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Narre Warren Library - 'turning the sod' 1992

Links to our Past - history -

These photographs were taken in February 1992  at the 'turning of the sod' for the new Narre Warren Library. The Library was opened November 21, 1992 and you can read more about the history of public library services in Narre Warren here. The Narre Warren Library has come a long way since 1992, in the 2011-2012 financial year the Narre Warren Library  had 766, 373 loans, nearly 27 per cent of the total loans for the Casey Cardinia Library Corporation and over 350,000 visits from our patrons.

This is Kirsty Lottkowitz, the Shire of Berwick Mayor, at the time, 'turning the sod'. As with many Government occasions, the 'official' function often happens after a building has been opened or, in this case, work has already started, because you can see in the photograph below, that Cr Lottkowitz and Neil Lucas, are standing in front of a  substantial hole. Mr Lucas, was the CEO of the City of Berwick. 

 These two shots show the excavation work for the Narre Warren Library, with Fountain Gate Shopping Centre in the background.

Finally, a view of the excavations looking towards the Civic Centre. If you are interested in construction photographs, then you may be interested in the post on the construction of the Endeavour Hills Leisure Centre which was opened in November 1990 (click here) or the construction of the City of Berwick Civic centre in 1978 (click here)

Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee

Links to our Past - history -

Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year and the main block of celebratory activities takes place  from June 2 to June 5. If you happen to be in England you could attend these events - check out the following websites.The official Royal Family website can be found at  http://www.royal.gov.uk  and the official Jubilee website is at http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/  

Casey Cardinia has various links to the Monarchy. Firstly, Lord Casey after whom the City of Casey was named, lived in Berwick and was the Governor General of Australia from September 1965 until April 1969. The Governor General is appointed by the Monarch and is the Monarch's representative in Australia. Secondly, some of our roads have a Royal connection -  the Princes Highway was originally known as the Gippsland Road but changed in 1920 after the visit of Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII, then the Duke of Windsor). Station Street in Berwick was changed to Gloucester Avenue after the visit of the Duke of Gloucester to Victoria in 1934. Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh and son of Queen Victoria, visited Beaconsfield in 1869 and stayed at the Gippsland Hotel. John and Margaret Doveton, who gave their name to Doveton are said to have been descended from Edward 1 and his wife Eleanor of Castille.

The Queen and Prince Phillip came to Australia in 1954, they arrived on February 3 in Sydney and left on April 1 from Fremantle. Whilst they were here they visited every state and many country towns. On March 3 they travelled to Sale, along the Princes Highway (named after her Uncle), past Gloucester Street (named after another Uncle) past the Gippsland Hotel (where her great, great uncle had stayed many years before) and stopped at Warragul, Yallourn, Traralgon and Sale. Many towns along the way decorated their shop fronts including Berwick. These photographs, of High Street Berwick,  are from our Archive and show how Berwick celebrated the 1954 visit by the Queen.The photographs were donated by Mrs Julie Berry (nee Halleur)

If anyone knows the name of this gentleman, then I would love to know. He is presumably the Local Real Estate, replacing his sign with a banner.
My family actually has a connection to this Royal visit. My father, Frank Rouse, was doing his National Service at the time and they had to put in a certain amount of hours and one of his duties was being a Guard of Honour, along the route. Dad and his colleagues, spent about seven hours standing at their designated spot (in his case on the outskirts of Warragul) and the Royal motorcade apparently passed by in a second. He has his gun, but no bullets, however, he can (and does) say that he successfully guarded the Queen!
In honour of the Diamond Jubilee, the Queen has made available the diaries of her great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria.  Queen Victoria also celebrated a Diamond Jubilee and this why they have been released at this time. The journals have been digitised, so you can  see Queen Victoria's own hand writing and also the illustrations she interspersed amongst the text. This one is a self portrait from August 21, 1850. These journals are  a great historical resource and even if you are not especially interested in the content, then this represents a great example of how history meets technology - not only can you read the diaries, you can follow Queen Victoria's thoughts on Twitter and you can 'like' her on Facebook. The journals can be found at http://www.queenvictoriasjournals.org 

Construction of the Endeavour Hills Leisure Centre

Links to our Past - history -

The Endeavour Hills Leisure Centre was officially opened on November 11, 1990 by the Mayor of the City of Berwick, Cr John Pandazopoulos. The building was designed by the Architectural firm of Millar Sainsbery and Mulcair and built by the Norman Lothian Corporation at a cost of around $4 million. Here are a series of construction shots, which also give some great views of the developing suburb of Endeavour Hills.

