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.

Sunday, 19 February 2017


Sharing...and acknowledging

Nowdays everything is visible on the Net, and distributing, liking, RSS, sharing & copying are part and parcel of this phenomenon.
And unfortunately issues of intellectual property and copyright breaches are also phenomenal.
With regard to posts on this blog, or Pinterest, and the like - yes we allow sharing, in fact we encourage it - but we'd like acknowledgement of where this information was obtained. 
It is just common decency to apportion credit, recognise sources, or admit the information came from elsewhere and wasn't your own work, even before entering into the murky world of what is or is not covered by copyright or intellectual property. 
And yes, permission was requested and provided to use this photograph.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Returning to Carpolac

The story that won’t go away...still on the Carpolac line

Kym Phillips commented on the post "Railways - Carpolac line" which mentioned that the Goroke Passenger service ended in 1965.

Kym found the following excerpt in "A centenary of education 1885-1985 : a history of Goroke Consolidated School", which while not saying that the passenger service continued after that date, is interesting to note that conditions for passengers must have continued to be suitable:
"In 1969 the Victorian Governor, Sir Rohan Delacombe visited the Kowree Shire. The Governor's train was stationed at Goroke for several days while the Governor and Lady Delacombe attended various functions in the area - at Edenhope, Goroke and Lake Charlegrark."

So that entailed a number of searches: firstly to see how the 'Mail-Times' covered the event - it had two articles from 22nd December
From the front page
And page 11
As well as, how did vice regal dignitaries travel in the 60s? That was a search of PROVs collection of Public Transport photographs which yielded up a variety of images.
Believe this would be the now derelict ballroom at the Flinders Street Station.
"Railways Ballroom function for Sir Rohan Delacombe"
The Royal Sleeper, don't know if it was limited to royalty or extended to royal representatives. It could be one reason why the Delacombes were based at Goroke (with a railway), and not put up at the pub.
"Sleeping compartment Heritage Carriage, Royal train, 1927"
This was included as it was titled Wimmera Buffet Carriage just to show how railway travel used to be.
"Wimmera Buffet Carriage"
Likewise this one of a rather grand Better Farming train carriage. The Better Farming trains toured the state demonstrating new equipment, and promoting improved methods to farmers.
"Better Farming Train Display. K Class loco No. 109 and various carriages & displays c1930s"
After the cessation of regular passenger services on the various local branch lines, there were still a number of special trains.
From the 'Power to the rails' book, this photo taken by Bob Wilson of an Australian Railway Exploration Association special excursion train returning from Carpolac, crossing the Wimmera River at Quantong, on 18th March 1983.

From the Western Victorian Railfan page is this image from 1985/86 of Loco D3 639 hauling a special steam train at Jeparit, on the Dimboola to Yaapeet line, showing the jumbo grain silo on the left and the station building & verandah that was demolished soon after.
Special train at Jeparit
And still on the Carpolac line - A. Ampt has commented on the much discussed Museum Victoria pic of the wheat stack at Remlaw, or is it Natimuk?
Stack of wheat bags, 1930
He says it IS at Remlaw looking east, towards Horsham. And yes there is a peppercorn in the Remlaw siding yard too!

So another road trip out to Remlaw Station Rd to see if we can line up all the elements. A road that could be the Remlaw Station Rd (or Sission St) is visible entering from the right. And is the peppercorn tree hiding the Remlaw Rd to Horsham?

Okay after a drive by here is a present day photo of Remlaw Siding looking towards Horsham.
Remlaw, the shadow is cast by one of the silos
And the verdict - yes the Museum photo is Remlaw. Even though not taken from the same height, the weigh-bridge is visible on the left, the peppercorn to its right (though strangely it appears to be shorter now & impossible to park a vehicle under), then the tall sugar-gum now with a sparser canopy, then the plantation at the paddock corner. There is a shed at the group of trees on the right which may or may not be faintly visible just above the stack.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

W.O.F. 2017

This year's 'Women on Farms Gathering' is again in the region, and will be held at Harrow in the West Wimmera Shire.
The event will run for 3 days - Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March, with a variety of events, workshops, bus tours, and entertainment.

Details are on the  West Wimmera Women on Farms Gathering 2017 website, with a program list and registration form.

Once again the Library will be conducting three workshops - 
'Place-names of the Wimmera': explore the history of the Wimmera and Southern Mallee region at 'Place-names of the Wimmera', a presentation showing how explorers and surveyors named specific places – localities & towns, parishes & counties, and lakes & streams, hills & mountains across the region. It includes Aboriginal and historic etymology of some of the place names.
'Delve into your Family History : using electronic tools': learn how libraries can assist in researching local & family history using online resources such as TROVE, Find My Past, Ancestry, and PROV.

'Country Schools': a photographic journey around the Wimmera,showcasing the many and varied schools which have existed over the years.These schools also represented centres of communities often serving as churches, halls, polling booths and dance venues. Many of the now vanished schools were small one-teacher rural schools which existed for short periods of time opening, moving and closing as school-age populations waxed and waned with farming fortunes.

