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

February 2005 Newsletter

Welcome to the New Year. February always brings the 30th Buninyong Gold King Festival, which takes place on Saturday-Sunday 19-20 February. As usual, we need everyone to lend a hand on the roster at the Court House and at the Old Library, in two hour shifts, starting from 2.00p.m. on Saturday, and 10.00a.m. on Sunday. It would be good to have two people on duty for each shift. Please ring Anne on 53417618 to reserve your time. This is also a good chance to catch up with our out-of-town members, and we hope you can join us.

Our February meeting has been moved forward, to 5.30p.m. on Thursday, 17th February. (Please note change of time) This will allow members to attend a presentation on the Yarrowee trail, being made at the Regent Theatre in Ballarat at 7.00p.m. This trail is important to Buninyong, and Pat Hope has been working hard to have an extension from Mount Clear to enable Buninyong to link into this trail. Congratulations to Pat and Neil for all their hard work on this project, which has greatly enhanced the area.

Have you seen the Eureka Revisited exhibition at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery? It closes next weekend, 13th February, so make sure you see it. Anne Beggs Sunter curated the historical part of the exhibition, and wrote the catalogue essay, which is richly illustrated with the artworks of Eureka.


An Australia Day honour was awarded to Mary Akers for her services to Sovereign Hill and the University of Ballarat. Congratulations to Mary, who was also the foundation secretary of the Buninyong and District Historical Society.

Mount Helen Development. News came from VCAT on 11 January that it had overturned the City of Ballarat's decision to refuse a permit for a residential subdivision near Darriwell Drive.. This was a blow to all the local people who worked so hard to put a sound environmental case to VCAT. However VCAT did stipulate that no dogs or cats would be allowed on the subdivison, a first for the Ballarat area. There is still some hope that the developer Roadcom will accept a land swap, utilising cleared pine forest.

Congratulations to Peter Innes for his re-election as Buninyong Ward representative on the Ballarat City Council. Peter was also voted 'Citizen of the Year' by the Buninyong Mount Helen Lions Club in 2004. Peter works very hard to represent the best interests of Buninyong

Sir Samuel Wilson. Unfortunately our application for a Local History grant to write the biography of Sir Samuel Wilson was not successful.



As usual, a steady stream of email requests:


GIBSON of Durham Lead, from David Gibson of Ballarat Grammar

JAMES, William

JAMES, William of Hardies Hill 1858 , from David Gibson of Ballarat Grammar


Matilda Selleck, born c. 1871, from WA.


Thomas Booth of Scotchmans, from Dorothy Winsall. We were able to provide Dorothy with a copy of her ancestor's reminiscences, much to her delight. In return she sent us a digital photo of Thomas Booth, and a photo of his fireman's brooch, won for the Buninyong Brigade in 1883.


MORRIS and GRIFFEY of Navigators area. There is a Griffy's Lane off Yankee Flat Road at Green Gill.

MORRIS, Margaret

MORRIS, Margaret of Yarrowee. A query from NZ

GRIFFITHS, Nathaniel

GRIFFITHS, Nathaniel married Mary Ann Barnes WARD at Buninyong 24 Nov. 1854, and a child born at Corduroy Bridge 1855. Later moved to Tumbarumba, NSW. Query from Ipswich, QLD.


HARTLEY family who were in the area from early 1850s, and five orphaned children attend Rev. Hastie's school.


ANGUEY of Mt. Misery, a Chinese family. We already have some information on this family.


John and Susannah Meade were miners in the Hiscocks area in the nineteenth century. They are buried at the Buninyong cemetery. Our index was able to satisfy a request for information.

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NURSE PORTER, of Buninyong

Annie Porter, born 1871, was the eldest daughter and third child of John Porter. She never married, but studied nursing late in the nineteenth century. She was known as 'Nurse Porter' when the Rev. W.R. Cunningham and his wife presented her with a beautiful album of photos of Buninyong and Launceston in 1905, with their kindest regards. One can speculate that the minister and his wife had a particular reason to be grateful to Nurse Porter. Perhaps she nursed one of the family. The album includes a number of photos of Cunningham family members, including the children, and it seems likely that one of the Cunningham family was the photographer for these beautifully composed photos, each with an accompanying handwritten verse. (Some of these photos are reproduced in the Illustrated History of Buninyong.) Rev. Cunningham was the Minister at the Buninyong Presbyterian Church between 1903-5; however he was in the district earlier, for in 1891 he offered to give a lecture to help the Methodist Church raise funds for new lamps, at the time when John Porter was Treasurer. (Methodist Historical Sketch, Buninyong 1907, p. 12)

Annie later worked in Maldon and probably Ararat as a nurse. (Stuart Skewes has a photo of her in her nurse's uniform outside a hospital/asylum.) When her father became frail in 1922, he purchased the old Railway Hotel on the corner of Learmonth and Cornish Streets, and asked Annie to come home to look after him. This she did until his death in 1925. Stuart Skewes said that between 1930-35 she ran a lolly shop from the bar of the old hotel. Then in about 1935 she helped her nephew Doug Watkins establish a poultry business, with a large number of chicken pens built behind the old hotel. She died on 24 October 1954, aged 83.

John Porter JP (1843-1925) died on the 9 October 1925, aged 82. He arrived in Australia in 1864, aged 21, qualified as a teacher. He taught at a number of Methodist schools before being appointed Head Teacher to Napoleons in 1887 until his retirement in 1894.

He purchased the 'Fernbank' in Lal Lal Street Buninyong on 31 January 1891 and he became Secretary to the new Buninyong Butter Factory, which was close to his home He sold the property to his relative Phoebe Skewes in 1924. He ended his life at the old Railway Hotel, which by then was called 'Cloverbank'.

He was a small man with a bushy beard, and took a leading role in the Buninyong Methodist Church, as Sunday School teacher, trustee, choir member and Superintendent.

John Porter had a 'gravelly sort of voice', according to his grandson Frank Watkins, and sang bass in the church choir. He helped get an organ for the church by writing to the Rockafeller Foundation in the USA for a donation of 100 pounds, and getting it!


Photos of Doug Watkins with his chickens, and Annie Porter with the delivery cart outside the chicken pens, 1930s.
(Photos from the collection of Stuart Skewes.)



17 February 5.30 p.m. Business Meeting, Court House History Centre
19 February 10.00 a.m. Walking tour of Buninyong
2.00 p.m.- 4.00 p.m. Court houses (old and new) open
20 February Buninyong Gold King Festival. Court House open from 10.00a.m.
21 AprilGeneral Meeting. Guest Speaker Jennifer Hazlewood on Mechanics Institutes.


Portrait of Thomas Booth, member of the Buninyong Fire Brigade, who went to Sydney in 1883 to compete in the United Fire Brigade Demonstration. His team was successful, and he was presented with a 'ladder' brooch by the Presmier of NSW, the Hon. Charles Stuart.
(Photo courtesy of Dorothy Winsall)

Thomas was born at Buninyong in 1858 and we have a copy of his fascinating reminiscences of early life in Buninyong, including school days with Rev. Russell, the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867, meetings with Aboriginql and Chinese people, and his experience with the Fire Brigade.

Reminder: Have you renewed your membership for 2004-5?


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