<< Previous - Next >>

TALKING HISTORY WITH RAY CAIRNS, BONEO AREA, VIC., AUST.

Journal by itellya

EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH RAY CAIRNS 20-10-2010
Refer to the article, The Boneo Bradman on page 46 of the 12-10-2010 issue of Mornington Peninsula Leader and The Cairns Family of Boneo by Peter Wilson.
Rays family farm in Fingal was called Maroolaba. Ray is the grandson of the original Robert Cairns and one of the three children (all boys) of Hill Harry Cairns and Mary Agnes, daughter of Michael and Mary Cain. Michaels wife was a Neville; this family lived in South Melbourne and each time Mary Agnes was close to her time, she would stay with her mothers parents, where medical attention would be available. She would stay there until each child was 10 days old and then catch the steamer to Dromana where Harry would pick her up.

Michael Cain was a carpenter who moved far and wide to get work. After marrying Mary Neville, he went to Moe and also ran a hotel in Gippsland. He later spent time in Adelaide in 1876 when Mary Agnes was born.
Ray went to Andersons School (on Andersons Barragunda) until he was 10 and then attended Boneo School, at Blacks Camp, until (like most children) he completed grade 8 (Merit Certificate). Andersons School had a lot of children attending because of the lighthouse keepers families. The lighthouse keepers would work part of their roster looking after lights on the islands.



When the surname of a 1950 lighthouse keeper, Munro, was mentioned with the same name repeated in the Rosebud directory, Ray said that a Munro did the mail run to the Schanck in the 1950s. Letters would be delivered to roadside letter boxes three days a week. However if people wished to post a letter, they had to take it to Rosebud.
(The Munro family had been pioneers at Somerville. See THE WAY WE WERE BY Leila Shaw.)
At Maroolaba, the family initially grew potatoes and hay, which were marketed at Rye and Sorrento with Stringers store a major buyer. The hay was cut into chaff and bagged. The family would transport their produce and the boys would ride on top of the load to visit Grandma Cain at Rye.


Keith McGregor grew up opposite Maroolaba and lived there with his wife Mabel (daughter of Robert Adams of McCrae) and was probably about 40 when he bought Jimmy Williams fish, rabbit and passenger run to Mornington and extended it to Melbourne in about 1920 with a Ford T van. The interviewer mentioned that Mabel McGregor was assessed on 60 acres of the Adams grant (between The Avenue and Parkmore Rd) in 1919. (Keith later sold the run to Mabels brother, Bill.)
Some discussion took place about the name Mabel and the interviewer stated that Robert Adams had married a Hopcraft girl (Lime Land Leisure P.99) and brought up the fact that John Hopcraft had been farming land on Mornington Flinders Rd (Melway 190 D7) in 1879. Ray had heard of the family but had not really known them.
In relation to the fact that rate records often did not include information on the occupations of those assessed, Ray said that people turned their hand to anything, at any given time, that would put food on the table, and that many had no permanent job.


As a schoolboy, Rays daily chores on the farm included milking the cows twice a day, feeding the calves, cutting wood and gathering kindling, feeding the chooks and collecting the eggs. Like most farms there was a small orchard and vegetable garden whose harvest along with dairy produce and the occasional slaughtered animal put food on the homesteads table; the distance from markets dictated that most production was of the subsistence variety.


Watering relied mainly on precious tank water but Ray described how a spring, common in the high country, could be opened up. This was how Samuel Smythe, a Flemington tanner, would have provided water for his wattle plantation on Arthurs Seat. A hole about 4 feet by 3 feet would be dug around the soak and this would be boxed in before it could collapse on itself. As the hole was deepened, more (six inch wide, one inch thick) boards would be added until it was about 6 feet deep, at which point a siphon would be put in to water areas lower than the well.
When asked about work on the farm after he left school, Ray mentioned two tasks that occupied much of their time. The first was fencing. The second would have provided much of their meat while eradicating a pest; trapping rabbits. The women were occupied at bottling (preserving) the orchard harvest as well as carrying out all the household chores such as washing and ironing with primitive implements, which carried the risk of burns and scalds. Baking bread was another important task.


Ray then brought up the subject of Selection. Hugh Glass, Big Clarke and others had used dummy bidders to perpetuate the squatting era but the selection legislation was designed to overcome this tactic. Before the Crown would issue a grant, a selector had to be in occupation for three years and make certain improvements such as dwellings and fences.

THE REMAINDER IN COMMENT.

