Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Patrick O'Halloran's General Store at Pakenham

I bought this postcard the other day of Patrick O'Halloran's store in 'Old Town', Pakenham. The 'old town' was the town on the Gippsland Road (Princes Highway) near the Toomuc Creek. New Pakenham or Pakenham East was the town that developed around the railway station from 1877. I don't know when the store opened; Patrick is listed in the Electoral Rolls of 1903 as a grocer and that is the first reference I can find. His father, John, is listed in the Shire of Berwick Rate books at Pakenham from 1885/1886 as owning 'house and land, Henty's subdivision'. According to the 1884 Rate books, Thomas Henty owned 4,421 acres of land, being Lots 1, 2, 8, 11 to 20, 46 to 46, so John must have purchased some of this land after it was subdivided.

Thomas Henty's land sale
South Bourke & Mornington Journal, November 25, 1885   https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/6745862

Patrick is not listed in the Rate Books until 1914/1915 and he then has '23 acres William's subdivision'. I am unsure where that was. Part of the problem with tracking the family through both the Rate books and the Electoral Rolls is that their surname is sometimes listed as Halloran and sometimes as O'Halloran. What we do know is that Patrick's store was on Gippsland Road or the Princes Highway and this is where the photograph on the postcard was taken.

Patrick was one of the advertisers in the first edition of the Berwick Shire News of September 8, 1909. The newspaper was the forerunner of the Pakenham Gazette.

Patrick's last advertisement when his store was located in 'old Pakenham.'
Pakenham Gazette November 19, 1920

In November 1920, Patrick left old Pakenham for new Pakenham and removed to new premises in Main Street, next to the Post Office.

Patrick advertising his move to Main Street, Pakenham East.
Pakenham Gazette November 26, 1920.

In August 1927, Patrick sold his business to Mr Jackson of Korumburra. 

South Bourke & Mornington Journal August 18, 1927   https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/214589156

Mr Jackson's first advertisement.
Pakenham Gazette September 2, 1927.

Patrick was the son of John Halloran and Johanna Scanlon, who had married in 1873. They had nine children, the first two were registered at Berwick and the last seven at Pakenham, which gives us some idea when the family moved to Pakenham.  The children were -  Mary Ann (1875 - 1966, married Charles Maltby in 1915), John (1877 - 1955), Johanna (1878 - 1954, married Syndney John Donahoo in 1920), Michael Patrick (1880 - 1943), Timothy (1881, Killed in Action in France July 1916), Stephen (1883 - 1957), Dominick (1884 - 1958), William (1886 - 1891), Thomas (1887 - 1964). John died April 19, 1922 aged 78 and Johanna April 18, 1934 (1)

This is part of John's obituary which was published in the Pakenham Gazatte of  April 21, 1922 - The deceased gentleman, who was a native of County Clare, Ireland, was an old and much respected resident of this district, where he had lived for about 40 years, and he will be sadly missed by many friends. He was for many years connected with the Railway Department and on his retirement form service he settled in Pakenham. He always took a keen interest in public matters and was a great lover of sport, especially football.

Patrick, our store keeper was Michael Patrick. He married Jane Elizabeth Dillon and 1907 and they had two children, James and Marie. He died on May 18, 1943 at the age of 62 and Jane died on July 1, 1949, also aged 62 (2)

The Pakenham Gazette of May 21, 1943 published the following obituary of Patrick - 
Prominent Pakenham Man Accidentally Killed
District saddened by death of Mr. M. P. Halloran
A gloom was cast over the whole district last Tuesday afternoon, when it was learnt that Mr Michael Patrick Halloran had been killed by the falling of a limb of  a tree at  his property, Gembrook road, Pakenham.

Mr Halloran had gone to cut down a tree which had been partly burnt through, and apparently it came down unexpectedly and one of the limbs struck him on the head. Death must have been instantaneous.
Discovery of the sad event was made by Mr Halloran’s daughter (Miss Marie Halloran) who on noticing that sound of chopping had ceased and that one of her father’s dogs  which followed him everywhere had returned to the house without him, went to discover if anything unforeseen had happened.

Mr Halloran was born at Pakenham 62 years ago and had spent practically the whole of his life in the district. For a number of years he conducted a general store at Old Pakenham and later established at Pakenham East the business which is now conducted by Messrs J. J. Jackson and Sons, who purchased it from him some 17 years ago.

On his retirement from business Mr Halloran erected a residence at his orchard property on Gembrook road and continued to reside there up to the time of his death. 

As a young man he was prominently associated with most of the sporting activities of the town as well as generously supporting all movements for the progress of the district.

In business affairs and in public and private life Mr Halloran was known far and wide as a man of high principle – upright in all his dealings and ever ready to assist any in need of a helping hand. These sterling qualities and his bright and cheerful nature won for him many deep and lasting friendships; and with his death the district has lost one who will be greatly missed.

The heartfelt sympathy of the whole community goes out to the sorrowing widow, son and daughter, also to Mr Halloran’s brothers and sisters at this sad time.

The funeral, which was very largely attended, took place at Pakenham Cemetery yesterday morning, following Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church. Mr Halloran’s nephew (Rev. Father L. Halloran), assisted by Rev Father Sullivan, officiated at the Church and at the graveside. The coffin bearers were Messrs P. Brown, W. Stone, B. Bourke and R. Miers, and the pall-bearers Messrs W. and B. Doherty, J. and T. Carney, Milo Bourke, P. Clarke, T. Fuller and M. Mullane.

(1) Family information comes from the Indexes to the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages https://www.bdm.vic.gov.au/research-and-family-history/search-your-family-history  You can read Timothy's story on the website A Century After the Guns Fell Silent: Remembering the Pakenham District's WWI Diggers 1914-1918, here https://www.pakenhamww1.com/halloran-timothy
John's death notice was in The Argus, April 21, 1922, see here. Johanna's death notice was in The Argus, April 19, 1934, see here.
(2) Jane's death notice was in The Argus, July 2 1949, see here.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Cranbourne District State Schools Sports days

These are photos of two winning sports teams from Cranbourne State School, No. 2068.

Cranbourne State School, Basketball Premiers 1926

In 1926 the Cranbourne A team won the district schools championship basketball competition. Basketball, the game that was played, is called netball today. The teams came from Clyde, Clyde North, Cranbourne A and Cranbourne Z. Cranbourne State school was a much larger school than the other two. The final took place on Friday August 13, 1926 and Cranbourne A defeated Cranbourne Z for the pennant. The pennant was funded by a social at the Shire Hall and it was presented by the member for Dandenong, Frank Groves, M.L.A.

