A TWELVE YEAR OLD'S DROMANA IN 1917. (VIC., AUST.)
44 Sydney-road, Brunswick.
Dear Cinderella,- 30/5/17
This is the first time I have written to you. I will take for my subject Dromana, a seaside town 44 miles away. First of all we get the boat at Port Melbourne, at about 11 o'clock. Then we start off down the Bay, sometimes calling at St. Kilda and Brighton. After a couple of hours' trip we reach Mornington, and a little further on Dromana. The place I was stopping at is about 500 yards from the beach. To the back of the township there is a mountain, called Arthur's Seat, on the top there is an old lighthouse, from which you can see Melbourne on a very clear day. A little to the east and further down the mountain is the Cairn Memorial of Flinders. It is thought to be standing where he stood on the day he landed. About a mile from the Cairn, there were found three old muskets, which were thought to have been left by Flinders, but it was not so. On the road to Rosebud there is the South Channel lighthouse, and further along still, past Rosebud, there are the graves of three old pioneers, John Silkhorn and two other pioneers. Besides the graves, the site of the first house in Victoria, can also be seen. I think Dromana is one of the most interesting towns in Victoria. There is the beach, the bush, the mountains, and almost everything that can be thought of. In the gullies there are numbers of different wild flowers and ferns; the coral fern is like a piece of coral. One day, while up the mountain, we saw a fox (the first one I had ever seen) that, as soon as it saw us, turned and ran for dear life itself, but afterwards we could hear it barking. Well, Cinderella, I think I will close now, hoping to get a prize.
-I remain, your new friend,
GEORGE TOWNSEND. Age 12 years 6 months.(P.53, Leader, Melbourne, 7-7-1917.)
It was a feeling of guilt that led to the discovery of this letter. A Mr Townsend had saved the life of Henry (William Burdett Coutts) Wilson's son at about the time young George (above)was born. I gave Mr Townsend's name as John in the journal about the possible first recorded use of mouth to mouth resuscitation in Australia (maybe even the world!) I did a search for "John Townsend, Dromana" in the hope that the same incident had been reported using the savior's given name. George's letter was so interesting, I decided to make it the subject of a journal now in case I was unable to re-find it later.
ABOUT GEORGE'S LETTER.
Having seen Silkhorn's name before, I suspected he might have been the first person recorded as dying in Victoria, so I googled "Silkhorn, Sorrento, Collins", the first result being:
Our Great Southern Land: Trivial History October 10
The blogger, Jayne, makes history fun.
1803 Having an itchy foot and time on his hands, Collins decided to set up camp and call it a settlement at Sullivan Bay near Sorrento in Victoria.
This was the first attempt of Europeans parking their posteriors in Victoria.
1803 There's no show without Punch and John Silkhorne got in on the act by upping and dying to become the first bloke to pop his clogs in Victoria, at Collins' settlement camp thingie.. - See more at: http://ourgreatsouthernland.blogspot.com.au/2008/10/trivial-history-october-10.html#sthash.wqZnl7z1.dpuf
The OH NOES gremlins are back. Hopefully,a continuation later.....(One paragraph at a time, but it submitted!)
The other two graves were obviously also from the short-lived settlement at Sullivan's Bay.
Other features in the letter that intrigue me are the muskets found on Arthurs Seat and the (site of) the first house in Victoria. Was there an article about how the muskets actually did come to be there?* I presume that the first house was at Collins' settlement. The following comes from:
Collins Settlement Site (Heritage Listed Location) : On My Doorstep
A RELIC OF EARLY AUSTRALIA.
MUSKETS IN THE BUSH.
ROMANTIC DISCOVERY NEAR DROMANA.
The picturesque discovery among the tangled undergrowth of green bush,
near Dromana (Vic.), of three musket of old design, with their wood work
charred and eaten by bush fires, apparently, recalls an interesting chapter
of Australian history.
If the deductions that have been made are correct, they represent a spot upon which the explorer Matthew Flinders stood more than a century ago, when he first gazed upon the rippling blue expanse of Port Phillip, and believed himself, incorrectly, to be the first white man who had seen the great harbor. The discovery of the muskets was made recently by Mr George Freeman, of Rosebud, Dromana, while clearing the bush for roads upon a property on the famous King Arthur’s Seat. In the course of this work he came across the three muskets, half hidden among the undergrowth, and ‘piled,’ as modern rifles are piled in camp lines, tripod fashion.
