ADHS Newsletter No. 213 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER, 2003

Items of interest -

Tour of Amphitheatre - On Sunday, 21st September, sixteen members enjoyed a ramble along Bailey Street, Amphitheatre, with guide Mary Dridan explaining the history of almost every block of land. And, indeed, every block had a story. The glorious spring day was a total contrast to the boisterous weather we experienced last year when we toured the Mountain Hut area and the outskirts of Amphitheatre, and were almost blown away, as were our lunches and Mary’s historical display!

Gold was discovered in 1853 on the Glenlogie run, near the Amphitheatre, so named by Major Mitchell on his journey of exploration in 1836. The rush peaked in 1858-59 when there were approximately 6,000 people on the Amphitheatre diggings, served by a fledgling township situated close to the confluence of the Glenlogie/Amphitheatre Creek and the Avoca River.

For many years, there was confusion about the name of that creek and also the town itself, which is shown on early maps as Glenlogie. It is recorded that, up to 1905, postmasters were appointed to Glenlogie while, today, the cemetery at Amphitheatre is still known as the Glenlogie Cemetery.

Our walk began at Bakery Park, so named because there was once a well-established bakery on this site, where the local folk could bring the meat and vegetables for their roast dinner for the obliging baker to cook in his oven once the daily bread had been baked. This park was opened in January, 1988, to mark Australia’s bi-centenary.

Adjacent to Bakery Park is St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. The present brick, cement-rendered church was opened in September, 1906, at a cost of £600, to replace the original timber structure, with its cladding of weatherboards and shingle roof, which had been opened in 1867.

Further down Bailey Street, set well back from the road, is a house which was built with reject bricks from the Catholic Church project. Apparently these bricks had not been properly baked.

At the back of this house could be seen Amphitheatre’s first school, No. 22, which was opened in November, 1861, under the auspices of the Church of England. This school closed in August, 1875, and the new Amphitheatre School No. 1637 opened on 1st September, 1875 (this is situated at the rear of the Public Hall, towards the railway line).

T. C. Ennis ran a large general store in the town for many years. After being demolished by fire, it was rebuilt and in recent days, was converted into tea rooms, with old wares and historic bits and pieces adding interest. More recently, this business has closed.

Continuing down Bailey Street, we came to the site of the original post office which was a very tiny building. Annie Hardie served the community as post mistress for 40 years until her death in 1911, after which Jabez Spelman was appointed as post master. The post office was later located on the opposite side of the street.

Livestock sale yards were situated further along. Here an annual event took place with a very big sale of livestock in conjunction with a fair run by the ladies of the nearby Union Church.

The Union Church was opened on 5th November, 1865, and served the Presbyterian and Anglican congregations on alternate Sundays. Thomas Clapperton, of the Amphitheatre Station, contributed half the cost of the building, donated the organ, and paid half the annual stipend of the Presbyterian minister, with strict instructions that the building and the organ were to be used by both the Presbyterian and Anglican congregations.

Across the bridge which spans the Amphitheatre/Glenlogie Creek, is the Avenue of Honour. The 54 pine trees which were planted there on Arbour Day, 1919, in honour of the men of the district who served their country in World War I, are now very mature indeed and it is rumoured that some will shortly have to be cut down.

From the bridge, we viewed the junction of the creek with the Avoca River and also the remains of the brick foundations of the pump house which once served the Amphitheatre Hotel, established by Henry Bird in 1863, and still operating today. The original building provided six bedrooms for travellers whilst the existing building had accommodation for up to 23 men who were employed on the gold dredging works. Apart from establishing his hotel in 1863, Henry Bird is also recorded as releasing nine rabbits at Mt. Direction in that same year!!

The railway came to Amphitheatre in late 1890, and the crossing on Bailey Street was controlled, for many years, by the opening and shutting of gates by the resident gatekeeper, whose typical railway residence has been relocated to another site on Bailey Street.

