An historical account of Traralgon, written for the boys and girls of the city.
First published in 1970. Reset on CD Rom 2001
About the author - William J. Cuthill - click here
Chapter 4 The Years of Growth - 1869 - 1880
In this chapter I will tell you how Traralgon grew from a village into quite a busy town in ten years, due first to a change in the laws which allowed settlers without money to take up land for farms and to the building of the railway line from Sale to Melbourne.
You already know that, from 1855 onwards, the people who were leasing runs could buy a square mile of the run for themselves and how, later on, new settlers were coming in and picking out the best parts of what was left of the runs for themselves. But to do this they needed money. In 1869, the Government made a law which gave the little man a chance to get land. He could pick out 320 acres, which is half a square mile, of any run and mark his boundaries. He then had to pay 2/- a year for each acre for the next three years. At the end of that time, he could get a lease of the land for the next seven years provided he kept on paying his 2/- per acre each year. But if he had the money, he could pay up the lot, 14/. for each acre, and so the new law gave him a chance of buying a farm for £1 an acre, provided he fenced the land and lived on it, and also cultivated one acre out of each ten. Under the old law, all the names went into a hat, and only the lucky ones received land. This new law was the reason why settlers took up the land all around Traralgon, and soon there was nothing left but forest country where you could not grow crops.
It was in 1869, too, that a different family of Campbells came to Traralgon. You know all about Duncan Campbell and his brother John. These new Campbells were four brothers, Hugh, Nicol, James and Dugald Campbell, and they were the Campbells whose descendants have held Traralgon Park for nearly a century. Mr. Dugald Campbell of Traralgon Park is a grandson of James Campbell. These men came from Scotland to Victoria when they were children, with their father, and, when Duncan Campbell was selling up his land, which ran right along Grey Street, the brothers bought it. They bought other land at the land sales held by the Government from time to time, and they also selected other parts while the law permitted them, with the result that Traralgon Park with its excellent cattle became a well known feature of Traralgon ever since. If all that good land had been sold as small farms one hundred years ago, Traralgon might have grown much more quickly than it did.
In our present times, we are quite used to thinking that every part of our State is in some Shire, Borough, Town or City. It was not always like that. I told you in the last chapter how the Borough of Sale started in 1863, while, before that time, the people over at Port Albert had a kind of Council which was called a Road Board. The men of Rosedale also wanted a Road Board and for many years they had been holding meetings about it. Some wanted one Board for the north of the river and one for the south but, in the end, only one Board was set up by the Government. The territory of the Board stretched from Lakes Entrance to the Morwell River, and from Merriman's Creek to the Thomson River. "A lot of land," I can hear you say. Yes, but a lot of gum trees, too, and not many people nor roads. The Rosedale Road Board was set up on 19th May, 1869, and, since that day, the people of Traralgon have had a Local Government of their own. Just as today we have councillors, there were six members elected to sit on the Board, but there was not even a polling booth here at Traralgon. Maybe people like Nicol and Dugald Campbell and Thomas Row were interested, but it was the men of Rosedale who had really persuaded the Government to let them have their Road Board.
In June, 1869, Duncan Campbell leased his hotel to Thomas Shiells who also took over the butcher's shop there. Shiells had been in hotels at Bairnsdale before this and was also running the coaches from Sale to Bairnsdale at the same time. It was in this year, too, that our second hotel appeared. It was opened by Charles Taylor and was called the "Bush Inn". It was out at Loy Yang on the road to Rosedale. Horse race meetings were held near the Bush Inn on Boxing Day each year, starting in 1870, the racing taking place along the Loy Yang Road. I wonder if any of you know exactly where that old hotel stood.
At this time, too, there was a School Committee of five men appointed by the Traralgon people to do something about getting a school, and once again they asked the Board of Education in Melbourne that the piece of land which they had picked out in Franklin Street be kept for a school ground. Duncan Campbell, Thomas Row and Peter McColl were on that Committee. The Presbyterians also picked out a site for their Church. It was over in Campbell Street near where the railway line runs today. At this time, the Government could give Churches a piece of land, but, later on, the law was changed, and Churches had to buy their land, the same as everybody else.
If you are trying to find the newspapers in which the doings in Traralgon can be found, you must remember that the "Guardian" had closed down and that another paper called the "Mercury" had started at Sale. So the two Gippsland papers were now the "Gippsland Times" and the "Gippsland Mercury".
Everything was not going so well for the new Rosedale Road Board. It had to get some money to keep going, and the law gave it power to make all the landholders in its area pay rates. Turnbull and Henderson, who held the Loy Yang and Traralgon East runs, took the Board before the Rosedale Court, saying that they were being charged too much. Each side won one case and lost the other. There were but 23 ratepayers in Traralgon when the rates had to be paid, but, of course, there would have been many more people who were not landholders and who did not have to pay rates.
