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

GEELONG HARBOUR

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

CORIO BAY,

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.

Victorian Equity Case Files

Old Supreme Court of VictoriaMany people won’t know of or understand Supreme Court of Victoria Equity Case Files, BUT once they do, they will definitely want to access them!  The old Supreme Court can be seen in the photo – it was on the corner of La Trobe and Russell Streets and was built in 1842.  The image is from the LaTrobe Collection, State Library of Victoria Ref H8305.  It was replaced by the current complex known as the Melbourne Law Courts in William Street, Melbourne.  The “new” building was built between 1874 and 1882.

So why am I writing about the Victorian Equity Case Files on my Geelong & District Blog?  Because they are part of a number of indexes which will be added to the Geelong & District Database shortly.

We are indebted to Ada Ackerly for making a number of her important indexes available for all to search free online.  Obviously these are relevant to all of Victoria and not just Geelong & District but that shouldn’t stop me from making them available for everyone.  And I can reassure those researching in Geelong & District that many of these entries relate to our region.  Some refer to a location but many do not.

An example: I hesitated when I was checking some (future) entries – there was a surname of SICHLAN.  I recognised the name so checked the Geelong & District Database and confirmed that it was a “local” family variously spelt SICHLAN and SICHLAU.

You’ll have to wait before those entries are online but in the meantime I have just uploaded:

  • Supreme Court of Victoria Equity Case Files 1852-1886 Index – 569 entries.

To understand the value of these records and the files at PROV they will lead you to, read the information provided by Ada for these entries which include Companies, Property and Trustees Statutes with MANY relating to children and their guardianship.

Another gem: the BECK infants – Guardian appointed father John in New Zealand !  How useful is that for researchers?

And what about: Jane DONALDSON – nee GUTHRIE of Falkirk UK ?

And for a real local: Queenscliff Fishing Co Ltd – winding up petition in 1874.

Enjoy!

175 years ago – Retreat Inn

Retreat InnThe Retreat Inn was opened in 1840 in the “first” Geelong which is now South Geelong on the Barwon River.  Newspaper reports then referred to North Geelong which is NOT today’s North Geelong but today’s Geelong!  Confused?  Just think this through logically – most new towns were located on a river providing a source of fresh water.  So Geelong was initially created on the Barwon River.  It’s port was actually on the bay which was to the north of Geelong [now South Geelong] and hence was referred to as North Geelong.  North Geelong grew to become the centre of the thriving city, hence it was then called Geelong and not North Geelong.  So if you find a reference to North Geelong in newspapers and local records, be aware that it could mean Geelong and not the North Geelong we know today.  Some important buildings have been referred to in the Geelong Advertiser as being in North Geelong, and the SAME building has been referred to as being in Geelong.  An example of this is the Immigration Depot.  It was always in Geelong and not North Geelong (now, not then!).  But, I digress, albeit with interesting snippets – be prepared for more of these digressions in this 175 years ago series.

The Retreat Inn was located on the south west corner of Fyans Street and Bellerine Street in South Geelong … errrr … Geelong but now South Geelong … understand?

As with many hotels in Geelong / South Geelong / North Geelong [understand?] it had more than one name.  The name change sometimes coincided with a new licensee.  The Retreat Inn / Hotel was also known as the Valley Inn and the Factory Inn / Hotel.

On 30 December 1840 a preliminary meeting was held at the Retreat Inn to form a Cricket Club – this was formed in 1841.  There was no official oval – any large open space would do.  And these were “exhibition” matches held during the 1840s – such as one between the bricklayers and the carpenters of the district.

The photo above is a recent one of the Retreat Inn.  Over the years the Retreat Inn has been extended, renovated, rebuilt and everything in between, however it has continually operated on the same site since 1840 when the first licensee was Joseph GRIFFIN.  Other early licensees included Patrick McKEEVER, William PERREN, James Henry KNIGHT, Francis BALFOUR, James McINNIS, William McGUINNESS and Robert McPHERSON.  The latter had an interesting notation in Geelong Hotels and their Licensees – in 1855 Robert McPHERSON was granted a license with caution to abstain from fiddling and dancing!  How outrageous!

