Tuesday, 19 May 2015

That haven under the hills: memoirs of Yallock Village 1928-1940 by Freda Thomas


The Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society has a small booklet written by Freda Thomas about her time spent living in Yallock.  Yallock was a settlement based around Finck's Road, O'Brien's Road, School Road and Hall Road  - the use of the name Yallock began to decline after the Bayles Railway Station opened in 1922 and the area is now known as Bayles. The Thomas family - father Wallace, mother Louise and daughter Freda, had been living on a farm in Caldermeade when, due to the Depression, the landlord had to sell the farm so the family had to move and they began searching for a property. What follows are some of Freda’s memories. This has been transcribed it in the same manner that it was written. 

‘There’s a fifty acre farm for lease at Yallock Village’, said Uncle Tony Pellissier, who then lived near the Yallock Creek on the Koo-wee-Rup Swamp.

The said property was situated on O’Briens Road, near the Yallock Hall, advised Mr Albert Woodman, Land Agent in Koo-Wee-Rup township.

We motored out to inspect the farm and assess the possibilities in August 1928.

Yes, there it was, almost square in survey with surface fall to the back - creek direction to roadside frontage - a 5 roomed weatherboard house with a high 'snow thrown’ corrugated iron roof and surrounded by an orchard of ‘mixed’ fruit trees. Further to explore big hay and milking sheds.

Acreage expanse also boasted 4 ironbark gum trees and 2 small conifers for shade and a boxthorn hedge for a windbreak. Mid farm an antique windmill delivered waterstream from a bore. Pasture was poor - weeds mostly as the land had been ploughed in an attempt to grow root crops (potatoes)

Strangely, at a distance of half a kilometre the soil changes to a famous ‘swamp peat strip’, where many greatly productive potato crops were later grown. This was heavy clay soil and proved to be unsuitable for cultivation but with appropriate drainage and planned attention to topsoil would be ideal for growth of rye grass and clovers. As my parents intended to pursue dairy farming this would be suitable ground cover.

After much parental discussion and deliberation -  ‘this farm is exactly what we need’ said my father - the one who made decisions - and he proved to be so right.

We moved into ‘Avalon Park’ on 6th October 1928. It was a beautiful spring day and as we gazed at the distant blue hills forming a half loop around the area, we were positive that we found our ‘Haven under the hills’.

I, Freda May, soon settled in at the local school, about 30 pupils.

One schoolroom for all grades and one teacher, at that time Mr Harry Stride. He and his wife lived in the adjacent schoolhouse. The land block was about 2 acres in area and included playing area with tennis courts (2) shelter shed and a  pony paddock (as many scholars travelled to school on horseback)  Later teachers were Mr William Wilson and Thomas Dunne - temporary teacher was F.H Duffy.


Yallock State School, 1933
Photograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection


Local social areas also included a Large Public Hall with Soldiers Memorial Hall (1914-1918)  attached (big hall later removed to Bayles), the Anglican Church (St Saviours) a Methodist Church and the Yallock Village Post Office was housed in a room at the home of Mr Richard Games.  ‘Post Office’ was identified by a large red Posting Box at the gate - but in my memory always housed a hive of very active bees!!

School, Hall, Churches and Post Office were all situated some distances apart - School on School Road, Hall on Hall Road, Anglican Church on Games Lane and Methodist Church on Hall Road, half a mile from the Hall.

As a child I never could see the reason for this spread of buildings except to believe early settlers had expected a great city to develop in the years ahead. Later it was revealed that the donations of land by various settlers had dictated the building sites.

My parents soon went about their plans and endeavour to improve our farm buildings and pasture and establish a profitable way of life, erstwhile wresting with attendant economic problems of the times which were many and extreme

We soon began to meet and know our neighbours and local community. As it was a farming area we had all in common with shared problems. Very few people had cars, a few Fords and Chevrolets (4 cylinder jobs - indestructible engines) soft tops (£190 to purchase; petrol  29c per gallon.)

Horse drawn jinkers, bicycles or even walking was the general rule for visiting or business trips.

Meeting grounds socially were at Church or local hall. The latter being venue of bi-monthly Euchre Party (cards) and Dance (old -time!) or Christmas tree annual celebration. These occasions were organised by the ladies of the Church Guild or School Mothers Club and caused great excitement. Everyone attended; all ages came to enjoy the time spent together.

People visited from Catani, Bayles, Yannathan and Koo-Wee-Rup but it was evident that a definite Yallock Community existed. Those included came from an easily defined areas of about 50 farms.



