ADHS Newsletter No. 210 MARCH/APRIL, 2003

Items of interest -

Visit to Werribee Park - On Sunday, 16th March, sixteen members departed from the Court House by bus at 8.00 a.m., with Graeme Mills as their coach captain. On a lovely late-summery day, they were heading for Werribee Park, where they were to thoroughly enjoy a visit to the historic Mansion and the Victoria State Rose Garden.

The Mansion is said to be the largest private residence ever built in Victoria and contains some 60 rooms. It was constructed in the years 1874-1877 in the Italianate style for squatter brothers Andrew and Thomas Chirnside, whose family was very well-known in those times. A tour of the house, with its opulence, rich period furnishings, beautiful fine china, paintings and other art treasures, showed that the Chirnsides followed the tradition of living in the grand style of an English stately home.

The brothers, as typical English gentlemen, were keen on hunting, playing polo and horse-riding and the grounds of Werribee Park were designed to accommodate these pursuits. Red deer, pheasants, quail and hares could be found there to make their shooting parties successful, whilst hunting trophies, some from overseas safari trips, adorn the walls of some rooms in the house, like the billiard room.

In traditional style, whilst the men enjoyed their after-dinner cigars and port, the ladies withdrew to the lovely drawing room, with its plush velvet chairs, gilded mirrors, a grand piano – and the gossip chair! This small, light chair, upholstered in red velvet, was so-called because it could be easily moved from group to group of ladies, deep in conversation around the room.

When the brothers departed for Australia, Thomas left behind Mary, his one true love. In the late 1870s, Thomas made the biggest mistake of his life – he sent his brother Andrew to England to escort Mary on her trip out to Australia. Alas, Andrew fell in love with her and married her, so Mary reigned as ‘Lady of the Mansion’ as Mrs. Andrew Chirnside. It is said that poor Thomas never recovered from his disappointment and grief, and committed suicide when he was 72 years of age.

After marvelling at the beauty contained within the walls of this historic mansion, our party then moved outside to enjoy yet more beauty, this time in the renowned Victoria State Rose Garden. And despite the drought and some reports of possums eating the blooms, they were not disappointed.

Werribee Park is noted as the venue for many equestrienne events throughout the year. Thus some folk in our group took the opportunity to watch a polo match in progress before boarding the bus and heading for home, very tired after all the walking but very contented after such an enjoyable day. Our thanks to Graeme Mills for again driving the bus for another successful outing for our members.

(The Mansion at Werribee Park was purchased by the Victorian Government in 1973. It was restored and refurbished to its former glory and is managed by Parks Victoria. Within the 140 hectare estate are many surviving features of the property, such as the mansion, the formal Guilfoyle-style gardens, the State rose garden and the working farm, making this a site of national significance. The Werribee Park Open Range Zoo is another very popular attraction on this historical site.)

April Meeting - As our normal meeting day fell on Easter Sunday, our April meeting was held a week later, on Sunday, 27th April, when members gathered at the Court House to finalise arrangements for the A.G.M.

Annual General Meeting - This will be held on Sunday, 18th May, with a luncheon at the historic Victoria Hotel in High Street, Avoca, 12 noon for 12.30 p.m. Cost is $15 per head. Those wishing to attend should notify Jill Hunter on 5467 2211 no later than 12th May.

Our guest speaker on this occasion will be our member, Pearl Collins, her subject being A Goldfields Ancestry, which will lead up to the point which triggered the compilation of all those wonderful letters in her book, Dear Aunt Emma. Pearl is the possessor of enormous drive and energy and is very actively involved in the genealogical group at Echuca, more so since her retirement from nursing in recent years. She has a particularly interesting background in the goldfields areas and we look forward to hearing her story told in her very lively style.

Members should note that annual subscriptions will fall due in May and a tear-off slip to facilitate this is provided on the attached form, giving notice of the A.G.M. Membership fees are $17 for singles and $20 for a family.

The annual election of office-bearers will follow the luncheon, when all positions will be declared vacant and nominations for these will be welcomed. As it is important that we have a minimum of at least 10% of members present at the A.G.M., it would be appreciated if those members who cannot attend would appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf, should the occasion arise.

Donations to the Court House Restoration Fund are also welcomed, with donations of $2 and over being tax deductible.

Members’ Interests Directory - Our Correspondence Secretary reports that members have responded well by completing the form in the February newsletter for inclusion in the Members’ Interests Directory. Should you have overlooked completing your form, please do so immediately so that work on this project can begin.

Sincere thanks go to Lyn Cosham who responded immediately and so spontaneously to our request for someone to undertake this task. We have been happy to accept her kind offer. We also thank Wendy Taylor and Terry Collins for their interest and kind offers, which were received later.

