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Muriel’s Wedding

Muriel’s Wedding

Barry Golding

 Posted 21 Sept 2019

Preamble

As a young child born in 1970 and brought up in rural Donald, Victoria, Australia I was fascinated by my mother’s sister, my urban Auntie Muriel. I was particularly puzzled, given Muriel was single (at least as I long could recall as a young child), by her wedding photo. This why I have called this narrative ‘Muriel’s Wedding’, after the iconic Australian film of that name released in 1994, but more of that later.

I sent an earlier version of this document out to family members to ensure this was accurate and appropriate for wider circulation and my sister Judith Hastings generously added a few missing ‘pearl’s. I am posting this 99 years after Muriel’s was born (in 2020).

A century on, very few of Muriel’s former close friends or relatives are still alive, and I sense her story is worth telling for others to hear and learn from. There is much in here which will inform our children and grandchildren about the very different world in which I  grew up.

If there is anything in this narrative that is factually wrong, that requires correction or amendment, or that inappropriately violates confidentiality, I am responsible, so please let me know. While Muriel was a private person in life, I sense it is perhaps time to ‘come out’.

Context

Muriel ticked lots of fascinating and different boxes that took me a long time to understand and connect just some of the many threads. This narrative is my attempt to celebrate and do justice to just a little of Muriel’s life seven years after her death in Donald, Victoria on 22 September 2012 age 92. If Muriel were born today she would likely have had many more opportunities to publicly express and explore her many differences across her lifetime.

My account consists of my personal recollections augmented from recollections from my elder sister, Judy Hastings, buttressed by documentary evidence. Only a small amount of Muriel’s records survived her last tumultuous decade, including those that were recovered in a flood-damaged and smelly state by my sister, Judy Hastings. Muriel and my mother Joan were forced out of the Goodwin Village aged care home by the unprecedented Richardson River flood in Donald during January 2011. Some other family and war records that inform this account were found via online searches as well as via www.ancestry.com.au.

What Muriel squeezed into the first 80 years of her life, as this narrative seeks to document, is truly remarkable. Between 1970 and 2000, aged between 50 and 80, Muriel and her dear, lifelong friend, Beryl Braddock, undertook at least fifteen extended international trips and many more interstate trips.

In her final decade Muriel separated from Beryl, sold up their shared double storey home at 11 Lucerne Crescent in Karingal, Frankston, lived on her own in successive rental properties in Ballarat, In her ‘Fourth Age’ of dependence reluctantly went into the Goodwin Homes, a comprehensive aged care complex in Donald. When Mue and Mum got flooded out of there in January 2011, they experienced a difficult and prolonged relocation to the ‘Dunmunkle Lodge’ aged care home in Minyip until the flood damaged Donald facility was repaired.

In her final days Muriel sat quietly in the Goodwin Homes, silently fuming as carers read her the international news in the papers, including about Paris, assuming that this old lady had no idea where it was. In fact Mue had been to Paris at least five times.

Daughter of Mary and Ralph Lane

Muriel was born in Marrickville, New South Wales on 16 July 1920, the eldest of three children, including my late mother (Joan, born 12 Feb 1922, died 5 April 2011) and my late uncle, Ralph Lane (junior). There is a wonderful photo of Mue and Joan as children, both with snowy white hair with their mother Mary Lane, my Nana. Much of Mue’s early childhood was spent in Sydney, where her father’s ships returned to dock including at Garden Island Naval Dockyard in Sydney Harbour.

Mue and Joan were to spend much of their childhood and adolescence on the move between multiple schools in Sydney and on the Mornington Peninsula, and also with an absent naval father. Pa (Ralph) Lane, also called ‘Snowy’ as on account of his blond hair as a child, spent his entire working life of 50 years in the Royal Australian Navy, much of it away at sea including a dozen years at war.

Born in East Ham, England, part of Greater London, on 21 August 1897, Ralph signed up as a ‘Boy 2ndClass’ on 1 June 1912, initially serving on HMAS Tingara, a three-masted clipper ship propelled solely by ‘two acres of canvas’. Launched and operated as the Sobraonafter plying the Australia – UK cargo and passenger route for many years, it was purchased by the Commonwealth Government and fitted out as a boy’s training ship, to become permanently moored in Rose Bay until decommissioned in 1927.

Ralph served on ships in and beyond both World Wars, for 30 years between 1915 and 1945 as a ‘telegraphist’, manually sending and decoding messages sent in Morse Code. During World War 1 he served on the battle cruisers Australia, New Zealandand Indomitable. He was also present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1918.

In World War 2 he served on the HMASCanberra, Australia, Hobartand Shropshire. He took part in the ‘Battle of the Coral Sea’, 4-8 May 1942 as well as ten other major naval battles in the Pacific. I recall him being farewelled on discharge from the Royal Australian Navy as a Lieutenant Commander on 3 April 1956, six months before the Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne. Of the first 500 boys enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy (formally created only one year before in July 1911), Ralph (called ‘Jerry’ by his fellow seamen) was the last serving member. His long and valuable military service was acknowledged in 1951 by an M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire).

Some of Ralph’s post war years were based at the HMAS Cerberusnaval base in Crib Point on Westernport Bay, training many other communications sailors. The Frankston area was therefore the logical Lane family base and became Mue’s home for most of her life, aside from her early years in Sydney and her later years in Ballarat and Donald. The first house Judy and I remember was ‘4 Cranbourne Road, Frankston’ backing onto the train line to Crib Point. Later it was at ‘23 Kelso Street, Frankston.’

In his spare time ‘Jerry’ was active in the Frankston Yacht Club, a passion taken up strongly for a time also by his son Ralph and also Muriel. At one stage Mary and Mrs Glowery (the wife of a naval colleague of Pa Lane’s) ran a part time tea and sandwiches shop in the then ‘Log Cabin’ near the Frankston Pier.  In later life both Nana and Pa Lane became passionate croquet and lawn bowls players respectively.

My childhood recollections

My older sister, Judy and I used to go down to our grandparents in Frankston during summer school holidays to give our parents a break. Muriel then lived with her parents, Mary and Ralph Lane, and we slept in the same room as Muriel in the red brick house at 23 Kelso Street. Curiously for us as young kids, Mue had a different surname. ‘Sherwood’ was the surname Muriel retained until she died in 2012. While her death certificate states ‘divorced’, if Muriel was here she would dispute this.

As young kids we innocently asked lots of inappropriate questions including ‘Who is that man was in your wedding photo?’ and ‘Why aren’t you still together?’ The standard, defensive answer from both her and her mother, Mary, was that he was a no good drunk and the subject was quickly changed.

Muriel was incredibly generous to Judy and I as kids. She took us to the snow for my first time at Mount Donna Buang. She took us into the Sherbrooke Forest around Mount Dandenong to search for lyre bids. She tapped into my interest in rocks and fossils, generously taking me to Fossil Beach at Balcombe Bay near Mornington and also to scour the 5-6 million year old Loveniaand shark tooth-rich shoreline and cliff deposits in the Miocene Beaumaris Sandstone. We went panning for rubies and zircons in the table drains at ‘Foxey’s’ Hangout (on the corner of Balnarring and Tubbarubba roads on the Mornington Peninsula). We collected zeolite crystals from amygdaloidal cavities in the basalt on the cliffs at Cape Schanck.

Mue walked with us, talked with us and tapped deeply into our childhood interests. She played endless games of cricket with us in the back yard and on the beach. We stuck thousands of used matches on trays of various shapes and sizes in geometric patterns. She bought us bamboo ‘hula hoops’ when they were the craze from the late 1950s and ‘did the hula’ better than we did.  She organised bottle-collecting forays for Judy and I amongst the ti-tree on the Frankston foreshore. We got to keep the money from the sale of the bottles from the ‘bottle-o’ to buy sweets and ice creams.

At Frankston we first saw black and white TV (that only began in Melbourne 1956) and regularly watched GTV-9 ‘In Melbourne Tonight’, hosted by Graham Kennedy between 1957, with Bert Newton from 1959. We excitedly went to the Skye Road Drive-In Theatre and sat through one memorable, humungous thunderstorm. Judy and I both recall Mue calming our childhood fears by telling us that each thunderclap was God moving another piece of furniture. Mue was nominally Church of England but was definitely not a churchgoer.

It was all stodgy English food in the Lane household at Cranbourne Road and Kelso Street, all prepared by Nana. Given Pa spent much of his life at war with ‘the Japanese’, it never included anything remotely Asian. Mue could sort of cook for herself and make coffee but food preparation and entertaining for others was not up there as her main priorities. When they were together Beryl was the cook. They both enjoyed getting out (in Beryl’s case, ‘dressing up’ with full makeup) and also eating out.

We spent endless summers at the former Lane family owned ‘Bathing Box’ on the Frankston beach, swimming and hiring the plywood paddleboards, exploring the inky and grossly polluted Kananook Creek where it enters the bay. We watched people catch fish and dive off the Frankston pier. We walked the rocky shores to collect shells and worn coloured glass around Canadian Bay. We looked for Lyre Birds in Sherbrooke Forest, visited Stan and Anne Lucas’ apple orchard at Tyabb, visited her taxidermist friend Eileen at the Melbourne Museum, and sat and watched Muriel talk and smoke with her close Frankston friend, Marj Whykes in her rambling timber house on Skye Road, while us kids played under the cypress trees.

There were lots of things about Muriel that set her apart from other women I knew from my sheltered Rechabite Methodist upbringing in rural Donald. Mue was a chain smoker of cigarettes. She enjoyed a beer or shandy on a hot day with her father and sometimes a sherry before dinner. Before she turned grey she always had short-cropped, fair hair and almost always wore slacks. She was fiercely independent and there were no men in her life aside from her brother and father, both called Ralph. Like her young brother Ralph, she shared a passion for playingfootball.

This was around 75 years before Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs played their first women’s match (in June 2011) that kicked off the AFLW (Women’s) football league in 2016. There is a wonderful photo of Mue as a young woman age 26 in 1946 alongside the passionfruit vine at the then family home, ‘4 Cranbourne Road, Frankston’, wearing a Melbourne football jumper, long football socks and lace up football boots about to kick a football. She was excellent at kick-to-kick  well into her 40s. If only Mue had been around to play today for Melbourne in AFLW.

Ralph junior, born ten years after Muriel on 16 March 1930, died on 29 May 2014 was also a keen and talented footballer. He played 71 games as a ‘wingman’ for Melbourne in the VFL between 1951 and 1956, including in the winning 1956 Grand Final team, and later with suburban McKinnon in the Federal Football League, including three premierships between 1957-9. Muriel took me to several of these McKinnon matches, always loudly barracking with great passion for her brother and his team and abusing the other team and particularly the umpire. Mue kept following the football, barracking for Melbourne … and enjoying the ground passes that came her way … once Ralph become Ground Manager at the former VFL ground in suburban Waverley.

Mue was a bright, independent, engaged and worldly young woman in a world where women usually took second or no place. Her hobbies, appearance and dress would have marked her out in that era as what was then called a ‘tom boy’. She matriculated and was Dux of Frankston High School. She began training as a primary school teacher but quickly found she had little patience with what she called ‘snotty-nosed kids’.

Mue enjoyed sailing, mainly with the men, on Port Philip Bay. Judy and I recall she also enjoyed gardening, mowing the lawns at Kelso Street and tending the garden, particularly the camellias and hydrangea. Her serious hobby, which we as kids participated in, was collecting stamps. ‘First Day Covers’ were shared with other collectors from all over the world. I became aware through the ‘Gibbons World Stamp Catalogue’ and Mue’s many stamp albums of the world of valuable, old rare and misprinted stamps, stamps with watermarks, overprinting, perforations and curious postmarks.

This was my first window also into the many different countries around the world. Stamps were material evidence of how the national names had changed over time with the demise of the British and other colonial empires. In later life Mue gave it all up and disposed of her extensive album collections, but continued to collect stamps for many years including for my nephew, Lachlan Hastings.

During my childhood years Mue worked in the accounts branch of ‘Tas Pickett’, a former tobacco manufacturing and distribution company then located at 95 Lennox Street in Richmond. Nearby was the four-storey, red brick ‘Pelaco’ shirt factory, with its distinctive neon sign above. Mue would usually commute via train from Frankston to Richmond, packing a lunch that often consisted of baked bean sandwiches, leaving her car at the Frankston railway station car park. In the earliest of times I recall, the car was a green Morris Minor. Part of her remuneration package comprised the company cigarettes (for her) and tobacco (for Pa Lane’s ‘rollies’). When Muriel left the company she was thanked with an inscribed silver tray.

Later Mue worked in the back office of the ‘Safeway’ supermarket, still located in Balcombe Road, Mentone. Her job as a ‘comptometrist’ operator is now an obsolete profession. In the days (during the 1960s) prior to calculators, large companies employed people to run adding machines all day, checking the figures that would be entered in the General Ledger. The now extinct mechanical adding machines she used were called ‘comptometers’.

Mue loved reading. Books that my sister Judy recalls her reading were mainly the leather-bound English classics: Jane Austen, Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott, as well as books about military battles from World War 2. Like her father, she enjoyed doing crosswords and always kept a Dictionary, World Atlas and Thesaurus handy.

Muriel almost never wore a dress aside from the one in her wedding photo. There was always a battle between her and her sister (my mother) Joan when it came to her dressing ‘appropriately’ for formal family occasions like weddings. ‘Mue’ as we called her, was more at home in a boiler suit fixing the car. She treated her car like a child, lovingly changing the oil, servicing the engine and polishing the chrome and duco.

I recall at one stage she drove what I think was a ‘Nissan Bluebird’ and also a Nissan ‘Cedric’. Her choice of Nissan cars was in part dictated by family connections via Beryl. Beryl worked ‘pulling petrol’ and doing front of garage work at Jackie Proctor’s Motor Garage in Playne Street, Frankston. Jackie, a totally bald, safety obsessed, self promoting motoring enthusiast was the brother of her very good friend, Joy Proctor and was also the Frankston Nissan dealer.

During my early teens Beryl moved into ‘the sleepout’, a separate flat renovated by Pa Lane at the back of the family house at 23 Kelso Street in Frankston, joining the family for some meals. Ralph spent his retirement days sitting in his chair smoking and doing cryptic crosswords. He did not cope well with retired life out of the armed services in a house shared with two strong and independent women and a relatively flighty Beryl. Mary had run of the house, budget, children, family and kitchen for all of their married life and Pa was literally a duck out of naval water. Nana would growl and scowl, ‘Get out of my kichen!’ whenever anyone, including the husband she called ‘Jer’, ventured in.

If Muriel and Beryl had been around to be part of the same sex marriage debate and subsequent legislation their lives and life opportunities might have been very different. When I asked my mother about their relationship in my early 20s she asked me never to utter the ‘L word’ and insisted they were just close friends. The beautiful truth is that they loved and cared for each other deeply for decades and became inseparable lifelong friends in an era where nothing could be spoken about love outside of heterosexual marriage.

Pa escaped to and loved the solace of his backyard shed and vegetable garden, making and fixing stuff. He built us some wonderful wooden boats. Once the navy and recreational sailing were over he developed a strong loathing of the sea. He would spit in it every time we walked along the seashore, guaranteeing he might one day be encouraged to swim in it if it got over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit), but only on 30 February, a day that for some reason never came around.

Pa Lane gradually developed signs of dementia. The symptom I remember best was his habit of saying ‘Yesssss’ and smiling, regardless of the question that was posed. Muriel actively supported and acted as a staunch carer and advocate of both her parents through the final difficult decades of their shared later lives and the health issues they both faced with increasing dependency.

Pa’s lonely life in a dementia ward at Mont Park Military Rehabilitation Hospital came to an end when Mue got him moved to Seaford Nursing home so Mary and Ralph could be together. They died within three months of each other after celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary together.

When I went away to boarding school at Wesley College in the mid 1960s Muriel and Beryl would drive down from Frankston to meet me while I took day leave to visit Albert Park Lake. In 1966 I recall a memorable meeting at the then iconic ‘Rob’s Carousel Restaurant’ on the Lake next to the golf links. They were decked out in headscarves in Beryl’s low convertible sports car, perhaps a Datsun 1600 Roadster, an indelible image I now associate with the Thelma and Louise film. They took the then very revolutionary ‘drive up’ option, ordering their food from their convertible with a telephone similar to the typical speaker set up in the then very popular ‘drive-in theatres’.

Some Rob’s Restaurant patrons from the same era recall it as ‘the grooviest, funkiest thing in the 60’s when everyone else was being deadly serious … with swizzle sticks, fancy match books, saucy waitresses in leotards offset by patrons in grey cardigans and patent shoes.’ Rob’s (that opened in 1963) was the Hard Rock Café of the 1960s. It was reputedly revolting food in the revolving restaurant part, but we mainly drank thick shakes in the car. Muriel and Beryl, then in their 40s, were right up there amongst it all as I joined them as a self-conscious, clumsy, acned adolescent in my Wesley College school uniform.

Mue also kept contact with her nearby brother Ralph and his wife June (nee Kennedy), but particularly her nephew Chris (born 1957) and her nieces Elizabeth (known as ‘Libby’, born 1960) and Catherine (known as ‘Cathy’, born 1962), regularly visiting their family home in Bayview Road, Beaumaris. Similarly with Judy and Wayne’s children, Sean and Lachlan Hastings but it was less often that Mue came up to Donald. In part this was because Mue was often not on the same ‘wavelength’ as my father Jack and she was not afraid of vocally standing up for her sister, my mother, Joan. When Mum married and moved to Donald with Jack in the middle of a prolonged drought, Mue felt like it was like moving to the end of the flat, dry earth.

In the years I was at university, travelling interstate with Mulga Bill’s Bicycle Band and moving to Daylesford in the mid 1980s, my trips down to Frankston and regular contact with Muriel dropped right away. In the same era my younger brother Peter (born 1955) spent much more time with my grandparents and also with Mue and Beryl.

Peter developed a close lifelong friendship with them both. In the decades that followed between 1970 and 2000 Muriel and Beryl winged away as often as they could, often swinging home via the Golding family home in Columbus, Ohio and later in El Paso, Texas. Mue maintained regular contact over many decades also with Peter’s first three Golding children (with first wife Martina: Sarah, Simon and Hannah, particularly when they were based in the US) as and well as with Aaron, Joan and Walter (with Diane).

It was much later in Muriel’s life that I go to know Muriel more comprehensively as an adult. Mue and Beryl purchased adjacent apartments at Seaford before moving to their shared house in Karingal after her parents died. Muriel nominally lived downstairs and Beryl lived upstairs.

My understanding is that Muriel was increasingly pressured, including by my mother, not to be in a position where she was responsible for Beryl beyond her 80s. What eventuated was that after around 50 years together they agreed to part ways and sell up their jointly owned home in Karingal.

Beryl moved back to Bundaberg in Queensland to ‘return to roots’ and be nearer to her family, particularly her niece Heather Smith and her extended family. Muriel moved into a rental property off Wendouree Parade in Ballarat. Despite this late, painful (and I consider an unnecessary and tragic) separation, Muriel and Beryl either fondly corresponded by post or rang each other almost every day. The letters from Beryl were always lovingly addressed to Muriel as ‘Dearest Madame’.

Mue’s choice of Ballarat was a compromise. It was around half way (in travel time) between Melbourne and Donald. At that stage Mue was still mobile and driving her own car, though many scratches and scrapes began to miraculously and spontaneously appear. Ballarat had a very good range of services including comprehensive health care. Mue accurately surmised that moving straight to Donald would be imposing on my mother’s ‘home patch’, and Joan was adamant she did not want to take on the full responsibility of looking after Muriel.

During her late 80s Muriel would poor scorn on what was then called ‘Wendouree Village’ (now Stockland) Shopping Centre where she spent lots of time wandering and window shopping with the support of her walking frame, saying there were ‘too many old people’ there. Mue gave up smoking in her 80s soon after she moved to Ballarat, but she was increasingly limited by a painful hip and shortness of breath. Mue enjoyed telling the story about her Ballarat doctor who asked, “How much exercise do you do?” replying, “I walk to the car, park outside the shop, go in, go out and walk back to car.”

Jan and I live at Kingston only 25 minutes drive out or Ballarat, and when Muriel moved to ‘8/464 Wendouree Parade, Lake Wendouree’ I was still working at the local university the other side of Ballarat at Mount Helen. It was relatively simple to swing by on the way home as need be, usually once a week, or for Muriel to drive out and pay us a visit. Jan also dropped in regularly when shopping in Ballarat and did important essential tasks for Mue. We developed something of a routine where I would have a beer and chat and do anything that needed doing around her house on the way home from work.  Sometimes Joan would drive down to stay with Muriel and we’d often have dinner at the Golden City Hotel.

Mue missed Beryl desperately. While she was still mobile I was able to organise several visits by Muriel to Bundaberg. It involved two flights to Bundaberg via Brisbane. I would pick her up and make sure she got safely to the airport gate. At the other end her niece, Heather, met her. The aged care home in Bundaberg cooperated by providing a fold up bed for Muriel.

Increasingly Mue had become limited in her mobility and by her late 80s her walking and driving range shrank. The crunch came when Muriel was approaching 90. Muriel had a fall in early 2010 that fractured her hip, forcing her to cancel her last visit to see Beryl. The doctor who operated on her hip advised that she would ‘not be able to live independently after her rehabilitation’.

The family checked out several aged care options before Mue decided, with some trepidation, to join her sister Joan already at the Goodwin Village in Donald. While the sisters were close in some ways they were both used to getting their own way and not always good at being social together in community settings. Muriel usually tended to bite her tongue, but Joan could be very and inappropriate and insensitive.

The move wasn’t easy or simple psychologically for either of them. Joan was showing several early signs of dementia and was becoming very ‘prickly’. Mum sometimes became jealous when her lifelong friends also became Muriel’s friends, but overall it worked out better than Mue going into an unknown home with strangers elsewhere. The disbursement of Mue’s furniture, car and other belongings in Ballarat was by contrast relatively simple. She sat on the seat of her walking frame and dispassionately pointed out with her stick where things should go: ‘bin, keep, recycle, donate to the Salvos’.

Muriel’s 90thBirthday was a celebratory purple patch in her later years. By that time on 16 July 2010 she was well settled into her own room in the Goodwin Homes, in a room well away from Joan, and it was time to party with friends. Muriel got dozens of cards wishing her well from extended family as well as lifelong and recent friends.

Joan’s card said, ‘Yes, 90’ and wished her a Happy Birthday and happy celebrations’. Beryl’s card from her niece, Heather and ‘Beebe’ was to ‘Our dearest and fondest Madame, on the very special occasion on this year’s special Birthday. One card for Muriel was signed by 18 of Joan’s Donald friends, many who were also in the Goodwin Homes.

Mue’s sister, my mother Joan, died the following year in April 2011. Joan had not been coping with the forced relocation to Minyip and was struggling with worsening symptoms of dementia. Mum became seriously ill around the time of the move back to Donald. She accurately vowed she was not returning again from the Donald Hospital to Minyip. Joan’s husband, my father Jack (John William Golding) had died unexpectedly in Ballarat nine years before (26 April 2002) from the poorly managed side effects of surgery after an operation for bowel cancer.

