Although many of the Western District newspapers are not digitised at Trove, it is possible to find articles from the likes of The Hamilton Spectator in the The Portland Guardian, for example. On this day 83 years ago, an excerpt from the Albion newspaper of Coleraine appeared in The Portland Guardian of July 29, 1929.
Prompted by the deaths of many of the early pioneers, the article reflected on the history of the Western District from the time Major Thomas Mitchell made his way across the land he called Australia Felix 93 years earlier.
There is a clue in the article for those of you who having trouble finding your Western District family member’s arrival in Victoria. The writer mentions many people from Van Diemen’s Land making their way to Victoria once news got back the Hentys had pushed up from Portland into the Merino district. It could then be possible that family members travelled to Victoria via Tasmania where they had resided as convicts or otherwise.
Jenny Fawcett, on her great South-West Victoria genealogy and history site, has indexed the names of those who travelled to Victoria as part of a Geelong and Portland Bay Immigration Society scheme in 1845 and 1846. The idea behind that and similar schemes was to bring labour into the colony with those behind the society being squatters and merchants. Jenny provides a great description of the scheme on her site.
Browsing through the names,there are many I instantly recognise as Western District family names. Also, a lot of the pioneer obituaries I have read tell of the deceased having come to Victoria via Van Diemen’s Land.
So, if you are beginning to think your ancestors were good swimmers, follow-up the possibility they came to the Western District from Tasmania. You just never know.