14. Kangaroo Ground Cemetery

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Kangaroo Ground Cemetery base map

 

LOCATION PLAN

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Dennis Ward, Project Manager for the Cemetery Tours, introducing today’s team. Mick Woiwod, Author of 20 books mainly focussed on the local region, Diana Bassett-Smith, long time resident of The Shire and Mike Pelling, Chairman of Trustees of the Cemetery.

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View of Rotunda.from outside carpark.

 

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Another beautiful day with a bright blue sky, in amongst the Gum Trees and History, gathering in the Rotunda of the Kangaroo Ground Cemetery.

Dennis spoke briefly of the background of the 2013 Cemetery Tours and the Shire of Nillumbik’s Grant to study the link between the Family History and Community History that can be found in Cemeteries across the Shire and beyond and then turned the group over to Mick Woiwoid.

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MICK WOIWOD

Mick discussed the early days before the Cemetery. Families were burying there own on there own land. He said that in 1866 Henry Hurst of Allwood,Hurst’s Bridge, who was fatally wounded by Bushranger Robert Bourke, had been tied to a tree on his farm, was buried in what became the family burial plot beside the road on the farm.

The first White burials at Kangaroo Ground were of Children in unmarked graves where the Inglewood Chapel and Reception Centre is now. They are now lost.

David Christmas died 1851-1852 somewhere in Christmas Hills. It wasn’t until Mick decided to write a book about him that the story became clearer and his location of his grave “found”. David’s story is told under the ‘JOSEPH AND RUTH STEVENSON’ story.

Judith Furphy, was 5 years old, when she was the first person buried in the Kangaroo Ground Cemetery in 1851. The fence line of the Cemetery was on the last owned land of the 10 farms of Kangaroo Ground. It was 2 acres of sand. After school there was a procession to the Cemetery. Judith’s story is told under the heading ‘YOUNG JUDITH FURPHY IS LAID TO REST’.

The Kangaroo Ground Cemetery was described in a “Petition to the Governor” deriving from a meeting in the Schoolhouse on Tuesday 24th August 1857 chaired by Rev David Boyd of Panton Hill, with the indomitable School Master Andrew Ross as Secretary. But the list of all Presbyterian Trustees was not acceptable and two Catholic and two ‘Episcopalian’ representatives appointed and proclaimed on 27th August 1858.

The First Trustees were:

Andrew Harkness Presbyterian,  Walter Wippell Presbyterian,  John Sweeney Catholic, Patrick O’Callaghan Catholic,  John Jardine Church of England and  Henry Scarce Church of England.

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The Rotunda was opened in March 2001 by Peter Basset-Smith, Cemetery Trustee from 1979 to 1994 and Nillumbik Citizen of the Year 2001. This celebrated the 100 years of service to the Cemetery by the Ness and Stevenson Families.

In pre White occupation, the east side of the cemetery, was an aboriginal camp site, for at least 10,000 years. The east side is protected from the prevailing winds so it would be an ideal overnight camp site. Water soaks from the sand and forms a permanent waterhole.

THE PELLING FAMILY

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MIKE PELLING

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I would like to welcome you officially on be half of the Trust and draw your attention to a couple of Occupational Health and Safety Signs.

William and Ethele Osborne were my Grand-parents.

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William Allan Osborne was born in a place called Hollywood, Ulster, Northern Ireland, and was the son of a Clergy Man. He was a violent agnostic atheist later on. He came out here and was appointed Professor of Physiology at Melbourne University in 1903. He became Dean of the Faculty in 1929. He was one of the Founders of Melbourne Rotary in 1921.He was Commonwealth Film Censor, and for 17 years involved with “Information Please” and the tradition is my grandfather helped Barry Jones to ‘Remember’. He escaped Melbourne winters to Magnetic Island. He died in 1967. 

Ethele Elizabeth Goodson was born in 1882. She studied Medicine at Melbourne University and married William in 1903. She was a Founding Member of Emily MacPherson Domestic College (now RMIT Management School). In 1928 at Melb Uni she was the representative the Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference in Hawaii. She was involved in the Catalysts Club which still active and assisted Sydney Myer in developing the Kew Boulevard in the Depression. She died in 1968.

According to records they were both cremated at Springvale and their Ashes Spread. The Family have since decided to have Memorial Plaques here to remember them.

