History Week – did you know?

2000 - close finish.  Image source: downunder exposuresEven a lot of Ocean Grove people don’t know this part of our history!  It was unique in Australia and therefore unique in Victoria AND our region – the Ocean Grove Races featuring the Ocean Grove Cup.

As the photo shows – it was a close thing at the finish line with the horses – it was also a close call to see if they finished the race before the tide came in much further.

Read ALL about the famous Ocean Grove Races as well as seeing all the of race books – fully digitised and available for download.

RootsWeb alternative for Geelong and District

Red British post boxI know many of you will be frustrated with the technical problems that RootsWeb are having with their Mailing Lists although some of you may just think that Mailing Lists have lost their appeal and aren’t being used any more!  Just like the old fashioned letter box has lost its popularity and falling into decline.

Well, I can assure you that a number of people are missing the assistance they used to get from the Geelong and District Mailing List and the Bellarine Peninsula Mailing List.

I came to the conclusion that you could:

  • read all the complaints and contradictory suggestions on the RootsWeb Listowners Mailing List (for admins of RootsWeb Mailing Lists)
  • get cross
  • join the tirade – unfortunately many of us couldn’t as a HUGE number of email addresses / domains were not getting through to the list so that wasn’t an option for many
  • do nothing
  • do SOMETHING !

I opted for the latter as subscribers from my Mailing Lists were contacting me directly and asking what was happening and what could be done.

I know I could create a new Yahoo Mailing List but I didn’t want to “replace” the existing ones – just offer an alternative until the Mailing Lists were fixed.  The Alternative could continue with a life of its own if users wished (although I intend to post “new messages” to the old list once it recovers).

I know many people are not comfortable with Facebook and I wanted something relatively easy – so I’ve created a pseudo Blog Mailing List.

It’s called the Geelong and District Mailing List and although you can click on that link it’s really easy to remember because you just need to type in:


and you’ll find it!  Although its called the Geelong and District Mailing List it also caters for the Bellarine Peninsula.

Make sure you read the tabs: About, and Guidelines for some more information but basically:

  • Follow the instructions to enter your email address etc.

That means you’ll get an email when a new Message / Post is added.  The email will include a COMMENT button – click on that and you’ll be taken to the Comments area for THAT Message.  Type in your comment.

That’s as hard as it gets!

Now, a brief word of warning – I’ve tested it as much as I can and I’m 99.999% certain that’s how it will work.  I may need to do a little more tweaking as people post messages but it should be good.

A couple of important things / benefits of this pseudo Mailing List:

  • Your email address does NOT appear anywhere on the Blog / Mailing List
  • I can add photos to Posts / Messages

How do you post a message?  Just click on the POST A MESSAGE tab near the top right and fill in the fields.

Initially ALL Messages Posted and Comments on Messages will be held for approval – just to make sure you are legitimate – once someone has been approved to Comment on a Message they will be able to Comment without waiting for another round of approvals.  BUT if anyone thinks this is a way to get in and cause problems, I can suspend / remove you so you don’t annoy our legitimate Mailing List users – the same sort of option the List Admin had on our RootsWeb Mailing Lists.

Posted Messages at this stage will require me to copy and paste to the Mailing List Blog – again making sure things are legitimate.  Once things have started moving, I will invite Posters to become Authors on the Mailing List Blog – ONLY if you’re comfortable to do that.  Becoming an Author will allow you to create your own Mailing List Blog on this site, edit it and add photos however it won’t allow you to edit or change anyone else’s Mailing List Blog.  It means you can post a Message without using the Post a Message form.

Confused?  Don’t worry – you can sit back and read other messages and comments just like you did on the RootsWeb Mailing List and do nothing more.  Then if you feel the urge to get involved you just need to click on the comment button in the email you received with each message.  Remember you do have to click on FOLLOW BLOG / FOLLOW THIS MAILING LIST VIA EMAIL to get the messages as emails from the list.

Let’s give it a try and see how it goes.

