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.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Local Progress Associations as reported in the Dandenong Journal

This post looks at the activities of local Progress Associations mainly through the correspondence they wrote to the local Council - the Dandenong Journal reported on these Council meetings. Many towns had Progress Associations from the late 1920s to the 1950s - Bayles, Koo-Wee-Rup, Dalmore, Lang Lang, Hampton Park, Lyndhurst South, Pakenham South, Warneet and Tooradin to name some. Like many community organisations which rely on volunteers some formed, then were disbanded and then reformed years later. There was naturally less reporting on the Associations during the Second World War – I guess complaints about road conditions and drainage issues seemed trivial at the time, plus the community was involved with supporting the War effort. Sadly for all of us, the issues raised by these groups are not much different from the issues raised by Township Committees 70 or so years later!

Warneet Progress Association formed in December 1945 and one of their  activities in December 1947 was to fill the vacancies on the Warneet Foreshore Committee and to have  a site set aside for  a Public Hall (the hall still hasn’t been built). In 1953 the Progress Association asked for the construction of two ‘public conveniences’ (one at each jetty)  as even though the town had only five permanent resident families there was a big weekend population, with 40 to 50 car loads of visitors. The town had already received a grant of £1280 from the Tourist Resorts Fund but wanted the Council to put in the remaining 25 per cent and to take responsibility for the buildings. The Council was happy to subsidise one building but felt that the Warneet Foreshore Committee should be responsible for the upkeep.

In another coastal town, the Tooradin Progress Association asked for assistance in 1928 to carry out works on the Tooradin picnic grounds but the Cranbourne Shire said no funds were available. In the same year, they complained about the state of the ‘main coast road’ - the South Gippsland Highway and also complained about the action of the Koo Wee Rup Progress Association in diverting traffic from Koo Wee Rup along to Pakenham (so thus avoiding Tooradin). Fast forward 80 or so years later and Koo Wee Rup was doing all they could to get traffic out of the town!

Camping Ground at Tooradin, c. 1940s. Is this the same as the picnic grounds that the Tooradin Progress Association requested funding for in 1928? I'd say so.

Dalmore Progress Association was established before the War and it re-formed in 1953 with 60 members attending the first meeting. Some of their first activities included holding a Ball, entering a float in the Coronation day procession at Koo Wee Rup, forming a badminton Club and notifying Council about the state of local roads and drains. In 1953 the Pakenham South Progress Association complained to the Council about Ballarto Road; they wanted it graded and the drains cleared out.

The Bayles Progress Association in 1928 asked the Council for four lamps that they had promised them for street lighting. The same year they said that ‘approximately 20 services would be required in the sanitary area at Bayles’  -  as this would require the Council  ‘night man’ to empty the toilet pans at these properties, the Council decided that the service would be too costly. A year later they wanted a bridge built to give access to the Recreation Reserve; I am not sure where this Recreation Reserve actually was.  In 1947, they asked the Council to fence off the local bridges to assist farmers and drovers with cattle. They also asked the Council if they could take over some adjoining railway land to extend the park at Bayles, described by one Councillor as ‘a nice little park’ which had been established by the Association.

The Koo Wee Rup Progress Association in 1928 wanted permission from the Council to plant trees in Rossiter Road from Denham’s Road to Henry Street. A year later they were complaining about the state of Moody Street and they also wanted the Council to erect a danger sign at the School - not sure what that was about, presumably the state of the roads and not feral students.

In June 1944, the Association put in ‘numerous requests’ to the Council - the Dandenong Journal uses this head line on more than one occasion.  ‘No less than seven requests’ were before the Council - amongst the requests they wanted a foot bridge over the Station Street drain for use of the flax mill employees; they wanted a section of Sybella Avenue sealed and they wanted Boundary Road put into a ‘serviceable condition’ The next month they put another long list of requests in including some repeat numbers from the last time, because they regarded the replies to the original list as not being satisfactory. In 1947, the Progress Association agitated for the re-location of the Shire Offices from Cranbourne to Koo Wee Rup which was ‘a more central situation’. There was bit of discussion about this issue and a Councillor complained that the Progress Association was always late with their correspondence (thus presumably this could not be read before the meeting) and had to be put into extra correspondence and that the ‘Association was very critical of the Council and what the Council doesn’t do’ and ‘it’s time they woke up to themselves’

Finally, this didn’t come from a Progress Association but from the Country Roads Board in 1939 asking whether the Koo Wee Rup - Pakenham Road ‘is fit to be used as a public highway’ - still a question that people are asking.

First subdivision sale of Koo Wee Rup Township Estate in 1915

This advertisement for the 'First subdivision sale of Koo Wee Rup Township Estate' was from the  Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative  February 24, 1915. There is a fair bit of Real Estate agent hyperbole in the description - but it's a fun read about the area - they predict Koo Wee Rup will be a 'future city'!



 Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative  February 24, 1915


First SUBDIVISION SALE OF KOO-WEE-RUP TOWNSHIP ESTATE.
The Future City of 100,000 acres of rich reclaimed SWAMP (AND ADJACENT) LAND.
Auction Sale on the Ground. On Account of Owner. By A. F. Witham, Agent, Dandenong
Local Agent - Albert Woodman.
On SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 1915. at 2 p.m.

BUSINESS SITES, RESIDENCE SITES. CULTIVATION ALLOTMENTS, GRAZING ALLOTMENTS OF 1 to 6 acres.
Liberal Terms 10 per cent, deposit, balance equal quarterly payments over three years at 6 per cent.

Go and see Koo-Wee-Rup and District before the sale.
It's Future - A Big Town - will at at once appeal to your judgment.
The Shops and Residential buildings now on the Estate form a mere beginning of the future town. On
the Estate are Two Churches, Hall, School and Bank. A large Hotel to be erected at once.
Splendid Gravel Roads all round the Estate, and all over the district. Average Annual Rainfall 30 inches. Only 40 miles from Melbourne.
A Big Fresh Water Canal close to Estate. Water obtainable at Shallow depths.
This Estate is the only possible Town Estate at Koo-Wee-Rup.
Good Railway Service, Close Settlement all round, increasing and extending every month. Prosperous Settlers.
Koo-Wee-Rup District land grows some of the heaviest yields per acre in Victoria of Potatoes, Onions, Turnips, Cabbage, Maize, all cereal crops., Good Fruit Tree land. Milk, Cream, Butter, Cheese produced in yearly increasing quantities.
Koo-Wee-Rup will be the junction station of the authorised and surveyed new Gippsland Railway to be constructed shortly.
Koo-Wee-Rup is the natural and only future trading centre for that Immense and Richest Soil District,
All roads centre at Koo-Wee-Rup.
Koo-Wee-Rup must shortly be the biggest loading station for Agricultural produce on the Great Southern Line.
Koo-Wee-Rup must be a favorite residental town, it is so conveniently situated and very healthy. Western Port Bay and Inlets only three miles away.

