Peter Cowden was an esteemed member, guest speaker, researcher and past committee member of the Bellarine Historical Society. Peter, who grew up at Portarlington where his father was a local policeman, was a keen writer who regularly contributed articles to the Bellarine Times – the Newsletter of the Bellarine Historical Society – often through talking to many about the district’s history (from the October edition of the Bellarine Times).
The Historical Society was not the only Community group that Peter was involved in. The Bellarine Rail Trail was another passion which Peter fulfilled as an active member of the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail.
From the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail web site:
Peter joined our group in April 2006 and immediately involved himself in all our activities, including a stint as treasurer, whilst also specialising in publicising our environmental improvements to this very valuable community asset. This encompassed writing newspaper articles, taking photographs that became a digital archive, developing and then presenting ‘Power-Point’ presentations along with guest speaking roles at various community clubs. He also energetically managed our webpage – all these extra efforts taking place after he had attended our weekly working bees that have seen, since our inception in 2002, over 86,000 trees, shrubs, grasses etc. (including 50 different species) planted on the train between South Geelong and Drysdale, along with 34 reg-gum seats and 13 picnic tables built and installed. A team effort, where the efforts of each individual are greatly appreciated.
I remember the last time I saw Peter – we were rostered on together one Sunday earlier this year to open the Museum at the Bellarine Historical Society. Peter was there at opening time to check if I could manage on my own – he wasn’t feeling well but didn’t want to let me or the Society down. That was the sort of man that Peter was.
Sadly Peter died on 29 July 2016 and is sorely missed by both societies as well as other community groups in which he participated – as well of course by his family.
So what is Peter’s connection with Matthew Flinders? Peter was a passionate historian and was determined to make people aware of the importance of Matthew Flinders – in particular his visit to Port Phillip Bay in 1802. Anne, Peter’s widow, has given her blessing for the Bellarine Historical Society to continue with Peter’s Matthew Flinders project.
Peter could not believe that ‘locals’ knew so little about Matthew Flinders and his visit to our region. Hopefully a series of blogs might help progress Peter’s project to make people ‘aware’.
So let’s start with a simple poll in which you can participate – do you know the answer for the fourth one?