If you want to comment to me privately, just you the CONTACT US button in the menu at the top of this blog, or use the POST A MESSAGE button on the Mailing List Blog – both options ONLY come to me and I will get back to you personally to answer your questions.

I hope this all works – it depends on YOU – it’s frustrating not being able to use our normal Geelong and District Mailing List and the Bellarine Peninsula Mailing List, so in the meantime try the new GEELONG AND DISTRICT MAILING LIST.

2016 National Fair in Geelong

2016 National Bottle & Collectables ShowA great opportunity for Geelong locals, all of Victoria and of course all of Australia to participate in the 2016 National Bottle and Collectables Fair.

As well as contacting Dave Smith in 0419 434 306 or on his email – david@belmontscouts.org.au , there are a number of web sites with additional information including site maps:

The National Fair runs from 21 to 23 October, 2016 at the Geelong Show Grounds.

Don’t miss it!

Scottish Road Show in Geelong

Geelong Family History Group Scottish Road ShowIf you have Scottish ancestors or an interest in Scottish research, then this Road Show is NOT to be missed.

The Road Show has been organised by the Geelong Family History with support from the Scottish Ancestry Group and their speakers.  The Road Show is being held in the meeting room of the Waurn Ponds Libary.

Even if you’re not a member of the Geelong Family History Group, the Scottish Ancestry Group, or the Genealogical Society of Victoria, this full day of brilliant speakers and information will only cost you $25.00 for the whole day which includes morning and afternoon tea.  And if you are a member of one of the groups mentioned, then it will cost you just $20.00.

Download the brochure for all the details and the booking form.

See you there?

A lot happens in a short space of time …

Purple ChipsIt was scary looking at the date of the last blog I posted for Geelong and District – FAR TOO LONG AGO!  But I have some good reasons …

  • There have been TWO Geelong & District Historical Association quarterly meetings (the second was yesterday at Birregurra)
  • I have done SIX presentations to various groups / events (including the Don Grant Memorial Lecture for VAFHO as part of the Family History Feast at the State Library of Victoria).
  • I have moved house (after more than NINE years) AND managed to keep my nine largest bookcases full of books.  For a historian my new home is in the heart of historical Geelong – not the “new” Geelong on Corio Bay but the original old Geelong beside the Barwon River – the area now known as South Geelong – and it’s just beautiful.  I can’t wait for some warmer weather and longer daylight house to explore the area more on foot.
  • And MOST importantly I have a fantastic full-time job (after 22 months of being unemployed).  My position is Administration Coordinator with Bellarine Memories / Kings Funerals.

So what does the picture above have to do with all of this?  A lot actually!

I mentioned that yesterday we had our Geelong & District Historical Association quarterly meeting at Birregurra – a picturesque and historic town at the foot of the Otways.  Our meetings are for representatives of family history societies, local history societies, and museums in our region.  They are great meetings and attendees can take all sorts of useful information and ideas back to the members of their own groups.  The beauty of these meetings – although we sometimes have a set topic for the second hour – is that you just don’t know what comes up in the “around the room” session – some fascinating, useful and informative items.  After our two hour meeting, we continue chatting over lunch – the traditional country “bring a plate” lunch.  That’s when I sampled the PURPLE CHIPS in the picture above.

BirregurraShopsThe potatoes are specially grown by a local and after some enquiries I found out that the Provedore next door sold the chips – of course I had to purchase a packet (two in fact) before heading home – they were really yummy!  In this image, the Provedore and Cafe are on the left right beside the Birregurra Historical Centre on the right.

Although I will be adding HEAPS more information in my post-meeting newsletter, there was another important piece of news that I’ll share with you here.

Another one of our groups has a brand new web site – the Colac & District Historical Society Inc. – an attractive web site with plenty of information – hopefully you’ll all add it to your list of favourites / links.


