ADHS Newsletter No 192 May 2001

Items of interest:

  • 17th Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting – The Seventeenth Annual General Meeting of the Society was held on Sunday, 20th May, at the Wesley Hall of the Avoca Uniting Church. President Graeme Mills welcomed everyone present on this occasion when we were pleased to have Cr. Chris Goodman and his wife, Bridget, with us, representing the Pyrenees Shire. It was also great to see Anne Irwin and Ray Wigraft from Melbourne, Ian and Alleyne Hockley from Castlemaine, and Jocelyn Milne from Elmhurst, among those in attendance.

Because our guest speaker, the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, MHR (Member for Ballarat) had to catch a plane and be in Canberra later that day, we broke with tradition and postponed the luncheon in order to hear his very interesting account of the story of Federation (see separate article).

After we had enjoyed a delicious three-course luncheon, President Graeme Mills presented his report. He began by thanking the Pyrenees Shire and Stephen Cornish, their CEO, for their help and assistance in obtaining the grant and overseeing the construction of the extension to the Court House, now known as the Helen Harris Room. He expressed thanks also to all the wonderful people who helped with this project – the builders, plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators, carpet layer and, by no means least, the fund raisers. Without the support and generous donations of our members, both in cash and voluntary labour, we would not have had the Helen Harris Room, the opening of which was the highlight of the year. It was quite something to see the look of surprise on Helen’s face at the official opening as she drew back the curtain on the plaque and found we had named the new room in her honour.

Continuing his report, the President outlined the Society’s activities over the past year, beginning with the AGM last May, when Daryl McLeish spoke on the interesting history of Carisbrook. In June, there was a general meeting as well as the third and last showing of the “Fashions Through The Ages” parade which was held at Clunes. Graeme thanked Lily Mills for the immense amount of work she put into organising these parades as a fund-raiser, and he also extended thanks to all those who assisted in these parades in any way at all. Our member, Anne Young, from Canberra, spoke at the July meeting on how the First World War affected the people of Avoca, with many names of servicemen being mentioned., creating much interest. In August, members were treated to a fascinating day of history in the Newstead – Castlemaine area, with Alleyne and Ian Hockley as our very expert guides. Ordinary general meetings were held in September and October, when details were finalised for the opening of the new extension. This took place on 19th November, a very special day for the Society, with the naming of the room being a well-kept secret from Helen Harris.

The Christmas Break-up in December was enjoyed by the few who were present. It has since been decided that, in future, we will finish our year with a festive afternoon tea after the November meeting. This year’s activities began with the Annual Garage Sale, which was an outstanding success and grateful thanks go to everyone who contributed in any way at all. In March, we enjoyed a bus trip to Mooramong, a very interesting National Trust property at Skipton, after which we visited the Beaufort Historical Society at the old Court House, where members made us most welcome and provided a lovely afternoon tea. A working bee was held after the general meeting in April.

Graeme concluded his report by stating that this would be his last presidential report. He thanked all Society members for their support, particularly the committee and his backstop, Lily. He gave three reasons for not seeking re-election as President – (i) he feels that he is out of ideas – a time comes when a leader of a group does not know what to do next; (ii) because of pressure of business, he is unable to fulfil his obligations as a leader of the Society; and (iii) family commitments.

Secretary Wendy Taylor then reported that there have been 14,000 visits to our web site and said she had recently received an e-mail from the President of the Genealogical Society of Victoria congratulating the Society on its excellent web page. She was followed by Treasurer Dorothy Robinson, who presented her financial report, a copy of which is attached. Research Officer Jan Burnett reported that she continues to be kept very busy helping researchers, whether by letter, phone calls or in person. Enquiries in recent times have come from England, New Zealand and interstate.

Before stepping aside to enable Cr. Chris Goodman to conduct the election of office bearers, Graeme Mills announced that nominations had not been accepted for the positions of President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary. However, he was prepared to carry on until the Society’s next meeting by which time we would hope to have nominations for these three positions.

Cr. Goodman then took the chair and, after congratulating the Society on its efforts to preserve our local history, conducted the elections, with the following results :

Vice President Max Hobson

Treasurer Dorothy Robinson

Research Officer Jan Burnett

Newsletter Editor Lorna Purser

CHHA Representative Edna Jarvis

Public Officer Jill Hunter

Publicity Officer Edna Jarvis

The winning ticket for our raffle was drawn by Mrs. Bridget Goodman, the lucky winner being Alleyne Hockley, who took home a basket of goodies for her pantry.

