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Bunyip Hotels

Links to our Past - history -

In 1847 a  road was surveyed from Dandenong to Gippsland  along the edge of the ranges and when this proved to be impassable in places, a new road, which became the coach route, was surveyed in 1859 by A. Campbell.  This went through Cannibal Creek (around where Bassed road is in North Garfield) and through the old township of Buneep and onto Crossover. The Melbourne to Sale telegraph line followed this route in 1865, which eventually gave the road the name of Old Telegraph Road and where it crossed the Bunyip River was where the aforementioned town of Buneep was established (where modern day Ellis Road would cross the Bunyip River). This town was surveyed in the 1850s - it had a High Street and a Barkly Street (you can see the Survey Plan, below)  In 1857 David Connor selected  a site for an Inn and it was built in the early 1860s, this was called the Buneep Inn (later the Old Bunyeep Inn).  In 1869 John Rhoden became the proprietor, I believe he was a son-in-law of  David O'Connor.

This is the township of Buneep, surveyed in the 1850s.. Click on the picture for an enlargement

The Argus October 23, 1865
This advertisement from The Argus, October 1865 advises that you could catch a mail coach at 5.00pm  Monday to Saturday and have a 36 hour trip all the way to Sale, stopping at Bunyip or the old township of Bunyeep. That would have been a fairly rugged 36 hours!

Bunnyip Hotel, North Gippsland, c. 1880-1885 [David Connor's New Bunyip Inn]Photographer: Fred Kruger. State Library of Victoria Image H41138/11

Around 1867  David Connor’s New Bunyip Inn, was established. It is pictured above. This was built on the Bunyip River on the Gippsland Road, as the Princes Highway was then called. It was on the south side of the Highway,  just east of A'Beckett Road and the west side of the Bunyip River.  The coach route then changed direction at Cannibal Creek and turned south east to this Inn, and became known as Old Sale Road. A small settlement developed around the Inn, including the establishment of a bakery by William Snell in 1878 and a dance hall erected by Mr Hyne, opposite the Inn. Atr some time another son-in-law of David Connor, took over this Hotel, David Devanny or Devenay  or Deveney depending on sources. He was still there in 1897, but the hotel was closed by the Licensing Reduction Board in 1917.

The red circle,  shows the location of the New Bunyip Inn and the small settlement that surrounded it. 

Dandenong Advertiser, June 14 1917
The closure of the New Bunyip Hotel was announced in June 1917.

Bunyip Hotel, c. 1890 - but is this actually in Bunyip?Museum Victoria  http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/768080
This photograph is the Bunyip Hotel, George Stevens, Licensed Victualler. It's location is labelled as Bunyip, but I am not sure if that is the case. It's obviously not the New Bunyip Inn, as the building in the top photo has a sign which says, New Bunyip Hotel, and this is clearly a different building. It is not a forerunner of the Railway Hotel and Gippsland Hotel in the township of Bunyip, as the landscape is wrong and I feel it is unlikely to be the original Bunyip Inn as, I can't see that there would have been enough traffic to sustain such a large building. I believe that this building is not in Bunyip and I am suggesting that it could be the Bunyip Hotel in Cavendish - it's been around since at least the 1860s and modern day photos, show that the 1930s existing building is on a corner like this on  flat ground. More than happy to be proved wrong.

The township of Bunyip moved again after the establishment of the Gippsland Railway Line. The line was completed from Oakleigh to Bunyip in October 1877. This saw the establishment of two other Bunyip Hotels  as firstly the line from Morwell to Bunyip wasn't completed until March 1878, so travellers had to stop over at Bunyip and continue by coach, secondly the hotels serviced the locals and the workers on the railway line. The Hotels were the Butcher's Arms and the Bunyip Hotel, according to Call of the Bunyip.  John O'Brien had the licence for the Bunyip Hotel and in January 1877 he took up the licence for the Railway Family Hotel, once again, according to Call of the Bunyip.

The Argus  May 17, 1881.
John O'Brien's tenure at the Family Hotel didn't last very long as it was sold up by the Sherrifs Office in May 1881, as the advertisement in The Argus, above, attests. I am a bit hazy on the early details of these hotels -  by 1884 there are various advertisements for Lawrence Finch's Gippsland Hotel at Bunyip - this Hotel is still in existence (it's known as the Top Pub); in 1897 Sarah Alice Finch was listed as the licensee  and William Kraft took over, sometime between October 1898 and September 1899, according to the Shire of Berwick Rate Books.   It is pictured below. I don't know when the original building was replaced by the existing two storey brick building.

Gippsland Hotel and Main Street, Bunyip, 1908
Photograph from The Call of the Bunyip by Denise Nest

The other hotel in  Bunyip today is the Railway Hotel - Thomas Stacey is listed as a publican in the Shire of Berwick Rate books in 1890 and he had it for many years, but I am unsure of the connection, if any, between the Railway Hotel and early hotels - was John O'Brien's Railway Family Hotel the same hotel as the Railway Hotel or was it the Butcher's Arms? The original building is pictured below. It was destroyed by fire in 1924 and the new building, which is the existing building, opened in October of the same year.

Stacey's Railway Hotel on Main Street Bunyip, c.1915 http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/795792 

Stacey's Railway Hotel, Bunyip c. 1925 http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/795149 
This photograph was taken a year after this building was opened in October 1924, replacing the original building which was destroyed by fire.

