Take A Photo-The Swimming Hole

It’s some time since my last “Take A Photo” post, so if you are joining me for the first time, the idea behind the theme is to take an out-of-copyright photo from the Western District and delve into the story behind it.

Summer is a perfect time to share one of my favourite Western District photos. It comes from the collection of Gabriel Knight held by the State Library of Victoria (SLV). Gabriel was the principal at the Cressy State School from 1909 to 1915. He arrived as the town was entering a period of growth, including the construction of a larger school. Gabriel’s lens captured the change.

The photo comes with the title, “Children playing in the local swimming hole, Cressy” (c1909-1915). The swimming hole looks like it could be a dam.

CRESSY SWIMMING HOLE. c1909-1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38973

It is in fact, a section of the Woady Yallock River that meanders past Cressy.

BRIDGE OVER THE WOADY YALLOCK RIVER. c1909-1915. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/33657

I love viewing SLV photos because you can zoom in to see more. We can look closer at the boys on the bank. Notice the boy coming in from the water with a hat? To view the photo at the SLV, follow the link-Cressy Swimming Hole.

Zooming a little more, we can see the bikes, and one boy has spied the camera. There’s always one in a crowd. Of course, there is a dog. The best photos seem to always have a dog.

A pile of clothes, shoes, and hats lay dumped on the bank.

In the water is Gabriel Knight himself. Unless he used a timer and was a fast runner, it’s unlikely he took the photo himself.

We know what Gabriel looks like from a staff photo taken when the new Cressy State School opened.

STAFF OF CRESSY STATE SCHOOL, 1913. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38766

Also evident in the photograph are four wires strung across the river.

They were for unconfident swimmers who could move along the wires between banks.

Sadly, the wires didn’t help 15-year-old William Leslie Hellier during the summer of 1913 at the Cressy swimming hole. He set off in the morning, telling his father he was going fishing with friends. It was a hot day, and with little shade along the river, the water was tempting. William, known as Leslie, was a non-swimmer, although he had told his father otherwise. He thought he’d be safe close to the wires. Holding on, he made it to the other side.

His mate, Douglas Thornton, last saw Leslie on the opposite bank. Time passed and suddenly Douglas wondered where Leslie was. He looked around and called out, “Les!”, alerting others who started a search. Joseph Parker ran to inform Constable Edgar Taylor, who raced to the swimming hole, stripped down, and joined the search in the water. A further five to ten minutes passed before Richard Middleton called out. He had found Leslie. About 45 minutes had elapsed since Douglas first noticed him missing.

Constable Taylor attempted resuscitation on the unshaded riverbank for around ten minutes, then loaded Leslie’s lifeless body into a gig. He drove to the police station where Gabriel Knight met him. Gabriel suggested first aid continue until the doctor arrived from Beeac. On arrival, Doctor Hicks pronounced Leslie deceased.

The witness statement provided by Weering onion grower, Joseph Parker, described the wires across the river, “I saw four wires stretched across the creek and they were fixed to posts on both sides of the river, the wires were about one to two feet above the water.” The inquest heard the river was ten feet at its deepest.

You can read the findings into Leslie’s death online at the Public Record Office of Victoria on the link-Inquest of William Leslie Hellier.

WOADY YALLOCK RIVER, CRESSY. c1909-1915. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

The next reference I found about the swimming hole was from March 1915. To coincide with the examination of the school’s swimming class, Gabrielle Knight organised a swimming demonstration at the “school swimming hole”. It was open to men and boys, with a special event for ladies. The competitions included a prize for the longest dive, but significant was a demonstration of “rescue and release” with one child completing a mock rescue of Gabrielle Knight.

It was not long after, in June 1915, that the people of Cressy farewelled Gabriel Knight and his family. Gabriel had received a transfer and his departure was a great loss to the town.

A final mention of the swimming hole comes from January 1918.

Cressy and Lismore Pioneer and Western Plains Representative, 2 January 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article132681416

We know there were wires across the river in January 1913 when Leslie Hellier drowned and we know Gabriel Knight wasn’t in Cressy beyond mid-1915, so it leaves me with some questions. Did the swimming hole move after the death of Leslie or in 1918, were they simply replacing the original wires?

