St. Patrick’s Day in Western Victoria

There is plenty of Irish blood flowing through the veins of the people of the Western District, particularly the south-west.  Port Fairy (formally Belfast), Koroit and Killarney, in particular, saw the settlement of large Irish families.

The earliest Western District St. Patrick’s Day reference I found was from the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, from March 4, 1843.  Enthusiastic preparations were underway for a dinner on March 17th.

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE. (1843, March 4). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71569103

St Patrick’s Day was a public holiday and races were popular, both horse and human.

HAMILTON. (1858, March 19). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64570752

In 1869 at Portland, the Rechabite Society fete for the Band of Hope children was a feature of the day.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY. (1869, March 18). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64691997

The Horsham Times of March 20, 1903, explains the reason behind the wearing of a green ribbon on St. Patrick’s Day and the story of St Patrick.  The people of Horsham went to the races on March 17, 1903.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY. (1903, March 20). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72838336

At Warrnambool, in 1914, plans were underway for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration which included a parade in the afternoon and a concert in the evening.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY. (1914, March 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73467140

Finally, a reporter for the “Star” in Ballarat in 1858, observed that while the English barely remembered St. George’s day and the Scots were not interested in Halloween, the Irish would never let St Patrick’s Day be forgotten.  The Irish miners from those time would be pleased to see St. Patrick’s day is still celebrated today, minus the public holiday.

Local and General News. (1858, March 18). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 3. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66047115
MLA citation

New Year’s Day in the Western District

Less than a week on from Boxing Day, a popular day on the calendar for sports and racing, the Western District pioneers were back at it on New Year’s Day.  Most towns had a sports carnival or race meeting or both and the townsfolk flocked to them.

The Turf Inn, just north of Ballarat, had a busy day on New Year’s Day 1858 with sports and pony races held in the vicinity.

THE TURF INN. (1858, January 2). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 3. Retrieved December 29, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66045904

At Warrnambool, New Year’s Day 1859 was celebrated with games on Flagstaff Hill, including rounders.  A game of shinty, a Scottish game like hockey, was also enjoyed.

DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. (1859, January 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved December 29, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64509933

The Caledonian games were a popular New Years Day outing for the people of Ballarat in 1861.  I can relate to the poor shop assistants watching the passing parade of happy people enjoying the public holiday.  I have worked more public holidays than I care to remember, in fact I am working today.  I must say while it is annoying at times, I don’t find myself  thinking as the 1860s employees did “wishing all manner of ills to the exacting master whose behests precluded them from mixing in the throng of light hearts and merry faces that swept past the doors…”

NEW YEAR'S DAY. (1861, January 2). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 2. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66336603

Smythesdale, just out of Ballarat, managed to attract three to four hundred people to their sports day in 1862, despite many other activities threatening to draw people away.  Some of the more interesting sports were catching the pig with the greasy tail and treacle and bread eating competitions.

SMYTHESDALE. (1862, January 3). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 2. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66330531

At Digby in 1863, the local school children held their annual festival and indulged in many cakes and other sweet treats.

DIGBY. (1863, January 6). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64627825

I could not imagine a government today, state or federal, holding an election between Christmas and New Year.  On December 30, 1865, a general election was held in Victoria, but the timing was not tactical, but due to the dissolution of the fourth government of Victoria on December 11.  New Year’s Day 1866 was spent enjoying the local cricket match and waiting for election results.

NEW YEAR'S DAY. (1866, January 4). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64635496

The church bells rang out over Portland at midnight on New Year’s eve 1866, with local boys out on the streets singing “Old John Brown”.  The first day of the new year was hot and outdoor activities were again popular.

NEW YEAR'S DAY. (1867, January 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6463696

In 1869, New Year’s Day saw al fresco dining at Bridgewater and Narrawong.  The correspondent reported he had not seen so many picnics on one day, including one held for the Baptist Sunday school children and a large gathering at Mr Henty’s paddock.

THE NEW YEAR. (1869, January 4). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64691465

The Australian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil ran a picture of Portarlington on New Years Day, 1879.

(1879, January 18). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889), p. 172. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5739740

Finally an article from Port Fairy, a popular holiday place then and now for people of the Western District and a place I have celebrated New Year’s Eve on several occasions.  In 1927, visitors to the town had swelled, including a party of several hundred Koroit residents on their annual excursion.  Beaches, fishing, cricket and boat trips to Julia Percy Island kept the holiday makers entertained.

HOLIDAY RESORTS. (1927, January 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 23. Retrieved December 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3831051

Happy New Year!

In the News – April 14, 1899

Two articles appearing in The Argus on this day in 1899 have some relevance today.  Both dairy farmers and earthquakes have been in the news of late.

WARRNAMBOOL. (1899, April 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 6. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9513570

At least the dairy farmers of 1899 didn’t have to contend with supermarkets selling their milk at discounted prices.

A SHOCK OF EARTHQUAKE. (1899, April 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 6. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9513558

Wartook is a small settlement in the Grampians National Park, north of Halls Gap.  A reservoir was built in 1887 to provide water to the Wimmera/Mallee and at one time there was a post office and school.  Interestingly, further research at the Seismicity of Western Australia website found that an earthquake was felt in Robe, South Australia on 2 May 1899 which was a magnitude 5.3 quake. Robe is about 300kms south-west of Wartook.  An article from the South Australian Register can be seen at the following link Robe Earthquake