DROMANA MUSEUM, VIC., AUST. :: FamilyTreeCircles.com Genealogy
<< Previous - Next >>


Journal by itellya

People of Dromana, you have a great museum but now it's only open two Sundays a month. I don't live in Dromana but I love the town because I have made a connection with its proud past. Unfortunately most members of the historical society, many of whom are descendants of pioneers, are getting on and it is becoming harder to fill the roster of volunteers to open the museum on Sundays. Apart from age, another factor affecting the number of volunteers could be that Dromana residents don't seem to care about the area's proud history.

Here I must praise the Dromana Primary School. By doing a project about the Dromana pier, which could soon disappear and not be replaced , the school ensured that my colleague and I had a most enjoyable day last Sunday, helping two children and their parents. I'm sure that my colleague would have been bored out of her brain if they had not turned up. Not I, though. It would give me a chance to explore the treasures in the museum so that when 20 people turn up, I'll be able to refer them to any information they are seeking.

Hopefully, this journal will inspire you to visit the museum. Instead of telling you that we have thousands of photos etc., I will give you some detailed information about some of the items you can see.

The museum is housed in the Old Shire Office on Pt Nepean Rd, in the third block west of McCulloch St (Melway 159 G7.) Dating from the late 1920's,it was designed by Stewart Calder in the Spanish mission style. It was the shire's first real home, with meetings being regularly held at the Dromana Hotel for many years despite efforts by some councillors to give the Scurfield/Arthurs Seat Hotel a turn.

Near the entrance to the museum rooms are marble memorials to Watson Eaton and Archie Shaw.

WATSON EATON. (Also see HISTORICAL NOTES after the information about Archie Shaw.)
Abraham Griffith,an American like Rosebud's Henry Bucher, was the master of a whaler sailing out of Philadelphia and came to Australia in 1854. By 1855 he had settled on the Survey (Melway 160 H4.) Watson and Bernard Eaton are thought to have come out with Abraham and his wife, Rebecca. Both brothers may have farmed with Abraham but Bernard seems to have spent decades on the gold fields, owning a "race" at Creswick at one time, before returning in the late 1880's to mine on the Tubbarubba diggings. Bernard's unmarried daughter Maude lived out her days in Dromana, dying in 1956 aged in her 90's. Benjamin Eaton, who was possibly Bernard's son was appointed librarian at the Dromana Mechanics' Institute.

In another journal, I have details of Abraham's death, and Watson probably looked after Rebecca when she became a widow. Watson later selected 150 acres at the west corner of (the now-closed) Eatons Cutting Rd and Arthurs Seat Rd (Melway 190 F2.)This land was granted to his executrix, Rebecca, following his death.

Colin McLear had vivid memories of the memorial, which attracted his attention during boring sermons at the Dromana Presbyterian Church where it had hung for 80 years since the building had been the Union Church (shared by several denominations.) Colin stated that Watson had done several years of a medical course but that is not true.
(When researching on trove, I often get sidetracked by a neighbouring article that catches my eye. The article about the inquest into the death of a man, in which Watson Eaton testified that he had never received any medical training or attended university, was one such sidetrack. The digitised version of this article must not have Watson's name spelt correctly and combinations of Eaton with Dromana, Kangerong and words that were in the article achieved no result despite hours of searching. I have recorded the newspaper and issue date regarding this article, and others. about Watson Eaton, but I have no idea where; these details were not in my PENINSULA DISTRICT HISTORY and DROMANA,ROSEBUD AND MILES AROUND(not journals)which were the most likely locations. So you'll have to take my word re the article, which will be pasted here when I find it.)

I'm not going to tell you what the memorial says but you can come to the museum and read it! I'm not sure whether Watson was involved in perhaps the most dangerous thing the pioneer women could do, give birth. The Dromana district was lucky to have women such as Susan Peatey on the Survey, who delivered Henry Bucher's daughter, the first white child to be born in Rosebud. What do the papers say about Watson Eaton?

