About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

100 years ago this week - Potatoes

100 years ago this week, The Australasian, in the Country Gleanings column reported on the good potato season on the Swamp.

The Australasian  June 26 1915

This is how the potatoes would have been loaded. 26 tons, 310 bags, loaded from Garfield.
State Library of Victoria Image H92.301/92.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The beginnings of the Royal Hotel, Koo-Wee-Rup

The January 8, 1915 issue of the Powlett Express reported on the hearing at the Wonthaggi Licensing Court  held on December 17, 1914. There were applications for ‘certificates authorising the issue of victualler’s licences’ at various towns, including Koo-Wee-Rup.

There were six applications for Koo-Wee-Rup; three of the sites were in Station Street and three in Rossiter Road. All the applicants agreed that only one licence was required. The first applicant was Mr E.J Hayes. A Mr E. Brayshay appeared for Hayes and he said that accommodation was required in the town as there were 200 residents in the town and 500 people within a 4½ mile radius. Hayes proposed a 30 room establishment in Rossiter Road to be built at the cost of £3,750. Hayes had 14 years experience in the business and had hotels at Drouin, Watchem and Nhill.

The next applicant was Mr D. McNamara. McNamara was represented by Mr J.S Meagher. Meagher said that McNamara was a pioneer of the district who had supplied the navvies and settlers with provisions, sometimes wading through icy water to do so. He had conducted a hotel in Carlton and his site was in Station Street, on a corner, opposite the Railway Goods shed. In support of McNamara’s application, Mr C.J. Moody said that Hayes’ site was no good as it was under water four years ago, but McNamara’s site was high and dry. McNamara’s proposed hotel was to cost £4,000. McNamara then spoke and said that he was in Koo-Wee-Rup in 1893, storekeeping for six years.

Pumping the water out of the hotel cellar with  a Fordson tractor, 1934.  In spite of the evidence presented at the Licensing Court, the Royal Hotel site was obviously not immune to flooding.
Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph

The next applicant was Mr A.E Edney, whose site was in Station Street, near Rossiter Road. Mr A.W Stevens, in support of Edney’s application, said that 75% of traffic in the town came along Rossiter Road, however the Presiding Magistrate, Mr Cohen, said that the court had evidence that 75% of traffic came the other way! Edney was a retired storekeeper from Leongatha and he proposed to erect a house of 34 rooms at a cost between £2,000 and £3,000.

The fourth applicant was Mr Lyman Wildes. His site was in Rossiter Road, south east of the railway line. His building was of 24 rooms and would cost £3,700. Mr Cohen (Presiding Magistrate)  pointed out that Wildes’ application had no provision for a bathroom for females. Wildes was the licensee of the Lang Lang Hotel, which he would get rid of if his application for Koo-Wee-Rup was successful. He said that his site was higher than McNamaras. Constable Cole of Lang Lang supported Wildes’ application and said both he and his hotel were of good character.

The fifth applicant was William Clews, who had a site in Rossiter Road. Clews was represented by Mr P. Conant. Conant said that McNamara’s site was hidden by the Goods shed and that it would take a ‘Philadelphia lawyer to find it on a dark night when it was raining’. Clews had operated hotels for 16 years in Sale, Ballarat, Traralgon and Moe. Clews planned to spend £3,500 on his hotel.

The last applicant was Sarah Alice Kraft, her site was next to Mr Edney’s in Station Street. Mr Dunn appeared for Kraft.  He said that Koo-Wee-Rup was not a holiday resort and people went there on business and business was transacted in Station Street. He said that it wasn’t just the building that was to be considered it was also comfort and convenience and making people feel at home.  Kraft had conducted the Bunyip Hotel for 14 years and she had many testimonials.  Her proposed building would cost £2,700.

Who was the winner? It was Denis McNamara. I can’t find any reports as to why he was selected over the other applicants, however he wasted no time. Tenders were invited for the construction of the Hotel in February. Mr A. G Oliver won the tender for the contract price of £3,305. The finished building was a ‘fine commodious building of nearly 30 rooms’, according to the Lang Lang Guardian, and ‘one of the finest edifices of the kind in Gippsland’. The rooms were fitted out by Mr McKee of the Royal Arcade ‘in a most up-to-date and luxurious manner’.  It was officially opened on Thursday, September 9, 1915 and thus Koo-Wee-Rup’s Royal Hotel is 100 years old this year!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

100 years ago this week - St Joseph's Convent School Iona opened

St Joseph's Convent School at Iona opened one hundred years ago, on April 11 1915. A report two weeks later  said that three Sisters of St Joseph on the teaching staff and sixty children attend daily,

Bunyip Free Press April 15, 1915

The opening of the Convent in 1915, from 100 years of a Catholic Faith Community: St Joseph's Iona 1905-2005 by Damian Smith.

A more detailed report, some of which is reproduced here,was in The Advocate, of April 17, 1915. the full article can be read here - http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page17855840

Here's some description of the  building, from the same Advocate article.

Here's more description of the new Iona Convent from The Advocate, of April 17 1915.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Growing up on a dairy farm in the 1940s and 50s.

