ADHS Newsletter No. 190 MARCH, 2001

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Items of interest -

Visit to Mooramong - Twenty members enjoyed our bus trip to Skipton and Beaufort on Sunday, 18th March. Though misty rain fell as we travelled along in the morning, fine weather prevailed when we reached our destination. Mooramong is situated out of Skipton and is different from the usual National Trust house one visits. The property’s interesting history begins in the pioneering days when vast "runs" were taken up by the squatters. The original "run" was named Baangal and, in the 1860s, the northern section was taken over by Alexander Anderson, who named it Mooramong and had a timber home erected there in 1873.

After Mr. Anderson’s death in 1893, the property changed hands three times before being purchased in 1926 by L.K.S. MacKinnon, of horse-racing fame. This purchase was for his son, Donald (known as Scobie), who, on a visit to London, had met Claire Adams, a film actress of the silent screen era, and married her after a whirlwind three-week romance. The newly-weds spent twelve months touring Europe and the Americas before coming to Mooramong in 1938.

It was then that the changes occurred and the character of Mooramong was changed from traditional Victorian to art deco. The weatherboard exterior of the home was rendered in rough cast, the ornate cornices and ceiling roses of the interior were removed, central heating was installed, a large, heated swimming pool and cabana were placed within a walled garden and the garden was altered. An interesting aspect is that everything is still in the home as the owners left it – all the ornaments of dogs (Mrs. MacKinnon was a great animal lover, especially of dogs), the many home movies they made are there beside the projector, their photo albums and many other personal items are just where they left them.

Entertaining at Mooramong was on a lavish scale and also at their Melbourne home in South Yarra. Mr. and Mrs. MacKinnon were also very generous to those around them. Many garden parties were held in the grounds of Mooramong to raise funds for various organisations in the district. Mrs. MacKinnon had a lovely singing voice and she often graced the stage in the Skipton area at charity functions, dressed in her beautiful gowns and jewellery. Although they had no children of their own, they are remembered as being very good to children and they have left a bequest which enables pupils at the Skipton Primary School to enjoy an interstate trip each year. They were also made life governors of the Skipton Hospital.

Mr. MacKinnon died in 1974 and Mrs. MacKinnon in 1978.

Mooramong is now run by three separate committees to administer the Homestead, the Farm, and the Flora and Fauna Park. When these committees meet, they sit at the large table in the dining room with a lovely portrait painting of Mrs. MacKinnon looking down on them.

The grounds around the house are being developed as a Flora and Fauna Park and a programme is in place to re-establish the endangered eastern barred bandicoot. On our way to see the bird hide, the ranger gave us a most interesting talk on the habits and breeding of this little animal. We were shown a stuffed one on display inside the very comfortable hide where visitors can sit and observe the varied birdlife of the wetlands of the area. The working farm brings in an income which assists in the maintenance of this property with its interesting history.

After lunch, we headed for Beaufort. History tells us that Major Sir Thomas Mitchell passed through Beaufort in 1836 and early settlers in the area were the Kirkland Brothers and a Mr. Hamilton. The latter took up Trawalla Station in 1838. It was taken over by Adolphus Goldsmith in 1841 and he developed the property into a rich grazing enterprise. Lake Goldsmith was named for this gentleman. The gold rush began in Beaufort in 1852, with the Fiery Creek rush taking place a few years later. The population of the area reached 100,000 at one stage before steadily decreasing as miners moved on. By 1860, Beaufort had become a small but strong agricultural, pastoral and timber district.

On arrival, we found members of the Beaufort Historical Society waiting for us at the old Court House, which was built in 1863. We were warmly welcomed and shown their holdings and displays. There were some lovely streetscapes of yesteryear; one was a view of Neill Street, which was named after a British General in the Indian Mutiny. Once just a track to the Fiery Creek diggings, it is now the busy Western Highway.

Some of our members busied themselves in the local records, finding references to their family ancestors, while others chatted with the Beaufort members and took a more general interest in what was available. This included old newspapers, many scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings over the years, which contained reports and photos of weddings, debutante balls, etc., photos of pioneers and more recent ‘locals’, and of the historic homes in the area. It was interesting to talk to one lady who could recall attending a CWA function with her mother, when Mrs. Claire MacKinnon delighted the audience with her beautiful singing. She was dressed in a lovely red velvet gown on that occasion and this Beaufort lady still vividly recalls that evening.

The Beaufort Historical Society is quite a small group and we congratulate them on their efforts to preserve the past history of the area for the benefit of future generations. After enjoying a cuppa with our hosts, it was time to thank them for their warm hospitality and the opportunity to check on some of the history of Beaufort, and then head for home after yet another enjoyable outing together. Our thanks are again extended to our President, Graeme Mills, for taking the wheel of the minibus and conveying us on this interesting excursion.

