ADHS Newsletter No. 180 APRIL, 2000

Items of interest:

  • Plaque in memory of Nan Holland. Names mentioned – Nita Brown, Noel Jess, Evelyn Jess, Albert and Bessie Lobb, Betty Beavis, John Beavis
  • Parade of Fashions through the Ages, Bealiba Community Hall 26 May
  • Schooldays in the Avoca area (1936 letters). Names mentioned – Mr Gwynne, Mr. McCarthy, Mr W Page, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Bill, Miss Powell, Miss Williamson, Miss Newman, Alex Watson, Mr O’Brien, Mr Bullock, Douglas Gray, Mr. Appleton, Mr. S. J. Rutter, Miss Opie, George McKinnon, Mr Murphy, Mr Porter, Mr Kirkwood, W A Tulloch, Flo Calaby, Minnie Jones, the Plowrights, Bloxhams, Burns, Raws, Enderbys, Horleys, Craigies, Bullocks, Summers, Hughes, McKinnons, Thompsons, Lardners, Fitches, Delimas, Shields, McCombs, Coglans, Camerons, Kernicks, Quinlans, Haines, Squires, Burkinshaws, Hamiltons, Panganettes, Miles, Rutters, Kerrs, Kofoeds, Templetons, Calabys, Horns, Debenhams, Mr. Cardew, Chris Gill, Jimmy Govett, Peter Frome, Jacky Wheat, Jimmy Swayne, Everell Mulholland, Miss Jervis, Miss Williams, Mr. John Porter, Mrs. Porter, Mr. Alfred Porter, Mr. Philpot, Miss Opie (who became Mrs. J. W. Field and passed away in 1936), Mr. Gilbert.

Unveiling of Plaque – Members of the Holland family joined with us on Sunday, 16th April, for the unveiling of a plaque to the memory of Nana Holland. The plaque has been placed by the historic lamp-post which graced her front garden for some forty years and now enhances the grounds of the old Avoca Court House. The plaque reads as follows: “This original Avoca street lamp-post was presented to the Avoca and District Historical Society Inc. by the family of the late Evelyn May (Nana) Holland in her memory, Dec., 1999”.

This was the last remaining original street lamp (kerosene) in Avoca and stood on the corner of Russell and Barnett Streets. When electricity came to Avoca, Nana Holland purchased the cast-iron lamp-post for ten shillings, then the price of two fox scalps, and created the tradition of lighting the lamp over the Christmas period each year.

Noel Jess, a son-in-law, explained to our gathering that, after the death of Nana Holland on 25th March, 1999, the family unanimously decided that this treasured and historic lamp should be given into the care of our Society, with the request that the tradition of lighting it at Christmas should be carried on. Now in its new setting, the Society has had power connected to the lamp so that, not only does it give light at Christmas, but every night of the year.

Nana’s daughters, Nita Brown and Evelyn Jess, had the honour of unveiling the plaque, with daughter-in-law Lucy Holland, and son-in-law Noel Jess, supporting them. After the ceremony, each of them expressed the same sentiment – how happy they were with their decision for the permanent placement of the lamp and how proud Nana would have been.

There would be many members who, like your Editor, never had the privilege and joy of knowing Nana Holland. I am grateful to her family for giving me some of her story – who she was and why she was known so affectionately by so many as Nana.

Evelyn May Holland was the eldest of five children born to Albert and Bessie Lobb at Green Hill Creek on 21st July, 1907. Her brothers Bill, Bert and Laurie are deceased whilst the survivng brother, Stan, lives in Western Australia. May attended school at Green Hill Creek and later rode her pony from Green Hill Creek to Lamplough to attend school there.

She married Alex Holland on 28th October, 1925, and lived at Lamplough. They had a family of five children, Nita, Harry (dec. 1984), Evelyn, George (dec. 1985), and Jim. Her husband Alex died in 1962.

In 1959, they moved to Avoca where May created a beautiful garden which was greatly admired. There was always a Christmas tree and lights around the house during the festive season. In 1998, she was presented with a certificate by the Pyrenees Shire for “A lifetime of lighting up Avoca”. She was also awarded Best Cottage Garden on two occasions.