Small family Dairy farms used to be the predominant farm on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp until the 1970s or so. In the 1920s, for instance, it was estimated that there were close to 12,000 dairy cattle in the Parishes of Koo-Wee-Rup, Koo-Wee-Rup East and Yallock (approximately Koo-Wee-Rup to Bunyip and south to Bayles, Caldermeade and Catani) at the same time the human population would have been maybe 4,500.

My father, Frank Rouse, grew up on a small dairy farm on Murray Road at Cora Lynn and this is his story.  Family farms relied on the (generally unpaid) labour of family members and Dad, his brother Jim and their two older sisters were expected to take part in the daily chores on the farm.

The family milked cows and separated the cream which they sold to the Drouin factory to make butter; the rest was fed to the pigs, which when they were fat enough were sold at the Dandenong Market.  This wasn’t especially profitable and around 1949 when Jim was 18 and Dad was 16, Jim got the family a milk contract.  This meant they no longer had to separate the milk; it was sold as whole milk for the Melbourne market for a much higher price and thus the family income increased by 250 per cent.  Jim had arranged the contract through Campbell Buchanan, of Cora Lynn, who was also the carrier.

Lucy Rouse (Dad's aunty) and the little girl is Dorothy Rouse (Dad's sister) 

When they got the milk contract the family bean the change from jersey cows, which produced less milk but more cream to Fresians, they were bigger cows, had less trouble calving and produced more milk.

However, this meant that they had to build a new cow shed. The original cow shed had been built by Frank and Jim’s grandfather when he took up the block in 1903. It had six single bails, 25-30 cows were milked daily by hand, before school and after school.  Neighbours, including Joe Storey and Johnny King had milking machines. Maybe not everyone did but Dad feels fairly sure that they were the last dairy to become mechanised.

Rouse family farm - Dad remembers it as 'acres of mud'

The new cow shed was built by Frank and Jim and, because of the conditions of the milk contract, the shed needed concrete floors and walls. For the concrete they needed sand, so they had to take the horses and dray up to the end of Dessent Road to the Main Drain. There was no levee bank then so they walked the horses, attached to a scoop, down into the drain where they pulled the scoop along, filled it up with sand and pulled it up the bank where Dad and Jim shovelled it onto a flat section then later shovelled it all into the dray, which belonged to their neighbour the aforementioned Johnny King, take it home and shovel it out.

They had purchased a second hand 2hp Rosebery petrol engine which powered the concrete mixer, thus the floor and lower wall (five feet high) were built (using formwork, not bricks) and the rest of the walls were timber, with a corrugated iron roof. The dairy, connected by a 6 ft wide breezeway also needed to be concreted.   Once the shed was built, Joe (Jim and Frank’s dad) purchased a second hand Mitchell milking machine plant from a farm in Koo-Wee-Rup. It took 90 minutes to get to Koo-Wee-Rup with a wagon and three horses – then Frank and Jim had to take the plant apart, load them and then they had to put them back together and install the machines. The plant was powered by the Rosebery engine.  After this, the family milked 45-50 cows. The Rouse family had four horses, which Dad describes as ‘3 reasonable and one mongrel’ – the best two were called Ned and Rats.

Dad had been used to working with horses as when he was 15 he worked a team of horses for Sandy Priest who lived near Bayles. He used to plant crops, scuffle spuds etc. Sandy was also a top cattle breeder and often topped the sales at Newmarket. Dad was actually paid for this work which was a bonus as they never got paid at home.  Sandy Priest, who lived somewhere on the Bayles - Longwarry Road had 100s of acres, his land backed up to the Railway Line, but he lived in a small shed.  His bed was two spud bags stretched over poles, there was a stove in the shed and a windmill outside which filled a trough for water.  When Dad was about 16 he grew some spuds on Sandy’s land and which he rented and then paid the rent in labour.

Rouse farm at Cora Lynn

Around the time of the construction of the cow shed, Jim and Frank also began growing potatoes together, at home. Initially, all the work was done by horses but it wasn’t long before they purchased a brand new grey Fergie tractor - it was petrol, 16 hp and even though they were only aged 19 and 17, the Company financed them.  Four years later, in 1955, they purchased 60 acres from Johnny King, in Sinclair (now Bennetts) Road at Cora Lynn. It was, we believe, about £6,000 but he allowed them to pay it back a certain amount per year – he had always been a good support to them. Jim and Frank milked cows for a year or two after that, then other family members took over and the Rouse dairy farming came to an end on June 22, 1960 when all the cattle and plant were sold at a clearing sale. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

100 years ago this week - Cora Lynn Ball

This report of one of the best balls ever held in Cora Lynn comes from the Bunyip Free Press of March 11, 1915.

Bunyip Free Press March 11, 1915

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Flood photos Koo-Wee-Rup

These are some photographs of  Koo-Wee-Rup and surrounds in what maybe the 1924 flood or the 1934 flood from the  Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection.

This is the Railway bridge, there  are people at either end of the bridge. 

Rossiter Road

Four people in a row boat

I have seen this one dated 1916 and 1924.

Andrew Colvin's Shackcloth cycle factory

Stranded cars

Drying out after the flood, this is possibly the 1934 flood.