In The News – November 24, 1941

The Portland Guardian of November 24, 1941 heralded the 100th birthday of Heywood, a small town about 25 kms north of Portland.  The article remembered The Bell family and their contribution to Heywood’s settlement.  I recently  introduced to you my family link to the Bells in a Trove Tuesday post – A Matter of Relativity about Amelia Harman.  Amelia married Christopher Bell, a grandson of John and Elizabeth Bell.

John Bell and his wife Elizabeth Morrow, left Ireland in 1841 with eight children in tow, some were adults, and sailed to Australia aboard the “Catherine Jamison“.  Five months after their departure, the Bells had settled at Mount Eckersley, a few kilometres north of Heywood.

 

 

 

Great contributors to Western Victorian racing, the family were good friends with poet Adam Lindsay Gordon.  William Bell was with Gordon when he made his mighty leap at Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier.

The Department of Primary Industries cites the height of Mt Eckersley as 450 feet (137 metres) but that didn’t stop John Bell, at the age of 101, from climbing the volcano, only months before his death.

As a family known for longevity, twin sons Henry and James lived to 92 and 97 respectively.  At one time they were Australia’s oldest living twins.

HEYWOOD IS ONE HUNDRED. (1941, November 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64402492

All of this is well and good but is it all true?  John’s year of death is recorded as 1885, with his birth about 1787.  That would have made him around 97/98, short of the 101 reported.  Still, if he did climb Mt.Eckersley, to do it aged 97/98  was still a mean feat, but John may not have been a centenarian.  The family notice in the Hamilton Spectator at the time of his death gives his age as 98.

There could also be a discrepancy with the year the Bells settled at Mt Eckersley.  The Bells did arrive on the Catherine Jamieson on October 22, 1841 to Port Phillip.  The newspaper article says they were in Heywood by November 1841.  The Glenelg and Wannon Settlers site states John Bell settled at Mt Eckersly in 1843.

A further reminder to not always believe what you read in the papers.

In The News – September 23, 1870

This is one of my favourite articles about Hamilton’s history.  The Argus of 23 September 1870 reported that on the Sunday morning past, September 18, at 3am “the residents of Hamilton were aroused from their beds by the cry of “Fire!” and a large crowd soon collected in Gray Street…” What follows is a story of a desperate battle to save not only the shops surrounding the grocery story of Nickless and Wells but beyond.

The article gives an interesting insight into how a fire of such intensity was managed in the 19th century.  Many buildings were wooden and there was little or no water pressure.  An early decision to pull down the butcher shop of  Messrs. Brown Brothers to create a gap between the fire and the rest of the buildings in the block was to no avail as the fire was quickly spreading from the other side of Nickless and Wells.  Firefighting attempts were also hindered by the large crowd that had gathered.

DISASTROUS FIRE AT HAMILTON. (1870, September 23). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved September 22, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5832754

Hamilton’s main street, Gray Street, is no stranger to fire.  Actually, there seems to have been an unusually large number of fires, causing significant damage often to several buildings in the town’s CBD.  I did a quick browse of Trove and found fires such at these in the following years alone:  1874, 1885, 1888, 1900,  1912, 1914, 1920, 1930, 1932, 1938, 1944.

On August 1, 1962, one of Hamilton’s largest fires occurred when Strachan’s Department store, on the corner of Gray and Brown Street burnt out in a spectacular fire, talked about for years after.  During my time in Hamilton, 1970s and 80s, a large car showroom was destroyed on the opposite corner of Gray and Brown Street.  Since then, I can think of two other fires in Gray Street in the block between Brown and Thompson Streets.  The most recent saw the Target store destroyed in October 2004 by a fire the Mayor of the time, Cr. Don Robertson considered large enough have burnt out the CBD.  What differed between the fire of 1870, with the same potential, and the Target fire was that in the case of the latter,  a $1.2 million ladder platform truck was rushed from Ballarat and thermal imaging equipment came from Portland.  Huge advances from the times of horse-drawn fire-carts!

With the tendency for fires in the CBD, it was no surprise that after a fire in Gray Street in 1932,  Councillor Hughes thought smoke helmets could be of some use to the fire brigade.