May loved children, especially her grand- and great-grand-children, and had the happy knack of being able to make an upset child laugh within a few minutes. She taught all her grand-children, and many others, to swim, saying “it was no load to carry”. May was an excellent violinist and many a happy sing-song was held at her house, with her children also playing instruments.

Hers was a gentle, caring and placid nature. She could always see the good side of people and never had a bad word for anyone, especially teen-agers. She was a friend to all and everyone was welcome at her house. May died on 25th March, 1999, aged 91, known and loved by all as Nana Holland.

Harking back to the days of the manual lighting of street lamps, our member, Betty Beavis, tells us that she can recall her father (John Beavis) telling her how two of his brothers used to walk from Lamplough to Avoca every evening to light the lamps of the town and, no doubt, tended this very lamp which has now become so special.

Annual General Meeting – Our A.G.M. will be held on Sunday, 21st May, at the Wesley Hall of the Uniting Church, Russell Street, Avoca, 12 noon for 12.30 pm. Our speaker on this occasion will be Darryl McLeish, who will tell us of the early history of Carisbrook.

As in recent years, this event will be a fund-raiser and members are asked to provide a casserole and a sweet for the luncheon and the $10 per head admission charge will go into the Court House Restoration Fund. It would be appreciated if those wishing to attend could notify Jill Hunter on 5467 2211 by 16th May. This will greatly assist in the catering and setting up of the hall, which will be done on Saturday afternoon, 20th May, at 2 pm.

Please note that the Court House will not be open on the day of the A.G.M.

Notification of our Annual General Meeting is enclosed with this newsletter. It includes a Nomination Form for those wishing to become more actively involved in the Society’s work, an Appointment of Proxy Form for completion by those unable to attend the meeting, and a Renewal of Membership notice. Membership fees fall due in May each year and are $14 for singles and $17 for a family.

As we are an incorporated body, it is necessary to have a minimum of 25-30 people present, including proxy votes. Members unable to attend are urged to forward their proxy votes to one of the current office bearers.

Remember that a society is only as good as its members make it. As all positions are declared vacant at the A.G.M., we would be delighted to hear from anyone who wishes to take an active part in our work. The position of Secretary is of particular urgency.

Dates for your Dairy – Our Parade of Fashions Through The Ages will be presented at the Bealiba Community Hall on Friday, 26th May, at 8 pm, in conjunction with the Bealiba C.W.A. Branch. Admission charges will be $5 single and $10 family, with supper provided. If you were unable to see this parade at Avoca, here is your chance to see all these lovely gowns and give support to both groups. Enquiries should be directed to Beryl Harnetty, President of Bealiba C.W.A. Branch, on 5469 1382, or the convenor, Lily Mills, on 5465 3565.

Saturday, 17th June – Display at the Court House, 10 am to 4 pm, of Fashions Through The Ages, with a mini-parade of gowns at 2 pm. Admission is $3, which includes a raffle ticket. This is definitely a last chance to see these gowns before the collection is broken up and items returned to their owners.

Sunday, 18th June – General Meeting.

Sunday, 16th July – Anne Young will speak on Avoca during WWI at our monthly meeting.

Condolences – Our deepest sympathy is extended to our Research Officer, Jan Burnett, and all the family on the death of her husband and their father, John Arthur (Jack) Burnett, on 16th April. Jack died peacefully at home, aged 78 years, after a long illness. Known as a daredevil in his youth, Jack’s interests in life were fishing, gold mining, golf and bowls. His great love of fishing has been passed on to his children and their families. During WWII, he served in New Guinea with the 18th Btn. Heavy Ack Ack. A graveside service was held at the Avoca Cemetery on 18th April, with several Society members in attendance.

New Members – A warm welcome is extended to the following new members –

Mrs. Patricia O’CONNELL, of Werribee, Vic., whose interests are HANNETT and LOWE, of Navarre, and BIBBY.