Every time you go down Hotham Street to the Show Grounds, I hope you think of the old burial ground there. But, in 1869, a new small cemetery was opened in Stockdale Road in Traralgon Park. I do not think that it was ever used for, in 1872, the present cemetery out at the Bluff was opened, and, from then on, all the pioneers who passed away were buried out there. You will read their names in this story, and when you visit the cemetery, and read the names on the headstones, you may remember those about whom I tell you because they played their part in building our town.
In the year 1870 there were many applications for land and, when we read some of the names, and how much land they had already, we wonder how greedy they may all have been - Nicol Campbell, C. N. Henderson, John Campbell, Dugald Campbell, James Campbell, J. F. Turnbull, J. O'Connor, Kate Campbell and Peter McColl.
It will be of great interest to all girls and boys to learn that the first school at Traralgon was opened on 16th May, 1870. It started off in an old wattle and daub building with a bark roof which had been built somewhere on Clauscen's corner. I think it was the house in which Peter McColl had lived after he left the hotel and before he took up his farm on the creek, and it was rather in need of repairs.
The school at Flinn's Creek had been started earlier and was numbered Rural School No. 25, while Traralgon was Rural School No. 66. The first teacher was Henry Curling. The children had to pay 1/- a week, and the Board of Education in Melbourne helped to make up the teacher's pay. The teacher also had to pay 2/- a week rent for the school-house. To help him run his school, the parents of the children supplied the firewood, and he had board and lodging at half price. There were about twenty-two children who could attend, and the usual number at school was about fifteen. Thomas Crawford lived next door, and so did the four Campbell girls. The McDonalds lived two miles out and the three Shiells children at the hotel across the road. The four McColls had to come in one and a half miles, and the two Liddiard girls lived just over the creek. Anne Smith and the four Whalley children made up the first scholars. Mr. Curling started night classes too so that the grownups who had not learned to read and write could go to school as well.
The bridge over the creek, which had become very weak, had to be replaced. Some heavy mining machinery on its way to the diggings at Russell's Creek had nearly fallen through it, and it had to be patched up. This was the first big job to be done in Traralgon by the new Rosedale Road Board. The Board's gang set to work and put up another bridge still further down the creek near where the foot-bridge is today. It was just a cheap job, but it was used for many years, but it meant now that, after leaving the Post Office at Campbell's, the coaches had to go right across the centre of the Mitchell Street flat and, after crossing the bridge, to travel back along the other bank until they came to the road to Rosedale. That street along the east side of the creek was later called Bridge Street for that reason. Duncan Campbell was not happy about this, for he had a lease of the Mitchell Street flat for grazing, and it was now being cut up by the coaches and other traffic. But he may have been happier when he received £5 from the Road Board for the damage done before his lease ran out.
In August, 1870, Charles Henderson, who was John Turnbull's partner and manager on Loy Yang run, was elected a Councillor on the Rosedale Road Board. This was the first time that Traralgon had ever taken part in electing one of its own men to any kind of Government, and he was our first Councillor. The Road Board collected its first rates in 1870, and this was the first time that the people of Traralgon had paid taxes, for there was no income tax in those early times. Of course, when they asked for a Road Board, they knew that they would all be paying rates to pay for the road works and bridges.
In 1870, there was another store opened by Charles Welch who was also a baker. He had a five-roomed house just across the creek on the road to Rosedale. In October of this year, Rosedale Court granted him a beer licence for his house, and he called it "The Oddfellows' Arms". So Traralgon had two hotels now, with a third out at Loy Yang. Of course, Welch, too, had to run sports like high jumping and sack races at his hotel on Boxing Day in opposition to the race meeting at the Bush Inn, about which you have just read.
In January, 1871, the first step was taken to help the telegraph in Sale to work better. The Post Office people put an operator at Shady Creek, and he was able to relay the messages on to Rosedale and Sale.
Parliament in Melbourne had changed the laws dealing with local Councils, and the Rosedale Road Board decided to turn into a Shire. The Shire of Rosedale was formed in March of this year, and its area was probably the same as that of the Road Board, and stretched from Lakes Entrance to the Morwell River.
And you must remember that both Traralgon and Morwell were, at this time, in the Rosedale Shire.
Early in 1871, Mr. Henry Curling decided to give up teaching the children of Traralgon and the school was without a teacher for a while. Mr. Henderson advertised in the "Mercury" for a teacher, and in April, Mr. Henry Sanders was appointed. He had been teaching in Church schools before coming here. There were now 24 children on the school roll and he was getting the usual 1/. a week from each child, but usually only about fifteen went to school. The Board of Education paid a further £45 a year, so his weekly pay would have been about 30/-.
You will remember that I told you that we have a census or counting of the people every ten years and that there were 36 people here in Traralgon in 1861. The ten years was up again, and in the 1871 census we find that Traralgon had grown to twenty dwellings and that there were 63 men and boys and 48 women and girls - 111 in all. In July of this year, too, the Government picked out the place for a school. It was to be on the corner of Gwalia and Peterkin Streets, opposite the Scout Hall, where there are two deep gullies running across the land. The streets were not named then, of course.