The evidence from Mue’s papers

Muriel had many lifelong friends whom she and her sister Joan socialised with on the beach at Frankston during and immediately after the Second World War (1939-45). There is a photo of Muriel and Joan Lane (later Golding) sitting on the boat ramp outside the family Bathing Box in Frankston with Joy Proctor (later Joy Osmond who later lived in Warracknabeal) and Marjorie Whykes. The unpowered former bathing box with its canvas changing room and cold shower was the first one on the left where the extension of Wells Street hit the coast, in 2019 close to the site of the ‘Waves on the Beach’ Restaurant.

There is another photo of my maternal grandfather, ‘Pa’ (Ralph) Lane beside the family ‘Dodge’ car with Thurza Barclay (who later lived at Mitiamo), whom Muriel still visited in Bendigo in her late 80s. ‘Thurza Jane Barclay’ was on the electoral roll in Frankston between 1949 and 1952.

One photo Muriel kept amongst the small number of personal mementos a photo of a ‘Major James, Kaitaichi, Japan’, in shorts, hat, rugby jumper and the then ubiquitous cigarette dated ‘October 1946’. The 34thAustralian Infantry Brigade was briefly stationed at Kaitaichi in Japan and was responsible for the Hiroshima Prefecture from early 1946. On 13 February 1946, Australian troops, the vanguard of a 37,000-strong British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), disembarked at the war-devastated Japanese port city of Kure. Finding who Major James was remains a mystery.

In a small notes diary amongst Muriel’s papers was a tiny newspaper cutting that read:

LANE, on July 27th, 1978, at Carrum Private Hospital, Lt Comd Ralph Lane MBE, Royal Australian Navy (retired), devoted husband of the late Mary Lane, devoted father of Muriel, Joan and Ralph, loved father in law of June and Jack, dear pa of Judi and Wayne, Barry Peter and Tina, Christopher and Libby.

Muriel and Beryl’s first ‘round the world trip’ flying BOAC in 1970 lasted 14 weeks. Their trips overseas, mainly to the UK and Europe were generally made in the cooler winter months between March and September. Sometimes they booked organised tours but most of it was done the ‘old way’ before the internet by letter and phone. They travelled incredibly lightly with tiny backpacks. In Europe they often travelled on a Eurail Pass, frequently saving on accommodation by overnight journeys.

In 1973 they went via Dubai flying QANTAS and included a visit to then West Berlin. 1983 they flew Singapore Airlines and included visits to Greece (which they loved and returned to several memorable times), Turkey and Sri Lanka. Their 1987 trip flying ‘Thai International’ included Canada. In 1995 their overseas trip included Ireland and Switzerland.

Undaunted at the age of 80 (and in Beryl’s case. 82), their six week overseas trip in 2000 included an ‘Exotic’ European Tour which took in East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and London, travelling via the ‘Chunnel ‘to France and coming back via the US including Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and El Paso.

In between they travelled to many destinations within Australia mainly during winter up the Australian east coast, where they sometimes visited Beryl’s parents and other relatives in Bundaberg. Sometimes they holidayed with Mue’s parents who typically spent a few months each winter escaping the winter on the Queensland south coast at Tewantin.

With the passing of her one surviving parent in 1978 ,Muriel and Beryl were freed up to travel further and more often. In 1979 they spent seven months in Europe (including Greece again) and the UK. With her nephew Peter and family based permanently in the US  their travels increasingly included extended visits to them at in the US, at Columbus, Ohio and later at El Paso in Texas.

Amongst Mue’s papers were the many postcards Jan and I had sent to her when travelling, many with the overseas stamps removed for sending on to Lachlan Hastings. Several survived that we sent during 2011 to ‘Dunmunkle Lodge’ in Minyip from Dubai, Helsinki, Tallinn, Ireland, Glasgow, Nottingham, Samoa, Nottingham, Thessalonica and Athens as well as from Kakadu. Mue would look out and give Jan and I postcards decades old that they had kept as a memento of their extensive travels. Mue loved travel.

Mue kept regular and close contact with Tony and Margaret Mattin, Lane relatives from Wooten, Beds in England whom they visited the UK and who also visited Mue whenever they were in Australia.

Other strands in the story

 Beryl Braddock

 Beryl, often called ‘Beebe’ was Muriel’s lifelong close friend. ‘Beryl Alice May Braddock’ was around two years older than Muriel, born 6 February 1918. Her father was Joseph Braddock, in 1914 working with the Queensland Railways Department. Her mother’s maiden name was ‘Kate Helen Matilda Whittaker’. Beryl’s parents were married on 11 March 1914 at the Bundaberg Methodist Church. Beryl was a regular churchgoer and a supporter of church ‘fetes’ for much of her life.

Beryl’s maternal grandparents were ‘Mr and Mrs F. E. Whittaker’ of Dundowran near Hervey Bay. Joseph Braddock’s parents were also from Bundaberg. A photo of the Braddock’s double storey weatherboard family home, usually described as Queenslander’, was amongst Muriel’s files, located at 32 Maryborough Street, Bundaberg.

Jim Sherwood

Us kids never met Jim Sherwood, and no one talked about him. This account is all from records publicly available on line, in an attempt to belatedly paint a picture of his life including post ‘Muriel’s wedding’.

Muriel and Mum when pressed, referred to her former husband as ‘Jim’. James Vern Alf Sherwood was roughly the same age as Muriel, born 6 October 1920. His father was Ted Sherwood and his mother was Margaret Peterson. Margaret was listed as his next of kin during his time in the army, then living at 2 Julian Flats, Bronte. Muriel and Jim were married the same year I was born, 1950.

Jim’s Australian War Service Records confirm he enlisted age 21 on 17 December 1941 and attained the rank of Sergeant in the AIF before he was discharged on 13 March 1947. Half of his military service (580 days) was to postings overseas including to Bougainville between 1945-7.

I was surprised to find how relatively recently Jim actually died, on 21 June 1992 then age 72. The Electoral Roll gives some idea of where he lived and what he did for a living. In 1958 he was a ‘railwayman’ in North Sydney. In 1962 his address was ‘C/ Mrs V. Newman, ‘Surfside’, 2 Dundas St, Coogee’. By 1963 he was a ‘farm worker’ in Biloela in Queensland. By 1977 Jim was a ‘storeman’ in Eastlakes New South Wales.

Jim’s death notice in June 1992 revealed that his final address was ‘Bundanoon’ in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The notice reveals he was, at the time of his death, the ‘brother of Veri, Margaret and Ted, loved uncle of Robert, Jim, Robyn James (deceased) and Anne’.

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‘Jim Crow Creek’ Information

Brief overview of evidence about the name ‘Jim Crow’ Creek

Professor Barry Golding AM

 b.golding@federation.edu.au

This is a very brief summary of what we know from the historical record about the origins and racist connotations associated with the naming of ‘Jim Crow Creek’ in the Central Goldfields of Victoria during the early 1840s.

A longer version with sources is also available by following this link, JemCrowAugustBG2019

I have added these documents to help inform the public about how our ‘Jim Crow Creek’ got its name, and to provide evidence that I believe argues for a process leading to a future name restoration.

Our local traditional owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Nation, have requested that the offensive and racist name be changed for this significant, life-giving feature of their generously shared traditional lands.

‘Jim Crow Creek’ is a 26km long ephemeral creek, draining 123 square km of country, formed by the confluence of Sailors Creek and Spring Creek at Breakneck Gorge in Hepburn Regional Park, two kilometers north-west of Hepburn. A Streamside Reserve near Franklinford also shares the same name.

The creek flows in a northerly direction from steep, forested gullies to undulating grazing land and alluvial flats where it enters the Loddon River below the Guildford Plateau at Strangways, 8 km downstream of Guildford. As with other significant features in the local landscape, it had a previous Dja Dja Wurrung name.

The name ‘Jim Crow’ was likely first given to the mountain (previously known as Lalgambook,now called Mount Franklin) by squatter John Hepburn (or less likely Alexander Mollison) after April 1838. Its crater and the areas around it was also called Larnebarramul(literally ‘nest of the Emu’).

Later the creek, district, goldfield and, at times, the Aboriginal Protectorate, ‘Tribe’ and individual Aboriginal people were also called ‘Jim Crow’.

Part of Mollison’s run was called ‘Jumcra’ from 1840, on land that later become the Loddon (Mount Franklin) Aboriginal Protectorate from 1841.

Edward Parker, local ‘Protector of Aborigines’ used the term ‘Jim Crow’ Hill when referring to the mountain in his 22 September 1839 report.

‘Jim Crow’ was a widely used and racist, derogatory term used to describe black, mostly enslaved people in America in the 1830s.

A popular and catchy song ‘Jump Jim Crow’, sung in the 1830s by a black-faced US white minstrel negatively caricatured a clumsy, dim-witted slave. It became a huge hit with audiences worldwide.

An English poem similarly adopted and disseminated the US ‘Jim Crow’ theme to the British and colonial public from 1837. Called ‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’, it created a modern fable about how the crow (jackdaw) got its name ‘Jem Crow’. Again, the main character is a persecuted and dishevelled black crow.

The second last line of poem, above, makes clear, that empires, invaders and conquerors routinely bestowed new names on old geographical features.

George Robinson, ‘Chief Protector of Aborigines’ diary (14 Feb, 1840) noted ‘… a hill Mr Hepburn calls Jem Crow … on account of the small hollows about it’.

John Hepburn was previously a widely travelled international sea captain, including to the US. Like Mollison, by 1840 he would have been well aware of its racist connotations and familiar with both the popular song and poem.

The Jim Crow character in the song transferred to the now repealed ‘Jim Crow Laws’ that became part of several US state constitutions. The Jim Crow Lawsmandated the segregation of public schools, public places, public transportation, the segregation of toilets, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks, in place from 1877 to the 1950s in the US. Understandably, in 2019 use of the term ‘Jim Crow’ is very offensive in the US.

The name of a former ‘Jim Crow Mountain’ and National Park near Rockhampton in Queensland was legally restored to Bagain Queensland in 2018 in collaboration with the Darumbal Aboriginal people and the local community.

There are other instances in Australia where similarly racist and offensive place names, such as ‘Nigger Creek’ have been officially expunged in consultation with the community and traditional owners as part of Indigenous reconciliation.

The Hepburn Shire and Mount Alexander Shire are actively engaged and supportive, with the traditional owners, in initiating a Reconciliation process to lead towards restoration of a more appropriate Dja Dja Wurrung name for the Jim Crow Creek.

‘Reading the Country at Contact’, Basic NAIDOC Tour Notes, 26 May 2019

Grounded in Truth: ‘Reading the Country at Contact’ Tour

Hepburn Shire Reconciliation Action Plan  (RAP) Tour Notes

A National Reconciliation Week 2019 Activity

Sunday 26 May 2019, 8.45am-4pm

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To foster positive race relations, our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth.

Join Adjunct Professor Barry Golding, and Dja Dja Wurrung Elder, Uncle Ricky Nelson for this one-day bus tour.

This tour invites you to experience a range of important sites in the Dja Dja Wurrung landscape where there is evidence of contact from the late 1830s between the peoples of the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Nation and the invading pastoralists, including John Hepburn, after whom the Shire is named.

There are seven stops, some as short as 20 minutes total time off the bus, so please follow instructions on the day to unsure we get to see all we planned. Most of our stops are on roadsides. To remain safe, please stay on the LEFT side of the road off the bitumen at each of these stops

ARRANGEMENTS: Registered participants will meet outside Daylesford Secondary College, Smith Street, Daylesford at 8.45am for departure no later than 9.00am. There is safe car parking outside the school. These tour notes with a route map (superimposed on an 1840s sketch map as well as an 1847 survey  map) will be provided on the bus. The tour notes prepared by Barry Golding that form the basis of the narrative during the tour will be posted after the tour in a ‘Reading the Country at Contact’ blog at www.barrygoanna.com

The two buses will return back to the starting point by 4.00 pm. We will visit, pass through or hear about a wide range of immediate post-contact sites that were significant between 1836 and 1841 in the Franklinford, Guildford, Strangways, Newstead, Neereman, Joyce’ Creek, Glengower, Campbelltown, Smeaton Plain, Smeaton, Kooroocheang and Kingston areas.

NOTE: All of what we see is on roadsides, ‘seen through the fence’, or in some cases with generous, one-off permission from landholders. Gaining permission for private entry on tours like this is a rare privilege.On no account should participants later trespass with others on private property or later contact private landholders to seek out what we look at from a distance.

PLANNED ITINERARY  (Please help us to keep to time …)

  • Board buses from 8.45am, Daylesford Secondary College, Smith Street.
  • Sharing of reasons for coming on the tour and expectations: on the bus.
  • 00am: Depart, travel towards Castlemaine, pass Mt Franklin (Lalgambook, withLarnebarramul volcaniccrater) to right; PASS second Protectorate site, June 1841-Dec 1849 to left).
  • PASS the Lime Kiln (on left), operating in the 1840s, supplied lime for John Hepburn’s House via the ‘Limestone Road’
  • Stop 1:30am: arrive at The ‘Big Tree’, Guildford, John Hepburn and family passed through here, April 1838.
  • 30 to 10.15am: Welcome to Country & Smoking Ceremony, Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Ricky Nelson; Welcome by Hepburn Shire Mayor, Don Henderson. Toilet available opposite the Big Tree.
  • Stop 2:45am-11.05am:The Loddon Valley at Strangways (considered but rejected as a Protectorate site, early 1841).
  • 15am brief Toilet Stopin Newstead & ‘Morning Tea’.
  • Stop 3:35am-12.00pm: The ‘Major’s Line’ October 1836 crossing on the Loddon at Newstead (later the Gold Escort route to Adelaide): Roadside stop opposite Mount Tarrengower, view towards Gough’s Range (Robinson & Parker reconnaissance trip, Feb 1840) and Neereman (Nov 1840-June 1841 Protectorate Site: 6km beyond Baringhup.
  • Stop 4:15am-12.35pm: Roadside stop above Joyce’s Creek opposite Moolort Plains, near remnant Buloke (Casuarina) trees to discuss the nature and importance of places where different ecosystems intersect.
  • Stop 5:55pm-1.25pm White Graves, the first burial associated with the 1840 Middle Creek Massacre, 1 km south of Campbelltown on Strathlea Road; narrative about Middle Creek, The Bloodhole’ 1840 massacre site..
  • 35pm brief Toilet Stop, Campbelltown Hall.
  • 45pm: PASS Aboriginal oven mounds (right) in private property woodland beyond Campbelltown fire station.
  • Stop 655pm-2.30pm: Roadside Lunch, Red Gums, Smeaton Plains, Williams Road, ‘A favourite place for the Aborigines’, described by G. A. Robinson in Feb 1840.
  • 40pm: PASSformerKooroocheang Swamp [private] (on right).
  • Stop 7:50pm-3.20pm: Hepburn Family Private Gravesite, off Estate Lane, below Mount Kooroocheang, [NB: Smeaton House is a private residence].
  • 3:30pm-3:40pm:Toilet Stop Smeaton Reserve
  • 40pm depart for Daylesford Secondary College, arrive by 4.00pm.

Map 1: March 1840 Edward Parker Rough Sketch Map, from E. Morrison, Frontier Life in the Loddon Protectorate, 1967, p.19. Most are pre 1840 sheep runs established mainly on the Coliban and Campaspe on Dja Dja Wurrung. When Parker drew the map he was likely unaware of the main branch of the Loddon. The ‘Polodyul or Loddon River’ shown is likely the stream called ‘Jim Crow Creek’ in 2019. Our tour route is marked in pink.

Parker Sketch Map 1840

MAP 2:  Main 1847 Base Map: copied from inside cover of ‘A Homestead History’(Reminiscences of Alfred Joyce 1843-64, Ed. G. James, 1942), redrawn from an 1847 Upper Loddon survey Map,

Upper Loddon Map 1847 (annotated 2019)

  • Our tour route is marked in pink; present day ‘towns’ in green; 2019 creek, river and mountain names added.
  • RUNS: Smeaton Hill(John Hepburn, from 1838); Glengower(Dugald McLachlan, from 1839); Plaistow (Alfred Joyce from 1843); Tarringower (Lauchlan McKinnon, 1839-41); Rodborough Vale (Thomas Chirnside 1839, Donald McKinnon then E. G. Bucknall from 1844); Boughyards (Alexander Mollison from 1837, Alexander Kennedy from 1840).
  • Note how quickly things had changed in the footprint of the current (2019) Hepburn Shire between 1840 and 1847.

‘Reading the Country at Contact’, May 2019, Extra Notes

 

Narrative for ‘Reading the Country at Contact Tour’

Hepburn Shire, NAIDOC Week Activity, 26 May 2019

Feedback and suggestions are welcome via b.golding@federation.edu.au

What these notes contain

These notes have been prepared by Barry Golding for tour participants to access later as a post at www.barrygoanna.com.  Further insights are provided on the site’s ‘Beyond Contact’ page and other posts.

These notes tease out Barry Golding’s tour narrative at the seven stops on the tour. There is also some narrative about places and sites we passed by between stops on the tour. Uncle Ricky’s important and complementary verbal narrative is not included in these notes.

Tour Rationale

  ‘to learn about our shared histories … [as an approach towards] reconciliation … grounded in truth’.

Tour invitation

…. to experience a range of important sites in the Dja Dja Wurrung landscape where there is evidence of contact from the late 1830s between the peoples of the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Nation and the invading pastoralists, including John Hepburn.

Tour Maps

The two base maps mentioned below, included separately in the tour notes, illustrate how quickly white invader knowledge of the ‘lay of the land’ in the footprint of the current (2019) Hepburn and Mount Alexander Shires improved between 1840 and 1847, as well as how quickly stations were created and new boundaries were established.

Map 1 (p.3 of participant notes): Parker’s March 1840 Sketch Map taken from E. Morrison, Frontier Life in the Loddon Protectorate, 1967, p.19, includes Hepburn’s (1838) run as well as earlier runs on the Campaspe and Coliban: including Mollison (1837), Orr, M[u]nro (1838-43), Thorn[e]loe & Ebden.

Parker Sketch Map 1840

MAP 2 (p.4 of participant notes) Main 1847 Base Map: copied from inside cover of ‘A Homestead History’(Reminiscences of Alfred Joyce 1843-64, Ed. G. James, 1942), redrawn from an 1847 Upper Loddon survey Map,

Upper Loddon Map 1847 (annotated 2019)

  • Our tour route is marked in pink; present day ‘towns’ in green; 2019 creek, river and mountain names have been added.
  • RUNS: Smeaton Hill (John Hepburn, from 1838); Glengower (Dugald McLachlan, from 1839); Plaistow (Alfred Joyce from 1843); Tarringower (Lauchlan McKinnon, 1839-41); Rodborough Vale (Thomas Chirnside 1839, Donald McKinnon then E. G. Bucknall from 1844); Boughyards (Alexander Mollison from 1837, Alexander Kennedy from 1840); Holcombe.

Travel towards Castlemaine

PASS Mt Franklin (Lalgambook) & Larnebarramul  (Mt Franklin crater) to right; PASS later Protectorate site, to left).

The main ‘Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate’ site was centred to the left of the road around present day Franklinford from June 1841-Dec 1848. Edward Parker was the Assistant Protector for the NW part of then Colony of Port Phillip. Hundreds of Aboriginal people (max 200 at any one time) lived or came here for safety, food and shelter whilst the Protectorate operated.

The central Aboriginal Protectorate area, radius ‘1 mile’, was for cultivation. A ‘larger 5 mile ‘radius (that went NS from approx. Hepburn Springs to Strangways, EW approx. to Glenlyon to Werona) was anticipated to be for traditional food gathering including hunting and fishing.

At the time the Loddon Protectorate closed only 30-40 Aboriginal people were living there. From April 1850 Parker was permitted to operate the Loddon station as a pastoral lease on the one square mile of land between Franklinford and the foot of Mount Franklin.  [often called the ‘Loddon’ protectorate (a) because the earlier (1840-1 Protectorate) was on the Loddon River (Polodyul or Pul-er-gil yal-loke) 30km to the NW, at Neereman 6km North of Baringhup, and (b) because the current ‘Jim Crow Creek’ catchments was sometimes called the ‘Loddon’, being part of the Loddon catchment).

The last of the Aboriginal people living at the ‘Loddon Aboriginal Station’ in 1863 were forcibly removed to Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve near Healesville, which operated until 1924. In 2019 there are approx. 2,000 Dja Dja Wurrung descendants from around 20 apical ancestors who survived to the 1860s. Henry Harmony Nelson is Uncle Ricky Nelson’s apical ancestor.

To the right is Mount Franklin. Its peak was likely called Lalgambook. Its crater was usually referred to as Lar–ne-barramul, literally ‘place of the emu’, likely on account of the shape of its nest shaped crater. The original names are far from certain.

George Robinson first visited Edward Parker’s new Protectorate station site here (in June 1841) on 19 Nov 1841. He described it as being:

… on one of the sources of the Lodden (sic.), at a place called Willam.be.par.re.mal, a short distance from Lal.gam.book. The appearance of the place on approaching is rather pleasing; it is however surrounded by broken forest ranges containing abundance of game.

Robinson provides several variations of the Aboriginal name in his diary that same week. On 21 Nov 1841 he wrote that: ‘The hill at Loddon station is called Wil.lam.be.par.ra.mal(emu house). The creek or branch of the Lodden (sic) is called Lulgambook’.Robinson wrote on 28 November 1841 that he had:

… visited the crater at the mount called Willum-parramul, otherwise Jem Crow. It is an ancient crater of large dimension. … Had a fine view.

Hepburn climbed its peak soon after his arrival in April 1838 to get a better sense of the local topography. Called (and likely dubbed) ‘Jem Crow Hill’ by Hepburn, most likely because of a popular 1830s Poem, and 1830s minstrel song that referred to it as ‘Jem Crown’ and ‘Jim Crow’ respectively. It became Mount Franklin following a visit by former Van Diemen’s Land Governor, John Franklin in December 1843. The very negative, racist historic connotations of the term ‘Jim Crow’ arguably call for the original name of the Creek and the later name of the mountain (once clarified) to be restored.

PASS the Lime Kiln (on left),operating on the northern edge Aboriginal Protectorate of during the 1840s. It supplied lime via the ‘Limestone Road’ for John Hepburn’s mansion built in 1848-9. Likely the deposit was accumulated from as carbonate rich water from a mineral spring, colloquially referred to as ‘Limestone Spring’ or ‘The Bullfrog’ until it was tapped for spa water tanks built on the site in the 1980s.

STOP 1: The ‘Big Tree’, Guildford

 John Hepburn and family passed through here on the way to Kooroocheang, April 1838.

‘The Big Tree’: one of the largest Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) in Victoria (height 32 metres; basal diameter 3m: age at least 500 years). It has a large branch graft on its northern side. The brass plaque records Burke and Wills camping here on their ill-fated northern expedition.

It is listed as a tree of State significance on the National Trust’s Register of Significant Trees of Victoria for its “outstanding size, curious fusion of branches, as an outstanding example of the species and as an important landmark“. The National Trust regards its conservation as vital to the local community and the State as a whole.

Due to its great age, numerous hollows have formed within the tree, providing habitat for many creatures. This tree is an eco-system which sustains a vast range of bird and animal life including magpies, rosellas, lorikeets, parrots, kookaburras, wood ducks, boobook owls, honey eaters, numerous species of insects, native bees and possums.

Already an ancient giant when the first white invaders arrived in the late 1830s, the Big Tree has played an important part in the cultural and social life of the Guildford community. This tree survives as an important symbol and a link between our community and its traditional owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal people.