P. C. SMITH and McEACHARN,
Solicitors,
285 Collins street, Melbourne.
Vendors' Solicitors.

A.W. A . Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup - Part 3

This follow-up article about the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup was published in the Koo Wee Rup Sun on December 11, 1974. To see the original  article in the Koo Wee Rup Sun of November 6, 1974, click hereYou can view my post on the  the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station, here



See my post on the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup, here.  See the original article in the Koo Wee Rup Sun of  November 6, 1974,  here.

A.W. A . Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup - Part 2

This article about the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup was published in the Koo Wee Rup Sun on November 6, 1974. There were two photos with this article - you can view them on my post on the  the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station, here. See a follow up to this article in the Koo Wee Rup Sun of December 11, 1974, here.







See my post on the  the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup, here. See a follow up to this article in the Koo Wee Rup Sun of December 11, 1974, here.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A.W. A . Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup

Koo Wee Rup has been at the centre of International Wireless communications. In 1921, Amalgamated Wireless (Australia) Ltd. (A.W.A), selected Koo Wee Rup as a site for a Wireless Experimentation Station. The site of the Station was in Rossiter Road, near the intersection of Denhams Road, on land owned by John Mickle and operated from early 1921 to 1922. It was at this Station that it was confirmed that direct and efficient communication between Great Britain and Australia was feasible. Radio communications, at this time, were sent and received by a series of relays.

Wireless signals sent from Britain had already been received directly in Australia as early as 1918, as European Stations could be heard at certain times in Australia. These transmissions are effected by weather and especially sun activity (as anyone with a modern day HF radio would know).



Interior of the building showing the receiving apparatus.
Photo is taken from the Koo Wee Rup Sun of November 6, 1974

Great Britain had proposed the establishment of an Imperial Radio Scheme, based on a series of relays, at the Imperial Conference of 1921 (the fore-runner of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting). Australia would have been at a disadvantage under this Scheme as we were at the end of the line and many relays were situated in politically unstable countries. The Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, rejected this Scheme at the Conference.

The Koo Wee Rup Station was staffed by Thomas Bearup, E.A Burbury and E.G Bailey. Bearup later became Victorian Manager of the ABC. Their experiments used a heterodyne type receiver, with six stages of radio frequency amplication and two stages of audio frequency amplication. Their research showed that wireless signals could be received over long periods each day from New York, Rome, England, Paris and Germany and were consistent enough to prove that direct wireless communication was both practical and reliable between Australia and Britain.

 .

The apparatus building and engine house at the 
Koo Wee Rup Wireless Experimentation Station. 
Photo is taken from the Koo Wee Rup Sun of November 6, 1974.
A.W.A (who worked in conjunction with the Marconi Company) won the Contract from the Australian Government to construct and maintain Wireless Stations capable of direct commercial services to Britain and Canada.

There were two articles on the A.W.A Wireless Experimentation Station at Koo Wee Rup published in the Koo Wee Rup Sun in 1974. To see the original article from November 6, 1974, click here. To see the  follow up article in the Koo Wee Rup Sun of December 11, 1974, click here.

This blog post also appears on my work blog - Casey Cardinia Links to Our Past and had appeared first in the Koo Wee Rup Township newsletter, The Blackfish.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Across the Koo Wee Rup Swamp in 1910 by bicycle

This article was published in The Australasian on April 30, 1910. The author took a trip, by bicycle, across the Koo Wee Rup Swamp - 90 miles of cycling in all. Read the original, here.

The Australasian on April 30, 1910


WHEEL NOTES
By FORTIS
ACROSS THE KOO-WEE-RUP

The cyclist may propose; but if he is wise, he will allow the wind to dispose; and that is what I did one day last week. I wished to take a run from the ranges to the north and N.E of the metropolis but found on waking that a fierce north wind would dispute progress in that direction; but I changed my objective. Adopting the Dandenong road, I passed through that town in a cloud of dust so dense that I had to slow down to walking pace, as nothing could be seen beyond a few yards. At the Berwick and Cranbourne junction, a mile beyond, a halt was made to determine which highway should be taken, and the road to Berwick was chosen, as indications of change of wind was apparent in the clouds.
The direction now was almost due east, hence the wind was less a helping factor than before. However, some fast coasts were obtained over the hilly section to Berwick, and another long one after climbing the steep hill in the town. Beaconsfield and Officer were then passed through; and at Pakenham, the lower road - that south of the railway - was taken to Nar Nar Goon and Tynong to Garfield, 48 miles from Melbourne, which was reached shortly after 1 p.m.

ALONG THE MAIN DRAIN
The term "Swamp" usually suggests an uninteresting area, and. 1 thought, in crossing the reclaimed Koo-wee-rup Swamp, that there would be little to interest. I knew there was roadway along the main drain, and on leaving Garfield a winding track, was followed in a S.E. direction, when the "drain" - it is more like a canal - was crossed at the rising village of lona, a distance of three miles. Crossing on a substantial bridge, and veering S.W, I followed the drain in a perfectly straight line, and over a fair to good surface for 4½ miles, where I passed through another village in the making, known as Cora
Lynn. Keeping straight on - the road and drain could be seen straight ahead as far as the eye could reach. I traversed another 4½ miles without a turn, making a continuous run of nine miles in a bee-line to the south-west. At the end of this stage was another small collection of houses, but I could not ascertain what the name was - if it had one.

Here the road and drain made an easy turn, more to the south, and in two and a half miles there is a divergence to the left, to Koo-wee-rup, the Township being about three-quarters of a mile distant. Not wishing to go further east I kept on for another mile, until the Great Southern line was met with, as well as a cross-road, where a turn to the right was made. But this track curved away to the north eventually, and I recognised that it was the wrong course. In a mile, however, a road running westward was adopted, which I thought would bring me out into the main Tooradin road, and after traversing it for five miles, over a fair, loamy surface, a cross-road was met with. To go northwards was useless, so turning lo the left and crossing the line in half a mile, a turn was made (in a similar distance) into a lane running to the west, and which, in two and a quarter miles, led me out on to the main road, about six miles from Cranbourne and 35 from Melbourne.

NATURE OF THE SWAMP LAND.
In the run from Garfield to Koo-wee-rup a distance of about 16 miles, there is anything but  monotony. In addition to the small villages, there are numerous homesteads between, while the plain is not devoid of vegetation or of trees. The high scrub growth by the roadside shielded me in a great measure when the wind changed to the west, though when it shifted further, and blew stiffly from the south-west, I had a rough time for a mile or so, what it made a further change and came up from the south. Still, it was not all easy going; but the roadway on the whole was fair - good, and like a racing-track in places - but repairs are now being commenced, and it will prove sandy until rain falls. Heavy rain, however, will play havoc with the tracks; in some places the black swamp land is bare, and when wet it sticks closer than a brother.