Situation Vacant - Newsletter Editor - This Editor apologises for not having a March newsletter out on time, so this effort is to cover March and April. Because of eye problems, it is impossible to work at the computer for long periods and this is being done in short ‘instalments’, as it were. Another eye operation is scheduled for late June so having good vision is still quite some weeks away. It is reaching the stage of doing the newsletter if and when I can cope, so it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a new Newsletter Editor.

With over 200 members, there must be someone who can maintain reasonable active contact with the Society at Avoca who would be willing to take on this important task which is the lynch-pin that holds the Society together. This Editor will be happy to offer any assistance asked for and can be contacted on (03) 9808 9284.

Homebush History - The Society extends sincere thanks to our member Douglas Wegener for his great effort in researching the history of the Homebush area. The results of his labours are now incorporated on our web-site, thanks to Denis Strangman, who maintains our web-site, and can be viewed at

Douglas is a teacher at the Mt. Waverley Secondary College and is in charge of the school camp which is situated in the grounds of the historic Lower Homebush School. We thank him for his interest in the district and his valuable contribution to the Society’s local history holdings.

New Member - A warm welcome is extended to new member Mrs. Pam STUDD, of West Ryde, NSW, whose interests are STUDD, GOLDSMITH and STEINFORT. Pam was recently responsible for organising a reunion at Amphitheatre and the unveiling of a plaque at the Glenlogie Cemetery to honour the STUDD family. (See also Page 5 for more new members.)

Can You Help? - Beyond The Walls : Victoria’s Early Female Refuges - The Ballarat Heritage Services are working on a project for a touring exhibition on the foregoing theme. Female refuges in the 1800s were places of confinement for unmarried mothers. Many unmarried women who found themselves with babies were ostracised and stigmatised by society and many were put into institutions such as the female refuge. The laundry was an important and integral part of these institutions. Locations of these refuges in Victoria included those at Carlton, Abbotsford, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

Some types of artefacts (or photographs of) being sought for this exhibition include – laundry items such as old soap boxes, scrubbing boards, irons, laundry baskets and starch; babies’ baskets; babies’ binders and flanelette items; babies’ feeders and bottles; medicines or remedies concerned with childbirth; instruments used for childbirth; invoices/doctor’s bills.

Should you have something to contribute to this exhibition, please contact the Project Managers, Dorothy Wickham and Clare Gervasoni at P.O. Box 2209, Ballarat Mail Centre, Vic. 3354, or phone 03 5331 7006, fax 03 5331 6150, e-mail

ACCIDENTS OF YESTERYEAR - The following stories are from a scrapbook compiled by Dorothy Robinson from reports of various accidents which appeared in local newspapers of yesteryear.

From "The Avoca Mail", 21st June, 1927

"Mr. W. B. HELLIAR, of Homebush Lower, met with a painful accident last week. He had transferred some sheep from one paddock to another and was engaged in shifting the feed boxes, using a horse and gig for the purpose. He had loaded up the gig and was in the act of getting in when the horse bolted and the vehicle struck a tree, and Mr. Helliar was hurled to the ground. The horse continued but struck a stump a little distance away and came down. Mr. Helliar made light of his injuries, but subsequently had to seek the services of Dr. Colquhoun, who found he had sustained an injury to his hip and was otherwise badly bruised and shaken. His friends will be pleased to learn that under treatment he is making a good recovery. The gig was practically wrecked."

From "The Avoca Mail", 28th April, 1908

"A SERIOUS ACCIDENT – THREE PERSONS INJURED. The many friends of Mr. and Mrs. B. ELLIOTT, of Rathscar West, will regret to learn that they met with a serious accident on Sunday evening last, whilst driving home with three members of their family from Lower Homebush, where they had been attending church. It appears that when near the corner of the paddock known as Curtain’s, the winkers broke and the bit came out of the horse’s mouth; consequently Mr. Elliott had no control over the animal, and almost immediately the vehicle was capsized, the whole of the occupants being thrown violently out on to the road. It was at once apparent that Mr. Elliott had been badly injured, and he was removed to his home in a conveyance belonging to a rabbit trapper, who came to their assistance. Dr. Grimmer, who was immediately summoned, was promptly in attendance. He found Mr. Elliott had sustained a fracture of the right thigh and a nasty wound over the right eye, which penetrated to the bone. Mrs. Elliott was suffering from two nasty lacerated wounds in the forehead, above the left eye, the bone being laid bare, and Dr. Grimmer found it necessary to insert several stitches. A son (Mr. Tom Elliott) sustained a fracture of the left wrist. The other two occupants of the vehicle escaped serious injury, but the whole five members of the family, in addition to the injuries mentioned above, were badly bruised and shaken and it will be some time before they recover from the effects of the accident. Mr. Elliott was yesterday removed to the Maryborough Hospital. We join with readers in wishing Mr. Elliott and family a speedy recovery."