John Hepburn likely camped nearby on his way to ‘take up his run’ around Kooroocheang in April 1838.

Welcome to Country & Smoking Ceremony, Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Ricky Nelson; Welcome by Hepburn Shire Mayor, Don Henderson.

STOP 2: The Loddon Valley at Strangways

This site was considered but rejected as a second Protectorate site in early 1841.

At this point we are on the fertile Loddon River flats. This was a former, important Aboriginal highway. To the south up the ‘Jim Crow Creek’ is a small amount of reasonably good volcanic soil that later became the centre of the former Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate. Opposite is the Guildford plateau, an elevated volcanic plain, which was grassland at the time of contact.

The current road between Newstead and Franklinford followed a narrow tongue of volcanic grassland that would also have been an Aboriginal highway between patches of forest on the older shales and slates.  These river flats are on the same highway that Thomas Mitchell crossed and camped at near present day Newstead in October 1836, later be referred to as ‘Mitchell’s Line’.

During 1837 several pastoralists used this river highway in to explore for new country to invade beyond already ‘taken up areas’. One group including Aitken (at Mount Aitken) swung up past Mount Macedon (Terawait) and Mount Alexander (Leanganook), along the Loddon and back to Corio via Ercildoune. Another group including Thomas Learmonth explored north from Buninyong, via Dowling Forest along the Loddon and back to Melbourne via Kyneton.

The huge quartz pebble to the right of the road came out of the gold bearing gravels on the edge of the Guildford plateau, an indication of how much bigger the stream buried by the basalt was several million years ago.

This area near the former Strangways railway yards (behind Don Hepburn’s house, perhaps a distant relation) became important in the early 1841 as Edward Parker looked for a Plan B right here as the original site at Neereman proved unsuitable. Lyon Campbell and other local squatters strongly objected. The objection was mainly because this area was already taken up by stations and was too close to what had become the main ‘overlanding’ highway on Mitchell’s Line between Sydney and Portland.

Uncle Ricky talks about the big picture of Dja Dja Wurrung people, the Clans, Moieties. Language and Kulin Confederations.

STOP 3: The ‘Major’s Line’

Thomas Mitchell’s October 1836 crossing on the Loddon at Newstead (later the Gold Escort route to Adelaide): Roadside stop opposite Mount Tarrengower.

View north towards Gough’s Range (Robinson & Parker reconnaissance trip, Feb 1840 and Neereman (Nov 1840-June 1841 Protectorate Site) 6km beyond Cairn Curran Reservoir & Baringhup.

We are now pretty much on the ‘Major’s Line’, one marked by the wheel ruts of the huge wagons as they headed back from Portland to Sydney in October 1936. A few days before he had climbed and named Mount Greenock near Talbot. Once of the volcanic plains he took a compass bearing to bring him out south of Mount Alexander, which took him north of Mount Cameron, through Strathlea to Newstead then through Expedition Pass near Chewton.

We know a lot about this area in 1840 because of the incredibly detailed (and accurate) diary records of George Robinson, Chief Protector of Aborigines (1839-1850) who came here through with Edward Parker in Feb 1840. They were loaned a cart by John Hepburn and ventured down from Hepburn’s Station via the Smeaton Plain, the Stony Rises (near ‘Tuki Trout Farm’), Campbelltown, and Joyce’s Creek to where it joins the Loddon (now beneath Cairn Curran Reservoir) and to Newstead. Below Newstead they described the still massive pools downstream that John Hepburn referred to in February 1840 as ‘the fishponds on the plains’ on account of the huge Murray cod and Macquarie perch in the big water holes downstream of Newstead.

They climbed to the western edge of a rocky range (now Gough’s Range) between Mount Tarrengower and the Loddon, ’20 miles north of Koretanger’ giving them a vantage point, Robinson describes the scene in detail on 21 Feb 1840:

Near to where we stood was the last of the Mameloid [breast-like] hills … red gums, sho oak [Allocasuarina], white gum, honey suckle (Banksia) trees. The low plains were mottled or carpeted with flowers in full blossom, patches from 1 to 2 acres of white everlasting flowers and then patches of an acre or more of yellow … or the beautiful blue flower with clumps of honey suckle and gums, and the pea green reeds of the Lodden (sic), like a broad green ribbon running in a tortuous line among the varigold and beautiful landscape, the glassy surface of the water shining between the branches of the trees.

To the north is Mount Tarrengower, (called ‘Salus’ by Mitchell), thankfully retaining its original name. Where there were no trees there was lots of Kangaroo grass. (Themeda). In many places on this Feb 1840 journey, typically on the edge between the woodland and the plain, Robinson noted many ‘bark huts of the natives’ and ‘ovens’. Just to the north of Cairn Curran Reservoir is Lauchlan McKinnon’s ‘Tarrengower’ Homestead.

Uncle Ricky talks about the relations between the Dja Dja Wurrung peoples, the explorers and the pastoralists.

STOP 4: Roadside stop above Joyce’s Creek (Knee-rarp) opposite Moolort Plains.

This stop is near remnant Buloke (Casuarina) trees, where we discuss the nature and importance of humans living in places where many different ecosystems intersect.

For the next 10 km we drive south along the eastern edge of Joyce’s Creek, a ‘lateral stream between the edge of the Moolort (volcanic) Plains and the Campbelltown Forest (on the old, rocky and relatively infertile Ordovician bedrock). Joyce’s Creek like the Loddon River, was then a well-travelled and settled Aboriginal highway. Robinson reported many camp, huts and ovens ‘where the natives had been’, with many freshwater mussel and emu shells. Robinson was ‘at a loss to account for the [immense number of] wheel and cattle tracks we now met with’ near Strathlea until he realised he was actually on the Major’s Line.

Uncle Ricky talks more about the food resources here.

This area was an ecotone: teeming with food resources in every direction: Emu, Kangaroo and Yam Daisy on the Moolort Plains; Murray cod and Macquarie perch in the massive pools in the Loddon downstream of Newstead to the north; possums and small mammals in the river red gums along Joyce’s Creek and forests to the east; rich fauna and flora in the Banksia and Buloke woodlands Blackfish and freshwater mussels in the creek; 30 large wetlands on the Moolort plains with a whole range of aquatic plants, birds, yabbies.

ON the way south the bald volcanic hills gradually come into view, Powlett Hill to right, then Moorooklye, Stony Rises and Kooroocheang to far left.

STOP 5: Graves associated with the 1840 Middle Creek Massacre

This stop is 1 km north of Campbelltown on the Strathlea Road.

The memorial grave is to the left of the road on private property. On the opposite (west) side of the road verge opposite the graves is a stand of unusual and inedible Osage oranges (Maclura pomifera)

A brass plaque on the grave displays the following text:

HERE LIE THREE UNKNOWN PIONEERS OF THIS DISTRICT.

A COOK ON GLENGOWER STATIONKILLED BY THE ABORIGINES IN 1840.

A TRAVELLER KILLED BY MIS-ADVENTURE BY THE STATION DOGS IN 1841.

AND A YOUNG EMPLOYEE,

DIED FROM NATURAL CAUSES IN 1841.

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.

The three European people buried in the Pioneer Memorial Graves were all associated with the Glengower run. This spot was first used as a burial ground following an initial disturbing incident and burial by Dugald McLachlan in winter or spring of 1840, and again in 1841.

The third burial, unrelated to the violence associated with the first and second burials, is the grave of the young son of the original informant about the massacre story, Donald (‘Rhu’) McDonnell.

The first burial is that of a cook at the Glengower station who was killed by a band of Jadwajali Aborigines returning to the Grampians after obtaining greenstone axe blanks from Mt William, near Lancefield. The Aborigines are said to have called at the station for food when McLachlan and the stockmen were away mustering sheep for shearing, and only the cook was present in the cookhouse. The cook is alleged to have added Plaster of Paris to a damper he had cooked for the Aborigines, which once ingested would have caused a horrible and painful death. An altercation allegedly followed and the Aborigines are alleged to have murdered the cook, hanging his body in the cookhouse on a meat hook. When McLachlan returned he immediately organised a punitive expedition comprised of Glengower and neighbouring Smeaton Hill stockmen.

McLachlan buried the cook, whose name is not known, at the present gravesite only 800 yards north-east of the homestead. In expectation of a reprisal raid, McLachlan released his savage hunting dogs into the station grounds (he purportedly used for hunting dingo) after nightfall. About a year after the cook’s murder in 1841 the dogs, savaged to death an unnamed visiting itinerant traveller, who was buried beside the murdered cook. The third grave is of George McDonnell, the son of shepherd (and the original informant of the oral history) Donald McDonnell, who died of natural causes in 1841.

McLachlan was well known amongst his contemporaries as very hard and ‘austere’ man. He was very fond of using guns and hunting dogs. He was described as ‘austere’, grasping, ruthless and uncompromising of men and beast even by his contemporaries.

On Middle Creek, Glengower (on private land) is ‘The Bloodhole’, the site of an 1840s Aboriginal massacre that took place approx. 8km to the west.

The Aborigines thought to be those associated with the death of the cook were tracked down with McLachlan’s dogs and they hid in the waterholes on Middle Creek. On seeing the approaching men on horseback with guns, the Aboriginal men jumped into the creek to swim to the other side or hide under water. The mounted men from the station including McLachlan fired on the Aborigines in the water. Some had hollow reeds to breathe through while submerged, which still grow at the site today. By the time the firing stopped at least 12 Aboriginal men were dead and floating in the bloody water. The place (on private property) is still known locally by some residents as ‘The Blood Hole’ or ‘Slaughter Hole’.

STOP 6: Smeaton Plains, Williams Road (do NOT leave the road reserve and enter private land)

  ‘A favourite place for the Aborigines’, described by G. A. Robinson in Feb 1840.

Robinson writes on 14 February 1840 that being a fine and pleasant day, John Hepburn took him to the top of Kooroocheang. Hepburn then:

Showed me a plain with some open forest on it, 3 miles [5km] from his house in N [northerly] direction. Said it was a favourite place for the natives. He has seen 30 women on the plains at a time digging murrnong while the men went into the forest to hunt kangaroos, opossums, &c. which are abundant.’

After dinner that same day, being summer the evening would have been light. Robinson:

‘… rode out with Mr Hepburn to the place of the native camp aforementioned. Rode over some beautiful country. The Mameloid [‘breast like’] Hills has a natural appearance when seen from the plains. And so the hills in the distance than when viewed from the top of Koratanger. The trees from Kor.ra.tanger looked diminutive but when we came to them found them large, 2 and 3 feet diameter at the butt, with large umbrageous branches . Well covered with foliage, they stood at a distance of from 20 to 50 to 50 yards and the whole which was about half a mile square, had a park-like appearance.’

Robinson’s use of term ‘park’ to describe what was an Aboriginal Australian woodland was common amongst many British squatters and explorers familiar with parks created in the ‘old country ‘around country houses and estates.

The creators of this deliberately managed Australian park were still living and cooking underneath the trees in this 1840s landscape. Robinson continued:

‘We saw the remains of from 30-40 screens or shelters of boughs where the natives had been. Also several of the native ovens or fireplaces where they baked their murrnong. Some 10 feet in diameter. … Returned through another part of the native camp. Saw some more native huts or screens. Rode round the S end of Koretanger. The dogs killed a native cat, dark color and white spots’.

PASS former Kooroocheang Swamp [private] (on right).

Several oven mounds described by Robinson have been recorded in the vicinity the former Kooroocheang swamp. Jack Sewell recalls plentiful freshwater crayfish in the swamp before it was drained in the 1960s.

There are historic records of the Brolga (Grus rubicunda) nesting around the swamp, indeed the word Kooroocheang is thought to reference the brolga. ‘Turkey Hill Road’ north of Powlett Hill references the former Bustard (Ardeotis australis) common on the local grasslands before the introduction of sheep and cattle as well as  hunting. 

STOP 7: Hepburn Family Private Gravesite

This site must be accessed from a gravel car park on the south side of Estate Lane, below Mount Kooroocheang, Please note that Smeaton House nearby is strictly a private residence.

John Hepburn’s decision to replace his first timber house and commission a huge new, 20 room, double storey mansion was announced in his journal on 2 April 1849. That day his family had shared ‘a pleasure party’ with neighbours on the nearby Kangaroo Hills.

The Smeaton House mansion has for the past 130 years been the private home to the Righetti family. The mansion complete with verandahs on three sides of the lower storey, stables and a coach house was finished by the end of 1850, just before the first discovery of gold at nearby Clunes. Unsurprisingly, the mansion is highly classified by the National Trust but remains private.

The Hepburn family graveyard on a nearby picturesque knoll is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. There is public walking access across privately owned paddocks to the Hepburn Graves via a car park recently constructed south of the cemetery on Estate Lane. John Hepburn was buried here in 1860. The pallbearers at his funeral comprised the men of the Creswick and District Roads Board.

At the time of Hepburn’s death in 1860, just 20 years after Mitchell’s wagons rolled through this Dja Dja Wurrung landscape, the telegraph had arrived and the railway was advancing from Geelong towards Ballarat. The first 1851 gold rush in nearby Clunes was then only nine years old, but by the 1880s had spread for 100km in every direction and totally transformed the landscape and society.

Only three of John Hepburn’s ten children plus his wife Eliza (died 1869) are buried in the family graveyard: including the two children who came overland in 1838, Alice (died 1865) and Thomas (died 1859) as well as George (who was born at the property in 1838 and died 1903). Other Hepburns buried there include the family of John Hepburn’s brother, Benjamin who died in 1888.

Aside from the Hepburn family graves and inscriptions, the exotic trees within the fenced off cemetery as well as the views are sublime (on a fine, sunny day).

One view is towards Mount Moorookyle, another is towards Mount Kooroocheang. A third vista south overlooks the valley of Middle Creek, locally called ‘Captains Creek’, through scattered, remnant, ancient woodland eucalypts.

 

Mitchell ‘discovers’ Dja Dja Wurrung’s Australia Felix

 

Mitchell passed twice through Dja Dja Wurrung country in Winter and Spring of 1836. This account focuses on the implications of Mitchell ‘discovering’ the highly productive, carefully created, and responsibly managed Dja Dja Wurrung grasslands, that he otherwise took to be empty and ripe for subsequent picking by European invaders.

NOTE: Much of my account was added on 24 September 2018 to my much longer and wider historical and autoethnographic narrative on the ‘Beyond Contact’ page.

Major Thomas Mitchell’s 1836 traverse across what is now inland Victoria is important as part of the wider historical narrative by virtue of being the first European to describe and give (mostly new European) names to most of the inland rivers and mountains of northern and Western Victoria, including those rivers already mapped, named and cultured by Dja Dja Wurrung peoples for around one thousand generations.

Mitchell’s diary, published in Three expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix and the present Colony of New South Wales, records his 1836 overland expedition of ‘exploration’ from Sydney via the Murray River then south to Portland, returning via Western Victoria and present day north eastern Victoria.

While Mitchell made some notes about the local traditional owners he encountered, his main interest was in describing, naming and ‘opening up’ a country’ he regarded as essentially uninhabited. That said, his 25 man official party including his second in command, G. C. Staplyton carried a total of 36 firearms. The men were dressed in red woollen shirts and grey trousers crossed by white braces, ‘giving the men somewhat of a military appearance’ (p.2) as they set off, in Mitchell’s words, ‘to traverse unexplored regions, peopled, as far as we know, by hostile tribes’ (p.3).

The expedition anticipated using boats along and in order to cross some larger inland streams including the Murray and Darling Rivers, which they carried in a boat carriage. The several heavy wagons left their wheel ruts discernable for several decades after their expedition. The track the wagons followed was often already an Aboriginal highway, and the expedition’s track across Victorian’s northern plains quickly followed by squatters, sheep and cattle later became known as the ‘Major’s Line’.

Twice during this 1836 expedition Mitchell passed through Dja Dja Wurrung country, twice crossing the Loddon River. The first traverse and river crossing was in mid winter (late June and early July, 1836) whilst heading southwest between Pyramid Hill and the headwaters of the Richardson River. The second time the expedition crossed the Loddon River near present day Newstead in late September 1836, on router between Mount Cole and Mt Alexander as the expedition was heading back towards Sydney. Mitchell named what is now known as Mount Alexander (to the Dja Dja Wurrung, Leanganook) ‘Mount Byng’, though the name did not stick. Admiral John Byng, an English Royal Navy officer was court-martialed and shot dead by a firing squad in 1757.

Unlike Chief Protector of Aborigines, George Robinson, Mitchell not only took the country to be uninhabited but also prepared and predestined for European intrusion by a then unknown cause. Mitchell came close to identifying the then unknown explanation for such extensive areas of open grassland on what later became the heavily grazed and cultivated plains of northern and western Victoria when he wrote that:

On highest mountains and in places the most remote and desolate, I have always found every dead trunk and the ground and any living tree of any magnitude also, the marks of fire; and thus it appeared that these annual conflagrations extend to every place. (p.328)

What Mitchell described were grassland, woodland and forest ecosystems carefully and deliberately created and managed by thousands of years of regular and systematic Aboriginal burning to encourage and sustain their desired food plants and animals.

On 30 June 1836 Mitchell was towards the north end of Dja Dja Wurrung country when he climbed to the top of Pyramid Hill and described:… a land so inviting, and still without inhabitants! As I stood, the first European intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant plains, as yet untouched by flocks or herds; I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes; and that our steps would soon be followed by the men and the animal for which it seemed to be prepared’ (p.159).

The ‘fine plain’ Mitchell and his wagons passed across the next day was covered with what both he and Robinson called anthisteria, now known as Themeda triandra, ‘Kangaroo’ or ‘Oat’ grass, also covered in places by what Mitchell recognised as banksia and casuarina, and what Robinson respectively called ‘honeysuckle’ and ‘oak’. By July 5 they passed a lofty hill Mitchell recorded as Barrabungale (likely present day Buckrabanyule, unbeknown to Mitchell the sacred home of the feared ancestral giant serpent, Mindi). By July 6 the party were on a river Mitchell named the Loddon, because ‘… of its resemblance in some respects to the little stream in England.’ On July 10 they crossed and named the Avoca River, and on 13 July crossed and named the Richardson River after his botanical collector, John Richardson, who had an unplanned swim when his horse slipped during the river crossing. By July 19 they has encountered another river they ascertained from the locals to be the Wimmera.

By late August 1836 the expedition had passed north of (and renamed) Gariwerd the Grampians, and travelled along the Glenelg River, launching their whaleboat to explore the wide and navigable lower parts of the river. They came onto the southern Australian coast downstream of present day Nelson close to the present day South Australian-Victorian border. On 29 August Mitchell’s party was ‘astonished’ when one of the expedition’s Aboriginal members (not listed but invaluable amongst the ‘official’ expeditioners) whom Mitchell called ‘Tommy Came-last’ came to him with the unexpected news of fresh cattle tracks, the ‘shoe marks of a white man’, ‘portions of tobacco pipes and a glass bottle without a neck’. Mitchell understood that whalers and sealers had for several decades made camp along the same stretch of coast on Portland Bay, but the presence of cattle tracks astounded him. In Mitchell’s words, ‘How cattle could have been brought here I did not understand’. At anchor in the bay they found the answer: ‘The Elizabeth of Launceston’ and on shore ‘a considerable farming establishment belonging to Messrs. Henty’ that had been in place for at least two years. Mitchell wrote that Henty ‘was ‘importing sheep and cattle as fast as vessels could be found to bring them over’ (p.241).

The return journey towards Sydney took the party south of the Grampians, and apart from Mitchell’s personal side trip to climb and name Mount Macedon, on a steady north-east bearing across the ‘open downs’ of the Western District volcanic plains. The expedition re entered Dja Dja Wurrung country as they crossed the Great Dividing Range between Mount Cole and Mount Greenock (close to present day Talbot), both of which Mitchell renamed. Mitchell’s wagons skirted the base of Mount Greenock and headed northeast towards the open volcanic plains north of present day Clunes towards present day Newstead on a compass bearing of 60.5 degrees. The intention was to head for ‘Mount Byng Pass’, effectively at the south end of Mount Alexander that had been in the expedition’s sights on the horizon for several days. The dozens of smooth, grassed, breast-like volcanic hills visible to the east of the summit of Mount Greenock Mitchell called the Mammeloid Hills. On 25 September 1836 as the party lumbered across this vast Aboriginal grassland, Mitchell wrote: ‘In travelling through this Eden, no road was necessary, not any ingenuity in conducting wheel carriages wherever we chose’ (pp.276-7).

As the party headed north-east onto the open grassy plains, Mitchell climbed a nearby ‘smooth round hill’, likely what later became known as Mount Cameron, to get the lay of the land and try and map the course of the many small northward flowing streams. Mitchell’s party:

… entered on a very level and extensive flat, exceedingly green and resembling an English park, bounded on the east by a small river flowing to the north-west (probably the Loddon) and abrupt but grassy slopes beyond its right bank.

 Mitchell’s was correct in assuming it was the Loddon, the same river he had crossed around 100km north approximately three months earlier. Mitchell’s description on 28 September puts the party close to present day Newstead and heading through belts of forest and grassland towards present day Castlemaine. On 29 September the party found a route through the steep wooded ranges for their wagons, down onto the ‘more open granitic country at the foot of Mount Byng [Mount Alexander]’ near present day Chewton, naming it ‘Expedition-pass’. Mitchell was confident ‘that such a line of communication between the southern coast and Sydney, must, in the course of time, become a very considerable thoroughfare’.

At this point, at the foot of Mount Alexander, whilst waiting for repairs to the wagon carrying their boats, Mitchell resolved to take a side trip from his wagon train ‘to the lofty mountain mass which appeared about thirty miles to the southward’ (p.281). From this mountain, that Mitchell called Mount Macedon after Philip of Macedon in honour of the fact that he was able to view Port Philip from the summit, he could see signs of European activity at the Port Phillip settlement in the form of ‘white objects which might have been either tents or vessels’. Port Phillip had been briefly settled near Sorrento on 1803-4, then left mostly undisturbed by Europeans until the previous year, 1835, when settlers from Tasmania led by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner (who incidentally had been at the Sorrento settlement as a child) established what became Melbourne on the lower reaches of the Yarra River.

On the return journey towards Sydney across what are now the northern plains, Mitchell went ahead to ensure he was first with the news of his discovery of Australia Felix, ‘the better to distinguish it from the parched deserts’ that Mitchell ‘had wandered so unprofitably, and for so long’ in Western New South Wales. Mitchell wrongly took this Eden wrongly to be ‘still for the most part to be in a state of nature providing a fairly blank sheet’ for subsequently being carved up by European towns and lines of communication. The expedition’s return route approximated the current Hume Highway, fording the Goulburn River near present day Mitchelton and the Murray River near present day Albury. Mitchell buried letters of instruction to Staplyton who followed behind him with the wagons. As Hawdon along with Gardiner and Hepburn were heading south on the first ever overland journey with herds of sheep and cattle towards Port Phillip in late 1836, they encountered Stapleton who was also crossing the Murrumbidgee River near present day Gundagai on his way back to Sydney.

Danish and Icelandic Men’s Shed update August 2018

Mænds Mødesteder (‘Men’s Sheds’) in Denmark

 Background

Men’s Health is formally acknowledged as an issue in Denmark in the first official report on Men’s Health In Denmark, titled ‘Men’s health: The health status of men in Denmark and a review of effective interventions for promoting men’s health.

