ADHS Newsletter No. 154, NOVEMBER, 1997

Items of interest –

  • Poem by William Ives about Amherst Hospital
  • Obituary William Wesley Henry 1938
  • Moonambel Sports Club 1914
  • Article by Marj. Collyer about living in Avoca Manse

“The best laid schemes of mice and men . . . ” Well, we all know they can and do go astray. And go astray they did for our November meeting when our guest speaker was unable to attend and it was too late to make other arrangements. Our sincere apologies to those interested folk who came along and were disappointed at the outcome. But all is not lost – we are hoping Cliff Phelan will be able to speak to us some time next year, so watch this space!

With the amalgamation of councils in recent times, a lot of sorting through and dispensing with items and records has had to be done. Archivists have been busy in the Pyrenees Shire and our Society has received several boxes containing a variety of items, some of which are of historic interest and some of practical use in the everyday running of the Society. In the absence of a speaker at our meeting, those present began the task of sorting the contents of these boxes.

Our Christmas Get-Together is to be held at the Court House on Sunday, 14th December, from 12 noon. Please bring a picnic lunch, as there are no barbecue facilities. Tea and coffee will be available. We look forward to seeing you there.

This Society hosted the quarterly meeting of the Central Highlands Historical Association Inc. at Lexton Community Centre on Saturday, 1st November. Many thanks to our members who assisted with serving morning tea and lunch, and the setting up of the hall, etc.

It was noted at this meeting how very smart the members of the Clunes Historical Society looked in their distinctive T-shirts and a suggestion has been made that we should look at the possibility of having our own. We are asking members to think about this proposal and to suggest a suitable logo. At this point in time, the most favoured logo is a sketch of the Court House. Wendy Taylor is making enquiries re prices.

A history of the water supply in the area is being put together by Mr. Don Rickerby of Central Highlands Water. Our Society has been able to supply records and photos of relevant material from our archives, but Mr. Rickerby would welcome more information on the Sugarloaf Reservoir as well as any information on the Lead Dam. Can you help?

Our Members’ Interests Directory for 1997 is now available and our grateful thanks go to Margaret and Harry Oulton, with technical expertise from Peggy Sargeant, for the time and effort they have put in to produce this latest edition for us. Members who would like a copy should enclose a stamped, self-addressed business size envelope to the Secretary with their request.

We extend a warm welcome to the following new members of the Society :

Ms Sue PATTEN and her brother, Peter PATTEN, of East Brighton, who are researching GALE, BRYAN and EBELING.

Mrs. Elizabeth O’SHEA, of Avoca, whose interests are LANG and O’SHEA.

Mrs. Gloria CHAMBERS, of North Rockhampton, Q’ld., who is interested in the BARTH,


Our member Mr. B. SHEEHAN, of 24 Francesco Drive, Dandenong, 3175, is researching flour mills in Avoca, Eddington, Carisbrook, Dunolly and Newstead. His family was involved with the flour mills in each of these areas.

Don’t forget our Annual Garage Sale which will be held on Saturday, 14th February, 1998, at the Court House. If you are tidying up your cupboards or cleaning out the garage or workshop over the Christmas break, please put aside those items for which you no longer have a use – remember, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure! Melbourne folk who have items for the sale can contact Harry and Margaret Oulton on 9571 8838. We will give you a reminder about this fund-raising event in the January newsletter.

Researchers who are on the Internet will be interested to know that the Royal Historical Society of Victoria has a new web site – http //www.vicnet.net au/~~rhsv

For those folk researching the Ballarat area, Wesleyan church records are held at the Uniting Church on the corner of Dana and Lydiard Streets in Ballarat, phone 03 53 327 299. Hours of opening are 10 am to 12 noon every Tuesday.

In connection with Drouin’s Ficifolia Festival (the festival of the Flowering Gum tree), the West Gippsland Genealogical Society Inc. is holding a Ficifolia Family History Seminarn Saturday, 14th February, 1998, from 9.30 am to 5 pm, in the Auditorium at the Drouin Secondary College, South Road, Drouin. Topics will be Scottish and German ancestry, shipping, starting your search, and dating photographs. For full information, contact the Secretary, Mrs. Joy Watts on 03 5625 2743.

