<< Previous - Next >>


Journal by itellya

While consulting Doutta Galla parish maps to find when John Aitken had been granted section 8,I found one map with a large area of land outlined that only Dorothy Minkhoff and I would understand. Dorothy wrote the history of Ave Maria College in West Essendon which has Clydebank, the mansion of Ramsay (the inventor of Kiwi shoe polish) on its grounds. In her book, Dorothy discussed C.B.Fisher's vast land acquisitions in the above modern suburbs.

Although it is probably 20 years since I read Dorothy's book,the mere sight of the map had her words tumbling out of the hidden recesses of my brain. A precise match! You will notice that Hurtle St (named after the older brother of, as MARIBYRNONG:ACTION IN TRANQUILITY puts it,the father of the Australian turf)runs the precise length of the Ascot Wale West land.

Thought I'd share our secret. The map, described below, has 29 in bold type in the top left corner and 94 in red ink in the top right corner.

Doutta Galla, County of Bourke [cartographic material].
Melbourne : Photo-lithographed at the Department of Lands and Survey ... by J. Noone, - Parish maps of Victoria. 1882 English Map; Single map 1 & Online

Now that I have attached the portion of the Doutta Galla map showing the land in Avondale Heights and Ascot Vale West, which hints at his Maribyrnong Stud at Maribyrnong in the parish of Cut Cut Paw, it's worthwhile providing more detail, especially about the railway to Bulla. There were two proposed routes, along the road to Bulla or alongside the Maribyrong River. In about 1873, either route would have pleased Charles Brown Fisher. There is a reason that I have written the location of the Maribyrnong stud in bold type; the property adjacent to Woodlands (Melway 178 A8) was Cumberland (178 C12.)

Woodlands Homestead History
Woodlands Homestead logoWoodlands Homestead, located at Woodlands Historic Park, is a unique and treasured part of Victoria’s heritage.


Changing Ownership: 1866–1889
Woodlands Homestead then had a succession of affluent and eminent owners, many leading figures in the history of Victoria.

Andrew Sutherland purchased Woodlands Homestead from Rawdon Greene in 1866 and lived there for six years. Little is known about Andrew Sutherland, a merchant of St Kilda, or his use of Woodlands.

Charles Brown Fisher (1818-1908)
In 1873, Charles Brown Fisher (1818–1908) took out four mortgages on the property, acquiring the adjacent Maribyrnong stud at the same time.
.................. It seems likely that Fisher lived at Woodlands, or on the adjacent Cumberland property, which with the nearby Oaklands* he acquired during the 1870s. However, Fisher’s interests were focused on the Northern Territory. By 1885, Fisher was under considerable financial pressure. Bad seasons, falling wool prices and over-capitalisation forced Fisher into bankruptcy in 1895. His fate was a common one for many pastoralists during the 1890s. (See the entry for Charles Brown Fisher in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.)
(* Melway 385 B9.)

It is disappointing that with such a great history as ( Maribyrnong : action in tranquility / by Olwen Ford & Pamela ...
nla.gov.au/anbd.bib-an6309664)to source, that the history section of the Maribyrong Wikipedia page is so pathetic. Joseph Raleigh, Fisher and his Maribyrnong Stud (including the heritage-listed stables)and Tommy Bent (who had Chifley Drive constructed at government expense) are not even mentioned. The munitions are mentioned in passing with not one word of the suspension bridge built to convey its explosive cargo to the railhead near the army camp at Melway 15 E-F11.

I no longer have my Bulla, Keilor or Broadmeadows rate transcriptions to check Fisher's landholdings in 1888 but it would appear that Fisher had sold Woodlands.

Benjamin Josman Fink

Benjamin Fink
Benjamin Fink (1847-1909)
In 1886 Woodlands was sold to a five-man company of politicians, land speculators and money-lenders. The key figures were Benjamin Fink and the well known Sir Thomas Bent (Premier of Victoria from 1904 to 1909). Both men were obsessed with acquiring land for further speculation and may have seen Woodlands as a place for future suburban development. (The above Woodlands history.)

Fisher would obviously now prefer the railway to Bulla to go alongside the river rather than Bulla Rd, along Epsom Rd from the racecourse spur, passing near Keilor Village into Fosters Rd where the Essendon Tramways and Land Speculation Co. had snapped up farms such as the Crottys' Broomfield. G.W.Taylor was doing the same thing along the Bulla Rd route.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Tuesday 27 November 1888 p 8 Article
Mr W J* CLARK proposed- .........
He pointed out that there were two rival lines-one proposed to come through Maribyrnong and via Keilor, the other the direct line from Essendon. He urged the gentlemen appointed to use every legitimate means to obtain the construction of the latter.(*Of Glenara, older brother of Alister Clark.)

That's what the Tullamarine and Bulla residents wanted but prominent residents of the new suburb of Aberfeldie and Keilor Willage strongly supported the river route. Having bought the portion of today's Ascot Vale through which Hurtle St traffic passes, Dugald McPhail's "Rosehill", the Aitken Estate etc. at West Essendon and most of today's Avondale Heights except O'Brien's, Braybrook North Township and Sandy Smith's share of c/a 9B, Fisher couldn't miss out if the Keilor option was chosen, whether the railway went up Hoffmans or North Pole (Milleara) road.

Too bad about the 1890's depression which caused the railway to be dropped like a hot cake! Both G.W.Taylor and Fisher went broke as did Marks Herman whose speculation included Gowrie Park (much of the operational area of Tullamarine Airport) and David Mansfield's property to the west. The map would have been prepared for Fisher's insolvency hearing.

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-11-05 04:45:02

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.

Do you know someone who can help? Share this:


by janilye on 2015-05-19 00:46:20

Going through my home library I have found a history of Essendon titled THE STOP-OVER THAT STAYED by Grant Aldous I have no memory of when or how I acquired it. You're welcome to it if you want.

by itellya on 2015-05-19 02:20:03

That would be terrific janilye. Thanks! I'll send you a private message.

by itellya on 2016-02-02 05:41:56

The map has been attached to the journal and the reason for Fisher's land purchases is now explained in the journal.

Register or Sign in to comment on this journal.