Helena was the second youngest of eight children of my third great grandparents Samuel Hughes (1827-1896) and Sally Hughes née Plaisted (1826-1900); she was the younger sister, by twelve years, of my great-great-grandfather Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922).
In April this year Greg and I went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We visited Apollo Bay and had lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel. The hotel has a memorial to the Casino, which includes the ship’s wheel.
The Casino carried cargo and up to 25 passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy, for almost 50 years, from July 1882 to July 1932. She made more than two thousand of these coastal passages.
From about 1914 Helena Gill worked on the Casino as a stewardess. Her bravery in the shipwreck is recalled in a newspaper clipping, part of the display at the Apollo Bay Hotel.
Tomorrow there will be a small ceremony to mark the anniversary of the sinking. A service will be held at the Casino memorial in Gipps Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday 10 July.
When the over all gold [alluvial gold] was booming, the squatters’ drovers became restless and left to go gold digging, and the squatters in desperation imported Chinese by the thousand, at one time 100,000 Chinese were here and they also left for the gold. They were paid by the squatters per month and keep. The pastoralists advertised In China and the Chinese paid £3 boat fare and brought their own food.
In 1862 the bill was passed to open up the land and started the selected going north. And in 1874 with his brother Thomas and a little money saved, James came to Charlton and pegged out two 320 acre blocks adjoining making the square mile. An Act passed in 1862 allowed a selector only 320 acres at £1 per acre with conditions such as, the selectors had to build, fence and clear with 10 years to pay off, which the selectors could not do, and the payment was extended from time to time.
James Edwards went back to Geelong after selecting land in Charlton and married Elizabeth Ann Nicholas on 29th December 1874 and started making preparations to come to Charlton. They got together 4 horses, a buggy, a light wagon and bare necessaries and started off in the late autumn of 1875. It took two weeks to arrive at Charlton and heavy rain slowed the travel, it took three days to go from Charlton to the selection 12 miles out. It was a big trial especially for James Edwards’ young wife who had not been out of Geelong, she had known her husband quite a few years. She had three brothers and one sister Ellen, who married a Shire Secretary at Wagga and lived there all her life and reared a big family. Her own mother corresponded regularly and I remember how the letters were looked forward to. Our mother was a stout strong woman, as her father who, tradition says held the belt for wrestling In Cornwall.
The coming to Charlton, and the prospect of a home, allowed them to look forward to their future life. Her parents said to her when leaving, in 10 years you ought to be able to retire back to Geelong, little did they know the hardships of Pioneers. The first job after arriving at the selection was to build a home, which consisted of logs and mud, the roof was the tent and the house consisted of one room. With improvements to this they lived there three years, and during that three years they were building the home which we know. There were plenty of straight pine trees which were stood up 3 feet apart with slabs across and filled with mud.
I have often heard our mother say how lovely it was to get into this new house, bark of a big tree and flattened with weight was used a lot for roofing. A poem by Tom Murphy would fit in here
Wattle and Dab formed the walls of the hut From gumsucker saplings the highbeams were cut And the roof over the heads of my parents and I Was the bark of a box from the gully near by The furniture crude in the old fashioned shack Was the pine from the pine ridge a mile or so back And the hole still remains not far from the door Where they puddled the clay for the old earthern floor The flesh of the roo for mutton did pass And faces were washed in the dew laden grass This beautiful towel was the bright morning sun And the moon gave them light when the daylight was done Our porridge a corn twint, the wheat and the oat Whilst we coloured our tea with the milk from the goat But although they were days of trials and fears They but used them as steps did our old pioneers.
Our mother was a wonderful woman and took her part in the pioneering of the district. A little woman named Jane Prichard came up with her and stayed with her for 10 years, a grand little woman. The first 10 years being the hardest for the pioneers. Our mother’s first born arrived in November 1875. She journed to her old home in Geelong for the event, the rest of her family were born at ‘Lamorna’. Ada the second girl was born in the tent, there was quite a big population coming there by that time, and a few of the old women acted as maternity sisters and the friendships in the District was a wonderful help to those old pioneers.
The Narrewillock school had 60 on the rolls and the families of those old pioneers always had 8 to 10 children, in fact 3 families adjoining us had 13 children. Within a few miles of our parents home there were a dozen big families, amongst the neighbours were the Douglass family of 12 only 1/2 mile away. Alec Coote, W. Coote and Tom Coote, O’Callaghan, O’Mearers, William, and a few others, all good neighbours and would all help one another.
For the first 10 years clearing the land carting water, and sinking storages was the big worry, the years 1875 to 1907.
The dingo gave them a worry, I have heard our father speak of the last dingo shot, he hid in a big bush one bright moonlight, expecting the old man dingo he came back to the kill of the night before and shot him. His 4 paws and tail were hanging up in the barn for many years. Kangaroos and Emus were all gone and driven back by 1880. About the early 80’s the rabbits put in their appearance, our father came home excited one day with a young rabbit and in a few years there was a plague of them. I caught the first fox in about 1890 with the sheep dogs. That was their first appearance and of course that pest will be always here now. The Shire gave a bonus of £1 a scalp and I got the £1 for the skin we kept for many years.
