About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Koo-Wee-Rup in the 1940s

These photographs, from the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection , are from a series of post cards of Koo-Wee-Rup, most likely taken in the 1940s. If you are interested in  historical buildings in Koo-Wee-Rup then have  a look at Koo-Wee-Rup Then and Now: a walk through  local history.  I did the research and the text for the walk, the photographs are from the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection (apart from one) and I took the modern photographs. You can access it here on the Koo-Wee-Rup Bypass website.

 St George's Church of England. It opened in 1917, and due to declining numbers the last service at the Church was held in 2012.


St John the Baptist Catholic School, opened in 1936.


 The Main Drain or the Bunyip River, at Koo-Wee-Rup.


The Primary School at Koo-Wee-Rup. the original school was opened in 1884; it moved to this Rossiter Road location in 1910. This building was built in 1915 and burnt down in 1950. The Primary School relocated to Moody Street in 1960.


Above and below, two views of Rossiter Road. Scott's guest house was opened in 1934, the Alcove cafe next door was opened in 1933. The fire station is on the right - the Fire Brigade was established in November 1943 and a temporary fire station operated until the permanent building opened in 1947.


The Mills buildings (where the Radio shop is) were built about 1925.


Station Street, looking towards the Royal Hotel, which is the double storey building in the background. The E.S & A Bank was erected in 1912.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

100 years ago this week - Hotels

This was in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of December 19, 1912, 100 years ago this week. It is an interesting listing of local hotels - many still in existence. 

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Starting from the top - the Border Inn, also known as the Berwick Inn, is still operating. It was established in 1857 by Robert and Susan Bain. After Robert's death in 1887, Susan took over as licensee until her death in 1908. Bourkes Hotel at Pakenham is on the Princes Highway where it crosses the Toomuc Creek. It was started in 1850 by Michael and Kitty Bourke and was originally called the La Trobe Inn. Michael died in 1877 and it was then operated by Kitty until 1910. The Cardinia Park Hotel at Beaconsfield still operates. It was originally called the Bush Inn and would have opened in the 1870s or 1880s. The Racecourse Hotel at Eumemmerring - not sure where  this was exactly, however it would have been on the Princes Highway near the Eumemmerring Creek. The Pakenham Hotel is the one near the Railway station. When it opened around 1880 it was known as the Gembrook Hotel; the existing building dates from 1929. The Gippsland Hotel at Beaconsfield, is now known as the Central hotel and was built on the Princes Highway near where it crosses the Cardinia Creek. It was started around 1855 by David and Janet Bowman. The existing building dates from around 1928. The  Gippsland Hotel at Bunyip is known as the Top Pub and was built around 1925. The Hallam Hotel is still operating on the original site, it started around the early 1870s. The Iona  Hotel at Garfield still operates, it opened in 1904, burnt down in 1914 and the existing building dates from 1915. The Nar Nar Goon Hotel is also still operating,  though the original building, built in 1883 for Michael O'Brien,  burnt down. The New Bunyip Hotel, was on the Princes Highway where it crossed the Bunyip river, it started in the 1870s. The Pine Grove Hotel, first started in the 1880s in Upper Beaconsfield and still exists. The Railway Hotel in Bunyip was built in 1924 to replace the 1890s building which was destroyed by fire, it is still operating. The Ranges Hotel in Gembrook apparently started in the 1890s and has been extended over the years.  I don't know about the next four hotels - the Albion, the Bridge and the Club Hotels in Dandeong and the Bridge Hotel in Mordialloc. The Cranbourne Hotel was opposite the Motor Club Hotel in High Street Cranbourne and the building was demolished in the 1970s. The  Halfway House Hotel at Lyndhurst no longer exists, it was opened in 1871. The Motor Club Hotel at Cranbourne, known as Kellys is going strong, the existing building was built inn 1926.
The Hotels in the second column are outside my area of knowledge, apart from the Paradise Hotel, which is listed at Paradise Valley, this is now known as Clematis.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Iona Riding, Berwick Shire