When they were at the University they had a house there and a holiday house in Osborne Road, Warrandyte. So when they retired in 1938 they bought half of the Donaldson’s Property Kangaroo Ground (about 300 acres) and settled there. They called their house the “Hall”.

During their busy careers they had the following children:

AUDREY (Twins) Instrumental in setting up “Potters Cottage”, Warrandyte. They had the “White Cottage”, Heritage Listed house in Osbourne Road, that is worth a look.

JARED (2 children) Lived in “Lowerstoff”, in Osborne Road, Warrandyte. He worked at Kraft Foods and became Managing Director.

YRSA. (No Children) Became Lady Fitz when her husband Surgeon Clive Fitz was Knighted.

CHARIS (4 children) Married Bill Pelling and lived in South Yarra. And this is Charis here.

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Charis and Bill moved to part of the “Hall” after I (Michael) was born and called the property “Woodlands”. Charis ran the farm with a Poll Dorset Stud and 1500 Merino Wethers. It is hard to think of now . Charis became an Shire of Eltham Councillor and was the First Woman Shire President. This was an exciting period for Eltham with ‘Real Artists’ and the successfull moving of Shilliglaw Cottage before the Shire Offices were built, and they created Parks and that sort of thing. So the house was full of paintings and artworks.

In 1969 the “Hall” and “Woodlands” were burnt out in ‘spotfires’ and we lost everything.
Bill (my father) had got through Police blockades to try and save us. He became lodged in a fallen tree and left the road and spent 3 hours in a dam with a bull. He had as a consequence a minor face lift afterwards.

The “Hall” was subdivided with some going to Eltham College.

Around this time Neil Douglas rented a weatherboard house at the Bend of Islands, and although it was radical then, created with the help of friends, the Enviromental Residential/ Conservation Zone. (Neil said his house was saved by the native garden).

After the fires Bill and Charis moved to “Cooree Bank” just east of KG Tower.
Bill Died and Charis moved to Yea. They had four children.

*Mike. WHAT DOES MIKE DO? BESIDES BE TRUSTEE Lives at the Bend of Islands.

Marg. Left 40 years ago and has been an Oxord University Research Associate.

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NICK Who went to the Vietnam War, suffered PTSD and on return joined the CFA. He represented the CFA and RSL on the Shire of Nillumbik Kangaroo Gound War Memorial and Tower of Rememberance Advisory Committee.  He is on the left in the photograph of the Rededication of the Tower in 2001 by Governor John Landy.
He married Anna Brinkotter, another well known family name from the Pioneering Days. Anna also joined the KG War Memorial Advisory Committee after Nicholas passed away.

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DEB Operated an Airline at Woolongong, New South Wales and plans to retire to Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Mike, Marg, Nick and Deb all attended Kangaroo Ground State School.


BASSETT-SMITH, STEVENSON AND NESS

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DIANA BASSETT-SMITH

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JOSEPH AND RUTH STEVENSON

This is a rather remarkable story with links from Robert Louis Stevenson, the tools that made the First Punt over the Yarra and a Lovely Lady from Kangaroo Ground, Diana Basset-Smith (nee Stevenson).

Yes the family is related to Robert Louis Stevenson but this adventure takes place on the other side of the planet.

JOSEPH (1802-1878), had departed Scotland 1832 on board the Wellington bound for Sydney. There, he married Ruth Boyd, the daughter of convict, Alexander Boyd. Soon after, the couple moved to Tasmania where David was born. Joseph, a joiner by trade, worked a year or two in the timber industry there, then crossed the Straits to newly opening Melbourne on the Yarra. At the third Melbourne Land Sale (13 September 1838), Joseph, for just on Ninety Pounds, purchased the half acre allotment on the corner of Swanton and Little Bourke Streets.

At the time, Melbourne was on the verge of the first of its notorious land booms. When James Bowie Kirk (not related to George Kirk) decided upon a Horse Bazaar in Bourke Street, it was Stevenson who built it. When William Watts required a punt built to ferry passengers and goods across the Yarra, again, it was Stevenson who fulfilled the contract. The day the punt was launched it was christened the `Melbourne’ and the splash of river water is said to have mingled with the splash of champagne from the nearby tavern. It was an occasion for celebration; the settlement could at last open wheel-tracks to Westernport.