Returning towards Bakery Park on the other side of the road, we paused at the old two-storey brick home which was built for the Spiers family in 1890. Originally, the back section was a single storey of timber construction, and the large kitchen had a flag-stone floor. The present owners have extended by making the back section two-storeyed. Henry Spiers came to Amphitheatre in 1859 and built one of the first stores in the township.

This main thoroughfare was once graced by an avenue of trees consisting of alternate plane and pine trees. In the area was the town’s weigh-bridge and a communal shearing shed, much used by the locals, whilst further along was the site of the first police station and adjacent police paddock.

Whilst there is little evidence today of the many businesses which once lined a busy Bailey Street, it is interesting to note that, in 1868, there were three butchers, two storekeepers, a draper, a shoemaker, two blacksmiths, a printer, a publican, a contractor, a policeman and a schoolteacher.

Returning to Bakery Park, a welcome cuppa was enjoyed before proceeding to the Glenlogie Cemetery. Here we wandered leisurely in the lovely sunshine among the graves of those folk long gone who created the history of the district whilst Mary Dridan was most helpful to those of us looking for particular graves.

Our sincere thanks to Mary for again giving us such an interesting and informative afternoon. We think Mary should give serious thought to recording her vast knowledge of the area, either by writing or recording it on tape, so that others, in the future, can have access to this information as they strive to build up their family history.

(In order to give a rounded overview of Amphitheatre in by-gone days, this writer has built on her very scrappy notes taken on the walk with information taken from Margaret Oulton’s excellent book, "A Valley of the Finest Description". The foregoing report covers most of the points of interest seen on our walk. Ed.)

Visit to Talbot in October - On Sunday, 19th October, we will be visiting Talbot. We are invited to meet at the home of Len and Betty Fleming at 52 Scandinavian Crescent, Talbot, by 12 noon to enjoy a barbecue lunch, followed by a short meeting, before adjourning to the Talbot Museum for a visit. And this museum is well worth a visit, if you have never been.

As Len and Betty are again generously providing the meat for the barbecue, those wishing to attend must let us know by contacting Jill Hunter on (03) 5467 2211 no later than Sunday, 12th October. This will assist with catering arrangements. Those attending are asked to bring a salad to share. For those who have not met at the Fleming home before, there is access at the rear of the property for parking your car.

The monthly Talbot Market will be held on that same day, so early birds might like to enjoy a browse around the various interesting stalls there before joining us for lunch.

Christmas Break-up, November - On Sunday, 16th November, at 1.30 p.m., we will meet at the Court House, where a general meeting will be held before we enjoy our end-of-year break-up with a Christmassy afternoon tea, some musical items and an exchange of small gifts, to cost no more than $3. The entertainment is to be provided by The Lost Chords, whose unaccompanied harmony was much enjoyed last year. We are delighted that they are able to be with us again this year.

Members might also like to bring an article to contribute to the Christmas hamper we will raffle on the day.

Special Announcement – A New Newsletter Editor - We are delighted to announce that Elizabeth O’Shea has offered to take over the duties of Newsletter Editor as from January, 2004, with the support and help of her husband, Tony. We ask that you give her your full support, providing short articles about your own family connections to the area, or notification of family reunions and subsequent reports, etc. An editor’s worst nightmare is a blank sheet of paper and nothing to put on it! Before the change-over takes place, new arrangements have to be put in place for the printing and mailing of the newsletter from Avoca, the production centre for these activities having been in Melbourne for many years. Meantime, we say, "Welcome aboard, Elizabeth and Tony"!

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

Ms Barbara WALKER, of Hawthorn East, Vic., who is interested in Joseph and Alfred WAINE, who came to the area in the 1860s. Our Avoca Court House also holds interest for her, as her grandfather was a Clerk of Courts, based at Maryborough, between 1940-49.

Ms Tricia WALLS, of Springvale South, Vic., whose family interests are LEYDON, DALY, MORELAND and MORELAND’s Tea Rooms in the late 1920s-early 1930s.


