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.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Honouring Mullagh

The 'Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll' is coming to the Horsham Library.
The Honour Roll recognises the many and varied contributions of Aboriginal people to the identity of Victoria.
One of the first Honour Roll inductees was a Wotjobaluk man - Johnny Mullagh (Unaarrimin), his athletic feats made him one of Australia's first international cricketing stars.
Johnny Mullagh was born in 1841 on Mullagh Pastoral Station (between present day Wombelano and Harrow). He worked on both Mullagh and Pine Hills stations as a shearer and as a groom. But it was as a member of the all-Aboriginal Cricket team for which he has been remembered.
A station cricket match at Mt Talbot
Station owners and workers played cricket against neighbouring stations. Thomas Hamilton of Bringalbert started teaching the rudiments of cricket to the Aborigines on the Station in 1864, likewise Edgars on Pine Hills. The Haymans of Lake Wallace formed a cricket club including Aboriginals. In 1865, station cricket was so popular a match was organised between the Europeans and Aborigines. Played near the Bringalbert woolshed, the Aboriginals out scored the Europeans.

Johnny Mullagh and other station Aborigines formed an All-Aboriginal team, 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. Led by Mullagh, who batted, bowled and kept wicket, they beat English teams of vastly more experience. 
The team also provided displays of traditional skills - boomerang & spear throwing, and shield parrying. They also successfully participated in ball throwing and running backwards events.
A photograph of Johnny Mullagh, the original hung in the Harrow Hall for many years until it was burnt down in the 1970s.
Mullagh's headstone, Harrow Cemetery
When the team returned to Australia, Mullagh played for the Victorian state side, and the Melbourne Cricket Club for a season, before returning to play for Harrow until his death in 1891. His bat and stumps were buried with him on the crest of the Harrow Cemetery hill.
Rising above racial taunts, Mullagh deliberately hit a catch rather than play in the face of discrimination. He is still remembered in Harrow with a stone memorial, the annual cricket match, and the Cricket Centre named after him.

The Aboriginal Honour Roll will be launched in the Horsham Library on 4th June at 11am, and will be on display in the Library until the 11th.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


As part of the National Trust of Victoria's "Conflict & Compassion' Heritage Festival, Horsham Library is hosting "Strewth : a book talk".

Men of the 8th Battalion on Bolton's Ridge
Locals John Francis and his wife Gillian have compiled a book which is a forensic look at Horsham’s involvement in World War I. During the war 2,400 district men and women served, with 450 killed in action, and 149 men and 1 women who were decorated. 
The book, covers the area within the Horsham Rural City Council boundary, and includes a profile of those killed and decorated, the soldier’s stories, their letters to home and the diaries they wrote.
The talk is on Wednesday 6th  May 2015  from 7-8:30pm, with a light supper afterwards.

Copies of 'Strewth' will be available for sale and signing by the authors.
For bookings call in to the library or phone 5382 5707.

(The well-known War Memorial's photo shows Private Ted 'Kid' Freeman of Dooen, Private George Clements of Dimboola, Private James B. 'Jim' Bryant of Stawell, Private Samuel 'Sam' Wilson of Dimboola, and Private Robert Hutchinson of Horsham)

Monday, 20 April 2015

Orphans in the family

The Ballarat Orphanage has been in the news recently, with concerns that some children may have been buried in unmarked graves on the former site. Authorities investigated, and reported there were no human remains.
 However the story brings the issue of orphans and wards of the state to the fore. If you are interested in learning more about the plight of children ‘put up for adoption’, then you can attend -
Adoption and Wardship: Using Ballarat's information resources to trace family
The session run by the Public Record Office Victoria is aimed at people interested in learning more about records and resources that are available to help you research adoption and wardship in Ballarat. Join Sebastian Gurciullo from PROV who is hosting a panel of speakers who will share their knowledge on how to research family and personal history, as well as resources, support programs and services that are available.
Information about a range of support organisations that can help you with your research will also be provided and their representatives will be available after the presentations for consultation.
Panel members include:
  • Charlie Farrugia, Public Record Office Victoria
  • Grace Baliviera, Koorie Records Unit, National Archives of Australia and Public Record Office Victoria
  • Sharon Guy, Child and Family Services Ballarat
  • Edith Fry,Central Highlands Library Ballarat
  • Kathleen Anderson, Forced Adoption History Project, National Archives of Australia
  • The session will be held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.), 102 Stawell St South in Ballarat, from 10am, to 2pm on Wednesday 22 April. The session is free, but you do need to book online via PROV
    The Ballarat District Orphan Asylum was built in the mid-1860s it changed to the Ballarat Orphanage in 1909, then to the Ballarat Children’s Homes and was home to more than 4,000 children during its time. It closed in 1968 when the grand original orphanage building was demolished and replaced with smaller cottages. The land fronting Victoria Street was sold to a developer in 2013. There were petitions to save some of the former buildings as a heritage site.