A Snowy Mountains Scheme/Snowy Mountains Authority Employee Register is being compiled. Details of any person who worked on the Scheme or for the Authority from 1949 are requested. All information should be forwarded to Mrs. V. Darby, Special Projects Committee, Snowy Monaro Family History Group, 17 Moloola Street, Cooma, NSW 2630.(From The C.Q. Genie-ologist, Rockhampton, Qld., September, 1997)

The NSW Registry would like to hear about errors in the new Pioneer, Federation and Between the Wars Indexes.They need family historians to report errors so that they can be as accurate as possible. Most of these errors were introduced by the last indexing process. Address GPO Box 30, Sydney NSW 2001.(From The C.Q. Genie-ologist, Rockhampton, Qld., September, 1997)

Sister Pauline Riley, 85 Darling Street, Cowra, NSW 2794, is seeking information regarding former students of schools conducted by the Dominican Sisters of Australia.


Our Treasurer, Dorothy Robinson, found the following verse in an old exercise book which belonged to her father-in-law. Written by William Ives, it paints a vivid picture of the times and sings the praises of the Amherst Hospital, the doctor and staff. My thanks to Dorothy for sharing this ‘find’ with us:


Sad in heart, and travelling on the road sick, and weary, and on my back a load;

Arriving at Avoca, I was glad it came in view;

To travel any further, I found I could not do;

No money in my pocket, no friends to help me there,

I trusted in my Jesus and on Him threw my every care;

Someone advised me strongly to Amherst tread my way,

And in Hospital there for a while to try and stay.

The doctor of that place in Avoca chanced to be,

So off I went at once, that Gentleman to see;

Looking minutely at me,

And scanning me all o’er

He got an order for me, and did a great deal more –

He put me in his buggy, swag and billy too;

Arriving at the Hospital, I soon was put to bed,

And only for the kindly care, would now be numbered with the dead;

God bless the doctor, I do say, Matron and staff as well,

May we all meet above, with God in Heaven to dwell.

I am leaving here, and my thanks indeed are due

To the treatment I received, and kind attention too.

God bless the people I do say, who take the poor in here, and may

they ever prosper in this uncertain land.

When I am far away, my thoughts shall wander

And bless the Amherst Hospital,

Through one on the track.

* * * * *


(From ‘The Maryborough Advertiser’. Friday. January 14, 1938)

The many friends of Mr. William Wesley Henry, an esteemed pioneer resident of the Avoca district, will regret to learn of his death. The sad event occurred at the residence of his niece, Mrs. J. Jenkins, of Kara Street, Maryborough, on Wednesday evening. Mr. Henry, who was 71 years of age, was born at Avoca, where he lived for a number of years. He was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas William Henry, and his father conducted a boot shop in premises next to the residence now occupied by Mrs. E. Howell in High Street. Later the deceased gentleman went on the land, following grazing and farming pursuits. He was noted for his integrity and by dint of hard work and perseverance achieved well-deserved success. Mr. Henry was a brother of Mr. John Thomas Henry (deceased), Mr. James Henry (Deepdene), Mr. Alfred Henry (Maryborough), Mr. Ernest Henry (deceased), Miss Jane Henry (deceased), Mrs. Frank Evans (Avoca), and Mrs. M. A. Morish (Avoca). He had been ailing for some months, and his demise was not unexpected. The funeral took place on Thursday afternoon, when the remains were interred in the Avoca Cemetery. The Rev. C. R. Addinsall (Methodist) conducted the service at the grave, and the coffin bearers were Messrs. H.G., A.W., Thomas, Charles, Clarence Henry and Jack Jenkins (nephews). The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Messrs. W. Phelan and Sons.

* * * * *

MOONAMBEL (From our Correspondent) (From The Avoca Free Press, 10th June, 1914)

The final meeting of the Sports Club was held in the Mechanics Hall. The President (Mr. W. Summerfield) occupied the chair, and thanked the Committee for their valuable assistance during the day of the sports. He specially thanked the Hon. Sec. (Mr. J.J. Murdoch) for the splendid work done by that gentleman. The record credit balance of £28.12s.5d. was mainly due to his efforts. £5 was voted to the Trustees of the Recreation Reserve to erect seats near the sports arena. Mr. Jas. Fitzgerald, in a neat speech, thanked the Sports Club for their generous gift, and remarked that he hoped the Committees would always work in unison, as they were all working for the benefit of the public generally.

The balance-sheet was read by the hon. secretary, as follows:-

Receipts – Gates, £20.5s.6d.; entries, £15.14s.6d.; publican’s booth, £9; refreshment booth, £1.10s.; fruit and lolly stall, £1.10s.; member’s tickets, £15.15s.; ball receipts, £11.8s.; donations – Geo. McKechnie & Co. £1.10s., Crawford Dowling and Seymour £1.1s., Cr. S.D. Slater 10s.6d., Mr. D.D. Forbes 10s.6d., Mr. H. Tonkin 10s.6d., Mr. H. Andrews 2s.6d., Mr. Jno. Resuggan 2s.6d.; total £79.10s.6d. Expenditure – Paid in prizes £35.10s.; accounts £15.8s.1d., credit balance £28.12s.5d., total £79.10s.6d.

