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.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Motoring on the rails

This Post is in reply to Steve Henderson's Comment on Brimming with memories, concerning a photo of a railmotor at Brim. 
So here is the photograph from the book "Victorian railway railmotors : a photographic profile 1950's-1980's" edited by Neville W. Gee and John Sargent.
The railmotor 57 at the now demolished Brim station
 Possible identities in the photograph are - (man leaning on the post), woman with handbag, woman in check skirt, Station Master Don Newick (man in VR uniform), Ralph Crisp (man with case), man with cases.
The Diesel-Electric Rail Motors (D.E.R.M.) first entered service in 1928 and the last was withdrawn from service in 1991. They had a maximum speed of 100km per hour, and a maximum of 54 passengers.

Between 1928 and 1931 the Victorian Railways purchased 10 Petrol Electric Rail Motors produced by the Electro-Motive Corporation of the US. Known as the E.M.C. Model M-300, these units were supplied for assembly by VR at the Newport Railway Workshops and were converted to diesel-electric between 1951 and 1953. These units carried the numbers 55 to 64.
In the book, there were a couple of other railmotors in the region:

DERM 64 in Hopetoun, taken looking north , the station building & platform have since been removed. The Goods Shed on the left is still on site.

DERM 57 was modified to diesel in December 1952. Retired in March 1982. Sold for scrap in November 1982.

DERM 63 was restored to 1930s livery and is now on the Daylesford Spa Country Railway.  

DERM 64 is apparently being restored.

(Below) DERM 63 at the dock platform in Murtoa, with the now demolished Signal Box behind, looking south.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Can never find a toilet when you need it

Amusing item in the Education Departmental file on Dalcross School.
Dalcross School site at the group of sugar gums
 Dalcross School No. 4381 (named after Dalcross pastoral station, part of which was taken over for the Dyers Estate soldier settlement) opened temporarily in a room in the residence of Miss Helen D’Alton on 27.4.1928 till 13.7.1928, then in new premises on 16.7.1928 on 5 acres Allotment 34C Lallat Parish.
Section of the Lallat Parish map showing the school site
In 1927 the Education Department had purchased the site with house, from the Closer Settlement Board. The school operated in a weatherboard soldier settler’s home altered for the purpose. A shelter shed was erected in 1934. The school closed in April 1946.
The books were sent to Rupanyup State School. The 29’x14’ building was considered unsuitable for removal, and was sold by tender to Mr R. McRae of Rupanyup in August 1965, to become a plumber’s shop
The site is now landlocked and only a row of sugar gums mark its position.
The Argus article
The file item concerns the school's toilet/outhouse/out-office/loo/lavatory. There is an article from the Argus newspaper 7.7.1955 by Michael Fitzgerald.
One night in March some locals in a truck drove to the Dalcross school site and removed one of the toilets (there was a boys & a girls toilet. The school had been closed for nine years and the buildings were still there). In the morning the landowner rang the Rupanyup police (he was on Leave), so he then rings Constable Megee at Marnoo. Megee investigates and when driving through Rup, spies the loo in the backyard of a house owned by the Rupanyup Football Club (for the new team coach), then in the Wimmera League (Megee was the president & coach of the Marnoo Club, then in the Southern Wimmera League).
A week passes and low & behold the missing loo turns up back at Dalcross.
The Chief Commissioner's letter

The Chief Commissioner of Police & the Education Department are notified.
Megee presses charges, a summons is issued, and the case scheduled for the next court sitting at Rupanyup. The Police Divisional Inspector was to attend the Hearing in August, to ask that the case be struck out. No further Police action was contemplated.

The final fate of the toilets is unknown. 

But in light of the above, is the screen shot below related to the Dalcross incident? (taken from Malcom McKinnon's "Chronicle of a country life" the photographic work of John Teasdale of Rupanyup who filmed social life in the town in the 50s & 60s).

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Unknown link to first cricket tour

A small number of Aboriginal artefacts in a regional British museum in Exeter have been identified as rare survivors of Australia's first ever cricket tour of England in 1868. 
The wooden artefacts in Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum include a boomerang, several clubs, two spear-throwers, two spears, two 'parrying sticks' and firesticks.

Visiting Australian curator Dr Gaye Sculthorpe made the discovery at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) in Devon, in England's south-west. Dr Sculthorpe recognised the name of the donor – WR Hayman, the manager of the Aboriginal cricket team that toured England in 1868.

