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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eleven Mile Bridge, Cora Lynn

There was a report in the Dandenong Journal of April 26, 1944 from the Shire of Berwick Engineer, Mr H.L. Keys, on the Eleven Mile bridge at Cora Lynn. He said This is a  three span timber bridge over the Main Drain on the 11 mile road. The central span is 40 feet with two approach spans of 30 feet each. Forty feet span in a timber bridge of this class is altogether too large and it is remarkable that it has stood up to heavy traffic for so long. The whole bridge is  now in an advanced state of decay and it is difficult to see how any repairs of a permanent nature can be effected. However, as it may be some time before the construction of  a new bridge can be considered I would suggest that about 40 pounds be spent in renewing some of the decking and running deck and that notices restricting the carrying capacity of the bridge to 2 tons be posted'



Dandenong Journal April 26, 1944

Mr Keys was correct in saying that it may be some time before a new bridge could be built as it wasn't until the War was over that money and man power could be found for a new bridge. The Dandenong Journal reported on July 23, 1947 that a tender for just over £1,055 was accepted by the Shire of Berwick to build a replacement bridge over the Main Drain at the Eleven Mile Road. The tender was from the Sippo Brothers.

The Sippo Brothers were recognized bridge builders and had been used and would be used by the Shire on many previous and future occasions.   For instance, in March 1942, they were working on the bridge at Cora Lynn which was completed by July 1943; they then moved onto the construction of a timber culvert on the corner of the Nine Mile and the Eleven Mile Roads at Tynong; also in 1943 they constructed culverts and approaches on the Nar Nar Goon-Longwarry Road. In December 1947 they won a tender to recondition three bridges in the Shire of Berwick on Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road, Leckie Road and Foy’s Road.  

However, back to the Eleven Mile Bridge.   In August 1947 the Country Roads Board (the CRB) approved the tender for the construction of the bridge which was to be a three span timber and rolled steel joist (RSJ) bridge. The CRB would reimburse the Council 5/6th of the cost. By December 1947, the Dandenong Journal reported that the piles had been driven and the concrete sheeting cast. RSJs will be delivered as soon as available. It is suggested that the filling of the approaches be carried out by direct labour. [It was] anticipated that the new front end loader would be available for this work early in the New Year.

My father, Frank Rouse, remembers the way the piles were driven in - the wooden pile had a steel frame next to it which was stabilised by cables attached to the drain banks. The top of the steel frame, which was higher than the piles, had a pulley through which a cable with a one ton weight attached was positioned over the top of the pile. The cable was attached to the back of a Dodge truck - the truck would move forward to raise the weight, then the cable was released and the weight would drop onto the top of the pile which forced it in and then the process was repeated and then the steel frame was moved to the location of the next pile.

Later in December 1947 it was reported that the crossheads have been fixed and the contract is now held up pending receipt of rolled steel joints.  In the New Year they were waiting for the delivery of decking and essential iron work.   

By the end of April 1948, the bridge was nearly finished, but they needed to acquire land on the south side of the bridge for a road deviation.   The land was being acquired from McMillans. It appears that the agreement to transfer the land happened in June 1948 and the compensation required (apart for the land payment presumably) was new fencing and an iron grate. In the August of that year the Dandenong Journal reported that the approaches to bridge over 11-mile will be commenced at an early date, weather permitting,  which perhaps indicates the work was nearing the end.

Who were the Sippo Brothers?  According to the book ‘Call of the Bunyip’ by Denise Nest, Simon Sippo, who was born in Finland, and his wife Ollie (nee Warren) arrived on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp in September 1893, the first three of their children were born in Footscray and the remaining six in Bunyip South.  Simon was a bridge builder and in 1911 was building a bridge at Yallock and won contracts to build bridges in Heatherton Road and Corrigan Road for the Shire of Dandenong.

