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: <;.

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 <;.

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 <;.

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 <;.

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 .

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: <;.

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),

‘NO LONGER A CREEK’, The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), 20 March, p. 1. (CITY FINAL),

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

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

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

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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.

WARRNAMBOOL 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

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.

M.COX’S HOUSE SPRING GARDENS WARRNAMBOOL ca 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

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: <;.

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: <;.


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:<;.

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: <;.

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: <

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: <;.


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

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


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. <;

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 <;.

"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: <;.

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:<;.

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 <;.

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 <;.

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.

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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.

PORTLAND BREAKWATER c1945. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.


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.

DARTMOOR RAILWAY BRIDGE UNDER CONTRUCTION c1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

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.

NELSON BRIDGE c1907. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.


"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. <;.





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.

COLERAINE POST OFFICE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

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.

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

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.

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.


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:<;.

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.

PORT CAMPBELL HOTEL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

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. <;.

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. <;.

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. <;.


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

James and the Bushranger

My son is now eleven and thinks he’s a bit too cool for history.  But not all is lost. Often I can get him interested in history without him even realising.  Besides taking advantage of his confinement in the car when travelling through the Western District and imparting snippets of history to him, I know that I can take him anywhere historic if I can capture his imagination.  I knew I could do that at the Port Fairy Cemetery in January.  I was after some more headstone photos and the lure for Lachlan was the chance to see the grave of a bushranger.




The story of “Dick” the Bushranger unfolded just up the road from the cemetery, in front of the St Patrick’s Catholic Church on the Port Fairy/Yambuk Road, now known as the Princes Highway. We visited the church in 2014 and Lachlan took the following photo.





It was 12 February 1859 and the local constabulary had heard two bushrangers were approaching the town.  With only three local mounted police, they split up to make sure all roads into town were covered.  Constable Wigmore came face to face with the alleged bushrangers at 5.00pm near St. Patrick’s church.  After some questioning, he attempted to arrest them and warned them he would shoot if they continued walking toward the town’s centre.  One of the men refused and produced a pistol and Constable Wigmore felt he had no choice but to follow through with his warning and he shot the man.  The following report appeared in The Age of 24 February 1859.  Another report was published in the Geelong Advertiser of 23 February 1859.



The name of the dead man was not known.  His companion, William Darcy, said he only knew him as “Dick” and said they had met at the Yambuk Hotel where they allegedly stayed the night before.





William Darcy was charged with highway robbery by Portland police in the days after, as reported in the Portland Guardian and Normanby Advertiser on 2 March and stood trial in May 1859. Darcy was found guilty and sentenced to five years hard labour for assault and highway robbery as reported by the Portland Guardian and Normanby Advertiser on 13 May 1859.  Witness statements at the committal hearing published on 2 March would suggest both men were guilty and they didn’t support Darcy’s claim that he and “Dick” were at the Yambuk Inn, rather camped by the road.  But many questions remain and it was only the word of the defendant against the two witnesses, that led to Darcy’s charges.  “Dick” had no opportunity to give his side of the story.

A search of the Central Register of Male Prisoners at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV VPRS 515) found that William Darcy (no. 4481), a Presbyterian, was just twenty-three and had arrived in the colony alone and had no relatives in the colony.  He was sent to Pentridge Prison. Beyond William Darcy’s personal information, there was little else to take from the file.

“Dick” was buried in the Port Fairy Cemetery in a grave marked with rocks.  In recent years, an addition to the grave is a headstone, with the words “Did He Deserve This?”.  I’ve been on one of Maria Cameron’s wonderful Port Fairy cemetery tours and she believes from her research, that “Dick” was Frederick, but the mystery remains as to his true identity.

The story of “Dick” the bushranger is unlike any other bushranger story I could share with Lachlan.  As the dying man took his last breath, Lachlan’s gggg grandfather James Harman was present.


"A BUSHRANGER SHOT." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 24 Feb 1859 .

“A BUSHRANGER SHOT.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 24 Feb 1859 <;.


It was no surprise to learn that James and his brother, possible Jonathan Harman, were heading out of town toward Yambuk.  Although I am yet to fully establish James’ movements from the time he disembarked from the Duke of Richmond at Portland harbour in 1854 until he arrived in the Byaduk area around 1861, I do know that James was first employed at Boodcarra between Port Fairy and Yambuk.  I took this photo of Boodcarra from a moving car, simply because the road at that point is not good for stopping.




By 1859, James may have resided at Port Fairy, so he would be visiting Yambuk.  A reason for a visit was to see good family friends and later extended family, the Olivers who were living at Yambuk around that time.  Jonathan and Reuben Harman later married two of the Oliver girls.  They were also church friends of the Harmans, another reason James, a Wesleyan Methodist local preacher, may have headed out the Yambuk Road.  Perhaps there was a prayer session at a the home of another Wesleyan Methodist.  When there was not a local Methodist church, gatherings were held at private homes, by candlelight, and often running late into the night.  Whatever the reason, I am sure it was a trip James and his brother never forgot.