Station cricket match at Mt Talbot Station
In 1865, station cricket was so popular a match was organised between the Europeans and Aborigines. Hayman of Lake Wallace station formed a cricket club including Aboriginals. The All-Aboriginal team, was coached in Edenhope by Thomas Wentworth Wills (of Australian football fame, the Wills family held Lexington, La Rose & Mokepille stations) and managed by William Hayman. Englishman Charles Lawrence organised a tour of England for the team in 1868.

As well as playing cricket, the tourists demonstrated traditional skills such as boomerang and spear throwing, and some ‘other’ sports - dodging cricket balls thrown at them; the running high jump; the standing high jump; a water bucket race; 100 yards running backwards, and vaulting with poles, before and after the cricket matches.

The team played a 47-match tour from May to October, then they had a brief holiday in Devon, where William Hayman had been born, and where his family still lived.

The museum had not known the objects were associated with the cricket tour. The only Aboriginal artefact known to have survived from the tour was a single Aboriginal club in the MCC Museum at Lord's. Hayman donated the artefacts to RAMM in October 1868 (the year the Museum opened) as the team sailed from Plymouth.
Johnny Mullagh, the original hung in the Harrow Hall till it  burned down in the 1970s

Dr Sculthorpe, said the artefacts were “of great significance as tangible evidence of this historic tour, the first Australian cricket tour to England."
The boomerang artefact

Information from various newspapers and media releases

Sunday, 10 January 2016

High art

With headlines “Tiny Wimmera town brimful of pride” and “Giant silo art dubbed tiny Wimmera town’s Mt Rushmore” the media and online response to the Brim Silo Art has been amazing.
The silo’s mural has its own Facebook Page
The finished mural against a Wimmera sky. Donna Wallace Facebook
Internationally renowned Brisbane-based artist Guido van Helten is using regional Victoria’s largest cherry-picker to breathe new life into Brim’s disused grain silos with a 30m by 30m artwork. For 3 weeks he has worked for up to 10 hours a day, including Christmas Day and New Year's Day, in frequent 40-degree heat and strong winds to create the work using spray paint and acrylic house paint.

Guido on site, by Rob Leeson
 “I work on photography so when I got here I arranged a small photography project, which sort of documented the people of the town,” Guido said, and he had wanted to paint an iconic Australian silo for years.
The rough, round surface of the silos and a scorching, wind-battered central Victorian summer meant the task had not been easy.  Van Helten took photos of locals and mapped the work on computer, but a challenge was to accommodate the silos' curves.
A blank canvas, by Paul Carracher
Funding from Regional Arts Victoria, the Yarriambiack Shire Council, Brim Active Community Group and a paint sponsorship by Taubmans and Loop Paints allowed work to get under way before Christmas.  The local caravan park and pub provided free accommodation and meals.
Guido in action with the spray gun he also used a paint brush, by Rob Leeson
Brim Active Community Group president Shane Wardle said the artwork was already making a difference to the local community.
“The Facebook has been unbelievable. It’s even gone overseas now. One lady said the next time she comes to Australia she’ll be coming to Brim to have a look at the silo. It’s just amazing.”
Any boost for Brim’s people and their businesses would be a bonus, “If the pub sells another beer and the shop sells an ice cream, we’re happy with that,” Shane said.
Guido on the boom dwarfed by the silo, Rob Leeson
Now 4 giant figures representing generations of the area’s people will loom over the Henty Highway in a sight sure to join Australia’s big things as a road-trip must.
The now vanished image, Paul Carracher
Visitors are driving for hours to see the  giant mural overlooking the tiny community of Brim. One visitor compared it to Mount Rushmore, the giant sculpture of four US presidents in South Dakota.
Originally the second character was a child's face, till Guido thought it didn't fit with his vision, so after all that work he changed it to what we see today. Fortunately the Mail Times captured the work in progress.
Brim Silo Art is now a masterpiece of outdoor art using the canvass of unused grain silos. But Brim is not alone with many small towns left with now unused silos, tall, blank, grave monuments to an once important part of a small towns economy.
The cement silos at Brim were built back in the 1938 and were never designed to last this long and are still in working order, but due to the larger carrying capacity of trucks, they were decommissioned approx 3 years ago, and now all grain now is either stored on farm or is sent to the Beulah or Warracknabeal bunker storages.
Grain silos are being shut down because of cost cutting rationalisation by grain purchasing companies. The cost is being shifted from the corporations to the family farmer who has to bear the cost for shifting grain the extra distance from the once local silos to a bigger centre. 
Guidio van Helten is a well-known & recognised muralist, check out some of Guido's other great work via his webpage,  some of them in much colder climates.
: Lynton Brown's drive-by video
: 7News video
: ABC Rural's article on the people on the silo
Peter, Sam, Win, Al & Guido. Mikala Hateley on Facebook
Sources: The Age, Herald-Sun, Mail-Times, Facebook