This is from the Pakenham Gazette of August 30, 1963 (page 9). Most of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp was in the Shire of Cranbourne and it was the Iona Riding of the Berwick Shire that had the Swamp towns of Cora Lynn, Vervale and Iona. The  Iona Riding also took in Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip.  Although this is nearly 50 years ago the main complaints are still  the same - drains and road conditions. the Shire President at the time was Cr Trevor Kilvington of  Gembrook Road, Pakenham. He was Shire President for a short time, he took over after the death of Cr E.A. C 'Bill' Russell who died in May 1963 and served until the November. The Shire Engineer was Ronald Joseph Chambers, who served from 1948 until 1973.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

100 years ago this week - Weather

This is a weather report from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of December 12, 1912. The 'terrific storm' happened Monday, December 9.


 South Bourke and Mornington Journal December 12, 1912  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Garfield Race Club

A meeting of the Garfield Progressive Association was held in December 1901 ‘to consider the advisability of holding a race meeting’. It was decided to hold a meeting on the Recreation Reserve which was in the process of being cleared and fenced, see article from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal, below. In fact, according to other newspaper reports, residents from near and far had met on Saturday afternoons and ‘transformed the old Reserve into something like a decent place’. The track was 1 mile 3 furlongs in length and a grand stand was also planned. The West Gippsland Gazette said the track would be one of the finest this side of the metropolis.



South Bourke and Mornington Journal, December 25, 1901 p.2
 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70048093

The Race Committee consisted of President - Joseph Henry Walker; Vice President and Chairman of Stewards - Charles Pitt; Stewards - Messrs John Daly (the Garfield school teacher), J.T Kelly, Donald, Pitt, Fitzpatrick, William Ritchie and Captain A’Beckett;  Clerk of Course - Mr Shandley; Starter - Mr Pitt; Judge - Mr Walker; Saddle cloth steward - Thomas Hegney; Clerk of scales - Mr Archer; Weigher – Mr S. Walker; Pony measurer -  Mr Fitzpatrick; Handicapper - Mr Smith and  the Hon. Surgeon was  Dr Cowen.

The first race meeting was held on Wednesday, March 12 1902.  The results were: Handicap Trial Stakes over five furlongs - first Iolanthe, second Premier and third Fly; Handicap Novelty Pony race over four furlongs -  Zoe, Palos then Woodbine; Garfield Handicap over 1¼ mile - Nemesis, second Millman (late Harkaway); Galloway Handicap over five furlongs - Palos, Miss Dive then Fairleigh;  Handicap Flying Stakes over 5¼ furlongs - Iolanthe, Nemesis then Millman; District Maiden Hack race over four furlongs - Patamba, Bung Smith then Honesty. The last race of the day was the Consolation race over four furlongs won by Fairleigh, Premier with Honesty third.
I don’t have a record of the prize money for the first race meeting but the prizes for the November 10 1902 race included 5 sovereigns for the Novice Race, Garfield Handicap, Novelty Pony Race and the Handicap Flying Stakes and 3 sovereigns for the Time Handicap Trot. To give some perspective a sovereign was worth £1 and the average person would have earnt less than £2 per week at the time.

The November 1902 race meeting was registered under V.R.C Rules. Other Race meetings held included a meeting in November 1903 with over 50 entries, ‘some of them from the very best stables’. Naturally in those days the horses would have been transported by rail and in The Argus on April 5, 1904 the Garfield Club Secretary complains about the Victorian Railways not providing enough horse boxes on trains, so therefore horses were left behind at railway stations and not able to race at the meetings.