Another digression – the book Geelong Hotels and their Licensees by Bill Morrow and Ian Wynd is just one of hundreds of local books indexed in the Geelong & District database – why not search for your names or places?  It’s free and there are more than 1.89 million entries!

Enough digressing – from the Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 30 January 1841, page 3 …

J GRIFFIN, Geelong Retreat Inn, Is happy to have it in his power to inform the Settlers of this district, that he has secured the services of one of the best FARRIERS in the Colony, so that he can now undertake orders of every description, either in Farriery or general Smith Work ; and he is confident of giving complete satisfaction to all who may honor him with their commands.

Don’t you just love the words and phrases used?

175 years ago!

Old Geelong Advertiser buildingAnyone researching in our Geelong & District region who doesn’t know that the Geelong Advertiser is THE paper to use must have been hiding under a rock!

You can read some of the history of this wonderful newspaper or visit the paper’s current web site.  This newspaper has been published continuously since 1840 and still going strong today.  In the earlier years the Geelong Advertiser was the newspaper for ALL areas of Western Victoria and south east South Australia.  It carried important news and VERY personal news – some that they wouldn’t be allowed to publish today for fear of being sued!

It’s full of wonderful articles and snippets for local and family history researchers so it’s a wonderful candidate for “On This Day”.  BUT it wasn’t published every day in the early years and I’m certainly not up to doing a daily blog.  Instead I’ve decided to do a semi-regular blog with entries from the newspaper 175 years ago.  Not on a specific date but sometime during the year 175 years ago – so this year that means 1841.

And of course you can do your own research as the Geelong Advertiser is searchable on TROVE – currently up to 1926.

So this is the beginning of a series of blogs for “175 years ago!”

Congratulations to Jan Parker

Jan ParkerJan isn’t a Geelong “local” although she definitely has ancestors in our region.  However many of you will know Jan from her involvement in the family history world – President, Victorian Association of Family History Organisations together with her ongoing involvement with the Yarrawonga, Cobram and Goulburn & Murray Family History associations.

Australia Day 2016 was a special day for Jan who was named the Yarrawonga Citizen of the Year and gained a special mention in the Moira Shire’s Citizen of the Year – both well-deserved for this hard working community contributor.

Congratulations from all your Family History cohorts.

DIFFERENT free Victorian records to search!

Australia DayBy now everyone knows that Findmypast and Ancestry have offered free access to some of their Australian records in celebration of Australia Day.

More than 40,000 entries from a myriad of different sources have just been added to the Geelong & District Database.

Big bonus:

  • You DON’T have to give any credit card details
  • It’s ALWAYS free to search
  • That offer doesn’t end after Australia Day!

The Geelong & District Database now contains more than 1,689,267 entries from more than 9,811 sources!

Have fun!

Demanding? Fresh bread!

BANT's Bakery, cnr Moorabool StreetThe Investigator, the Geelong Historical Society’s magazine, has been published since 1965.  It is always full of great articles, regular features, and wonderful snippets.

A delightful snippet originally published in the Geelong Advertiser, appeared in the September 2014 issue of the Investigator.

Geelong bread carters are finding a considerable percentage of unreasonable housewives who want fresh bread, must have it, and won’t take any other.  The objection would not be so bad if it were not supplemented by absurd reproof and argument directed against the offending carter.  Generally, the men are not working any later through the change in hauling, but they are chaffing under the tongue-wagging of some of their clients.  The remarkable part of it is that the bulk of the offenders are the wives of unionists, who should be glad to see the conditions of fellow-unionists improved.  The system of day baking is on its trial and already it is admitted by sympathizers that it will never be satisfactory till made compulsory by Act of Parliament.

