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Journal by itellya

There were two fords in the Avondale Heights area by the time Braybrook Township, south of Clarendon St and straddling the river, had been partly surveyed. The one south of Rhonda St, which stopped Grimes progress up the saltwater river by boat in 1803, may have been a natural accumulation of rocks which the first settlers, maybe hundreds of years before, or even earlier, had utilised to build a fish trap. it was undoubtedly the ford used by Alexander Thompson in January 1837 when he headed to the Geelong area. Naturally this ford appears on the Braybrook Township map with the meandering track created by Andrew, George Russell and others bound for Geelong and the Western District. Later a ford was built at the end of North Road and this was called Solomons Ford. Before it could be accessed from the south, Duke Street had to be formed and probably metalled so that wheeled vehicles would not have to negotiate obstructions such as detailed below. This ford is also shown on the Braybrook Township map. The Solomons had held early runs at both locations so it was historically accurate to describe each of these fords as Solomon\'s Ford.

The original Solomons Ford might have been replaced because it it didn\'t allow enough room for a gradual descent and ascent or because the route was required for a township and surveyors loved their grids which may have been prevented by bullock drivers meandering through the area to avoid bogs, rocky outcrops, trees and so on.

Google SOLOMON\'S FORD and you will find countless references to Solomon\'s Ford being at the west end of Canning Street, (Melway 27 B8.) This was built by Michael Clancy after he\'d arrived in the area in about 1856. If it had existed in the 1850\'s, Canning Street would have continued west to the river but as the Braybrook Township map shows, it did not. How can professional historians get it so wrong?

The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) Saturday 16 November 1935 p 4 Article
Copy into your search bar.
In January 1837, he left his house in
Melbourne for his Geelong station. Guided
by Buckley, the wild white man, he walked
along the route of Collins street, up the
Flagstaff Hill, by the track which was to
be called Buckley street, Essendon, to Solo-
mon\\\'s Ford over the Saltwater River, or
Maribyrnong as it now is, and across the
plains to Geelong. Thus Thomson\'s track
became the Geelong road, and the route
has not been changed since. In Geelong
Dr. Thomson built Kardinia, which he
said was the native term for sunrise, and
became the founder of the Geelong town-

Thursday, 3rd.—At six o\'clock the captain, Mr. Grimes, self, and five seamen went in the boat up the Great River; at between two and three miles it divided into two; *(27) we took the left hand stream at half-past eight o\\\'clock. The land became high, where we landed and went on a hill. The soil a reddish loam from ten to fifteen inches deep. Saw a large lagoon at a distance. \"Went over the hill to a large swamp. *(28) Soil black, eighteen inches, with blue clay at bottom. No trees for many miles. Came to the boat and proceeded on; passed two dingles; no water; came to a third where we found some water, where we dined and proceeded on. Opposite this the land is stony soil, stiff blue clay, and no trees only some straggling oaks by the side of the river. We went up the river till we came to rocks;*(29) could not get the boat over; crossed it at a place the natives had made for catching fish. It was still salt though a great fall ; went about two miles on the hills which are level at top and full of stones, the land very bad, and very few trees, and appeared so to the mountains, which appeared clothed with timber. On our return back came to the river a little higher up and found it excellent fresh water, where it divided and appeared deep enough for a boat. Just as we got to the boat it began to thunder and rain. Stopped a little time and came back till we could procure wood to make a fire, and it being sunset stopped the night.
Flemings Journal - Melbourne\'s Living Museum of the West…/Flemings%20Journal.pdf

The above passage does not say that the ROCKS were at the location where the saltwater ended as stated repeatedly in many articles written about Charles Grimes’ exploration of the river and supposedly based on the journal. The salt water does end near the west end of Canning Street, Avondale Heights but the map (link below) shows that the so-called Solomon’s Ford at Melway 27 B8 did not exist in the 1850’s. EVERY HERITAGE STUDY STATES THAT THIS ROCK FORD IS SOLOMON’S FORD!