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The R.F.C. family

It is not that often that we get excited about donated books published to commemorate business/organisational histories. Usually we receive multiple copies of expensive looking hard-bound books full of facts and figures.
 This is an exception – “Just like family : a history of Victoria's Rural Finance Corporation” by Adam McNicol and Andrew Chapman, is a coffee-table book in the tradition of Andrew’s other titles (Woolsheds, Working dogs, & The long paddock).
It is the history of the Rural Finance Corporation, how the organisation - that began life as the Soldier Settlement Commission - grew to become a billion-dollar backer of Victorian agriculture, while fostering family-like ties between its staff and clients.
Adam has endeavoured to make the book personable with stories from farming families in different regions across Victoria.
Abandoned truck, Chinkapook (A.Chapman)
The Rural Finance’s history ended last year, when Bendigo Bank purchased the assets/business of the Corporation & essentially the Government, terminating its role as the ‘farmers’ financier’.
The Soldier Settlement Commission began in 1945 to oversee the WW2 Soldier Settlement Scheme (the WW1 scheme had been administered by the Lands Department and culminated with the majority of farmers walking off the land and ultimately a Royal Commission). The Rural Finance Commission was tasked with learning from the previous scheme and not repeating the same mistakes.
There are emotive stories from families coupled with photographs, like the Tucker family from the Mooramong Soldier Settler Estate, near Skipton. Like many families their life on the farm began in the single-room hut/garage, prior to the soldier-settler-style house being erected.
The temporary 30' x 15' housing (A. Chapman)
There is a section on particular schemes, like Robinvale's irrigation blocks, and the Heytesbury Project – the clearing of about 100,000 acres of forest in the Otways for dairy farming.
Henry Bolte at the official opening of the Heytesbury Settlement, 1959 (RFC)
 The book details Rural Finance's role through fires, droughts, floods & governments.
A Mallee farm in the 1982-83 drought (RFC)
The facts and figures and charts have been kept to a minimum, which is a feat when you're talking about finance, replaced by carefully chosen photographs, so well done Adam & Andrew.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Honour inductee

New hot off the presses, or straight from the website of the Department of the Premier & Cabinet.
Local Wotjobaluk Elder Aunty Nancy Harrison has been inducted to the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll. Aunty Nancy joins other Wimmera inductees - Lester Marks, Johnny Mullagh and Kevin Coombs.Her great-great-grandfather was King Richard who helped track the lost Duff children.
Aunty Nancy at the launch of the Honour Roll at Horsham, 2015
Aunty Nancy was born in Horsham in 1941 and grew up with her 7 brothers and sisters on the Reserve at Antwerp . The children attended the Antwerp State School, till the family moved to Burrumbeet near Ballarat, when Nancy then attended the Ballarat West High School. She worked in the Ballarat offices of the Royal Insurance Company, then the SEC (State Electricity Commission) in accounting & secretarial roles. In the 1950s joined the Department of Defence with the RAAF then the Army tilll she retired.

In 2003 Nancy returned to her traditional home at Dimboola and became involved in the Native Title negotiations for parts of the Little Desert & Wyperfeld lands, culminating with its recognition in 2005.
In the community Nancy has volunteered her time and talents to school children talking on cultural language, history and heritage. She has been involved in archaeological digs at Ebenezer. Nancy was an Ambassador for the Library during the International Year of Reading in 2012. She also worked on the Possum Skin Clock Project (the cloak represented stories of the traditional owners, past & present).
 So congratulations Aunty Nancy Harrrison - Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll inductee for 2015. 

<< Aunty Nancy in the possum cloak delivering the Welcome to Country speech at the Library's 'Footprints' display in Dimboola 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