Mænds Mødesteder (in Danish, effectively ‘Men’s Meeting Place’) is an initiative of the Forum for Maends Sundhed (Men’s Health Society), Denmark. The Society is a multidisciplinary organisation dedicated to the field of men’s health in all its aspects. The Society is a member of ‘European Men’s Health Forum’ (EMHF) and ‘Global Action of Men’s Health’ (GAMH).

When The Men’s Shed Movement book was published in 2015, only one ‘Men’s Shed ‘(Mænds Mødesteder, Stevns, opened April 2015) was listed. Mænds Mødesteder are still growing in Denmark. To date (August 2018) there are approximately 30 open or soon to open and most have their own website. Each ‘Shed’ that wants to have a site can post activities and write about their shed or add pictures. The site is www.mmdanmark.dk. On this website you also can see the guidelines for any municipality or other interested organisation that wants to open up a Mænds Mødesteder https://www.mmdanmark.dk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/M%C3%A6nds-M%C3%B8desteder-drejebog-nettet.pdf

Sincere thanks to Mie Møller Nielsen Head of Office (Head Office, 74, 3.sal
1620 København, see 
www.sundmand.dk) based in Copenhagen, Denmark for the updated information below.

Mænds Mødesteder in Denmark
 to August 2018

At the moment there are approximately 30 Mænds Mødesteder open or soon to open Below is a list by year of where and when a Mænds Mødesteder has opened in Denmark (or is soon to open, to August 2018) since the program started in 2015.

2015: 7 opened, one has since closed

2015 Feb.          Mænds Mødesteder – Sjakket Bornholm

2015 April         Mænds Mødesteder – Billund
2015 April        Mænds Mødesteder – Stevns

2015 April         Mænds Mødesteder – (Trige, Frydenlund og Herredsvang, Vandtårnsområdet i Aarhus)

2016: 11 opened, 2 have since closed

2016 Feb.         Mænds Mødesteder – Skaldborg Mandeklub Aalborg

2016 March     Mænds Mødesteder – Odsherred

2016 April        Mænds Mødesteder – Bryrup

2016 June        Mænds Mødesteder – Horsens(closed)

2016 June        Mænds Mødesteder – Glostrup

2016 Aug         Mænds Mødesteder – Høje-Taastrup(closed)

2016 Sept         Mænds Mødesteder – Brøndby

2016 Sept         Mænds Mødesteder – Kjellerup

2016 Oct          Mænds Mødesteder – Sønderborg

2016 Nov        Mænds Mødesteder – Greve

2016 Nov         Mænds Mødesteder – Ringsted

2017: 7 opened

2017 Jan          Mænds Mødesteder – Esbjerg

2017 Feb          Mænds Mødesteder – Tårnby

2017 Feb          Mænds Mødesteder – Frederiksberg

2017 May         Mænds Mødesteder – Egedal

2017 Sept        Mænds Mødesteder – Korsør

2017 Sept        Mænds Mødesteder – De Fynske Alper (Faarborg-Midtfyn)

2017 Nov         Mænds Mødesteder – Silkeborg

2018: 4 opened to August (3 in development*)

2018 Feb          Mænds Mødesteder – København N.

2018 March     Mænds Mødesteder – Rebild

2018 April        Mænds Mødesteder – Pusterummet (Holstebro)

2018 May         Mænds Mødesteder – Farvskov

*2018                  Nørresundby (Aalborg)

*2018                  Randers

*2018                  Haslev (Faxe)

We don’t know exactly how many men (in total) are using the Mænds Mødesteder, but we expect it to be around 700 men. There now is a Mænds Mødesteder in every region in Denmark, and 22 out of 98 municipalities has a Mænds Mødesteder in Denmark, with some municipalities already having more than one.

Karlar í skúrum ‘Men’s Sheds’ in Iceland

Men’s Sheds in Iceland is a project of the Icelandic Red Cross. Karlar í skúrum is a direct translation into Icelandic from ‘Men´s Sheds’ or ‘Men in Sheds’. They have started one Shed which now has 30 members and a waiting list has started to form. All the information about Men´s Sheds in Iceland accessible on line is in Icelandic. Therefore this brief English update.

There was a formal opening gathering on 1 June 2018 and Barry Sheridan, CEO from the Irish Men’s Sheds Assocation came across from Dublin and attended the opening. There was some coverage on national television and Barry was interviewed: see http://www.visir.is/k/vtv44af3779-4bb5-40a6-9587-86985a78f22e Also, there was article about the opening in a national paper: scroll down to the article on page 24 of the following link: http://www.visir.is/paper/fbl/180606.pdf

Sincere thanks to Hörður Sturluson, Project Manager, Icelandic Red Cross [ email hordur@redcross.is]. Hordur would welcome any feedback globally ‘… about the best way to make Sheds be sustainable by themself. We are planning to start some more Sheds and there is interest around the country. Does anyonehave any documents about that?

Creswick Shire Hall, Kingston

Creswick Shire Hall in Kingston

 The Creswick Shire Hall, Kingston: The story in brief

Creswick was first incorporated as a Roads District in 11 January 1859, and became a Shire on 31 Dec 1863. The Creswick District Roads Board built the original double brick hall in Kingston, then set back off street frontage, some time between 1860 and 1863, after which it became part of the Creswick Shire and the more convenient and larger centre for its administrative base. New rooms and the current (2018) street façade were added to the 1860s Hall in 1911 to create the current Creswick Shire Hall 1911. After the Borough of Creswick (incorporated on 19 Nov 1858) was united with the Creswick Shire (on 29 May 1934), the local government administrative centre reverted back to Creswick. Some Council business and meetings were held at the Creswick Shire Hall in Kingston until the after the end of the Second World War, when the Municipal Offices were finally moved to the Creswick Town Hall.

The largely vacant Creswick Shire Hall in Kingston was then briefly offered for use to post-war industry, and then for local community purposes. From the late 1950s into the 1970s it became the venue for the Kingston District Youth Club, during which time many of the internal brick walls were removed. In the late 1970s the Creswick Shire sold the hall in a public tender process to Barry Golding in 1979, to be renovated internally and modified as a private home. On 20 January 1995 the Shire of Creswick was abolished.

 Creswick District Roads Board Hall (constructed between 1859 and 1863)

The actual date of construction of the original Hall during the 1860s has not been firmly established. What is known is that the decision to build the hall was discussed at a Creswick District Roads Board meeting in 1859. This meeting was held at the then recently constructed Kingston Hotel, next door and south of the current Hall. At that time around 25,000 miners were estimated to be in the area.

On 8 June 1863 the Creswick District Roads Board met to select ‘the requisite furniture for the Board room’

The 1863 Minute Book (Sept 1863 to Dec 1865, VPRS 003795/P /0000) records at the 23 Sept 1863 Creswick Road District meeting, that a public meeting had previously been held in Kingston on 17 Sept 1863 to elicit public opinion on dividing the District into Wards or Ridings. On 24 Dec1863 the Shire minutes record that ‘proclamation of the Shire was on the eve of issuing.’ The Proclamation of the Creswick Shire was read on 7 Jan 1864.

The Shire Hall in Kingston is mentioned a few years later as the venue for the refreshments following the first service (held in 1864) in the bluestone Holy Trinity Church of England in Kingston following its completion. Previous to that date, the Anglican Church services were held in the wooden Kingston Mechanics Institute, itself destroyed by fire in August 1982.

The first election of the Creswick Shire Council was held in the former Creswick District Roads Board Hall in 1864, Kingston then being central to the then mainly rural Shire.

Addition of a new Hall on the front of the former hall in 1911

The Shire continued to use the original Hall as its base from 1864 until 1910, when it was agreed to add two new rooms to the front of the 1860s Hall, for a cost not exceeding 500 pounds, to be paid in instalments over five years.

On 4 August 1910  a Notice of Motion was put at the Shire Council Meeting  that two new rooms be built in front of the Hall and the present building renovated.

On 5 Sept 1910  (Minutes Book p. 472) it was agreed after debate, to investigate purchasing a strip of land from the estate of the late Mm (William) Kenna and allow larger rooms to be built, and also to consult with an architect about the design.

On 6 Oct 1910 (Minute Book, p.476) decision was taken to to get out plans and specifications for Shire Hall improvements, with alternatives either stone or brick foundations.

On 1 Dec 1910 Tenders for the Shire Hall renovations were received and the 689 Pound tender from H. Armour tender was accepted for the whole works, with Council repayments budgeted  over seven years. There was some debate in Council as to whether this would be practicable or whether it would be better to sell the original building and procure a bigger site.

The decision to add the new hall onto street frontage was made possible by procuring the narrow strip of land from Mr William Kenna on a separate, new title to the south of the existing easement. Given that the sides of allotment that the Hall is on are not at 90 degrees to the street frontage, building right to street frontage means that many of the angles on the stonework and decoration on the front to the 1911 building (evident in the irregular shape of the front alcove) are several degrees away from square.

The two new rooms were constructed with external cavity brick walls and each had a chimney and fireplace with pressed metal ceilings. The walls were rendered with hard plaster. Given that the new hall had higher subfloor clearance and better side ventilation it was in relatively good condition when sold by the Shire in 1980 compared to the older 1860s’ hall.

A Certificate of Title separate from the one the Hall itself is on dated 13 April 1911 confirms a narrow easement was created in 1911 on a separate title the full length of the block on the south (driveway side) of the Shire Hall 25 units wide and 499 units long, noting ‘a special railway condition contained in grant to John Haylock’.

John Haylock is recorded in 1854 as one of the approximately dozen early land owners around Kingston and presumably held the original title before Kingston township was subdivided. John and Anne Haylock were a farming family from Thurlow (near Haverhill) Suffolk, England landed in Australia on 24th August 1852. Their family of seven made their way onto the goldfields of Victoria and made their home on a 96 acre allotment which they purchased adjoining the village of Kingston .

On 6 April 1911 Venetian Blinds were  ordered for the ‘New Rooms’.

On 1 June 1911, (Minute Book, p.569) there were discussions about  Coronation Celebrations. The President suggested the planting of two trees in front of the Shire Hall on Coronation Day, one to commemorate the Coronation of His Majesty King George V and the other the reign of King Edward VII along with a suitable guard to protect them.

A new council table and chairs were procured in 1912 for the main Council ‘Board Room’ and insured along with the ‘stables’ then behind the building.

A photograph taken in approximately 1914 shows the completed 1911 Hall with a hitching post for horses on street frontage. A flag pole is also evident (the base for the flag pole is still in place to the left of the 2018 side entrance. There was a walkway along the northern side of the hall with a ‘Rate Collection’ sign above it. A large Shed is visible behind the Hall on the northern boundary. One of the two oak trees planted in 1912 in front of the hall, then approximately 3 metres in height (details below) was protected by a surrounding picket fence.

The elm trees lining the main street of Kingston north of Victoria Road and the extensive Avenue of Honour (as well as the two oak trees planted outside the Creswick Shire Hall in 1912, see below) predate the Avenue. The Victorian Heritage Council Avenue of Honour Heritage listing (VHR H2343) notes that:

The Avenue of Honour, Kingston is of local significance for its relationship with the local street planting of elms along the main street of Kingston and with the Shire Hall building. This council planting, which appears to predate the Avenue of Honour, extends to the north from Victoria Road and provides a visual continuation of the memorial planting. The small town of Kingston was the administrative centre of the Shire in 1918 when the Shire of Creswick established a committee to provide an avenue of honour to district servicemen. This resulted in the location of the Avenue of Honour at Kingston rather than in the larger town of Creswick.

The two oak trees either side of the bus shelter outside the Shire Hall in 2018 were planted to commemorate the reign of Edward VII (who was King from 1901 until his death in May 2010) and the Coronation of George V in June 1911 (The coronation of George V and Mary as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Empire took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 22 June 1911).

The largely vacant Creswick Shire Hall, Kingston, 1934 to 1959

After the Borough of Creswick (incorporated on 19 Nov 1858) was amalgamated with the Creswick Shire (on 29 May 1934), the local government administrative centre reverted back to the much larger and more central Town Hall in Creswick. Some Council business and meetings were held at the Creswick Shire Hall in Kingston from 1943 until the late 1940s. The largely vacant Hall was then briefly offered for use by post-war industry. Mr L. Gross of Gross Knitting Mills addressed the Council in 1948 with a proposal that the hall be leased or sold as required for industry or housing purposes. The Council was agreeable in principle, but stipulated that consistent with the prevailing policy of employing post-war males if it was to be used for industry, it should be for male workers only.

Internal modification by Kingston and District Youth Club 1959-1979

The information about the former Shire Creswick Shire Offices, Kingston that follows (from 1959 to 1980) is from documents in the original file now held at the Public Records Office in Ballarat (File VPRS 15564/P/0001).

  • On 13 May 1959 Kingston District Youth Club sought Shire of Creswick permission to pull out internal walls and put in new ceiling hangers in the newer, front part of the hall, with a detailed plan (see Photo of the Plan).
  • On 21 May 1959 Shire Council gave permission to undertake these alterations, but requiring at least 18 inches of existing brickwork to be left in place, forming a buttress to the other brick walls, and using truss-type girders rather than oregon hangers in the original plan. This work was carried out, effectively creating one large open space on street frontage in the 1911 addition and another large room behind it including the original 1860’s Shire Chamber.
  • On 12 July 1960 a letter was sent from Shire of Creswick to C. J. Lay, as Secretary of the Kingston District Youth Club, noting that the Youth Club was responsible for keeping the Hall in good repair while remaining in occupancy, and that the Club is responsible for all charges, such as lighting, sanitary services and repairs. They also noted that a check had been made ‘… of the double doors which were taken from the inside of your hall, but each door is only 2 foot wide. Both have had a glass panel in the top. We also have two single doors each 2 foot six wide’.
  • On 16 March 1961 the Youth Club applied for permission to also remove back walls of older, original building, to create one room, with an attached plan. This work was formally approved on 22 March 1961 but was (fortunately) never actually carried out.
  • In 1964 the previous, shorter-term Kingston and District Youth Club lease was confirmed for a further period of 10 years in a letter to the Club from the Council via Mr A. W. Hives.
  • On 22 Feb 1965 an application was made via Council from the Youth Club to connect water to the Youth Club rooms.
  • On 25 Jan 1968 permission was given to the Youth Club to ‘clean up the old scrap seats’ at the rear of the Kingston Youth Club and to sell the scrap cast iron.
  • In 1970 a letter was sent via Mrs M. E. (Mollie) Charleston of Kingston and District Youth Club seeking permission to paint the front of the building and renew some of the spouting, which was granted.
  • An extension of the previous lease of the Shire Hall for the Kingston Youth Club was granted in a letter via Mrs J. B. Lindsay dated 16 May 1974.
  • On 4 December 1978 youth organisations and community welfare groups in the Creswick Shire were formally invited to submit, in writing, proposals and submissions for the use of Kingston Shire Hall, Main Road Kingston. The council made it clear that it was prepared to consider making the hall available by sale or lease on attractive, negotiated terms.
  • On 8 Feb 1978 Graham Carrery wrote to the Council wanting to purchase the building for a restaurant or a private dwelling.
  • On 4 Dec 1978 local youth organisations and community welfare groups were invited to submit, in writing, proposals and submissions for the use of Kingston Shire Hall, Main Rd Kingston. The council stressed it was ‘… prepared to consider making the hall available by sale or lease on attractive, negotiated terms’.
  • Gary J. Bunn wrote to the Creswick Council on 14 December 1978 with a long letter explaining that he wanted to purchase the hall as a venue for those people of the district interested in cinema and the creative arts, as well as to secure it from further neglect as a concerned neighbour.
  • Again on 3 April 1979 Gary Bunn wrote to the Council reiterating his intent in his previous letter requesting to buy the Hall.
  • On 4 May 1979 Creswick Council sought Local Government formal approval to offer the Shire Offices for sale, noting that ‘the Kingston Shire offices are very old and in very poor condition and would require a considerable expenditure to be incurred to reinstate it’. This consent for sale was formally granted on 26 June 1979 by the Secretary for Local Government.
  • Tenders were called for sale of the Hall on 27 Aug 1979, closing on 3 Oct 1979, requiring details of proposed usage to be provided with the tender. Five per cent of the tender price was required for inclusion as part of the tendering process.
  • Barry Golding tendered for renovation as a private residence.
  • Gary Bunn placed a tender for the hall to be used as a venue for those people of the district interested in cinema and the creative arts.
  • The higher tended was accepted and the formal transfer of title to the former Hall was expedited to Barry Golding by March 1980. 

Conversion to a private home from 1980

At the time of purchase in 1980 the two interconnected halls, though the brickwork was structurally sound, were in very poor condition internally, due to a combination of old age, poor maintenance, Youth Club modifications, leaking roofs and spouting and vandalism.

  • The original 1911 pressed metal ceilings in the front rooms, already damaged by the brick wall removals, were beginning to rust out and collapse because the valley gutter along the front roof was leaking.
  • The only water to the property was by a badly rusted galvanized pipe to an enameled cast iron sink then fitted into a kauri pine draining board in the now (2018) laundry.
  • The original 1860’s flooring, with 1 1/8 inch thick pine floorboards were very badly rotted towards the back on the main 1860s hall and particularly the back two rooms. This was caused by lack of external cutoff drains, leaky spouting, minimal sub floor clearance, inadequate sub-floor ventilation, a partly breached roof, smashed windows and accumulation of washed in debris. There was a tree growing out of the floor (and out the window) of the main former council chamber room.
  • The hard plaster lining the inside of all 1860 brick walls (including several layers of rotting wallpaper) above the 1.5 metre dado was badly peeling and cracked for many of the same reasons as above as well as rising damp.
  • Several of the original features including the huge 1860s fireplace in the main hall and the tiled 1911 entrance had been covered over by the 1960’s renovations. Stud walls covered by masonite had been put over the badly peeling original walls in the main 1860s hall.
  • Youth Club modifications still in place in 1980 in the 1860s hall included a platform supporting a boxing punching bag, fittings in the floor and ceiling for Roman Rings and other gymnastic equipment as well as a badminton net.
  • Break in and vandalism by local young people and ‘bikies’ was extensive. Most internal doors and external windows were smashed, rotting or missing. Billiard balls had been thrown around the walls in the 1911 front hall badly denting the still intact hard plaster.
  • Fire surrounds and hearths, where they still existed, were very badly damaged.
  • The lath and plaster ceiling in the south 1860’s back room and the back floors in both back rooms were not repairable. The only original unpainted, 1860s Baltic pine ceilings that could be retained are still in place in the back study and hallway of the current (2018) residence.
  • The back yard was full of rubbish and overgrown with blackberries, elm suckers and weeds.

On a positive side, the building was still structurally sound; minimal work was required externally; power and water services were still connected; the roof was essentially intact; the five brick chimneys (including one double chimney) were intact; the missing roofing iron was easily replaced; the original telephone connection was easily reinstated; wire screens put in by the Youth Club sill protected most of the window openings (even where the glass had been smashed) and external doors made it possible to ‘lock up’ the building.

Council requirements for the 1980s renovation

Plans for renovation were drawn up by Madin Lyons Associates (architects) in Ballarat and submitted to the then Shire of Creswick in 1980. The schedule of work was to:

  1. Repair downpipes, install spoon drains.
  2. Check subfloor clearances and ventilation
  3. Repair / replace windows and doors
  4. Remove internal linings, repair solid plaster
  5. Rewire as necessary
  6. Install septic tank, plumbing fixtures, supply and waste pipes
  7. Construct stud wall partitions (as shown on architects plan: essentially to replace brick walls that had been removed in the 1960’s)
  8. Make good ceiling to Bedroom 1, Workroom
  9. Rebuild fireplaces to CSIRO recommended specifications
  10. Insulate ceiling, space, 75mm fibreglass recommended.

The Council, having owned the building for over 100 years, gave approval in 15 Feb 1980 with a set of caveats that:

  • A complete and effective system of stormwater collection and disposal is provided to the building
  • The walls and floors of the bathroom are lined with impervious material
  • Flywire screens are fitted to the bathroom and kitchen windows.
  • Doorways of minimum width (bathroom 700mm, Laundry 740mm, all other doorways 800mm.

1986-7 Addition of an upstairs bedroom

On return from Darwin in early 1985 and a third child born in May 1986, Barry Golding and Janet Bracks decided to create a fourth, upstairs bedroom.

The Shire of Creswick rate notice for 30 Sept 1986 indicated a Site Value (SV) of only $2,900 and a Capital Improved Value (CIV) of $7,000 (in 1981 the then Council rates were only $85 per year, and the Water Rates were only $55 per year).

In June 1986 Maddin Lyons, Ballarat architects, drew up plans to create a new upstairs bedroom above the laundry and part of the southern front bedroom. This involved changing the roofline, adding a staircase, building in cupboards and providing a small door to provide simpler access to the roof space. These plans were approved by the Creswick Council on 11 August 1986.

Most of the structural and carpentry work including the solid, single run staircase was undertaken by Paddy Caulfield, with the finishing including plastering done by Barry Golding.

The only contested modification post these renovation (identified by the Shire Building inspector in 1987 during an on site inspection as part of the process of gaining a Certificate of Occupancy in 1987) was a Regulation requiring the floorboards in the bathroom to be covered by an impervious material. An application to waive this requirement was formally granted by the Building Referees Board. A formal ‘Certificate of Occupancy’ was granted on 17 August 1987.

Jack’s 1936 Wesley College Diary

Jack’s Wesley College Diary, 1936

Barry Golding, 10 August 2018

Context

After both my parents died: my mother, Joan Ethel Golding, in April 2011, my father’s (‘Jack: John William Golding’s) small, purple Wesley College 1936 school diary surfaced. Dad was born on 17 April 1920 and died 24 April 2002 aged 82 years.

Like many historic diaries, whilst this 1936 diary was not originally intended for later reading and analysis, it provides a fascinating window into what my father, ‘Jack’ (John William) Golding was experiencing as a rural adolescent, turning 16 years of age whilst away from home in Melbourne at Wesley College in 1936. He was then in the Boarding House, in Form 6A studying for the then ‘Leaving Certificate’ (Year 11) in the interwar period.

It is of particular interest to me as it provides new insights for me about a father who seldom talked on a personal level about his early life. It also allows me to reflect on my own experiences of a similarly difficult adolescent boarding house experiences (including bullying) in the same School thirty years later, albeit in very different social and political times during the mid 1960s.

The only living people mentioned in the diary (to my knowledge) in 2018 were Jack’s younger sister (and only sibling), Doris Jones, born in Donald in 1925, and now in her 90s and still living in Donald. Doris was able, in the process of writing this historical narrative, to clarify whom some of the people were who are mentioned in this 1936 diary. However Doris, being five years younger than Jack, was only 11 when he was away at boarding school in 1936.

I have added some of back stories in [square brackets], mainly from family histories as well as from online searches. An asterisk indicates this was a person whom I remember personally. The ‘Back to Donald’ Souvenir ‘Past and Present’, published by the Donald Times newspaper in October 1936 was particularly useful.

It is possible I have got some of this wrong and look forward to being corrected: via b.golding@federation.edu.au in future updated versions. All of the bullying my father and I experienced was in the context of the Boarding House and did not involve teaching or Boarding House staff. I understand that Wesley College in 2018 is thankfully very different from what my father and I experienced. The then Boarding House on the St Kilda Road site closed in 1980 and the school began to become coeducational in 1978, with the first Year 12 coeducational class graduating in 1990.