The native wild life that was on the Lamorna farm In the 1870s are now gone. Kangaroo, Emu, Native Cat, Wood mice, Curleu, Woodpecker, Ground Pluver, Chatterona Brown Bird, twice the size of a starling. The fox, rabbits and house cats, gone wild, are responsible for their disappearance.
Schooling for myself and four sisters was at Narrewillock five miles from home, the school had a few rooms attached, and an old man lived there named Brightwell, he kept the Post Office. Our eldest sisters did all their schooling there, later there was a school built one mile away from home called Hallam school, myself and youngest sister went mostly to this school. All walking was the order of the day. A teacher called Os Derrick stayed at Hallam four years and this was really the only schooling I received. Our parents lost one of the family, a girl they called Mary Beatrice who died of quinsy in 1880 which was a heavy blow to our parents. Two of the biggest worries was the shortage of water and money, and carting water was a constant job and sometimes from the Avoca River 7 miles. This worry was not realised [relieved] till 1921 the year I tapped the Marmal Creek and filled our dam, when the creek ran in the winter time. This creek ran eight years out of ten, the farmers are now served by a channel from Lake Lonsdale, in 1948.
On the 640 acres there were two patches of about forty acres without trees and these patches got more than their share of cropping, as the clearing of this was a big job. Our father bought a mower with two horses to pull in 1877 and a little peg drum thrasher to thrash the barley, and in about 1882 bought a stripper and winnow from South Australia which was wonderful in those days.
This type of stripper was used till the turn of the century. Our father bought the first H. V. McKay harvester in 1906 and from then on harvesting became much easier.
The horses named Darling and Jess were two good mares, they bred from them and their breeding was carried through right to the time the horses were discarded on the farms in about 1935, some farmers favoured horses earlier and some later. The prices for grain were too low for the farmers to prosper, the prices were controlled by spectator [speculators] being about 2/6 for wheat and as low as 1/- for oats, lambs 10/-. On less [Unless] a compulsory pool was established in 1916 but still no price fixed. In 1928 the Wheat Growers Association was formed which I was a foundation and executive member and from then on we gradually took control. The stabiliasion [stabilisation] scheme has been paying 12/- for quite a few years. I stayed on the State Council of the Victorian Wheat Growers Assoc. for five years and for the work and enthusiasm I put into the Association in the pioneering days, the Association at the Annual Conference in 1964, I was made a life member.
The season in this part of Victoria was uncertain, sometimes a very wet year and sometimes a drought. 1902 was the big drought and the next year 22 inches of rain. The big drought that I remember was 1902, 1914, 1920, 1929, 1940, 1944. I Frederick James took over the control of the farm in 1907. Nell the eldest married in 1902 to J. Findlay. Ada was music teaching in Ararat and Jean the youngest sister was with her, and Beatrice married P. Toose in 1909. I married in 1910 and had our 5 children there and for a while drove them to Narrewillock school but in March 1920 bought this house in Charlton and have lived there ever since. My wife Anne died 9th January 1963. Our family all turned out well they were all big, strong and good sports. Gwen (4 daughters) now Mrs. Richards, Bob married Joyce Parker (3 daughters) and is now at Beaumaris, Freda (1 son & 1 daughter) now Mrs. Piccoli and is now at Barraport. Joyce with two sons is on the farm, Nan (2 daughters) now Mrs. Nagel and lives at Black Rock.
The following is from my father James Edwards Diary.
1874. Met the surveyor from St. Arnaud and pegged out the two blocks at Narrewillock, the ground looks good plenty of grass but no water. I was married on 29th December 1874.
1875. Spent a few months in preparation in coming to Charlton, left Bullarook on 22nd May having lived there 14 years. My father has recorded they were very happy there. Arrived at the farm having spent 16 days on the trip. Very wet which made the travelling hard. First child born in November (Nell).
1876. Sowed the first patch of wheat, carting water.
1877. Second child born (Ada) .
1878. Drove to Geelong — one horse and buggy. We shifted to the new house having lived in a tent for 3 years.
1880. Rabbits were in plague proportion. Brought first stripper which proved a success.
1881. Lost two fingers, a sad event. Father suffered severely and was in St. Arnaud hospital for awhile.
1882. Started a Sunday school at Narrewillock which he kept on for 25 years.
1883. Shortage of water is causing hardship, sold 150 sheep 7/-.
1884 Received £11/7/3 as fathers share of Will B. Gilbart (London).
1885. Very bad year, 167 bags (4 bushels) total cheque £115/11/11.
1886. Another bad year 94 bags from 150 acres. Sold 61 bags for £34/19/6.
1887. First plague of Locusts.
1888. Sold 220 bags wheat price 2/10 ½ per bushel. Rev. Kirkwood started preaching at Narrewillock, he stayed there 20 years. Bought 125 sheep at 6/5d. , wheat price this year 1/9d.
1891. Sent two trucks of sheep and lambs to Melbourne, price £87/5/- for 226 sheep.
1892. Later sent 165 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £54/4/10. Bought stripper and winmower, the winmower is still at the farm. Bought cow and calf for £3.