Stevenson’s Melbourne years appears to have provided the capital for him to purchase the bullocks and equipment he required to launch himself on the land. By 1841 he was on Arthur’s Creek near the present day township of Diamond Creek.

Local tradition has it that the name ‘Diamond Creek’, itself, derives directly from a Stevenson mishap said to have occurred near Gum’s Bridge in which he lost his most valuable bullock – an animal answering to the name of ‘Diamond’. Afterwards, it is said that whenever Stevenson made reference to the stream, he had a habit of alluding to it as ‘the one ‘Diamond’ was in’. In time, the stream, itself, to as far as Haley’s, came to be known as Diamond Creek.

In 1842 Stevenson established a sheep station out past Kangaroo Ground at the junction of Watson and Five Mile Creeks. In need of a shepherd, he rode into Melbourne and hired a man by the name of David Christmas, leaving him to find his own way out to his station in the hills.

David seems to have managed as far as the Kangaroo Grounds, but, in the trackless scrub beyond, somehow managed to become hopelessly lost. After days of aimless wandering, during which time he is said to have eaten his dog, he was rescued after making his way towards the sound of bells which some versions claim he mistook for the bells of St Paul’s. Instead, they hung from the necks of Stevenson’s bullocks. In acknowledgment of his shepherd’s salvation, Stevenson named his run ‘Christmas Hill Station’.

For he was found by Stevenson,
Who for his cattle came,
And from this humble shepherd
These hills have gained their name.
Terry Bates, 1992.

One hundred and fifty years later, 11 October 1992, the people of Christmas Hills gathered to celebrate the event. They unveiled a plaque on a memorial erected above David’s bush grave. Afterwards, to the lilt of the Welsh national air, ‘We’ll Keep a Welcome on the Hillside’, a toast was drank in remembrance of the shepherd’s exploits.

David Christmas was born Cardiganshire, Wales, in 1797. Soon after his marriage to Jane Wall he was convicted of the larceny of gold and silver and transported to Van Diemen’s Land. In 1836, by now a free man, he crossed the Straits to arrive on the Yarra with Melbourne a mere collection of huts, and a European population of under two hundred. Apart from his bush grave and the story of his misadventure in the great Stringy-bark Forest, little else is known of his life in the districts.

In 1847, Stevenson sold his Christmas Hill Station to Henry Dendy and moved to Kangaroo Ground, where, as has already been seen, he purchased seventy-eight acres on the eastern edge of the district’s black soil. There, he built the family home, Bank Head. By the 1860s, the Stevenson had a sizable vineyard on the property’s eastern slopes, said to have produced ‘very light but agreeable wines’ that sold well at Melbourne and overseas markets.

Years later, the Stevensons added a further forty-odd acres to the property with a long road frontage leading down to Watson Creek. It was Stevenson who built Andrew Ross’s house, and who later became a first Trustee of both the Common and the Cemetery; and early member also of the Eltharn Road Board. Stevenson’s selections north of Henley Road.

But back to their eldest son, David, born in Van Diemen’s Land, who selected eighty acres above Fryer’s Gully in Nicholas Lane under Section 31 of the Land Act. David worked his farm for just seven months. On 18 March 1868 he set out from ‘Bank Head’ in search of lost horses following their tracks to as far as the junction of the Yarra with Watsons Creek. In attempting to cross the river by way of a rock-bar (known to present day canoeists as ‘Arthur’s Mistake’), he lost his footing and drowned.

David’s selection was taken over by his younger brother, Robert, who cleared and fenced the property for grazing. In an unfortunate coincidence, sixteen years later, Robert and his wife, Ruth, had the misfortune to lose their own young son, David, drowned in their farm dam.

The Stevenson family eventually selected a number of other properties along the lower reaches of Watsons Creek bringing their total holdings to around 320 acres.

Robert Stevenson married Ruth Sadler; his sister, Jane, married James Mess. Already, a pattern of settlement was beginning to form. By 1870 practically all the Scots of Kangaroo Ground were related; now their offspring were winging their way out from their embryonic oasis into the less fertile surrounds of the Stringy-bark Forest.

