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, April 20, 2016

Koo-Wee-Rup ANZ / E.S. & A Bank

The ANZ Bank in Rossiter Road is closing down in the next few weeks (May 2015) so this is a look at the early history of the bank in Koo-Wee-Rup. The bank started in the town 110 years ago as the London Bank, in 1920 the London Bank amalgamated with the English, Scottish & Australian Bank (E.S. & A Bank) who in turn amalgamated with the ANZ in 1970.

The Garfield branch of the London Bank was established in 1905 and in August 1905 an Agency had been established at Koo-Wee-Rup and by the next year there were Agencies at Iona and Tynong. The first manager was Clarence Adeney, described in one report as the ‘genial Mr Adeney’ and described by David Mickle as ‘a kind and gentle man’. He retired in early 1920 and was replaced by Mr W. K Patterson.

Above: Article from South Bourke and Mornington Journal, August 16 1905
The Lang Lang Guardian reported on September 5 1906 that Mr A. Woodman had accepted a contract from the London Bank to erect a Bank chambers and dwelling at an estimated cost of £600. The construction was to be of oregon and plaster and it was also proposed to use tiles for the roof.  An advertisement in the same paper in the November said the London Bank Agency had been converted into a branch and ‘will be open daily for the transaction of all usual banking business’ – so I believe this would have coincided with the completion of the new building.

The Bank was obviously going well as in October 1912 they purchased the site of their building for a ‘satisfactory price’ according to the South Bourke & Mornington Journal.

In 1919, a ‘Receiving Agency’ was established by the bank at Dalmore - it opened Wednesdays from 10.15am to 1.00pm.

Above: E.S. & A. Bank in  Station Street, Koo-Wee-Rup c. 1940s
Below: The Lang Lang Bank 

In the October of 1919 the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun reported that The contractor for the alterations to the London Bank at Koo-Wee-Rup has the work well in hand and will complete it in a few weeks. It speaks well for Koo-Wee-Rup when the local bank has to enlarge its premises. The extra room will be needed in anticipation for the next record season. The second storey was added at this time and the banking chamber was enlarged, a manager’s office added as well as a room upstairs to be used as residential quarters. A strong room was also constructed and the ‘premises were renovated throughout’.

The works were not completed until the December owing to ‘labour trouble, strikes and railway delays’  The architects were Ballantyne and Hare – who designed houses in Malvern and Toorak and in 1929 Cedric Ballantyne designed  the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.

The Cardinia Shire Heritage Study describes the Bank as an early example of the architectural style known as ‘towards modernism’ and it is one of three former E.S. & A Banks on the Heritage Study. The other ones are the Garfield Bank, which was built in 1925 and the Lang Lang Bank, which was built in 1929.  The Garfield Bank is thought to have been designed by Twentyman & Askew, the same Architects as the Lang Lang bank. .

There was an E.S & A. Agency at Cora Lynn, which was staffed about a morning a week and closed in the early 1960s. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Garfield Progress Association

This post looks at the activities of the Garfield Progress Association (GPA) and its forerunner, the Garfield Progressive Association, mainly through the correspondence it had with the Berwick Shire. The minutes of the Shire meetings were extensively reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal and later the Dandenong Journal. You can find these papers on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

The first mention I can find is in 1901 where the Progressive Association was complaining about the state of local roads - a sign of things to come as roads and drains were the usual source of complaints right up to the 1950s. For instance, in September 1901 the Association wanted ‘the scrub on the road from the Station to the State School to be cut as there was no room for traffic’ (this was when the school was located up the hill on Garfield Road) In December of that year the the GPA had written a letter to The Age newspaper asking why the Department of Public Works ‘cannot do its works properly instead of wasting public money’ - a question many people still ask today of  the Government.

In August 1903, the South Bourke and Mornington Journal had a tongue in cheek look at the town of Garfield.  The reporter interviewed an unnamed local who, amongst other things, thought that Garfield was progressing so much and the Railway station was so busy that it needed to have a station master instead of a station mistress. He went on to say that Garfield had a strong political body in the town (the Progressive Association) and that they had lots of trouble with the Iona (Ward) Councillors so they were going to ‘put  a man into council so he will do what they want him to do’.  The local would not be surprised if the GPA was the cause of the agitation to get the Federal site (Canberra) shifted from NSW to Victoria and if it was then Garfield would stand a chance of being chosen!

I can’t find many reports in the 1910s, probably because the community was pre-occupied with the war effort, but it appears that by the mid 1920s the Association was up and running again and they were obviously convinced that Canberra would remain as the Federal Capital and not be shifted to Garfield so they were back complaining to the Council about the state of local roads, especially the North Garfield Road. In February 1928, the GPA was asking for a rubbish tip to be established at Garfield. And later that same year they asked the Council to ‘guarantee’ 15 street lights.