In spite of what sounded like a successful few years the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of December 7, 1904 had an article saying that the Garfield Race Club would be disbanded and another one established. Then a report in the same paper of February 19, 1909 said that on the previous Saturday at the Iona Hotel, ‘a meeting of gentlemen’ decided to form a Race Club with E.J Hattersley elected President; Vice President - Mr M.J Walsh; Treasurer - Mr H.A Hourigan; Secretary - Charles Cail and Stewards were John Daly, Charles Pitt (who was also Starter), M. Walsh, D. Danson, M.Doran  (who was also Clerk of Course); Clerk of scales - Mr R. McNamara; Starter - Charles Pitt  and Judge was Mr C. Pearson. It would be interesting to know why a new Club was formed in late 1904 and another in 1909 - did people just fall out with each other? Did it go broke and have to start again?  It is hard to know 100 years down the track.

In any event, the Garfield Racing Club held a race meeting on March 5 1909 with a prize of £12 for the one mile Garfield Handicap and £10 for the six furlong Welter Handicap. In 1911, the Garfield Club expressed interest in joining the Gippsland Racing Association and race meetings were reported up to 1913, then there are fewer reports of race meetings during the First World War. A Race meeting held in November 1920 had so many horses entered, over 70 horses and ponies had came from Melbourne, that the last race had to be abandoned or else the horses and patrons would miss the special train back to Melbourne at 5.55pm. There were five races on the day, each with two divisions.

In March 1923, a report says that over £400 was spent in remodeling the track and there were reports of Pony Races in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Garfield wasn’t the only race course in the area - around 1907 the Nar Nar Goon Club was established, they held early races on a course in ‘Mr O’Brien’s paddock’ which may have been the same race course which gave Racecourse Road its name.  Bunyip, Iona and Cora Lynn also held race meetings. However, in 1933 the Chief Secretary wanted to curtail the number of race meetings in country areas for the season which was to begin on August 1 and thus at a meeting held on July 10, 1933 Garfield had its races reduced from two to zero, Bunyip three to zero, Iona one to zero and the same for Cora Lynn and Koo-Wee-Rup.  So it was all over for Garfield and these other towns and many other courses close to Melbourne, as this effectively closed these Clubs. A race meeting was held at Pakenham to liquidate the liabilities of the Garfield and Bunyip Clubs in the December 1933. The Nar Nar Goon Race Club survived until 1942.

This information comes from Trove, the National Library of Australia’s digitised newspapers project. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

Monday, November 26, 2012

100 years ago this week - Railways and Monomeith Railway Station

This appeared in The Argus, on November 26, 1912, 100 years ago this week. It has both a Railway connection (one of my historical interests) and a Swamp connection as Dalmore and  Koo-Wee-Rup were Swamp Stations and Tooradin, Monomeith and Caldermeade were on the edge of the Swamp.
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The Argus,  November 26, 1912 page 10 from http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

This line is part of the Great Southern line - the line to Dandenong  (part of the Oakleigh to Bunyip section) opened October 8, 1877. Dandenong to Tooradin, with stations at Lyndhurst, Cranbourne, Clyde and  Tooradin opened October 1, 1888. Dalmore (originally called Peer’s Lane, then Koo-Wee-Rup West) and Koo-Wee-Rup (originally called Yallock) opened August 19, 1889. Monomeith (originally called Glassock’s), Caldermeade, and Lang Lang (originally called Carrington) opened in February 1890. The line went all the way to Port Albert by 1892.

Patsy Adam-Smith wrote about the Monomeith Railway Station in her book Hear the train blow. Her mother was station mistress and post mistress and her father was a fettler. She wrote that Monomeith had no pub, no shop nothing but us. The Railway Station was also the Post Office. The family lived on a house on the platform and Patsy went to Monomeith School until it closed in 1933 and she then travelled by train to Caldermeade School. The family were at Monomeith during the 1934 flood. This is (partly) what  Patsy wrote about the flood - At home we were perfectly safe because of the house being off the ground up on the platform. On the second day Mum heard on the radio that homeless people were being brought into the Railway station at Koo-Wee-Rup. She walked in to help. Where she walked on the five-foot the swirling waters lapped over her shoes, the ballast had been swept away and the sleepers were held up only because they were fastened to the rails. The whole line in parts was swinging…..Dad and other fettlers brought in scores of people who had been cut off on high ground or in the ceilings of their homes. The water had run over the land so suddenly that most people were taken unawares. The Bush Nursing Hospital was caught this way. The fettlers cut through the roof of that building to take out the patients…… Mum, helping patients out of the boat when it reached Koo-Wee-Rup station found Dad’s coat around an old lady who had only a thin nightdress beneath it.