175 years ago – Boundaries of County of Grant

Gazetteer map of VictoriaFrom the Geelong Advertiser Saturday 17 July 1841 [175 years ago] …


The Province of Port Phillip was formerly divided into two districts Western Port and Portland Bay each having a Commissioner of Crown Lands.  These districts were also called the Counties of Bourke and Grant in all matters relating to the sale and registration of lands.  The boundaries of the counties were not then fixed upon; but left to be determined when the progress of the surveys – the opening of new townships – the increase of the population – and the alienation of land from the Crown – should render it expedient to subdivide the districts, and to increase the number of the counties.  When the township of Portland was opened, at a distance of 150 miles from the capital of the county of Grant, it was considered expedient to define the limits of that county, and to make the township of Portland the nucleus of another county to be named Normanby, the boundaries of which will remain undefined until some intervening township shall be opened.  At the commencement of this year, Lieutenant Addis was appointed Commissioner, of Crown Lands for the County of Grant, Captain Fyans still holding the appointment of Crown Commissioner for the District of Portland Bay.  A considerable degree of uncertainty has since existed with respect to the boundaries of the respective districts under the jurisdiction of these two commissioners, many supposing (our selves among the number) that their limits were not distinct and independent, and that they might clash with each other in the performance of their duties; no notification of any change in the boundaries having been published in the Government Gazette, and the Proclamation of the first of July 1840 still remaining uncontradicted.  It is with considerable gratification therefore, that we publish the following description of the boundary of the County of Grant, now for the first time made public.

“The Coast Line from the mouth of the Werriby, Port Phillip, round to a point bearing south of the sources of the Barwon.  An imaginary line from that point to the sources of the Barwon. The Barwon from its sources to its junction with the Native Hut Creek.  The Native Hut Creek from that junction to the Buninyong and Melbourne road. The line of that road to the Werriby, and The Werriby River to its mouth.”

Lest the above description should not be quite intelligible to the general reader, we shall subjoin a few explanatory particulars. The county is bounded on the east by the waters of Port Phillip, from the Werriby to Point Lonsdale; and on the south by the ocean, from Point Lonsdale to a point near Cape Otway.  The River Barwon rises in the high land near Cape Otway, and runs nearly 30 miles N.N.E., forming part of the western boundary of the county.  It is then joined by the River Lee and the Native Hut Creek, and turns to the eastward, running through the centre of the county. The remainder of the western boundary is formed by tracing up the Native Hut Creek, to the point where it is crossed by the road from Buninyong to Melbourne then along that road, on the northwestern side of Station Peak to the crossing place on the Werriby near Greeves’s Inn [see note below], the remainder of the boundary being the River Werriby.

It is difficult to give an idea of the extent of the county from its exceedingly irregular outline.  In size, it is smaller than the average of the nineteen counties of the Middle District.  Its extreme length from the Werriby to Cape Otway, is about 70 miles.  Its extreme breadth from the Native Hut Creek to Indented Head is about 40 miles; but its average breadth is little more than half that number.  The area of the county may be about 1500 square miles.  It is somewhat strange, that although the boundary has been thus definitely fixed, the land in the neighbourhood of Lake Colac which has been advertised for sale, is described as being in the county of Grant, although twenty miles beyond its boundary.  When the land comes to be registered in the Supreme Court, this will be found to be a rather awkward misnomer.  A new inland county will no doubt soon be named, which will include these lands and the whole district of Geelong will eventually become divided into six or seven counties.  Of the land which has been advertised as open for selection, only two of the parishes (Murghebolac and Carrungemurnong) are properly within the limits of this county, the remaining three (Parwan, Elliminyt, and Nalangil) are in counties not yet named.  In the account of the Census which appears in to-day’s paper, it must be borne in mind that the comparatively small number of inhabitants in the county of Grant as compared to the population of Normanby, is owing to the circumstance of the latter not having any fixed boundary, and spreading over the space of nine or ten counties, so that in one place it comes within fifteen miles of Corio, and at another within twenty miles of Melbourne.

The boundaries of the county of Bourke have also been defined, but no secondary county has yet been named.  A change in the Commissionership, similar to that which has taken place here, has also been made, Mr. Airey having been appointed Commissioner for the County of Bourke, while Mr. Powlett continues to hold his situation as Commissioner for the district of Western Port.

