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.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Early days of Garfield and Cannibal Creek

The earliest recorded European settlers in the Garfield region were the lessees of the two Connabul Creek Runs, both leased in 1845. Connabul Creek 1,of 8,960 acres, was leased by Michael Ready (or Reedy) and James Hook and Connabul Creek 2 was leased by Terence O’Connor and a Mr Hayes. Essentially, these Runs were located between the Ararat Creek and the Bunyip River, north of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp. Another source tells us that a Mr Thompson had the Cannibal Creek cattle run from 1845.

The term Cannibal Creek is believed to have come about because early Surveyors in the area had left their fox terrier in their camp and when they returned they found the dog had been killed and eaten by Dingoes and thus they named the creek Cannibal Creek. Another version of the name is that the word Coonabul comes from a corruption of the Aboriginal word couna meaning “forehead” and bal meaning “he” or “she”. This possibly referred to the shape of Mount Cannibal, which was thought to resemble a head.

The Garfield area opened up after a road was surveyed from Dandenong to Gippsland in 1847 along the edge of the ranges and when this proved to be impassable in places, a new road, which became the coach route, was surveyed in 1859. This went through Cannibal Creek, via the old township of Buneep and onto Crossover. The Melbourne to Sale telegraph line followed this route in 1865, which eventually gave the road the name of Old Telegraph Road (see map).  Where this road crossed the Cannibal Creek, a small settlement was surveyed in 1860 and the township of Cannibal Creek was born. In 1866 Jabez Janes established the Pig & Whistle, on the south side of Cannibal Creek.  According to a public notice in The Argus of December 21,1866 Jabez applied for a Beer Licence in my house of five rooms finished and others partly built. He was granted the licence, however a year later he was declared insolvent due to the falling off of business in consequence of the Government changing the line of road between Cannibal and Shady Creeks. He had debts of £192 pounds. Three years later Jabez, who was described as a beer-seller at Cannibal’s Creek was back in the Courts again, when he was charged with deserting his de facto, Mary Anne Goldsmith, with whom he had five children, and leaving her and the children without support  He was ordered to pay support and put up a Surety of £20. The Argus goes on to report that as the man had neither money nor friends to assist him he was sent to gaol.  The next licensee of the Pig & Whistle was Mrs Kathleen Leeson. Mrs Leeson died in 1910, aged 100 years old. Kathleen and her husband Robert had selected land at Cannibal Creek in the early 1860s.

Competition for the Pig & Whistle came with the establishment in 1867 of David Connor’s New Bunyip Inn. This was built on the Bunyip River on the Gippsland Road, as the Princes Highway was then called. The coach route then changed direction at Cannibal Creek and turned south east to this Inn, and became known as Old Sale Road (see map). A small settlement developed around the Inn, including the establishment of a bakery by William Snell. However, Garfield really took off with the establishment of the Railway, which we will look at in the next post.


  1. my great grandfather was Jabez Janes who owned the Pig & Whistle hotel mentioned above with his defacto wife Mary Anne Goldsmith in 1866. Thank you for your interesting information to add to my family history book.. Margot Hitchcock www.blackwoodpublishing.com