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, 17 October 2016

Morton Plains' Madonna

Rewriting this post, as it was corrupted in draft, so hoping I remember the details. When conducting the first 'Wimmera in Photographs' Collection Day, I was told to look out for the Madonna of Morton Plains.  
The Madonna's tree
The Madonna of Morton Plains
The 'Madonna of Morton Plains' is a framed print which was placed on the trunk of a box tree near the Morton Plains homestead. Over the years the bark of the tree has slowly grown over the frame embedding it in the tree.
At the Birchip Collection Day, I asked about the story behind the Madonna, and received 3 very different versions.
The first version was that a lady had seen a vision of Our Lady, and then placed the picture in remembrance.
The second was that there had been a murder in the vicinity, and in an act of compassion, a sympathiser of the victim erected the frame.
And finally, that a child was buried nearby, and when the road was diverted to over the spot, the picture was placed near the new verge.

Not sure how one would go about validating the claims of version one.
Investigating the claims of the second version - the murder, the only reference I could find in Trove was from 14th September 1875:
An inquest was held to-day (in St Arnaud) on the body of Davie, an aboriginal, who is supposed to have been murdered on the Morton Plains by being thrown into a fire. The inquiry resulted very unsatisfactorily as the aboriginal witnesses denied the statements previously made by them to Europeans. The natives now stated that the deceased fell into the fire while in a fit. The deceased, prior to his death had made a similar statement to Mr. Miller, a publican in the district, who was a witness at the inquest. A verdict was returned that death was caused by congestion of the lungs and injuries received from burns, but it was not known how the injuries had been caused.  

The third version - the burial of the child, the road (where the Warracknabeal-Birchip Rd meets the Sunraysia Hwy) was diverted, as shown by the yellow road on the Warmur Parish map, which was gazetted in May 1956. The Madonna tree is on Allotment 90A, and the Morton Plains homestead is to the south of the Warracknabeal-Birchip Rd in the Watchem Parish.
The third version appears to have the most legs (1875 seems too long in the past, and was it truly a murder?), but then again if the burial was a marked grave would a road be constructed over it
 Leasees of Morton Plains were William Lockhart Morton and Joseph Raleigh 1846-1847, Raleigh 1846-1847, Thomas Pyke 1847-1853, Charles Lyon and Compton Ferrers 1853-1864, George Cunningham Macredie 1864-1870, Charles Mills & Co 1870-1873, Walter, George & Edward Simmons 1873-1876.
From that possibles are:
Eliza Kate Morton born 1847 died 1848, father "W"
Robert Pyke born 1847 Werribee died 1854, father Thomas Henry Pyke, mother Sarah (1405) 
Clare Mills born 1870 died 1873, mother Kate
Baby Simmons born 1873 one day, father George Lewis Simmons, mother Mary McGuire (2920)
William Simmons born 1872 died 1875, father Edward Joseph Simmons, mother Jane Brown (13296)
I don't know, maybe it is just a curiosity!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Tarrying at Tarranyurk

Prompted to share a couple of bridges in flood.
The previous photos of the old Tarranyurk Bridge on the "Bridges in floods" post were taken in March 2008 and April 2011.
The Wimmera River swirling into the Old Tarranyurk Bridge (Dimboola Courier)
These are from the Dimboola Courier and were taken on Tuesday 20th September 2016, as the flood peak moves towards Jeparit.
Hang in there Tarranyurk! 

The partially collapsed deck of the bridge, the current bridge is to the left (Dimboola Courier)

Began this post on 22nd September, but now updated, so it was possible to add a few more flooded old bridges taken on 24th.

Firstly - Antwerp, the flood peak had moved on from around Antwerp, but evidence of the higher level was apparent with debris still piled up against the old bridge deck, which as shown is only just above the water level. 

<< The new & old Antwerp bridges

Below the old bridge with its missing span, from the previous flood in 2011.

Both Tarranyurk bridges

Arriving at Tarranyurk, the flow of the river was evident, with little whirlpools and frothy spume whipped up around the piles.

  The bridge deck at Tarranyurk  >>

Moving on to Jeparit - the peak had again been and gone, onto Lake Hindmarsh. 
The waters had only reached part-way up the cross-members of the trestles.
Above & below - Jeparit