So mission accomplished, Lachlan learnt something of his family history and I got more headstone photos to add to my collection.   You can see some of those photos in my two Port Fairy cemetery posts to date – Port Fairy Cemetery Part One and Port Fairy Cemetery Part Two.


Port Fairy Cemetery – Part Two

I promised a second Port Fairy Cemetery post months ago and finally, here it is.  Considering the number of photos I have from my January 2014 and 2015 visits, there could be a third and maybe a fourth installment.

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Clara Atkinson died in Port Fairy on 8 April, 1873 aged fifty-one.  Her husband John Henry Atkinson a chemist, ordered a headstone to remember not only Clara but the two babies the couple lost in 1856 and 1858.

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“Family Notices.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 21 Apr 1873: 2 Edition: EVENINGS. Web. 12 Jan 2015 .

If it wasn’t for the words “San Francisco” on the headstone, this post would have been much shorter.  Seeing San Francisco on a headstone in Port Fairy stirred the “how” and “whys” in me and I had to find out more.  Baby Lucy Jane Atkinson passed away in San Francisco on 28 June 1856.  She was buried at the Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco aged one month.

Two years later in Warrnambool, on 30 October 1858, Clara and John lost another baby, Clara Bevans aged fifty days.

The Atkinsons seem to have arrived at Hobson’s Bay on 14 July 1858 from San Francisco aboard the Mary Robinson as cabin passengers.  If those passengers were the said Atkinsons, Clara would have been heavily pregnant with baby Clara.

“SHIPPING.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 26 Jul 1858: 4. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <;.

Searches for a John Henry Atkinson, Chemist at Trove brought up many references to Sandhurst (Bendigo) where a John H. Atkinson had a spot of bother in the courts, leading to insolvency.  I was beginning to wonder, first if that was the same John H. and secondly was there a link to an important and influential resident of Bendigo from the 1860s, Harry Leigh Atkinson who at the time of his death was considered one of the largest landholders in Victoria?  

Using Trove and records from, I began to piece the jigsaw together. The only solid clue to John Henry Atkinson’s past came from his death notice that stated he was the brother of the Portland Shire Secretary, Edwin Atkinson and that John died in Exmouth, England.

“Family Notices.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 1 Apr 1887: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. 12 Jan 2015 .

That information was useful as I was able to find the following information about John’s will:

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 2 Sep 1887: 7. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <

Suddenly I had the names of nieces and nephews to trace and the clue of Nafferton, Yorkshire which led me to the 1841 UK census.  Brother of John, Edwin Atkinson helped me find John’s birthplace, Kilham in Yorkshire and his baptism in March 1822. His parents were Thomas Atkinson and Harriet Parkin. Checking the 1841 census, I found a John Atkinson “druggist” aged 20 living at Kilham.

Back at Trove, I found a man by the name of John Henry Atkinson of Launceston qualifying as a chemist in 1849.


“[No heading].” The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 – 1859) 14 Mar 1849: 2. Web. 13 Jan 2015 <;.

Less than six months later, a John Henry Atkinson was a cabin passenger aboard the Spartan bound for San Francisco from Launceston.

“Shipping Intelligence.” Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899) 1 Aug 1849: 7 Edition: AFTERNOON. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <;.

With the knowledge about Kilham, Yorkshire, I discovered John had another brother, Thomas Parkin Atkinson which led to the name of another brother, Dr. Alfred Atkinson.  With that confirmation that John, Thomas, Edwin and Alfred Atkinson were cousins of Dr. Harry Leigh Atkinson.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 May 1866: 4. Web. 13 Jan 2015 <;.

With that solved, I was still interested in why John was in San Fransisco.  I discovered a reason when I read the notice of Dr Alfred Atkinson’s death at Eaglehawk.  Alfred went to Bendigo in 1862 after many years in California.

“THE BENDIGO ADVERTISER.” Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918) 17 Mar 1876: 2. Web. 13 Jan 2015 .

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The Webb family headstone remembers parents William and Elizabeth Jane Webb and their children William Robert James and Edith Gertrude.

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William Webb Sr was born in Wiltshire around 1830.  He arrived in Port Fairy about 1852 and married Elizabeth Jane Francis in 1858.  They had eleven children including William Jr and Edith. Edith passed away in 1875 aged two and her brother William Jr passed away in 1886 aged twenty-six.  In 1911, mother Elizabeth passed away aged seventy-two years.

William Webb Sr passed away in 1919 having lived to the age of 89 years.  During his life, he established himself as a leading citizen of Port Fairy, spending forty years on the Borough council with a record seven terms as Mayor.  From the Victorian Heritage Database, I found William established an iron casting business in Gipps Street, Port Fairy with his brother Henry in the 1850s that included carriage making and a horseshoe forge. He later moved the business to Sackville Street.


“Cruelty to a Horse.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 8 Jul 1919: <;.

“BOROUGH OF PORT FAIRY.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 22 Feb 1915: 4 Edition: EVENING. Web. 11 Jan 2015 .

Seven members of the Gibson/McKechnie family were buried in the following plot.


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John Gibson was a President of the Port Fairy Shire and was a renown breeder of stock horses at his property Leura. He married Sarah Ann Taylor in 1856.  They had a large family and one of their first losses was daughter Margaret in 1877 aged six.  The following year Ann passed away aged eighteen.