Sadly, none of the Monomeith railway buildings remain. According to a report in a  Korumburra & District Historical Society newsletter, that we received a few months ago at the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society,  passenger services beyond Dandenong  ceased in June 1981 but goods services continued to operate. In 1992, the goods trains ceased and this is when the line beyond Leongatha was taken up. The passenger service to Leongatha was reinstated on December 9 1984 and continued to run until July 23 1993. The trains now stop at Cranbourne.

Friday, November 16, 2012

100 years ago this week - Motor Club Hotel Cranbourne

100 years ago this advertisement appeared in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of November 21, 1912 for the Motor Club Hotel (more commonly known as Kellys) at Cranbourne. Cranbourne is not really part of the Koo-Wee-Rup, being on the western edge, but it is part of my area of interest, so I will be talking about it in future posts.



J.Taylor respectfully announces that he has purchased the Freehold of the above established hotel and invites a share of public patronage. It is the home of the Commercial traveller, has first class cuisine and meals (second to none) at all hours. There is a Large billiard room with two up-to date tables and all appointments as well as the best stabling in the district, six loose boxes and 16 stalls. The Hotel cab meets all trains.

The site of the Motor Club Hotel has been occupied by a Hotel since  the Mornington Hotel was built around 1860 by Thomas and Elizabeth Gooch. By 1912, at least, it was known as the Motor Club Hotel, which may have been related to the birth of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria in Tooradin or may have reflected the fact that Cranbourne was a popular destination for early motor car excursions. 
The Kelly family, who were also licensees of the Cranbourne Hotel (which was situated where Greg Clydesdale Square in High Street is now located) took over the license of the Motor Club Hotel in June 1919. 


The existing Motor Club Hotel, was built around 1926 - it is pictured above, most likely just after it was built. This picture is from the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society collection. The picture, below, was taken in the 1960s.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Frank and Alf Weatherhead

In honour of Remembrance Day, I am posting photographs of my two Great Uncles who served in the First World War. They are the sons of Horatio and Eleanor Weatherhead and the brothers of my grandma, Eva Rouse.  


This is Frank Thomas Weatherhead (June 8, 1893 - September 9, 1970). Frank enlisted on September 22, 1915; served in France and was discharged on April 13, 1919. When he returned he operated a saw mill at North Tynong and was later on a farm at Vervale and Cora Lynn. He married Alice Burleigh on May 2, 1923 and they had two children John (b. 1924 and died 1925) and Betty, born 1927 who married Alec Glasson.


This is Alfred Herbert Weatherhead (September 20, 1895 - May 3, 1976) . Alf enlisted on February 13, 1915; served mainly in France and was discharged June 29, 1919. Alf suffered from shell shock after the war, operated a saw mill at North Tynong and lived for  a time at Morwell.

Dad has good memories of both Frank and Alf; he saw Frank frequently as they lived close and Alf used to come and stay at Grandmas.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

100 years ago this week - Koo-Wee-Rup rains and a Health report

From the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of November 14, 1912. 