Report of the semi-final of the school basketball competition.
South Bourke & Mornington Journal August 5, 1926  https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/214585269#

Report of the basketball  final and presentation

The next year the boys won the Cricket Cup. In September 1927, the Cranbourne District State Schools held their annual combined Sports day and Cranbourne won the Cricket Cup. There were six teams - Cranbourne A, Cranbourne Z, Clyde, Clyde North, Lyndhurst and Devon Meadows. The school with the most points was Clyde and Clyde North girls won the district cup for basketball.

Cranbourne State School, Cricket Premiers 1927

Report of the Cranbourne District State Schools sports day.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Stormy Weather

Here are some reports, from one hundred or so years ago, of fierce storms in the area

Pakenham - October 1892
A hurricane storm passed over the township on Tuesday, and residents here of 40 years' standing never remember such a storm. Fences were laid flat, and trees by the hundreds were broken and uprooted in all directions. Many houses were damaged by the roofs being blown off. Great anxiety was felt for Robertson's Gembrook coach. Happily the driver and horses returned after having an exceedingly rough trip, and it was a miracle that they escaped from the falling timber. 
(The Argus, October 13, 1892, see here)

Berwick - September 1898
A terrific storm - One of the severest storms experienced for years passed over the colony on Saturday, and left wreckage in its track from Portland to Gabo Island.... Forty-four points of rain were registered in the city, but in some of the country districts the downpour was much heavier. At Berwick 118 points  fell. Vivid lightning, with loud thunder, accompanied the downpour, aud although in the city the lightning had no very serious effect, houses were damaged and many trees were splintered. At the telegraph office, according to the statements of some of the employes, a blinding flash of lightning travelled from one end of the room to the other, almost paralysing one of the messengers with fear, and setting the switch board rattling like the noise of exploding crackers. The office was immediately "cut off" and no business could be done for nearly an hour. 
(The Age, September 19, 1898 see here)

Pakenham - January 1902
Remarkable Dust storm - The heavy gale which raged throughout Tuesday night swept over the greater part of the state, and caused considerable damage in many places, principally in the unroofing of houses, blowing down of light buildings, and the destruction of orchards and gardens. The dust-storms were the worst experienced for a very long time, and extraordinary effects are reported from various places in the country. At Pakenham - The orchards suffered very severely. At Toomuc Valley orchard and also at Mr. Hatfield's, the ground is covered with fruit. It is estimated there are 2,000 to 3,000 cases of fruit blown off the trees at these orchards alone. It will be a total loss. 
(The Argus, January 23, 1902, see here)

Pakenham - February 1903
The weather last week was very unseasonable, and terminated on Saturday in a violent n.w. hurricane, carrying clouds of dust, and finally a welcome downpour of muddy rain fell, registering 90 points.
 (South Bourke & Mornington Journal, February 18, 1903, see here)

Gembrook - March 1903
A terrific storm occurred this afternoon, and great damage was done by a cyclone half a mile wide. In its course trees were blown down, roofs torn off houses, sheds and outbuildings destroyed. The roads on the track of the cyclone are all blocked with fallen trees. It is still raining. More than one inch has been recorded. 
(The Age, March 4, 1903, see here)

Pakenham & Koo Wee Rup - February 1905
Last night a heavy storm passed over here. The wind blew furiously, and 106 points of rain fell. At Koo-wee-rup South* a regular cyclone passed over the place. At the state school two outhouses were blown over and smashed to pieces, and a bedroom window was blown from the head master's house into the school yard. Some of the weatherboards were also torn off. The school is in an exposed position. 
(The Argus, February 13, 1905, see here).

Yannathan - February 1915
On Saturday afternoon last a storm of unprecedented violence swept across the district, and was particularly severe at Yannathan. All day the weather had been threatening, and thunder showers which visited other parts of the district left this locality untouched. But at about 4 o'clock, while about 30 ladies and gentlemen were witnessing a cricket match in Mr Stewart's paddock between the Lang Lang and Yannathan teams, a densely black cloud, lit up constantly by vivid flashes of lightning, was seen approaching from the south-west. When the first drops of rain fell players and spectators left the field for the shelter of the Mechanics' Hall, and while there the storm burst, and for about ten minutes the elements were in almost indescribable tumult. A hurricane blew jinkers about the hall yard, and everything in the shape of boxes and loose timber was lifted by its violence. Then something in the nature of a cloud-burst descended, and rain and pieces of ice fell in such density that looking across towards the Union Church, only a shadowy outline of the building could, be seen, and the hall yard was soon under water. Deafening peals of thunder and constant flames of lightning combined with the downpour, and twice the crash of a falling tree was heard. The door of the church being opened, all made a dash from the hall and entered, but were drenched in doing so. As suddenly as it broke, the storm abated, and very little rain fell during the remainder of the afternoon.

At Yallock the storm was also very severe. Mr Bourke, of Monomeith Park, registered 68 points of rain But, strange to state, practically no rain fell at Lang Lang, while along the coast the storm was of exceptional severity. Near Mr Pearson's it did some damage by washing away the road formation. The hurricane appears to have divided itself into two channels, one sweeping across Cranbourne, Clyde and the Swamp, and culminating at Yannathan in the severest storm ever known there, while the other portion followed a track along the coast.

During the afternoon we regret to state that a young man named Dan Cameron, 17 years of age, employed by Mr W. H. Gardiner, of Yannathan, was struck by lightning and killed instantly. He had been employed off and on by Mr Gardiner for some years past and for the past eight or nine months had been at work constantly at his place. He was out in the paddock, and between 4 and 5 p.m. he was evidently caught in the storm, and found shelter under a tree - a very dangerous situation during the occurrence of lightning. While there he was struck by a lightning flash,and it is thought that death must have been instantaneous, because his hand was found placed behind his back, a favorite attitude of the deceased. The tree under which he had been standing was shattered to pieces and deceased's clothing was torn to shreds, down his breast being a distinct impress of the tree beneath which he was standing. The parents of the deceased, who reside at Beaconsfield, were communicated with, and the interment took place in the Berwick cemetery.

