The Big Flood

Dressed in a gown of steel grey cloth, trimmed with glacé silk and a “borrowed” tulle veil, Lily Buckland married George Sparrow on 9 April 1916 at Mount Eccles. The wedding was at the home of Lily’s sister and George’s brother, Alice and Charles Sparrow.

Lillian Letitia Buckland was born at Briagolong in 1888, the eldest daughter of William Buckland and Hannah Oakley.  The family lived at Toora in Gippsland. George Henry Sparrow was born at Macarthur in 1891, a son of local residents, Abijah Sparrow and Emma Peters.  The first instance of a union between the two families was the marriage of Alice Buckland and Charles Sparrow in 1913.  How one family from Gippsland and another from the Western District came together is unknown.

George and Lily settled at Lake Gorrie near Macarthur and started their family. Letitia Mavis Sparrow was their first child, born at Hamilton in 1917.  Then Charles Robert born in 1918.  In 1920, tragedy struck the family when young Charles, just two years old, fell on a piece of wire in the backyard. The wire went up his nostril and pierced his brain and although taken to Hamilton Hospital, Charles never regained consciousness.  In the same year, Lillian saw another sister, Olive, marry a Macarthur lad, returned serviceman William Louden Harman.  Seven more children were born to Lily and George over the next ten years, six boys and one girl

A year after the beginning of World War 2, two of George and Lily’s boys enlisted.  Allan joined up on 29 June 1940 and served with the 2/23 Australian Infantry Battalion while Roy enlisted on 14 October 1940, serving with the 63rd Australian Infantry Battalion.  Allan was discharged on 15 November 1945, however, Roy a Corporal continued on after the end of the war.

On Friday evening 15 March 1946, rain began to fall on the roof of the Sparrow’s home, the likes they had never heard before. At home with George and Lily were three of their children, Mavis, Bruce and Ronald. The rain continued through the night and into Saturday night. On the morning of Sunday 17 March 1946, the Sparrow family woke to the sound of water lapping at their beds. Outside, water was rising rapidly around the property and they decided to evacuate.  Leaving their domestic animals and poultry to find high ground themselves, Lily and the children climbed into their jinker with George leading the horse, guiding it along the already flooded roads.

It was increasingly difficult for George to distinguish the dangers ahead in the floodwaters, and not far from the house, a wheel of the jinker fell into a concealed hole and upturned, tipping the passengers into the water.  George tried desperately to save his family but the water was deep and fast flowing. In his attempt to get help, he became exhausted, collapsed and died.

"SEARCH FOR FLOOD VICTIMS" Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954) 23 March 1946: .

“SEARCH FOR FLOOD VICTIMS” Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954) 23 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68968037&gt;.

A search party was soon looking for Lily and her children. Mavis, Bruce and Ronald’s bodies were found in a hole close to the jinker, the water in the hole was over two metres deep. Lily’s body was found caught in a fence over three kilometres away, such was the force of the water.  Mavis was twenty-five, Bruce twenty-two, and Ronald, fifteen.  Five family members lost in a terrible tragedy. Rumours were flying that were was no need for them to leave, but servicemen who went to the house during the search supported their actions after seeing the high watermark on the walls.  Sadly for the Sparrow family, when one of their surviving sons arrived at the farm the following day, he found the chooks and the household dogs and cats had survived the flood.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 20 March 1946 .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668019&gt;.

On the afternoon of Thursday 21 March 1946, the sun broke through the clouds as hundreds made their way to Macarthur’s Church of England for the funeral of the Sparrow family. Among the many floral tributes was a sheaf of flowers sent by the Governor of Victoria and his wife Sir Winston and Lady Dugan, including a personal message for the remaining members of the family.  Just days before they had passed through the Macarthur district, including the Sparrow property, to witness the devastation.

The Sparrow family were victims of one of Western Victoria’s worst natural disasters.  More used to the ravages of fire, residents were to witness rising rivers and creeks over the weekend of 16 and 17 March that soon turned their part of Victoria into an inland sea.

"FLOODS DEVASTATE WESTERN DISTRICT" The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954) 19 March 1946: 3. Web. 7 Mar 2016 .

“FLOODS DEVASTATE WESTERN DISTRICT” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 19 March 1946: 3. Web. 7 Mar 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73076468&gt;.

The Western District was ravaged by drought from 1939 to 1945 with disastrous bushfires sweeping through the Western District in January 1944.

"TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1946 AND NOW A FLOOD" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 19 March 1946 .

“TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1946 AND NOW A FLOOD” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22235082&gt;.

Early in March 1946, parts of Queensland and New South Wales were under floodwaters due to a tropical cyclone. On March 10, cold, wet and windy weather hit Victoria.  At 9:00 am on Monday 11 March, the previous forty-eight hours had produced 52 mm of rain in Port Fairy, one of the highest rainfall totals in the Western District for the period while 36 mm fell at Hamilton.  A cyclonic depression moved across South Australia in the following days before reaching the Western District on Friday 15 March where it stopped.

The forecast for Victoria published in The Argus of Friday 15 March  was for some rain developing from the west and then showers.  At 9:00 pm on Friday night, the forecast was “cold and unsettled with some showers. Some heavy rain, with hail, on and south of the ranges”.  That heavy rain was of tropical proportions falling from Friday night and through the weekend. By Monday 18 March, The Argus reported the floods covered the Western District from Natimuk in the southern Wimmera to the sea, and to the east to Mortlake. Police headquarters at Russell Street Melbourne said that a stretch of water up to four metres lay from Hamilton to the coast.  The map below shows the extent of the rainfall.

"FAMILY TAKEN OFF ROOF" The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 19 March 1946 .

“FAMILY TAKEN OFF ROOF” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 19 March 1946 .

There were evacuations from many towns including  Hamilton, Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Casterton.  Rescuers took to boats trying to save families, many clinging to the roofs of their houses.  Thousands of head of stock were lost, bridges and roads washed away, telephone lines were down and railway lines damaged. There were mass cancellations of trains and buses.  Towns were cut off with little means of communication.

On Tuesday 19 March 1946, The Argus published the rainfall totals from 9:00 am on Saturday 17 March until 3:00 pm on Monday 18 March.

flood24

“TEMPORARILY FINE TODAY New Depression Approaching” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 March 1946 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22235127 .

While many communities were flooded, the following were those most severely affected by the big flood of 1946.

MACARTHUR

Parts of the countryside around Macarthur were under three metres of water stranding families on their roofs hoping for rescue.  Around nine kilometres south of Macarthur, on the Port Fairy Road, a bridge washed away. Stock losses in the district were estimated at 5000 sheep and 500 head of cattle.  There was concern among authorities about the possible outbreak of disease, with livestock hanging on fences in the flood waters. Posing a threat to rescuers were hundreds of snakes swimming in the water.

BYADUK/WALLACEDALE/CONDAH/BRANXHOLME

In the Wallacedale/Condah area, ten houses were evacuated and dairy herds were lost.  Some parts were under three metres of water.  Mr & Mrs Edgar Lacey and Miss Grace Tullett took refuge on the roof of the Lacey home. To shelter from the heavy rain and strong winds, they were able to remove a sheet of tin and climb into the ceiling. With them on the roof, also seeking refuge, were several snakes.  A RAAF Catalina Flying boat was flown in to rescue the trio.  On arrival, the pilot could not find them so he returned to Williamstown, NSW.  Next, a flat-bottomed boat tried but failed to retrieve them. An amphibious car from the Army or Army “duck” was the next plan. Finally, after twenty-five hours, they were rescued but it was several days until the water subsided around their house.