1893. Sold 163 bags for 1/9 a bushel some at 1/7 ½, sold 115 bags oats @ 6 ½ d.
1896. Wheat price rose to 4/6 ½. 696 sheep were shorn, shearing cheque £5/2/- for shearers.
1897. Sent 130 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £41/1 2/10.
1898. Rented Howards 1200 acres for 3 years, £150 per year, this land is held now by Hillard, Blair, McGurk and L. Douglass.
1900. Ordered first seed drill, Massey Harris £45.
1901. Very dry, carting water takes the whole time.
1902. The first big drought, practically no rain for the year, horses went to Lang Lang and sheep sold, this from now on is written by F.J. Edwards.
1903. The year was good and from now on the farming system very much improved.
1905. We bought a H.V. McKay harvester which made harvesting from now on much easier.
1907.  Uncle Tom died, he had been a great help mate to father all his life – age 81
1908. Our mother died, she had been in Ararat with Ada, but came home when she became sick – age 65.
1909. Sister Beatrice married P. Toose
1910. Myself married to Annie Morcon of Bendigo.
1914. Another drought, no wheat, the first big war started.
1916. Our father died this year aged 81 both he and our mother are buried in Terrappee cemetery.
1920. Been having good seasons, my wife and self bought our home in Charlton, we have five of our family.
1921. I sank the big dam at the farm 9000 yds it took three five horse teams about three months, a big job.
1925. Ken McPherson took wheat growing on the shares, he and his wife stayed five years.
1929. Another drought, sent 24 horses to Tatura on swamp country, Gerald Buckley property, stayed 6 months.
1930. The Wheat Growers Association was formed this year the first big move to organise the wheat growers as a foundation member. I stayed on the State Council five years. The next ten years was the depression years, fair seasons but low prices.
1931. Bob 21 was now working the farm, I made over Pratts and Howards 560 acres to him.
1941. Son Bob married and built the new home at the farm, costing about £3,000.
1944. Very bad drought, Bob Edwards took over the full management and bought O’Mearers land 500 acres @ £7 per acre.
1948. Bob bought 2,000 acre property at Ballan and left the farm.
1949. Joyce and Bob Chambers left the Bank and gradually took over the whole farm, bought Bob Edwards’ land for £20 per acre.
1963. 9th January mother died and is buried in Terrappee Cemetery, her passing has left a blank in the family.
1964. Another good season, the Chambers have two good boys, one 19 and the other 13, these boys should and I think will carry on and uphold the tradition of the Pioneers, and who will carry on the farm at Narrewillock.
A week ago I received an email about a photo in a family collection: “I have come across a photo of Peggy Champion De Crespigny with my mother, Ruth Smith, circa 1942, both in Army uniform.
They enlisted in the army around the same time and were good friends. I don’t know if this friendship pre-dated the war, but mum used to talk about the Champion De Crespigny’s with great affection. I don’t think they ever met up in future years even though they both eventually lived in Adelaide – mum since the mid-1950s. Mum passed away in 2005. [Peggy died in 1989.]
Mum has written on the back of the photo: Peggy de Crespigny and Ruth coming from the Torrens Parade Ground along King William Road near Govt. House, Adelaide.”
The Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) was formed in August 1941 to release men from less important military duties so that they could serve with fighting units.
Isobel Ruth Smith (Service Number – SF64955), 23 years old, enlisted at Adelaide on 21 May 1942. Her occupation was clerk.
Margaret Champion de Crespigny (Service Number – S65003) enlisted at Adelaide on 26 May 1942. Her occupation was coding and deciphering, she had just started the signals course the day before.
From 25 May 1942 to about August Ruth and Peggy attended a communications course called the Australian Signals Course No. 41.
On 13 August 1942 Ruth was transferred to a special wireless school at Bonegilla near Albury. Ruth was graded as a Group 1 Wireless Telegraph Operator and later promoted to Sergeant. She was discharged in January 1946.
Ruth’s son sent another photo of Ruth “Also a photo of my mum, Sgt. Ruth Smith, who served in signals with the Australian Special Wireless Group a somewhat secretive outfit who were told that they were never mention their role, or mention the Aust Special Wireless Group, and were never to march in ANZAC Day parades (and she didn’t). Interestingly the ASWG became the Defence Signals Directorate.” He also recalled that his parents “would talk fluently in high speed Morse code, especially if they didn’t want [him] to know!”
On 17 August 1942 Peggy de Crespigny became a Sig [Signaller] Wm Gp 2 with SA L of C [South Australian Line of Communications Area]. In July 1943 she attended the LHQ [Land Headquarters] School of Military Intelligence at Southport, Queensland. In December 1943 she was discharged at her own request on compassionate grounds. Peggy’s mother Beatrix had died 11 November 1943.
I was interested to see that the attesting officer on Peggy’s forms was Captain May Douglas. I met May Douglas many years later. She was a friend of my grandmother Kathleen—both played golf—and she was also much involved in the Girl Guides.
Yesterday Greg and I drove to Charlton to look at the Wimmera land selected in 1875 by his great great uncles Thomas Edwards (1826 – 1908), James Edwards (1835 – 1916), and John Gilbart Edwards (1829 – 1912).
