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.
It seems that quarries haven't always been unwelcome in this area - this is a report form the Bunyip Free Press of December 31, 1914. Granite from Tynong was used in the construction of the Shrine of Remembrance
This tragic report was in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on December 24, 1914. Sadly for this little girl, strychnine used to be readily available and was used in many households, I presume, for rodent control. The little girl was called Olive and she was the daughter of Emanuel and Elizabeth (nee Black) Metzenthen.
South Bourke and Mornington Journal on December 24, 1914.
Here's an interesting article about drainage (or lack of it ) in Bunyip. The drain went from the Hall, along Main Street to the Railway Hotel and the Hotel's urinals emptied into it and the householders also emptied all their 'bedroom and other slops' into it. Ah, the good old days - very smelly!
Feeling peckish? Then call in at Miss Bell's shop in Main Street in Bunyip and you can purchase "hot pies, tea, coffee and cocoa at all hours". You could have done this 100 years ago, as well as buying confectionery, postage stamps and many brands of cigarettes and tobacco. Miss Bell would also hire out crockery, glassware, cutlery and a marquee for your party.
We have met Miss Bell before, In January 1913, she applied to the Shire of Berwick for a permission to manufacture ice cream on her premises. We know from the Electoral Roll on Ancestry database that her name was Margaret. There is a report of her wedding in the Bunyip Free Press of July 30, 1914 when she married Charles Marsden of Bunyip. Her father is listed as Hugh Bell, a farmer of Bunyip. The wedding took place on July 22 at St Thomas' Church of England in Bunyip and the reception was at the Cafe Cecil 'of which the happy couple are the proprietors' according to the article. I don't know if this was a different premises from her own business, because she was still paying for advertisements in the paper months after she was married, or the same business.
In the same paper there was also an account of another wedding, that of Arthur Weatherhead to Inez Coombs and they had their wedding reception or 'sumptious wedding tea' at Cafe Cecil after their wedding on November 11, 1915. This was of interest to me as Arthur, the fourth child of Horatio and Eleanor Weatherhead, was my grandmas's brother. Grandma is Eva Rouse (nee Weatherhead)
Margaret is listed in the 1919 Electoral Roll as Margaret Marsden, Confectioner of Bunyip. Charles is listed as a carpenter. In the 1924 and 1936 Electorial Rolls Charles is listed as a farmer and Margaret as Home Duties, living at Tynong, so it seems that by then her confectionery days were behind her.
Here's an account of a Patriotic Concert held at Koo-Wee-Rup on October 30, 1914. The school children put on the concert, well trained by Mr and Mrs Eason and Mrs Morrison. Lots of familiar Koo-Wee-Rup names mentioned including Colvin, Hudson, McNamara, Johnson and Mickle.
South Bourke and Mornington Journal November 5, 1914
I believe that Rabbit Inspectors were first appointed under the 1884 Rabbit Suppression Act. The Department of Crown Lands and Survey was the overseeing Government Department. The duties included rabbit extermination on Crown Land and serving notices on land owners who failed to eradicate rabbits on private land. Rabbits were first introduced into Australia in 1859, when 24 wild rabbits were released near Geelong. They soon became a major problem throughout Australia and in 1950 there were 600 million rabbits in Australia. Michael Kelleher was officially appointed on December 17, 1912 and his resignation dated from November 15, 1914 according to the State Government Gazette, where all Government appointments were listed.
State Government Gazette December 27, 1912
State Government Gazette November 4, 1914
It appears that the life of a Rabbit Inspector was not always a happy one and some land owners were against them and their methods as this article from the Pakenham Gazette attests.
I must acknowledge the book From Swampland to Farmland: a history of the Koo Wee Rup Flood Protection District by David Roberts. (Published by Rural Water Commission in 1985) in the preparation of this history.
Drainage works on the Swamp began in the 1850’s on a small scale and in 1875, landowners formed the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Drainage Committee. This Committee employed over 100 men and created drains that would carry the water from the Cardinia and Toomuc Creeks to Western Port Bay. You can still see these drains when you travel on Manks Road, between Lea Road and Rices Road – the five bridges you cross span the Cardinia and Toomuc Creek canals (plus a few catch drains) which were dug in the 1870’s.
It soon became apparent that drainage works needed to be carried out on a large scale if the Swamp was to be drained and landowners protected from floods. The Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department, William Thwaites, surveyed the Swamp in 1888 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 as well. A tender was advertised in 1889. Even with strikes, floods and bad weather, by March 1893 the 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. In spite of this, the Public Works Department was unhappy with the rate of progress and took over its completion in 1893 and appointed the Engineer, Carlo Catani to oversee the work.
Catani implemented the Village Settlement Scheme. 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 at 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. My great grandfather, James Rouse, a widower, arrived on the Swamp with his nine year old son Joe, in 1903. James, who had been a market gardener in England, was part of a second wave of settlers who were granted land as they had previous farming experience. 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 and was also a major producer of dairy products.
No amount of drainage works could protect Koo-Wee-Rup from the 1934 flood
The original drainage works were completed in 1897 but later floods saw more drainage work undertaken, including widening of the Main Drain and additional side drains. None of these works protected the Swamp against the Big Flood of December 1, 1934. The entire Swamp was inundated; water was over six feet deep in the town of Koo-Wee-Rup and over a thousand people were left homeless. Another bad flood hit the Swamp in April 1935 and yet another one in October 1937. A Royal Commission was also established in 1936 and its role was to investigate the operation of the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission regarding its administration of Flood Protection districts, amongst other things. The Royal Commission report was critical of the SRWSC’s operation in the Koo-Wee-Rup Flood Protection District in a number of areas and it ordered that new plans for drainage improvements be established. The subsequent works saw the creation of the Yallock outfall drain and the spillway at Cora Lynn, the aim of which was to take the pressure off the Main Drain in flood times and channel the flood waters directly to Western Port Bay.