    Wednesday, 1 April 2015

    Cemetery pines

    A number of local Cemetery Trusts received Lone Pines this week, as part of the Anzac Centenary commemorations. They were propagated from the lone pine at the Australian War Memorial.

    3 of the pines
    The potted Pinus halepensis plants are a symbol of the battle which commenced on 6th August 1915, when the Australian Infantry Division launched a major offensive at Plateau 400 at Gallipoli. The ridges had been covered in the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) which were cut down to cover and line trenches, leaving one solitary tree. It then became known as 'Lone Pine Ridge'. In the 3 days of fighting the A.N.Z.A.C.s lost 2,000 men and the Turkish losses were estimated at 7,000. 

    Lance Corporal Benjamin Charles Smith of the 3rd Battalion sent several cones to his mother in Inverell N.S.W., Mrs McMullen sowed some of the seeds some 13 years later. Of these 2 seedlings were grown - one was presented to the town of Inverell, and the Duke of Gloucester planted the second tree at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. 

    Sergeant Keith McDowell of the 24th Battalion brought back a pine cone to give to his aunt - Mrs Emma Gray of Warrnambool. 4 seedlings were grown and planted at several Shrines of Remembrance in Victoria.
    The Melbourne Shrine framed by a lone pine
    In 1990, two trees were taken back to Gallipoli by veterans who attended the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Lone Pine.

    Monday, 9 March 2015

    Collecting at St Arnaud

    The old Kara Kara Shire Offices
    The next 'Wimmera in Photographs' Collection Day is approaching. It will be held in the St Arnaud Library on Wednesday 18th March, from 10:00am to 5:00pm.
    This is a chance for people to bring in photos, slides or negatives which showcase the history of the district. With a rich gold history, there should be some photographs from an early period.
    Mine boiler at St Arnaud
     Appointments are necessary, and can be made by calling in to the St Arnaud Library or phoning 5495 2188.
    For those interested in history, the Collection session will be followed by a talk on "I.T. in history : computers and the Internet bringing history to life" in the Community Room next to the Library from 6 to 7pm, with a cuppa & light refreshments to follow. To book and for more details contact the St Arnaud Library.

    Thursday, 26 February 2015

    Cameras roll on 'Wimmera in photos'

    It's live - everything you wanted to know about the 'Wimmera in photographs' project is now contained in our video.

    The promo video was created on an iPad mini, and uploaded to the Library's Channel on YouTube.
    It will be visible on the Library's stand at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days (3, 4, & 5th March), and via the digital photo frame at various library branches.

    Monday, 16 February 2015

    Wimmera on high

     Photographic art books of the region are a rarity in the collection, so this book is a welcome addition - 'Hindmarsh : from my window' by Andrew Kube.
    Nhill on Wimmera League Grand Final day, 2013 (Dimb vs Saints)
     Andrew grew up on his father Don's farm near Jeparit, and returned to the district in 2013, starting up A.Kube Aviation.  A by-product of his interest in flying has been the photos he's taken from the air. They are the subject of 'Hindmarsh : from my window'
    Paddock art in the different seasons
    Andrew states he has "gained a new appreciation of the beauty around the Hindmarsh area. I like how the pictures are of ordinary things taken from a different perspective."
    The Wimmera River winding around Jeparit
    Follow the changes rout by the different seasons from on high - the crops, the storms, the water.
    Pink Lake, near Lochiel

    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.