 

Do you enjoy the Antiques Roadshow?

bellhsfIf so, you won’t want to miss this special event at the Bellarine Historical Society!  Come along and bring your bottle(s).

What: Free Bottle Appraisal and Valuations

When: Sunday 14th February, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Bellarine Historical Society, Old Court House Museum, 11 High Street, Drysdale Vic 3222

Details: Bottle Valuations Event and contact details.

About: Paul and David Bruce, well respected collectors and traders in antique bottles, will appraise and value your bottle(s).

Cost: No charge however a gold coin entry donation would be must appreciated.

The Bellarine Historical Society will also be supporting the 2016 Festival of Glass in Drysdale on Sunday 21st February.

Geelong Advertiser … can’t research without it!

Geelong Advertiser 9 January 1841 p1Just 175 years and 3 days ago the first edition of the Geelong Advertiser was published – November 21, 1840 in fact.  It is Victoria’s OLDEST morning newspaper.  The banner for the Geelong Advertiser includes the words “Fortis est veritas” or THE TRUTH IS STRONG.

Map of Corio from the Geelong Advertiser 9 Jan 1841On Saturday January 9, 1841, a supplement to the (then) standard 4-page issue was this amazing “Map of the Town of Corio (or Geelong) including the Suburbs, the Bay, and the River, 1841 … printed and published for John Pascoe Fawkner by Harrison & Watkins, Corio”.

And what a huge amount of history is in the map and the names associated with it – not least of which is James Harrison a true pioneer of our region.  [Do yourself a favour and actually click on the link to read the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for this truly amazing man!]

We’re celebrating the 175th birthday of this wonderful paper and as a researcher and historian [local and family], I am so fortunate to be able to search and access the digitised version of the Geelong Advertiser from 1840 to 1926.  Of course researchers are greedy and we want more and more to appear online.  Hopefully funds will become available to continue the digitising.

ANYONE with an ounce of history running through their veins knows how much history exists in our region.  I have given presentations all over Victoria and also in New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.  Many have been on Geelong and Point Henry (the place of arrival of so many ships bringing immigrants to our shores) but the majority have been on other local and family history subjects.  Without fail the majority of the audience had ancestors who arrived in Geelong / Point Henry.  In June 2011 I gave four presentations to the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory [GSNT] – almost 100% of the audience had Geelong connections!

Being the LONGEST RUNNING morning newspaper in Victoria AND the newspaper covering not just Geelong but all of the western district of Victoria [and across the border into South Australia] the paper is so important to many researchers.

Did you know that the Geelong Advertiser published lists of people who shipped gold from the gold-fields to the port of Geelong in 1851-54?  We have 6,624 entries in our Geelong & District database for the gold shipments.  In fact our database includes 29,413 entries transcribed from various editions of the Geelong Advertiser on a variety of subjects.

It is full of people and local history – an absolute goldmine for researchers.  If you are researching past 1926, in Victoria the Addy is on microfilm at the State Library of Victoria and the Geelong Heritage Centre.

From all of us … “Happy Birthday to the Geelong Advertiser“!

 

Really, really, really important news!

Geelong Library & Heritage Centre - new buildingThis has been confirmed by the Geelong Heritage Centre – SPECIAL opening hours to celebrate the opening of the new building.

The centre will be open the SAME times as the library on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November AND on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November.

That means 10.00 am to 5.00 pm BOTH days and BOTH weekends.

IMPORTANT : on those two weekends you will NOT be able to order items from the archives repository, however during the week – Tuesday to Friday – you can order items as usual.

From Saturday 5th December, you will be able to order items from the archives repository and opening hours will be 10.00 am to 1.00 pm.

We hope to see lots of familiar faces at the celebratory opening weekends!

Keep your eye out for a new web site coming VERY soon for the Heritage Centre.  There should be announcements in the press and on the Geelong Regional Libraries site.