This blog provides information, stories, links and events relating to and promoting the history of the Wimmera district.
Any additional information, via Comments, is welcomed.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Church, the Hotel, the Society

This week's curly question was: where did the name for the Blue Ribbon Road originate from?

It is the road runs north for over 50kms, from Horsham to its terminus at Fryatts Rd, near Willenabrina.
It passes through the Greenland Dam, Kalkee, Garup, Sailors Home, Murra Warra, Wallup, Cannum, Aubrey, and Crymelon localities.
Some maps call it the Horsham-Kalkee Rd, for the section to the Borung Highway at the Blue Ribbon Corner.

But why 'Blue Ribbon'? This is the question that no-one - long-time residents or historical societies - seem to have the answer for.
The best guess so far is from Marj, who believes it relates to the Temperance Movement.

The Temperance Movement was a social movement upholding the ideals of an alcohol-free lifestyle, through moderation or banning the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The Movement became more radical, advocating the legal prohibition of alcohol – teetotalism. It was particularly important and developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It saw temperance halls and coffee palaces as an alternative to hotels, they ran lectures and films upholding family values and discouraging drunkenness, successfully implementing early hotel closing times (6 o’clock swill) which didn’t lead to a curbing of consumption. The Movement’s role began being wound back in the 1950s and 1960s in more relaxed liberal times.
Members of the Temperance Society would take the Pledge to either become a teetotaller – a soldier of the Blue Ribbon Army, or the White Ribbon – for women of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
The Society promoted alternatives to alcoholic drinks like ginger beer, creamy sodas, and sarsparilla, served in Temperance bars and coffee palaces. 
It also gave rise to the popularity of aerated waters and cordials, and led to the establishment of a number of localised cordial factories and manufacturers (whose old bottles are now rare collectors' items).
Callawadda's old cordial factory
In October 1883 the people of Cannum East met in the Wallup Free Church to establish a branch of the Blue Ribbon Army. Other branches sprang up in Clear Lake, Jung, Horsham, Rupanyup, Nurrabiel, Pimpinio, Kalkee, Warracknabeal, and other areas.
There was a close link between the Society and the local churches, often meetings were held in the church buildings. Both the Kalkee Wesleyan Church (built in 1885) and Wallup Presbyterian Church, faced the Blue Ribbon Road. The Wallup Presbyterian Church was first held in the Wallup State School, till a church was built across the Wallup Church Road in 1910. Anglican services were also held in the church in the 1930s and 40s. 
Wallup Presbyterian site 1910-1973 with the school site behind
Both the Cannum East (1875-1955) at the corner of Matheson & Antwerp Rds, and the South Cannum Presbyterian churches at the corner of Boundary & Cannum Church Rds were further east.

The Women's Christian Temperance Union water drinking fountain erected in 1911 in Warracknabeal. It was inscribed with the Union's motto: "For God, home and humanity". The fountain was given to the Borung Shire and originally located at the Town Hall. In 1939 it was transferred to Anzac Park (Photo I. Phillips).
So if people were against drinking, where were the hotels they were campaigning against?  
One would be the Blue Ribbon Hotel on the Blue Ribbon Corner. It was originally known as Patterson’s Wine Shanty, but by 1889 it was called the Blue Ribbon Hotel. 3 acres Allotment 68A in Wallup Parish was sold to Alexander Patterson on 5th January 1882. (The Pattersons owned a number of surrounding allotments). 

By 1884 the intersection was called 'Patterson's Corner'.

 The hotel was also a 'Post Office' from 1899 (a mail bag was dropped off there).
It was 'Patterson's Blue Ribbon Hotel' when it was destroyed by fire in April 1903. A new 5-room Blue Ribbon Hotel was erected, but it had its licence surrendered by December 1925, and then, on 12th January 1926, it again burnt to the ground, not to be resurrected again. 

"The HorshamTimes"  Friday 15th January 1926, page 6.

The site of the Blue Ribbon Hotel
It would be interesting to know how many participants at the 'Blue Ribbon Raceway' were aware of this conjecture?
We would be interested in hearing from anyone who could confirm or refute this hypothesis.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Such was life

This month the State Library’s “Our story : Such was life” is ‘The Mallee

In Victoria’s north-west lies the Mallee; a dry, hot region featuring sand dunes, salt bushes, shrubs and a ‘strange dwarf gum tree, Eucalyptus Dumosa, usually called Mallee…The tough land and climate certainly made an impression on Dr. Neumayer, a surveyor who recounted his experiences in 1864, ‘I can readily imagine why most people speak of this part of the country with a certain dread for there is actually no grass and no water to be found’…Over the years the land has endured its share of rural disasters, namely plagues (rabbits, mice, grass hoppers), drought and dust storms. Today its 100,000 occupants mainly reside in major towns like Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang, but the Mallee is also dotted with smaller towns with delicious names such as Patchewollock, Cowangie, Boinka, Underbool, Piangil, Walpeup and Manangatang…In 1995 the State Library received a collection of photographs from the Rural Water Corporation (State Rivers & Water Supply Commission) which span the late 19th century to 1980. The thousands of images document Victoria’s water use and include many from the Mallee and Wimmera, which feature in this post.

