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.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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,   http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/

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!

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