This is the commemorative brochure produced for the Opening and, below, is a plan of the Complex, taken from the brochure.

This is a panorama of the Endeavour Hills Library, Community Centre and Leisure Centre, most likely taken around 1990 when the Leisure Centre opened.

Civic Centre at Narre Warren

Links to our Past - history -

In the last post we looked at the formation of the City of Berwick in 1973. In 1978 a new Municipal Office, the Civic Centre, was built on land donated by the Overland Corporation, the developer of the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. The building was designed and constructed by Jennings Industries and the completed cost, including building, fit-out, furnishings and associated road and landscaping works, came to $2,978,000.

Above and below - early construction work.

The foundation stone was laid on February 17 1978. The Mayor at the time was Cr Hugh Hodson.

The City of Berwick brochure commemorating the laying of the Foundation Stone.
The Civic Centre was officially opened on Friday, December 8 1978 by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Winneke. The Mayor was Cr Keith Wishart.
This is such a great photograph, above. An informal shot of the Governor and the Mayor on the occasion of the Civic Centre opening.
The official brochure produced for the opening. This is entrance taken from the east or the Narre Warren Library side.

This photograph is from the first floor of the Civic Centre, showing the crowd at the official opening. It's looking across to what is now the Max Pawsey Reserve.
View of the Civic Centre, from the Highway.

Ned Kelly Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The 2012 Ned Kelly Awards - presented for Australian crime fiction and non-fiction - were announced at a ceremony last night (August 29).

The winners were: 
Best First Crime Fiction - The Cartographer by Peter Twohig
Best True Crime - Sins of the Father by Eamonn Duff
Best Crime Fiction - Pig Boy by J.C. Burke
SD Harvey Short Story Award - Summer of the Seventeenth Poll by A.J. Clifford
Lifetime Achievement Award - Gabrielle Lord


The Marmalade Files

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Marmalade Files, by Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann
I am a self-confessed political junkie and of course followed the ongoing Peter Slipper sexual harassment saga with glee. So, when the journalist from The Australian who was the primary source of the sordid details produced a "novel", I instantly pounced upon it. The authors certainly did not disappoint. Take the political rumour-mongering, corrupt and/or power hungry politicians that reside in Canberra, swap the  sexes of the main players, and throw in some totally outrageous scenarios and you come up with a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the nation's capital which leaves you speculating just how much is fact and how much is fiction. There is the minority government hanging by a thread and led by a massively unpopular leader, a ruthless and ambitious foreign minister, the "faceless men" in the Senate pulling the strings in the Labor Party... need I go on? But it's all a good romp, bringing a smile to your lips as well as a nod of recognition to your head. By the final denouement, you are quite willing to let yourself succumb to the total ludicrousness of it all - or is it so ludicrous after all? Spoil yourself with this great frolic.

Creative Writing Workshop

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Want to write a story but don’t know where to begin?
Join author Vicki Thornton in a hands-on workshop to generate ideas and learn tips to get started.

WHERE & WHEN?  Tuesday 18 September, 2.00-4.00pm @ Pakenham Library, cnr. John & Henry Streets.  Melway: 317 E8.
COST?  No cost, but bookings are essential.  Book online at www.tinyurl.com/cclcevents or phone Pakenham Library on 5941 2036.

On Tuesday 16 October 2-4pm, come and join in the fun of the Storytelling Café where you can read your finished work!

Vicki is a writer, poet and spoken word performer.  She holds a Diploma of Professional Children’s Writing, a Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing, and won first prize in the 2010 Yarram Community Learning Centre Annual Literary Competition.  Together with her work appearing in a variety of publications, her poem PJ was in the Australian Poetry Centre’s Dear Dad anthology, she has a poem and short story on the website site Verity La and has a story published in the anthology 100 Stories for Queensland.
Vicki is a member of the Victorian Writer’s Centre, the Melbourne Poet’s Union and is one of the founding members of the Lazy River Writers.
Would you like us to publicise more events here on our blog?  Drop us a comment and let us know. Deb.  