The map above is from the State Library of Victoria and titled Gazetteer map of Victoria, March 31, 1865 and shows ‘towns, counties, railways, telegraphs, gold mining areas and some pastoral stations. Relief shown by hachures and spot heights’.

Greeves Inn: according to Les Blake’s Tales from Old Geelong

La Trobe had special interests in other parts of this district.  He and Fenwick delighted in camping and fishing by the mouth of the Barwon River where, in company with Major Mercer and Mr Learmonth, the Superintendent caught and cooked his first snapper over a campfire.  To expedite his journey from East Melbourne to Geelong he sent a relay horse in advance to Greeves Inn by the Werribee River; next morning he would ride twenty miles from home to have breakfast at the Inn, change horses there and reach Geelong by 11 o’clock; on more than one occasion he made the entire return journey in one day.

Another great article from 175 years ago.

Geelong Heritage Centre – in the beginning …

1961 proposed Sound Shell in NewtownSometimes we’re not very good at recording the history of our societies / organisations.  Consequently, I thought it was about time that I gathered various published references to the beginning of the Geelong Heritage Centre which of course wasn’t called that when it began!

Back on 30 May 1961, the Geelong Advertiser reported on the status of the Geelong Sound Shell – it reappeared in Peter Begg’s ‘Geelong – the first 150 years’ with this image of Newtown Council’s sound shell concept in the Windmill Quarry.

Sound Shell?  What does the Geelong Heritage Centre have to do with a Sound Shell?

We actually need to go back even further … between 1952 and 1954 a fund of £13,606 was raised for the mayor of Geelong’s appeal.  The object of the appeal was “the erection of a permanent feature to mark the centenary of separation [1 July 1851] and the jubilee of Federation [1 January 1901].”

In 1955 the Age reported under the heading ‘Geelong Sound Shell: Ex-Mayor Refuses to Hand Over Fund Papers’, that “Councillor B E Purnell, a former Mayor of Geelong, who is chairman of the Centenary Jubilee Commemoration Fund has refused to vacate the office of chairman and hand over the minutes. “  The committee had been appointed in 1951.

Solicitors Crawcour and Hollyhoke agreed with Cr Purnell and his co-trustees that he, Cr Purnell, was chairman of the of the fund and it was not the Mayor of the Geelong Council who was chairman of the fund.  This article also stated that “the trust funds [were for] the express purpose of providing a sound shell”.  It went on to state that “The only authority was the Attorney-General, with the Crown Law office behind him” and certainly not the local council.

The type of structure was the next item to be questioned – a sound shell seems have emerged as part of the original agreement, however in 1960 the Attorney-General and then Mr Justice Dean of the Supreme Court became involved.  The outcome was the appointment of new trustees.  The new trustees were Cr Bervin Ellis Purnell [former mayor], of Meakin Street, Geelong; Mr John Mackie Kenning, of Church Street, Rosevale via Geelong; Mr Douglas Gordon Munro, of High Street, Belmont; Cr Leonard Myer Jacobs, Prospect Road, Newtown, and Captain William George Harrison, of the Fire Brigade Station, Geelong.

Mr Justice Dean ordered that “the £13,606 in the fund should be held in trust until the citizens of Geelong had decided what form of permanent feature should be erected”.  Consequently, the Town Clerk invited members of the original 1851 Committee, “successors in office, and others including Cr Purnell to a meeting”.  Five of the seven municipalities supported erection of a sound shell and the other two said they would not object.

Of course there was no consensus: The Geelong City Council proposed a site in Eastern Park, above Hearne Parade.  “An agreement between the council and the sound shell trustees, who were holding the money in trust, was finally drawn up in 1965.”

“But when the trustees rejected one of the conditions of the agreement, the Geelong City Council withdrew its offer of the Eastern Park site.”