Every August we have Shire Council elections throughout Victoria and they did so too in these early times. In August, 1871, the very first election took place in Traralgon , when the people voted here for their Councillor on the Rosedale Shire Council. Before this time, they had to go to Rosedale to vote.
It was about this date that Charles Welch left the Oddfellows' Arms Hotel and went back to the Traralgon Hotel to carry on his bakery there, and James Flinn, who was a son of the policeman after whom they named Flinn's Creek, took over the shop and hotel. So they had Denis in the store at the Traralgon Hotel and Flinn in the store at the Oddfellows' Arms.
I suppose you should also keep a note of the name of the local policeman, too. Const. Smythe left and he was followed by Const. David Donoghue who was the chief Government man here, of course. And it was in December, 1871, that William Whittakers bought Loy Yang from Turnbull and Henderson. The Whittakers family were leaders in the little town for the next fifty years and they really deserve a place in your list of important people.
When John Fowler Turnbull left Traralgon, he moved up to Sale and later to Melbourne. He did not live long to enjoy his retirement and died at Northcote on 5th April, 1875, at the age of 61. As he owned both Traralgon East and Loy Yang runs and was the chief man here for about twenty-five years, entertaining, as you have read, all the important people who called here, you may feel that his name should be given to some part of Traralgon, just as Hobson is remembered in Hobson Park. Maybe Turnbull would look better for a name than Traralgon East.
As I feel that the boys and girls of Flynn's Creek are reading this story too, I think I should
tell them that their Post Office was opened on 21st February, 1872, and that the name was spelt
"Flinn's Creek". And, by this time, too, the Traralgon Post Office had been moved from Denis' store
at the hotel to John Campbell's new house in Argyle Street. Here Miss Kate Campbell, his daughter,
became the postmistress.
In June, 1872, the new school was built. The people had to pay for it themselves, and William Whittakers, who had taken over from Charles Henderson, had carried on the good work.
Rev. Login, from the Presbyterian Church at Sale, kept things going, too, for the idea was that the school was going to be used for a Church as well. But they could collect only about £35, and the school cost about £50. It was not for about six years that the builder, Hugh Fisher, was paid the rest of his money. The local people did not like the land with all its gullies which had been given to them by the Government for the school, so they decided to put it further over in Campbell Street on the Church land. What did they care about the Government in Melbourne. And the schoolhouse itself had red gum slabs for walls and a roof of stringybark. The floorboards did not fit too well together, and you could put your fingers down the cracks. But it was a bigger and better school than Peter McColl's old house, and when Mr. Saunders took his fourteen pupils over there, everyone hoped that there would soon be enough children for the Government to take it over and call it a Common School.
Most of the people in Traralgon were Scotsmen and Presbyterians, and in June, 1872, when Rev. J. Cameron was made the first Minister at Rosedale, he was able to look after the Church services in the school-house at Traralgon instead of Rev. Login from Sale.
The Traralgon Hotel changed hands again and George Haxell took it over from Thomas Shiells who had had a lot of trouble in Court with old Duncan Campbell, who still owned the hotel. More shops were being built around the hotel - James Price had a butcher's shop there, and Charles Phillips a blacksmith's shop.
But if you wanted to go across the river to Eaglehawk or, as we now call it, Glengarry, you still had to go right down to Rosedale to the bridge. In September, 1872, Dr. MacDonald was calling public meetings at Toongabbie and the people there were all hoping that the Shire of Rosedale would spend a lot of money out of their small collection of rates in putting in a bridge to give the Toongabbie people a quick way into Traralgon, and the Traralgon people a short road to Walhalla.
At the end of 1872, the laws for school children were all changed, and what a difference it made to the boys and girls. From now on, they all had to go to school at least sixty days each half-year or their parents would be taken to Court and fined. All teachers had to know their job, too, and poor Mr. Sanders, the Head Teacher, was not good enough. The Inspector even thought that Mary Campbell, the 15-year-old monitress, was a better teacher than he. He lost his job and had to get out. The next teacher was Thomas Mattingley, and he started here in March, 1873. With the new law making children go to school, he now had forty pupils to teach. But Mr. Sanders still lived in the old schoolhouse on Clauscen's corner, and Mr. Mattingley had to live in the new school room as there was not even an empty hut in Traralgon. He hung a blanket across the middle of the room and he and Mrs. Mattingley and their children lived at one end and school was held at the other. There was not much room, for the school had only one big room 30 feet long by18 feet wide.
It was in the year 1873 that I find the first record of cricket at Traralgon. There had been a Cricket Club at Rosedale as far back as 1864 and Charles Henderson from Loy Yang was one of their regular players. But in April, 1873, the married men of Traralgon played the single men, and they then decided to take on the Rosedale cricketers. They defeated them both at Rosedale and at Traralgon, but the newspapers then claimed that it was just a scratch town team each time and not the proper Rosedale cricket team that was beaten. So we have had horse racing here since 1861 and cricket since 1873.
