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Journal by itellya

John Aitken carried all his sheep ashore when the Chili ran aground.
Peter Pidoto loaded timber at Sheepwash Creek for all the piers around.
George McLear said the pier should be built on the Survey coast
But others preferred the present site the most.

Schnapper Point was getting a pier so, in 1858, Dromana tried a deputation;
Mr Scurfield told of the post office and store, timber and a larger population.(1)
In 1859 another deputation asked for 2000 pounds for the pier's erection
But the request was refused: no municipality, so you could try a collection.(2)

At last a jetty Dromana finally gets;
Two thousand pound on the estimates!(3)
More money in '66 to make the pier complete
For the Reliance and others in the coastal fleet.(4)

The pier became longer and longer
But it didn't help when a gale became stronger.
Peter Pidoto's Ripple finished up on the beach
No matter how far into the bay it did reach.(5)

The traders vied for berths with the steamers quite often
Rob Adams would wait with his drag for Lord Hopetoun(6)
And tourists who for bathing and nature were dying,(7)
While the pier sides were bedecked with fishing nets drying.(8)

Steamer passengers kept many guest houses going
And Adams, Hobley, Cairns, Chapman their drags a-stowing.
Rail ran to Mornington for those with sea-sickness forboding;
Also to pier-end for trading craft loading.

Harry Copp, John McLear, Doan Griffith and Fred Vine(9)
Professionally fished with net or with line
But they aged and their maker did meet;
So too the pier, replaced with concrete.

Now our pier deals with neither steamers nor trade
But our greatest efforts to keep it must be made.
At its end, fishermen still love to dangle a line
And strollers think a promenade is just fine.

Our poor old pier is suffering concrete-cancer.
A single contract "demolish and build" is the answer!

1. P4, Argus, 29-10-1858.
2. P.5, Argus, 7-12-1859.
3. P.3,The Mercury, Hobart, 26-2-1862.
4. Dromana stands upon a long, low, sandy ridge, naked and bleak looking. Our party landed on the unfinished jetty, where it appears a considerable trade in timber is carried on. And we may remark, en passant, that it is a good thing for a district to have a Cabinet Minister to represent it; for we understand that a sum of �900 is put down on this year's estimates to complete the Dromana jetty. (P3, South Bourke Standard, 6-4-1866.)
5. P.2, Mornington Standard, 1-11-1890.
6. Robert Henry Adams' Hopetoun House (on the site of the McCrae Car Wash) was named after Lord Hopetoun, Governor of Victoria, who was a frequent guest. A bit of a land-lubber, he preferred to travel the rest of the way to Fort Franklin on land rather than sail all the way to Sorrento.
7. Numerous articles extol the beauty of the area and the fitness freaks loved to climb Arthurs Seat. Bathing consisted of rolling up the trousers and wading because anyone over the age of 10 faced very strict guidelines about attire (as shown on the historic board near the pier.)

The first verse is about the Dromana area before it had a pier. John Aitken was one of the earliest settlers in the Port Phillip District (as Victoria was known). He was the first man to have farm animals in the Dromana area, not by choice. This is from an article about Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) in the Sydney Herald of 21-4-1836.
March 22-Sailed, the brig Chili, Captain Nixon, for Port Phillip. Passengers, Messrs. G. W. Sam, John Aitken, R. M'Leod, T. Harrison, J. Gray,T. Forrester.

The Chili went aground near Dromana. Guess which people helped him to carry the sheep ashore. Did you say Boon-wurrung? His sheep would have been a scared and sorry-looking lot and he probably gave them a long rest before he walked them all the way to a hill west of Sunbury. He was there by the time Governor Bourke came from Sydney to deal with John Batman's land-grab and the Governor stayed with him, naming the hill Mt Aitken.
About five years later, Hugh Jamieson bought Jamieson's Special Survey and the part of it near the coast is now called Safety Beach.

1. From Melbourne Brindle's map, find: (a) the name of Jonah Griffith's boat (built near Jetty Rd): (b)which fisherman lived on the foreshore opposite Kangerong Avenue or a bit further east?
2. How does something that makes concrete stronger cause the concrete cancer?
3. How long do you think the pier is? Now measure it with a trundle wheel to check.
4. Why do some piers have old tyres where vessels berth?
5. The reserve near the pier including the playground is named after a policeman at Dromana who won the Police Valour Award and worked very hard for community groups. If you are clever find his name on the plaque (or Melway.) If you are very clever look on trove to find why he and his colleague were honoured for their bravery.

