Monthly Archives: January 2014

Honeymoon in the Snow – 1929

Last week I was sweltering in a bushfire story and this week Sepia Saturday has suggested we look for our snowy photos.  So I will go to the Mount Buffalo Chalet in the Australian Alps in Victoria in the winter of 1929 and this time let the pretty pictures tell the story.

Mt Buffalo Chalet Aug 1929The Mt Buffalo Chalet is a guest house which was built in 1910 and was run by the Victorian Railways. Unfortunately it was burnt down in 2006.

Arriving or Departing Mt Buffalo 1929Take the steam train to Wangaratta,  bus along the Ovens River valley to Porpunkah then up the mountainside to the grand old dame.  Well swept of snow.

Mt Buffalo Sled - Charles Vera 1929The honeymooners, Charles and Vera Fricke (nee Tansey) from Castlemaine.

Holidaymakers (inc Vera centre) 1929Time to make some new friends.  Vera second from left, back row.

Mountain Hut Mt Buffalo 1929Stop off at a hut for a cuppa.  Notice in these photos how the women are all wearing jodhpurs.   They were fashionable wear at the time and not just for horse-riding.

Snowman Charles Vera Mt Buffalo 1929Time to build a snowman.Vera skiing 3 Aug 1929

Or to practice this increasingly popular hobby of skiingMt Buffalo Skiing Aug 1929

And admire the dramatic landscape.

On another matter I recently read the book Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller.  At one stage it was discussing whether conserving old properties was the right thing to do or whether conservation destroyed the spirit of the people who had lived there, I don’t necessarily agree with that but I can appreciate the point they were making and have written a little about it elsewhere, illustrating with an example from my family’s past.

Journey to the Stone Country – Alex Miller and Ideas on Conservation 

2014.01W.06Click on Sepia Saturday to find links to more Snow Stories.

Bushfire Weather 1898 Style – Red Tuesday

As I have no close connections with this week’s Sepia Saturday theme of people involved in the First World War, and know very little about them anyway, I hadn’t intended to do a post this week  But the  maximum temperature in Geelong today was 45 ° C,and the last three days were 41°, 42° and 45° (106, 107, 113F),  so  it seems like a good time to  continue with the story about Charles Fricke Snr. which I started  in Attached to a Moustache. and which  I ended by saying …..

But in 1898 the bushfires came through and destroyed everything.  It was time to start all over again. But that’s another story.

.I have told this story in other places but I doubt that other Sepians have seen it.

Just like this week nearly one hundred and sixteen years ago each issue of  the Geelong Advertiser was reporting on bushfires, whether they were in Tasmania, Gippsland , the Grampians or closer to home.  The dry weather had brought swarms of locusts through the area and by February 1, 1898, Beech Forest was described as being ablaze, just one of the many fires that had been devastating the Otway Ranges.  For two days Colac had been enveloped in smoke, turning day into night.

 The Otway Forest was fast coming into prominence as a tourist resort.  Distinguished visitors to the various small communities were reported, as were the Balls and Sports Days. On Tuesday, February 8, 1898, the Gosney and Cawood houses were full of visitors at Apollo Bay. It wasn’t a particularly hot morning, but the wind was gusty. When the wind swung to the north the burning off which had been  started by the Beech Forrest settlers got out of control and headed towards Apollo Bay.

 About 11.30 in the morning Charles Fricke Snr. was helping his next door neighbour, William Methven. They saw the fire making for their houses at the top of the ridge at Tuxion, in the hills above Apollo Bay so began to hurry back to their homes.  Charles Fricke reached Mr Methven’s house first and stopped briefly for a drink of milk, the older man having lagged behind, then hurried to his own home.

 There was little Charles Fricke could do to save his home.  The fire was so intense he crouched behind a table with a bucket of water for five hours, tearing the back out of his waistcoat to dip in the water and cover his mouth.  The table was too small to cover his feet and the heat drew the nails out of his boots.  His horse was the only one of his animals to survive the fire, even though he had his mane burnt off.