Today we look at Swamps as wetlands, worthy of preservation, but we need to look at the drainage of the Swamp in the context of the times. Koo-Wee-Rup was only one of many swamps drained around this time; others include the Carrum Swamp and the Moe Swamp. To the people at the time the drainage works were an example of Victorian engineering skills and turned what was perceived as useless land into productive land and removed a barrier to the development of other areas in Gippsland.
Mickle Memories by David Mickle - April
1919: An Enthusiastic meeting in the Koo-Wee-Rup
Hall resolved to form a band. Mr G. F. Hopkins presided as Chairman. George
Wain was elected President, H.D Mills as Secretary and the following signified
that they would join the band - Vernon Mills, A. Purnell (the railway
stationmaster), W. Ellett, Billy Ellett, Jack Dalley (injured in the level
crossing smash later), D. Blackwood, H. Ellett, F. Boag (Frank or Fred they
had a boarding house in Rossiter’s road
near Keighery’s old store) Alf Jeremiah, H. Legge, L. Poole (either Lawson
Poole of Tooradin or his cousin Lawson Poole of Cranbourne)
Others who volunteered for the band
were A. C. Colvin (Froggie), Harris D. Mills, Tom Jack, W. Holt, W. Dyer
(probably the potato inspector) Ray Mills (Vern’s brother), E. and B.
Coates, Bill Petters and Jim Gardiner
(mentioned as the Scottish lamp lighter).
Patrons elected were Cr D.
MacGregor, Shire President at the time; J.T. O’Brien, a Councillor who lived at
Yallock; W. C Greaves, A. Cameron, E Simpson Hill, a Councillor from Tooradin way; D.J Bourke of
the great Bourke Brothers of Monomeith and
J. A Mickle, my uncle. Quite a
turn up of local enthusiasts to work and assist the band.
don’t know how long this band went for - they were still going in 1923. In
1923, Mickle also mentions the Koo-Wee-Rup Choral Society. In July that year
they performed the play Robin Hood, conducted
by Madame Bredin. Dave Mickle writes that at the full dress
rehearsal he took his first flashlight photograph. The flashlight consisted of
magnesium paper that was set alight by a match - the flash paper was on a metal
tray and went off with a great flash. Dave was doubtful that the first flash
worked so he decided to take a second photograph using two sheets of magnesium
but many of the Choral Society were so frightened by the first experience they
refused to take part a second time!
was also interested to find that in 1932 Koo-Wee-Rup had a Mouth Organ band,
with five performers and with Miss Mavis Colvin as pianist.
had Brass Band, which was founded in May 1899 and we have the Minutes book of
another Cranbourne Brass Band which was established on March 24, 1928 - the
Minutes book ends in 1934; I don’t know how long the band went on for after
that. At the other end of the Swamp, the Iona Brass Band was formed in 1909 and
disbanded about 1916 when half their members enlisted in the War.
The establishment of the Court of Petty Sessions at Bunyip was ‘gazetted’ in the State Government Gazette in an announcement dated February 14, 1905. The first court session took place in Kraft’s Hall which was a privately owned hall operated by William Kraft, of the Gippsland Hotel. The current Bunyip Hall is on the site of Kraft’s Hall.
The announcement in the State Government Gazette regarding the establishment of the Bunyip Court
The first sitting of the Bunyip Court was held on March 15, 1905. The bench consisted of Mr Cresswell, the Presiding Magistrate, and two Justices of the Peace, Ramage and A'Beckett. The first case concerned Myrtle Morris who was charged with having no visible means of support. Myrtle was remanded to Prahran for a further hearing. The second case involved a twelve year old, John Mannix, who was charged with endangering property by setting fire to some scrub, which destroyed gates and fences. He was released into the care of his father who entered a recognizance for the boy's future good behaviour. This article shows how the legal system has changed (for better or worse depending on your view point) as a 12 year old would never have his name mentioned in relation to a legal trial today.
In another case heard on March 16, 1910 before Presiding Magistrate Harris and JPs A’Beckett and Pearson, George Nicklen of Iona was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on his 15 year old niece, Elizabeth Bidwell. The report in the South Bourke and Morning Journal said that he was in the habit of beating the girl unmercifully and the case had been brought under the notice of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In her evidence, Lizzie Bidwell said her uncle had chained her to a bed for days at a time and he had threatened to hang her with a rope. In the end the poor girl ran away to neighbours who took her to the doctor. Nicklen denied giving the girl more than she needed and was fined £10.00, plus costs or three months in gaol. Ironically, on the same day the Court fined a man £8 for stealing four heifers or three months in gaol, if he didn’t pay. I don’t know what happened to poor Lizzie Bidwell but it’s sad to think that the Court valued her suffering at about the same rate as the theft of four cows.
The Bunyip Free Press of January 15, 1914 reported that the court was crowded when four cases of sly grog selling were launched against an aged Assyrian with the very Anglicised name of John Ellis. Ellis was represented by Mr M. Davine and had brought his own interpreter as he didn’t speak English. A Revenue Detective, Joseph Blake, had been working undercover in the area and he had visited Ellis on a number of occasions as Ellis had a little shop, with general stock; Ellis also did hair cutting. Blake alleged that Ellis sold him alcohol, Ellis denied this. Patrick McGrath, who leased the house to Ellis and had known him for nine years, called Ellis one of the best and straightest men on the Swamp. Mr Davine presented evidence that Joseph Blake was a professional liar and an informer. In the end, the case was dismissed with the payment of costs; the Presiding Magistrate said we will give Ellis the benefit of the doubt if he will pay costs. The costs were just over £17 but were reduced to £15 after some haggling; a report a few months later said the costs had been paid. There was a similar outcome a few months later when Frederick Carpenter was charged with conducting a gambling house in Garfield. The charges were withdrawn on the condition that he paid the Crown’s cost of £15.00.