John died in September 1887 only a month after being elected shire president.  Only the week before, his eldest son Thomas Edward Gibson had died as a result of an old injury.

“Brevities.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 5 Oct 1887: 3. Web. 18 Dec 2014 .

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 16 Dec 1887: 4. Web. 18 Dec 2014 <;.

In 1889, John’s daughter Alice Gibson married Richard Stirling McKechnie of Balmoral.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 Feb 1889: 53. Web. 18 Dec 2014 <;.

In 1890, a son Richard was born to Alice and Richard but he died in the same year and was buried in the Gibson plot.  Alice passed away in 1894 and was also buried in the Gibson family plot. Richard McKechnie remarried to Jessie Ireland of Port Fairy.  At the time, he was living at Lagoon Lodge, located to the west of the town.

David Gibson was the next member of the family to pass away, on 24 June 1895 aged thirty-one.

John Gibson’s wife Sarah Ann died in 1899 at Port Fairy.  She was buried in another grave with their youngest son Charles James Gibson who died in 1902 aged twenty-three.  Also Sarah’s mother Ann Taylor who died in 1909 aged eighty-seven.

As I moved away from the grave, something caught my eye on the bottom right-hand corner of the headstone – “G. Harman, Port Fairy”

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There is only one G. Harman of Port Fairy I know of and that is ggg uncle George Hall Harman whose own headstone in the Port Fairy Cemetery is below.  He was buried with his wife Rebecca Graham and their headstone remembers their daughter Edith who died in 1866 at Byaduk.

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The following headstone originated out of tragedy.



On a Sunday morning during December 1886, Annie Edith Searle daughter of nurseryman Henry Searle and Phoebe Robins of Port Fairy, drowned at Boarding School Bay, just west of the township.

“THREE LADIES DROWNED.” The North Eastern Ensign (Benalla, Vic. : 1872 – 1938) 19 Jan 1886: 2. Web. 19 Dec 2014 .

Mother Phoebe, passed away on 19 April 1909 aged eighty-seven and her husband Henry Searle passed away eight months later, on 27 December aged eighty-six.

“PORT FAIRY.” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1924) 7 Jan 1910: 4. Web. 11 Jan 2015 .

In 1922, another daughter Alice Amelia was buried in the plot, passing away at the age of sixty-three.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 Jan 1921: 1. Web. 19 Dec 2014 <;.

The following grave is that of infant Robert Vincent Ware.

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Robert Ware was the two-year-old son of James Ware and Jane Mailor and was born in 1854 at Belfast.  He died in 1856.


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From the 1856 Victorian Electoral Roll,  I found that James Ware was a licensed victualler and was a leaseholder on the corner of James and Bank Street , the location of the Caledonian Inn in Port Fairy. Construction of the inn began in 1844.



James and Jane had at least another three children after Robert’s death, Susan, Alice and Mary Ann. They were born at Port Fairy and Rosebrook. I’m still to find what happened to James Ware, but I do know that by 1894,  Jane had moved to Melbourne, taking up residence at Bella Vista in East Melbourne where Susan passed away in 1894 .

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 5 Mar 1894: 1. Web. 14 Jan 2015 <;.

Looking at the 1903 Victorian Electoral Roll, the Ware’s may not have been guests at the luxury boarding house Bella Vista, as Mary Ann’s occupation was listed as “boarding-house keeper.”

Jane Ware passed away in Sydney on 17 September 1900.  She died at 71C Darlinghurst Road, at that time operating as a boarding house.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 29 Sep 1900: 55. Web. 14 Jan 2015 <;.

Daughter Mary Jane stayed on at Bella Vista and  passed away in 1939.


“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Feb 1939: 10. Web. 17 Jan 2015 <;.

The headstone of Abijah Brown is one of the most distinctive in the Port Fairy cemetery.

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The 1856 Victorian Electoral Rolls shows that Abijah was at that time the licensee of the Stag Hotel in Sackville Street.



Abijah’s nickname was ‘Clockey’ because of the large gold watch and chain he wore and he took over license of The Stag hotel, Port Fairy in 1855. Pamela Marriott in her book “Time Gentlemen Please,” mentions Abijah was a jeweller which explains his gold watch.  Abijah was also a councillor for a short time.  Prior to going to the Stag Hotel, he ran the Plough Inn at Killarney.  He died on 19 July 1862.


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The men buried in the last two graves of this post had family links through marriage.

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Rupert Kirk was a former army captain who purchased over 300 acres of land at Land Cove, Sydney in 1831.  He established a soap making business and named his property Woodford Park. He was also the father of William Musgreave Kirk buried in the Port Fairy Cemetery (above).

“Classified Advertising.” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842) 13 May 1841: 4. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <;.

RUPERT KIRK. Artist: Maurice Felton Surgeon. Sydney / del.t March 27th 1841.” Image courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Rupert passed away on 8 March 1850.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 11 Mar 1850: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <;.

Only weeks earlier, Rupert’s son William Kirk married Hannah Lindsay in Sydney.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 26 Jan 1850: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <;.