SMOKE HELMETS NEEDED. (1932, March 4). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72599000

In The News – 28 August 1916

The news of 28 August 1916 was typical of the time.  It was two years into WW1, with the Battle of Fromelles in July and then Pozieres. By the end of August, Australians were fighting at Mouquet Farm, France.  Newspapers were full of war news, departures and casualties and the Portland Guardian of 28 August 1916 was no different.

Mrs Thomson of Lower Cape Bridgewater had heard the news her son Private G.E. Thomson was wounded in France.  Families of the 37th, 38th and 40th Battalions were able to send their parcels for the front to 380 Bourke Street, Melbourne.  The parcels were then forwarded to the various Battalions at a cost of one penny per pound.

The Portland Guardian. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64015692

I would like to think the next article was about my 1st cousins 3 x removed, Frederick James and Arthur Leonard Holmes (aka Lennie) of Casterton.  However, while Arthur was still in Australia, not embarking until 21 October 1916, Fred was in France and wounded by this time.

I searched the WW1 Embarkation Roll and Mapping our Anzacs trying to identify the two Holmes boys, presumably brothers. The venue of the social was not mentioned in the Editorial, so I assumed it was in Portland.  The closest I found was Frederick Noah Holmes of Wallacedale and Leslie Holmes of Homerton via Heywood, however, Leslie embarked on August 1.

The Haines family from idyllic Sandy Waterhole on the Glenelg River received news of their son’s passing as a result of wounds.

The Mulholland family of Portland also received bad news from France.

I hope Mrs Carnie got her letters from the front.

Mrs Newman of “Ulymah” Gawler Street Portland, was doing her part for the war effort.  She was the Portland contact for Mr Herbert Daly, an Australian in Paris.  Herbert was collecting socks for those displaced by war, particularly old men.

Newly re-elected Portland Mayor Mr Wyatt received a letter from local boy W.H.J.Baker, serving in France.  Corporal Baker mentions “France is such a beautiful place” and “No wonder Germany wants this beautiful country”.  Read the letter in full here.

On Active Service. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64015700

Corporal Baker enclosed some of his poetry with the letter.  Read the full poem here.

Australian Sons in Egypt. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64015713

Back in Portland, which must have felt a million miles away from the war, unsettled weather prevailed.

The Portland Guardian. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64015692

Wattle Day, on 1 September was fast approaching.  The first Wattle Day was in 1910 and the outbreak of war saw the day celebrated with extra vigour.

The Portland Guardian. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64015692


Canadian born silent screen star Mary Pickford was appearing in “The Dawn of Tomorrow” at the Portland Pictures.

QUEENS OF THE FILM. (1916, April 29). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889, 1914 – 1918), p. 5. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74834158

As mentioned,  Cr James Lewis Wyatt was unanimously re-elected Mayor of Portland.  He was Mayor from August 1914 to August 1917.

[No heading]. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page6068639

Victorians, along with the other states, were preparing for their first dose of Daylight Savings. The timing was not exactly how the Act had set out. Clocks went forward on 1 January 1917 and back on 25 March 1917. Daylight Savings did not occur again until WW2 with the years of 1942/3 and 1943/4 each having an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day.

The Portland Guardian. (1916, August 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64015692

In 1914, the Duke of Portland of England announced that the skeleton of racehorse Carbine would return to Australia for the National Museum.  The following article, two years later, announced the skeleton was ready for shipping to Australia.  Finally, in December 1919, the skeleton was ready to leave England, arriving in February the following year.

I have seen the skeleton of Carbine at the former Racing Museum at Caulfield Racecourse and its current home at the National Sports Museum at the MCG.   While standing beside Carbine’s skeleton is not as moving as visiting Phar Lap at Melbourne Museum, it is still an imposing sight.

A video of Carbine’s skeleton being reconstructed when it moved to the National Sports Museum can be seen at the link  – http://tinyurl.com/8w4w5pv

In The News – July 29, 1929

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.

 

 

Early History. (1929, July 29). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64270110

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.

In The News – July 25, 1906

Heavy winter rains in the Western District and the South-East of South Australia left Casterton awash in 1906.  As reported in The Border Watch on July 25, 1906, the Glenelg River reached record levels and evacuations took place.  There was also large stock losses.

I am still working out which “Mr Jelly” carried people to safety.  My ggg grandfather was George Jelly of Casterton, but he passed away in 1896.  He had two sons still living at the time of the floods, William and John and they were both living in Casterton in 1906.