The Shire of Corio proposed a site at Rippleside Park and the City of Newtown proposed the one at the Windmill quarry.  A new committee was formed and called to vote on three different proposals:

  • A sound shell
  • An historic records centre
  • A new wing at Grace McKellar House

2007 Geelong Historic Records CentreThe Geelong Advertiser said that “the committee which consisted of representatives of the local chamber of commerce, trades hall council, the hospital committee of management, RSL, law association, architects’ institute, and the historical society, as well as the local councils, voted in favour of the historic record centre.”

This however wasn’t the end of it as the Investigator quoting the speech made by Sir Roy Fidge in 1979, at the opening of the Geelong Historical Records Centre, stated that “Eventually the matter was referred to the Supreme Court by the Attorney General and, after two litigation hearings, Mr Justice Lush in September, 1970 ordered that the Jubilee Funds be applied towards the construction of an Historical Records Centre in the form of a first floor addition to the Geelong Regional Library.”

2007 Geelong Historic Records CentreBy this stage the fund had grown to $55,000 which was insufficient for the centre.  Appeals to the State Government resulted in a total of $195,000 with contributions of $120.000 from the government and $20,000 from the City of Geelong.  This wasn’t enough to provide all that was desired however the architect Geoff Drinnan provided a design to match the funds, and the building was constructed by E J Lyons & Sons.

Harry Nunn, Keeper of Public Records was keen for the Public Record Office to be involved in the management and operations of the Centre which would require an amendment of the Supreme Court Order.  Norman Houghton, archivist, was appointed before the official opening and is probably in the best position to document the details and behind the scenes activities.  Joanne McKenzie was the other staff member of the centre – called the Geelong Historical Records Centre.

The Centre began with donations of items from various commercial and private organisations as well as a “substantial set of back issues of the Geelong Advertiser from the Geelong City Council and the Regional Library”.  There were also a number of items included in the archives which came from the Geelong Historical Society or were collected by them for the Centre.  No records centre or archive can function without historical items, and the large contribution by the Geelong Historical Society obviously encouraged other organisations and individuals to contribute to this amazing institution.

In addition to records for the Geelong Archives, the Historical Society donated many reference books for the Reading Room / Library and the Geelong Family History Group also contributed to the library shelves [see below].  I was going to add a few examples of the records provided by the Geelong Historical Society, then I was going to add a few more, then I added a lot!

Some of the records attributed to the Geelong Historical Society include:

  • Band of Hope Union: minutes, accounts, attendance book etc. [1905-2002]
  • Ernest Barnes: manuscript and Novel ‘Tuftowool’ on sheep raising & wool growing. [undated]
  • Barwon Grange residence: correspondence, plans & drawings and miscellaneous records. [1969-1971]
  • Barwon Jaycees: miscellaneous and copious records. [1925-1987]
  • Belcher & Co, Estate Agency: commission sales books, Alfred Belcher cuttings, insurance agents’ premiums books. [1907-1947]
  • Eunice McLeod: manuscripts – life on the Bellarine Peninsula. [1850-1950]
  • Berry Bank Pty Ltd: accounts, correspondence, wages, cash books, estate of HE & J Mack, minutes, diaries etc. [1862-1979]
  • Berry Bank Station: Joseph Mack’s diaries. [1862-1926]
  • W Berthon: Weatherboard Station journals. [1864-1875]
  • Roy & Muriel Birdsey: Gilbert & Sullivan Society scrapbooks, photos, calendars etc. [1830-1981]
  • Herbert A Boardman: personal papers. [1865-1988]
  • S R Boardman, fuel merchant: trading and P&L accounts. [1950-1955]
  • Bow Truss Building: articles, correspondence and reports. [1980-1990s]
  • Richard Bowman: diary of a sea voyage on Shalimar from England. [1854-1855]
  • Bright & Hitchcock: photographic archive and news clippings. [1875-1970]
  • British ex-service Legion of Australia: council minutes & membership items. [1965-1996]
  • J C Brown, engineer: ledgers, photo etc. [1907-1938]
  • Buckland’s Paddock Estate: sale notices book [1888- ]
  • Chilwell Library: Accession Register [1945-1969]
  • Clyde Company Wool Scour: accounts, journals, brand book, greasy wool books, shares, tannery plans, trading and auction books, shipping books, wages books etc. [1882-1970]
  • Cobb & Co agency Meredith & Steiglitz: general ledger [1898-1918]
  • Commercial Bank, Geelong: letters to head office [1905-1909]
  • Allan Cooke collection: correspondence, manuscripts local history [1962-1968]
  • Cooperative Housing Society: annual reports, journals etc. [1944-1971]
  • Corangamite Weights & Measures Union: minute books [1948-1976]
  • Dennys, Lascelles Ltd: accounts, annual wool report, construction of wool store Portland, minutes etc. [1912-1983]
  • Norman Endacott: Maps, reports etc. [1899-2001]
  • Miss D Francis: Belgian Costume
  • Geelong & District Soldiers’ Welfare Committee: miscellaneous records [1940-1945]
  • Geelong & District United Friendly Societies: minutes [1936-1975]
  • Geelong & Western District Ladies Benevolent Association: accounts, annual reports, correspondence, registers, valuations, minutes [1860-1992]
  • Geelong Archaeological Society: minutes, correspondence, membership etc. [1968-1977]
  • Geelong Automatic Telephone Exchange: mementos, books, artefacts and photographs [1912-1914]
  • Geelong Bar Committee: minutes re removal of sand bar – Corio Bay entry [1853-1860]
  • Geelong Bell Ringers’ Club: sundry records [1876-1885]
  • Geelong Bike Plan: records [1977-1981]
  • Geelong Decorating Co: ledgers [1875-1928]
  • Geelong Diary: 1850s auctioneer’s assistant [1856-1857]
  • Geelong Freeway Opposition Group: records, posters, newspaper cuttings [1973- ]
  • Geelong Garden Club: newsletters [1983-1994]
  • Geelong Girls’ Unity Club: minutes, constitution – formerly Geelong Blue Triangle Assoc. [1924-1965]
  • Geelong Historical Society: minutes & financial records [1920-1994]
  • Geelong Housewives’ Social Club: minutes, accounts etc. [1974-1994]
  • Geelong Master Printers’ Association: minutes [1912-1926]
  • Geelong Musical Society: scores, records, correspondence, accounts etc. [1846-1921]
  • Geelong Rowing Association: minutes, accounts, records etc. [1876-1967]
  • Geelong Sacred Harmonic Society: minutes and accounts [1854-1899]
  • Geelong Sea Bathing Company Ltd: capital structure records [1871-1934]
  • Geelong Shakespeare Society: minutes [1905-1908]
  • Geelong Shipping Agents’ Association: minutes [1928-1941]
  • Geelong Transportation Study: scrapbook compiled by P F B Alsop [1970-1973]
  • Geelong Volunteer Rifle Regiment: civil staff minutes [1861-1908]
  • Grovedale Progress Association: minute book [1965-1984]
  • William Harris: papers relating to Standard Oil Co [1922-1960]
  • James Harrison: biographical source notes [1816-1982]
  • Hawkes Brothers Pty Ltd: minutes, journal, ledger, photos, correspondence etc. [1853-1977]
  • W & W Higgins, solicitors: case files – crime, debt, land transactions, will, correspondence etc. [1845-1900]
  • Hirst Family Album [1935-1966]
  • Howard Hitchcock: mayoral newspaper cuttings [1917-1926]
  • Roy Holden collection – newspaper cuttings [1830-1970]
  • A P Hornsey: cutting book [1928-1932]
  • Huddart & Parker: letters, accounts etc. [1850-1880]
  • Institute of Municipal Management: members, constitution, miscellaneous documents etc. [1959-1996]
  • Inverleigh Bridge: flood reports etc. [1962-1980]
  • Joseph Scammel, ship: memorabilia.
  • W G Kendall: shipping books. [1913-1925]
  • Lucy Kerley: railway collection. [1964-1983]
  • Leopold Free Library: minutes, cash, visitors. [1882-1989]
  • Lodge – Manchester Unity IOOF: minutes, rules, membership etc. [1861-1979]
  • Lodge – Phoenix Lodge No 63 IOOF: membership records, minute books, night book, correspondence etc. [1868-1959]
  • Lodge – United Ancient Order of Druids Lodge 208: Corio Lodge minutes, records etc. [1900-1969]
  • Martin Collection: personal artifacts, books etc. [1878-1960]
  • Martin Family mementos: photos, medals, papers. [undated]
  • Peter Martin, architect: drawings and personal items [1946-1960]
  • Stewart McAdam Collection: football records, historical notes – Barrabool Hills etc. [c1840-1996]
  • Robert Norm McDonald Collection: cuttings book, Geelong Cycling Club etc. [1916-1919]
  • Geelong Mechanics’ Institute: Annual Reports, financial statements, correspondence, minutes, reports etc. [1846-1962]
  • Memorials to Geelong citizens: photograph album. [1924- ]
  • Returned Soldiers’ Woollen & Worsted Co-op: various records, members etc. [1932-1974]
  • Murphy, Ashby draper & tailor: accounting papers. [1877-1884]
  • Rhind Family: china (cups, saucers etc.). [c1790+ ]
  • Rix Family collection: books, mementos etc. [undated]
  • Roadknight & Co Estate Agency: Alfred, Frank and Gladys Roadknight private papers, ledgers, journals, Puebla Estate Co records, sales contracts, sales reports, etc. [1853-1970]
  • Sasse Papers; outward letters, photos, biographies etc. [1858-1970]
  • Silver Star Monthly: schoolboy paper. [1935-1936]
  • H L Spendlove: military training notebook. [1916- ]
  • Television introduction: cuttings etc. [1956- ]
  • Gail Thomas collection: plans, receipts etc. [undated]
  • Trait Family, soft drink and cordial makers: mementos. [1885-1963]
  • Try Boys Brigade: annual reports. [1926-1972]
  • Victorian Forage Pressing Co: wages book. [1908-1909]