The wood work was charred and burnt, and it appeared that the spot must have been used as a camping place. The muskets were of the ‘Lancaster’ type such as the discoverer states were issued and used by Flinders’ party, and a further search is to be conducted in the neighborhood in case other remains are to be found. It is now suggested that the cairn which was recently erected at Dromana in memory of Flinders has been wrongly placed.
If the muskets represent a survival of the Flinders party, they must have
been left there when the explorer made his second voyage of exploration to Australia in the ‘Investigator.’ This voyage was started on July 18, 1801,
the object being the completion of the exploration of the coast of Australia
and the discovery of any harbors. The vessel, a 334-ton sloop, was laden with glittering toys, beads, flannel and other trade articles, and Flinders was accompanied by an able staff of officers and scientists, including Robert Brown, a young Scottish botanist; who subsequently received the highest commendation for his scientific work.
Australia was sighted on December 6, and a slow voyage was made along
the coast, charts being constructed and harbors explored. After leaving Kangaroo Island, Flinders met the French explorer Baudin, in Encounter Bay; and, finally, his ship rolling and plunging after a bout of stormy weather, he sighted the rocky gates of Port Phillip, ringed with white spray, on April 26, 1802.
He thought himself to be its discoverer, but he had been forestalled by a few weeks by Lieutenant J. Murray. The Investigator passed into the
port, and anchored near the site of Sorrento, and on the following day
Flinders, accompanied by Brown and William Westall, a landscape draftsman, rowed from the ship, landing eventually on the beach of Dromana Bay. Thence he climbed the bluff ascent of King Arthur’s Seat, and from this post gazed in astonishment at the wide stretching blue of the harbor.
It may be that the muskets that have been found mark a spot where the
party thus halted. Flinders on the following day crossed the Bay in his boat, and explored what is now Corio Bay, and the neighborhood of Geelong, climbing Station Peak there, and gazing from this eminence over a sunlit stretch of rolling bush and green pasture towards Mount Macedon. He had to leave shortly afterwards, however, for Sydney, and it was on May 8 that the Investigator shook her sails, dipped a courtesy to Port Phillip, and bore the explorer away.
(Zeehan and Dundas Herald (Tas. : 1890 – 1922) Tuesday 24 April 1917 p 4 Article)
N.B. George Freeman's assumption does not seem to have been disputed on trove.
The British Government's decision to establish a settlement in southern Australia appears to have been prompted by favourable reports of Port Phillip Bay and concerns about the interest of the French in the area. The colonising party despatched from England comprised military personnel, administrative staff, a few free settlers and a majority of convicts. Some were fortunate enough to be accompanied by wives and children. Lt-Governor Collins led the party of 467 persons.
The settlement was established on an area of land between the Western Sister and Eastern Sister, prominent headlands which mark each end of Sullivan Bay. Most of the settlement was close to the Eastern Sister. Initially a tent encampment, work commenced quickly on building a jetty and other timber structures, including huts. Local limestone was apparently used to construct chimneys for the huts, and for the building of the magazine. As well as barrels set into sand to trap fresh water, wells were dug, as were privies. Land was cleared for the growing of crops, perhaps totalling several acres.
One last point.In A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA, Colin McLear said that John Townsend's house opposite the school on the north corner of Ligar St, was still standing. Sadly it has now been replaced by two home units. Being in the Dromana Township (west of McCulloch St), the house might have been a century and a half old! Ligar St is twenty eight eightieths of a mile from the beach= 28 chains=28x22= 460+24 yards=484 yards, which is fairly close to 500 yards, so John Townsend's house was most likely where young George stayed during his holidays.
From J. Townsend, Dromana, drawing attention to the state of the road and water-table fronting his property
at the corner of M'Culloch and Ligar streets. The corner of the latter was a perfect quagmire since the late rain.-Cr Shaw moved that the engineer inspect and report. Seconded by Cr Shand, and carried.
(P.5, Mornington Standard, 6-8-1904.)
BLAIR, DUFFY, SWANN in comment 1.
on 2013-08-07 04:07:57
Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.