Unfortunately some of the records have little or no information attached, they were grouped together under titles like:  [Wimmera - Mallee District] [picture], or [Wimmera region] [picture] with Accession no(s) RWP/1855; RWP/1870; RWP/1884; RWP/1883;RWP/1906; RWP/1862; RWP/1873; RWP/1926; RWP/1895; RWP/1932; RWP/1881; RWP/1878; RWP/1871; RWP/1872; RWP/1896; RWP/1923; RWP/1860

And Summary Descriptions: Shows sand drift on a Mallee farm, crops on Mr. Black's property, sheep at drinking storage at Dumosa, crops near Murtoa, ploughing at Murtoa, Miss Lodwick in her father's vegetable garden at Timberoo, interior of wheat storage shed in Murtoa, abandoned homestead at Galah, horses drinking from bore-water trough, Consolidated State School at Murrayville, bowling green at Ouyen, sand and crops at Patchewollock.
For some, it is easy to positively identify - for example the 'ploughing at Murtoa' can only be the 'RWP 1870' as the Stick Shed is visible in the background.
Ploughing at Murtoa (RWP 1870)
Likewise 'interior of wheat storage shed in Murtoa' is 'RWP 1884' a great shot of inside the Stick Shed.
Interior of wheat storage shed in Murtoa (RWP 1884)

Sand drift on a Mallee farm (RWP 1906)

It gets trickier with descriptions like 'abandoned homestead at Galah'. This is possibly 'RWP 1883' if you consider the building to look abandoned or derelict. Galah was a siding on the way to Walpeup.
Possibly abandoned homestead at Galah, it is RWP 1883

Another photograph which could be 'crops near Murtoa' or 'crops on Mr. Black's property' is 'RWP 1855'.  Mr Black's property was at Timberoo - north of Patchewollck and south east of Walpeup, and south west of Ouyen. Looking at the health of the crop and the vegetation in the background, it looks more like the Wimmera, than a really good year in the Mallee.

RWP 1855

From another catalogue record comes this graphic photograph, likely to be - 'wind erosion and sand drift at Patchewollock' and the gentleman, one of the commissioners - McClelland, Greenwood, Stafford, McNab, Fitzgerald, Hall, Rogerson, Welch, Godkin or East. It was taken during Royal Commission on Water Supply in 1936.
RWP 589

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The big palette

Compliments to the Yarriambiack Shire who are chasing dollars for 'the world's biggest art gallery'.
On the back of the phenomenal success of the Brim Silo Art project  (see the previous 'High art' post) the Shire is proposing a 'Silo Art Trail' - a 200km trail of landscape size silo art from Rupanyup in the south to Patchewollock in the north.
Sheep Hills silos (which would have looked the part in 'The dressmaker' film)
Yarriambiack Mayor Cr Ray Kingston wants to commission renowned artists to paint giant murals on silos along the length of the municipality at Rup, Sheep Hills, Rosebery, Lascelles and Patche.
Guido, Adnate & Rone 'Wall to Wall' in Benalla
Discussions are taking place with the local communities, Graincorp, Juddy Roller (who helped bring Guido Van Helten to Brim), and government. They are targeting high profile street artists for the project, so it would be great to see, say an Adnate piece decorating a silo wall.
Silos at Rosebery, across the road from the Desert Gallery & Cafe
WDA's new director Ralph Kenyon said that the project would tie the long narrow municipality together (Yarriambiack is over 7,000 square kms, but over 160kms long and under 70kms at its widest).
Lascelles provides a variety of canvases
 As Dean Lawson stated it is a master stroke for increasing growth & development via tourism in Yarriambiack, as visitors will want to tick off each location as they bag each 'peak', in the biggest regional art project in Australia's history.
Adnate in the Geelong B Power Station
Would have liked to have seen the Nullan silos get a guernsey, they have a wonderful symmetry as they rise from the plain, particularly good at dawn.
Nullan siding silos, near Minyip


Monday, 13 June 2016

For the love of books

Melbourne Rare Book Week – For the love of books
Melbourne Rare Book Week commenced in 2012 as a partnership between ANZAAB, the University of Melbourne and 8 other literary institutions. In 2015, over 44 free events were held at libraries, literary and historical societies and bookshops throughout Melbourne, attracting local, national and international visitors. Melbourne Rare Book Week is now well established in the City of Melbourne's event calendar. It is a major attraction for book collectors, librarians and all who have a love of words, print on paper and literary heritage.
Just some of the must-go-to events this year are:
“Preservation of photographs, books and paper-based items” presented by The Genealogical Society of Victoria with speaker - Debra Parry, a qualified conservator, will share her expert knowledge about the preservation of photographs, books and paper-based items. She is well qualified to discuss the topic, having worked as a conservator for the National Archives where she carried out a range of preservation and conservation treatments including the repair of documents, maps and plans, as well as photographs, albums, books and ledgers. She has also worked for Heritage Victoria and now manages her own business, Melbourne Conservation Services. There are 2 sessions available Thursday 14th or Thursday 21st, both at 12 noon to 1pm.