CASTERTON PARTLY SUBMERGED. (1906, July 25). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved July 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77582924

In The News – June 22, 1877

Today’s “In the News” is from The Portland Guardian of 22 June 22 1877 with the featured article from the Hamilton correspondent, filed on June 16, 1877.

The weather in Hamilton at the time was not dissimilar to the current weather and the streets and footpaths were muddy.  The cheeky correspondent suggested that the residents of Hamilton would not be thinking well of the town engineer after their foot drenching walk to church on Sunday.

HAMILTON. (1877, June 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63338700

Hare hunting was a popular sport of the time, with the weather not stopping the keen participants.

Australian Rules football was well underway in the Western District by 1877.

The papers reported disease of all types.  Typhoid fever was prevalent in the navvy’s (railway builders) camp by the Grange Burn in June 1877 and conditions were far from comfortable.   Diphtheria had also been reported, however, the source was unreliable having given a false report of typhus fever in the past.

HAMILTON. (1877, June 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63338700

In The News – June 1, 1928

For those of you who have not visited the south-west of Victoria, the following article gives a wonderful description from Camperdown through to Port Fairy.   Published on June 1, 1928 in the Hurstbridge  Advertiser, the correspondent, “Mernda”  journeys by bus to Port Fairy.  There are descriptions of some of the towns and their industries as well as the volcanic countryside.

The former Bank of Australasia (below) was a highlight for “Mernda” in Port Fairy.

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Of interest is the Glaxo works in Port Fairy, considered by “Mernda” as a “great success”.  Glaxo produced high quantities of milk powder, from milk sourced from the local area.  In the 1940s, the company name changed to Glaxo Laboratories and still exists today in Port Fairy as GlaxoSmithKline.

Nestle at Dennington, just outside Warrnambool, was another milk powder manufacturer that caught “Mernda’s” eye.  Nestle operated from 1911 until 2005 when Fonterra bought the factory. To read a history of the Nestle factory at Dennington, follow the link http://www.standard.net.au/news/local/news/general/flavours-of-switzerland-linger-a-century-on/2073943.aspx?storypage=1

MY TRIP TO THE WESTERN DISTRICT. (1928, June 1). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 4 Edition: AFTERNOON.. Retrieved May 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57757397

In The News – 8 February – 13 February 1901

I have an interest in the weather, not just for today or the coming weekend but also historically.  Participating in Melbourne University’s Climate History newspaper tagging project involving tagging Trove newspaper articles about weather events, it became evident the weather behaves in a cyclical nature.  If it has happened before it will happen again, droughts, floods, and storms.

Taking my interests a step further,  investigating how weather events affected my ancestors can add greatly to their story. That is why the Victorian bushfires of 1901 are of interest as the Byaduk district, where many of my ancestors lived, was heavily affected.  The weather was similar to two days in my lifetime,  Ash Wednesday on 16 February 1983 and  Black Saturday on 7 February 2009. On each day, fires blazed across Victoria.  

The first reports of fire came through on 8 February 1901.  The following article from The Argus describes the weather of 7 February 1901.  The descriptive language takes the reader to that day.  The heat was oppressive, the wind was strong and dust storms crossed the state, causing unnatural darkness.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10533956

Fires had sprung up throughout the Western District.  Early reports from Branxholme were tragic with one death, stock killed and houses lost.  I have family links to three families who lost their homes, the Millers, Storers and Addinsalls.  George Miller, a racehorse trainer, lost his house and stables and no doubt his horses.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10533956

The two-day race meeting at Ararat was held in stifling conditions. A fire started at the course on the second day, with horses receiving burns.  Later the wind picked up and ripped iron off the grandstand roof, sending the ladies within running for shelter.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10533956

Fires started across Victoria including Warrnambool, Alexandra, Wangaratta, Buninyong, Yea, and Castlemaine.

DESTRUCTIVE BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14337694

The articles below report on homes lost in the Byaduk district with Byaduk North worst hit.  My relatives were closer to Byaduk township further south and while they were lucky not to lose their homes it must have been terrifying all the same.  