There are reports of cases in the Court up to 1941 on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper and they cover the whole range of legal matters from a committal trial for murder, theft, assault, traffic matters, debts and failure to send a child to school - in 1914 there was a spate of these and the recalcitrant parents were fined five shillings or 48 hours in the lock up. I presume that the Court met at the Bunyip Hall, so I would be interested to know if that was the case. According to the State Government Gazette the Bunyip Court closed on May 1, 1981. The announcement stated that the books and other records of the said Court and of the Clerk thereof be delivered to the Clerk of the Warragul Magistrate’s Court. My parents have no memory of the Court at all, in spite of the fact that Dad has been at Cora Lynn for all his 80 years and Mum has been there since she was married 58 years ago, so perhaps it wasn’t used very often after the Second World War.
The Bush Nursing Hospital Movement began in 1910 with the establishment of the Victorian Bush Nursing Association (VBNA). At the time the current medical system consisted of big hospitals such as the Royal Melbourne which were run along charitable lines and whose role was to treat poor people, who could not afford to pay a Doctors fee. There were also private hospitals which only the wealthy could afford. To help offset medical costs Friendly Societies or Lodges were established which people could join for a yearly fee. This gave them access to the Friendly Society doctor and access to medicine dispensed from the Friendly Society Dispensary. There was also a growing move to nurse people in their own homes through what is now the Royal District Nursing Service. People in the city and the suburbs could have a nurse visit them to help recover from confinements and general illness. This type of service took pressure off the public Hospitals. Lady Dudley, the wife of the Governor General, was aware of these visiting nurses and had also seen first hand the need for skilled nurses in the bush, so from these experiences came the idea of Bush Nursing Hospitals. Lady Dudley promoted and raised money for the idea and thus the Victorian Bush Nursing Association began in 1910.
To obtain a Bush Nursing Hospital, the local community had to raise the money to fund the cost of the nurse’s salary, board, uniform and a ‘means of locomotion’. The salary was set by the Bush Nursing Association at the rate of around £80.00 per annum, the rate of pay for a hospital nurse with five or six years experience. The first Victorian nurse was appointed to Beech Forest in March 1911. Eventually some towns provided cottages for the nurses to provide accommodation for both the nurse and the patient. Koo-Wee-Rup was an early example of this where the original nurse, Nurse Homewood, started work in the bush nursing centre in July 1918; this was later replaced by a Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. Pakenham’s Bush Nursing Hospital opened in 1926.
According to the book History of Shelley Memorial Hospital by the late Denise Nest, the push to get a hospital in Garfield started about 1930, when Dr Kenneth McLeod proposed the idea. The community raised around £340, but due to the Depression the momentum for Hospital slowed. On December 4, 1940 a meeting was held and the Garfield branch of the VBNA was formed with an Executive and 26 Committee members, so there was obviously a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. The Committee purchased No. 8 and No. 9 Railway Avenue and a hospital plan was approved. The building could accommodate five beds and would cost about £1500. However the hospital was put on hold due to the War.
A new Committee was elected in December 1944 and it was decided that the hospital would be a Branch of the Warragul Hospital instead of a Bush Nursing Hospital. So in 1945 the Garfield and District Hospital Committee was formed and all the assets of the Garfield branch of the Victorian Bush Nursing Association were transferred to this new committee. From 1946 to 1948 land in Jefferson Road was acquired; some was purchased and some was obtained by swapping the Railway Avenue land with some of the Jefferson Road blocks. All in all blocks 16 to 24 were acquired and plans were drawn up in August 1946 for a 15 bed hospital. This lapsed due to the shortage of material and labour after the War. The Committee went through various changes in personnel, other plans were drawn up but Government finance was not available. By 1948, the Hospital Committee had raised over £2,600. Various submissions were made in the 1950s to the Hospital Commission to get the Garfield Hospital established but to no avail.
However, in January 1944, Mr Emile Shelley, the chemist at Bunyip, passed away and he generously left money for projects for the ‘beautification and advancement of Bunyip’. One idea was a Hospital. In the end, the money that had been raised by the community for the Garfield Hospital, plus the £1,330 realised from the sale of the Jefferson Street land was put together with some of the Shelley Trust money and the Shelley Memorial Hospital Society was established in 1960. The Shelley Memorial Hospital at Bunyip was officially opened on March 19, 1966 and closed on May 1, 1991. The building is now part of Hillview Hostel.
The Bush Nursing Centre at Koo-Wee-Rup was established in July 1918. Nurse Homewood was in charge. The Bush Nursing movement had begun in 1910 with the aim of supplying skilled nurses to country areas. Local committees had to pay the nurse’s salary and the Central Council of the Victorian Bush Nursing Association then supplied a nurse. On May 24, 1923 the Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital was opened in Station Street. It was opened by the Shire President, Cr E.Simpson Hill. During the ceremony, Mrs Margaret Hamilton officially opened a ward in honor of the late Kitty Trounson (sometimes referred to as Townson). Kitty was an original member of the Bush Nursing committee. Mrs D.McNamara donated a furnished cot in the honor of her son, Jack. Mrs Appleford also donated a cot. The Hospital could accommodate medical, surgical and midwifery patients.
Construction of the 1923 Hospital in Station Street Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph
The first Resident Doctor was Dr Andrews. Matron Tuffin was in charge with Sister Morley. In 1927 Chemist, Felix Tattam, arrived in Koo-Wee-Rup and set up in Rossiter Road. He later married Sister Tuffin. He sold the business in 1934 to Mr Brewis. Dr Hewitt and Dr Appleford gave medical attention to the victims of the railway accident at Koo-Wee-Rup. The accident occurred on December 24, 1928. Fifty two people were injured.
Construction of the 1923 Hospital in Station Street Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photo
In the first week of September 1930 there were five babies born at the Hospital. Daughters to Mr and Mrs Tom Burton, Mr and Mrs Frank Egan, Mr and Mrs S. Games, and sons to Dr and Mrs Hewitt and Mr and Mrs Blythman.
In 1935 the new operating theatre was opened. Lady Mitchell performed the opening ceremony and Sir James Barrett, President of the Bush Nursing Society, congratulated the hospital on its progress. In 1938, for the first time, rates of pay and conditions of work were set for nurses in Victoria. Nurses were to work a fifty hour week.
