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No. 37 – May 2013


Hon Editor, Esther V. Davies



From the President


Feature article: Canberra’s Foundation & Naming Ceremony - a personal experience


Good news stories from historical societies

….Queanbeyan (NSW) and District Historical Museum Society - “The Way We Wore” an exhibition of bridal       gowns

….Maryborough (QLD) Historical Society - Society battles back after the floods with first exhibit

….The York (WA) Research and Archival Centre - new home for the York Archives


News from our constituent organisations

…. Canberra and District Historical Society - Centenary Canberra Day Oration

…. History South Australia - History Festival - May 2013

…. Royal Australian Historical Society - bicentenary of Blue Mountains Crossings

…. Royal Historical Society of Queensland - centenary year of the Royal Society of Queensland

…. Royal Historical Society of Victoria - RHSV Pioneer Register

…. Royal Western Australian Historical Society - WA Heritage Awards announced

…. Tasmanian Historical Research Association - “The ambitions of Jane Franklin: Victorian lady adventurer”


Letter to the Editor, and a response - who actually DID cross the Blue Mountains first?


Canberra 2013 Centenary Symposium - 10 August 2013


Can you help? Looking for teachers and/or pupils - Were you at Telopea Park School before December 1938?


World History Association Symposium - Fremantle, 3-5 October 2013


Nominations for FAHS Merit Awards 2013


A gentle reminder - about forwarding to your members


A final quote - Winston Churchill








FAHS President Ruth Kerr


Meetings have been held with the Government and the Opposition. Immediate Past President Dr Don Garden has met with advisers for the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPC). He has raised issues such as the need for progress on the Heritage Strategy, the Community Heritage Portal, and increased funding for a peak history bodies such as ourselves through the Grants or Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations (GVESHO) program. Meetings have also been held with the Opposition Spokesman on Heritage, Hon Greg Hunt MHR, where the issues of the finalisation of the Heritage Strategy, re-establishment of an Advisory Body to the Minister and funding matters were highlighted.


Our contract with SEWPC for the Community Heritage Portal has been delayed because the Heritage Division has not finalised the actual online portal with its contractor. The launch date during Heritage week cannot now be fulfilled by the department.


The Constitution of the Federation has been reviewed and alterations made to further align  with the Associations Incorporation Act of the ACT where the Federation is incorporated.


The AGM is to be held in Canberra on 9 August 2013. The Federation invites historical societies to submit high level heritage issues for consideration at that meeting. These may relate to cultural policy and heritage strategies at the national level together with co-ordination of funding and networking of historical society collections online.

The Federation has also taken up issues, such as management of heritage assets including schools and railways with Shire Councils and Federal and State Ministers. The Federation has also recommended that the Parramatta Women’s Factory be listed on the National Heritage Register under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Federation is pleased that the National Cultural Policy issued by the then Minister for the Arts, Hon Simon Crean MP, has accepted as policy the national networking of historical society and museums’ collections online and the inclusion of our sector in the National Cultural Policy.


Ruth Kerr




Canberra’s Foundation & Naming Ceremony- a personal experience


Editor’s Note: While many may regard Canberra’s centenary celebrations as a national event, it is worth remembering that for the inhabitants of Canberra, it is indeed local history and the Canberra and District Historical Society holds an impressive collection of material on the origins of Australia’s national capital.




Governor-General Quentin Bryce being escorted past the Guard of Honour at Canberra’s Foundation and Naming Day ceremony

The 12th March 2013 was Canberra’s one-hundredth birthday. The sun shone, there was no wind, and the sky, dotted with a few clouds, was a brilliant blue, a beautiful autumn day. Three of us arrived at Federation Mall, below the new Parliament House, at 10.30am with fifteen minutes to spare before the commencement of the centenary ceremony. The day’s ceremony commemorated the 1913 ceremony when the Governor-General Lord Thomas Denman, the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley, laid the foundation stones for a new national capital city and Lady Denman pronounced the name of the city as ‘Canberra’. Today’s ceremony was on the formal lawns of Federation Mall – not where the Commemoration stones originally stood, a little to the south of the present site and slightly out of alignment with Walter B Griffin’s grand design for the Federal Capital city. In 1913, a dusty vista could be seen for miles, but it’s now a planned and enclosed space, in direct alignment with Mt Ainslie. Fully-grown gums and other native trees line the Mall, behind the original Provisional Parliament House (opened in 1927), and below the new one (opened in 1988).

We parked the car near the Treasury building on Langton Crescent, backing onto Commonwealth Avenue, and then walked through the beautiful old trees in Magna Carta Place towards the new Parliament House. It was the only car park where we could find a single spot. In 1913, no one had trouble parking – they could park anywhere – or hitch their horses and drays – as nothing had yet been built. The site chosen for the city was still grazing land with dusty, rutted tracks crossing the landscape.