Although the season is, and has been very dry, there was plenty of water in the main drain; clear and running, though not very deep. It seems to me to be the course of a river, cut through the swamp, forming a natural drain, where previously the river (the Bunyip, I think), used to empty itself on the land, transforming it into a swamp. The only thing requisite for making the best use of this canal is more water, So that it could be used for carrying purpose. After passing Koo-wee-rup the land was less attractive, but there are plenty of cross-roads and tracks; some rough and others sandy. On reaching the main road I ran through Cranbourne and into Dandenong, where, after 90 miles cycling, I joined the train for Melbourne.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

How Nar Nar Goon celebrated the Armistice in 1918

The Pakenham Gazette had this article about the Armistice Celebrations at Nar Nar Goon in their December 6, 1918 edition.  The report said that 1,000 people attended the event, that's an a amazing number.  You can see the whole article on Trove, here, but I have transcribed it, below.

NAR NAR GOON
A PEACE CELEBRATION

Wednesday last was a red letter day in the history of Nar Nar Goon, the occasion being a public demonstration and picnic in connection with the celebration of peace. The day was observed as a public holiday, all business places being closed, and it may be safely asserted that most of the residents of the district not only took part in the demonstration but did their best towards making it a
success.

About a fortnight ago the towns people decided that it was desirable that something should be done to mark their appreciation of the glad news that an armistice had been declared and that there was every indication of an early and lasting peace. An appeal was made for funds to meet the expenses of the celebration, and this met with a most generous response, about £50 being raised.

Wednesday's event was a credit to the town and district, and it will always be looked back upon with
interest. Both young and old entered into the spirit of the day, and as a result everything worked smoothly and all had an enjoyable outing.

The day's proceedings opened with a monster procession, which completely eclipsed anything of the kind ever seen in the district, comprising 130 vehicles and numerous horsemen. A number of the vehicles, including buggies, jinkers and lorries, were nicely decorated with greenery and flowers, and there was a profusion of flags, all the Allies being represented.

An effigy of the Kaiser, the handiwork of Mr Mappin, of Tynong, was mounted on a horse. This was safe guarded by Master J. Ede, in the character of  'John Bull'  and was a special attraction.

Space will not permit of a description of the various vehicles, but it may be said that all were attractive, those of Mr E. Oram, representing 'The Day'  and Mr J. Spencer, representing 'Peace', being worthy of special mention.

Amongst those with decorated vehicles were :- Messrs A. Harris, M. Dore, J. Mortimer, J. Mulcare, T. Eves, A. Thorn, J. Kenny, J. Gray, S. Collins, T. Garrett, J. Latta, R. Brooke, T. Grigg, E. Oram, J. Spencer, jun., and J. R. Spencer, the last named driving a fine team of four greys in a buggy. There was also a decorated motor, driven by Mr Donald. Some of the riders were in fancy costume.
amongst the number.being Miss M. Raftis (Ireland) and Master Wadsley (England).

The procession was formed into line at about 11 o'clock, and, headed by the Richmond Juvenile Brass Band, marched from the township to the place chosen for the day's picnic.

Four returned soldiers, viz., Ptes. W. Comely, P. Neilsson and H. J. Lennon, of Tynong, and Pte. G. Bjursten, of Cora Lynn, held a prominent position in the procession.

On arrival at the ground judging took place for prizes in connection with the procession, and the awards were asfollows:
Best decorated vehicle: Mr E. Oram, Tynong, 'The Day'
Best Group: Nar Nar Goon.
Most original character: Master Ede, Tynong, 'John Bull'
Special prize: The Kaiser.
There were about 1000 persons on the ground, and a sports programme was carried through, providing plenty of enjoyment for young and old. A merry-go-round was provided for the
children.

Thanks to the excellent management of the committee and the cordial cooperation of all present, the celebrations throughout were a decided success.

How Iona and Cora Lynn celebrated the Armistice in 1918

The Bunyip and Garfield Express of December 13, 1918 published this account of the Armistice celebration at Cora Lynn and Iona -

Armistice celebration
Victory picnic by Iona and Cora Lynn Combined

The Committee of the 'Victory' picnic which was held on the 4th inst were fortunate as far as weather conditions were concerned and the ground selected - Robinson's Hill - was an ideal camping place.
The procession left the Iona State School about 12 noon, and the many various costumes were both artistic and original. Mr J. Donald, well mounted, acted as marshal and kept the procession well up to time. Mr G. Osborn, head teacher Cora Lynn, had charge of the children, and the manner in which he handled them was the subject of favourable comment. The Iona Brass Band, under the baton of Mr W. Legge had the pride of place and was followed by Mr D. Donald, a returned soldier, carrying the Flag. Then came 12 returned soldiers in uniform, followed by various dressed groups and beautifully decorated vehicles, the procession being over  a mile long.


Immediately on arrival at the grounds the judging was completed and the results announced, after which the vast crowds formed themselves into picnic groups, and those who failed to fetch hampers were quickly supplied with edibles. The following gentlemen worked hard to make the gathering a success - Crs Cunningham, Walsh, Dowd, Messrs Donald, Dessent,  Holian, Quigley, Reidy, Pitt and others.             
 Subjoined are the results: -
Best dressed vehicle - C.Pitt - 1 
Red Indian - Alan Murdoch  1
Purple Cross - Nellie Bellman and Mary Fitzgerald 1 and 2
Sundowner - Harry Schmutter
Milkmaids - Annie Leithead and Dolly Pitt 1 and 2
Red Cross nurses - Jean Murdoch and Ada Dessent
Japanese lady - Phyllis Winter
Newspaper boy - Billie Blake
Silver starch - Lily Murdoch
Dunces - Hazel Pitt and Rose Leithead
Salesgirls - Mary Stewart and Nellie Taylor
Ruination - Alice Burleigh
Peanuts - May Taylor
Fancy dressed bicycle - M. Fitzgerald
Boys Siamese race - M. and J. Cunningham,  T.Taylor and D. Dowd 2
Girls Siamese race - B. Cunningham and Irene Hart 1
Married men's race  - W. Hart 1, P. Cunningham 2
The school's relay race caused some excitement; 4 schools of 8 boys each competed and the event was won by the Iona Convent school, with the Cora Lynn Convent school second.
Tug of war - Iona schools combined defeated Cora Lynn schools combined.
Cutting of the Kaiser's head caused a lot of amusement, and a number of boys and girls races were also keenly competed.

Friday, December 14, 2018

100 years ago this week - Koo Wee Rup is overrun by hoodlums

100 years ago this week - this letter about crime in Koo Wee Rup was published in The Argus of December 24, 1918.