Ms. Nicole MURPHY, of Ballarat, Vic., who is researching MURPHY of Lexton;

MEAGHER and SMITH of Redbank; KAISER of Avoca; and HELLIAR of Avoca – Natte Yallock.

Lest We Forget – It is heart-warming to know that the graves of Australian soldiers in cemeteries far across the seas are tended by caring locals. Here is a story of one such community tending one such cemetery. In the churchyard of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, in the pretty village of Sutton Veny, England, are 145 graves of Australian soldiers and three nurses who died so far away from their homeland in WWI.

Tending these graves has been the special responsibility of this village population of 500 and has become a tradition. Each year, the Sunday nearest to Anzac Day is devoted to an Australian service. After a family morning service, the children place posies on the graves of our soldiers, whilst in the afternoon, the main service is attended by local dignitaries, members of the British Legion of Ex-Service people, soldiers of the nearby School of Infantry and of the Australian Defence Forces and their families, as well as local people. The Australian High Commissioner often attends, or sends a representative.

After WWII, the southern transept of the church was converted into the Anzac chapel in honour of our war dead. The village is in Wiltshire, just off the A36 road, close to Warminster, should anyone be interested in visitng whilst touring Britain.(From The Weekly Times, of April 28, 1999)

Over in Alberta, Canada, young RAF men are also remembered. In Medicine Hat Cemetery, there are a number of graves of RAF personnel killed whilst training with 34 Service Flying Training School in WWII. Every year, on the weekend nearest 6th June, all the headstones are washed by volunteers from the Royal Canadian Legion. Each grave is then decorated with a poppy, except the first two rows just behind the Cross of Remembrance. On the Sunday, the Legion holds a Remembrance Parade, during which the remaining two rows of headstones are also decorated with a poppy. This ceremony is in addition to the annual Remembrance Day Parade which Canada holds on the 11th November.

Medicine Hat is in the bottom right-hand corner of Alberta, and not on the tourist trail. However, the caring folk of the Royal Canadian Legion are happy to provide photographs, free of charge, to anyone who has a relative buried in the Medicine Hat cemetery. Simply write to Branch 17, Royal Canadian Legion, PO Box 517, Medicine Hat, AB, T1A 7G5, Canada.

Can You Help? Survivors of the shipwreck Orungal, which went aground on the Formby Reef at Barwon Heads on November 20, 1940, are being sought by Mrs. Muriel Murphy, from Norlane. Mrs. Murphy’s mother, father and younger brother, Colin Chantry, were on board, among 17 passengers and crew, on one of the worst nights Victoria had ever known. It was blackout time during WWII, but all were rescued, with no casualties, thanks to the wonderful efforts of the Queenscliff Lifeboat Club, the police, firemen and others who lent a hand.

It will be the 60th anniversary of the rescue this November and Mrs. Murphy is keen to gather stories from survivors and crew, who came from all over Australia, to put into a book to present to her brother, Colin, for his 64th birthday this year. Write to Mrs. Murphy at 110 Robin Ave., Norlane, Vic. 3214, or phone (03) 5275-1286.(From The Weekly Times, 22nd March, 2000.)

Old Victorian Schooldays – We continue the series of letters written to The Age in Melbourne in 1936, recalling schooldays in the Avoca area. This one covers Timor, Homebush and Avoca and was written in Auckland, New Zealand by W.A. Tulloch:

“To the Editor of The Age. Sir, Though far away for some years, I still have found great pleasure in reading Old Victorian Schooldays. It has been a very popular column, and I think must have brought about many renewals of old friendships.

I have just been reading a copy of 21st November, 1936, and I find there mention of three schools which I attended – Timor, Homebush and Avoca.

As a very small boy I went to a school at Timor, kept by Mr. Gwynne. It was situated about half-way between the post office at Grafton, Brown’s store and Cox’s bridge. Mr. Gwynne was assisted by his son Fred, but I had not been there very long when Fred tired of teaching children and left home to look for more congenial occupation. Mr. Gwynne then closed the school. My next venture was at Gallagher’s school, about three-quarters of a mile towards Maryborough, near about where “Landerdale” now stands. I had not been there long when the public school was opened in the mechanics’ hall, a little further along.