I contacted the school in 2018 via the Wesley Old Collegians Association to ask whether anything had been done to acknowledge the impact of past bullying on Wesley College students and families, and received no response.

What was in the diary?

As soon as I opened the diary the ‘blotting paper’, necessary in those days to mop up the excess blue or black fountain pen ink, and used during 1936 to write the entries, dropped out. Indeed on 28 July 1936 Jack received, in the mail from home (with a silk handkerchief), a ‘Conway Stewart’ (a then major British writing instrument brand) fountain pen. On that day, in lighter blue ink, Jack’s never good writing improved somewhat, observing as he wrote that ‘… he was trying to hold it correctly’.

Also loose in his diary was a small, undated newspaper cutting, with the header ‘YOUTH FOUND SHOT IN BED’. The one paragraph article tells the sad tale of a 16-year-old Swan Hill boy found dead in his bedroom. One can only guess the back story and why it was collected by Jack as an item of interest.

He went to Swan Hill for an entertainment and returned home and went to bed. … A pea rifle had been used and the shot penetrated his heart. The youth died in an hour. He had been depressed since his mother died five months ago.

The diary covers the period from when Jack left Donald by train to go to boarding school in Prahran on 10 Feb 1936, to end of Term 3 on 11 Dec. On his February train trip from Donald to Melbourne Jack was:

… met at Spencer Street Station by Uncle Bill [presumably W. G. Pearse] at 6.30, had tea and arrived at college at quarter to 8. Unpack and go downstairs. Am nicknamed “Snoops”. Eric Bartless shows me round. Weight around 8 stone five pounds.

The last full day entry in the boarding house, before he took his school suit down to the dry cleaners on 10 December, reads:

Tonight we have high tea. I dress up as the “mad hatter”. I act the fool with three ?xxx? on. We run around the block afterwards. I swim after school and do 46 yards underwater. I get a celluloid Father Christmas of the high tea cake on Mr Brown’s table as a souvenir.

There are eager and interesting entries of up to six lines for each day for the nine months between. Jack deemed the events of 31 July so interesting he inserted an extra page and breathlessly filled both sides as follows.

Today one of the greatest events in boarding school history is disclosed. George Davey, Charles Dunning [a member of the Wesley College First 8 rowing tea] and Buxton were concerned. Last Friday afternoon a gentleman asked for 9 Wesley boarders to accompany 9 girls to a dance. They were to go with Scotch [College] boys but the boys could not go. The three boys broke bounds after lights out and went to the dance at twelve thirty. The three boys return with the person who came to ask for the boys before at 6.30.in the meantime the boys went to the dance and went to supper at the home of the chap who brought them home in his car. The masters so how found out, other schools knowing of the happening as well. The boys have been seeing Mr Brown, Mr Stewart [Headmaster 1933-39] and Mr Kennedy all the week. The boys would have been expelled, but the boys pleaded, with the help of masters successfully. Tonight Mr Stewart talked for a quarter of an hour about the happening, about the bad traditions of the school, about bringing in new ones, about the bad habit of messy dorm beds. He spoke as well as Mr Kennedy of their knowledge of similar happenings and the consequence of breaking bounds. Mr Stewart spoke of his association with Wesley for many years, how he had seen Wesley grow through his long association and of his wish that bad traditions be discontinued. He spoke of mistreatment of new boys and how he wished it to be discontinued. I consider Dunning and Buxton. Mr Kennedy (Plug) said he know boys had misfiled leave slips purposefully, that he had found this out in connection with breaking bounds and that the boys concerned would be gated [meaning confining (a student) to the grounds of a college as punishment] for the rest of the term. There are several boys concerned. Mr Kennedy tells us that Mr Stewart has granted us another monthly weekend (we should not have one till next weekend …. I tore my pyjamas in a scrimmage after pulling Mellor’s bed off. He pulled my bed off first (put to it by old boys). The vice at present is dice. They toss Roddy and Johns to see whose newy out of myself and Mellor eats two laxative pills and who eats aspros. I make out I eat the aspros.

This extra entry gives a vivid glimpse of the hierarchy of old boys and new boys, and of the way life, including bullying and intimidation, played out in the boarding house out in the 1936 dormitories after ‘lights out’. Other entries in the diary, discussed as one of the diaries ‘emergent themes’ later, confirm that Jack was subject to persistent boarding house bullying. I found it somwhat similar three decades on, with bed rolling Jack mentions (having you and your mattress upended onto the floor, often in the middle of the night) still common three decades on. The same horsehair mattresses were still in the dormitories during the 1960s.

Jack’s family was not wealthy enough to afford more than one year (that turned out to be his final one) at Wesley College. My own family was just able to afford the final two years for me in the same school boarding house in the 1960s. My sister Judith had also been booked in to board at MLC, but ended up staying in Donald to undertake her Matriculation class in order to ensure the Year 12 class achieved minimum numbers to run. Somewhat like my father, I came to Wesley to board only for the final school two years to a boarding house hierarchy and friendship groups that were firmly established. It sometimes felt, after ‘lights out’, like the culture of violence in the Clockwork Orange movie of 1975. I wish my father had been able to talk about what he had experienced at the time. I only found out many years after my school days that my parents, despite putting on a brave face for me, had both sobbed when they dropped me off when they saw how rugged the Boarding House dormitories looked in the mid 1960s.

Each date in Jack’s diary Calendar had been individually crossed off with the school holidays blocked out. Most of the teaching staff listed in the front of the diary had had their nicknames added. Mr Stewart, mentioned above, was the School Headmaster as well as ‘Stewy’, and Mr Brown, one of the 16 listed Assistant Masters was known by his initials as ‘VK’. Greenham was ‘Bar’, Gwillim was ‘Pips’, Hargreaves was ‘Jock’, Hattam was ‘Teary’ and Hulme was ‘Stiffy’. Mr Kennedy (‘Plug’) was the [Boarding] Housemaster. A. A. Phillips* (‘Tosh’), the English master later became a well known Australian writer, critic and teacher, best known for coining the term ‘Cultural Cringe’ in his pioneering essay, The Cultural Cringe (1950), which set the early terms for postcolonial theory in Australia. ‘Tosh’ was still teaching at Wesley College, and taught me what was then called ‘clear thinking’ in my English class 30 years later. ‘Nertz’ Lesser*, nicknamed on account of his large nose and ‘Franksy’ A. A. Frank* (the Gymnasium Master) were also still on the staff. One can only wonder about ‘Poufta’ McBride in a era or homophobia. I recall that when I was an adolescent during the 1960s being sternly reprimanded by my grandfather for using the ‘p’ word, without then fully understanding its meaning.

I have chosen to illustrate the diversity and depth evident in the necessarily brief daily diary entries (with only six lines available on week days and three on weekends) by writing under the emergent themes under a series of sub headings.

What was happening in the world in 1936?

The Great Depression of the 1930s broke when my father, Jack Golding, was ten years old. It had a devastating effect on the world nations and peoples, rich and poor, for much of that decade. Unemployment reached a peak in of 32 per cent in Australia by 1932. The National Museum of Australia summarised the situation by 1932, as below.

The immediate effect was on individuals and families: children with not enough to eat; men, the traditional breadwinners, humiliated and powerless; women scrabbling to hold families together. Suicide rates increased dramatically. In the absence of unemployment insurance, charity groups became the only source of relief but were unable to feed the overwhelming numbers of hungry. National income declined by a third. More than 40,000 men moved around the country looking for work: setting up shantytowns on the edges of communities and camping in parks. The few jobs that did become available were cruelly fought over. By 1932, more than 60,000 men, women and children were dependent on the ‘susso’, a state-based sustenance payment that enabled families to buy only the bare minimum of food.

 The decade of the 1930s been particularly hard for Australian rural communities. Australia experienced high inflation from 1919 to 1920 and then a severe recession until 1923. With the economy then based on agricultural production, Australians identified prosperity with the land. Returned soldiers were resettled on rural blocks and more than 200,000 government-sponsored British immigrants arrived, many moving to country towns.

However, in the mid-1920s, just as Australia’s rural economy began to recover, so too did European countries affected by the war. The United States, Canada and Argentina began producing agricultural surpluses for market. This created a global oversupply of Australia’s major exports: wheat and sheep.

The collapse of the banks in the 1930s and its effects on people’s economic and business confidence personally affected my grandparents and parents and often became intergenerational: my parents never borrowed money from the bank and nor did I.

My family home community, Donald, in the flat and often dry wheat and sheep country of the Victorian Wimmera was also adversely affected, as was the family hardware business, W. J. Golding & Co. The business was effectively a Donald offshoot of Rowe and Sons, first established in my grandfather’s (Walter James Golding’s*) hometown of St Arnaud where his father and grandfather had been gold miners. A Donald branch of Rowe and Sons was opened in 1908. My grandfather, Walter, became manager of Rowe and Sons and Golding in 1912. I have a thick slab of glass at home with the huge (now renovated) gold leaf letters ‘and Golding’ applied, that was unearthed during shop renovations in the 1980s. The same business operated as W. J. Golding & Co in Donald for much of the same century. My late parents, Jack and Joan Golding, in partnership with my aunt and uncle, Doris and Graham Jones* managed the business after my grandfather retired, My elder sister Judith, and her husband Wayne Hastings in turn carried on the same family business for several decades.

The period between the First and Second World Wars, whilst my parents were growing up, including whilst Jack was away for most of 1936 at Wesley College Boarding House, was a time of increased world tension. In 1935 Hitler had unilaterally canceled the military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919 to conclude the First World War. In March 1936, two months into Jack’s 1936 diary, Hitler denounced the Locarno Pact and began remilitarizing of the Rhineland. By July 1936 the Australian Federal Government had announced an increase in military training strength, in response to the rise of facism in Europe.

And this was only part of the story of 1936. In the same year William Cooper, a Yorta Yorta elder founded the Australian Aborigines League just prior to the 150 year national ‘celebration’ in Australia: of convict ships arriving with British criminals, and later with economic refugees including my forebears. In the same year the last Tasmanian thylacine died in captivity in a zoo. Contrary to popular and convenient belief in 1936, Donald’s First Nations people, the Dja Dja Wurrung as well as the Palawin people in Tasmania have survived.

Jack and his family connections

 My father was a family man devoted to his relations and friends of the family in and beyond Donald. Donald is where he was born and where he was to live for most of his 82-year life, aside from several years training and serving overseas in the Air Force during World War 2. Many of the Pearse and Golding relatives lived in and around Donald and St Arnaud respectively, as well as in Ballarat and Melbourne, as mentioned in Jack’s diary.

The ‘Address Page’ in his diary lists (in order of entry, with added annotation):

  • George Lance*, Geelong College, Geelong [George was the same age as Jack and then a student at Geelong College and a lifetime friend of Jack. George’s father, Mr S. (‘Steve’) A. Lance, was a motor mechanic and the earliest motor garage proprietor in Donald. His business, the ‘Premier Motor Garage’ was next door to my grandfather’s (W. J. Golding & Co’s) shop, and his wife was a Pearse. My grandfather, Walter Golding and Stephen Lance formed a partnerships called ‘Lyric Picture Company’ to show pictures, on a Pathe-Biograph projector they bought for 100 pounds. Initially the pictures were shown in the Motor Garage as there we then no safe, purpose-built picture theatres in 1915. George Lance was born in Donald in August 1920 and died in Ballarat in July 2015. Visiting George and his wife Joan on the way through Ballarat in the 1950s-60s was part of my own childhood).
  • Mrs Trawin, 44 Paxton St, East Malvern [the Californian bungalow is still on the same block. This is likely ‘Aunty Kate’ Trawin. Trawin’s were a St Arnaud family connected by marriage to William Golding as far back as 1859. Olivia Golding (nee Trawin, perhaps officially spelt Trewin), my Golding grandfather’s mother died in St Arnaud in 1941].
  • Methodist Ladies College [An all-girl Methodist School and Boarding House in Elsternwick, with close links to the then all-boy Wesley College].
  • Mrs W. G. Pearse, 41 Mathoura Road, Toorak, to become Jack’s favorite weekend escape in 1936. The slate roofed mansion is still there behind a high ivy hedge. Mr W. G. (William Geake) Pearse, who was known in the family, by virtue of his non-agricultural profession, as ‘Banker’ Pearse, died in Melbourne in 1937, the following year. W. G.’s wife (Mrs Isabella Elizabeth Pearse, nee Palmer), referred to by Jack as Auntie ‘Lizzie’, died three years later in 1939. Their daughter, known in the diary as ‘Mollie’ Pearse, was one of W. G. and Isabella’s seven children. Mollie’s husband E. G. Spencer was killed in World War 1. Confusingly for family historians, ‘Mollie’ had the same birth and Christian names (born in 1890 as ‘Amelia Geake Pearse’) as my own grandmother (born 11 December 1897). Mollie died in Melbourne in 1957. Mollie’s sister Margaret was also living at home during 1935. Folklore has it (pers. comm. via Michael Greenham, Dartmoor District Museum in 2019: Mollie’s late husband, E. G Spencer was Micheal’s great uncle) that Margaret was diabetic and died from an ‘episode’ at their Toorak home.
  • Mrs D. Crone, 44 Canterbury Avenue [no suburb given. This likely Auntie Leonore (Crone’s) home. The Crone’s were butchers in Donald for many decades. W. G. Pearse’s daughter, born in 1897 as Leonore Victoria Pearse, married David Crone from Donald, and died in Bruthen in 1959. Crone’s phone number ‘W2482’ had been added to the Memoranda section of the diary.]
  • Douglas Bligh, 47 Ebden St, Kyneton. [The address is the same as the former Methodist Church in Kyneton. A ‘Reverend Bligh’ was a former Donald Methodist Minister, and Douglas was likely his son.]
  • ‘Peggy’ [no surname], ‘Stonycroft,’, 140 High St, Northcote. [Peggy Browne, likely with Donald connections, is the only ‘Peggy’ mentioned in the diary, in association with Alison Lelean [the daughter of then Donald (medical) Dr Lelean.]

On arrival in Melbourne Jack was greeted by ‘Uncle Bill’, almost certainly W. G. [‘Banker’] Pearse. On his first day at school he also met Owen and David Parnaby* as well as Lawrie Maddock. [Reverend P. Parnaby was a Donald Methodist Minister: Owen and David were their sons. Owen (1921-2007), aged 15 in 1936, later became long-serving Master of Queens College at University of Melbourne (between 1966 and 1986). David Parnaby later became a well known forester in many places across rural Victoria: Indeed ‘Dave’ was the Chief Forester for the Forests Commission in Daylesford when I first moved there in the mid 1980s. Dave and Shirl’s son, Harry introduced me to bats and wildlife research, and I helped him enroll on his first day at Monash University, later to take out a PhD in bats. Dave gave me a part time job as a (then unemployed) rural 26 year old on the RED (Rural Employment Development) Scheme [an early, Whitlam-era, ‘Work for the Dole’ scheme during the mid-1970s recession]. My job looking at hollow dependent mammals and birds in the Wombat Forest later became my Masters thesis in Environmental Science. How the world turns, but often reconnects intergenerationally.

Lawrie Maddock was perhaps the son of William Francis Maddock and Eliza Maddock, of Toorak, Victoria. Their Laurie Maddock later became a member of the Royal Australian Artillery, one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore. A Warrant Officer Class 2 Lawrie Maddock, aged 25, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 24 July 1945. ‘Maddock’s phone number, ‘Windsor 7132’, had been added to the back of Jack’s diary.

On the first weekend Jack took leave from the boarding house and went out to ‘Auntie Lizzie’s’ (Isabella Elizabeth Pearse’s) at Mathoura Road for Saturday afternoon and evening, and then to ‘Auntie Kate’s’ on Sunday afternoon.

For his second weekend, ‘Uncle Bill’ phoned him to arrange to take him to the pictures. This theatre outing with Uncle Bill may have been with W. G.,’s eldest son, William Nicholas Pearse* (whom I called ‘Uncle Nick’), who would have then been 26 years old. On Sunday he went to Uncle Will’s, but only ‘Margaret’ and  her sister, ‘Auntie Mollie’ were home. ‘Auntie Mollie’ was the war-widowed daughter of W. G. Pearse (born in Creswick in 1861) and Auntie Lizzie.

Mollie had married Edward George Spencer (son of the Frederick and Mary Spencer [nee Morrison], farmers from Dartmoor in 1917. E. G Spencer likely met Mollie when he went to Laen and Lawler Presbyterian Church as the missionary preacher immediately prior to World War 1). Mollie’s younger sister, Leonore, was my Grandmother Golding’s (born Amelia Geake Pearse’s) bridesmaid.

That evening on his second weekend in Melbourne, Uncle Bill took him ‘… to St Kilda and to his wife’s home for tea. An evening at [Mrs W. G. Pearse’s] Mathoura Road spent very enjoyably.’

Aside from writing regularly to his then girlfriend, Enid Hancock, Jack also wrote regularly to home as well as to ‘Grandma’ Golding in St Arnaud. Enid Hancock was the daughter of Mr Harry Hancock of Donald and sister of Cliff Hancock*. Enid is mentioned over 20 times in the Donald Times newspaper between 1931 (when she ‘gashed her foot on a bottle’) and 1949, with her ‘approaching marriage’ to Vernon Brand. We know from these newspaper entries that Enid was a horse rider, a swimmer, a Girl Guide and a cyclist with links to the rural community of Laen. The year 1936, whilst Enid was Boarding at MLC in Melbourne, is the only year without a newspaper entry.

One early letter from Jack went to his cousins, Barney Pearse* (in Donald) and another to Chandler Percy. Some food parcels, including grapes (likely from Eric Golding’s* Mildura fruit block), arrived at the nearby Prahran station during his first month away from home. Clearly the grapes were not allowed in the dormitories, as on 12 March he wrote: ‘Have a dorm feed. Go down [drain] pipe and get grapes from locker 74.’

On the night of 21 March Jack went to Luna Park, but noted that the fudged, official leave excuse was ‘Go into the Times Theatrette’ then at 283 Bourke Street in Melbourne CBD. He noted other Wesley boys were there. The next day he walked to the (very recently opened) ‘Shrine [of Remembrance] and Botanical Gardens. Met the Weinberg family [Weinberg’s later had a small business in Donald and a farm between Donald and Cope Cope’, adding without explanation, ‘Lylia knows too much’.

In early April, ‘Uncle Jack’ [John Frederick Pearse*, Mollie’s younger brother, born 1891, died in Donald in 1976, and my idiosyncratic and favorite Uncle] and his wife ‘Aunty Vera’* (born Vera Adele Button, died 1960] visited Jack at school: ‘I show them over the school buildings. They are impressed . [In the 1930s the George & Alfred Nicholas brothers, of ‘Aspro’ fame, donated money for the construction of new buildings. The building work commenced in late 1933. The new swimming pool and gymnasium were completed in 1934 The new school was dedicated the following year in May 1937] have paid 175,000 pound to make Wesley what it is. They are still paying’.

The weekend before Easter Jack sees: ‘Mr Bligh, Mrs [Bligh], Doris [Golding, his sister], Douglas and Enid Hancock [from Donald, the latter boarding at MLC] at front fence. In afternoon I go to the Museum and walk around the city’.

On his first weekend back after the Easter holidays Jack goes out again to Mathoura Road. Uncle Ged* [W. G. Pearse’s, brother, Geddie Thomas Pearse born 1893, died 1966] is there’. He later goes ‘… to the Village Theatrette with [Mollie’s daughter] Margaret Spencer. We play cards. (I end up with three pound 16 shillings in debt [This is a huge debt for its times, unless, as was the tradition with some card playing devout Methodists who were discouraged to gamble, a theoretical debt]. I had late leave, got back to school at 11 o’clock’. On Wednesday 22 April Jack writes: ‘Walk into the city and see an exhibition of photography at the Athenaeum Theatre (upstairs, called ‘Salon Photography’). The next day he visits perhaps the same ‘photographic exhibition (Collins St)’.

During his second week back at school after Easter, Jack noted that: ‘It is only one week to the exams’, but otherwise seemed unconcerned about this fact. By Friday of that same week he sounded as if he was at a loose end, writing: ‘No item of sufficient interest to grace the page of this, my 1st regular diary took place today’. He rang Mathoura Road to again spend the weekend there. On the Saturday: ‘I go to the ANZAC march at the Shrine. We (except for Margaret and mother) go out to Uncle Darby’s for tea. Barbara and I do not fight. Uncle Ged’s foot is to be given ray treatment on Tuesday’. On Sunday: ‘Go to church in Toorak Road in morning (Centenary service). Go for drive in car in afternoon. Meet Mrs Cook, widow of Donald Minister. Do not go to church in evening, Write home.’

On most June weekends after the May holidays, Jack went out to Mathoura Road for the day. On 5 June he arrived for dinner unexpectedly as: ‘Laurie forgot to tell them I was coming. [On Saturday] I go with Auntie Mollie to city. Aunty goes to Carlton and Collingwood football. I go to School Scotch versus Wesley [football]. I have tea in Prahran. I go down to Luna Park. Meet Roddy’s girlfriend “Shirley”’.

On Sunday 21 June Jack was again back at Mathoura Road, including tea for Barbara Crone’s 14th Birthday, having written ‘… had fish and chips from Prahran (interesting)… ’ on the Saturday evening.

The following weekend he thankfully gives the people at Mathoura Road a rest, writing beforehand ‘… to Auntie Kate asking if it will be convenient to have him for the [monthly leave] weekend and possibly some of the Monday’. The same week he writes to his girlfriend Enid, ‘including a paragraph praising Charles Wilson’.

Jack spent the whole rainy weekend with Aunty Kate, going to the pictures in Gardiner with her on Saturday and having two very late nights without further elaboration: ‘In bed at 2am Sunday and 1.30am Monday. Cath’s [Trawin’s] boyfriend Harry was also staying at Trawin’s for the long weekend and they all went out with Auntie to see the picture ‘Top Hat’.’ [a 1935 American screwball musical comedy film featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers].

On 1 July Jack writes: ‘Receive a letter from Mother. Father has not had time to write. He is stocktaking’ This was a time consuming, annual end of financial year audit of stock, still a huge job during my childhood. He spends the following Saturday in the city unsuccessfully trying to find out ‘where Bernard Hogan is employed’. He meets ‘Barbara Crone and Margaret Spencer at Manchester Unity corner. We go out to Pearse’s for dinner with them. I stay for tea. In the afternoon I go with Barbara and see “Mutiny on the Bounty” [A 1935 American drama film directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable]. Margaret has a lot of people out for tea’.

On July 6 Jack receives ‘… a letter from Margaret Brownell and Alison Lelean (on an invitation card) inviting me to an evening on 25th’. A later diary entry records the evening was ‘given by Alison and Margaret (Peg) at Mr/Dr Brownell’s. I have a good time’.

