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.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Fire all around

Kadnook fire - B & B Ryan
As smoke envelopes much of the Wimmera, we find a number of bushfires raging across the district once again. Many of the fires reported to be as a result of thunderstorm lightning strikes on Saturday 3rd and Wednesday 7th.
Moyston fire from Bunjil's Cave Rd on 2nd - Lynton Brown
Moyston by night - Keith Pakenham CFA
 The fastest moving blaze was the one to the east of the region at Moyston. The 3,500+ hectare fire had a 64km perimeter with 250 men battling it on the ground and in the air. It may have been ignited by a scare gun operating on a vineyard, before it raced across paddocks to the outskirts of town. In the end 2 houses and a number of sheds were lost as well as about 3,000 sheep. A great report is from Leith Hillard’s report of the Moyston Fire.
Fighting the Moyston fire, from One Tree Hill, Ararat - Lynton Brown
Ominous, the giant plume over Telangatuk East, from Horsham - Lynton
The Black Range looking west from the Grampians at 6:30pm - Facebook
The other major fire is the Black Range-Rees Rd (Telangatuk East) fire which started in the mountains on Saturday 3rd and moved north into the Mt Talbot Reserve then broke out again to the south towards Cherrypool. It is currently over 4,500 hectares and NYUC. (all Telangatuk photos were taken late on Monday 5th, when a tongue of fire spread north)

Above & below: Mt Talbot at dusk - Lynton Brown

In the Little Desert there is a whole list of fires, most are NYUC - Not yet under control

- Lillimur Track (Booroopki) started on the 7th has burnt 1800 hectares
- Serviceton started on 3rd 505 hectares
- Nhill-Harrow Rd started on 7th already burnt 13,300 hectares
- Miram South (Broughtons Track) from the 3rd has burnt 3,175 hectares
- south of Woriagworm 1,100 hectares
- and smaller ones on Salt Lake Track, Wallaby Track, Mallee Track, and Dahlensburg Track.
Smoke from the Little Desert obscures Mt Arapiles, from the Grass Flat Rd, 7th - Lynton
Majorlock Soak, Big Desert - CFA
Further north in the Big Desert there are fires in the Sunset Country and further south at Waggon Flat (north of Yanac and Broken Bucket) it has burnt  727 hectares. As well as the Chinaman Well Track of 600 hectares, again NYUC.
Majorlock Soak, Big Desert - CFA
Eruption of the Kadnook fire, from west of Edenhope - B & B Ryan
In the west
- Edenhope-Johnsons Rd (Kadnook) Fire started by lightning in the Jallakar State Forest and spread up to the Scrubby Lake area.The fire grew to approximately 1,600 hectares in size, now contained.

Kadnook fire takes off north - B & B Ryan

- Ozenkadnook fire in Bulls State Forest has subsided after burning 60 hectares.
Near Scrubby Lake - B & B Ryan
On Wednesday 7th in the Grampians - northern district a fire started near Wartook, and in the southern district near Mirranatwa.
Police roadblock - B & B Ryan
As always thanks & gratitude to the efforts of Lynton Brown to graphically record these events. And thinking of those involved - firefighters & landowners, etc.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Done and dusted

Now that location filming has finished for 'The dressmaker' and all the movie stars have left, we can reflect on some of the scenery which will may appear in the finished product.
Dawn in the Wimmera

Here are some of the pics from the film's Facebook page, including this quote - 
"We're bowled over by the warm welcome we've had in the Wimmera! 
Thank you so much to all of the locals out there."
While in the area the crew filmed at Jung - the Rec Reserve - for the story's football match.
Here are  two different moods on the approach to town.

Then of course there was the wedding scene, shot at Longerenong homestead, what a backdrop!
And after the wedding of course the wedding breakfast. Apparently their inspiration for the wedding dessert table came from Mrs Beeton's famous English cookbook (believe some of the old school fundraiser books would have been great sources, or the Green & Gold and PWMU Cookery Book), and their grandmother's secret recipes.They sent reference photos to the Oven Door Bakery in Horsham and  got this in reply.
As well as the Wimmera, other filming was undertaken at the studios in Docklands in Melbourne, and at Mt Rothwell near Little River.
Visitors to Mt Rothwell

It looks authentic - Molly's house from the Dungatar main street.
That is till you add in the film-crew
Now it is a wait for the editing/production process and release of the film in the middle of 2015.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

On the stage in Watchem

Back in August 2013 the blog entry ‘Drawing the curtain’  related to 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. 