In 1932, the GPA asked the Bills Estate for a trough for Garfield - it was at one stage located outside the hotel. These troughs were funded from a bequest from the will of George Bills, who died in 1927. His will left various bequests and the bulk of his Estate was to be made available by his Executors to Societies for the protection of animals, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and for the construction of horse troughs for the relief of horses or other ‘dumb animals’. These troughs were to be inscribed with the names of George and his wife Annis.

In 1944, the GPA asked for a street light opposite the west railway crossing (sort of where the 13 Mile Road comes into town) and, of course, more road improvements. In 1945, they had turned their attention to parks. The GPA had written to the council asking how their negotiations were going with the Railways regarding the proposed extension of the park facing Main Street. ‘There is keen local interest in the beautification of this town and the additional park area would be an asset in this direction’  They later (July 1945) asked permission to plant two ash trees in front of the Baby Health Centre -  whether that was  a priority for the mothers attending the  Health Centre is another matter as in August 1943 Sister Spence had reported to the Council that ‘we are looking forward to the improvement of the old baby Health Centre at Garfield which at present is a  fine sieve for rain’

In 1946 there were the usual complaints about drains - especially the unsatisfactory drainage on the steep Garfield hill and also a complaint  was made to the Council about ‘the cattle and horses  which are permitted to wander  in streets and roads around Garfield, constituting a constant menace to householder’s gardens and trees’. The Council Ranger was instructed to ‘make a raid’

In April 1947, the GPA made advances to have the Ballarat Starch Company start a factory in Garfield - the factory would obtain starch from potatoes and the establishment of the factory would ‘provide a profitable outlet of unsaleable rejects and rubbishy potatoes’.

In August 1950, the GPA asked the Council to convene a public meeting to consider the erection of a memorial to those who had paid the supreme sacrifice in World War One and Two.  In 1953, the GPA was once again on a political bent when they supported the election of Reg Sykes to the Berwick Council. Reg was described as a ‘young man who served the the RAAF as a member of the Air Crew in the south west Pacific’. He also had a 300 acre property on the Princes Highway at Tynong.  Reg had also owned 540 acres in Tynong North which he sold in 1949 for £4,500 to the Catholic Church for the establishment of township of Maryknoll.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bunyip Dramatic Society

When my father, Frank Rouse, was young - around 17 to 19 years of age in the early 1950s, he was a member of the Repertory Society or Dramatic Society in Bunyip. The Company put on plays at the Bunyip Hall and the Cora Lynn Hall.  The plays were usually two acts long, with an interval. Dad doesn’t remember the names of any of the plays but in one play he played the role of an English gentleman on a train who kept getting off the train at the wrong station and in another he played the role of a Minister of Religion.

The Society had maybe 15 to 20 members who also made the stage sets; Dad built the train for the train play.

His acting career started largely because he had the essential attributes of being young, male, tall and willing. Another member of the Society was Win Reid who taught Dad at Sunday School at Cora Lynn and she organised the Sunday school concerts and also taught elocution and encouraged Dad to join the Repertory Society. It was a short lived acting career which was fun while it lasted and he still remembers the advice he was given which was ‘to speak to the back row, so your voice carries’

Other members of the Society were Hughie Pound who ran the Radio store in Bunyip, where Loretta’s Hairdressing is now located; Colin Flett who had  a general store, with a good range of hardware, where the Bendigo Bank is; Frank Harker who lived on the Eleven Mile at Cora Lynn (all that remains of his house are the two palm trees in the paddock); Don and Pat Whysall – Don was in the Fire Brigade and Pat was a teacher; Betty Storey who lived on Murray Road, a neighbour of the Rouses; Dad’s oldest sister Nancy; Nelly Dixon (nee Edis) married to Geoff Dixon, who was a builder; Russell and Elizabeth Spence  - remembered as ‘an older couple’ and Arthur Holgate, who was ‘quite old’. Mr Holgate was the local Registrar of Births and Deaths and is remembered in our family because he incorrectly registered the date of my sister Megan’s birth in February 1957. He wrote the registration date down as the birth date and we didn’t find out until she had to apply for a birth certificate 20 or so years later.

Denise Nest has a paragraph about the Dramatic Society in her book, The Call of the Bunyip: history of Bunyip, Iona and Tonimbuk 1847 to 1900..  She mentions a few other names apart from the ones Dad remembers - Rex Taylor and members of the Thomas and Roberts families.

Bunyip and the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp 1887

This account of the township of Bunyip and the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp comes from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of August 3, 1887.  Click here to access this article on Trove

From an occasional Correspondent.

