News from the Newsletters – November 2023

This is a summary of some of the articles taken from the newsletters and other correspondence sent to the Secretary from SEHA Groups and Societies. Compiled by Heather Arnold.

Berwick Pakenham Historical Society
• The Society was open each day from October 5 to October 8 to celebrate History Month and had a pleasing number of visitors.

Brighton Cemetorians
The Cemetorian has many interesting articles on the people buried at the Brighton Cemetery. The September 2023 edition includes profiles on Albert Thurgood (1874-1927), who played for Essendon in the VFA; William and Amanda Pooley, the parents of Father Wilfred Pooley who established Maryknoll, a Catholic community in 1949; Stella Vagg (1898-1942) of Cobden, buried with her husband Frederick Vagg, who died at the Caulfield Military Hospital in 1923, from wounds received in WW1; Theodore Nave (1899-1993) Naval Officer and code-breaker.

Chelsea and District Historical Society
• The August 2023 newsletter revisits an article by Frank McGuire on the first 20 years of the Society. There is also an article written by Nancie Edward whose family moved to Edithvale in 1911. The October newsletter has photos of their resource centre and a history of the Chelsea Bush Nursing Hospital.
• The Society is celebrating 60 years with an exhibition of some of the photographs, artefacts and stories collected since 1963. The exhibition, Six Decades of History, will be open to the public over 3 days – Friday, November 24 to Sunday, November 26 at Chelsea Court House, 6 The Strand, Chelsea. Open daily between 10.00am and 3.00pm. Entry is free and local history books will available for purchase.

City of Greater Dandenong
• Talk – Emigration, dress and Australian colonial society, 1820s – 1860s. This presentation will consider the nature of colonial society and the emigrant’s experience through the lens of dress. What did people bring with them to start a new life in Australia and how did this match with what they found on arrival? Location: Benga House, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens, 66 McCrae Street Dandenong. Date: Wednesday November 15, 2023. Time: 1:30 – 3:30pm. Bookings

Cranbourne Shire Historical Society
• The CSHS has received recognition for 51 years of membership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV). On September 14, RHSV president Professor Richard Broome presented the Society with a certificate of recognition to four of its members – Barry and Polly Freeman, Sue Tobin and 93-year-old Derry Francis who was an original member of the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society when it was formed in 1968.

Dandenong and District Historical Society
• At their AGM on October 15 the following committee was elected – President: Chris Keys; Vice-president: Christine Ware; Secretary & SEHA delegate: Jenny Ferguson;Treasurer: Bruce McBain; Committee members: Sally Carson, David Nassau, Susan Stone and Lorraine Webb.

Dromana and District Historical Society
• Invitation to launch of book The larger than life of Melbourne Brindle by Fred Wild on November 17, 2023.

Frankston Historical Society
• The October-December newsletter provides an update of activities at Ballam Park Homestead, of which the Society is the custodian. Ballam Park Homestead was built in 1855, for Frederick Liardet, the second son of Wilbraham Liardet, pioneer of Port Melbourne.

Friends of Cheltenham and Regional Cemeteries
• The September 2023 Raves from the Graves has an interesting article on the life of Gertrude McKenzie (nee Curtin, 1904-1960) – an extraordinary woman who operated a flight school, having gained her pilot’s licence in 1937 and who was elected to the Mordialloc Council in 1955, becoming their first female Mayor in 1958. Her grave was unmarked until the Aviation Historical Society of Australia campaigned to have a headstone erected. There is also an article on Amelia Chinn (1863-1928), Matron of the Cottage by the Sea in Queenscliff.
• The Group held a tour of the Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery on October 22 with the theme of Murder, Mayhem and Misadventure.

Hastings – Western Port Historical Society
• The September 2023 newsletter has an extensive report of their 50th anniversary celebration held on July 16.

Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society
• The September 2023 newsletter has an article on a proposed High School and a proposed Hotel in Bayles, neither of which eventuated; the October newsletter looks at the establishment of the Country Women’s Association in Koo Wee Rup in 1929. The inaugural president was Margaret Kerr Paterson, who was also on the first committee of the Victorian CWA when it was formed in 1928. As a matter of interest, her father, Samuel Davis, was a jockey who won the 1864 Melbourne Cup, on Lantern. The November newsletter had an article on the racehorse Koo-wee-rup, who sadly had to be put down after breaking a leg in 1871.

Mordialloc College Alumni Association (MCAA)
• The Spring 2023 Ventured has an amusing article by Trevor Philpot, who was at the school in the 1970s. He wrote about the game bonker-ball, which evolved out of the old time favourite, wall-ball, where a dozen or so boys would take random turns at hitting a tennis ball with the hand into the ground then up onto a brick wall. If you stuffed up the shot, you were out, and the numbers quickly dwindled until there were only two left. Then it was a grand final of sorts. But bonker-ball twisted the rules of wall-ball somewhat. … The difference with our game was that every time you missed a shot and were out, everyone else was obliged to punch you on the arm as hard as they could, as you sprinted from the court. Once you crossed the line and were off the court, you were safe. Trevor finished the story with – No bones were ever broken in bonker-ball. The newsletter also has various profiles of past students.
• The School is celebrating 100 years on February 16 and 17, 2024

Mordialloc & District Historical Society
• The September 2023 newsletter has a report on the popular walking tours conducted by Peter Ratcliff; a day at the Mentone Races in 1945 by Leo Gamble and a short history of racing at Mordialloc by Veronica Hahn.
• The Kingston Council is installing a lift in the Museum which will diminish their work and storage space, thus the Society is looking at ways to increase this space and have proposed a first floor extension.

