Thursday, January 24, 2019

Train Mystery - Alexander Eastman never made it to Koo Wee Rup

In June 1919, Alexander Gordon Eastman and his aunt, Miss Annie Maria Smith, boarded the 6.30pm Gippsland train at Hawksburn, bound for Koo Wee Rup, where they were going to stay with another aunt, Mrs Thompson. Alexander never made it, his body was found on the roof of  a carriage, when the train arrived at Korumburra. The Coroner called it a most extraordinary case and in the end decided that there was no foul play. 

Did the Coroner get it right? There are two reports in The Argus, that cover the incident - they are transcribed, below, so you can make your own mind up. There is some information about the family at the bottom of this post.

The Argus June 10, 1919

Gold Ring Missing from Finger.
What is regarded by the detectives as one of the most remarkable sets of mysterious circumstances met with for some time surrounds the death of Alexander Eastman, whose dead body was found on the roof of a railway carriage when the Melbourne train arrived at Korumburra late on Saturday night. Detective-sergeant Sullivan was sent to Korumburra yesterday to investigate the case, but up to late hour last night no information was received at headquarters which would indicate that the solution of the mystery was nearer. Constable C. G. Marchasi arrived from Korumburra last night with the body of Eastman, which was identified by his brother, and was taken to the City Morgue, where a post-mortem examination will be conducted today. 

Miss Annie Smith, Eastman's aunt, who left Melbourne with him with the intention of spending the week-end with another aunt, Mrs. Thompson at Koo-wee-rup was interviewed by the police at Koo-wee-rup on her arrival there on Saturday night. From her it has been learned that Eastman boarded the 6.30 p.m. Gippsland train with her at Hawksburn, and had with him a rifle and handbag. When the train reached Dandenong her nephew left the compartment in which they were travelling, saying that a friend of his was on the train, and that he desired to have a chat with him. Miss Smith did not see the young man again. He had her ticket as well as his own in his pocket, and on reaching Koo-wee-rup she made inquiries as to his whereabouts, and found that he was not on the train. She thought that he had missed the train when it left Dandenong, and would follow by another.

The police have learned that Mr. S. A. Marchbanks, of Vickery street, East Caulfield, who was a passenger on the train that reached Korumburra at about 10 o'clock, expressed the opinion that the body found on the roof was that of a young man to whom he had spoken on the platform at a station between Dandenong and Koo-wee-rup. Mr. Marchbanks asked him if he had seen a bag for which he was searching, but received no reply. 

A puzzling feature about the case, which seems to suggest foul play, is the fact that a gold band ring having Eastman's initials (A.G.E.) engraven upon it, which Miss Smith says he was wearing on the little finger of the left hand at Dandenong, was missing when the body was found. He had had the ring for some considerable time, and it fitted too well to permit of its dropping off. On leaving Melbourne, also, he had much more money than the 3½d. found in his pockets. The theory of robbery is, however, weakened by the fact that a gold and a silver watch, which had both stopped at about 10 minutes past 7, remained in his vest pockets, while gold links were still in his shirt sleeves.

In bright moonlight the fireman on the train, Frederick Mills, noticed the body lying on the sloping portion of the roof of the carriage just behind the engine tender. The lead was nearly 2ft. below the level of the feet, and the steel flange of the folding leather passage-way alone prevented the body from falling into the tender. Death had occurred only a very short time previously, as the body was warm and the night was bitterly cold. The train had passed under four or five railway bridges, but if the man struck his head against one of them it is regarded as practically certain that he would have been thrown off the carriage roof. The youth's hands, which were in his overcoat pockets, were blackened with soot, but it is thought that this came from the roof of the carriage, suggesting that he had been on his hands and knees on the roof. An examination of the interior of the compartment below showed that it would have been a comparatively easy matter for an agile person to draw himself on to the roof from a ledge above the door at the end of the corridor.

The Argus  June 26, 1919.

No Foul Play.
An inquiry was held yesterday at the Morgue by Mr A H Phillips J.P, deputy coroner, into the circumstances surrounding the death of a young man, Alexander Gordon Eastman, whose body was found on the roof of a railway carriage at Korumburra on June 7.

Herman Eastman, a brother, said that deceased was 21 years of age, sturdily built with keen faculties. He drank little. Witness had lent him a rifle for use on a weekend visit to Koo-wee-rup. On the journey he was to meet a man named Morrison, either at Caulfield or Dandenong.

Dr C.H Mollison gave evidence in regard to the post mortem examination which showed that death was due to suffocation, the result of regurgitation of food into the air passages. In answer to Sub-inspector Wardley, witness said that suffocation could not have been caused by fumes from the engine.

Annie Maria Smith, an aunt of deceased, said that she and her nephew left Hawksburn together at 6.30 on the night of the tragedy they changed trains at Caulfield for Koo-wee-rup. At Dandenong he left the train to see his mate, and she saw him standing at the carriage door talking. At Koo-wee-rup she went to the smoking carriage to look for him, but could not find him. He had carried a Gladstone bag but there was nothing to eat or drink in it. They had dined before leaving home. She did not think that he had got out at any wayside stations for drink.

Thomas A. Marchbank, sawmiller, of Ruby, a passenger said that after the train left Dandenong he went along to a first-class compartment to look for his bag and inquired of a man there, the sole occupant, who seemed a bit confused and did not answer. On arrival at Korumburra, on hearing there was a man on the roof of the carriage, witness went up to see, and afterwords identified the body as that of the man he had seen in the carriage.

Detective-sergeant P. Sullivan said that said that at the time of his inquiries on June 9 he was not aware that there was a van between the carriage and the tender, but he had since learned that the van was taken off at Nyora. His theory was that deceased, finding the corridor door leading to the second-class compartment locked, and probably thinking that Marchbank was a railway official who would raise a question on his ticket, climbed to the roof at the engine end as a temporary place for concealment. He may have become frightened at an overhead bridge some 300 yards from Clyde, and in lowering his body struck his chin and became sick. To Sub-inspector Wardley - By means of the steps at the end of the van he could easily have crossed to the carriage top.

Charles James, guard on the train, said that he thought that it would be impossible to see the bridge on a dark night.

John F. W. Miles, engine fireman said that after leaving Nyora he noticed that the siding door of the concertina buffer was open. When the train was about to shunt at Korumburra the light from a signal-box revealed something on the carriage top, which was afterwards found to be a dead body.

William Ridd, a ganger, stated that the bridge would just knock off a man's hat were he sitting up on the carriage roof. It was quite possible that deceased was about to get down to a crouching position just as the bridge was reached. Witness had found deceased's hat near the spot.

Constable C.G. Marchesi said that when he was called to the carriage at Korumburra the sliding door next to the engine was open. He found on Eastman apart from small personal property, a farthing three half-pence, and a large string pocket knife.

Lavinia Naughton Smith, deceased's aunt said that she was sure that her nephew had a few pounds with him - probably part of his wages and perhaps more, as he had sold a saddle for £4 a short time before.

Frederick Girdlestone, assistant guard deposed that he had personally locked the sliding door before the train reached Dandenong. It could have been opened by a strong pocket knife or railway key.

