Hamilton Old Cemetery – Beyond the Headstones

Enter the gates of the Hamilton Old Cemetery and rising up before you are hundreds of diverse and fascinating headstones and monuments.  Some always catch my eye when I visit whether it’s for their design, the effects of time or the inscription.  Taking six headstones I find interesting, I’ve looked further into the history of each and those who lie beneath.

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A broken column, a life cut short.  In 1856, Jane Scott married London-born George Bowler presumably at Portland where their first child Thomas Joseph Bowler was born the following year.  In 1858, a second son, George Richard Bowler was born at Hamilton.  In 1860, the Bowlers suffered the loss of baby George and welcomed a daughter Mary Jane. The following, year on 16 July 1861, George Bowler Sr. also died at the age of twenty-seven and was buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery.  Jane was left with two small children aged four and one.  In 1864, she lodged a request for the Hamilton Borough Council to relieve her from paying her rates due to poverty.

In later years, Jane’s daughter Mary Jane married Robert McFarlane in 1887 and son Thomas Bowler took up the trade of blacksmith in Hamilton.  He for a time was in partnership with David Arnott in the Hamilton Carriage Factory, blacksmith, wheelwrights and coachbuilders.  Jane lived in Griffin Street and took in boarders to make ends meet.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 25 January 1894: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225784055&gt;.

Jane died on December 1896 at Hamilton. She was buried with George.  George’s parents Joseph and Mary Bowler occupy the adjacent plots.

“Family Notices” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 23 December 1899: 3. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188661034&gt;.



 On 9 March 1901, Isaac Foster had his Station Street property up for auction as he was leaving town.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 March 1901: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226091868&gt;.

But Isaac didn’t leave town. By 23 March, he was dead at the age of sixty-eight and still in Hamilton.

Isaac Foster arrived at Williamstown in 1870 before heading to Portland where he started a building and contracting business.  A new hospital was planned in Hamilton and Isaac was appointed   Clerk of Works on the project and moved to Hamilton.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399127

He also worked on the Hamilton Anglican and Presbyterian Sunday Schools and William Melville’s residence at Weerangourt. Two years before his death, Isaac began suffering from consumption which would claim his life. Isaac also owned property at Branxholme which was auctioned in the week after his death.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 26 March 1901: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226090807&gt;.



Inscribed with the words “There remaineth a rest for the people of God” from the Book of Hebrews, stands the headstone at the final resting place of Naomi Hickmer.  Naomi, a spinster lived in Stephens Street, Hamilton and died on 6 April 1883 aged fifty-two.

Naomi’s brother Henry also lived in Hamilton and fortunately, he was a storyteller occasionally sharing his recollections with Mount Gambier’s Border Watch. Henry’s obituary included his life story from his own pen and from that I was able to find out more about Naomi and her family. The Hickmers were from Brighton, Sussex, England. Naomi was born around 1831. The family arrived at Adelaide, South Australia in 1851 when Naomi was twenty. Most of the members of the family then moved to the Lake Leake Station, east of Millicent, South Australia.

“OBITUARY.” Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954) 26 April 1918: 1. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77655550&gt;.

Henry Jr arrived in Hamilton around 1874, living at various rural properties around the district before settling in Milton Street in 1892.  It is possible his parents and Naomi were in the district from around 1856.  The 1856 Australian Electoral Roll lists a Henry Hickmer, a farmer of South Hamilton.  Henry Hickmer Sr. died at Milton Street, Hamilton on 8 September 1881 aged eighty-three and Ann Hickmer died on 17 September 1884 also at Milton Street. They are buried beside Naomi.


Naomi’s estate consisted of property to the value of £20 being her home in Stephens Street and £543 of personal property.   During the month after her death, Naomi’s assets were auctioned off.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 May 1883: 2. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225492898&gt;.

Naomi’s probate file held by the Public Record Office made interesting reading and the outstanding accounts she had when she died, give some clue about her life at the time.  She owed £4 15′ shillings to the grocer Henry Horwitz, £2 6′ to W. & W. Thomson, drapers and £2 7′ for buggy hire from Richard Elijah.  Her other debts show she had a period of illness with amounts due to two surgeons Thomas Scott and George Annaud.  There was also a fee owing to Mrs Young for nursing services and an account of £1 from Carl Klug the chemist.  Naomi also paid Elizabeth Kennett servant’s wages and there was a charge of 13″ 6′ to Mott and Rippon publishers, being the Hamilton Spectator.  It’s likely the bill was for Naomi’s funeral notice pictured further up.