I believe the rocks which stopped Grimes’ progress up the river by boat had been dislodged by the erosion of the volcanic plain as the valley deepened and that they were used by the woiwurrung as the basis of the fish trap. If their fish trap was not near the rocks, I believe that this would have been mentioned. Mention of the river dividing is mystifying and could only refer to the junction with Taylors Creek near the Kealba Wetlands at Melway 14 H9, far more than two miles upstream; even a beeline across the clifftop would only reach the Albion-Jacana railway bridge.

To avoid confusion, I will call the three fords near Avondale Heights, Grimes’ Rocks (south of Rhonda St.), Clancy’s ford (at 27 B8) and the second Solomon’s ford (at 27 C6.)

One of the first to use the 1836 Solomons Ford would have been John Aitken who then headed west to the Kororoit Creek, following the stream north and then continuing towards Mount Aitken blazing a track that was said to have become the Calder Highway. Was it coincidence that his grant, section 8 of the parish of Doutta Galla adjoined Braybrook Township at today’s Glenside Drive just 60 chains (1.2 km) from Grimes Rocks.

Alexander Thompson would have crossed at the same ford in January 1837 helping to create the zig zag track on the Cut Cut Paw side of the river heading south from the ford (shown on the map) to what became the Geelong road.


There were usually two features in regard to townships declared in 1850. They were on well-used routes so there would be passing trade and they straddled streams so there would be a supply of water. Because these streams were used as parish boundaries, these townships occupied part of each parish. Braybrook Township had a natural ford to unite the Doutta Galla and Cut Cut Paw parts. At Broadmeadows Township (now Westmeadows) the parts in the parishes of Will Will Rook and Tullamarine were linked by the Ardlie St ford which explains why there is an Ardlie St either side of the Moonee Ponds Creek. Keilor had a bridge by the late 1840’s but it and its approaches were often washed away.

It is not a coincidence that the southbound roads in North Braybrook Township (as it became known after Lynch’s punt and bridge near Flemington Racecourse and Brees’ 1854 bridge at Keilor removed the passing trade) funnelled to the ford south of Rhonda St. If Clancy’s ford had been the 1803 ford, Canning Street would have continued west to provide access.

It was no exaggeration to say the new pound (as shown on the map) was near Solomon’s Ford. It was only 400 metres from Grimes’ Rocks. It was 1400 metres from the second Solomon’s ford at North Rd. In 1850 there was NO Clancy’s ford!

NOTICE is hereby given that, the Public Pound at Footscray, in the County of Bourke, will be removed from its present site to Braybrook, near Solomon\'s Ford in the said County, and that the same shall be henceforth called the Braybrook Pound.
By order of the Bench of Magistrates, ROBERT CADDEN, Clerk Petty Sessions, County Bourke. Police Office, Melbourne, March 27th, 1849.

NEW ROAD A. new road is described in the Government Gazette from Mount Alexander to Solomon’s Ford. The new road will commence where the present road terminates, at the eastern boundary of section No. 12, Parish of Doutta Galla ; thence running westerly 27 chains, and passing through the properties of Messrs, Miller and McKlusky and Mr. Dugald McPhail; thence running north 81 deg., west 3 chains 25 links ; thence running north 73 deg., west 12 chains 50 links, and passing through the property of Mr.Dugald McPhail thence running south 80 deg.,West 25- chains ; and thence running south 74 deg., west 15 chains,-through the property of Mrs, Catherine Sinclair, to its junction with the present road, commencing at the dividing line between sections 11 and 12. The quantity of land required to be taken for the proposed new line of road is eight acres one rood and four perches, and the estimated cost of effecting the said work is two thousand two hundred and eighty pounds (£2280). (P.10, The Banner, 7-3-1854.)

The eastern boundary of section 12, Doutta Galla was Hoffman’s Rd and the south east corner is meant (ie. Braybrook road, now Buckley St west.) From there it was 44 chains west to Steeles or Rose Creek so the road probably went west for 27 chains taking a slice of section 8 (the Aitken estate) and Dugald McPhail’s Rosehill, w.n.w for 65 metres to a ford, w.n.w another 250 metres to near Surrey Court, w.s.w. 500 metres through the 114 acre Sinclair farm back to the line of Buckley St at the Rachelle St. corner (the boundary between J.P,Fawkner’s c/a 11A and Main’s Estate.) North Road and the half mile of Buckley St east of North Pole (Milleara Rd) had already been constructed by the looks of it.