 
The Argus December 24, 2018


POLICE PROTECTION WANTED.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS
For some time the residents of Koo Wee Rup have had to submit to a large number of robberies, petty thefts without any hope of retracing the stolen property or punishing the offender. Added to that
the conduct of a number of hoodlums at public functions had become so unbearable that promoters of public entertainments were fearful of the consequences. The  local  hall is generally  in a state of siege from the onslaughts of these ruffians, who rush the doors and endeavour to break into the supper room, using the most horrible language around the doors, and frequently bombarding the roof with road metal. 
All this was thrashed out at a public meeting some weeks ago and a letter was forwarded  to the Chief Secretary asking for police protection at Koo Wee Rup.  Up to the present time no reply his been received. 
It is no uncommon sight to see a stand up fight in the main street.  On Saturday night a number of men surged for over an hour in the main thoroughfare and into the early hours of Sunday,  while the air was filled with profanity, oaths and curses to which peaceable citizens had to listen. 
On Sunday night another scene took place when the great Australian adjective was heard to advantage as a preface to loud allegations of untruthfulness.  There is a policeman stationed at Lang Lang on the extreme edge of the district who has to patrol or endeavour to keep the peace in a district about 50 square miles in extent. Needless to say his energy must necessarily be somewhat distributed until it reaches vanishing point. 
Yours &c
A VICTIM
Koo Wee Rup December 23.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

How Garfield celebrated the Armistice in 1918

This is how the Armistice was celebrated at Garfield in 1918. On the day it was announced  Garfield children paraded the streets with 50 kerosene tins, 2 drums and bells and whistles. They collected money for a flag as well. 

Bunyip and Garfield Express November 15 1918

The Monster Picnic on Peace Day, referred to in the article above, took place on Wednesday, November 20  - there was a procession, which included a field gun and a machine gun, a sporting programme and a concert. An effigy of the Kaiser was 'hanged and left swinging all day' - clearly no 'snowflakes' in the town in 1918.



Bunyip and Garfield Express November 22 1918

Who were all these people listed? I have looked them up in the Electoral Roll and other sources and presented any information I could find here - 
Barker - Mr Barker was the handicapper for the sporting events and the concert was held in his padock -  John Wylie Wright, orchardist, of Garfield. He was married to Eleanor May Scott. The Electoral Roll also lists a Albert Stirling Barker, farmer, of Garfield. I believe the two men were brothers and that John Barker was the Barker of Barker Reidy Co that later became Barker, Green and Parke.
Beswick - Mr Beswick came third in the married men's race - John Beswick, farmer, of Garfield. His wife was Mary Elizabeth (nee Hodgson) They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in May 1920 and put this informative notice in The Australasian on June 5, 1920. Their son, Edward, died of wounds and gas poisoning in France on October 9, 1917.

The Australasian June 5, 1920

Bird - Mr Bird was a judge of the sporting events - George Bird, baker, of Garfield.
Chippendall  - Mr Chippindall presented the school with  a flag - Thomas Edward Chippindall, bailiff, of Garfield. He was married to Margaret Ann Brewer. 
Dawes, O - Miss Dawes was the Queen of Peace. We have two possibilities from the 1918 Electoral Roll - possibly connected to Alfred and Elizabeth Dawes of Iona - they had four sons who went to the War, read about them here.  Alternatively, Miss Dawes could also be connected to Richard and Emily Dawes of Bunyip
Dreier - Mr Dreier performed at the concert - Edward Augustus Dreier and his wife, Julia (nee Wardell), were the owners of the Iona Hotel at Garfield. 
Edwards - Mr Edwards also performed at the concert - this is possibly Thomas Henry Edwards, labourer, of Iona.
Gardner - Mr Gardner presented the flag to the school in conjunction with Mr Chipindall. This is Hugh Alexander Gardner, Manager of the E.S & A Bank at Garfield. He was married to Florence
Gee, P.C - the article says the P.C Gee (not 49) helped direct the procession. Not sure what the 'not 49' means. The Electoral Roll has William and Agnes Gee of Garfield and Harold and Gertrude (nee Irvine) Gee of Iona they were the parents of Ethel and Norman. So not sure who P.C Gee is.
Green - Mr Green was a judge at the sporting events - Daniel Winsor Green, farmer, of Garfield,  husband of Eliza (nee James).
Harrington  - Mrs Harrington performed at the concert - Marjorie Alice Harrington (nee Reeds)  and her husband, Lionel Charles Harrington, farmer, of Garfield.
Heath - Mrs Heath won the 'married ladies race' - Sydney Arthur Heath, labourer, of Garfield is listed in the Electoral roll. He married Minnie Fenselau in 1916, so I presume this is the athletic Mrs Heath.
Henwood - Mrs Henwood did a recitation at the concert and Master Henwood performed a song. William and Bertha (nee Vincent) Henwood lived at Garfield, he was a farmer and she was a music teacher. They had at least three sons that I can trace, all born in England, William, c.1905; Charles c. 1907 and John c. 1910 - so I presume one of the boys was the Master Henwood who sang the song.
Hill - Mr Hill put the children through 'various drill evolutions' - Henry Percy Hill, farmer, of Garfield. He was married to Elizabeth. 
Hunt - Mr Hunt was  a judge in the sporting events - Charles Frederick Hunt, grocer, of Garfield, I presume the Ethel Daisy Hunt listed is his wife.
Johnson - Mr Johnson performed at the concert  - Thomas William Johnson, labourer, of Garfield. There is also a Matilda Johnson listed in Garfield, presumably his wife.
Kuhnell - Mr Kuhnell helped direct the procession - Albert Robertshaw and Mary Ann Kuhnell are listed in Garfield - he is a labourer.
Lanigan - Mrs Lanigan played the overture at the concert. Patrick Lanigan was the Station Master and his talented wife was Gladys Eugena (nee Hunter)
M'Mannis - Mrs M'Mannis did a recitation at the concert - Edith M'Mannis and her husband James operated the store at Vervale (corner 13 Mile Road and the Main Drain Road South) from 1916 to 1967 - you can read about it here.
Park - Mr Park was Chairman at the concert - George Park was the Garfield blacksmith, his wife was Annie.
Pedersen - Mr Pedersen was a race handicapper - Peter Hansen Pedersen was a grocer's assistant.
Reidy - Mr Reidy was a judge at the sporting event - Martin Reidy is listed as an Agent - part of Barker Reidy Co that later became Barker, Green and Parke. Martin's wife was Mary
Robertson - Mrs Robertson performed at the concert -  James Alfred Robertson, orchardist, of Garfield and Mrs Robertson's name was Ada. 
Trezise - Mrs Tresize also performed at the concert -  Horace Michael Trezise is listed as a grocer at Garfield - he was married to Pearl Pedersen;   Enos Trezise was listed as a grocer's assistant - he was married to Charlotte Jane Perry. Horace and Enos were brothers, so  not sure whether Pearl or Charlotte was the singer. Pearl Pedersen was the sister of Peter Pedersen, listed above. They were the children of Mads Jensen Pedersen and Mary Blanch Apperley also listed as Happily also listed as Happley, in the Indexes to the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Squatting Runs bordering the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp

The original European settlers in this area were the Squatters and there were a number of Squatting Runs which bordered the Swamp. Below is a list of the Main Runs and the lease holders. The map on the other side shows the location of most of the Runs. They are listed here in order of location, west to east around the Swamp.

This map is taken from The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson, 
published by the Shire of Cranbourne in 1968.


Balla Balla. On Rutherford’s Creek. 5 miles south of Cranbourne.  3,480 acres. 1839 Robert Inness Allan; March 1848 Charles Haslewood; March 1850 Henry Foley; August 1852 Henry Jennings; July 1854 James Smith Adams; May 1872 Alexander McLean Hunter. The Balla Balla Homestead was built by Alexander McLean Hunter.