"Vare iz de downsheep" The interrogator was a foreigner, and the person questioned was, Mr. Barrow, the local storekeeper of the "rising" township of  Bunyip. For Bunyip, by the way, is at present only a small hamlet; in fact it is able to do very little more than 'claim to have, a ''local habitation" as well as a name. Nevertheless it has two hotels, well conducted by Messrs. Hanson and Finch. These two hostelries, with Mr. Barrow's general store, amicably uniting themselves pretty well form the township. There are also one or two unpretentious dwelling houses about, and a State School, of which Mrs. Skinner is the tutelary genius, lies back a little out of sight. 

But still Bunyip may be designated as a rising township, for it stands prominently upon a steep "rise" overlooking the great Koo-wee-rup Swamp. To the foreigner's enquiry, "vare iz do downsheep," the interrogated resident replied with a majestic and comprehensive sweep of the hand, which took in the whole of the vast municipal settlement, "it is here." The foreigner looked puzzled and gazed earnestly round the whole sweep of the horizon, and then a bright idea penetrated his befogged intellect. "Oh! over de hill" he said, and was about to rush on thitherward to seek the goal of which he was in quest; but he was intercepted in his intention by the resident, who rejoined-"No; here. This is the township. Circumspice!"  It was calculated to wound the civic patriotism to have thus with minute emphasis pointed out the locality in which one lives, but there is nothing for it but to remit it to the category of "another injustice to poor old Ireland," and Bunyip must bear its trials with what heroic fortitude it can. 

I don't have any photos of Bunyip from 1887, but this is the Gippsland Hotel (Top Pub) and Main Street in 1908.
Photograph from The Call of the Bunyip by Denise Nest. 

It was only the other day that a young lady in a passing train, looking out over the dreary stretch of Koo-wee-rup Swamp with its forest of dead timber, expressed somewhat emphatically, if not euphoniously, the opinion that this was the last place the Creator made, and was left unfinished by Him. But then the day was a gloomy one, and the prospect from the train was not enlivening. Had the critic been able instead to have stood on the summit of the hill on which the township stands, on a bright day and have seen the magnificent view of the Cannibal ranges, and a sweep of mountain scenery right away to the snow-covered Baw Baw; and again, out over the Koo-wee-rup Swamp, the hills and the sea (ships being sometimes even discernable to the naked eye) had this opportunity been afforded to the fair critic, she would doubtless have been less severe in her comments. More than this, had she been gifted with prophetic, not to say poetic, vision she would have had presented to her mind's eye a still more attractive picture, when the now dismal-looking Koo-wee-rup Swamp shall be moved by the industry of the husbandman, and picturesque homestead with beautifully verdant fields shall gladden the eye and heighten the beauty of the even now splendid panorama. 

And this enhancement of the beauties of the locality should not be hidden in the very far distant future, and that some are far-seeing enough to perceive that this is evident from the fact that at a recent sale of Bunyip land lots at the outside boundary of the suburban area realised as much as £6 per acre. During his election tour Dr. L. L. Smith pledged himself to get the reclamation of the Koo-wee-rup Swamp entered upon as one of his first Parliamentary works, but the hon. gentleman substituted a trip to England, and since his return has forgotten to redeem his promise. But the work is one which must inevitably be undertaken before very long, for such a splendid tract of richly fertile country cannot long be allowed to lie waste within so short a distance of the metropolis. Here is a direction, Mr.Editor, in which your pen, so long wielded in advocacy of the interests of this district, might usefully be exercised. Meanwhile Bunyip is dependent for its existence upon the firewood trade. In a small place like this little can be expected in the way of social news. The arrival and departure of mails and trains constitute the excitements of the place.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cora Lynn Church

The Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church used to hold services at the Cora Lynn Hall from around the 1920s to 1960.  Most people attended every Sunday regardless of which religion they were. The average congregation was around 25.  Sunday School started first at 1.30pm and Church was at 2.30pm.

Dad and his sisters and brother all went to Sunday School and Church at Cora Lynn, initially driven by horse and jinker, until the family got their first car in 1948. 

Cora Lynn Sunday School 1948
Back row - Fourth from left is Frank Rouse, far right is Nancy Rouse, to her left is her sister Dorothy and in front of her is another sister, Daphne. Do you recognize anyone?

Apart from Cora Lynn there was a Methodist Church at Five Mile and one at Garfield and Modella. Garfield and Modella were serviced by the Drouin Minister and Cora Lynn and Five Mile by the Koo-Wee-Rup Minister. The only Methodist Ministers Mum and Dad can remember is a Mr Rosewarne and the Rev Blainey - the father of historian Geoffrey Blainey. There was also a Presbyterian Church at Iona and Bunyip.