An overview of the three Bunyip townships, they moved south each time. Click on image to enlarge.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

Thomas Cleary is a struggling young journalist from a working class background. When he’s sent to dig up quotes for the obituary of a legendary film producer, the man’s eccentric antique-dealer daughter, Lily Goldman, invites him to dinner with friends.

Lily’s friends hale from the very upper echelons of Hollywood society: a studio head, a record-label owner, a glamorous actress. We loved the acutely observed quirks of these wealthy characters.

Thomas is quickly given access to elite events and influential connections and his career begins to take off. The group are generous to a fault. But what is it they expect of him?

Then Thomas meets Matilda Duplaine. Brilliantly clever, but child-like Matilda has never left the lush Bel-Air estate where she lives. Thomas is enchanted and they quickly begin a love affair. But how will Matilda react to the outside world? Who exactly is she, and what’s the secret behind her cloistered life? Thomas can’t resist investigating, although in doing so he runs the risk of destroying everything.

Why we love it: Romantic and moody, this tale of love and privilege takes us into the world of the Hollywood establishment, and has a wonderfully intriguing mystery at its centre. We were completely transported by Alex Brunkhorst’s evocative descriptions of the opulent Los Angeles estates where much of the book is set. And she should know: when she’s not writing, she's a real estate agent specialising in multimillion-dollar estates for Los Angeles’ wealthiest professionals!

From the Team at Better Reading

Hallam and Hampton Park World War One Soldiers

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

The areas that are now known as Hallam and Hampton Park have gone through a few name changes over the years. In the case of Hallam this is a relatively new name for the area, dating from around 1906. Before that, the district was known as Hallam's Road after William and Mary Hallam. Earlier than that it was sometimes referred to as Dandenong and sometimes  as Eumemmerring, which covered the area basically from the Dandenong Creek to what is now Hallam Road and  both sides of the Princes Highway - so basically the suburbs of Doveton, Hallam, Endeavour Hills and the modern day suburb of Eumemmerring (gazetted May 20, 1981). The name  changes in Hallam State School, No. 244 reflect these name  changes. You can read about this school here, if you are interested.

In the case of  Hampton Park the area was previously also referred to as Eumemmerring or Dandenong and also Lyndhurst, until the Hampton Park name took hold after the Great War. You can read about Lyndhurst soldiers here and you  can read about Hampton Park here.

This post looks at any Great War Soldiers that I could find that have a connection to the Hallam and Hampton Park areas, so thus will also include Doveton, Endeavour Hills and the  Eumemmerring suburb area. There were around 250 soldiers who enlisted with a  Dandenong address or were born in Dandenong, some of whom may be eligible to be in this blog post so if you know that I have missed some Hallam  or Hampton Park soldiers, then let me know.

Some of the information in this post is from the booklet, Hallam 1830-1930 written by  Dr Deborah Stephan and published in 1993 by the City of Berwick. The booklet includes material provided by Mrs Marie Carson, the great niece of Elizabeth Andrews, who you can read about here.   Elizabeth was the daughter of John and Bridget Andrews who settled at Hallam in 1854.   Some of the information about  Hampton Park comes from The history of Hampton Park by Roy R. Scott, written in 1970 and  published in the Dandenong & District Historical Society Journal, Gipps-land Gate.

Mrs Carson remembers attending an ANZAC Service at the Hallam State School 'I remember about that time..my mother taking me along a rough and bumpy track in a a 'go-cart' as they called a baby pusher in those days, to an ANZAC celebration at Hallam State School. Someone pinned an ANZAC medal with red, white and blue ribbon on it on me and I had it for many years and felt very proud of it....this ANZAC day must have been a very early one - 1919 or 1920 perhaps"
What follows is a list of soldiers, their connection to the Hallam and Hampton Park areas, their fate (i.e. when they Returned to Australia after active service or when they were Killed in Action) and their Service Number (SN) so you can look up their full service record on the National Archives website (www.naa.gov.au)

Andrews, Louis John  (SN 4493) Louis was born in Dandenong and enlisted at the age of 22 on September 30, 1916. He was a printer and his next of kin was his wife, Ellen, of Glenferrie Road, Malvern. He Returned to Australia on April 30, 1919.  Louis was the  grandson of John Bridget Andrews, early pioneers of the Hallam area and a nephew of Elizabeth Andrews -  you can read about them here.

Battersby, John Henry  (SN 2582) John was a 23 year old timber worker when he enlisted on July 14, 1915. He Returned to Australia on March 28, 1919. His next of kin was his father, John Battersby of Hallam Road, Dandenong. John and Susan (nee Skinner) had ten children and built Cloverdale Cottage in 1870. Cloverdale Cottage is still standing in Hallam North Road and is  listed on the City of Casey Heritage Conservation Study.

Brown, John Alfred (SN 64160) John was born in Hallam but was living in East Caulfield when he enlisted on May 7, 1918. He was 20 years old and a clerk with the Victorian Railways.  He left Australia in September 1918, suffered from pleurisy (right lung, very severe was the notation in his record) and he Returned to Australia on July 26, 1919 and was discharged on medical grounds on September 13, 1919.

South Bourke and Mornington Journal  October 16, 1919http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page6365314

Brown, W There is a W. Brown listed in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal article of October 16, 1919 (see article above)  I believe that this is William Reginald Brown (SN 125) as he (or someone by the same name)  is listed in the 1919 Electoral Roll at Hallam Road, Hallam, occupation farmer.  William enlisted on January 11, 1915 aged 24. His next of kin was his sister, Stella, of South Melbourne. He is listed twice on the Embarkation Rolls - once with his address as Yarram and once as South Melbourne.   He was sent overseas and Returned to Australia on June 10, 1916 and was discharged on medical grounds on October 2, 1916 as he was suffering from 'otitis media'  or deafness.