The same afternoon four sheep belonging to LeRoux Bros, at the Red Bluff were struck by lightning and killed. 
(Lang Lang Guardian, February 24, 1915, see here)

Yallock - October 1917
During a violent thunder-storm on Sunday afternoon, Mr J. Orchard, of Yallock, had the misfortune to have a horse struck with lightning, and the animal was killed instantly.
(Lang Lang Guardian, October 17, 1917, see here)

Clyde - June 1919
Squally, stormy weather was experienced here during the week-end. On Sunday at about 7.30, the strong N E wind which had been blowing all day increased to a hurricane, and travelling in a south westerly direction, and for a width of about 3 chains carried everything before it. Limbs of trees were seen lying in all directions, and the iron roof of Mr Hunter's barn was lifted bodily, and some of the iron sheets was carried for a distance of 100 yards. 
(South Bourke & Mornington Journal, June 19, 1919, see here)

Bayles Butter Factory, 1923.
Photo: Bayles Fauna Park collection

Bayles - May 1928
At 12.30 p.m. to day some men working in a butter and cheese factory owned by Sage and Co. Pty. Ltd, Melbourne, heard an extraordinary noise, which appeared to be caused by a sudden roar of wind, ending in a thunderclap. They rushed out of the factory, and as they did so the roof seemed to be lifted bodily and was swept away at a terrific speed. Later on the greater portion of the tin roof, measuring 60 feet by 20 feet, was found half a mile away. The cyclone was awe inspiring, and struck terror into the hearts of those who witnessed it. The men working in the factory were not injured, and after finding out where the rest of the roof had landed they returned to work. The machinery was not damaged. The weather had been fine up to the time of the cyclone, but after that it ruined heavily. 
(The Age, May 12, 1928, see here)

Bayles and Cora Lynn - May 1928
Shortly after midday on Friday a cyclone, travelling from the coast, passed through Bayles in the direction of Cora Lynn, a few miles from Koo-wee-rup, leaving wreckage in its trail. The roof of Sage and Co.'s butter factory lifted off, and portion carried in the air for half a mile. Stables, in, which horses were feeding, were swept away, haystacks and telegraph poles blown down. The horses in the stable were not harmed. 
(Weekly Times, May 19, 1928, see here)

We will finish up with not only a storm but an earth tremor - the town of Cardinia is spelt as Kardinia in this report.
Tooradin - August 1935
About 8 p.m. on Saturday a violent electrical storm at Tooradin was heralded by two distinct earth tremors. During the earlier part of the evening what is described by local residents as an eerie light was
visible in the sky to the southward, extending over Bass Strait. At 8 p.m. Mr. J. Conroy, farmer, of Kardinia, seven miles from Tooradin, was sitting at home with one foot on the chimney ledge when he felt the chimney distinctly sway. Doors and windows throughout the house rattled, and about
ten minutes after the tremor had subsided the thunder storm broke. Heavy peals of thunder shook the house, and heavy rain set in, which continued throughout the night. 
At Tooradin the earth tremor was also reported by Mr. D. M. Henderson and Mr. McFarlane, the local station master. It was followed almost immediately by the breaking of the thunder storm. The storm was the most severe experienced in the district for a number of years. The thunder was particularly violent and the lightning of an unusual type. It appeared in the form of a centre of fire, gradually widening laterally until the whole vicinity was illuminated.
Torrential rain fell for about twenty minutes, and then steadied to a downpour, which continued through the night. The storm worked southward, and appeared to lose its intensity over Bass Strait. Rain fell intermittently throughout yesterday, and it was still raining at 6 p.m. Should this continue throughout to-night flood conditions will be imminent. The "canal" and local main drains are already running bankers and cannot accommodate any further falls. 
No damage is reported from the earth tremor, which was felt over a wide area. Some settlers in outlying portions report two distinct shocks.
(The Age, August 5, 1935, see here)

* You may find it hard to believe but Koo Wee Rup South was actually Koo Wee Rup North.  There have been five primary schools called Koo Wee Rup and ironically the original Koo Wee Rup State School, No.2629, was actually called Yallock, until 1903 when it was changed to Koo Wee Rup. The Cora Lynn State School, No. 3502, was known as Koo Wee Rup Central when it opened in January 1907 and changed its named to Cora Lynn in September of that year. The Modella State School, No.3456, was known as Koo Wee Rup East when it opened in January 1904. The Koo Wee Rup North State School, No.3198, at Five Mile, was initially called Koo Wee Rup South when it opened in July 1894. Finally, the Iona State School, No. 3201, was originally known as Koo Wee Rup North.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

'Native Cats' or Quolls in the Casey Cardinia region

I came across this snippet in the book Early Days of Berwick (1), first published in 1948. It was referring to farming areas around Berwick - The native cats were a pest amongst the poultry but they appeared to contract some form of epidemic and they died out and now appear totally extinct (2). What are native cats? They are a type of quoll, a carnivorous marsupial - the Eastern Quoll - Dasyurus viverrinus - and were described by a writer as - the colour of native cats varies greatly. I have seen them practically all black, except for the characteristic white spots, but in others the colour has been grey, brown, bluey-grey, yellow, and a mixture of the above colours, but always with the white spots (3). They are about 60 cm in length, including the tail. Eastern Quolls are considered to be nearly extinct on the Australian mainland, but still exist in Tasmania (4).

Quolls or 'Native Cats'
Wild cats, c. 1880s. State Library of Victoria Image H29681/2

I did a search on Trove to find any references to quolls in the Casey Cardinia region in newspapers. The first report came from October 1872. This was a sad account of a farmer, named Wilhelm Tinzmann, of Dandenong, who committed suicide in October 1872 by drinking strychnine. He had legally obtained the poison from a local chemist to kill 'native cats'. Thirty four year old Wilhelm had been suffering from great pain in the head and had been desponding of late (5).

In April 1880, there was a report on the activities of the Acclimatisation Society, later called the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society, who had released Californian Quail into Victoria and they reported that it has succeeded wherever the scrub, as at Gembrook, is sufficiently dense to enable it to escape from its numerous enemies, in the shape of hawks and native cats (6). The activities of this Society were reported on regularly and in another report from April 1886, the Society was sent one white native cat, from Mr Staughton, near Pakenham to add to their collection (7).

In October 1884 there were various reports about the tragic death of eleven year old Edward Williams of Tynong who died after having been bitten by a snake. Edward had put his hand into a hollow log, in which he thought a native cat lay concealed, only to find that it actually contained a four foot tiger snake (8). This happened at eight o'clock in the morning and shortly afterwards he began to feel the deadly effects of the poison, and his father, alarmed at the lad's appearance, hurried with him to the railway station, and took him to the Alfred Hospital. The boy was quite insensible when admitted, at about two p.m., and was evidently dying. He expired very shortly after admission (9).

In 1899, the West Gippsland Gazette reported this story, which took place at an un-named location in Gippsland - A boy, son of a selector climbed a high white gum after a magpie's nest, but slipped from a bough, and, falling, just managed to catch a limb, from which he hung by his hands. After making repeated efforts to draw himself up he abandoned the endeavour as hopeless, and remained hanging, calling for help all the time. When he had been in this position for about a minute, a native-cat crept along the limb and smelt at his fingers. It then bit them. The boy shrieked at the animal, but it took no notice,and set deliberately to work to eat his hand. After the third bite, the youngster let go; and fell to the ground, breaking a rib and stunning himself in the fall. When he recovered consciousness, the cat had descended the tree, probably with the intention of resuming its meal if conditions were favorable. But the boy left (10)

A story was published in 1907 about life on the Koo Wee Rup Swamp, shortly after the Village Settlements were established in 1893. The story outlines the trials and tribulations faced by the settler and his family including the native cats killed the fowls.... and a vagrant kangaroo dog stole the baby out of the gin case cradle, and only dropped it after a two mile chase through the ti-tree (11). The last part  is particularly interesting given what happened to Lindy and Michael Chamberlain's baby, Azaria, in 1980.

