Buninyong and District Historical Society Inc.

Reg. No. A0030085Y
Web Site http://home.vicnet.net.au/~buninhis
PO Box 98, Buninyong, Vic. 3353.


April 2008

Middleton's Ironmongery in Warrenheip St., Buninyong, circa 1928,
when Lawrence Middleton applied for permission to place petrol bowsers on the footpath.
Middleton built the shop in 1906. Thanks to Graeme Middleton for the wonderful photo

Our second meeting of the year takes place on Thursday 17 April at 7.30 p.m. at the Court House History Centre. Our guest speaker is Rex Harcourt, one of our Melbourne-based members, who has a special interest in John Batman's arrival at Port Phillip, and also in the history of cricket in Victoria, especially the Aboriginal team chosen to tour to England. Rex also has a special interest in the history of Magpie.

On Friday, 18 April, we will be officially launching our new book Buninyong Heritage Walks at 2.00p.m., at the Court House History Centre. All welcome.


The Panel Report on the Canadian Valley Outline Development Plan has been received by the Ballarat City Council, and is now available on the City's website. Council will decide to adopt or modify the plan at a coming meeting. This is a vital issue for Buninyong, Mount Helen and Mount Clear residents, who are urged to look at the report.

Ron Deleland's land opposite the Golf Course begins development. In March 2008 signs went up and work commenced on turning a rural block of land opposite the Golf Course into a new housing development. Many residents opposed the planning application, including our Society, arguing that new residential development should be confined within the bourdaries of the Buninyong township, as recommended by the Canadian Valley Outline Development Plan. However Council approved the plan, with a slight modification of increasing lot sizes. Mayor David Vendy promised that the Avenue of Honor trees would not be impacted! Major roadworks began at Easter 2008, and it is hard to believe that the roadworks to the entrance of the estate will not impact the Midland Highway, and the RSL's Avenue of Honor.

New Real Estate Business in Buninyong, We watched with interest in early 2008 as the old Shire Offices were painted, and the new business of Buninyong Real Estate, with its distinctive advertising featuring Mount Buninyong, appeared in old Shire Offices complex. Graeme Paizis approached our Society for permission to use some of our images on his web site, and in return assisted us with mapping information. We hope our relationship will develop fruitfully. Graeme has placed a video screen in a box outside his office.

New housing estate at the top of Learmonth St..Ted Sutherland's old property, which incorporated the old quarry. Dam and Ted's horses, has been subdivided into a new housing estate called 'Sutherland Heights'. Ted would have chuckled about the name!

Another 'old timer' having a chuckle from above would be Cath Thorpe. Her old cottage in Warrenheip St. is up for sale, at a price of $300,000!

The Old Court House Hotel on the corner of Learmonth St.and Cornish St. is being redeveloped. The old hotel has been gutted, with extensions being constructed at the rear of the brick portion of the building.

We said goodbye to two old residents on Wednesday 9 April. Ruby Knowles (nee Shearer of Scotsburn) was buried from the Scotsburn Union Church. Ruby had lived at Clarendon until very recently, moving into Nazareth House for the last two years of her 98 years. She was buried at Clarendon.

On the same afternoon, George Eason, aged 95, was buried at Buninyong after a service at the Buninyong Town Hall. George was born in Buninyong, one of seven children, and became an identity in Cathcart St. later in life, after serving in the AIF in World War Two, and working at the Eureka Tile Factory in Ballarat for 30 years. He loved his garden, and the Buninyong Bowling Club, and was also very involved with the Senior Citizens for many years.

Help! We are missing the September and November 2007 issues of the Buninyong and District News. If you can donate copies for our archival set, we would be most grateful.


February 2008 - April 2008

FIELD, Thomas

Innkeeper on the Leigh near Buninyong, 1841-5, according to Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip. From Thirroul, NSW

HAWKINS - George and his wife Caroline

Were at Mount William in 1849 when their son Joseph was born. George was working as a a splitter, and the baby was baptized by Rev. Thomas Hastie on 16 February 1849. Three other children were born before Caroline apparently died. There is no record of her burial at Buninyong, but in 1857 George married again, to Mary Sheedy, and had nine more children. There are no burials registered at Buninyong, and possibly th family moved to Smythes Creek/Smythsdale.