Construction of the 1923 Hospital in Station Street
Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph
In August 1939 the annual meeting of the Hospital re-elected the out-going committee. President – J.L O’Riordan ; Treasurer – W.Dick ; Secretary - G.R Burhop ;Committee Mesdames J.L O’Riordan and G.R Burhop and Messers Gilchrist and Powrie.
In 1946 an Infant Welfare Centre was established in the R.S.L room at the Memorial Hall. It moved to Alexander Avenue in 1949. In 1953 a Pre-school was established in the Infant Welfare Centre grounds. In 1960 they both moved to a new building in Rossiter Road.
1955 the Westernport Memorial Hospital was opened. On July 28, 1955 a public meeting was held to establish a Ladies Auxilliary.
Skating was a popular winter past-time 100 years ago - these advertisements for skating at the Bunyip Mechanics' Institute and the Nar Nar Goon Public Hall appeared in the Bunyip Free Press of July 2, 1914.
At a public meeting held on July 4, 1904 it was decided to purchase some land, on the north side of the railway line and opposite the Railway Station, to build a public hall. The land, next to the School, was purchased from Mr J.M Gillespie for £10.00 and an energetic working committee was appointed to further the movement, which is undoubtedly another step towards the improvement of the township as a report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on July 20, 1904. The Secretary of the Committee was John Daly, the school teacher. The rest of the committee were J.J. Lyons, C.Pitt, G. Park, W.J. Walker and G.W. Ellis.
Bunyip and Garfield Express
July 7, 1904
The official opening was Saturday, November 26 1904 with a concert of a 'high class nature'. A report of the official opening in the Bunyip and Garfield Express said that the hall was commodious and could accommodate between 250 and 300 people. It was constructed of pine walls with hardwood beams and is very tastefully designed. The staging and dressing rooms being up to date, altogether no fault could be found with the structure. The hall was 45 feet by 25 feet, the walls were 14 feet high and the flooring was kauri. The two dressing rooms could be opened to one large room, 25 feet by 10 feet and used for Lodge meetings etc. The hall was designed by J.H. Walker and built by Ingebert Gunnulson.
There had been an earlier function in the hall when the Garfield Branch of the Australian Natives Association (A.N.A) had held a banquet there on November 18. The A.N.A was a Friendly Society, with the aim of offering financial assistance to its members so thus provided sick pay and funeral benefits. It also aimed to promote the moral, social and intellectual improvement of its members.
The opening ball was held on Wednesday, December 7, which was an unqualified success according to the report in the local paper. Other early functions included the Garfield Cricket Club’s concert and ball held on December 30, where dancing was kept up till the early hours of the morn, in the July of 1905 a progressive euchre party and dance was held by the Garfield Progressive Association and in the same month the A.N.A organized a public lecture where Senator Findlay spoke about his recent trip to Japan and China.
Bunyip and Garfield Express
December 15, 1904
The Garfield Public Library was opened on February 12, 1906. The subscription was 2 shillings and six pence a quarter or 10 shillings per annum. The report said the Committee had secured a splendid stock of books. Was this Library located in the Public Hall? There is a good chance it was as many Halls also included a Library, especially those built specifically as a Mechanics’ Institute such as Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon and Bunyip - where the building generally housed a public hall and a library with books aimed to improve the education and knowledge of ‘mechanics’ a term used to describe the working man or tradesman.
Bunyip and Garfield Express
February 15, 1906
Garfield Hall - Berwick Pakenham Historical Society photograph
The usual range of events was held in the Garfield Hall - dances, dinners, use as a polling booth, concerts, wedding receptions etc. Then on Thursday, April 15 in 1937 the Hall was destroyed by fire. It had apparently started at 1.30am in the supper room and everything was destroyed except for some military equipment in a semi detached room at the back, according to a report in The Argus. The Hall was insured for £400.00 and its contents for £100.00. It was rebuilt and was re-opened possibly as early as September 22 the same year. Once again the hall hosted a range of social events - in the early 1950s Dad remembers that square dancing was very popular and that the Hall was packed for those dances - the caller was Bill Colvin of Koo Wee Rup. Over 1953 -1954 improvements were made to the Hall and the kitchen, supper room and ladies toilets were updated. In March of 1954 a Civic Ball was held in the Hall to celebrate the visit of the Queen and Prince Phillip to Australia, they had visited Warragul the day before. Naturally the Queen and Prince Phillip were not in attendance but the local M.L.A, Les Cochrane, and the Berwick Shire President and most of the Councillors were present. The Hall had been decorated with flags and bunting and special lighting effects. The ballerina of the ball was Miss Elvie Cameron.
The Hall was destroyed by fire, once again, in February 1984.
The Memorial Hall used to stand between the Presbyterian Church and the Historical Society in Rossiter Road. The first hall had been opened on this site in April 1902 – the same year that the original Catholic Church was opened. In 1912, the Hall became a Mechanics’ Institute. In the nineteenth century the term ‘mechanic’ meant artisan or working man. The Mechanics’ Institute movement began in 1800 when Dr George Birkbeck of the Andersonian Institute in Scotland gave a series of lectures to local mechanics. The lectures were free and popular. They led to the formation of the Edinburgh School of Arts (1821) and the London Mechanics’ Institute (1823). The movement spread quickly throughout the British Empire. The first Victorian Mechanics’ Institute was the Melbourne Mechanics’ Institute established in 1839 and renamed The Melbourne Athenaeum in 1873, which continues to operate in its original building on Collins Street. Over a thousand were built in Victoria and 562 remain today.
Mechanics’ Institutes were generally connected to a Public Hall. Bayles was another local town which had a Mechanics’ Institute. This was located in the Bayles Hall which had been re-located from Yallock and officially opened in January 1932. The Tooradin Mechanics Institute was built in 1882, burnt down in 1937 and the existing Hall was opened in 1938. The old Cora Lynn hall was also originally a Mechanics Institute. Mechanic’s Institutes generally had a library, and may have offered lectures, discussions or classes.
The Koo-Wee-Rup hall was of weather board and it was extended in 1919. The brick front and other rooms were added in 1923-24 and it was renamed the Memorial Hall to honour the First World War soldiers.