The first white man to buy land near Dromana was Hugh Jamieson who bought Jamieson's Special Survey, which had the same boundaries as Safety Beach but went as far east as Bulldog Creek Road. Land could not be sold until it was surveyed and until that was done, by dividing land into parishes and then crown allotments, it was leased to squatters in huge areas called Runs. The Kangerong run had been leased to Edward Hobson who had then moved to the Tootgarook run and later to Traralgon which he gave the aboriginal name meaning river of little fish.The Arthurs Seat Run was leased by the McCraes from 1843 and the Burrells from 1851.

The Survey was leased to Henry Dunn, after whom Dunns Creek is named, from 1846 to 1851 but then was leased in smaller pieces to many pioneers whose families would be the lifeblood of Dromana right up to today. Colin McLear gave much detail about them in his book. It was another decade before Dromana existed.James Holden and Peter Pidoto were based near the Carrigg St corner. Holden had a store and Pidoto a slab hut to house his workers. Both were near the Survey where most of the population lived. Holden wanted to be near his customers and Pidoto near Sheepwash Creek where he loaded timber, wattle bark (for tanning leather) and so on from Arthurs Seat.

By the mid 1850's the parish of Kangerong had been surveyed and sold to such as William Grace, who was granted "Gracefield" in 1857 and planted orchards and grapevines.Some of the land was bought by people, such as Andrew Russell of Essendon, who did not live on their grants. Walter Gibson and Mary Ann McLear moved across the road from the Survey and established "Glenholm" and "Maryfield". As there was no pier, perishable food could not be sold in Melbourne so most farms were self- sufficient. It was hard for farmers to earn money so much barter wasused such as "if you build my fence your bullocks can graze in my paddock." The Skeltons of Sorrento had their bullocks driven to the distant goldfields, where there was a ready market, so they could earn some cash.

Luckily, a local market for the Kangerong farmers came into being in the late 1850's. It is possible that some sleepers came from Arthurs Seat in 1854 for the Sandridge (Port Melbourne) railway which opened on 4-11-1854 but by 1858 there was huge demand for this timber for railways and jetties.These people had to eat and live somewhere so William Grace could sell his fruit and wine, the McLears (later Henry William Wilson) could slaughter cattle and sheep, wheat was needed for flour and carpenters were in demand.

It was natural that the Dromana Township site would be near the timber-getting area of Arthurs Seat.The area south (uphill)of Boundary Rd had been sold to Grace and Caldwell but west of McCulloch St was still crown land. The Township of Dromana was west of McCulloch St and went right to the top of Arthurs Seat (Pindara Rd.)
Towerhill Rd divided larger suburban blocks some of which became the McKeown orchard where the recently named McKeown-Shaw Reserve is now located.The funniest thing about the township was the western boundary near the beach. It was called Burrell Rd which was supposed to go straight up a cliff and join Latrobe Pde where it turns to the south. Of course this road was never made!

Once a township was declared, it was entitled to a post office and a school. They had to be in the township and the post office was at the corner of Foote St and made of green McCrae granite. The rest of what we today call Dromana was section 1 of the parish of Kangerong!

So here we had public buildings near Carrigg St(to service the Survey) and near Foote St (to service the Township). It's almost certain that one of the chores of the Survey children was to pick up the mail on the way home. It wouldn't be long before a general store was set up nearer the township, but where?

Rudduck and Karadoc are two ways to spell an old word, thought to be Celtic, that means red breast. If someone has a ruddy complexion that means red. People who didn't like swearing would use ruddy instead of bloody (blood being red of course.)Gee,thinking about language is fun. I just realised (from Rudduck) that the duck got its name from its prominent breast! Rud=red and duck=breast!

Samuel Rudduck was an early purchaser in section 1 Kangerong. The 103 acre block (about 400 big house blocks)over the road from Safety Beach became known as Karadoc; this being the name of one of the streets on it. Samuel's son, Nelson, was a carrier to and from Gippsland and met Jane Sophia Chapman at Springvale.They married and moved to Dromana soon after their first child was born in 1871.Nelson set up a makeshift store near the pier and later built the Pier Store on the Dromana Hub corner of Pier St. The choice of the site was really very obvious, wasn't it?

The terrific place mats at Ray Stella's Dromana Hotel contain a mistake which is my fault. I took Colin McLear's word that Richard Watkin built the Dromana Hotel in 1857,but I discovered last night while researching the pier that Richard Watkin was running the Scurfield Hotel in the township in 1858.

With the pier becoming the focus of the settlement, it is obvious that some residents, especially those on the Survey would want the post office in a more central location.The Pier Store and H.G.Chapman, the blacksmith, were near the pier and several guest houses catering for the steamer passengers and the Dromana Hotel were to the east of Pier St. In about 1927, the old showgrounds far to the east were sold and the present footy ground bought, the old racetrack behind the Dromana Hotel became the Foreshore Estate, all because of Spencer Jackson,who also sold the Panoramic Estate from which Macedon and the You Yangs could be seen.

