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Anniversary – Lost children of Daylesford

On this day, 148 years ago three children went missing in Daylesford. I blogged about it previously here.

There is also a walk through the Wombat Forest, starting in Daylesford, which follows the route that the children took. Recently, due to my interest in the story, and my passion for fitness, I did the walk to try to get a feel for what it would have been like for the small children to be lost out there in the Australian bush. It was a fairly nice day other than slight drizzly rain early, but my main thought was what it must have been like for those children, to be lost out there in the Wombat Forest, in June. Winter in this area can be very cold, and often there is snow. The walk was over 20k on a marked track, but 148 years ago those tracks wouldn’t have been there. The children would have been walking cross country through rugged bush. At ages 6,5 and 4, I’m sure they would have been very frightened, and most likely very cold.

If you click on this link to the Department of Sustainability and Industry, you can read an article about the children with a map and information about the walk.


Above is the burial site for the three children in the Daylesford Cemetary

Two years from now will be the 150th anniversary of this sad event. I can’t help thinking how nice it would be if it was marked some way in Daylesford.

Donegal Ireland land evictions

My BOYLE family originated from Donegal Ireland. As yet, I haven’t really thrown myself into research of their lives in Ireland. But, as is the case with most fellow researchers, I do know the story of how the farmers were chased off their land and many made their way to Australia. But as yet I am not sure exactly how that story relates to PATRICK BOYLE and his family.

The following story was posted on the Why Donegal? Facebook page. When I read it, I felt a shiver of horror, at what it must have been like for those peasants who were driven away. How they must have wondered what was going to happen to them.

The paragraphs below are printed exactly as written and posted by Why Donegal.

On the morning of 8 April 1861, land speculator, John George Adair began seizing the lands and homes of 47 families in Derryveagh in the District of Gartan.
Anticipating mass resistance, Adair enlisted some 200 policemen, inspectors and a 10 person ‘crowbar brigade’ from County Tyrone to remove the settled from their homes and destroy the houses.
Though evictions were common in the 1800s if families caused trouble or consistently failed to make rent, mass evictions were rare.
Even then, evicted persons were allowed to sell their rights to the land, giving them some money to find shelter elsewhere.
The people of Derryveagh were not afforded this opportunity.
An eye witness account in a local newspaper, recorded how the Widow, McAward, and her seven children, were the first to be evicted.
“Long before the house was reached, loud cries were heard, piercing the air…frantic with despair and throwing themselves on the ground, they became almost insensible, and bursting out in the old Irish wail – then heard by many for the first time – their terrifying cries resounded along the mountains for many miles.
“They had been deprived of their only shelter – the little spot made dear to them by association of the past – and with bleak poverty before them and with only the blue sky to shelter them, naturally they lost all hope and those who witnessed their agony will never forget the sight.”
When the evictions ceased on 10 April 1861, The Derryveagh Eviction Report noted that 47 families and 244 tenant farmers were cleared off 11,602 acres in the valley.
“By two, Wednesday afternoon, the terrible work had been accomplished and a deathly silence descended over the whole area. The Derryveagh District had been cleared of people and Adair had accomplished what the ravages of the Great Famine had failed to do.”
Among the evicted family names listed in The Londonderry Standard on 10 April 1861 were : Bradley, Callahan, Doherty, Doohan, McAward, and Sweeney.
In the midst of the tragic events, a local newspaper reporter remarked on how peacefully families went, choosing not to resort to violence.
Most were made homeless, while others were taken in by relatives, nearby landowners, and sent to Letterkenny workhouses.
Some families were aided by priests and funds were raised in Dublin, France and Australia in support of the evicted. Adair organized a work-scheme with a local church and The Australian Donegal Relief Fund, founded by Australian Michael O’Grady to send all able-bodied men between the ages of 16-28 to work in Australia.
On 18 January 1862, several Glenveagh families left Donegal in pursuit of life down under, first stopping in Dublin before embarking on the long journey ahead.
A dinner was held at the Dublin Hotel to honour them and Gweedore priest, Father McFadden issued a farewell address.
It was said that “a finer body of men and women never left any country.”
143 Derryveagh and 130 Gweedore residents boarded the steamer Lady Eglinton, and were given a plot of land upon their arrival in Australia. Those who chose to stay found a much harsher fate.
The county, country, and world were made aware of the gross injustices inflicted by Adair, causing uproar in the British Parliament, and subsequent police investigations.
Still, Adair was never charged for a crime and became known as “Black Jack,” infamous throughout Ireland and England, and as far as the US and Australia.
He had been enchanted by he beauty of Glenveagh when he first visited in 1857, and began the acquisition of 28,000 acres of land which would become the Adair estate including the districts of Gartan, Glenveagh and Derryveagh.
In 1870, Adair went on to build Glenveagh Castle on the shores of Lough Veagh, near the eviction sites.
When he died in the US in 1885, his American wife had his gravestone inscribed with “Brave, Just and Generous.” Legend has it that the large rock was later struck by lighting and shattered to pieces.
In 1979, Glenveagh Castle was left to Ireland by its last private owner, Philladephia, US native and artist Henry McIlhenny, whose ancestors came from Milford.