Instead of having a School Committee to help run the school, the Education Department had a Board of Advice for each Shire. The Rosedale Board of Advice kept its eye on the Traralgon school, and, when it was elected first in July, 1873, Thomas Row of the Traralgon West Station was elected a member. You must remember, too, that it was that Board of Advice that took the parents to Rosedale Court when the children did not go to school.
The Education Department did build a residence for the teacher. It was close by the school and was also on the Church land, and Mr. Mattingley was able to move into it by the end of 1873. It was a little better than the school house for it had an iron roof.
But one of the most important events in the story of Traralgon occurred on 27th November, 1873. Parliament in Melbourne made a law which provided the money for a railway to be built from Oakleigh to Sale. Why Oakleigh? Well, they could not make up their minds by which route the line would run into the city. You will see later how the building of the railway gave work to hundreds of men, and how the lives of the people changed when the trains started to run.
At the end of this year another well remembered citizen arrived here. His name was Henry Breed, and, in later years, Henry Street and Breed Street were named after him. He was a butcher, and he had his small shop in Argyle Street just around the corner from Franklin Street. Like the school, it was built of slabs and had a bark roof. He was not fussy about breaking the law then, for he sold grog without a licence and, as far as I know, was never caught. In later years, he became a Councillor and helped to run our town. Traralgon was not yet big enough to run two butchers' shops and the people went to Breed's shop and James Price, the butcher over at the hotel, had to close down his business until things improved.
On 1st January, 1874, the school became a State School. Quite a number of Rural Schools were taken over by the Education Department on that day. Flinn's Creek or Flynn's Creek, depending on which way you find it spelt, was numbered 1320 and Traralgon 1328. Of course, when the school was moved over to Grey Street forty years later, it was given a new number.
The people across the river were still trying to get the bridge built at the Scarne, which was the name of the run there. They were holding meetings because they hoped to get it built by the time the trains started to run, and they could then catch the train to Melbourne at the Traralgon Railway Station.
The Post Office required that the mail had to be carried from Sale to Melbourne by coach in twenty-two hours in the summer and twenty- seven hours in the winter, but the coaches to Melbourne were soon to disappear when the trains started, although they still ran to places like Walhalla which had no train.
More well remembered people were arriving here. Henry and Joe Mapleson set up a bootmakers' shop in Flinn's store across the creek, and they were the first bootmakers here.
Some of our citizens were not playing the game when they took up land. John Campbell and Charles Denis each had land over near Cowwar - that is how it was spelt then - taken from them because they were just "dummies" for a big cattle man at Heyfield named James Tyson. They had never intended to live on the land themselves, and because Tyson already had so much land, he had to deceive the Government by getting people like Campbell and Denis to put down their names instead of his.
In November, 1874, the first Sunday School was started by Rev. George Robertson who was the first Presbyterian Home Missionary in Rosedale and Traralgon. It was held in the schoolroom and there were forty children there for a start.
Then Traralgon saw its first real store. Oswald Marriage, who had had a store in Rosedale, sold out and came here where he opened the first store on Clauscen's corner. This was the biggest shop in Traralgon for many years and, like Breed's butcher shop, Marriage got most of the business and Charles Welch over at the hotel had to close his store, too. But Charles Phillips, who had his blacksmith's shop at the hotel was so busy now that he had two men working for him.
The time was getting near for school holidays once again. Let me tell you how few holidays the children had then - not more than thirty days in a year. There were ten days at Christmas, five days at Easter, as well as Good Friday, Queen Victoria's birthday on 24th May, which is now our Empire Day, Separation Day, 1st July, so that the children would not forget the day when Port Phillip left New South Wales and became Victoria on 1st July, 1851, the Prince of Wales' Birthday on 9th November and Constitution Day in memory of the granting of self- government to Victoria. The remaining ten days were left for a few more holidays at Christmas and for special occasions.
On 3Ist December,1874, work started on the railway to Melbourne at the Sale end. We must not forget that there were no bulldozers then. Picks and shovels, horses and drays and ploughs had to be used. Labourers were paid 7/- a day and tradesmen 10/- a day, horses and carts 13/- a day and bullock teams 20/- to 25/- a day. You see, it was easier to bring things like rails and sleepers to Sale because the steamers and sailing ships could come round from Melbourne, through the Lakes Entrance and up through Lakes Victoria and Wellington to the wharf on the river at Longford.
Here at Traralgon work started soon after on the big cutting up the hill, and at least twenty men were cutting sleepers from the local red gum trees. Canvas towns were springing up all along the line. The farmers were being paid 5/- each for trees used for sleepers and 2/6 each for trees used for piles for the bridges. Parties of men were being sent up the creek to cut mountain ash timber for posts and rails for the fences along the line. Traralgon had never been so busy, for the farmers were harvesting, too, and there was a great deal more work here than could be done by the men.
