About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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

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