Brunet, Harry  (SN 52808)   The South Bourke and Mornington Journal has  a report of the Dandenong  Exemption Court hearings from October 16 & 17, 1916. Harry Brunet of Hallam,  applied for an exemption and the paper noted that he was an engine driver and mechanic and could plough 12 acres per day where man and three horses could only plough three and thus could take the place of at least four men in the harvest field.   The Court refused to exempt Harry and he enlisted at the age of 23 on December 18, 1917.   He Returned to Australia on July 26, 1919. His next of kin was his father, Antonio Brunet, of Clyde. The family are listed in the 1917 Electoral Roll at Hallam Road, Hallam and obviously moved to Clyde that year and are in the 1918 Roll at Clyde.

Crean, Andrew Norman (SN 1230)  Andrew enlisted on July 17, 1915 aged 22. His next of kin was his father, also Andrew, of Hallam's Road, Hallam. He Returned to Australia on May 15, 1919.  Andrew's mother, Annie Florence Crean, was a member of the Hallam State School Mothers Club in 1921, you can see a photograph of her and the other mothers,  here.

Dempsey, William Stanley (SN 3519)   Mrs Carson writes that her uncle, William Dempsey, enlisted in the First World War. Her father, Walter Dempsey (William's brother) had married a niece of Elizabeth Andrews and the family was living at Hallam 'near the turn of the century' - there was a Patrick Dempsey in the Rate Books at Hallam in 1903 and a Patrick, Clara, James and Walter Dempsey in the Electoral Roll at Hallam in 1906. William's mother Clara was his next of kin when he enlisted on September 27, 1915 at the age of 23, although she was living in Geelong then.  William was discharged on medical grounds on May 18, 1917 as he had suffered  a nervous breakdown. If you think I have the wrong William Dempsey please let me know

Eccles, James Leslie  (SN 72595)  James enlisted on August 19, 1918 and as you can see by the article below he had a 'grand concert and send-off' on October 11. James did not get to serve overseas and was Demobilized on December 24, 1918.

South Bourke and Mornington Journal October 31, 1918http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page6365118
Emerson, Walter Cecil (SN 1559)  Walter enlisted at the age of 18 on August 4, 1915. His father was his next of kin and his address was Richmond, but was later changed to Berwick Road, Hallam. His parents, Alfred and Carrie Emerson, are listed in the Electoral Roll at Hallam for  a few years from 1917. Walter served overseas but was discharged on medical grounds, 'Nerves' was listed as the condition, on May 30 1917. However, Walter re-enlisted on September 17, 1918 and was demobilized as the War ended. In 1929 Walter wrote a letter asking for proof of his service as he was then employed by the Post Masters General Department and as they gave preference to returned soldiers he needed this proof. His address on this letter was the quaintly named 'Cosy Tea Shop', Point Nepean Road, Chelsea.

Frawley, John (SN 2172)  According to Mrs Carson - John was known as Jerry, so that's what we will call him. Jerry was born in Hallam and enlisted on April 28, 1916 at the age of 36 years and ten months. His  next of kin was his sister, Rosanna, also of Hallam.  Jerry Returned to Australia on June 10, 1919. Frawley Road is named after the family - Mary Frawley purchased 60 acres in the area in 1857 and Jerry and Rosanna were her grandchildren.

Gander, Frederick (SN 1550) Frederick enlisted for the first time at the age of 28 on June 4, 1916. He was born in England and his address was Narre Warren. He was sent overseas to England but Returned to Australia on May 4, 1917 and was discharged on medical grounds as he suffered from 'Hammer toes, both feet'  Frederick re-enlisted on June 4, 1918 and missed his send-off that was being held with James Eccles (see newspaper report, above) as he had already sailed. By this time he was 30 years old and living in Hallam. Frederick served in New Guinea and was again discharged on medical grounds this time on August 16, 1919.

Higgins, Thomas (SN 4641) Thomas enlisted on October 15, 1917 at the age of one month off 22 years of age. His next of kin was his father, Edward, of Hallam (the Embarkation Roll has the address listed as Hallam, Mt Dandenong, which is incorrect). Thomas was a 'turner and fitter' Thomas left for Egypt on April 30, 1918 and Returned to Australia on December 22, 1918. Thomas was farewelled along with Clarie Pool and  Henry Waite by over 200 people on January 31, 1918. (see report below)

South Bourke and Mornington Journal February 7, 1918http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66193494

Hill, Robert (SN 1591) Robert was a 19 year old farmer when he enlisted on August 2, 1915. Less than a year later on July 20 1916 he was Killed in Action in France.  His next of kin on enlistment was his father, George Hill, of Hallam's Road, Gippsland. His mother's name was Mary.

Liston, A   Private A. Liston is named in the report from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of October 16, 1919 (reproduced further above)  as being welcomed home with 'other Returned Soldiers connected with Hallam District'  Who is he? I can't find any Listons listed in the Electoral Roll at Hallam, so no clues there. There was an Alexander Liston (SN 3569) who enlisted on July 28, 1915 in Seymour, his next of kin was his wife Rebecca of South Melbourne, but his medical examination was carried out in Dandenong, so that's the closest connection that I can find between a Liston and the Hallam area.  Alexander Returned to Australia on January 31, 1918. Ironically, on the Nar Nar Goon Honour Board, there is a C.Liston listed who I can't find either, my best guess is that it is Thomas Liston, who enlisted at Tynong, so I don't know why Listons have proved to be so puzzling.

