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Early Whittlesea

My great great grandparents John and Martha Taylor, and their two small boys, James and John, arrived in Australia from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, in 1841/1842.

So far I haven’t been able to find their immigration records, but do know that they left Wales after the census in June 1841, and were living in Diamond Creek in October 1842, at the time of the birth of their third son William, my great grandfather

John started out his life in Australia as a shepherd at Diamond Creek. I was interested to read in this article that white settlement began in this area in 1837/38. So this was a very new settlement at the time of John and Martha’s arrival 1841/42

They had 12 children, eight boys and four girls, born between 1839 and 1859.   All except two, lived long lives into old age, which is an exceptional result for the times.  The family moved to Whittlesea in about 1850.

The following article gives a picture of Whittlesea in those early years.

from: The Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic: 1922-1939), 8 October 1937 page 3

Whittlesea early years


In view of the approach of the Whittlesea Centenary Celebrations, the following article will be of interest. It has been written from material supplied by the Rev. J. H. Duffy, who has conducted a painstaking research into the early days of the district.

Nestling cosily at the foot of the Plenty Ranges, the site of the present township of Whittlesea must have appealed to the early pioneers of Victoria, for settlement began very soon after Batman pitched his tent on the banks of the Yarra. It has been difficult to find the exact time of the first settlement, but it is known it took place about the end of 1837 or the beginning of 1838.

The first settlers took up land to the east and north of the Yan Yean reservoir, then known as Ryder’s Swamp. This was the home of the Yan Yean tribe of aborigines, an aggressive and warlike race, who resented the intrusion of the whites, and many battles were fought in the vicinity of Ryder’s Swamp.

Lives were lost on both sides, and the remains of a burying ground may be seen on the north-east of the reservoir, not far from Bear’s Castle. Even when the settlers and aborigines were not at war, the natives could not resist the temptation of spearing cattle and sheep, and threatening the lives of those who tried to prevent them from decimating the flocks. This was the reason for the erection of the old castle as a place of refuge for the shepherds when danger threatened.

Among the earliest settlers was Mr. Bear, who took up land adjacent to Ryder’s Swamp, and extending to the northward. His holding included Bear’s vineyard, the wine cellars of which are remembered by some of our old residents, but they no longer exist. The greater part of Bear’s original holding is now embraced in the Metropolitan Board of Works reserve. The spacious old homestead has disappeared, but the home of Mr. Babbington stands on the exact spot.

About the same time, Dr. Ronald took up an area of land, slightly to the west of the reservoir, and this property remained in the hands of the family until quite recently. Captain MacPherson took up the property known as “Strathnoon” and this was successively occupied by Mr. Geo. Sherwin, JP., Mr. Alex Serrell, Cr. James Morris, and the late Major R. G. Tyilson. The homestead was burned down in 1904.

“Rosley Vale” the adjoining property was originally taken up by Mr. Thomas Morley, who sold out to Mr. T. Boadle. Mr. Boadle built the Rosley Vale flour mill on the main road, which was a familiar sight to coach travellers for many years.

Mr. T. Wills settled on the adjoining property, which embraced the hills to the west of the Whittlesea township, some land to the north, and also part of the present township site. It is believed that Mr. Wills was responsible for bestowing the name of “Whittlesea” on the spot, where the people from the surrounding district met to exchange gossip and goods.

The first market-place and show ground was situated on the corner opposite the State school, and it extended into the present railway reserve. It was first known as the Whittlesea Fair. From this modest beginning, it has continued without a break through times of prosperity and of deep and dark depression, until the present day.

The first post-office, and the office of the registrar of births and deaths was situated in Beech street, to the west of the old Willow Tree Hotel, on the spot where a galvanised iron shed now stands.

Always having been keen sportsmen, it was not long before the. residents of Whittlesea established a racecourse. The original course encircled the town, the starting point being near the present police station, and the finish near Mrs. Gibbs’ store.

