Buninyong and District Historical Society Inc.


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


June 2006

(Apologies for the late display of this newsletter -
our webmistress has been away, at her son's wedding in Okinawa.)

Rev. Arthur Rutter's design for Buninyong Gold Centenary 1951

Next meeting: Thursday, 15 June, at 7,30p.m.
Our guest speaker will be Susie Zada; Topic: 'Point Henry'.


Our June meeting will take place on Thursday, 15 June, at 7,30p.m. Our guest speaker will be Susie Zada, a freelance historian from Ocean Grove who did the research on St. Peter and Paul's Church in Buninyong for a recent conservation management plan, and is an expert on the use of computers in family and local history research. Susie will offer a fascinating insight into Point Henry near Geelong, the point of entry of many of our immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s. We will be taking Susie to dinner at the Crown beforehand, for any members who would like to join us at 6.00pm.

A report on the HERITAGE VICTORIA seminar on Friday 28 April at Buninyong Town Hall, on the theme Small Historic Towns in the Landscape.

The Heritage Council Victoria organised this important forum, in conjunction with the National Trust and the Buninyong and District Historical Society. Peter Hiscock, who is a member of the Heritage Council, suggested Buninyong as the ideal venue for such a forum.

About 90 people gathered at the Town Hall on a lovely Autumn day for a full day organised by the Heritage Council Victoria. There were 10 speakers throughout the day, as well as a walking tour and the opportunity for small group discussions in the afternoon.

Minister John Brumby made a brief appearance for morning tea and announced Victorian Government support for a Provincial Victoria Historic Towns Award, to be announced later in the year following nominations from communities. Interestingly the Mayor David Vendy and Councillor Ruyg also made a brief appearance to meet the Minister, but unfortunately did not come to listen to any of the excellent speakers.

Jeremy Reynolds from the Department of Sustainability and Environment gave a demographic overview of Victoria, and told us that 70% of Melbourne has been built since World War Two, whereas the opposite holds for rural Victoria. In our central goldfields region, this is particularly true, with towns planned optimistically during the halcyon economic times of the mid nineteenth century. He also gave the astounding statistic that in 1950 there were 28,000 dairy farms with an average of 18 cows being milked; today there are around 7,000 dairy farms, each milking an average of 250 cows!

Just considering this fact shows extraordinary impacts on small country towns, where butter factories, schools, churches and shops have been forced to close. Today dairy products from the Buninyong area have to make the long journey to Warrnambool every day to the nearest butter factory!

The most thought provoking address came from Trevor Budge, President of the Victorian Branch of the Planning Institute of Australia. He reviewed the State Planning Policy framework, introduced 10 years ago by the Kennett government. This planning framework was written entirely in the context of metropolitan Melbourne, and says nothing about the unique characteristics of provincial Victoria. The state planning laws are silent on the issue of protecting significant landscapes. He identified peripheral development as the major threat to historic towns. This is certainly true of Buninyong, where the historic setting of Buninyong as a village surrounded on all sides by wooded ridges is changing before our eyes, as new residential development on the edges of the township boundary come to dominates the skyline.

There was much discussion of how to protect significant landscape from peripheral development. Visitors from Braidwood in NSW told us that they have achieved such controls. This is a challenge for the Ballarat Planning Scheme, currently being examined in the Canadian Valley Outline Development Plan, which will be coming to Ballarat City Council in the near future.

We heard of some encouraging initiatives in England, where the national planning scheme uses conservation zones and greenbelts to protect landscape, and the National Trust has been buying up one third of the coastline in order to protect coastal heritage.

The overall message of the day was that citizens must be involved in shaping the future appearance of their towns. We must consider what we value about our town, how we want to interpret it, and, as Ray Tonkin of Heritage Victoria said, we should develop a cultural landscape statement to provide us with a vision for the future. The papers from the forum will be available on the Heritage Victoria website.


As usual, the queries keep steadily rolling in from far and wide via our Website. Visitors from Scotland and Canada read our newsletter and send us messages. A continuing thanks to our distinguished Webmistress, Liz Lumsdon.

BOX, Thomas

Possibly born at Grenville circa 1857. Married Janet Loxton at Warracknabeal 1893. (Query from Bunbury, WA)

FOWLER, Thomas and Jane

In Buninyong area mining for gold from 1852 to 1860

BUCKLE, Arnell and Elizabeth

Farmer at Scotsburn from 1865. Had nine children.

GUNN, Donald

Alastair Gunn from the UK contacted us after reading our newsletter in the web, with the information that he wrote an article about Donald Gunn, one of the founders of the Buninyong Highland Society, in the Ballarat Historian, in September 1983.


The Middlemist family arrived from Scotland in 1852 on the Araminta. Annie was only a small child, and she became a renowned schoolteacher at the Buninyong State School. Her sister Ellen married George Archibald and had 10 children.

LYNE, Percy

Grocer in Learmonth St Buninyong between about 1900 and 1926. Query from Ipswich Qld.