The deputy coroner remarked that the case was most extraordinary. Whatever the deceased man's intentions were it was impossible to say. There was a good deal in Detective Sullivan's theory. He did not think a robbery occurred. There was no doubt how Eastman had died. He was a decent, hard working young follow and the post-mortem examination had not revealed any mental trouble. That there was no foul play was clearly proved. His verdict was that "on the night of June 7 at Korumburra railway station, Alexander Eastman was found dead on the roof of a railway carriage, having died by suffocation. There is no evidence to show how he got there, but I am of opinion that it was by his own act"

Family information
Alexander was the son of Alexander George Eastman and Sarah Smith, he was born in 1892. Sarah Smith was the daughter of Thomas Smith and Maria Norton and she was born in 1872.  Annie Maria Smith, the aunt travelling with Alexander, was born in 1861 and Lavinia Norton (listed as Naughton in the article) who also gave evidence at the Inquest was born in 1874 - they had nine other siblings as well. Mrs Thompson, whom they were visiting, was, I believe Elizabeth Thompson, who died at the age of 66 in 1919. In the Index to the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages her father is listed as Thomas and her mother as Maria Norton, she was born in 1853 - so that all fits in. Is that why they were going to visit her, because she was sick?

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1919

This is an eclectic look back 100 years at what happened in Koo Wee Rup and surrounds in 1919. 1919 is, of course, the year after the Great War ended on November 11, 1918 and the community was enjoying peace after four years of war. Most of these reports come from the various newspapers available on Trove,

The Koo Wee Rup Sun of March 12 had an article about the shortage of accommodation for teachers and an interesting solution.
The need for housing accommodation at Koo Wee Rup has long been felt, but it has never been so strongly accentuated as during this week. With the resumption of school on Monday, the local staff of teachers sought to take up their duties. Miss Fargie and Miss Mahony however were unable to secure accommodation at either the Hotel of the Coffee Palace. Nine private residences were also tried, but without avail. The teachers, therefore were left stranded and had no other option but to report themselves to the Education Department for duty on Monday.
The enforced absence of teachers makes a large gap in the staff of the local schools the carrying on of which, placed the head teacher (Mr W. Eason) at his wit’s end. The infant room was closed on Tuesday but was reopened on Wednesday, the head teacher securing the services of Miss Hope Galley, who is well qualified, Miss Fargie is now doing duty at Richmond school.
On making inquiry it appears that the price charged for accommodation is beyond the means of teachers. The department is therefore to blame for not paying them a sufficient salary. Something will have to be done to relive the present situation.

However, on March the 26th the Koo Wee Rup Sun reported that Miss Fargie’s statement that she was unable to find accommodation was absolutely without foundation, according to Mrs O’Brien of the Royal Hotel. Miss Fargie was given, at some inconvenience, a single room at the Hotel and arrangements were made for her to board. Miss Fargie left the Hotel, simply informing one of the employees that she did not intend to remain. It seems likely Miss Fargie had decided that she wanted to get back to the bright lights of the City and not work and live at Koo Wee Rup.

The Royal Hotel (taken in the 1934 flood)  
Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society photo

On March 28, the Yannathan Honor was unveiled. It was made from Australian blackwood, was seven feet by five feet in size and had the name of forty-one soldiers. The Board was described thus - The top bears a beautifully carved laurel wreath, which is in itself a creditable piece of work, 3ft across, with the words ‘Pro Patria’ carved thereon. On shields, on both sides of the honor board, appear the names-France, Palestine, Gallipoli and Egypt, and above the centre panel is inscribed ‘Yannathan Honor Roll-They Heard the Call.’ (Koo Wee Rup Sun April 2, 1919, South Bourke and Mornington Journal March 13, 1919)

In June, the body of Alexander Eastman was found on the roof of a train carriage at Korumburra. Alexander had boarded the train with his aunt, Miss Annie Smith at Hawksburn, to spend a weekend with another aunt, Mrs Thompson, of Koo wee Rup. When the train got to Dandenong, Alexander told his aunt that he was meeting up with a man named Morrison, so she travelled on, got off at Koo Wee Rup and discovered her nephew was not on the train. She just assumed that he had missed the train at Dandenong and would catch a later one. When the train arrived at Korumburra, the body of Alexander was found on the roof. At the Inquest, a witness, Mr Marchbank, said that he had seen Alexander in a first-class carriage and he seemed a bit confused. The theory of Detective-sergeant P. Sullivan was that the deceased, finding the corridor door leading to the second-class compartment locked, and probably thinking that Marchbank was a railway official who would raise a question on his ticket, climbed to the roof at the engine end as a temporary place for concealment. He may have become frightened at an overhead bridge some 300 yards from Clyde, and in lowering his body struck his chin and became sick. His hat had been found at Clyde.  The Coroner’s verdict was that on the night of June 7 at Korumburra railway station, Alexander Eastman was found dead on the roof of a railway carriage, having died by suffocation. There is no evidence to show how he got there, but I am of opinion that it was by his own act.  One mystery that wasn’t solved (according to The Argus reporter) was - A puzzling feature about the case, which seems to suggest foul play, is the fact that a gold band ring having Eastman's initials (A.G.E.) engraven upon it, which Miss Smith says he was wearing on the little finger of the left hand at Dandenong, was missing when the body was found. He had had the ring for some considerable time, and it fitted too well to permit of its dropping off. So, did the Coroner get it right? We will never know. (The Argus June 10 1919 and June 26, 1919)

On October 16, the South Bourke and Mornington Journal (SBMJ) reported that the London Bank, in Station street, a brick building, is now being enlarged by the banking chamber being built out to the footpath; it is also being made a two-storey building. This building is the old ANZ bank that closed in 2015 (because apparently making a profit of over 7 billion dollars that year clearly meant that they were struggling so had to shut the branch down.)

On the right is the E.S. & A Bank building, later the ANZ Bank,  that was enlarged, including the addition of a second floor, in 1919.
Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society photo

On November 20, the SBMJ published a report on the amount or traffic - passenger, parcels, goods and livestock - through local railway stations. Koo Wee Rup had £1,598 in passenger traffic - as a comparison Dandenong had £9,739 and Pakenham had £1,903. Dandenong also had the most parcel traffic - £2,140 worth, Koo Wee Rup had £486, overshadowed by Caldermeade which had £1,088 in parcel traffic.  Koo Wee Rup had, by far, the most Goods traffic £4,932 worth, with Tynong coming in second with £2,936 worth of Goods traffic. Dandenong also led in livestock traffic, £2,707 worth - not a surprise, as the Dandenong market was a major outlet for livestock in the region. You can see the full report, here.

Finally, the SBMJ reported on December 25, 1919 that a double line of rails to Dandenong is badly needed.  Nearly every day trains are held up until some other train arrives, and as the fires are kept going it means a big expense for coal, wear and tear and wages. Apart from the fact Koo Wee Rup no longer has a train, there is still only a one line rail from Dandenong to Cranbourne - so no change there over the past 100 years!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Local Railway returns 1918/1919

I came across this report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal (SBMJ) of November 20, 1919 about Railway returns in the SBMJ circuation district. 

