Trove Tuesday – A Whale of a Time

I stumbled across this little gem only because it shared a page with an article I believe is about the sister of my ggg grandmother Ellen Barry.  That article from The Argus of June 1, 1849,  mentions a Mary Walker, the married name of Mary Barry.  Why do I think it is about my Mary Walker?  Aside from the fact she was living in Melbourne then, the article is under the heading “Police Office” with Mary and another woman described as “two notorious termagants”.  My Mary Walker caused an immigration agent to lose his bounty on her, thanks to her disruptive behavior on the voyage from Ireland to Port Phillip.

As I rolled my eyes at possibly another discovery of a misdemeanor by one of the Barry girls, I noticed this little snippet two columns over.

Domestic Intelligence. (1849, June 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 1 Supplement: Supplement to the Argus.. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from

Great news for the whales! At last their winter home in the seas off the south-west of Victoria was safe to visit again.  Whaling was a huge industry at  both Portland and Port Fairy with Portland’s first whaling station established in 1833 and  Port Fairy’s  in 1835. By the 1840s, few whales existed and whaling was no longer considered commercially viable and the whaling stations closed.

As the article notes, by the end of the 1840s, whales where appearing again.  Today,their descendants visit the waters of Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland and have become a huge boost to tourism during the colder months.  Warrnambool particularly has benefited from  whale watching, however this year the main attractions have made only brief visits, preferring Port Fairy, with daily sightings close to shore of up to 13 whales.   Portland too has had whales and over the past few days a whale and her calf have been off the breakwater, oblivious to the slaughters over 170 years ago.

Spring Fashion

Spring has arrived and a girl’s thoughts turn to a new season’s wardrobe.   This was no different in 1940, 1900 and even 1860 with retailers promoting new season’s trends from as early as July.  Ladies in Western Victoria would have required their woollens for a few more months , but a new Spring outfit was necessary for the milder days and social outings.

Mr David Jones was offering a “Grand Show” of spring wear at his shop on Main Road, Ballarat in 1858.

Advertising. (1858, September 15). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 1. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

In 1862, the Old Criterion Store on Main Road Ballarat offered 1000 parasols for sale, perfect  to keep the Australian sun’s harsh rays at bay.

Advertising. (1862, October 13). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 1. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

A sample of spring fashions from 1878.

Spring Fashions. (1878, September 7). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), p. 7. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

Spring fashions for the elegant lady of 1885.

[No heading]. (1885, August 24). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 133. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

The following article appeared in the Portland Guardian on August 1881and offered spring fashion tips for the ladies of the Western District.  White, all shades of red and heliotrope were the colours of the season.  Grey was the new black and black was back.  Cashmere and plaid wool fabrics were popular as were ribbons and beading for embellishment.

THE LADIES’ COLUMN. (1888, August 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING, Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE PORTLAND GUARDIAN. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

The 20th century arrived but fashion was so last century.

THE LADIES’ COLUMN. (1905, July 25). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from

Fashion began to evolve during World War 1.  One change was dress length, with hems going up to save material.  An interesting website Fashion Era offers further examples of fashion during this period.

SPRING FASHIONS. (1915, August 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 12. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from


These dresses from 1918 show traditional styles were still popular.

Spring Fashions. (1916, September 2). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889, 1914 – 1918), p. 7. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from

But things were changing and this dress, also from 1918, is an example of that.

COMING FASHIONS. (1918, July 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 12. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from

I love this stylish advertisement for Allans The Drapers of Fibrace street Horsham from 1927.

Advertising. (1927, September 2). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

Fancy the Phryne Fisher look?

FASHION FORECASTS. (1928, August 3). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

I can’t resist sharing more of the wonderful 1920s fashions, again from the “Horsham Times”.

Advertising. (1929, October 4). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

Another stylish look,  this time from 1930.

Woman’s Interests. (1930, July 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

The Great Depression saw a rise in the number of sewing columns in the newspapers.  This article gave advice on how to recycle a frock.  The full article is here

“THE ARGUS” SHOOPING PAGE. (1930, August 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 12. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

Patterns were back for Spring 1935.

Gay Patterns for Spring Frocks. (1935, August 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 15. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

World War 2 saw a dramatic drop in the number of “spring fashion” articles in the papers, more so than the Great War.  The years 1942, 1943 and 1944 had very few and those I found were mostly for sewing patterns.   Families relied on coupons to buy goods, there was rationing of goods including fabrics and the fashion houses of Paris closed.  If a woman wanted to keep up appearances, there was little alternative but to make a frock or remodel one from last season.  The latter half of the 1940s saw a rapid increase in fashion articles as women turned again to the fashion stages of Europe for inspiration and cast aside their drab wartime clothing.

BE CHIC… but coupon canny. (1942, October 17). The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), p. 7. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from

A few bright notions to cope with a war budget. (1942, January 10). The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), p. 24 Section: Fashion Portfolio. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from

Shock, horror “Hems to go higher” in 1952.  Just wait until the 60s!