Bren Whelan’s image from the Derryveagh mountains looks back towards the Gartan area and the scene of the evictions.


It’s our Blogiversary

Today is the 4th anniversary of this little blog, it’s Blogiversary. My very first post was a look at why and how I became fascinated about family history.

As my family research progressed, I knew that I desperately wanted to write a book about our family history. The problem was that the job seemed so large, and my time so small, so I knew it would never happen. Maybe, one day in my retirement there would be time, but I was too impatient to wait for that.

So the solution was to start a blog, where I could record family stories and research results which would be the basis for my planned book in the future. The plan I envisaged was to organise my posts as the stories would appear in the book.

But that plan went out the window in the first week. Mostly as it turned out, the posts are haphazard, written and posted as they occur to me. There is no organisational plan to them at all. At times they seem to be all over the place and they definitely do go off on unexpected tangents. At first I worried about this, until I realised this is exactly how my life seems to be – no plan, all over the place, and definitely taking unexpected twists and turns.

Also, I hoped that blogging would give me much needed writing practice. As it has. But I feel that I need much more of that, probably some formal workshops would be a good idea.

The one thing about the blog that has surprised me is that my stories have been found by other researchers, distant cousins, who have followed the blog & kept in contact with me. Many of these distant cousins I have met over the years. This is something I love about the blog. But I do regret that at the moment, I don’t have time for as much contact as I would like.

And even though I have huge time constraints in my life at the moment due to my work hours, there will still be regular posts occurring.

I look forward to the day that I can devote the time to the blog that I would like to and also continue to mark offmthe many jobs  on  my research to-do list.


Ellenor Calnan – Army Nurse WW2

imageELLENOR (NELL) CALNAN  was born in Culcairn NSW, Australia,  in 1912 to parents, WILLIAM CALNAN and MARY O’BRIEN.

Eleanor  enlisted into the Australian Army  as a military nurse, in 1941 aged 28 years.   On 16 February, she was killed in the Bangka Island Massacre. Eleanor was a nursing sister in the 2/10 Australian Nursing hospital ship, Vyner Brooke, which had on board, injured military personnel and 64 niurses caring for them, when the ship was bombed and sank.

Two nurses died in the bombing, nine were lost at sea, and the remainder safely reached the shore, off Indonesia.

On land, under the sign of The Red Cross, the nurses began to tend to the injured passengers from the ship.  On discovering that the island was occupied by the Japanese, one of the oficers from the ship surrendered the survivors.

A group of 20 Japanese soldiers then arrived at the makeshift hospital and ordered all injured men who could walk, to walk a short distance away out of sight of the hopsital. Immediately the nurses heard gunfire. The Japanese soldiers then returned and ordered the nurses to walk into the sea where they were shot in the back by a barrage of machine gun fire.