South Bourke and Mornington Journal November 20, 1919

As you might expect, Dandenong had the largest passenger traffic volume- £9,739, followed by Warragul, Springvale, Drouin, Pakenham, Clayton and then Koo Wee Rup, with £1,598. Dandenong also had the most parcel traffic, followed by Cranbourne and then Caldermeade, which I find extraordinary, as it is a very small town. Koo Wee Rup had, by far the most goods traffic £4,932 worth, with Tynong coming in second with £2,936 worth of goods traffic. Dandenong also led in livestock traffic, again not a surprise, as the Dandenong market was a major outlet for livestock in the region.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1918

Here is a look back 100 years at what happened in Koo Wee Rup and surrounds in 1918. 1918, is of course, the year the Great War ended on November 11, so the local community was still involved in fundraising for the War effort, local men were still enlisting and soldiers who had served were returning home, but this article will mainly look at the other activities that went on in the area.

On Sunday, January 13 light rain began falling and by Monday the heaviest falls for some years occurred and there was 3 inches (75 ml) of rain in 48 hours. (Lang Lang Guardian January 19, 1918)

In the Dandenong Advertiser of January 31 there was this report - Mr P. Einsiedel, of ‘Myora Park’, Monomeith, who may be termed the ‘Cattle King’ of South Gippsland, last week sold to Mr E. Manifold, Camperdown, 420 bullocks and they are to be despatched to their western home by special train tomorrow. Back in the days when Monomeith had a railway station and cattle were carted by rail and not road. It would have been an impressive sight to see that many bullocks at the Monomeith Station. (Read the full report in the Dandenong Advertiser, here)

On March 9, the Lang Lang Guardian reported that the dredge is making satisfactory progress in widening and deepening the drain. It is now crossing the Yallock Creek and making towards Koo Wee Rup. This was the Lubecker Steam bucket dredge, imported from Germany by the Public Works Department Engineer, Carlo Catani, in 1913.

The Cranbourne Shire Health Inspector’s report was published in the Dandenong Advertiser on April 11. Dr Langley reported - The health of the shire has been very satisfactory, especially if we might judge by the very few cases of infectious diseases reported during 1917. There were 7 cases in all - three isolated, one case of diphtheria at Koo Wee Rup, two at Pearcedale, and one group (the McKay family) at Yallock, consisting of four cases. This outbreak at Yallock was looked into by your officers, and it was found that the disease was brought from the Infectious Diseases Hospital, where one child had been an inmate with scarlet fever. The premises and drainage were all in good condition and the house was fumigated. The Infectious Diseases Hospital had opened in 1904 at Fairfield and people with small pox, typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria etc were sent there for treatment and hopefully to isolate the outbreak of what could be fatal diseases.

On April 12, the Koo Wee Rup Red Cross met. The secretary, Miss Jack, reported sending to the Central depot for the quarter ending March 30 the following articles: 29 undershirts, 3 flannel shirts, 4 sets pyjamas, 18 handkerchiefs, 11 pairs of socks, 3 helmets, 8 scarves and 100 washers. (South Bourke and Mornington Journal, April 25 1918)

Also on April 12, Mr James Maroney the Station Master at Koo Wee Rup and his wife, Mary, were given a farewell, as he was taking up an appointment at Violet Town. Mr Maroney was presented with a wallet of notes and Mrs Maroney a prayer book, mounted in silver, by the ladies of the Church. (Lang Lang Guardian, April 20 1918)

The same article in the Lang Lang Guardian reported that Corporal Gilchrist and Privates Cochrane and McGree were warmly welcomed by a number of friends at the Railway Station. They later received a public welcome home at the Hall. (Lang Lang Guardian, April 20 1918). You can see a photo and more information about the Welcome Home, here, on one of my other blogs.

The Birregurra Times of July 23 had this to say about the Koo Wee Rup Sun - We have received the first issue of the ‘Koo-wee-rup Sun’ a well-written and cleanly-printed weekly. The journal, which is ably conducted by Mr G. F. Hopkins, should be a real acquisition to the whole of the Cranbourne shire, and if it goes on as it has started we predict a long and useful career for it. The Koo Wee Rup Sun was the successor to the Lang Lang Guardian.

Birregurra Times July 23, 1918

The Koo Wee Rup Sun of July 31 reported on the unveiling of the the Yallock Roll of Honor  at the Yallock Hall (read report, here) The board, made of blackwood, contained the names and photos of 57 local boys. The Honor Board is now at the Lang Lang R.S.L. More information, including all the names of the soldiers, can be found here, on one of my other blogs.

There was a flood in the Koo Wee Rup area in September - water was a foot (30 cm) deep in the Koo Wee Rup North State School and the teacher, John Donald, had water waist deep through his house.  The report in the Koo Wee Rup Sun goes on to say that this building is situated in a position particularly liable to flood, for every freshet in the Five Mile drain causes inconvenience. During the two years of the present teacher's regime he has suffered no less than 23 floodings, a record that must surely reach the limit of exasperation. The structure was removed about 100 yards some time ago, to evade or try to minimise the risk, but without any relief.  Water was also a foot deep in the Koo Wee Rup North Hall. (Koo Wee Rup Sun, September 11, 1918 - see full report, here)

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; 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. (Farmers' Advocate October 4, 1918)

Farmers' Advocate  October 4, 1918

In The Argus on December 19 there was a report headlined ‘Children without schooling’
Strong discontent is expressed over the delay of the Education department in providing a
School at Dalmore East. The residents have for 12 months past offered to provide and clear a site, but nothing has been done. There are about 40 children not receiving education, including families of returned soldiers, who were promised school facilities when they took up their blocks.  It is felt to be little short of a scandal that children within 40 miles of a big city have no means of acquiring education.  The school, on Island Road (and later called Island Road School)  eventually opened on June 23, 1919. The building they used was the original Koo Wee Rup State School located on the corner of Bethunes Road and the Bayles Road. This building was shifted into Koo Wee Rup in 1910 and used until a new school was built in 1915. Dalmore East closed in 1974 and in 1984 the building was shifted back into Koo Wee Rup and is now on the Primary School site.  Read the full Argus report, here

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1917

Here is a look at what happened in Koo Wee Rup  and surrounds 100 years ago. Naturally the town was still focused on the war effort, local men were still enlisting, sad news about injuries and deaths continued to arrive and the town was still raising money for the War effort and the comfort of soldiers, but this is a look at some of the other activities of the town.  These reports all come from the various newspapers available on Trove.

In February, an unnamed correspondent writing from Koo-Wee-Rup to the Dandenong Advertiser wrote We have a wretched train service on this line and I think it would be a God-send if a deputation, headed by Messrs Keast and Downward M.L A waited on the Department, urging something better….the Railway Department sends along a train service which is altogether preposterous and the conditions execrable in the extreme. Why the country people have no consideration at all, while the suburban travellers are pandered to. The letter writer goes on for another few paragraphs complaining about the Cranbourne Shire Councillors, Government waste and representatives [politicians] engrossed with their own private affairs.  So fast forward 100 years and many Koo Wee Rup citizens might be happy to have any sort of train service, even a wretched, execrable one! (Dandenong Advertiser, February 22 1917)

In May, it was widely reported that Carlo Catani had retired as Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department. A function was held on May 9 and the Premier of Victoria, Sir Alexander Peacock presented Mr Catani with an ‘Illuminated address’. Catani was responsible for the all drainage works on the Koo Wee Rup Swamp from 1893 and had been employed by the Public Works Department since his arrival in Melbourne from Italy (via New Zealand) in 1876.

On July 25, the Lang Lang Guardian reported the Koo Wee Rup Red Cross had despatched a number of items to Red Cross Central Depot to be sent to the soldiers overseas. Amongst the consignment were 57 flannel shirts, 13 sets of pyjamas, 30 handkerchiefs, 22 toilet bags, 72 pairs of socks, 8 balaclavas and 7 pairs of mittens.