"TOWNSHIP ISOLATED" Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) 21 March 1946: .

“TOWNSHIP ISOLATED” Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954) 21 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92700639&gt;.

Miles of fencing and roads washed away and there were heavy losses to livestock including horses and pigs.  A beekeeper’s hives bobbed in the water with the stranded bees atop of the boxes. Rescuers saw thousands of snakes while delirious rabbits, marooned on high ground, were caught and their skins sold.

Branxholme had 394 mm of rain from the Friday until the Monday edition of The Argus went to print and the town was cut off by road, rail and telephone. At Byaduk, Mr Tyres rescued seven people from a raft. More were evacuated but were able to return home on Tuesday including Mr and Mrs McCready.  Mr J. Scott and Miss Suttie had their homes flooded.  David Kinghorn was rescued from a haystack.

HAMILTON

Hamilton saw the heaviest rainfall since records were first kept.  Up until 3:00 pm on Monday 18 March 219mm had fallen in fifty-fours, the town’s largest recorded total over the same period. The highest previous monthly rainfall total was 311 mm set in December 1930.  The Grange Burn, usually quietly meandering through parts of the town, quickly rose and became a raging river. Around twenty homes near the railway station were evacuated on Saturday 16 March.

Fuel depots near the creek were underwater and hundreds of oil drums from the Shell and the Commonwealth Oil Refinery depots washed down the Grange Burn, accumulating against bridges and fences.  Two other fuel depots were badly damaged. One underground petrol tank pushed its way to the surface. Iron from the fuel depots wrapped around trees and plaster from a nearby factory was spread up to almost 100 metres.  In those days, the Hamilton swimming pool was on the Grange Burn, at the Braeside Weir, close to the fuel depots.

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GRANGE BURN AT FORMER SWIMMING POOL

Sheds beside the swimming pool were swept away and the diving tower was on a lean.  At the Ballarat Road and Portland Road bridges, the Grange Burn was between 180 metres to 400 metres wide. The photo below shows the Grange near the Ballarat Road bridge as it is today

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GRANGE BURN LOOKING TOWARD THE BALLARAT ROAD BRIDGE.

A view of the Grange Burn near the Portland Road bridge is below.

'NO LONGER A CREEK', The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), 20 March, p. 1. (CITY FINAL), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78249109

‘NO LONGER A CREEK’, The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), 20 March, p. 1. (CITY FINAL), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78249

Many bridges and roads around the town were impassable and the drains in Lonsdale Street overflowed. The Hamilton Town Hall became “home” to around seventy evacuees and Mayor Rasmussen called on residents to take those evacuated into their homes.  Water went through twenty-five to thirty homes, reaching a depth of almost a metre in some.  Mr Brimacombe of Martin Street lost all but one of his 250 chooks.

By Monday 18 March, travellers marooned in Hamilton were taken to Portland. Road connections between Warrnambool and Mt Gambier reopened and by Tuesday morning, Ansetts ran a bus from Horsham to Hamilton.  An Army “duck” arrived, using the town as its base.

The photos below, used with permission from Jacinta Hanelt, depict the 1983 floods in Hamilton.  They show the same areas flooded in 1946 and although not has deep as those floods, they give an idea as to the extent of the 1946 floods.  Despite the damage to the fuel depots in 1946, they remained located close to the Grange Burn.

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WARRNAMBOOL

In forty-eight hours at Warrnambool, 228 mm of rain fell accompanied by gale force winds.  There was flooding along the Russell’s Creek, Merri Creek and Hopkins River.

WARRNAMBOOL CEMETERY

HOPKINS RIVER, WARRNAMBOOL

The 3YB radio transmitter was surrounded by three metres of water and sandbags and pumps were called for. At least seven bridges in the shire were damaged. Nearby Dennington was under water but in South Warrnambool, only four homes required evacuation.  Old residents said they hadn’t seen anything like it.

"Flood Pictures From Inundated Western District" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 19 March 1946: .

“Flood Pictures From Inundated Western District” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 March 1946:

During Monday 18 March, the Hopkins River was rising at a rate of thirty centimetres an hour and later that night, the river burst its banks leaving the highway up to 1.2m under water. Meanwhile, Allansford residents were preparing to leave their homes.

WARRNAMBOOL 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107853

WARRNAMBOOL 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107853

The water at Mr Cox’s house at Spring Gardens, Warrnambool reached over the window sills (below)

M.COX'S HOUSE SPRING GARDENS WARRNAMBOOL ca 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107848

M.COX’S HOUSE SPRING GARDENS WARRNAMBOOL ca 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/10784

The following video from Warrnambool Historical Pictures – Alex Wilkins Collection, gives an amazing insight into how the floods impacted Warrnambool and district and includes some dramatic footage.

 

The road from Warrnambool to Mortlake was cut after the flooding of the Ellerslie Bridge (below)

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 20 March 1946: .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668019&gt;.

And the road to Port Fairy was also cut, with the following photo showing the situation about five kilometres west of Warrnambool on the Princes Highway.

"DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA." Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954) 21 March 1946:.

“DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA.” Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954) 21 March 1946:.

WOODFORD

At Woodford, the local school teacher and his family were stranded in the Woodford Police Station and the post office was underwater (below). A herd of thirty dairy cows drowned.

WOODFORD POST OFFICE "DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA." Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954) 21 March 1946: .

WOODFORD POST OFFICE “DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA.” Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954) 21 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62889490&gt;.

KILLARNEY

At Killarney, stranded cows on patches of high ground, helplessly slipped into the floodwaters as exhaustion overcame them.  There were huge losses to potato and onion crops and Killarney resembled a lake.

"WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED." Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 1. .

“WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED.” Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 – 1954) 21 March 1946: 1. .

The six-week-old baby of Mr and Mrs Patrick Lenehan was floated out a window of their house, the baby’s pram a substitute boat.

"FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 19 March 1946:.

“FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 19 March 1946:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206797296&gt;.

Stories began to emerge of the heroics in the district. Widow, Mrs Madden and her eight children were saved by Jim Gleeson in his tractor.  Another farmer saved an elderly woman from her cottage and Mr J. Ryan was taken to Warrnambool Hospital after being lifted through the window of his flooded home.

"FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 19 March 1946: .

“FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 19 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206797296&gt;.

Onion crops were wiped out leaving the vegetables bobbing in water or collecting in silt.  Farmers tried to salvage what they could.

"Green pastures and hard work after floods" The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) 6 April 1946: .

“Green pastures and hard work after floods” The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982) 6 April 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47490094

Mrs Madden, rescued with her eight children by Jim Gleeson, returned to her home to begin the clean up.  She is pictured below with her daughter Dorothy cleaning silt from their carpets.

"Green pastures and hard work after floods" The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) 6 April 1946: .

“Green pastures and hard work after floods” The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982) 6 April 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47490094&gt;.

ROSEBROOK

At Rosebrook, the Post Office was surrounded by flood waters (below)

"FLOODS IN VICTORIA" Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 3. .

“FLOODS IN VICTORIA” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 21 March 1946 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140624307

The bridge over the Moyne River at Rosebrook was also flooded and signals were sent across the bridge as a means of communication (below).

"WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED." Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 1. .

“WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED.” Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 – 1954) 21 March 1946 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145004487

PORT FAIRY

The Moyne River rose rapidly at Port Fairy leading to the evacuation of homes in the east of the town.

