Major Mitchell Homeward Bound

We left Major Mitchell on 13 September 1836 as he and his party left camp near the Grange Burn, east of what is now Hamilton.  They made their way to the southern tip of the Grampians but Sydney was in their sights.  They were heading home.  By the end of the day, Mitchell’s party had reached the base of Mount Sturgeon where they camped for the night.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53338

MOUNT STURGEON – c 1870-1888 – PHOTOGRAPHER: THOMAS WASHBOURNE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53338

From the camp, Mitchell could see Mount Abrupt just to the north-east and on the morning of 14 September, he set off to climb to its summit.

1870-1888 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53112

MOUNT ABRUPT – c1870-1888. PHOTOGRAPHER THOMAS WASHBOURNE. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53112

Of the experience, he wrote,

…from the summit of Mount Abrupt I beheld a truly sublime scene; the whole of the mountains, quite clear of clouds, the grand outline of the more distant masses blended with the sky, and forming a blue and purple background for the numerous peaks of the range on which I stood, which consisted of sharp cones and perpendicular cliffs foreshortened so as to form one grand feature only of the extensive landscape, though composing a crescent nearly 30 miles in extent: this range being but a branch from the still more lofty masses of Mount William which crowned the whole. Towards the coast there was less haze than usual, for I could distinguish Lady Julia Percy’s Isle which I had looked for in vain from Mount Napier, a point twenty-four miles nearer to it. Here I could also trace the course of the stream we had crossed that morning from its sources under the eastern base of the mountains to a group of lower hills twenty-seven miles distant to the westward; which hills, named by me Dundas group…

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VIEW FROM MOUNT ABRUPT TO THE SOUTH-WEST INCL. MOUNT STURGEON, LAKE LINLITHGOW AND MOUNT NAPIER. Image courtesy of Graeme Tressider

He continued,

From this hill two other ranges branch off to the south; the western being marked Victoria range on the map, the eastern, the Serra, from its serrated appearance, the broken outlines they present being highly ornamental to the fine country around. On the northern slopes of the range are some forests of fine timber but in general the higher summits are bare and rocky.

Upon his descent, the party travelled east.  They had only gone a few miles when one of the bullocks collapsed from exhaustion near what is now Dunkeld.  It was a long journey for the bullocks made worse by the soft winter ground of south-west Victoria, so Mitchell decided to set up camp. There was also a broken axle to repair. Mitchell sent his second in charge, Granville Stapylton ahead to see how much further before the ground improved. On his return at nightfall on 15 September, he advised Mitchell that it was only another three or four miles.

Before setting out the next day, it was decided to leave some of the party behind to work on the broken axle. Also, half of the equipment would stay but all the bullocks would go ahead with the remaining equipment then make a return trip to collect the rest.  The reduced party set out again on the morning of 16 September and found the soft ground was also littered with sharp stones. They travelled eleven miles before they “encamped near a small lagoon on a spot where there was excellent grass”.  The site was around six kilometres south-west of what is today Glenthompson.

The bullocks returned to the previous camp and arrived back to the leading party the next day, exhausted and unable to go on until Mitchell conceded,”…they had enjoyed at least some weeks of repose”.  Low provisions did not allow such a break and it was time for what Mitchell described as “mature deliberation”.  The resolution was he and most of the party would go ahead to Sydney, while Mr Stapylton and a smaller party would stay behind with the bullocks and equipment.

…the camp in which Mr. Stapylton’s party was to remain two weeks was in as favourable a place for refreshing the cattle as could be found. The ground undulated and was thickly clothed with fresh verdure; a grassy swamp also, such as cattle delight in, extended northward into a lake of fresh water which I named Lake Repose. The peaks of the Serra Range and especially Mount Abrupt were landmarks which secured the men from even the possibility of losing their way in looking after the cattle.  

(Mitchell, T. L. (Thomas Livingstone), 1792-1855 and University of California Libraries Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone, London, 1839. Chapter 3.11)

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236368

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236368

On 19 September 1836, Mitchell bid farewell to Stapylton and turned his horse’s head for home.  At points along the way, he buried letters for Stapylton, of which he later found four.  Mitchell arrived back in Sydney on 3 November 1836 much to the surprise and relief of his family who thought him dead.

There is a last chapter in the story of Major Mitchell’s party at Lake Repose coming soon.

SOURCES

Mitchell, T. L. (Thomas Livingstone), 1792-1855 and University of California Libraries Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone, London, 1839.

Monument Australia – Thomas Mitchell Memorial Cairn – Glenthompson

 

The Victorian Heritage Database

On May 5, I attended Day 2 of the Victorian Association of Family History Organisation (VAFHO) conference in Ballarat.  It was a great day with some wonderful speakers and I regret I couldn’t make the first day.