One of the most prolific artists of stage curtains in Victoria was scenic stage painter Barry Henry George Jaggers (1869-1940). Originally from New Zealand where he painted over 80 public concert halls, he was engaged by the government of New South Wales to decorate public buildings for the Commonwealth (Federation) celebrations.
Moving to Victoria, Jaggers painted a number of scenic backdrops for Mechanics' Institutes in Gippsland, and Central Victoria. And as we’ve just found in Watchem too.
Below is the stage curtain he painted in 1928 – “The Rockies”, which is still in use in the Watchem Public Hall.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Photos up north

The magnificent Catholic Church building at Watchem
The next 'Wimmera in Photographs' Collection Day is Thursday 18th December, in the morning, sessions will be held in the Birchip Library from 10am to 1pm, and during the afternoon at the Watchem Hall from 2:30 to 4:30.
This is a chance for people in the southern Mallee to bring in photos, slides or negatives which showcase the history of the district. It would be great to see images from localities like Kinnabulla, Watchupga, Jil Jil, or Curyo - old school and railway sites, etc.
Appointments are necessary, and can be made by calling in to the Birchip Library at the Birchip P-12 College or phoning 58492 2230.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

1914-1918 news

A major project commemorating World War I has digitised 216 World War One-era Victorian community newspapers and made them available online via the National Library of Australia’s Trove portal. 

Victorians everywhere can now explore the stories of their communities and family and friends who lived and fought through the Great War.
This digitised collection contains thousands of stories waiting to be found. These newspapers of the day provide, in their original format, news and public debate; letters from soldiers, sailors and nurses; death notices, images and more.
The newspapers can be freely and easily searched by anyone at anytime and anywhere, using keywords, dates or geographical regions
The digitised newspapers cover the period 1914–19. Many soldiers were still being demobbed in 1919, and mentions of celebrations for returned soldiers can be found in papers of this time. Also, many in memoriam notices can be found in papers the year after a soldier died.

The collection includes Wimmera and Southern Mallee papers: Birchip Advertiser & Watchem Sentinel, Hopetoun Courier & Mallee Pioneer, Horsham Times, Nhill Free Press, Rainbow Argus, St Arnaud Mercury, Stawell News & Pleasant Creek Chronicle, Warracknabeal Herald, West Wimmera Mail & Natimuk Advertiser, and more general papers - Stock & Land, and Weekly Times.
The digitisation of these newspapers has been supported by the State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia, Public Libraries Victoria Network, local councils and historical societies.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

In Love with the cottage

Love’s Cottage and its outbuildings, in Clyde Street, St Arnaud represents one the oldest miner's properties in the town. 

The single storey, modestly scaled, Victorian vernacular cottage is characterised by a double gable roof with no eaves, clad in galvanised corrugated iron. The original stone wall construction has been surfaced with cement render possibly in the 1940s (except for the rear wall). Two cement rendered and brick chimneys adorn the roofline. The timber framed six paned windows appear to be early, with the timber framed double hung windows at the rear introduced at a later stage. The vertical boarded front door also appears to be early. Internally, the walls and ceilings vary in materials and finish from whitewashed plaster to galvanised iron and paper on hessian. exposed remnant stone wall construction.
The combined stables & boy's sleeping area

The outbuildings on the property include a blacksmith's shop, which has collapsed and is in ruinous condition. It has a gable roof form clad in galvanised corrugated iron, and remnants of bush pole structure and sawn hardwood weatherboard wall cladding.
An external toilet is situated nearby the stables and has a simple gable roof clad in galvanised corrugated iron, with early horizontal weatherboard wall cladding and vertical boarded door. It is in a perilous condition and has almost collapsed in upon itself. Other remains of small structures include a mud brick goose pen and a timber kennel.The gardens on the property reflect its layout and many early plantings, including fruit trees, agave, phlox and agapanthus still endure.

The cottage was originally built in 1868 with layers of flat stones and rubble (from a nearby mine) between timber posts, the walls are at least 12” thick. In the 1940s the external walls were surfaced in cement render. Originally a two room cottage, it was constructed by John Tyson with assistance from William Thompson. 