This list is just some of the records / archives provided by the Geelong Historical Society to begin filling the shelves and archives of the Geelong Historical Records Centre.  They also supplied a huge number of photographs to the new collection.

The Geelong Family History Group also contributed in a very significant way – their volunteers set about indexing many of the items in the collection.  This was in the days of typewriters and carbon paper with copies being put on the shelves of the Geelong Historical Records Centre as well as the Family History Group’s library.  Fortunately the committee of the Geelong Family History Group gave permission for their indexed lists from their own library to be transcribed and added to the Geelong & District Database – an ongoing process with literally hundreds of indexes produced by their members.


In 2003 the name of the centre was changed from the Geelong Historical Records Centre to the Geelong Heritage Centre.  The Centre remained in that location until 2013 when their temporary home was on the top floor of the National Wool Museum while the old library and centre was being demolished.  Late in 2015 the magnificent new centre was opened.


2013 – demolition


2013-2015 – Temporary home – National Wool Museum

Geelong Library and Heritage Centre Building

November 2015 – Geelong Library & Heritage Centre opened

Sources used for this article:

  • Age, 27 April 1955
  • Age, 16 November 1960
  • Geelong Advertiser, 30 May 1961
  • Peter Begg, Geelong – the first 150 years, Geelong Advertiser, 1990
  • ‘Historic Opening November 16, 1979’, Investigator, journal of the Geelong Historical Society, Vol. 15, No. 1, Issue 58, March 1980
  • GRS Archives Catalogue, Geelong Heritage Centre, April 2014 [PDF files for download]
  • ‘History of the Geelong Heritage Centre’ web site.

Download the full Geelong Series Catalogue [as at April 2014]:


Ocean Grove PreSchool

Ocean Grove Preschool logoDid you or someone you know go to the Ocean Grove Preschool?  In September this year they are celebrating their 50th anniversary and they are looking for anyone who attended the preschool in The Avenue.