The first keynote speaker was Lisa Gervasoni, a town planner dedicated to Heritage conservation and a member of the Daylesford & District  Historical Society, among other things.  She gave a great talk about using Google Maps to help with family history research and then showed us the usefulness of the Victorian Heritage Database (VHD).  Timely, as I had considered a post about the VHD as I think it is a valuable resource for those researching families from Victoria.

The Victorian Heritage Database is a collection of Heritage places and precincts in Victoria including Heritage studies completed by local councils around the state.

While writing Passing of the Pioneer posts, if I see a property name in an obituary, I head straight to the VHD.  If the property is on the database, most times I can find more about the obit’s subject.  There is always a history of the building, property etc offering a wealth of information

In May Passing of the Pioneers, one obituary belonged to Mary Laidlaw (nee Learmonth).  She and her husband David lived at “Eildon” in Hamilton.  A search found information about the house, the architects Ussher and Kemp and the Napier Club that purchased the building in 1939, the year of Mary’s death.  Not only was I able to expand on the obituary, I learnt something of a house that it is a Hamilton landmark and has intrigued me since childhood.

"EILDON", HAMILTON

“EILDON”, HAMILTON

The VHD was useful when I researched The Parisian, the 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, because his owner John Kirby lived at “Mt Koroite Station” opposite Coleraine Racecourse .  On the VHD entry for “Mt Koroite” I found out more about John and even what he did with his winnings from the Melbourne Cup.

The VHD  is useful when researching a cemetery and I have used it for cemetery related posts.  There are photos of headstones and the Byaduk Cemetery entry even has a photo of Jonathon Harman’s headstone.  A short history of the town is given and a history of the cemetery, early burials and notable “residents” and more.

I have searched property names and  town names, but not surnames and Lisa’s talk made me realise I should.  Individuals may be listed as builders of a property or a labourer on a station.  My search of towns had found some references to my family members but I thought for the purpose of this post I would search specific family names.

None of my family were owners of large holdings or houses but the Diwell family were bricklayers and George Jelly was a builder, so maybe there was a chance.

When searching the VHD, use the “Advanced Search” form (below). It  will give you more results than the “Simple” search.

There are plenty of options to narrow down a search, but I only used the field “with all of the words“.

An entry on the database will include the location, statement of significance, history and description of the building or otherwise.  There is a Google Maps link with both the aerial view and Street View and most times there is a photo or photos.

Now for my results.  I did find entries I had seen before when searching towns,  but there were some new things.  What all the results show is the different ways your family members can be found at the Victorian Heritage Database.

HADDEN

My search started with the Haddens on my mother’s maternal line.  I had two relevant matches.  The first was about a Bills Horse Trough, in the Lions Park on the Glenelg Highway at Glenthompson installed in the 1920s.

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

While the horse trough had nothing to do with a Hadden, the entry has a history of the site, previously a blacksmith shop run by Donald Ross.  The other blacksmiths that operated in the town are named including the shop of  Harold James Hadden, my 2nd cousin 1 x removed.

Buggies outside blacksmith's shop.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria -  Elliot collection.  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/42869

Buggies outside blacksmith’s shop. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – Elliot collection. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/42869

I knew Harold was a blacksmith and that he lived in Glenthompson during that time period, but I didn’t know he ran his own blacksmith shop.

Another entry under “Hadden” was found on a previous search of “Cavendish” and is about gg uncle William Hadden, son of William Hadden and Mary Mortimer.  In 1913, he purchased the Cavendish Cobb & Co Depot and Stables (below) and the adjacent property on the corner of the Hamilton Road and Scott Street, Cavendish.  The 1914 Electoral Roll lists William’s occupation as blacksmith, useful with a Cobb & Co depot.  However, in 1915, the train came to Cavendish taking passengers away from Cobb & Co.

By 1919, William was living at Kiata near Nhill in the Mallee, running the Kiata Hotel.  I am not sure if he had sold the Cobb & Co depot by that time but he never returned to Cavendish and died in Geelong in 1927.

HARMAN

A “Harman” search brought up not a building but a roadside Memorial plantation at Byaduk, sadly in poor condition.  The trees, planted in memory of the Byaduk soldiers that served during WW2, have not been maintained over the years.  My 1st cousin 3 x removed and grandson of James and Susan Harman, Leonard Roy Harman, was killed during the war as was another Byaduk man A.R.McNair.   The Southern Grampians Shire Heritage study on this site reported that much of the significance and integrity of the site had been lost.