Regardless of how one looks at it, the Scots of Kangaroo Ground were unique in the Victorian narrative. Elsewhere around them, was a blend of nationalities, ranging from the African co-discoverer of the Caledonian field to the French and German Hoteliers of Panton Hill through to the English and Irish majorities of the Diamond Valley, and the unloved Chinese who worked so diligently and silently in the gullies of the One Tree Hill Range.

Regardless of the name being Bell, Armstrong, Barr, Donaldson, Harkness, Rogerson, Johnston, Mess, Sadler, Stevenson, Thomson, Ross, McAdam, Andrews or Cameron — all were Scottish, all were Presbyterians. Furthermore, all were in some way related.

There was, of course, the odd Sassenach among them – men such as Henry Scarce and Charles Draper – but they were destined to eventually locate their farms deep out in the stringy-bark rather than at the centre of things. By the time the 1869 Act had ran its course there would be barely a square inch of the district that was not owned, fenced or in some way brought within the European dream.

p103-106 KANGAROO GROUND The Highland Taken, Mick Woiwoid 1994


THE BELLS

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The Bells rank with the Donaldson as the earliest and most noteworthy settlers of Kangaroo Ground. William Bell, a Scot of the Border Country was born the year Robbie Burns died. In 1817, he married twenty-four year old Agnes Muncaster of Cumberland. Together, the couple raised a family of five; a further three children having died in infancy.

Emigrants boarding for the long journey to Australia. Illustrated London News, 6 July 1850, William and Agnes Bell would, certainly, have heard the call, of Port Phillip agent, Dr Boyter, and anxiously awaited his arrival in Dumfriesshire later that year. Boyter focussed on the ordinary farm worker and country mechanic. The Bell family proved admirably suited. Upon selection, each candidate was required to provide a character reference from his or her employer or minister of religion. After interview and approval, Boyter’s responsibility was to allocate ships, supervise embarkation, and see to the loading of sufficient supplies for the long sea voyage.

The ship chosen for the Bell family was the David Clark. On board when it sailed were 230 fellow Scots: 125 from the Highlands, 94 from the Lowlands. The occupations of the Lowlanders were as follows:

  • 17 maidservants 22 married women
  • 13 farm labourers 19 children
  • 4 dairymaids 2 storekeepers
  • 1 carpenter 3 manservants
  • 2 blacksmiths 2 tailors
  • 1 joiner 2 needlewomen
  • 2 shepherds 1 farm overseer
  • 3 cartwrights

No sooner had the ship departed port than they were disrupted by drunken skirmishes between the ship’s captain and an unruly Irish element aboard in an otherwise competent Scandinavian crew. A week or so later the ship lay interminably becalmed in the doldrums during which time a craft of sinister appearance hovered within sight for two whole days, steadfastly refusing to identify itself.
Believing it to be a pirate ship, the captain: ordered musket and cutlass to be furbished and issued to the crew and male passengers, and the big cannons were got ready, all the women ordered to remain below deck and there had to stay quaking with fear.

The display of arms and naval pretence eventually effected the desired result, and the foreboding intruder departed.

Among those on board the David Clark were sixteen Scottish emigrants destined to play central roles in the Kangaroo Ground story. They were from among the families of:

  • William Bell, farm overseer aged 43, his wife, Agnes, house-servant and dairy-maid aged 46, and their children, John aged 19, Thomas 18, Dinah 17, Jane 10, and 8-year-old, William.
  • William Armstrong, shepherd, his wife Mary with seven children of whom one was Simon, aged 17.
  • Francis Rogerson, stock farmer, and his sister, Janet, house-maid and dairy-maid, aged 31.
  • Thomas Armstrong, shepherd, (unrelated to William and Mary, above), aged 21.
  • John Barr, blacksmith, and his wife, Janet.
  • John Arthur, gardener, aged 38, his wife, Eliza, and their four children, Elizabeth, John, Robert and Grace.

Surviving records of the voyage of the David Clark indicate that conditions on board gave little real reason for complaint. The ship’s surgeon, Archibald Gilchrist, an ex-Royal Navy man responsible for the health and living conditions of those on board, acquitted himself credibly throughout. Just one death occurred, and one child born: the baby christened ‘Gilchrist’ in recognition of the surgeon’s care.