The Rizzo headstone not only displays Hamilton jeweller Antonio Rizzo’s devotion to his wife Rose but also a love of cameos, his specialty.

Rose Genevieve McCrystal was born around 1855, the daughter of Patrick McCrystal and Bridget Crinnion of Portland.  The McCrystals married in 1845 at Launceston.  In 1878, Rose married William Pearson.  Their first child a son was born at Branxholme around the time William purchased Hamilton’s Temperance Hotel and Confectionery Establishment.  Two more children, a son and daughter were born in Hamilton in 1883 and 1884.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 16 March 1880: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226055844&gt;.

Four years later, a buggy accident near Branxholme claimed William’s life.

“FATAL BUGGY ACCIDENT.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 30 September 1884: 5. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191469587&gt;.

Rose kept the Temperance Hotel operating after William’s death.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 27 January 1885: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225659244&gt;.

In 1886, Rose put the Temperance Hotel up for lease and she and the children moved to Portland. Rose ran a boarding house in Percy Street.

“The Portland Guardian, (ESTABLISHED 1842.) With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 14 November 1887: 2 (EVENING). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65411182&gt;.

Meanwhile, Italian Antonio Rizzo had arrived in Australia sometime in 1884. He was born around 1845 and came from Naples. In 1887, he travelled to the Adelaide International Exhibition for which he received first prizes.

“EXHIBITIONS.” South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900) 17 October 1887: 1 (Supplement to the South Australian Register.). Web. 20 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46830011&gt;.

Antonio moved on to Melbourne for the 1889 Melbourne International Exhibition exhibiting his speciality of shell cameos.

“Italy.” The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934) 2 February 1889: 30. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article186193649&gt;.

It was in 1889, Antonio first ventured to Portland when he entered the Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition there in March 1889 and won first prize in his section for his artistic and cameo jewellery. Some of Antonio’s chosen materials were coral and lava from Mount Vesuvius.

“Portland Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 8 March 1889: 3 (EVENING). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63592279&gt;.

Having previously worked for Gaunt and Drummond Jewellers in Melbourne, later in 1889, Antonio opened his own jewellery shop at 37 Sturt Street, Ballarat.  In that year, the Ballarat Star, described Antonio as “our Italian sculptor” after he created a marble statue for an All Nations Fancy Fair in October 1889.

“Advertising” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 25 December 1889: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 .

Although he was in Ballarat, Antonio’s thoughts were in Portland and in 1891, he married the widow Rose Pearson at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat.

“Family Notices” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 2 May 1891: 44. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198045151&gt;.

A daughter, Italia Florence was born the following year in Melbourne.  Next, Antonio applied for a wine license in Portland in December 1893 but failed in his application as he was not born in the colony or naturalised.  Instead. he started a jewellery store in Percy Street, Portland in March 1894.  In the same year, Antonio and Rose’s eldest son Hubert was born at Brunswick.  On 30 September 1895,a fire swept through the Percy Street shop and residence.  Rugerio Patrick was born in the same year at Portland. Not perturbed by the fire, Antonio opened a jewellery store in Gray Street, Hamilton in December 1895.  Antonio’s talents were soon noticed in Hamilton and in 1897 he was commissioned to produce an engraved silver-handled trowel for Jane Henty to lay the foundation stone of the Hamilton Hospital Fever Ward.

“Established August 1842. The Portland Guardian, With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 28 June 1897: 2 (EVENING). Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63661275&gt;.

In 1904, Antonio became one of the many unwitting victims of fraudster Louis Horwitz. Horwitz was Antonio’s landlord and legal advisor.  He swindled Antonio into signing documents with regard to his overdraft with the Union Bank.  Before he knew it, Antonio was taken to court by the bank and other creditors all demanding money. It was enough to ruin Antonio.  He had debts of around £1600 and only £830 of assets, leaving a shortfall of £700 forcing him into insolvency in September 1904.  He could no longer trade and a clearance sale was held in early 1905.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 19 January 1905: 3. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225883597&gt;.