269

MOYNE RIVER , PORT FAIRY LOOKING EAST.

Residents in Regent, William and Bank Streets were also evacuated with the water reaching almost a metre in Bank Street and running through houses.  To the west of the town, water was up to 1.5 metres deep.  Thousands of tonnes of potatos and onions were lost and in Port Fairy North, Steel’s bridge gave way.  Every hour, reports were arriving of stranded families.  Power in the town was interrupted for sixteen hours.

"Flood Waters Receding Around Port Fairy" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 20 March 1946: 15. Web. 1 Mar 2016 .

“Flood Waters Receding Around Port Fairy” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 March 1946: 15. Web. 1 Mar 2016 .

The concrete wharf where fishing boats were moored broke up, threatening to wash boats out to sea. In the end, five boats were lost. Large slabs of concreted from the wharf were swept away and smashed.

087

PORT FAIRY WHARF ON THE MOYNE RIVER LOOKING TOWARD THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER.

Although it’s not clear, the following photo gives some indication of the torrents of water to rush Port Fairy.

FLOOD WATERS FROM THE MOYNE RIVER, PORT FAIRY. "FLOOD WAVES LASH HOUSES" Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) 24 March 1946: 15 (Sport Section). .

FLOOD WATERS FROM THE MOYNE RIVER, PORT FAIRY. “FLOOD WAVES LASH HOUSES” Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954) 24 March 1946: 15 (Sport Section). .

By Monday 18 March, the threat has subsided slightly but more water was expected to come down the Moyne River and high tide was a concern.  As a result, the fire brigade put all men in the town on standby. The main bridge over the Moyne was still standing but had taken a “pounding”.  The river reached its peak on Sunday and fisherman stood in waist deep water desperately trying to secure their boats, their livelihoods, with some almost drowning.

172

LOOKING EAST TOWARD THE PORT FAIRY WHARF, MOYNE RIVER.

By Tuesday, houses on the outskirts of  Port Fairy East were still half-submerged. Other families were forced to leave their homes, as weakened walls threatened to collapse while the road to Portland was expected to stay closed for some time.  In the north-east of the town, built up flood waters tore through sand dunes. In doing so, the water escaped to the sea preventing more damage to the town.

The Town Clerk of Port Fairy spoke with John Cain Sr, then Premier of Victoria “Send us some tobacco; there is a famine in smokes here”  Bacon, eggs, potatos and other food supplies were also in short supply.  Two Army “ducks” arrived on Tuesday 19 March with butter, eggs, bacon, tinned meat, yeast and tobacco. Another “duck” was soon dispatched.  After rescuing stranded families (below) the “ducks” distributed food to isolated families and fodder for stock.  They also collected stranded stock, taking them to safety.

"FLOODS IN VICTORIA" Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 3.

“FLOODS IN VICTORIA” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 21 March 1946: 3. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140624307&gt;

There was almost one metre of water in two of Port Fairy’s hotels, including the Caledonian Inn (below).  The publican of the inn waded into his backyard to rescue his poultry, then placed them in the inn’s attic.  The nearby picture theatre was also flooded.

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CALEDONIAN INN, PORT FAIRY

Jack and Teddy Talbot (below) had a lucky escape as a bridge collapsed just as they were approaching.

The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 20 March 1946: 3. Web. 1 Mar 2016 .

The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 20 March 1946: 3. Web. 1 Mar 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206795566&gt;.

"Aftermath Of Floods In Western Victoria" The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) 22 March 1946: .

“Aftermath Of Floods In Western Victoria” The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954) 22 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48697059&gt;.

The photo below shows Mrs Woodrup on a flying fox where Steel’s bridge once stood on the Princes Highway at Port Fairy North.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 March 1946:.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 March 1946:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668077&gt;.

Cars replaced boats in the streets.  Frank and Chris Newman, are pictured below taking Mrs B.Bourke home from the shops.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 March 1946 .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668077&gt;.

Residents in William Street (below) dried clothes and furniture after the water in their street reached a depth of over a metre.  By Wednesday 20 March, wet mattresses and pillows hung over fences, furniture was in front yards and clothes lines hung between houses.  Dairy farmers unable to get their milk out left cans of milk at each corner and all townspeople were allowed a jug each while the local hotels had a good supply of cream.  The damage bill in Port fairy totalled thousands of pounds.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 March 1946 .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668077&gt;.

The Port Fairy Cemetery was underwater and even by the end of March, the water was still one metre deep. Eventually, pumps were used to drain it.

227 (800x600)

PORT FAIRY CEMETERY

Today, there is a reminder of the 1946 flood at the Port Fairy Wharf.

266

HEYWOOD/PORTLAND

Between Friday night 15 March and Saturday morning 16 March, Portland received 144 mm of rain and low-lying land in the town was flooded.  There was a call to divert the water into the sea to save the electricity and gas supplies, but all electricity and gas were cut.  The sewage works were deluged and the local fire brigade was busy pumping water. The Portland Showgrounds were under 1.5 metres of water.  The town was cut off from Saturday including telegraph and radio communications.

By the morning of Sunday 17 March, the rainfall totalled 203 mm.  Fawthrop Swamp was inundated and parts of Bridgewater Roadwere covered in water. Much of the state’s tomatos were grown in the district with crop losses eventually leading to a shortage.  Local halls and hotels accommodated evacuees.  A “howling southerly breeze” with huge waves hit the breakwater (below).

PORTLAND BREAKWATER c1945. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/97040

PORTLAND BREAKWATER c1945. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/97040

 

At Heywood, until 3:00 pm on 18 March the previous fifty-four hours had produced 335 mm rain leaving many people homeless. Travellers were also stranded as the Portland/Hamilton road was cut including at the Fitzroy River bridge.  The local hotel was crowded with evacuees and emergency accommodation was set up in the Heywood Hall.

DARTMOOR

The Glenelg River rose dramatically at Dartmoor as water flowed into the river from tributaries upstream.  Five hundred yards of a twenty metre high railway bridge (below) was submerged as was the highway after the river’s level rose fifteen metres. Snakes sort refuge on top of the bridge and iron washed into the pylons, acting as a safe haven for insects, spiders and lizards.

DARTMOOR RAILWAY BRIDGE UNDER CONTRUCTION c1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/239718

DARTMOOR RAILWAY BRIDGE UNDER CONTRUCTION c1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/239718

Old residents agreed it was the worst flood in memory.  The Glenelg River was over 1.5 kilometres wide and only the tops of telegraph poles were visible. While rowing in the floodwaters, Mr Malseed gathered ten rabbits, twenty-four pumpkins and a number of tomatos stuck in trees. Seventy drums that had spilt into the river at Casterton were expected to reach Dartmoor.

NELSON 

Although Nelson only received 30 mm of rain over the weekend, the Glenelg River was rising rapidly as it neared the sea. A boat shed floated down the Glenelg River with two boats still attached. All sheds on the river bank were submerged as was the kiosk. The monument to Major Mitchell on the Isle of Bags was almost submerged.

087

ISLE OF BAGS, GLENELG RIVER, NELSON

Rubbish began to collect at the mouth of the river until the water’s force washed the sand bar out to sea. Meanwhile, residents worked hard to save their bridge (below)

NELSON BRIDGE c1907. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/211026

NELSON BRIDGE c1907. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/211026

 

"HOW NELSON SAVED ITS BRIDGE" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 22 March 1946: 3. .