Kilmore. also called Rutherford’s Station. On Rutherford Inlet. 4,480 acres.  August 1842 Thomas Rutherford and Blackmore; April 1847 Richard Corbett. February 1868. Lease cancelled. 

Manton’s, also called Toorodan or Big Plains.  Adjoining Tooradin township. 16,000 acres. 1840 Charles & Fred Manton; 1846 John Atkins and Robert Nalder Clarke; April 1850 John Pike; August 1852 Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall; February 1859 John Bakewell; October 1873 William Cameron. March 1877 lease cancelled. Mickle, Bakewell & Lyall played a pivotal role in the settlement of this area and I will do a feature on them in a future newsletter.

St Germains. On the Cardinia Creek. 5,760 acres. February 1845 James Buchanan; January 1848 Alexander Patterson; March 1860 Vaughan & Wild; December 1862 John Myers; September 1869 Alexander Patterson. August 1873 Lease cancelled. 
Alexander Patterson (1813-1896) was an original member of the Cranbourne Road Board when it was established on June 19, 1860 and an original member of the Shire of Cranbourne when it was established February 24, 1868. He built the current St Germain’s Homestead in 1893. 

Gin Gin Bean. 7,000 acres. 1840-43 J.F.Turnbull & H. Reoch; August 1844 J.B. Quarry; April 1846 James Lecky; March 1858 James Murray; July 1871 Ralph Blunt. James Lecky had purchased the 640 acre pre-emptive right of Gin Gin Bean in 1855 and built his homestead, Cardinia Park, on the Cardinia Creek, three miles south of Officer. James Lecky was also an original member of the Cranbourne Road Board and the Cranbourne Shire Council. The Lecky’s owned the property until the 1930s. 

I.Y.U. On the Toomuc Creek. 12,945 acres. October 1839 William Kerr Jamieson; October 1850 William Waddell; June 1866 George John Watson; December 1872 Lease cancelled. George Watson (1828-1906) established the Melbourne Hunt Club, which moved to Cranbourne in 1925.

Toomah. Also on the Toomuc Creek. 13,500 acres. 1840 John W. Howey & Robert Patterson; January 1853 James Bathe; March 1860 Robert James Gilmour & William Gilmour; February 1864 James Bathe. June 1867 Lease cancelled. Bathe had purchased the pre-emptive right part of Toomah in 1854 and named it Pakenham Park. It was then sold to the Henty family in 1856 and they held the land until 1929. Pakenham Park is where the Cardinia Shire Offices are now located.

Mt Ararat 2. Six miles east of Pakenham. 16,000 acres. August 1844 John Watson and Edward Byham Wight; 1845 John Watson, Edward Byham Wight and Richard Philpott; September 1848 Frederick Wight; April 1853 S.H. Clutterbuck; April 1870 John Startup. February 1874 Lease cancelled. John Startup was an original member of the Berwick Road Board which was established September 29, 1862. 

Mt Ararat Creek. On Mt Ararat Creek. 5,120 acres. September 1846 William Walsh; September 1849 William Walsh and Hugh O’Brien; September 1851 William Walsh and Daniel O’Brien. September 1871 Daniel O’Brien. August 1873 Lease cancelled.

Coonabul Creek.  8,960 acres. 1845 Michael Reedy & James Hook.
Coonabul Creek 2. On the Bunyip River. 1845 Terrence O’Connor and Hayes.  Both Coonabul (or Cannibal) creek Runs were north of the Swamp. Terence O’Connor also leased the Cardinia Creek Run, where the town of Berwick is.

Tobin Yallock or Torbinurruck. On the Lang Lang River. 1,920 acres. July1839 Robert Jamieson; 1845 Henry Moor and Septimus Martin; June 1851 Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall; Jan 1864 James Jellie; April 1870 Arthur & James Facey; November 1877 George Poole.

The information for this article comes from
The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson, published by the Shire of Cranbourne in 1968.
Pastoral pioneers of Port Phillip by R.V. Billis & A.S. Kenyon. Published by Stockland Press, 1974
In the wake of the Pack Tracks. Published by the Berwick Pakenham  Historical Society, 1982.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

1934 flood at Koo Wee Rup - photos from The Herald

These photos appeared in The Herald on December 3, 1934. They were given to the Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society by Robert Dusting. You can read all about the 1934 flood, here.


St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Station Street


Rossiter Road and Station Street intersection. The building, top right, is the Wattle Theatre.


Station Street

The Great flood of December 1934

December 1, 1934 was when the largest flood ever to hit Koo-Wee-Rup and surrounding districts  occured.  In October of that year, Koo Wee Rup received over twice its average rain fall. November also had well above average rainfall and heavy rain fell on December 1 across the State. This rainfall caused a flood of over 100,000 megalitres or 40,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) per day. This was only an estimate because all the gauges were washed away. The entire Swamp was inundated; water was over 6 feet (2 metres) deep in the town of Koo Wee Rup, exacerbated by the fact that the railway embankment held the water in the town; my grandparents house at Cora Lynn had 3½ feet of water through it and according to family legend they spent three days in the roof with a nine, five, three year old and my father who was one at the time. This flood also affected other parts of the State, including Melbourne and over a thousand people were left homeless in Victoria. 

Rossiter Road., Koo Wee Rup. The house, Mallow, was built, c. 1916,  by John Colvin for his daughter Margaret on her marriage to Les O'Riordan. It is now the home of the Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society. 
Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society photo

Here are two eye-witness accounts of the flood.

This account is from More Mickle memories of Koo Wee Rup* by David Mickle.

The average flood in the Koo Wee Rup township had been up to two feet. The State Savings Bank Building Department specified that floor levels in this locality must be 30 inches above the ground.
We had the highest single level house in town and consequently on December 1, 1934 about 8.00am we invited Wally Bethune, his wife and two children to come from their ground level home opposite to our “unsinkable three footer”. Mr Graham and child came to help us but very soon we were sinking too. I waded to a wood shed for a ladder to put through the man-hole in the bathroom ceiling and very soon the Bethunes, Grahams and Mickles – total eleven- were on blankets in the ceiling. The flood would have been four  feet deep outside then and rising fast. The depth was five feet six inches when apparently it managed to cross the railway embankment and stopped rising. This embankment had caused the flood to back up with disastrous results. Here we stayed like many others on and in roofs until boats arrived. From these vantage points we watched cows, sheep , pigs and poultry intermixed with oil drums and trees go by... That afternoon Pomp Colvin came with his boat and took Mr Graham and girl to their house. Nine of us were taken to the Railway Crossing at 10.30am the next day, Sunday, by boat. On the Monday, men only, were allowed back into the town to organise the cleaning up.

This account is from Patsy Adam Smith from her book Hear the train blow**. Her mother was Station Mistress and Post Mistress at Monomeith railway station at this time and her father was a fettler.

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

David Roberts in From Swampland to Farmland*** pays tribute to the early pioneers on the Swamp and it is a fitting tribute to our parents and grandparents.