In  August 1905, Antonio made a successful application to have his insolvency dissolved and was able to reopen his business.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 29 December 1908: 3. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225891265&gt;.

Antonio was a generous donor of trophies for various events around Hamilton.  One trophy known as the Rizzo Trophy, was for the Hamilton Gun Club becoming highly sort after prize among shooters. While in Hamilton, Antonio and Rose resided at Roma in Milton Street. When WW1 broke, their son Hubert enlisted in 1915 and safely returned to Australia in 1919.

Rose died on 8 November 1920 at a Kyneston Private Hospital in Caulfield aged sixty-five.  Her body was returned to Hamilton and buried in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery. In time, an exquisite and unique headstone was added to Rose’s grave.  The feature, a cameo made in Italy in the image of Rose. Antonio died on 27 October 1924 at his daughter Italia’s home in Kew at the age of seventy-nine. He was reunited with Rose and today their grave is part of the cemetery’s Notable Graves Walk.  While the entry recognises Antonio, Rose shouldn’t be forgotten. She earned a living and raised her two children alone for seven years, later losing everything in the Portland fire and was there for Antonio through his enforced insolvency.


Rugerio Rizzo followed his father into the trade and continued operating Rizzo Jewellers for several decades after Antonio’s death.



The beautiful Celtic cross in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery belongs to a man they called the Squire of Banemore, Timothy Twomey.  Timothy was a member of the Twomey family of Penshurst.  He was born in Ireland around 1829, the son of John Twomey and Margaret O’Conner. When the family arrived in Victoria, John Twomey acquired a large amount of land near Penshurst.  He later divided the property into three for his son Timothy’s property was Banemore from 1866  In 1867, Timothy married Annie Hayes. The Twomeys enjoyed overseas travel and by 1887, Timothy and Annie had visited Asia, Europe and America.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 13 January 1887: 2. Web. 3 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226154135&gt;.

In early 1894, Timothy and Annie were off to England again.  The trip did not go to plan with Timothy dying suddenly in London on 10 July 1894 aged sixty-five.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 July 1894: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225779799&gt;.

Timothy’s body was returned to Hamilton but on the way there was a stopover at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne for a memorial service on 7 September 1894.  The cortege left for Spencer Street Station in time for the 6.50pm train to Hamilton. The following day, Timothy’s funeral was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Hamilton before burial.

“Family Notices” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 September 1894: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 .

In 1896, Annie commissioned Messrs. P. Finn & Co, stonemasons of Mitchell Street, Bendigo to make an appropriate headstone. What they created was considered one of the finest headstones in the colonies.  It was a huge undertaking with the granite quarried at Cape Woolamai on Victoria’s east coast, then shipped to Melbourne for transport to Bendigo.  The four metre high Celtic cross was available for viewing at Finn’s yard prior to its transportation to Hamilton.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 6 October 1896: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225554924&gt;.

Timothy’s Celtic cross is just one of a number of graves in the Twomey family plot and is by no means the tallest. There were eighteen Twomey burials at the cemetery, including Timothy’s parents and brothers Edward and Daniel.  The two brothers were at one time on the Hamilton Cemetery Trust.




A scroll such as that on the column of the Walker monument can symbolise a life unfolding for an uncertain time. It’s doubtful Margaret Walker ever expected her life to unfold across 104 years. Thomas Walker arrived at Portland around 1840 and married Margaret Brown in 1843.  They lived in Portland until 1866 when they moved to Hamilton.   Thomas acquired various properties around the Hamilton township and for a time worked as a land agent.  He died on 15 April 1909 aged eighty-six, leaving his widow Margaret, then aged seventy-four, one son and two daughers.

Margaret, born on 11 August 1835 at Launceston, went on to live for a further thirty years. On 10 August 1939, Margaret celebrated her 104th birthday at her home in Shakespeare Street, Hamilton. At the time, it was thought she was the oldest woman in Victoria living through the reign of six monarchs.

MARGARET WALKER The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 11 August 1939: 14. Web. 19 May 2017 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204924449

Margaret long life ended two months after her birthday on 19 October 1939.  Her obituary in the Hamilton Spectator of 23 October 1939 said Margaret was, “…a lover of all things beautiful, and in quiet contentment, surrounded by her own people and home where she could indulge her liking, which amounted to almost a passion, for her garden she enjoyed to the full of her heart’s desire.”

