food supply. A later report published in the Argus in June 1933 (read it here) said there were only 1,000 koalas left in Victoria and that eventually the only populations  would be on the Western Port Islands.

However, fast forward ten years to 1943 and there were various reports and letters in the papers about the health of the koalas on Quail Island. They were either starving due to lack of feed or else they were in a state of good health. In March 1944 The Age reported  (read it here) that the Chief Inspector of Fisheries and Game recommended the transfer of a number of koalas from the Western Port Islands in the coming months. Amongst the places suggested as new homes for the koala was the Wombat State Forest, Brisbane Ranges and Healesville. 

There is an interesting film on YouTube, Koalas removed from Quail island,  filmed  around 1944, about the removal of the koalas to near Trentham. You can view it here   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IEhbC6M7EA

Koala in crate which is being transferred from French Island to Quail Island
Argus newspaper collection of  photographs, State Library of Victoria Image H2004.100/1011

There must still have been koalas on Quail Island in 1960 as the 'Regulations for the care, protection and management at the Chinaman Island and Quail Island Koala Reserves' was gazetted in August 1960.

State Government Gazette   August 24, 1960.

There was talk in the early 1960s of turning Quail Island into a jetport but, as you know that never happened. Quail island is now a Nature Conservation Reserve and some of the waters around it are part of the Yaringa Marine National Park. Quail Island and Watson Inlet are also of State Geomorphological Significance - you can read about this here - http://vro.agriculture.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/portregn.nsf/pages/port_lf_sig_sites_watson

I have created  a list of newspaper articles connected to Quail Island, on Trove. You can access the list, here

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Stratford Strettle and his family

I have come across the Strettle family name on many occasions in my historic research - Stratford Strettle was a Stock & Station Agent and conducted many sales in the region. He was also, at one stage, the owner of the property Tulliallan, then known as Gladys Park, at Cranbourne (or Berwick as it was often listed as), the property where his brother, William, died. His father, Abraham, owned the property Sweet Hills at Lysterfield. However, I came across these sad public announcements about the birth and death of Stratford's son and then the death of his wife, Annie,  and I thought if anything summed up the precarious life of women where marriage was followed closely by childbirth and childbirth often by the death of the mother or the baby (and sadly in some of the poorer countries around the world today this still happens) then it was these two notices. So I thought we would have a look at the Strettle family.

Bacchus Marsh Express  July 14, 1877

We will start the story with Stratford's parents. Abraham Strettle married Mary Sullivan (also sometimes listed as O'Sullivan) in Cork in Ireland in 1835. They had five children, listed below. Mary  died in Melbourne on November 14, 1864 at the age of 54 and Abraham died 'at sea of consumption' on March 25, 1876. He was on his way to New York and is buried at the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn in New York. Mary did not actually live at Sweet Hills as she died the year before Abraham took up the property, but you can read about Sweet Hills, here. According to Stratford's obituary, when he died in 1919 he was a 'colonist of 66 years', which means the family arrived about 1853. According to their daughter Maria's marriage notice (see below)  the family had previously been in South Africa (Cape of Good Hope being the name of the area when it was a British Colony)

Maria Strettle's marriage notice.  The Age November 25, 1854

The Strettle family were extraordinarily good at putting Birth, Death and Marriage announcements in the papers and if you are a genealogist then this is the sort of family you would want to be related to! From these notices I have discovered the following information about the Strettles. Abraham and Mary Strettle had five children born in Cork in Ireland -
  • William, born c. 1838,  who died at the age of 47 at the Tulliallan / Gladys Park  property on July 15, 1885. Birth date is approximate as it is taken from the death date, so I am not sure if William and Maria were twins or just born really close together.
  • Maria, born c. 1838, who died in Victoria at the age of 27 in 1865. Maria married William Minifie on November 22, 1854 and died on January 4, 1865, after  a 'long and painful illness' according to her death notice. She had three daughters - Florence Kate, b. 1857, Edith Eveline, b. 1861 and Ellen, born & died 1864.   Florence and Edith were listed as beneficiaries in the will of their grandfather, Abraham.
  • Katherine (Kate) was born c. 1840 and married William Summers Flint in January 1870, they had three sons - Arthur, b.1871; Walter, b. 1872 and Bertie, b. 1875. When she died in Claremont in Western Australia at the age of 70 on May 27, 1912, her three sons were still alive.
  • Ellen, b. c. 1841 and died in Melbourne aged 20 on December 8, 1861.
  • Abraham Stratford, born 1845 who died December 19, 1919 aged 74. 