The first school was opened in 1854, the ruins of which are still standing near the railway station. A son of the first master (Mr. Cookson) is still living at Alexandra, while a son of his successor (Mr. Stubbs) is now a member of the State Parliament of Western Australia, and was last year Mayor of West Perth.

When the authorities of Melbourne began to look, for a place from which to supply the growing city with water, they fixed on the Plenty river, and this served until the Yan Yean Reservoir was constructed. (This will be dealt with more fully in a later article).

Late in 1889 the Melbourne-Whittlesea railway was opened, this being the outcome of a movement which had been energetically carried on for many years. The records show that the agitation for a railway was being carried on at least ten years earlier.



In memory of my Dad – Thomas Lloyd Jones

Today is the third anniversary of the death of my Dad 25.01.1926 – 04.07.2014

lines-of-wisdomDad appeared in an article , written by my daughter, in the book ‘Lines of Wisdom’, published by Affirm Press in 2008. The book features young writers, writing about the lives of ordinary elderly Australians. I can remember at the time of publication, being very proud of both my Dad and my daughter.



020This is the photo that appeared in the book. I do love this photo, but I have always felt that Dad should have been photographed with his Richmond Football Club Scarf as the club was his life-long passion.







Hollow – a drama #threelostchildrenofdaylesford

lost children

The world wide premiere of Hollow, a drama depicting the story of  Three Lost Children of Daylesford was performed at the Daylesford Town Hall over the past weekend.

There is no way I would have missed seeing this performance, as I was involved for a short time when research was being done, having had an interest in this tragic tale for a few years now. When I first stumbled across it, my three grandsons, brothers, were about the same age as these boys who became lost. I can’t help but think  of what it must have been like for three little boys of this age to be lost in the Wombat Forest in June when the nights are extremely cold.  Over the past few nights, temperatures have got down to -4 and -5. Can you imagine a small child being lost in the Australian bush in those low temperatures?

The play was performed by Tripwire Theatre Inc with Megan Riedl the writer/director.   The following paragraph is taken from the Director’s Note that appeared in the program for Hollow. Megan’s words convey better than I could, the angle that the play took to tell the story.

From the first time I read about the disappearance of three little boys in Daylesford in 1867, I knew this story had to be told in theatrical form.  An idea to stage a historical re-enactment of linear timeline of the events on June – September 1867 was floated to me, but it was the behind the scenes moments, which don’t make the newspaper, which interested me more.  What would the mothers be thinking while their husbands went to search every day?  What would happen to a normal neighborly friendship when one woman’s son was spared and the others were lost?  What was the real reason the boys never heeded the advice to return home, given by two neighbors that fateful Sunday?  Why did the community continue to search for weeks, knowing the cause was lost?  The lack of detail about the women – their lives, their reactions and even their first names – was striking and saddening.  I wanted to recreate this story with a shift in focus to those usually left behind from Australian history – women, children and indigenous people. 

Big congratulations have to go to Tripwire Theatre Inc and especially Megan the writer/director, for the sensitive and touching approach taken. The roles were also perfectly cast.  The despair and sadness of the two mothers really touched my heart. I found myself trying and not succeeding, to hold back the tears more than once. I did hear a few other sniffles around the theatre also.

I was surprised to feel quite emotional to see this story that I have researched for so long, being played out in front of me on the stage.

If you are interested to follow this tragic tale I have a Facebook page dedicated to the Three Lost Children.

Three Lost children

The three lost boys

Graham parents

Parents Sarah and William Graham

Burman parents

Parents Elizabeth and Benjamin Burman

Sarah Graham – Nell Jeandet
William Graham Snr – Thomas Aston
William Graham Jnr – Drusilla Dickenson-Bray
Thomas Graham – Pepper Eisner
Elizabeth Burman – Liana Skewes
Benjamin Burman – Paul Pearman
Alfred Burman – James Dawson
Missy Burman – Kira Dawson
Mrs Griffiths – Emily Wilden
Griff – Quinn Le Fevre
Councillor Bleakley – Darcy Oliver
Reverend Main – David Mark Farrington
Geo H. Jamieson / Dr McNicoll – Mark Collins
Tommy Farmer – Jacob Honeychurch
A Bush Spirit – Perri Eaton
A Traveller – David Elias

source and photos: Tripwire Theatre Inc and the official Hollow program

Researching Abroad Roadshow Ambassador #utproadshow17

Regular readers will see that there is a new badge in the sidebar of this page. I am now very happy and proud to be an Ambassador for Unlock The Past’s  Researching Abroad Roadshow 2017. 

