Tragedy at Point Lonsdale

William Thomas Seabrook (1881-1914)

By Sharon Brennan

(above) William Thomas Seabrook

William (Will) Thomas Seabrook was born in 1881 at Hawthorn, the sixth of ten children born to William John Seabrook (1846-1914) and Mary née Mason (d 1912). As a young man Will was a member of the South Yarra Presbyterian Gymnastic Club, later becoming an instructor with the club. In 1901, he joined the Victorian Scottish Regiment Association. In 1905 he was a colour sergeant and by 1914 he held the rank of captain. He worked for the estate agency business of “Sydney C Arnold and Company”. According to family sources, Will was described as “a well-proportioned, muscular young man, who took an interest in all classes of athletic exercises”. As a swimmer he had been particularly successful. Will was 32-years-old and lived at home with his family at Dunmoreburn – 9 Alleyne Avenue, Malvern.

On New Year’s Day 1914, Will arrived in Point Lonsdale to join his younger brother Thomas (Tom) (d 1967), who had been there since Christmas staying at Felsenheim, on Beach Road. They shared a room with Arthur David (Chairman of the Ballarat Stock Exchange and Liberal politician of Ballarat) and Rupert Anderson from North Fitzroy. Each morning the men would conduct a physical culture class based on that of Eugen Sandow, a famous body builder of the time.

On the 3 January, the four men were part of a group of about a dozen people who had climbed from the village up to the lookout and down the cliff to the beach. Also a part of the group were Miss Muriel Hunter, who had become engaged to Rupert Anderson the previous evening and Mr Quennell of Bendigo. 

Locals described the ocean beach at Point Lonsdale as extremely dangerous because of the undertow, the breakers, enormous amounts of seaweed, treacherous cross-currents and a continuous heavy sea. Arthur David was quoted by The Argus as saying “I have never bathed in such a rough sea as that which broke on the beach today, but because the waves tumbled about us we thought it rather added to the fun”.

(above) Royal Humane Society certificate

By about midday most of the bathers were out of the water except Rupert Anderson, Muriel Hunter and an unknown third person. Earlier in the day Will and Tom Seabrook and Arthur David were practicing life-saving and discussions had been held about the possibility of conducting a carnival to raise money to purchase life-lines and reels for the beach. Anderson and Miss Hunter found themselves in difficulties after the sand bank collapsed and Anderson signalled to those on the shore. Immediately, Will Seabrook, his younger brother Tom, Mr Quinnell and Arthur David raced into the surf to attempt to rescue the pair.

Mr Quennell was almost immediately injured when he gashed his leg on a rock. The others battled out to those in trouble. Arthur David became exhausted and said to Will who was close by, “I’m done, Will, save yourself”. David was then caught on the crest of a wave and washed ashore. He collapsed and was restored to consciousness by Mr Quennell. Meanwhile, Tom Seabrook reached Miss Hunter. He noticed that Will who had been behind him on the swim out had been swept further away and was now at least 30 yards further out to sea. Tom Seabrook held Miss Hunter until a mountainous wave wrenched her away from him. From the shore a body could be seen in the incoming breakers and Thomas Seabrook was dragged ashore unconscious. Miraculously Anderson was also washed ashore. Both men were revived on the beach. William Seabrook was seen on the crests of several waves but he was too far away to rescue without a life-line. Finally a huge wave swamped Will and he disappeared from view. Miss Hunter managed to stay alive for another twenty minutes by alternatively floating on her back and swimming. She was drawn towards the channel but did not succumb until she was almost opposite the lighthouse. Her body was finally recovered by Mr William Patterson who had arrived at the beach with a life-line. 

Tom Seabrook was quoted in The Argus;

“We were standing talking on the edge of the water, Will and I, when I saw Andy’s [Rupert Anderson] arm raised. At first it did not strike me what it meant, but when I saw Mr David jump up, I knew they were in danger. I raced Will in and fell over. After we had been battling the waves for a while, I knew there was a difficult task ahead, and I began to feel tired. I heard Mr David call out that he was done, and then the thought came to my mind that perhaps something awful was about to happen. I hadn’t given it a thought up till then. Will came up beside me looking all right, but I couldn’t see his face for the water. Then we were swept out right to where Andy was holding Miss Hunter up. He was almost under, and seemed to be trying to tread water. I put my hand on Miss Hunter, and she looked into my eyes. Then she jumped from Andy, and threw her arms round my neck, holding on tight. I kept up for a few seconds, and saw Will further out still. He was fighting his way. ‘How terrible it will be if we both drown’ was the thought that flashed through my mind. I was weak, and felt myself gradually going, when everything became a blank. I went through all the sensations of a drowning man. I remember someone attending to me next, but I couldn’t collect my thoughts. I never dreamt to Will being dead. I can’t account for how I got ashore. I had nothing to do with that; it must have been the hand of Providence. I can just remember seeing Miss Hunter through the water with her face close to mine as we went down. I have an idea that she thought I must be fresher than Andy, and she gripped me, thinking he might have a chance then, too. I suppose the way I was swept up to her made it look as though I was all right, whereas really I was done. I am considered a fair swimmer by some people, but no one could swim in that sea. I can’t imagine what has happened yet. The last I saw of poor Will he was gulping and gasping, and I could do nothing for him”.

(above) Memorial plaque at the Point Lonsdale Clubhouse

At the inquest into the death of Miss Hunter on 5 January, Mr E Cuzens JP praised the courage of those who had attempted the rescue at the risk of their own lives. Will’s body was eventually recovered and the inquest verdict was that he met his death by drowning in attempting to save a life. He was buried on Sunday 18 January 1914 at the Brighton General Cemetery (Pres*F*49) following a military funeral at the Malvern Presbyterian Church. Many people admired Will’s qualities and abilities – said he was a wonderfully strong swimmer – they could not understand how he could drown. His father William had now lost his wife and six of his ten children, some of whom are believed to have succumbed to tuberculosis. He died just four months later at the age of 68.

A plaque from the Royal Humane Society was placed at the original Point Lonsdale Clubhouse. This 15 by 10 foot building was taken over by the army in World War II. In 1947 permission was granted for the club to occupy the building but it was later considered dangerous because of the encroaching sand dunes. The plaque was later moved to the new clubhouse.

1 William John SEABROOK (4 Apr 1846 – 15 May 1914)
   b. 4 Apr 1846, Battery Point, Hobart
   d. 15 May 1914, ‘Dunmorburn’, Malvern, Victoria
& Maria Sophia MASON (1850 – 4 May 1912)
   b. 1850
   d. 4 May 1912, Sunbury
   m. 1870, Victoria
|           1 Henry William SEABROOK (27 Nov 1871 – 19 Nov 1895)
|             b. 27 Nov 1871, St Clare Cottage Park St Emerald Hill
|             d. 19 Nov 1895, Hawthorn
|           2 Ethel Mary SEABROOK (25 Jul 1873 – 19 Aug 1879)
|             b. 25 Jul 1873, Acacia Cottage, Booroondara, Victoria
|             d. 19 Aug 1879, Hawthorn
|           3 Charles Stephen SEABROOK (1875 – 3 Feb 1894)
|             b. aft 3 Feb 1875, Hawthorn
|             d. 3 Feb 1894, Hawthorn
|           4 Minnie Rosine SEABROOK (1877 – 12 Jan 1941)
|             b. 1877, Sandridge
|             d. 12 Jan 1941, Malvern
|           5 Lilian Maria SEABROOK (1879 – Nov 1960)
|             b. 1879, Hawthorn
|             d. Nov 1960, Caulfield, Melbourne
|           6 William Thomas SEABROOK (1881 – 3 Jan 1914)
|             b. 1881, Hawthorn
|             d. 3 Jan 1914, Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff, Victoria
|           7 Clarence Sydney SEABROOK (1883 – 1898)
|             b. 1883, Strzelecki
|             d. 1898, Prahran
|           8 Thomas Claudius SEABROOK (1886 – 2 Jun 1967)
|             b. 1886, Hawthorn
|             d. 2 Jun 1967, Heidelberg
|           & Dorothy Sidel (Dora) BAIRD (1892 – 21 Sep 1942)
|             b. 1892
|             d. 21 Sep 1942
|             m. 1915, Victoria
|           9 Frank Cyril SEABROOK (1888 – 1905)
|             b. 1888, Hawthorn
|             d. 1905
|           10 Ruby Vera Gladys SEABROOK (1890 – 7 May 1967)
|             b. 1890, Camberwell
|             d. 7 May 1967, Malvern
|           & William Charles (Cyril) MITCHELL
|             m. 1915, Victoria

The Age 5 January 1914 & 17 January 1914.
The Argus 5 January 1914.
Research undertaken by Sharon Brennan.

(Images courtesy of Sharon Brennan)

August and Johanna Weigel

The Mysterious Weigels

August Louis William Oscar Robert Carl Weigel (1845-1915) and Johanna Wilhelmine Weigel née Astmann (1847-1940)

By Shirley M Joy


This story began on Anzac Day 2004 when my husband, David and I joined a tour at the Brighton Cemetery. As we passed a most impressive monument built over three gravesites, a friend casually mentioned that there were no bodies interred there. The possibility that there were no bodies under such a large, impressive memorial stirred my curiosity, and so my research began into the Mysterious Weigels. Inscribed on the memorial is:

In  /  Loving Memory  /  – of –  /  Oscar Weigel  /  Born  /  12th June 1845.  /  Died  /  7th February 1915.  /  and his wife  /  Johanna Wilhelmine  /  Weigel  /  Born 11th February 1847.  /  Died 10th January 1940.

