Buninyong and District Historical Society Inc.

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


August 2008

The Rev. Thomas Hastie, first Minister of the Presbyterian Church in Buninyong, with his snuff horn and 1877 hymn book, donated by the Rev Hastie's great-granddaughter, Mrs Nance Park Richards. Derick and Shirley Leather have generously donated a lovely display cabinet so we can display these items

Our August meeting takes place on Thursday 21 August at 7.30 p.m. at the Court House History Centre. As we have no guest speaker, this will be an opportunity to discuss future projects.


Buninyong Bank

An important initiative for our community is the initiative to initiate a Buninyong Bank, as a branch of the Bendigo Bank. Historically, this is very interesting, as we had a bank in Buninyong from 1862 until World War Two, and we have the stately bank building, formerly the National Bank, now owned by our President David Kimpton. Let us hope that the Community Bank succeeds, with your support, and the interesting question is - where will it be located? New building, or recycled heritage building?

Lal Lal/Elaine Wind Farm

Wind Energy (located in the former Eagle Hotel in Buninyong, currently up for sale for just under $300,000) lodged its application for giant wind turbines in the Lal Lal and Elaine areas. The application goes straight to the Minister for Planning, rather than the Moorabool Shire. Local residents of our area have concerns about the landscape impact on special sites such as the Lal Lal Falls Reserve, and Narmbool. It is a complex issue, balancing landscape heritage, social impact on nearby householders, and environmental sustainability issues. I did write to the Minister on behalf of our Society railisng all these issues, and asking for the opportunity to speak at the Panel Hearing.

Buninyong Avenue of Honor

Buninyong residents will have noticed the plans for re-development of the Buninyong Avenue of Honor in Learmonth St. The City of Ballarat has engaged a consultant to prepare a conservation plan for the trees, which is a good principle. However we had concerns about allowing native plantings to impinge on the original vision of the avenue as primarily composed of Oaks, which have proved themselves as very resilient to drought. We support the RSL's views.


June 2008 - August 2008

Coote, James

James Coote and his family arrived in Port Phillip from Ireland in 1848, and soon found their way to the Buninyong area. James was a storekeeper in Buninyong in the 1850s, then with his sons took up land at Scotsburn. Later members of the family moved to Poowong in Gippsland. Darryl Coote from Melbourne visited us after his week at the South Street Competitions adjudicating the piano section. There appear to have been a number of Cootes in the Buninyong area, and there are a few loose ends to see if they are all related.

Todd, William

Dredge manager at Humble and Company, Dereel, in 1912, founf dead on Buninyong road whilst riding his bicycle to Dereel. He was a well-known marksman, who lived in Ballarat. The daily bicycle ride to and from Dereel would have kept him fit!

Scott, Dr Charles Henry

Physician at Buninyong 1879 to 1884.


Adeline Lavinia Skewes was born in NSW circa 1868 and married at Warrenheip in 1884. Our members Bob and Stuart Skewes have detailed family trees of this family, that provided teachers, chemists and doctors to the regional community.

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 Kilkenny-Warrenheip-Buninyong Connection

Family history research can contribute so much to our understanding of wider social and cultural history. We gradually put together a picture of family and neighbourhood migration imprinting a particular social character on areas of Victoria.

We are indebted to members of the Butler, Jenner and Trait families, who have been researching their ancestors in the Warrenheip area.

'Warrenheip' is an Aboriginal name meaning 'Emu's feathers', used as the name for the squatting run first taken up by Peter Inglis in 1843. In 1846, the young Archibald Fisken took over management of this property, as well as the Lal Lal run. (Griffiths, Three Times Blest, p. 10)

After the development of the Ballarat goldfield, a saw mill was established in 1854 on the northern side of Mount Warrenheip. (Griffiths, 1988, p. 91). Erica Nathan writes that in the 1850s it was the springs at the base of Mount Warrenheip that attracted three sawmills, a soft drink factory and two breweries. ( Lost Waters, 2007, MUP, p. 110, 114-122)

The Warrenheip Sawmills of Groves, McGhie and Co. featured in an article in the Miner and Weekly Star on 20 February 1857 , reporting that 250,000 feet per week of timber was being sent to the Ballarat mines. An extract from the Argus of 24 February 1857 recorded:

From a careful computation there are not less than seven to eight hundred men engaged in the production of timber, supporting by their labour at least double that number of persons, the large proportion being married men, comfortably hutted on and around the various localities in the forests from which the timber is obtained.

At the rate the forest surrounding the mount was being cleared, land in the area would soon be ready for selectors to take up in the 1860s.

People began to take up small blocks of land in the area from 1856, as the government, faced with demands from miners to 'unlock the lands', began to bring forward parcels of land around the goldfields for auction. (Bate, Lucky City, 1978, p. 119).

