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, 25 April 2016

Update on local halls

Previously there have been a couple of posts concerning stage curtains - the section of the stage which sets the scene. These backdrops were works of art, huge canvases often depicting rural/garden scenes or town/cityscapes, see posts - Drawing the curtain and On stage in Watchem.
There are still a number of local halls which have not succumb to the mere film screen perched at the rear of the stage - Aubrey, Rupanyup, and Kooreh.

And here is Kooreh's stage curtains - very English
The stage curtains & the new flooring

450mm of flood water inundated the Kooreh Hall during the floods in January 2011, leaving behind 15cm of silt. While the floorboards and some fittings were ruined and had to be replaced, the historic stage curtains were saved.

The flood level peaked at the mark on the plaque now attached to the side door of the hall (photo on the left).

It was thanks to funds from the government & the Shire that the hall was restored.
The restored hall now
represents what can be done with local community support and sufficient monetary funds. Unlike Gre Gre, where the hall building has to be approaching 'too-far-gone'
Gre Gre Village Soldiers Memorial Hall

The Gre Gre Village Hall was erected as a memorial to the soldiers of World War 1, in 1923. 

Fourteen Gre Gre district people served in the First World War, including Nurse A.C. Jackson.

The building has deteriorated even further since this photograph (on the right) was taken by Esma Barratt in 1988.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dressed to make the film

Now that 'The Dressmaker' film has hit the theatres and the DVD has been released, people are looking to see who and what they recognise (refer to earlier post 'Done and dusted' of filming scenes in the Wimmera). Here is a location guide to film settings, with screen shots from the DVD matched to actual places.
Dungatar looking up the hill to Molly's
Dungatar town exteriors - Mt Rothwell near Little River (room interiors - Docklands Studio)
The approach to Jung

Silo - distant views - Jung, except for the CGI superimposed on Mt Rothwell landscape (close-ups - Docklands Studio) 

 << The real Jung silos beside the Melbourne-Adelaide rail-line.

Below - the silos as in the film with Gyton Grantley (playing Barney McSwiney) sitting on the lid of the steel bin.
Jung silos looking west
 Dance exterior - Sailors Home Hall (interior - Williamstown)
Sailors Home Hall with the Blue Ribbon Rd in front
The Sailors Home Hall & toilet block
Molly's burial - Jerro Cemetery
Mourners at the Jerro Cemetery
The Jerro Cemetery, north of Jung on the Greenhills Road
Wedding church - unknown

Longerenong Homestead
Wedding breakfast - Longerenong Homestead
The marquee on the front lawn at the homestead
Side view of the Longerenong Homestead
Winyerp Theatre exterior - Murtoa (interior - Yarraville)
Murtoa's Mechanics Institute Hall

Football match - Jung Recreation Reserve
The massive gums surrounding Jung Rec Reserve
The pavilions at the Jung Rec Reserve
Train - Victorian Goldfields Railway (Muckleford Station and steam locomotive D3 639)

Leaving Muckleford for Maldon

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Institutions crumble

Two  Wimmera institutions crumbled and were reduced to rumble this week.
The Church of Christ before demolition begins
Firstly the Horsham Church of Christ building. The church has stood on the corner of Firebrace and Urquhart Streets since 1918, and over the past fortnight has slowly been demolished. Watched and mourned by many as another Horsham heritage building succumbed to the reactive soils and progress. 
The building with its square tiers, mock buttresses and tiled roof was extended in 1957, but was considered no longer suitable for the congregation and will move to River Road. The old site will become a child care centre and townhouses.
Going...the tiles removed
Going...the rear extension gone

Further north in Warracknabeal the old hospital building is being torn apart as some of the buildings make way for the new Rural Northwest Health redevelopment.
The Warracknabeal Hospital
More than $10 million will be spent to build a new acute care and community care area, and refurbishment of the Landt & Banksia sections.The hospital opened in March 1891, and has steadily grown since.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Farming women

The Library is taking part in the Hopetoun Women on Farms Gathering. Hopetoun is hosting the annual event over the weekend of 18-20 March.
The Women on Farms Gathering provides a unique opportunity for women to network, increase their skills base in farming & business practices, share their stories and experience a wonderful sense of support. The gatherings help promote and establish the notion of rural women as farmers, business women and community leaders.
The Library will be running three sessions on Saturday, from the RSL Hall in Austin Street.
“Digital Details : shooting, scanning, saving, storing” providing information and tips on curating and preserving your digital photographic collection.
 “Delve into your history : using electronic tools” how to research local & family history using online resources such as TROVE, Find My Past, Ancestry, and PROV.
 “Crafting your story : inspiration and sources for your book, journal or story” how to construct the elements of a story & tell a story in pictures, photos, anecdotes - using bit n’ pieces, scrap and memory objects to create a look for your book, journal or album.
Checkout their website for more information, details and bookings

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Trove 7 is nigh

After consultation, testing and much collaborative effort with Trove’s partners, the all new “Trove 7” will be launched on 25th February 2016.

This will be one of the largest updates in Trove history, and in order to apply the update, the Trove service will be unavailable from 5pm, 22nd February until it is relaunched. 

The new version of Trove will be sporting a range of features.Over the years the Trove community has provided feedback and suggestions for improvements, and the National Library of Australia has been listening and has tried to incorporate as many suggestions as possible. 

The nuts and bolts of the Trove engine have been upgraded for faster, more responsive searching and an improved experience on your mobile device.
Some of the highlights include:

Historic Newspapers

  •     Simplified interface 
  •     Customisable viewer displays 
  •      New browse features 

 NSW Government Gazettes
The State Library of NSW and the National Library of Australia have been working collaboratively to digitise and make available the New South Wales Government Gazette (1832 to 2001). Initially with only a small sample when the Trove 7 is released. Nearly one million pages will be added by the end of the project. This collection of digitised and full-text searchable Gazettes is a much anticipated addition to Trove, one which will benefit local, family and social historians, legal researchers and others throughout Australia.

What’s staying the same? Many things you are familiar with about Trove will stay the same, including the look and feel of most zones, tagging, commenting and lists, the forum and fantastic content from organisations around Australia.

And remember you can search for the 'Wimmera in Photographs' Collection on the Trove site  - narrow your search to the Pictures, photos, objects tab and type in "Wimmera Regional Library Corporation" in the search box then click on the Search button.

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
: Brim Silo Art Project
Peter, Sam, Win, Al & Guido. Mikala Hateley on Facebook

Sources: The Age, Herald-Sun, Mail-Times, Facebook