To end, I’ll leave you with another of Gabriel’s beautiful photos. This time, two local boys watering their horses at the Woady Yallock River.

BY THE WOADY YALLOCK RIVER. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38767

You can read two previous “Take a Photo” posts on the link-Take A Photo.

Take a Photo – A Moment in Time

The next “Take a Photo” pic was part of the Western District Families Facebook page theme “Along the Hamilton Highway” in 2017 and is a favourite photo of mine.  From the Museums Victoria Collection, the caption reads “A woman, Christina Park (sic), drying apples.” The date was given as c1931, the place depicted as Lake Linlithgow, and the creator of the photo, Myrtle Sharrock. 

Christina looks as though she could have been drying apples at Lake Linlithgow near Penshurst all her life, however, I found the photo depicted just a short moment in time in a long life.

CHRISTINA PARKE DRYING APPLES NEAR LAKE LINLITHGOW, CROXTON EAST. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769626

Christina was born Christina Arbuthnot in 1855 in the Geelong district, the second eldest child of Alexander Arbuthnot and Elizabeth McKenzie (1) ). It appears she grew up in the Blakeville district north of Ballan.  In 1875 aged twenty, she married Frank Parke (2). Frank built a house at Blakeville and they went on to have ten children over the next twenty years with most born around Blakeville.  In 1883, while working as a sawyer for Mr Blake’s mill at Blakeville, Frank badly cut his hand and was taken to Ballarat Hospital.  In 1885, baby Agnes was born at Barry’s Reef near Blackwood but died a month later. (3) (4).   

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/401042

After thirty-five years, Christina moved away from the area she had known most of her life when the Parke family went to Warragul. Baby Charles born there in 1891 (5). But it was around the time she turned forty, Christina’s life saw the greatest change when the family moved to the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood.  Rate books from 1896 show they were living at 90 Reilly Street (now Alexandra Parade) in a rented brick home owned by Arthur Taylor (6). Frank’s occupation was given as sawyer however later records show he was working as a bootmaker, possibly at one of the many boot factories in Collinwood and surrounds. The Parke children too worked in the boot trade on finishing school.  Also in 1896, the last of the Parke children Myrtle Alpha was born (7).

Over the next fifteen years, the Parke family moved to various homes in the northern part of Collingwood. It would have been very different for Christina after forty years in the “bush”.

SMITH STREET, COLLINGWOOD. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/279623

In 1904, Christina and Frank’s son Charles died at the Carlton Children’s Hospital aged thirteen (8).  About five years later they moved further north to the suburb of Northcote and that’s where Frank died in 1912 aged sixty-two (9). Not only did Frank die in 1912 but also son George at Collingwood aged thirty-three. (10) And just a year later, another son Ernest died. (11)

Christina moved back to Reilly Street, Collingwood for a short time before spending the next eight years or so living with her youngest daughters Ivy and Myrtle in homes in Northcote, Clifton Hill, and Fitzroy North, while the girls continued working in the boot trade.  When she was sixty-five in July 1920,  Christina’s mother Elizabeth died at Camberwell. By that time, Christina and her younger sister Ellen were the remaining Arbuthnot children from a family of eight.

The following year in 1921, Christina’s twenty-six-year-old daughter Myrtle married William Joseph Sharrock.  William was a son of John  Sharrock and Janet McMillian of Fernleigh near Mount Napier, just south of Hamilton.

Family Notices (1921, May 14). The Age, p. 5.   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article203972411

William worked as manager of Rockewei near Penshurst and Myrtle went to live with him on the property and so did Christina. By the time the 1930s arrived, Christina was seventy-five and she went to live in Cobb Street in Penshurst while William and Myrtle were off at Glenthompson managing another property (11). Next William managed a property at Croxton East, the location of Lake Linlithgow and Christina moved in again.  It’s from that time we find out more about Christiana thanks to the Weekly Times. In 1932, Christina participated in the paper’s Free Exchange Service, offering plant cuttings and National Geographic Magazines in exchange for Robour Tea coupons.