This story was published 1912, but took place some time before and is a perfect example of why rabbit traps are now illegal - A mate and I were rabbiting in the Beaconsfield district, Victoria, and in one week we bagged [trapped] four sheep, one native cat, two opossums, one water-rat, one flying squirrel, one curlew, two magpie larks, and several hares. In addition, to these we also trapped a farmer's pet wallaby and our own fox-terrier dog. The animals that made the most noise were the hares, which screamed like terrified women. Native cats, as a rule, quickly tore themselves away, leaving behind a bunch of fur, and perhaps portion of a leg. Probably the week's trapping was even more varied, because several ot our traps had entirely disappeared — chains, pegs, and all. On another occasion we trapped a bull-frog (12).

The Australasian from August 1940 published this memory - "In the early 'nineties," writes Mr. A. H. McKibbin (Croydon), "I lived at Lyndhurst, near Dandenong. Immediately opposite our home was a primeval area of redgum bush which was a great stronghold of the native cats. These animals were a serious menace to our poultry, and some mornings I picked up as many as a dozen dead fowls resulting from carelessness in not closing the hen house door as tightly as it should have been shut. My father's method of dealing with these spotted terrors was kerosene case box traps with a drop door set on an internal trigger with bait attached. If the trap was sprung then without doubt the marauder was inside (13).

The Eastern Quoll
The spotted Opossum, 1789.  Engraver: Peter Mazell. 
State Library of Victoria Image 30328102131546/16. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/320121

The articles also talk about various urban locations where these quolls were found. This report is from 1910 -  the common native cat was until a few years ago very plentiful. In the early eighties it was not an uncommon occurrence to capture one or more of these creatures in the old Museum work-shops in the University grounds. The old stone fences around Coburg afforded good shelter, and here they were commonly hunted with terriers. In 1902 a female and two half-grown young ones were trapped by an old inmate of the Immigrants' Home on St. Kilda road (14) and brought to the Museum. In Victoria of recent years it has become so rare that it will soon be numbered with the animals of the past (15).  In 1926 a small colony was reported at Ivanhoe - the journalist from The Herald described them thus with its brownish coat, spotted and mottled with white, the native cat is almost a handsome creature (16)As late as 1956 there was  an isolated colony in one of the wilder parts of Studley Park; and every now and again the body of one is brought into the Museum after being dazzled and knocked over by a car at night on Studley Park rd, or the Yarra Boulevard (17). 

As we have seen, the 'native cat' was not very popular with the early settlers, primarily because they attacked poultry. The quoll would kill multiple chickens in one session, unlike the fox [which] will usually take a fowl and depart, but the native cat is apt to kill a dozen or more before calling it a night (18). Because of this farmers seemed to have engaged in an all-out war against the quoll - they used poison, guns, traps - both rabbit traps and native cat traps - after which the captured animals were either shot or beaten to death. As quolls lived in hollow logs they were sometimes burnt to death if the timber was being burnt and if they escaped from the burning logs they were killed by waiting dogs (19). Interestingly, quolls were not killed for their fur, even though fur from all types of animals, both native and introduced species, was used extensively in the nineteenth century for garments (20). The skins were never valuable; in fact, it was such an unpleasant job skinning them that few men bothered about the skins at all (21).

A simple Native Cat trap
This illustration, plus full instructions on how to make the trap appeared in the 

How prolific were the quolls? A writer to The Australasian from Gembrook on 1905 said - Throughout the county of Mornington (22) the cats disappeared about 24 years ago, when there was about a rabbit to the square mile in it. At that point and previously, there were about 50 cats to the square mile. Now I believe you could not find one. So far as I can remember the grasshopper plague, then the rabbit one, came soon after the disappearance of the cats (23). There was a theory that rabbits may have been responsible for the decline of the quolls and this was both raised and dismissed by a correspondent to The Australasian in 1918 - The mystery regarding the almost total extinction of the native cat, along with the native bear, has been the subject of controversy in this column for many years past. Yet no one has suggested a theory that can be regarded as satisfactory.The suggestion that it was due to the cats swallowing the fur of the rabbits was frivolous. In Gippsland, for instance, the native cats had practically disappeared before the appearance of the rabbit. The latter pest was extremely scarce before '98. Regardless of this fact, there are still people who persist in the nonsensical theory that rabbits were the sole cause (24).

The theory mentioned in the Early days of Berwick that they died of some form of epidemic is also supported by some writers - Despite the war waged against them by men, women, and children in the sparsely settled areas, the native cats seemed to hold their own, but a strange disease broke out amongst them and so many were wiped out that they never recovered from the epidemic (25). In 1940, Mr McKibbon, who shared his memories of the quolls at Lyndhurst also wrote that Epidemics of disease at the close of last century and first years of the present one probably quite unconnected with the rabbit were responsible for the disappearance of native cats, and naturally the increase of the rabbit was facilitated with the removal of this little marsupial carnivore, which previously destroyed large numbers of the young bunnies (26).

In 2014 the Australian Journal of Zoology published a research paper by David Peacock (Biosecurity SA, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia) and Ian Abbott (Science and Conservation Diviosn, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia) called When the ‘native cat’ would ‘plague’: historical hyperabundance in the quoll (Marsupialia : Dasyuridae) and an assessment of the role of disease, cats and foxes in its curtailment (27). This is the abstract - From an extensive review of historical material, primarily newspaper accounts, we collated >2700 accounts of quolls. We discovered 36 accounts that demonstrate the propensity for quolls to become hyperabundant. The geographical distribution of accounts implies that most refer to Dasyurus viverrinus...More than 110 accounts demonstrate that disease/parasite epizootics occurred in south-eastern Australia, commencing on mainland Australia possibly in the goldfields region of Victoria in the 1850s, or in south-eastern South Australia and south-western Victoria in the mid to late 1860s, and implicate these as the initial primary factor in the regional extirpation of Australia’s quolls. The loss of D. viverrinus populations in south-eastern Australia was reportedly from population abundances and densities that were sporadically extraordinarily high, hence their loss appears more pronounced than previously suspected. Accounts describing the widespread, rapid and major loss of quolls suggest the possible involvement of several pathogens. Ectoparasites such as Uropsylla tasmanica and ticks appear to be described in detail in some accounts. A few others state comortality of Felis catus and Canis lupus familiaris, suggestive of a disease of either or both of these species, such as Canine Distemper Virus, a morbillivirus with a propensity to be non-host specific, that may have caused the decline of the quolls, perhaps vectored by the reported ectoparasites.... Read the full report, here.