“HOW NELSON SAVED ITS BRIDGE” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 22 March 1946: 3. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206798952&gt;.

 

148

TODAY AT NELSON A HIGH CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS THE GLENELG RIVER

COLERAINE

Coleraine’s rainfall to Saturday 16 March at 6:00 pm was 122 mm.  A flood warning was issued at 2:00 am Sunday morning in the lower part of the town. Bryant’s Creek rose rapidly flooding shops and houses. Stranded Mrs J. Torney and her baby were rescued from the golf course clubhouse.  Over a metre of water sat in the yard of the Post Office (below) by noon Sunday and reached the eaves of some houses.

COLERAINE POST OFFICE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/304435

COLERAINE POST OFFICE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/304435

By Monday 18 March, 186 mm or rain had fallen on the town and residents were cleaning silt from their homes. One house, under 1.8m of water in the days before, was left with 50cm of silt. Damage to bridges had blocked the road from Coleraine to Merino and the suspension bridge washed away.  There were also large stock losses and miles of fencing demolished.

CASTERTON/SANDFORD

At Casterton, the Glenelg River swelled quickly reaching a height of 6.45m on the river gauge.  Seventy drums from the local tip rolled into the river and travelled downstream.  By Monday, there were still fears for the safety of three men. Six streets in the town were flooded and Mr Frank Daley and his eighty-three-year-old mother were rescued by police in a boat.

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

Thirty metres of pipe serving the town’s water supply was washed away while the Major Mitchell monument, south of the town, was almost submerged.  At nearby Sandford, the McCormack family were stranded.  On Monday 18 March, police and an Army “duck” tried to reach them. They were later reported safe.

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

AFTERMATH

Just as the water in rivers and creeks was beginning to ease, the following weekend the rain began to fall again. The totals for the period are below, with towns further east of the original floods affected.

"YEAR'S RAINFALL IN THREE MONTHS" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 27 March 1946:.

“YEAR’S RAINFALL IN THREE MONTHS” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 27 March 1946:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22237029&gt;.

On Monday 25 March, Port Fairy was once again isolated and evacuations were considered. Macarthur was expecting flooding worse than experienced a week earlier and the Eumerella River burst its banks after reaching a depth of over three metres. Families were evacuated at Bessibelle. The towns of Koroit, Hawkesdale and Branxholme were all at risk of flood. At Allansford. the Hopkins River reached the height of the week before but continued to rise before dropping 1.2 metres on Wednesday 27 March.

At Casterton, the police were warning residents the Glenelg and Wannon Rivers could burst their banks. Homes at Byaduk evacuated in the week earlier were again vacated.  At Wallacedale and Condah flood waters still remained from the week before.  An Army “duck” was called to Tyrendarra to save a family isolated by the Fitzroy River and Darlot’s Creek.  Portland was also cut off via the Princes Highway due to water over the road.

Flooding was reported at Beech Forest and residents living along the Gellibrand River prepared themselves to evacuate. By 29 March, there was over half a metre of water on the Ocean Road at Lower Gellibrand.  Meanwhile at Cobden, 63 mm fell on Saturday 24 March flooding paddocks and stranding cattle.  At nearby Cowley’s Creek, stud sheep were rescued from the creek. At Camperdown, a total of 104 mm was recorded over the weekend. Port Campbell, reported its heaviest falls in its history and the township was isolated with over a metre of water over the road. Stranded campers were billeted at the Port Campbell Hotel (below).

PORT CAMPBELL HOTEL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/62326

PORT CAMPBELL HOTEL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/62326

By 27 March, the sun was shining in Warrnambool for the first time in two weeks, but the damage bill and impending recovery left a gloomy forecast for the Western District. Before the flood waters subsided on 20 March 1946, The Age reported the total damage bill could exceed £2,000,000.  On 30 March 1946, the Border Watch reported 150 houses were destroyed and 150 sheds damaged.  There were losses to rye grass seed and potato, tomato, onion and apple crops.  One hundred bridges were destroyed.  The damage bill for bridges and roads alone, published in The Age of 5 April 1946, was estimated at £76,500. Of that, £25, 300 was in the Warrnambool Shire.  By the end of March, the Army “ducks”, vital during the disaster, returned to Melbourne.

On 1 July 1946, twenty-seven men from the flood affected areas received silver and bronze medals from the Royal Humane Society for their rescue work.  They included fisherman and policeman. The men presented with silver medals were:

"AWARDS FOR HEROISM" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. .

“AWARDS FOR HEROISM” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206375340&gt;.

The bronze medal recipients were:

"AWARDS FOR HEROISM" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. .

“AWARDS FOR HEROISM” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206375340&gt;.

There was a positive to came out of the 1946 floods.  Buckley’s Swamp, a peat swamp burning since the fires of January 1944, was finally extinguished.

"FLOOD'S GOOD DEED." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 1 April 1946: 2 (EVENING). Web. .

“FLOOD’S GOOD DEED.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 1 April 1946: 2 (EVENING). Web. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64407334&gt;.

SOURCES

Flood Victoria

Glenelg Libraries – Historic Treasures – The Floods of Casterton

Trove Digitised Newspapers

The Age

 18 March 1946

 19 March 1946

 20 March 1946

21 March 1946

26 March 1946

 2 July 1946

The Argus

12 March 1946

18 March 1946 

19 March 1946

26 March 1946

27 March 1946

28 March 1946

2 April 1946

Border Watch

19 March 1946

21 March 1946

23 March 1946

28 March 1946

30 March 1946

Camperdown Chronicle

19 March 1946

Horsham Times

15 June 1920

Port Fairy Gazette

20 April 1916

Portland Guardian

 18 March 1946

 21 March 1946

 25 March 1946

28 March 1946

Williamstown Chronicle

22 March 1946

State Emergency Service – Casterton Local Flood Guide

State Emergency Service – Port Fairy Local Flood Guide

State Emergency Service – Southern Grampians Shire

State Emergency Service- Warrnambool Flood Guide

Trove Tuesday – Troveitis

As I write, it is seventeen hours and twenty-one minutes since Trove went offline to prepare for the launch of Trove 7 on Thursday 25 February.  And yes, I’m already missing it.  Not a day goes by when I don’t turn to Trove to find a photo, a parish map, information on events in Australian history or book details.   But I’m reassured knowing in two days this wonderful free resource we are so lucky to have will be back new and improved.

Of course, the online newspapers are my favourite Trove feature especially little gems such as the following article my “Electronic Friend” from Trove sent on Friday.  The article from The Ballarat Star of 18 July 1881 is about my ggg grandfather James Harman.  At age fifty-one in 1881. James and his old horses, pulling a Lennon plough, were a great team, often winning local ploughing matches.  James lived another thirty-five summers but I’m guessing not too many more summers passed after the article before James laid the horses to rest on his Byaduk property Mt Pleasant.

 

tt5

"BREVIA." The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) 18 Jul 1881 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article219331682

“BREVIA.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 18 Jul 1881 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article219331682

 

**Postscript – Since writing this post I’ve become aware of funding cuts to the National Library of Australia, the home of Trove.  It would be terrible if it meant Trove’s digitisation program was restricted or worse, the introduction of a paywall.  You can read more about the funding cuts here.

Not Just Hamilton’s Soldiers

One of the features of Western District Families is Hamilton’s WW1 now with sixty-six profiles of soldiers with Hamilton links.