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-06-14 07:56:52

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:

Comments

by itellya on 2013-06-15 18:15:51

When Robert Cairns built the Maroolaba homestead, it was valued at 400 pounds and this amount was deducted from the purchase price. Due to most farms being of the subsistence variety and activities other than farming (such as timber felling or splitting on Arthurs Seat and at Main Ridge) being the only source of money, many farmers took decades to gain title.
Jim and Ned or Ted Williams did die within a day or so of each other. The Rye Cemetery microfiche only mentions the father, Edward (D. 12-11-1926 at 91) and James Campbell Williams (D. 10-9-1947 at 87.) *Their sister was Caroline who married (Ned Edmonds Snr?) They had three children: Ned, Phil and Marion. Marion Edmonds married Jim Woonton who in 1919 was farming on Edward Williams land in Browns Rd (169 E-F12). He had taken this land over from Mrs Marion Edmonds who had the Edward Williams land on the north side of Browns Rd; it would appear that the wife of Ned Edmonds Snr was Marion. Edward Williams grandson, Ned Edmonds married Edna Cairns. In 1919 Caroline Williams was still assessed under that name. POSTSCRIPT 2013. At the time of the interview, I knew nothing about trove and Ray was unsure about Carrie. Her death notice makes everything clear.

WILLIAMS. - On April 29, at Dromana Community Hospital, Caroline, of Eastbourne, Rosebud West, eldest daughter of the late Edward and Mary Williams, sister of Edward (deceased). James (deceased). Ellen (Mrs. Connop, deceased), Marion(Mrs. Edmonds, deceased), aged 90 years. (P.15, Argus, 30-4-1949.)