Acquisitions - The following acquisitions have been donated to the Society by Helen Harris and Ralph Stavely :

Microfiche: Index to N.S.W. Convicts, 1788-1842

Dunolly Hospital Admission Register, 1860-1900

Ballarat Base Hospital Admission Register, 1856-1913

Ballarat Cemetery – Old, New and Crematorium Register

Ballarat New Cemetery – Headstones

Publications: Barefoot and Pregnant: Irish Famine Orphans in Australia, Volume 2, by Trevor McClaughlin

Tracing Family History in New Zealand, by Ann Bromell

Taranaki Odyssey – 2001 – Proceedings of the 2001 ConferenceNew Zealand Society of Genealogists Inc.

Amateurs and Experts – A History of the Genealogical Society of Victoria, 1941-2001, by Elizabeth Ellen Marks.

Our grateful thanks to Helen and Ralph for these kind donations which will greatly enhance the resources we have available for family history researchers.

The Society has also received in recent times three books of photographs and brochures covering the period from the original annual Wool and Wine Festivals in 1981, to 1991,which are of great interest.

We thank Jim and Len Harris, of Poowong, for two photographs of gold mines at Homebush, to add to our collection.

Copies of two death certificates have been received to help build up a register for the Glen Patrick Cemetery.

Place of Deposit Repository – On Friday, 11th July, a special meeting was held of societies within the Central Highlands Historical Association region, hosted at Ballarat by the Public Record Office of Victoria. The purpose of the meeting was to acquaint historical societies with the issues of becoming a Place of Deposit (POD), which means that records which might normally go to the Public Record Office, but which are not scheduled as permanent records, might instead be placed within the collection of approved historical societies. As a result of this meeting, attended by representatives of this Society, the Court House has since been inspected and we have been classified as a suitable Place of Deposit Repository.


From "The Avoca Mail", 31st July, 1894 -

"Our Amphitheatre correspondent writes – A sad accident happened here on Saturday morning between five and six o’clock, by which one man, named James Burns, who is stated to come from Talbot, lost his life. The two men were going home, and owing to it being dark, must have got off the track, the result being that both men fell down a shaft about 10 feet deep, having some 3½ feet of water in it. Michael Harkins, who was the other man, called loudly for help, and being no great distance from home, his wife hearing the cries and being anxious about her husband, went to ascertain what was wrong. To her dismay she found the men in the hole, and at once ran for assistance, alarming Robert Meade and Thomas Fitzsimmons who got to the spot as rapidly as possible, and dragged the unfortunates out of the hole. Harkins was found to be none the worse, but poor Burns was dead. An inquiry was held on Saturday, but postponed till yesterday for further evidence. The Jury eventually brought in a verdict of found drowned. The remains were interred in the Amphitheatre Cemetery yesterday afternoon."

From "The Avoca Mail", 22nd September, 1893 –

"Accident at The Working Miners’ : A Serious Burst of Sand and Water. A sudden burst of sand and water occurred in the Working Miners’ Homebush Company last evening, which fortunately was not attended by any loss of life, though several miners had a narrow escape. The day shift had just knocked off work at four o’clock, and the afternoon shift had just gone below and were making their way to the faces to work, when they saw the sand and water coming down on them from an old drive some 200 feet in length. To give the alarm, and make all haste to the shaft, was the work of an instant. It was not a moment too soon for the water came rushing onward, and the men made their way up the ladders, watching the logs and timber floating beneath them. In a very short space of time the water was 21 feet up the shaft and one of the pumps went wrong, either through being choked with sand, or something breaking. The other pump was also choked temporarily and the fly wheel came to a standstill, the engine being unable to move it. The result of this was that fully a dozen men then had to get on to the wheel to aid the engine in starting it, and luckily this had the desired effect. Pumping proceeded then without hindrance, though it dare not be stopped for a minute, or the pump would have become useless. Fortunately, the sand soon settled down, and the water became clear; this aided the work and the water was lowered at the rate of eight inches in half an hour. It was anticipated last night that, unless a fresh burst occurred, the men would be able to get below today to commence cleaning up, but usual work cannot be resumed for some days. Of course the extent of damage done is not known, but it is sure to be somewhat considerable.