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Soldiering on the land

A PROV “Soldier On” exhibition will be at Horsham Library from Monday October 17th until Friday 25th November, and then at St. Arnaud Library from Tuesday 29th November 7 until Friday 16th December.
Victoria sent about 90,000 men and women to serve overseas in the First World War, about 70,000 of whom survived to return home. As the war continued, the issue of repatriating returning soldiers became increasingly urgent. As well as providing War pensions and other financial assistance, State governments of the time set up ‘settlement’ schemes to support returning soldiers with work. These ambitious and controversial schemes involved subdividing large rural estates into smaller parcels of land for family farming blocks and leasing them back to discharged service-people. In Victoria around 11,000 farms were created. Each potential settler was required to be certified as qualified to apply, and if successful to remain in residence on that land for 5 years. In this way remote rural areas set aside for such settlement were guaranteed a population expansion for a number of years
Erecting a standard soldier settler home (SLV)
The First World War Soldier Settlement 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 Soldier Settlement Commission (later called The Rural Finance Commission) began in 1945 to oversee the WW2 Soldier Settlement Scheme.
Oliver Telfer's (ex-22nd Battalion Gallipoli veteran) first house, Lascelles, 1922 (Vic. Museum)
The Public Record Office Victoria have digitised selected documents from Victorian Government files kept on returned World War One soldiers who were approved to lease a block of farming land in Victoria. These government records will help family and Australian history researchers understand the individual experience of a soldier settler, as well as the historical context of the Victorian Soldier Settlement Scheme.
An Exhibition Launch with a talk from the Exhibition Curator Kate Luciano of the Public Record Office Victoria, will take place at Horsham Library on Monday October 17th at 6.30pm. Bookings are essential via visiting the library or phoning 5382 5707.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Tarrying at Tarranyurk

Prompted to share a couple of bridges in flood. 
The previous photos of the old Tarranyurk Bridge on the "Bridges in floods" post were taken in March 2008 and April 2011.
The Wimmera River swirling into the Old Tarranyurk Bridge (Dimboola Courier)
These photos are from the Dimboola Courier and were taken on Tuesday 20th September 2016, as the flood peak moves towards Jeparit.
Hang in there Tarranyurk! 
The partially collapsed deck of the bridge, the current bridge is to the left (Dimboola Courier)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

School sports

With the Olympic Games over for another 4 years, maybe it's time to check out some local sport -
'Weekly Times' article and photos of the Sports Day held at Balmoral, in 1936.

THE representatives of ten schools in the Balmoral and Harrow districts met at Balmoral on April 17 to compete for the Glenelg Schools' Sports Association Shield, when Balmoral experienced its first win in seven years, their students bringing success by winning the relay flag race in the growing dusk.
The Harrow competitors

Students from Balmoral, Harrow, Kongbool Kanagulk. Pigeon Ponds, Telangatuk East, Vasey, Gringegalgona, Yulong and Urangara schools participated in the meeting, which attracted visitors from all parts of the district. The right to hold the shield for the next 12 months could not be determined until the final event on a full afternoon's programme was completed.
The Telangatuk East Team

Yulong, with an enrolment of 15 scholars, staged a fine performance in pushing the winning school so closely, the ultimate points scored by the schools being as under: —Balmoral (scr.), 68 points- Yulong (34), 61; Vasey (34), 47; Kongbool (33), 47; Telangatuk East (10) 45; Gringegalgona (42), 42; Harrow (8) 39; Urangara (32) 36; Kanagulk (23) 36; Pigeon Ponds (18) 30. It appears there was some form of handicapping, which leveled the playing-field amongst the the bigger (Harrow & Balmoral) and smaller (Urangara & Yulong) schools.
 Chidren from the smaller schools, Urangara, Gringegalonga, Kanagulk, Vasey, Kongbool, Pigeon Ponds and Yulong.

Apart from the wonderful running and skipping of the girls, among whom the Yulong girls were outstanding, the Dempsey brothers (Balmoral) showed unexpected pace, Dave Dempsey winning the Under 9, 10, and 11 events in run-away fashion, and Jack Dempsey gaining sprint honors in the Under 12 events, and Evan Rees (Telangatuk East) took the Under 13 high jump at 4ft 3in., and gained several points for his school on the flat.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Rup on film at Rup

The film ‘The Farmer’s Cinematheque’ will have a special one-off screening at the Rupanyup Memorial Hall at 2pm on Sunday 9th October.
‘The Farmer’s Cinematheque’ tells a story that comes from Rupanyup, although it could equally be a story from many other country towns. For more details on the history of the film see this previous post.
There’s a poetic resonance to this event, as the late John Teasdale, creator of most of the archival celluloid interpreted within the film, served many years as the projectionist for the Memorial Hall, in between his farming and his filmmaking. (The Memorial Hall makes a few appearances within the film.)
For information on the film, including a 2 minute teaser, please follow the link.
Admission to the Rupanyup screening costs $5  and includes afternoon tea.
A DVD version of ‘The Farmer’s Cinematheque’ will be launched at the screening, and copies will be available to purchase.