The Lang Lang Guardian of October 17 had an obituary of an old Colonist, Mr Thomas Boxshall, who passed away at the age of 88 on September 14. Thomas had arrived in Melbourne in 1842 and took up land in Yallock in 1895. He was survived by ten children and had a son and four grandsons on active service. (Read the full obituary, here)

On October 19,  there was a report in the Powlett Express about three convicts who escaped from the penal settlement of French island. They got away in a boat and landed several miles from Koo-Wee-Rup where they engaged a motor car and were driven to Melbourne. They did not seem to be short of funds. A few days later two more convicts disappeared. The newspaper report goes on to say - The condition of this island establishment almost invites the indulgently treated persons to escape.  Thus even 100 years ago people were unsatisfied with the justice system. The McLeod prison farm was opened on French Island in 1916 and it closed in 1975. It was named after the Chief Secretary of Victoria, Donald McLeod, and one report said the prison was intended for the ‘worthier type of prisoner’ who would work on the prison farm and a pine plantation.

Powlett Express October 19 1917

In early November at  Koo Wee Rup a serious accident which might have had a fatal termination occurred. Mr W.L McClure, Accountant, at the London Bank accidently knocked down the bank’s revolver and the weapon was discharged, the bullet striking him in the left groin and inflicting a dangerous wound. He was taken to a private hospital in Dandenong where an operation was successfully performed… and he is now making satisfactory progress towards recovery. Apart from feeling very sorry for Mr McClure this report is an indication of how times have changed - Banks no longer have their own loaded revolver, lying around (which is probably a good thing) and can you just imagine the massive amount of paperwork that would be generated by this sort of accident today - a Worksafe Inquiry, a Police Inquiry, an internal Bank Inquiry at a minimum. (Report from The Argus, November 5 1917)

The first weekend in December 1917 was a busy time for the town of Koo Wee Rup as there were two well attended events - a Flower Show and the Dedication of the Anglican Church.

On December 6 and 7 the first Horticultural show and exhibition of home products in connection with the Presbyterian Church took place in the Koo-Wee-Rup Hall and the results surpassed expectations. The Lang Lang Guardian records the names of about 150 prize winners in 10 different categories - blooms, arranged baskets of flowers, potatoes, baked items, butter and preserves, fancy work (embroidery and sewing) and a number of categories for children.  The paper reports that in the produce class some very fine sample of what the district can cultivate were shown and in many instances the judges had difficulty in making a decision. (Full report Lang Lang Guardian December 15, 1917, read it here)

On the same weekend on the afternoon of December 7, the Bishop of Gippsland, the Right Reverend George Cranswick, officiated at the dedication of St George’s Anglican Church. The Secretary of the Church, Mr Adeney, read a petition from the Board of Guardians asking the Bishop to dedicate the Church. The Bishop started at the font, then went to the lectern, chancel steps and communion table before which different members of the Clergy read appropriate chapters from the Scriptures. In the evening a baptism was performed and twenty people were confirmed. The Church closed in 2012 and the congregation moved to the Uniting Church. (Full report Lang Lang Guardian, December 15, 1917, read it here)

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1916

This is a look at what happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1916, 100 years ago. These references all come from digitized newspapers available on Trove,  There were many references to the War and how the community was supporting the war effort, but this is mainly a look at the non military activities in the town.

The Australasian of February 5, reported that local potato and onion growers complained to the Railway department that they could not get their produce away promptly on the rail and that owing to the delay during hot weather the potatoes shrivel up.

On another railway matter on March 30 the Ballarat Courier had a report that the McDonalds Track Railway (or the Strzelecki line) construction was abandoned due to the scarcity of rails and the difficulty of obtaining them. The line was finally opened on June 29, 1922.

The Argus on April 5 reported that the Post Office at Koo Wee Rup had been connected to the telephone trunk line between Springvale and Korumburra.

The Argus April 5, 1916

The Lang Lang Guardian of April 19 reported that Mr Ward, a resident of Koo Wee Rup picked up a bottle on the Kilcunda Beach and it contained the following note, dated March 10:  From two boys bound for the Front on the Star of England A15. Having a good trip; a lot of the boys had a bad time on the first night out. Would finder kindly drop Mrs Brown, 170 Albert Street Newtown a line just for the novelty and also to my mother Mrs Feehan, Edward Street Adelaide. Wishing you luck and good bye. From two soldiers boys J. Feehan and J. McPherson. On the back was written - Will see you when we get back. This note was written three days after sailing. We can just sight Melbourne.  J. Feehan was John Walter Feehan and he survived the War; I have no information about his mate, J. McPherson. (Read the article, here)

The Argus on April 27 reported that the Main Drain had a siltation problem due to a build up of sand which varied in depth from four feet to seven feet. The sand was so vast at the 10-mile (just east of Cora Lynn), that it needed to be removed to prevent inundation of the adjoining land. It was estimated that the removal would cost about £20,000, unless it could be used in some commercial way such as in concrete.

The South Bourke and Mornington Journal of June 22 had a report on the state of a drain in Station Street. The defective drainage of Station Street about five years ago was said to be responsible for the death of Mrs Laurie, who was stricken with typhoid fever. The drain in front of her premises was filled with evil smelling stagnant water. A few months ago a young man from adjoining premises was seized with typhoid fever. Fortunately he recovered. The drain is certainly a menace to health….it is hoped that the Board of Health will order it to be  thoroughly disinfected and made so that stagnant water will not be in front of shops and dwellings. 

The Lang Lang Guardian of September 13, reported on the return billiard match between Lang Lang and Koo Wee Rup at the Palace Hotel. Total scores were Lang Lang 564 and Koo-Wee-Rup 487. The individual results were - Eason 150 points beat Smith 85; Keighery 114 lost to Donnelly 150; Athelstane 150 beat Boag 108 and Henderson 150 beat Bickett 144.

Lang Lang Guardian September 13, 1916

The Dandenong Advertiser of September 28 reported on recent floods which caused enormous damage and great suffering in many homes.  Sadly Lyle Raymond Loveday was drowned whilst out rabbiting. The paper reports that the boy was an exceptionally promising lad and would have been 12 years old on the day after the fatality. A son of Mr T. Cunningham of Tynong was also drowned in a drain in front of his house. Mrs Cunningham saw her son disappear, but was powerless to save him. The flood waters had broken through the McDonald, Seven Mile and McGregor drains.  The report goes on to say that the Dalmore country is submerged, most of the settlers having managed to wade or drive to Koo Wee Rup. (Read the article, here)

On November 22, the Lang Lang Guardian reported on a Ball held in aid of the Red Cross - over £3 was raised. The winner of the best lady’s costume was Miss Daisy Morden as Peace - her prize was a case of cutlery donated by Mrs D. McNamara of the Royal Hotel.  Mrs Cochrane representing Spring was second. Other costumes, all of a patriotic and imperialistic nature, were Miss M. Saunders - The Allies; Mrs Boag - Victory; Miss Williams - Red Cross nurse; Miss Cameron - Britannia; Mrs Scanlan - Lady Doctor and Miss A. Dixon - Anzac.