Even so, conditions on board were in the main Spartan. The below-decks was fitted out in tiers composed of narrow bunks, packed tightly together the length of the vessel. These were mere boxes, barely wide enough nor long enough for comfortable sleep, fixed to posts spanned between deck and deck-head. Alongside each row of bunks were long wooden mess tables. When not in use for meals, these sufficed as the sole, below-deck, recreational space available to passengers who in stormy weather, might be battened down below deck for days on end. At journey’s end, all fittings were dismantled and sold off to make room for the cargo of a return voyage.

Food consisted of mainly ship’s biscuits, salt pork, dried peas, bouli soup, tea and lime juice. Every so often, families would be issued with ingredients to mix into a pudding which, when wrapped in cloth, could be dispatched to the galley on deck and boiled by the cook. As a concession to national diet, ships leaving Scottish ports were provided also with an issue of oatmeal. The Bells are said to have been luckier than most. With them on board was `Lady Emily’, an Ayreshire cow said to have supplied them daily with milk.

Delay caused by becalmment in mid-Atlantic forced the David Clark to stop-over at Rio de Janeiro for reprovisioning. Several days of contrary winds delayed their eventual entry into the city’s spectacular harbour. The visit was to add a further fourteen days to the voyage, due, partly, to the wild Irish component of the crew indulging in a further spree that saw them landed in the cites gaol.
For the passengers ferried ashore each day, Rio was to be remembered as a first taste of an exotic world that was anything but Scottish. One lad, Alexander Menzies, went ashore in full Highland Dress and to his surprise drew such a crowd that he was forced to return to the ship for a change of clothes.

A chance encounter ashore saw the Bell family meet for the first time, Andrew Ross, returning to England, not knowing that a dozen years later, he was to play such a dominant role in their lives at Kangaroo Ground.

To the passengers, Rio was a fabled city of Sugarloaf mountains towering into the clouds; a place where black slaves bearing loads on their heads were hurried through the streets to the crack of an overseer’s whip; a place where exotic fruits – leathers and brandys – and goods of every descriptions could be bought fora song. But most of all, a place where they felt intense passion for the plight of the poor black slaves.

Reprovisioned, the ship left Rio for the long haul across the icy southern ocean, a voyage that would take them deep into the roaring forties below Africa, and onward past remote St Paul’s Island into the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay.

On the 22 September 1839 the David Clark was struck by a storm that lasted a week. Young Alexander Menzies described the seas as ‘like mighty mountains and glens of drifting snow.’ Christina Stewart, another passenger abroad, described the terror of her ordeal:

We were caught in a great storm… which sadly battered and tossed us and almost overwhelmed us in its mountainous waves, the hatches had to be securely closed and only opened at long intervals to admit air. I remained, all the time in my berth with my boy and my brothers in momentary expectation of the ship sinking, supplicating the Almighty to save us…

The David Clark safely reached journeys end and entered Port Phillip Heads on 27 October 1839 after a voyage of 134 days. It anchored in Hobson Bay opposite Williamstown at four in the afternoon. The following day, to the sound of three hearty cheers, a party led by Superintendent Charles La Trobe boarded to hold an Official Enquiry. Seated in the captain’s cabin below decks, he personally interviewed each passenger as to name, age, place of birth, religion, occupation; also as to complaints any might have of their treatment on the voyage. The following day all were landed ashore, by long boat, on Sandridge Beach for a two mile walk along bush tracks to the accommodation provided. This proved to be fifty numbered tents, neatly arranged in three parallel lines along the south bank of the Yarra, opposite the newly established Melbourne settlement.

Already, before leaving ship, the emigrants had been accosted by droves of labour-hungry settlers eager to secure labour for their farms and stations. One to offer employment to twenty young men on board was La Trobe’s own secretary. His offer was for eighteen shillings a week together with rations. None accepted! There would be better offers ashore!

Upon arrival at ‘Canvas Town’ the 230 Scottish emigrants excitedly stored away their sea trunks and other baggage carted up from the beach in the wagons provided by La Trobe. All gazed, wonderingly at the strange collection of rude wooden huts on the opposite shore that was Melbourne Town.

Still, offers of work rolled in. Young women were found to be in great demand and the first to strike bargains. After months at sea in cramped communal quarters they were eager for a room and a bed of their own. Offers of twenty-five to thirty pounds a year and keep, as house servants, were not unusual, yet seemed beyond their wildest dreams. Farm hands were being offered fifty pounds a year with rations!