OUR WOMEN READERS’ FREE EXCHANGE SERVICE (1932, August 6). Weekly Times p. 25 (SECOND EDITION).   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223813061

Also, Myrtle took a photo of her mother drying apples and sent it to “Miranda” of the “Women’s Bureau” column in the Weekly Times., the same photo held by Museums Victoria. From Myrtle’s letter, we learn about Christina riding horses and giving swimming lessons.

THE WOMAN’S BUREAU (1934, March 17). Weekly Times, p. 21.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223202919

Christina was soon on the move again. Her next residence was at Buangor where William and Myrtle were also living around 1936. (12) By 1942, William had taken up the family property Ferneigh at Mount Napier and Christina went with them.


By the end of the decade and into her nineties, Christina made her longest journey, moving to Brisbane. She died on 10 July 1950, aged ninety-five while living in an Eventide Home in Brisbane leaving three daughters, Olivia Limpus of Frenchville, Queensland, Myrtle Sharrock of Hamilton, and Elizabeth James of Toorak. 

Family Notices (1950, July 17). Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56950418

What a life!


  1. Victorian Birth Index, Christina Arbuthnot, 1855, Registration No. 4650/1855
  2. Victorian Marriages Index, Christina Arbuthnot, 1875, Registration No. 3981/1875
  3. Victorian Birth Index, Agnes Park, 1885, Registration No,7689/1885
  4. Victorian Death Index, Agnes Parke, 1885 Registration No. 4146/1885
  5. Victorian Birth Index, Charles Clyde Parke, 1891, Registration No. 18049/1891
  6. Victoria, Australia, Rate Books, 1855-1963
  7. Victorian Birth Index, Myrtle Alpha Parke, 1896, Registration No. 18977/1896
  8. Victorian Death Index, Chas Parke, 1904, Registration No. 11812/1904
  9. Victorian Death Index, Frank Parke, 1912, Registration No. 11531/1912
  10. Victorian Death Index, George Alexander Parke, 1912, Registration No. 5236/1912
  11. Victorian Death Index, Ernest Sydney Parke, 1913, Registration No. 10202/1913
  12. Electoral Rolls, Australian Electoral Commission, Christina Parke, 1931, Penshurst, Wannon, Victoria
  13. Electoral Rolls, Australian Electoral Commission, Christina Parke, 1936, Buangor, Corangamite, Victoria

Take A Photo – Daystar

The following photo from the Museums Victoria collection was posted to the WDF Facebook page in October 2017 when the photo theme was animals.

Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/771583

The description with the photo reads as follows, “The horse ‘Daybreak’ or ‘Daydream’ (?), a champion hunter who won many equestrian events in the Wimmera and Western district. His certificates and prizes are displayed.”  The individuals identified were named as Ethel McIntyre and John Ross and the photo was taken at Douglas (north-east of Harrow) c1920.

Using those clues, I uncovered a wonderful story of a horse called Daystar and his owner John Hugh Ross. I also found John was part of a family I was familiar with from my Byaduk research.

Born around 1900, Daystar was by the sire Timmon out of the mare Phyllis. In the years 1905 and 1906, John Ross of Douglas (also known as Salt Lakes) was racing Daystar on the flat and over steeples at meetings including Casterton, Chetwynd, Wando Vale, and Hamilton. I couldn’t find him winning a race but he did run second a couple of times.

CHETWYND RACES. (1905, June 6). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved October 19, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72816584

John also took Daystar on the show circuit, riding the horse in hurdle races and hunter classes and it turned out Daystar was a handy jumper. On 14 July 1909, at Douglas, John was schooling Daystar when the horse cleared a jump of 3ft 6in but it was not the height of the jump, rather the length which stood out.

From take-off to landing, Daystar jumped a width of thirty-nine feet (almost twelve metres). At the time, records dating back to 1847 were cited when another horse jumped thirty-seven feet. The current world record for a long jump by a horse across water is held by a horse called “Something” who jumped twenty-eight feet. (8.4 metres) in 1975.