From the Lang Lang Guardian of December 20, 1916. The annual examinations conducted by the London College of Music were held in Koo Wee Rup. Pupils from as far away as Fish Creek, Korumburra and Wonthaggi were present as well as those closer to home from Tooradin, Clyde and Cranbourne. Miss Harris was the Koo Wee Rup Music teacher and she ‘presented’ twelve pupils of whom eleven passed. Miss V. Rundle and Miss M. Ryan became an Associate of the London College of Music, having received 82% and 80% on their examinations. As a matter of interest, all the students could have arrived in Koo Wee Rup for their music examinations by train - Tooradin, Clyde, Cranbourne, Fish Creek and Korumburra were all on the Great Southern line and the students from Wonthaggi would have caught the train from there to the rail junction at Nyora and then continued onto Koo Wee Rup. (See full report, here)

The same report, as above, also lists results from the Koo Wee Rup State School. Merit Certificates (awarded at the end of Grade 8) were obtained by Eric Glasscock, Arnold Eason, Claude Einsiedel, John Shelton, Stanley Coates, Edward Leeson, Bessie Colvin, Hope Dalley and Beryl Morden. Eric and Arnold also won awards for the best scholars in the school and Edward and Bessie  won a prize for the best essay on ‘The history of the British Navy’ not a topic that I imagine many Year 8 students would be required to write essays on today!  Qualifying Certificates (end of Year 6) were awarded to Violet Johnson, Henry Thompson, David Mickle and George Burhop. The awards were presented at a picnic held in the school grounds, where there was a large attendance of parents and friends who provided the children with an inexhaustible supply of dainties.

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1915

This is what happened in Koo Wee Rup and surrounds in 1915, 100 years ago. These references all come from digitized newspapers available on Trove,  There were many references to the War and the soldiers who enlisted and served, but this is a look at the non military activities in the town.

The year started off with an arrest -  Elizabeth Allen, a resident of Fitzroy, was arrested on warrant by Constable Anstee on Mr. Strafford's farm, Iona, on Tuesday. Allen and her husband band were digging potatoes on Koo-wee-rup Swamp and she had a serious quarrel with another married woman named Ellen Fielder on Tuesday morning. It is alleged that Allen went into the house occupied by Mrs. Fielder, and pulled her out of bed on to the road by the hair. Mrs. Fielder issued a warrant, and Allen was locked up on a charge of assault. She was admitted to bail, and will appear to answer the charge to-day  (The Argus January 7, 1915)

On January 8, the Wonthaggi Licensing Court granted  Denis McNamara a licence to operate a Hotel in Koo Wee Rup. This Hotel was named the Royal Hotel and opened in Koo Wee Rup on September 9, 1915. There were six applications to open a hotel at Koo Wee Rup, you can read about them, here.
(Powlett Express, January 15 1915)

On February 24 the Lang Lang Guardian reported on a severe storm in Yannathan. The storm was described as unprecedented.   All day the weather had been threatening, and thunder showers which visited other parts of the district left this locality untouched. But at about 4 o'clock, while about 30 ladies and gentlemen were witnessing a cricket match in Mr Stewart's paddock between the Lang Lang and Yannathan teams, a densely black cloud, lit up constantly by vivid flashes of lightning, was seen approaching from the south-west. When the first drops of rain fell players and spectators left the field for the shelter of the Mechanics' Hall, and while there the storm burst, and for about ten minutes the elements were in almost indescribable tumult. A hurricane blew jinkers about the hall yard, and everything in the shape of boxes and loose timber was lifted by its violence. Then something in the nature of a cloud-burst descended, and rain and pieces of ice fell in such density that looking across towards the Union Church, only a shadowy outline of the building could, be seen, and the hall yard was soon under water. Deafening peals of thunder and constant flames of lightning combined with the downpour, and twice the crash of a falling tree was heard. The door of the church being opened, all made a dash from the hall and entered, but were drenched in doing so. As suddenly as it broke, the storm abated, and very little rain fell during the remainder of the afternoon. 
Sadly, the storm also caused a fatality - seventeen year old Don Cameron, who was employed by Mr W.H. Gardiner, of Yannathan. He was working in a paddock was struck and instantly killed by lightning. His parents were from Beaconsfield and he was buried at Berwick Cemetery.

On March 3, the Lang Lang Guardian had a report headlined 'Tramps at Koo Wee Rup' - For some years past residents of the Swamp have complained, without any remedy being applied, of the great nuisance of tramps camping at the bridges and frightening horses. An example of the real danger of this habit was given on Saturday morning last, when Mr R. Glen was conveying a load of potatoes in a dray, and when at Mallcotl's crossing the horse shied at a couple of tramps camped at the bridge; with the result that the dray was capsised and the potatoes tipped into the drain. Mr Glen was thrown out of the dray and was badly shaken, but it was wonderful that be did not sustain severe injuries.

In March the Koo Wee Rup Railway Station handled 54,000 bags of potatoes and 14,500 bags of chaff, the whole of £24,000 (Lang Lang Guardian April 21, 1915)

Lang Lang Guardian April 28, 1915

In April there was an unusual sighting of an aeroplane flying over Koo Wee Rup - see the report above.

In July a 'Plain and Fancy Dress Ball' was held at Koo Wee Rup. The successful ball was a fund raiser for the Red Cross. Over 220 people attended the ball at the Mechanics' Institute (Hall) and £22 was raised. You can see a list of some of the participants and how they were dressed, here, in the Lang Lang Guardian of July 28, 1915.

Constable Anstee was busy again in September, when he along with Constable Allen seized a large quantity of whisky, beer, and stout in cases from the store owned by John, A. Kirwan at Iona. The report goes on to say that for some time the police have suspected that there was trafficking in liquor at Iona, and they watched the store owned by John A. Kirwan. They saw a man leaving the store with a bottle of whisky, and he admitted to the police that he obtained the liquor at Kirwan's. Kirwan was charged with having trafficked in liquor illicitly. (Dandenong Advertiser September 23, 1915) Kirwan's store was actually at Vervale (Main Drain Road south and Fourteen Mile) and was taken over in 1916 by James and Edith McMannis, read about this, here.)

We will finish with this report about a 'Cinematograph' entertainment at Yallock held on November 25. A cinematograph is a motion picture film camera, which also serves as a film projector and printer. It was invented in the 1890s in Lyon by Auguste and Louis Lumière - according to Wikipedia.

Lang Lang Guardian December 1, 1915

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1914

This what happened in Koo Wee Rup and surrounding areas, 100 years ago in 1914. These references are from various newspapers available on Trove

1914 started off with an attempt to start a soccer league in the area. The Lang Lang Guardian reported on January 14, that Mr Frank Garwood of Modella wanted to start a British Association Football League. The League would cover the area between the two Railway lines - Koo-Wee-Rup to Lang Lang and Garfield to Longwarry.  There was already at least one team practically formed at Modella. Mr Garwood urged anyone interested in playing the English soccer game (NOT rugby, as he emphasized) to contact him.

Lang Lang Guardian January 14, 1914
Read the full article here -

The Weekly Times reported on February 21, 1914 on Mrs Agnes Hudson’s will. She left Real Estate worth £5595 and personal property of £1634.  Mrs Hudson had died on December 10, 1913 aged 86. She owned The Grange, the oldest extant house in Koo Wee Rup. 1914 also saw the death of David Mickle (her son by her first marriage to Alexander Mickle), who was born in 1858. His death was reported in The Argus of November 25.