Also buried with Thomas and Margaret is their daughter Maria, who Margaret outlived by seven years.  Maria Watson died at Hamilton aged seventy-six.



This is the second in a series of posts about the Old Hamilton Cemetery.  You can read the first on the link –  Hamilton Old Cemetery – Finding Family

© 2017 Merron Riddiford

Hamilton Cemetery Trust News

Some great things are happening at the two cemeteries overseen by the Hamilton Cemetery Trust. There was the Notable Graves Walk at the General Cemetery (Old) including signage with a short biography on those graves, new denominational signage, upgrades to pathways and a new website. The trust’s latest news is all burials from both the General and the Lawn cemeteries are now available online.

There have been 15,000 burials at the two cemeteries so many graves to walk around aimlessly when looking for a family member. Until now I’ve used Ian Marr’s wonderful Cemeteries of SW Victoria USB so I know who I’m looking for but where they are is another question.  I’ve done many laps looking for the graves of relatives, fortunately, I also like to take photos of other headstones along the way.  A friend returning to Hamilton spent thirty minutes with six other family members searching for her grandfather’s grave.  

Those days are over.  Now I’ve checked the new “Deceased Search” and map facility, I’ve found I’ve walked straight past several of the graves I’ve been looking for.  Next time I visit I’ll be able to plot my course in advance and finally find the graves I’ve been looking for.  If I get lost while there, I can check the site on my phone to get back on track.  Access like that is great for those passing through Hamilton and spot the cemetery on the highway.  If you like to frequent cemeteries, you’ll know about those impromptu visits. 

Given Hamilton’s size, it’s a credit to the Hamilton Cemetery Trust for continuing to make their cemeteries visitor friendly. They are certainly leading the way among the peers in the Western District.  And why shouldn’t they want to share this wonderful piece of history when burials include the father of a saint, one of Victoria’s first European Settlers, a daughter-in-law of one of the greatest writers the world as seen, and at the Lawn Cemetery, a Victoria Cross recipient.  You’ll find the Deceased Search via the Hamilton Cemetery Trust Home Page on the link here and more about some of the notable graves.  I have a new post on the way about some of the graves I’m drawn to each time I visit the General Cemetery (or old cemetery as it’s commonly known). 

Sacred Memorials

You may have sat in a church and admired the stained glass windows, but have you had a close look? You’ll see church windows can tell a story about a town’s history and people.  To give you an example, let’s take a look at windows at two churches I’ve visited over the past year, the Hamilton Uniting Church and the Hamilton Anglican Christ Church.  A disclaimer…I like to think it’s a spiritual force responsible for the large percentage of blurry photos I’ve taken in churches.  In reality, it says something about my photography skill.  Also, there are loads of links in this post so if you see underlined text, click on it and you will find more information about the subject.

Opened on Sunday 5 October 1913 as the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Hamilton Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street has some beautiful windows.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

I have some family history here as my ggg grandfather James Harman was a Wesleyan local preacher and often preached at the former Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.  The current church opened prior to his death and even though he was eighty-three he still found the energy to attend events important to him so I expect he was there.

Hamilton Uniting Church


There isn’t a memorial window for James, but there is a window for a man he knew well, Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton, a local businessman, flour mill operator and stalwart of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Unveiled on 14 January 1900 at the then Methodist Church in McIntyre street, this beautiful window was later installed at the new church in Lonsdale Street.

Peter Learmonth Window


The Reverend W.C. Thomas spoke of the Learmonth’s dedication to the Methodist Church during a memorial service for Mary Jarvey Pearson, herself deserving of a memorial window.

"LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 8 December 1913: .

“LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 December 1913: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225162684&gt;.


James Allan Learmonth was a son of Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson.  He was born at Merino Downs on 8 April 1856 and went to school at the Hamilton and Western District College and Wesley College. Locally, James was well-known for his sporting prowess.  After some work experience in Melbourne, James returned to the Western District to manage his father’s Penshurst Flour Mill.