Two weeks after he posted home his First Term report book he met up with his Mother, Amelia, Uncle Os [John Oswald Pearse] and Auntie Het [Henrietta Fleming Pearse] at the Victoria Palace [where they often stayed, then in little Collins Street], ‘… having tea with them at the Criterion [Hotel in Collins Street]’. Os was down to have his tonsils out at St Ives Hospital [then on Wellington Parade. East Melbourne], so they all stayed down for the week, meeting up with Jack again on the weekend, including a visit to the Shrine [officially opened only 18 months before, on 11 Nov 1934]. On the Sunday he went ‘… out to Mrs Trawin’s with mother [Amelia]. Before[hand] I show her over the school, kitchen and other buildings.’ Amelia went back to Donald by car with Mr Arthur Moore [then Donald Auctioneer and Station Agent] on 21 July, and Jack again visited Het and Os at the Victoria Palace on 23 July.

Jack was back at Mathoura Road on the weekend of 26 July, ‘to Mr & Mrs Chellew’s for Mrs 70th Birthday, to Aunties for tea, Church at Toorak Road.’

During the week of 10 August his father Walter came down to Melbourne ‘… to have his books audited’. On the Tuesday he had ‘… tea in the cafeteria of the Victoria Palace. [Walter] is going to see John Calhoun [Donald Doctor] in hospital injured in football Friday and then out to Auntie Kate’s to see all out there’.

The first three weekends after the September holidays Jack was back at Pearse’s at Mathoura Road. However his request to go to Mrs Bert Bassett’s Silver Wedding Anniversary [Bert, B. M. Bassett managed a Donald family hardware business then in opposition to Golding’s hardware business. In 1936 Bert was also President of the Donald Shire] on the evening of 26 Sept was denied by Mr Kennedy. He was, however allowed leave to go to the Melbourne Show with his father on 24 Sept, also meeting ‘Mr Rowe’ there, noting that his cousin, Ivan Pearse was there with the YAL [Young Australia League: an Australian organization promoting nationalism and patriotic values]. He also saw ‘Mr Dunstan and brother Premier’ [Sir Albert Dunstan from nearby Cope Cope, was then Victorian Premier, from April 1935 to September 1943, and also from September 1943 to October 1945] at the Melbourne Show.

Jack and the bullying in the boarding house

There was evidence of a lot of early bullying towards Jack, that continued on and off in the Wesley College Boarding House for the whole school year. Some of it was evidently due to the fact that he was a ‘newie’ and therefore (un)fair game for bullying by the ‘old boys’. Even when I was in the same Boarding House in the 1960s, violence and intimidation through bullying, mainly directed at lower status and vulnerable ‘new boys’ by ‘old boys’, beginning with ‘initiation’ were rife.

On Jack’s second day he writes: ‘Initiation begins. I tell joke and because I do not sing get dozed’. Likely this is a reference to being bull-dozed or bullied, but I invite feedback from anyone who knows better. On the third day he writes: ‘At night have an aeroplane ride but back unsteady, Asked to get cascara [laxative] pills. Get painfully dozed.’ On the next day he writes: ‘Do many duties for past students’. At the end of the first week he writes that he was: ‘ … Reprimanded about my form of address’. On the weekend he reflects that: “Boys are given 24 hours to confess guilt”.

In his second week Jack was feeling somewhat more positive, starting the week with the entry: ‘No trouble today. The questions (33) we had to answer [presumably by the older boys] were stopped by the headmaster’. Again in the fourth week: ‘Day spent without incident’ as well as: ‘Old boys do not bully much now’. However the bullying had resumed by March 16. ‘Old boys give me two doz. They are becoming very frequent’. Again on April 6: ‘School down here is now becoming regular routine. Except for “old boys” bullying’.

With Easter at home in sight his spirits lifted. His diary entry on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Easter read: ‘What a day! School runs smoothly. Not even an argument with an old boy. No lines. All homework done … I go down to Prahran and buy chocolates etc. for mother and an Easter egg for Doris. I also have a haircut. Eric Bartlett gets my [train] ticket at Tourist Bureau.’

‘Fun’ (with violence) after lights out resumes two weeks after the Easter break. On May 2: ‘Old boys make “newies” crocodile into the Junior Regatta.’ On May 6: ‘… the boys make a lot of noise after lights out. Midgely crows, clucks, bow wows etc. Sykes imitates Big Bertha [a type of super-heavy World War 1 German howitzer], motor racing etc.. Dozes are becoming a punishments (for nothing) unreasonable.’

The Friday of that same week was a big day on the Public School Calendar: the Head of the River on the Barwon at Geelong. Jack had written to his friend, George Lance and arranged to meet him there. He had ‘… dinner, 1/9 at the ‘ABC’ café [then in Moorabool Street, Geelong]. I go to river, see George Lance, Mrs Lance, Mrs Parnaby, Wrigley family, grandfather, Uncle Eric [Golding] and Auntie Flo’. Jack travels back to Geelong by train the next day for the final of the boat races, seeing Cath Trawin at Nestles beforehand. Wesley had won the first heat on the Friday but on the next day was beaten by Geelong College in the final.

In mid June Jack notes that: ‘Roddy and Bowen are caught smoking by Mr Pescott in the afternoon. They pay a visit to Mr Kennedy. Mr Kennedy is going to meditate a couple of days before his decision’. (As a post script, Roddy and Bowen later got the option of ‘… 5 ‘whacks’ or 25 lines. They take the ‘lines’ option but do not deliver, the punishment then being blown out by 26 June to 250 lines) [Use of the cane in some schools persisted very late. There was an actively used caning register in some Ballarat public schools when I began secondary school teaching in Ballarat in the late 1970s].

On 18 June there were more adolescent pranks. Jack writes in breathless journalese: ‘The boys push a car owned by a boy from Newman College. It was left yesterday because it would not start. The car started and the car careered around front plot many times Sykes and NAME BLOCKED OUT ring leaders. Policeman on bicycle turns up. Boys scatter. Prefects on balcony take names. Mr Stewart comes out. I go to back turf and play football.’

On 30 July bullying by old boys in the boarding bouse was still happening, confirmed by: ‘The old boys are rather cruel still, especially Rodwell’ [James Rodwell rowed at Number 6 in the 1936 Wesley Eight at the Head of the River, His friend Dave (D. H.) Parnaby rowed as stroke]. Again on 9 July: ‘The old boys bully. I have a wrestle with Jimmy Rodwell. I come out loser but I am not touched at all for 10 minutes (because I would not swap knives)’.

Whilst swimming on 21 August Jack came back to his room ‘… to find blankets underneath mattress, drawers changed, pyjamas knotted etc., Money has been stolen daily for the last few days including 1/ from mine’.

On 26 Oct ‘Davey, Dunn and Elms ‘… take my slippers off at the bottom of the front turf. I have to come back to school and sit through prep with only one slipper. One slipper returns during prep’ [‘prep.’ was a supervised, ‘preparatory’, evening time for doing homework].

The Boarding House bullying was there right to the end of the year. On 26 Nov Jack writes: “I will not compete in a game in dormitory on Thursday night in which the blinds are pulled and they crawl on the floor with loaded socks swinging at each other. The result is that I am outlawed and bullied. They throw my bed out the window. Roddy goes down [drain] pipe and retrieves it.’ The next day again: ‘My clothes and everything in the wardrobe are thrown about twice today by Roddy and ?Crong? respectively.’

Jack struggling with his school studies (but developing some diversions)

Jack started his Leaving Certificate studies and boarded at Wesley College for just one year in 1936. Many boarders would have started several years earlier. ‘Old boys’ towards the top of the rigid Boarding School hierarchy were likely better adapted to the very different teaching and living arrangements than he experienced as a newbie 15 years old boy in Form 6A, and also less bullied.

 

Jack was impressed and amused in his first week of classes: ‘Teachers very amusing. History master knows history off by heart, he relates story of about 20 murders straight off’’. In the second week he had his first gym session and noted that he was ‘… Getting into the way of the school and beginning to get a grasp of the new subjects’. By his third week he bravely writes: ‘Have not yet got home sick. I think only those who are used to being a long time away from home get home sick. [School] Still a novelty.’ He rationalised that he was ‘… kept occupied at prep times, not even time to write letters’, and prophetically complained that: ‘Homework too much is the curse of all school life’.

By his third weekend away from home Jack began to sound despondent: ‘[Satur]day spent reading papers, reading “The Term of his Natural Life” etc. Time hangs heavily on hands. I have not met (accidentally) anybody I know from Donald yet.’ On Sunday: ‘ Go down to Port Melbourne (walk) to visit warships. A great crowd there. Father arrives city 3.15 and he comes with me to Adamson at night’. [The warships he saw almost certainly included the recently commissioned light cruiser, HMAS Sydney, that would later be lost in action in 1941].

A few weeks later, on 18 March Jack noted that: ‘The day is drizzly and makes one forever worn out. Am beginning to look forward to seeing Donald again’, but again bravely adding: ‘Not homesick.’

On 24 March he received a letter from home ‘… enclosing birth certificate and authority to learn dancing, also authority to come home (at) Easter’. His first school report arrived on April Fools Day, with Jack remarking that most boys seemed ‘… more sober about observing (the Day)’. The report, however, was no April Fools Day joke, and disappointed him, tersely adding, ‘It is not as good as I expected’.

Whilst his school studies may have been mediocre his Monday dancing classes went ahead in leaps and bounds. By 4 May 4 he is up tempo and writes: ‘I go dancing in evening and show great improvement. Quickstep and Waltz have been mastered by most after five lessons’.

By mid May Jack was ‘… looking forward to going home. Uncle Eric* [Golding: my grandfather’s brother from Mildura] is up there with his wife and family.’ After the late May school break the regular Monday dancing classes resumed. On 8 June: ‘I go dancing. We learn many new steps. I have two dances with dreadful partners. One has knees bent the other is not flexible. I have improved during the holidays.’ The following Monday evening he goes dancing again ‘…. at 7.30. It finishes at five minutes past 9. We are to meet, lane at side of Fawkner Mansions [still on the corner of Punt Road and Commercial Road in 2018] at quarter to 10. Charles Dunning does not turn up. We report back. His absence is not noticed.’

The pressure of school and particularly schoolwork was becoming evident by mid year. On 9 June: ‘I have a heap of prep. Lots of English, one of Economics, two of Bookkeeping, one of History. About four or five hours work. All to accomplish in two hours.’ A week later after school, Jack goes to Camera Club that includes a lecture by Mr Porter about developing. ‘I do not find anything to do after Camera Club. I have a large amount of homework tonight.’

By 22 June the dancing has moved on to ‘… a new form of rhythm dancing. It is the first time I have ever heard of it’. Dancing was still a regular Monday evening fixture in mid July, but Jack, in the lee of his recent, bad school report for Term 1 wrote that: ‘I do not think I will go dancing next term but my parents leave it in my own hands’. Camera Club on Tuesday had moved on to printing photographs and was still a weekly event. Jack continued to swim at least weekly in the College’s heated pool.

Jack claims in between to have studied hard, but perhaps a little belatedly in the week before his August exams. He found the English paper easy ‘… but time was too short, 2 hours for 5 questions’. The British History exam ‘… was no too bad but I know very little about it. The paper was so long I could not complete it’. Similarly for the Bookeeeping exam: ‘The exam paper was too long to finish in an hour and a half’. Whilst he ‘swatted hard’ for Commercial Principles and had no time to study Economics, he optimistically wrote both papers ‘are not too bad and I should pass.’

The 2nd term exam results came out on 24 August and were not good (see Result table, below), but Jack was trying to be upbeat, writing: ‘My exam results are greatly improved on last term, a couple are worse.’ Jack’s results for first term, included below as recorded in the back of the diary with his later results for 1936, were also disappointing. Jack was no scholar in relation to these subjects. A copy of his report book was posted home on 5 July.

Jack’s resolution, with his final exams only six weeks off, to ‘work hard’, was written on the first day back into Term 3 studies. But it was evident that his interests and skills perhaps lay elsewhere in the natural and technological sciences. He remarked on 29 September about ‘… a lecture from Professor Hartung in aid of University Women’s College (1/ admission). The subject was “How nature makes her colours”’.

The next week he visited Myers ‘Progress House’ in Elizabeth Street, which a Trove Search (The Argus, 3 October 1936) reveals opened that same week, showcasing “Where your happiest “home dreams” come true in a most practical manner- demonstrating the very latest in Building, in Interior Decorating, in Home Furnishing, and even Gardening’.

The same day he visited ‘The Model Dockyard’ that, an on line search shows:

… was a business founded by Captain E. H. James in 1932. Situated initially in Flinders Street, the shop became so popular that it relocated to larger premises at 469 Elizabeth Street soon afterwards. By 1936 it had moved to the basement at 216 Swanston Street, where it would remain for over 20 years, becoming something of a Melbourne institution and popular destination for both children and adults alike on trips into the city. The shop sold complete models, model maker’s lathes and other tools, kits, castings for models and blueprint plans, as well as a large catalogue of other model making supplies.

On 15 October Jack went to an ABC concert in City Hall under the baton of Dr Malcolm Sargent [an English conductor, organist and composer. Being popular in Australia with players as well as the public, Sargent made three lengthy tours of Australia and New Zealand in 1936]. ‘MLC is represented, Alison Lelean and a few other girls I have met from time to time were there.’

Jack again ‘swotted’ for the November Leaving Certificate exams, but perhaps too little and too late, writing on 29 October that: ‘History seems to be a favorite for me, for studying, not as a subject’. The next day: ‘I start the morning by not being able to see properly, everything flickers before my eyes. I have a splitting headache, probably occasioned by long hours of swotting. (?) I doubt it’. On the Sunday before exam week the terse diary entry reads quite honestly: ‘I endeavor to swat, almost unsuccessfully’.

The next day, before the Tuesday Melbourne Cup Day Holiday Jack laments with envy that: “Harry Brownell is going on a bike tour including Mt Dandenong. I wish I had a bike down here now.’ He later noted that Wotan, a 100/1 outsider, won the Cup that year.

Jack took ill the next day, experiencing ‘… a sore throat in the morning and get a headache. I am in school sick room’. By Thursday ‘the salts’ he was taking reduced his temperature, admitting: ‘I have my books with me but I do not study. Sister’s very nice and a charming conversationalist’. By Friday: ‘I feel like jumping out of bed (I do a couple of times). My mother and father and [sister] Doris come down for cricket. They come with grandfather in his Dodge car.’ On Saturday: ‘My mother and sister come to hospital. Doctor comes and lets me get up at dinner time. I go and see ‘Showboat’ [a musical in two acts, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, first performed in 1927] at Regent with Doris (father and mother at Victoria [Hotel], but get to see Uncle Will. I am back at school at 8 o’clock. Matron expected me for tea. I go to bed in hospital.’

By the following week Jack is belatedly swotting English and History, accurately writing that: ‘My History chances are 10 to one against me passing’. After the History Exam Jack accurately predicts: ‘I do not think I will pass.’ The next day he writes: ‘I swot Commercial Principles a little (very little) … I do know the work fairly well afterwards’. On the Monday after the exam he (accurately) predicts: ‘I really expect to pass. I will be really surprised if I don’t. I try to study Economics.’ After the Economics exam Jack writes that: ‘The Economics exam was pretty stiff. But I may pass or fail’. Again, an accurate prediction, with a mark of 50%.

The entry on 17 Nov, in the middle of the exams only a month from the end of the school year is perhaps something of a disappointing bolt from the blue. ‘I receive a letter from father in the morning telling me I will not be back at school next year’. The next day Jack seems to have lost his belief in passing, and writes: ‘I don’t study in prep but read a novel. I go for a swim after school. I swim 47 yards underwater’. The next day as the mediocre results start coming, in he contemplates as he writes: ‘ I shall probably sit for supps’ [supplementary exams] and writes to Enid, for ‘… the first for 6 weeks’.

With the exams finished Jack goes ‘… to see “Monte Carlo Russian Ballet “at her Majesties Theatre with all the boarders and the resident Masters at Mrs Stewart’s [Headmasters wife’s] expense and to her home for supper. … I come back to school in McFarland’s Buick Coupe’ [1936 was the first year that Buick offered the sport coupe body style on a Special chassis. Only 2,003 were built. 1936 was the year that ‘Buick’s turnaround’ began. ‘There was so much new for 1936 – dramatic new styling, hydraulic brakes, slanted v-type windshield, bullet-type headlamps, turret top bodies, independent front suspension, new alloy pistons and improved water temperature control’]. Jack goes out to Mathoura Road for the second last time on 21 Nov, spending ‘… morning shopping with Auntie Mollie, Uncle Ted [Barney Pearse’s father]’.

The penultimate weekend at school is spent at Auntie Kate’s. On the Sunday they go down to Mentone with ‘J. Bright, Uncle Alby etc’ [Uncle Alby was Leonore’s husband]. We have a swim in the sea.’ In the last week Jack, as he predicted sits a supplementary exam in History and (accurately) predicts he will not pass. (When he learnt he got 45% in the last week of school he wrote: ‘Tough luck’).

On the final Friday the whole school goes on an excursion by train to Yallourn [a complex of six brown coal–fuelled thermal power stations built progressively in the La Trobe Valley from the 1920s to the 1960s]. ‘We inspect open cut, power house, briquetting works.’ Jack goes out to Mathoura Road for the final weekend.

Jack’s 1936 School Leaving Certificate results by Term

Subjects 1st Term Marks 2nd Term Marks 3rd term Marks
History 37 37 39 + 45
Bookkeeping 47 55 59
English 35 56 56
Economics 30 54 50
Commercial Principles No exam 44 56
Averages 40.25 49.2 53.2

Getting home and away on holidays

Easter of 1936 was Jack’s first chance to get home to Donald from boarding school, and he squeezed a lot into five days, going straight to ‘… see Dorothy Beckham and Enid. Both looking well. Go down street in evening. Go to Chandler Percy’s’. On Good Friday he rode his bike and then went ‘… to see Norman Wrigley in hospital. In afternoon play tennis at “Bassett’s” with Barney [Alfred William Geake Pearse, born 1919, then 17, Bob [Robert Wyatt Pearse, born 1921, then also age 15] and Tom [Thomas Francis Pearce, born 1923, then age 12]’. On Saturday he goes down to ‘Grandma’s’ [Olivia Golding’s, in St Arnaud. Olivia was widowed when her husband, William Golding, died three years before on 14 April 1933 in St Arnaud] for the afternoon and stays for tea, noting that: ‘The shops are open here in St Arnaud. I see a portion of tennis tournament [A St Arnaud annual fixture for many decades to the present in 2018]’. On Sunday he went twice to [Donald Methodist] church. On Monday Jack visited Ivan [Pearse’s] for the day and went ‘… shooting, in morning with double-barreled 12-bore shotgun (Ivan’s) and in the afternoon with my four-ten. We did not shoot anything except grass parrots’.

When Jack returned to school on Easter Tuesday he noted that he was leaving ‘… all at home well’, and that returning to school was ‘like coming home’. On his 16th Birthday soon afterwards (17 April 1936) Jack received a letter from his mother, Amelia, whom he quotes as saying your ‘Father (is) feeling quite old having a 16 year old son. Also (enclosed is a) postal note for 2/6’.

The long, two-week break home in late May was again packed with action in and around Donald, though it started slowly. On the Saturday he writes:‘ The town is very quiet, very little to see or do.’ On Saturday after Church he had ‘… a talk with Alison Lelean and Peggy Browne’ who he joined for a game of tennis the next day. On Monday Jack ‘… kicked around the town and at the [Golding’s] shop’, then ‘in company of Chandler in afternoon’, writing that ‘Chandler is too shy’.

Social tennis was repeated in Donald several times that week, on Tuesday morning ‘with Alison and Peggy (i.e. Margaret)’ and in the afternoon ‘… with Enid, Curtis and other girls and boys. They come around for afternoon tea’. On Thursday the tennis was at Jean Bassett’s and included playing with Harry Willey [Willey’s were long time residents of Donald]. ‘I stay out at Bassett’s and go to ‘Prize Giving’ [a then tradition associated with attendance and contribution to the Methodist Sunday School]. Alison sings in Fijian (to fill in space). I sleep at Bassett’s.’ The next day Jack played at farming: ‘On the morning I go on horseback from Bassett’s to round up some sheep and bring them to the homestead. In afternoon go droving and shifting sheep. Also I drive Ford truck a little bit’.

On Wednesday of his first week of holidays, Jack also went ‘… out in the car (Dodge) with Mother, Alison, Peg and Dorothy Beckham to Jean Bassett’s and in the afternoon went shooting with Bert and Chandler’. Things hotted up on the weekend with ‘… a dance and “sav and roll supper”, where he caught up with Barney [Pearse] and Lawrie also Ron Curtis and ??Flip?? Hancock’.

The second week of the holidays it was more (or less) of the same: tennis, afternoon teas and shooting with Chandler’s .22 [rifle] and his own .410 [second smallest caliber of shotgun), mainly at tins and bottles’. Wed 17 May was Enid Hancock’s 16th birthday ‘… and we (about 16 of us) have afternoon tea at Cullen’s (to celebrate at Mrs H. Hancock’s expense)’. The next evening ‘I go to a social in aid of the Queen of Agriculture with Harry Willey. Have a jolly good time’. [Rose Black eventually took out the 1936 crown. In 1936 there was also a ‘Queen of Soldiers’, ‘Queen of Sport’ and ‘Queen of Railways’].

On the Friday morning: ‘Go out to the depot [Donald rubbish tip] with Harry. In the afternoon I go down to Grandma Golding’s [in St Arnaud]. I have a drive of the car. I go to a ball at Richavon in aid of the Queen of Agriculture’. The Saturday was wet but jam-packed with indoor social events at the Methodist Parsonage, playing ‘… table tennis with the girls at Brokenshire’s, At Adams’ for an evening. I have a good time, arriving home at nearly 2 o’clock [am Sunday]’.

The Sunday before heading back to school was the usual: Church and Sunday School, then a walk with Peggy, Alison and sister Doris. Tea was at home with lots of visitors: ‘Alison, Margaret Spencer, Laurie, Barney, Gwen, Mr Bassett’.

Jack received a letter from his mother on 21 August ‘… that I can go down to Warrnambool to ??Nell’s?? for the holidays’, later taking the train down from Melbourne, proudly wearing his new purple Wesley College blazer. The next day Jack and George Lance ‘… inspect the city, and study wireless and microscopy. I go to Childers Cove shooting. We did not shoot anything’. Blind Freddie could see that the business-oriented subjects Jack was studying (badly) at school were a long way from his interests in these new, practical technologies.

That evening he, George and Mrs Lance went to see the picture ‘Rhodes of Africa’ [a 1936 British biographical film charting the life of Cecil Rhodes]. Over the next few days there was more microscopy and messing about with George Lance with ‘… the [crystal] wireless set’ as well as going down to see the Golding relatives in Port Fairy. Aside from making a crystal set [from 1920, crystal sets were superseded by the first amplifying receivers and became obsolete for commercial use,, but continued to be built by hobbyists, youth groups, and the Boy Scouts, mainly as a way of learning about the technology of radio] and listening to the wireless, they both ‘… caught and photographed insects under the microscope. We take photographs at night, of needle points and aphis knees with home made attachment for taking prints of things’. The crystal set they made, presumably from a kit, ‘… has a guaranteed thousand mile reception’. [George would go and develop his passion for electronics, radio (and later TV) post-war to establish the well-known ‘Lance and Yorke’ business in Sturt Street, Ballarat.