Hall before the 1923 extension.
The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia paid £300 to help fund these additions and had a lease on the Hall at the rental of one peppercorn per annum. The Hall was used for various entertainment s - Colvin’s Pictures began weekly screenings on September 11th, 1922, this was five years before the Wattle Theatre was opened. The first Koo-Wee-Rup Scout troop gave a display in the Hall in August 1929. Public meetings, wedding receptions, debutant balls, twenty first birthdays, kitchen teas were all held in the Hall.
The original Hall and the brick extension are clearly seen in the photograph, which was taken during the 1934 flood
During the Back to Koo-Wee-Rup celebrations of late October, early November 1969 the Hall was used for activities. Students of Koo-Wee-Rup High School would well remember having their H.S.C exams in the Hall in the 1970s. In one of my exams there were about five of us in the Hall, and we were at least equalled in number by the sparrows flying around the ceiling. The Hall was demolished in 2002 and plaque on the fence marks its location.
The Koo-Wee-Rup Sun of December 2, 1943 reported on a Public Meeting held at the Memorial Hall on November 26 to establish a local Fire Brigade. Brigades could only be established at the request of the local Council and as such it was Cr Leslie Cochrane who chaired the meeting. Mr A. McPherson, the Chief Officer of the Country Fire Brigades’ Board was also present. He had visited the town previously and considered it a suitable location for a Brigade and the Cranbourne Shire Council had agreed and made the necessary arrangements for the establishment of one. As both the Council and the Country Fire Brigades’ Board agreed then all that remained was to get the personnel. McPherson suggested that Koo-Wee-Rup establish an A class Brigade which consisted of four Officers and eleven firemen. Under normal circumstance the Board would spend over £1,000 in setting up a Brigade, however due to the War many appliances were unavailable.
McPherson also talked of the social activities enjoyed by members of brigades at the annual demonstrations and that these demonstrations would be resumed after the return of 1,850 men at present in the fighting services. Koo-Wee-Rup established a competition team in 1950. Given that fighting fires can be dangerous, McPherson also said that the Board could grant up to £500 to the dependents of a fireman killed on duty. The Board would also give an annual allowance of £20 to the Brigade and the Council would also give an annual sum.
Volunteers were then called for and thirteen men answered the call and elected their own leaders. The first Captain was the alliteratively named Loyal Leslie Lackman; the Lieutenant was Cyril Isbister; the Foreman was William Mahoney; Secretary Samuel Lewis and other members were Kenneth Cochrane, John Sauer, Edward Holley, Thomas Perkins, William Winters, Albert Rushton, Thomas English and reserves were D. Johnson and L. Plowright. Johnson and Plowright were both under 18 years of age, which is why they were placed on the reserve list, according to the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun report. Lackman’s time as Captain was short lived as a report in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun of May 4, 1944 said that Captain Lackman was farewelled by the members of the Brigade on April 28 as he had been transferred from the district by his employee, the State Rivers & Water Supply Commission. The report went on to say that in the short time he had been in Koo-Wee-Rup he had exhibited keen sportsmanship and had became a citizen the district could ill afford to lose. Soon after he left Koo-Wee-Rup, Loyal Lackman passed away suddenly on June 2, 1944 at Cobram at the age of 52.
At the meeting held on May 8, 1944 Cyril Isbister was elected as Captain and Clarence Raymond ‘Dick’ Florance elected Lieutenant. In July 1947, Dick Florance started his long reign as Captain, holding the position until October 1972, when John Duff took on the role. Captain Duff held the position until he passed away suddenly on September 13, 1979. Lieutenant Keith Ridgway was then elected as the new Captain. Captain Ridgway served in the role until his retirement in December 1993 and Lieutenant Lindsay Black was elected. Captain Black finished his tenure in May 2002 when Michael Duff was elected.
A temporary fire station was to be established until the permanent building could be erected which opened in Rossiter Road in September 1947. The present Station Street building (which was expanded in 1984) was officially opened October 2, 1959.
This photo partially shows the Rossiter Road fire station as well as the bell tower.
The Ladies Auxiliary was formed on November 14, 1956 with Mrs Claire Howarth elected as President. The other Office bearers were Mrs Connie Grundy, Mrs Tobe Florance and Miss Janice Duff. The Auxiliary still supports the Brigade with fund raising and other activities.
Sources: Notes supplied by Mrs May Ridgway; Koo Wee Rup Fire Brigade Ladies Auxiliary: a brief history; Koo-Wee-Rup Sun.
In 1968, Dave Mickle interviewed seventy-six year old Les O’Riordan. John Leslie O’Riordan was born on August 26, 1892 and is said to be the first white child born in the Koo-Wee-Rup Village settlement. His father, John O’Riordan, opened a store in the town in 1890 - it was a tin shed at the rear of what is now Light’s garage.
Les married Margaret Colvin in August 1918 and they lived at Mallow, the head quarters of the Historical Society. Margaret’s brother, A.C Colvin (Andrew) opened a cycle shop in the town in 1911 and later became an Agent for Ford Cars. Les died in 1978 and Margaret in 1955.
Some of the interview with Les is published in Dave’s book Mickle Memories, but we also have the notes from the interview at the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society, so what follows is a combination of both.
This is the map that Dave Mickle drew up whilst talking to Les O'Riordan.
From the corner store going northwards (or down towards Bayles) On the left there was Thomson’s butchers shop, Ross the saddler, Bergin the bootmaker and Turner’s sweets shop, which was just before Jack Gray’s house. Next was Keighery’s bootmakers and saddlery. Still going north there was a timber building housing the London Bank (later moved to its current location – the ANZ bank). When the bank moved, Ben Darlington operated his radio shop from the site (where the car yard was). Just over Gardiner Street was Mrs Greys’ shop, then the Presbyterian Church and the Memorial Hall.