After his father co-purchased Maraposa Estate in Mexico, James and his brother left for that country to manage the estate for ten years, returning home briefly in 1886 to marry Annie Thomson of Monivae Estate.  In 1892, James and Annie returned from Mexico to live at Prestonholme.  James died on 29 October 1928 and Annie on 14 June 1930.  They were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.


Annie’s family were Presbyterian and the St Andrew’s Church in Hamilton features a large memorial window for her father James Thomson.  James and Annie Learmonth’s window at the Hamilton Uniting Church is below.




Hamilton’s Christ Church in Gray Street was built in 1878.



Walking up to the door, I always imagine handsome Lieutenant Edward Ellis Henty and his beautiful bride Florence Grace Pearson emerging through the doors after their marriage on 18 November 1914.  They’re bittersweet thoughts because nine months later, Florence and Edward’s family and friends entered the same doors for a memorial service for Edward. He was killed at the Charge at the Nek at Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 while serving with the 8th Australian Lighthorse Regiment.  Florence was around seven months pregnant.


I’ve visited the Christ Church three times in the past year. Each time I visit, I can’t help but touch the 137-year-old walls made from local bluestone just as I enter the doors below.


Just inside the main door of the church in the vestibule is the first stained glass window, a memorial for the Tatlock family,  Alfred James Rolland Tatlock, his wife Marie McGowan and sons Norval and Alfred Jr. Depicted is St. Francis of Assisi possibly indicating the Tatlock’s love for animals.  Alfred Sr.’s father Thomas Henry Tatlock was a leading breeder and judge of poultry and horses.



Alfred Tatlock Sr. was a grand master of the Grange Masonic Lodge and a Hamilton councillor.  Marie died in 1937 and Alfred Jr. met a tragic end, killed in a plane crash in Queensland on 27 March 1943 while serving with the RAAF.  Twenty-two other crew and passengers were also killed. Norval died in 1951 and Alfred Tatlock Sr. in 1956.   

Another window in a different part of the church remembers another son of Alfred Tatlock and Marie McGowan, Rolland Tatlock who died in 1981.  This window depicts St. Vincent de Paul and is one of two windows in the church created by Jean Orval.  I went to school with three of Jean’s grandsons, all cousins. Each day on my way to primary school, I passed Jean’s house with his workshop at the end of the driveway.  You can read more about Jean Orval and see photos of his beautiful windows in churches across Victoria and South Australia on the link http://www.orvalstainedglass.com/index.html



Once inside the Christ Church, stained glass windows line either side of the nave. To the left is the window for Abraham Greed and his wife Hannah Oaff.



Abraham was a leading coachbuilder in the town and a Mayor of Hamilton.  He was born in Taunton, Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria around 1857. Abraham married Hannah Oaff in 1866.  He died on 27 July 1926 aged eighty while on holiday in Geelong with Hannah and their daughter.  Only the year before, Abraham had donated an oak altar and reredos to the church. 

"HAMILTON." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

“HAMILTON.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

In his will, Abraham left the Christ Church money for a peal of bells.  Hannah died at Hamilton in 1937 aged eighty-eight.

"ABOUT PEOPLE." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 1 November 1926 .

“ABOUT PEOPLE.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 1 November 1926 .

Also to the left of the nave is the window for Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton Bree and his wife Anna Maria Henty.



Robert Bree was born in Cornwall on 11 November 1839, his father an Anglican minister.  He worked for Dalgety & Co. in London before arriving in Victoria and working for Stephen Henty as a manager of Henty’s properties. It was during that time Robert met Stephen Henty’s daughter Annie four years younger than himself.  They married in Hamilton’s first Anglican Church on 30 July 1874.  Robert operated a stock and station business at Hamilton from 1872.  At one time he was in business with Alfred Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens.

Robert sat on the Hamilton Borough Council for thirty-five years, twice serving as Mayor. He was President of the Hamilton Hospital board and operating theatre was named in his honour along with a park opposite the hospital. On 26 May 1900, Robert and Anna’s son Reginald Robert Stephen Stapylton Bree serving as a Lieutenant was killed in Bloemfontein, South Africa during the Boer War.

Robert Bree died on 16 September 1907.  After Robert’s death, Anna continued living at the Bree family home Bewsall in Hamilton and in 1914 hosted the wedding breakfast of her nephew and his new wife, the aforementioned Edward Henty and Florence Pearson.  Anna died on 2 July 1921 at Bewsall in Hamilton leaving two daughters and a son.

HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

BEWSALL, HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187


Next is the window for the Rountrees, James Hughes Rountree and his wife Margaret Strang Kitchen.



James Hughes Rountree died on 1 August 1902 after an operation for an ulcer.  He arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Britain in 1864 and worked as a dispenser at the Geelong hospital.  In 1874, he became superintendent at the Hamilton Hospital.  Fourteen years later, James opened a chemist shop in Hamilton. He was a member of the Masonic and Orange Lodges.  At the time of his death, James left his widow, Margaret and eight children.

Most of James and Margaret’s children followed James’ profession.  Daughters Mary, Margaret, Jean and Ella were chemists as was son James.  Mary Rountree married the well-known jockey Bobby Lewis in 1920.  Lewis rode four Melbourne Cup winners during his career and controversially rode Phar Lap to third in the cup in 1929. The wedding took place at the Hamilton Christ Church. 

"PERSONAL." The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) 19 June 1920: .

“PERSONAL.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 19 June 1920: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article211909666&gt;.


James and Margaret Rountree were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.



The following photo is a perfect example of most of my church photos and I wasn’t going to post it.  Instead, I asked Mum to try her luck photographing the window.  When I compared the two photos, I had to share both because of the different colours in each photo.


This is Mum’s photo.  Each was taken in the early afternoon, the first in April and the second in November. The angle was the main difference.  The window is dedicated to the memory of Percy Beaumont Osborne.

063 (2)


Percy Beaumont Osborne was the stepson of Hamilton’s Anglican Vicar from 1907 until 1917, Charles Harris. He enlisted for WW1 on 11 February 1916 and left Australia for England on 28 July 1916.  Percy died of Meningitis at Tidworth Military Hospital, England on 2 February 1917 aged twenty-two.  His memorial window was unveiled on Sunday 17 June 1917.


Memorial windows for WW1 soldiers are not unusual.  The former Baptist Church in Hamilton (now a private home), had five memorial windows installed for WW1 soldiers Alexander and Edgar  Stevenson, James Sack, Joseph Brokenshire, Walter Filmer and Albert Herbert Lewis.  The Victorian War Heritage Inventory site allows for searches by a soldier’s name or site of a memorial.

I intend to add to my stained glass window photo collection and hopefully, with more practice, they’ll improve. I’m keen to get back to St. Stephen’s Church in Portland where there are beautiful windows and a memorial tablet for Edward Ellis Henty was unveiled there on 1 July 1917.

Major Mitchell Crosses the Grange

We left Major Mitchell on his return to camp north of Mount Eckersley after an excursion to Portland Bay. Mitchell’s next target was Mount Napier to the north-east.  The party headed in that direction on 2 September but the heavy going slowed the wagons.  They set up camp on 3 September and the following day, Mitchell set off with a smaller party for Mount Napier.  Swamps and later volcanic rocks, a feature of the countryside hampered the journey, but soon the mountain was before them.


MOUNT NAPIER. Image courtesy of Tony Esh.

Mitchell climbed to the summit and discovered the crater.  The idea of an extinct volcano was of great interest to him.  Looking around, he could see the Grampians and Mount William to the north.  Meanwhile, the sun was setting and before Mitchell knew, it was too late to return to camp.  He ascended and camped the night at the base of Mount Napier in unfavourable weather.  In the morning, fog hung over the mountain until 10:30 am and he returned to camp twenty-six miles away.

The party had to move on, so Mitchell headed them north toward Mount Napier. He thought the knowledge he gained on his earlier trip would see them bypass the swamps but soon swamps were again in their path, slowing the wagons.  Mitchell decided to set up camp about eight miles away from Mount Napier, possibly on the Lyne Creek or Camp Creek west of Byaduk North.