His sons obviously continued in the same occupation and it was William Leslie Sippo and, I believe, Alfred Liddle Sippo who were the ‘Sippo Bros’. There is a report in the Dandenong Journal of June 24, 1942 saying that Alfred Sippo would be released from military duties to enable him to complete the Cora Lynn bridge.

The Eleven Mile bridge had been repaired over the years with strengthening and a new deck or two but was demolished in November 2015 and the new bridge completed the next month. The cost of the new bridge was $700,000, half funded by the Council and half by the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Development. 


The wooden Eleven Mile bridge, taken October 24, 2015.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fatal Shooting at Weatherhead's saw mill near Glenlyon

When Alf Weatherhead was eleven years old, he was involved in a fatal shooting on Easter Saturday, April 6, 1907 at his father's saw mill near Glenlyon. I had only vaguely heard about this when I was growing up, however I had a phone call out of the blue, from a nephew (or grand nephew) of the little boy who was shot and I felt really guilty about the whole thing, even though none of it is my fault. I sort of got the impression that the family of the boy thought that it was less of an accident and more a deliberate act. I was told that at 2.30 in the afternoon Alf was playing with Stanley and Gordon Barber. Gordon and Alf walked towards the hut; Alf must have picked up the gun and said 'I can shoot you' and Gordon said 'No, you can't' and Alf shot him.  The gun was supposed to be unloaded. 

The two newspaper reports have the name of the family incorrectly listed as Barbour, nor Barber. Gordon was the son of George and Francis (nee Chandler) Barber. His death certificate says he was   6 years, ten months old and there was an enquiry into his death held by William King, J.P on April 8 which determined that he died from a  'haemorrhage as a result of  a gunshot wound in the neck.' 
I can see that would be an unsatisfactory determination if I was the parents of little Gordon.



The Age April 9 1907

FATAL SHOOTING ACCIDENT. DAYLESFORD. Monday.

A fatal shooting accident occurred at Weatherhead's saw mill, near Glenlyon, on Saturday. Mr. Barbour, of Korweinguboora, who carts timber from the mill to Daylesford, took his two boys with him to the mill during the Easter  holidays, where they played with the proprietor's son, aged about eleven years. While Mr. Barbour was away with a load on Saturday a gun that young Weatherhcad had been using accidentally exploded, and the charge struck young Barbour, aged seven years, full in the face and chest, killing him almost instantly.



A similar report appeared in The Leader of April 13, 1907

Alf was the youngest son of Horatio Weatherhead (18/5/1853 to 24/10/1925) and Eleanor Hunt (17/2/1856 to 15/5/1927). They had nine children Fred (1881 - 1955, married Ethel Ellen Wesley in 1910), Ada (1883 - 1966, married Edward Shelden in 1903), Charles (1884 - 1957, married Emily Hunt in 1908),  Arthur (1886 - 1945, married Inez Coombs in 1912),  George (1888 - 1944, married Annie Ainger in 1916), John (1890  1892), Frank (1893 - 1970, married Alice Burleigh in 1923), Alf (1895 - 1976) and Eva (my grandma, 1901 - 1982, married Joe Rouse in 1922)

Iona Hotel at Garfield

The Iona Hotel at Garfield was originally opened around April 1904. It was built by George Ellis. A report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of April 13, 1904.said that hotel will become a favourite resort for holiday seekers and sportsmen as within a short distance from the town are to be found numerous fern gullies and caves of marvellous beauty and for those who are in quest of game the surrounding country will be found all that a sportsman wishes, whether it be with the gun or fishing rod. The report goes on to say that the Hotel stands on a prominent site and is of very pretty design, presenting a throughly up to date appearance. The hotel had twenty nine rooms including the bar room, parlours, commercial room , dining rooms, drawing rooms, billiard room with a full sized Alcock's table and fixtures and sixteen bedrooms. The building was constructed of weatherboard and had gas lighting and an 'excellent' septic sewerage system. There was also substantial stabling.