'HAMILTON BOYS' c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

‘HAMILTON BOYS’ c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

I’ve set a target, possibly an over ambitious one, of 100 profiles by Anzac Day but I’ll give it a go. There are some good stories about Hamilton nurses that I would like to share before 25 April 2016 too. But first something I’ve noticed…well it’s one of many things I’ve observed during the course of my research, but let’s start with memorials…well, one of the things I’ve noticed about memorials…

If you visit the Hamilton War Memorial and look at the names, you could be excused for thinking those men listed lived in Hamilton for a significant part of their lives or, at the very least, were born there. But that’s not the case, they were from all over with a few men having only a fleeting connection with Hamilton.  

Some of the men had fathers who moved often with work.  Clifford Williams, who was unlikely to have even visited Hamilton, was a son of a teacher while William Thompson was the son of a railway worker who often moved his family.  Both are on the Hamilton War Memorial (below).  Others went to Hamilton as adults for work and were only there a short time before enlisting, such as Edwin Smith who arrived in Hamilton around 1913 to work at the Union Bank.  Reginald Briant was born in Hampshire, England and spent a few years in Melbourne before working for the Hamilton Electric Supply Company before his enlistment.

388

 

When searching for family member on memorials and honour boards, clues from Electoral Rolls, Trove newspapers and the solider’s Attestation papers can help you find them.  Even if your soldier’s family just “passed through” a particular town, it’s worth following up. Soldiers were often memorialised in several towns.  As well as the Hamilton War Memorial, Clifford Williams and Percy Osborne had trees planted along Bacchus Marsh’s Avenue Honour.  And don’t overlook work places and churches.  Percy Osborne has a memorial window at Hamilton’s Christ Church Cathedral (below) and is on the Union Bank Honour Roll in Melbourne.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR PERCY OSBORNE BEAUMONT, HAMILTON CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR PERCY BEAUMONT OSBORNE, HAMILTON CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL.

If you are wondering if Hamilton commemorated your WW1 soldier’s service, all Hamilton’s outdoor WW1 War Memorials including names are at Hamilton’s WW1.  Eventually I will add Hamilton’s honour boards. The Victorian War Heritage Inventory is a useful resource for locating memorials across Victoria. You can search by the soldier’s name or a place.

A quick reminder…to delve into the daily events of Hamilton 100 years ago, “like” the Hamilton WW1 Facebook page.  Along with new soldier profiles, six days a week I post an article from the Hamilton Spectator from 100 years before.  It’s been interesting to read how Hamilton, just like other towns, continued on while so many were away fighting and how the subject of war managed to creep into most aspects of daily life.

The names of the sixty-six soldiers profiled at Hamilton’s WW1 are below. I’ve included their place of birth and other towns they had connections to. Most never returned to Australia. For some of those who did, life was never the same.  Lest We Forget.

AUSTIN, Glenister Burton  Hamilton

AUSTIN, William John  Hamilton, Adelaide

BARR, Gordon  Hotspur, Strathkellar, Warrnambool

BRAKE, William  Horsham, Hamilton, Mont Albert

BRIANT, Reginald Stuart  Hampshire (ENG), East Melbourne, Hamilton.

BURGESS, Ebenezer  Benalla, Mildura, Numurkah, Wonthaggi, Stratford

CAMERON, Archibald Douglas  Branxholme, Hamilton

CAMERON, Sidney Joseph  Hamilton

CAMERON, Thomas Waddell  Port Fairy, Hamilton, Kyabram

COULTER, Robert James  Hamilton

DAVIES, Albert  Hamilton

DAVIES, Stanley Walton  Hamilton, Lubeck

DOUGLAS, Claude Campbell Telford  Euroa, Hamilton

DUNN, Daniel Joseph  Heidelberg, Carlton

ELDER, Frank Reginald  Charlton, Jurek, Hamilton

FENTON, John Wilfred  Hamilton

FOLEY, Cornelius Thomas  Coleraine, Hamilton

GIBSON. Sydney Walter  Moe, Casterton, Hamilton, Bendigo

HARRIS, Leslie Duncan  Fremantle (WA), Hamilton, Coleraine

HENTY, Edward Ellis  Portland, Hamilton

HERILHY, George Joseph David  Balmoral, Hamilton

HERRMANN, Bernard  Hamilton, Hochkirch (Tarrington)

HIND, William Arthur  Mooroopna, Hamilton, Heyfield

ILES, Cyril Thomas Brackley  Hamilton, Windsor

JAFFRAY, Alfred John  Hamilton

KINGHORN, Walter Rodney  Byaduk

KIRKWOOD, Willliam John Clyde  Hamilton, Colac, Port Fairy

KNIGHT, James Alfred  Hamilton, Malvern

LANCE, George Basil  Casterton, Hamilton

LEWIS, Arthur Harold  Hamilton, St. Arnaud, Heywood

LIEBE, Sydney August  Hamilton

LINDSAY, Charles Henry  Heywood, Ballarat, Wallacedale, Hamilton

McPHEE, Norman Edward  Hamilton

MORISON, John Archibald McFarlane  Hamilton, Maroona

MULLANE, Leslie Alexander  Branxholme, Wallacedale, Hamilton

NIDDRIE, Stanley Roy  Hamilton

NIVEN, William David  Harrow, Merino Downs, Hamilton

NORMAN, William Leslie  Hamilton, Warracknabeal

OSBORNE, Percy Beaumont  Bacchus Marsh, Maryborough, Hamilton, Ballarat

PORTER, George Richard  Hamilton

PORTER, Norman Leslie James  Hamilton, Wallacedale, Broken Hill, Tasmania

RHOOK, Archibald Alfred  Tyrendarra, Hamilton

RHOOK, Henry Joseph William  Hamilton, Beaufort

RICHIE, George  Katunga, Willaura, Hamilton

RIGBY, Frederick Roland Angus  Coleraine, Hamilton

SALTER, Herbert Ernest  Naracoorte, Dunkeld, Hamilton

SCOTT, Alexander William  Portland, Hamilton, Donald

SHARROCK, Charles  Terang, Mt. Napier, Penshurst

SHAW, Ivan Thomas  Coleraine, Hamilton

SHEEHAN, Albert Edward  Macarthur, Hamilton

SMITH, Edwin Richardson  Mooroopna, Shepparton, Morwell, Kyabram, Hamilton

STAGOLL, Robert Leslie  Hamilton

STEVENSON, Alexander John  Hamilton, Portland

STEVENSON, Edgar Richmond  Hamilton, Portland

STEWART, Charles Herbert  Byaduk, Hamilton, Western Australia

THOMPSON, William Norton  Horsham, Ararat, Hamilton, Hopetoun

TREDREA, Francis Stanley  Hamilton, Stawell

TRIGGER, Samuel Wilfred  Macarthur, Hamilton, Murray Bridge (SA)

UNDERWOOD, Arthur Bell Percy  Dunkeld, Bendigo, Hamilton

WATERS, William Henry  Edenhope, Hamilton

WESTGARTH, Horace Leonard  Hamilton

WHITE, John Francis Raymond  Hamilton, Cosgrave

WILLIAMS, Clifford Davis  Tarnagulla, Bacchus Marsh, Melbourne

WILLIAMS, Lancelot Hamilton  Hamilton

WOMERSLEY. Edgar  Dunkeld

YOUNG, Clarence Everard  Hamilton

 

 

Passing of the Pioneers

It’s a bumper January Passing of the Pioneers. So much bigger than I’d planned. But I’ve found some interesting pioneers’ obituaries this month and it was hard not to want to learn a little more about them. The sixteen pioneers are now included on the Western District Families Pioneer Obituary Index.