Hems to go higher. (1952, May 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from

I could have continued to the 1960s but that would have gone on for some time as I do like the fashion particularly from the latter half of the decade. I could have gone on to the 70s too.  While fashion from that decade was much maligned during the 1980s, anyone who saw Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo was reminded of the great fashions of the 1970s.  I think the 1980s would have pulled it up though. Agreed?

Looking at  fashions of  different eras is beneficial to the family historian especially if you are trying to date photos.  It also gives us some idea of what our female ancestors might have endured for either the sake of fashion or managing with what was available.  The long, impractical dresses of the 19th and early 20th century make me think of my ggg grandmothers on farms, getting in and out of buggies and tending fires for washing and cooking.  Consider how your grandmothers or great grandmothers managed during the Depression when money was tight or  World War 2 with coupons and rationing.  No wonder my Nana was good at sewing, darning and knitting. It was a necessity.

***If you are interested in learning how your female ancestors washed their big dresses during the 1850s, the Sovereign Hill Education blog has great posts on washing, drying and ironing.

False Alarm

Reading the list of newspapers waiting to be released by the NLA’s  Trove,  I noticed the Port Fairy Gazette would not be far away.  Out of interest, I ran a search for “Port Fairy” and bingo many “coming soon” articles came up.  As my Harman and Bishop families lived in Port Fairy at various times, I went straight for a search on “Harman”.  Eleven matches came up with nine  relevant to my Harmans.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw one of the article previews:

Mr James Harman, Byaduk, aged 85, died last week. He landed in Port Fairy in 1853 and…..

It looked like it could be my ggg grandfathers obituary.  I search for his obituary every time Trove releases a new paper.  To date all I have found is the following snippet from The Argus:

COUNTRY NEWS. (1916, August 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

Brothers Walt, George and Jonathan all had lengthy obituaries why not my ggg grandfather.  Even the shadow dweller, brother Alfred had a Family Notice when he died!.  It did seem that my only chance was to search the microfilmed Hamilton Spectators at the Hamilton History Centre .  The hard part about that is getting to Hamilton.

Trove’s release of the Port Fairy Gazette (1914-1918) happened today and yes, the much-anticipated article was available.  I clicked on the link.  This is it, I thought.  What did I find?

Personal. (1916, August 24). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from

Twelve more words than the preview.  Only 12 words.  How can I expect any more in The Hamilton Spectator?  How I can ever expect to find any mention of the death of my ggg grandmother Susan Read, wife of James, who died in the same year?

On the bright side I found a couple of good Bishop related articles and a nice article about my gg uncle Charles James Harman prior to his departure for Egypt during WW1. So far, only 1916 is available but  based on the results so far, I think I’m bound to find more when the other years become available.

It was a big day for Trove today with 13Victorian titles released and another Western District paper,  the Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (1914-1918) was among them.

Also of interest to me are the Flemington Spectator (1914-1918) and the Wangaratta Chronicle (1914-1918)Sarah Harman and her husband George Adams lived in Flemington and so far I have found plenty of “Adams” matches in the Spectator but none for Sarah or George yet.  Herbert George Harman, nephew of James Harman was a reporter for the Wangaratta Chronicle for over 50 years and I have found matches for both him and his father George, mostly to do with their Masonic activities.

Portland’s Immigration Wall

Portland’s Immigration wall is a great way to remember those ancestors who first set foot in Australia at the harbour town.  Located on the “Ploughed Field” opposite the Portland hospital and overlooking Portland Bay, the wall has plaques unveiled by grateful descendants of early pioneers to the south-west of Victoria.

The “Ploughed Field” is where one of Edward Henty’s workers ploughed the first sod of earth in Victoria in 1834 with a single furrowed plough now known as the “Henty Plough” and on display at Portland’s History House.

Some of the families remembered on the Immigration wall are :

William and Isabella ROBB were buried at the Old Portland Cemetery.

I know a little of Richard and Jane PRICE thanks to their grandson’s marriage to my first cousin 3 x removed.  Allan James Price married Ada Harman, daughter of Alfred Harman, in 1911.  One of the organisers, Lynn Price, invited me to the unveiling of the plaque and family reunion in 2009.  I met Lynn via the Rootsweb Western District mailing list.  It was disappointing that I was unable to attend as a lot of time has gone into remembering the Price family as seen at the Price family website.   It has photos of the reunion as well as a later event, the unveiling of headstone for Richard and Jane at the Heywood cemetery in 2010.

For more information on how you can see your family on the Immigration Wall, go to the Glenelg Shire website.

I hope one day plaques will be on the wall for my three sets of ggg grandparents who arrived at Portland.  James and Sarah Harman and William and Margaret Diwell and daughters Elizabeth and Sarah Diwell arrived on the Duke of Richmond in 1853 and George and Jane Jelly and their daughter Mary on the Athletae in 1855.

In The News – July 29, 1929

Although many of the Western District newspapers are not digitised at Trove, it is possible to find articles from the likes of The Hamilton Spectator in the The Portland Guardian,  for example.  On this day 83 years ago,  an excerpt from the Albion newspaper of Coleraine appeared in The Portland Guardian of July 29, 1929.