On March 1, the Lang Lang Guardian reported that the erection of the Lubecker Steam bucket dredge on the Lang Lang River was nearly complete. The dredge had been imported by Public Works Department Engineer, Carlo Catani, from Germany at a total cost of £4716. It spent a few years working on the Lang Lang River and when it finished there in 1916 it moved on to work on the Main Drain.

On April 8, the Lang Lang Guardian reported that 92 crates of rabbits, each containing 24 pairs was sent off from the Lang Lang railway station. That’s 4,416 rabbits! No wonder the paper reports that it was now an important industry!

Lang Lang Guardian April 8, 1914

The Lang Lang Guardian reported that on April 22 that a 3 lb (1.3kg) potato was on display at Lang Lang, having recently been displayed at Koo Wee Rup.

On April 23, the Bunyip Free Press reported that a Caledonian Society had been formed in Koo Wee Rup. The inaugural meeting was attended by members of the Bunyip and Cranbourne Caledonian Societies. The purpose of the Society was to promote Scottish culture. Mr R. Laidlaw was elected Chief and the Chieftains were J.Hudson (the son of the aforementioned Agnes Hudson), H. Beattie, Mr Christie and Mr Bethune. A Highland Gathering was planned for December 28 with prizes for Highland dress, piping and dancing, tossing the caber, throwing the hammer and putting the stone (which I presume is the forerunner of the shot put) and tossing the sheaf.

On June 24 the Lang Lang Guardian  reported that the old Yallock Mechanics Institute was being demolished. The replacement Hall was finished a few months later and officially opened on September 30. The Hall was 26 feet  by 50ft, with a 9ft stage; there was a supper room which was 26ft by 10ft and two other rooms each 20ft by 12ft.  These last two rooms were made from the timber of the old hall. The dance floor was built of Tasmanian oak.  The cost of the hall was £300. The opening ceremony consisted of a concert, then supper at 11.40pm followed by dancing. The Hall (or part of it) was moved into Bayles in the early 1930s (Report of the opening of the Hall was in the Lang Lang Guardian, October 7 1914).

Also in the news - John Colvin was given the contract to enlarge and renovate the Koo Wee Rup Hall (South Bourke and Mornington Journal, September 3, 1914).   In October, the Bill to authorise construction of the Koo Wee Rup to McDonalds Track Railway was passed - construction began in August 1915 (The Argus, September 22 1914). In November , the  additions to St John’s Catholic Church were opened. (The Argus, November 2, 1914)

And finally my favourite report from 1914 was from the Lang Lang Guardian of October 28. Reverend Butchers, the Presbyterian Minister from Cranbourne, was driving to Koo Wee Rup to conduct the wedding of Mr A.C Colvin and Miss Johnston, unfortunately he was thrown from the vehicle and his collar bone was broken and his shoulder dislocated. Lucky for everyone, one of the wedding guests found Rev Butchers on the road, drove him home and then secured the services of the Church of England Minister and brought him out to perform the wedding. Weddings were much simpler in those days. Mr Colvin had started a cycle shop in the town in 1909

Lang Lang Guardian October 28, 1914

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1913

This is a look at what happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1913. In retrospect, 1913 was the last normal year for many years for Australians as 1914 was the start of the Great War. After that, for the next four years, communities like Koo Wee Rup devoted most of their time and energy to fundraising and activities to support the war effort. The community also had to deal with their young men going away to fight and then the sadness when they were killed or injured. So here’s a look at 1913 - a year of optimism and community spirit.

In March, the Presbyterian Church was lined with Wunderlich metal plates, a very modern choice of building material. St Georges Anglican Church held their first ‘Fruit and Flower’ Show on April 28 at the Hall. The event was enthusiastically supported by the public and the range of exhibits was of good quality. The exhibits encompassed 271 categories of fruit and vegetables. The evening finished with a concert and over £20 was raised for the Church funds. (Lang Guardian March 12 1913 and April 30 1913)

Lang Lang Guardian March 12, 1913

On May 3, the local football started with five teams - Koo Wee Rup, Yannathan, Lang Lang, Yallock and Tooradin. (Lang Lang Guardian May 7, 1913)

Also in May, a skeleton was found in a gravel pit just outside the town. It was believed to be that of an Aboriginal. The police were called and the skeleton was sent to the Coroner’s Office. There was no report to what happened to the skeleton after that. (Lang Lang Guardian May 21, 1913)

The Argus of June 16 reports that the long promised dredge has arrived at the Lang Lang River. This was the Lubecker Steam bucket Dredge, imported by Carlo Catani, Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department, from Germany at the total cost of £4,716. After it worked on the Lang Lang River it was moved to the Swamp and worked on the Main Drain, Cardinia Creek and the Yallock outfall drain. All that remains of this grand machine is a set of wheels on display at the Swamp lookout tower, on the South Gippsland Highway.  It was fortunate that the dredge arrived when it did, because once war was declared in August 1914, it would have been impossible to import German machinery.

Also in June, skating was held at the Hall to raise money to line the walls and to install an ‘up to date’ acetylene light plant. The report is below.

Lang Lang Guardian June 25 1913

In September, £900 worth of improvements was carried out at the Koo Wee Rup Railway station including improving the level crossing and the railway yards. (Lang Lang Guardian September 17, 1913)

In October, Archbishop Mannix carried out confirmations at the Catholic Churches at Koo Wee Rup and Lang Lang. (The Advocate, November 1 1913) The same month, a local Cricket Association was formed which consisted of teams from Koo Wee Rup, Modella, Lang Lang, Tooradin, Yallock and Yannathan. The first match was played November 1, 1913.  (Lang Lang Guardian  October 29, 1913)

There were reports in various papers of floods in November -  the Main Drain overflowed at the bridges, 2,000 aces of potatoes were inundated and  the school ground at Five Mile School was under water amongst other damage. Carlo Catani visited the area and was reported as saying that the reports of damage had been greatly exaggerated. (Read more about this, here) So as we have seen over recent years there was a gap between the reality of the floods and the rhetoric of the government (or Melbourne Water) – so no change there.

On December 10, Swamp pioneer, Agnes Hudson passed away, aged 86. Agnes was born in Scotland and came to Victoria with her first husband, Alexander Mickle. They settled at the Yallock Station. In 1861, Alexander died and she was left a widow with two young children and was eight months pregnant with their third child.  She later married Andrew Hudson and had two more children. After Andrew died in 1888 she moved into The Grange, in Koo Wee Rup. This house, off Sybella Avenue, still remains. (Mrs Hudson's obituary is in the Lang Lang Guardian December 17, 1913)

Finally, my favourite report for 1913 is this one - a cheese maker from Koo Wee Rup wrote to the Commonwealth Offices in London seeking their help to find a wife. His ‘golden girl’ had to be a ‘tall, fair lump of a Protestant’. A not very romantic description and sadly, I don’t know whether he turned out to be lucky in love.  It was in the Adelaide Mail, from October 18 1913

Adelaide Mail October 18, 1913

Friday, January 18, 2019

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1912

This is a look at what happened in Koo-Wee-Rup and surrounds, one hundred years ago, in 1912. These references are taken from various papers on-line at

In January, Mrs McKenzie, who had been Head Teacher at the Koo Wee Rup State School for the previous 22 years was entertained in the Hall, prior to her departure to Moolart, where she had been transferred. Over 100 people attended the function and were entertained with performances by her previous students amongst other amusements. Mrs McKenzie was presented with a book of Shakespeare’s poems and a purse of sovereigns (South Bourke & Mornington Journal, January 25 1912)

The South Bourke and Mornington Journal reported that on Saturday, February 17 the Pakenham Magistrates Court was crowded with onlookers to hear the case between two Koo-Wee-Rup residents, William Himbeck and Matthew Killeen. Himbeck had accused Killeen of assault and using bad language. Several witnesses were called from both sides and the evidence given was very contradictory. The paper reports that some witnesses heard very bad language indeed, whilst others heard only the pure Australian accents undiluted with profanity. The Bench found Killeen guilty and fined him £1 for the assault with 28 shillings in costs and five shillings for the bad language with 20 shillings in costs. So all up that was £3 and 13 shillings; a fair bit of money at the time as the average wage for a factory worker was about £3 per week and for a man employed under the Rural Workers Award the weekly wage was £2 10 shillings.