A WONDERFUL JUMP. (1909, September 7). Glen Innes Examiner, p. 5.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article180126153

John Ross was born at Knebsworth south-west of Byaduk in 1875. He left school and started working when he was thirteen.  In the 1890s John joined others from Victoria who travelled to the Western Australian goldfields but he was back in Victoria and living at Douglas by 1905. John was a blacksmith and purchased the Douglas blacksmith shop in 1908,  He was also a good footballer.

The young lady in the photo was named as Effie McIntyre. In 1913, John Ross married Effie Grace McIntyre at the Presbyterian Manse at Hamilton (below).


The wedding ceremony was followed by afternoon tea at the Caledonian Hotel where Daniel Scullion proposed a toast to the newlyweds on behalf of their parents.  John’s wedding gift to Effie was a gold broach and Effie gave John a gold watch guard.  The couple honeymooned in Warrnambool.

On their return to Douglas, a gathering was held and John and Effie were presented with fifty sovereigns from the locals. It was there Thomas Hobbs spoke of John and Daystar’s contribution to the community.  If someone was requiring medical assistance in the night, they just had to knock on John’s window and ask him to go to Harrow for the doctor. In no time Jack would be aboard “his favourite Daystar” and on his way. John thought he was only doing what he thought was his duty to help others whenever there was a chance.  The rides to Harrow were no trouble because he loved to spend time in the saddle.

John and Daystar continued to compete but in August 1914, Daystar then aged fourteen and with John aboard, dropped dead at the Edenhope P&A show during a round of a hurdle competition.  Daystar cleared the first two hurdles well but ran out at the third jump and dropped from beneath John. A sad and sudden end for Daystar. John must have been devastated not just to lose a horse but his companion. The news of Daystar’s death spread across the country. The story led the “News of the Day” in the Warracknabeal Herald (below).

The Border Chronicle remarked on the coincidence that Daystar carrying number 13 (unlucky for some) had his first and last jumps competition at the Edenhope Show.

As for the Byaduk connection, if you’ve ever travelled through Byaduk, say going from Hamilton to Port Fairy, just past the Byaduk oval you will see the Byaduk Boer War Memorial to the right.  On it is the name of Donald Ross, killed in South Africa on 15 November 1900.


Across the road is the Byaduk War Memorial.


With the names of Andrew and Samuel Ross.


Donald, Andrew, and Samuel Ross were the sons of George Ross and Flora Cameron and younger brothers of John Ross. The boys’ father George died at Byaduk in 1895. Their mother Flora sent off son Donald to South Africa as part of the 1st Australian contingent. Three months after his return in August 1900, Donald was dead from a lung condition. When WW1 came, Flora sent three sons, Andrew, Samuel, and William. At the time of Andrew’s enlistment, the Hamilton Spectator wrote of the “Patriotic Family”

A PATRIOTIC FAMILY. (1916, June 29). Hamilton Spectator p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133702199

On 7 November 1917, Samuel Ross was killed in Palestine while serving with the 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment.  Andrew Ross returned from overseas but died of bronchitis on 10 June 1919.  William returned in 1919 and died at Red Cliffs in 1963.

Meanwhile, John and Effie were running the Douglas Post Office. John had taken over duties temporarily in 1917 when the postmaster at the time enlisted. They also built a new house at Douglas in 1937

John Ross died at Douglas on 29 April 1949 aged seventy-three.  Later in the year, Effie was recognised by the people of Douglas for her service running the Douglas Post Office for over thirty years.  Effie died at Portland in 1976 aged eighty-five. 

Further Reading

Jump of “Daystar” – Gippsland Times – 9 August 1909

Wedding of John Ross and Effie McIntyre – Horsham Times – 21 February 1913

Death of “Daystar” – Terang Express – 25 August 1914

John and Effie’s House Warming – Horsham Times – 23 March 1937 

Obituary of John Ross – Horsham Times – 3 May 1949