Davitt Awards Shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The 12th Davitt Awards for the best crime books written by Australian women will be presented next month. This year 49 books, published in 2011, compete for five Davitt Awards:
Best Adult Crime Fiction, Best YA Crime Fiction, Best True Crime, Readers' Vote and the new (to 2012) Best Debut Crime.

This year marks the first time Sisters in Crime Australia has announced a shortlist for the awards. In the adult category, they are:

Jaye Ford, Beyond Fear   
Sulari Gentill, A Decline in Prophets
Carolyn Morwood, Death and the Spanish Lady
Jennifer Rowe, Love Honour & O'Brien
Kim Westwood, The Courier’s New Bicycle
Helene Young, Shattered Sky

True Crime:
Wendy Lewis, The Australian Book of Family Murders
Liz Porter, Cold Case Files: Past crimes solved by new forensic science

The Davitts are named in honour of Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) who wrote Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865.

Vic Premier's Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2012 are the richest in the country.  Five categories each offer a winner's cheque for $25,000 with those titles in the running for the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature. This year the program also includes two biennial awards - $15,000 for an unpublished manuscript and $20,000 for Indigenous writing.
Here are the shortlisted titles for each category:

Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction: Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears
A History of Books by Gerald Murnane
The Cook by Wayne Macauley
Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
All That I Am by Anna Funder
Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse

Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction: •The Biggest Estate on Earth by Bill Gammage
The Hall of Uselessness by Simon Leys
Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung
Adelaide by Kerryn Goldsworthy
1835: The Founding of Melbourne and The Conquest of Australia
  by James Boyce
True North: The Story of Mary and Elizabeth Durack by Brenda Niall

Prize for Writing for Young Adults: •All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield
The Shadow Girl by John Larkin
The Shiny Guys by Doug MacLeod

CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry: Southern Barbarians by John Mateer
Vishvarupa by Michelle Cahill
Armour by John Kinsella

Louis Esson Prize for Drama: •National Interest by Aiden Fennessy
•A Golem Story by Lally Katz
•Boxman by Daniel Keene


The prize will be announced on 16 October.  Click on the highlighted titles to reserve your copy and indulge in some award-nominated reading!


Main Street Pakenham

Links to our Past - history -

Here are some views of Main Street in Pakenham. I don't have  a date for the first three photographs, but I would guess they were taken around 1900.
This is Main Street, looking towards McGregor Road.  State Library of Victoria Image H82.96/138
Main Street Pakenham, looking towards the Railway Station. The same view is below. The verandah on the right is the same verandah on the building on the right, below. This store was originally owned by Mr Crump, later taken over by McAfees, then sold to Robinsons.

You can see Robinson's SSW supermarket, in this 1980s photograph. It was later taken over by Safeways and is now the IGA. Safeways moved to its new building behind Main Street around 1984. This was the beginning, in my mind, of Pakenham's transition from being a country town to a suburb, when people no longer did all their shopping at small, independently owned businesses  in the Main Street.

Age BoY Shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Age Book of the Year Awards shortlist has been released.  The $2500 prizes are for Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, with $10,000 for the Book of the Year.  In the running are:

Fiction: What the Family Needed - Steven Amsterdam; Spirit House - Mark Dapin; The Meaning of Grace - Deborah Forster; Forecast: Turbulence - Janette Turner Hospital; Foal's Bread - Gillian Mears. Non-fiction:  1835: The Founding of Melbourne & the Conquest of Australia - James Boyce; Hiroshima Nagasaki - Paul Ham; Kinglake-350 - Adrian Hyland; Fishing the River of Time - Tony Taylor; Double Entry - Jane Gleeson-White. Poetry: First Light - Kate Fagan; The Welfare of My Enemy - Anthony Lawrence; The Brokenness Sonnets 1-111 and Other Poems - Mal McKimmie; Late Night Shopping - Rhyll McMaster; Surface to Air - Jaya Savage. The Awards will be presented at the opening of the Melbourne Writers Festival on 23 August.  Deb.

Ransom River

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Meg Gardiner is best known for her novels featuring her characters Evan Delaney - attorney, and forensic psychiatrist - Jo Beckett, but Ransom River, her latest title, introduces us to a new character, Rory Mackenzie.

And what an introduction! But first - about the story....