A Doutta Galla map showing this section of road and the ford at Steeles or Rose Creek mentioned, as well as the sold-out, complete North Braybrook Township and later Solomons ford at the end of North Rd can be viewed if you copy into your search bar.The part outlined in this map would have been prepared as evidence in an insolvency meeting and shows C.B.Fisher\'s landholdings.

The reason Clancy’s ford is not shown on the Braybrook Township map is that Michael Clancy built it some time after his arrival in about 1856. He and his daughter never called it Solomon’s ford!

Independent (Footscray, Vic. : 1883 - 1922) Saturday 9 July 1910 p 1 Article
(The Braybrook shire had sent either a cheque or bill) for part cost of repairing Clancy\'s Ford and pointing out that it was an excellent piece of work and likely to require little maintenance in future. Cr Dodd thought the culvert had been put in higher than the old one and that the water at Solomon\'s Ford had thereby been raised and made less useful.

The Dodds and Delaheys would have known which ford was the right Solomon\'s Ford. What Cr. Dodd meant (badly paraphrased by the reporter) is that if the water dammed up too much at Clancy\'s ford, Solomon\'s ford upstream would be covered with water, making the ford less useful, not the water.

Michael Clancy’s evidence at an inquiry into closed roads in 1879 reveals that he had about 35 acres joining Mr.Porter and Mr. Fitzgerald’s properties and had arrived there in about 1856. Clancy and Munro, his neighbour in the township, were prevented from watering their cattle at the river by Derham, who also tore down 28 chains of Clancy’s 30 chain rock wall and threw the stones into his victim’s crops. Derham had Clancy’s lease of the river reserve cancelled. Harry Peck says that Derham, of fair complexion, as husky as a lumberjack, kept the pub at Braybrook and hunted others off hundreds of acres of land where he grazed about 200 horses for the Indian horse trade. Thomas B. Derham lived in Trinifour sometime after 1886 between the occupancies of W.G.Tulloch and E. Henderson.

The late Mrs. Whelan was born at Braybrook where her father was a farmer. She had lived at Williamson\'s Road, Maribyrnong, for seventy years. In the early days her mother was afraid of the blacks who were hostile. Mrs. Whelan remembered when the blacks used to hold corroborees at the spot where Moonee Ponds town hall now stands. Her father, the late Mr. Clancy, first built the ford over the Maribyrnong River known as Clancy\'s Ford. The late Mrs Whelan had eleven children, twenty-five grandchildren and thirty-two great grand-children.The funeral took place to Footscray Cemetery on Monday. (P.2, Sunshine Advocate, 24-10-1952.)

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by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2017-07-21 11:19:25

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 2017-07-23 16:02:58

I was at Tullamarine this weekend and was intending to visit the river below Rhonda St today on the way home to Rosebud, but rain set in at that time and it was almost dark, so I had to be content with a google map search after arriving home and watching my recording of the Swannies' win over the Saints.

As a website had predicted that Melway would be renaming Clancy's Ford (the "rock ford" at 27B8)as Solomon's Ford, I was not surprised that this had happened on the Google map too. Just how easy it is to turn myth into fact!

When I stated that the 1803 and 1836 ford, that I had dubbed Grimes' Rocks, was south of Rhonda St., this was only an approximation because Rhonda St was not on the 1850's Braybrook Township map; on this map Brown St headed south from Wood St and then veered south west before turning south towards the original ford, the ford that Alexander Thompson used in January 1837, (calling it Solomon's Ford) on his first trip to his run, "Kardinia" at Geelong.