"The escape of the men amounts almost to a miracle, and had the burst occurred ten minutes later they certainly would not have got away, as they would have been 1,000 feet away from the shaft with the locality of the accident between them and the means of escape, and had it been ten minutes sooner, the day shift would have been caught as they were coming from work.

"It is most unfortunate that the mishap should have taken place, for we understand that gold likely to prove good had just been struck, which renders the occurrence the more deplorable."

From "The Avoca Free Press", 4th February, 1888 –

"The Omeo correspondent of the Bairnsdale Advertiser writes - A man of the name of William Lever, who recently arrived from Avoca to take a billet under Mr. Mackintosh, of Quigmundie, had a very narrow escape from a horrible death on Wednesday last. He, in company with a driver, was in attendance with a reaping machine. The machine became out of gear, and it was stopped to put the matter right. While doing so, one of the horses became restive, and made a bolt of it, breaking the swingle tree by the sudden jerk, and pulling the machine round. Both horses then became frightened, and started wildly off. Lever in running to stop them, tripped on a crushed tussock of wheat, and the machine passed right over him, the toe of one of his boots being cut off with one of the knives, and so heavily did the machine come against him that he acted as a brake, and the horses came to a standstill.

"His mate relieved him from his perilous position, rode off at once to the station, obtained a buggy and had him conveyed to the Bridge Hotel, where he received every attention from Mrs. Coloe and her daughter.

"The man appeared so far in a moribund state that Mr. J. B. Kelly read the prayers for the visitation of the sick to him, and on several occasions during the evening he appeared at his last gasp, his eyes rolling back into his head, and he clenched his teeth vehemently. He instructed Mr. Kelly what he would like to have done, in the event of his having to succumb, as he has a widowed mother and a young sister and brother living at Avoca. Fortunately, however, he became easier as the night progressed, and in the morning he was walking about. Mr. Mackintosh then had him conveyed to the station, where he has been gradually gaining strength ever since, so that the matter is not so serious as at first appeared."

From "The Avoca Mail", 13th October, 1893 –

"Fatal Mining Accident at Landsborough – A Miner Killed. News of a shocking accident at the Nil Desperandum mine, Landsborough, has reached us. On Tuesday, Charles Hoare, with other miners, who are working on the mine on tribute, went below as usual on the day shift, and all was going along well, until about three o’clock in the afternoon when Hoare went to work in a slice by himself at the 123 feet level. After he had been working a short time a crash was heard and his mates hurried over to see what was wrong. Not a sign of poor Hoare was to be seen, nothing but a mass of fallen earth and timber meeting the gaze of the horrified men. With all possible despatch they set to work to get the man out, and after two hours hard work they came upon the body, which they found terribly crushed and almost unrecognisable. The unfortunate victim was quite dead. He was at once raised to the surface, and conveyed to the nearest hotel.

"The deceased, who was 58 years of age, was a well-known Stawell miner, and much esteemed by his comrades; much sympathy is felt for his widow.

"The only cause that can be given for the accident is that Hoare must have been tampering with the stone and old timber above, and suddenly fell, carrying the unlucky miner into eternity before he could scarcely know what had happened.

"The deceased was a member of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, and a veteran of the Crimea.

"Mr. P.J. Dwyer, P.M., conducted an enquiry yesterday at Landsborough, with a jury of seven, when evidence was taken which showed that the accident must have been the fault of the deceased. Mr. Agnew, the Mining Inspector, showed that the ground was perfectly sound and worked in accordance with the Mines’ Act. The evidence of deceased’s mates showed that he had no right to be where he was at all, as the place had been left a week before.

"A verdict of accidental death caused by a fall of earth in the mine was returned."