The researchers conclude - We emphasise that disease should receive as much focus as the conventional explanatory factors of predation and habitat loss. It would appear then that the book Early Days of Berwick which suggested in 1948 that the native cat appeared to contract some form of epidemic presented a plausible explanation for the demise of the quoll.

Trove list
I have created a list on Trove on articles relating to the 'native cat' in Casey Cardinia region, access it here.

(1) Early Days of Berwick and its surrounding districts: Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North (Berwick Pakenham Historical Society), 3rd edition.
(2) Early Days of Berwick, p. 18.
(3) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(4) Department of Environment and Heritage Quolls of Australia fact sheet, see here
(5) The Argus, October 9, 1872, see here.
(6) The Australasian, April 24, 1880, see here.
(7) The Argus, April 21, 1886, see here.
(8) The Age, October 24, 1884, see here.
(9) Geelong Advertiser, October 20, 1884, see here. The Leader of October 25, 1884 also has an account of the tragic story, see here.
(10) West Gippsland Gazette, February 7, 1899, see here.
(11) Mudgee Guardian, January 31, 1907, see here.
(12) Sydney Mail December 18, 1912, see here.
(13) The Australasian, August 24, 1940, see here.
(14) The Immigrants Home, read about it here on the eMelbourne. 
(15) The Argus, October 4, 1910, see here.
(16) The Herald, April 15, 1926, see here.
(17) The Argus, June 16, 1956, see here.
(18) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(19) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(20) I have written about a furrier, Mrs Mary Jane Gardner and the many types of fur she used in her business in my Victoria's Past: Rescued and Retold blog, here.
(21) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(22) County of Mornington - For Land Administration purposes Victoria was divided into Counties and then into Parishes – all of the City of Casey and nearly all of the Cardinia Shire is in the County of Mornington. Some of the Cardinia Shire north of Emerald, may be County of Evelyn.  The Mornington Peninsula, Bass Coast and Phillip Island are also part of the County of Mornington. You can see a map here
(23) The Australasian, July 29 1905, see here.
(24) The Australasian, April 13, 1918, see here.
(25) The Queenslander, June 15, 1938, see here.
(26) The Australasian, August 24, 1940, see here.
(27) Read the full research paper, here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Identical Post Offices - Pakenham East and Elwood

In our last blog post we looked at the Berwick Post Office which was identical to two other Post Offices built in Victoria in the 1880s, Murtoa and Donald. You can read this post here. In this post we will look at two other identical Post Offices, both of which opened in 1925 - Pakenham East and Elwood.

Pakenham East Post Office, 1920s
State Library of Victoria Image H89.105/186

This was the fourth Post Office in Pakenham, or Pakenham East as it was then called. The Back to Pakenham souvenir booklet from 1951 tell us that the post office for Pakenham was originally at the railway station. It moved to the site of what is now Mr J. Lia's butcher's shop , then to the site occupied by the cafe next to the picture theatre, and thence to the present site (1). The building was in Main Street, where the existing (the fifth) Post Office is today. The original Pakenham township was on the Princes Highway near Bourke's Hotel on the Toomuc Creek and the Pakenham East township developed around the railway station which opened in October 1877. There was much confusion between the towns, as this article  from 1912, belows, tells us.

Confusion between the Pakenham and Pakenham East Post Offices

Great confusion occurs in regard to the post offices here. The Pakenham Post-office is situated 1½ miles from the Pakenham railway station while the post-office at the railway end is called East Pakenham. Nearly the whole of the business people reside at East Pakenham. The shire buildings and public hall are also there. During one week over 600 letters addressed to Pakenham belonged to Pakenham East. The postmistress at the latter office has just been notified that £10 per annum is to be taken from her salary and given to the other office for the purpose of carrying the mail to and from the station.

It wasn't just the Post Offices which were rivals as in the early days there was keen rivalry between the 'old' and 'new' towns. Happily that feeling gradually faded away with the passing of the years, With the steady expansion of building along the Highway, Pakenham and Pakenham East are today to all intents and purposes the one town - geographically and in outlook (2). This was written in 1962 and the use of name of Pakenham East faded from the 1970s (3). The Post Office building was demolished in the 1990s (4). 

This photo from the 1980s shows the Post Office when it was called 
Pakenham, with the postcode 3810. 

The identical Post Office that was built at Pakenham East was, as we said, the fourth building there, but in Elwood, it was their first Post Office. The locals had been agitating for  a few years for a Post Office (5) and in 1923 land was purchased on the corner of Glenhuntly road and The Broadway, Elwood for the building (6). It is interesting that Elwood and Pakenham East both had the same Post Office because at the time Elwood had a much larger and growing population. In October 1923,  the Mayor of St Kilda, Cr Allen,  had spoken of the need for a Post Office in the area because  in nine years the population of Elwood had increased from 5,509 to 9,469, and the number of houses from 1,339 to 2,608....At present the nearest post-office to Elwood was more than a mile away, many residents had to pay porterage on their telegrams. It was estimated that at least 2,100 houses would be served by the proposed post-office (7) Compare this to Pakenham East which had a population in 1921 of  324 people and Pakenham of 608. Even twelve years later in 1933, Pakenham East's population was 850 and the old town of Pakenham was 406, still many times less than Elwood's population (8).

The tenders for the  construction of the  Pakenham East and Elwood Post Offices were advertised in April 1925.

Tenders are invited for the erection of the Elwood and Pakenham East Post Offices.

The Elwood Post Office
Image: The History of St Kilda from its first settlement to a City and after, 1840 - 1930, v. 2 (9).

The contract for the Pakenham East Post Office was awarded to the builders, Cant & Bennett of Footscray on May 6, 1925 and it was to be completed by  August 26, 1925. The cost was £2,330. The Elwood Post Office tender was awarded to W. Simmins of Auburn on April 27, 1925, the completion date was September 14, 1925 and cost was £1,835. 

Contracts accepted for a number of projects including the Pakenham East and Elwood Post Offices. 
Click on this link https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/232530228 to see the original document on Trove.
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, June 4, 1925

There were issues with place names for Pakenham and Pakenham East, as even in 1912 people were addressing letters to Pakenham which should have been addressed to Pakenham East. Pakenham East people seemed to be content with their Pakenham address; though the erection of the Post Office in Elwood had the opposite effect, and was the source of some consternation.