The Survey may have had some influence in the centre of Dromana moving away from the township but it is fairly obvious that if the pier had never been built, the shopping centre would not be where it is today. Dromana had its pier before it had a road board,it has had its pier for 150 years and without its pier, Dromana will no longer be Dromana!

Children of Dromana, rise up,rise up, I say;
Dromana must have a pier, forever and a day!

Letter to the Editor columns in local papers give people a chance to tell many others what they think. The Mornington Peninsula Leader has such letters under the heading of Conversations.In the 5-3-2013 edition, Barbara, Iva and Robert gave reasons why the Dromana Pier must stay.
1. List all the reasons for retaining the pier given by these three people but do not repeat any.
2. Pretend that you are the Government and you don't want to spend money on the pier. Try to argue against these reasons. For example, you might say that you don't need a pier to promenade (stroll) looking at the sea.Try to argue that all the activities we love on the pier can be done without a pier.
3. Of course you really want the pier, so now you have to argue against what politicians might say so they don't have to rebuild the pier.For example, their argument that you can see the sea from the shore can be countered by Barbara's points about the stingrays and the fish swimming under the pier; you can only see such things from on top of the water.
4. Get into groups and try to think of more reasons to retain the pier. It would be good for one of the group to pretend to be a politician who doesn't want to pay for a new pier and does as you did in 2. You then have to defeat the politician's arguments as you did in 3.

POSTSCRIPT. 28-3-2014.
Beside the approach to the Dromana Pier are the George Bishop Reserve to the west and and Ernest Rudduck Square to the east. Colin McLear mentioned the latter in A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA and it was years before I discovered its location by pure chance. Both men were obviously great community contributors but apparently they were also both Shire of Flinders councillors although the LIME LAND LEISURE index on the internet does not mention this, and the heroic George Bishop was not in the index at all.

Therefore I was surprised to find that Dromana Secondary College exists because of George Bishop's persistence. As one of the aims of my research is to acknowledge our pioneers, I often google one of them just to check that I have succeeded. My internet research is usually done from trove (old newspapers)so I hadn't seen this before.

History and Tradition - Dromana Secondary College
Dromana Technical School 1967-1988
Dromana Secondary College 1988-2007

Dromana Technical School 1967-1988 Dromana Secondary College 1988-2007
Albeit minimal in numbers settlement commenced in the district as early as 1838. It would take until February 1861 before Dromana was proclaimed a township. Only thirteen years later in 1874 primary education began with the establishment of the Dromana State School No184, but it would take another 93 years before secondary education in Dromana commenced.

Cr George Bishop, a Flinders Shire Councillor and Policeman stationed at Dromana, having failed to get a Technical School in Mornington the year before, called a meeting at the Rosebud Memorial Hall in October 1966 for parents of prospective students. He reported to the large crowd in attendance that his tireless work had paid off and he had won the struggle to obtain a technical school at Dromana.

Cr Bishop believed that the time was right to open a technical school to compliment Rosebud High School, a co-educational secondary school that had commenced operation in 1954, and Red Hill Consolidated School which held classes from Prep to Form 4 (Year 10). Any boy however wanting a trade education had to catch a bus and those who resided on the Westernport side of the peninsula, a train to Frankston Technical School.

It was Cr Bishops drive and enthusiasm and his no nonsense approach to the community that ensured the establishment of our school. At the time of the opening of the school (107 years after our towns humble beginnings) the population on the southern peninsula had reached a level where justification was in order for a permanent technical school for the district south of Frankston taking in the areas covered by the Shires of Flinders, Mornington, and Hastings.

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-03-03 03:50:16

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.

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by itellya on 2013-08-11 08:32:45

'Fishermen risk lives'
Dromana seeks harbor
Lives of 200 fishermen in Port Phillip Bay were endangered by the lack of safe harbor facilities between Dromana and Sorrento, Mr. Merrifield, Public Works Minister,was told yesterday. A deputation from Dromana residents, the R.S.L.,
and Flinders Shire Council asked Mr. Merrifield to build a boat haven at Dromana
which, they said, was ideal for a safe harbor.
The water at Dromana was deep and the port was not affected by siltation. They asked for the existing 90-year-old Dromana pier to be rebuilt and extended to 1,000ft. with a 1,000ft. breakwater. Mr. Merrifield promised to consider their request, but warned that the project could be expensive. Members of the deputation
said most fishing boats anchored at Rosebud, which was unsuitable because of
siltation. Lives had been lost therebecause of the difficulties in negotiating treacherous sandbanks. Fishing boats were also at the mercy of sudden storms and squalls, and many valuable boats had been smashed and destroyed.
(P.16, Argus, 19-6-1954.)

N.B. Sam Merrifield founded the Essendon Historical Society and the library at Moonee Ponds is named after him.

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