A search of the burial register confirmed that no bodies nor any cremated ashes were buried in the graves, Presbyterian Section “L”, Grave numbers 9, 10 and 11 (Pres*L*9-11). A visit to the manager of the Brighton Cemetery did not shed any light on the matter. He was as mystified as we were. He had noticed in the records that bodies had not been buried in the graves and, at first, thought that he may be able to sell the sites, however, on inspection saw a large memorial erected over the three gravesites. It later came to light that after Oscar’s death, Johanna wrote to the Cemetery Trust requesting “to have 3 graves on the front row (main drive) Nos 9, 10 & 11 in place of Nos 50 to 52 Compt L Presbyterian portion (second row) owing to the position being more desirable for the monuments she intends erecting”. This was approved at the Trustee meeting held on 12 November 1917. A search of the Birth, Death and Marriage records revealed the death of Johanna, but there was no record relating to the death of Oscar. The mystery deepened. Where was Oscar when he died? The time had come to proceed in a logical and systematic manner.

The Search for Oscar

Oscar and Johanna Weigel’s probate papers were obtained from the Public Record Office in Victoria. These documents provided many invaluable pieces of information, but not the crucial reference to Oscar’s whereabouts at the time of his death. The papers revealed that Oscar was a paper pattern manufacturer and resided at Rosen-Aue – (34) Queen’s Road, Albert Park which he purchased in 1883 the same year he also bought from George Pontin a hotel-schoolroom at 229 Lennox Street, Richmond which they altered into a factory. The probate papers listed Oscar’s “half share in the assets of the business of Cut Paper Patterns and Publishers carried on by deceased and his wife under the firm name of ‘Madame Weigel’.” Oscar’s estate was sworn for probate at £32,700, while Johanna left an estate valued at more than £71,800 in 1940. When Oscar and Johanna Weigel arrived in Melbourne on the ship Mysore in March 1877, they were on their honeymoon and only intended to stay in Australia for six months. Even though they travelled extensively overseas, they made Victoria their home for the duration of their lives. The Letters of Naturalisation documents record Oscar Weigel, whose occupation was ‘Engineer’, was born in Brunswick, Germany. Oscar became a naturalised Australian citizen on 7 March 1893. Desirous of obtaining some copies of “Madame Weigel’s Journal of Fashion”, I placed an advertisement in the “The Trading Post” newspaper. One person responded and informed me that a friend was familiar with the Weigel’s 27-acre property at Mount Macedon, which Oscar purchased in 1890. Oscar and Johanna Weigel built a two storied residence with 26 rooms and named it Drusilla. The “Woodend Star” on 6 June 1903 reported the destruction of the residence in a house fire which consumed the entire contents with the exception of a piano. The property was later sold to a Mr A Murray who built another house on the site. In 1919, the property was bought by (Edward) Norton Grimwade (q.v.) who demolished the existing house and built a new, large brick residence there. One of the photocopies provided by the Gisborne & Mount Macedon Districts Historical Society was an article printed in “Madam Weigel’s Journal of Fashion” on 1 February 1940:

An inveterate traveller, Madame Weigel spent much of her time voyaging round the world, and it was on one of these trips, in February 1915, that her husband passed away in Los Angeles”.

At last, an explanation as to why Oscar Weigel’s body is not interred in the grave at the Brighton General Cemetery. An internet search resulted in the printing off of the appropriate application form to obtain Oscar’s death certificate from the United States of America. There was great excitement when it arrived seven weeks later. Many more facts were gleaned from the certificate about the life and death of Oscar Weigel. His occupation was described as ‘Retired Publisher’ and his father’s name was Louis Weigel. His place of residence and death was 2062 West 6th Street, City of Los Angeles, where he had resided for three months. The cause of death was acute uraemia and chronic nephritis, secondary. One of the most important pieces of information on the certificate is under the heading of “Place of Burial or Removal” – Cremation Rosedale Feb. 9 1915. Most likely, Johanna Weigel would have brought Oscar’s ashes back to Australia where they could have been interred when his tombstone was erected some time after November 1917.

‘Madame’ Weigel

The Death Certificate of Johanna Wilhelmine Weigel records some details relating to her life story. The names of her parents and her maiden name were recorded as “unknown” which is not surprising as the Weigel’s guarded their privacy closely and after her death, these details were unlikely to have been known by even her close intimates. She married Oscar in New York when she was 29 years of age. Johanna died aged 92 years from heart failure – 28 days and myocardial degeneration – 10 years. The place of death and usual residence were recorded as (The Oriental Hotel) 41 Collins Street, Melbourne. On 11 January 1940, her body was cremated at Springvale Botanical Cemetery where the records reveal that her remains were collected. Nothing is known of who collected the remains, or what became of them. A search of the German records for Johanna’s maiden name of Astmann (obtained from Oscar Weigel’s probate papers), revealed that she was born at Bromberg Stadt, Posen, Prussia (Poland) on 11 February 1847, the second of five children born to August Astmann and Emilie née Sachs. On 8 August 1872, Johanna sailed on the ship Hamburg for New York and in the ensuing years, is believed to have found work as a designer with McCall’s Fashion House, a leading paper pattern establishment where she was “regarded as a most expert fashioner and cutter”. A generous benefactor to various charities, Johanna was also a feminist who once said that “if a girl has another talent than cooking, I see no reason why she should not develop it in preference to house and kitchen work, which can be learned when necessary”.

An Interesting Romance of Industry

The “Madame Weigel’s Journal of Fashion” dated 1 February 1943 records on the front cover that the business was established 65 years ago – within a year after their arrival in Melbourne in 1877. Some three years later circa 1880, they produced the first fashion journal printed in Australia which was originally known as “Weigel’s Journal of Fashions” and later, circa 1900, as “Weigel’s Journal of Fashion”. Describing the beginning of the pattern industry, she once said, “Women asked me to show them how to make dresses like mine, and in a moment of weakness I cut some patterns for them”. A small shop was opened in the Eastern Arcade, Melbourne selling paper patterns for women’s dresses before demand exceeded supply and the business moved to 99 Swanston Street. Some time after 1883, the business was carried out at the Lennox Street, Richmond site where it continued until well after Johanna’s death, eventually moving to 12 Levanswell Road, Moorabbin. The role played by Oscar Weigel in the business activities should not be underestimated. Oscar was an engineer, undoubtedly with drawing skills, and it is known that he did the drawings to illustrate the various styles of frocks. Johanna, formerly employed by McCalls in New York, would have been privy to the cutting-edge technology of fashion design and the manufacture of paper patterns, skills which were crucial to the success of their paper dress pattern business. It is abundantly clear from research completed to date that Oscar and Johanna Weigel developed a thriving fashion and clothing pattern industry which played a major role in the history of Australia, New Zealand and countries further afield. Not only did they bring to Australia the latest fashion and clothing designs from London, Paris and New York, but they made it possible for those with only modest sewing skills to make their own fashionable clothing. They revolutionised the appearance of people, women and children in particular, because rich and poor alike could purchase reasonably priced paper patterns, buy a bolt of cloth according to their budget, and make attractive garments at affordable prices. The women in country towns availed themselves of Madame Weigel’s patterns and made clothes that were of the latest styles. They were no longer the poorly dressed and unfashionable “country cousins”. The contribution made by the Weigels to the development of the fashion and clothing industry, assures them of a permanent place in the history of Australia, for it was they who kept the Australian citizens abreast of the “best dressed” in Europe and America.

The Oscar and Johanna Weigel Memorial

The bust of Oscar Weigel, which is mounted on top of a pedestal on the Weigel memorial was sculpted by Margaret Baskerville (1861-1930), who was described as “Victoria’s first professional woman sculptor”. She was also commissioned to execute a memorial to Sir Thomas Bent (q.v.), the Brighton politician and Premier of Victoria from 1904 to 1909. The book “Victorian Artists” (1988) by Margaret Rose refers to the bust of Oscar Weigel as follows:

“Like CD Richardson, Margaret Baskerville was also to be kept busy with commissions both during and after World War I. While some of these were to relate to the end of the war, others were of private citizens and included a portrait bust of Oscar Wiegell (sic)…”

Let us now consider Clause 2 of Johanna’s will dated 23 July 1931:

“I DESIRE that my body be cremated AND I ALSO DIRECT that the bust of my late husband in my possession be placed above his tombstone in the Brighton Cemetery and covered in a suitable manner at such cost as my Trustee in its discretion shall think fit and that a sum not exceeding Five hundred pounds be retained out of my residuary estate and expended to keep that burial ground in the said Cemetery and the erections and surroundings in a proper condition and state of repair during the twenty-one years ensuing my decease”.

That clause suggests that the Weigel memorial was built in two stages many years apart. A study of the photograph of the Weigel memorial reveals that four solid stone columns support a large stone canopy, under which is a pedestal, on top of which is the bust of Oscar Weigel. The question remains, did Johanna Weigel leave instructions that her cremated remains should be collected from Springvale Botanical Cemetery and placed under the ledger on top of Oscar’s tombstone, before the columns, canopy and pedestal were erected? It is conceivable that her cremated remains were placed in the original base structure, before phase two of the building of the memorial took place. If this is so, her name should appear on the burial register, but it does not!