“Rare book discovery day” presented by Museum Victoria. Bring along your books, maps and prints to this Antiques Roadshow-style event for discussion and informal appraisals from a panel of leading antiquarian booksellers. On Saturday 16th July 10am – 1pm

And if you’re really quick, get down the street to attend “A walk on the mean streets” presented by the Melbourne Library Service. This walk will be hosted by Dr. Lucy Sussex, an expert on Australian detective fiction. It will visit some of the sites of Melbourne featured in the books of Fergus Hume, the author of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Lucy Sussex is the author of 'Blockbuster', which tells the stories of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab and of Fergus Hume, who lived in Melbourne from 1885 to 1888. Hume wrote three mysteries that were set in and around Melbourne, before he returned the UK in mid 1888, (to the London of Jack the Ripper!). The walk will be illustrated by readings of extracts from the three Australian works of Fergus Hume. The walk will start at Scots' Church at the corner of Collins Street and Russell Street at 1pm. and will end in George Street, East Melbourne at around 3.30pm. Saturday 16th July 1pm – 3:30pm.

“The Tyranny of distance – 50 years” presented by Monash University Library. Professor Geoffrey Blainey has been described as the "most prolific, wide-ranging, inventive, and, in the 1980s and 1990s, most controversial of Australia's living historians". It seems extraordinary that it is 50 years since the publication of his most well-known book The Tyranny of Distance by Sun Books in 1966. This was itself an important landmark in Australian publishing, as it was unusual at the time for a serious study of history to be first published as a local Australian paperback by a relatively new and unknown publishing house. This talk is presented by another distinguished Australian academic historian, Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison, who will share his knowledge of the career and impact of Professor Geoffrey Blainey in general and The Tyranny of Distance in particular. On Tuesday 19th July 3:30pm – 4:30pm.
All the events are free, but booking is essential. More events and further details are available at the website.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

What nearly was

By chance, I happened to come across an entry in the Victorian Government Gazette referring to the Witchipool (Lake Buloke) Hospital,
And not just any hospital, this was for an infectious diseases hospital. 
The entry is for the 'site for a hospital or place for isolating persons suffering from small-pox, cholera, or other dangerous infectious or contagious disease'.
Why did the government of the day (in 1911) consider the need for a hospital? It was in 1900 that there was a major outbreak of bubonic plague in Sydney. It killed 103 people in 8 months and lead to the mass cleansing and demolition of slum housing in heavily populated areas like The Rocks. The Sydney event remains the most significant, but there were a further 12 major outbreaks eventuating in 1371 cases and 535 deaths in 27 locations, including Melbourne, around Australia between 1900 and 1925.
A street is hosed down in the mass cleansing in January 1900. State Library NSW
Witchipool is the name of the parish which encompasses Lake Buloke, Little Lake Buloke, part of the Donald township, west to Litchfield and north towards Massey. Witchipool is from the Aboriginal words for plant that grows on a hill. The farming district was originally named Litchfields.
 The Reservation of part of Allotment 12 temporarily set the land aside for the establishment of the hospital, but it never eventuated.
It was a little concerning that they considered placing infectious patients between two water sources - the lake and the Richardson River. Typically for smallpox, if the patient survives the initial infection, they remain infectious for 3-4 weeks after the onset of the rash. Smallpox was declared globally eradicated in 1980.
Today, outbreaks of cholera still occasionally happen in northern Australia, and can be associated with algal blooms.

The area today
The 43 acre crescent-shaped site was situated away from centres of population, but still close to a railway and a highway. Would have made a wonderful abandoned building now.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The woman and the farm

If you’re in Melbourne on Wednesday 8th June you might want to check out this talk - ‘Securing the History of Australian Farming Women’ at Museum Victoria.
Women in Australia play a vital role in agriculture and farming, contributing over 49% of the total value of the output of farming communities. The woman’s contribution to farming has largely been ignored, unrecognised and rendered invisible. Historically, farming women have been excluded from censuses and official documentation and stereotyped as ‘housewives’, ‘helpmates’ or ‘domestics’ despite their significant contributions to the farm economy.