My approximation was only a few house frontages out. Bullock tracks take a long time to disappear when the ground has been undisturbed by development. It seems that the track would have followed the driveway of 5 Brentwood Drive directly to the B in MARIBYRNONG RIVER TRAIL from where it is very distinct to the south east end of a stand of trees overhanging a narrow stretch of the river just before it widens due south west of 3 Brentwood Drive. The final approach to the ford seems to have turned east along the river bank for a few metres, perhaps to get to the end of this stand of trees, to where the water takes on an almost white colour, perhaps an accumulation of sand or gravel under the water, extending almost halfway across the river. On minimal zoom this white colour is still apparent.

On maximum zoom, the specks between this obviously shallow part of the river and the south bank a tad farther downstream become quite visibly large rocks which have been swept downstream by gigantic floods in (1874?), 1906 (after which Jose Borrell took over the Cahill farm on Gumm's Corner), 1916 (when the depression, created by Jose to flatten out a gully turned into a lake and the Borrells harvested their crop in a boat, as shown in a photo)and in about 1974.

On the early Braybrook Township map showing the pound yards and the ford, a meandering track is shown south of the river heading south into Cut Cut Paw. Due to dense foliage immediately south of the scattered rocks, it is hard to make out this meandering track until halfway between the Cut Cut Paw river trail and the ploughed ground north of the Marlin Lane factories but from there to the ploughed ground, the winding track is quite visible, even on low zoom, heading toward the north east corner of 7 Marlin Drive.

by itellya on 2017-07-23 18:10:03

By the mid 1850's there was a new Solomon's Ford as shown by a Braybrook Township map which also shows the pound relocated from Footscray in 1849, henceforth to be called the Braybrook pound, the original ford which I had estimated to be south of Rhonda St, Avondale Heights. Tracks shown on old maps show the actual route taken by the first pioneers before surveys had established locations of roads and they were never straight. Whether these tracks were made by lime quarriers/carters on the Mornington Peninsula or squatters heading to their runs, they were never straight because they simply followed the best ground, avoiding rocks, bogs, trees, extreme gradients and so on, being unconfined by fencing.

The meandering tracks south of the rocks that stopped Grimes' progress by boat up the saltwater river in 1803 and seemingly incorporated the native fish trap by which the Grimes party crossed the river, and the "Solomon's Ford" used by Alexander Thompson in January 1837, therefore would indicate that the ford, which I had assumed was south of Rhonda St, was the first crossing place over the Maribyrnong River.

This ORIGINAL crossing was about a mile upsteam from the the Solomon grant and William Allison Blair'S farm that became the Medway Golf Course but probably led south into the Solomons RUN in Cut Cut Paw, whose boundary description I have not researched.

Peter Somerville of the Blackbird Cruises, whom I only met once in 1989 when the Keilor Historical Society was reformed, insisted that Solomon's Ford was at the end of North Road. Having read Valentine Jones' book, I disputed his claim but Peter was right, only this was the SECOND Solomon's Ford. It is beyond dispute that it was officially named Solomon's Ford, as on Cut Cut Paw and Braybrook Township maps. According to heritage studies a Solomon had a run near North Road on the Doutta Galla side of the ford. I have no reason to disbelieve this.

Because the said early Braybrook Township map had not been consulted and Valentine Jones' opinions have been taken as gospel, the rock ford at Melway 27 B8 has been declared to be Solomon's Ford by the Maribyrnong, Brimbank and Moonee Valley Councils (if I recall correctly) and the heritage council. Google maps now have it labelled as Solomon's Ford and presumably Melway as well.

This not only distorts Victoria's early history but does a great dis-service to one of the area's pioneers, Michael Clancy a true battler, who put up with bullying from Thomas Derham and built the third ford in the Avondale Heights area. Evidence is provided that he built the ford after his arrival in about 1856. This seemed to have been built in the early 1870's and been referred to at first as the Braybrook ford, and Clancy's Ford later on.

"Mr. Clancy wrote that he would keep the Braybrook ford in repair for £1 per annum. -It was resolved to inform Mr. Clancy that, as the Keilor Shire Council had only voted 17s. 2 1/2d. per annum for the purpose stated, and this, if supplemented by a similar sum from this Council, would scarcely
warrant the entertainment of this offer."
(P.3, The Bacchus Marsh Express, 10-8-1878.)