William was living in Mudgee, N.S.W. after his marriage in 1850

“Advertising.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 6 Mar 1850: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 .

Alos at that time, William’s sister was living in the Port Fairy district, marrying Horace Flower there in 1850 as reported by The Argus on 19 October 1850.  William  Kirk was in Victoria some time from the early 1850s living by the Merri Creek near Woodford.  He died there on 11 July 1855.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 18 Jul 1855: 4. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <;.

Hannah Lindsay, William’s wife passed away on 2 December 1864 and was buried in the same grave.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 13 Dec 1864: 4. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <;.

As mentioned, there is a link between William Kirk and the next grave’s occupant, Lloyd Rutledge.

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If you believe in ghosts, Lloyd Rutledge’s grave is a must see especially if you visit on the night of 17 December when Lloyd is said to appear each year at his grave. Lloyd was the younger brother of William Rutledge who arrived in Port Fairy around 1843 and established William Rutledge & Co. a mercantile company shipping goods to and from England. William Rutledge had married Eliza Kirk, a sister of William Kirk (above) in Sydney in 1840.  That marriage was most likely the catalyst for William Kirk and his other siblings to move to Victoria.

When William Rutledge first arrived in Australia in 1829, he settled himself in Sydney and once established brought his siblings in Ireland to Australia.  Lloyd followed him to Port Fairy and worked with him at William Rutledge & Co.  In 1852, Lloyd returned to Sydney to marry Isabella Bennett, daughter of Richard Bennett.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 6 Aug 1852: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <;.

The Rutledge, Bennett and Kirk family were all intertwined through marriage.  William Rutledge married Eliza Kirk, maternal aunt of Lloyd’s wife Isabella Bennett.  Isabella’s brother Richard Bennett Jnr wrote the articles that make up the book “Richard Bennetts’ Early Days of Port Fairy.”

Only a month before Lloyd and Isabella’s wedding, William Rutledge sent Lloyd to Portland on a mission.  Desperately in need of labour, William wanted Lloyd to meet the incoming immigrant ship Runnymede.  Accompanying Lloyd was Thomas Browne, better known by his pen name  Rolf Boldrewood , the author of “Robbery Under Arms.”   Supplied with blank forms of agreement from William, Lloyd boarded the ship and signed up seventy passengers for work, ignoring the police interest in his activities.  Boldrewood wrote about the event in an article entitled “Desirable Immigrants” published in The Australasian on 8 July 1905.

“TOBTLAND.” Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857) 2 Jul 1852: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 .

  Lloyd was a racehorse owner and steward.

“VICTORIA.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 10 Oct 1854: 3. Web. 17 Jan 2015 <;.

He also rode in races and these results from 22 February 1856, show him running third at the Portland races aboard “Tross”.

“THIRD DAY, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 22 Feb 1856: 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE PORTLAND GUARDIAN.. Web. 17 Jan 2015 .

Also racing was “Alice Hawthorne” who was later one of Victoria’s leading racehorses, competing  in a NSW vs Victoria match race in 1857, a forerunner to the first Melbourne Cup in 1861   You can read more about Alice by clicking on the link on her name.

In 1855, Lloyd had a two-storey home constructed in Port Fairy and named it Cooinda.  It was there in 1858 that Lloyd’s life would end at just thirty-one years of age.  Partial to a drink, Lloyd was climbing the stairs of Cooinda after a drinking session when he fell backwards down the stairs and broke his neck.


“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 Dec 1858: 4. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <;.

Cooinda moved into the hands of the Finn family of Port Fairy.  In 1918, they sold the house.

“PROPERTY SALES.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 9 Sep 1918: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. 15 Jan 2015 <;.

Cooinda fell into a bad state of disrepair.  It was known locally as the “haunted house” with Lloyd said to appear at the top of the stairs each 17 December.  In the 1950s, the house was demolished.  It was from then that Lloyd supposedly moved his annual “appearance” to his graveside.  More information on an investigation into paranormal activity at the grave site is on the Port Fairy Cemetery website.

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Australian Electoral Rolls (Australian Electoral Commission) –

Bennett, Richard and Critchett, Jan Richard Bennetts early days of Port Fairy. W.I.A.E. Press, Warrnambool, Vic, 1984.

Marriott, Pamela M Time gentlemen please! : an history of Western District inns, 1840-1915. Pamela M Marriott, [Flemington, Vic.], 2001.

Port Fairy Public Cemetery website


Trove Tuesday – Rebecca’s Trees

Trove is great for finding photos and it was the Trove picture search I headed to recently looking for the home of George Hall Harman and his wife Rebecca Graham formally of James Street, Port Fairy.  I knew the house no longer existed and with the help of a family history written by George and Rebecca’s granddaughter Edna Harman,  I thought I had roughly found the location of the house while visiting Port Fairy in January 2014.

During the past year, more information was forthcoming when Mike Harman contacted me.  Mike is my Nana Linda Hadden’s first cousin, both grandchildren of Reuben James Harman, a nephew of George Hall Harman.  Mike passed on some of the work his sister Joan had done on the history of the Harmans and the information about George Hall Harman, caught my eye.  Apparently, when Rebecca passed away in 1902, grieving George planted four Norfolk Pines in front of their home in James Street.