Mr. McCarthy was the head master and he had a large staff of assistants. The building consisted of one large room, with a stage at one end, behind which were two small rooms, originally meant for dressing rooms. We had four classes in the main room, one on the platform or stage, and one in each of the small rooms, but the attendance increased so rapidly that it was found necessary to rent an adjoining building, which had been in use as a draper’s shop, conducted by Mr. W. Page, who was a well-known Maryborough resident.

I was one of the first draft occupying this section of the school. We had Mr. Lewis, Mr. Bill, Miss Powell, Miss Williamson, Miss Newman and others as teachers. Mr. McCarthy was an expert at using the cane. He flogged some boys. We had two young men who took extra lessons from him, and I remember on one occasion they interfered with his punishment. Alex. Watson was caned so severely that he had to have a finger amputated. I think the spirit of the teachers must have entered the children as we fought after school every day. Sometimes half a dozen fights were going on at the same time.

Mr. O’Brien succeeded Mr. McCarthy as head, and though he was a very strict master, he was well liked and got the school on well.

Mr. Bullock mentions the hotel next the school as being owned by James Gray. It was owned by Douglas Gray; his father, James, owned one later at Carisbrook.

After leaving Timor, I went to Homebush. Mr. Appleton conducted the school there, assisted by Mr. S. J. Rutter, Miss Opie and George McKinnon as assistant. After a time Mr. Appleton was transferred, and Mr. Murphy, a trainee from Melbourne Training College, took charge as relief master. He was fine with the boys. Before he arrived the boys had a consultation in the playground, and decided that as we had had an easy time up to now, we would not submit to being caned by the new master. All went well for the first few days; then one of the boys got stuck with a problem, and called “Sam”, meaning Mr. Rutter. Mr. Murphy was close by, and heard the call. He came over to our class, and gave us a lecture on showing respect to our teachers, and threatened punishment to any who should call out in that way again. Only a few days later the same boy acted in the same way again, and Mr. Murphy again heard him. He called out to him to stand out in front of the class. Joe did not move and, after waiting quite a while, Mr. Murphy called out again, and reminded him that he had now called twice. Still Joe sat very tight. We boys were all keyed up, waiting to see what would happen. At last Mr. Murphy got his cane from the desk and stood in front of the boy. He said, “Joe, are you coming out?” Joe was depending on us boys to help, so he said “No”, and before the word was properly out, Mr. Murphy had caught him by the collar, lifted him over the desk, and had put him across his knee. Poor Joe! We boys were afraid to move, Mr. Murphy was “boss”, and needed no more to use the cane. After him came Mr. Porter. He was a harmless gentleman, so easy with the cane that the boys used to qualify for the “cuts” just for the fun of holding up work for a time.

On one occasion a lot of boys were going home from school, when they fell in with a party of girls going the same way. The girls all had long hair hanging down, and the boys got handfuls of bidi bidi and stuck it in their hair. Next day we were all called out. There were three boys from one family. On looking over the names, Mr. Porter remarked “Three Chesterfields. How many are there of you?” One of the boys promptly answered “Seven”, corresponding to the Seven Devils, and they went by that name for years.

When we arrived at Homebush school we were not allowed to play cricket, because Miss Appleton had at one time been struck by a ball in the playground. We asked permission from the head, but he said he would confiscate our bats and balls if we attempted it. However, we got over that by arranging with an old man living close by to take charge of our gear. We played every day. After some time the head relented, and we were allowed to play. At Homebush we had the best cricket team in the Maryborough or Avoca district. We also had a football team equal to any, and we had a brass band.

The miners at Homebush were mostly Cornishmen, and they were fond of sport. They got a pack of beagle hounds, and these were kept by the different families, a few here and a few there. We boys sometimes got a turpentine rag and trailed it round the town for an hour or more, each boy taking the rag through his home or through any other he could get to. Then we would go round and, at a given signal, loose the hounds and set them on the trail. They could be heard five miles away when in full cry.