Gary, I realise that you need to make your living from your history research but I am sure you care as much about our history being accurate as I do and I ask you to assist me in setting the record straight about the three fords at Avondale Heights. I think you will find my comment under my journal regarding the google map search for the 1803 and 1836 ford very interesting.

Links will have to be copied into the search bar.

by itellya on 2017-07-24 01:45:07

I had a long exchange with Valentine Jones many years ago about this – Also her feud with Olwen Ford and Peter Somerville left me reluctant to engage with this issue. Also being aware of how places and their names can shift around the landscape, I have avoided having a fixed view about which fords were called what and when.

I suspect also that the changing nature of the gravel beds in the bottom of the river caused some fording places to be more useful than others at different times.

I too was confused about the ‘great fall’, and ‘salt above’ at Grimes’ ‘rocks’ Perhaps you are right and the rocks that stopped Grimes were downstream of the present ‘Solomon’s ford’. Peter Somerville has noted a couple of gravel bars that prevent him taking his boat up any further than near Evans St.

There are gravel beds that might have been fordable at the bottom of Omar St, and just upstream of Evans St. there appears to be a more substantial rock bar at the foot of Rhonda St and another just below the Bhuddist Temple, and then of course the ‘Rocks Across’ where the current stepping stones have been built.

On balance, I think your conclusions are probably right.

by itellya on 2017-07-26 16:34:40

MICHAEL CLANCY was often referred to in relation to the Braybrook ford from about 1880 so I assumed that this was the ford at Melway 27B8, the Canning St Ford. The Dodds and Delaheys later referred to this ford as Clancy's ford during disputes between the Braybrook and Keilor Shires about the maintenance of Clancy's ford. Cr Dodd stated that raising the level of Clancy's ford had made Solomon's ford (the second one, at North Rd) less useful.

The Braybrook ford name continued to be used after Clancy's ford was commonly so-named so I wondered if the ford south of Rhonda St, which I assume was Grimes' Rocks and the original Solomon's ford, was still being used when it was proposed that a dam should be built there to prevent flooding downstream and later in regard to angling club and motorcycle club events, as late as the 1940's.

To confirm or dismiss this suspicion I consulted a very clever map which shows areas near Melbourne as they were in 1945 and as they are today, namely:; copy this into your search bar.

There is no sign in 1945 of a ford at Rhonda St and there is little evidence of the so-called streets of North Braybrook Township (Avondale Heights south of Clarendon St.) Clancy's ford is very conspicuous, apparently covered with concrete as it looks very white. The North Road ford (called Solomon's ford on Reid's 1855 map of Braybrook) confirms Cr Dodd's claim that Solomon's ford would become useless; if it was still there in 1945, it was so inundated that no rocks can be seen. The approaches to it can be clearly seen.

Therefore it seems certain that Braybrook ford of 1949 was Clancy's ford, the Canning Street ford.

A warning against anglers and others eating fish from the Maribyrnong River, near Braybrook ford, was issued by Mr A. D. Butcher, chief inspector of the Fisheries and Game Department, yesterday. Large quantities of dead and dying
trout, bream, eels, and minnows had been found in the river near Braybrook, he said. The fish no doubt had been poisoned by an effluent. The cause of the poisoning was being investigated. (P.5, Argus, 25-1-1949.)

This ford seems to have been called Clancy's ford by about 1905 and the M.M.B.W. may have taken responsibility for it in about 1933. It would have provided a good susso project for the unemployed during the depression.

Cr. Pennall said that the river was in a deplorable state, and he moved that the council offer to cooperate with the M. and M. Board to construct a weir at Clancy's ford and to blow away about ten feet of obstruction in the river at Butler street*. (P.3, Sunshine Advocate, 19-5-1933.)