Sadly, the hotel was destroyed by fire on April 23, 1914. I believe the existing Hotel was erected the next year as there is a report, once again in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal this time from May 27 1915 saying that the Shire of Berwick Health Inspector, Dr H. White, had inspected the Iona Hotel and he was pleased with the appointments and sanitation of the place and that no expense had been spared by the proprietors to make it all respects one of the best equipped hotels in the colony.

In 1907, George Ellis sold the Hotel to Thomas O’Donohue who was connected to Martin O’Donohue who built the Picture Theatre in 1924. In the four years that Ellis owned the Hotel the Net Annual Value of the site had risen from £75 to £125 (Shire of Berwick Rate Books) which is an indication of the growth of the town. Ellis and his family was farewelled from the town at a function at the Hotel in September 1907 and Mr Ellis was praised as a charitable and respected man who was always doing his part to advance the district. Mr Louch then presented Ellis with some gramophone selections and Mr Hattersly presented him with a set of pipes which he trusted would bestow great comfort during hours of worry and that they would remind him of his friends left behind in Garfield.(Reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of September 11,1907).



This photograph, from the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society collection, shows the Iona Hotel, most likely just after the new building was opened in 1915.

A trip from Dandenong to Koo-Wee-Rup and Lang Lang

I wrote this article for the Koo-Wee-Rup newsletter, The Blackfish.  It is a companion piece to the one I wrote for the Garfield Spectator 'A trip from Dandenong to Garfield' which you can read here. They both start off the same at Dandenong.

Let’s imagine we are travelling by horse and coach down the South Gippsland Highway (also known as the Western Port Road, the Bass Road or the Grantville Road) from Dandenong to Lang Lang in the 1800s - what hotels would we encounter on the way? We would have the need to call in to some of these hotels to get something to eat and drink for both ourselves and the horses. The journey is about 50km or 30 miles so even going by Cobb & Co coach which was a ‘fast’ and relatively comfortable service with modern coaches which had a suspension system made of leather straps,  it was still a four hour  journey as the coaches travelled at about six to eight miles per hour. The horses were swapped every ten to thirty miles.  So we’ll start  our journey at Dandenong which had a large range of hotels -  Dunn’s Hotel and Dunbar’s Dandenong Hotel were both built in the 1840s, the Bridge Hotel and the Royal Hotel in the 1850s to name  a few.


An advertisement from the South Bourke & Mornington Journal from February 14, 1877.

The next hotel I could find was run by Mrs Fagan on Lyndhurst Hill, where the ABC Radio station was later built (the triangle of road formed by the intersection of the Highway and Hallam Road). Mrs Fagan, who arrived in Victoria in 1853, was a survivor of a shipwreck. The ship she was a passenger on, Earl of Charlemont, went down off Point Henry near Geelong in June 1853. All the passengers were rescued but they lost all their possessions.  Mrs Fagan started the hotel in 1857 after her husband, Alexander, died at the age of 65. Her establishment was said to have dispensed the ‘water of life’ to coach drivers and she and her daughters were said to have a reputation for generosity and kindness. Who was Mrs Fagan? She was born Sarah Jones in Northern Ireland and married to Alexander Fagan. The two daughters referred to were Sarah, who married George Hall in 1855 and Agnes who married Mr Nelson - that’s all I know about him. Apparently, Sarah Hall used to walk from Narre Warren to Dandenong, even when she was 80, so she was an energetic woman. I don’t know when the Hotel ceased trading, nor can I find out when Mrs Fagan died.

After leaving Lyndhurst we travel to Cranbourne where there were two hotels. The Mornington Hotel (on the same site as Kelly’s Hotel) was started around 1860 by Thomas and Elizabeth Gooch, who like Mrs Fagan, were also survivors of a ship wreck. Thomas had been sailor and was on the Sacramento, which was wrecked off the Port Phillip Heads. He had met Elizabeth who was a passenger on the Sacramento - they both lost everything in the ship wreck, but found true love, as they married in 1854 and had eight children between 1855 and 1867. By 1912, the Hotel was known as the Motor Club Hotel and in 1919 it was taken over by the Kelly family. The existing Kelly’s hotel was built around 1926.  