Last week I had found the properties on the parish plans, through the website of the Public Record Office Victoria. Thomas and James were in Narrewillock Parish north-east of Charlton. Comparing the plan to Google maps I discovered the road adjacent to the property was named—conveniently for us—‘Edwards Road’.
John Gilbart Edwards settled at Yeungroon southwest of Charlton.
We first found the property at Yeungroon, on Five Mile Road. The countryside nearby was in splendid condition after the rain. We stopped to look at a mob of sheep. They had a lot to say, much of it ‘maa’ rather than ‘baa’. Perhaps they were maa lambs, not baa lambs, a different breed.
Afterwards we looked through the Charlton Golden Grains Museum. The volunteers there had sent me a comprehensive list of newspaper articles about the Edwards, including obituaries for Thomas and James. At the museum we saw photos of the Charlton H.E.S. (Higher Elementary School) Basketball team of 1925. A couple of the photographs had the granddaughters of James Edwards Gwen (1910 – 2006) and Freda (1913 – 2008) Edwards in them .
Thomas died in 1908 at Charlton and was buried in Charlton cemetery. James, who died in 1916, was buried in Terrappee cemetery. We found their graves.
Charlton Cemetery is a mile west of the town. From the obituary published in the East Charlton Tribune, which had been shared with us by the Charlton Golden Grains Museum, we knew that Thomas was buried there. At the cemetery is a directory of the site, erected by the Rotary Club, which lists all the graves and their location. The grave of Thomas Edwards has no headstone, but we were able to determine which plot was his by confirming the location of the neighbouring headstone. It is rare to find such a useful finding-aid at a cemetery.
Afterwards we visited the grave of James Edwards at Terrappee Cemetery, about 10 km northeast of Charlton. We knew in advance from FindAGrave that James’s grave there has a headstone.
James’s son Frederick James Edwards is buried next to James. Strangely, his gravestone has the wrong date of death. James died on 15 December 1974, the date confirmed by his death notice in The Age of 16 December.
Terrappee cemetery is a small bush graveyard, peaceful and calm, surrounded by enormous cultivated paddocks. It has a large peppercorn tree.
Then we found their property, formerly known as “Lamorna”, which had been selected by James and Thomas Edwards. A new crop of wheat had sprouted. James Edwards’s diary recorded that he sowed his first patch of wheat in 1876, a year after his arrival.
From Terrapee we came back to Charlton and after a pleasant roast lunch sitting in the sun on the verandah of the Cricket Club Hotel drove home to Ballarat.
On 6 December 1840 Julia Hickey, aged 23 arrived at Adelaide, South Australia, on the “Birman” which sailed from Greenock 23 August 1840. She was travelling with her sister Mary, 21, and brother Michael, 28, and Michael’s wife and children. On the passenger list Julia and Mary were described as farm servants from Castleconnel, County Tipperary, Ireland. Michael Hickey was a carpenter from Ennis, County Clare, Ireland and a cousin of a fellow passenger Catherine nee Hogan, a servant from Ennis, County Clare. Michael died on the voyage. His wife and children returned to Ireland.
Travelling on the Birman was William Morris, aged 21, a painter and glazier from Limerick. On 10 February 1841 Julia Hickey and William Morris married in the Roman Catholic Chapel on West Terrace, Adelaide. Between 1841 and 1857 they had eight children:
William George 1843 – 1906
Celia Catherine 1848–1916
Michael Christopher 1850–1897
Julia Mary 1852–1881
Gordon William 1857–1917
In December 1844 William Morris, who had previously been employed as a keeper in the Limerick District Asylum, was appointed Keeper for lunatics at the Adelaide Gaol. Twelve months later twelve lunatics were housed at the gaol. This was deemed unsatisfactory and a public asylum opened the next year in the East Parklands modified for the purpose. Nine lunatics were placed there under the care of the Colonial Surgeon, the Keeper William Morris, a second keeper, and the wives of the two keepers.
A much larger asylum opened in 1852. The new asylum held sixty patients and staff. This building was destroyed in 1938. The East Lodge however still survives. It had been home to the Morris family.
In the article South Australian Lunatics and Their Custodians, 1836–1846 by Marian Quartly published in 1966, Quartly wrote:
. . . the real control of the asylum fell to William Morris, the Head Keeper. Morris appears to have been a kind and honest man who did his best by his charges, but nevertheless Sheriff Newenham’s judgment of his capabilities was probably correct: Morris ” . . . tho a very proper person to superintend the care of lunatics as respects their safekeeping is not in my mind qualified by experience or habits to watch over the mental charges and graduation of insanity so frequent amongst this unfortunate class.” Morris’ “five or six years” of experience with lunatics prior to his Adelaide appointment was all in Ireland, where the emphasis still seems to have been on custody rather than cure. He could not have held a position of any authority in Ireland as he was practically illiterate.
On 13 January 1857 William Morris died aged 43 years. The death notice in the Adelaide Times read:
On Tuesday, the 13th January, Mr William Morris, for many years Head Keeper of the Lunatic Asylum, regretted by a large circle of friends and acquaintances
Julia Morris worked as Matron of the Asylum from 1846 until her death in 1884. In turn she was succeeded by her daughter Celia Morris who was Matron for eight years. The Morris family thus worked in the Asylum for nearly fifty years.