From the camp, Mitchell set off again for Mount Napier.  At the summit the view was hazy, but occasionally it cleared enabling  Mitchell to sight and name Lake Linlithgow and Mount Rouse to the north-east.  Mitchell and the party spent the following day around Mount Napier before packing up the base camp on September 11 and setting off in a northerly direction.  His journal entry for 11 September read,


About that time a yellow flower in the grass caught my eye and, remembering that we had seen none of these golden flowers since we left the beautiful valley of the Wannon, I ventured to hope that we were at length approaching the good country at the head of that stream. Such was my anxious wish when I perceived through the trees a glimpse of an open grassy country, and immediately entered a fine clear valley with a lively little stream flowing westward through it and which I named the Grange. This was indeed one of the heads of the Wannon and we had at length reached the good country.

So Mitchell thought he had crossed the Grange.  Most  likely it was Violet Creek.  They followed the creek north until it veered to the west and the party continued on to the north.  The following day, 12 September 1836, they came to what is likely to have been Muddy Creek. They then met a “smaller stream” we know today as the Grange Burn,

We proceeded next along a continuous ridge of fine firm ground covered with excellent grass, and soon after we saw before us a smaller stream flowing under a broad grassy vale and, having crossed it also without difficulty, we encamped in one of the valleys beyond, where this tributary appeared to originate. A finer country could scarcely be imagined: enormous trees of the mimosa or wattle of which the bark is so valuable grew almost everywhere; and several new varieties of Caladenia were found today. The blue, yellow, pink, and brown-coloured were all observed on these flowery plains.  (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 by Major T. L. Mitchell, Volume 2, Chapter 3.9)

The point at which Mitchell crossed Hamilton’s Grange Burn is not entirely obvious but it is generally considered it was close to the Digby Road bridge where the Grange settlement would begin a few years later (below).



In 1884, the Hamilton Spectator published an article entitled “Early Settlement of Australia Felix” charting the path of Major Mitchell.  Along with Mitchell’s description, landmarks from the 1880s were included.


“EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

After crossing the Grange Burn, it’s thought Mitchell’s party moved roughly north-east along what is now Lonsdale Street.





Don Garden in his book “Hamilton, A Western District History” also suggests Collins Street as a possible route. With Mitchell’s limited description, there is nothing to say they didn’t follow the course of the Grange Burn because, by the end of 12 September, they had set up camp on the Grange near Strathkellar, east of Hamilton.

"EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

“EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

Along the way, Mitchell saw and named Mount Bainbrigge (now commonly known as Mount Baimbridge), to the north and Mount Pierrepoint to the south.  On September 13, the expedition moved off from the Strathkellar camp.  Mitchell’s journal entry for the day read,

We broke up our camp early this morning and on reaching the highest ground we discovered a large lake on our left: it was nearly circular, about half a mile in circumference and surrounded by high firm banks from which there was no visible outlet; I named it Lake Nivelle.  

(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 by Major T. L. Mitchell, Volume 2, Chapter 3.9)

Lake Nivelle is known today as Lake Doling Doling, on the Doling Road at Strathkellar.  From there Mitchell’s party headed toward the southern point of the Grampians.  We’ll meet up with Major Mitchell again on 18 September when it will be 180 years ago since he passed near Glenthompson.


News of the “good country” soon spread on Major Mitchell’s return to Sydney. Within two years, interested parties were on their way to see for themselves.  Charles, Richard, and Edward Wedge were the first to arrive in 1838 taking up the Grange run.  

Early arrivals at The Grange as Hamilton was known, were James and Jane Blastock in 1843. James purchased the Grange Inn in 1844, very close to where Major Mitchell passed less than ten years earlier.  The map below shows the Grange Inn or Blastock’s Inn, near the crossing of the Grange on Digby Road.



James Blastock died in 1857 and his widow Jane married James Wiggins.  In 1893, journalist The Vagabond made a return visit to Hamilton, having previously visited in 1884.  For accurate information on the early settlement of Hamilton, locals suggested he visit Hamilton’s oldest resident Jane Wiggins at her home Sandal on the Grange Burn, not far from where she had lived with her late husband at the Grange Inn.


From her cottage’s verandah on the hill on Digby Road,  Jane Wiggins pointed out the track Major Mitchell travelled along and the site of the former Grange Inn.

"HAMILTON" Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) 25 November 1893: .

“HAMILTON” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 25 November 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196644733&gt;.