The presentations will be held in the Harrow Library at the Harrow Hall.
To book go to the registration page of the WOF website (registrations close on 3rd March). 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Back to the ABC

The 1868 photograph of Johnny Mullagh, which was lost when the Harrow Hall burned down
Yes everyone will be watching the Harrow episode of the ABC's 'Back Roads' tonight at 8pm.
This week is the final episode of Season 2. Heather Ewart visits Harrow, a creative community that took to heart the mantra "reinvent or perish" and found unique ways to bring new people and fresh ideas into the town.
Stories include the Aboriginal cricketers, the Beaut Blokes weekends, Stretch Penrose's paintings, and Neil Grigg's millinery, to name a few.
And then there is this cute little back-story.
If you miss the episode, the repeat program is on Sunday 5th February at 1:30pm.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Freezing in Donald

On the outskirts of the Donald township, straddling its own railway track, are the rusting remains of the Donald Inland Freezing Company's buildings. 
The layout of the freezing works
The works cover 10 acres of 109 acres of company owned land of resting paddocks. Most of the buildings are abandoned or converted to other uses. Only the portion of the rail-line to the grain silos is utilised.
A grain train loading at the silos
Built at a cost £130,000 by the Donald Inland Freezing Company, it started in 1920 (the foundation stone was laid on August 31 1920 by the Victorian Premier Sir Harry Lawson). 
It was registered as a shareholders company in September 1919, with an opening capital of £100,000. In 1920, the state government gave loans to both the Donald and Murtoa freezing works for extensions. The plant was erected under the Primary Products Advance Act. Preference was to be given to the employment of Returned Servicemen.
The slaughterhouse and toppled chimney
The plant had a killing capacity of 2,500 lambs by a full board of 28 butchers per day, with storage for 60,000 carcasses.
The sheepyards with the ramp to the slaughter house
The skins and offal gravitated down chutes to the ground floor. The dressed carcasses were conveyored by endless iron rail to the scales then to the hanging room, where they cooled for 4 hours then gravitated into an air-lock at the entrance to the 6 freezing chambers (each holding 1,200 carcasses). From 45 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day, the temperature was gradually reduced to 5 degrees on the third day. Carcasses then passed down through trapdoors into the 50,000 carcass storage chamber where they were stacked for transport.
Pieces of one of the engines
The 70 square-foot Engine room supplied power generated by 3 sets of Hornsby 116 horse-power twin-cylinder gas engines, and the freezing was produced by two 60-ton Linde refrigerators powered by a 75 kilowatt electric generator.
Other buildings were the huge skin-drying shed, the tallow building for extraction and refinement of the fat.
The lamb was sold to a firm of London importers.
Ice was produced as a sideline and shipped as far north as Mildura, while the blood, offal and bones were converted into manure for the Mildura citrus growers.
The engine rooms
Operations began in October 1921, but by 1922 the company was unable to make its repayments to the government and sought to increase the number of shareholders. In the 1922-23 season it slaughtered 96,000 lambs and sheep for the London markets, it was hampered by a shortage of slaughter-men. The shareholders agreed to joining the formation of Amalgamated Freezing Companies (it later became the Inland Meat Authority) in March 1927. This was followed by a Royal Commission into AFC in August, and the Company was again in arrears to the government in October.
The rail-line & slaughterhouse (the brown ceramic tiles on the walls cover a deep hollow block filled with cork)
The works limped on, re-opening in September 1932 after being closed for several years, and by 1943 had only operated 4 times in the last 15 years, due to insufficient lamb supplies.
The plant closed and re-opened & closed again in 1977-78. The freezing section was turned into a yabby (freshwater crayfish) production plant 'Oz Crays' during the 1980s (now derelict). Oz Crays exported crayfish to France, the building has also been used for cultivating mushrooms.
The sign still advertising Oz Crays
The north-most section is home to 'Kooka's Country Cookies' (established in 1990s). Cooka's nearly closed in 2012, but has since begun exporting to Asia, and can be seen on supermarket shelves and as individually wrapped biscuits in motels.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Trove locations

Heaps of people know about and use Trove to access its Historic Newspapers collection, even those who would not usually frequent a library.  
Now to make it even friendlier, there is the Trove newspaper locator. It is an early experiment in providing a place-based interface to the Trove newspapers. 
Newspaper locations in the Wimmera region

Just enter a place name and state and it will attempt return the ten nearest newspaper titles that relate to that location. 
Obviously not all Australian newspapers, only those that have been digitised and loaded onto Trove.  

 For instance, none of the Edenhope newspapers are on Trove, but this tells you what papers are geographically around (including interstate) the area, which may be relevant or have reported on Edenhope happenings or events.