Joy, S., “Oscar and Johanna Weigel” (2004). The full text is available at the State Library of Victoria as well as the Richmond Historical Society and Brighton Historical Society.

The Kennedys

Robert Henry (1826-95) and Mary Hume Kennedy (d 1915)

By Prue Grieve

The four people buried in the Kennedy family grave at the Brighton General Cemetery (CofE*A*113-114) are a husband and wife and two of their eleven children. Robert Henry Kennedy (1826-95) was born in New South Wales in 1826, the sixth of the twelve children of John Kennedy and his wife Caroline née Katopodi. Robert’s father, John, arrived in the colony of New South Wales with his uncle Matthew Pearce aboard the Surprize in 1794 and was followed the following year by his widowed father, James Raworth Kennedy and sisters Jane, Eliza Charlotte and Louisa in the care of their aunt Elizabeth More Kennedy sailing aboard the Sovereign. Aunt Elizabeth married Andrew Hamilton Hume and their surviving children were the explorer Hamilton Hume, Isabella (later Barber), John (murdered in 1840 by the Whitton gang of bushrangers) and Francis Rawdon, known as Rawdon.

Andrew Hamilton Hume was the son of a Scottish clerical family living in Ireland. He left a military career to come, in 1790, to Norfolk Island as advisor on the use of the native flax, which ultimately proved inappropriate for the making of linen. Andrew, who had undoubtedly been encouraged to the colony after a duel and a dalliance with his commanding officer’s daughter, was aboard the ill-fated Guardianand completed his journey, from South Africa, on the Lady Julian, the so-called ‘floating brothel’. From Norfolk Island, Andrew was transferred to Sydney Cove and continued his tiresome behaviour while in the employ of the Colonial Government.

Rawdon Hume, son of Andrew and Elizabeth née Kennedy, was father to the Mary buried here, so the husband and wife were cousins, the grandmother of one being the great-aunt of the other and the grandfather of one being the great-uncle of the other and the widower James Raworth Kennedy their great-grandfather in common.

Mary’s maternal grandmother was Elizabeth Huon, born in the colony in 1797 the eldest child of Count Gabriel Marie Louis Huon de Kerrilleau, a middle rank Breton aristocrat, in flight from the terrors of the French Revolution. Gabriel, released from the New South Wales Corps to tutor John MacArthur’s younger boys, eventually married Louisa Lesage, a French woman tried and transported for theft in London, on the evidence of a woman who would appear to be a wronged and aggrieved wife. Louisa’s convict past was well hidden until latter years and there are yet members of the family still very reluctant to believe that she was anything but the self-styled attendant upon Marie Antoinette at Versailles she had described to her grandchildren. And perhaps she was, but more likely as some Lady’s maid, otherwise why keep her true identity such a secret from her own children who might have wished to meet the noble French relatives?

Robert’s mother, Caroline, was the child of a Greek-born forger, Peter Katopodi, though that information was – undoubtedly quite deliberately – not common knowledge until later generations, and she arrived in New South Wales as a small child with her convict mother in 1798 aboard Britannia. The mother, Sarah Best was probably the widow of Colin Reculist, hanged for passing bank bills forged by Peter Katopodi. The name ‘Reculist’ is otherwise unknown in English and is nowadays presumed to be a version of the common Greek name ‘Rekalis’. Having then taken up with Peter Katopodi, the widow Sarah was transported for theft with little Caroline who was baptised and had the banns called as ‘Catapodia’. Continuing use of such an unusual name leads us to assume that Sarah was quite sure that Peter Katopodi was the father. Sarah was married and widowed twice more in the colony, so there is a wide network of Byrne and Sykes half-siblings all connected to Caroline and John’s descendants.

(above) Monumental Headstone (1895)

The Kennedy sons were pioneer landholders on the Billabong Creek at Jerilderie, New South Wales in company with their sisters’ husbands Brougham, Brodribb and Desailly. Robert Kennedy and Mary Hume were married in 1858 and Robert made enthusiastic attempts to irrigate his ‘back block’, Wunnamurra, from channels which were first hand excavated, then dug with a new fangled horse drawn scoop brought back from the California goldfields by George Desailly. Nowadays that district is crisscrossed with irrigation channels, the fall of the land calculated by laser and computer, but in Robert’s homemade ditches, judged by eye, the water refused to run despite frantic efforts at bailing in order to encourage the flow. Babies were born to Mary and Robert at Wunnamurra, at Roto near Hillston when the family moved on at the introduction of the Robertson Land Act and later at Collingwood, Gunning which had been vacated in fear in 1840 by the widow of Mary’s murdered uncle, John Hume. 

In 1879, the family minus the eldest daughter Emma who was married and settled elsewhere, moved to Wonnaminta in the Broken Hill-Wilcannia area, to land which Robert was pioneering, as was his habit. Mary had put off the move until the youngest child was a suitable age to take “into the wilderness” so they did not leave until little Millie was 18 months old. Travelling for six weeks, the troupe of wagons, hacks, spare horses and stock camped near homesteads when possible; but Mary has described how self-sufficient they were and accustomed to eating, sleeping and being furnished with clean clothing wherever they might find themselves. She comments in her memoir “Mr Kennedy and the young people enjoyed the journey but I was often very tired I think”. On arrival at Wonnaminta. Mary as was her custom, had her signature cool-room built, partially underground and chilled by the breeze extracting any warm air from a small louvred tower in the roof. She established a garden, taught school to the young, including aboriginal children, practised homoeopathy, collected botanical specimens for Baron von Mueller (St. Kilda Cemetery), wrote copious correspondence and organised picnic races and dances. While the girls hand sewed long and boring seams – bed sheets or petticoat frills – one read aloud from a suitable book or from the dictionary. During the first and prosperous years there was an annual trip to Adelaide to stay in the family refuge from the summer heat, Wonnaminta House at Crafers in the Adelaide Hills. Then the rains did not come but the rabbits did, bringing financial ruin upon Robert and Mary and several other members of the family who had settled in the same area. The Pastoral Company which had encouraged Robert to take on more and more debt foreclosed, evicted the family and, to compound the insult, installed the inexperienced young husband of one of Robert’s nieces as manager. Within a few weeks of enforced exile in suburban Melbourne, Robert collapsed and died on 16 January 1895 at his son’s house Nundorah – Emily Street, Murrumbeena.

The widow Mary and her unmarried girls took part in Melbourne’s social life on meagre rations, though invited everywhere by more prosperous relatives and friends. Ostentation was considered vulgar during these hard times, and to offer more than one kind of cake at tea was not refined behaviour. Of the three boys, Frank was employed by his wife’s father, a stock agent in Bowral, New South Wales. Bob junior tried his hand at small farming, but his experimental crop failed and he took to prospecting for minerals. Gilbert went off to the Western Australian goldfields with some cousins, but rather than chase the dream of gold, established a smart livery stable catering to the successful miners. And it was often possible to buy the flashy rigs back at reduced prices when the miners went broke. Gilbert subsequently fathered, among other children, Buzz Kennedy, a ubiquitous print journalist with a weekly column, for many years, in the Sydney Morning Herald. As a television presenter on “Good Morning Australia” and “Beauty and the Beast”, he was famed for large and colourful bow-ties and an ego to match.

Jessie Annie Cotter née Kennedy (d 1 July 1941) and Edith married pastoralists, Effie a New South Wales doctor, Millicent Stawell, the son of noted chief justice Sir William Stawell (1815-89), and Hilda the heir of a Scottish textile manufacturer and importer, “D & W Murray”. Mary Kennedy died on 12 December 1915 at The Terrace, Armadale mercifully spared much of the First World War and the pain of so many of her descendants and relatives maimed or killed therein. The two offspring buried with Robert and Mary are the daughters who remained unmarried; Amy Ida, a nurse who died in early middle age of pernicious anaemia on 1 February 1928; and Mabel Constance (d 5 September 1955), always called ‘Barboo’ by her great nieces and nephews thanks to the baby attempts to say ‘Mabel’ by one of that generation. Mary’s motto in life was – “Whatever thy hand find then to do, do it with all thy might”, and it would seem she still does. A calm [and transparent] figure with smooth parted hair and a long rustling grey skirt has been seen at both Wonnaminta and at the Crafers house, described by people who have known nothing of the Kennedy history. Mary is always seen busily straightening quilts, smoothing pillows and sitting up by sick-beds so clearly she has not yet finished doing practical things, as she had promised, with all her considerable might.

Research undertaken by Prue Grieve.

(Image courtesy of Prue Grieve)

Samuel’s Story

Samuel Holloway (1848-60)

By Anne Holloway

(above) John Holloway

Samuel Holloway was born on 14 October 1848 into a loving family of John Holloway and his wife Lucy née Birch. John and Lucy were married on 7 August 1832 at Comberford, Staffordshire, England (Lucy’s birth place) later moving to the nearby township of Tamworth where they lived in George Street. They had seven other children before Samuel was born – Hannah, George, Sarah, John, Edward, Mary-Lucy and Anne. 

John senior was a landholder, and around 1841 the family moved to a farm called The Royals at Amington, two miles north of Tamworth. This is where the last four children were born. John worked the 96 acres of land with the help of two labourers according to the last census in England before they all migrated to Australia. The Holloways had many friends amongst them the Booths and the Argyles. These families were born in Heage, Derby but Thomas Argyle was working as a solicitor’s clerk in Tamworth. His younger brother Edward, who had migrated to Australia, wrote many letters back home and these were passed on to family and friends. John Holloway was friendly with Thomas and would have read the letters. 