Armed with that knowledge while visiting Port Fairy in January, I headed to James Street.  Port Fairy has many Norfolk Pines lining its streets but in the Harman’s block of James Street there are just four, all in a row and only a few doors up from where I previously visited.  I thought if George did plant the trees those standing before me had to be “Rebecca’s trees.”


Once home, I went in search of an old photo of James Street.  The State Library of Victoria’s (SLV) collection was the likely place to find one but instead of searching directly at the SLV site, I chose Trove, my preferred ‘search engine’.  I seem to get better results when I search Trove, I like the filters that aid the search and I can tag my results or had them to one of my many lists.  I searched for “James Street Port Fairy”  and toward the top of the search results was a photo from the Lilian Isobel Powling collection at the SLV.  It was of James Street from 1958 and it gave me more than I expected.

JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY.  Image courtesy of the State Library Collection.  Photo by Isobel Powling, 1958.  Image no.  H2008.75/102

JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY. Image courtesy of the State Library Collection. Photo by Isobel Powling, 1958. Image no. H2008.75/102

The photo was looking right at the house that once stood behind the pines, presumably that of George and Rebecca Harman.  The top of St. John’s Anglican Church is visible in the background.

I did take a photo from a similar angle to the 1958 version but a little further back.


Although it is hard to see, the top of the church is now obscured by pines and an electricity pole stands in the same spot as 1958.

Recently on the Victoria Genealogy Facebook group’s feed, there was a discussion about family stories becoming family “fact” so I would like to make sure Rebecca’s trees are more than a family story.  I have a lot of Harman information from the Port Fairy Historical Society, but there is no information about the trees.  The Port Fairy Gazette is a possibility, but my first step will be to confirm exactly where the Harman’s lived in James Street.  However, I’m a little “Harmaned out” at the moment and would like to focus on some of my tree’s other branches, so in-depth research will have to wait for now.

Port Fairy Cemetery – Part One

If you find yourself travelling along Victoria’s south-west coast, don’t miss the Port Fairy Cemetery.

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Last summer, I revisited the cemetery with the aim of photographing as many headstones as possible.  During our four days in Port Fairy, the weather was hot and our days were spent at the beach.  My only chance was to head off early to beat the heat.   I took the dogs, and after a stop at the beach for a run, them not me, we arrived at the cemetery around 7.30am.


Taking photos and holding two dogs on leads, is not an easy task.  I’m glad they didn’t see the rabbits sitting among the graves but I didn’t count on the burrs.  Soon the dogs were stopping periodically to pick burrs from their paws.  I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked but I have captured some of the older and more interesting headstones.  I will post the photos in two parts.

On one of my past visits to the Port Fairy Cemetery, I joined a tour run by the Port Fairy Genealogical Society.  It was fantastic and I wished I had our knowledgeable guide Maria Cameron on this visit as I tried to remember the stories behind the graves.

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As sealers and whalers, Charles Mills and his older brother John, first saw Port Fairy in 1826, eight years before the Henty brothers arrived at Portland.  However, their whaling camps were not considered permanent in comparison to the Henty settlement, thus the Hentys take the title of first European settlers in Victoria in most discussions on the topic.  Launceston born Charles Mills passed away in 1855 aged 43 and John in 1877 aged 66.   The biography of the brothers is on this link – John and Charles Mills 

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“BELFAST.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 21 Nov 1855: 6. .

This was the home of John Mills in Gipps Street, Port Fairy just across the road from the port where he was harbour master.




Port Fairy Harbour


An obituary for John Mills, published September 28, 1877 in the Portland Guardian:

“BELFAST.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 28 Sep 1877:.

The Portland Guardian published an interesting article about the Mills Brothers on September 21, 1933.  It included their life stories and that of their father Peter Mills who served as secretary to Governor Bligh  – Early Settlers

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William and Agnes Laidlaw were early pioneers of the Port Fairy district, arriving from Scotland with their family around 1841.  William was born on January 20, 1785 and died on April 6, 1870 and Agnes was born on September 20, 1790 and died  on February 12, 1867.

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“Family Notices.” Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875) 23 Apr 1870 .

At least two of their children had great success.  David Laidlaw went on to serve five times as Mayor of Hamilton and was also a leading businessman in that town.   Robert became well-known in the Heidleberg area as a land owner and sheep breeder.  The following is a family photograph taken at Robert’s 90th birthday.  Robert is at the front with the white beard and brother David to his right.

“A Nonagenarian Birthday Party.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 23 May 1907: .

James Andrews (1780-1855) and Elizabeth Andrews (1811-1870) nee O’Brien and their two sons, Michael and Patrick lie in the following grave.