Next Meeting - This will be held on Sunday, 22nd April, at the Court House, at 1.30 p.m., followed by a working bee. Please note the date! Plans will be finalised for the Annual General Meeting which will take place at Wesley Hall, Avoca, on Sunday, 20th May, at 12 noon, when the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, M.H.R. for Ballarat, will speak to us about Federation.

New Members - The Society extends a warm welcome to the following new members :

Isolde KINNS, of Greensborough, Vic., who is interested in the RAPKINS, CAMERON and OWENS families.

Leon PUNTON, of Wendouree, Vic., whose interest is PUNTON.

Ms Fiona HARRIS, of Mt. Claremont, W.A., who is researching John HARRIS (FAIRFAX) and Eliza WOLEGHAN

Old News Copy Web Site - In our January Newsletter No. 188, we advised of a new web site at http://www.oldnewscopy.com which is an index of old local newspapers of the 1800s compiled by Jacqui Cunningham, of Talbot. Jacqui now tells us that she has added an index of a copy of the Landsborough newspaper as well as the first three months of the Victoria Police Gazette for 1854, which includes ship deserters and army deserters. We will keep you posted as Jacqui continues her indexing project. This interesting web site is linked to our own.

Old Post Card - A black and white postcard showing a scene of the Avoca River has been found by Helen Harris at a post card fair. It is undated and addressed to Miss R. Resuggan, Shire Hall, Avoca. The message reads, "Hope you are enjoying yourself. Hope I see you here tomorrow night. It is a hard life here. This too crowded. With love from A. Summers." Anyone interested can obtain this card by writing to our Secretary enclosing a donation of $5 to our Court House Restoration Fund.

Robe to Bendigo, 1857-1863 - Historic Re-enactment. On the 31st March, fifteen walkers from Bendigo will set out from Robe in South Australia, to re-enact the migratory trek undertaken by some 16,261 Chinese males and one female from Robe to the Victorian goldfields, between 17th January, 1857, and 1st August, 1863. In parties of up to 700, the Chinese traversed the 518 kms from Robe to Bendigo, walking in single file, each bearing a pole across their shoulders with two baskets attached, and covering about 35 kms per day.

Up until 1856, 40,000 Chinese had arrived in Victoria, drawn here by the gold rush. Then, in 1856, in a blatant act of discrimination, the colonial government of Victoria imposed a 10 per head poll tax on Chinese arriving at the Port of Melbourne. To avoid paying this tax, ship captains bypassed the Port of Melbourne and sailed on to South Australia, firstly landing their Chinese passengers at Adelaide, then at Kingston, and finally at Robe.

As these Chinese progressed across country, they dug wells for fresh water. Many of these were lined and had lids to prevent pollution, so that those following would have clean water. They also purchased sheep from stations for a supply of fresh meat and messages were left at towns along the way to help their countrymen who came later.

The Robe to Bendigo Walk is a celebration of the contribution of the Chinese community to Australian society in the year of the Centenary of Federation and the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Victoria.

Although there were a number of routes taken by the Chinese to reach the Victorian goldfields, this walk will follow what is believed to have been the most common one. Leaving Robe at 9.30 am on Saturday, 31st March, the walkers will head for Chinamen Wells, Clay Wells, Penola, Casterton, Coleraine, Hamilton, Dunkeld, Ararat, Elmhurst, Amphitheatre, Avoca (due 11th April), Bung Bong, Maryborough and Castlemaine and are due in Bendigo at 3.00 pm on Saturday, 14th April.

A special objective for the walkers is to collect copies of all the documents relating to the Chinese from the towns through which they will pass. These copies will be presented to the Bendigo Chinese Association as a contribution to the Bendigo Chinese Museum archives. They also propose to interact with these communities along the route by visiting schools to discuss the contribution which the Chinese and other ethnic groups have made to this country, and by speaking engagements at service clubs and historical societies. It is hoped school children will join in the walk as the group approaches each town. As many people as possible are encouraged to join the walkers on the final leg of their trek from Ravenswood to Bendigo on Saturday, 14th April.

It is interesting to learn that the walkers will be farewelled from Robe by two descendants of James Ah Kew Chen, one of the original Chinese diggers. They are his grandson, Philip Chen, and great-granddaughter, Lucinda Adams. They will also join the group fifteen days later for the grand entry into Bendigo. A great finale is planned for Easter Monday, when five Chinese dragons will take part in the traditional Bendigo Easter Parade, accompanying the walkers.