MORRIS. —On the 24th May, at Botanic-road, after a short illness, Julia Morris, the beloved mother of Celia and M. C. Morris, aged 64 years. For 40 years in the Government service.
THE Friends of the late Mrs. JULIA MORRIS are respectfully informed that her REMAINS will be Removed from her late residence Botanic-road To-morrow (Sunday), the 25th inst., at 3 o’clock p.m., for Interment in the West-terrace Cemetery. S. MAYFIELD & SONS.
Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of the Colony of New South Wales from 1828 to 1855, undertook several journeys of exploration. His third, in 1836, took him south into what is now Victoria. On 10 July he recorded in his journal that he and his party
crossed a deep creek running westward which I named the Avoca, and we encamped on an excellent piece of land beyond it.
Mitchell, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1855 (1839-01-01). Three expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia : with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone volume 2 retrieved through http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks/e00036.html
Sweet Vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best; Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease, And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.
In the 1850s the town of Avoca was established on the Avoca River. Greg’s great great grandfathers George Young and John Plowright were gold miners there.
My Cudmore relatives had a property on the Darling River named Avoca. We visited it earlier this year. It was said that Daniel H. Cudmore named it Avoca after his father’s hometown in Ireland. However his father, Daniel M.P. Cudmore, was from Limerick Ireland. I am not aware of any connection of the Cudmore family to the town of Avoca in Ireland.
On Thursday 9 February the weather was warm reaching 37 degrees (98 degrees Fahrenheit). We took a two hour paddle steamer ride on the Murray through lock 11 and downstream.
We admired the Murray River Flag which dates from the early 1850s; there are three variations. Our paddlesteamer flew the Upper Murray River Flag with the darker blue bands on its flag, representing the darker waters of the river’s upper reaches. At lock 11 we saw the Combined Murray River Flag.
In the evening we visited a local distillery and after sampling several types we purchased a gin infused with saltbush.
The next day Friday 12 February we drove to South Australia. Because of the pandemic we needed to apply for permits to enter South Australia and also to return to Victoria.
The Sturt Highway passes along the boundary of Ned’s Corner, a property once owned by the Cudmores. Ned’s Corner Station is now owned by the Trust for Nature who bought the property in 2002 when it was very degraded from drought and overgrazing. The Trust claims the 30,000 hectare property (74,000 acres) is the largest freehold property in Victoria and also the biggest private conservation reserve in the state.
My great great grandfather James Francis Cudmore (1837 – 1908) managed Paringa, 208 sq. miles (531 km²) near present day Renmark from 1857. Paringa was first leased by James’s father Daniel from 1850 as well as a number of other stations. In 1860 James Cudmore leased Ned’s Corner, further up the Murray. From these properties he overlanded sheep to Queensland and took up leases there. In1867 he married Margaret Budge. James and Margaret had 13 children; my grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore was their third child born at Paringa in 1870.
In 1876 James Cudmore enlarged Ned’s Corner in partnership with Robert Barr Smith and A. H. Pegler. By the end of the 1870s 130,000 sheep were being shorn at his stations on the Murray.
James Mansfield Niall (1860-1941), a first cousin to James Francis Cudmore, worked at Paringa Station as a young man before moving to central western Queensland. His great grandson has been kind enough to share some of James Niall’s reminiscences.
In 1876 I went up to Paringa Station on the Murray, and took a position there as bookkeeper. I had to travel by train to Kapunda, thence by coach to Blanchtown, Overland Corner, to Ral Ral. We travelled most of the night and all day for some 3 days. The coachdriver on the later stages was a man named Lambert. Lambert had been fined the previous week for over-carrying the Paringa mailbag, and when he learned I was going to the Station he did not hesitate to abuse me at every opportunity. I was practically only a schoolboy, and I put up with it until we got to Ral Ral, where a blackfellow met me leading a horse on which I was to ride out to the Station. Lambert on seeing the horse flogged it with his whip, upon which I told him that I had had enough of it, and that he could give me a hiding, or I would give him one. (Other passengers on the coach were John Crozier – late of St Albans near Geelong – Fred Cornwallis West, and Dr Wilson of Wentworth). Lambert and I had a fairly lengthy fight, and I beat him very badly, although he broke my nose, from which I am suffering even today. John Crozier enjoyed himself immensely watching the fight from the box of the coach, calling out ”Go it young un”, a term with which he always greeted me when I met him in the Streets of Melbourne 40 years afterwards. Dr Wilson patched up my nose. We had travelled most of the night in the Coach without meals, I only had sixpence in my pocket, and I hadn’t the effrontery or courage to ask the shanty-keeper at Ral Ral to give me a meal without paying for it, so I bought the nigger a nip of rum with the 6d and rode out to the Station. There I remained for probably 18 months, when in 1878 Mr Kenneth Budge (who was manager of Gooyea Station in Queensland) died suddenly from heart disease getting out of bed, and my first cousin, J F Cudmore, on whose Station I was working, hurried me off to Queensland, without notice, to go up and take control.