 Alone, blinded by the heat, he decided he would rather die on the road to the township where his body would be found more quickly, and so feeling his way with a stick he set off on the three miles to Apollo Bay.  Mrs Costin took him in and put him to bed and nursed him back to health.

 After a long search Mr Methven’s body was found and the subsequent inquest decided that on seeing his home destroyed Mr Methven had tried to make for a creek to find refuge, but had been overcome and suffocated by the hot fumes.

The Murrays were trapped on the top of a  ridge and spent the night there under a wet blanket, taking it in turns to throw water on one another.  They had lost everything except one cow.

 Indeed the Marriner, Methven, Murray, Fricke, Cross, Armstrong, Bulotte, Perkins, James, Kendall, Inkester and Evans homes, and four untenanted houses, were lost, as well as miles of fencing, pasture, livestock and orchards.

 This day was later called Red Tuesday.  As the telegraph line was burnt down the news of the fire had to be taken out by horseback.  The coaches could not get through as the track became blocked and the corduroy was burning. So it was Friday before the people of Geelong could read about the fire.

N.B. A corduroy road is made from logs placed across the road, particularly in swampy areas.

humpyAfter eight years of clearing scrub, splitting palings, fencing, building, and creating a farm, it was a case of start again.  First priority was shelter. Charles Fricke built a  temporary humpy using the roofing iron from his burnt home.  The property had to be re-fenced and re-sown with grass seed.  The Gippsland settlers had bought all the available Cocksfoot grass-seed so seed had to be imported from a neighbouring colony and unfortunately brought with it the seeds of the Ragwort weed.

 Charles then built a new home, married and had his first two children while on this farm before shifting to another farm closer to Apollo Bay.

This story  was told from  Charles Fricke’s reminiscences and newspaper reports.

Meanwhile there were similar fires in Gippsland in the eastern part of Victoria where 12 people were  killed and 2000 buildings destroyed.

Gippsland,_Sunday_night,_February_20th,_1898Thje famous painter John Longstaff visited Gippsland later in February 1898 to view the fires at first hand and collect material for a major picture. Gippsland, Sunday night, February 20th, 1898 was exhibited in a dramatic installation in his Melbourne studio in August 1898. A row of kerosene-lamp ‘footlights’ provided the illumination, and the effect was said to be ‘lurid and startlingly realistic’. —

And this is how the sun looked this afternoon in Geelong thanks to “John” of Belmont on Facebook. . The bushfires are a long, long way away but the wind carries the smoke over long distances.

Sun on bushfire dayThis heat wave is now over – the cool change has arrived.  So next week I’ll be back to the regular theme and a cold weather post,   And that reminds me that  we still measured temperature on the Farenheit scale when I got married and on that  January day it was 108° in the shade. It didn;t seem that hot.

You can see more of this week; posts on World War ! soldiers  on Sepia Saturday


John Green’s Bible – Going Back and Checking

Our Sepian inspiration this week is a book with unexpected photos hidden in it. I have no corresponding surprise photos but i have been looking at a copy of an inscription  which came from the front of a Bible.  The statement is signed late in life by my great grandmother using her maiden name Mary Matilda Checketts instead of her married name Tansey.

John Green's Bible

John Green’s Bible

I have always been aware that half-sister would have been the correct phrase to use when you share the same father but I have always taken the rest of the facts in this statement for granted. But now I am asking

1. Was the Rev.Jago involved with this gift

2. Was it really given on Easter Sunday 1815 ?

1,    John Green was born in Snitterfield in 1755 and Rev Jago  was the Vicar of Snitterfield from 1737 until his death in 1781 when John Green was 26 years old. The first mention I have so far of John doing parish duties was in 1783,  So there was hardly time for John to have performed 20 years of service to the parish to receive a presentation while the Rev Jago was alive,

After Rev Jago’s death in 1781 the incumbent became John Horton but he lived in Ashorne and the Curate was James Davenport who lived in Stratford. But the more I read around this area the more confused I become..  While John lived there was a Vicar who frequently didn’t live in the parish and a Curate who frequently didn’t live in the parish, much to the parishioners consternation.  But when John clocked up his twenty years of service as Parish Clerk which clergyman was involved in the presentation I do not know.

