The connection between Peter Cowden and Matthew Flinders


Peter Cowden
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.

Matthew Flinders R.N.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?

The old Brian Boru Hotel in Geelong

Brian Boru hotel - second from left - c.1880sThat’s the old Brian Boru Hotel in Geelong – the second building from the left in this sketch from the 1880s.

Fortunately it’s still standing at 208 Moorabool Street.

Unfortunately the City of Greater Geelong is a tad lacking in proactively saving our Heritage buildings.  In fact they have a bad track record and it would be nice to think this building will not join the list of others in a shocking state of disrepair and/or demolition for ‘safety’ reasons.

Former Brian Boru Hotel in c.1972This was the hotel in 1972 – photo taken by the late Ian Wynd.

Well I tried to do the right thing and link to the Geelong Advertiser article that prompted this post but I failed!  The link works fine from Google but when I tried to embed the link here it went to a subscription page!

Former Brian Boru Hotel - Geelong Advertiser 19 Nov 2016And this is what it looks like today!  The article is well worth reading and seeing the interior photos of this building that is being trashed beyond belief.  You may be able to pick up the article – I searched Google for ‘geelong advertiser brian boru hotel’ .  That option worked fine but the resulting link didn’t work when embedded.

An updated article in today’s (26 Nov 2016) Geelong Advertiser stated that the owner planned to restore the building and keep squatters out.  Time will tell – owners of other heritage buildings have allowed their building to deteriorate beyond repair.  Hopefully that won’t be the case with this one.

Were you related to any of the licensees?  What about John CLANCHY who was licensee for almost 40 years and by newspaper advertisements was still the owner when he died in 1917.  He transferred his license in 1895 to Sarah Jane CLANCHY – I wonder if this was John’s second wife (known as Sarah Jane as well as Sarah Mary Jane) who he married in 1890 or his daughter Sarah Jane who would have been only 23 at the time and did not marry until 1909.

Perhaps there are descendants around who have a photo of John CLANCHY – it would be great to add his image in a blog.  As he had 14 children from two marriages and at least 9 lived to adulthood, there are likely to be some grand-children and great-children around who may have photos in their family collections.

This list of licensees is from the book Geelong Hotels and Their Licensees by Bill Morrow and Ian Wynd.

  • 1851  Daniel HURLEY renewed (presumably established before 1851)
  • 1852  Daniel HURLEY
  • 1853  Daniel HURLEY
  • 1854  Daniel HURLY [sic]
  • 1855  John O’BRIEN
  • 1856  John O’BRIEN
  • 1857  John O’BRIEN
  • 1858  John CLANCHY
  • 1859  ?
  • 1860  John CLANCHY
  • 1861
  • 1862  John CLANCHY
  • 1863  John CLANCHY
  • 1864  John CLANCHY
  • 1865  John CLANCHY
  • 1866  John CLANCHY
  • 1867  John CLANCHY
  • 1868  John CLANCHY
  • 1869  John CLANCHY
  • 1870  John CLANCHY
  • 1871  John CLANCHY
  • 1872  John CLANCHY
  • 1873  J. CLANCHY
  • 1874  John CLANCHY
  • 1875  James CLANCHY [sic]
  • 1876  John CLANCHY
  • 1877  John CLANCHY
  • 1878  John CLANCHY
  • 1879  John CLANCHY
  • 1880  John CLANCHY
  • 1881  J. CLANCHY
  • 1882  John CLANCHY
  • 1883  John CLANCHY
  • 1884  John CLANCHY
  • 1885  John CLANCHY
  • 1886  John CLANCHY
  • 1887  John CLANCHY
  • 1888  John CLANCHY
  • 1889  John CLANCHY
  • 1890  John CLANCHY
  • 1891  John CLANCHY
  • 1892  John CLANCHY
  • 1893  John CLANCHY
  • 1894  John CLANCHY
  • 1895  John CLANCHY transferred to Sarah Jane CLANCHY
  • 1896  Sarah J CLANCHY
  • 1897  Sarah SHEPHERD
  • 1898  E. BOURDOFF
  • 1899  E. BOURDOFF
  • 1900  Elizabeth BOURDOFF
  • 1901  Elizabeth BOURDOFF
  • 1902
  • 1903  Michael KENNEDY
  • 1904  M. KENNEDY
  • 1905  M. KENNEDY
  • 1906  M. KENNEDY
  • 1907  M. O’CALLAGHAN