A kitchen and adjacent room with packed earth floors was added, and more recently a laundry and toilet annexe added to the rear. The Tysons raised 11 children on the property. 
In 1896 the property was owned by Robert and Eliza Love and their family of nine, who built a blacksmith's forge, stables and an outside toilet in the early 1900s. In 1985, following the death of Ethel Love, daughter-in-law of Robert Love, the property was bequeathed to the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and classified on the historic register in 1986. In 1987 responsibility for the property was given to the St. Arnaud Historical Society.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Dressing the set

Work is progressing on filming for 'The Dressmaker' movie.
Here are a few snaps from the film's Pinterest account - glimpses of on-set life during the creation of the Dressmaker film.
The new & the old - Director Jocelyn Moorhouse and Director of Photography Don McAlpine prepare for the very first shot of the film

Molly's house - erected inside the filming studio

 Capturing the shot - Production Designer, Roger Ford, & director, Jocelyn Moorhouse, in the interior of the Pettyman's house

Looking authentic - the Pettyman's kitchen

Grand opulence - the front room of the Pettyman's house

Author of the book - Rosalie Ham will be at the Horsham Library at 7:30pm on Monday 8th December.
Bookings are essential for this chance to hear from the creator of the story herself - Phone the library on 5382 5707 or drop in to the library before the 5th December.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Wot's in a name

What is in a name, its spelling, its pronuncation or its meaning, and how do these change over time?
The original gateway to North Brighton (the posts are over 5' high)
While out touring on the weekend there was some lively discussion as we drove along Mokepilly Road near Kewell - on how it was the same spelling as the other Mokepilly near Stawell.
Sure that it was Muck rather than Moke originally, I couldn't let it rest, so cranked up the PC to check out the Duffy map (PROVs online version of The 1862 Duffy Land Act map) fairly sure it included Muckpilly as an out-station of the Kewell Station. I was half right, the out station was "Muckbilly". 
Kewell Station was named as "Kewell or Muckbilly" and "Kewell & Muckbilly", it was settled by the Wilson brothers John & Alexander in April 1845.
And in fact the Mokepilly of Lexington Station is also spelt Mokepille in some sources.
The other bone of contention was the correct pronunciation of Darlot (of James Monckton Darlot fame) was it the French "dar-low" as with Darlot Swamp or the more common vernacular "dar-lot" as with Darlot Street. I think it is the old-timers who like to use some class and refer to the original dar-low while the lazier Aussie speech is sounding more a chopped-off dar-let.
Darlot settled Brighton with Archibald McLachlan in July 1843. It was subdivided into North and South Brighton in 1859.
The tour included a number of historically significant sites - the Kewell area, the entrance to North Brighton, and the remains of the Dooen Weir on the Wimmera River. 
Looking downstream of the Dooen Weir

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The way we were

The library's latest project is “The Wimmera in photographs – the way we were”. The Wimmera Regional Library is collecting copies of local photos to create an online photo album of our Region.

The library is searching for photographs of towns and rural communities of the Wimmera and Southern Mallee.

Image: The Donald Water Tower under construction in 1887. It was demolished in 1918 and the site became the ladies croquet green (Museum Victoria)

These images are a unique and highly significant historical resource, and provide insights into domestic and working life, education, recreation, travel, settlement and much more.
The project aims to visually record and document the history and culture of this region using photographs from family collections.
The criteria for selecting images is that they contain images of significant buildings, streetscapes or representative scenes – facilities which no longer exist eg.  flour mills, breweries & cordial factories.
Exclusions include current scenic pictures – which are more the province of Flickr, Instagram & Facebook. Family portraits lie outside the scope of the project.

 Image: Neighbours helping Tom Lynch's widow harvest a crop in the Warracknabeal district, c1915 (Museum Victoria)

To create the collection, library staff will copy each image and its details on a worksheet. The originals can either be returned to its owner, or donated to the library. 
All images in the collection will be digitised and searchable on the Library’s website —  The images will also be harvested by the National Library of Australia and will be searchable on their Trove site—

All images (unless otherwise stated) will be licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs licence. This licence allows others to download the image/s and share them with others as long as the credit you. The image cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.
 Image: The former St Michael's & St John's Catholic Church in Horsham. Built in 1913, the gothic style building was demolished in the 1990s (Heritage Victoria)

An idea of what we envisage for the project is our Pinterest account - - which is a collection of what already exists online, and we are looking at complementing that collection with “The Wimmera in photographs – the way we were”. (All images on this post are from our Pinterest account ).

The Launch of the project and its first Collection Day will be held at the Warracknabeal Library from 10am to 5pm on Wednesday 5th November. People wishing to have their prints, slides or negatives added to the "Wimmera in Photographs" Collection should book an appointment by visiting the Warracknabeal Library or phoning 5398 1270.
Image: a 1874 Beyer Peacock pattern "T" class locomotive, number 125 shunting at the flour mill siding in Natimuk, The loco was scrapped in 1918 (Winkieg)