 Yallock State School. It closed in the 1970s or 1980s and I believe the building has been demolished.
Photograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection

Friday, 8 May 2015

General Motors Holden - aerial photographs

Here are aerial photographs of the General Motors Holden (GMH) plant in Dandenong.  The factory opened in 1956, I don't have an exact date, even though I like to know these things. The factory was in the old Shire of Berwick and along with the neighbouring International Harvester plant and Heinz factory had an immediate impact on the area.  The factories required workers and even though a Railway Station was built for GMH and opened in the October or November of 1956, it was good if there was a pool of workers living close by, thus Doveton was established  as a suburb in 1954 by the Victorian Housing Commission. The factory also accelerated development in Hallam, Hampton Park and Cranbourne from where people could drive to work and park in the 1,000 space car park.


Aerial view of International Harvester, Heinz and General Motors Holden. 
Photographer: Charles Daniel Pratt. State Library has it dated as pre-1960. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2008.41/43. 



GMH, December 27, 1963.


General Motors Holden, 1964.  Photographer: Wolfgang Sievers. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2004.49/6  


General Motors Holden, taken January 13, 1965. 
State Library of Victoria Image H2014.1008/11. 



This was taken in 1970 and shows the Princes Highway, Kays Avenue and the factory on the right, with the Railway behind it.


Another 1970 aerial, showing  Kays Avenue and Doveton Avenue with the Princes Highway and the GMH factory.


This aerial, dated January 23, 1974, shows The GMH factory, backing onto the Railway line. The road on the right is the yet to be constructed South Gippsland Freeway (I believe that this is what the Eumemmerring by-pass continuation was called)


This is also January 23, 1974 and shows the factory to the left of the South Gippsland Freeway.



January 1978. In the four years on from the previous aerial, there has been more housing development and the South Gippsland Freeway has been constructed.


 GMH, taken January 20, 1981. GMH is shown between the Princes Highway and the Railway line. The South Gippsland Highway is at the bottom left.


May 4, 1994. GMH is at the bottom to the left. Industrial development has taken place to the right of the South Gippsland Highway.


This was taken the same day, as above (May 4, 1994) GMH is centre top. Hampton Park is on the right. The industrial Dandenong South is on the left.


This is from 1996, GMH is in the centre.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Lions of Berwick

There are two lions near the War Memorial in the centre of High Street in Berwick, In 2009 Jim Mynard wrote an article in the Pakenham Gazette about the lions. He had been in contact with Mrs Janice Digby-Beste from Queensland. Mrs Digby-Beste said her husband's great grandmother, Ellen Trestrail, paid 5000 pounds to have them made in New Zealand in the 1880s. They were then shipped to Melbourne and placed outside their house at 181 Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park.


Berwick War Memorial, High Street, June 1986. 
You can see one of the lions to the left of the Memorial.

The lions were a yellowish colour and were thought to be oamaru. They were in Middle Park until the family home was sold in 1961. The lions were sold for 100 pounds by Ellen Trestail's then elderly daughter-in-law to what sounds like  a smooth talking stranger, so they went out of the family and the family had no idea where they went. The  statues were painted white when they were in Berwick.

Brentwood gates, Clyde Road, Berwick
Photographer: John T. Collins. Photo date June 22, 1968. 
State Library of Victoria Image H90.100/1962   

The lions were placed at the front gate of Brentwood farm on Clyde Road in Berwick by the owner, Henry Wells Rowden, who possibly purchased them from man who purchased them from the Trestrails.  Rowden purchased Brentwood in 1962. In the late 1970s  the Brentwood Housing Estate on the Rowden land was started and  the lions were moved to High Street from Brentwood  around 1985.


This is an aerial of the Brentwood area taken January 9, 1978. You can see the Brentwood farm  property at bottom left, sadly we can't see the lions, and the start of Bermasyde Drive. Click on image to enlarge.


Here's a later aerial dated May 4, 1994. Bermasyde Drive is almost around to Brentwood farm. There has been a lot of development in the 16 years, and it was about this time that the lions were re-located to High Street.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Victorian Municipal Directory 1974 - City of Berwick

In the last post we looked at the entry from the 1974 Victorian Municipal Directory for the Shire of Cranbourne. In this post we will look at the entry for the newly created City of Berwick. The City came into being on October 1, 1973 when the Shire of Berwick was split in two (essentially with the Cardinia Creek being the boundary) The Shire of Pakenham was created with the other half. 




This shows the list of Councillors - the first Councillors for the newly created City of Berwick. Due to the propensity of Councillors naming features after themselves, many of these names may be familiar to you  - Barry Simon Reserve in Endeavour Hills, Bill Hudson Reserve in Berwick, Keith Wishart Reserve in Doveton, Sydney Pargeter Recreation Area  in Endeavour Hills, James Alexander Reserve in Endeavour Hills, Joan Phillips Reserve in Endeavour Hills, Jack Thomas Reserve in Narre Warren North, John Byron Reserve in Narre Warren.