The Rosedale Shire was able to get the people who were building the railway to take on the job of building the bridge over the river at the Scarne as well. They would have had the pile drivers for the railway bridges and could easily put a bridge over the Latrobe as well.
And now there was room for another butcher. John A. Petersen, who came from Shady Creek, started business here in a new shop in 1875. He became a hotelkeeper in the following year as you will see.
Good land was becoming scarce, for the settlers had taken it all. So the Government decided to let them buy the morass which, as you know, runs along the river and is a mile wide in places. And in those days, it was all swamp, tea tree and rushes, but, of course, was a good place for grazing cattle.
With all these people coming to Traralgon, there was still no doctor here. Dr. Macdonald lived across the river at Eaglehawk and Dr. Simmons was at Rosedale, and it was another ten years before we had a doctor living here in Traralgon.
I suppose you have been wondering for how much longer would the Traralgon people have had to go up to Rosedale to send a telegram. On 15th May, 1875, the telegraph was installed in Miss Kate Campbell's Post Office in Argyle Street and, at last, Traralgon was in quick touch with the rest of Victoria.
The Roman Catholics here still had some years to wait for their Church to be built, but, in June of this year, the Roman Catholic Church at Rosedale was opened, Masses were still being said in the public rooms next door to the Traralgon Hotel.
The building of the railway also brought a brickmaker to Traralgon. His name was Peter Bonhomme, He was joined by another brickmaker, W. Steadman. In a few years, there were huge claypits here because Traralgon clay makes very good bricks. The builders of the railway needed plenty of bricks for their drains, for the concrete pipes were not used yet.
And with more people, I suppose they needed more hotels. They had three already, but another two were opened. The Rubicon was just around the corner from Marriage's store in Argyle Street, and another one was opened by F. G. Hickox and was called the Star. Now, I have already told you how the road to Rosedale went down across the flat to the bridge over the creek and then back along the other side until it came back to where the Rosedale Road is today. It was just at this corner that Hickox built his Star Hotel and the old building is still standing there today. Both of these hotels were given licences in June, 1875, and I know that Mr. Hickox was selling liquor at his hotel before he received his licence. In later years, he owned the brickworks in Hazelwood Road and his bricks were used to build the Post Office, Mechanics Institute and many other buildings.
In July, there was great rejoicing in Eaglehawk and Toongabbie. The bridge over the river was finished at last and all the farmers from Tyers to Cowwarr could now come to Traralgon without having to drive or ride all the way down to Rosedale. It also meant that the Eagle Steam Saw Mills were started at Eaglehawk by a man named George Anstey, and they were able to cut a lot of the beautiful red gum trees for use on the railway and later to send the timber to Melbourne. It was at about this time that one of the most famous citizens came here. His name was John Peterkin, and he became a big storekeeper and sawmiller here, and was later Shire President. He started his own store first and next year bought out Oswald Marriage, PHOTO: and his corner store became a town landmark. And his only monument or memorial is that his name has been given to the street which runs down past the Scout Hall.
In June, 1875, measles struck the town and the school had to close for a fortnight. With measles and influenza together, most of the schoolchildren were ill.
Although Breed and Petersen had butcher's shops here, Pyne and Price had re-opened the butcher's shop over at the Traralgon Hotel. Some fat which they were boiling down ran over and caught fire. The shop was burnt down and the hotel would have gone, too, had not the fire been put out.
The first bank in Traralgon was a savings bank which was started by the Post Office in July, 1875. Nine people opened their accounts on the first day and, in later years, these accounts were taken over by our State Savings Bank.
On 29th July, 1875, William Whittakers obtained the leases of Loy Yang and Traralgon East for himself, and it was at about this time that the well-known residence of Fernhill was built by him. Many of you will have seen that name on the gate on the Princes Highway at Loy Yang.
But although there was all this activity in Traralgon, blocks of land did not sell very well when the Government held land sales. There had been several attempts to sell the north-west corner of Franklin and Hotham Streets and, at last, in September, 1875, it was sold for £15. This corner will come into our story again shortly.
With all the work going on the railway out at Loy Yang, the men must have been thirsty. George Newport opened a hotel there at Sandy Creek. He called it the Red Gum Hotel, and I think that it closed down as soon as the railway workers moved on. But a hotel was opened at Flinn's Creek also at this time. Not many people will remember this hotel, although it was there for twenty-five years. The railway had been laid from the Sale end and, in October, the schooner, "Warhawk", landed a railway engine at Sale. Other small ships brought trucks and carriages from Melbourne to be used on the new line.
The Rosedale Shire seemed to be a bit too big to be run as one big Shire, and some people thought it would be better if it were divided up into sections called Ridings, so that each Riding could spend its own money, and Traralgon rate moneys would not be spent at the Lakes Entrance end of the Shire. But the Government would not agree to this.