Excitement rose as shadows lengthened; sulphur-crested cockatoo came in to raucously roost in the ancient gums lining a river painted red by the dying rays of the setting sun. Smoke was soon rising from cooking fires, and for the first time the aroma of food and eucalyptus filled their night air.

The Port Phillip Gazette described the scene later that evening in the following lines:

“The piper struck off with some of his wild national airs, and the greater part of the emigrants danced by moonlight on the grass. After some time passed this way, the whole party, headed by the man of wind and pipes, went off through the bush for about a mile to see a grand corroborie of the blacks; it was singular to hear the blending of our highland music with the deep monotonous chaunt of the Australian aborigine; what must have been their ideas upon seeing those grounds that five years past were tenanted by themselves alone teeming with hundreds of fresh and strange arrivals, it would be highly curious but difficult to divine”.

p39-45 KANGAROO GROUND The Highland Taken, Mick Woiwoid 1994


THE ARMSTRONGS

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YOUNG JUDITH FURPHY IS LAID TO REST

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The earliest record of what was to become the Kangaroo Ground Cemetery comes from the pen of Andrew Ross, the district’s first schoolmaster and Presbyterian lay preacher. His crisp diary entry of 18 May 1851 reads: ‘First Funeral, Furphy child, I officiate.’ Over the ensuing twenty-five years the long-serving schoolmaster was destined to officiate at scores of other grave-side services — and as deputy registrar of births and deaths after 1858 — he would be required to record for government purposes all who died or were born in surrounding districts.’

In his ‘Reminiscence’ of 2 December 1887,” Andrew Ross elaborates further on his brief diary entry of 18 May 1851: The month of May (1851) was distinguished by three events I must carefully record. The first was the death of an interesting little girl, the daughter of Mr Furphy, who had attended school a fortnight only. The child caught a cold from resting on wet grass at Crow’s Nest. Hearing she was seriously ill, I volunteered to ride to Melbourne for advice and medicine, which I did on Mr Furphy’s horse on the evening of the 15th, returning on next morning. Little Judith only survived another day.

This event led to the selection of a piece of land suitable for a cemetery. One or two interments had occurred on private ground, but no public burying place existed nearer than Melbourne. The case being considered urgent, a general meeting of the settlers took place on the evening of the 17th, probably the first of the kind held in the county, and the first held in the schoolhouse.

The result was the selection of unoccupied crown land at the NE side of the purchased land, which was subsequently granted by Government for a public cemetery. Here, therefore, on the afternoon of Sunday 18th May, 1851, the remains of Judith Furphy were deposited, always to be noted as the first interment. The Rev. P. Gunn had service at the schoolhouse in the morning of that day to a full congregation, but as he had to leave for another engagement the teacher performed at the grave, being the first of a very considerable number whom it devolved upon him to perform this duty on their
being consigned to the last resting-place.

The ‘Interesting little girl’ Ross refers to was the sister of John Furphy, the future maker of the famous Furphy water-cart which at Gallipoli in World War I saw the name `furphy’ enter the Australian idiom with the meaning `rumour’; the sister too of the novelist, Joseph Furphy, who, years later, would write the great Australian novel, Such is Life.

Among the mourners beside Judith’s lonely grave that far-off autumn afternoon would have stood both of these — also Judith’s mother who would return to the spot a year or two later for the burial of her latest child.” The pathos of these early scenes of childhood mortality in Kangaroo Ground was later captured by Judith’s elder broter, Joseph, in the passage: Steve and I strolled out one Sunday, to the little country cemetery … and went on until we stood by two little fresh mounds enclosed in the same picket fence. We glanced at each other, without speaking, and walked away in separate directions.

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p18 TREAD SOFTLY YOU TREAD ON DREAMS  Kangaroo Grounds Cemetery’s One Hundred and Fifty Years, Mick Woiwoid  2001


ALBERT NORTON JONES

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The northern bounds of Kangaroo Ground were settled mainly by diggers from the Watery Gully field. As already seen, miners on a goldfield could apply for an ‘occupation license’ of up to twenty acres to locate a house and cultivation patch with sufficient grazing to boot for, say, a horse and cow. Ultimately, most of the neighbouring Queenstown Parish was pegged out and settled this way.