Our sincere thanks go to everyone who assisted to make this function a success – those who helped set up the hall, those who tidied up afterwards, and those who provided such a lovely variety of food for the luncheon.

Next Meeting – Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, 17th June, at the Court House at 1.30 p.m. The speaker will be Darryl Wagstaff whose topic will be the story of the Hubble family. Darryl is descended from Maryborough pioneer Robert Hubble, who migrated from England in 1854, arrived at the Alma diggings in 1856, and later established his own business of carpentry, undertaking, and the shifting of houses. This promises to be a most interesting afternoon.

A Reminder – Subscriptions Are Due – Our thanks go to the many members who have renewed their membership so promptly. We would urge those of you who have not done so yet to fill in the renewal form in the April newsletter and send it off with your cheque to our Treasurer. It will help so much with the work behind the scenes. If, for some reason, you do not wish to continue your membership, a short note or e-mail to this effect would be most appreciated.

Donations to the Court House Restoration Fund – The Society expresses grateful thanks to the following members for their continued support and generous donations to the Court House Restoration Fund: H. Becke, E.J. Chandler, L. Finger, A. Hall, H. Harris, K. Chapman, E. Cocking, L. Bennett, Mr. and Mrs. M. Church, F. Glover, L. Griffiths, Mr. and Mrs. G. Christie, C. McSwain, N. Rowland, S. Savige, N. Friend, E. McKechnie, J. Cumming, N. David, J. Adams, Mr. and Mrs.Birchall, D. Black, M. Dridan, A. Vaughan, K. Hogan, M. Gray, H. Ellett, S. and B. Slater, I. Macwhirter, D.K. Greenwood, V. Garrard and L. Fraser.

The Story of Federation – At our AGM, the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, Federal Member for Ballarat, gave us a very detailed insight into the long, long story of Federation and your Editor is indebted to him for passing on the notes on which he based his talk, thus ensuring that dates and facts are correct in the following abridged version.

On the 1st January, 2001, we celebrated the centenary of Federation, when Australia’s six colonies became one Federal Commonwealth. But it had taken years of hard work, much discussion, and much determination to achieve.

The process began as early as 1842, long before Victoria and Queensland had separated from New South Wales, when men of vision could see the sense in having a ‘federal authority’. With British Government approval, parliamentary committees were set up in the colonies to look into this idea. At this time, each Australian colony had its own postal services, lighthouses, immigration and quarantine services, army and navy, railways and tariffs. The levying of customs duties between colonies was a big issue. It created annoyance for people travelling across colony borders and having their luggage searched, thus making them feel foreigners in their own country. Solving this trade issue would become one of the biggest challenges on the road to Federation.

Henry Parkes, who would become known as the “Father of Federation”, arrived in Sydney as an immigrant in 1839. He became a journalist, then a newspaper proprietor, before entering politics where he served five terms as Premier of New South Wales. It was in 1867, at an intercolonial conference, that Parkes suggested a “Federal Council”. His proposal came to nothing at the time but would prove to be a stepping stone towards Federation. In 1880, Parkes again suggested a “Federal Council” at another intercolonial conference.

The need for such a body became evident in 1883, when Germany showed a keen interest in New Guinea and the Queensland Government tried to annexe it in the name of Britain. Britain denounced this action, causing much alarm in Australia. Later that year, at yet another convention, it was decided to form a “Federal Council” and this was created in 1885. But it was held back by lack of funds, lack of authority, and some colonies refusing to join, including New South Wales. Parkes, however, was determined that only full Federation would suffice.

In the 1880s, a ‘white Australia’ policy was discussed and defence became an urgent issue in 1889. The number of Australian-born people now outnumbered those who had migrated and a spirit of Australian national sentiment was evident. This encouraged Parkes to begin a campaign seeking full support for Federation. In 1889, he gave his “Tenterfield Oration” and called for a meeting of Australia’s leading men. Four months later, the first Federation Conference took place.

The Australasian Federation Conference took place in Melbourne on 6th February, 1890, and sat for ten days (this included New Zealand). It was committed to Federation and to drawing up a Constitution. In 1891, a Convention was held in Sydney in March, after which a small group spent three days revising the draft Constitution. After further debate, it was agreed that there would be no internal tariffs in a Federated Australia. Delegates then were committed to putting the Constitution through their colonial parliaments. However, many factors prevented the Constitution being adopted in the colonies and then the depression came, bringing ruination to so many, and another halt on the road to Federation.

