Clifton Springs – Heritage in Modern Art

This is really worth visiting!  And for me it was a great way to cap off two weeks holiday.  After 10 days in Darwin with family and friends, I had arrived back in Melbourne [absolutely freezing!], then did all those tasks you try to get done when you’re not working.  Friday was car servicing day [ouch].  Saturday it was a drive into Geelong to buy my next long-term train ticket [big ouch].  Then it was time for the eye test that had been delayed TOO long [another ouch].

So driving back home from Geelong I wasn’t feeling in a holiday mode and definitely feeling much poorer!  I wanted to do something “holidayish” but it had to be something that cost nothing.  Then I had the answer – I had my new tiny digital camera in my bag – a birthday present I was spoilt with in Darwin.  I hadn’t seen the new interpretive signage at the Dell at Clifton Springs – so I detoured up to the north of the Bellarine Peninsula.

Clifton Springs has a wonderful history – the first mineral springs and spa in Victoria – but very little of that history and heritage have survived.  In 1998 the City of Greater Geelong commissioned archaeologist Roger Luebbers to investigate the area.  A second more detailed report followed an initial archaeological dig in 1999.  Through the Bellarine Historical Society I spent some time with Roger providing the information and photographs that the Society had in its collection for these reports.  Roger made several recommendations however nothing more happened until 2007 when a large archaeological dig was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong.  I was so fortunate to work with Roger on more detailed research on the site at that time – the sort of research we could not have justified for the Society.  It was also exciting to spend time at the site to see what had literally been unearthed.  The end result was more recommendations together with a wonderful 121-page document with a detailed history, images, maps, plans and diagrams.  Copies of this and the two earlier reports are in the library at the Bellarine Historical Society, local libraries, and at the City of Greater Geelong.

This report can be downloaded in 2 parts:

If those links stop working, Google “Luebbers” and “Archaeological Investigation Clifton Springs Spa Resort”.

It was November 2010 before any further action.  The City of Greater Geelong agreed to fund interpretive signage for the Dell at Clifton Springs.  And that is what I saw on Saturday.

My congratulations to all involved – it is stunning, modern, different, and certainly brings the area alive with the information about this Heritage Area – which is also on the Victorian Heritage Register.

There are three main interpretive signs and they really are spectacular.  Artist, Cinnamon Stephens, was commissioned to design these “signs” – and what a design!  They are in the shape of a torpedo bottle – the bottles used at Clifton Springs for the mineral water.  They are full of “bubbles” representing the water from the Seltzer Well.  The beautiful historic photographs and text are in the bubbles.  There is one at the top of the cliff above the Dell.  It can be seen from the dining room and car park of the Clifton Springs Golf Club.

From a distance it would be hard to resist – you are absolutely drawn to this unusual structure to see what on earth it is!  From the base of this sign, a new sealed path leads you around to the bluff.

Part of this project involved a new lookout built at the top of the bluff with a view across the Dell and along the shore where the Sulphur Spa Bath and Mineral Springs bottling factory were situated.  A second “sign” is located at this lookout enabling visitors to visualise what it was like in its hey-day.

From here it is again hard to resist the urge to do down to the Dell and see what this is really all about.

Take the time to go down the steps to the Dell, and then follow the path along to the site of the beautiful Spa Bath building [the photo at the beginning of this blog].  Sadly none of the buildings have survived but we are fortunate to have many photographs in the Bellarine Historical Society collection.  The third “sign” is located here and at low tide visitors can explore the wells and channels that were part of this complex.

The signs include a circle of bricks at the base representing the numerous wells located at this historic site – bricks from some of the wells were used in these structures.

Again, congratulations to all involved: Matthew Jackman [initially from the City of Greater Geelong and later with the TGM Group managing the project], Cinnamon Stephens, the artist, and the representatives of the local community groups who worked on the text and images for the signs.  It really has ended up being a wonderful blend of modern representative art depicting an important heritage site – well worth a visit!

The Dell is located at the end of Clearwater Drive at Clifton Springs, near Geelong.

Vision and Realisation – Index to Volume 2

Most Victorian researchers will be familiar with the 3-volume set of Vision and Realisation – it’s a wonderful resource for anyone researching schools in Victoria.  They were compiled by regional teachers and historians to commemorate the centenary of the Education Department of Victoria in 1973.  They provide a short history of every school that was a part of the Victorian Education system – some quite brief and others more comprehensive.