The fire travelled at a great pace, coming within a mile of my ggg James Harman’s property Mount Pleasant, on the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road, reaching the properties of the Christie brothers just to the north. As well as James and his wife Susan Reed, my great-grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Harman, and her father Reuben James Harman were living at Byaduk but lived further south again in the Byaduk township.  Numerous other family members lived in the area from the Byaduk Caves through to the Byaduk township.  

TERRIBLE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 9). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 7. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4818069

DESTRUCTIVE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 9). Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 – 1904), p. 2. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64452557

The Hamilton Spectator reported twelve homes destroyed leaving just three standing in Byaduk North.  Most were close to the course of the Lyne Creek running to the west of the township. The Free Presbyterian Church was lost and the Byaduk North Hotel was under threat.  In the days after the fire, the hotel served as a refuge for the homeless.

BYADUK NORTH HOTEL c1906. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766487

BYADUK NORTH HOTEL c1906. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766487

The homestead of Richard Thomas Carty at Brisbane Hill, a large property to the north of Byaduk North, was destroyed.  While running for the creek, after escaping the homestead, Mrs Carty’s dress caught fire but it was fortunately quelled.  The Cartys rebuilt and the replacement homestead Dunroe still stands today.

"ALONG MACARTHUR ROAD." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 9 February 1901 .

“ALONG MACARTHUR ROAD.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 February 1901 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226087594&gt;.

"THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES." Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907) 23 February 1901: .

“THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES.” Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907) 23 February 1901: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71463761&gt;.

The fire burnt through the Monivae Estate with a large loss to fences and livestock and burnt within a mile of Hamilton.  On the other side of town, closer to the Coleraine railway line, the Hamilton Racecourse fell just short of the fire’s path.

"MANY FAMILIES HOMELESS." Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) 9 Feb 1901: 18. .

“MANY FAMILIES HOMELESS.” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 9 Feb 1901: 18. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198084151&gt;.

Other areas throughout the Western District felt the brunt of fire on 7 February 1901.  This photograph from Birregurra shows the devastation in that town.

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71463761

Portland was also under threat with fire circling the town.  The fire did not stop until it met the sea.

VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 11). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 5. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4818536

Buninyong near Ballarat was one of the worst areas hit.

BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 9). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23853766

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71463761

Macarthur had losses as did Princetown on the south coast.  At Timboon, bullock teams from the local sawmill were lost.

FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 12). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54558042

FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 12). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), p. 6. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54558042

By 11 January, aid for the homeless was on the agenda and at Branxholme a public meeting was held to discuss such matters.  Authorities discovered the fire near Branxholme, which was probably the same fire to hit Byaduk, was accidentally started by a travelling tinsmith fixing a trough at Ardachy Estate.

THE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10534297

A meeting was called at Byaduk for 18 February 1901, and ggg grandfather James Harman donated £2 2/ to the fund for the homeless.

"BUSH FIRE BELIEF FUNDS." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 21 February 1901: .

“BUSH FIRE BELIEF FUNDS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 21 February 1901: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226090204&gt;.

The fire was so strong and relentless, old residents were drawing comparisons to Black Thursday almost fifty years earlier to the day on 6 February 1851.

TELEGRAPHIC. (1901, February 12). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 32. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32205605

 

In the News – 15 January 1944

From Saturday 15 January 1944, Victorians were counting the cost of disastrous bushfires that burned out of control a day earlier, Friday 14 January 1944. In Hamilton, the losses were particularly heavy in what were and remain, the worst fires in the history of the town with fifty homes destroyed.

"BLACK DAY FOR HAMILTON" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 15 January 1944: .

“BLACK DAY FOR HAMILTON” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 15 January 1944: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206785522&gt;.

There was some warning.  December had recorded below average rainfall and the temperatures were very high over Christmas and New Year.  The weekend prior had been hot with temperatures around forty degrees.  Friday 14 December and Saturday 15 December were both declared days of total fire ban across the state except the Mallee.

"BUSH FIRE DANGER" Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 13 January 1944: 4 (EVENING). Web. 14 Jan 2017 .

“BUSH FIRE DANGER” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 13 January 1944: 4 (EVENING). <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387965&gt;.

The Hamilton Hospital admitted more than forty people and some later died.