The first of the rushes to Watery Gully occurred in 1857 when two runaway sailors, more or less in desperation, sank a hole and were fortunate enough to strike gold. News spread rapidly and soon two or three hundred diggers were rushing the place with good results. This rush would later be referred to as the ‘Old Watery Gully Rush’. It was close by to Johnston’s Pretty Hill.  A second Watery Gully rush took place, nearby, in 1861.

One of the first on the Watery Gully field was Thomas Jones. In 1863, (perhaps earlier), he opened a general store on land held under an ‘occupation license’. In November 1868, like Cameron and Cleaves, he placed his store and the surrounding twenty-one acres for public auction. His valuation of three hundred and fifty pounds for ‘improvements’ saw everything successfully knocked down in his name. With both Wood’s Point and Queenstown travellers passing through, Jones’s store continued to flourish some years longer.

In 1870, Thomas Jones selected an additional forty-eight acres adjacent to his Store farm on what is now Wattle Glen Road. In his application, he described himself as a farmer and store-keeper. He died in 1879.20 By then he, his sons, Edward and Thomas, together with others of the surname, Jones, had successfully selected sixteen separate, yet contiguous, farmlets of twenty or less acres.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of the family was Albert Norton Jones. He was born the year Thomas died. Albert, like many another small-holder of Watery Gully eventually turned his hand to orcharding. His home, Golden Glen, still stands on the north side of the Wattle Glen Road.

A prime problem of these early orchardists was an absence of income throughout the early years whilst their trees established. Even afterwards, orcharding remained a seasonal affair requiring some alternative sources of income. Albert seems to have bridged the gap as a travelling salesman with the Vacuum Oil Co.

Whatever spare time he had, he devoted to his consuming passion for photography. Whenever the occasion presented, Albert would be there with his camera and tripod to record the event. As to whether he did it entirely for remuneration or simply for the love of it, is unclear — the themes he dealt with seem to suggest the latter.

Not for Albert the stylish indoor shot posed against some decorative backdrop as was the fashion of the day. Not for him the elegant borrowed clothes and the high-minded postures, designed to impress and beguile. Instead, Albert’s aim seemed to have been to capture for posterity his subject’s participation in some everyday event of the period. It involved him setting up with meticulous care his bulky apparatus of camera and tripod with careful consideration as to light and aspect. With all in readiness — each shot carefully focussed and composed – the glass negative would be slid into place to await the exact moment for the removal of the slide that would expose his plate and record that one instant for posterity. Year by year, Albert processed his plates in a dark room beneath his Golden Glen home; year by year he stored them away for possible further use. Slowly, their numbers grew to a thousand or more.

Among his glass negatives were shots of such significant events as the construction of the Hurst’s Bridge Railway Line; farewells to soldiers going off to war, and local footballers preparing for the match; farmers ploughing fields, and orchardists with their new-fangled spray machines; grubby gold miners in work-a-day clothes, and the long forgotten streetscapes of the day. Also, there were carefully composed shots of native birds painstakingly taken from the hides he prepared in his bush surrounds.
In an endeavour to boost income from his sideline, he inserted the following advertisement in the:

EVELYN OBSERVER
A.N. Jones – outdoor photographer of Kangaroo Ground will visit any part of the surrounding districts and is prepared to execute any orders. Homes taken, and family groups a speciality, enlargements made etc.”

When Albert Norton Jones died, his plates lay forgotten, to gather dust and deteriorate.
Eventually, his house and farm was sold by his widow. The purchaser was A.J. (Ned) Spark of Balwyn, who in the process of clearing out the accumulated litter of the years, came across Albert’s dusty boxes of glass stashed in the musty cellar. About to consign the lot to the local tip, Ned investigated further and grasped their potential. Today, as ‘The Spark Collection’, the lifetime work of Albert Jones, carefully catalogued by his descendant, Paul Sly, survives as the most important pictorial record of the district’s life and times.

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Albert Norton Jones of “Golden Glen”, Kangaroo Ground with his travelling photographic van. Courtesy of Paul Sly

p142-143  KANGAROO GROUND The Highland Taken, Mick Woiwoid  1994

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