The locator was created by Tim Sherratt a historian in Canberra, who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. He creates online resources relating to archives, museums and history, making them more accessible like this Trove newspaper locator.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Yonder to Yanac

Following a comment concerning the ‘Railways – Yanac line’ post in August 2016, which referred to an article featuring the history of the Jeparit - Yanac branch-line published in the Spring Edition of the ‘Australian Railway Enthusiast’ magazine, we have sourced a copy from the State Library of Victoria’s collection (Thanks SLV).
Titled ‘Yonder to Yanac-a-Yanac Jeparit – Yanac branch line history’ by Bruce Payne, it follows the establishment of the lines from Dimboola to Yaapeet and the branching from Jeparit through Detpa, Lorquon and Netherby to Yanac, and details how the line was constructed –
Detpa 255½ mile (441km) 318ft (97m) ASL
Detpa opened with the line to Lorquon and appears to have always been operated under no-one-in-charge conditions. The name is native “wait” or “stop a bit”. There was once a suggestion of naming it ‘Hindmarsh’ but this never eventuated. It consisted of a siding, sheep race, silo complex of 13,300 tonnes in 1984, 15-ton weighbridge, and a Mallee shed situated on the passenger platform.
Detpa in 2012
Lorquon 261½ mile (421km) 356ft (109m) ASL
Lorquon became the terminus and train staff & ticket station from December 1912 till the line was extended to Yanac in consisted of 2 sidings, silo complex of 9,700 tonnes in 1984, 15-ton weighbridge and a platform with a small station building.
Lorquon's silos & weighbridge
Netherby 267½ mile (431km) 406ft (109m) ASL
Netherby was named after Netherby in Yorkshire and the ship Netherby wrecked off King Island. It was established as a train staff  and ticket station when the line opened to Yanac in June 1916. Initially it was operated by a Station Master who also supervised Yanac. He was replaced by a caretaker in September 1922, then dis-established as a staff and ticket station in December. The caretaker remained till May 1976. Netherby had 2 sidings, a sheep race, silos of 14,200 tonnes, a 2½ ton crane, 15 ton weighbridge and a small wooden station building.
The Netherby silo complex
Yanac 279½ mile (450km) 421ft (129m) ASL
Yanac opened on 27 June 1916 and operated under caretaker-in-charge conditions. The station facilities were two sidings, a cattle & sheep race, silos of 14,000 tonnes, a 2½ ton crane, 15 ton weighbridge, a small wooden station building, loco water storage and a crew rest house. A turntable never eventuated, and the station building was downsized and finally removed. It operated under caretaker conditions till July 1976 and officially closed on 8 December 1986.
Site of Yanac's station building, looking toward Netherby today
Bruce's view of Yanac in 1975 (sorry for the flaring)
Yanac's silos without the Goods Shed & Station building looking west to the buffers at the end of the line
Thanks to Bruce's article for all the information and the historic photos.


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Leaning to oblivion

The importance of recording and digitally preserving abandoned buildings before they too succumb to the elements is indisputable.
Dinyarrak Hall in March 2013
This was no more obvious than approaching the Dinyarrack Hall to find it collapsed onto itself.
Remains of the Dinyarrak Hall in December 2016
'Border Chronicle' 4.4.1933
The Dinyarrak Hall was the center of the community for many years, which had a racecourse, a hunt club, the Dinyarrak Bush Fire Brigade was formed in the hall, and the Wild Dog Club was just one group which met in the hall.
It also housed Dinyarrak State School No. 4178. The school opened on a trial basis in October 1923 for the children of soldier settlers (the number of pupils was insufficient to warrant the establishment of a school for the district close to the South Australian border) in the Dinyarrak Hall leased from the Trustees of the Hall Committee from July 1923. In 1926, a proposal to move to a more central site was defeated. It was the opening of the new school at Cove Estate that reduced the number of pupils, and Dinyarrak closed under ministerial direction in November 1930 in favour of the more central SS4457 Cove Estate. The school furniture & equipment went to Cove Estate.
Interior of the Dinyarrak Hall
Further down the road at Diapur, it was a similar situation for the little grain receival/sampling shed at the railway siding. After adopting a definite lean for some years, it finally toppled over.
The Diapur shed in January 2008
Diapur with the Melbourne-Adelaide rail line behind, December 2016

And so it was with some trepidation to continue on to Boyeo, knowing that it was only the sturdy construction with extra rafters and internal bracing that had prevented it from collapsing earlier.
Had the wild weather affected Boyeo too?
Boyeo School in March 2013
And in December 2016
Fortunately not, apart from a greater degree of incline it was still upright. A few more weatherboards were missing, the door was no longer swinging on its hinges and someone had propped it against a wall, but essentially it was much the same - for now.

The message though is don't expect abandoned or neglected buildings to remain or be saved and restored. Capture them while you can because tomorrow may be too late.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas in times gone by

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to All
Christmas in the Adelaide Children's Hospital, 1918 (Trove)