It is interesting to note that the three large floods of 1924, 1934 and 1937, all within a thirteen year time span contributed to the development of a “breed” of people –people who had faced floods and continued to work their land in the belief that they could be beaten and that the good years would outweigh the bad. A certain resilience and tight knit community spirit had grown amongst the people, some of whom were children or grandchildren of the original drain diggers, and like their predecessors they weren’t going to be beaten by the Koo Wee Rup Swamp.

References :
*More Mickle Memories of Koo Wee Rup by David Mickle (The Author, 1987)
**Hear the train blow by Patsy Adam-Smith (Nelson,  1981)
**From Swampland to Farmland: a history of the Koo Wee Rup Flood Protection District by David Roberts. (Rural Water Commission, 1985)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

100 years ago this week - An embrocation

Local farmers may find this embrocation of use, if you could actually still purchase the ingredients.


Farmers Advocate October 14, 1918

In October, Mr M.D. Dalley of Koo Wee Rup, wrote the following letter to the Farmers’ Advocate newspaper - Among the papers of my late father the following recipe was found; it has been used by him on many occasions, and found an excellent embrocation (lotion). For the benefit of farmers I give it: - 1 oz. Laudanum, 1 oz. Tincture of Myrrh; 1 oz. Tincture of Aloes; ½ oz. Sulphate of Zinc; 1 oz. Carbolic Acid. Mix with 5 oz. salad oil.

For the young readers of this article, the word oz is the abbreviation for an ounce which is about 28 grams. These ingredients were obviously freely available at the time; I am not sure how you would access them all now. Laudanum is opium mixed with alcohol and, not surprisingly, no longer available at the local shops; Myrrh is a type of tree resin and was one of the gifts given by the Three Wise Men at the birth of Jesus. I didn't actually realise that it was used anywhere outside the Bible; Aloes is made from the leaves of the aloe plant; Sulphate of Zinc is the dietary supplement; Carbolic Acid or phenol is used as an antibiotic or disinfectant and is considered to be a poison. Salad oil sounds like the least dangerous and easiest to obtain ingredient out of this list. As a matter of interest, Mr Dalley’s full name was Moorabool Darriwell Dalley, quite an unusual set of given names. He was born at Batesford, which is on the Moorabool River, and Darriwell is the name of a land administration Parish, just north of Batesford. Darriwell was also the name of the 1879 Melbourne Cup winner.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bunyip Cemetery

The Bunyip Cemetery site was officially reserved on November 22, 1886 and on December 6, 1886 the first Trustees were appointed - Joseph Williams, George Birch and James Barnes. The first official burials, as listed in the Cemetery Register, did not take place until eight years after the Cemetery was officially gazetted with the first one in March 1894. Of the first 20 burials in the register, 19 were children. This was a result of the high infant mortality rate at the time before vaccinations and antibiotics came into widespread use. Here is a sample of this depressing and sad list: William Barnes aged 6 - cause of death Diptheria; Ethel Wayneith, 9 months - Marasmus (severe undernourishment); John Peart, 2 months - Marasmus; David Fallon 9 weeks - Maramus; Ann Benham 10 months - Pneumonia; Lily Norton 10 weeks - Whooping cough; William Heuson 4 months - Whooping cough; Denis McIvor 20 days - Meningitis; Mary Anne Mulligan 3 years - Diptheria.


Land was set aside for the Cemetery November 22, 1886

However, the Cemetery was obviously in use before it was officially gazetted and a register established as there is a report in the Weekly Times of August 21, 1886 of the death of 22 year old Henry Manley, whose body had been found in a waterhole near his house at Cannibal Creek (Garfield). It was surmised that he had fainted, as he had been having treatment for heart disease, and fallen into the waterhole when he was collecting water in a billy, The report goes in to say that he was buried in the ‘new Bunyip Cemetery’.


The first Trustees of the Bunyip Cemetery appointed December 6, 1886.

Apart from the three Trustees listed above the following were amongst the men that acted for various lengths of time as Trustees in the first 20 years - John Reynolds, Peter Gillespie, William Pitt, Arthur Gadsby, Enoch Holgate, Michael O’Brien, William Masters, Patrick Heffernan, John Ryan, Daniel Topp, William George Kraft, James Pincott, Lawrence Finch, James Mortimer, John Hade, Charles Pearson and Henry Rodger. As far as I know there has not been a woman who has been a Trustee but there have been a number of women who have undertaken the role of Honorary Secretary, including Mrs Sarah Kraft who had the role for 25 years. In June 1914 she was presented with ‘an artistic illuminated address, nicely framed’ to mark the appreciation of her work as Secretary.

We will now have a look at some of the early burials that were reported in the local papers.  Amongst the saddest burials is that of Alfred Ernest Duncan, who drowned in the Main Drain on June 14, 1901 trying to rescue his sister, nine year old Janet.  He was 10 years and 9 months old. From reports in various papers we can piece together what happened. The children attended the Iona State School (then called Bunyip South) and they were returning home and instead of using the ‘school bridge’ they used a plank further along the river. Janet fell into the drain and her brother said ‘Janet, turn on your back and I will save you’. Albert ‘immediately plunged in, caught the girl, held her head above water for some moments but both sank and were separated’.  Her body was never found.


Alfred Duncan's grave

The Bunyip community raised money for a memorial to be placed on his grave and this was unveiled in December 1901. The grave, which is in the Presbyterian section, is, sadly, a bit neglected. It has the motto - ‘Greater love has no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends’

Many of the early pioneers are buried at Bunyip - Bartholomew Fitzgerald settled on 20 acres in 1892 on the Main Drain at Bunyip South. Bartholomew, his wife Annie, and their 13 children worked the family farm. Bartholomew died in March 1906. Annie, who died in 1948, is also buried at Bunyip. Joseph Archer, aged 77, died in  August 1908. He had lived at Garfield for 31 years and is source of the name Archer Road.  Honora (or Hanorah) Fallon died in September 1908, she was wife of Michael and mother of ten children. They had settled at Iona in 1901. Michael, who died in March 1915 is also at Bunyip. The family is the source of the name Fallon Road.

If you read reports of deaths in old newspapers, then you would know that many deaths were caused by workplace accidents. In June 1915, 40 year old Joseph Henderson, who drove a wagon for the Drouin Butter Factory, was struck by a train at the Garfield Railway Station, whilst transferring milk cans from one platform to the other. He was ‘badly mangled, one of his legs being severed from the body’ according to a graphic report in the Bunyip Free Press. Joseph was buried at Bunyip.

One of the more publicised deaths at the time was that of 40 year old Miss Clara Snell who died June 13, 1914. Clara had been born at Bunyip and died at Nar Nar Goon. Clara and her sister Anna and brother Thomas were part of the ‘Gippsland Giants’ who toured the world. The trio were of ‘abnormal size and weight’ as a paper reported, with Clara being 39 stone and over six feet tall. When they finished touring Clara and Anna operated the Robin Hood Hotel at Drouin.  Clara, her parents, Sophia and William, and other relatives are all buried at Bunyip.

