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It was a good idea to have our excursion to the RSL, as the weather was wintry. We were met by one of our members, Barry Thornbury, wearing ‘another hat’ as president of the Castlemaine branch of the RSL. When we had decided to visit the RSL it was thought that someone from the their society might be interested in a project of putting into order our collection of photos, newspaper reports and honour books. What a surprise for us when we saw the magnitude of their collection awaiting indexing, cataloguing and conserving. Barry explained that the building had been purpose built for the club and the club itself began when Colonel Field established a Returned Services Club after World War I. This only lasted a couple of months before becoming a branch of the Returned Services League. It is unusual as it is a ‘dry club’. It is positioned in a great place in the centre of Castlemaine business area, and beside the Market building and Victory Park. The building is airy and light and some stained glass windows are a feature. The two rooms contain a wonderful eclectic display and the entry has honour boards from various nearby towns.

Two things stood out to me. One was the collection of bound copies of a fortnightly journal, called “The Sphere”, published during WWI and contained wonderful photos and artist’s images. The second one was an album that had obviously been the photos of someone in the maritime services in WWII. On the black cardboard pages the small black and white photos of ports and ships were taken and arranged with great care and left us wondering about the human story behind book.

Barry told us that since the club had been opening its premises to the public over the last few months, there had been considerable interest. Our society was grateful to Barry and the RSL for their welcome and hospitality.



 The computer offered to us by Public Records Office is safely in the courthouse. Thankyou to all those who offered to deliver it for us. The newsletter was sent out by e-mail to some members and within half an hour, one had offered to bring it to Newstead for us. (And I thought no-one read the newsletters!)



However the news on our application for a grant under the Commonwealth Government’s scheme of small grants for volunteers was not so good. We missed out and were really disappointed as the digital camera would have been so useful and interesting. It would have been useful when visits were made to places such as Public Records Office as well as to record our social occasions. As well, it would have been a learning tool just as the computer, scanner and printer have been. The best way of learning skills is in a situation where a co-worker can explain them on an immediate and one-to-one situation.



An invitation has come from the Carisbrook Historical Society to attend their Annual Dinner on Tuesday 19th July at 7 for 7.30 at Caroline’s Restaurant, Bucknall Street, Carisbrook. The cost is $25 for a ‘show and tell’ night that includes a three-course meal, wonderful atmosphere in front of an open fire. Bookings are essential no later than Friday 15th July to Michael Turton 54642251. Those of us who have been know what a great night this is and encourage others to join us.



This month the children of grades 2, 3 and 4 paid us a visit as part of their theme “Things Aren’t What They Used To Be” – and somehow they thought of us!

The 54 children were divided into two groups. At the courthouse they acted a play based on the true story of how a Chinese gentleman outwitted the local butcher who had stolen and butchered his pig. The Chinese man had inserted a threepenny bit in the pig’s ear and was able to prove to the police that the pig was rightfully his and the felon got his just desserts.

At Rotunda Park, the story of Major Mitchell was told and activities of writing with old-fashioned pen and ink, playing marbles and panning for gold were enthusiastically undertaken. Thanks go to Janet Trudgeon and Dave Clark. One of the youngsters wanted to know if Dave was Major Mitchell and some were a little disappointed that the “gold” they panned turned out to be fool’s gold.



The society has a wonderful collection of photos covering the area of the old Shire of Newstead. These are kept safely in acid free albums in our security room. With our purchase of a new computer with a scanner and printer, a program of digitising and indexing them is well under way. This has been the catalyst to again examine them in detail. It is often in the background that interesting details come to light. For example a photo taken of a procession through the main street has the frontages of shops that are no longer in existence or a photo of the Young Farmers’ Club at the school shows a house that used to be in Canrobert Street (maybe Aiden MacLaren’s?).


With this new equipment it is possible to quickly scan and add to our files any of those precious photos that people were loath to let out of their possession.  Just call in on a Monday morning or phone to make a different time if you have any photos that you could share with us. Don’t think that they have to be really old ones as the photos we take now are the history of the future. Photos of school classes or sports teams could be really of importance in a few years time.


Next meeting is Monday afternoon July 19th at 1.30 pm.

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