Buninyong and District Historical Society

Brydon and Hedrick Store

c 1856
Learmonth Street, Buninyong

This is one of the earliest businesses in the village, established as a general store by Brydon and Hedrick from Geelong in the early 1850s. The names of the proprietors can still be seen on the façade.

Peter Hedrick (1834-1896) JP was a very important founding father in Buninyong. Mr Brydon was a brother-in-law of Peter. A check of the Unassisted Passenger Index on the Public Record Office of Victoria shows that John Hedrick, aged 28, arrived in Port Phillip with his wife, aged 26, on the Birmingham in October 1852. Her maiden name was Agnes Brydon. Peter arrived on the Lightening in 1854. The family came from Blackford, Perthshire, in Scotland.

John and Agnes settled at Geelong, where their ten children were born between 1853 and 1872. Peter entered into partnership with his brother, sister-in-law and her brother Brydon, to establish a trading firm supplying the goldfields, based on Geelong. They are listed in the first Buninyong Directory 1857, and the building dates from this period. In 1858 Peter purchased the business, and operated it until his death.

In 1859 Peter signed the petition seeking local government for Buninyong, and there was also a John Hedrick, storekeeper, too. Peter was elected to the first council in 1859 and became the first Mayor of the Borough of Buninyong on 1 October 1863 at the tender age of 25 and he remained a councillor till his death, serving as Mayor from 1863-5 and 1888-9.

Peter was President of the Highland Society in 1862. In 1864, he married Arabella Selleck, daughter of the owner of the Crown Hotel, in the Anglican Church at Buninyong.

He was a member of many local organisations, including the Independent Order of Oddfellows, the Lal Lal Turf Club (Treasurer and Trustee), Trustee of the Mount Buninyong Reserve, member of the Buninyong Turf Club and the Buninyong Bowling Club, Buninyong Mining Board, Old Colonists' Association, trustee of the Cemetery, President of the Library and a Justice of the Peace.

During the 1880s he had become friendly with Simon Desoza and had shares in the De Soza mine. De Soza lived with the Hedricks in their home near the Post Office. Desoza was initially buried in the Hedrick family vault, and one child was named after him.

Peter also drove in the last spike of the Buninyong Railway in 1889. When we celebrated the centenary of the opening of the railway in 1989, Hedrick family members attended with a number of family heirlooms, including the trowel used to lay the foundation stone for the re-built Crown Hotel. His portrait is in the Shire Council chamber.

He died on 24 September 1896, aged 62, and is buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery, and the town hall was draped in black. Arabella died on 18 February 1911, aged 66. There is a headstone. He had been so concerned with helping poorer members of society that he thought little of his own circumstances. He did not leave his own family well provided for, and Council arranged a public subscription which raised 90 pounds to help his family.

Peter and Arabella had 11 children, five girls and six boys. Jessie (born 1875) married James Irving Graham of the tannery. James Edward (born 1879) worked in the grocery that was taken over by David Kerr after Peter's death.

The Buninyong Telegraph announced on 28 August 1903 that Ern Tonkin had purchased the grocery and wine and spirit business from David Kerr. The Tonkin family lived in Eyre Cottage, Robert Allen's old house on the corner of Eyre and Winter Streets. Tonkin extended his business by including shops towards Mt. Buninyong, including the former Greaves drapery store, as the photo shows.

In 1916 he had telephone No. 3, one of the earliest in Buninyong.

Tonkin died on 14 February 1925, aged 50. A letter in the Rate Book dated 24 April 1926 from the Ballarat Trustee Company indicated that the property was sold to W.W. Dowling, and that the shop in Learmonth St. was rather run down.

From 1955 to 1962 Bill and Rita Brown ran a Milk Bar. They came to Buninyong in 1955, when they found a vacant shop advertised in the township, with a house attached. The property included the corner shop on the Warrenheip St/ Learmonth St intersection (which became a gift shop) and the former Brydon & Hedrick bluestone shop next door, (which became a Milk Bar and Fruit Shop.)

The Milk Bar concept was just taking off in popular culture, influenced by American culture. The hours were 9.00 am to 9.00 pm, very demanding for a family. Bill and Rita worked in the two shops, and they employed locals to help.

Findlay McNaughton supplied milk to the citizens of Buninyong, and the Browns purchased cans of milk from Findlay for use in their business. They did not sell bottles of milk, because that was Findlay's market.

They sold bread to travellers. Rita remarked on Paddy Jones's local bread, which was a chewy white loaf. She purchased a few loaves for sale in the shop, but preferred the bread made by Davies in Ballarat.

The Milk Bar became a place where the teenagers of Buninyong 'hung out', buying their malted milks, and sipping them under the verandahs of Learmonth St. Rita told the story of how the local lads liked to play a prank on travellers coming through Buninyong from Geelong. They would carefully package a box of dog excrement, wrap it up in brown paper and string provided by Bill Brown, and then put it on the highway. The teenagers then gained great entertainment from watching motorists stop and investigate the packages!

1962 - ?: Milk Bar and sweets shop operated by Miss True Sincerity
2006 - : Bluestone Café and Tea Rooms