ADHS Newsletter No. 170 MAY, 1999

Items of interest –

  • Fifteenth Annual General Meeting
  • Alleyne Hockley’s talk on “The Chinese of Castlemaine”
  • Secretary’s position vacant
  • ADHS Open Day 19-20 June 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Wesley Hall at the Avoca Uniting Church was the venue for the Society’s fifteenth annual general meeting on Sunday, 16th May, when about thirty members and friends attended and enjoyed a delicious three-course luncheon before the formalities of the day began.

In his opening remarks, President Graeme Mills welcomed everyone present, with special mention of Shire President David Clark and our guest speaker, Alleyne Hockley, and her husband, Ian. We were also delighted to have with us Pearl and Colin Collins, from Moama, Rose and Murray Little, from Box Hill, Max and Ada Hobson, from Lexton, Jocelyn Milne, from Elmhurst, Alan Hall from Maryborough, and Joan and Malcolm Ford, from Avoca.

Presenting his report, the President said that the Society had come a long way in its fifteen years. Its first meetings were held in the Fire Brigade Hall before moving to the Church of England hall for several years. Since 1993, meetings have been held in our own leased premises, the old Avoca Court House. During these fifteen years, many people have contributed in various ways to the work of the Society – spending many hours at the Public Record Office gathering material for our records, indexing and collating local records, organising tours, representing the Society at the quarterly meetings of the Central Highlands Historical Association, supplying speakers to other groups and finding speakers for our own meetings, doing research from our records to assist those who are working on their family histories, catering for our many functions with delicious goodies, and all the office bearers who have given many hours of dedicated service. The President expressed his thanks to them all.

He reported that the restoration of the Court House is proceeding and the Society has received a grant to cover the costs of repointing the exterior brickwork, and painting and repairing the exterior woodwork. The boundary fencing has been completed and the signage erected. The next task will be the restoration of the raised and stepped floor in the court room.

The Society has been delighted with the recent donation of a s

econd-hand photocopier and our thanks go to those responsible for this thoughtful gesture.

During this past year, our programme has been similar to other years – working bees, bus tours, the garage sale and interesting speakers.

The President then expressed his concern that the number of members attending our meetings and being active in the Society is far too small with such a large membership. More active local members are desperately needed. He said it would be wonderful to find someone who could co-ordinate the building of the planned work and storage area, which will include a kitchen and toilets.

Continuing his report, the President said that the period from January to May had been a very difficult and busy one for him regarding the proposed building of the new police complex in High Street on the site of the Classen property. As well as attending many meetings, there were faxes and phone calls as well as pressure from heritage sources and from local interest groups. Not possessing the wisdom of Solomon, he hopes the right decision has been made.

In conclusion, Graeme said that, after holding the position of President for eight of the fifteen years of the life of this Society, he felt it was time to step down. He wished the Society and its incoming office bearers all the best for the future and thanked everyone, office bearers and members, for their assistance, and his wife Lily for supporting him during his last term.

The Treasurer, Harry Oulton, then presented the financial report, a copy of which is included in this newsletter.

Our Research Officer, Jan Burnett, reported that it had been a very busy year for her, with some 70 phone calls, 125 letters and 75 visitors to her home, all seeking help with their family and social history research. She is currently researching the Barker, Burkinshaw and Farnsworth families for a Canadian contact whose ancestors were here in the gold rush era.

Wendy Taylor, who kindly receives e-mail for the Society, said that she handles many general enquiries and new memberships from the Internet, and keeps in touch with Denis Strangman re our web-site. Thanks were extended to Denis for his efforts in setting up a web page for us, and for continuing to maintain it. Many favourable comments have been received on the excellence of this page. Wendy is also in regular contact with our sister society in Avoca, Iowa, USA, having five contacts there. Teachers and pupils from the local primary schools in both countries keep in touch via the Internet and there are many other overtures of friendship from across the miles.

The President then invited Cr. David Clark to take the chair. After congratulating the Society on its achievements in the past year, he proceeded with the election of office-bearers, with the following result :

President Jill Hunter

Vice President Lily Mills

Secretary No nomination

Treasurer Dorothy Robinson

Incorporation Officer Jill Hunter

Research Officer Jan Burnett

Publicity Officer Edna Jarvis

Newsletter Editor Lorna Purser

CHHA reps. Edna Jarvis, Marj. Partridge, Graeme Mills

In her talk on The Chinese of Castlemaine, our guest speaker, Alleyne Hockley, again demonstrated the thoroughness of her research which we have come to know so well. She told of the many taxes imposed on the Chinese on arrival here in the time of the gold rushes – the £10 landing tax in Melbourne, a £6 Residence Licence, a £1 Protection Tax, then £1 for a Miner’s Right or a fee for a Business Licence.

Later, the Government established camps, in an effort to control these immigrants. These were under the charge of a Protector, usually the Gold Warden. Castlemaine had the largest population of Chinese of all the goldfields in 1855 and several camps were set up in the district. Conditions in these camps, which became quite self-sufficient, left much to be desired and gave rise to complaints by those locals who were against having the Chinese in their midst. But there were those who felt that the Chinese were making a contribution to the district through their businesses, stores, market gardens, etc., and supported the Chinese in their petition in 1862 to have the Protection Tax abolished.

Though the Chinese built several joss houses in the Castlemaine area where they worshipped their deities, none of them remain today. A Christian mission was established and a Chinese church was opened in 1860 which survived for many years.

Alleyne’s talk was highlighted by the reading of some reports taken from the newspapers of the day, which painted quite vivid word pictures of scenes at the market, in the streets, in the camps and in the joss houses. Some showed a bias which would not be acceptable today.