This is interesting for a number of reasons - firstly we have had too much rain in the area over the past eighteen months or so and potato farmers especially have suffered. Secondly,I don't believe peas are grown around here any more. Thirdly. the second paragraph is a reminder to us how devastating diseases such as measles and influenza could be before immunisation and antibiotics. For instance, in 1912, the Infant Death rate in Victoria was 74; that is for every 1,000 babies born, 74 would die before they turned one. This was down from 108 in 1902. The rate is now a bit less than five. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Horatio and Eleanor Weatherhead

I was looking through the South Bourke and Mornington Journal, on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper and came across this reference to my great Grandfather, Horatio Weatherhead. Horatio had worked with James Lyon in the Wombat State Forest, at Lyonville and then in 1908 Horatio took up the lease, for saw milling purposes, of 2,000 acres at Tynong North. In December 1909 he built a mill at Wild Dog Creek, the east branch of Cannibal Creek.The mill was powered  a Buffalo-Pitts traction engine.  Until 1913, the timber was hauled away by bullock teams every second day - either dispatched to Melbourne from the Tynong Railway station or off-loaded into the Weatherhead timber yard in Tynong.*  No doubt this constant traffic was causing the road's 'terrible condition'.  I am not sure what Horatio's response would have been, I believe he was a 'strong personality' and would have no trouble getting his viewpoint across.


South Bourke and Mornington Journal, February 16, 1911 page 3

Horatio was very inventive and applied for at least two patents. You can access Patent information in the Victorian State Government Gazettte http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/  They have been digitised from 1836 to 1997.

 Victorian Government Gazette May 8, 1891

Victorian Government Gazette August 13, 1890



This is Horatio William Weatherhead, the son of Henry Fortescue Weatherhead and Ellen Ramsdale.  He was born June 28, 1853 at Portland and died October 24, 1925 and is buried at the Bunyip Cemetery. Horatio was said to be 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed 19 stone.On January 5, 1880 Horatio married Eleanor Hunt, the daughter of Walter Davidson Hunt and Mary Ann Osborne. Eleanor was born at Dennington on February 17, 1856 and died on May 15, 1927. Eleanor is also buried at Bunyip. This is Eleanor, below. I know this photograph really well as Grandma (Eva Rouse) had it above her bed in the house at Cora Lynn.

*The information about the Weatherhead sawmill comes from Settlers and Sawmillers: a history of West Gippsland Tramways and the industries they served by Mike McCarthy. Published by Light Railway Research Society of Australia, 1993.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Swamp wedding


 It is 90 years since my grandparents, Eva Eleanor Weatherhead and Joseph Albert Rouse married at the Methodist Church in Garfield on November 2, 1922. Joe was the eldest son of James and Annie (nee Glover) Rouse. You can read more about his arrival on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp in my first blog post. Eva was the youngest and and ninth child of Horatio and Eleanor (nee Hunt) Weatherhead of North Tynong. Horatio and his sons came  to North Tynong, from Lyonville, in 1909 where they set up a timber mill. Eva and her mother stayed behind in Lyonville so Eva could finish school and they then moved to Tynong. Eva was Post Mistress at Tynong from late 1919 until she was married three years later.

Joe and Eva lived on the 56 acre farm at Cora Lynn selected in 1903 by James Rouse which they ran as a dairy farm. They had seven children - Nancy, Florence, Dorothy, James, Frank, Daphne and Marion - with six surviving to adulthood. Grandma's passion was her garden, and you can see in the photographs of Evesham, as they called their house, below.


Evesham, soon after it was built, after their marriage, and below, around the mid 1930s.



Life on the farm, Eva and Nancy, taken about 1929. Below Joe with Jim and Frank, taken about 1937.

Grandma run the farm with her children after Joe died in 1954. She was born on August 30, 1901 and she died on February 8, 1982.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

100 years ago this week - Place names and railways

What was happening in the area 100 years ago this week? These are  two railway related articles and are from the South Bourke & Mornington Journal of November 7, 1912. Available on Trove  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

 South Bourke & Mornington Journal of November 7, 1912, page 2

Pakenham is a northern neighbour to the the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, however as this article is about both railways and place names - two of my favourite historical subjects - then I had to include it. The Gippsland line to Sale was opened in stages - Sale to Morwell June 1877, Oakleigh to Bunyip October 1877, Moe to Morwell December 1877, Moe to Bunyip March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879. Originally the only Station open between Dandenong and Pakenham was at Berwick.