The Holloway’s were of the Methodist faith and took great comfort and support from the bible. When trying to decide whether to migrate to Australia or stay in England, Lucy opened the bible at random and saw the verse “go into the wilderness and you will be protected” and so they bought their ticket on the North Atlantic, packed their belongings and left the family home; Samuel was four years and three months old at the time. Arriving in Williamstown, Melbourne in 1852, John Holloway first worked as a butcher amassing a large amount after which the family moved to Rock House, Kyneton in country Victoria staying with Edward Argyle for about four months. While staying there, John became interested in Edwards’ property Duck Swamp near what is now Kerang and purchased part of that property naming it Tragowell station. George, Samuel’s eldest brother was left to bring their goods up to Tragowell by bullock dray, he was 15-years-old, and while near the Black Forest, where Bacchus March is now, George’s hired help took the dray and the two lead bullocks, leaving George with only the horse and remaining bullocks to find his way to Tragowell. He finally arrived, was able to find more bullocks and to get more goods for the family and so they started life on the land. 

(above) Lucy Holloway née Birch

The following years saw John Holloway build up his property and trying to find a bullock strain he could use to upgrade his team and in 1857 bought one for £500, a huge amount in those days. The girls who were still of school age, Ann and Mary-Lucy were taken to boarding school in 1858 at a private girls school run by Mrs Fleck at Kyneton. Mr Farmer – a neighbour – took Samuel and his brothers John and Edward to school at Mr John A McFarlane’s Brighton Park in 1859. This school eventually became Brighton Grammar. The cost of schooling is unknown but his father ordered Edward to leave when he was 18 years old in 1859. Samuel stayed on at the school, without his brother’s company. Now on his own, Samuel would have been lonely and when he contacted influenza in 1860 he had no family around to comfort him. The local doctor treated him but the poor boy must have died in agony as his trachea was inflamed, in other words he would have suffocated, and he died on 3 September 1860. It was his Aunt Palmer who had the duty to send the telegram which they received the day after the Burke & Wills expedition left Tragowell station on their way to the top of the continent – and death. Dr Hermann Beckler (1828-1914), botanical collector and doctor travelling with the expedition of which fellow German William Brahe (q.v.) was a member would write of the “hospitable house of Messrs Holloway and Barr” during a time of badly needed rain: 

“I can assure the reader that even in Australia, where one is used to expansive hospitality, it is no trifle to accommodate such a large expedition…and make them comfortable. But the friendly owners of this far remote station did all they could to make our evening tolerable, and they succeeded entirely…The Holloways were pious folk. They prayed with great devotion in the evening and, although they were very simple people, they offered a long, improvised prayer for the success of our expedition and for our preservation. In the morning we received substantial gifts…which we accepted with thanks since these people were not just religious, but also good Christians”. 

Eventually the family put a headstone on his grave in the Brighton General Cemetery (Meth*L*81). The cemetery is near his former school. No other members of his family were buried in the cemetery.

Samuel’s headstone inscription reads:

(above) Samuel Holloway

Another precious gem in Heaven
That hush’d my heart I daren’t repine.
The child was lent it was not given
God took his own it was not mine.

Research undertaken by Anne Holloway.
Beckler, H., “A Journey to Cooper’s Creek” (1993).

Dagmar’s Story

Dagmar Blanche Cox

By Kathy Vivian

Dagmar Wells is a remarkable woman who has led an eventful, if often tragic life. This is her story…

On the day after her husband Frederick Thomas (Tom) Worland (3973, Pte 5th Battalion AIF 1915-16) was killed by a German bomb on the bloody battlefields of the Somme on 25 July 1916, Annie Meredith (Deda) Worland gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Dagmar Blanche.

(above) Tom Worland in uniform. He was killed on the day before Dagmar was born.

Dagmar was brought up in a house filled with music. Deda played the piano for silent films and from an early age, Dagmar delighted everyone with an amazing contralto voice. She won many singing awards including the prestigious Sun Aria award and had the world at her feet as a gifted, headlining opera singer, notably Handel’s Messiah in 1942.

All of this fell by the wayside when she fell in love and married Laurie Gilbert Cox of Elsternwick on 8 June 1946. Dagmar happily embraced married life and was overjoyed to fall pregnant late 1947. Three weeks overdue in September 1948, she was admitted to a small private hospital in Melbourne. It was during her labour that Dagmar was informed “she should hurry up as a wealthy and important lady arrived in labour and would need the delivery room”. That important lady was to give birth to the fugitive Christopher Charles Skase (1948-2001) on 18 September. No-one can be certain what transpired next, but Dagmar’s baby was to be stillborn. She never got to see him, as he was whisked away.

When told of the news, Laurie was devastated. He asked to see his son but was refused by the nurse who said “The baby is a monster. It would be too upsetting for you to look at him”. Not to be dissuaded, Laurie asked to speak to the Matron. Laurie pleaded that even if the baby was a monster, he was still his son and he had a right to see him. The Matron tried to placate Laurie, and said it wasn’t possible because the baby had been “wrapped for disposal”. Laurie won out in the end and the baby was brought out. Far from being a monster, little Trevor Laurence Cox was absolutely perfect apart from a bruise on his head. Laurie arranged for a proper burial and Baby Trevor was laid to rest on 28 September with his aunt Majorie Adeline (buried 12 Jan 1925) and grandfather Gilbert Victor (buried 6 May 1925). Fate would deny Dagmar the joys of becoming a mother again such was the pain of her experiences; Trevor would be her only child. Laurie’s life would end in tragedy after being struck by a car in 1966 leaving Dagmar a widow.

(above) A happy Laurie and Dagmar Cox on their wedding day 8 June 1946.

To add to the trauma, Trevor was never officially recognised as a person. No birth nor death certificate was ever issued in keeping with the era. To all but Dagmar and Laurie, Trevor did not exist. The stigma would remain in Dagmar’s heart until her great-niece Kathy Vivian decided to close a chapter…

Some years ago, Kathy’s dad Terry Edgerton decided to locate his cousin’s grave, and though armed with directions from Dagmar, after walking around the entire Cemetery, was unsuccessful. Terry contacted the Cemetery Office in an attempt to track down the grave, but was discouraged and admitted defeat. That was until a few more years passed when Kathy one day made a promise to Dagmar…that within twelve months, she would find Trevor and ensure the whole family knew where he was. Dagmar got a bit teary, gripped Kathy’s hand tightly and said simply “thank you”.

With only Christopher Skase’s date of birth to go by, it was in August 2005 that Kathy turned to the internet for information on the Brighton General Cemetery, hoping but not really confident that somewhere there might be a searchable index of burials. Instead, Kathy sent a long and moving email to the Brighton Cemetorians Inc. just when the group was forming. Like so many others, Kathy was seeking assistance to locate a gravesite and we were happy to oblige. Two days after sending her email, Kathy was supplied with a map showing the location of the grave, photos and a list of other family members interred.

(above) Cox family grave after restoration with added inscription to Trevor Laurence Cox – “In God’s Care, In Our Hearts”.

Armed with this information, Kathy went to see Dagmar who is now bedridden in a nursing home in Leopold, Victoria. Kathy would describe her beloved great-aunt as being “very stoic during the rough times in her life, but she came as close to breaking down as I have ever seen her. Not only was her fondest wish granted, that we had ‘made contact’ with Trevor, but it became apparent that of the four buried in the grave (CofE*ZE*51), only two were recognised on the inscription”. It was then that Kathy floated the idea of adding the name of both Trevor and his paternal grandmother Lillian Rose Cox (buried 19 Augudt 1969) to the inscription, to which Dagmar replied “Kath, please, whatever it costs!”.

After what Kathy described as a “sooky” moment on the phone with her dad, she offered to make a donation to the Brighton Cemetorians Inc. You had to be part of such a moving story to understand the refusal; instead, it was suggested the donation go towards restoring the grave. Further advice was sought from our contact at Heritage Victoria and this, together with the details of Lodge Bros. we forwarded our recommendations to Kathy. The was suggested to avoid incorporating a bronze memorial plaque with the additional details, but to instead continue the lettering in the existing style; bronze memorial plaques have a place, but not for use on existing monuments especially those with marble. The total cost of $3,662.20 did not daunt the family who were determined to ensure a fitting memorial to Trevor. The work took Lodge Bros. nearly three months to complete.

Dagmar is a very special lady, who despite the fact she is bedridden these days and has seen more than her share of sadness in her life, is never short of a smile or a wicked laugh. But deep down is the pain of the trauma of being denied a mother’s emotional yearning to farewell a loved child.

It was in December last that the day arrived when Kathy would show Dagmar a photo of the restored grave; the tears started and they didn’t finish until Kathy left. Dagmar didn’t want the picture put away, but rather has it on her notice board where she can see it all the time. As Kathy said, “she must surely be the only woman in the nursing home with the picture of a grave on her wall!”.

It was indeed an emotional visit. Kathy would describe Dagmar as “a woman generous in her praise and compliments. But today for possibly the first time I saw the real lady behind the bright, optimistic mask. She spoke of the horror of losing her much wanted baby: of her naivety in blindly accepting the word of her doctor; of the years of feeling almost like her baby was something to be ashamed of. (She knew that her baby was not a monster, but for her whole life it has almost been a stigma on her heart and she has kept it locked away). Trevor had no birth certificate and no death certificate, and she had been made to feel by the doctor and nurses that he was less than a baby. To the world he didn’t exist.