My interest in visiting Olivewood was to see the plaque from the grave of my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Rankin nee Gunn (1819 – 1863). The plaque had been stolen from the grave but was found in 1994 and is now cared for by the National Trust at Olivewood. Margaret’s husband Ewan Rankin was an overseer at Bookmark station – the station no longer exists as it is under present-day Renmark.
There is a link between Olivewood and Paringa as while George Chaffey was siting for Olivewood to be built he stayed at Paringa House, the Cudmore home. There was a painting of the house at Olivewood.
My great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore was born 11 June 1870. Later that year there were enormous floods and the old house was destroyed. The present house was built after the flood. The 1870 flood was measured at 11.65 metres (38 feet) at Mildura but was a very slow flood. In September the flood had reached the verandah at Mildura Station.
We paused for afternoon tea at Paringa and drove back.
On the way to Mildura we received news of another lockdown for the whole of the state of Victoria due to the pandemic. We made the decision to return home that evening. We were only cutting our holiday short by one night and the restrictions were that most businesses were to be shut and you could not travel further than five kilometres from home. We did not wish to experience the lockdown in Mildura. So we packed our bags and headed south stopping for dinner in Birchip. We were fortunate to have a holiday between lockdowns.
Greg and I took our first holiday in a year to Mildura to visit some family history places nearby. A combination of illness and various lockdowns due to the Covid pandemic had prevented any travelling away from home overnight in the last twelve months. We decided to take the opportunity of some free time to meet with a cousin and see some of the places we had only read about.
Tuesday 9 February we drove north to Mildura via Warracknabeal. We travelled through the Wimmera region and the scenery matched that captured in the recent film ‘The Dry’ which I had seen only a few weeks ago.
We had a terrific lunch at Warracknabeal at The Creekside Hotel in a very nice beer garden beside the Yarriambiack Creek. The hotel’s staff were very Covid-conscientious with masks, check in, sanitiser, and ordering lunch via an online webpage retrieved by a QR code; we even managed to order a jug of iced water and 3 glasses for the table, free, through this page.
Yarriambiack Creek was fairly full and attractive to look at. There was a park across the creek with some cages of birds and an enclosure of kangaroos.
Our trip north continued with more silos and a stop in Ouyen. Ouyen had been famous for its vanilla slices having hosted a competition from 1998 to 2011 initiated by Jeff Kennett, the then premier of Victoria. Kennett acted as guest judge until 2005. In 2011 volunteers relinquished the competition to another small town. This afternoon the bakery and many other shops were closed and there were no vanilla slices to be bought.
Wednesday 10 February we visited the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens just across the Murray River in New South Wales and also the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers at Wentworth. When we visited the confluence last in 2010 you could see the muddy Darling joining the clearer Murray. This time the two rivers were a similar colour.
On Wednesday afternoon we visited Avoca Station and met one of my fourth cousins, AL, and her mother, JA, my third cousin once removed. JA’s grandfather (AL’s great grandfather), George Agars (1864 – 1943) was the son of Margaret Alice Agars nee Cudmore (1842 – 1871) and grandson of Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811 – 1891) and Mary Cudmore nee Nihill (1811 – 1893).
George’s mother Margaret died in 1871 at 29 from an ear infection. George was brought up by his grandparents Daniel and Mary Cudmore. He was educated in Adelaide to become an accountant for his Uncle Dan at Avoca Station. George later became an irrigation pioneer in Mildura when the Chaffey Brothers arrived from Canada. My cousin commented “He did not do that well on the land and should have followed his dream of being a writer and poet.”
The property was established on the west bank of the Darling River in 1871 by Daniel Henry Cashel Cudmore (1844 – 1913), the fifth of nine children of Daniel Michael Paul and Mary Cudmore. Daniel H purchased the western half of Tapio Station on the Darling from Messrs. Menzies and Douglas, and named it Avoca, said to be after his father’s hometown in Ireland; however Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore was born in Tory Hill, Limerick near Adare, 230 km west of Avoca.
Avoca Station had frontages of ten miles (16 km) to the Murray and twenty-five miles (40 km) to the Darling. Other properties in the area were acquired and in 1885 Daniel Henry and two of his brothers, Milo Robert (1852 – 1913) and Arthur Frederick (1854 – 1919), managed 709,000 acres including Avoca and Popiltah Station to the north of Avoca. 120,000 sheep were shorn at Avoca in 1888 with new Wolseley shearing machines. The wool clip was transported by paddle steamer from the woolshed downstream via the Darling River to the Murray River. Daniel Henry retired in 1895 to Victor Harbour. Avoca Station was sold in 1911.
The homestead was built in two stages. In 1871 the first stage was constructed of cypress pine drop logs. Many of the outbuildings are believed to have also been built at this time. In 1879 a second stage stone wing of the homestead was added.
I have previously written about Ernest Osmond Cudmore (1894 – 1924). He was the second of four sons of Milo Robert Cudmore and a cousin of my great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore. In 1908 Ernest was holidaying at Avoca when he jumped from a horse as he feared he was about to collide with a portion of the stable. He broke his leg and it was badly shattered; the bone did not set and his leg had to be amputated below the knee.