The Presbyterian Minister from around 1953 was the Reverend Quentin Huckson. He lived in Bunyip with his wife Peggy and their four children - Judith, John, Peter and Andrew.  Rev Huckson had a service at Bunyip every week; then went to Iona which was an 11.30am service then alternate weeks did Cora Lynn and Longwarry at 2.30pm. He also conducted a monthly service at Tonimbuk and a service at Longwarry North. He drove to these services in a Peugot 203 and Dad said he was happy to talk about his car for hours. It was an unusual car in this area as it was the first foreign car they had seen in the district.

The Reverend Huckson left the Parish on August 25 1957 but the week before he left on August 18 Mum says he ‘rounded up’ all the babies in the area that were due to be christened and did a ‘mass baptism’ of about 12 babies all at once at Iona, including my sister Megan and our cousin Bruce Forte.

Before the next Presbyterian Minister came there was a period of about 16 months where retired ministers filled in. They often came by train the night before and then on the Sunday had at least three services to conduct. The next minister was the Reverend Ron Traill who came around the end of 1958 and almost immediately closed down Tonimbuk and Longwarry North Churches, but Cora Lynn lasted a bit longer and closed at the end of 1960.

Getting back to Cora Lynn - the big occasions at Cora Lynn were the Harvest Festival and the Sunday School picnic. The Harvest Festival would receive two to three tons of potatoes, onions, pumpkins etc that would all be taken to the Presbyterian Kildonan or Canterbury Babies Home or similar Methodist Homes. The Sunday School picnic was held at Glen Cromie and many of the children got there on the back of a truck owned by Ern Wilkinson.

This brings us to the Cora Lynn congregation - here is a list of people that Dad and Mum remembers attending the Cora Lynn Church. Ern and Elsie Wilkinson and their son Keith; Jim and Mabel MacDonald and their children Lorna, Jack, Bob and Joyce; Mrs Whitta and her son Donald; Mrs Julia Clapperton and her son Keith; Dan and Corrie Kinsella; Norman and Lorna Kinsella; Mrs Aileen Higgins of Toner Road - she had 5 or 6 children including Merna, Maurice, Ron, Joy and Wayne; Mrs Jocie Clay who lived on the Nine Mile and had young children; Mrs Nell Leamon, the wife of Clarrie the Scout Master. After Mr Leamon passed away she married Cr Dick Wakenshaw, the father of Bob and Don; the Slater family - the children were Euan and twins Andrew and Mary; Jack and Grace Huntingford and children Garry, Pam and Gwenda; Harry and Florence Huntingford and children Elaine and Jim; Mrs Harker and her children Frank and Joyce; Mrs Pearl Townley, Mrs McKenzie (wife of Les), Alan and Audrey Reid and Win Reid, who was the Sunday school teacher. Win was a cousin of Alan and Audrey.  Sorry, we don’t know all the first names.

There was also the Cora Lynn Combined Church Ladies Guild which continued on for several years after the services were stopped at Cora Lynn.

This is the Cora-Lynn Combined Churches Ladies Guild c.1965

Left to Right - Mabel McDonald (nee Wilkinson), Elsie Wilkinson, Rene Huntingford (nee Stephenson), Mrs Benham, Pearl Townley, Audrey Reid, Nell Wakenshaw, Mrs McKenzie, Grace Huntingford, Corrie Kinsella and Eva Rouse (nee Weatherhead, my grandma).

I am indebted to Bruce Stephenson for identifying Rene Huntingford, as we had her listed as unknown.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

100 years ago this week - Kirwan's store

100 years ago this week - John Kirwan, store owner, was caught illegally selling alcohol.  Kirwin's store was on the corner of the Thirteen Mile and the Main Drain. It was later taken over by James and Edith McMannis.

Dandenong Advertiser September 23, 1915

Thursday, September 3, 2015

100 years ago this week - Dalmore Roads

100 years ago this week comes this report from the Lang Lang Guardian  of September 8, 1915 about Dalmore ratepayers prepared to pay extra to get their roads fixed.  Apparently Dalmore was a 'quagmire covered with scrub'  The roads were partly bad as a great many tons of potatoes were being sent to the Dalmore Station. Dalmore Station had opened on October 1, 1888, it was originally called Peer’s Lane, then Koo-Wee-Rup West, then Dalmore. 

The School at 'the end of Ballarto Road' was the Cardinia State School, No. 3689, which had opened on November 3, 1911. The Church they are referring to is the Cardinia Presbyterian Church which was completed in October 1915.

Lang Lang Guardian  September 8, 1915.