HERBERTSON, Robert – Died 23 January 1879 at Portland.  Robert Herbertson was born in Scotland and travelled to Tasmania in 1830.  He married fellow Scot Isabella Bailey in 1834 in Tasmania and they arrived in Portland in 1841.  They eventually moved into a house in Julia Street and Robert worked as a builder and hotel keeper.  Robert built the Steam Packet Inn (below) in 1842 and it is now one of the oldest surviving buildings in the state.

183

STEAM PACKET INN, PORTLAND

The Herbertsons also ran a drapery store.

"Advertising." Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876) 4 Feb 1843: 2. .

“Advertising.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 4 Feb 1843: 2. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71569036&gt;.

In 1843, Robert opened the Union Inn and in 1847, the Britannia Inn and built shops and houses in Julia Street. Robert purchased land on the Bridgewater Road and built Briery (below). From Robert’s obituary in the Portland Guardian that was in 1867, however the report on the home found at the Victorian Heritage Database gives the date at around 1850.

BRIERY, PORTLAND 1958. Photographer Colin Caldwell. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72633

BRIERY, PORTLAND 1958. Photographer Colin Caldwell. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72633

Briery was definitely built by 1867 as Robert had the house and land up for lease.

"Advertising." Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876) 16 Jan 1868: 3 Edition: EVENINGS. . .

“Advertising.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 16 Jan 1868: 3 Edition: EVENINGS. . <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64689157&gt;.

In the days before his death, there was a fire on Bridgewater Road near the farm. Robert’s over-exertion helping to fight the fire most likely led to his death.  Isabella Robertson died in Portland in 1883.

WILSON, John – Died 3 January 1906 at Portland. John Wilson was born around 1826 at Glasgow, Scotland and arrived in Portland around 1853.  He went on to the diggings but returned to the Portland district, dairy-farming at Lower Bridgewater.  John’s property The Lagoons was one of the district’s largest and most successful farms.

TWOMEY, Edward – Died January 1907 Melbourne.  Edward Twomey was born in Ireland around 1836, the son of John Joseph Twomey and Margaret O’Conner.  John Twomey took up large amounts of land around Penshurst which he divided into Kolor (below), Banemore and Langulac and passed it on to his sons.

026

LOOKING DOWN ON KOLOR FROM MT. ROUSE NEAR PENSHURST

Langulac, south of Penshurst, came under the charge of  Edward Twomey in 1882.  Three years later, Edward announced his engagement to New Zealander Mary Ellen Josephine Cantwell and in 1887 Edward and Mary married.  They went on to have five children.

 

"Family Notices." Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939) 24 Jul 1885: .

“Family Notices.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 24 Jul 1885: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145711723&gt;.

Edward enjoyed horse racing and was one of the earliest trustees of the Hamilton Race Course.  He bred and raced horses, with his greatest success coming with Mermaid, winner of the 1871 Sydney Cup. Mermaid was a daughter of King Alfred, the great Western District sire imported in 1854 aboard the Severn by Rifle Downs owner Richard Lewis.

Edward Twomey was a devout Roman Catholic.  He attended the fist mass in the Western District according to his obituary, however most of the congregation were his own family.  He was also a great supporter of the St. Josephs Catholic Church at Penshurst.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233158

ST. JOSEPHS CATHOLIC CHURCH, PENSHURST. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233158

In search of an interesting story about Edward Twomey, I found an article published in the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser on 10 December 1864.  It alleged Edward rode past the Presbyterian minister lying injured by the roadside without offering help. Edward wrote a lengthy “Letter to the Editor”  denying the claims and Donald Cameron, presumably the Donald Cameron formerly of Morgiana, also wrote the following letter defending Edward.

"ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE." Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 - 1870) 17 Dec 1864: 2. Web. 7 Jan 2016 .

“ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE.” Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 – 1870) 17 Dec 1864: 2. Web. 7 Jan 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194723320&gt;.

At the age of seventy-one, Edward went to Melbourne for medical treatment.  He died there and his body was returned to Hamilton for burial at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.  A service was held at Hamilton’s St Mary’s Catholic Church. Mary died in 1926 aged sixty-two at Penshurst and is also buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

210 (2)

TWOMEY FAMILY PLOT, HAMILTON OLD CEMETERY

EVANS, Edward – Died January 6 1915 at Ararat.  Edward Evans was the son of Ararat butcher John Pritchard Evans and was born around 1865.  In time, Edward took over his father’s butchery. In 1889, he married Emily Harricks of Ararat.  Edward was a member of local A.N.A and a vestryman at Ararat’s Holy Trinity Church of England (below).  He developed Bright’s Disease in 1913 which took his life at age fifty.  Emily, a son and two daughters were left after his death, with Emily dying in 1949 aged eighty-six.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/58321

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH OF ENGLAND, ARARAT. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/58321

SANDRY, Alice – Died 18 January 1916 at Hamilton.  Alice Sandry was born in Cornwall, England around 1848.  She arrived at Portland with her parents William and Anne and three siblings in 1853 aboard the Eliza.  In 1869, Alice married William Arnott and they lived in Gray Street, Hamilton. Their residence was most likely at the grocery store William ran close to Thomson’s Iron Store. Alice and William went on to have nine children and for a time, William was a Hamilton Borough Councillor.

On 9 May 1887, Alice and William’s nine year old son Frederick died as a result of an accident.  On the day, he was travelling in the wagonette of Frederick Giles, storekeeper of Giles & Dunn Beehive Store at Hamilton. Mr Giles was a passenger and, as he often did, he allowed Frederick’s older brother Archie to drive. They were going to the Wannon store of Giles & Dunn. During their journey the pony stumbled throwing Archie and Mr Giles from the wagonette.  The pony took fright and bolted with Frederick holding on for his life.

Found with a severely broken leg, and with no witnesses, it was thought Frederick had attempted to jump clear but his leg wedged between a tree and the wagonette.  Taken to the Wannon Inn, amputation was the only option.  Frederick went into shock as a result of the operation and died at his parents home. The Portland Guardian published a lengthy account of the accident on 11 May 1887.  The Horsham Times provided a report on the inquest published on 13 May 1887.

In 1898, William’s grocery store became a part of John Thompson & Co in Gray Street.  The Arnotts then moved to Cox Street, Hamilton.

"Established August 1842. The Portland Guardian,." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 21 Dec 1898: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. .

“Established August 1842. The Portland Guardian,.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 21 Dec 1898: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63675021&gt;.

 

In 1899, William was declared insolvent owing over £800 and he died the following year.  Alice’s probate file indicates she retained ownership of the Gray Street property and Thomson’s rented it from her.  She also owned her house in Cox Street.

"Family Notices." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 19 Jan 1916: 4. .

“Family Notices.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 19 Jan 1916: 4. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120409938&gt;.

Alice was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery with William.  Three of their children were remembered on the headstone, Frederick and two infants, George who died in 1879 aged six months and Norman who died in 1886, two months short of his second birthday.

arnott

O’BRIEN, Patrick – Died 20 January 1916 at Hamilton.  Patrick “Paddy” O’Brien was born in Ireland around 1831. He eventually arrived in Hamilton and became one of the great characters of the town.

"DEATH OF AN OLD HAMILTON RESIDENT." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 21 Jan 1916: 4. .