Masters, Albert Ernest (SN 428) Albert enlisted on February 8, 1915 aged 28, at Morwell. Albert Returned to Australia on December 11, 1918 and was discharged for medical reasons (flat feet, was the disability listed) on March 24, 1919.Masters, Charles Henry (SN 2893) Charles was 23, a grocer, when he enlisted on June 7, 1915. He was awarded the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Charles Returned to Australia on January 15, 1919 and was discharged for medical reasons (Gassed) in April 24, 1919.
Albert and Charles were the sons of William and Sarah Jane (nee Blythman) Masters of Kirkham Road in Dandenong. They are listed in the report from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of October 16, 1919 (reproduced further above)  as being welcomed home with 'other Returned Soldiers connected with Hallam District' but I am not sure what the exact connection to Hallam was,  apart from being the adjacent town.

Meehan, James Joseph (SN 2112)  When  James enlisted on July 5, 1916 at the age of 24, he was living in Sea Lake.  He was wounded whilst serving in France. He Returned to Australia on May 12, 1918 (incorrectly listed as Mat 12, 1919 on the Nominal Rolls) and was discharged on medical grounds on July 23, 1918.  What is his connection to Hallam? A report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of  February 11, 1915 said that Mr J.J. Meehan  was farewelled by the residents of Hallam before his departure to Sea Lake. There is a James Joseph Meehan in the Electorate Roll of 1914 at  Hallam's Road - also listed is a Thomas Michael and Ellen Meehan of Hallam's Road - I am surmising that they are his relatives (Uncle and Aunty perhaps - Thomas Meehan is mentioned in the report, immediately above, about the farewell to Privates Higgins, Poole and Waite)  - then in 1915 he moved to Sea Lake where he enlisted. Then in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of May 29, 1919 there is a report about an 'unfortunate accident' which 'befel Mr J. Meehan, a  Returned Soldier farming at Hallam.'  I am confident that this is our James, and that he returned to Hallam after his war service. James Joseph Meehan and Ruth  Rebecca Meehan are in the 1921 Electorate Roll at Hallam's Road. Mrs Meehan is pictured in the Hallam State School Mothers Club photograph from 1921 here.

Morris, Charles (SN 7578) Charles was born in England and was working as a farm labourer in Hallam when he enlisted on April 2, 1917 aged 24. His next of kin was his father who lived in Mansfield, Nottingham in England. Charles was married to  Gertrude Jones in Mansfield on July 12, 1919 and was discharged from the AIF in England on October 2 the same year. Did they return to Australia? I don't know.

Poole, Clarie Edward (SN 50194) Clarie was living in New South Wales when he first enlisted on January 17, 1916 and he was discharged February 16 the same year -  a notation in another enrolment paper says that it was because he was underage, although his date of birth was listed as July 24, 1896, so possibly he didn't have his parent's permission as his next of kin was a friend. Anyway he re-enlisted on February 2, 1918  at the age of 21 and this time his next of kin was his mother Amelia Poole and she was living in New South Wales, but Clarie's address was Hallam's Road, Hallam.  He was farewelled along with Henry Waite and Thomas Higgins on January 31, 1918 (see report above) Clarie was Killed in Action in France on October 4, 1918.

Reedy. Albert George (SN 1956) Known as George, he enlisted at the age of 22 on February 9, 1916. George Returned to Australia on May 15, 1919.  Reedy, John Thomas (SN 1220)  John, known as Jack, was 32 when he enlisted on July 19, 1915. He Returned to Australia on May 8, 1919. Jack was awarded the Military Medal.
Jack and George were the sons of James and Elizabeth (nee Kirkham) Reedy, their father had already passed away when they enlisted and their mother was listed as the next of kin. The men were born in Dandenong and this was the address on enlistment, although they actually lived in what we now call Hampton Park. You can read more about the Reedy Family and early Hampton Park, here.

Seymour, Francis Joseph (SN 2391) Francis was 18 when he enlisted on May 31, 1916. His next of kin was his mother, Edith Sarah Seymour of Hallam's Road, Hallam. Francis served overseas and wounded by shrapnel and gassed and spent six months in hospital in England and then Returned to Australia on January 31, 1918 and was discharged as being medically unfit on May 18, 1918. 
Waite, Henry  (SN 50467)  Henry was farewelled at a function on January 31, 1918 along with Clarie Poole and Thomas Higgins (see report above). Henry enlisted on December 11, 1917, he was 21 years old. His next of kin was his sister, Elizabeth Waite of Broadford. He was a labourer, presumably working for Mr C.A. McKenzie as his address was C/O Mr McKenzie, Hallam's Road, Hallam. Henry was sent overseas to Egypt and Returned to Australia on March 14, 1919.

Veronica Mars

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Veronica Mars: The thousand-dollar tan line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

From Rob Thomas, the creator of the groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

Picking up where the Veronica Mars movie left off, this book follows Veronica Mars as she takes on her first big case since leaving her career in law behind and resuming work at her father’s detective agency. Although I would highly recommend watching the TV series/movie before undertaking this book, it’s not mandatory as the story is self-contained. 