The Mornington Hotel at Cranbourne 
(Photo from The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson)

 The other hotel in Cranbourne, called the Cranbourne Hotel, was established in the early 1860s by Robert and Margaret Duff. It was located next to Clydesdale Square, where the Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre is. Robert Duff died at the age of 34 in August 1861 ‘from being driven violently against a tree by his horse’ as his death notice in the paper said. He was the brother of the Reverend Alexander Duff, the first Presbyterian Minister in the area. Margaret’s maiden name was also Duff, so I presume she married a cousin, not unusual in those times.  Margaret continued to run the Hotel after her husband’s death and in 1866 married Edward Tucker, who owned a store in Cranbourne. The Cranbourne Hotel was demolished in the 1970s. Duff and Tucker Streets in Cranbourne are named after these people.


The Grantville coach at the Cranbourne Hotel at Cranbourne 
(Photo from The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson)
  
Continuing down the Highway, we would have come to the Sherwood Hotel, in Tooradin, which was near the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and Tooradin Tyabb Road. It was built around 1870 on land owned by Matthew Stevens. The Sherwood Hotel and 258 acres were put up for a mortgagee auction on March 14, 1878 and it is thought that the Poole family purchased the hotel at this time. The Poole brothers, Frederic (1826-1894), George (1827-1909), and Thomas (1837-1906) were early settlers in the Cranbourne area. Frederick was elected to the Cranbourne Road District Board and later the Cranbourne Shire, he lived at Lyndhurst. Thomas lived at Lang Lang and it was George Poole who became publican at the Sherwood Hotel. The ground of the Sherwood Hotel had a large stable, a diary and milking shed and the Pooles milked forty cows. George also constructed a racecourse and bred horses. When the Melbourne Coach refused to stop at his hotel, he built himself a Coach, which met the Cranbourne train and travelled on to Grantville.  George Poole had left the Hotel sometime before 1906 and after that there were a series of Licensees. The Sherwood Hotel was deprived of its licence on December 31 1917, after a ‘Deprivation Sitting of the Licenses Reduction Board’ hearing.

The next hotel was the Bridge Hotel at Tooradin. In January 1870, John Steer applied for a Beer Licence for his Bridge Inn and when he died in May 1876 the Hotel was taken over by Matthew Evans. Later publicans included Larry Basan who took over the licence in 1888 and rebuilt the hotel in 1895 and sold it around 1900. The hotel was demolished in 2016.

The Tooradin Hotel, 1970s. 
Photographer:  John T. Collins 
State Library of Victoria Image H98.251/1951


We have to detour off the Highway for the next Hotel which is the Royal Hotel in Koo-Wee-Rup built in 1915 for Denis McNamara. It was officially opened on Thursday, September 9, 1915.  A report in the Lang Lang Guardian at the time described it as a ‘fine commodious building of nearly 30 rooms’ and ‘one of the finest edifices of the kind in Gippsland’. 

Back out to the Highway and continuing down to Lang Lang was the town of Tobin Yallock on the corner of the Highway and McDonalds Track. The town started in the mid 1870s with a Church, a general store and Post Office and eventually had a drapery, bootmaker, bakers and Mechanics Institute Hall.  In 1877, the Flintoff family built the Tobin Yallock Hotel. The Tobin Yallock township declined when the Great Southern Railway was constructed and the Lang Lang Station opened in February 1890. By 1894 most of the businesses and public buildings had transferred to the new settlement near the Lang Lang Railway Station. In 1893 the Flintoff family built the Lang Lang Coffee Palace near the station.   The building later acquired a liquor licence and was renamed the Palace Hotel. The original building burnt down in May 1933 and the new Palace Hotel was built on another site (where it is now) and opened in June 1934.

How do you spell Koo-Wee-Rup?