Today – for the first time – I saw her pain, which today is obviously still as strong as it was when Trevor died. (Probably because it was not dealt with properly at the time.) But hot on its heels was the most indescribable joy! According to Dagmar, and in her own words, we have given her back her heart and that Trevor was finally recognised as having been a real person; admittedly one that didn’t get to draw breath. Today was quite a profound experience for me, and it was almost an honour to have contributed in just a small way towards bringing her such joy”.

The last surviving of three siblings, Dagmar is contented that not only has her dear little Trevor been recognised, but future generations of the family and even casual visitors to the Brighton Cemetery will wander past the grave and know that her precious, much-loved baby is buried there.

Information supplied by Kathy Vivian.


Childhood Recollections

Hartley and Griffiths family

By Peter Thomas

My grandmother, Mrs Ada Hartley née Rice, was buried at Brighton in 1954, a few years before I was born. She was born illegitimate in 1891 and adopted by the Griffiths family of Brighton in 1893. Mrs Elizabeth Griffiths died in 1898, and is buried at Brighton. She had a fine headstone. In due course, her husband Mr James Griffiths joined her, but that fact was never shown on the headstone. Many years later, their foster-daughter Ada joined them.

My mother, her brother, and two sisters, were part of an era when cemetery visits were routine. Every month they, and my cousins and I (I was the youngest of our generation) would visit Brighton. Visits were usually on a Sunday, but during school holidays, we sometimes went on weekdays.

Running and excess noise, from any cause, were strictly forbidden. My cousins and I would walk as briskly as we knew how from the Hawthorn Road entrance to the Griffiths grave which was a fair distance. First to arrive was some sort of winner: I was disadvantaged by my shorter legs. But the tricks of this race were, alternatively, either remembering the most direct route without unnecessary deviation, or discovering a better path. Parents were left in our wake as they took a longer journey, avoiding our zig-zags. The great disgrace was, of course, to get lost. One cousin completely overshot the mark one day. No one dared to raise a voice in the cemetery, so the search was conducted in silence, and as a result, he was not found for what seemed a long time. Due reverence did not permit his punishment to be administered within the cemetery, so he had a long walk back to the gate, knowing what must, and did, befall him as soon as he stepped onto the footpath outside.

On more mundane occasions, when the oldies caught up, they would attend to maintenance, fresh flowers, etc. The children would explore nearby.

There was a very impressive, polished black headstone near Grandma: I can’t recall the name, but the gent concerned died on the day I was born. I never worked out the significance of this, but every visit I would stand reverently at the foot of that grave for a few moments.

Another nearby grave had a concrete top. The soil beneath had subsided, and the lid had broken and fallen in; very spooky. My cousins and I would stare into this void, silently, until our fears forced us to withdraw. The last to yield was some sort of winner. That was never me.

The children would be summoned to fill the vase, take old flowers to the bin, and any other chores. Being selected for such a task was reward for quiet, dignified behaviour, rather than for winning any of the events we made up for ourselves. Parents would drink their thermoses and chat about times and people long gone: stories of catching yabbies in Albert Park Lake and snapper of St. Kilda jetty were told and retold.

There was no point hurrying to leave, so we would dawdle, so it seemed, with our parents, down the main access path. On this journey, to exercise our minds, and build our characters, we would recite from memory the epitaph of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s magnificent headstone. The challenge was to see who could remember the most, without error, of course. When the group arrived at the grave of “The Poet Gordon”, we’d stand and recite it together, by way of practice. Eventually, we children could all remember the eight lines:

“Question not, but live and labour 
Till yon goal be won, 
Helping every feeble neighbour, 
Seeking help from none.
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone-
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own”.

My brothers are 17 and 15 years older than I. Both had left home before I could remember. But they had been through the same routine as I have described. A few years ago, nostalgically comparing our widely separated childhoods, we discovered that they and I could each recall the eight lines above.

I left Melbourne in 1978. I have returned only occasionally. If I’m in the area, I drop in at Brighton Cemetery. I am surprised each time that I can remember my preferred zig-zag path to the family grave. The last time I was there was 1996, the other graves mentioned were still as I recalled them. It’s comforting to find a rock of stability in an ocean of change. 

Footnote: Ada Hartley was buried on 20 April 1954 together with Elizabeth (buried 3 November 1898) and her husband James Griffiths (buried 26 January 1924) in grave Bap*A*85.

Research by Peter Thomas (NT).

William Thomas Bertotto

Bertotto of Sandringham

William Thomas Bertotto (1874-1946)

By Shirley M Joy

William Bertotto was born at Sandringham, Melbourne on 2 August 1874 the fourth child to Angelo (d 1928), a professional fisherman, and Caroline Bertotto (d 1927). William was brought up to a life on the sea and joined the Victorian Navy on 9 July 1900 with the rank of training seaman at a time when the colony was involved in two wars, the Boer War and the China War (Boxer Rebellion). William chose to serve with the Victorian Naval Contingent that was posted to China to help suppress the northern Chinese peasants, who were endeavouring to overthrow foreign rule. Prior to his departure, a farewell function was organised the day after he joined the navy by the “proud Councillors and citizens of Sandringham”, where he was presented with a silver Rotherham watch and chain as well as a real sailor’s knife with a marlin-spike. 

On Monday 30 July 1900, the contingent embarked onboard S.S Salamis where they sailed for Sydney arriving at Port Jackson on the following Saturday. There was a decided warlike air abroad throughout the vessel and the Victorians, upon whose caps were written “HMS [sic]Cerberus”, saluted as their superiors passed through the quarters. After visits by local dignitaries, including the Governor Lord (seventh Earl) Beauchamp (1872-1938) and Sir William Lyne (Waverley Cemetery), Transport 105, formerly SS Salamis left Cowper Wharf on 7 August and sailed the following day for China. On Sunday 9 September, Salamis arrived on the war front where she joined the great fleet of some 130 warships and transports from many nations which had assembled twelve to fifteen nautical miles off the mouth of the Hai Ho. The Australian contingent was to be quartered as one force in Tientsin committed to securing and holding the land in that area and later at Pao-ting fu, one hundred or so miles to the west of Tientsin. The Victorian Naval Contingent left Australia with blue serge uniforms and greatcoats, but these were quite inadequate for the severe winter conditions. The British obtained some winter clothing from the Canadian Government and this was to prove invaluable.Bertotto’s diary, written in superb copperplate handwriting, records some of his experiences and events which he witnessed during his time in the field in Tientsin and Pao-ting fu and also describes the lighter side of life in wartime – the holding of a “banyan”, a Royal Australian Navy term used to describe a party where sailors from a ship anchored offshore, go ashore to cook a meal and drink beer on a deserted tropical island. The entries in his diary also have a ring of optimism about them, suggesting strength of mind and body, and the ability to survive under threatening conditions which can be attributed to Bertotto’s upbringing in the bracing sea air of Sandringham. By the beginning of 1901, when hostilities had subsided, the Victorian Contingent’s role was limited to that of an occupation force and they departed on 26 March 1901 sailing onboard SS Chingtu arriving at Port Jackson on the evening of 25 April with quarantine flag flying. 

William Bertotto returned home to Sandringham and was promoted to the rank of able seaman on 6 September 1901 remaining with the Victorian Navy until 1907 when he was discharged at his own request; his certificate of service was signed by Commandant WR Creswell (q.v). After discharge, Bertotto once more pursued a career as a professional fisherman at Sandringham and resided with his family at 5 Moor Street until his death on 24 April 1946; he did not marry. He was buried two days later in the Brighton General Cemetery (RC*C*114).

Joy, S., “William Thomas Bertotto” (

(Ernest) Roy Busby

An Extraordinary Life

(Ernest) Roy Busby (1917-85)

By Graeme Wheeler

Ernest Roy Busby, known as “Roy” (Pres*M*20) was born in 1917, the only child of (Albert) Ernest Busby (1877-1945) and his wife May (1883-1964), shopkeepers, of South Yarra. From what is known, Roy’s childhood was a very happy one. He grew into a studious young man, commencing his tertiary education at University High School. Training as a biochemist, he obtained his first Diploma at RMIT before being employed at Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL), where he spent the next forty years until his retirement in 1975. In his early days at CSL, his field of expertise was the production of cultures to counter diphtheria and typhoid, and he later worked in the development of penicillin. As he matured, Roy’s recreational interests gelled into four main areas; bushwalking, mapping, cycling and statistics, and collecting books. But there was much more to his life than that.