From Horsham to see the King

At the National Archives of Australia in Canberra, to view the “Life interrupted -Gallipoli Moments : stories of our soldiers at Gallipoli – in their own words".
The exhibition allowed you to embark on a journey with the soldiers at Gallipoli. From the excitement of enlisting, to the reality and terror of battle. Original diaries, photos and personal letters, give a glimpse of the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes, and in the words, of those who were there.
The material from the State Library of New South Wales reveals captivating personal experiences of servicemen and nurses. Service records from the National Archives remind us that everyone was a volunteer, and they came from all walks of life to serve their country. 
King's Threatre poster (NAA exhibition)
Amongst all the photos and extracts was a threate poster >> and staring out from it was the word Horsham.
One of the members of the Anzac Coves was J.Davey a baritone from Horsham, Vic.
Jack Leslie Davey was a member of the Hospital Transport Corps from May 1915 to September 1918. He embarked on 17 July 1915 on the HMAT Orsova from Melbourne. Aged 24 he had been a storekeeper, his father John lived in Baillie Street in Horsham.
The “Anzac Coves” was an Australian Pierrot entertainment troupe, consisting entirely of soldiers. Established after the Gallipoli Campaign, they performed in many places on the Western Front – in barns and sheds, often just behind the trenches.
With a lively sense of humour, the troupe satirised military life. The Coves were so popular they toured Britain in 1918.
The Coves had played in the King's, Court and Ambassadors theatres, and at Buckingham Palace before the King and Queen and the Prince of Wales.
An informal photo of the troupe in uniform (NAA exhibition)
Below is a studio group portrait photograph of the troupe taken in London, from April 1918 "'The Anzac Coves', 1st Australian Headquarters Pierrot Troupe. Direct from the firing line ‘Somewhere in France’”. This concert party was to perform from 29 April 1918 at King's Theatre, Hammersmith, with proceeds to go to the Australian Repatriation Fund for Discharged Soldiers.

Third row, left to right: unidentified; unidentified; Harry Ross (tenor); unidentified; 7461 Private (Pte) Benjamin Joseph Davies (second tenor); unidentified. Second row: 6313 Pte Frank Harold Crossley (comedian and raconteur); 4027 Driver Frank James Donovan (pianist); 1992 Lance Corporal Harold Frederick Shaw (comedian); 9619 Pte Ralph Lyn Sawyer (female impersonator and dancer); probably 9129 Staff Sergeant Rannall Carlsile (manager); A Roberts (comedian); 1955 Pte Hugh Gannon (ragtime and light comedian); 264 Sergeant Jack Leslie Davey (baritone). Front row: Fred Reade (light comedian and dancer); J Gibb (monologist); 2664 Pte Leslie Herbert Williams (bass). Also identified is W J Smith (mechanic) position unknown.
Biographical information on Jack Davey from "Strewth" -  Jack was a draper, who had lived all his life in Horshjam, with previous military experience with the Horsham Cadets. In November 1916 Jack was sent to France and attached to the 7th Field Ambulance. In January 1917 he was detached to the Theatre Corps. He returned to Australia in May 1919. He married Mary Stoddart Fenton. Jack had an excellent singing voice and frequently performed in Australia. Jack died in Hamilton in 1970.
This photograph was part of "Our boys at the Front" series of postcards, no. 19. From a set of official photographs by special permission of the Department of Defence, proceeds from sales went to the Australian Comforts Fund. It was taken on 23 November 1917 from an unknown Australian Official Photographer, taken in Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Steenwerck, France. It was titled - 'Anzac Coves' Concert Party in a theatre erected in a French village. Identified left to right, standing: (Pte) Reade; (Pte) Ross; (Pte) Gibb; Gunner Williams; (Sgt) Davey; (LCpl) Crossley. Sitting: (LCpl) Shaw; (Pt)e Roberts; (Sgt) Cannon; (Driver) Donovan (at the piano).

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Searching for ancestors

The culmination of 'History is a story' month, will be the "Searching for Ancestors : family history seminar" which is a unique opportunity to have renowned presenters speaking to local audiences.
The seminar will provide practical information and guidance to use in your current or future family history and local history projects.

The presenters are:
Eric Kopittke has been researching his family history in Australia, Germany, England and Wales since 1985. Eric joined the Queensland Family History Society in 1985, and has been convenor of its Central European Group for over 20 years. He is also President of the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland.
Academically, he studied at the University of Queensland where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science (Physics and Mathematics), a Bachelor of Arts (Geography and Computer Science) and a Diploma of Education. He recently retired from teaching Physics and Mathematics at St Peters Lutheran College, Indooroopilly.
Eric regularly speaks at family history societies and at other events as his teaching commitments allow. 
At the ‘Searching for Ancestors family history seminar’ Eric will be presenting:

Emigration from Germany to Australia - How to use records from Australia and elsewhere to determine your German ancestor’s place of origin, and an overview of the Hamburg Emigration lists – direct and indirect – why these are useful for researching your European ancestors.
Researching German civil & church records - Prior to the introduction of civil registration, church records provided details of baptisms, marriages and burials. German records often give far more detail than their English equivalents. Discover how to locate and use German civil registration records, unlike Australian and British records, German civil registration was not centrally located nor did all regions begin at the same time.