Rory Mackenzie is juror number seven on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. It’s a place she vowed never to visit again, after leaving behind its surfeit of regret and misfortune and the spectre of a troubled past that threatened to disturb the town’s peaceful façade.

While most of the town is focused on the tense and shocking circumstances of the trial, Rory’s return to Ransom River dredges up troubling memories from her childhood that she can no longer ignore. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realises that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her. 

That desperate attack on the courthouse starts within the first twenty pages, after a brief Rory flashback which builds background in this mystery/thriller. The action and intrigue drags you in and before long you are committed to both the story and Rory's family and history.  Without giving too much away, the courthouse attack consumes only the first part of the story, but the action doesn't end there, as family connections and long buried secrets are revealed to put not only Rory, but those she loves, in danger.

I loved this story. It was action packed, intriguing and quick moving. Plans to take my time reading it were soon forgotten as I was captured by Rory and all the things that were happening to her. Although she was the focus of the action, she never stood for being a victim  - using her smarts and her experience to her advantage.

But is it enough?  You'll have to read it to find out. And then keep an eye out, as we may well see more of this story in the future.....


Pakenham - the early days

Links to our Past - history -

The Pakenham area originally formed part of the I.Y.U Estate, first taken up by Dr W.K Jamieson in 1839. The original town of Pakenham was on the Highway, near Toomuc Creek and grew up around the Latrobe Inn, established around 1850 by Michael and Kitty Bourke. Michael Bourke also acted as Post Master for nearly 30 years. Kitty Bourke kept the Hotel and Post Office from the time of her husband’s death in 1877 until 1910. The Latrobe Inn was a Cobb & Co. coach stop and for obvious reasons was later known as Bourke’s Hotel. The town, which developed around the Railway Station, was officially known as Pakenham East until the 1960s. Pakenham grew as the service centre for the surrounding farms, especially the orchards at Pakenham Upper and Toomuc Valley, but it also had a number of other sources of employment, such as Nestles who established their plant in 1960 and sold out to Simplot in 2009.

This is a picture of the Auction Mart, which was near the Railway Station, in fact you can see a train in the back ground on the right. The building in the back ground centre, is the Mechanic's Institute - there is more about this building below. The  Pakenham Gazette of October 7, 1912 told us that William Close opened his auction mart on October 11, 1912 and sold  a whole range of goods from live stock to farm machinery to 'useful sundries'.
Pakenham Gazette, October 7 1917.

Report of the opening of William Close's Auction Mart from the Pakenham Gazette of October 12, 1917. If you click on the image, you will get a clearer copy.
In 1901, the Shire of Berwick moved its headquarters from Berwick to Pakenham. The first meetings at Pakenham were held in the Mechanics’ Institute until the new Shire Offices were built in 1912.  This building was  on the corner of Main Street and John Street and remained virtually intact in spite of the modernisation of 1962. The building was moved its current location in 2004 and is the home of the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.

The Shire of Berwick Offices, after their 1962 modernisation - it's the building on the corner with the brick parapet. The small building behind it is the original office of the Pakenham Gazette and beyond that is the (now demolished) bell tower of the Presbyterian/Uniting Church. This photo was taken in the late 1970s/early 1980s during a Yakkerboo Festival.
The Mechanics’ Institute Public Hall was opened by Mr James Gibb, M.L.A on August 8 1884. A report in the South Bourke & Mornington Journal of August 13 tells us that the Hall cost 200 pounds to build, plus fit-out costs and was built by McCartney and Delaney. It was 65 feet in length (about 19 metres) and 25 feet wide (about 7.5 metres). There was stage and dressing rooms. There were 250 at the opening and they were entertained by a concert and  a Ball.  The building was used as a Hall, a Library and a Court House, however its role as a Public Hall declined when the ‘new’ Hall was built in 1959 (which was demolished in 2010) and it was put up for auction by the Council in December 1960. It didn’t sell and was thus able to be used again in 1962 for Council Meetings when the Shire Offices were being modernised. It was finally sold by the Shire of Berwick in December 1962.