*Butler St (Melway 27 C10) was planned to run right to the river, the only road in the south section of Braybrook Township near the 1855 ford south of Rhonda St to do so. I have speculated that the rocks from this ford had been scattered downstream by big floods (such as in 1906 and 1916) but it now seems possible that the dispersal of rocks was achieved by blasting. The google satellite view seems to indicate that smaller rocks from the obstruction may have been removed and carried onto the Cut Cut Paw bank.

by itellya on 2017-07-27 02:35:46

On page B.197 of my DICTIONARY HISTORY OF TULLAMARINE AND MILES AROUND (Braybrook North Township entry), is a photocopy of a map on page 32 of V.J.Jones' book about Solomon's ford. It is captioned "Plan of Braybrook Parishes of Cut Cut Paw and Doutta Galla, B439A by Capn Webster, Contract Surveyor December 1869. Note the position of land held by Clancy in relation to the ford. (Reproduced by courtesy of Surveyor-General, Victoria.)"

I have been unable to find an online copy of the map.

The streets are not named but comparison with Melway shows that the outlined Clancy land was bounded on the north by Canning St., on the west by a road running south east from the extreme west end of Canning St along the river escarpment to Clancy's ford and continuing in a straight line, veering slightly farther from the river to link to a short road running south west from the south end of Browns Rd (now Woodbury Court) indicated on Melway by what seems to be a right of way to the riverside park from Brentwood Drive. The southern boundary of the Clancy grants, roughly 22 acres in crown allotment 52 and four others between it and the river road, was Duke St and the eastern boundary was at about Langham St. Burke Street in the parish of Cut Cut Paw is shown in the 1869 map providing access to the ford as correctly stated in heritage studies and indicated by a dotted extension in Melway.

Interestingly Queen St, as shown on Reid's 1855 map (Google BRAYBROOK TOWNSHIP, REID,1855), is still shown on the 1869 map, connecting to a south easterly extension from, roughly, the south end of Woodbury Court, turning due south through the driveway of today's 5 Brentwood Drive to Melway 27 C9.

Queen St was obviously intended to be the last link between the corner of Mt Alexander Rd and Buckley St. at Essendon and the original Solomon's ford.
Once Braybrook Township blocks had been sold and fenced it would no longer be possible for travellers to take the shortest line between the corner of Braybrook Road (Buckley St) and North Pole Road (Milleara Rd) and the original ford at 27C9.

The eastern boundary between the township and John Aitken's grant, section 8 Doutta Galla, was called Cardigan St and equates to today's Glenside St., but north of Clarendon St there were probably no roads or fences so travellers in 1836 may have just headed due south on a gentle gradient weaving between obstructions. Therefore Raglan St might have been intended as the next link in the route to the ford. Veering left into Lacy St, this route then went south to the bend in the walking trail near the bottom left corner of Melway 27 E9 where Queen St led to the dotted red line south of today's Rhonda St., following the exact route of the riverside trail. Raglan-Lace St. obviously followed the route of an EXISTING TRACK.

Surveyors stuck to their tidy grids no matter what (as the the cases of Burrell Rd, the west boundary of Dromana Township and Hiscock Road between Jetty Rd and Truemans Rd, the former supposedly up a cliff and the latter through the Tootgarook Swamp) so if a road was planned with kinks, there had to be a very good reason.

If the early travellers reached Clarendon St. west of Raglan St, they could use the TRACK which became Brown access the original ford (which Alexander Thompson called SOLOMON'S FORD.

I thought the 1869 map would be in the CLANCY entry in my DHOTAMA. It wasn't, but I did discover that Michael Clancy's wife, Margaret, nee Scanlan (d. 1872), and their 9 year old son, John, who drowned, were both buried at Keilor Cemetery. (See the CLANCY journal.)

by itellya on 2017-07-27 11:14:18

Michael Clancy died in 1909 and his land, now consisting of 53 acres, was offered for sale and specified in great detail.

EventDeath Event registration number1517 Registration year1909
Personal information
Family nameCLANCY Given namesMichl SexUnknown Father's nameClancy Peter Mother's nameBridt (Donoghue) Place of birth Place of deathFcray Age80

After his death, his land consisting of about 53 acres, described in detail, was offered for sale. See P.2, Argus, 4-8-1909, last advertisement in column 2. Most of the lots can be found on the 1869 map on page 32 of SOLOMON'S FORD, WHICH FORD, WHICH SOLOMON by Valentine Jones.

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