The Cornish miners were a musical lot, and the men, coming off shift at 12 o’clock at night, would sometimes sit on a log and sing till daylight. “Nancy Lee” was one of the favourites.

I notice by the same paper that Jack Rudpath (sic) writes of Avoca. I went to Kirkwood’s Grammar School at Avoca, and remember a number of the boys he mentioned. On one occasion at Avoca Mr. Kirkwood left the school open for all boys who came from a distance. There were two from Natte Yallock, two from Bong Bong (sic), two from Homebush, and one from Lillicur. After lunch in the school one day one boy suggested we should burn the master’s cane. Mr. Kirkwood had never used it, except as a pointer, but we got it, and each boy broke off a piece and threw it in the fire. All that afternoon and next day the head employed every spare moment hunting for his cane. At last he decided that we boys had destroyed it. As it came near closing time, Mr. Kirkwood locked the doors and put the keys in his pocket. He said he would keep us there until he found out who was the culprit. There were three girls attending the school, and a deputation approached the head, asking that they be allowed to leave, as they were not at school during the lunch time. On the boys promising not to rush the door, this was agreed to, and the girls left. Time dragged on very wearily till dark, when some of the parents who had been very anxious came along and took their boys away. At 8 p.m. a party of men came along from the town and demanded our release.

I had to walk nearly a mile and catch a horse in the dark, then ride five miles to get home. I saw lights flashing through the bush, and presently found it was a party of over 50 miners who had formed a party to look for me. School in our days was not as easy as it is today, but I am sure we got more real fun out of it.

And now, though separated by hundreds of miles distance and years of time, in reading such articles as you have been presenting to us, we get the enjoyment over again and pass it on to our families. Please accept my warmest thanks to those who have written such interesting letters, and to your good paper for printing them. Yours, etc. W. A. TULLOCH, Auckland, N.Z.”

This next letter is from the former Flo Calaby, about Upper Homebush:

“To the Editor of The Age. Sir, I have been very interested in the ‘Old Victorian Schooldays’ columns in your paper, and as I read of Lower Homebush, written by Miss Minnie Jones, of Glen Huntly, on Saturday, 3rd April, I thought perhaps you might welcome a contribution about Upper Homebush, where I was born and went to school along with the following scholars . . . .

. . . . . I remember the Plowrights, Bloxhams, Burns, Raws, Enderbys, Horleys, Craigies, Bullocks, Summers, Hughes, McKinnons, Thompsons, Lardners, Fitches, Delimas, Shields, McCombs, Coglans, Camerons, Kernicks, Quinlans, Haines, Squires, Burkinshaws, Hamiltons, Panganettes, Miles, Rutters, Kerrs, Kofoeds, Templetons, Calabys and Horns. There may have been others who I have forgotten.

There were the Debenhams and Mr. Cardew, the local preacher, and Chris Gill, who came from England. All lived at Upper Homebush, together with such old identities as ‘Jimmy Govett’, Peter Frome, ‘Jacky Wheat’, Jimmy Swayne (‘the old snob’), Black Bob and old Everell Mulholland, who was very deaf and had a beautiful black mare called ‘Bessie’. Many a ride he used to give to us children.

I am sure that wherever the old boys and girls are scattered they will never forget the happy time we all spent at Upper Homebush.

Thanking you once again for the pleasure your paper has given to so many. May I say in closing that my late father, Mr. Henry Calaby, was a daily subscriber to ‘The Age’ as far back as I can remember. I am 62 years old, and am still taking it.

Yours, etc. F. URE TAYLOR (Flo Calaby before marriage), Ballarat.”

Teachers recalled in the full text of Flo Calaby’s letter were Miss Jervis, Miss Williams, Mr. John Porter, Mrs. Porter (sewing mistress – a small, gentle lady who taught the girls how to make their own school frocks), their son, Mr. Alfred Porter (who taught in the lower forms), Mr. Philpot (who really was harsh with his punishments), Miss Opie (who became Mrs. J. W. Field and passed away in 1936), and Mr. Gilbert, a singing master, who came out from Avoca twice a week.