Roy became interested in geography and the outdoors at an early age, and by the 1940s, he had started a walking club among his fellow workers at CSL, some of whom followed him when he joined the Youth Hostels Association (YHA). He enlisted in YHA as Life Member number 18, and it was not long before he was recognised as an outstanding bushman, a quietly competent navigator and a most companionable track mate. Devoting all his recreation time to the exploration of Victoria, with a few like-minded individuals he walked in all the then wild places, carrying his pack for up to two weeks on extended trips in remote places. Almost every weekend was spent in this manner for perhaps a decade, from the nearer Dandenong Ranges, the Grampians, Wilson’s Promontory, to coastal and alpine areas. Later, as his interest spread interstate, he climbed Mount Chambers and walked its gorge in the Flinders Ranges, and Ayers Rock, Mount Conner and Mount Olga in the Centre, in the ‘Corner Country’ and the Kimberley. Roy had no ambition whatever to travel overseas; believing that Australia had all he wanted, and never changed that view. More often than not, walking gave him the opportunity to achieve a greater intimacy with the land, providing an interesting, if demanding means of satisfying his curiosity about landforms, botany, geology and natural history. One hundred and sixty-six mountains had been listed in the State; he was one of very few individuals who climbed them all. Similarly, there were one hundred and eighty-six waterfalls; he sought them out and described them. In answering his compulsion to record, he had taken up photography, compiling a collection of hundreds of slides from his trips. Roy was one of rare breed who denied ‘that speed was more potent than the view, and that hills were simply there to slow you’. In the 1950s, he joined the Melbourne Amateur Walking and Touring Club (later the Melbourne Walking Club), the second oldest walking group in Australia. Formed in October 1894, it initially was for male speed walkers – the harriers, but with the ‘discovery’ of bush tracks and trails, it was not long before the competitive aspect was abandoned and bushwalking as we know it was embraced. It was into this traditionally regulated, all-male club that Roy found companions there closer to his own age and capable of providing the intellectual stimulus he sought. One such man was Noel Semple, a fellow biochemist at CSL, and of equal importance, a walker who matched him in performance and interest in conserving the environment. It was not long before The Melbourne Walker, the Club magazine, published articles Roy wrote about his work on track measuring, mapping on Mount Buffalo and the Cathedral Range, pinpointing the location of Mount Thackeray in the Grampians, and the listing of Victoria’s waterfalls. For ten years before Noel moved to Canberra and married, he and Roy shared their annual leave at Mount Buffalo where they spent every day on long walks, increasing their daily mileages more and more each year. In the 1960s, Roy participated in numerous annual motor safaris into the Centre. Bill Kennewell, who established the concept, transported special interest groups to certain points in the ranges, off-loading walkers who wished to carry their packs across country to a pre-arranged rendezvous where they would be picked up some days later. At another time, Kennewell arranged a rare opportunity for his clients to explore the vast underground caves and lake systems beneath the Nullabor Plain, rigging up ladders to give access, providing inflatable boats for use on the water, and an improvised arrangement that provided plenty of light down in the huge caverns. Swimming underground in that primal place was absolutely unique. Roy brought back great photographic records of those adventures. “Buzza” was never deterred by difficult terrain. Being city-bred, one may be surprised that he had developed into such a ‘hard’ man, for he could handle anything the outdoors served up. Bad weather, rain, fog, steepness of the climb, lack of water, snow, cold, heat; Roy was always there at the end, invariably with a Puckish grin. His tolerance of pain and setbacks was abnormally high and his sense of humour inexhaustible. He could walk fast when required – he had to when in Noel’s company – and had a gamut of interesting personal foibles out on the track that included his greeting of a growled “Ho!”, his breakfast menu of Granbits, Farex, and a heavy but moist fruit concoction that he baked at least weekly. He called it “Ballast cake” and claimed it “stuck to him all day”. His favourite sweet, carried with his scroggin, was Cherry Ripe. Always eager to make the most of his time in the bush, he never ‘slept in’ when on the track, and those walking with him usually, but not universally, appreciated his drawled wake-up call of ‘Six o’clarck’. He became a legend among his contemporaries. There were fewer places he liked more than Tasmania, and from his first visit to the Cradle Mount-Lake St Clair National Park in 1952 Roy was determined to return. He was devastated at the flooding of Lake Pedder, but counted himself lucky he had experienced such a gem of nature before its insane destruction.


From the age of ten, Roy was consumed by maps, even making his own as a child holidaying with his parents at Hepburn Springs, or of forest tracks in the Dandenongs when on picnics. It was a part of his intellectual make-up that demanded his recording of physical details of his environment, and persisted as an interest all his life. He began collecting maps and became familiar with the various types, finding where to obtain them, familiarising himself with their strengths and shortcomings. It was a subject upon which he became very knowledgeable. In the days before Australia was adequately mapped, many individuals sketched their own of favourite areas and shared them among walking friends. As there was nothing suitable on the Cathedral Range, near Buxton, Roy began a survey of that area, producing a first-class guide to all the tracks, peaks, cliffs and sources of water. Visiting the short range over many months, sometimes alone, more often with mates, with an accurate compass, altimeter and clinometer, his final draft was a most useful document for walkers. The trips done on his annual holidays on Mount Buffalo contributed to his new chart of the plateau, for the official tourist map was an imaginative depiction of a table-like structure with fluted walls dropping sheerly on all sides, the features on the top marked as little pimply excrescences. Not satisfied with the distances shown, Roy, the scientist, continued his own measuring technique, wheeling his bicycle over every metre of the network then averaging the two cyclometer readings. In his ongoing desire to climb all the mountains in the State, Roy came upon Mount Thackeray in the Victoria Range, the most rugged section of the Grampians. It was marked on maps but being located in the middle of a remote archipelago of outcrops and ravines on a high range, could only be discerned from afar. Many walkers had attempted to climb the mountain but it was a very elusive peak, and locating it proved to be the greatest obstacle to success. In 1955, in company with his mates, Roy made his first foray into the area. Having disposed of the initial climb of more than 1,200 feet up a cliff wall, it was discovered that the map was incorrect; Mount Thackeray was away off to the south. When a new geological map was produced in 1961, it was hoped the task would be easier, but when Roy and his company zeroed in on the mountain’s co-ordinates, to their chagrin, they found it was still at least two kilometres to the south. After eight sorties over as many years, Roy finally nailed its correct position, climbed it and made an accurate map. Those who participated in all those trips led by Roy had a definite sense of achievement that their persistence had paid off, and that he had filled in another small but significant part of the jigsaw. In 1953, Roy was asked to produce an index of maps for the Federation of Victorian Bushwalking Clubs. An inordinate amount of work was involved in collating all the information from and about maps useful to walkers, and nine years were to pass before it was published. It sold out within weeks. Roy had started collecting maps at an early age and his final tally included full sets of Australian 1:100,000 survey maps, historic, mining and tourist maps, hundreds in all. The introduction to the second issue of his Map Index sheds some light on his own progressive attitude to walking when he wrote this appeal for a more aesthetic appreciation of the environment – “Maps are often used for purposes other than navigation. For many bushwalkers, the final aim is not merely to see the view, reach the peak or traverse the stretch of country. These are the means, but the real end is to gain a sense of intimacy with the whole, and each individual experience is made richer if its significance in that wider relationship is not missed. To visit Moliagul, aware of its association with Flynn of the Inland and with ‘Welcome Stranger’ gold nugget is to illustrate this gain”.


Although this activity began as a relatively low-key, normal, youthful pursuit, it ultimately took over Roy’s every waking moment as it grew into an obsession. When he began cycling in 1936 at the age of eighteen, he started keeping a methodical record of every ride he did, of every mile, and kept doing it throughout his life. Initially his purpose was to use the bike just to get out into the country, his first rides being to the east, to the nearby Dandenongs, and then to the outlying lands to the north and west around Melbourne. An ambition grew to do more than that; to see if he could claim some sort of record for distance cycled, and he began a daily routine of riding that was only broken by bushwalks with his mates, illness or accidents, of which there were a few. By 1945 he had settled upon a scheme delineating the maximum distance he could cover out and back in a day. He called this “boundary riding”; it was essentially an area within a radius of a hundred miles (160 kilometres) of his home and he treated the project quite seriously, planning the daily routes according to wind direction, weather, his fitness at the time and other variables. Although the objective was primarily to notch up miles, Roy made it as interesting for himself as possible. His weekdays began at five; he rode a few miles before breakfast, then rode across Melbourne to work. Another ride at lunchtime; the homeward trip and an additional burst after tea soon saw his tally rising. Writing up the log was done before he went to bed at eleven. The statistics that came out of this routine were quite staggering and encouraged him to raise his sights, not on an Australian record, but a world one, at that time held by a Scot, Tommy Chambers. In 1977, Chambers had pedalled nearly 800,000 miles. (1,287,440 kilometres), but at seventy-six, after a bad accident, was virtually finished. Roy’s best day’s ride of 307 miles (494 kilometres) was in 1951. Later he rode 511 centuries, of which 38 exceeded 200 miles (321 kilometres), 17 successive centuries including 11 on working days. He did 500,000 miles (804,650 kilometres) in 500 months and 20,000 miles (32,186 kilometres) each year for 10 years. He also rode 100 miles (160 kilometres) a day for 500 days, with 461 in succession. The high point of these achievements in the saddle, made between 1935 and 1984, was in the 1970s. Roy had lived happily with his parents and lovingly cared for his mother, who, around 1963, fell victim to dementia. Determined to make life as comfortable for her as possible, he engaged the services of a nurse to attend her during the day while he was at work. He was stricken when she died in 1964, sold the family home in Malvern and moved to his dream home on a treed acre, beside the Yarra at Templestowe, calling it his own National Park. Over the next ten years he gradually regained the momentum lost during his mother’s decline, his dedication to riding taking yet more of his time. It became difficult for even his best mates to see him. The bike ‘stats’ kept expanding until the possibility of grabbing the prized record became a probability. When he retired in 1975, he devoted the extra time in an all-out attack, but at fifty-seven, the going was getting harder. He had been knocked off his bike numerous times, his ribs had been broken, as had his neck. The writer’s wife helped rehabilitate Roy in our home more than once after a spell in hospital. He soldiered on for another nine years, becoming a ‘metric millionaire’ cyclist in 1981, then in March 1985, was diagnosed with the cancer that ended his extraordinary career. He was a decent, straight, human being who had lived a clean life, never had a bad word for anyone, was a conscientious scientist, neither smoke nor drank, was a rock, yet was served the death sentence of lung cancer. The tragic irony of it all was not lost on him nor his mates. Roy’s determination to beat Tommy Chambers was on track and came very close to being realised. He had created an Australian record but ultimately his miss was more than a mile.  