If you visit the Bunyip Cemetery then you would know that is very attractive and well maintained. It seems that this has always been the case as the Bunyip Free Press from November 11, 1915 had this to say about the cemetery the Bunyip cemetery ‘looks just "it" now that the plants and bulbs are in full bloom’.

The 1910s - a spiritual decade for Iona

 The 1910s was a very spiritual decade for the small township of Iona (or Bunyip South as it was originally called) as two churches were built in the town - in 1900 the Catholic Church and in 1908 the Presbyterian Church.

Catholic services had taken place in the area since the permanent settlers had arrived from 1892. These services were held in private houses, Kavanagh’s Iona store and the Pioneer Hall which had opened in 1895.

On December 16, 1900 the Catholic Church was opened by the Very Reverend M. J. Maher, C.M, and Fr Maher was assisted in the function by the pastor of the Dandenong mission, in which the new church is situated (Rev. J. Gleeson) according to The Advocate of December 22, 1900. The report went on to say the building is of wood and is considered very good value for the sum of £250, the contract price. The preacher concluded with an appeal on behalf of the debt on the new structure, and a generous response was made, the sum £48 being received.

Damian Smith, in his book 100 years of a faith community: St Joseph’s Iona 1905 -2005 writes that the church was built by Charles Pearson of Bunyip and it was 40 feet by 25 feet and could accommodate 350 people. The church was dedicated to St Joseph.


Catholic Church, Hall and Presbytery at Iona.
 Image from 100 years of a faith community: St Joseph’s Iona 1905 -2005 by Damian Smith (The Author, 2005)

The next major building project for the Catholic community was the erection of the Presbytery (the house where the Priests live). It was built at a cost of £725 sometime between June and December of 1905, for the newly appointed Parish Priest, Father James Byrne. Two other significant events happened in 1905 - the Parish of Iona was formed; the area was previously part of the Catholic Parish of Dandenong. The other event that happened was that Bunyip South officially changed its name to Iona in July of 1905, even though, according to articles in the local papers, the area had clearly been known as Iona from around 1901 and the Iona Riding of the Shire of Berwick had already been named.

The Columba Hall, was officially opened on October 28, 1906. The event was celebrated by a concert and a ball, both of which were well attended.The last building in the ‘Catholic precinct’ at Iona was the Convent, built to accommodate the Sisters of St Joseph. This was officially opened April 11, 1915. The existing St Joseph’s Church was opened April 14, 1940.

The Presbyterian Church at Iona, St Johns, was opened in February 1908. Here is a report from the Bunyip and Garfield Express of February 18, 1908.
The Scotch folk are again to the front and are to be congratulated for their enterprise in building a new kirk at Iona which reflects great credit on all who have had anything to do with the building of it and is decidedly an acquisition to the district. The opening services were conducted by the Rev J. Downey, M.A, B.B., of Warragul who preached suitable sermons for the occasion to large and appreciative congregations. At the evening service, solos were sung by Miss Bruce and Mr Thompson of the Longwarry Presbyterian choir which were highly appreciated, especially Mr Thompsons rendering of ‘Dream of Paradise’. Special hymns were sang by the choir under the able leadership of Miss Adamson, choir conductress. The collections for the day amounted to [just over] 5 pounds, which was considered by the Committee to be highly satisfactory. It was suggested that those connected with the kirk should get to work and have some trees planted. Some friends have offered to supply trees free of charge and as the kirk is in a very exposed position…[illegible].. beautify the kirk and ground. In future, services will be conducted every sabbath morning at 11.00am by Mr L. Watson, the home missionary, instead of fortnightly. The best thanks of the Committee are due to Mr McIntosh who always looks after the welfare of visiting ministers while in the district.
Not sure when the Church closed - we believe around 1980.


St John's Presbyterian Church at Iona, c. 1908.
Image from Call of the Bunyip: history of Bunyip, Iona & Tonimbuk 1847-1990 by Denise Nest (Bunyip History Committee, 1990)

What else was happening in Iona at this time? The Advocate newspaper had a Children’s column called ‘Letters to Aunt Patsy’. On September 18, 1906 Ellen May Elizabeth Fitzpatrick wrote the following letter with a description of Iona -
Dear Aunt Patsy - This is my second letter to you. I hope my oar is not rusty. I am going to tell you about Iona. There are three stores, one Catholic church and presbytery; a new Hibernian Hall is getting built, one school (there's a new school nearly finished), one mechanics' institute, a new bank, a cream depot, and a post-office. We live four miles from Garfield, and six miles from Bunyip. Dear Aunt Patsy, have you ever been to Iona? The flowers are all out nice now. The paddocks are also nice and green. The Rev. Fr. Byrne is our parish priest. He passes our place to say Mass in Koo-wee-rup. The birds are building their nests now. We found a parrot's nest with two little birds in. We left them till they get bigger. I shall bring my letter to a close, hoping you are all well.  I remain, your loving niece, Ellen May Elizabeth Fitzpatrick.
As you can see, Iona was a much larger town than it is today. And, in case you are wondering, Aunt Patsy had not been to Iona.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Divorces in the 'olden days'

In the ‘olden days’ papers often reported what we would today consider private matters such as divorce hearings. The Divorce Court proceedings were reported in much detail in the papers and this was because one party had to prove the other party was ‘at fault’ so the hearings made interesting stories for the newspapers and there seemed to be no privacy considerations taken into account. In fact, one paper I read headed a divorce report with ‘A divorce case of interest to residents of Yannathan and Heath Hill.’  

Women were in a vulnerable position years ago as there was not the Government support we have today - Child endowment was introduced in 1941, the Widows pension (which did not cover single mothers or divorced mothers) in 1943 and the supporting mothers pension in 1973. So, unless the woman could get maintenance or find a job (not an easy thing when there was no child care) or get support from her parents, many women had no choice but to stay with a philandering or violent husband. It wasn’t until 1975 that ‘no fault’ divorce came in and one partner just had to show the marriage had an irreconcilable breakdown. Here are some interesting local divorces reported in the papers years ago.

In November 1896, there were columns devoted to the case of James Macfarlane Lake of Koo Wee Rup who sought a divorce from his wife, Mary Ann Lake, on the grounds of her adultery with Clement Short of Balaclava. He also asked to be awarded £3000 in damages from Short. The couple had married in 1880 and had ‘several children’ aged between 15 and 2 and James would not acknowledge the youngest child as his.  It appears that James had no concerns about his marriage until his sister-in-law fell out with Mary Ann and she then told James that Mary Ann had been having an affair with Clement.  Mary Ann admitted to the Court to having ‘misconduct’ with Short on a number of occasions having been ‘led away by his false promises’ but Clement denied ‘misconduct’ with her. Misconduct is a euphemism for sexual relations. Short gave evidence that he had lent Lake £5 to start a greengrocery business at Bunyip and he refused to pay the money back.

After much evidence the Judge directed the jury to decide whether a poor honest struggling man had his home ruined and his wife’s affection alienated from him by a scoundrel who had added to the calamities by perjury and corruption or, on the other hand, Clement was the victim of attempt to take money from his pocket i.e. he was being blackmailed by Lake. In the end the jury found against James and for Clement so the judge denied James his divorce and his damages. It would be interesting to know what happened to the trio after this.