Rosemary Kopittke has been researching her families in Australia, England and Scotland since 1985. That year she joined the Queensland Family History Society and has held many positions within the society.
Her academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) and Bachelor of Arts (Computer Science) at the University of Queensland and she has completed the Certificate of Genealogical Studies (English Records) with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Though trained as a statistician, she currently works as a part-time consultant for Gould Genealogy & History and Unlock the Past. 

Rosemary’s topics at the ‘Searching for Ancestors family history seminar’ are:
Using Directories & Almanacs for family history - A look at the wide range of directories and almanacs available and why you should use them when compiling your family history.
Tracing your ancestors in England - An overview of basic resources – civil registration, church records, census, cemetery records, directories, elector registers, maps, newspapers and wills - including many examples and covers a variety of ways of accessing the data – free and subscription.

Alan Phillips has been a publisher and re-seller of a wide range of historical and genealogical resources since 1976, trading now as Gould Genealogy & History. Gould Genealogy brought leading publishers from the UK and US to Australia in 2003 for a national roadshow to 6 cities around the country. One result was the establishment of Archive Digital Books Australia, part of an international network of Archive CD Books publishers bringing a wide range of historical resources to researchers, societies and libraries. Alan has spoken widely around Australia and here will be speaking on:
Getting the most from Gould Genealogy and Unlock the Past – Gould & Unlock the Past resources and services for family and local historians.

There will be an exhibition by Gould Genealogy & History, and Unlock the Past, with special offers & prizes, along with opportunities to purchase discounted Gould books and materials.
The seminar is intended for those interested in family or local history - or any form of history; and those who might be encouraged to research and record their personal or family/local history; and writers who are interested in developing more skills and ideas for historical writing.
The Shire of Wimmera honour board in the Conference Room
It will be held on Saturday 31st October 2015 from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the Horsham RSL Conference Room (next to the Horsham Library) 36 McLachlan Street, Horsham. 
Parking is available in the RSL and Mibus Centre carparks. 
The cost will be $20:00 for Advance bookings and $25:00 for bookings made on the day. For the price you get a 2 course lunch at the RSL’s ‘Bistro on McLachlan’, with morning and afternoon tea and a day full of inspiring talks. 
Bookings are essential and need to be made at the Horsham Library, Mibus Centre, 28 McLachlan Street in Horsham. Inquiries: Phone 03 5382 5707.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Archival film launch

The library has been involved in the creation of ‘The Farmer’s Cinematheque’ for some time, and now finally the film is born.
John and Relvy Teasdale were farmers in the Wimmera region of north-western Victoria. Over more than fifty years they created a rich and evocative filmic record of working and community life in their particular dry-land farming district of Rupanyup. For John and Relvy, farming and film-making were an inter-related devotional practice. 
Upon his death ten years ago, John Teasdale left a cupboard full of films that reveal and evoke a rich and nourishing terrain. Spanning five decades from the late 1930s to the late 1980s, the Teasdale films offer views into the psychological, social and economic complexities of a wondrous and sophisticated rural world that on the one hand seems to be disappearing but on the other continues to sustain, adapt and recreate itself. 'The Farmer's Cinematheque' exhumes the Teasdale films from the archive and explores their resonance in the context of a world rapidly changing but connected still to a profound legacy of ideas, desires and rituals.
Set against contemporary footage and embellished with story-telling from members of the Teasdale family and the Wimmera community, the film stimulates thinking about the power of memory and the nature of our attachment to particular country, drawing parallels between Indigenous and settler modes of country-keeping and providing elements of revelation and affirmation about rural life. A meditation on the power of country and also a demonstration, quite literally, of the power of film, Combining sequences from the archive with contemporary footage and voices 'The Farmer's Cinematheque' teases out important questions about our custodianship of places and communities in the context of a rapidly changing global environment. It is a lyrical film about the power of memory, the nature of our attachment to country and the ways in which communities strive to balance change and tradition.
‘The Farmer’s Cinematheque’ has its own website, where you can get a sneak peek at the film trailer. The film is a Reckless Eye Production, written and directed by Malcolm McKinnon and Ross Gibson, with cinematography by Ben Speth, produced by Annie Venables, and music by Chris Abrahams.
The world premiere will be at the 2015 Adelaide Film Festival, on 19th October, and importantly its local screening is a free event on 1st November, in Natimuk, part of the Nati Frinj Biennale.
'Combine Nation' 2004 Space and Place
The Nati Frinj Festival is a bi-annual event with an eclectic mix of programs and performances (one of the most notable has been the pictures and lights projected onto the exterior walls of Natimuk’s railway grain silos).