McDONALD, Andrew S.

Early immigrant to Port Phillip, by 1848 in the Buninyong area working for the Learmonth Brothers


Laurence Middleton had a hardware shop and petrol bowser in Warrenheip St. in the twentieth century. There were a number of Middletons in Buninyong in the nineteenth century, all associated with Holy Trinity. Was there a relationship between these families?

PULLBROOK, John Joseph and Elizabeth

At Whim Holes in 1860s and 1870s. From Brisbane

SWAIN, Andrew

At Mount Clear from 1870, until his death in 1907.


Gardener of Black Lead, was buried at Buninyong Cemetery in 1866. He had been paying rates at Suffolk Lead and Black Lead since 1863.

If readers know anything about any of these names, and can help, please contact the secretary, Anne Beggs Sunter, a.beggs-sunter@ballarat.edu.au.


A sketch by Lorna Geyde, showing the Catholic Church at Buninyong built in 1858.

On Sunday 6 April 2008, Sts Peter and Paul's Catholic Church at Buninyong celebrated the 150th anniversary of its opening by Bishop James Alipius Gould of Melbourne. On this occasion Bishop Peter Connors of the Diocese of Ballarat presided at a wonderful celebration of Mass, followed by lunch and reminiscences at the Buninyong Golf Club. It was good to have official representatives of Holy Trinity and the Buninyong Baptist Church to join the celebrations. Many old residents came back to Buninyong for the special day, and Margaret Burke arranged a photographic display at the Golf Club. Anne Beggs Sunter was busy collecting history from a number of old Buninyong families.

The Black Thursday Bushfire of 6 February 1851

On Black Thursday 1851 fires covered a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Areas affected included Portland, the Plenty Ranges, Westernport, the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. Approximately 12 lives, one million sheep and thousands of cattle were lost.

William Strutt's huge painting in the State Library of Victoria, Black Thursday 1851, evokes the devastation of the disastrous 1851 bushfire.

Thomas Hiscock settled at Buninyong as the village blacksmith in 1844, when his daughter Elizabeth was born. He was one of the supporters of the Buninyong Free Presbyterian School which it was established in 1847 and in 1850, there were three Hiscock children attending Hastie's School - John aged 14, Emma aged 8, and Elizabeth, aged 6. Elizabeth's daughter Jessie recalled in 1934 that her mother had been at school on Black Thursday when bushfires consumed Victoria and surrounded the school. She recalled that her uncle had saved the horses on the Learmonth estate on that momentous day.Here is the letter she wrote to the Age in 1934:

A Gold Finder's Family

To the Editor of the Age

Sir - My mother, a daughter of the late Thomas Hiscock, was born at 'the Ancient Village' Buninyong on 4 September 1844. I was born at Burrumbeet in October 1870. My youngest son was born at Bowen Vale in 1896, and his daughter was born at Coburg in 1919.

My mother was in school on Black Thursday when fires surrounded the school house. The children were locked in for protection until rescuers came. Mother's brother saved the horses on Learmonth's estate Buninyong, a property that stretched twenty miles to Ercildoune. Mother remembered having heard the firing at Buninyong on the occasion of the diggers' fight with the soldiers at Eureka. The aborigines' camps and their corroborees were also well remembered by her. My mother died three years ago aged 87 years. She had reared a family of ten.

My grandfather, the late Thomas Hiscock, discovered gold on 3 August 1851, for which he received a reward of 1000 and a gold cup. An obelisk marks the place where the gold was found at Hiscock's, three miles west of Buninyong. My mother remembered her father going to Geelong to be the guest of honor at a banquet given by the then mayor (Cr. Hitchcock) and the citizens to mark the importance of his discovery. On occasions my mother remembered her father going to Geelong to sell the gold, with the official escort, and once he took the family with him.

Yours etc,
Jessie L. Gourlay (nee Hughes)
Bowen Vale, via Maryborough,
25 September 1934.