In 1937, Hamilton celebrated the 100th anniversary of Major Mitchell’s passing through the area with a week of activities including a “Back to Hamilton”. You may wonder why it was not held in 1936. The organising committee did consider September 1936, but thought since the first settlement was in 1838, early 1937 mid-way between the two events was a better option.  Early on in the planning stages, the committee had problems with funding and raising public interest.  That may have also contributed to the later date.  Despite the early problems, the celebration was a roaring success. A highlight was a lecture by historian Alfred S. Kenyon on the summit of Mount Napier where a memorial cairn was unveiled in 1915.

"CENTENARY AT HAMILTON" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 13 March 1937: 24. .

“CENTENARY AT HAMILTON” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 13 March 1937: 24. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11049077&gt;.

Another highlight was the unveiling of a Major Mitchell memorial cairn at Hamilton on 15 March 1937.  Just off Lonsdale Street, the acting premier Francis Old unveiled the cairn before several hundred people.  Also, Thomas Mitchell’s grandson presented the town with a photo of his explorer grandfather.

019 (2)


018 (800x600)


Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984.

Hamilton Spectator at Trove Australia

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.




Trove Tuesday – Hometown News

It was a chance discovery while searching the fifteen or so years of the Hamilton Spectator available at Trove. There in the search results was an article from 1910. That wasn’t expected when only the WW1 years and the decade 1870-9 were available.  Curious, I tried a search of “Harman” and the result was dozens of articles from the 1880s to 1910. Trove had surprised me adding a further three decades of Specs and I couldn’t have been happier.  Since that day a couple of months ago, I have searched, tagged and found out an incredible amount of new detail about my Hamilton district families.  Also, surnames, street names and locations bring such a sense of familiarity when reading my hometown newspaper, even issues from 100 hundred years before I was a resident.

One of the first items of interest I found was an obituary for my gggg grandfather Joseph Harman from 1893. His son James converted to Methodism around 1851 while still in England.  Joseph, entrenched in the Church of England, didn’t share his son’s enthusiasm for Methodism. However, when the Harmans moved to Byaduk in 1863,  the first church built was Wesleyan Methodist and James Harman, by then a Local Preacher, was one of the forces behind the church.  Joseph had little choice but go along to Methodist services, but as soon as a Presbyterian Church was built at Byaduk eighteen years later, he made that church his Sunday morning destination. There were no family loyalties when it came to Joseph’s faith. It would seem that although the new church wasn’t Church of England, it was more to his liking than the teachings of John Wesley. Granted the Presbyterian Church was less than a mile down the road from his home but the Methodist church was only that distance again further on.

"Items of news." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 30 March 1893: .

“Items of news.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 30 March 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225177127&gt;.

Also found was a rare obituary for a female family member.  Although it doesn’t tell me much about my ggg grandmother Sarah Hughes‘ life, the 400 mourners at her funeral tells me something of the sort of person she was.

"Items of News." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 23 May 1885: .

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 23 May 1885: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225661135&gt;.


There are also some great articles about Sarah’s husband James Bishop but I’ll save those for a post just about him because he was a character.

Something I enjoy reading in old newspapers is the seemingly mundane day-to-day goings on in a town. Of course, it’s even better when a story includes a family member.  Like the time in 1899 when my gg grandfather Richard Diwell of Hamilton complained about the night soil man.

"HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 14 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

“HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 14 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

The night soil man Frederick Malster was given the right of reply after the investigation into Richard’s complaint.

"HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 28 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

“HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 28 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

One of the best finds so far were a number of sketches included in a Hamilton Spectator supplement in 1888. The Spec had the sketches of businesses and scenes of Hamilton made by a Ballarat company. Sketches such as these give us a chance to see how things have changed…



Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 17 April 1888: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR)..

CORNER OF GRAY & THOMPSON STREETS IN 1888. Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 April 1888: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR).




And how other things have barely changed at all…


"VIEW OF HAMILTON VICTORIA." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 17 April 1888: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR)..






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.


“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.


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.


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 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.



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



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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.



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:.


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;.


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;.


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


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



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.



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.



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.



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)


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



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.


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.


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.



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;.





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. Bryan’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.


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


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;.


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

Not Just Hamilton’s Soldiers

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



When searching for a 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 workplaces 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.



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 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 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

**Postscript – Since writing this post, I have added a further forty stories of Hamilton’s enlisted men.  You can read them at Hamilton’s WW1