Back to the Rossiter Road/Station street corner - the corner store was built for Bullocks, then owned by Finnigan, Battersby, Malouf, W.A Stephenson, Ernest Cougal and Ernest Williams. Along Station Street was the new London Bank, then a small paddock and Joe Morrison’s black smiths shop. Next to Joe Morrison was Colvin’s cycle works and his Swastika café which he leased to the Misses Gallagher in 1922. The swastika was originally a symbol representing well being and was used by many cultures until the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1930s. In the 1920s in Koo-Wee-Rup it was just a symbol of good luck, nothing sinister.
Station Street in Koo-Wee-Pup - the small building on the left is the Post Office. Next to it is the Swastika cafe.
Molly O’Riordan’s post office was next - it was described by Les as a small square building under a large pine tree, clearly seen in the picture, above. This little post office was removed and Colvin’s built a garage (Albons). At the rear of this site, the O’Riordans had built a coffee palace some years previously. It burnt down on the late 1920s/ early 1930s. O’Riordan’s residence and store were next, on the corner of Moody Street. A room at the back of the store was used as the first hall. Behind the hotel was Wilkins (later Johnson) bakery and Johnson Brothers (later De Vries) butchery.
Cochrane Park in Koo-Wee-Rup is named after Leslie James Cochrane. Mr Cochrane died on April 25, 1972. His funeral was held on April 28 at the Presbyterian Church and attended by an estimated 1,000 people with another 700 people attending the service at the Springvale Crematorium.
Leslie was born in Bentleigh in 1894 to David and Lucy (nee Burgess) Cochrane. The family moved to Caldermeade when he was eight. He enlisted in the First World War on May 2, 1916 at the age of 21. He was in the 46th Infantry battalion and saw war service in France. He returned to Australia in February 1918 and in the December of the same year he married Ivy, the daughter of Harry and Sarah Wildes of Yannathan. Leslie and Ivy moved to a soldier settlement block on the Pakenham Road. After the war, as well as running the farm, Mr Cochrane began a life of community service. He joined the Cranbourne Shire Council in 1930, representing the Koo-Wee-Rup Riding until 1964 and was Shire President on four occasions. It was said he never missed a meeting.
Mr Cochrane also represented Gippsland West in the Legislative Assembly from May 1950 until May 1970 for the Country Party. He held various Parliamentary positions and was the Country Party ‘whip’ from 1961 until 1970. When he died, the Premier, Sir Henry Bolte; the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Clive Holding and the leader of the Country Party, Mr Ross-Edwards, each presented a short eulogy on Mr Cochrane in the Victorian Parliament. In fact, Sir Henry pointed out that Mr Cochrane was the last surviving member of this Parliament who served as a member of the Australian Infantry Forces during the First World War. Mr Cochrane was also the President of the Westernport Memorial Hospital Board and he was awarded a Life Membership for his work with the R.S.L. He was a Past Master of the Koo-Wee-Rup Masonic Lodge and an Elder of the Presbyterian Church and was awarded an O.B.E in 1971.
Leslie and Ivy had two children - Irene (Mrs Jack Haw who died in 2001) and Stewart who died in 2000. Mrs Cochrane was also involved in community organizations such as the Presbyterian Ladies Guild and attended the first Koo-Wee-Rup Red Cross meeting. She was Foundation President of the Hospital Ladies Auxiliary and was awarded a Life Governorship of the Hospital in 1974. Mrs Cochrane died in September 1986, aged 91.
Cochrane Park was developed by the Apex Club in 1980 on Railway land. It was then taken over by the Lions Club who named it for Leslie Cochrane.
The two photograph are from the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun May 3, 1972 from a report about Mr Cochrane's funeral.
National Service was introduced in Australia in 1951, in response to the Cold War and the rise of Communism. The first intake was in April 1951 and it was abolished in November 1959. It operated again from 1964 until 1972. This is Frank’s story of his National Service.
Photo: Frank Rouse, on the left, and George Jones on the right.
I was called up in the third intake, at the end of May 1952, when I was 18. This intake took in men from Gippsland. I spent three months at Puckapunyal, where we lived in a hut with 15 others, eight beds down each side. During the three months we learnt to march and handle a rifle and learn the rifle movements. We had to guard the transport depot, I had the midnight to 4.00am shift and the men from the regular Army used to just ignore us and just walk in. At the end of the three months we did a three day march, 20 miles per day, in full uniform with a 303 rifle, back pack and two ground sheets. We slept with a ground sheet on top of us and it was very cold at night. We received our rations in the morning and had to cook them during the day. Each Unit had a Bren gun which also had to be carried.
During this three month camp I was chosen to attend a march through Melbourne. Only three from my hut were selected. We got the bus to Melbourne and lined up with hundreds of other service men and military bands at the top of Swanston Street, near the old CUB brewery. We marched the length of Swanston Street to the Shrine where we were given refreshments and I caught up with Mum and my sister Dorothy, who had came up from Cora Lynn for the day. It was interesting to march through the crowds and to hear the people cheering.
After that, if you lived near a Drill hall, such as the one at Warragul, you had to attend every Friday for two hours for two years. Because I lived at Cora Lynn I had to attend two three week camps. They were at Scrub Hill near Puckapunyal. At the first camp, I volunteered to be a driver and drove the Doctor (a Colonel) around in a Jeep. At the second Camp, I volunteered to be medical orderly, as I had done First aid training in the Scouts. First thing in the morning was a medical parade where I treated minor ailments, made toast for the Doctor and did whatever else I was ordered to by the Doctor. The majority worked on Artillery, alongside the regular Army, and they operated 5½ inch guns which had a twenty mile range.
In 1954, the Queen visited Warragul and as I was still doing my National Service a day guarding the Queen was a day off my National Service. I rode up from Cora Lynn on my motor bike to the Drill hall where we were assembled. We were inspected to make sure our uniform was correct, issued with our 303 rifles, and then marched over the railway bridge and along the highway to about where C.S & J.S Brown’s garage is (near Napier Street)
From there we were spread along the edge of the road (the old Highway) over the hill and almost down to the railway crossing, on each side of the road. We were stood ‘at ease’ by about 9.45am and we waited for the Queen’s entourage. We waited, unable to move or leave our positions. It was a very good thing that we had better bladders then than we have now.