In November 1904, Edward Hunt from Yannathan was granted a divorce from his wife, Mabel Jessie Hunt. They had three children and had married in 1896. Evidence was given that Mabel ‘was living an abandoned life’ which I presume is a euphemism for an alcoholic or a woman who was indulging in ‘misconduct’ with other men.

The Argus November 24, 1904

In August 1909, William Martin, a 66 year old farmer from Garfield, petitioned for a divorce on the grounds of desertion. He had married his wife, Annie aged 57, at the Registrar’s Office in Collingwood in January 1895. They had one child together who was now 11 and Annie, a widow, also had two children from a previous marriage. William lived at Garfield and Annie and the children lived in North Melbourne. ‘A difference arose between them over the children of the former marriage’ and Annie ‘suddenly left her husband and took the children with her’. Dr William Maloney gave evidence that he knew both parties and tried to persuade Annie to return to the marriage but she refused. Dr Maloney also said that William ‘a man of some property had made a will providing for her and her child’ but he did not know of her whereabouts. A decree nisi was granted.

Another 1909 divorce was between Joseph Lyons (the petitioner) and Mary Teresa Lyons (the respondent). Mary was accused of ‘misconduct’ with Maurice Bloustein and Richard Butler (the men were listed as the co-respondents). Misconduct is a euphemism for sexual relations. At the time of the divorce hearing, Joseph was a teacher at Monument Creek, out of Lancefield, but had previously been the licensee of the Iona Hotel at Garfield. It was in Garfield that the misconduct between Mary and the co-respondent had taken place - the date of this ‘activity’ was given as May 2, 1908 - a very specific date but the report doesn’t say which of the co-respondents were involved. The couple were granted a decree nisi and the co-respondents had to pay the costs. As you can see, in the days of ‘at fault’ divorce the papers were more than happy to name the person with whom the ‘misconduct’ took place.

In May 1912, Elizabeth Rohl, of Iona, was granted a divorce from her husband, Oscar, on the grounds of desertion. They had married in 1904 and had one child. They lived together for two weeks then Oscar went to Queensland and he sent his wife money until November 1905 when he wrote that he was coming back to Melbourne, but she had not seen him since.

In November 1912, 66 year old William Glenister and 51 year old Margaret Glenister, both of Bunyip were granted a divorce on the grounds of her desertion. They married in 1886, had four children, the youngest being 20. In 1900, the marriage had clearly run its course as Margaret said that ‘one of them must leave the house’ so William got a job at Lake Tyers. ‘She subsequently declined to share the same room as him and later refused to have anything more to do with him at all.’ In September 1909 Margaret became the proprietor of a coffee palace in Bunyip and ‘they had not lived together since that month’. The couple petitioned for divorce in 1910 but the proceedings were adjourned as they didn’t have enough money to proceed.

In September 1914, Margaret McKay, 43 years old, from Yannathan was granted a divorce from her husband William. The couple had married in January 1908 and William had left in June 1908 and had not been seen since. There was one child of the marriage.  This was the case that the Bunyip Free Press had said was ‘A divorce case of interest to residents of Yannathan and Heath Hill’


Bunyip Free Press  September 3, 1914

The Argus newspaper headed a report from the Divorce Court in July 1919 as ‘Soldiers’ Divorce suits’ and started the article as ‘Another crop of cases in which soldiers sought divorce from wives who had been unfaithful during their absence on active service.’ Amongst the cases was this one. Alexander Robb, a returned soldier, petitioned for a divorce from his wife, Susan, on the grounds of her misconduct with Charles Beasley of Koo Wee Rup. The couple had five children and before he went away to War in October 1916, they lived in the same house as Charles. When Alexander returned from the war in January 1919 his wife had a new baby and she admitted Charles was the father. It was believed that Beasley was a married man with a family living at Koo Wee Rup.  The divorce was granted. 

In April 1920, Violet Nichols of Elsternwick petitioned for a divorce on the grounds of her husband’s misconduct. Violet and William had married in 1908 and in July 1917 William bought a farm in Garfield and it was arranged that Violet and the two children would live there until he sold his asphalting business. He visited her once a month and when she queried him about the delay in selling the business he said there were debts that needed to be settled. This went on for two years until June 1919 when Violet received a letter from a ‘Char woman of Brighton’ saying that ‘misconduct had occurred between William and a young woman named Doris Edwards who had given birth to a child’. William admitted that he had been ‘carrying on’ for 12 months with Doris before Violet moved to Garfield. For the sake of her children, Violet had forgiven him until one day he came home late and he got violent towards her, so that was the end. She was granted custody of and maintenance for the children. No mention was made of what happened to Doris.

In March 1921, Richard Thomas Taylor, who worked for the Railways, asked for the dissolution of his marriage to Annie Isabel Taylor on the grounds of her desertion. He alleged Annie sold their house, kept the proceeds and went to live with her daughter at Yannathan. Mrs Taylor gave evidence that the house was in her name and that it was her husband’s wish that she should leave him. So, in spite of the fact that Richard wanted a divorce and Annie was happy to leave him, the Judge dismissed his petition for a divorce.

In February 1922, 42 year old Mary Hulse of Bunyip was granted a divorce from her 45 year old husband, Arthur, a farmer of Bunyip. He was accused of desertion and ‘repeated acts of misconduct with Wilhelmina Ford of Bunyip’. Arthur had to pay the costs and 15 shillings per week alimony.

In September 1923, William Rogers, formerly a police constable but now a farmer of Nar Nar Goon, petitioned for a divorce from his wife, Alice on the grounds of desertion. Mrs Rogers defended the suit claiming that she had just cause to leave her husband owing to his cruelty. The judge found that she had deserted him and thus was saying that she was the one ‘at fault’ but granted the divorce and awarded all the costs to William Rogers, so clearly didn’t think he was blameless.  

In December 1925, Albert Taplin a 48 year old farmer from Catani sought to divorce his wife, Annie, 52 years old of Yarragon on the grounds that she had deserted him. The couple had married in Wales in 1907 and came to Australia in 1911. He served in the War from 1915 to 1919 and when he returned he lived at Catani but she refused to leave her farm at Yarragon. Annie claimed that she had to leave him on ‘account of his cruelty.’ Evidence was given that he had visited her in Yarragon and that ‘co-habitation’ had taken place on several occasions. In the end the judge decided that Albert could not prove that Annie had deserted him so he would not grant the divorce and Albert had to pay the Court costs.

Our last case comes from July 1950 when Archie Lee Glover, of Koo Wee Rup, was awarded £450.00 in damages against William Mortensen, also of Koo Wee Rup.  Glover was suing for a divorce from his wife, Joyce Lilian Glover, on the grounds of her adultery with William. Archie had originally sought £1000 pounds in damages from William and the custody of the three children. The judge granted him the divorce, the reduced damages and reserved his decision about the custody.