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We made it and what a night it was! The idea of Phil Butcher to have a night of celebration remembering various subjects worked out well. Thanks to marvellous help from the wider community the old Mechanics’ Institute came alive to the sounds of music and a screen brought back images from the past to the assembled crowd who enjoyed fine food and drink. The first theme was the indigenous people. Rick and Kane Nelson descendants of the local Dja wurrung people welcomed us and played the didgeridoo. Videoed images of scar trees and photos of Rick’s forbears were features of the Phil’s interview. The next segment, the community, was introduced with a song that had local significance. It was written by Lyn Muir, granddaughter of Midas McKay. Midas was the daughter of George McKay, manager of the Byron mine and was herself very musical. The song told of the settlers yearning for their former home in Scotland and we watched an image of young Midas dressed in her Scottish kilt waving as if to the far-off country as Peter Moloney sang it for us. Elsie Barkla was interviewed about her early memories of Newstead and of course as Elsie always is, was marvellous! We heard how she shared her bike on the ride to school, how the Williamson family sent apples to England in 1886 and what the streetscape looked like in the twenties and thirties. The final part was devoted to the dredge. Peter Moloney talked to Ern McManus who has a great memory and the photos that Simon Turvey had lent us added to the story. Lindsay Garsed also went on stage to contribute his knowledge. Unfortunately Keith Ramsay who also worked on the dredge, was not able to be there. We were indebted to NAPE for the use of their stage, to Dean McLaren for videoing the night, to Kane Nelson and Bronwyn for producing the brochure that we were able to distribute, to Peter Moloney for the use of his sound equipment, to ’whoever’ lent us the data processor that enabled us to show images, to Janet Barker for the use of her portable cool-room when a fridge at the hall ’died’ and all the kind helpers who gave a hand at providing the food. To the other members of the steering committee – Gordon Dowell, Jenny Dyer, Derek Reid, Giselle Neall and Phil Butcher – a big thank you!


We welcomed Ross Gibbs, Director of the PRO who was accompanied by his successor, Shauna Hicks. Ross was here to present us with the archival material that was the prize for being judged the best display at last year’s Family History Expo at Ballarat. Several members of Central Highland’s Historical Society were present for the occasion. We managed to welcome them and were aware of the honour of the occasion (which went very well except for the secretary pulling the front door off its hinge just before the official party arrived. It has been restored to its former glory thanks to Kevin Adams!).


Another trip out to the shores of Cairn Curran was taken in early April. Kevin Leathbridge again lead us, this time to the site of the old Ware home. Kevin was able to tell us lots of memories of his family at that site. It was here that the young Leslie Ware was struck and killed by lightning while riding a horse in about 1908. The second site was Spring Farm were the Barkla family had a weighbridge for handling wheat. From there we travelled to Joyces Creek where the old school and post office had been. Several members were able to share their memories as we had our ’cuppa’. Some dedicated folk then went on with John Butler down Captains Gully Road to the site of the old school. Since then information from the book ”Vision and Realisation’ by the Education Department, has come to light about its history and how it was shifted 3 times. This month has been such a busy one that we haven’t had an excursion but shall organise one at our next meeting.


April is annual meeting time. At our annual meeting office bearers for the coming year were elected. They are –

President                        Alan Burgess                        54762367

Vice president                        Derek Reid                        54762274              

Secretary                        Dawn Angliss                        54762006              

Treasurer                        Janet Trudgeon                        54762437

Committee                        John Neall                        54762207

                         Di Reid                        54762274

Public Officer                        Derek Reid                        54762274               

Due to a sharp rise in the cost of insurance the subscriptions have been increased. A single membership is now $20, a family membership $35 and don’t forget that the cost of having the newsletter posted to you is an additional $5. Forms are enclosed with this newsletter. The evening was concluded by an entertaining talk by George Milford ”A Cook’s Tour of Harcourt”. In this George was able to combine descriptions of historic homes and sites and the methods of cooking that they used. These varied from the aboriginal ovens to elaborate baker’s ovens. George also pointed out that a 1947 encyclopaedia reference stated that cooking changed more in the century preceding 1947 than at any other century.


In conjunction with others in the shire, we will be mounting a display in the Market building in Castlemaine. It will describe the work our society does and give a demonstration of the information our indexed Di Fiore and Trudgeon files bring to light. The example we have taken is the Strathloddon Hotel that used to be in Guildford and the adjoining timber business run by W Dolphin.


May 19th at the courthouse at 1.30

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