What's the correct way to spell Koo-Wee-Rup?  Any way you want apparently. The article below, a letter to the editor of the Kooweerup Sun written by Mr C. Einsedel, suggests that Koo-wee-rup or Koo Wee Rup are the most acceptable. The way I usually spell it, Koo-Wee-Rup, is 'an absurdity' according to Dr Niel Gunson, historian and author of  'The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire' a history of the Cranbourne Shire,  published in 1968. It is a book that I admire and use frequently.  


Kooweerup Sun (that's how they spell it) March 21, 1973.


I was interviewed in the Pakenham Gazette about this very issue - here is the article from April 3, 2013. What I said was that my Birth Certificate has the town spelt as Koo-Wee-Rup and Kooweerup and that various documents from my time at the High School in the 1970s has the name spelt as Koo-wee-rup, Kooweerup and KooWeeRup, so  even Government organizations were having a bet both ways.

VicNames - the Register of Geographic Names lists it as Koo Wee Rup. You can access their website here https://maps.land.vic.gov.au/lassi/VicnamesUI.jsp

Whatever it is,  I believe that it should be three words. I agree with Dr Gunson as quoted in Mr Einsedel's letter that running the word together is a 'mark of laziness'.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall were business partners and were prominent land owners in this area  from the 1850s. They controlled over 20,000 acres (about 8,000 hectares) which they called their Western Port Runs and the properties covered the area from around Clyde to Lang Lang.

John Mickle (1814-1885) arrived in Melbourne in 1838. He came from Berwickshire in Scotland, where his family were farmers, and not especially wealthy, but John was ambitious and an astute businessman. He set up as a Stock and Station agent and was later joined by John Bakewell (1807-1888).  Bakewell, from Nottingham in England, had arrived in Victoria in 1840, along with his brother Robert, his sister Phoebe and her husband, Dr Godwit Howitt, who was a botanist and entomologist.  In 1848, Mickle and Bakewell sold out to Richard Goldsborough who later established the Goldsborough Mort Company which merged with Elders Smith in 1962.

Previous to this, Mickle had built a house in Collingwood, and owned seven acres of land adjoining Chapel Street in Prahran, which was valued at £100 per acre. Mickle and John Bakewell then purchased 159 aces in Kew  - the 75 acres facing Studley Park Road cost them £20 per acre and the rest £13 per acre. According to Ian McLachlan's interesting blog Yallambie Bakewell and his brother Robert purchased land in the north of Melbourne in 1842, which they called Yallambie - the area is now partly occupied by the Yallambie Army barracks. Mickle and Bakewell also held various large properties around Victoria such as the Numeralla run on the Snowy River, near Orbost and the Brenanah run near Wedderburn.

In 1851, Mickle and Bakewell joined with William Lyall and formed the partnership of Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall. William Lyall (1821-1888) had arrived in Hobart in 1836 with his mother, Helen, his two sisters and two of his brothers. William’s father, John, was already in Tasmania, having left Scotland in 1833. William was ambitious and realised that to purchase land he needed to amass capital and so began trading sheep and cattle. By the time he was twenty, William was making frequent trips to the markets in Melbourne with cattle. William settled in Melbourne and was later joined by his widowed mother and other family members.

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall started their partnership by acquiring, in 1851, the Tobin Yallock (also called Yallock or Torbinurruck) run of 1,920 acres - this run was located on the Yallock Creek. In the same year they acquired Red Bluff (south of Lang Lang) and then the Tooradin Run in 1852 and the Great Swamp Run in 1854.

By 1854, the trio were very wealthy. Mickle had married Margaret Lyall (William’s sister) in 1851 and in 1854 they all returned to Great Britain for a holiday - John and Margaret Mickle, her mother and her brother, William Lyall, and his wife Annabelle (nee Brown) and their three children; John Bakewell and his brother also went plus about seven others. The group embarked on February 25, and did not clear the Heads at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay until March 1; they arrived in London on May 22. The party toured London and other parts of England.  John and Margaret Mickle returned to Melbourne in 1857 and had a house at the top end of Collins Street. However in 1861 they left again and sailed to the port of Suez in Egypt and then overlanded to London and then onto Scotland. They purchased a house in Scotland and John died there in 1885 at the age of 71.  Two personal facts about John Mickle - he was  a man who strictly celebrated the Sabbath and he was described as a  ‘huge man’, well over six foot tall, taller than his wife Margaret who at six foot tall was extraordinarily tall for  a woman in those days. They must have been an imposing looking couple.