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The headstone is difficult to read from the photo, so I have transcribed it:

Sacred to the Memory of 

James Andrews

Formally of Ratoath County Meath


Died January 1855 aged 55 years

Elizabeth Andrews

His Beloved Wife

Died 26 August 1870, aged 59

Also their two sons


Died 3rd May 1854 aged 15 years


Died 15 March 1863, Aged 23 years

There was little information around about the Andrews family but I thought I would check shipping records.  An Andrews family arrived at Portland during October 1853 aboard the Oithona.  They were from Meath, Ireland, matching the headstone.  The family consisted of James, aged 56, Elizabeth aged 45, Patrick aged 12, Fanny aged 10, James aged nine and Therese aged 2.  On arrival James snr and the family went on to Port Fairy of their own account.  If this is the same Andrews family, James was in Victoria only two years before he died.

After sorting my photos I’m really disappointed with myself.  The following Goldie family grave is one I remember well from the cemetery tour.  Maria pointed out the top of the grave purposely broken off to signify a life cut short. Firstly, I didn’t get a photo of the top of the grave and secondly I didn’t get a photo of the reverse side of the grave

Instead I got the following photo showing John and Elizabeth Goldie epitaphs.

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If I had a photo of the reserve side, you would also see three babies. It was their the lives cut short:

Catherine Goldie
Died in Scotland Feb 1859
Aged 21 Months

Died Sep 1862 Aged 19 Months

Died May 1864 Aged 17 Months

John Goldie and Elizabeth Clarke arrived in Melbourne aboard the Greyhound in 1862.  With them were their children, Elizabeth aged 11, James aged 2 and Margaret aged 1.  John was born in 1862 at Port Fairy and Margaret barely survived the voyage, dying in 1862.

John Goldie snr was a pioneer of the agricultural industry, working with the Agricultural Department planting experimental crops.  Photos of one of his experimental sugar beet crops is below.

JOHN GOLDIE'S SUGAR BEET CROP TRIALS.   Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. IAN01/10/95/20

JOHN GOLDIE’S SUGAR BEET CROP TRIALS. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. IAN01/10/95/20

John died in 1901 after a cow knocked him down.  Elizabeth had passed away 29 years earlier aged 45.

Son of John and Elizabeth, James Goldie. who was two when he arrived at Port Fairy. was a previous Passing Pioneer – James Goldie obituary

The grave of William Kerby goes back to the earliest years of the cemetery.  William was buried in 1847 in a grave with headstone and footstone arranged by his wife Mary.

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Look a little closer at the next headstone and a sad story begins to emerge.  A check of the marriage record of Robert and Annie Grosert sees the story turn sadder still.  Robert Grosert, the son of  a Port Fairy butcher and himself in the trade was born in 1852.  He married Irish immigrant Annie Greer in 1877.  By November 14 of that year Robert was dead and by December 4, so was Annie.

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George Best was born in Port Fairy in 1853, a son of  George Best and Lucy Weston.  He married Emilie Melina Jenkins in 1877 at Wagga Wagga, NSW and they settled at Port Fairy.  George enjoyed sailing and it was while competing in a regatta on the Moyne River at Port Fairy in March, 1891, he was knocked overboard and drowned.

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A diver recovered George’s body from the river floor.  A team of townspeople worked on George for two hours trying to revive him.  An  account of the drowning appeared in the Portland Guardian on March 13, 1891 and described the incident and the preparations of the diver which makes interesting reading.

An inquest was held into the accident.

“THE BOATING FATALITY AT PORT FAIRY.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Mar 1891: 5. Web.<;.

Coincidentally, George’s father, George Best snr a Port Fairy saddler, drowned in almost the same place 30 years before.  His body was never located.

“THE EDUCATION DIFFICULTY SOLVED.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 23 Apr 1861: <;.

George and Emilie’s daughter, Elsie May Best was buried with her parents.  She died on October 10 1897 at Port Fairy aged 20 years and 10 months.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 Oct 1897: 55. <;.

George’s wife  Emilie Melina Jenkins died in a private hospital “Somerset House” in East Melbourne on April 10, 1924.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 Apr 1924: <;.

When you walk through a country cemetery and see dozens of unfamiliar names, then later research those names, it’s amazing what you can dig up, so to speak.  Francis Alexander Corbett is one such name. Francis born in 1818, was buried in the Port Fairy cemetery with his wife Ellen Louisa Lane.

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After searching Trove newspapers, I discovered that Francis arrived in Australia in search of gold and after some time on the diggings went to Melbourne and worked as a reporter for the Argus. Not fond of the work, he moved to the Census Commission conducting the 1854, 1857 and 1861 census as Census Secretary.  He was also a life member of the Royal Society of Victoria.


In 1857 he wrote a book Railway Economy in Victoria and in the same year married Ellen Louise Lane born c1829.  During the 1860s, Francis and Ellen moved to Port Fairy and Francis managed the estate of James Atkinson.  They later moved to Kirkstall near Warrnambool.  In 1889, the following article appeared about Francis Corbett in the Australian Town and Country Journal:

“Western Seaports of Victoria.” Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907) 5 Jan 1889 <;.

Francis was visiting Port Fairy when he died suddenly at the Commercial Hotel (now Royal Oak Hotel) on June 10, 1893.



“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 17 Jun 1893: 42. <;.

An obituary appeared in the Argus:

“COUNTRY NEWS.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 Jun 1893: <;.