FEDERATION - In this issue, we conclude the listing of names shown on the Electoral Roll in the wider Avoca area who voted at the Victorian Federal Election in 1899 :


BIBBY Peter Farmer MORROW John Farmer

BIBBY Thomas James Farmer PARRY Richard Farmer

CARN Richard Labourer RAEBURN Alexander Farmer

CARN Thomas Farmer RAEBURN Robert, jnr. Farmer

CARN William Farmer RAEBURN Robert, snr. Farmer

DARLINGTON John Farmer RIDGEWELL James Storekeeper

DAVIS David Farmer SMITH John Farmer

HANNETT Charles Labourer SMITH John Farmer

HANNETT John Farmer SPARROW Nathaniel Farm Assistant

HIGGINS Robert Farmer STUART John A. Farmer

LOWE Thomas Farmer SYMONS Joseph E. Blacksmith

McMURRAN Samuel Farmer THOMPSON George L. Farmer

McMURRAN William Farmer


COMINS Edward Miner RODGERS William Farmer

EVANS Matthew Farmer ROWLAND Ralph Farmer

FABRETTI Peter Vigneron RUBIE Thomas P. Farmer

GEE Frederick Line Repairer RUNDRUM Henry Vigneron

GORDON John R. Farmer SCOTT Robert Farmer

LOGAN George Farmer SMALL Andrew Farmer

LOGAN Robert Baker SUTHERLAND Thomas G. Farmer

LONG Francis Farmer TRINERY Joseph H. Labourer

NICHOLS Charles Miner UREN Samuel Farmer

NICHOLS James Miner WALKER Frank Farmer

PORTEOUS Graham Farmer WALKER William Farmer

Voting on the question of an Australian Federal Constitution was held in Victoria on Thursday, the 27th July, 1899. Voting was not compulsory but every encouragement was given for electors to exercise that right. They were also encouraged to vote in favour of Federation. Perhaps as part of that encouragement to go to a polling booth on that date was the prospect of receiving an elaborate certificate, showing the elector’s name and signed by the State Premier of the day.

In shades of orange, brown, blue and grey, it measured 490 by 350 mm (approximately 19 by 14 inches in the old measurements) and showed a sketch of Melbourne’s Parliament House (complete with a dome!) and photos of the six State Premiers. It stated that of 163,783 votes cast in the poll, 152,653 were cast in favour of an Australasian Federal Constitution. Some folk may have found such a certificate among old family papers.

Some of the listings given in our newsletters in the past months have been very interesting, giving quite an overview of the occupations followed by the inhabitants. Avoca, Lexton and Talbot are three which come to mind, all showing a very balanced mix of occupations needed in a community.

If, perchance, like your Editor, you did not find your ancestor’s name in the listings, it is important to remember that voting was not compulsory. My family research indicates that I should have located my grandfather at Percydale or Amphitheatre at that time, but his name does not appear in either listing.

Restored Wagon for Lexton’s Toll Bar Park - A special event is planned for Saturday, 14th June, 2003, at 10.30 a.m., when celebrations will mark the restoration and return to Toll Bar Park of the old wagon which has been displayed for some years at the Park.

The wagon was built by McGrath’s, of Ascot, and was originally used in the district from the 1920s. In 1985, it was donated to Toll Bar Park by P.J. Ryan and family, of Waubra.

It has been restored by Geoff. Little, a wainwright, of Maldon, and will be returned to Lexton pulled by a team of horses, the journey taking a few days.

The celebrations are being organised by the Lexton Progress Association, in conjunction with the Pyrenees Shire Council, and the official handover ceremony will be followed by a BBQ lunch in the Park. To assist with catering arrangements, those wishing to attend the BBQ should contact Ada and Max Hobson on (03) 5466 7260, or write to them at the Post Office, Lexton, 3352, by 1st June.

Federation Centenary Medal - The Federation Centenary Medal has been created to honour those who have made a significant contribution to Australian society or government, with federal, state and local government representatives being asked to nominate worthy recipients. In coming days, Catherine King, the Federal Member for Ballarat, will be presenting 79 of these medals at ceremonies to be held at Daylesford, Ballarat, Avoca and Stawell.

The Information Centre in High Street, Avoca, will be the setting for the presentation of four of these medals, the recipients being -

Bruce Field, for service to the racing industry and tourism in the Avoca and Pyrenees area;

Margaret Oulton, for long and voluntary service to the people of Lexton and surrounds;

Harry Oulton, for long and voluntary service to the people of Lexton and surrounds;

Robert Vance, for service to local government through the Pyrenees.

Margaret is well-known for her excellent book on the history of the Lexton area, A Valley of the Finest Description, and she and Harry are long-time dedicated and active members of this Society. They are also very active members of the Lexton Progress Association and we congratulate them on receiving this well-deserved recognition of their constant service to the community.