Death notice for Ellen Strettle  in The Argus December 9, 1861

Death notice for William Strettle The Argus July 21, 1885

Back to Abraham Stratford Strettle, known as Stratford. Stratford married Annie Eliza Johnston on April 22, 1868 at St James Cathedral in Melbourne. According to the marriage notice in The Argus, she was the third daughter of Waldron Johnston of Fairfield, Malvern. The notice didn't list her mother naturally (they never did)  but she was Bridget McIntyre. Waldron was a hotel owner.

Annie and Strettle had three children before the stillborn son who is listed in the announcement at the top of this post 
  • Ethel Mary, born January 9 and died January 29 in 1869. 
  • William Stratford, born December 17, 1870. He married Florence Young in 1906 and had three children - Bruce  Stratford, b. & d. 1909; Margaret Somerville, b. October 15, 1910 and married Richard Caney in 1942 and Joan Elizabeth, b. 1913 and d. 2003 in Melbourne.  William died in Perth on January 4, 1934. 
  • Stella Kate, born November 13, 1873. Stella married Herbert Powell (c. 1863 - 1941) in Adelaide in December 1894 and died November 9, 1900 in Melbourne at the age of 26. In the seven years between her marriage and her death she had three children - William Hamilton, 1896 - 1936, died in South Africa;  Keith, 1898 - 1971 and Stella Kate b. 1900. Little Stella died July 16, 1902 and the death notice lists her as the adopted daughter of James and Alice Cuming, Jnr.  Not unusual in those times for a  baby to be adopted informally after the death of a parent, especially the mother. 
  • Unnamed son stillborn in July 1877.
Annie Strettle died without  a will but her probate papers said she left an estate of 15, 570 pounds - that was a lot of money in those days, but even all that money could not protect her from the dangers of child birth.  Maternal mortality at this time was in the region of 40 to 60 deaths per 1000 births (that means five mothers died per 100 births) and this didn’t decline until the 1940s, largely due to antibiotics. The infant mortality rate in Victoria from 1870 to 1900 was anything from 115 to 140 that is for every 1000 births between 115 and 140 babies would die under the age of one including Annie and Stratford's daughter, Ethel, and their grandson, Bruce.

In 1878, the year after his first wife, Annie, died Stratford married  Jessie Powell (c.1859 - 1932)  the daughter of William Hamilton Powell. Stella's husband, Herbert,  was also the son of William Hamilton Powell so it looks like Stella married her step-mother's brother. There was one child from the marriage of Stratford to Jessie, and that is Hamilton Stratford Strettle, born December 8, 1887. Hamilton was listed as a motor mechanic when he enlisted in the A.I.F on April 21, 1916. While he was overseas he married Leonie Pickman in Belgium in October 1919 and his occupation then was listed as 'Island trader' - what ever that is, but it sounds romantic. Hamilton Returned to Australia February 1920. In 1931, Hamilton, Leonie and Jessie were living on Point Nepean Road at Rye and he was back to being a motor engineer, clearly no call for the occupation 'Island trader' in Port Phillip Bay. Jessie died May 8, 1932 at the age of 73, Hamilton died in 1960, Leonie in 1974.

Stratford and Jessie lived at Tulliallan / Gladys Park from 1882 to December 1886 and then leased the property until it was sold 1904 - you would have to surmise that the death of his brother in tragic circumstances from a gun shot wound might have been a factor in his leaving the property in 1886. You can read more about the Tulliallan /Gladys Park  property here.

Stratford Strettle was, as I said before, a Stock & Station Agent. If you put his name into Trove you get over 9,000 results, so naturally we wont be listing all his business dealings here, but here are just a few of his advertisements of some of his many activities that took place all over Victoria.

South Bourke & Mornington Journal December 3, 1884

South Bourke & Mornington Journal January 28, 1885

Stratford Strettle died December 19, 1919 aged 74. His obituary, below, said that he lost money in the  1890s collapse of the land boom and, as  it appears that he didn't leave a  will, we can't tell how much he was worth when he died, but you could assume that he was 'comfortable' if he could afford to own a few trotting horses. But like the death of his first wife, Annie, being well off did not protect you from family tragedy. If you put his family deaths into a time line then it shows how much death touched his family which would have been fairly typical of the time - 1861 - sister Ellen died;  1864 - mother Mary died; 1865 - sister Maria died; 1869 - daughter Ethel died; 1876 - father Abraham died; 1877 son stillborn; 1877 wife Annie died; 1885 - brother William died and 1900 - daughter Stella Kate died; 1902 - grand daughter Stella died.

Stratford Strettle's obituary from The Argus December 23, 1919

South Bourke & Mornington Journal   December 25, 1919