If you are familiar with the TV series, then you won’t find any surprises here. Rob Thomas has flawlessly imbued the same wit and humour you’ve come to expect from these characters. My only complaint was that the book focused largely on the murder case and less on the development and evolution of the characters. At times it felt that supporting characters were merely making a cameo appearance rather than being integral to the storyline. However, this wasn’t entirely surprising given that the book is structured to be a self-contained case, rather than being in the more open ended style of the TV series. This is something I hope changes in future additions to the series.

Overall, as a fan of Veronica Mars, I really enjoyed revisiting these characters and I would recommend this book to other fans of the TV series.

~ Cassie
Industry placement student at Endeavour Hills Library

Forensics: the anatomy of crime

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Forensics: the anatomy of crime by Val McDermid  

From the cover: The dead talk.  To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: how they lived, how they died – and who killed them.  Val McDermid uncovers the secrets of forensic medicine with ground-breaking research and her own experience.  

In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them.

Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. 'Forensics: the anatomy of crime' draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists. 

The chapters cover a wide breadth of subjects; fire scene investigation, entomology, pathology, toxicology, fingerprinting, blood spatter, DNA, anthropology, facial reconstruction, digital forensics, forensic psychology and finally how these techniques are drawn on during the final legal process to gain a conviction.

Although the plethora of CSI et al shows in this day and age have pretty much portrayed the finer points of forensics, this does not detract from what is an interesting book.  I borrowed the Playaway brilliantly narrated by Sarah Barron.  She reads it in McDermid’s Scottish burr, then switches during conversations to bring an Irish, or American, London, Liverpool, or Cornish accent to answer, all totally without pause or seemingly forethought.  Amazing.  Not for the queasy or faint-hearted, this book bares all the bones of who dunnit, how, where, when and sometimes even why.  Highly recommended. 


PM's Literary Awards shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2015 recognise and reward excellence in Australian literature and history. Award Categories are fiction, poetry, non-fiction, Australian history, young adult fiction and children's fiction.

These Awards play an important role in celebrating the outstanding literary talent in Australia and the valuable contribution Australian literature and history makes to the nation's cultural and intellectual life.

The Prime Minister's Literary Awards provide prizes of $80,000 in each of the six categories for winning titles and $5,000 each for the shortlisted.

Adult Fiction:

Amnesia by Peter Carey
Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett 
In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower 
The Golden Age by Joan London
To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson 

Adult Non-fiction:

Encountering the Pacific: In the Age of Enlightenment by John Gascoigne 
John Olsen: An Artist's Life by Darleen Bungey
Private Bill by Barrie Cassidy 
This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by Helen Garner
Wild Bleak Bohemia: Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall by Michael Wilding

Australian History:

Charles Bean by Ross Coulthart
Descent into Hell by Peter Brune 
Menzies at War by Anne Henderson 
The Europeans in Australia Volume Three: Nation by Alan Atkinson 
The Spy Catchers - The Official History of ASIO Volume 1 by David Horner 


Speaking in bones

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Speaking in bones by Kathy Reichs is the latest in the Temperance Brennan series.  Yes it's the same character name as in the TV series Bones, but a very different character line development.

However, the stories are just as intriguing, moreso this latest one from Reichs.

The forensic anthropologist finds herself drawn into a world of dark secrets and dangerous beliefs, where good and evil blur. Professionally, Temperance Brennan knows exactly what to do--test, analyze, identify.  Hazel "Lucky" Strike--a strident amateur detective who mines the Internet for cold cases--comes to Brennan with a tape recording of an unknown girl being held prisoner and terrorized. Strike is convinced the voice is that of eighteen-year-old Cora Teague, who went missing more than three years earlier. Strike is also certain that the teenager's remains are gathering dust in Temperance Brennan's lab. Brennan has doubts about working with a self-styled web sleuth. But when the evidence seems to add up, Brennan's next stop is the treacherous backwoods where the chilling recording (and maybe Cora Teague's bones) were discovered. Her forensic field trip only turns up more disturbing questions--along with gruesome proof of more untimely deaths. While local legends of eerie nocturnal phenomena and sinister satanic cults abound, it's a zealous and secretive religious sect that has Brennan spooked and struggling to separate the saints from the sinners. But there's nothing, including fire and brimstone, that can distract her from digging up the truth and taking down a killer--even as Brennan finds herself in a place where angels fear to tread, devils demand their due, and she may be damned no matter what.

There is so much happening in this story, but not so much that you lose track! Web sleuths, multiple missing persons, unidentified bodies, a religious cult with its mysterious leader, new discoveries, all complicated by Brennan's personal life.  Working closely with a local sheriff's deputy on this case starts her thinking about her long term relationship. Will she accept the marriage proposal that has her 'at sixes and sevens'?

As always, the forensic side is detailed, yet understandable and full of clues so you can see where they lead before Reichs takes you there.  I was quite happy to just follow her lead and enjoy the ride.

The plot line was intriguing, taking turns when you aren't expecting it, but ending in a most satisfactory way on multiple levels.

If you're a Kathy Reich's fan or just enjoy forensic stories, you'll love this one.

~ Michelle

$2.00 A Day

Reading Rewards - reviews -

$2.00 a day: living on almost nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer

From the catalogue:  After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn't seen since the mid-1990s -- households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor?  Through the book's many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America's extreme poor. More than a powerful expose, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality. 

This rather depressing tale is a harrowing account of how some American families are struggling to survive on zero income – that’s right, with absolutely no cash coming into the household at all. How do they manage? What about the supposed safety nets which every civilised society is supposed to have? What happens when the lights get cut off, the fridge breaks or the food stamps run out? 