Mornington & District Historical Society
• The August 2023 newsletter looks at Port Phillip Bay shipping. The Society conducted a tour of the Mornington Cemetery on October 29.

Narre Warren and District Family History Group
• The August 2023 Spreading Branches showcases some photos from the Max Thomson collection, on the theme of picnics. There was a report on the recent AGM where Patrick Ferry was the guest speaker. Di Christensen has provided a story on Luke McCoy of Diamond Hill, a location just east of Dandenong, who died in 1898. The Dandenong Choral Society held a concert as a fundraiser for Luke’s widow and children. The concert raised £6 8s, and a separate fund raised £80.
• The November 2023 Spreading Branches announced that Barbara Sharp was awarded the member of the year at the recent AGM. There is an article, by Barbara Sharp, on Laurie Dyer (1915-2002) Methodist Pastor. In 1945 Laurie was teaching religious instruction (RI) to 3,500 children, visiting 30 State Schools, and 300 children in hospitals. He rode his bicycle 500 to 600 miles in the month in all weather… Laurie had taught RI at many schools over a long period of time. At Narre Warren North school his was the longest teaching appointment, visiting the school one day a week for 35 years. He remained involved with the Methodist Church in various roles until his death. The issue also contains photographs of the Group’s recent tour of the Dandenong Cemetery which was held on October 29, and focussed on people with a connection to what is now the City of Casey and Shire of Cardinia.

Phillip Island & District Genealogical Society
Reflections August 2023 has an article by Pamela Rothfield on Eliza Coghlan, who lived to the age of 113 and is the source of the name Coghlan Road on Phillip Island. In her 80s and 90s, she thought nothing of traversing 8 kilometres to Cowes, carrying substantial loads such as turkeys and other produce for sale. Eliza died at Rhyll in 1910.

Phillip Island & District Historical Society
• In the October 2023 newsletter there is an article by Pamela Rothfield on Robert Walpole, the source of the name of Walpole Street in Cowes. Pamela writes – In 1883, Robert, who by this time was well connected, was appointed as the Secretary of the Calcutta Exhibition in India, marking the beginning of his career as an event organizer. Robert’s career flourished as he was chosen to serve as the Commissioner for Victoria at two prestigious World Fairs: the Centennial International Exhibition in Melbourne in 1888 and the Paris Exhibition in 1889. He and his wife Jane moved to Phillip Island in 1908.
• The November newsletter reports on the opening of the new Cultural Centre at Cowes, named Berninneit on November 2, 2023. This is the new home of the Historical Society. The Museum has many digital displays, which you can also view on their YouTube channel
• Christmas Dinner 2023, will be held on Friday, December 8, at St Philip Parish Hall, 102 Thompson Avenue, Cowes. 6.00pm for a 6:30pm start. The dinner will be catered for by our Island’s amazing chef, Jayne Messendorf. Cost – $45 per head , BYO drinks. Please RSVP to Judy Gittus at

Rye Historical Society
White Cliffs newsletter October-December 2023 reports on the reopening of the Museum on August 6. The refurbishment works were made possible by a bequest from the founding president, Pauline Powell. The Museum has been named in Mrs Powell’s honour. From the collection – a Maori Club. In the late 1800s a group of Maori lived at Rye on the beach, where they were keen fishermen. The club came into the possession of early settlers, the Thompson family, who later donated it to the Historical Society.

Somerville, Tyabb & District Heritage Society
• The September 2023 issue has articles on the visit of Sir Robert Menzies to the Hastings Shire Offices, illustrated with colour photos from the Horton family and a reprint of a 1904 Weekly Times article on fruit growing in Somerville.

Wonthaggi and District Historical Society
• The September 2023 Plod essay, written by Frank Coldebella – Danny Carr, The Man who could make anything. Danny undertook a fitting and turning apprentice at the State Coal Mine, starting in 1942 and after the mine closed established an engineering works in McKenzie Street. He is now in his 90s and still going strong.
• The October 2023 Plod essay looks Wonthaggi in War time – WW1, WW2 and the Vietnam War. The November 2023 Plod essay looks at the life of Wonthaggi resident and Master Muralist, Dennis Leversha. Dennis was born in Castlemaine in 1945, studied painting at what is now RMIT; painted stage sets at the Princess Theatre; became a teacher and ended up in Wonthaggi, where he began to paint murals, which can be seen in the town and throughout Gippsland.
• Wonthaggi and District Historical Society Annual Memorial Dinner. Theme – Memories of Wonthaggi Technical School and Wonthaggi Higher Elementary School. Guest speakers will share how their time at these schools contributed to their employment, experiences and success in life. When: Friday, November 24, 2023 at 6.00pm. Where: Wonthaggi Workmens Club, 75 Graham Street, Wonthaggi. Cost: $45.00 per head, two course meal.Bookings: Admission by pre purchased tickets only, Wonthaggi Workmens Club – phone: 03 56721083, email enquiries: Bookings close November 17.

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