The Age reported in November 1925 that  Residents of South St. Kilda are at present up in arms against the proposal of the Post Office to include portion of their district, from the Elwood Canal to Dickens-street, in the new postal district of Elwood. To consider the matter a meeting of nearly a hundred indignant South St. Kilda residents, lasting nearly two hours, hotly debated the proposal at the Congregational Hall, Mitford-street, St. Kilda. Cr. Dawkins, in moving a motion of protest, said Elwood was a name associated with a swamp, and no one wanted to live near a place where a swamp formerly existed.  The application of the name to portion of South St. Kilda would cause the value of property there to deteriorate in value (10). In the end the locals were allowed to continue using their South St Kilda address, but the mail came from the new Elwood Post Office (11).  The area is now called Elwood. The Elwood Post Office building is still standing and is used as a cafe.

Elwood Post Office, c. 1920s.
State Library of Victoria Image H89.105/84

Trove list
I have created a short list on Trove of articles relating to the construction of the Pakenham East and Elwood Post Office. Access the list, here.

(1) Back to Pakenham March 3-10, 1951 Souvenir Booklet. The booklet was compiled by W.J. Stephenson on behalf of the 'Back to Pakenham' Committee.
(2) From Bullock Tracks to Bitumen: a brief history of the Shire of Berwick, p. 76-77. This book was published in 1962 by the Historical Society of Berwick Shire.
(3) Use of the name Pakenham East, these two examples of advertising from N. N. Webster, Pakenham Real Estate Agents, who had an office on Main Street tell the story of the use of the name Pakenham East in the 1970s. Source: Newspapers by Ancestry.

The Age March 14, 1970.

The Age February 15, 1975

(4) The Post Office was still there in November 1985 as the aerial below was taken then.

However, by the nineties the corporatised Post Office was in the business of leasing back Post Offices rather than building a community facility. The advertisement from September 1997 tells us that the Post Office was now in 'Pakenham Post Office Arcade' which is on the site of the 1925 building, so it had been demolished by then.

The Age September 20, 1997
Source: Newspapers by Ancestry.

(5) The Herald, October 2, 1923, see here.
(6) The Herald, October 11, 1923, see here.
(7) Prahran Telegraph, October 19, 1923, see here.
(8) Pakenham and Pakenham East population figures from the Victorian Places website  https://www.victorianplaces.com.au/pakenham
(9)  Cooper, John Butler The History of St Kilda from its first settlement to a City and after, 1840 - 1930v. 2 (City of St Kilda, 1931), photo is opposite page 116. Thank you to my fellow historian, Isaac Hermann, for supplying me with the photograph. I was looking through this book for research on a story on another blog  I have, Victoria's Past - rescued and retold and I saw this photo of the Elwood Post Office and immediately recognised it as the twin of Pakenham East.
(10) The Age November 18, 1925, see here.
(11) The Prahran Telegraph, December 11, 1925, see here.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Identical Post Offices - Berwick, Murtoa and Donald

The Berwick Post and Telegraph Office and Court House was opened in 1885. It was designed by Public Works Department architect, John Thomas Kelleher. Victoria had two other Post Offices of near identical design to Berwick, one at Murtoa, which opened in 1882 and the other at Donald, which opened in 1884 (1).  The Berwick Post Office is as described as predominatly neo-Gothic, with Venetian influence in the pointed windows, loggia and polychrome brickwork. Red-brown brick with white tuck pointing is decorated with cream brick courses at impost level and red and cream bricks in the Lombardic arch heads at the windows (2). Berwick is not the only Post Office in the region that has identical counterparts, the Pakenham East Post Office and the Elwood Post Office were also identical, read about them here.

The Berwick Post Office.
Image: Berwick Nostalgia: a pictorial history of Berwick 
(Berwick Pakenham Historical Society, 2001)

I cannot find the exact date that the Post Office complex at Berwick opened, but it was late in 1885, because an advertisement for a tender for furniture and fittings for the building was published in early October, 1885. You will notice that the Commissioner of Public Works at the time was Alfred Deakin, Australia's second Prime Minister who served from September 1903 until April 1904 and later served for two more terms (3). 

Tender for the fit-out of the Berwick Post Office complex, signed by Alfred Deakin
South Bourke & Mornington Journal October 7, 1885

The Architect, John Thomas Kelleher, was born in Sydney in 1844 to Jeremiah and Mary Kelleher (4).  The family moved to Melbourne in 1848 and they lived in Elizabeth Street, opposite where the old General Post Office is located. He spent his entire career in the Public Works Department of Victoria and reached the position of the Eastern District Architect (5).  His other works include the Fitzroy Post Office, the Benalla Post Office and the Traralgon Post Office and Court House (6).  John was forced to retire on a pension in April 1894. These forced retirements were usually due to the fact that the officers of the Public Service had reached the compulsory retirement age of 60, even though John was only 50, and it appears that his retirement was due to the retrenchment and reorganisation scheme of the Public Works Department (7). 

John had married Florence Athole Todd (nee Edwards) on December 5, 1889. She was a 26 year old widow and he was 45 years old (8). They had one daughter, Kareen, in 1900. The family lived at Athole in Poplar Grove, Murumbeena (9). Kareen married William Norman Fysh in 1923, the year after her mother died. John died in 1928. The Electoral Rolls show that Kareen and William lived in Poplar Grove, until at least 1980 (10). Kareen was fortunate the house was still standing as in 1907 Poplar Grove was the location of a sensational incident, which was reported in The Age of November 28, 1907.

Several of the residents of Murrumbeena met with a thrilling experience during a remarkable electrical disturbance accompanying a thunder storm of great violence which burst over that suburb in the early
hours of Tuesday morning. Mr. J. T. Kelleher, who resides not far front the Murrumbeena railway station, states that shortly after 5 a.m. he was awakened by a most awful din, accompanied by a confused feeling of being shaken up all over. His wife and little daughter, who were sleeping in the next room, rushed in to him, in a panic stricken condition. Immediately afterwards a little boy from the next house came running in stating that his mother wanted him (Mr. Kelleher) at once, as their house had been struck by lightning. On hurrying to the spot Mr, Kelleher found that the whole of the chimney stuck of a house occupied by Mrs. Pierson had been knocked clean over, from top to bottom. The falling bricks, which were scattered in all directions, had greatly damaged the roof and gutters. A quantity of the iron piping had also been fused, and some furniture and ornaments in one of the rooms had been knocked down and broken. Mrs. Pierson and the children were uninjured, but the former has suffered severely since from nervous shock. Mr. Kelleher said it was a matter of astonishment to him why the lightning had missed his chimneys fully 20 feet, higher, and picked out the smallest and most secluded house on the spot.