In December of 1856 the trio divided their jointly owned land. Bakewell’s portion included Tooradin, the Tobin Yallock pre-emptive right (renamed Turkeith), Red Bluff pre-emptive right and Warrook on the Yallock Creek.  Warrook was sold to W.C. Greaves in 1904, who built the existing homestead in 1906. Bakewell, like Mickle, did not actually live on his properties, he divided his land into a number of properties amongst which were Ballarto, Sherwood Forest, Tooradin Swamp and Yallambie - clearly a name that resonated with Bakewell and the source of the name Yallambie Road in Clyde - and they were leased out. Bakewell sold his land gradually in the 1870s and 1880s. These properties provided him with an income to return to England where he lived at Old Hall in Balderton, Nottingham. The 1881 English Census shows that the family had five servants and a teacher living with them, so it was a comfortable lifestyle.  In 1859, John had married Emily Howitt (a niece of his brother in law) and they had four children. He died at Balderton in 1888.

Mickle received the Upper Yallock blocks which he renamed Monomeith. John’s brother Alexander Mickle and his wife Agnes managed the Yallock and Monomeith properties for John Mickle.  Their son David was the grandfather of the local historian, Dave Mickle, who has written various books about the local area.

William Lyall received the Yallock pre-emptive right and it was on this land that William and Annabelle commenced the construction of Harewood house in about 1857.  The Lyall family moved into the completed building in 1868, from Frogmore, their house on 93 acres in Carnegie.   Lyall was an energetic farmer, who had cattle, sheep, grew potatoes, wheat and oats and also tried oyster cultivation. He was a Shire of Cranbourne Councillor, first President of the Mornington Pastoral and Agricultural Society, a founder of the Victorian Agricultural Society, the Zoological Society, the Acclimatisation Society and the Victorian Racing Club. During this time Annabelle ran the household and bore twelve children between December 1849 and April 1869. Three children died before they turned three and one as a teenager. Of the remaining eight, six married with Helen and Florence remaining single. The last Lyall at Harewood was Florence who died in 1951, at home. The property was sold out of the family in 1967.

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall have streets named after them or family members in Koo-Wee-Rup, Tooradin and Cranbourne.


William Lyall (on the left) with John Mickle, 1853

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lubecker Steam Dredge on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp

The Lubecker Steam Dredge was the first machine used on the long running project to drain the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp. Small scale works, undertaken by individual land owners, had started in 1856.  In 1875, landowners formed the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Drainage Committee. This Committee employed over 100 men and created a drain that would carry the water from the Cardinia and Toomuc Creeks to Western Port Bay. 

It soon became apparent that drainage works needed to be carried out on a large scale if the Swamp was to be drained thus the Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department, William Thwaites, surveyed the Swamp in 1888.  His report recommended the construction of the Main Drain from where the Bunyip River entered the Swamp in the north to Western Port Bay and a number of smaller side drains. A tender was advertised in 1889 and by March 1893 the contractors had constructed the 16 miles of the drain from Western Port Bay to the south of Bunyip.  The Swamp was then considered ready for settlement. All work was carried out manually using axes, shovels, mattocks and wheel barrows.
  