Prompted by the deaths of many of the early pioneers, the article reflected on the history of the Western District  from the time Major Thomas Mitchell made his way across the land he called Australia Felix 93 years earlier.



Early History. (1929, July 29). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 23, 2012, from

There is a clue in the article for those of you who having trouble finding your Western District family member’s arrival in Victoria.  The writer mentions many people from Van Diemen’s Land making their way to Victoria once news got back the Hentys had pushed up from Portland into the Merino district.  It could then be possible that family members travelled to Victoria via Tasmania where they had resided as convicts or otherwise.

Jenny Fawcett, on her great South-West Victoria genealogy and history site,  has indexed the names of those who travelled to Victoria as part of a Geelong and Portland Bay Immigration Society scheme in 1845 and 1846.  The idea behind that and similar schemes was to bring labour into the colony with those behind the society being squatters and merchants.  Jenny provides a great description of the scheme on her site.

Browsing through the names,there are many I instantly recognise as Western District family names.  Also, a lot of the pioneer obituaries I have read tell of the deceased having come to Victoria via Van Diemen’s Land.

So, if you are beginning to think your ancestors were good swimmers, follow-up the possibility they came to the Western District from Tasmania.  You just never know.

Portland’s History House


History House in Portland is the place to go to search for your ancestors who lived or arrived in the harbour town.  Located in the former Portland Town Hall, History House offers research facilities and a small museum.

The museum has many reminders of Portland’s early history, in particular, the Henty family.

It is not easy taking a photo of a long plough in a narrow room with a fairly ordinary camera, but I had to give it a go as this in the one and only Henty plough.  While it is famous for it being the first plough used in Victoria, its journey since those early days is interesting.


Maybe this picture does the plough more justice than my own.

THE FIRST PLOUGH USED IN VICTORIA, BY THE HENTY BROTHERS, OF PORTLAND. (1910, September 10). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from

This article from the Portland Guardian of 18 November 1935 described what happened to the plough after it left the Henty’s possession

HENTY’S PLOUGH. (1935, November 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from

Hugh Lennon, who had the plough on display at his factory in Spotswood, was the manufacturer of the Lennon plough.  This was the plough of choice for ggg grandfather James Harman in local ploughing matches.  It was also the plough of choice for the Kelly gang when making armour.  The plough eventually returned to Portland in 1970.

The is a model of the house occupied by Joseph Henry Porter and his wife, Sarah Herbertson, in Gawler Street, Portland. Joseph constructed the model and Sarah furnished it.  I like the detail, even down to pickets missing off the fence.  Both Joseph and Sarah are part of the Western District Families Pioneer Obituary Index.  Joseph’s obituary mentioned his fine craftmanship.



While this isn’t the best photo, I had to share it.  It depicts the meeting of Major Thomas Mitchell and the Henty brothers, a significant time in the history of the Western District.  You can read more about this chance meeting in the post “Major Mitchell Reaches Portland Bay”.


Mary McKillop spent some time in Portland and an exhibit commemorates this, complete with the spires from the original Roman Catholic church in Portland.


The Portland Rocket Shed is next to History House.  The shed was built in 1886 by George Sedgewick who was the gg grandfather of Ann, a follower of this blog.  Fully restored, the shed has a display inside which includes a rocket launcher used to fire ropes to boats in distress.


For more photos, better than my own, check out ABC South West Victoria’s report on History House’s renovation in 2010  There was also a report at the time of Mary MacKillop’s canonization

Old Portland Cemetery – Part 2

“The Cemetery is the first object to greet the ascending tourist.  

This is charmingly situated on the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean

This quote is not from one of the tourist guides I collected while in Portland earlier this year.  Rather, it was written 155 years earlier by James Bonwick in his book  “Western Victoria: It’s Geography, Geology and Social Condition”: the Narrative of an Educational Tour in 1857″  (p.98)

One of the older graves in the cemetery is that of William Wheeler who was born in 1776.


The grave of James Fawthrop was of interest to us.  Earlier in the day, we visited Portland’s Maritime Discovery Centre housing the Portland Lifeboat captained by James Fawthrop.  Fawthrop and his crew were part of the rescue of the steamer  Admella in 1859.  His heroics are a legendary part of the maritime history of the stretch of coast from the south-west of Victoria to the south-east of South Australia.

After a search of the Victorian Death Index, I found that James Ward was Fawthrop’s stepson.  Fawthrop’s wife, Jane Rosevear, was previously married to James Ward senior who drowned in Tasmania in 1838.


The following is Captain Fawthrop’s obituary from the Border Watch of 20 November 1878.

TheDEATH OF CAPT. FAWTHROP. (1878, November 20). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 10, 2012, from


William and Sarah Rosevear were the parents of Jane, wife of James Fawthrop and grandparents of James Ward.  William Rosevear was the coxswain aboard the Portland lifeboat with his son-in-law during the Admella rescue.


The largest grave in the cemetery belongs to the Trangmar family.  James Trangmar died in 1888 and was a leading Portland identity.  He had been Mayor, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Western Region Artillery and owned the stations Morgiana, Bochara, and  Violet Creek all near Hamilton.  His home in Portland was  Burswood  bought from Edward Henty