The Memorial planting was the only “Harman” reference found until I did a “Byaduk” search.  Then I discovered that a search of “Harman” did not bring up any references to “Harman’s”.  This was after I read the report about the Byaduk General Store ruins.  The general store is thought to have opened around 1863 when another early shop opened,  Joseph Harman’s, bootmaking shop.

DIWELL

I then turned to Mum’s paternal side and searched the Diwells.

Surprisingly the result took me back to Cavendish, a town I never thought they had links to.  However, I found my gg uncle William Diwell, a bricklayer, was the contractor that built the Cavendish Memorial Hall in 1920.

It was no surprise William Diwell was a bricklayer.  The following entries are about his father and grandfathers, all bricklayers or builders.

Firstly, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Merino.  Builders Northcott and Diwell built the church in 1868.  That would be ggg grandfather William Diwell and I am assuming Northcott is George Northcott of Merino.  George owned Merino’s Commercial Hotel (below) and the Cobb & Co Station.  From the VHD I  discovered they received  £126/15/- for the job and that they had also built the Merino Free Library and the Mechanics Institute.

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO 1880 Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/22000/B21766_112.htm

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO 1880 Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/22000/B21766_112.htm

The next Diwell match was for the Sandford Mechanics Hall (below).  I knew from a transcript of the booklet, Back to Sandford Centenary: 1957  on the Glenelg and Wannon Pioneers site, William Diwell senior had a link to the building of the Mechanics Hall but only that he suggested that it be made of brick and not wood.  The VHD shed a little more light on a conversation that took place between William and the committee secretary J.S. Anderson in 1864, but in doing so, it leaves me questioning the entry

From the Back to Sandford booklet ,I knew that William ran into Mr Anderson on the Casterton Road.  Anderson told William of the plans to call for a tender for the building of a wooden hall.  William suggested a brick building and that Mr Anderson should take the idea to the committee before advertising.  The committee thought it was a great idea and they called for tenders for a brick hall.

Turning to the VHD, the report continues on from the above story but cites rate book entries from 1863 that Richard Diwell of Casterton was a brickmaker or bricklayer.  Richard was my gg grandfather and he was nine in 1863 . It continued with the story that William suggested Anderson go back to the committee, but added that William had a proposal , maybe an offer of funding.  The committee agreed to the unknown proposal and the tender process began.   The tender was won by James McCormack.

The thing is, the hall was not built until 1885, 19 years after William Diwell met Mr Anderson on the Casterton Road.  William had been dead 14 years.  So he could hardly be credited for a brick hall,  surely.  Also, why is Richard Diwell mentioned?  Did they mean William or was Richard involved later when the hall was built when, as a 30-year-old bricklayer, it was more realistic?

JELLY

I found entries for George Jelly, my ggg grandfather, and father-in-law of Richard Diwell.  George built the Anglican Rectory in Henty Street Casterton in 1887.

What particularly interested me came from a spontaneous search I did for “George Jellie”.  It brought up the Coleraine Anglican Church.  The history of the church referred to the original structure built in 1853 by Casterton contractor, George Jellie.  My George Jelly did not arrive in Victoria until 1855 aboard the Athelate with his wife Jane and daughter, Mary.  According to his obituary, they first went to Murndal at Tahara, run by Samuel Pratt Winter and then on to Casterton.  George and Jane’s first born child in Australia was my gg grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Jelly at Casterton in 1856.

That beggars the questions, was there a George Jellie, contractor of Casterton in 1853 or did the first building at the Coleraine Anglican Church not get constructed until around 1856 by which time George Jelly had arrived in the town?  More research is needed on that one.

George’s obituary credits him for building the Casterton Mechanics Institute also, however that building is not on the VHD.

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While the Victorian Heritage Database is full of useful information, I do wrestle with it on occasions as it takes on a mind of its own.  I use a Firefox browser and I think it doesn’t agree with the database. I have tested Chrome and it seems a lot happier.  Another problem I occasionally have is when clicking on a link to VHD from Google or Western District Families.  I get a message that my session has ended.  If that happens, page back and click again and it will come up.

More on Lisa Gervasoni.  Lisa  has over 300,000 photos on Flickr and they are also found with a Trove search.  Lisa’s photos of landmarks and war memorials, often come up in my searches of Western Victorian towns.  When I have wanted to see what something in the Western District looks like, Lisa’s great photos have been there.  Thank you Lisa.

More on the VAFHO conference.  It was great to finally meet in person, Liz Pidgeon from the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and Infolass blog, who I have known on social media for some time.   I also met Craige from the Mortlake Historical Society.  You should check out the great Facebook page he is running for the society.