South Bourke & Mornington Journal of November 7, 1912, page 2

The article, above,  lists all the revenue taken at the stations between Oakleigh and Bunyip, including the now defunct stop at the spur line that went to the Necropolis at Springvale and Jefferson's siding - a siding established for the Jefferson timber mill and later brick works at Garfield. It closed in May 1912.  The Necropolis (or Springvale Botanical Cemetery as it is now blandly known as) opened for burials in March 1902 and the railway line from the Springvale Station opened in 1904 - February  for visitors and March for mortuary trains. The Mortuary trains ceased in 1943 and the last visitor train was December 1950.

Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp - early drainage schemes

We will start this blog off with a brief overview of the drainage works on the Swamp. Small scale efforts to drain the  96,000 acre  (40,000 hectare) Swamp began in the 1850s and in 1875 landowners including Duncan MacGregor, who owned Dalmore,  formed the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Drainage Committee.  From 1876 this Committee employed over 100 men and created drains that would carry the water from the Cardinia and Toomuc Creeks to Western Port Bay at Moody’s Inlet.

It was obvious however that major works needed to be undertaken to sucessfully drain the Swamp thus the Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department, William Thwaites (1853-1907), surveyed the Swamp in 1887 and his report recommended the construction of the Bunyip Main Drain from where it entered the Swamp in the north to Western Port Bay and a number of smaller side drains.

A tender was advertised in 1889. In spite of strikes, floods and bad weather by March, 1893, the private contractors had constructed the 16 miles of the drain from the Bay to the south of Bunyip and the Public Works Department considered the Swamp was now dry enough for settlement. At one time over 500 men were employed and all the work was done by hand, using axes.

The picturesque Bunyip Main Drain, taken in the 1940s.
Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph.

In spite of what seemed to be good progress - the Public Works Department had been unhappy with the rate of progress and took over its completion in 1893 and appointed the Engineer, Carlo Catani (1852-1918). The 1890s was a time of economic depression in Australia and various Government Schemes were implemented to provide employment and to stop the drift of the unemployed to the city. One of these schemes was the Village settlement Scheme. The aim was for the settlers to find employment outside the city and to boost their income from the sale of produce from their farms. It was in this context that Catani implemented the Village Settlement Scheme on the swamp.

Under this Scheme, all workers had to be married, accept a 20 acre block and spend a fortnight working on the drains for wages and a fortnight improving their block and maintaining adjoining drains. The villages were Koo-Wee-Rup, Five Mile, Cora Lynn, Vervale, Iona and Yallock.

Many of the settlers were unused to farming and hard physical labour, others were deterred by floods and ironically a drought that caused a bushfire, however many stayed and communities developed. By 1904, over 2,000 people including 1,400 children lived on the Swamp. By the 1920s, the area was producing one quarter of Victorian potatoes.

There was a second wave of settlers in the early 1900s where those selected had previous farm experience, such as my great grandfather, James Rouse who had been a market gardener in England. James, a widower,  arrived in 1903 with his eleven year old son, Joe. He had selected 56 acres on Murray Road at Cora Lynn and his arrival started the Rouse family's 110 year connection to the Swamp.

That's James Rouse, my great grandfather, above.  He was born July 26, 1862 at Stratford on Avon in England and died at Cora Lynn on August 29, 1939. He had married Annie Glover of Clydebank (Victoria) on February 2, 1892 and they had five children.  Sadly Annie, born July 7, 1865 died in February 7, 1899 aged 33. She was pre-deceased by their two daughters Ruth and Annie. Another daughter Emily died in tragic circumstances  - she was found drowned in the Yarra on August 24, 1919 aged 25. Lucy (born September 2, 1895) died October 27, 1981. We knew her very well and saw a lot of her. She was living at Garfield when she died. Finally, my grand father Joseph Albert Rouse was born at Clydebank on November 9, 1892 and died September 3, 1954.