Those Chinese who remained in the area after the gold rush became part of the community and served it well through their businesses, stores and excellent market gardens, etc.

Most Chinese were buried close to where they died, so we find large Chinese cemeteries at White Hills (Bendigo), Beechworth and at Castlemaine (Campbell’s Creek). The ovens in these cemeteries were for the burning of paper prayers and incense sticks, part of their ritual for the dead.

It is Alleyne’s hope that, one day, a history of the Chinese at Castlemaine will be fully documented and written, thus enabling us to better understand their customs and evaluate their contribution to the history and culture of this area. One has to say that the results of her research, as presented to us in her talk, must constitute a good framework on which to build up this interesting and fascinating story. Thankyou, Alleyne.

Grateful thanks are extended to those ladies who prepared such delicious food for the luncheon, to those who assisted in setting up the hall for the occasion, then putting everything back in its place afterwards, to all the willing hands in the kitchen, to Lily Mills for her hand-made rose arrangements and Dorothy Robinson for fresh flowers, all of which were used to adorn the tables. Thanks, too, to Lily who so thoughtfully made up and donated a basket of goodies to be raffled on the day, the lucky winner being none other than yours truly, your Editor.

As Graeme Mills steps down from the Presidency, it is timely to express very sincere thanks for all he has done in so many ways for the Society over the years, and it is good to know he will continue to do all he can in the future.

WANTED – URGENTLY – A SECRETARY – as you will have noticed, no nominations were received at the AGM for the position of Secretary for our Society. A secretary is so necessary for the running of any organisation and we would urge someone, preferably in the Avoca district, to give some consideration to offering their services in this capacity. Please contact our President, Jill Hunter, on 03 54 672 211, if you feel you can assist the Society in this way.

OPEN DAY WEEKEND, 19th-20th JUNE – The Court House is to be open on both days, from 10 am to 4 pm, with our monthly meeting to be held on the Saturday at 2 pm.

Come one, come all, to see what our Society has in its holdings and learn how you can get started on your family history and build up a picture of your Avoca ancestors using our thousands of index cards which cover the social history of the area as well as individuals. Browse in our excellent library, see our extensive photo collection, search microfiche indexes on our readers for your ancestor, and look through the many exchange newsletters and journals we receive from other genealogical and history groups throughout Australia – family history knows no boundaries and family backgrounds are quite diverse so that you never know what you will find in these journals.

On the Sunday, bus tours will depart from the Court House at 1 pm, 2.30 pm and 4 pm, when Graeme Mills will act as tour guide to show visitors the historical points of interest in the Avoca area. A $5 ticket will entitle the holder to a bus tour, entrance to our display and research centre, use of research facilities, and afternoon tea.

Come along, and bring a friend!

LOOKING AHEAD – 18th July, “Show and Tell” at 1.30 p.m. In addition, at 9 am that morning, a “Creative Memories” class will be held at the Court House, costing $10 per head to participate. You will create one artistic page on acid-free paper with special pigment pens which, when used on acid-free paper, take on an acid-free characteristic. You can also choose cardboard shapes and stickers to add to your art work which will surround the photos you have brought along to create your special page of memories. The finished page will have a plastic cover, also acid-free. It is suggested you bring along 6 – 10 photos; these can be cropped to highlight your subject, whether it be a wedding, the new baby in the family, an historic home, etc. A minimum of eight people in the class will entitle the Society to an acid-free photo album, valued at around $54. Please contact Wendy Taylor on 03 54 677 228 if you wish to attend. There were some interesting examples of this technique shown at the AGM created by a few of our members.

On Sunday, 15th August, there will be a working bee to prepare the Court House for the conservation workshop which this Society will host on Saturday, 11th September. See Newsletter No. 168 for full details.

REMINDER – Members are reminded that annual subscriptions are now due. If you have not attended to this matter, please refer to your April newsletter for a renewal slip and forward this with your cheque to our Treasurer, Dorothy Robinson, 27 Orme Street, Avoca, Vic. 3467.

Our thanks to all those who have paid their subs. so promptly.

DONATIONS TO THE COURT HOUSE RESTORATION FUND – We thank the following members for their generous donations to the Court House Restoration Fund : Mr. and Mrs. M. Church; Mr. and Mrs. D. Birchall; M. Henderson; K. Ellett; R. and M. Stavely; the Garrard family; H. Brain; K. Grumont; L. Finger; F.G. Glover; R. Bundy; Mr. and Mrs. B. Cherry; K. Hogan; E. Cocking; K. Gill; A. Smith; N. Friend; E. McKechnie; N. Rowland; A. Hall; Mr. and Mrs. F. Edwards; Mr. and Mrs. G. Christie; J. Yetman; N. Edwards; S. Savige; I. Macwhirter; J. Adams; M. Gray; J. McGee; D. Black and A. Farnsworth.

What does MB mean on a Qld. birth certificate? In plain English, it would appear that the details of the birth were not received within the prescribed time, and are therefore recorded in the “Memorandum of Births” which is deemed to be a Register of Births under the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1962.

(From ‘Relatively Speaking’, No. 1, Vol. 16, March, 1998, of the Family History Assocn. of North Queensland Inc.)

FIVE Cs FOR HARMONY – Sitting in the reception area of the Australian Music Examination Board one day last week, waiting for my granddaughter who was taking a flute exam., I overheard two ladies discussing the Five Cs method of learning the piano. Picturing those five particular notes on the piano keyboard, my mind wandered to harmony, then on to the letter ‘C’ – and harmony of a different kind – the harmony of working together. These are five Cs so necessary for good and happy teamwork –

Courtesy – Cooperation – Consultation – Communication – Consideration