“DEATH OF AN OLD HAMILTON RESIDENT.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 21 Jan 1916: 4. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120410087&gt;.

Paddy married Mary Harritty* in 1865 and a daughter Bridget was born in 1867 at Portland. They then settled at Hamilton and another daughter Margaret was born there in 1871. Paddy worked as a gardener and the family lived in Cox Street close to the corner of Gray Street.  He was a devout Catholic, attending the St. Marys Catholic Church (below) and was a member of the local Hibernian Society.

ST MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63342

ST MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63342

In 1881, tragedy struck the O’Brien family. Ten year old Margaret drowned in the local creek, the Grange Burn on 14 October.  There was a large turnout to follow the funeral cortege to the cemetery.

"A PRACTICAL VIEW OP THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT." Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 - 1954) 22 Oct 1881: 16. Web. .

“A PRACTICAL VIEW OP THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT.” Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954) 22 Oct 1881: 16. Web. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170023451&gt;.

Mary died at Hamilton in 1907.  At the time of Paddy’s death in 1916, The Hamilton Spectator wrote, “He may best be described as one of the identities of the town, that being the term generally used where one is well known, and yet perhaps, so so far as his personal history is concerned, not so well known after all.”  How true.

* While searching records for Patrick O’Brien and his wife Mary, I found several variations of Mary’s surname.  The Victorian Marriage Index has Harritty, but I also found Garraty, Haraty, Harty, Harrity, Heroty and Harety on entries for births and deaths. As Paddy was most likely the informant on those occasions, I suspect his thick Irish brogue resulted in the many variations.

TATLOCK, Thomas Henry – Died January 1918 at Hamilton.  Thomas Tatlock was born in on 13 January 1834 and christened on 23 March 1834 at the British Chaplaincy in Hamburg, Germany.*  His father  was Englishman Thomas Marriot Tatlock and his mother, Scot Margaret Turner Rolland. Another son, Francis Rolland Tatlock was born in 1835 and christened in Hamburg the following year.  After their marriage, Thomas Sr and Margaret had moved to Hungary where Thomas ran a successful pottery works.  Due to unrest in Hungary the family moved into Austria and then, as the christening records show, on to Germany.

Moving forward around twenty years and Thomas Henry Tatlock arrived in Victoria around 1853 and joined the mounted police force.  He was in Ballarat during the Eureka uprising in 1854 and worked with the Gold Escort. He was later stationed at towns including Casterton, Woodend and Port Fairy. In 1865, Thomas married Mary Ann Scarsbrick and a daughter Ellen was born at Port Fairy in 1866.  However, Ellen died aged seven months and was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery. In 1875, while working as a Senior Constable at Casterton, Thomas was appointed Customs Officer with the Customs and Excise department based in Casterton. As Inspector for Licensed Premises and Liquors for the Customs and Excise Department, he based himself at Hamilton around 1880.

During the 1880s, there were some sad times for the Tatlock family.  Mary Ann died in 1883 aged thirty-eight from complications due to childbirth as did their baby Lillie.  In 1884, Daisy Nellie Tatlock died aged five and on June 3 1887, Thomas’ son “of about four summers” Herbert, died of diphtheria.

 "Hamilton." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 6 Jun 1887: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. .


“Hamilton.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 6 Jun 1887: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65408722&gt;.

In 1890, Thomas married again to Margery Atchison.  Thomas was a member of the congregation at the Christ Church Hamilton and was involved with the Hamilton Pastoral and Agricultural Society.  He was a renowned judge of flowers, poultry and dogs at district P&A shows and was an importer of Black Orpington poultry.  The Tatlocks lived in Gray Street and later Griffin Street. Thomas’ and Mary Ann’s son Alfred Tatlock born in Port Fairy in 1868, went to become one of Hamilton’s leading citizen’s as business owner and Borough Councillor.  Thomas’s second wife Margery moved away from Hamilton after Thomas’ death and died in Warrnambool on 7 May 1938.

*”Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:ND14-PZK : accessed 12 January 2016), Thomas Henry Tatlock, 23 Mar 1834; citing ; FHL microfilm 576,997.

MURRAY, Isabella – Died 27 January 1924 at Warrnambool.  Isabella Murray was born around 1852 at Summer Hill, Allansford, the property of her parents James Murray and Isabella Gordon. She married Walter Stephen Helpman in 1877 and they lived at Warrnambool.

"Family Notices." Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1926) 16 Aug 1877: 2. .

“Family Notices.” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1926) 16 Aug 1877: 2. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article150470511&gt;.

Walter was a Colonial Bank manager running branches at Koroit, Port Fairy and Warrnambool. Isabella kept herself active in the community.  She was a part of the Ladies Benevolent Society for thirty years , including time as President.  Hospital fundraising and the Red Cross, serving as treasurer for five years, were some of Isabella’s other works.  She was also concerned for the welfare of the  aboriginal community at Framlingham and extended her kindness to them.  As the sister of politician, John Murray who became Premier of Victoria, she had a strong interest in politics, helping to campaign at state and federal level.

HUNT, Caroline – Died January 1925 at Brighton.  Caroline Hunt was born around 1848 and arrived in Australia in 1853 with her parents. Her father was one of the Wimmera’s first settlers, residing at Rosebrook Station.  In 1866, Caroline married William James Carter. William Carter held North Brighton run until 1888 after purchasing Tarrington Estate in 1886.  William died in 1904 and Tarrington Estate was sold in 1909, but the Carters retained ownership of the Tarrington homestead until after Caroline’s death.

HEDGES, Elizabeth – Died 14 January 1942 at Portland. Elizabeth Hedges was born in Ballarat in 1882.  She became an art teacher and moved to Melbourne.  She married Francis Caine of Bridgewater in 1914 and they lived there until 1921 when Francis purchased land at Kongorong, South Australia where they established the property Mona Park. While in Kongorong, Elizabeth was organist at the Kongorong church.  Around the age of fifty, Elizabeth began suffering ill health and Francis decided to sell Mona Park and bought Cammis near Sandford. The couple enjoyed holidays at Portland.  In 1941, Elizabeth’s health was still failing and since she always felt better on seaside holidays, Francis bought Burswood at Portland, built by Edward Henty in 1855 . Elizabeth only enjoyed the home for seven months before her death. Another obituary for Elizabeth, written by a resident of Kongorong, was published in the Border Watch on 22 January 1942.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/336832

BURSWOOD, PORTLAND. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/336832

 

FIELDER, Annie Matilda – Died 16 January 1945 at Camperdown.  A daughter of William Fielder and  Matilda Greer, Ann Fielder was born at Cobden in 1877.  In 1903, Annie married William Florence and they settled at Camperdown.  Annie was a member of the Camperdown branch of the Red Cross and Life Governor of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind.   She was also a member of the Camperdown Country Women’s Association and the Camperdown Ladies Auxiliary among other things.  Annie also attended the St. Paul’s Church in Camperdown (below).

stpauls

ST PAUL’S CHURCH, CAMPERDOWN. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63204

MONK, Samuel – Died January 1948 at Cobden. Samuel Monk was born at Connewarre in 1861 and arrived at Cobden four years later with his parents George Monk and Sarah Stenson, early pioneers of that district.  In 1885, Samuel married Patience Silvester.  In his early working days, Samuel made a name for himself working on the roads and was highly sort after by road contractors.  He then turned to farming around 1907 and continued in that pursuit for almost forty years.  Samuel was the oldest surviving member of the original Cobden Football Club and at the time of his death, his son Lesley was the club president. Samuel was a devout Anglican and a member of the Colac Turf Club.