Volume 1 is extensively indexed.  Volumes 2 & 3 are indexed by school name only.

Some years ago the Geelong Family History Group indexed Volume 2 which included the Barwon Region [Geelong and surrounding area] together with virtually all of western Victoria.  This index included all people mentioned – a large number of these were teachers.  The GFHG Index has now been added to the Geelong & District database for searching and includes 12,040 entries.  NOTE: the school names have not been re-indexed as ALL schools are included in the original volumes – should you wish to research a school you need to access the Vision and Realisation volumes which are available at many societies and libraries throughout Victoria.

Volume 2 covers:

  • Glenelg Region
  • Wimmera Region, including the sub-regions of Stawell; Dimboola, Losan and Kaniva; Donald, Dunmunkle and Warracknabeal; Horsham and Arapiles
  • Mallee Region
  • Loddon Region
  • Central Highlands Region
  • Corangamite Region
  • Barwon Region

For general information …

Volume 1 covers:

  • Origins and foundations
  • The Common Schools period
  • Free, Compulsory and Secular
  • The Primary Division
  • The Secondary Division
  • The Technical Division
  • The Education and Supply of Teachers
  • Special Services
  • A Complex of Organisations
  • The Teacher and the Community
  • Current Trends
  • Educational Personnel

Volume 3 covers:

  • Port Phillip Western Region
  • Port Phillip Eastern Region
  • Upper Goulburn Region
  • Goulburn Region
  • Upper Murray Region
  • East Gippsland Region
  • West Gippsland Region

Many thanks to the Geelong Family History Group for this wonderful resource

Darwin – NOT in Geelong and District!

It might sound funny talking about Darwin on the Geelong & District blog site but there is definitely a connection!

I try to get in a quick trip to Darwin once a year to visit family – preferably in June when the weather is terrific – low humidity and maximum of about 28-30 and minimum about 18.  Mind you, yesterday morning [Saturday 11th June] you could pick the locals a mile away – they were all wearing jumpers, cardigans or coats!  I was pleasantly comfortable in trousers and t-shirt.  Of course that’s fairly understandable as it was 3 degrees when I left Melbourne a week ago!

Back to the connection with our region!  The Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory are hungry for visiting speakers – if the opportunity arises, they go all out to plan a seminar around the speaker.  This is the second year I’ve done a seminar for GSNT – and they certainly make you feel welcome and appreciated.  Shauna Hicks is another “annual” visitor and GSNT make the most of her visits as well.

Last year I did 3 presentations for them.  This year I gave them a list of 10 or 12 to choose from and they chose 4!  I certainly found it interesting to see the ones they chose and their order of preference [in case I couldn’t manage doing 4 plus a general Q&A session with no limitations!]

Their first choice?  Scots in Geelong & district to 1860.  It’s normal to ask people living in Darwin where they come from – because there aren’t that many actually born and bred there – but there are a LOT of people whose ancestors spent time in Geelong & District!

The second presentation was Look Local: it’s not all on the web – one of my favourites highlighting the importance and the benefits of local & family history societies.

The third one was back to Geelong & District with the presentation I’ve given well over 100 times – Point Henry: an amazing place.  Again many of the audience connected with Point Henry as it was the landing site for their immigrant ancestors in Australia.

The last presentation was one of my “left-field” ones – can guarantee that the majority of the audience may have never heard of this resource and like my Sewerage Records presentation, it’s a bit of an eye opener for everyone … Heritage Studies: a great resource.

As I said earlier, the Darwin locals are so appreciative of speakers from down south.  I even had one lady drive up from Katherine the day before [300+ Kms], stay in a hotel in Darwin overnight, and drive back after the seminar.  She said how it was worth every cent and every kilometre!  I think I was the privileged one with someone prepared to go to those lengths to come to a seminar.

I had a ball at the seminar yesterday – terrific audience, lots of great questions, and well looked after by the GSNT – what more could you ask for?

So if you or a friend is planning a trip to Darwin, and you have experience in giving talks to those in the Genie world, why not get in touch with the GSNT and offer your services!  You won’t regret it!  They do a terrific job up here and deserve the support from the rest of Australia.

Oh – I’ve been invited back again next year – and I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime it looks like we might get a couple of Darwinites visiting Geelong in September for the Victorian Expo – and we’ll certainly welcome their to our region.