Two of the Council Officers listed are remembered  by having features named for them - Patrick Northeast Drive at Narre Warren and Max Pawsey Reserve at Narre Warren. Notice that the Council Offices were in Kays Avenue Hallam as the Shire of Berwick Offices were in Pakenham, so went with the Shire of Pakenham. 



Berwick described as a picturesque residential centre of dairying and grazing. It also has 'electric light and water' and only one State School listed - there are five now.


 Hallam is lasted as a dairying district, so still pretty rural; however as a pointer of things to come Narre Warren is listed as having 'large subdivisions'.

To see the entry for the Shire of Cranbourne from the 1974 Municipal Directory, click here.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Victorian Municipal Directory 1974 - Cranbourne Shire

Back in the olden days, well the late 1970s, when I did Librarianship at RMIT, we had to study various reference books so we knew where to look for information (this was long before the wonders of the Internet). One of these books was the Victorian Municipal Directory. The Directory lists each municipality and has a short paragraph on each town within the municipality. In 1974, there were over 130 Shires and around 60 Cities; many of these were amalgamated in the 1990s during the time of Local Government  reform (or Local Government destruction as some still view it).  Here are the pages from the 1974 Victorian Municipal Directory for the Cranbourne Shire. In the next post we will look at the entry for the City of Berwick.



A few things have changed - population of the entire Shire was only 18,000 and there were 5,440 dwellings. Cranbourne Shire is now divided between the City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire - the population combined (2011 Census) of Casey and Cardinia is around 350,000, so the geographic area of the old Shire of Cranbourne would currently have a population of around 200,000 - well above the 18,000 of 40 years ago! Click here for a Local Government timeline of the area. 


This list of staff is interesting as it was probably the entire 'indoor' staff  of the Cranboure Shire. Of the nearly 50 staff listed, 13 were the typists. The 'indoor' staff were the Office staff and the 'outdoor' staff worked in Parks and Gardens and at the Depot (road maintenance etc) 


You will notice in the list of towns that Clyde, Tooradin, Dalmore, Koo-Wee-Rup, Monomeith, Caldermead and Lang Lang still had  an operating Railway Station, part of the Great Southern Line. You will also notice that most of the towns still had  a Primary School - now Caldermeade, Catani, Dalmore, Heath Hill, Lyndhurst, Monomeith, Yallock and Yannathan have all lost their schools.


To see the entry for the City of Berwick in the 1974 Municipal Directory, click here.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Casey Cardinia Heritage Festival May 17, 2015

The Casey Cardinia Heritage Festival Sunday, May 17 2015.


The Casey Cardinia region has a rich heritage with many treasures waiting to be discovered. Delve into the history of the area through the displays and artefacts provided by local heritage and historical groups and find answers to your local family history or town questions. 

Who will be there?   Beaconsfield History Group, Berwick Mechanics' Institute, Berwick Pakenham Historical Society, Casey Cardinia Branch of the National Trust, Casey Cardinia Library Corporation, Dandenong High School Ex-students Group, Edrington History Research Group, Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society, Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria, Narre Warren Mechanics' Institute, The Narre Warren & District Family History Group will also be there to help to locate information on local World War 1 service personnel and other family members.

Free Entry.  Activities for all  the family. Local History Books for sale. The Berwick CWA will be providing Devonshire Teas (charges apply).  This Festival is part of the National Trust Heritage Festival, for more activities visit their website www.nationaltrustfestival.org.au

Monday, 2 March 2015

Coastal guide to nature and history 2: Mornington Peninsula's ocean shore, Western Port, Phillip Island & French Island

Graham Patterson has recently published his second Coastal Guide Book and this one covers Western Port, Phillip Island, French Island and Mornington's Peninsula ocean shore. Graham has walked the entire 320 kilometre shoreline from Port Phillip Heads to San Remo then Phillip Island and French Island and this naturally includes parts of the City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire. The local section starts at Quail Island, covers the coastal towns of Cannons Creek, Warneet, Blind Bight, Tooradin then around the Bay to Lang Lang and Jam Jerrup.

Graham covers local history, coastal fauna and flora and land forms. You don't need to actually walk the 320 kilometres to get the most of this book - there are maps to get to places of interest. It's a great book - lots of illustrations, maps and information and well worth reading if you have an interest in the local and natural history of the Western Port region.

It's called Coastal guide to nature and history 2 : Mornington Peninsula's ocean shore, Western Port, Phillip Island & French Island and is a companion volume to Coastal guide to nature and history : Port Phillip Bay ,

This is Graham's website, www.coastalguidebooks.net.au if you want to purchase a copy. other wise click on the titles above and it will take you to our catalogue. Graham is an electrical engineer and has taught science at a secondary school level and is a keen bush walker.