Sara Kathleen de Lacy Roberts (nee Cudmore) (1883 – 1972), the daughter of Arthur Frederick Cudmore, was another cousin of my great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore. In 1971 Kathleen Roberts was interviewed by a granddaughter of Milo Robert Cudmore, Helen Bewsher nee Cudmore (1928 – 2001). Kathleen lived at Avoca as a teenager and young adult from 1895 until her marriage in 1909. She was educated at boarding school in Melbourne and travelled to and from school via train and the paddle steamer, Trafalgar. Her recollections of Avoca, when she was 88 years old in 1971, were as follows:
One cook, one housemaid, one nurse at Popiltah. No Aborigines in the house at Popiltah, one at Avoca. A camp of 30 as stockmen.
The Avoca vegetable garden was on the river. A huge steam engine, between the vegetable and flower gardens, pumped river water to them. In the hot weather this was done at night and made a terrible noise. A Chinaman worked full time on these gardens and would come to the kitchen door every morning to enquire on what vegetables were required that day. All the linen was made at Avoca, the girls spending their time sewing, making visitors’ beds and preserving.
Staff of 10 men at Avoca, jackaroo and overseer.
Bred horses there – had about 100. Every second year, one of the men spent two or three months breaking in – always gently.
reminiscence of Kathleen Roberts nee Cudmore
Ian and Barb Law, the present owners of Avoca, gave us afternoon tea and showed us around the property. It was delightful to meet them and our cousins too.
Fires covered a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Areas affected include Portland, Plenty Ranges, Westernport, the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. Approximately 12 human lives, one million sheep and thousands of cattle were lost.
In 1851 among our forebears these people were living in Victoria and would have experienced the frightening conditions that day:
Greg’s third great grandparents John Narroway Darby (1823 – ?) and his wife Matilda nee Moggridge (1825 – 1868) had separated and Matilda was living with David Hughes with whom she had a daughter Margaret born 1850 at Ashby, now west Geelong. In 1851 Matilda and her daughters Matilda (1845 – ?), Greg’s great great grandmother, and Margaret were probably living in Ashby. John Darby and their daughter Henrietta may have been living in Portland where John married for a second time in 1855.
Greg’s third great grandparents Thomas Edwards (1794 – 1871) and Mary Edwards nee Gilbart (1805 – 1867), were living near Geelong at the time of the death of their daughter in 1850. They later moved to Bungaree near Ballarat but at the time of the fires they were probably in the Geelong district with their children including their youngest son and Greg’s great great grandfather, Francis Gilbart Edwards (1848 – 1913).
Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819 – 1867) and his wife Jeanie nee Hutcheson (1824 – 1864), my third great grandparents, were living in the Portland district. Their second daughter Penelope was born in July 1851 at Runnymede station near Sandford which had been settled by Jeanie’s brothers. Also at Runnymede was Isabella Hutcheson nee Taylor (1794 – 1876), Jeanie’s mother and my fourth great grandmother.
The fire did not reach Ashby or Geelong but a week later a report wrote about the conditions experienced that day in the Geelong district.
The peculiarity of the phenomena of Thursday, was the extraordinary violence of the hot blast by which the conflagration was kindled. Had the hurricane continued to blow during Thursday night with the same violence as during the day, the conflagration might have approached closer to the suburbs, and we might have been exposed to the fiery projectiles which were swept through the air, and which carried devastation to stations and homesteads that were thought to be secure. The violence of the wind, the intensity, breadth, and volume of the fire, the combustible condition of grass, trees, fences, train, huts, and houses, formed a combination that baffled both calculation and means of resistance; and had the fire reached Ashby, we could not have reckoned on the safety of Geelong.
An account of the bushfire from the Portland perspective:
BUSH FIRES. (From the Portland Guardian.) Yesterday forenoon was a period of extraordinary heat, and we are sorry to say, of calamity also. The heat from 11 o’clock, am, until afternoon was most oppressive ; a hot wind blowing from the N.N.W. in a most furious manner. At this time the thermometer stood for an hour by one glass at 112° while by two others it reached 116° in the sun. The dust in the streets was most suffocating, penetrating the smallest crevices, and filling the houses. In consequence of the excessive heat and bush fires, the last day of the races was postponed, until this day, when they duly came off. About 12 o’clock a bush fire in the vicinity of the town began to rage with the utmost fury. It sprang up near the racecourse, and through the violence of the hot wind, threatened to consume the booths, and to envelope the persons who had assembled there in the flames, before time could be afforded them to escape. By a slight change of wind, however, the racers escaped ; but the resistless element swept away in its course the newly erected cottage of Mr Howard the collector of Customs, leaving time only to hurry away Mrs Howard and the family out of the house, before their residence became a perfect cinder So sudden and rapid was the progress of the flames that the fowls and goats about the premises were all consumed. The fire swept along before the wind, carrying away the fences, and all that stood in its way, for about a mile and a half, when Mr Blair, with the whole body of the constabulary, and others from the racecourse arrived in time to save his own hay-stack and residence. The utmost concern was felt in town at the same time, at the approach of the fire from another quarter. Burnt particles were whirling down the streets and flying over the tops of the houses in profusion. But a constable was not to be seen in town. Those of the inhabitants in their houses were making the best preparations which they could for themselves respectively , water carts and concentrated effort was at a sad discount. Several gentlemen did their utmost to prepare against a highly probable casualty, but the utmost which they could do was to warn others of the danger. Fortunately the wind moderated about two o’clock, and the apprehension passed away.