Mr. George, a retired senior constable, who lives in an adjacent house, gives an interesting account of his experience during the storm which did the damage just described. He states that he was working in
his garden, as was his custom about day break. when he saw a huge fire ball making straight for Mr. Kelleher's and Mrs. Pierson's houses, accompanied by the most awful clap of thunder. He confessed to being so terrified at the awesome sight that he bolted panic stricken into his own house. Hearing the noise of the thunder bolt striking Mrs. Pierson's house recalled him to his right senses, and he ran out in time to see the bricks of the chimney stack being scattered in all directions (11).

Berwick Post Office and Court House, opened 1885.
Berwick Post Office and Courthouse, November 19, 1967. Photographer: John T. Collins. 
State Library of Victoria Image H90.100/1961

The Berwick Post Office was used until 1983, when a new facility in High Street was built and the Court House closed in 1990 (12). The buildings still exist and have a City of Casey Heritage overlay (13).  The Murtoa Post Office, which was on Marma Street, has been demolished. The existing Post Office on the corner of Haby Lane and McDonald Street was built in 1959 (14).  The Donald Post Office is still there and is still in use. There are photos of the Murtoa and Donald buildings, below.

Murtoa Post Office and Court House, opened 1882.
Courthouse and Post Office Murtoa, 1883. State Library of Victoria Image H9027

Murtoa Post Office, c. 1920s.
State Library of Victoria Image H89.105/167

Donald Post Office and Court House, opened 1884.
Donald - Post Office and Courthouse, c. 1898. Photographer: Sands and McDougall. 
State Library of Victoria Image H27288/3f

Donald Post Office, c. 1920s. 
State Library of Victoria Image H89.105/75


(1) Context P/L Heritage of the City of Berwick: identifying and caring for important places (City of Berwick, 1993), p. 322.
(2) Context P/L, op. cit. p. 323.
(3) Alfred Deakin, read his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry by R. Norris, here
(4) John's parents were Jeremiah Barry Kelleher and Mary Winter (although his father is called John on John's marriage certificate). Jeremiah, whose mother's maiden name was Barry, died in 1905, aged 90. Mary died in 1857, her death notice is below. 

(5) These details about John's life are from his obituary which is reproduced, below.

(6) Context P/L., op. cit, p.232.
(7) The Age reported on his retirement on March 26, 1894 and the subsequect rearrangment of the Architectural staff of the Public Works Department. The report also says that this will complete the retrenchment and reorganisation scheme of the Public Works Department.  Four years ago the wages sheet of the professional branch amounted to £23,000 per annum, and it has been reduced to £11,000. Read The Age article, hereThe retirements were even announced in the paper, see below. 

Adelaide Evening Journal, February 7, 1894. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/200767112

(8) This information is from their marriage certificate.
(9) The Poplar Grove address is from the Electoral Roll available on Ancestry. From 1903 until 1912, they lived at Poplar Street and then in 1913 this changed to Poplar Grove, Murumbeena. The street is now part of Carnegie.
(10) Florence died March 27, 1922. She was the daughter of Richard James and Annie (nee Smith) Edwards. John died September 5, 1928, see death notice below.

There is a report of Kareen's wedding to William Norman Fysh, which took place at St Anthony's Church, Grange Road, Glenhuntly on February 10, 1923 in Table Talk, here. William came from Mile End Road, East Caulfield (now called Carnegie) about a five minute walk from Poplar Grove. Interestingly his parent's surname was spelt as Fish in the Electoral Roll and Kareen and William have their surname as Fish in the Electoral roll from 1924 until 1980 (the last year of the rolls on Ancestry) and they were at 18 Poplar Grove the entire time.
(11) The Age November 28, 1907, see here.
(12) The date of closure of the Post Office comes from the Context P/L report, page 322. The date of the closure of the Court comes from here https://researchdata.edu.au/children039s-court-registers/155646
(13) Read the Victorian Heritage Database citation, here.
(14) Information supplied by Wayne Degenhardt. Wayne is connected to Fred and Gustav Degenhardt, who are amongst the earliest European settlers in the Murtoa area. 

Monday, 28 September 2020

Dipping sheep on Quail Island, Western Port in 1866 by James H. Watson

On June 20, 1927, James H. Watson (1), the President of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Sydney presented a paper to the Historical Society of Victoria - Personal Recollections of Melbourne in the 'Sixties. It was a look at various events and activities of the 1860s including this story - Dipping Sheep on Quail Island. The story was published in the Victorian Historical Magazine, v. 12, June 1928 available on-line at the State Library of Victoria (2). It transcribed below.

The trip to Quail Island took place in 1866 (3). Of interest is a description of Cranbourne at that time and a confession that he was actually responsible for the first release of rabbits onto the Island. 

Dipping sheep on Quail Island by James H. Watson. 
The writer starts the story that he was offered a plantation on a small island in Fiji, but he turned the offer down due to his lack of experience. He then continues the story -
Another island, however, came into view a little later, and one that was nearer home. On it I put in some hard work for six months, and all I got out of it was experience. The fellow passenger that I came ashore with (who has been dead for fifty years and left neither kith nor kin) some little while after our arrival leased Quail Island in Western Port, and put some sheep on it. He had had no experience of stock, and on a visit to me, explained that, if he had a mate, he thought he could make a good thing of it for both of us, my stock-in-trade being youth, strength, and willingness. I agreed to go. I well remember the day, for it was the day the news of the loss of the London (4) reached Melbourne in March, 1866.

We took coach at an hotel in Queen-street, the route being along the St. Kilda-road, turning into the Dandenong-road, passing through Dandenong to the termination of the journey at Cranbourne. I do not know whether the township, as it was called, has grown since the railway went to it, but, when I last saw it, 60 years ago, it consisted of the hotel (a long low weatherboard house, the host being named Duff (5)), the central point of the district. The next was the store, where anything that was wanted could be purchased. Then there was the Presbyterian Church, the minister of which was a brother of the landlord of the hotel (6). Two or three small cottages, and the ruins of another with a big stone bush chimney still standing, completed the town of Cranbourne. The ruined cottage is mentioned because in it lived, or rather existed, the local doctor - a clever man, but one who had the habit that many an otherwise good man has fallen a victim to. The minister kept his books and instruments, and, for special cases, he was sobered up for a couple of days, the hotel being tabooed to him till he had completed the case in hand.

The Grantville coach at the Cranbourne Hotel established by Robert and Margaret Duff. This was the hotel which James Watson visited on his way to Quail Island in 1866.
Photograph scanned from The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson.

Having arrived at the hotel, where horses to take us on had been left in the paddock, they were rounded up, and we set off to do the 11 miles which lay between the town and Quail Island, passing the fences of Mr Cameron's run (7), skirting the town, and following a track through the thick scrub over low hills down to the bight of Western Port. This island is directly behind, or north of, French Island, which stood up about 2 miles away. As the shores of the inlet at the crossing-place are low flats and treacherous to walk on, a thick track of tea-tree had been laid, so that the horses got safely to a sapling bridge that connected the island to the mainland. The total acreage was about 1,500 acres of flat open land on the south and timbered low hills on the north, with two good-sized water-holes or lagoons, which were the haunt of water-fowl and ducks. Mud flats lay all round the shore, covered with mangrove.