At about 11.45am the word went out that the Queen was coming and we stood to attention ready to ‘present arms’. The entourage flew past at about 50 miles an hour. We marched back to the Drill hall where we handed over our rifles and we were dismissed.
Other locals who did national service with me were George Jones, from Warragul; Aub Goodman (Vervale), Kevin Batchelor (Bunyip), Mulga Shelton (Pakenham), Butch Giles (Trafalgar), Stan Riches (Garfield), Ian Chatfield (Nar Nar Goon) and Kevin Wilby (Modella).
I asked Dad how he felt about his National Service and he was very positive about it as he said it was interesting, the other blokes were all a similar age and had a farming background or worked in saw mills, so they all had a similar outlook. Dad had been boy scout so he was used to camping and he was already used to hard work as he had been working on the farm full time since he left school at the end of Form 4, so he found the work easy and what’s more he got paid seven shillings per day, whereas he was paid nothing at home. Heather Arnold.
I have written before about how the construction of the Sale Railway line was the seminal event in the establishment of the town of Garfield. The Gippsland line to Sale was opened in stages - Sale to Morwell June 1877 (the material for this stage was shipped along the coast to the Port of Sale); 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 Stations between Dandenong and Bunyip were Berwick and Pakenham. However a number of timber sidings developed along this line including the Cannibal Creek Siding built in 1885. In May 1886, the Cannibal Creek Post Office was established at the Railway Station and this changed its name to the Garfield Railway Post Office on May 16, 1887. The name Garfield came from the assassinated American President, James Garfield, who was shot July 2, 1881 and died September 19, 1881.
View of the Goods Shed at the Railway station in 1920. The Garfield Hall is in the background.
Berwick Pakenham Historical Society photograph
In the book Rigg of the Railways: Station Masters of the Victorian Railways the author Tom Rigg lists the following Station Masters as having served at Garfield. McLean, Roderick February 1910 to August 1911 Finnie, Norman July 1912 - August 1917 McCauley, John Alexander June 1918 - March 1920 Lanigan, Patrick September 1919 - February 1919 Mather, James around 1920,1921 Stewart, Francis David March 1920 - September 1921 Lang, Elmo Thomas December 1921 - July 1923 Marks, John Alexander July 1924 - January 1927 Bently, Leslie George December 1926 - June 1928 Callaghan, Henry Richard July 1928 - January 1933 Hosking, Henry Towers January 1933 - September 1937. Due to economic depression wife was caretaker part-time at Garfield. Smith, Arthur Leslie June 1942 - December 1944 Graham, Norman Joseph December 1944 - December 1954. I couldn’t find anyone listed after 1954, but my mother says that a Mr Tighe was the Station Master around the late 1950s/ early1960s.
This is a view from the Station towards Main Street Garfield - taken in the 1980s.
Apparently, Station Masters were classified according to the Station to which they were appointed and Garfield (in 1923 at least) was a Class 8 station, as was its neighbours Tynong and Nar Nar Goon. Bunyip was a Class 7 and so must have had more freight and was therefore busier. There are other Railway Station employees listed in various sources prior to 1910 but it does appear that Garfield wasn’t busy enough for a permanent Station Master until then. For instance, in Bill Parrish’s notes on the history of Garfield (held at the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society) he lists James Godfrey as ‘Porter in charge’ at Cannibal Creek siding in October 1885 and he became the Post Master in 1886. The Post Masters and Mistresses at Garfield were all Railway employees until around the end of the First World War, when the Post Office moved from the Railway Station. Bill also lists a Mrs Thomson as being the Station caretaker in 1904.
Over the years, all sorts of produce was loaded at the Garfield Railway Station - livestock, milk and other dairy products (such as cheese from the Cora Lynn factory), chaff and timber. There was a spur line that went off the main line to the Goods Shed and loading area (where the car park is now on the Highway side of the railway line) My Dad, Frank Rouse, used to load potatoes there. All potatoes in the 1940s and until 1954 had to be sold through the Potato Board and had to be loaded at a prescribed loading area, in this case Garfield. They were loaded onto the rail and sent to Spencer Street railway yards where the marketing board had their shed. They were then sold by the Board. If you sold ‘out of the Board’ you were up for massive fines. Farmers were given a quota for the week, for instance seven bags (each bag was 150 lbs or 65 kg, later on they were reduced to 50kgs) and that was all you were allowed. The railway trucks could take 12 tons but before they were loaded they had to be inspected by the Potato Inspector, Jack Stalker. Apparently, he was a fan of the VW Beetle, so if you wanted to get your potatoes passed you just talked about VWs or if you told him you were a ‘bit worried about them’, and then he would just pass them. If they weren’t passed then you had to empty the bag, remove the bad ones and re-pack them and re-sew the bag. The farmers had to load the railway trucks themselves and some railway trucks had doors but others were like carts, with a wall about a metre or so high and in this case the bags had to be lifted by hand over the wall and then stacked in the truck. Sometimes the produce just sat there for days before they were picked up. The Potato Board finished in 1954 and after that you could sell them where you wanted. Dad and his brother Jim used Dan Cunningham as an agent and they also later loaded at Nar Nar Goon. If you sold them interstate they could be delivered by truck. In the 1950s, the line was duplicated from Dandenong to Morwell and also electrified due to need to transport briquettes from Yallourn to Melbourne. In 1954, the electrification process was completed as far as Warragul and it was on July 22 in that year that ‘electric traction’ commenced according to the Victorian Railways Annual Report. Duplication works were completed in stages with the Tynong to Bunyip section opened in August 1956. The Bunyip to Longwarry section still remains unduplicated due to the need to widen the bridge over the Bunyip River. Due to the increased number of trains (it was estimated that briquette transportation would require an additional 20 trains per day, over the existing seven) the level crossing which was basically opposite the Picture Theatre was closed and the overpass was opened in 1953. The Thirteen Mile Road used to continue over the railway line to the goods yards and this was closed perhaps around the same time or maybe earlier. The Goods Shed was originally built around 1905 and a weigh bridge was
erected in 1919. At 2.00pm on Thursday
February 21, 1924 the Station was destroyed by fire. The
Argus reported that a few milk cans
were rescued from the goods shed. A number of parcels, including two bicycles
and a perambulator, and a quantity of passengers' luggage, were destroyed, in
addition to departmental records. Both the Station and the Goods Shed were
rebuilt at the time but they were then demolished some time ago and replaced by
the banal and tacky structures that pass for railway architecture today. They were still there in December 1989 -
if you want a nostalgic look at them, then check out this website ‘When there
were Stations’ - http://www.stationspast.net
Rigg of the Railways: Station Masters of the Victorian Railways by Tom Rigg (published by the author in 2001)
The Electric Railways of Victoria : a brief history of the electrified railway system operated by the Victorian railways 1919 to 1979 by S.E. Dornan and R.H Henderson (Australian Electric Traction Association, 1979)
This is an account of the capture of an escaped patient from Mont Park Mental Hospital from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of April 30, 1914. The work Lunatic has now gone out of fashion to describe a person who is mentally ill. According to the Oxford Dictionary the word Lunatic comes from the Old French lunatique, from late Latin lunaticus, from Latin luna '‘ moon’ ' (from the belief that changes of the moon caused intermittent insanity).