Hallam Regional Shopping Centre 1974

Links to our Past - history -

I came across a report for a 'Proposed Regional Shopping Centre' at Hallam. The report was dated June 1974 and was prepared by Hanover Holdings. The project was to 'provide outstanding regional shopping facilities in the location most appropriate for the people of Berwick, Hallam, Dandenong, Pakenham and surrounding districts and South Gippsland'. Commencement date was to be early 1975, however it was never built and 'regional shopping facilities' ended up being provided by the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, which opened on March 11, 1980. It is interesting to think how much different both Narre Warren and Hallam would be if Fountain Gate Shopping Centre was not built and the Hallam Shopping Centre was.

.Concept plan by Architects Norris & Partners P/L

This map shows the proposed location - on the south side of the Princes Highway and the east side of Wedgewood Road. The Highway gave easy access to  Dandenong and Gippsland. It also had access to the Mulgrave Freeway (or Monash as it is now called), however we are still waiting for the completion of the Dingley by-pass and what they call the La Trobe Valley by-pass road (and we now call  the Hallam by-pass)  was only opened in 2003, nearly thirty years after the proposed shopping centre.

Some concept drawings - the tower over the main entrance  was a 'four sided symbol in the form of an "H" representing Hanover'. As the report goes on to say, 'it is apparent that this symbol would be  a dominant feature of the landscape and would become a landmark'. The Developers were prepared to replace the "H" symbol with 'a monument or another appropriate structure, such as a monument to the pioneers of the Gippsland district.' 

Other features of the Complex included a Community Hall, an Auditorium, a Creche and  a swimming pool with a  cabana.

Vale Marvellous Maeve

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Irish writer Maeve Binchy, who has sold more than 40 million books worldwide, died yesterday (30 July 2012) aged 72 after a short illness. 
  Maeve Binchy was born on 28 May 1940 in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland, the eldest child of four. She is sister of William Binchy, Regius Professor of Laws at Trinity College, Dublin; and is cousin of the also writer Dan Binchy. Her uncle was the historian D. A. Binchy (1899–1989).

Starting out in life as a teacher, Maeve moved into journalism at the Irish Times and published short story collections before releasing her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, in 1982.

Binchy was know for her humorous take on Irish life, her descriptive characters and interest in human nature. Announcing her death on Irish television, she was hailed as Ireland's most recognisable writer.

Her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published in 2010, the same year she received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards.  She is survived by her husband, writer Gordon Snell.

Inspector Rebus crime writer, Ian Rankin, said: "Maeve Binchy was a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment. I'm taking a drink to her." Deb.

Fifty Shades of Grey - E L James

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I admit I bought this book as an e-book about 3 months ago before the current hype about this series  ran viral!  I thought I had better read it and find out what all the fuss was about.
So here's the rundown - Literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey as her room mate cannot make the interview.

She is immediately attracted to the mysterious Mr Grey who is also captivated by her innocence.

He then sets out to make her his own. She is shocked, yet thrilled by Grey's almost stalking-like advances towards her. Despite the trappings of his success, his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family, Christian Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey's secrets and explores her own dark desires.

The Fifty Shades Trilogy will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Thats the abridged review!!

Personally, I found the writing to be boring and repetitive.  The storyline is also fairly weak and predictable, and I was glad to finish the first book of the series. Sure, there is a lot of sex in this book, but that's nothing new, there are plenty of other books out there in the library that have that content if that is what rocks your boat!

Despite that, it is the most requested book in the library at the moment and judging by the holds we have, it will continue to be for some time!


**Note from Editor:  We have just released a handy bookmark entitled "Other Shades of Grey" which lists Erotic Fiction authors and Anthologies.  Pick one up next time you pop in!

Prime Minister's Literary Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean have just announced the winners of the 2012 Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Now in its fifth year, the awards recognise and reward excellence in Australian literature and history. The winner of each category receives $80,000.

Fiction:  Foal's Bread by Gillian Mears.  Non-Fiction: An Eye for Eternity: the life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna. Australian History: The Biggest Estate on Earth how Aborigines made Australia by Bill Gammage. Poetry: Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies. Deb.

Murder in the Dark

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Murder in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood. eAudiobook narrated by Stephanie Daniel.

It’s Christmas, and Phryne has an invitation to the Last Best party of 1928, a four-day extravaganza being held at Werribee Manor house and grounds by the Golden Twins, Isabella and Gerald Templar. She knew them in Paris, where they caused a sensation.

Phryne is in two minds about going.  But when threats begin arriving in the mail, she promptly decides to accept the invitation.  At the party, three of the guests are kidnapped and she must puzzle her way through the scavenger hunt clues to retrieve the hostages.