On this most unsuitable place were about 800 or 900 ewes, with a fair percentage of lambs, and 300 wethers. There were no fences, as there was no necessity for them. I soon learned that the wethers, which had been bought "stores," had brought the squatters' curse - scab - with them, and the whole flock was infected, and it was to help to eradicate this that my services were required. Preparations had been made by having a dip dug out, about 25 feet x 15 feet x 3 feet, on the margin of which several 400-gallon iron tanks were placed on stone foundations, and under which fires were made to boil the water. For several days water was carted in hogsheads on drays and sledges, till the dip was partly filled and the tanks were filled. This was very hard work, as the water had to be hand-loaded by bucket and the tanks filled from the drays in the same way. The dip was easily supplied direct from the hogsheads by pulling out the plug. The water was procured from the water-holes by backing the drays to a sapling jetty and filling the casks by a bucket and funnel. All this was most laborious work, and occupied half a dozen of us from morning till night, but the weather was fine and bright.

Before the dipping commenced, every sheep and lamb on the place had to be "dressed." We rounded them up from all parts of the island where they would be hidden away in the scrub. Our dogs had unfortunately been poisoned by the bait that had been set for eaglehawks which took the lambs, so we had to keep shouting to get them on the run and into a race at the stockyard, when, one by one, they were passed through our hands and dressed with spirits of tar.

The Swan, which transported the wool from Quail Island to Melbourne.
Image: Western Port Wrecks and Maritime Mishaps by Arthur E. Woodley (Lock Haven books, 1992)

I may here say, as I remarked previously, that the island was a most unsuitable place; this was so, because the flat damp ground on the shores gave the sheep foot-rot, and great numbers of them had to be treated for that before being "dressed" and dipped. I have overlooked the fact that all these had been shorn previous to the dip, the wool baled and sent by the regular Western Port trading cutter Swan, owned and sailed by a man named Lock (8), to Melbourne. The fires were made up and burning for the two days the dressing was being done. When that was over, the boiling water was run into the dip, with the result that there was a tepid bath, knee-deep, ready for the sheep, which were put through the race and seized by us who were standing in the water and thoroughly soused and rubbed and placed in a draining race at the opposite end to which they had entered. This took two days, the fires going to keep up the tepid heat. After this was completed and some weeks passed to allow the shear-marks to grow out of the wool and the colour of the dip to disappear (as the American Essence of Tobacco, which was the scab cure used in the dip, had discoloured it), a permit to travel was issued by the inspector (which was necessary before they could go on the roads), they were all sent to the Melbourne yards and sold. Then my days as an embryo squatter (as all kinds of graziers in those days were misnamed) came to an end, and I returned to town to take up again a business life.

I should have stated earlier that an incident occurred shortly after my arrival on the island which at the time was considered most laudable, but, if perpetrated now, would bring the strong arm of the law down on any who did it. It was the receipt of several cases of pairs of rabbits. They were purchased in Melbourne and came from Barwon Park, the station near Geelong of Mr. Thomas Austin (9), and were the offspring of some he had had sent to him in 1859 by the ship Lightning, his importation by that vessel consisting of 56 partridges, 4 hares, and 26 rabbits. As I knocked the lids off the cases, the rabbits scampered off into the scrub. I cannot remember how many there were, but I think about ten pairs. The result of the experiment I do not know.

I may add that Messrs. Herbert Power (10) and Reginald Bright (11) took up the island and had placed a big Highland Scot in charge before we left, as gamekeeper, the intention being to stock it with pheasants, partridges, &c. What success attended it I am unable to say.


(1) James Henry Watson (1841-1934). Read his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, here.
(3) Mr Watson wrote a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald  of February 19, 1926 on the subject of rabbits and said they released the rabbits on Quail Island in September 1866. Read letter here. See also Footnote 8.
(4) The London foundered in the Bay of Biscay with 220 drowned and 19 saved.  Most of the passengers were Australians returning from England. Read accounts in The Argus of March 16, 1866, here and the Sydney Morning Herald of the same date, here.
(5) Robert Duff  (1827 - 1861). Robert and his wife Margaret (c.1832 - 1902) established the Cranbourne Hotel, around 1860. It was in High Street, where Greg Clydesdale Square is now and was demolished around the 1970s. Read more, here.
(6) Reverend Alexander Duff (1824-1890), read more here.
(7) Alexander Cameron (1815 - 1881) took over the Mayune lease in 1851. At later land sales he purchased 592 acres, the Pre-emptive Right, on the corner of what is now Cameron Street and the South Gippsland Highway and renamed renamed the property Mayfield, read more here.
(8) The cutter Swan and Captain Lock. The following information comes from Western Port Wrecks and Maritime Mishaps by Arthur E. Woodley (Lock Haven books, 1992) Captain John Lock was one of Phillip Island's pioneer settlers, who for a good many years contributed greatly to the early development of the Western Port area. In 1897 Captain Lock was presented with a bravery medal from the Royal Humane Society for rescuing  the sole survivor of a boat upset, off Mornington. The Swan,  built about 1815 as a French cutter, arrived  in Tasmania about 1837 and traded between Tasmania and Victoria until Captain Lock purchased it in Hobart and converted it into a ketch. It was run down by the steamer Queenscliffe, off Cape Schanck in October 1906, fortunately with no loss of life. Interestingly, Arthur Woodley says that Captain John Lock did not commence trading to and from Western Port with the Swan until late 1868 or early 1869 which does not tally with Mr Watson's date of 1866. John Bamara Lock died August 8, 1908 aged 75 (death notice in The Leader August 15, 1908, see here).
(9) Thomas Austin (1815-1871), of Barwon Park, Winchelsea is 'credited' with introducing the rabbit into Australia. His wife Elizabeth (nee Harding, 1821-1910) was a philanthropist, who established the Austin Hospital in 1882. Read Thomas' Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, here, and Elizabeth's here.
(10) Herbert Power - The son of Thomas Herbert Power (1801-1873) who took up the Eumemmerring Run in 1864 - the run went from  around the Dandenong Creek all the way to Berwick. Power Road is named after him. Herbert Power died in 1919, aged 83. You can read his obituary in the Australasian of June 7, 1919, here.
(11) Reginald Bright - a partner in the firm of Gibbs, Bright & Co. He arrived in Victoria in 1852 and died in London in 1920. There is a short obituary in the Darling Downs Gazette of September 17, 1920, see here.