HAMILTON AREA LOSS £270,000. (1944, January 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11821239

 

CATASTROPHIC FIRE AT HAMILTON. (1944, January 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11816144

Of the fifty homes destroyed, two belonged to my relatives.  On a trip to Hamilton, I visited Mum’s first cousin and mentioned the 1944 fires to her husband, then his eighties. His family the Lovell’s lost their home in the 1944 fires.  He disappeared from the room and returned with a clump of fused pennies, all he had left after the fire, a “memento” he had kept for over 60 years.  I found a similar account in The Age of 20 January 1944,

"Nineteen Patients in Hamilton Hospital" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 20 January 1944: .

“Nineteen Patients in Hamilton Hospital” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 20 January 1944: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206793515&gt;.

The Lovell’s house was around three kilometres from the main street, Gray Street.  The Argus reported the closest the fire got to Gray Street was just 500-800 metres from the Post Office.  Having lived in Hamilton, I find this unimaginable, particularly the thought of roofing iron blowing into the main street.

MANY LIVES LOST AND ENORMOUS DAMAGE IN BUSH FIRES. (1944, January 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 1. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11816061

Another of my family members to lose a home was Mrs E.Diwell.  That was Louisa Spender, wife of  Ernest Diwell, a son of my gg grandparents Richard and Elizabeth Diwell.  Ernest passed away in 1939 and Louisa remained at their home, described as “off ” Penshurst Road” on the 1942 Australian Electoral Roll.  They actually lived to the southern end of Rippon Road which could be described as “off” Penshurst road.  Penshurst Road is to the east of Hamilton and not far from where I used to live.

Something to consider is this was wartime with many men serving overseas. With limited manpower, it was not surprising women were fighting side by side with men.  I mentioned the fire to Nana and while she did recall it, she had no other knowledge of it.  She was living Melbourne then and working at the Munitions factory at Maribyrnong prior to her marriage in 1945.  Also, her immediate family lived on the northern side of the town which does not seem to have been in the path of the fire.  When I mentioned women fought the fires, she gave me an, “Of course!” type of reply.

Hamilton was not the only town ravaged by the fires of January 1944.  Nearby Dunkeld (below) lost more than forty homes and buildings, and twenty homes were lost at Colac.

THE SCENE AT DUNKELD. "Bush Fire Victims Carry On" Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 - 1954) 26 January 1944: .

THE SCENE AT DUNKELD. “Bush Fire Victims Carry On” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 26 January 1944: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224839776&gt;.

Derrinallum (below) was hit by what The Australasian described as the “January Holocaust”.

"WESTERN DISTRICT FIRE AREAS STILL SCENE OF RUIN" The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) 27 May 1944: 6. Web. 14 Jan 2017 .

“WESTERN DISTRICT FIRE AREAS STILL SCENE OF RUIN” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 27 May 1944: 6. Web. 14 Jan 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142418919&gt;.

The following article from The Sydney Morning Herald summarised the day of Friday 14 January 1944.

FIRES IN WIDELY-SEPARATED ZONES. (1944, January 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17878294

Even beachside suburbs of Melbourne had fire running through the ti-tree, forcing hundreds on to the beaches.

FOURTEEN DEATHS IN DISASTROUS BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1944, January 15). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68837972

In the News – 13 January 1905

Western District pioneers were exposed to most of the elements Australia offers including flood, drought and fire.  Each had its own devastating effect on their lives and livelihood, particularly those on the land.

By summer 1905, my Harman family of Byaduk had already experienced bushfire,  Fires in 1888, 1896, 1901, and 1902 had seen the loss of stock, grazing land and life.  Bushfires today are just as devastating but the pioneers of the 19th century and early 20th century did not have the weather forecasting, firefighting equipment and communications now available.  When a fire went close to their homes at Byaduk on 11 January 1905, one can only imagine how they managed.

The fire broke away in the stony ground near the Byaduk Caves and travelled southerly at a rapid pace.

NEAR BYADUK CAVES.

NEAR BYADUK CAVES.

The first Harman hit was George Harman, son of James Harman.  His property Quetta was on the north-eastern corner of the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road and what is now Harman’s Road. The fire crossed the main road on to his father’s property Mt Pleasant and Frank Kinghorn’s The Island next door. Alfred Harper, lost all the timber for a new house, while others lost haystacks. Forty men were fighting the fire but wind changes made it almost impossible for them.  The Portland Guardian reported on the fire on 13 January 1905.

HEAVY LOSSES AT BYADUK. (1905, January 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63691042