New Members (see also Page 3) - The Society extends a warm welcome to the following new members, whose names have just been received by the Editor :

Mrs. Barbara GOLDSMITH, of Croydon Hills, Vic., who is researching GOLDSMITH, STUDD, HAMMOND and DODDS, of Amphitheatre

Mr. Frank and Mrs. Margaret WYHOON, of Leongatha, Vic., whose interests are AH HOON, WYHOON, COOK, FOGARTY, PORA and DUVAL.

Mr. Bernard BOLTON, who is interested in local history.

C.H.H.A. Family and Local History Expo 2003 - The Central Highlands Historical Association will hold its annual Family and Local History Expo on 3rd, 4th and 5th October, 2003. The theme this year will be Batons, Bayonets and Bushrangers, linking the R.H.S.V. theme of Colonial Law and Order to the celebrations marking the 150th year of the Victoria Police.

The Expo will be held at the Australian Catholic University Aquinas Campus, Mair Street, Ballarat, and will commence with a lecture on Friday night, 3rd October, by Chief Inspector Ralph Stavely, Police Historian.

For further details, please contact Gordon Dawe on (03) 5475 2041 or Beryl Maidment on (03) 5331 2847.

New Books - Victoria Police 1853-2003: Celebrating 150 years in the Community is a beautifully produced pictorial history featuring about 400 photographs from the 1850s to the present. With a foreword by Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon and an introduction by Keith Dunstan, this book provides a fascinating history of the Victoria Police. It is available from Information Victoria at 356 Collins Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, phone 1300 366 356 (local call cost), and costs $48.00 plus postage and handling.

Newcastle History - The Newcastle Family History Society Inc. advise that they have published another two new books. "Grave Listing for the Branxton Catholic Cemetery" contains more than 500 entries and costs $25.00 per copy plus $2.50 postage and packing.

"Big Hill – a Tribute to the Pioneers Interred in Teralba and District Cemeteries, N.S.W." contains 168 pages and costs $30.00 per copy, plus $5.00 postage and packing.

Both books are available from the Society at P.O. Box 189, Adamstown, N.S.W. 2289.

Colonial Victorian History - "Lost and Almost Forgotten Towns of Colonial Victoria" by Angus Watson, is the result of many years of meticulous research and is a comprehensive analysis of census results for Victoria in the years 1841 to 1901. Those census returns collected by the fledgling governments of Colonial Victoria give a glimpse of places where miners, families and trades people once went about their daily lives but there is little evidence today of their existence. The book should be useful as a reference guide to historians, researchers and all folk with a fascination for colonial history. Consisting of over 500 pages, the book costs $23.00, plus postage and packing, and is available from the author/publisher, Angus B. Watson, Unit 1, 13A Railway Road, Blackburn, Vic. 3130, Tel./Fax 9878 0174.

Book Launch – "Amherst District Hospital, 1859-1933: The Story of a Gold Rush Hospital" - Many members of our Society were present at the Amherst Winery on Saturday, 26th April, for the launch of this book. Mrs. Bea. Brewster has written the history of the Amherst Hospital, which no longer exists but in its day served the surrounding areas well, areas such as Amphitheatre, Mountain Hut, Lamplough, Avoca, Bung Bong, Lexton, Caralulup, Back Creek (Talbot), Craigie and the Majorca area. All that remains today are the walls of the "new" concrete mortuary, the base of a flagpole, piles of bricks and pieces of asphalt, and the dried up dam which was once the water supply for the hospital complex.

At the book launch, there was an interesting display of photos of the hospital and groups of nurses who once tended the sick there. A beautiful water colour painting of the hospital, complete with its very long white picket fence, and done in 1873, was a talking point of the afternoon.

The information in the book is taken from records and newspaper articles and contains many photos, and gives names of the nursing and domestic staff.

The soft-covered, A4 size book of 80 pages is available from the Talbot Arts and Historical Museum Inc., Camp Street, Talbot, Vic., 3371, and costs $20.00 plus postage and packing.

An interesting little booklet giving the Rules of the Amherst Hospital Incorporated, 1865 is also available for $3.

Help Wanted - Pioneer Cemeteries at Mountain Hut and Glenpatrick - This Society is keen to build up a register of the names of those buried in the pioneer cemeteries at Mountain Hut and Glenpatrick, as no records exist of either one. If you have interests in those areas and knowledge of burials in those cemeteries, especially with death certificates to verify same, the Society would appreciate hearing from you.

Apology - Your Editor apologises if this newsletter appears to be somewhat disjointed. Most of it was prepared prior to the meeting on 27th April, and the rest added subsequently, time being the essence if you are to receive Notice of the Annual General Meeting on time.