The South Bourke & Mornington Journal of July 4, reported that a concert was held in the Koo Wee Rup Hall with 300 in attendance to raise funds to build a shelter shed at the School. £16 was raised and a dance was held after the concert. The shelter shed was built by John Colvin and completed in October.

On July 5, which was Arbor Day, nearly all the residents of the district turned up at the State School with their horses, carts and spades and planted 50 trees at the School and they laid out the teachers garden and the school garden, planted hedges and erected fences. The ladies of the district provided lunch and afternoon tea. The report goes on to say that a new school building is badly needed as the existing one is too small to accommodate the sixty children.  A new Koo Wee Rup State School building was erected in 1915 and burnt down in May 1950.  The original building had been erected in 1884 between Koo-Wee-Rup and Bayles and relocated into Rossiter Road in 1910 relocated again in 1919 to become the Dalmore East School (No.3925) later known as Island Road School. Island Road School closed in 1974 and the building was relocated back to Koo-Wee-Rup, and became part of the Primary School. (The Arbor Day event was reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on July 11, 1912)

On July 16, the School was closed by order of the Health Officer, Dr Harkness, as three children were suffering from diphtheria. Diphtheria could be fatal and in 1912 257 Victorians died of the disease. (Report from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of July 25, 1912.)

In September, the Railway promised to erect a small sheep and cattle yard at the Station. Locals had complained that the nearest livestock loading yards were at Monomeith, five miles by road. (The Age, September 4, 1912)

The Age September 4, 1912

In October, Yannthan defeated Koo-Wee-Rup in the Lang Lang District Premiership League final – Yannathan scored 4 goals and 11 behinds and Koo-Wee-Rup 3 goals and 9 behinds. (The Argus, October 2 1912)

A report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on October 10, said that the London Bank purchased the land on which their premises stood. Whatever their original premised were, they were obviously demolished as the existing building (the A.N.Z Bank) was built in 1919.

On November 26, The Argus reported that the passenger platform at the Koo-Wee-Rup Railway Station was lengthened to accommodate the new longer trains and in December a new train was added to the timetable - a Goods train with a passenger carriage attached.  This would leave Koo-Wee-Rup at 6.50am daily and meet up with the Warragul train at Dandenong from where it would leave at 8.57am, eventually arriving in Melbourne at 10.04am. In comparison to today, three hours to get into town isn’t too bad. In 1912 you would have had time for morning tea at the Dandenong Railway Station Refreshment Rooms, which had been built at a cost of £750 in 1908 and there would have been a clean, functioning toilet at the Station - so compared to getting stuck on the Monash Freeway for hours, it sounds like a great alternative. (The report on the extra train comes from the South Bourke & Mornington Journal of December 5, 1912)

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1911

This is a look at what happened in Koo-Wee-Rup and surrounding areas one hundred years ago, in 1911. These references are taken from various papers on-line at

On January 9, The Argus reported that The maize crops on the Koo-wee-rup Swamp have been completely destroyed by a plague of caterpillars. The cabbages and potatoes arc now being attacked.  More more bad news for the local farmers was reported in The Argus on February 7 - Potato diggers on Koo-wee-rup Swamp have ceased work, owing to Irish blight being discovered in the district, and many of the men have taken their departure for other potato districts. Strict measures have been taken by the Government to prevent the disease from spreading, and also to prevent potatoes affected form being marketed. This was not the end to the disastrous season the local farmers were having because The Argus reported on March 23 that the potato blight was also attacking carrot crops. To top if off the Weekly Times of March 25 reported that due to prevalence of pleuro-pneumonia among cattle, the sale yards at Koo-wee-rup and Lang Lang have been closed. It wasn't until May that the sale yards were re-opened after the outbreak had been checked.

Continuing on with the ordinary year, on June 12, The Argus reported that Main Drain (or Koo Wee Rup canal as it was called) had overflowed at Cora Lynn and flooded the surrounding area. There was also one foot of water in the newly built Mechanics' Institute (Public Hall). As we can see from the later report, below, this postponed the official opening of the Hall. This report said there was three feet of water through the Hall. The Hall was officially opened in August - the event was presided over by Shire President, Cr W. Carney and official guests were W.S Keast, M.L.A, after whom the hall was named and Mrs Keast. This was reported on in The Argus of August 9, 1911.

The Argus June 14, 1911

In other matters not connected to farming or floods, The Argus of February 10, 1911 reported on a Victorian first for the town of Cora Lynn - The parents of children at the Cora Lynn State School, in Gippsland, have secured the distinction of appointing the first school committee in Victoria under the new Education Act passed last year which provides for the constitution of such committees in place of the old boards of advice. Well done, Cora Lynn! You can read the full article, here.

On October 7, The Argus reported on a a proposed extension of the railway line from Nar Nar Goon to Cora Lynn and on through the Gippsland Country - that never happened! There was later report on October 17 (read it here) that said the proposed line was to go from Cora Lynn to Modella and then onto Mirboo.

The Argus October 7, 1911

We will end on a sad note, on October 26, The Argus reported on the sad news that the body of a newly-born male child in an outhouse there. Constable Watt had taken the body to the Morgue, and a post-mortem examination had shown that suffocation was the cause of death. I can't find a follow-up report so we don't know who this unfortunate little child was.

What happened in Koo Wee Rup in 1910

The first article I wrote for the Garfield Spectator in 2010, was a look back at what happened in the town 100 years previously (read it, here) I thought that was such a good idea, I started doing the same for Koo Wee Rup for The Blackfish, so this is the first Koo Wee Rup article on that theme. 

This is a look at what happened in Koo Wee Rup and surrounds in 1910.  Most of these references are taken from The Argus, on-line at 

In March, at a sale of Crown land at Koo Wee Rup -  two 20 acre allotments sold for two pounds, ten shillings per acre. Four other five acre blocks sold for five pounds per acre. There was a report in July about the State revaluing land held by settlers from the Crown There are in all some 800 settlers on the swamp. The board which had charge of the matter investigated the cases some time ago. Its method has been to take the length of time a man has been working a property and the amount he has expended on it, and to consider both these important points in arriving at the value of the land. The price was originally fixed when land had a fictitious value. It is on record that a Koo-wee-rup block at the time of the "boom" brought something like £40 per acre, while others realised £20 and £30. Some time after that the State thought £10 an acre was a fair price for some of the best land, and this price was fixed, while other blocks were appraised as being worth £9, £8, £7, £6, and a few as low as £2 per acre.
By the time the settlers had to  clear the land, maintain drains and farm the block many were facing financial hardship so they were granted relief by having the land re-valued and some had their payments suspended. (The Argus, March 2, 1910 and July 23, 1910. I have quoted from the July article, you can read the full article, here.)