During August the Unlock the Past team will travel across Australia and New Zealand to conduct seminars which will focus on Irish, Scottish and European research. There will be a particular focus on German research.  DNA testing will also be covered.

Presenters will be CHRIS PATON from Scotland and DIRK WEISSLEDER from Germany. The roadshow will be held in seven cities :

Brisbane       08-09 August
Auckland      11-13 August
Sydney          15-16 August
Melbourne   18-19 August
Canberra           21 August
Adelaide       23-24 August
Perth                  26 August

I will be attending the Melbourne Seminar and am looking forward to hearing these two world renown speakers sharing their information.










Three Lost Children – 150 Years On

This week, I was in Daylesford and picked up a flyer from the information centre detailing commemorative events to remember the story of the Three Lost Children of Daylesford.

This year marks 150years since the children went missing.  The major event, Hollow  presented by Tripwire Theatre Inc.  premieres at the Daylesford Town Hall on June 30.

As well as Hollow, there are a few events happening around Daylesford:

Thursday 29 2017, 2pm 
Greg Pyers: Three Lost Children Author Talk at the Daylesford Library

Friday 30 June 2017 – Sunday 2 July
Hollow – a dramatic play performed by TRIPWIRE at the Dayesford Town Hall

Saturday 01 July – Sunday 30 July 
Commemorative Exhiition at the Daylesford Museum 1.30-4.30 Saturdays and Sundays

Friday 30 June, 9am
Bushwalk following a section of the Three Lost Children Walk
Assemble at the Three Lost Children Monument on Central Springs Road, opposite
Mill Market.


Monument to the Three Lost Children at Daylesford Cemetary


Hollow – Three Lost Children of Daylesford

lost children

The days are counting down now until the story of Three Lost Children of Daylesford is told by Tripwire Theatre Inc in the play HOLLOW. The play is being performed at the historic Daylesford Town Hall from June 30 – July 02, 2017.

With my interest and blogging about this story over the past few years, it’s very exciting for me to follow the progress of the play and rehearsals. It’s only a few weeks away now, and I can’t wait to see this production which I have no doubt will be a great memorial to the 150th anniversary of the date that the children went missing in the Wombat Forest

Below are the official press photos taken by TRIPWIRE THEATRE COMPANY. I think they are amazing and really whet the appetite for what is to come in the play.

lost children graham bros

Hollow press shots

Tickets to Hollow are available at

You can  catch up on previous blog posts about this tragic story by searching in the box to the left.

Check out the Facebook page page so that you don’t miss out on any updates:   Previous blog posts can also be found there.

#Congress_ 2018 Sydney

The 15th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry is being held in Sydney in March next year. As the event is only held every three years, I’m very excited to be attending.

I have registered and looked over the program which is huge. As yet I haven’t chosen which seminars I’d like to attend, but with multiple seminars occurring at the same time, the choice will be difficult.

Fellow geneablogger Jill aka GeniAus has been posting about 101 reasons to attend Congress 2018. Here are just a few of my reasons.

*So much learning to be done. There is always something new in Genealogy.

*Great opportunity to catch up with fellow geneabloggers and geni-mates.

*Congress is being held at the new International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour.

*The Exhibition hall is a great opportunity to catch up with societies and traders and see  what’s new in the world of genealogy.

*I’m hoping to stay in Sydney for an extra few days so that I can visit Rookwood General Cemetery and the Hyde Park Barracks

There are so many more reasons to attend Congress, but these are just a few that occur to me quickly.




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