The author has conducted meticulous research into poverty for many years and this book is perhaps the culmination of what she has unveiled. Could this happen here in Australia? Let’s hope not, and be thankful while undoubtedly income inequality is a problem here, we are still miles ahead of the United States.



Reading Rewards - reviews -

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

From the catalogue:  Heartbreaking, joyous, traumatic, intimate and revelatory, Reckoning is the book where Magda Szubanski, one of Australia's most beloved performers, tells her story. In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father's espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family. With courage and compassion she addresses her own frailties and fears, and asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on. Honest, poignant, utterly captivating, Reckoning announces the arrival of a fearless writer and natural storyteller. It will touch the lives of its readers.

Why we love it:  Reckoning is a searing and brutally honest memoir that takes us on the life journey of one of Australia’s best-loved entertainers, as well as on a mesmerising journey through the twentieth century. Growing up in an outer Melbourne suburb, the half Polish, half Scottish child with an English accent never quite fits in. Her anecdotes from early childhood through her schooldays are by turns funny and deeply poignant. She describes in compelling detail her attraction to the rites of Catholicism, her struggle for acceptance at convent school in Melbourne, her hilarious attempts to be one of Melbourne’s ‘sharpies’, and her dawning sexuality.

From the Team at Better Reading

Melbourne Prize for Literature

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The winners in the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2015, the Best Writing Award 2015, plus a new category in the 10th anniversary celebration – the Writers Prize 2015 – have been announced.  

The $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Literature went to Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Australian literature and cultural and intellectual life.  

The $30,000 Best Writing Award was bestowed on Andrea Goldsmith for ‘clarity, originality and creativity’ in her seventh novel, The Memory Trap; while Kate Ryan won the $20,000 Writers Prize for her essay Psychotherapy for Normal People.

To showcase the work of the finalists and engage the public with the abundant literary talent in Victoria, the finalists in each category are on show at Federation Square up until 23 November 2015, where a free catalogue is available. Voting for the $6,000 Civic Choice Award 2015 will also be possible at the exhibition. 

Melbourne was the second city in the world to become a UNESCO City of Literature.


Not Your Usual Bushrangers

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Not Your Usual Bushrangers by Peter MacInnis

In this entertaining and original work, wilderness walker, inveterate traveller and award-winning writer Peter Macinnis uncovers our earliest and little-known practitioners of the art of bushranging - and find that most were murderous thugs with few saving graces. Along the way he finds a few endearing ones, such as Moondyne Joe and Diver Fitzgerald, who were scallywags rather than villains. Plus there were a few who affected a gentlemanly front, a sort of false gallantry that did not sit well with their thieving ways. Curiously, the word 'bushranger' did not originally mean an Australian highwayman, rather somebody capable of surviving in the bush, and what were their motivations for taking part in this deadly game?

Peter’s book is very original look at the Australian bushrangers. All the well-known bushrangers like Ned Kelly, Ben Hall, and Captain Thunderbolt are here but just as interesting are the stories of the colonies at the time, the police, magistrates and ordinary people. Life was pretty difficult for most of the population of the new colony. The convicts were often so badly treated by their ‘masters’ that it is no wonder they bolted and tried other ways to survive. 

The book is often surprisingly humorous and very entertaining. I especially enjoyed reading Appendix 1 and 2 – all the poetry, songs and stories from the time. What is also highly interesting – the difference between what you were taught at school – and what you find out later - very different indeed. Especially John MacArthur – a very nasty piece of work in all respects. His wife Elizabeth was the real ‘father’ of the Australian Merino sheep industry – he was in gaol in England! A good enjoyable way to read up on our early history. 


Spirits of the Ghan

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Spirits of the Ghan byJudy Nunn

From the cover:  "It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the 'backbone of the continent', a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End. But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land.

Hired as a negotiator, Jessica Manning must walk a delicate line to reassure the Elders their sacred sites will be protected. Will her innate understanding of the spiritual landscape, rooted in her own Arunta heritage, win their trust? It's not easy to keep the peace when Matthew Witherton and his survey team are quite literally blasting a rail corridor through the timeless land of the Never-Never.
When the paths of Jessica and Matthew finally cross, their respective cultures collide to reveal a mystery that demands attention. As they struggle against time to solve the puzzle, an ancient wrong is awakened and calls hauntingly across the vastness of the outback."

I'm a first-time reader of the prolific Judy Nunn. She has obviously done quite a lot of research as the elements in the book take in Australia's colonial history as well as touching on The Stolen Generation of aboriginal children. Rose's story (Jessica's mother) is very emotional and I think a good depiction of that time in Australia's history; the aftermath which is still being felt today by the Aboriginal people. Aboriginal spiritual belief is also a feature of the story which is why Jessica's advisory role is to ensure that no sacred land is impacted by the railway. During this time Jessica also connects with her mother's family where she learns a lot about the culture, and how the coming of the white man has affected their people.

The narratives of Jessica (Rose's daughter) and Matthew (the surveyor) are very well portrayed and I found this book to be quite engaging. With a cast of other characters thrown in as well it kept me up till the early hours pressing on to find out what happened next!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good story with some history thrown in for good measure.


Distant Voices

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Distant Voices by Barbara Erskine

Following on from the review below, Whispers in the Sand, I thought I'd share something a bit different - 
Barbara Erskine's second volume of short stories. (I missed Volumes 1 and 2, so must rectify that.)