Ray did not know of John and Marion Edwards and Caroline Williams living at Eastbourne in Dromana. (Obviously named after the house that Carolines father built, which still stands at 17 William St, Rosebud West.) Source: Flinders Shire rates C 1911-1914.
Ray and his brothers would cross paddocks to fish at Rowleys Rocks. Ray used to carry locals to dances in the back of his cattle truck with often up to 25 passengers. After a good clean up Ray would cover the tray, which had high sides, and spread coir mats so the ladies did not soil their evening gowns. They would go to dances at Rye, Sorrento, Rosebud and Dromana with Ray depositing everyone at their houses about 2 a.m. Rays eye wasnt as sharp as usual when the dance had been on a Friday night and it is unlikely he made too many of his 11 000 runs in those cases. Ray married Poppy at 58 and they were happily married for 37 years but had no children.
The most terrifying bowler that Ray faced was Jim Townsend of Morninton Diggers. A combination of his pace and some pebbles strategically placed under the matting caused a few bruises. The Diggers played at Alexandra Park or the reserve in Wilson Rd. The Wilson Family after which the road was named may be the one that lived on Mt Martha near the army barracks.
Ross Lever of Sorrento was a very correct batsman but with the long grass on the grounds found it difficult to score freely; the art was to hit it in the air but with good placement.
Ray mentioned the Crichtons and their prize-winning cheese. See Lime Land Leisure. We next discussed the 670 acres bounded by Truemans Rd, Hiscock Rd, a line 800 metres west of Boneo Rd, and partly, Browns Rd, which the Crichtons had as well as Glen Lee and the land at Main Ridge, but Ray could not recall much about it. Agar Wynne of Melbourne had this land in 1919. Ray spoke with admiration of a Mr (Mckinlay?) who probably owns some of this land and is keen to preserve the wetlands. South of Bunnings, John Cains old house still stands on crown allotment 4.
The old house in Eastbourne Rd on the east side of the drive into Olympic Park, which was demolished so that the apartments could be built, was once the only house in Eastbourne Rd between Jetty and Boneo Rds, according to Jim Dryden. Ray said that this house was Rapers. In 1919, John R. Raper had crown allotments 8,9,10 and 11, the 660 acres on the east side of Boneo Rd between Eastbourne Rd and Hiscock Rd. Bogies and Birdiesstates that the Rosebud Country Club site was sold by Jack Rapir to Forestry Pulp and Paper in 1938. Jack Raper was a dairy farmer.
Before I forget it, I must mention something that came up before I activated the voice recorder. I told Ray that the Rudducks and Buchers were apparently farming adjacent to the east boundary of the Boneo Pre-emptive right. (Melway 170 F-G 12 and south to Limestone Rd.) When I pointed to this land on the Birdies and Bogies 1960 map, which I had converted to a Wannaeue Parish map, Ray immediately told me that this was called the fern paddock. Apparently it was burnt off about every five years to control the bracken fern.
Charlie Burnhams house and the store where he and Walter sold their fish were near Red Rooster but on the beach side of McCoomb St. The Hindhope Estate was a subdivision on crown allotment 14 between First Avenue and Boneo Rd. Another buyer on this estate in 1919 was E. Martin who had recently moved to Rosebud from Woolcott St in Coburg. (He was perhaps a relative of the Woolcotts who had owned allotment 17 between Jetty Rd and Norm Clark Walk, extending to Eastbourne Rd.) He was probably the person who shortly afterwards started a shop on the west corner of Boneo Rd.
Ray insisted that Martins Corner, which obviously got its name from the shop, was definitely on the west corner but knew nothing of a subdivision at that time of David and William Cairns property. Davids house Eleanora is now part of the Rosebud Hospital. Then I noticed that what I had always assumed to be allotment 13 was actually 13A. The reason for this is that limeburner Marks had been granted a 5 acre block on the corner. It had a beach road frontage of 100 metres and a Boneo Rd frontage of 200 metres. William Cairns was assessed on 13 B of 5 acres in 1919-20 and may have sold all or part of it to Martin soon after.
We discussed the fact that Peter and James Purves names were spelt Purvis in the1919-20 rates but Ray was not sure whether this was a spelling mistake or that they had changed the spelling of their name. The blonde lady, a descendant of the Whites, whom I met at the Dromana museum last Sunday, mentioned dissension in the Purves family, which might have led to a change of spelling.
When asked with whom he used to knock around as a teenager, Ray replied that there wasnt much knocking around as there was nowhere to go. He and his younger brother would make their own cartridges and go rabbit shooting; fishing at Rowleys Rocks was another form of recreation.
John Cain planted wheat on his land on the west side of Boneo Rd one year but did not seem to have repeated the effort; perhaps the summer was not hot enough to ripen it. His house south of Bunnings is now on Bob Fishers land. John Cain lived in Sorrento but his daughters used to live in the house, and one, Kathleen, married Brabizon.
When we were discussing the Hindhope Estate near Rosebud Plaza, Ray mentioned that he had been visited by a Mr Parker, who had run a holiday accommodation facility in that area. There were cabins made of pine boards with the bark giving the appearance of log cabins. My brother in law, Peter Warren, and I, and our future wives, stayed there in the late 1960s.
As farmers did not accumulate much cash, wives would manufacture suits for the boys from pieces of adult suits that were still in good condition, and of course make their own, and their daughters, dresses. Horses were usually bought from Kirks Bazaar in Melbourne but Hill Harry, Rays dad, once bought a racing pony from Purves at Tootgarook. Pony races were conducted on the beach at Flinders and Sorrento.
The haystacks at Maroolaba were covered with thatch to keep them dry. About 20 acres of hay was grown each year. The ti tree problem did not spread to the east and north side of Boneo Road but the rabbit problem was common to both sides of the road. The map of Historic Fingal Sites in LIME LAND LEISURE does not mention occupants of the area on the ocean side of Boneo Rd so I asked Ray for details. Major Sutherland owned what is now Ace High. Further toward the Schanck were Keith McGregor and Stewart on the hill. Past the Cape Schanck road was Barragunda.
Ned Edmonds Jnr later owned Alexander Cairns grant on the north west corner of Boneo and Browns Rds. (See THE CAIRNS FAMILY OF BONEO.) Amos who shared the grant with Alexander, did not come to Australia; Ray thought that he married Alexanders daughter but it was probably one of his sisters or stepsisters.
Belle Cairns, Jimmys daughter, married Peter Purves. Ray is related to the Rowleys because his grandmothers sister, Annie Cain, married Robert Rowley. I then told Ray about Robert Rowleys two business ventures with his mate, Henry Cadby Wells. Ben Stenniken acquired property at Fingal, which had earlier belonged to his father in law, Harry Prince, who had bought it from Rays family. Jack Sullivan was a tall left handed bowler who could terrify batsmen with balls that smacked into the ribs and shins, if he was not taking wickets, before he died at the age of 21. Ray was not sure whether the Barkers near Main Ridge were from the same family that had the Boneo Run, but they were related to the Shands by marriage. The Barkers grew apples.
Hiscock had land on the north side of Hiscock Rd. It was part of allotment 44 near the swamp. Jack Warnock later had this land and created the West Rosebud Golf Course and charged practically nothing for people to play on it. A game there often involved a chat with this lovely man and an ascent to the green after a good approach shot only to find a horse grazing on the green. The golf course is probably a bit more fancy now that it caters for Village Glen residents.
Andrew Buchanan had much land along Boneo Rd. In 1910 he had John Cains allotment 4, and 5 and 6 across Boneo Rd, a total of 730 acres fronting the south side of Hiscock Rd and extending east to Old Cape Schanck Rd. He had probably followed Donald McGillvray on lots 5 and 6. By 1920, John Cain was assessed on 4, 5 and 6. Andrew Buchanan had 30 acres of the Barkers P.R. in 1910 but by 1920, this had become 146 acres.
There was not much damage caused by the 1939 bushfire because its ferocity had lessened by the time it reached Boneo. Ray said that it did lead to the death of one of his uncles, Gerry Hill. (See the story in Patricia Applefords Rye Primary School- index available from Rye Historical Society-accidental death.)
This brought us to whether Rye played cricket on Mrs Hills paddock and Ray wasnt quite sure. However he did remember them playing on the grassy area (diminished by erosion in the last decade or so) east of the Rye pier. He also remembers them playing on McDonalds property south and over a hill from the cemetery. The McDonalds, Jack and Max, made their own little golf course there too.
Ray did not get involved with golf in Rosebud until he formed a second 18 (footy) at Rosebud in 1965. He thinks they played on the Village Green for a while before they moved to Olympic Park.
Roads were made of gravel but there were patches of limestone made from the rubble left around the old lime kilns. It was beautifully smooth but iron rims on wagon wheels ensured that once a pothole developed, it was rapidly enlarged. Jim Woonton, who married Marion Edmonds, was entrusted with keeping the roads in good repair.
As mentioned elsewhere, the limestone was slippery when wet, and sharp on horses hooves.
When discussing the naming of Woonton St, I mentioned that James might have bought Pottons farm and part of Adams allotment 19 dirt cheap following attempted 1920s subdivisions that flopped like Tommy Lofts one at Tullamarine at that time. Ray knew Tommy Loft well and was interested to learn of his 200 acre farm, Dalkeith, and Gordon St being named after his grandson as well as his son, Ray, owning Broombank and a street in its subdivision being named after his wifes family, the Millars. Tom Loft owned 313 acres fronting the west side of Truemans Rd (Melway 252 A-E 1 and south to Limestone Rd.)
Eric Birds website on coastal place names states that Cairns Bay was so-named because of David Cairns who moved to the area in 1988. This was probably the supporting argument put to the place names committee, but Ray tells a different story. Some time before World War 2, a representative from Broadbents (road directory and map makers) called at Maroolaba and asked if there were any local names they should be aware of. The family told him that they often fished at an area near Flinders reached by driving through Wilsons Paddock. When asked its name, they replied that they did not know. It became Cairns Bay! The closest Cairns to Cape Schanck was Ted Cairns, son of the original David Cairns, who lived opposite the turn off.
Rays middle name, Drysdale, comes from his grandmothers maiden name. He was the first Ray in the extended family. His father, Hill Harry, was obviously sick of the confusion caused by each family having a James, David, John, Robert and Alexander, as well as Carrier and Hill Harry, which required nicknames to give everyone a fighting chance of guessing the identity of the person being discussed. Henry obviously had the same love of cricket and suggested that they call their second child Rashid Singh after a star batsman of the era. Mother preferred Ray.
Len Dunk often transported the Boneo cricket team to away matches. Rays family bought an Essex 4, which was paid for by selling eggs and porkers.
Pardon the smaller text size, but I have had to add some material that I originally forgot to include. This was only discovered when I was doing the family connections entry in my Dictionary History. Harry Prince bought some land, 260 acres, from Rays father, Hill Harry Cairns. When asked about the Stennikens, Ray mentioned this fact and that Ben Stenniken, who married Harry Princes daughter finished up owning the property.