End of a Chapter

The last few months of his life were particularly sad as blow after blow began hammering him down. It became clear to him that all the things he had worked for were turning to ashes. He felt frustration, helplessness and a consuming anger. The first shock was the discovery that his prized slides had been destroyed by mould; useless. He had no heart to look at them, even for their memories. For years, Roy hosted an annual YHA barbecue and get-together at his home. An ambition developed to bequeath his entire property, his home and book collection to the newer generation of YHA members, to offer it as a hostel where youthful travellers could be put up cheaply and perhaps learn to share his love of the environment. That hope was shattered when the Association’s administrators told him they would rather welcome his altruistic gift converted into cash; the man’s bitterness was understandable. Well into his illness but still mobile, Roy tried to recapture the happiness of the days spent at Mount Buffalo. Driving to the Chalet, he was so disillusioned with the changes there, he stayed only one night. That was his last outing. Peter Ralph was a lifelong friend in cycling, railways, photography and bushwalking who stuck with him to the end, attending his every want like a brother; his Horatio. In his last few days, Roy asked Peter to bring his bike to the hospital, and he was moved into a room where he could see it on the hospital verandah. Roy never knew it, but to us, his friends, the bitterest pill was delivered by the executor of his estate. Roy’s book collection was broken up and auctioned off, but before anyone could examine the all-important, leather-bound log with the meticulous records of his rides, the incredible statistics of his lifetime achievements, it was bundled up with other papers and taken to the tip.

Research undertaken by Graeme Wheeler.

(Image courtesy of Graeme Wheeler)

Reminiscences of My Close Friendship with Roy Busby

By Peter JO Ralph

I was a close friend of Roy Ernest Busby for over 36 years and during this period shared with him many of my hobbies and interests, the principle ones being cycling, bushwalking, photography, railways and mapping. I first met Roy in 1949, at an impressionable fifteen years of age during a Youth Hostels Association club night held at 161 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. I had just purchased an English Humber bicycle with 4-speed gears. I was also a member of the Cycle Touring Club of Victoria with former mate, the late Doug McLean. With no car in my family, I was very keen to further my horizons by joining the YHA cycling section and was advised to make contact with an Ad Verschure, but by a stroke of good fortune, was introduced to Roy instead. Thus commenced a long term bonding to a mate with similar interests. I guess it all started with Roy inviting me to his family home in Ardrie Road, East Malvern where he lived with his mother…a charming old lady! I was first shown his bike riding stats where all his daily mileages were recorded. These included his daily ride to work at CSL at Royal Park, where he was employed as a bio chemist. I was studying a chemistry course at Caulfield Tech at the time and found his assistance with the theoretical aspects of the course invaluable to me. Roy proudly showed me all the various places he had ridden around the nearby hills on daily rides, and showed me a wall map of Victoria, where he had shaded in the extremities of these rides and said that it was his prime objective to fill in the missing gaps to become a boundary rider. These solo day rides – some totalling in excess of 200 miles – took him to places as far away as Alexandra, Echuca, Cressy, Lorne, Tanjil Bren, Tidal River. His longest day ride was 327 miles in 24 hours. Roy then produced his extensive collection of maps and showed me the value in collecting one-inch-to-mile military maps for purposes of planning visits to various destinations. He then got out his photography album to show me pictures he had taken of peaks and waterfalls, all within a days ride from his home in East Malvern. I very soon realised we shared a passion for reaching such popular destinations as the Stevenson Falls, Masons Falls, Wombelano Falls and the peaks of Mt Beenak, Mt Dandenong, Mt Donna Buang, Mt Juliet, Mt Riddell and Mt St Leonard. In due course, I too found most were achievable within a days ride of Melbourne due to Roy’s encouragement and accompaniment on at least part of the way. What would normally occur on a typical day ride, I would meet Roy at say 4:00am on a Sunday at my parent’s home in East Malvern and we would ride together to Healesville where we would stop for a rest at Maroondah Dam lookout. To increase his stamina for the long climb to the top of the Black Spur, Roy would leave me there and ride solo on to Cathedral Range, to either do some mapping, or on to Alexandra to complete a boundary ride. This distance being beyond my physical capability, I was quite content to return home via the Acheron Way and Warburton. As a result of these rides with Roy, I improved my level of fitness and built up my confidence so extended rides ensured. These were over holiday long weekends to places such as Rubicon Falls, Woods Point, Walhalla, and Jamieson where Roy and I would carry tents and sleeping bags to camp overnight. Over the years, the extended rides ensured with other mates, which took us over the Alpine Road to Mt Hotham, the Grand Ride Road to Bulga Park, the Great Ocean Road to Lorne, Apollo Bay and Wilson’s Promontory. Some of these rides involved catching a train part of the way and most were combined with bushwalking. It soon became apparent from Roy that to really see the bush, one had to get off the beaten track. I was, therefore, encouraged by Roy to join the YHA bushwalking section and he accompanied me on several of their bushwalks. My first, being in July 1950 was a weekend walk from Powelltown, Big River were we camped overnight, then up the High Lead (where Roy boasted he could climb the 1,200 feet in 25 minutes), Downey’s Spur to Starling’s Gap and back to Warburton. The most popular destination for Roy and his mates was Mt Buffalo where we visited on several occasions to participate in climbing the Cathedral and watch Roy knock it off. Roy also decided to produce his own map of the Plateau and would drive to Buffalo with his bike mounted on the pack rack utilising the bike purely for measuring the various tracks. Most of the trips were with organised YHA parties or privately during public holiday weekends. These extended trips continued for well over ten years. Another extended walking trip was in the Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair reserve area in Tasmania. This was encouraged by Roy over Christmas holidays in 1952. Roy being a member of the Melbourne Walking Club, I was unable to accompany him being a non-member. However, I was invited by a YHA mate to do an identical walk with the Catholic Walking Club, both clubs were going through the Reserve at the same time, so Roy and I constantly met up with each other at the various huts overnight and at Du Cane hut where we indeed were fortunate enough in meeting up with a Graeme Wheeler who became a close mate of Roy and myself over the years. During this visit, Roy and I came together again on a walk to Frenchman’s Gap, where Roy had retraced his steps two miles to correct a spelling error he had made in the visitors book at Lake Tahune – he had spelt the word “unforgettable’ with one ‘t’. Such was the nature of the man! Back in Hobart at the Hobart Walking Club meeting, Roy spoke about his walk through the Reserve, describing the climb of Mt Pelion West as like walking through ‘ready mixed concrete’ which brought a few laughs! Another hobby shared with Roy was knocking off various railway lines around the State where my being a railway enthusiast may possibly have influenced Roy with this interest. At every opportunity, Roy generally did not need much persuasion to accompany myself and a group of fellow railway enthusiasts on a pre-arranged excursion. The day trips were mostly hauled by steam trains to destinations such as Beech Forest/Weeaproinah, Timboon, Mortlake, Port Fairy, Mornington, Foster, Healesville and Warburton. Extended weekend railway excursions ensured to places such as Cudgewa, Orbost, Mt Gambier and Yarpeet with overnight sleeping carriages attached. Most of the excursions were to destinations that could only be reached on a goods train. Passenger trains had long been discontinued and most of these lines are now closed and pulled up, hence the fascination to reach them whilst we could. Photography was also a fascination for Roy. He always carried his camera on walking club trips, recording on black and white film in precise detail the places he visited and views from various peaks he had climbed. Some of Roy’s pictures appeared in the Melbourne Walking Club magazine ‘The Walker’. This was until I introduced him to Kodachrome in the early fifties when Roy decided to purchase a 35mm Exacta camera and commenced taking slides. Roy was an excellent photographer and was fascinated with photographing steam trains. As a testament to his high standard of photography, several of his pictures finished up in various train hobby publications. Peak bagging and waterfalls became a preoccupation for Roy. It also enticed me to climb peaks I would not normally have considered doing such as Mt Ellery and Mt Tingeringy in East Gippsland, and Mt Wilson at Wilson’s Promontory. As far as waterfalls were concerned, the more remote they were, the greater the challenge and I along with other mates, were indeed fortunate to have made our way into the Yarra Falls, long after the original tourist track from McVeights to Wallhalla was closed due to the 1939 bushfire. Another waterfall that I had the pleasure of reaching with Roy was the Matthina Falls at Healesville in the MMBW (Melbourne Water) Maroondah Dam catchment area and before the building of the dam. On another occasion, whilst I was living in Warrnambool, I was shown on a 1933 tourist map of the Western Coastal District the Aire Falls. No track was shown leading to the fall from the Hordon Vale/Apollo Bay Road. This immediately became a challenge for both Roy and myself and it took two attempts of bashing through lush rain forest along the Aire river valley to reach. These discoveries were as rewarding as climbing some of the more remote peaks. On extended walks led by Roy, we would always get a very raucous wake-up call at six o’clock to rise and shine. I distinctly remember trying to solicit Roy’s infamous wake-up call on a walk I was leading up to Mt Feathertop. At the Feathertop Hut where we camped the first night, it was my objective to get the entire party up to the summit next morning for the sunrise. However some couples were not impressed with being disturbed at such an early hour, so I asked Roy to be selective on who he woke. The next thing I noticed was Roy had packed up his tent, sleeping bag and was heading off! I will never forget the image silhouetted on the ridge against a big full moon heading for the summit alone – he simply had jacked up! During the early 1970s at the time of my divorce, I was placed in a single parent situation and found in Roy a very compassionate and caring man offering guidance and moral support in handling my affairs. One a month, we would meet at his Dallas Avenue, Templestowe home and have a meal at the local pub. Roy had moved to this lovely property after the death of his mother, and was very proud of his clinker brick home named Yarra View. It had a lovely wattle lined curved driveway with a backyard that gently sloped down to the bank of the Yarra River, a perfect spot for a field naturalist. He boasted that he had 120 gum trees in his backyard and was also proud of the fact that he had meticulously removed all the weeds in his back lawn by using a Stanley knife and scissors and carefully placing them in Wheetbix boxes for removal in the garbage collection. Once a year, Roy would invite all his friends from YHA over for a BBQ, to reminisce about all the fun times we had shared over the years. This all came to an abrupt end when Roy sadly passed away in 1985. Long may Roy be remembered.