The district coroner held an inquest at Kangerong, on the 24th inst., on the body of a man named Abraham Griffiths, aged 58 years, a farmer residing at Kangerong. The deceased was seen about noon on the 27th February, driving a pair of quiet horses in a four-wheeled vehicle, on the road towards Dromana. About 3 o'clock on the same afternoon he was seen by a man named James Wiseman, standing by the side of a fence below Mount Martha. Tho body of the vehicle was close by, with the front wheels gone. Tho horses were about 50 yards off. Wiseman spoke to deceased, who did not recognise him. Seeing the deceased was hurt, Wiseman took him home. A sapling six inches in diameter had been broken by the vehicle. The vehicle was in good working order.

William Potter, a constable stationed at Dromana, said that the clump of saplings was a most dangerous one. It was situated within the boundary of the Mornington Shire. Watson Eaton, a partner of the deceased, said that the latter was able to go about for a few days after the accident. Deceased explained that the horses ran away with him down the hill, and that he could not keep them off the saplings.(P.6,Argus 27-3-1874.)

As Mr. Eaton of Kangerong was on his way to Flinders to a sick person, the young horse he was riding suddenly commenced bucking, throwing Mr. Eaton, who fell heavily to the ground fracturing his leg near the ankle. He lay helpless for some time, but at last succeeded (by?) cooeying in attracting the attention of a Mr -- ner, who soon got assistance, and conveyed him to his home. Having considerable skill in setting fractured limbs, he directed the operation himself. We hear that he is progressing favorably, but since it was a bad fracture he will probably be laid up for some time, which will be a loss to the district as he is a most useful man in cases of sickness ever ready and willing to go to any part of the district.
(P.2, South Bourke and Mornington Journal, 24-10-1877.)

Watson's conditioned worsened and he was taken to the Alfred Hospital but he died. Frantically the district sought a doctor to replace Watson, never having worried about getting one while he was alive.

Unfortunately the index for A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA needs some modification. This comes from page 88, which is not mentioned in the index in relation to Ben Shaw.

Benjamin Shaw came to the peninsula as a hawker and settled in Dromana where he established the Kangerong guest house (on the site of a caravan park and the Caltex Garage) in the 1880's. His son, Archibald Vine Shaw married Maude McKeown, this connection recently used to name a reserve in the subdivision of a former McKeown orchard. The Shaw-McKeown reserve is mentioned on the website MORNINGTON PENINSULA DAILY by Gemma Wiseman, a descendant of a very early Red Hill pioneer through whose grant the part of White Hill Rd south of the Sheehans Rd corner (Wiseman's Deviation ) runs. Gemma has posted a very clear photo of the history board at the reserve. The history board states that Benjamin and his wife, Elizabeth, arrived in Dromana in 1875.

The following comments about Gemma's post shows that some people do value Dromana's heritage.

VioletSky said...

I wish there were more signs like this that give a good family and historical history of the area.
July 5, 2012 at 7:31 AM
RedPat said...

It's nice to remember them with some green space!
July 5, 2012 at 10:19 AM
Clytie said...

I love seeing signs that bring local heritage to life ... history is so important!
July 5, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Lindy MacDuff said...

As it should be, so history will not be forgotten.
July 5, 2012 at 12:59 PM
NixBlog said...

Good to see the pioneers acknowledged in this way, Gemma.
July 5, 2012 at 5:12 PM
Pat said...

What a nice tribute - not only a sign but also a nice GREEN area!
July 6, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Dianne said...

no matter how small, a reserve and acknowledgement are treasures
July 6, 2012 at 1:06 AM
PerthDailyPhoto said...

It took some time Gemma, but as Pat says, what a lovely way to be remembered!
July 6, 2012 at 2:09 AM
Francisca said...

It seems we need reminders that our communities are not made up of isolated individuals and our present is linked to those in the past. My screen is not large enough to read the sign, but I'm glad it's there.
July 6, 2012 at 4:09 AM
Lesley said...

what a neat sign that explains so much! and it is a bonus that the descendants are still in the area.
July 6, 2012 at 10:47 AM
itellya, Rosebud said...