by itellya on 2013-06-15 19:43:21

2013 UPDATES.
HINDHOPE. This farm, the 57 acre northern half of crown allotment 14 Wannaeue, was bounded by Boneo Rd, the highway and First Avenue including house blocks in First Avenue south to No.50 (which may have been the homestead) and all Hope St houses blocks. The southern half was The Thicket, now occupied by curving streets like Warranilla; its homestead was near the church in The Drive and it was farmed by Alf Rawlings an early grantee in the parish of Lyndhurst,and Keith McGregor. Steve Burnham's website (details in my EARLY ROSEBUD journal) has a photo of Hindhope Park which was on the Rosebud Plaza site.

McCOMBE ST. This appeared in the first comment with the wrong spelling but the official spelling is probably wrong too. While researching title deeds for what I strongly believe is the Hindhope homestead, I discovered that a member of the pioneering McComb family of Frankston, described as a farmer of Seaford, briefly owned Hindhope before the advent of the younger love rat (skilfully disguised surname!)

WILSON ROAD. The C.B.Wilson Reserve in Wilson Rd is named after Mornington Shire President, train driver Charlie Wilson,the child of a marriage between two different Wilson families, one resident early in Mornington and the other on "Tuerong Station" at the time of the (first) Schnapper Point Murder. I now believe Wilson Rd was named after a prominent academic who holidayed there in early days.

BELLE CAIRNS. Peter Purves (1880-1940), born at Tootgarook and buried at Rye, did indeed marry Isabella Cairns. (MEMOIRS OF A LARRIKIN Hec Hanson.) Ray said Belle was Jimmy's daughter. Jimmy was James Cairns (1840-1929) who married Johanna Russell and was buried at Rye. Jimmy's children are listed as Arthur,Belle, Lily,Violet, and Percy.(THE CAIRNS FAMILY OF BONEO.)

Register or Sign in to comment on this journal.