Museum Victoria’s ‘Invisible Farmer Project’ is an ambitious project that seeks to redress the ongoing invisibility of Australian farm women in cultural, historical and contemporary narratives. The Project explores and documents of the contributions of women to agricultural production.

‘Securing the History of Australian Farming Women’ speakers - Catherine Forge and Liza Dale-Hallett will highlight the importance of Australian farm women’s history and provide an overview of the key issues that the ‘Invisible Farmer Project’ aims to address. Catherine Forge will share excerpts from the oral history interviews that she conducted with key women involved in the Rural Women’s Movement in Australia.

Catherine Forge was Curator of the 'Invisible Farmer Project' in 2015 and wrote her thesis on the 'Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection' in 2007. She has since worked as a Research Associate on the Collection as well as conducting oral history interviews with rural women across Victoria.

Liza Dale-Hallett is Senior Curator of Sustainable Futures at Museum Victoria. She has been involved in preserving the history of farming women since the 1980s and was instrumental in establishing the 'Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection' at Museum Victoria in the early 2000s.
‘Securing the History of Australian Farming Women’ is in the Theatre at Melbourne Museum from 1-2pm. Entry is free, but booking to reserve a seat at is necessary.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Vanishing Ashens

An addendum to the Railways - Melbourne to Adelaide line post, adding in the tiny siding of Hopefield (or Ashens).
The information comes from Vida Roberts, whose grandfather Henry W. Aumann selected 317 acres of Ashens Parish in 1872. He named the land ‘Hopefields’.
Ashens Parish showing the diagonal rail line passing through Allotment 220
When the railway pushed through the 10 mile section from Lubeck to Murtoa in 1878, it passed through Henry’s Allotment 220, and being the nearest landowner to the siding, the siding became Hopefield. By 1920 the siding took on the name of the Parish and had become Ashens.
Rail line from Ararat to Serviceton in 1890
The siding had a platform with a shelter shed of roofing iron with wooden benches, and a gatehouse occupied by a railway fettler and his family, who manned the railway gates at the Jackson Road intersection. The trains ran at least half-hourly in its heyday (except on Sundays), with 2 north-bound and 2 south-bound passenger trains daily. Potential passengers flagged down the train by waving a red flag stored in the Flag Box in the shelter shed. By 1900 the gates were replaced by ‘Railway Crossing’ signs, but the fettler remained.
The line in 1920 (the Riachella/Wal Wal Ballast branch line already closed)
The siding was changed to ‘Ashens’ after protests of mail and goods bound for Hopetoun were off-loaded at Hopefield.
Today the railway still passes by, but traces of the siding have vanished.
Satelite view of the Hopefield area

Friday, 20 May 2016

Photos on a National theme

Having a look at the National Archives of Australia's online PhotoSearch facility.
Naturally while there are many of Canberra and politicians portraits, there are a number or local or semi-local photographs.

Dimboola goes to Dimboola
 Including this now historic one of the now demolished Dimboola Hotel. Taken in 1974 it shows a  bus carrying Canberra Professional Groups' cast of the play "Dimboola" outside the Dimboola hotel. The geotag says in Lochiel Street, but it would be in Lloyd Street.
Telephonists at the Hopetoun Post Office (undated)

As a national organisation, (the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service regularly visited and serviced the Lighthouses) there is a range of lighthouses & beacons, some recent like this one of Maatsuyker Island lighthouse off Tasmania's south coast taken in 1978
Or this one of riding cable trolley tramway up from the jetty to Maatsuyker Island lighthouse in 1956.

And history in the making - the surveying of Canberra in 1912.
Then later, the site of the New Parliament House. This largely pastoral photo was taken in 1972.
Still on the political theme - Prime Minister of Australia - Robert Gordon Menzies in 1960.

The Horsham East Post Office Agency (the Dooen Road shops) undated but probably in the late 60s or early 70s by the advertising.
 A wonderful way to while-away some time reminiscing.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

A place in the Wimmera

Explore the history of the Wimmera and Southern Mallee region at the launch of the online book 'Place-names of the Wimmera' - an alphabetical list of place names of localities & towns, parishes & counties, lakes & streams, hills and mountains in the area covered by the Wimmera Regional Library. It includes Aboriginal and historic etymology of place names.
The online book will be accessible on the Wimmera Regional Library's website. 

The launch includes a presentation showing how explorers and surveyors named specific places and landmarks across the region.

The 'Place-names of the Wimmera' launch will be held at the Horsham Library on Wednesday 25th May from 7:00 to 8:30pm. It is a free event and bookings are essential by either visiting the library or phoning 53825707.

The launch of the 'Place-names of the Wimmera' book, is a part of the National Trust Heritage Festival for 2016.

Check out other Heritage Festival events at the National Trust website