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 - William Harry Webb, Lawrence Finch, James Mortimer, Joseph Archer, Christian Hansen, Peter Gillespie and John Reynolds.  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 six Trustees listed above the following were amongst the men that acted for various lengths of time as Trustees in the first 20 years - William Pitt, Arthur Gadsby, Enoch Holgate, Michael O’Brien, William Masters, Patrick Heffernan, John Ryan, Daniel Topp, William George Kraft, James Pincott, 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.