Smallpox was a dread disease in those early times, and all babies were supposed to be vaccinated so that they could not catch it. But many citizens did not obey the law and were taken to Rosedale Court. In the first list of cases, I find the names of Edward White who owned Tyers Station and Charles Taylor who had the Bush Inn.
People still thought that Traralgon would grow up around Argyle Street for, when the Government held a sale of some land in November, 1875, blocks between Seymour Street and Hotham Street near the "Journal" Office could not be sold, while small blocks intended for shops on the flat between the Methodist Church corner and the creek were snapped up like hot cakes.
And up at Sale, at the beginning of December, the first train to run in Gippsland got up steam and made several triumphant journeys from Sale down to the first bridge over the river. Everyone who mattered was there, and what did they care if they returned all spattered with smoke and grime from the engine. They had only two open trucks in which to ride, but they had ridden on the first train.
The school was getting bigger every month and Mr. Mattingley had to get another teacher. Mrs. Mattingley was the work mistress there, but Mary Campbell, whom you will remember as the monitress with Mr. Sanders, started as a pupil teacher.
Another well remembered citizen arrived here in 1876 from Walhalla. He was Edwin Kaye, and he took over the Star Hotel from Mr. Hickox. A lot of people spell Kay Street as "Kaye" Street, which is quite incorrect, for Kay Street was named on the first plan of Traralgon drawn in 1858, while Mr. Edwin Kaye did not come here until nearly twenty years later.
For all these years, the people had used the two rooms at the hotel as a public hall. At last a Mechanics Institute was formed. The leading citizens held a meeting in the corner store and asked the Government for the south-west corner of Hotham and Franklin Streets. They had only £5 cash to build a hall, but John Peterkin and Oswald Marriage let them have all the timber and iron, and let them pay later.
So up went the wooden hall. It was opened with a dance, but no sooner had the building been finished than a violent storm hit Traralgon and flattened the Mechanics' Institute and also blew 60 feet of verandah off Marriage's store. So they had to rebuild the hall again, and Frank Hickox, Mattingley the teacher, Thomas Row and others got up a troupe of Nigger Minstrels and toured all the towns, even as far as Walhalla, to make money to pay for the rebuilding of the hall.
As Traralgon was getting bigger, it was time for a Court to be opened here. The first Court sat in September, 1876, the Clerk of Courts being Mr. Charles Du Ve from Rosedale. The Justices of the Peace who sat with the Police Magistrate were Dr. Macdonald from Eaglehawk and Mr. William Whittakers from Loy Yang. The Court sat in the two rooms over at the Traralgon Hotel where the public meetings had been held. They had called those rooms "Shiells' Rooms" after Thomas Shiells who had the hotel when they were built, but in later years they were referred to as the old Court House.
In August of this year, Traralgon itself had its first citizen, Dugald Campbell, elected to the Rosedale Shire Council. He was to serve the people for many years before he was killed by a fall from his horse.
And now it was time for a trading bank to open its doors. In 1876, the first bank to come to Traralgon, the Bank of Australasia, opened a branch in part of the store on Clauscen's corner. And there was room for another hotel, too. Charles Handley opened the Wheatsheaf Hotel on the Rosedale Road on the eastern side of the creek. That makes seven hotels so far, but do not be surprised, for there are more to come.
Even the schoolroom, with its new galvanized iron roof, which had replaced the bark which had split with the heat of four summers, was becoming too small for the 75 children at school, and, in October, 1876, John Peterkin drew up a petition to the Government seeking a new school, and it was signed by 72 fathers of school children.
The Church of England people, too, were doing their best to get a Church here. Rev. Kelly from Rosedale and William Whittakers went round the district collecting money for that purpose. The Presbyterians were more fortunate for they had already had the land for their Church given to them by the Government, but, as you will remember, the school had been built on the Church land, so the Presbyterians had to wait for an exchange. In the end they received all the land along Gwalia Street from Peterkin Street to Campbell Street.
At the end of 1876, John Petersen gave up his butcher's shop to take over the Rubicon Hotel.
Of course, on every New Year's Day, the big event at Traralgon was the race meeting on the Racecourse in Traralgon Park behind the hotel. In one year there were two rival meetings, one in the Park and the other behind the Star Hotel on the other side of the creek, and the crowd could go from one meeting to the other.
On 14th May, 1877, Duncan Campbell passed away in the Gippsland Hospital, Sale, at the age of 68 years. He was buried in the Cemetery at Sale.
The railway line was nearly finished, and when the track to the station had to be made, the Rosedale Shire Council decided that Franklin Street should be formed from the railway station to the police station, and that gravel should be placed on the two footpaths. So the paddock that was Franklin Street became a street with red gum kerbs and gutters so that the water would get away in the winter time.
On 1st July, 1877, the first train ran from Sale to Morwell.
The train started carrying passengers on 28th July, but they had to take the coach for the rest of the journey from Morwell to Melbourne while work was still being done on the two other sections of the line - Morwell to Bunyip and Bunyip to Oakleigh.