The information contained in Francis’ will was even more enlightening especially that about his brother John Corbett.

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 28 Jul 1893: <;.

I tracked down John Corbett or rather,  Admiral Sir John Corbett born 1822 and died 1893, five months after Francis.

“[No heading].” South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1895) 16 Dec 1893: 4. <;.

On December 4, 1904, 11 years after Francis, Ellen passed away at St Kilda.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 5 Dec 1908: <;.

Five members of the Finn family lie in the following grave.  The first to pass was John Finn in 1879.  John was the owner of the Belfast Brewery and the Belfast Inn with his licence issued in 1841. He was also one of the trustees of the old cemetery which possibly refers to the Sandhills Cemetery although the Port Fairy cemetery website says. at times both cemeteries were referred to as the “old cemetery.”

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The next death in the Finn, family was John’s daughter-in-law Ellen, wife of Laurence Finn.  In 1896, Laurence and Ellen’s youngest son, George passed away aged 25.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 21 Mar 1896: 45. <;.

Another son, William Henry passed away in 1902.  That left just Laurence who died on May 24, 1914 aged 81 years.  His obituary appeared in the May 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Laurence died a wealthy man having inherited land from his father, however his will was contested.  A hearing in 1916 saw many witnesses called to assess the soundness of Laurence’s mind when his will was drawn up.  The article is available on the following link –

Just a handful of graves, yet so many interesting characters and stories.

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For more information about the Port Fairy Cemetery, check out the website –  Port Fairy Public Cemetery.   Also ABC Local Radio did a great story on the cemetery including an interview with Maria Cameron and you too can listen to Maria talk passionately about the cemetery.  There are also photos with the story which are so much better than mine.  It is available on the following link  – Radio Interview.  The Find A Grave entry for Port Fairy has had some great work done on it with hundreds of headstones photographed.


Harman Housekeeping

It’s time to tie up the loose ends with my Harman research before I launch into writing a thesis on the Harmans of Byaduk (1852-1952) for a Diploma in Family Historical Studies.  That’s a daunting thought despite what you may think.  I write often about my family here, especially the Harmans, I have  research gathered over 20 years and I could ramble for 20,000 words about the Harmans if anyone would listen.  Putting the research together into one structured and organised piece is what I find daunting.

So daunted in fact,  I purchased Hazel Edward’s Writing a Non-Boring Family History and revisited a NLA podcast – “How to write history that people want to read” by Professor Ann Curthoys and Professor Ann McGrath.  Not that I’m worried about it being non-boring or uninteresting, I need tips on putting it all together

Structure aside, there are still some unanswered questions about the Harmans that need resolution.  The year the Harmans arrived in Port Fairy from N.S.W. is one question.   Looking for leads,  I contacted the  Port Fairy Historical Society (PFHS) hoping they may have something.  Robyn Bartlett, an archivist at PFHS got back with the news there was a lot of information particularly from a source I had forgotten as a possibility but was not unexpected.  Last week I received a nice thick parcel from the PFHS.  Thank you Robyn,  You provided a wonderful service.

After the dancing died down and I carefully examined the contents of the envelope, I knew If I got nothing else from the information Robyn sent (which I doubt will be true), I have had my Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) moment.  You know that moment  when a celebrity finds a family member that helps defines them, explains their career path or personality traits.  It is different to the other WDYTYA moment when a celeb. visits the former home of an ancestor and feels some affinity.  I have had that moment too.

My WDYTYA moment came as I read several letters written by my 2nd cousin 3 x removed, Edna Harman, formerly of Wangaratta.  Distant cousin I know, but as I read the letters I could feel her passion for her family’s history and history in general .  It was like reading me.  Edna wrote six letters over a 20 year period from 1963 to the PFHS.  I knew she was an active member and one time research officer of the Wangaratta Historical Society and had also co-written a book,  Wangaratta: old tales and tours (1983) with Judy Bassett.  Edna’s grandfather George Hall Harman left Port Fairy for Byaduk with the other family members, but later returned to Port Fairy where he remained for the rest of his life.  That is how Edna came to have a Port Fairy connection.



Edna’s letters contain snippets of some wonderful family stories and as luck would have it, Edna put those stories. and others she had gathered from cousins, into a text book, complete with photos (yes, she used photo corners!).  There are pages and pages of history of the Harmans of Port Fairy and her family in Wangaratta including her father Herbert Harman, a long serving journalist with the Wangaratta Chronicle.  One of Herbert’s poems was in the package, and I had to smile because the subject  was the S.S.Casino.  The steamer was the subject of a recent Trove Tuesday post.  A story of Edna’s grandfather’s visits to Wangaratta resonated with me,  George Harman would take a bunch of boronia for his granddaughter.  That reminded me of my grandmother Mavis Riddiford telling me about grandpa Percy giving her bunches of boronia.

I am eternally grateful to the late Edna Harman, and I am sorry that I never met her.  I know I would have liked her.

I have also been buying a few certificates that I have need to help answer some questions, well at least try.