FITZGERALD, John Cunningham – Died 3 January 1950 at Portland.  John Fitzgerald was born at Portland in 1864 to John Bryan Fitzgerald and Mary Birmingham. Mary’s first husband Walter Birmingham owned Mullagh near Harrow with David Edgar. Edgar lived at another of their properties Pine Hills and the Birminghams at Mullagh.  Walter Birmingham died in 1850, and Mary took over Mullagh.  She remarried in 1851 to John Bryan Fitzgerald and John ran the property.  One of his workers was Johnny Mullagh, who went on to tour England with an Aboriginal team in 1868. Johnny was born at Mullagh around 1841.

The homestead at Mullagh (below) was built around 1864, the year of John Cunningham Fitzgerald’s birth.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/232035

MULLAGH HOMESTEAD, HARROW. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/232035

In 1893, John C. Fitzgerald married Eliza Anne Silvester.  They lived at Mullagh with John taking over the running of the property from his father.  They eventually moved to Portland.  John was something of an amateur meteorologist and enjoyed contributing rainfall observations to the Portland Guardian. John and Eliza did not have any children.

COWLEY, Albion – Died 1 January 1951 at Tandarook South. Albion Cowley was born at Cowley’s Creek on 25 April 1878 and attended Cowley’s Creek State School. In 1904, he married Mary Ann Love and in 1911, they moved to a property at Tandarook. Albion was an elder of the Jancourt Church and taught Sunday School there.  Mary Ann, three sons and five daughters survived him.

DAVIS, Robert George – Died 21 January 1952 at Camperdown. Robert Davis was born at Scotts Creek around 1880 and lived there until he was twenty-one.  He then moved to Jancourt buying property from divided Jancourt Estate.  Robert married Emily Dunstone in 1905. He was a member of the Jancourt Presbyterian Church and was correspondent for the Tandarook State School.  Robert remained at Jancourt until around 1951 when he retired from farming and purchased a property at Camperdown.

SILVESTER, Serena Owen – Died 26 January 1953 at Camperdown. Serena Silvester was born in 1867 at Camperdown to pioneers William Silvester and Harriet Owen. William Silvester built the second house in Cobden, then known as Lovely Banks.  Serena attended the Cobden State School.  In 1886, Serena married William Wilson.  The year before, her sister Patience married Samuel Monk (above). Serena was a congregation member of the Cobden Presbyterian Church and a member of the Ladies Auxiliary and the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union. William Wilson died in 1937.

 

 

Trove Tuesday – Home Saloon

You’ve heard of home brew but what about a home saloon?  For some Hamilton wives with husbands never home until after 6.00pm, it may have seemed an attractive proposition with a good return.  This humorous article, taken from an American newspaper, was published in the Hamilton Spectator 100 years ago today.  It’s another example of the little treasures you find when you dig at Trove.

"SALOON AT HOME." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 12 Jan 1916: .

“SALOON AT HOME.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 12 Jan 1916: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120409423&gt;.

 

Christmas Greetings

santa1

With the help of my two-year-old self and Santa, may I wish you a Merry Christmas.  Thank you for reading, following, liking and commenting throughout the year.  Your lovely feedback is always encouragement to keep Western District Families rolling along.

Over the past two weeks on the Western District Families Facebook page, I’ve posted my Western District Christmas series.  It was interesting to read the posts again, ranging from the 1850s to the 1950s and chart the changes in a Victorian Christmas over 100 years.  Also interesting were the societal changes and the highs and lows of each decade and how Christmas changed as a result.  When thinking about how your ancestors may have celebrated Christmas, considering such factors will give you a more realistic idea of what their Christmases were like.

Also noticeable was the rise of commercialism and the changes in the media’s focus on women and their portrayal of women. The arrival of the Australian Women’s Weekly is an example, with it projecting an image of the ideal homemaker.  At Christmas the pressure mounted for women to meet that idealised expectation as they stressed over recreating the Weekly’s suggested Christmas dinner menus.

If you would like to read a Western District Christmas 1850-1950, it is in two parts,  A Pioneer Christmas 1850s-1890s here and a Western Victorian Christmas here.  Each link opens with the most recent post first.  For Pioneer Christmas that is the 1890s and for WD Christmas, you will find two general Christmas posts followed by 1950s-1900.  If you scroll to the bottom of each page you will find the earliest posts to start reading.  They are best read from the 1850s to the 1950s to fully appreciate the evolving celebration of Christmas.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

Trove Tuesday – Fancy Photos

For my Hamilton’s WW1 research, I’ve read many Hamilton Spectators from the war years online at Trove.  With all the doom and gloom that the war brought to the newspapers of the time, articles like the following make me smile and remind me why I enjoy reading old newspapers.

"FANCY DRESS BALL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 19 Nov 1915: 4. .

“FANCY DRESS BALL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 19 Nov 1915: 4. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120405630&gt;.

The title of the Fancy Dress Ball was “The Girls Who Stayed Home” as advertised in the Hamilton Spectator of 22 November 1915.  All proceeds were for the Local Wounded Soldiers Fund.

"Advertising." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 22 Nov 1915: .

“Advertising.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 22 Nov 1915: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120405855&gt;.

 

The article, from the Hamilton Spectator of 19 November 1915,  jogged my memory and I was sure I had seen photos of the event while searching for illustrated newspaper articles about Hamilton at Trove.  Newspapers such as The Australasian, Table Talk and the more recent addition to Trove, Punch, had fantastic photos and they often included country social events.

Punch reported on the Ladies Fancy Dress Ball held in the Hamilton Town Hall on 22 November 1915 with great photos.  I’m always impressed with the detail put into fancy dress costumes 100 years ago and before. Once limited to images from books and newspapers, the rise of film in the 1910s, however, brought new inspiration.  That was evident at the Hamilton Fancy Dress Ball with Charlie Chaplin in attendance.

"HAMILTON LADIES' FANCY DRESS BALL." Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 - 1918; 1925) 23 Dec 1915: .

“HAMILTON LADIES’ FANCY DRESS BALL.” Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925) 23 Dec 1915: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138703780&gt;.

The portrait style photos are the real treasures and as names were provided, if  lucky, you may find a family member.  This mysterious gypsy at the Hamilton fancy dress was Miss Eva Wright.

"HAMILTON LADIES' FANCY DRESS BALL." Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 - 1918; 1925) 23 Dec 1915: .

“HAMILTON LADIES’ FANCY DRESS BALL.” Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925) 23 Dec 1915: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138703780&gt;.

 

 

As predicted, a number of the ladies went dressed as gentleman.  The following photos show three of those ladies.  Organisers were particularly vigilant on the night to make sure no cheeky men, pretending to be ladies dressed as men, did not pass through the doors.

 

"HAMILTON LADIES' FANCY DRESS BALL." Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 - 1918; 1925) 23 Dec 1915: 24. .

“HAMILTON LADIES’ FANCY DRESS BALL.” Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925) 23 Dec 1915: 24. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138703780&gt;.

 

The ladies above were from left: Miss Withers – “Tennis Boy”, Miss Eva Strachan “Middy” and Miss L. Meagher “Half-past two in the Morning”.  To read the full article with all the photos click here

Next time you are visiting Trove,  try a newspaper search for your family names and/or towns, but limit your search to the illustrated articles.  You may find a photo of your great-great grandmother dressed as a pirate.  Now that would be a treasure.