I LOVE the Phryne Fisher series, but this one was abysmal.  The story seemed to be some kind of testament to Kerry Greenwood’s “look how much I know”.  So many quotes.  So many poems, some even in French.  So much name dropping.  It was all very annoying - particularly as I have met Kerry and admire her intelligence and quick wit.  But I digress.   The ego-maniacal twins were intensely irritating.  Couple their vanity with a tribe of feet-kissing acolytes, a hash-filled tantric sex soiree, an old man who is both bored and boring and a child you are longing to slap, and well, it was dreadful.  Oh, and someone should tell narrators not to sing.  Listening to Stephanie Daniel trying to sing St. Louis Blues was agonising, to say nothing of the Olde English madrigals in the story.  What were they thinking? Deb.
PS - Like most of the Phryne Fisher series, this title is also available in both print and large print copies, MP3 disc, CD and in Playaway formats.


Reading Rewards - reviews -

Indulge in all things gastronomic when the State Library opens a free exhibition - Gusto! A Culinary History of Victoria.     Running from 3 August until the end of April 2013, Gusto! explores Victoria's historic and contemporary culinary landscape, covering subjects such as the history of viticulture, indigenous foods, sustainable food practices, fine dining, food rationing and also features the fascinating stories of significant Victorian culinary figures such as Jacques Reymond, Mietta O'Donnell, Guy Grossi and Stephanie Alexander.  There will be hundreds of books, archival items - including an actual World War 1 army biscuit bearing the inscription "A soldier has to have good teeth", handwritten documents, objects d'art, photos, art and advertising ephemera and the 1880 scrapbook of menus and recipes compiled by Sir Redmond Barry, the State library's founder who has a bronze statue outside the iconic building.  The exhibition is complemented by a full program of events and activities, including tours, Look-Stop-Taste, The Curator and The Critic guided tour (Tracey Judd Iva and food writer Rita Erlich) and more. Have we whet your appetite?  Log on to http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/event/gusto-culinary-history-victoria for further information. Deb.

Cockatoo - the early years

Links to our Past - history -

The original Europeans in the Cockatoo area came for gold that was found in the region around 1859.  The diggers had followed the Yarra River and then its tributaries including the Cockatoo Creek. The diggings were not rich and most of the miners soon left the area, however in the 1870s some settlers looking for land came to the area including Alexander Crichton, a butcher from Berwick, who selected 1500 acres (607 hectares) of land at the head of the Nangana Creek in 1874. Other early selectors were Henry Smartt and Matthew Kirkpatrick. Crichton opened a store on his land between Cockatoo and Gembrook. 

 From the State Library of Victoria Collection Image H32492/2330 
George Simmons is credited with opening the first store in the Cockatoo township in 1895, however the seminal event in the history of the development of Cockatoo was the opening of the narrow gauge railway line on December 19 1900. The railway, now known as the Puffiing Billy line, connected the town (as well as Emerald and Gembrook) to the existing line from Melbourne to Upper Ferntree Gully. This opened up the timber industry in the area and the establishment of saw mills including the Belfrey sawmill owned by John James Bell as well as Goldsack and Smith Brothers. Shops and businesses opened around the Cockatoo Railway Station including James McBride’s store in 1903. McBride was also the post master and the source of the name McBride Street.

Cockatoo School, No. 3535 opened in March 1907 in a corn store and moved into a new building in Ivy Street in 1918. This building was re-located to its current site in 1951. A Public Hall and library opened in Cockatoo in 1914, was enlarged in 1934 and had a supper room and kitchen added in 1957. Sadly, the hall along with many other buildings and houses were lost in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.

From the State Library of Victoria Collection Image H32492/422
The railway line also brought tourists and week-enders to Cockatoo to enjoy the fresh mountain air, fishing  and other attractions and guest houses were established, such as Eastgate.

The Argus Saturday April 30, 1949, page 36  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22725516
The area was originally named Cockatoo Creek by the gold diggers, apparently because of the abundance of cockatoos, however the railway station was  called Devon when the Puffing Billy line opened in 1900. The name was changed to Cockatoo Creek in 1901and then shortened to Cockatoo in 1904, though the Post Office retained the named of Cockatoo Creek until the First World War.


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