Reuben Harman died in 1883 at only 44,  less than half the age of most of his siblings.   I wanted to find the cause of his death,  and check his “length of time in the colony” status, to compare with the other family members.  Turns out Reuben died of hydatids, a condition on the increase in the Western District during the 1880s and was probably caught from his dogs or dirty drinking water.  This article from the Horsham Times of  March 16, 1883, warned of the dangers of hydatidis and its spread.  Reuben died weeks later on April 28.


The Horsham Times. (1883, March 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from

The Horsham Times. (1883, March 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from

I have also purchased the marriage certificate of Sarah Harman, sister of Reuben.  She married Walter Oakley in  1864 but married again to George Adams in 1885.  When I first wrote about Sarah and Walter I heard from  Brad,  a member of the Oakley family.  As the family story goes,  Walter disappeared while delivering horses to India, part of the active export trade during the later half of the 19th century.  I wanted to know how Walter’s “disappearance” was explained on Sarah’s second marriage certificate.  It said that Walter was “not seen or heard of or from for a period of nine years”.  That would make it around 1876 when he disappeared, leaving Sarah with four children aged six to eleven,

Finally, I  purchased the death certificate  of Charles Frederick Ward, son of Stephen Ward and Isabella Harman and grandson of James Harman.  Isabella died during child-birth and the Harman family raised Charles and from what I can gather, his aunt Henrietta played an integral part.  Charles died in 1928 at Ballarat aged just 42, presumably unmarried and childless.  It always appeared that something tragic had happened to Charles, but I had never found anything in the papers.   Now the story is much clearer.  Charles Ward died in the Ballarat Asylum, later known as the Lakeside Hospital, from “organic disease of the brain” and yes, confirmation he never married or had children.  Of course, this now leads me down the path of inquest and asylum records, but if I am to know the part that Harmans of Byaduk played in the life of Charles, particularly Henrietta, I do need more.



The next steps in my research will be a call to the Macarthur Historical Society,  a visit to the State Library of Victoria for some elusive Byaduk history books, PROV for land records and correspondence with living Harmans.  Just all the things I’ve put off for the past twenty years.


While I’m here talking about corresponding with living Harmans, it is worth mentioning some of those descendents I’m keen on catching up with.

Descendants of:

Gershom HARMAN (1869-1940) and Elizabeth HILLIARD (1874-1931) of Byaduk

Related Names:

ADDINSALL (Wallacedale)

WHEELER (Branxholme)

Walter GREED (1870-1955) and Jessie HARMAN (1871-1949) of Hamilton

Related Name:

JONES (Mumbannar)

James HANKS (1871-1909) and Ellen May HARMAN (1881-1948) of Horsham

Related Name:

WOODS (Horsham & Kaniva)

Reuben Edward HARMAN (1894-1959) and Elizabeth Evaline HENRY (c1900-1979) of Preston.

Related Names:

KING (Thornbury)

SIMMONS (Mordialloc)






Trove Tuesday – S.S. Casino

The idea of catching a steam ship from Portland to Melbourne 100 years ago sounds romantic until one considers the stretch of coastline  navigated to reach Melbourne – the Shipwreck coast.  There have been over 200 wrecks along the entire stretch of coast and from Port Fairy to Apollo Bay alone there have been 80 shipwrecks.

Early settlers used steamers to transport wool and other freight to the Melbourne ports and back. Stephen Henty purchased his own steamers to make the trip.  The steamers were also for passage,  an alternative to the rough hair-raising ride of a Cobb & Co coach or later, the train.

Advertising. (1868, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

Advertising. (1868, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

One steamer that regularly made the journey from 1882 was the S.S.Casino, notching up 2,500 trips along the southern coastline.  Owned by the Belfast and Koroit Navigation Company the ship was built in Scotland.

S.S. CASINO.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H92.302/23

S.S. CASINO. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H92.302/23

The Casino is the subject of the this week’s Trove Tuesday post because on July 10, 1932, the steamer made its last voyage.  Just short of the Apollo Bay pier, the S.S. Casino struck a sandbar and sunk.  Ten lives were lost.


TEN PERISH IN WRECK. (1932, July 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

TEN PERISH IN WRECK. (1932, July 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

The Portland Guardian reported on the disaster, noting one of the survivors, 11-year-old Joan Greer, was the daughter of a worker at the Richmond Hotel in Portland.  Remarkably, while the girl travelled on the Casino, her mother took the train for the return trip from Melbourne to Portland.  One of the victims was Helena Gill, the stewardess with 40 years service.


Wreck of the Casino. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

Wreck of the Casino. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from


An unfortunate oversight was an advertisement that ran in the Portland Guardian on July 11, the day after the wreck.   It  advised that passage was available to Melbourne weekly aboard the S.S Casino, “weather and other circumstances permitting”.

Advertising. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

Advertising. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from

Tomorrow at 11am the Port Fairy Historical Society will remember those that lost their lives on the S.S. Casino, 81 years ago.  More information is on their Facebook page.

The S.S. Casino still lies at the bottom of the ocean off Apollo Bay and is now a dive wreck.  The anchor is displayed outside the Apollo Bay Post Office.  There is more information about the steamer’s history on the Victorian Government’s Department of Planning and Community Development website.