On the motion of Messrs. Fitzgerald and Crick it was unanimously decided to send a letter of thanks to Mr. Geo. McKechnie for selling the publican’s booth free of charge.

An amount was voted to the hon. secretary (Mr. J.J. Murdoch), but as he has declined to accept any remuneration for his services to the Club since he has held office, the Committee decided to make him a presentation which took the form of a gold albert and locket. The presentation took place last week, and eulogistic speeches were given by Cr. S.D. Slater, W. Summerfield (president), who made the presentation, Messrs. J. Fitzgerald, D.M. Stuart, C. Castleman, J. Crick, and J.J. Slater. The hon. secretary in responding stated that he felt sure that he did not deserve so valuable a present. However, in accepting the handsome gift, he hoped the present Committee would still be working harmoniously on the occasion of the next sports. He also trusted that the secretarial duties would always be made as light as possible by the efforts of a splendid working committee. Whatever he had done was not for the sake of reward, but for the benefit of the Club and to keep the Old Town moving.

The balance sheet, which was received and adopted, was duly audited by Messrs. D.D. Forbes and Jas. Fitzgerald.

* * * * *

This is the last newsletter for 1997. Your Editor wishes to thank all those who have assisted her during the year, especially Helen Harris, Margaret and Harry Oulton, Edna Jarvis, Marj. Partridge, and our mailing team, Irene McWhirter and Kendra Grumont. Your first newsletter for 1998 will be in the post at the end of January to remind you of our Monster Garage Sale on the 14th February. In the meantime –

We wish you all a peaceful and joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Recently your Editor was looking through old Church magazines from the Burwood Heights Uniting Church when I chanced on an article written by Marj. Collyer (nee Saw), who spent her happy childhood years in the Avoca Manse and attended the Avoca Primary School. This article was written in 1979 and it is printed here with Marj’s kind permission.

“Nothing makes me more nostalgic than thinking back to Christmases of my child-hood. Basically, I suppose nothing much has changed. We still go to church and remember the Christ child, and we still sing carols and re-unite with our families. Cardsand decorations brighten our homes, and poultry, hams and plum puddings still graceour tables.And yet, something has changed. I remember the peacefulness of Christmas – the feeling of unending time and the simplicity of the season. Perhaps these are the things we have lost in recent years.

Growing up in the Manse at Avoca has many memories for me, especially round Christmas time. I remember my father busily planning special Christmas services and my mother at the piano helping him with the music. I remember many batches of shortbread and mince pies being baked and many people ‘popping in’ from the town and surrounding farms and smaller towns. I recall very vividly the generosity of the country people, many of whom brought gifts of produce from their farms and gardens which was later made into Christmas hampers for needy people in the town. One man, who was a frequent visitor at the Manse (mostly in a drunken state after visiting the town’s wine cafe), never failed to turn up for some Christmas goodies. Some of the shortbread was always fed to his dog, the number of pieces depending on how intoxicated he was!

I will never forget the sound of Christmas carols coming across the Maryborough Road from our neighbour’s house – a very different sound because he played them on a gum leaf, or with a violin bow on a hand-saw. Lindsay (my husband) and I heard him, quite by accident, on the ABC only last year (1978). At the age of 84, he is still making his own kind of music.

I recall in my early childhood always wondering if my brothers would be home from the war at Christmastime, and then the first Christmas after the war when the nine of us were together again for the first time. Goods were very scarce in the shops and I can remember great hilarity when parcels were opened to find minds had “thought alike”. I can still see my Mum’s face when she opened her third set of jugs – all the same! (We still have some of them.)

One more memory – as a sixteen-year-old, I was home on school holidays and went with my mother to a Colac PFA Christmas social. A rather large Santa Claus was wheeled in on a wheelbarrow by a friend who was half his size, and began giving out gifts to everyone. He smiled at my Mum and gave her a gift and completely passed me by. Little did I realize at the time that Santa was my future husband! I guess he has really made it up to me over many happy subsequent Christmases.”

Those members with a long association with the Chalmers Presbyterian Church at Avoca will remember the Rev. H. J. Saw and his family, who occupied the Manse in the years 1936-1945, and some may have been at school with Marj. in the 1940s.

There are those, I am sure, who will quickly recall the names of the two local identities referred to by Marj. in her reminiscing.