Well done to Cr Graham Pittock for seeing this request granted. I'd seen the letter in the folder in the museum and wondered if the desired outcome had been achieved. Mrs McKeown was a sister of Hill Hillis, another early pioneer. Unfortunately the sign is wrong in stating that James McKeown moved from Red Hill in 1875; it should be 1885.
Well done to the Rosebud Chamber of Commerce for the statues and the Waiting Tree history board.
February 24, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Mr. Archibald Vine Shaw,of Kangerong, Dromana,died on Tuesday,aged 63 years. Mr Shaw was one of the leading citizens of Dromana, and was a councillor of the Shire of Flinders for more than 20 years, during which he was president on two occasions. Mr. Shaw held office in almost every semi-public institution in Dromana for many years, and conducted the guest house Kangerong for nearly 46 years. (P.6, Argus, 27-10-1932.)

Archie's son Maurice, who ran Shaw's Garage for many years, also ran a bus service which was much appreciated by hinterland residents. In another article (about a discussion by council of this service being stopped from connecting with the Portsea service bus at Moats Corner), Maurie's name was given as J.M.Shaw. It is likely that his first given name was James, his maternal grandfather being James McKeown.
REDHILL. (EXTRACT)The usual bus service run by Mr Shaw from Dromana to Red Hill has been discontinued owing to orders from the Transport Board. This bus was a blessing to local residents, as owing to petrol and tyre restrictions, it was almost impossible to get down to Dromana beach. It was also convenient when necessary to get to town unexpectedly, or, if the early train from town was missed. It will be very much missed, and it is hoped that the service will soon be allowed again to fill the needs of local residents.
(P2, Standard, Frankston, 5-4-1945.)

The mistake about Watson's medical training appears here too but the page is very interesting.

Historical Notes

Red Hill 2009 Show Display
A display of photographs was prepared by the society for the Red Hill Show held in March 2008. This event celebrated 150 years of shows on the peninsula and 80 years of the Red Hill Show. Another outstanding display was created in 2009 and is on display in the Historical Museum, Old Shire Offices, 359A Point Nepean Road, Dromana.

Book Launch - A Dreamtime of Dromana
On 8 April 2006 the Society launched the book - 'A Dreamtime of Dromana- A history of Dromana through the eyes of a pioneering family.' Written by local historian Colin McLear, the book has 227 pages, over 100 photographs of early Dromana and contains a detailed index.

Howard Ratcliff Lawson: Builder and Entrepreneur
This fascinating display which was set up in the Museum in 2006, marked the 60th Anniversary of Lawson's death at Dromana in 1946. Lawson had the foresight to see the tourist potential in Arthurs Seat and built an extravagant complex of buildings on the summit including swimming pool, ballroom and viewing area with a camera obscura. Nearby he built several houses but his untimely death put an end to the project. Lawson also was a prolific builder of flats in the South Yarra and Dandenong Road areas.
The display is preserved and will be repeated in the future.

The Hobson Brothers
Edmund Charles Hobson and Edward William Hobson were born early in the 1800's and brought up with their grandparents in Hobart. Edmund studied natural history and medicine and was one of the founders of the Melbourne hospital whilst Edward became an explorer and grazier, and was one of the first settlers between Melbourne and Sorrento. He was also the owner of the ill-fated vessel Rosebud which was wrecked in Port Phillip Bay.
These were the subject of a recent display.

Watson Eaton - Physician to the Pioneers
In November 2002 a small display was set up in the Museum commemorating the 125th anniversary of the death of Watson Eaton in 1877.

Watson Eaton arrived in Australia on board the barque Nimrod from New York on March 1855. He was reported to have travelled out with Abraham and Rebecca Griffith who also came from Philadelphia. Watson Eaton and the Griffith family were neighbours on Jamieson's Survey and were also in partnership together.

Watson Eaton was a bachelor who had completed several years of medical training but had not qualified. Whilst farming on Jamieson's Survey he put his medical training to good use as the community lacked a doctor. Eaton always kept a horse saddled in his stable ready for an emergency. Whether he rode to Flinders or Dromana he charged a flat rate of one pound per visit.