Reminiscences of Peter Ralph.

James Cochrane

Across the Trackless Seas

James Cochrane (1801-88)

By Marc Phillips 

James Cochrane was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 20 April 1801, the son of William and Agnes née Sphenson and is the eponym of the local street of the same name formerly known as the “Little Brighton Road”. At the age of 11, James was apprenticed to the lock and hinge trade and at eighteen went to work as a journeyman for Andrew Holdsworth and Company, Foundry and Machinery works in Glasgow. He remained with them until 1829 when he set up his own business in Paisley. Ten years later in 1839, he decided to migrate to the Port Philip District of New South Wales, Australia.

Shortly before leaving Scotland James published a short book of poems, indicating he could read and write. The book was dedicated to Mr John Hamilton of North Park on the occasion of that gentleman’s son being advanced to the Chief Magistracy of Glasgow. Hamilton and Cochrane appear to have been cousins, although Hamilton was much senior. A copy of the book was brought to Australia, but was misplaced at the death of James’ daughter Jane. It is thought this book brought the Cochranes into contact with poet Adam Lindsay Gordon (q.v.).

James was 22 when he wed Margaret, daughter of Thomas and Agnes Gilchrist in Glasgow in 1823. The bride who, like her husband, could read and write (unusual for the times), was born in Gartmoor, Perthshire, Scotland in 1806.

Having decided to leave Scotland, James Cochrane, 39, his wife Margaret, 35, and their two surviving children, James jnr, 10, and an infant daughter, Jane (12 months), departed on 17 June 1841. They had four other children in Scotland, but none survived early childhood which may have been the determining factor in the decision to migrate to a warmer climate. The family travelled out on the maiden voyage on the three-masted sailing ship Thomas Arbuthnot, 621 Tons, reaching Melbourne on 2 October 1841 after a trip of 107 days. Shipping records show a bounty was paid to the ship’s owners as follows: James and Margaret £19 each, James Jnr £10, and Jane £5. There were six paying saloon passengers and a total of 260 subsidised immigrants on the vessel. One male and female and two children died on the voyage, but seven male and a single female baby were born during the journey.

Upon arrival they pitched their tent at Flagstaff Hill and after several weeks in Melbourne walked for two days to Brighton. James was looking for quality sand for his forge, but seeing only 50 people around living in shanty huts decided to return to Melbourne. Living in Great Bourke Street near the Kirks Horse Bazzaar, James set up a blacksmith and foundry, casting the first metal hinges in Melbourne. He made the bedsteads for the first public hospital as well as all the locks and hinges for The Old Melbourne Goal. Later he transferred his business to Bourke Lane where he stayed until 1846. They returned to Brighton in 1846 setting up his forge in New Street with their home set well back behind the business (due to the risk of fire).

They eventually moved to Clydesdale near the corner of North Road and Thomson Street. The house remained until the late 1920s. In nearby Cochrane Street, James and his son James Jnr purchased 20 acres of land and leased a further 100 acres. A homestead was built by James opposite the former Methodist Church; he made all the nails, hinges and locks for the new home. Roof nails were some nine inches long and hammered through the iron and curled around the rafters as it was believed Aborigines had acquired the habit of removing iron sheeting from roofs. There was still a Cochrane descendant living in the street in 1967, some 115 years later.

James and his wife were foundation members (1851) of the Bay Street Baptist Church and a trustee of the new Brighton General Cemetery from 1858 to 1876. James also nominated for the local council election in 1859 but was not successful.

James died on 3 March 1888 and with his wife Margaret (d 1885) are buried in the Baptist section of the Brighton General Cemetery (Bap*H*30) at right angles to poet Adam Lindsay Gordon’s monument. Also inscribed on the headstone is reference to their eight year old daughter Margaret who died at Mount Gambier. It appears the Cochrane family and Gordon were fairly close, with the Cochranes being involved in horse breeding, and as earlier mentioned James poetry.

Brighton Historical Newsletter 14. March 1967 By Cyril Theobald Cochrane.

Joseph Davies

A Modest Hero

Joseph Davies (1865-1919)

By Faye Guthrie

On 16 July 1909, Joseph Davies aged 44 went off to work as usual to the Goldfields Consolidated Mine, Diamond Hill, Bendigo where he worked as a driller. There he greeted his workmates 21-year old Jack Allan and a man named Daniel D’Arcy. Together they descended the 783 feet to the bottom of the mine to a shaft 13 feet 4 inches in length preparing explosives designed to blast away the rock to deepen the shaft. They worked quietly and well in the established routine, drilling two holes and packing them with nitro-glycerine explosive before adding the fuses. When their task was completed, the men ascended the ladder to the safety above, Davies first being the eldest of the trio, followed by D’Arcy. Allan was last to go up as his task was to light the fuses before he left. It was shortly before 3:00 pm. Davies and D’Arcy reached the safety of the plat 52 feet above the charges, but suddenly Allan slipped from the ladder as his head cleared the plat. He fell the 52 feet, landing right on top of the charges, breaking his right ankle and losing consciousness. James Halliday, the shift boss, saw Allan fall and exclaimed “Jack has gone down the shaft!” Davies cried “I’m after him!” and without a moments hesitation descended the ladder at speed to where Allan lay to rescue his fallen mate. Having drilled the holes, Davies knew the direction in which the rock would fall, but it was still a calculated gamble. Not knowing whether Allan was dead or alive he grabbed him by the feet dragging his body away to the safest place and lay over his injured comrade, shielding him from the impending explosions. Davies cringed as the first charge went off, raining pieces of rock and dirt over the two helpless men. He did not move, waiting for the second deafening roar that would again batter them with shattered rock. Closer this time, the rocks and dust cascaded over them as the second charge ignited with a thunderous crack. Other workers on the 52 feet plat who had seen Davies re-descend were sure both had perished. One called into the darkness, “Anyone still alive down there?” It was pitch black at the bottom of the shaft, the light of the candle that Davies was carrying having been extinguished by his swift descent. In a faint voice, Davies called back “Yes, but bring a light”. A cheer went up and the bucket was despatched to bring them both back to the surface, Allan being taken first. Davies elected to climb the ladders as he was not injured in any way. Jack Allan was taken to the Bendigo Hospital where he recovered from his broken right ankle and was later able to rejoin his wife and four young children. Edna Davies Bell Allan was born in 1910 at Bendigo, the year after the rescue. Six more children were born to the Allans, four of whom survived. In a poignant letter of thanks, Jack Allan’s wife wrote:

Forest Street
July 26th, 09.
Mr Joe Davies.
Dear Sir,
I wish to thank you
on behalf of my children and self
for the noble part you took in saving
my husband from certain death.
If it wasn’t for your brave deed
we would not have had him
with us today, and words cannot
express the kind thoughts we all
have towards you, and hope you
will enjoy the best of health for
a great number of years. Once more
thank you on our behalf.
I remain,
Yours truly,
Florrie Allan.

For his selfless act of bravery, Joe Davies was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Clarke Gold Medal for 1909. Other awards bestowed include the Department of Mines Certificate in recognition of bravery and presence of mind; the King Edward Medal for Bravery in Mines; a gold watch and chain from his workmates at the Goldfields Consolidated Mine; a gold medal in the shape of Tasmania, with a ruby marking the mine in Tasmania from where it was sent; a leather-bound testimonial; and a sum of cash from subscriptions and donations from citizens and businesses in the Bendigo area. The Bendigo Historical Society holds some of the above awards and a collection of memorabilia as well as many congratulatory letters from people in all walks of life. The rescue was covered for several weeks in the newspapers of the day and Davies was recognised and congratulated wherever he went. He was not used to such attention, and seems to have always modestly protested that he had only done what any man should do for his mate. Nevertheless, his uncalculated act of bravery should never be forgotten. 

Born near Maldon, Victoria on 16 September 1865, the son of Richard Davies (d 1893) and Mary née Jones (d 1897) he died of chronic bronchitis and cardiac failure on 16 November 1919 and was buried in the Brighton General Cemetery (Meth*B*109). 

Guthrie, F., “Joseph Davies. Bendigo Hero” (1990).