You can follow the progress of this historic re-enactment on www.webtrain.com.au/robetobendigo/

Some Happenings in the year of Federation, 1901 -

January 1 - Commonwealth of Australia proclaimed at a ceremony in Centennial Park, Sydney.

Lord Hopetoun assumed office as Governor-General, and Prime Minister Edmund Barton and his cabinet ministers (Executive Council) were sworn in.

March 1 - Naval and military forces and establishments of the states were transferred to the Commonwealth, which also assumed control of all postal and telegraph services.

March 29 (and 30th) - First federal elections held.

May 5 - First wireless message between ship and shore in Australia exchanged between H.W. Jenvey in Queenscliff, Vic., and the Royal Yacht as it entered Port Phillip Bay.

May 8 - The Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) opened the first Commonwealth parliament in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne. Parliament then met in the Victorian Legislative Assembly building and continued to do so until 1927.

September 3 - Australian flag chosen by competition from 30,000 designs displayed at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

November 19 -Commonwealth parliament resolves to accept responsibility for British New Guinea.

Some Snippets from the Past -

From "The Warrnambool Standard" of 2nd December, 1925

"A GALLANT RESCUE – CHIEF OFFICER MARSHALL DRAGGED FROM BURNING ROOM - The promptitude with which Mr. W. M. Chellew answered cries for help emanating from a room in the Commercial Hotel, Stawell, early on Sunday morning, undoubtedly saved the life of Col. T. S. Marshall, of Kalimna-Rd., Essendon, chief officer of the Country Fire Brigade Board, who was visiting Stawell in connection with the work of his organisation. Col. Marshall had become ill the previous afternoon and had retired early to his room. Mr. Chellew, who was sleeping two doors away, was awakened in the early hours of the morning by cries, and hastening along the passage saw smoke coming from under the door of the room occupied by his chief officer. Rushing in he found Col. Marshall standing beside the bed, which was enveloped in flame. Papers strewn about the room were ablaze, and the mattress on the bed was smouldering slowly. Col. Marshall, who is 84 years old, seemed to be dazed, so Mr. Chellew poured the contents of a jug of water over him, in order to ensure that any sparks which might be in his clothing had been extinguished, and then rushed him from the room. Returning, he subdued the flames with the water in the other vessels in the room. It was fortunate for the chief officer that his secretary wakes quickly, as there is every possibility that otherwise he would have been burned to death.

Col. Marshall is now in the hands of the doctor at his home in Essendon. His position is regarded as serious."

Find of Gold - From "The Warrnambool Standard", 30th April, 1901 - "A rich find of gold has been made by two prospectors, Burge and Horwell, who have been searching for the indicator between Avoca and Glenpatrick. They came upon a rich vein and washed off 16 oz. and expect an additional 80 oz. this week."

(My thanks to Betty Beavis for these interesting snippets. Ed.)

Wedding Bells - Taylor-Wardlaw

(From "The Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ Journal", Wednesday, 2nd December, 1931)

"A wedding in which much interest was centred, took place at St. John’s Church of England on Saturday afternoon, when Miss Annie Isobel Wardlaw, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Wardlaw, of Avoca, was married to Mr. Harry Taylor, of Avoca, and formerly of Dunolly. The bride, who entered the church on the arm of her father, looked charming in an ivory satin frock with skirt falling in flares to ankle length and she carried a bouquet of lillies. The bridesmaid, Miss Jean Roberts, of Bendigo, wore an apricot frock of faille silk, ankle length, with flared cape and silver bow trimmings. She wore long apricot mesh gloves, and felt and straw hat in the same shades, and

carried a bouquet of apricot and blue flowers. The Rev. Arthur Bell, Vicar of St. John’s, was the officiating clergyman. Mr. Jack Wardlaw (brother of the bride) acted as best man. Miss Elsie Isaacs, L.A.B., presided at the organ.

The wedding breakfast was partaken of in the spacious dining room of the Hotel Victoria. The tables were tastefully laid out and adorned, and a sumptuous repast was provided, the whole reflecting the greatest credit on Mrs. J. J. McDonald and her staff. The Rev. Arthur Bell presided, and the customary toasts were honoured.

The young couple, who are highly esteemed in Avoca, have the best wishes of their numerous friends for future happiness and prosperity."

St. John’s Sunday School Picnic – (From "The Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ Journal" of Wednesday, 2nd December, 1931)

The annual Sunday School picnic for St. John’s scholars was united with the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the church. Many visitors were present including Right Rev. Dr. James, D.D., Bishop of St. Arnaud, and Canon F.T.C. Reynolds. Rev. Arthur Bell made some appropriate introductory remarks. Dr. James then welcomed visitors and friends. He expressed the hope that the functions arranged for them would provide spiritual refreshment.