In 1892, Edmund Barton, a NSW Member of Parliament, visited the Riverina area of New South Wales where there was much discontent over tariffs, rail freights and control of river water. He suggested the formation of citizens’ Federation Leagues, an idea quickly taken up by the Australian Natives’ Association, an organisation of white men born in Australia. Leagues were formed in every region of the country by the end of the 1890s, with a central Australian Federation League in Sydney. These leagues held a conference at Corowa, New South Wales, in 1893 and resolved that there should be direct involvement by the people in the Federation plans. This would be the first

time in the world that electors were able to take part in the formation of a nation. In 1895, a Premiers’ Conference was held in Hobart where the Corowa resolution was adopted.

Again, the colonial politicians were slow in acting and Federation supporters in Bathurst, New South Wales, formed a Federation League and held a People’s Federal Convention in November, 1896, urging that a constitutional convention be held.

An election took place in March, 1897, in four colonies, when ten delegates from each were announced. The parliament of Western Australia elected its ten, whilst Queensland disagreed on the method of selection and New Zealand had withdrawn. These last two were thus not present at the next Convention held in Adelaide on 22nd March, 1897, when men like Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, Sir John Forrest, Isaac Isaacs and Dr. John Quick (from Bendigo and author of the Corowa plan) attended. They drafted a completely new Constitution, which was then sent to the colonial parliaments for comment. A second session of the Convention met in Sydney in September of that year to consider suggested amendments. This led to a third session in Melbourne from 20th January to 17th March, 1898, when the full new draft Constitution was completed.

In June, 1898, referendums were held in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia seeking approval of the Constitution, with favourable results except in New South Wales. This brought another halt in the process towards Federation. In January, 1899, a meeting of all the Premiers (including Queensland) took place in Melbourne when some changes to the Constitution were agreed upon. They also agreed to the Federal Capital being in New South Wales. Further referendums were held in the colonies later that year to vote on the amended Constitution and these were successful with only Western Australia holding off. Having been approved by the voters, the Constitution was then passed by the parliaments with the next step being to seek legal authority through an Act of the British Parliament.

So it was that, in 1900, a delegation of Australian leaders spent four months in England debating with the British and resisting most of their suggested amendments to our Constitution. The Constitution received the royal assent on 9th July, 1900, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament, and Federation was thus assured. Then, on 31st July, 1900, Western Australia held a referendum when its voters, men and women, agreed to Federation. In fact, it was the huge number of Victorian miners who, with their families, had gone to the Kalgoorlie goldfields, who carried that “Yes” vote.

On 1st January, 1901, a memorable and historic ceremony was held in Centennial Park, Sydney, when Australia’s six colonies became one Federal Commonwealth. Sadly, Sir Henry Parkes had died in April, 1896, and did not live to see his vision become a reality.

Lord Hopetoun was appointed Australia’s first Governor-General and commissioned Edmund Barton as the first Prime Minister of an interim ministry, leading to the first federal election on 9th May, 1901.

Our sincere thanks go to the Hon. Michael Ronaldson for such an interesting and detailed talk on this most important and unique aspect of our Australian history.

Back-To Carisbrook – There is to be a Back-To Carisbrook birthday weekend on June 30th to July 1st, 2001, to mark its 150th anniversary. On 1st July, 1851, a contingent of police were moved into Carisbrook, making it the first town settled in the new State of Victoria. Events include town walks, historical displays, a dinner at the race track, celebratory church services, and a street parade on Sunday, with more than 50 floats. For more information, contact Daryl McLeish on (03) 5461 3106.

The Central Highlands Historical Association will hold a luncheon and Annual General Meeting on 11th August at the Snake Valley Hall. Cost is $15 per head for a three-course meal, proceeds to go to the Snake Valley Fire Brigade. For details contact Joan Hunt on (03) 5342 8782.

Maryborough History Fair – The Maryborough Genealogy Group will hold a History Fair in the Maryborough Masonic Hall on Saturday, 1st September. If your group would like to book a table and be part of this event, please contact Marion Melen on 5461 1458.

“Midwest of Western Australia : Pre 1901 Pioneer Family Register” – The Geraldton Family History Society Inc. announces that this publication is now available at a cost of $27.50 plus postage. The 188 A4 pages contain information on almost 950 pioneers. Contact the Society at P.O. Box 2502, Geraldton, W.A. 6531, e-mail gfhs@wn.com.au, or web page www.wn.com.au/gfhs