South Bourke and Mornington Journal of April 30, 1914.
Trooper Maher, is Stephen Maher, listed in the 1914, 1919 and 1924 Electoral Rolls as living at Pakenham. His occupation is listed as Constable. His wife was Bridget Catherine (nee Ryan). There is an interesting account, below, of Constable Maher having his horse taken from him, sounds like it was a bureaucratic decision made without any consultation - so no change there in 100 years.
Stephen and Catherine had ten children, Rosaline (born 1886), Cathleen (1888), Florence Mary (1890), Olive Veronica (1893), Stephen Raymond (1894), John Thomas (1896), Thomas Francis(1899), Daniel Michael (1901) Leonard Joseph (1903) and Mary Monica (1905). Stephen died in 1931 aged 70 and Bridget died in 1939 aged 77
One of the prominent buildings in Main Street of Garfield is the old ANZ Bank building. The bank was built as an E.S. & A. bank and is actually one of the three old E. S & A. banks on the Cardinia Shire Heritage Study. The other two are at Koo Wee Rup (built 1919) and Lang Lang (built 1929). The Garfield Bank is thought to have been designed by Twentyman & Askew, the same Architects as the Lang Lang bank.
The 1996 Cardinia Shire Heritage Study, which was undertaken by Graeme Butler & Associates, describes the building as a two storey clinker brick and stucco building...with Greek/Georgian revival stylistic treatment including the hipped and tiled roof, Doric order colonettes at the main window opening, saltire cross glazing mullions, expressed voussoirs over the two doorways, smooth rustication in the central window, the 8-panel door pair, the bayed symmetrical elevation and the multi pane glazing. [A saltire cross is an x shaped cross and a voussoir is a wedge-shaped or tapered stone used to construct an arch]
The Bank in 1962. Photograph taken from the Back to Garfield booklet. The back-to was held June 1-4, 1962.
Banking services began in Garfield in 1905 when the London Bank of Australia opened an Agency of the Warragul Branch. This Agency was converted to a Branch soon after. The first manager was Clarence Adeney. So successful was this Branch that in February 1906 an Agency had been established at Koo Wee Rup and by the next year there were Agencies at Iona and Tynong. In July 1908, the Bank began the construction of new premises, which would be the first brick building in the town. This building is now a private house on the corner of Railway Avenue and Garfield Road. The next Manager was Edward Hattersley who was there in 1909, but had left by 1913. William Rupert Aspinall was the next Manager and he left around August 1917, having been shifted to Moama. Hugh Gardner is the next Manager I can trace and he was in Garfield in 1918. Gardner was the manager in 1921 when the London Bank of Australia was taken over by the English, Scottish & Australian Bank Ltd and I believe they used the London Bank premises until the new building was built.
When was this building built? The Heritage Study lists the build date of the bank as 1925, but I am not convinced this is correct and I believe it was more likely around 1931. Firstly, the Shire of Berwick Rate Books had listed the building through the 1920s under the Managers name and then in 1931 it changed to Arthur Nutting, who was shop keeper and also owned other property in the area, so I believe this was the time they built the new premises and sold off their superfluous old premises. Secondly, Bill Parish in his history of Garfield, published in the 1962 ‘back to’ souvenir book says the building was erected in the 1930s.
E.S & A bank advertisement from the Back to Garfield booklet.
Mr Gardner was at Garfield until around July 1926 when he was promoted to Cheltenham. The staff at the bank presented him with a gold wrist watch and at a ‘public send-off by citizens’ he was presented with a cheque, and gold sovereign case. His wife, Florence, and his two daughters were also presented with gold wrist watches, an extraordinary set of gifts which shows the esteem that Bank Managers were once held in. His replacement John Jessup only lasted a few years before he was transferred to Dunolly in 1928. The ‘women of Garfield’ presented Mrs Jessup with a handbag as a departure gift.
Mr Jessup’s replacement was Stanley Howell, who was at Garfield until 1935 when he was transferred to Burwood. When Stanley and Margret Howell left Garfield they ‘were entertained and presented with wallet of notes’. Other known staff in the early days was a Mr L.G Evans, accountant, who transferred to Garfield from Dunolly in 1927. Perhaps Mr Evans extolled the virtues of Dunolly to Mr Jessup and that’s why he moved there. Other accountants at the branch were Mr E. Judge who left Garfield for Warragul in 1924. His successor was Mr Pask.
The E.S & A. Bank Ltd merged with the ANZ Bank in 1970. There was an E.S & A. Agency at Cora Lynn, which was staffed about a morning a week and closed in the early 1960s.
The little building to the right of the bridge is the old E.S & A Bank at Cora Lynn, taken October 20, 1937 (State Rivers & Water Supply Commission photograph)