In July, 1877, too, important local citizens were appointed to control the new cemetery out at the Bluff. People had been buried there since 1872 and now the railway yards had moved into the old cemetery. John Peterkin was appointed by the Presbyterians, H. J. Mapleson by the Methodists and Charles Phillips by the Anglicans.
We come now to the next step in the history of the Shire of Rosedale. It was divided into separate parts called Ridings, and Traralgon and Morwell were called the Traralgon Riding. We can see the coming of the Shire of Traralgon a few years later. When a Shire is divided like this, a new election must be held. Three new Councillors were elected for the Traralgon Riding - Dugald Campbell, Robert Mill and Henry Breed. The Council had ideas, too, of building a better bridge over the creek so that the traffic would not have to take its winding course over to the bridge at the bottom end of Grey Street. They had picked the place near where the long bridge is today, and decided that a pump should be put on the creek bank there to allow the townspeople to draw their own water. You will remember how, in 1862, Alexander Dodds supplied creek water to the Police Station for 1d. a gallon.
The coming of the railway had caused the whole town to look to Franklin Street as its main street. The town was moving away from the Rosedale Road and the Traralgon Hotel corner. The Government was selling more blocks of land in the town and, when the section between Hotham Street and Princes Street was marked out, nearly all the blocks were sold quite easily.
The 8th October, 1877, was a red letter day for Gippsland. On that day, the first people ever travelled from Melbourne to Sale in the one day. Another part of the Gippsland Railway Line was opened from Oakleigh to Bunyip. The Gippsland Railway was being built by the Government, while the railways around Melbourne were owned by Companies, and they could not decide which way the train should take from Oakleigh into the city. There was talk of its going around the Outer Circle line, or connecting up with the Brighton Railway at Elsternwick or connecting with another line at South Yarra. So while they were making up their minds, there was no train between Oakleigh and Melbourne. The travellers left Melbourne at six o'clock in the morning and drove out to Oakleigh by coach. From here they were taken by the train to Bunyip. Then back on the coach to take them to Moe, and then by the train to Sale. The train was expected in at Sale at 8.30 that night with the Melbourne papers. But the coach had broken down in the middle section and the train did not get in until 11 p.m. But they had made it in the one day. Just fancy, the people in Sale were able to read for the first time the Melbourne papers which had been published that very same day
PHOTO: sketch of the railway, circa 1880. The Grand Junction Hotel and Franklin St., are visible on the left of the water tank tower.
The school children were able to start work in the new school when they started in the New Year of 1878. This was the third school about which I have told you. The first was on Clauscen's corner, then there was the school with the stringybark roof in Campbell Street, and now a new wooden school between that school and the railway line where the pine trees are still growing around the old school ground. This school was enlarged in later years and eventually was moved over to Grey Street where it was used for years for the Higher Elementary School.
You already know how the brickworks started up to make bricks for the railway culverts. The Presbyterians decided to build their Church, and it was built of brick and stood on the corner of Campbell Street and Gwalia Street. It has disappeared now, but it was the first brick building in the town and was opened in February, 1878. Rev. J. G. Wilson, the Presbyterian Minister for Rosedale, used this Church only every second Sunday, and the Anglicans and the Methodists were both able to hold their services there on the other Sundays. At this time, Bishop Goold, the Roman Catholic Bishop in Melbourne, bought for his Church hall that land where you now see St. Michael's Church, the Convent and the Presbytery.
The contractors for the building of the railway line between Moe and Bunyip finished their section by 1st March, 1878, when the coaches were no longer needed for the middle section, and the Government took over the whole line from Oakleigh to Sale. They sent out some engines and carriages by road from Melbourne and started to run two trains a day. The first train left Oakleigh at 8 in the morning and reached the top of the Haunted Hills by 20 to 12, and arrived at Sale at 5 minutes past I in the afternoon. They could hardly believe it - five hours only. What a difference the railway was going to make in the lives of Gippslanders.
On 27th April, 1878, poor Henry Sanders, the ex teacher, died. He had always been a sick man and died from tuberculosis. How wonderful it is that nowadays we can have a free X-ray to check that we, too, do not die young from T-B- like Mr. Sanders. He was only 52, and left seven little children.
I do not have to tell you the story of Burke and Wills, King and Grey. You will have read how King, the only one left of the four explorers, was found by a search party led by Dr. Howitt who found the bodies of Burke and Wills and, after wrapping them in the flag of their country, buried them on the banks of Cooper's Creek. Well, Dr. Howitt also comes into our history. He was later a Police Magistrate here in Gippsland and, for some time, sat in the Courts in this part. He first sat at Traralgon Court on 18th May, 1878. He often visited the Whittakers at Loy Yang for his daughter was married to E. S. Whittakers.
William Whittakers had decided to give up his lease to Traralgon East run in May, 1878. He had abandoned Loy Yang run in the previous December. You see, there was very little of the runs left because the Government in Melbourne had been selling large pieces of them to new settlers. And as Mr. Whittakers already owned the best parts of both runs, having bought that land from Turnbull and Henderson, he really did not lose anything by forfeiting his rights to the runs.