Amazingly one nurse, Vivian Bullwinkell survived the gunfire and and was washed up unconscious onto the shore. She was eventually captured and became a POW of the Japanese for two years. She survived this and told her story of the massacre at War Crimes Trials.

Bangka Island NursesIt’s very difficult to see the faces in the photo but Eleanor is in the 2nd row from front, 8th from the left. This photo was taken in the hospital grounds of the Australian Army Nursing Service, in January 1941 before sailing from Australia to staff the Vyner Brooke.

None of this information was on Eleanor’s military record. I discovered her fate when at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Her name is on the Roll of Honour in Wagga Wagga, NSW

Ellenor Calnan was a distant cousin of my father.

*Eleanor’s name is also occasionally spelt as Ellenor

Mayday Hills Beechworth

I am spending this Queen’s Birthday long weekend in Beechworth. The main reason for my visit is to spend a few relaxing days cycling and walking. But of course, I can’t spend time in a town with such important history without having a bit of a dig around.

George KerfordI am staying at the cycle friendly George Kerferd Hotel. George Kerford was mayor of Beechworth from 1863-1864, and in 1874 became the 10th Premier of Victoria. The George Kerford hotel is in the grounds of Mayday Hills which was the original name for the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, the fourth such hospital built in Victoria.

The asylum opened in 1867 and closed in 1995 from Wikipedia: “The asylum was surrounded by almost 106 hectares of farmland, making the hospital self-sufficient with its own piggery, orchards, kitchen gardens, fields, stables and barn. For recreation, the asylum included tennis courts, an oval and cricket pavilion, kiosk and theatre”. There is no sign today of piggeries or orchards but the 11 hectares  with it’s huge old trees  are stunning.  Even on a cold winter’s day.

I came across the following information on a poster in the garden:

“Over the life of this institution (1867-1995) the inmates worked tirelessly to support the ongoing daily running of it. One such person was Robert Coates who was transferred from Yarra Bend Asylum.  He had been a professional landscape gardener. He was given the responsibility of the selection, planning and planting of the trees in front of the main buildings.  Most of the trees came from the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens and several species still survive.  Robert Coates spent 5 years at Beechworth and was transferred to Kew Asylum after it’s opening in 1872″.

Imagine Ned

Ned_Kelly_in_1880 The Imagining Ned Exhibition is on in Bendigo at the moment, and a couple of weeks ago, I popped along for a visit. Of course I HAD to attend, as I have had a fascination with Ned Kelly since I first heard of him at school. But I’ve been especially interested in him, since I learned, through my family history research,  that a twig of my family tree appears on Ned Kelly’s family tree.

My Great Great Grandmother, Bridget Lloyd is the daughter of Thomas Lloyd who was married to Jane Quinn, cousin of Ned Kelly. I do admit that the relationship is very distant, but it’s close enough to keep me interested in all things related to the Kelly Gang. Bridget’s father, Thomas Lloyd was the fifth member of the Kelly gang. He wasn’t at Glenrowan when the shoot out occurred, so lived a longer life than other gang members.

Back to “Imagining Ned”. This exhibition follows the history and legend of Ned Kelly using fantastic art works. There are also artefacts to be seen , such as Ned’s famous armour, letters, guns, and various other items.

Many of Sydney Nolan’s famous art works are featured along with other artists such as Arthur Boyd, Adam Cullen, Juan Davila, and Norman Lindsay.


The exhibition runs until 28 June 2015.


Blaxland, Wentworth & Lawson

Yesterday, 11 May 2015,  was the anniversary of the day that explorers Gregory  Blaxland and William Wentworth and William Lawson set out from Sydney on their adventure to cross the Blue Mountains. It was hoped that there would be suitable farming and grazing land on the other side of the Blue Mountains. At the time there was a shortage of land around Sydney, that was sufficiently fertile for farming.

Their expedition through rugged bushland was successful and as a result, all three explorers were granted 1000 acres as reward for their success

The explorers are pictured below – left: William Lawson 1774-1850    right: William  Wentworth  1790-1872

below centre: Gregory Blaxland 1778-1853





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