RED HILL DISTRICT NEAR DROMANA IN 1906 (VIC., AUST.)
P.2, MORNINGTON STANDARD, 17-2-1906.
AT RED HILL. After lunch on Monday the party set out for Red Hill, and after a run of 9 miles through country of con siderable promise arrived at the State school about half-past 3. The large gathering of settlers indicated a lively interest in railway matters. At the outset, the Chairman referred to the potentialities of richly productive areas skirting the main road during the greater part of the journey that afternoon, and desired to hear the residents' idea of the proposal of a railway, and also an expression of feeling as to the loading of the land, a policy which the Government had determined on in connection with railway construction for the future. Mr Downward assured the committee that some valuable information would be tendered regarding the fruitgrowing industry.
John Shand (president of the Shire of Flinders and Kangerong) stated he had been orcharding for the past 5 years, and had been sawmilling on the Peninsula for 20 years. He owned 236 acres, and leased 245 acres. Had been sending out 100 tons of fruit per year. The trees in the orchard were young, and in due time he expected to send from 200 to 300 tons of fruit annually. During the past 3 years the area under strawberries in the district had increased considerably. Some of the fruit was carted to Mornington and Bittern-mostly to the former station, but the fruit was knocked about a good deal by being carted long distances to the railway stations. He considered the land in the district was very suitable for closer settlement, as the generality of the country was fairly good, and well-watered. There were also good roads. In that district there were fully 1000 acres of timber suitable for milling purposes, and a very large supply of timber, comprising oak, gum, and mess mate. His property was from 13 to 14 miles from the Mornington station,and about 8 miles from Bittern. He was quite agreeable to have his land loaded to the amount of 1s per acre per year, if that were necessary,towards making up any deficiency in the revenue of the proposed railway. Hay and potatoes were successfully grown at Red Hill, but, so far, not a great deal of that produce had been forwarded by rail. The reason why so much of the fruit was sent via Mornington was on account of the importance of catching the earlier train. If railway facilities were extended to that district, he was sure the line would be largely patronised by the fruitgrowers, as soft fruits especially were liable to damage in carting.
Joseph M'Ilroy occupied 153 acres, 50 acres of which were in orchard, and more of his land was being prepared for cultivation. He was agreeable that his land should be loaded for railway purposes. The orchards in the district paid very well, and there would be a better return when the young trees grew up. His land was worth £6 per acre. Most of the land holders in the district were the original selectors of the land. If they could get firewood from their land conveyed to Melbourne by train, the return would pay for the clearing of the land, and more settlement and increased cultivation must follow.
Alfred Head had 20 acres in orchard and 20 acres under other cultivation, but the greater part of his land was in its natural state. He had been living on his land for 40 years. They had been agitating for a railway,on and off, for the past 30 years, and he was quite willing to bear his share of the proposed loading. He had always lived on the receipts from his land, growing principally vegetables and fruit. He considered 50 acres were sufficient of the class of land at Red Hill for anyone to make a very comfortable living from.
Henry Percy Prosser(sic) had made a living the past 10 years. There were eight in his household. Having such long distances to cart the fruit, a good deal of time was thus occupied which should be put to better use on the land . He would not object to paying any reasonable loading. He had grown 8 tons of potatoes to the acre at Red Hill, and he believed that crop would be extensively grown if proper facilities for marketing were afforded.
William J. M'Ilroy was the holder of 815 acres, but the greater part of it was not utilised at present. He had a great deal too much land. He valued it at £3 per acre. About 45 acres were cultivated. He grew principally apples and pears, and also some strawberries. The fruit paid very well at present, but the return would be very much better if the proposed railway were constructed. He would not object to the loading of his land, but was not inclined to part with any portion if his holding, on account of having a large family, and it would all come in useful for them.
John M'Kenzie, engineer for the Shire of Flinders and Kangarong, considered the best revenue for the railway would be from Mornington, but the cost would be a good deal more than by the other routes suggested. By the Bittern route the line would run through good country at Balnarring and Red Hill. About 74,000 acres of very good land would be reserved by the proposed railway. He valued 150 acres near Flinders belonging to Mr R. Anderson at £5 per acre on the average, and Mr Anderson's Cape Schank property at £2 per acre including the homestead. On his latter property there very extensive belts of ti-tree, which commanded fair prices as firewood.
At present cargoes of the wool were frequently forwarded by craft. If the Government did not consider it as viable to make a line through to Finders at present a line constructed as far as the village settlement at Red Hill would be of a great service. He had no doubt that if the railway were constructed a good deal more of the land would be cultivated as the soil and climate would be cultivated. If the Bittern and Kangerong route were adopted there would be comparatively little cutting required in the construction of the line. He had some ex- perience regarding the cost of railway work and had gone carefully into the cost of the suggested line from Bittern. According to his estimate, the expense would not be so great as was anticipated.
Nelson Rudduck, storekeeper and farmer, said there would be no fear of craft at Dromana successfully com- peting against the railway. The fire wood trade was done, so far as water carriage was concerned. It had to be carted to the jetty, then tracked along the jetty to the boat. About 500 tons of goods were brought to Dromana yearly by boat. Two wagons were on the road between Dromana and Mornington, and he thought about 200 tons per year were taken that way. Difficulties in landing goods were experienced by vessels visiting Dromana, and then there was the unreliability as to the receipt or despatch of goods conveyed by water. It would be a distinct advantage to residents to patronise a railway. The passenger traffic to and from Dromana and the surrounding district was very considerable, even under present conditions, and the greater part of that would be trans- ferred to a railway. He was a partner in a large holding of land in the district, and would not object to the proposed loading.
William H. Blakeley had 140 acres of land in the district, 25 acres of which were in orchard. It was fine growing country, and would be greatly developed by a railway. He would not say whether the village settlement at Red Hill was a success generally, but he knew that in cases where the land was properly managed the men had succeeded.
William Oswin, farmer and fruit grower, had a small orchard at Balnarring and also another holding of 80 acres. The respective routes of the suggested railway cut through a corner of his property. He would be greatly benefit by the line, and his property would be much enhanced in value. Consequently be would be will- tag to have his land loaded up to 6d per acre, but, having an intimate knowledge of the country through which the proposed railway would pass, he would say that leading to the extent of 6d per acre would be as much as could be borne in some instances. A central railway, via Kangerong, would be far the most servicable of the respective routes suggested, as it would be the greater convenience to a considerable majority of the people of the district traversed, and be the means of developing a lot of good country. If it were decided that the railway could not be continued to Flinders at the outset, it would be advisable, for the convenience of the Flinders people, instead or terminating it at the village settlement at Red Hill, to continue the line to Hansen's, about a mile and a half further on. The examination of witnesses being concluded, the committee were driven to Mornington, and on the following morning returned by train to Melbourne.
on 2013-04-19 00:13:51
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.