The Public Works Department had been unhappy with the rate of progress and took over its completition in 1893 and appointed the Engineer, Carlo Catani, to oversee the Swamp drainage works.  Catani was keen to introduce land dredges; however this was not approved because it would reduce the work available for unskilled labour. It wasn’t until 1912 that Catani was given permission to purchase a machine and he ordered a Lubecker steam driven bucket dredge from Germany. It was described as being of the articulated ladder type; it ran on rails and had a 9 man crew. It weighed 80 tons and had a capacity of 61 cubic yards per hour or approximately 200,000 cubic yards per annum when working one shift.  A labourer at the time dug about 8 cubic metres per day. The purchase price was £2,300 pounds, plus £632 duty. The total cost landed, erected with rails, cranes and other equipment came to £4,716.


The dredge in operation, on some official occasion.
State Rivers & Water Supply Commission photographer, State Library of Victoria Image rwg/u873

According to the Lang Lang Guardian the dredge had arrived by June 1913 and was to start work on the Lang Lang River, which was described as a ‘wandering creek.’ This dredging was to prevent flood waters backing up across areas of the Tobin Yallock Swamp lands. The paper also said that the dredge was thought to be the finest in the world and will shift earth at the rate of a penny a yard. A report in the same paper on July 16, 1913 said that 50 chains of rail would be laid for the dredge on a cleared track.  The reporter went onto say that at this time the dredge was currently scattered over the ground, and is an insoluble puzzle to visitors who attempt to construct in their minds a mechanical theory as to how this vast and complicated machine will be put together and how it is going to work.

It was obviously put together and started work, and the Lang Lang Guardian reported that the Engineer, Mr Osborne, had employed a small Tangye engine and secured it to a truck for the hauling of the machinery and goods.



This is the Tangye engine referred to, above, used to haul machinery, goods and in this case important visitors. This photo was obviously taken during an official occasion.
State Rivers & Water Supply Commission photographer, State Library of Victoria Image rwg/u877

 From a report in The Argus on October 13, 1915 we can get an idea of how the Dredge operated - it excavates by means of an endless chain arrangement, wherein each link of the chain consists of a heavy steel shovel head…these scrape away the ‘spoil’ and then they deliver it onto a mechanical conveyer …which dumps the earth onto a regular embankment or if necessary into wagons that cart it away.

Around August 1916 the Dredge had completed its work on the Lang Lang River, having removed 78,000 cubic yards of earth and creating a channel a mile and half long. It was then taken over by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and worked on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp on the Main Drain, Cardinia Creek and the Yallock Outfall Drain.


Lubecker Dredge
State Rivers & Water Supply Commission photographer, State Library of Victoria Image rwg/u855
           
According to a paper presented to the Institution of Engineers by Lewis Ronald East in March 1935, by June 1934 total excavation by the Dredge was 1,332.231 cubic yards. It never worked full time and never at more than at 60 percent of its capacity.  The average cost of excavation was 7.9 pence per cubic yard, but with interest and depreciation the total cost was 9.15 pence per cubic yard, well over the Lang Lang Guardian’s original estimate of one penny per yard.  East also reports that the dredge has now practically completed its useful life.


Lubecker Dredge
State Rivers & Water Supply Commission photographer, State Library of Victoria Image rwg/u871
  
Other machines working on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp included a steam powered Stiff Leg Dragline, weighing 25 tons, purchased in 1925 for the cost of £2,200.  This had a five man crew and was rail based and a working cost per cubic yard of 7 pence.  In 1929 a 45 ton steam powered Full Swing Dragline was purchased for £3,100. This had a three man crew and a caterpillar undercarriage and a per cubic yard cost of 4.4 pence.  In 1929 the first non-steam powered machine, another Full Swing Dragline was purchased for £3,700. This weighed 26 tons, had a two man crew a caterpillar undercarriage and had a working cost per cubic yard of 2.4 pence.  East said that the economy of caterpillar traction and of crude oil power are obvious.  You can see some photos of other dredges that worked on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, here.

Finally, what happened to the Lubecker Dredge? We don’t know but presumably it was cut up for scrap as all that remains are a set of wheels on display at the Swamp Look-out tower on the South Gippsland Highway.


The Lubecker Dredge wheels at the Swamp look-out tower.