In July,1878, our first clergyman arrived. He was Rev. Thomas Moorhouse of the Church of England. He was found a cottage on the east side of the creek by Mr. Oswald Marriage. The Anglicans continued to hold their Church services in the Presbyterian Church every second Sunday. Mr. Moorhouse had never ridden a horse before but he soon learned the art, and would ride to hold Church at Eaglehawk, Scarne, Flinn's Creek, Tanner's Park, which we now call Callignee, Hazelwood and in Miss McRory's bark and hessian school at Maryvale. It was the only public building in the Morwell district then. Of course, as you can expect, it was not long before Rev. Moorhouse was trying to get a Church of England built here.
You will remember how Hugh Fisher built the school over in Campbell Street in 1872 for £55. Well, you may hardly believe it, but it was not until September, 1878, that he was paid the £7/2/6 which was still owing on the building. And that was all because the people put the school on the Church land, and the Education Department would not pay until that land had been given back to the Government.
In January, 1879, a new publican took over the Traralgon Hotel. His name was Thomas Mitchell. The Mitchells were here for fourteen years, and Mitchell Street is named after the family.
And all this time work had been going on in building the railway from Oakleigh to South Yarra. The Government had decided that that would be the way into Melbourne. The line right through from Melbourne to Sale was opened in April, 1879. What was the result here? For the first time, butter could be sent to Melbourne by train. Farmers could start milking cows instead of just grazing cattle and driving them to Melbourne to be sold. It was better to truck the cattle to Melbourne. Butter factories were built in every main town. There was a good sale in Melbourne for red gum for buildings, and for the wood-blocks for the streets. So sawmills appeared everywhere to cut up the beautiful forests into timber which, up until now, could not be used locally, and send it to Melbourne. All the big Mountain Ash forest up at Callignee could also be cut. It split so easily into palings, and trainloads of palings were sent to Melbourne for fences around houses in the city. Traralgon bricks were of fine quality and were in great demand. Even the Court House at Warragul was built with Traralgon bricks taken there on the train.
Traralgon was growing so fast now that I just cannot tell you of all the changes in the butchers, bakers and storekeepers. But one result from the opening of the railway was that very little money was being spent on the road to Melbourne. The bush roads which ran alongside the railway were not needed, and it was not until the motor car was invented and then the Country Roads Board was formed that the road to Melbourne was much more than a bush track.
In April, there was a change of Head Teacher at the School. Mr. Michael Dwyer took over. The school was now getting too big for Mr. Mattingley to hold as he had not passed the necessary examinations. He was offered a smaller school, but he did not take it and went off to Queensland. The old school which Hugh Fisher had built in 1872 was shifted out to Traralgon Creek South, as they called it then, for a school there.
On 20th October, 1879, we come to another important date, for on that day the Government decided that the Traralgon and Morwell areas should be cut off from the Shire of Rosedale to form a new Shire - the Shire of Traralgon. The Shire boundary went as far as the Morwell River.
In December, 1879, two more hotels appeared. First there was the Club Hotel built by Frank Hickox who had started off in the Star Hotel in 1875. The Club Hotel was on the corner of Franklin and Hotham Streets, opposite the present day A.N.Z. Bank. It was a wooden building, and all the spaces in the walls were filled with red gum sawdust from John Peterkin's sawmill. It is said that, although several attempts were made to burn down the hotel for the insurance money when times were hard, it would not burn because the sawdust fell out and smothered the flames. I have told you how John Peterkin and Oswald Marriage supplied all the timber for the Mechanics' Institute and let the people pay later. Well, Mr. Peterkin once again helped Mr. Hickox in the same way by supplying, on credit, all the building material for the Club Hotel. George Fick also took out a licence for the Callignee Hotel which he held for the next five years.
So, in January, 1880, an election was held to decide who should be the Councillors for the new Shire. There were six elected - Councillors Kelleher, McGauran and Firmin from Morwell and Henry Breed, Dugald Campbell and Thomas Mattingley from Traralgon. John Bodycomb just missed a place, for he came equal sixth with Mr. Mattingley, and the returning officer in charge of the counting then gave his vote to Mr. Mattingley. The new Councillors held their first meeting in the Old Court House near the Traralgon Hotel on 26th January, 1880, and Councillor Kelleher was elected our first Shire President. The Old Court House was to be the Shire Office for the next two years.
And before I end this chapter, let me take you back over the last ten years. From just a small town in the area looked after by the Rosedale Road Board, Traralgon had become the chief town in a new Shire. The people had opened their own school, built another and the Government had then built a better one. The railway had been built, and Traralgon had changed from a sleepy hollow into a busy town in about two years. Butter factories, sawmills and brickworks were all springing up or planned. I hope you will agree with me that this chapter was one of the most important in our story.
End of Chapter 4