Married Elizabeth Mitchell at Holy Trinity 18 October 1862.

RUTTER Rev. Arthur

Was Anglican minister at Holy Trinity Buninyong in 1951, when he acted as Organiser of the Buninyong Gold Centenary in 1951. He organized a number of special church services, including special services to mark the centenary of gold discovery at Buninyong on 5 August 1951, and the centenary of the first Anglican service on 19 October. He was an artist, and he painted a mural on the wall of the Parish Hall depicting the Gold Rush Days, according to information from his daughter in 2006. This has been painted over, but his work does survive in the souvenir produced in 1951, which features his wonderful cover design. He also designed the decorative wrought iron gates at the entrance to the church grounds. As I was preparing this newsletter, there was a ring on the door bell and there was Marie Crosbie, with a photo of a wedding reception at Holy Trinity in 1957. Behind the wedding party was a lovely view of the lost mural!

Rev. Rutter's mural, as it appeared in 1957. It depicted Warrenheip St, from the perspective of the National Bank looking towards Mount Helen. Thanks to Marie Crosbie of the Holy Trinity community for finding this photo.


It has been a long time coming, planning and dreaming and working, but the Recreation Centre in Forest Street has finally been completed, and the first netball matches took place on Saturday 6 May. 2006 The football team will join the netballers next season, when the oval is completed and training lights installed. The new facility cost $1.85 million, with $750,000 coming in a grant from the State Government, $800,000 from the City of Ballarat and $300,000 from the Buninyong Football Club. Our Council representative, Peter Innes, has fought very hard for this facility, as he did for the Buninyong Swimming Pool, which was threatened with closure at the end of 2005, but was granted a reprieve by the City of Ballarat and experienced a great season during the summer months. Forest street is developing nicely into a recreation area to suit many community interests - skateboarders, tennis players, swimmers, netballers and footballers, not to forget the many avid walkers.

Our Society have some early records of the Leisure Centre Committee dating from around 1979, when the 'Leisure Centre' was first proposed near the Buninyong Primary School, as a joint school-community facility. That led to the new Gymnaseum beside the School, but it never became a community facility. Hence the effort to develop this new facility in Forest St, with the support of the Football and Cricket Clubs who have used Royal Park in Warrenheip St, for many years.

Our Society has made our case that Royal Park remain a public open space when the Football and Cricket Clubs move to the new venue.


The most accurate records of our foundation come from Court Records. From 1852, a magistrates court presided at Buninyong, and from the records of this Court, we can glean so much about the social, political and commercial life of Buninyong and district. Our pioneering historian Bill Thorpe spent ages in the Public Record Office transcribing details of early court hearings. Bill religiously recorded these in pen. And after his death his records were bequeathed to Beth Ritchie. Recently Beth passed Bill's records to Neil McCracken who entered the data into a computer record, from which we can index the entries.

As always in the historical world, this is an example of work begun many years ago, passed on to another scholar, and another, and finally permanently recorded in our records.

Thanks to Bill Thorpe, Beth Ritchie and Neil NcCracken ( and of course the Public Record Office of Victoria).


On Sunday 28 May, we set out for Skipton and Mount Widderin, for an excursion planned by our president Ian Clark. Our chief aim was to visit the volcanic caves at Mount Widderin, near Skipton, and learn something of the ancient history of our region as told through geological elements. But we began with a tour of the ancient village of Skipton, so like Buninyong in being a pre-gold settlement. Janet Ward of the Skipton Historical Society was our warm host for morning tea and a guided walk around the township which has many echoes of Buninyong - the strength of the original Presbyterian religion, the key role of the Mechanics Institute, an impressive nineteenth century school and early pub that has made its mark throughout the generations. We enjoyed an old-fashioned roast dinner at the pub.

Members were warned that they would have to be intrepid to join our excursion! Being prepared to slither underground, get dirty, brave the unknown with nothing more than a flashlight! Thankfully we had eight members prepared for the challenge - our President Ian Clark, with Peter and Liz Lumsdon, Pauline Holloway, David Kimpton, Anne Beggs Sunter, plus Beth and Frank Ritchie. A small group, but intrepid adventurers all! The underground volcanic caves are amazing, a totally unexpected subterranean world that opens up after squeezing through a tiny opening. A mind-blowing experience - thank you Ian Clark for giving us the opportunity! Later in the afternoon we visited the Devil's Kitchen and Nimmins' Bridgre near Scarsdale, a most remarkable timber bridge spanning the railway line near Skipton. It was a great day.


At our April meeting, members voted to make Stuart Skewes of Ballarat an Honorary Member, in recognition of his many gifts to our Society. These have included photographs, copies of documents, and artefacts of the Independent Order of Rechabites.

REMEMBER OUR JUNE MEETING 15 June, Thursday, 7.30p.m. General Meeting
at the Town Hall History Centre, with guest speaker Susie Zada.