From the publisher:  Distant Voices creates a wide and vivid range of worlds and emotions, from love, romance, loneliness and grief, to betrayal, passion, adventure and compelling suspense. A biographer investigating a tragic death hears voices from the past ... A young boy finds haven in wasteland... And a young woman finds help from an unexpected source. Contemporary, historical, spooky, humorous, there are over thirty stories, each one guaranteed to capture the reader's imagination, and all demonstrating Erskine's unique powers as a storyteller.

But back to this very 'English' collection of 30 stories: this is a good book to pick up and put down at your leisure.  Some stories are better than others, some are quite dated, some have been specially written for this volume.  Overall, it does reflect that the stories were created for women's magazine market, so by the time you really start getting into one, it's just about wind-up time and time to be getting on doing something else. 

A historian by training, Barbara Erskine is the author of many bestselling novels that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural, plus three other collections of short stories. Her books have appeared in at least twenty-six languages. Her first novel, Lady of Hay, sold over two million copies worldwide. Click here for others in our catalogue.  We have Distant Voices in regular and large print, e-audio download and audio CD formats.  


Whispers in the Sand

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Whispers in the Sand by Barbara Erskine

In the mid-nineteenth century, Anna Fox’s great-grandmother, Louisa, a renowned artist, went on a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan.  Following Anna’s recent divorce, she decided to retrace Louisa’s journey, carrying a few of her great-grandmother’s possessions – an ancient Egyptian scent bottle and a skilfully illustrated diary that Louisa kept throughout the original cruise.  Stories from the different eras begin to intertwine with terrifying consequences.

I've read a few by Barbara Erskine, but this is by far the best! The author was deft in seamlessly blending Louisa’s narrative with Anna’s.  When Anna reads from the diary, a wonderful sense of the timelessness of Egyptian history is created with the delightful juxtaposition of shorts and t-shirts versus whale-bone corsets and long, swishing skirts when both were viewing the same relic, albeit more than 100 years apart.  At the beginning of each chapter is a paragraph or two from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which underpins the whole story as ancient priests from the Temple of Isis reach out over thousands of years to reclaim the little scent bottle that Anna is carelessly carrying about with her.  

Mix in a Victorian love story, some colourful characters, greed, death, psychic channelling, cobras and threatening emanations of powerful ancient priests bent on revenge, place all of that amongst the exotic scenery and smells of Egypt, both past and present, and voila - one of the most entertaining books I've picked up in ages!  If you love Indianna Jones/Jewell of the Nile/The Mummy style of fantasy/adventure, this one is sure to please!


The Unbroken Line

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The Unbroken Line by Alex Hammond

From the cover: The violence of the past casts a long shadow – a dark legacy with lethal consequences.
When defence lawyer Will Harris is attacked by masked men with a clear message to back off, he has no choice but to listen. If only he knew what they were talking about.

Under siege as his fledgling law firm struggles to get off the ground, Will agrees to defend the troubled son of a family friend. But the case is far from clear-cut, and the ethical boundaries murky. Instead of clawing his way out of trouble, Will finds he’s sinking ever deeper. 

At the same time, his search for his attackers unearths an unexpected source that points him towards Melbourne’s corridors of power. But motives, let alone proofs, are hard to find. It is only when those close to him are threatened that Will realises how near he is to the deadly truth.

Alex Hammond is a Melbourne-based writer and this is his second book in the Will Harris series. It is a legal thriller based in Melbourne. The Unbroken Line captures a mafia element, corruption among those of extreme power, and twists and turns that all thriller readers seek. 

Will Harris is a young lawyer on a self-obsessed path to destruction. Although a lawyer, he does a lot of his own investigating and is not afraid of confrontation, violence and pain. There is some romantic interest captured in the plot but the main storyline is based around his legal cases that seem to bring him, as a defence attorney, in close contact with both corrupt and undesirable characters.

Alex Hammond’s first novel, Blood Witness was shortlisted for the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Fiction. His second novel is bound to get similar attention with its gripping storyline too.

~ Narelle

T.T. Quist Printers flyers.

Links to our Past - history -

The Dandenong and District Historical Society (http://ddhs.com.au)  has donated to us this great collection of Ephemera - some flyers printed by local Dandenong printer, T.T Quist.  They give us an interesting insight into the activities in some of the towns in the local area (when they were just country towns and not suburbs) in the 1950s (and the odd event from the 1920s and 1960s)

Broadcast Ball at the  Beaconsfield Upper Hall. March 16 1956. I wonder what a Broadcast Ball was - something to do with television?

Carrum Downs is no longer part of the Casey Cardinia Local Government area, but in 1955 when the Rural Fire Brigade held their First Annual Ball, it was part of the Shire of Cranbourne. Once again, the Swing Masters were the Band.

A lecture in aid of the Roman Catholic Church at Cranbourne, held on March 29 1922, at the Dandenong Town Hall. The Guest Speaker was Sergeant Leatch, who had taken part in the landing at Gallipoli. One of the advertisers on the back of the flyer was Lawson Poole, Cranbourne garage proprietor.

It's Daffodil Day at Rawlins' Farm at Devon Meadows, in aid of the Berwick Bush Nursing Hospital.

The Devon Meadows Ladies Club held a street stall in Cranbourne in April 1956 to raise funds. 

This flyer for a Benefit Dance for the Lunt family of Hallam with Grigg's Orchestra. No year, but April 3 1954 was a Saturday, so I believe that's the year.  Who were the Lunt family?