One week into the holidays Jack met up with Mrs [Vida] Golding and Geoff who came [from their home in Port Fairy. Auntie Vida had married Rupert William Golding, my grandfather’s brother, in 1924] to Warrnambool for Geoff to have ‘his sight fixed’, before going up to Donald on Saturday with George Lance and his mother via Lake Bolac and Ararat. ‘Down the street’ in Donald that night they met up with Bert Reeves, Harry Brownell, Alison and Arthur Lelean. ‘I do a little rifle shooting after visiting ‘War Museum’. One morning they threw boomerangs, another morning playing social tennis, another Jack was riding his bike.

Next day: ‘George and I see a little of the town and visit Sproats to see lake. Little lake [Buloke] in the morning, Big Lake [Buloke] in afternoon’ [That year the Richardson River had ‘run a banker ‘and filled both lakes]. On Monday night Jack goes to: ‘University extension lecture, “Has the League of Nations Failed?’ with Bert Reeves [The League of Nations was founded in 1920, after some notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis Powers in the 1930s]. The rest of the week in Donald he spent a lot of time also with Harry Brownell and Harry Willey, again: ‘… going out to Sproats’ and also to ‘Devon Park’ [Pearse family property where Jack’s mother was born] and one of the Trollop’s with grandfather’.

On a third trip to Sproats it was time to ‘play up’, writing proudly that: ‘4 of us’ (Harry Willey, Jennie, Hannah and Marjorie Bronte) buy Garrick [Australian brand] cigarettes and smoke’. That Saturday evening at a Blind Concert they all ‘… smoke at interval’ and later ‘… take the 2 gals home’, arriving home just before midnight. Perhaps to appease his sins before returning to school on the Monday by car, on Sunday Jack went to church twice as well as to Sunday School. As a post-script, for most of his adult life Jack was a Rechabite, a devout non-drinker of alcohol.

The trip back to school in Melbourne was by car and train. The car trip from Donald to Ballarat (with ‘Mother and Grandfather’, where they visited relatives ‘Hopkins, Powell, Jenkins’) took around three hours (‘from 2 minutes to 9 to just before a quarter to 12’). From Ballarat Jack took the Melbourne train, leaving Ballarat at 6.06pm and arrived back at school in Prahran at 10.10pm. On his first day back, there is evidence that Jack had likely had a stern talking to whilst at home, writing: ‘I have formed a resolution to work hard and to lead a good Christian life’, with the word ‘good’ having been inserted later before the word ‘life’.

 Several times during 1936 there are diary entries that refer to the then Australian military build up. On 27 July he went to Myers to see an Imperial Airways [the early British commercial long-range airline, operating from 1924 to 1939] exhibit of model aircraft. On 21 September he went to a series of lectures on Post-War Germany lasting over two hours, writing presciently, ‘I find it very interesting. It shows Germany up in a bad light.’ 

Jack’s tight school finances

Being away from home at boarding school for Jack meant being on a tight personal budget, then carefully recorded in pounds, shillings and pence on the Monthly ‘Cash’ pages in the back of the diary. His family was far from well off and Jack was always very careful with his money.

We know he went down in Feb 1936 with 12 shillings. Within a week he wrote in his diary: ‘ Spent 4/6 on second hand books. Funds getting low. Liabilities more than assets.’

His cash reserves were supplemented by ‘pocket money’ of 1/9d (around 20 cents in 2018 decimal currency), and augmented in March with a ‘gift from Aunty Lenore 2 shillings, Father 2/6’. A recurring early expense was one shilling for a locker key.

By mid year it was time for a top up, with ten shillings from father, 2/6 from grandfather and several 4 shilling ‘undisclosed’ entries during June, from their timing likely from W. G. Pearse or Auntie Mollie. Things were pretty tight, as Jack even recorded finding 4 pence in a wardrobe. By July there were 2 shilling contributions from Auntie Het, and 1/6 from his mother. By September, Jack had 22 shillings for safe keeping by the Housemaster, Mr Kennedy. One pound went in exam fees in October, later reimbursed from home.

 

The diary entries often mention finances. On 11 June ‘I receive a letter from home stating two singlets and three sets of underpants have been sent and asking me to ask for money to buy a pair of slippers. I go to Prahran. No parcel at station. I price scarves in shops.’ A week later: ‘I receive a letter with 7/6 enclosed to buy a scarf. I buy one [in Prahran] at Foy and Gibsons [one of Australia’s earliest department store chains] for 4/11’.

‘Lines’ as punishment

A full page of details about ‘ lines’: a then common, mindless but time consuming punishment for school misdemeanors, was written into the ‘Memoranda’ page, summarized in the table below, by date, the number of lines required to be written as punishment, sometimes including who gave the lines (House or Prefects), plus the offence that Jack committed to receive the lines. In one case he received corporal punishment: three ‘whacks’, presumably by cane.

The entries on 1 and 2 July tell the extended caning story.

Tonight [1 July], Mellor, Price and Bridgeborn were to have a run around the passages. We start off. Rodwell calls us back. I stop, the others keep going around the corridor. Mellor misses the step near the pastor’s study and goes in and hits the table. Mr Pescott comes round. I hide in the drying room. We go round and lock the study. I get my first whacking (X3).

The next day [2 July] ‘… is the first public school football match. Scotch won by about five goals. I yell myself hoarse. I get six whacks from each of Rodwell, ?Crang?, Bowen because I do not stay behind the goals the whole time’.

Jack writes on 12 May: ‘Have not had any lines since 28th [April]. Also I have not been whacked so far this term (touch wood)’.

Jack’s Lines in 1936 (exactly as recorded in his diary)

Date Number

of lines

Who from? Offence
Feb 25 50 House No books ready to begin prep.
March 15 50 House For being in bed in nude.
March 23 100 Prefects Because a boy flicks nail file in spare
April 7 50 House Because out of dorm after “flicker”
April 22 50 House Because boys make noise in prep.
April 27 100 House For coming to tea without tie tied
April 28 100 ?? Because boys make noise in prep.
June 24 50 Prefects For shifting a table in common room
June 30 50 Being doubling for not doing on 24th
July 1 3 whacks from Mr Kennedy for running in passages, but I did not let him know I did not …
July 9 100 Prefects For coming into spare late.
July 30 50 For coming down to breakfast late
Aug 7 50 For fighting in JR (common room)
Aug 8 50 For coming back after 2 minutes to (after pictures)
Oct 21 100 For passing note in prep.
Oct 29 100 For arriving assembly late
Nov 10 50 Caught on the stairs at 8 o’clock
Nov 26 100 For forgetting I was on letter duty

Jack’s physical activity

I knew my father in mid life as a good swimmer and extremely good at swimming very long distances under water, something I learned from and copied myself. In his second week at school as a 15 year-old adolescent boy Jack practiced swimming 25 yards underwater for a ‘wager’ (bet) with Douglas James that he won. By the end of the year he was doing close to 50 metres underwater!

Jack tried rowing for the first time in his third week away, writing: ‘It’s a fine sport. David Parnaby is in first crew. Bowen is in seconds.’ He liked it so much he went rowing four days that same week.

In the fourth week at Wesley Jack went in the school swimming trials and came third in the open 50 yards breaststroke. Swimming was certainly his forte and he also enjoyed cycling, but like me, he was certainly no land athlete. The same week he wrote that: ‘I am getting quite good at rowing’, some of it in a ‘practice team four’ that he later noted was ‘… the equivalent of about a fifth eight’. On the weekend of 14 March Jack went out with Auntie Mollie and had a ‘… three-mile swim along the Yarra from Grange Road Bridge to the Boat Houses near Princes Bridge, returning to Toorak by bus’.

Perhaps he got a bug from the lower Yarra River swim? By late March Jack was feeling ‘… off colour all day. See matron after school. Temperature 103.4 [F]. Influenza, headache, stiff in every limb. Go into hospital. Matron is rotten. Am not allowed tea. First meal I ever missed.’ Two days later and still in hospital, being administered ‘rotten salts’, Jack writes: ‘Am notified mother will be down [from Donald] and out [to see me] in afternoon. Mother calls, also grandfather, walks in, walks out and gives me 5 shillings.’ Jack’s mother, Amelia, returned the next afternoon with ‘… some oranges, 4 or 5 apples, carton of nuts and dancing pumps [shoes, tyoically with a low-cut front, the vamp, and without a fastening] (13/9). Also 2/ shout. Mother takes 7/ of mine home for Easter.’ The hospital stay lasted a total of six days, finally being allowed out on Monday afternoon ‘to Mentone with Uncle Jim and Uncle Alby’, where he ‘… saw sharks off Black Rock’.

Jack returned to the boarding house that evening … to dancing, involving a misunderstanding that Jack described as a ‘dickens of a row’. It seems the hospital matron wanted him in bed early and not dancing. The cold lingered almost until Easter.

Jack regularly barracked at the school football, but there is no mention of football otherwise when he was picked (on 16 July) ‘.. to play for Wesley’s “open” thirds against Grammar’ on the following Saturday. Jack played ‘… full forward in the left pocket’, a position he recalled with ironic glee to anyone who asked him about his non-interest in football decades later. Jack mentions football practice a few times in the weeks that followed, but has a sore leg at the time of the Saturday 1 August match and acts as goal umpire for the Wesley (seconds) match against Geelong Grammar. Football interest and participation disappeared without trace for much of the rest of his life.

Out of the blue on 4 August the boys get ‘… a talk a little about self abuse (masturbation) and about habits of boys, any generous character etc.’

By August 13 Jack wrote that: ‘I can now swim 34 yards underwater.’ A few days later, by swimming across rather than the length of the pool, he beat his record ‘by doing 52 yards (four widths of 13 metres each)’.

He was very aware of his weight. On his first day at school he weighed 8 stone five pound. August 27 he was 9 stone, 12 pounds, 14 ounces, height 5 foot eight inches.

In late September Jack tried out for the House athletic sports, trying the ‘weight putt (20 feet), long jump (14 feet) and hurdling (3 foot hurdles)’. Jack was disappointed that ‘… I can only [high] jump 3 foot nine inches’. He tried out a week later for the 880 yards but pulled out at 440. Trialing later for the 440 yards, he was not a runner and came last. He was less interested in competing and much more interested in using his camera to ‘… photograph chaps hurdling, jumps long and high’.

Not satisfied on the day of the last unsuccessful athletics trial, Jack challenged: ‘Bickart to a high jump. I cede him nine inches and beat him. I cede him 4 feet in long jump (am beaten), I cede him 200 yards in 880 yards (am beaten). I cede him 15 yards in 100 yards (am beaten). I was thoroughly worn out after 2 hours sport.’

Just before the end of the year it was time for what might now be called for ‘sex education’. On 25 Nov he wrote with wonderful but innocent juxtaposition: ‘Dr Featherson gives us a lecture on development of children in the vaginal cavity. He tried to tell us embryology that we all knew (at least I did). I get a letter from Enid’. The next day: ‘We get another sex lecture’.

Jack discovering girls

Unsurprisingly, as an adolescent boy of 15-16 years in 1936, Jack had a keen interest in girls generally and for much of the year, Enid Hancock in particular. In his third week away Jack went to the Plaza and saw [Shakespeare’s] ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, remarking with some disappointment that ‘… only two groups of girls from other schools there’.

On 15 May Jack writes about coming home on the train to Donald for the May holiday ‘with MLC “dames”’, and seemed put out that the conductor removed the first class ticket holders (Mildura girls) from second class compartment that was [WORD ERASED] Margaret Taylor and [Jack’s then girlfriend] Enid’.

Throughout the 1936 diary Jack carefully records whenever he writes to and whenever he receives letters from Enid (as well as from home), but seldom mentions if or when he meets her. On 24 July the letter room Enid ‘… is of eight pages (small leaflets). I receive a different envelope and paper every time. Her grandfather died Sunday’.

Jack recorded on 5 August that: ‘I have not received and answer from Enid yet. I wrote July 29 in answer to an invitation to come to the pictures Saturday next’. On Thursday 6 August he records: ‘I receive a letter “note” from Enid. I answer it.’ And the picture invitation to the Capitol Theatre does happen on Saturday, with ‘… Enid, Winsome Warne and a Scotch boy’.

All mention of Enid, including letters between them, stopped for a month including during the September Holidays in 1936, but correspondence resumed, with a letter received from Enid on 23 Sept. He was clearly not only counting the number of pages but also the number of letters, noting that he had received ‘Enid’s 12th letter’ on October 1. One of the few times Jack mentions going out socially with Enid was on 9 October, albeit accompanied by other MLC girls, Joan Thompson and Geoff Risby, and again the next day when the same four again went to the pictures at ‘Hoyts Regent, Collins Street (seats 2/2 a piece), seeing “Follow the Fleet’ [a 1936 American musical comedy film with a nautical theme starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers], as well as ‘Don’t Gamble with Love’ [a 1936 American drama film], going afterwards with Enid and friend to the Victoria Cafeteria. ‘She [Enid] goes home to MLC about 7.30 and I walk in easy stages back to school (Not because I am low in funds).’

The table below suggests that the relationship with Enid had cooled by October. At the Combined Public School Sports on 31 Oct: ‘I meet Pegg Brownell and spend most of the day with her. I meet George Lance and on with him for five minutes. I also see Enid but do not speak to her. Alison is there but we do not see her’.

A page and a half of spare space in the back of the 1936 diary is devoted to a fascinating table chronicling the two way correspondence between Jack and his then girlfriend Enid Hancock from Donald, then also away at boarding school at Methodist Ladies College (MLC) in Hawthorn, reproduced below.

Jack’s record of two way correspondence between Enid Hancock and himself

(as written in his 1936 Wesley College Diary, pages 127 & 137)

Received Pages Sent Pages
March 2 1 March 4 4d
March 21 3 March 21 4
April 28 1 April 30 3
June 24 2 June 25 5
July 13 3 July 20 4
July 24 4 July 29 3
August 6 1 August 6 1
August 15 2.5 August 15 2
August 20 2.5 August 22 2
August 26 2 none sent
Sept 23 1.5 Sept 28 1
Oct 1 4 very small Oct 4 2
Oct 8 2 small Nov 13 2
Nov 25 2 small

 

Men’s Shed Movement Book availability 2019

The Men’s Shed Movement: The Company of Men book, Edited by Barry Golding, was published in 2015 by Common Ground Publishing in Champaign, Illinois.

The book is available for order in 2019 paperback for US$25  (postage is extra) or US$15 as a pdf copy (with colour photos) via the following link: https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/the-mens-shed-movement?category_id=common-ground-publishing. The book is also available for order on line via Amazon, as well as in Australia through the Angus and Robertson on line store.

The Men’s Shed Movement book was nominated for the Australian Journal on Ageing Book Award for 2017. One of the reviewers said ‘The book will be a valuable resource for those looking into the contribution of Men’s Sheds to society in the future’

Reflections on a Lifetime in Dja Dja Wurrung Country

Reflections on a Lifetime in Dja Dja Wurrung Country

This is a reworking, updating  and expansion of a paper I originally created for a 2004 ‘Black Gold’ Conference in Castlemaine that included an inspirational corroboree on Leanganook, Mount Alexander. The original paper was dated 23 October 2004 and called ‘The Great Dividing Trail and its associations with Djadjawurrung country’ .

Barry Golding, Federation University Australia,

May 2018

Abstract

I have lived in Djadjawurrung country virtually all my life. I have become increasingly and acutely aware – from a range of experiences, people, sources and interactions over a lifetime of 68 years – of the many ways Aboriginal people have shaped, and continue to reshape, white understandings (an ignorance) of Australia generally, and understandings of the Indigenous and cultural heritage of the Central Highlands of Victoria in particular. Given my lifetime living, working and re-creating in this Dja Dja Wurrung landscape, my paper traces the origins of my own, ongoing personal awakening to Dja Dja Wurrung associations and presence in the local landscape and community with an emphasis on what transpired here after contact in 1836. It starts from the uneasy silences behind the meaning of stone axes and cooking ovens found and experienced in wheat paddocks during my childhood in the Wimmera during the 1950s. My paper identifies some possible ways to continue to heal the ongoing, contested appropriation of Aboriginal land in Australia. It identifies the potential for local and collaborative exploration, understanding and interpretation of the many layers of shared heritage with the Dja Dja Wurrung people and local communities.

Introduction

I firstly acknowledge the traditional owners of the land I have lived in for most of my life, in Donald, Daylesford, Kooroocheang and Kingston, the Dja Dja Wurrung Nation Elders and and peoples, past and present.

My aim in this presentation is to touch on how I have become aware, as a non-Indigenous Australian, of the need for all Australians to have access to better information about history and heritage in all its forms. In particular I acknowledge the pressing need for all Australians to acknowledge, read and constantly reinterpret the many and ongoing Aboriginal connections between this land, our partly shared (but often poorly acknowledged) past and our shared and (sometimes contested) present. This is in addition to the need to provide present day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with better opportunities to recover and replenish land, people, community and culture.

I will start with a brief explanation as to how my thinking has been shaped by my experiences of being born, living and working in what I now recognise as Dja Dja Wurrung country for most of my life. I will then turn to some aspects of the local contact period that we have most information of through written records – particularly relating to the setting up of the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate at present day Franklinford prior to the white re-discovery of gold. I will conclude by looking specifically at some Aboriginal connections and narratives that might be enhanced by other people following in the footsteps of many others that have walked this country for millennia and undertaking their own journeys of reconciliation.

Early experiences that shape my narrative

 

Like most Australians, I have fortuitously discovered Aboriginal connections in spite of the difficulties rather than because they were there for all to read. Most of my connections come through narrative – and are therefore best expressed in these words in the same way. I was born into a white community in the 1950s prone to silences about many things. The closest one could safely get to acknowledge the Aboriginal past during my teenage years was to collect and display ‘objects’ in museums. Tom Griffiths neatly teases out the ‘History and Natural History’ world I was born into on his Hunters and Collectors book from 1996.

Like all Australians, I do have a history and a culture, but like most Australians there was a time when I wasn’t sure what it was. I remember in my early 20s being stuck for words, in Germany ironically, while performing with Mulga Bill’s Bicycle Band as part of Australia’s folklore presentation at the World Cup Soccer finals in 1974, when someone first asked me “Tell me about your culture”. Like the majority of Australians, my maternal and paternal families were basically Anglo – but some did get their hands dirty locally within Dja Dja Wurrung country. My great grandfather, William Golding, was a gold miner at the Lord Nelson mine in St Arnaud: the last major goldfields township in northwest of Victoria. The road beyond St Arnaud leaves the rocky, often dry, and mined out hills and passes the Woolpack Hotel past the optimistically named, now ‘ghost town’ of New Bendigo, before dropping onto the apparently endless, flat plains towards the Murray River and beyond into the vast Australian inland. About 40 km north of St Arnaud is a flat little town on the sluggish, rarely flowing and now highly saline Richardson River. This is Donald, my original hometown. It is now wheat and sheep country, but it has not always been so.

All of that country between where I now live in Kingston on the rolling, well-watered, high altitude, volcanic plains, and the flat and dry plains around Donald form part of the traditional country of Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal nation. The Donald Bush Nursing Hospital where I was born is on a billabong of the Richardson River, which forms the boundary between the adjacent Jardwadjali country, one of around 25 distinct Aboriginal nations in Victoria and several hundred in Australia at the time of contact. Dja Dja Wurrung country stretched east west from near Bendigo to Avoca, from the Great Dividing Range to near Pyramid Hill.

 

My paternal grandmother was a Pearse whose family had fled rural poverty and religious oppression in England and made a new start – first on the goldfields in Ballarat and later as ‘selectors’ in the Aboriginal lands appropriated in the Wimmera between the 1840s and 1860s. My family was therefore implicated in part of the original and convenient exterminating act that invoked terra nullius. They were certainly involved in sheep grazing of former Aboriginal grasslands as well as clearing the country of the Buloke (Casuarina) and Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) woodlands for broad scale wheat cropping – at the same time as John Hepburn was helping build the back part of the former Creswick Shire Hall I now live in – as Chair of the previous Creswick and District Roads Board in 1859. Indeed the Board members were Hepburn’s pallbearers in the funeral procession through nearby Smeaton when he died in 1860. All of this happened just over 20 years after John Hepburn came overland from Moruya in New South Wales to ‘take up country’ in April 1838 near present day Kooroocheang with his family and several thousand sheep. Again, ironically, Hepburn built his house alongside several large Aboriginal ovens in a land (an Australian Felix and Eden of Major Thomas Mitchell in 1836) that had been declared legally empty and was regarded as theirs for the taking.

I have started with this brief but wide ranging reflection on family to illustrate the point that many white Australians, including myself, have lived all of our lives in landscapes and environments shaped by thousands of years of Aboriginal history but greatly changed by relatively recent dispossession. We generally have few narrative ‘hooks’ that date back to the time or nature of contact on the frontier. Though my ancestors lived relatively recently on the frontier, and my own house was built only 22 years after first local contact, understandings and interpretations of these environments and what happened here are neither easy to find in accessible or accurate histories, nor easy to accept or embrace. And yet non-Aboriginal people such as myself born in the 1950s were only two life spans away from the times and events of Aboriginal contact. Ivy Sampson, daughter of Thomas Dunolly, a Dja Dja Wurrung man taken as a child from the Mount Franklin Aboriginal Station to Coranderrk near current day Healesville in 1864, died less than 20 years ago in 1987.

The tragedy is that many Australians, black and white, often take much of a lifetime to make sense of the poorly documented but shared connections with this relatively recent Aboriginal history. My awakenings began early from the ground up and were at first fragmentary. As a young child I was fascinated by the many Aboriginal stone axes and grindstones made from Mt William greenstone and Grampians quartzite respectively – turned up by ploughing, and typically stored on farm tank stands in the Donald area. There were a few photos in the local museum of ‘King Johnny’ with a brass plate and patronising captions. But for me as a teenager in Donald in the 1960, my only first hand contact with Aboriginal Australia was one Aboriginal railway worker originally from remote Warburton in Western Australia and one Aboriginal family in St Arnaud. Only 100 years after the original dispossession, Donald in the Wimmera, was, like many towns in the area, an almost totally white, Anglo community, in a landscape comprehensively shaped, named and cultured by whites.

 

The first inkling for me of the scale of prior Aboriginal settlement came from my efforts as a teenager to map the distribution of Aboriginal ovens across the countryside – so obvious in red soil paddocks with their fertile, black soil and fragments of baked clay. While many farmers had known of their existence for decades, no one had bothered to map them. By the time I was sixteen I had mapped 160 ovens across the Donald Shire in a distinct pattern that hugged the Richardson River valley and the former shorelines of Lake Buloke. Though the pattern was there and the stone artefacts were everywhere, very few people acknowledged that people or culture had been here, let alone survived. In part it was because the later narratives of pastoralism (and in the Central Highlands area, gold) tend to become hegemonic rather than recent historical veneers.

Wider experiences and horizons leading to an interest in the Franklinford story

 

In between leaving Donald and moving to the Daylesford area in the 1970s I had other transformative experiences in my travels elsewhere in Australia – that forever changed my childhood impression that Australia’s Aboriginal connections and diverse communities were only history. As a touring musician with Mulga Bill’s Bicycle Band, in the 1970s in the hundreds of towns and cities we did concerts in across Australia I was constantly confronted: by the reality and diversity of contemporary Aboriginal Australia. Naively in retrospect, I was surprised to encounter large Walpiri speaking communities in Yuendumu 300 km north west of Alice Springs on the edge of the Tanami Desert, barely 20 years since pastoral contact. There were ‘fringe dwellers’ living in poverty in many inland Australian and outback towns in all Australian states and the Northern Territory, Torres Strait Islanders on Thursday Island, Aboriginal communities on Cape York and on the Queensland railways, Aboriginal stockmen in western Queensland as well as in parts of all Australian capital cities. Closer to home, Yorta Yorta people who had walked off Cummeragunja Reserve in 1939 were living in humpies on the Murray River near Echuca in Victoria just an hour’s drive from Donald.