While this fire was raging in the immediate vicinity of the town, Mount Clay and the farms in that locality were enveloped in one vast blaze. Mr Millard has again been a heavy sufferer in this latter fire, and has now lost the whole of his crops. Messrs Monogue, M’Lachlan and Dick, have partaken with him in his misfortunes. The work of years has been swept away from those industrious families and severe sufferers. Their fences, their crops, and their homes, have been annihilated at a stroke.
Just at the same hour the Bush Tavern, which has stood scathless for many years in the midst of a dense forest, and proved so often a place of shelter to the forlorn traveller from the pitiless storm of winter and the scorching heat of summer, is now a heap of ashes. The fire reached the buildings without warning ; and the few articles which were saved from the wreck ignited afterwards with the excessive heat which the burning houses created. The bridge across the Fitzroy has shared a similar fate with the house; a dray, and it is supposed a horse, have met a similar calamity.
At sea, the weather was even more fearful than on shore. Captain Reynolds reports that yesterday, when 20 miles from the Laurences, the heat was so intense, that every soul on board was struck almost powerless. A sort of whirlwind, on the afternoon, struck the vessel, and carried the topsail, lowered down on the cap, clean out of the bolt rope, and had he not been prepared for the shock, the vessel, he has no doubt, would have been capsized. Flakes of fire were, at the time, flying thick all around the vessel from the shore in the direction of Portland.
In 1987 my mother and I decided to have a holiday in the outback, visiting some of the places I had passed through. My father and my husband Greg at first pooh-poohed the idea on the grounds that one gum tree looked like any other. However, fear of missing out – disguised as marital duty – persuaded them to join us, and my father extended the program to include a week’s sailing in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, near the Great Barrier Reef.
In the 1980s Australian air travel was expensive, but besides normal destination-to-destination fairs, Ansett, one of the domestic carriers, offered a ‘Kangaroo Airpass’ charged by distance. In 1987 for $600 you could fly 6,000 kilometers. 10,000 kilometres cost $950.
In late August 1987 we set out from Canberra, first stop Sydney. From there we flew on to Proserpine, in Queensland. Laden with groceries for our bare-boating experience, we continued by minibus to the port town of Airlie Beach, where we’d hired a 33-foot sailing boat called ‘Panache’.
‘Panache’ was a bit cramped and its engine was unreliable, but we had great fun, with perfect weather and some wonderful sailing.
Leaving ‘Panache’ at Hamilton Island Marina, we flew north to Cairns. There we hired a car for a drive to Kuranda in the hinterland. The town of Kuranda is surrounded by tropical rainforest and is on the escarpment high above Cairns.
From Cairns we flew on to Darwin, in the Northern Territory. On the following day we hired a car to drive to ‘Yellow Waters’, a resort in Kakadu National Park. The hire car, unfortunately, had a faulty fuel gauge and we ran out of petrol half way. Greg hitched a ride to buy enough to get us going; my father and mother and I had a tedious wait in the tropical scrub at the roadside. Told about this, the hire car people seemed quite relaxed and unconcerned. It was around then that we learned a local joke about the NT. The letters stand not for ‘Northern Territory’, but for Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Not Tuesday, and Not Thursday.
‘Yellow Waters’ made it worthwhile, though, especially a dawn boat ride we took through the lagoons. The birdlife was was superb; the crocodiles elegant but sinister.
From Kakadu we returned to Darwin and the next day drove to Katherine, 300 kilometres southeast. In Katherine we walked along a trail to view the scenery. We got a bit bushed and turned back, but it didn’t matter, for in the afternoon we had a boat trip on the Gorge itself, quite magnificent and worth the long drive.
From Darwin we flew to Broome in Western Australia, once a pearling port. We stayed at the Hotel Continental, the ‘Conti’, a few kilometres from Cable Beach, where the submarine telegraph cable from Java came ashore in 1889. I had a swim there, but the water was churned up and – I imagined – full of sea snakes, so it was really only a brief splash. The town of Broome has certainly changed since we were there, but I’m sure the earthy red colour of the landscape and the turquoise sea are the same: quite memorable.
At Alice Springs we visited the Telegraph Station. My step grandfather George Symes was very interested in Charles Todd, the astronomer and meteorologist who planned the telegraph line linking Adelaide to Darwin. Alice Springs was named after Todd’s wife. Symes began a full-scale biography of Todd. Though this remained unfinished, he wrote the entry for Todd in the ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’.
NOTICES UNDER THE INDEPENDENT AIR FARES COMMITTEE ACT 1981 (1987, May 13). Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Government Notices (National : 1987 – 2012), p. 53. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article240553252