The Hallam Younger Set held a Ball in July 1954 and they had Kennedy's Orchestra. The Badminton trophies were also presented on the night.

The Grand Leap-Year Ball in February 1956 to aid improvements to the Hallam Hall had the Melodians' Super Orchestra.

In 1967 there was Top 40 Dance at the Hallam Hall.

October 5 was on a Saturday in 1957, so I believe that is the correct year for this flyer. Lysterfield Hall was in the neighbouring Shire of Sherbrooke, but the Great Ricardo sounds like he was an exciting performer, so I had to put it in.

Narre Warren Tennis Club, Grand Annual Ball, December 1955, featuring Kennedy's Orchestra. Ladies could get in for  a shilling less than the gents.

Finally, before X-Factor, The Voice, Australia's Got Talents and even before Kevin Dennis New Faces and Young Talent Time there was a talent quest at the Narre Warren Hall (and no doubt every other small public hall across Victoria), in this case to raise money for the Narre Warren Football Club.

Still Alice

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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland is a 50-year-old cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics, with grown children and a satisfying marriage to an academic, when she starts to experience fleeting forgetfulness and disorientation. She initially attributes these episodes to normal aging or menopause. But as her symptoms worsen, she sees a neurologist and is given the diagnosis that will change her life forever: early-onset Alzheimer's disease. 

With no cure or treatment, Alice struggles to overcome her shock and find meaning and purpose in her everyday life as her sense of self is gradually stripped away, leaving her unable to continue in her profession, take care of herself, recognise her loved ones or even understand that she has a neuro-degenerative disease. Without memory or hope, Alice is forced to live in the moment, which is in turns maddening, beautiful and terrifying. 

I am sure every family will be touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia at some stage. This book resonated with as I have a family member that suffers from early onset dementia which is the focus of this honest, personal account of Alice Howland's journey into dementia. 

This is a very emotional read where you can feel the terrifying fear of confusion and disorientation that dementia instills in people and the enduring effect on families. The book follows Alice for some time so gives a gripping insight into the condition and what its sufferers may endure. This is a compelling, "must read" book.  


Aeronaut's windlass

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Aeronaut's Windlass is the first in a new series - The Cinder Spires - by author Jim Butcher. Butcher is best known for his well-loved series The Dresden Files, which started as a series of books, but has spun out into a TV series, game, graphic novels and more.

The Aeronaut's Windlass takes us away from the Wizard PI scenario of the Dresden Files and into steampunk and war.  And wow, what a ride!

"Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion--to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake."

At 630 pages, this is not a quick read, but Butcher soon draws you in with this array of characters and the circumstances that the 'non-heroes' find themselves in. As you would expect, they more than rise to the occasion and the action runs hot and thick throughout.

With its combination of well-written characters, amazing action sequences, flying ships, magical creatures and fighting against the odds, this was a book that I just couldn't put down.  I loved the various characters and the way that Butcher brought them to life and I was taken in by all that was happening, happily spending several hours getting lost in the action-packed ending.

Without giving anything away, the first book does not do much more than hint at the 'ancient' enemy referred to in the blurb, so I can't wait for the rest of the books in the series.

If you love steampunk, great characterisations, magic or some good action sequences, then I highly recommend The Aeronaut's Windlass.

~ Michelle

The Mourner

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Mourner by Susan Wilkins

If she can't get justice, will she settle for vengeance? Kaz Phelps has escaped her brother and her criminal past to become an anonymous art student in Glasgow. But can life under the witness protection scheme ever give her the freedom she craves? 

Banged up and brooding, Joey Phelps faces thirty years behind bars. Still, with cash and connections on the outside, can an overstretched prison system really contain him? 

Helen Warner, once Kaz's lawyer and lover, is a rising star in Parliament. But has she made the kind of enemies who have no regard for the democratic process, or even the law? 

Ousted from the police and paralysed by tragic personal loss, Nicci Armstrong is in danger of going under. Can a job she doesn't want with a private security firm help her to put her life back back on track? 

A murder dressed up as suicide and corruption that goes to the heart of government unite ex-cop and ex-con in a deadly quest to learn the truth. What they discover proves what both have always known, villainy is rife on both sides of the law.

Continuing on from The Informant, Kaz and co are still battling organised crime and trying to find out who murdered whom and why.  This book isn't as predictable as the first one; there are many threads to join up as the trail becomes quite complex with some police becoming private security agents, Russians making an appearance and the political scene more corrupt than usual.  Mix in some heavy-handed violence, sophisticated surveillance, an undercover sting, a helicopter chase and a not-very-surprising ending and you have one entertaining read if you enjoy this genre.  Lucy Price-Lewis, narrator, delivers male, female, Russian and the many British aristocratic and bovver boy accents with aplomb. We have this title in audio and e-book formats.


Who Do You Love

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Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to a doctor and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again. 

Rachel grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation. Over the next three decades, their paths cross in magical and ordinary ways. 

They make grand plans and dream big dreams as they grow together and apart in starts and stops. Through it all, Andy and Rachel never stop thinking about that night in the hospital waiting room all of those years ago, a chance encounter that changed the course of both of their lives. 

In this captivating, often witty tale about the bonds between women and men, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters and a love story you'll never forget.

This was a very easy read and I really enjoyed it. The story of Rachel and Andy spans 30 years, and all through the book you are teased with will they or won't they get together. The individual storylines of both characters were engaging. This is the first Jennifer Weiner book I have read, and this would make a great movie or telemovie.



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