On 21 October 1877 while on his way to a patient he fell from his horse and sustained a badly broken leg which he attempted to set himself. Unfortunately the leg became infected and this led to his death three weeks later on 14 November 1877.
A road between Red Hill and Dromana is known as Eaton's Cutting.

Jetty Store Plaque
A plaque was unveiled on the wall of the National Bank building in Dromana on Wednesday 24 July 2002. It shows the original 'Jetty Store' built on the site.

Matthew Flinders Bi-Centenary
A museum display '1802 and All That' produced to support the launch of the Valda Cole book The Summer Survey: Log of the Lady Nelson 1801 - 1802 under command of John Murray, can still be viewed in the Museum. All copies of the book held by the Museum have now been sold.
A small booklet commemorating the ascent of Arthurs Seat by Matthew Flinders and others on 27 April 1802 is available to purchase.

In February 2002 a ceremony was conducted to commemorate the entry of the Lady Nelson under the command of Lieut. John Murray into Port Phillip Bay on 14 February 1802. This was the first ship to enter the bay. This entry was accomplished after a launch under command of William Bowen with five men had ventured into the bay on 31 January 1802 to find a suitable access passage. They returned on 4 February 1802 and reported to Murray that a 'good channel' had been found. A plaque was unveiled on the monument next to the museum to commemorate these events.

Murray named Arthurs Seat after a similar hill near his native city Edinburgh.

On 30 March 1802 the G?ographe, under the command of Nicolas Baudin, sailed past from Cape Schanck heading south-west, but missed the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The next week, French officers and men from the Naturaliste, under command of Hamelin, thoroughly explored the coast from Wilsons Promontory up to and including Western Port Bay.

The historic meeting of Baudin and Flinders took place at Encounter Bay on 8 April 1802.

The Investigator under the command of Captain Matthew Flinders entered Port Phillip Bay on 26 April 1802.

Centenary of Federation
Henry Bournes Higgins who lived at 'Heronswood', Dromana, was one of the founders of the Australian Constitution. He was member for North Melbourne in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, and Attorney General in the first Labor Ministry formed by John Watson in 1904. He died at Heronswood on 13 January 1929 and is buried in the Dromana Cemetery. As a contribution to the celebration of the Centenary of Federation, the Society prepared a small photographic display on the life and times of Henry Bournes Higgins.

Jamieson's Special Survey
The Jamieson Special Survey of 1841 covered an area of 5120 acres (8 square miles) in the Dromana area and was bounded approximately by Ellerina Road to the North, Point Nepean Road to the South, Safety Beach to the West and a N-S line West of Tubbarubba Road on the eastern boundary.

A display relating to the Jamieson Special Survey of 1841 was presented in the Museum during the period July - December 2000. The display included photographs of some of the early settlers in the survey, and recent photographs taken near the survey boundaries. A copy of the survey map produced at the time was also included.

125 Years of Education
On December 19th, 1950, eight small schools - Red Hill, Red Hill South, Flinders, Shoreham, Main Ridge, Balnarring, Merricks and Merricks North, closed to form Red Hill Consolidated School. An era which commenced in the 1870's ended, and a new era began. The 125 years of education was celebrated at the Consolidated School on 1-2 April, 2000.

Viewed: 1825 times
Likes: 0
by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-03-04 04:43:17

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 shah on 2013-09-29 01:11:22

Very interested in all your have written about the Mornington Peninsula.
In regard to the Thistles in Boneo Road. My grandparents ran this as a guest house around the 1930s. I understand it was then a double storey house.
Would this be correct and is there anything else you could tell me about it?
Researching Moser, Rogers, Munday, Bennett, Dixon, Pilbeam, Belsar, Parkinson, Fitzgibbon, amongst others.
Thank you

by itellya on 2013-12-16 06:49:45

See my journal MOSER/ROGERS/MUNDAY MEMORIES OF ROSEBUD, VIC., AUST. It is a record of the conversation between Shah and me,published with her permission.

Register or Sign in to comment on this journal.