Mr. A.G. Lalor referred to the definite improvement in the Parish life during the vicariate of Canon Reynolds. Cr. R.T. Kaye endorsed the previous speaker’s remarks and referred in eulogistic

terms to former and present church workers. Canon Reynolds returned thanks for the wonderful welcome, and on behalf of all visitors, said it was joyful to be present at the re-union picnic. He assured them that Mrs. Reynolds had done more than himself in the good work at Avoca.

Mr. E. Taylor motored visitors to the picnic ground free of charge, and Miss Vera Classen carried out the secretarial duties splendidly.

Mr. A.E. Horne conveyed the goods to the ground.

The officials were: Handicappers, Messrs. J. Shaw and A.F. Kaye; starter, Cr. H.B. Worthington; Judges, Cr. R.T. Kaye, Messrs. A.G. Lalor, W.W. Kaye and H.J. Chapman.

The ladies of the congregation gave valuable assistance, as did other members of the church. Appended are the results:

Senior girls – Irene Redpath 1, Gwen Jones 2, Eunice Beavis 3.

Intermediate girls – Mary Beavis 1, Elma Morris 2, Joyce Gane 3.

Junior girls – Kath Smith 1, Charlotte Redpath 2, Shirley Yates 3.

Kindergarte girls – Marjory Yates 1, Ethel Bell 2, Zona Morrow 3.

Senior boys - Jim Astbury 1, Tom Smith 2, Mason Chapman 3.

Intermediate boys - Norman Beavis 1, Colin Jones 2, Ian Harbour 3.

Kindergarten boys - Keith Morris 1, Les Beavis 2, Robt. Blair 3.

Visitors’ race (boys) - E. Field 1, K. Daly 2.

Visitors' race (girls) - Irene Redpath 1, Jean Cullip 2.

Consolation race (girls) - Lorna Wiseman 1, Edna Walker 2, Joyce Yates 3.

Boot jumble race (girls) - Mary Beavis 1, Elsie Fraser 2.

Siamese race (girls) - Irene Redpath and Mary Beavis 1, Joyce Yates and Joyce Clarke 2.

Egg and spoon race - Coralie Williams 1, Irene Redpath 2.

Consolation race (boys) - Bob Barker 1, Jack Brereton 2, Len Wiseman 3.

Boys’ race - Allan Beavis 1, Dave Burton 2, Jack Whitley 3.

Boot jumble race (boys) - Jim Gordon 1, Tom Smith 2.

Siamese race (boys) - Jim Gordon and Jim Astbury 1, Keith Morris and Don Blair 2.

Thread the needle race - Gwen Jones 1, Coralie Williams 2, Kath Smith 3.

Young ladies’ race - Elva Humphrey 1, Nelly Kaye 2.

Thread the Needle race - Irene Redpath 1, Dorothy Cullip 2, Phyllis Jones 3.

G.F.S. race - Florrie Morris 1, Nelly Kaye 2, Lizzie Redpath 3.

Egg and spoon race - Ruby Blair 1, Mabel Gane 2."

A.N.A. Lexton Branch – (From "The Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ Journal", 2nd Dec., 1931)

"The Lexton Branch A.N.A. has elected the following officers for the ensuing year:- President – A. Hinchcliffe; Vice-President – V. Brown; Ex-President – J.H. Karslake; Treasurer – J.J. Simpkin; Secretary – Wm. Simpkin; Asst.-Sec. – E. Ray Simpkin; Auditors – E.B. Dawson and R.E. Simpkin; Committee – R. Morvell, L. Brown, J.C. Roxburgh, T. Palmby, C.G. Opie; Conference Delegates – A. Hinchcliffe and C.G. Opie; Emergency – J.H. Karslake."

Personal Pars (From the same paper of 2nd December, 1931)

"The following visitors spent the weekend with Mr. and Mrs. R. Marshall, of ‘Grand View’, Avoca:-

Mr. Jack Robbins, of Campbellfield; Mr. Albert Robbins, of Campbellfield; Mr. Ken Robbins, of Coburg; Mr. Jim Reynolds, of Windsor. These gentlemen are greatly taken up with the Golden Bar line of reef, and Mr. Marshall contemplates that in the near future a shaft will be put down, and some systematic prospecting done on that particular formation."

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STOP PRESS - Federation Celebrations at Lexton on 24th March - Word is just to hand of the success of two of our members at the Flower Show held that day. Congratulations to Jack Severino who won first prize with his giant Heirloom Jarrah pumpkin, weighing in at over 155 lbs., and also to Edna Jarvis, who took home five first prizes and ten seconds! A full report in next newsletter.