I was stunned by a disproportionate number of Kooris then denied from the national census, work and education – but over-represented in the prison population. The deeper one dug and the more one travelled, the more Indigenous connections were visible – in the people, the communities, the names of places, and the vegetation. But most of all at that time I was confronted by the hard truth that the ‘traditional’ Australian ‘folk’ music our band played was at best only traditional in a very narrow and incredibly superficial sense, and at worst a blatant contemporary lie.

In my early days post-band in Daylesford in the 1970s I started searching for links that I knew from experience elsewhere, would likely be found everywhere – if I knew where to look and looked hard enough. I found the physical connections in many places. On the old geology maps of the Ballan and Werona areas geologists had found, recorded and marked several native ovens. When I went to these sites I found stone scatters including axe head fragments. When teaching at (now) Daylesford Secondary College I was alerted by students to what turned out to be over 20 Aboriginal ovens on private property in the Smeaton, Campbelltown, Kooroocheang and Werona areas. In the Daylesford museum I came across huge collections of photos and artefacts as well and busts of named Aboriginal people. Through them I became aware of the great research and thinking done by Edgar Morrison from the 1960s[1] in teasing out the history of the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate from the original records. Morrison left monuments and other commemorative clues in the landscape that I now realise were there to guide later others in their attempts to make some sense of a history that was otherwise either denied, or apparently lacking sense.

I also realise now -from re-reading his work, that Morrison was in some small sense politicised by his experiences and faith in the late 1960s, as the then Methodist church sided with the Wik people – in unsuccessfully resisting one of the last of many ‘successful’ major grabs for Aboriginal land by mining companies. I recall with shame playing what we then called ‘traditional Australian music’ in the company town of Weipa in the early 1970s to a company-assembled, white-only audience of miners and their families for the Queensland Arts Council. The company had deliberately rigged up a hessian screen to, as they said, to keep ‘the darkies out’. As we started playing, the hessian dropped and countless young black faces encircled the paying audience through the wire mesh fence. At this point what little was left of my south eastern Australian, ‘hunters and collectors’ view of Australian Aboriginal history as stone artefacts – that I had been brought up with, was getting pretty shaky indeed.

In my reading of Edgar Morrison, he was also making links between what had occurred on the frontier in his own community of Franklinford in the name of Empire, God and progress just over 100 years before, and what was occurring in the same year, 1968 to another Aboriginal nation on a northern frontier to the Wik people – this time with serious concerns from parts of the church about justice and equity. It was, in part, these efforts to recognise Aboriginal land that led within a decade to limited recognition, in some States and Territories, including the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act (1976) –and later in both the High Court Mabo (1992) and Wik (1996) decisions.

For those who don’t know, and apologies for those that do, the story of how the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate came to be set up at Franklinford in 1841 is worth briefly recounting, particularly given its relevance to the gold rush period that followed almost immediately after the Protectorate’s demise by 1849. The Aboriginal Protectorate System[2] was set up as a result of a British Parliament Select Committee Inquiry into the Condition of Aboriginal Peoples during 1837. Lord Glenelg, then Secretary of State was one of the chief initiators of schemes to protect the inhabitants of British colonies. He ordered that the Protectorate be confined to the Port Phillip District, then, like this part of present day Victoria, a part of the former colony New South Wales.

The underlying basis of the Protectorate lay in the refusal of the British Government to recognise prior ownership of Australia by Aboriginal people. In effect Aboriginal people were regarded as being under British sovereignty from the outset, though with almost no legal or constitutional rights. The Protectorate system was a gratuitous offer of ‘protection to which they derive the highest possible claim from the sovereignty which has been assumed over their Ancient Possessions’ [Glenelg to Bourke, 1837]. The idea was hatched at a time of increased hostility and conflict between invading European settlers and the Aboriginal landowners. Its instigation was widely and sometimes savagely criticised by the popular press and the many overlanders turned squatters on the rich, Aboriginal managed, volcanic grasslands in the then Port Phillip colony.

Four Assistant Protectors were appointed in Britain in December 1837 including Edward Parker, previously a Wesleyan minister and teacher. None had any prior experience of Aboriginal people and all were recruited directly from the United Kingdom. The Chief Protector, George Augustus Robinson most recently from the floundering Flinders Island Aboriginal Station, was appointed Chief Protector. He had played a pivotal role in the previous decade in ‘successfully’ coercing and forcibly removing Indigenous Tasmanians to Flinders Island.

The stated aim of the Protectors in the Port Phillip colony was to:

watch over the rights and interest of the natives and endeavour to gain their respect and confidence … protect them from any encroachments on their property and from acts of cruelty, oppression and injustice.

The Assistant Protectors’ specific brief was to attach themselves to the tribes of the District (in Parker’s case, the area about Mount Macedon ‘and the country to the northward’) until they could be persuaded to settle in one location. Once ‘settled’ they were to be taught European agricultural, technological, social and religious practices. It was assumed that the Assistant Protectors would learn Aboriginal language and customs but achieve their aims by moral and religious (Christian) instruction.

All Assistant Protectors arrived in Sydney in August 1838 and arrived in Melbourne in January 1839. Parker left Melbourne in August 1839 but proceeded only as far as Jackson’s Creek near Sunbury where he built a hut for his young family. Parker briefly occupied a site at Neereman (on the Loddon River downstream of Baringhup and upstream of O’Brien’s Crossing) from November 1840 to June 1841. Parker had firmly noted in 1840 that …

I deem it my duty respectfully but firmly to assert the right of Aborigines to the soil and its indigenous productions, until suitable compensation be made for occupation by reserving and cultivating a sufficient portion for their maintenance.

Each Assistant Protector was, at least in theory, to create an inner reserve of one square mile for cultivation purposes, as well as a station and an outer reserve of five miles in radius for ‘the hunting ground of the natives’, with no nearby squatter’s stations and as far as possible from the major lines of communication. In June 1840 Parker was asked to set up a proposed reserve on the Loddon River ‘near a hill called by the natives Tarrengower’. Though the site was already occupied and the reserve was disputed by the squatters Dutton and Darlot, by February 1840 twelve permanent Aboriginal dwellings had been built at Neereman. For a range of reasons, including Neereman’s perceived unsuitability for agriculture, a new site for the North West Protectorate Station was decided on at ‘an old sheep station of Mr Mollison’s called Jim Crow Hill[3]. Located at Larnebarramul (‘House of the Emu’), at the time of the Station’s establishment, the land was owned by the Gunangara gunditj clan of the Dja Dja Wurrrung Aboriginal Nation, though occupied by Mollison, one of the invading squatters. The boundary of the inner square mile reserve around the Protectorate Station was nevertheless proclaimed by Governor Gipps in 1840.

The full history of the Mount Franklin Protectorate could and should fill several books. Suffice to say in his brief paper, the history of the original Aboriginal Protectorate and later Aboriginal Station at Franklinford spans 23 years between 1841 and 1864. Parker’s census of 1841 listed 282 Aboriginal people. This number was far from ‘pre-contact’ as a consequence of well documented conflict with Europeans – including deliberate killing, post-contact European diseases and particularly evidence of one or more major smallpox epidemics which originated and were spread from the vicinity of Sydney soon after the arrival of the First Fleet: (see Noel, Butlin, Our original aggression). There were two Aboriginal institutional interventions in the now Franklinford area, both with strong Christian missionary underpinnings: the first, the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate at Franklinford (1841-1849), and a later one, the Mount Franklin Station from 1853 to 1864 at the base of Mt Franklin. These institutional policies and practices were administered by three government organisations: the Aboriginal Protectorate (1839-49); the Office of the Guardian of Aborigines (1850-59) and the Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines (1860-1870).

By 1843 the Protectorate system was in disarray: hampered by colonial bureaucracy, a legal system that gave Indigenous people minimal rights and hostility from both squatters and Aborigines. It was, in part, Parker’s favourable reports on the Loddon River Protectorate Station in 1843 and also in 1845 which saved the Protectorate system, at least until a NSW Parliamentary Select Committee recommended its abolishment in late 1849. By 1854 the Aboriginal Protectorate had been dissolved and all that remained were an enclosed paddock which continued to be used as an Aboriginal School, but was closed by the Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines in 1864. The Township of Franklinford was subdivided on the same site as the Protectorate in 1858-59. The remaining Aboriginal children were forcibly moved in 1864 to Coranderrk near present day Healesville. Most of the voluminous records from these events are still preserved in State and National archives.

On a visit to the Commonwealth archives in suburban Brighton with Koori students in 1989 I was particularly taken by the incredible irony in an original copy of handwriting exercise – penned by an Aboriginal woman, Ellen, at Franklinford on March 3,1864, just before the closure of the Aboriginal School at Franklinford. The lines she repeated down the pages were ‘Duties demand attention and method’, ‘Valour can do little without prudence’ and the acutely ironic words, ‘Compare past woes with present felicity’. On January 28 of the same year Edward Parker ‘most earnestly deprecate[d]’ the Central Aboriginal Board ‘any attempt to remove the young people now attached to the Aboriginal school’. Parker stressed that such removal could only be effected by coercive means’. In a separate document the Guardian of Aborigines, William Thomas separately argued against ‘the breaking up of the Franklinford Station altogether after 25 years’, noting that ‘… there is scarce a year but 2 or 3 afflicted blacks are brought here to die from the surrounding country – we may justly say in the interim, other refuge have they none.’

Making Indigenous connections to the contemporary local landscape

Knowing what had happened in the Daylesford area, including to the Dja Dja Wurrung nation in a contemporary Australian nation that was intent of having a party to ‘celebrate’ 1988, the Bicentenary of the arrival of the first permanent white settlement at Sydney Cove seemed to me like a huge contradiction. That year at our adopted home, as a form of public protest the Creswick Shire Hall in Kingston, we got a sign writer to write ‘Australia was settled, mapped and cultured before 1788: Don’t celebrate’ on a sign facing the street.

In 1988 I left a secure secondary teaching position in Daylesford to take up a contract at the School of Mines and Industries in Ballarat (SMB), helping to set up the first TAFE Aboriginal programs in Ballarat with guidance from the recently established Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative then in nearby Eyre Street. I was an experienced teacher and a recently Accredited Amateur Archaeologist with Victorian Archaeological Survey (VAS). I had a good knowledge of Aboriginal sites and stone artefacts, but still had a lot to learn about Aboriginal nations, people and culture. The SMB experience taught me much and brought me to another realisation: that around 300 Aboriginal people, many with Stolen Generations backgrounds, then lived in Ballarat and District. The late Alec Jacomos worked carefully and sensitively with many of our students with institutions involved in previous the Ballarat Children’s Homes, Many knew little or nothing about their parents, families, culture or land and were seeking to identify their lost or fragmentary Aboriginal connections. Molly Dyer from Horsham taught in our Aboriginal Welfare Study programs and one day brought her mother Marg Tucker, featured in the Lousy little sixpence documentary from 1983 about the Stolen Generations, to the SMB TAFE auditorium. Several Ballarat Aboriginal people had multiple connections to several Stolen Generations. Some others had links – some clear and others less clear – to families from the ‘Mission and Central Station’ era that followed around 20 years after the demise of the Protectorates. Some Victorian Aboriginal people could trace their roots back to the late 1800s at Lake Condah and Framlingham, Ebenezer and Cummeragunja. Some also were Dja Dja Wurrung descendants via Coranderrk. One day in the mid-1990s I recall looked in the Bendigo phonebook and found a ‘T. Dunolly’ – which clearly indicated to me how close it all was to home. And then there were the oral histories.

My ‘scratching around in the landscape’ as I call it, took in several new local sites in the Kooroocheang, Franklinford and Campbelltown areas. I fondly recall wagging school teaching one sunny afternoon in 1987 with the late Rex Morgan – wading in our underpants – to closely explore the Larnebarramul (nest of the emu) lagoon at Franklinford. David Rhodes’ invaluable study of the archaeological history of the Protectorate was aptly dedicated to Rex. I found that combining public tours with narrative and documents from the 1980s to the present made aspects of the Aboriginal history literally leap out of the local landscape in ways that many people had not heard or experienced.

In one sense the Great Dividing Trail (GDT) and Association that I championed and became President of for many years came out of those experiences of reading the country in the early 1990s. It also came out of parallel and debilitating experiences from fifteen frustrating years of losing countless environmental battles about forest values other than for cellulose, but in retrospect winning a lesser number of wars with governments over the same issues. It was timely for me to work with communities to help create something positive to hand on. And in just 25 years we the GDTA, have achieved much. The GDT concept also came out of my reading of the national Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) debates, that around that time suggested a potential for sustainable tourism and a small number of other profitable enterprises predicated on the overlap between what is economically and environmentally sustainable.

So how might local government and non-government organisations improve the still woeful knowledge of what happened in ‘settled’ Australia and improve contemporary understandings and narratives of land, culture and community? As part of the valuable RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) process currently in train in many organisations, I argue that it is essential to to expose Australians to the ongoing and contested appropriation of Aboriginal land in Australia, by telling what happened here, and importantly telling it wherever possible with and by Aboriginal traditional owners, on country and on site. There are many opportunities for local and collaborative exploration, understanding, narrative and interpretation of the many layers of shared heritage in the Hepburn and other Shires, with the Dja Dja Wurrung people and local communities.

As one illustration only, there the Murnong (Microseris scapigera) also known as the Yam Daisy’ that still grows in places in the bush and on some protected roadsides. [4] Much of the information in this account comes from one of the great early research works of ethnobotanist, Beth Gott, now in her 90s. A preferred traditional food of Aborigines in central and western Victoria, the Murnong is the Wurundjeri/ Wathaurung name. Once recorded in its millions in the carefully fired and managed Aboriginal grasslands and open woodlands in all States including Tasmania and Western Australia and tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, it is now impossible to find on grazed land. For those not familiar with the Murnong, it is a perennial herb, springing up from a swollen tuber resembling in shape a small round radish or tapering carrot. The Murnong lies dormant in high summer, but in autumn a rosette of upright, smooth leaves develops and the tuber begins to shrivel to produce flowers, on long stalks, first characteristically bent downwards.

By mid-summer, all that is left is the dried flower stalks and the buried tuber. The old tuber was bitter and less edible in early winter, though the food source was so valuable it could in effect be used year round. Gathered by Aboriginal women using a digging stick: in some areas 8kg (enough to feed a family for a day) could be collected in an hour. They were washed and usually cooked by heating stones in the fire and covering them with grass with earth over the top. When roasted they are sweet, very delicious and nutritious. Indeed, 100 gm of murnong contains 264kj of nutritional energy (compared with 285 kj for a Jerusalem Artichoke and 335 kj for a potato). Oven mounds were called mirrn’yong mounds, which seems to indicate that murnong was the most cooked food in them.

Aboriginal burning practices during the dry season did not harm the tubers. The deliberate burning kept the volcanic grasslands open for herbivores, cleared dead vegetation, leaving open ground, fertilised by ash, suitable for new growth. Introduction of sheep: 700,000 in Victoria by 1840, led directly to the loss of this major Djadjawurrung food resource, since the plains and open forests where it preferentially grew were also areas where murnong was most abundant. As an interesting aside, John Hepburn already had Murnong cultivated in his garden when Aboriginal Protectors Robinson and Parker stayed with him at Smeaton Hill in February 1841. The loss of the Murnong in the Aboriginal grasslands with the introduction of sheep led directly to a need for many Aboriginal people to accept the dole of flour and sugar from Europeans. The cessation of Aboriginal digging and burning limited the Murnong spread. By 1860 the Yam Daisy was sufficiently scarce for younger Aborigines around Melbourne to be uncertain of its identity.

But that is not the end of the narrative. Enter the Long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris), described by the Robinson as Chief Protector of Aborigines in an area between present day Smeaton and Campbelltown on 18 February 1840 in such numbers as resembling a large white cloud in their tens of thousands. In the same diary entry – to set the scene – Robinson observed a familiar geological scene but a less familiar, present day botanical and ecological covering. ‘These hills are thinly grassed and very stony … occasional fragments of quartz strewed on the ground on the E verge of the plain … timber as usual sheoak [Casuarina], Cherry [Exocarpus], honeysuckle [Callistemon] and wattle [Acacia]’. The next italicised e diary entry is particularly telling. ‘Some places where the natives have been … saw places where they had roasted and eaten the [Freshwater] mussel … There is one thing certain. This Eden is not occupied.’ (italics added).

Studies of the Long-billed Corella in 1986[5] confirmed that ‘… a precipitous decline in both range and numbers …. occurred at the time of European colonisation.’ (p.7). By the 1950s the Long-billed Corella was in such low numbers it was considered endangered. After much research it was found that ‘the food item on which the corella originally thrived was the same underground vegetable extensively utilised by the aborigines (sic) of south-eastern Australia’ (p.8). Importantly,

its disappearance from the plains and rivers was one of the factors contributing to the rapid demise of aboriginal populations in south eastern Australia. This abundant plant disappeared within one or two growing seasons after sheep and cattle began grazing where it grew. Once the yam disappeared from an area, we believe [that] the corella populations very quickly declined through starvation and in many places the corellas were exterminated because of this.                                                     ( Best, Sinclair & Alexander, p.8)

This one complex but insightful story attempts to illustrate how one plant and its complex ecological associations with a bird continue to be disrupted over hundreds of years later. Stories like this might be able to be used to alert people as to the way our natural environment, like our human community, retains and presents evidence of present and past changes – if only we are sensitised to read and understand them. Similar complex stories lie in many other parts of our material and cultural artefacts with Aboriginal connections, including through native plants and animals, in named features in the Australian landscape, in historical documents, in paintings, poetry and literature. But most of all, the stories, along with the lies and silences I was born into in the 1950s, remain embedded mostly in people’s life experiences. Contributing actively and positively to everyone’s Indigenous and environmental narrative is (and should be) a critically important task as part of Indigenous Australian reconciliation.

In so many senses the history of this great land lies in a reading and understanding of the present. It resides in using and valuing the place names and their meanings. Some well known features have worn several other names in 150 years that each tells their own story. There mas be as many as three Dja Dja Wurrung names, including Larnebarramul (nest of the emu), Willamebarramul, ‘place of the emu’ or Lalgambook. ‘Jim Crow’ as John Hepburn called the same mountain sounds superficially quaint but is historically racist, and was called Mt Franklin following Sir John Franklin’s fleeting colonial visit. It is ironic that the best-known Australian spring water in 2018 comes from the same mountain that has no spring or natural water source within the Mount Franklin Reserve other than off the roof of the public toilet,

 

I also contend that our ways of better understanding the local and regional nations. languages, peoples and environments, such as through a renewed interest in Indigenous foods and plants, as well as through improved land management through Catchment Management Authorities, Aboriginal organisations, Landcare and Bushcare help us not only better understand what knowledge was lost, but enhance what there is to protect and regain. Not surprisingly, the longer we live in one place or district and the more sensitised we get to reading and managing the land, the more indigenous (with a small ‘i’) we become. It is interesting that over recent decades the configuration and size of many amalgamated and restructured local government areas across Victoria has begun to resemble some pre-contact Aboriginal national boundaries, divided as now by natural catchment and river boundaries.

In some cases we can only imagine what was lost including in the open (now potato) country towards the top of the Great Dividing Range. This area’s deep and well-watered volcanic soils – until the start of the gold rushes in the 1850s around Dean and Mollongghip – supported some of the grandest stands of trees in Victoria. By the end of the same century they were virtually gone: for building, fuel and pit props for the mines and associated industries

To give some idea of the nature of such missing forests, and particularly the irony associated with their loss, the small patch of tall timber on basaltic substrate topping Wombat Hill above Daylesford was cleared for the present day Botanical Gardens – on the 60 acre ‘police paddock’ reserved for that purpose in 1860. The Daylesford Council minutes on 21 May 1863 record that the initial beginnings of the present day botanical gardens in Wombat Hill were observed: when two young oaks’ were planted ‘… to commemorate the Wedding of King Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, to Princess Alexandria. A bonfire consisting [of] 20 of the largest trees that grew on the hill amounting to 1000 tons of wood was lit.’ Prior to the clearing of the hill, huge gum trees reputedly up to 20ft [6m] in diameter grew on the hill and wombat burrows were numerous amongst their roots. Today the trees regarded of national heritage significance on the hill include Californian redwoods and Bhutanese pine trees.

Conclusions

My main conclusion is that local heritage has many layers, and that understanding the first Aboriginal layer is essential to understanding the many other heritage layers. Pastoralism, timber and gold in the footprint of the current Hepburn Shire have impacted hugely on Dja Dja Wurrung people and environment. What we classify and value today as heritage will continue to change as community knowledge about what happened here in the contact period changes. Large and significant collections of Aboriginal artefacts at SMB in Ballarat were discarded during the 1950s when local authorities lost interest in them. It is only recently that the many layers of mining, forestry, built and natural heritage in our region have come to be mapped, valued, restored and interpreted. It heartening that in 2018 there is finally an appetite for swapping stories about Dja Dja Wurrung associations and people, both past and present, that have for too long ignored or denied.

There are thousands of pre-contact Aboriginal sites across the region – most of which are found on the more fertile plains and volcanic remnants outside of the forested areas where, as now, living off the land was most productive. Based on the demographic evidence outlined in Noel Butlin’s book, Our original aggression, the volcanic grasslands in the north of the Hepburn Shire supported one of the highest pre-contact Aboriginal population densities in inland Australia, at least until several waves of smallpox (that preceded Mitchell’s contact in 1789 and 1830) apparently reduced them to the relatively low densities observed at the time of pastoralist invasion.

Whilst it in important for our past to be interpreted, the desire publicise heritage in all its forms needs to tempered by the need also to respect the rights and privacy of the traditional owners as well as the current title and land-holders. There are many instances in Australia where exposing sites to tourism – without proper consultation and safeguards – has resulted in loss and damage to the very thing people came to see and experience. It is important that we respect other people’s special places as we expect others to respect ours. It is important always to recall that most non-Indigenous Australians came here as refugees of one sort or another. We owe it to the first Australians – in 2018 and beyond – to work collaboratively to put right whatever we can – and particularly to create new, more inclusive and more sustainable communities and cultures. Working together with communities on a Reconciliation Action Plan is but one way.

[1] These include Early days in the Loddon Valley (1996) and Frontier life in the Loddon Protectorate (1967).

[2] Summarised from Rhodes, D (1995) An historical and archaeological investigation of the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate Station and Mount Franklin Aboriginal Reserve, Occasional Report No. 6, Aboriginal Affairs, Victoria.

[3]Lalgambook to the Djadjawurrung, later named Mount Franklin after the visit to the area of the former Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin and Lady Franklin in December 1843.

[4] Gott, B, 1983, Murnong- Microseris scapigera: a study of a staple food of Victorian Aborigines, Australian Aboriginal Studies, 1983-2, pp.2-18.

[5] Best, L, Sinclair, R and Alexander, P (Eds.) (1986) Proceedings of public meeting to discuss ‘Long-billed corella management and crop damage’, Narracoorte, SA.