The township of Cora Lynn was proclaimed on May 31 and the Cora Lynn Cheese Factory opened in December of 1910.

The Argus February 18, 1910

The Koo Wee Rup State School was moved into the township, to Rossiter Road, from Bethune’s Road.  A tender for the removal of the school was advertised in February 1910 and the school opened in Rossiter Road in the September.

Locally, the town of Wonthaggi was proclaimed on September 14. The town and the associated coal mine was good news for the Koo Wee Rup Swamp - The opening up of the Powlett coalfield has provided a new and profitable market for produce grown on the swamp. Tons of potatoes, onions and chaff are being despatched to Powlett from the Koo-wee-rup station at frequent intervals. (The Argus May 30, 1910)

In November, the Yannathan Butter Factory was turning out six tons of butter per week, up from 3½ tons at the same time the year before. (The Argus November 12, 1910)

Headline in The Argus February 12, 1910

Finally, we will end on a sad note. In February, a body was found in a bag in the water at Tooradin. The victim had been seen before in the township of Tooradin and he was camped near where his body was found. When the bag was pulled from the water, a hand was protruding from a hole in the bag. This led to speculation as to whether it was murder or suicide, as the victim could well have tied the bag himself. An inquest, two days later, returned the verdict of suicide. The body was not identified, however it was said that he was of  'the swagman class'. (The Argus, February 12. The Coroner's inquest is reported in The Argus of February 14 - it is quite interesting about how the  body was found, how the man was living before his death, but sadly no evidence as to the identity of the man. Read the article, here)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What happened in Garfield in 1919

This is a look back 100 years at what happened in Garfield and surrounds in 1919. 1919 is, of course, the year after the Great War ended on November 11, 1918 and the community was enjoying peace after four years of war. Most of these reports come from the various newspapers available on Trove.

In January, there was an interesting story in The Herald - Anxiety caused by the disappearance on November 30 from Trinity Grammar School, Kew, of Merson lnglis, one of the scholars, 14 years of age, has been removed by the return of the boy to his home at Monegetta South, Romsey. A friend of his father discovered him working in a field at Garfield, where the boy was digging potatoes. A previous report in a paper said his father had offered a reward of 25 pounds for information about his son. Hard to believe that these days a 14 year could go missing and get work on a farm, but in those days you didn’t need a tax file number or any ID. (The Herald, January 10 1919)

The Herald January 10, 1919

In February, the Bunyip and Garfield Express reported on some fishing trips - Last week a party of seven from Tynong proceeded to Tooradin for a fishing excursion, and had one of the most successful for the season. They landed 95 schnapper, weighing from 2 to 7 pounds in weight. On Tuesday a party from Bunyip also obtained a good haul, their catch being 150 whiting about 50 schnapper. (Bunyip & Garfield Express, February 7, 1919)

The South Bourke and Mornington Journal reported on February 27  - During last week, 150 tons of potatoes were trucked at Tynong railway station. It is estimated that the potato crop from that district will yield something like 5000 tons.

On March 13, the South Bourke & Mornington Journal reported that a weigh bridge had been erected at the Garfield Railway Station. The same report said that the Cora Lynn Cheese Factory in the past fortnight had treated 7,516 gallons of milk and the Iona factory 5,366 gallons. A gallon is the equivalent of 4.5 litres. 

Also, in March the Iona St Patricks Day annual carnival was held at the Garfield racecourse to raise funds for St Joseph’s Catholic School at Iona. There was a full race meeting under the supervision of a VRC steward, the Iona Brass Band rendered acceptable selections during the afternoon which enlivened the proceeding considerably, the Ladies Committee provided tasty eatables. The day finished off with a ball at the Columbia Hall at Iona. (South Bourke & Mornington Journal March 20, 1919)

On May 28, The Age reported that Country Roads Board has attended to the unmade portion of the main Gippsland road [Princes Highway] between Garfield and Bunyip, but in its present state it is not fit for motor traffic.

In June, many papers reported on a train accident at Tynong - this report is from The Argus of June 6 - A railway accident with peculiar features occurred at Tynong at about 5 o clock on Tuesday morning. A goods train from Melbourne was shunting at the station, and was partly on the main line, when another goods train from Warragul collided with it. The impact was sufficient to break the buffers and cow catcher of the Warragul train and to damage the cow catcher of the other engine, which with four trucks attached continued as far as the next station, Nar Nar Goon, where it was stopped by the assistant stationmaster (Mr Burge) The points near the east end of the yard were damaged, as were also some sleepers, while the cattle pits at the western crossing were badly knocked about, presumably by the damaged cow catcher of the runaway engine. When it became evident that the collision could not be averted the crews jumped from the two engines to escape injury.

Even though the War had ended soldiers were still returning home throughout the year and the towns were still holding ‘Welcome home’ functions. The Bunyip and Garfield Express on October 10, reported of an evening held at the Tynong Hall where, amongst other celebrations -  Gold medals, suitably inscribed, were then presented by the chairman to the following returned soldiers - Lieuts White and Wright and Ptes A. Martin, F. Snow, G. Rowley, E. Coombes, J. M’Walter, A. Weatherhead, P. Haines, J. Robinson and R. Thompson.

This report was in the Bunyip and Garfield Express on November 7 - During play hour this week, the [Garfield] school children stumbled across a large snake in the paddock adjoining the school ground. The reptile was quickly dispatched and was soon roasting over a big fire.  A week later, the same paper also reported on the Armistice anniversary at Garfield - The ceremony in connection with the Armistice anniversary was observed here. All work was suspended at 11am for a period of 2 minutes. At the school children were formed in a hollow square around the flag staff. The flag was dropped to half-mast and the Last Post was sounded by Lieut. Corby

Also, in November a garage opened in the town - Messrs Dessent and Doherty announce that they have opened a motor garage at Garfield, where cars can be hired and repairs effected, fishing parties arranged, oil, petrol and tubes kept in stock. (Bunyip & Garfield ExpressNovember 21, 1919)

Bunyip & Garfield Express, December 5, 1919

We will finish the year off with the unveiling of the Garfield Honor Roll which took place on Wednesday, November 26 1919 at the Garfield Hall. It was unveiled by Mr Shreeve. - 
The following names are inscribed on the board - Fallen in Gallipoli - P. Gunnelson, W. Leeson, C. Mynard, L. Plant.
Fallen in France - E. Beswick, E. Bullock, E. Gunnelson, J. Gaghin. A. M'Donald. F. Toner, A Watson, J. Whiston, F. Whiston.
Returned - A. Boase, W. Body, W. Burnett, J Burrows, A. Barker, F. Bullock, G. Dunne, E. Edis, R. Gunnelson, G. Gillespie, E. Hobson, G. Hobson, R. James, S. King, R. Leeson, T. Lambden, R. Morgan, T. Mynard, J Mynard, F. Mynard, W. Ottoway, K. Olsson, H. Roberts,  F. Shreeve, H. Trasler, D. Tynan and T. Vaughan. (Bunyip & Garfield Express, December 5, 1919)