The Ocean Grove preschool opened in 1965 and they still have an original set of chairs that were hand-made by a local person in the 1960s.  They would love to hear from anyone who attended or who has photos – and of course for you to join in the celebrations.  Visit their web site and make use of their contact form.

Does anyone know the name of the “local person” who made their chairs – I wonder if it was Gil McKeown?

What are your memories of the OG Preschool?  Share them with us!

150 Years – thank you Peter BEGG

Geelong First 150 YearsOn behalf of all local and family history researchers in our region I’d like to say a huge Thank You to Peter BEGG who has retired as a full time journalist at the Geelong Advertiser.  Peter was responsible for the magnificent publication Geelong~The First 150 Years.  The book was the culmination of Peter’s daily column celebrating 150 years of the Geelong Advertiser.

This publication is fully indexed in the Geelong & District database and covers a fantastic range of topics.

There was a great article in today’s Addy by Danny Lannen titled ‘Home is where a journo’s heart is’. [Geelong Advertiser. Saturday 20 February 2016, p. 37.]

There was also a tweet from his peers – fare-welling and thanking Peter for his time at the Addy.


Now that Peter has so much spare time on his hands, I just hope he can remember and find the source of the photo of Anne Drysdale which appeared in the May 11 column – relating back to 1853.  The Bellarine Historical Society would love to find a copy of that photo for their Coriyule / Anne Drysdale / Caroline Newcomb display later this year!

Thank you Peter and all the best for the future.

175 years ago – Geelong Harbour and Corio Bay

Hotel at Point HenryFrom the Geelong Advertiser Saturday 26 June 1841 [175 years ago] …

About 15 miles up the bay [Port Phillip], the high shores of Indented Head bend towards the westward, and the arm of Port Phillip which stretches inland nearly 20 miles, is deep, capacious, and well sheltered.  The whole of this extent is available as a shipping port, and between Indented Head and Point Henry bears the name of


The anchorage at present frequented by merchantmen is near Point Henry, about 4 miles from the town of Corio.  It is there that the wool ships take in their cargoes.  Point Henry is a peninsula about two miles long and half a mile broad, which separates Outer Geelong Harbour from the Inner, or


across the entrance to which a bar exists, which cannot be passed by any vessel drawing more than eleven feet; the mud and shells, however, which choak [sic] up the channel could be very easily cleared away; the mud, in fact, can be sounded to the depth of eighteen feet: if the channel were deepened for about a hundred yards, the largest class of merchantmen could enter the compact basin of Corio Bay, and anchor within a ship’s length of the Jetty at the township.  The bay is nearly land-locked from the outer harbour, and is about 3 miles in diameter, the area of the anchorage (the depth varying from 3 to 6 fathoms) is about four square miles.  At present, the largest of the Van Diemen’s Land traders can cross the bar, discharge their cargoes of timber at the township, and return with a cargo of fat wethers for the Launceston and Hobart Town markets.  The rise and fall of the tide is less than in any other part of Port Phillip.

Of course history shows us that for some decades the Geelong Town Council had the channel dredged however each episode took so long that by the time the dredging was “completed” the overseas ships had doubled or trebled in size and could not fit through the newly deepened channel!  Back to the drawing board!  It was 1893 before the Hopetoun Channel was completed and opened – more than 50 years after this article!  More can be read about the history of Point Henry.

This article in the Geelong Advertiser is even more interesting as it is a LONG article titled “Descriptive remarks on the harbours of Australia Felix” and in addition to Geelong Harbour and Corio Bay it includes:

  • Moruya Bay
  • Twofold Bay
  • Corner Inlet, Port Albert and Shallow Inlet
  • Sealers’ Cove
  • Western Port
  • Port Phillip
  • Port King
  • Hobson’s Bay
  • Melbourne
  • Port Fairy
  • Portland Bay

… a truly wonderful group of descriptions of the harbours around Victoria.

The sketch above is from The Building and Engineering Journal, December 27, 1890 and shows ‘Sketches at the new summer resort: Bellarine Gardens, Point Henry’.

Another great article from 175 years ago.