The letter is intriguing. How reliable is her mother's memory, or Jessie's memory of what her mother had told her? The Enrolment Record of Hastie's School for 1850 (original document in the Gold Museum) verifies that Elizabeth Hastie was indeed at the school. But could the shots fired at the Eureka Stockade really have been heard at Buninyong? She gives the date of her grandfather's gold discovery as 3 August 1851. 19-year-old John Stoker Thomas was with Thomas Hiscock when he discovered gold, as was his brother Edward and Thomas Hiscock's son Thomas, all looking for a stray cow. The actual date is somewhat confused. John Stoker Thomas claimed it was Saturday 2 August 1851; the gold monument erected in 1897 states 3 August, and the Select Committee inquiring into who should be rewarded for gold discoveries in Victoria decreed in 1854 that Thomas Hiscock be rewarded for his discovery "on 8 August 1851".

It is very feasible that the discoverers would test the ground for a few days, collect their gold, and establish their claim before releasing the news to the general public. So it is quite possible that the discovery was made on 2 August, but not communicated to people in Geelong until the following week. Hiscock wrote to the editor of the Geelong Advertiser on Sunday 10 August, and sent the letter and gold specimens down with the Buninyong mail, which left Buninyong on Sunday night, 10 August. (James Flett, p. 348). Interesting that Jessie gives the date that has been fixed on the monument.

And is the monument on the correct spot? Jessie writes in her letter that 'an obelisk marks the place where the gold was discovered'. The memorial was sited here because it was the boundary of the old Shire and Borough of Buninyong. The actual place where gold was discovered is believed to be some hundred yards north of the obelisk. (Griffiths, Three Times Blest, 1988, p. 19)

And notice that Jessie refers to Buninyong as 'the Ancient Village'!

So, lots of food for thought from Jessie Gourlay's letter to the editor of 1934!

The Shortest Council Term

On 30 August 1859, John Crombie of Mount Mercer Cattle Station was elected to the Buninyong District Roads Board. He attended 2 meetings at the Crown Hotel, at which he was an active participant, then he was killed by one of his employees after a violent argument. Amazingly, in the Board meeting on 6 October, there is no reference to his passing!

Mount Helen Naming

Rev. Hastie and his wife Jane arrived in Buninyong in 1847 with their little daughter Helen, who was born in Launceston in 1845. We have 'Hastie's Spring' in Buninyong, named after Rev. Hastie, so why not Mount Helen named after his daughter? This suggestion comes via the great, granddaughter of Helen, Mrs Nance Richards of Tea Gardens, NSW, who also sent us a copy of the Rev. Hastie's Psalm and Hynm book, presented to him by the Ladies of the congregation in 1877.


The new Buninyong Heritage Walk Book, compiled by Neil McCracken, who is a keen walker and member of the Great Dividing Trail Association. Thanks to Neil's enthusiasm, we obtained a grant from the Ballarat Community Fund to assist with publication costs. Michelle Coxall of Buninyong Books has also been most generous, as has our Councillor Peter Innes. We have published 2,000 copies of the booklet, which will retail at $5 a copy.

Our new booklet features a sketch of Mount Buninyong made in 1853 by the artist Charles Macklin, which the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery kindly allowed us to reproduce on our cover.

Have you renewed your membership, due from the AGM in October?


Thursday 17 April 7.30 p.m. General Meeting, Court House History Centre. Rex Harcourt on his research into John Batman and the Aboriginal Cricket Team.
2-3 May Buninyong Film Festival
Sunday 11 May Ballarat Heritage Festival. Walking tour of Buninyong Cemetery at 11.00a.m. (approx 45 minutes) Guided tour of Town Hall and Court House at 12.00p.m. (approx 30 minutes)
Sunday 25 May Celebration of the opening of Lal Lal Falls to Moorabool Falls walking trail. Commencing at 11.00a.m. at Rotunda. BYO lunch, and walking shoes.
Every second Monday morning at 9.00am
from Monday 14 April
Cataloguing. We work for two hours, then take coffee at a local cafe. Helpers always very welcome!
1st Sunday of each month Court House open from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
3rd Saturday of every month Buninyong Farmer's Market, from 9.00a.m.
Back To top of page