In 1855 a Mr Gilchrist opened a brewery on the western side of the mount, using the pure mineral springs. This was the forerunner of Magill and Coughlan, which by the end of the century was the largest brewer outside Melboune, with an annual capacity of 20,000 hogsheads. (Griffiths, 1988, p. 92)

Work on the Geelong-Ballarat railway commenced in 1858, with work on the Warrenheip-Ballarat section getting underway in January 1859. (King & Dooley, The Golden Steam at Ballarat, 1973, p. 1) When the Geelong-Ballarat railway line opened in March 1862, a railway station was built at Warrenheip, and a survey of the township was conducted.

Many Irish Catholics, refugees from the Potato Famine and land clearances, settled in the Warrenheip area, including Butlers, Lambs and Jenners. The research of Robyn McCormick and Darryl Scarff has uncovered a 'truckload' of families from a small area around Johnswell, Kilkenny, settling in the Warrenheip area. A Catholic School was established in 1858 by Father Richard Fennelly. In April 1860 the school applied for government aid for its teacher Miss Ellen Harrington. (Ellsworth, Pioneer Catholic Victoria, 1973, p. 239). The school closed in 1877, in favour of the nearby Catholic school at Dunnstown.

In May 1865 21-year-old Ellen Butler, servant of Warrenheip, (born Kilkenny, 1844), married 25-year-old Roady Lamb, farmer of Warrenheip. Their marriage, and the marriage of another couple from Warrenheip in May 1865 (Michael Duggan and Jane Kenny), took place at St. Alipius Ballarat East. There was never a Catholic church at Warrenheip. However at nearby Dunnstown there was a Catholic school from 1862 and the large church of St. Brendan's, built in 1905.

Brind's Distillery was established at Warrenheip in 1864 by a Mr Dunn, who gave his name to Dunnstown. (Griffiths, 1988, p. 94-5). J.J. Goller was also associated with it. By 1875 the Warrenheip Distillery, managed by Henry Brind, won a silver medal for its Geneva and Whiskey at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition. In 1887 William Kenna established his Warrenheip Brewery. The remains of the brick buildings can still be seen on the edge of the township.( Griffiths, 1988, p. 94)

There were many marriages of Irish Catholic immigrants and their children. Most marriages occurred at St. Alipius in Ballarat East, rather than St. Peter and Paul's at Buninyong, which had been built as a school-cum-church in 1858.

James Butler, born at Warrnambool in 1854 shortly after his parents arrived from Kilkenny, married Mary Jane Jenner of Buninyong at St. Alipius Ballarat East in 1888. They settled at Buninyong and raised a family including Mary Ann who married William Steen at St. Peter and Paul's Buninyong in 1914. This is one of the few marriages recorded at this church in the early twentieth century. James and Mary Butler were caretakers of the Catholic Church at Buninyong, living in Scott St. beside the church.. Mary did the flowers for the Church each week. There was a bell up the tree that Mary was to ring if there was any trouble at the Church. The bell was still in the tree in 2002.

Thank you to Robyn McCormick, who has sent us a number of extracts from marriage registrations, which help piece together the use of Catholic churches in the area between the 1860s and the early twentieth century.

Anne Beggs Sunter, Buninyong and District Historical Society

Blast from the Past - Buninyong 1849-52

This article appeared in the Buninyong Telegraph of 25 June 1897. This was the celebration of the unveiling of the gold obelisk near the Buninyong cemetery. On this occasion, Mr T. Hiscock, son of the gold discoverer, addressed the Buninyong Branch of the Australian Natives Association, using his father's original ledger to give some key historical moments for the township.

1849 On 4 October - First time the bell was rung for the Presbyterian Church by Thomas Hiscock
1850 On 20 August 1850, the first person to be buried in the 'new churchyard' was Eli Thomas. (What does this 'new churchyard refer to - old burying ground near Post Office, or more likely the present cemetery?)
1851 On 6 February, Buninyong consumed by the 'Black Thursday' bushfire.
1851 9 May - first land sale.
1851 8 August - Thomas Hiscock announces his discovery of gold ( In light of 2008 Bejing Olympics, we notice that 8 August is a very lucky date in Chinese culture!)
1852 15 April - Mr George Selleck opened the Crown Hotel!

Now these dates are somewhat at odds with other dates given in other sources. We would welcome your comments. Corrections, musings on this article!


Saturday 30 August 75th Anniversary of the Ballarat Historical Society. Festivities will commence at Dana St. Primary School, former home of the Society, at 10.30a.m. At 2.30p.m. a special exhibition at the Gold Museum, and a celebration dinner at the Ballarat Club (Portico's) in the evening, with our own Doug Bradby as guest speaker. Anne and Adrienne will attend as representatives of Buninyong. We congratulate the Ballarat Historical Society, the first historical society in our region, and an important model to our development.
Weekend of 4-5 October 2008 CHHA Family and Local History Expo. From 10.00a.m. to 4.oop.m., at ACU Campus of the Australian Catholic University. Theme is 'That's Entertainment'.
Thursday, 16 October Our AGM will take place. Keep the date free.
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.
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