Perhaps it was the Rev Joseph Taylor..  He seems to have been Vicar of Snitterfield from 1802 until his death in 1833..

The Gentleman's Magazine 1833 Joseph TaylorThe Parish Clerk was an important salaried position in the Village and he carried on with his normal occupation as a carpenter at the same time.  His name appears frequently in the Parish Register as a witness to weddings and he was the parson’s indispensable right hand  man.  He also constructed and repaired much of the woodwork in the nave and the chancel and repaired the roof, and the gate etc, etc.  He died in 1820.

I am convinced that Rev Jago was not involved with any presentation to John Green.  However it would be an easy enough mistake for Mary Matilda to make more than 100 year later as Rev Jago was a bit of a celebrity in town having a reputation as a  minor published poet.

John Green is not part of Mary Matilda’s family so how did she come to have his Bible ?  I have looked at John Green’s will and he didn’t mention his Bible in his will. to specifically leave it to his granddaughter.

John Green married in 1788 and had a daughter Ann Green in 1790

George Checketts’ first wife was this Ann Green and they had a daughter Elizabeth Checketts. who was grand-daughter to John Green as mentioned in the bible.

After his wife Ann’s death George married Mary Hutchins and had a daughter Mary Matilda Checketts,

So we  have the two half-sisters, no step-sisters.   They had the same father, George Checketts.

2.  Did the presentation take place on Easter Sunday in 1815.  I will never know.  But if it did Napoleon had escaped from Elba just a few weeks before and the Battle of Waterloo took place a few weeks later on.

The oral history which led to the statement in the Bible is not necessarily accurate but that does not make it any less meaningful.  Mary Matilda knew that the book had come from a man who worked tirelessly for the village and was respected for that work.

I’m afraid this must be rather boring to most people but I am enjoying  using Sepia Saturday to record and collate my little bits of information  It is forcing me to look more in detail  at what I have rather than just looking at the overall picture.  But I am just a step along the way.  One day someone else will add more information .


Tripping around by car

2013.12W.16Our Sepia Saturday theme for this week shows a charabanc with a string of private vehicles behind it, presumably tripping around the countryside for a day’s outing.

My family’s album shows a variety of cars used for getting from one place to another, for going visiting and going on holidays.

c1936 group  at Adelphi CastlemaineBandmaster Tom Tansey had left Castlemaine to live in Beechworth in 1929 but here he is with his wife  back visiting his daughter and family in 1936. They now had a trip home of 281 km (184 miles).  I wonder what the top speed was in this 1920s car on roads of variable quality.  They are standing in front of the house “Adelphi”

Kyneton Norm's car all night fox shooting c1950On to 1950, visiting Kyneton and going bush  in their 1920s car.  I love the running boards and wouldn’t mind if cars still had them,  Later on I had my first driving lesson in this car. Meanwhile down in a back shed there was a bull-nosed Morris Cowley, having a back-yard makeover and being honed and oversize rings fitted to the pistons.  Unfortunately There is no photo of that one.

Marmon Barbara Apollo Bay 1951 carIn 1950 it was a 1930 Marmon for a trip to Apollo Bay.

Fishing on Rocls Apollo Bay 1951And of course to go fishing off the rocks nearby.

Fishing group Apollo Bay 1951But if you look closely you’ll see that there are no flash fishing rods and reels but simply some sticks to which were attached string and hooks.  No record has been kept of any catches.

Macedon Barbara 1938 Nash car 1953In 1953 it was a Nash for a trip to Mount Macedon.

Rolls Royce 1954 -4In 1957 it was time for one of the boy’s toys and a girl’s best accessory,  a 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I for a trip to Castlemaine.

MG Lachlan Bendigo 1965 cThen there was the MG. This young fellow, shown here in 1965, later managed to take the cap off the radiator and stuff some Matchbox cars into the radiator.  At another time he was left in the passenger seat while his father went into a shop.  He let the handbrake off and the car rolled backward across the street,  Fortunately no damage done.

After this dalliance with an MG , it was on to safe, sensible family cars.

More tripping around, whether by charabanc or private cars, can be seen through  the links on Sepia Saturday.