Monday, 22 August 2016

The flow of time

As the rains come tumbling down, people's thoughts turn to the river.
This piece is from the Dimboola Courier: 

The first natural flow in the Wimmera River since 2012 flowed past Antwerp earlier this week and had progressed northwards to a point beyond the Tarranyurk bridge by Friday evening 12th August.

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority said the natural flow peaked at 468 megalitres a day at Lochiel.
Prior to this event the river had dried up to the point where it was just a series of stagnant waterholes linked by stretches of dry riverbed with only the weir pools at Dimboola and Jeparit holding any significant quantities of water in the lower reaches of the river.

The old Antwerp Weir in April 2016 (Dimboola Courier)
The weir, August 2016 (Dimboola Courier)
The only man made structure on the river between the Antwerp and Tarranyurk road bridges is the old Antwerp weir (pictured above) which was constructed of timber and stone in 1903 to create a more permanent body of water for the local community. The weir pool became the venue for the annual Antwerp rowing regattas in the following years.
It is unclear when it was no longer required and fell into disrepair, but a significant amount of the structure still remains.

Proposals were put forward in the early years of last century to construct a similar structure near Tarranyurk to provide a water supply for that area but this never built.

This series of photographs were taken in the vicinity of the Antwerp weir both this week and back in April and they highlight this structure in the dry and with the water flowing. 

The weir in 1903 (SLV)
The historical photograph, taken in 1903, compares with the one below, taken recently from a similar location to show the changes over the last century. The most obvious being the regrowth of trees around the weir itself.
The Antwerp weir in August 2016 (Dimboola Courier)
The water arrived at Jeparit a day later, and will now flow into Lake Hindmarsh. The last inflow into the lake was as a result of the 2011 floods.
The Jeparit Weir, August 2016 (Dimboola Courier)
The last time that the lake itself flooded was in August 1956. At Jeparit, the Wimmera River rose and forced Lake Hindmarsh to burst its bank near Four Mile, when the inflow overwhelmed the ability of Outlet Creek to cope with the huge volume, and was further  compounded by the wind and waves forcing the water towards the south. Hundreds of acres of wheat crops were affected, several roads were cut, two families were forced from their homes and 30 others were threatened.
The old Jeparit road bridge in 1956, from the north bank (L. Hounsel)
The historic photograph shows the water up to the corbels of the old road bridge over the Wimmera River.The photo below shows the struts and pilings visible below the corbels.
The old Jeparit road bridge in November 2007, from the south bank

Friday, 19 August 2016

Re: when Works does not work

This is a re-post of a blog from the National Library of Australia, illustrating why digital preservation and preservation of digital is so important
"When Works does not work : a journey from convicts to digital preservation"

While 1788 was ages ago, and paper resources can last for centuries, it is amazing how quickly hardware and software can date and become obsolete.

So make sure your data doesn't sink out of sight, and ustilise a digital life-preserver.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Game on

Conducted against the backdrop of the Suez crisis and the Hungarian Revolution, the Melbourne Olympics known as 'The Friendly Games', commenced on 22nd November 1956. 
The Games were centred around the Melbourne Cricket Ground and in terms of gold medals, were one of the most successful ever for Australian athletes. Athletes such as Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland, Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser dominated their events. 
Television was introduced in Australia in time to broadcast the events, and thus made sure their success became part of Australian sporting history.
Melbourne secured the right to host the Games back in 1949 and organisers immediately set about a building campaign.
The Olympic rings still suspended above Alamein Road
A self-contained Olympic Games village of 788-840 solid brick, brick veneer and pre-fabricated concrete houses accommodated up to 6,000 athletes and officials during the Games. 
It was built on the site of a former swamp in West Heidelberg, by the Victorian Housing Commission on a 117 acre (30 hectare) site 7½ miles (14km) from the main Olympic Stadium (the MCG). 
Some of the Games housing in Southern Rd
The houses were a mix of single, semi-detached dwellings, and a number of row hoses. Each house had (what was then) a modern bathroom with shower, bath and basin, with hot and cold water from gas bath-heaters.
The Olympic shopping centre today
Facilities provided for the Games include 3 sports grounds, shopping centre, bank, post office, medical & dental centre, police, station, barber shop, and clothes mending & shoe repair centre. 
The community hall (now a leisure centre) was the venue for films, concerts, dance and other events for the athletes.
Communication home for the athletes was largely via telegrams which were delivered by local boy scouts.
The Games Village Green with its Olympic bollards
There were dining rooms and kitchens for the different national groups in separate temporary buildings. It was said that the many cooks, chefs & bakers (like Burnetti's) brought in for the Games were the birth of Melbourne's food culture.
The Games Village was planned, so that it become available for conversion to permanent housing after the Games. For years after the Games finished, the Housing Commission estate remained as public housing.
The precinct is now in the City of Banyule and is on their Heritage Register.