The crowd wasn’t nearly as large as in 1913. A few onlookers had stopped on the steps above Parliament Drive, in front of Parliament House, where they could maintain a good view. About 200 or so official guests were seated, including some school children, sitting in the full sun. Many guests sported bright yellow ‘Canberra 100’ caps, but I noticed the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Tony Abbott, and a few other politicians from both Parties seated in the official area, were hatless. By contrast, the Governor-General and the Chief Minister both wore suitable hats, matching their outfits. Mr. Crean’s ‘Canberra 100’ cap lay, unworn, under his chair.

The ceremony began around 10.45am when the Army band appeared, playing well-known tunes as it marched resolutely onto the lawn. The Guard of Honour followed on foot. First came 30 men and women of the Navy, in double line formation, followed by the same number from the Army and the Air Force. It was good to see a few women marching in all the forces. In 1913, there was no navy or air force, only the army, which then consisted of males only. In that ceremony, young cadets from Duntroon formed the Guard of Honour, their slouched hats sporting plumes, which danced in the air as they rode around on horseback. There were no horses today.

A long thin, rippled red carpet was rolled out over the lawn linking Parliament Drive to the right-angled dais, erected on two sides of the 1913 Commemoration stones. Chauffeurs, driving Commonwealth cars, deposited official guests at the Parliament Drive end. First to arrive was the Chief Minister of the ACT, Katy Gallagher, who was escorted down the red carpet to the dais, where she took the salute from the troops assembled before her. Then she returned up the carpet to receive and escort to the dais, the Hon. Simon Crean, the Minister for Regional Affairs, today’s equivalent of O’Malley’s position as Minister of Home Affairs in 1913. Katy Gallagher then returned up the carpet, to receive and install the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the equivalent of the 1913 Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher. The Prime Minister took the salute from the Guard of Honour and Katy was off again! This time it was to receive and escort the Governor-General Quentin Bryce to the dais, followed by the Governor-General’s husband, Mr Michael Bryce. These two were today’s equivalent of Lord and Lady Denman, the 1913 Governor-General and his wife. In this case, the roles were reversed, with Michael Bryce taking the role of Lady Denman, the person who had named Canberra. As soon as the Governor-General arrived on the dais, she took the salute and then inspected the troops, accompanied by the Chief Minister.

The composition of dignitaries for this ceremony was certainly different. In 1913, only one woman was present, Lady Denman. Here, on the lawns in front of us, were three powerful women: the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and the ACT’s Chief Minister. It was certainly a matter of role reversal to that of 1913.

The Master of Ceremonies introduced Mrs. Agnes Shea, who spoke a ‘Welcome to Country’ on behalf of the Ngunnawal people, the original inhabitants of the area. The Prime Minister spoke of the meaning of Canberra and the original naming ceremony; of the Griffin’s and their plan; and that at every stage of building the city, it was human hands, ‘that graded the roads and laid the bricks and planted the trees’. Then it was the Governor-General’s turn. She spoke of how Lord Denman had stood at that spot and delighted listeners with his pronouncement of one of the more fanciful names for the new capital city, that name beginning with the first syllable of every state capital. Mrs. Bryce told the present listeners that she was not going to attempt to echo it! She felt it appropriate that her husband should assist on this day of recalling and remembering. Mr. Bryce spoke briefly and amusingly on how nobody could agree on the pronunciation of the name, ‘Canberra’. He finished by stating: ‘Canberra it remains’ – pronouncing it in the way every Canberran knows today.

The Hon. Simon Crean spoke about his equivalent, King O’Malley, a teetotaler who had banned alcohol, not only at the 1913 ceremony but also for the Territory as a whole. Mr Crean had made no such requirements today and during his speech, waiters were busy carrying trays filled with glasses of champagne, handing them out to official guests in readiness for toasting Canberra’s big birthday. Following a brief speech, the Chief Minister asked everyone to stand and raise a toast to Canberra. This was followed by three ‘hip-hip-hoorays’. Champagne, specially created for the centenary, flowed for the invited guests.. We had aluminum water bottles with us, and I was surprised my husband had packed them so well as they were still icy cold. So a toast to Canberra was made with icy cold water as we drank from these cold bottles. The woman standing next to me was better prepared. She held a plastic cup full of champagne, poured from a small bottle kept in her rucksack.

The band played the National Anthem, and a few other beloved tunes, but no Old One Hundredth hymn, as was played in 1913. There was no inter-denominational service or prayers either. My husband noticed that men did not remove their hats during the playing of the National Anthem, as in the now distant past, and people moved about disrespectfully. This was just a sign of the times.

The event over, the Chief Minister repeated her performance escorting the dignitaries back to their cars. To the music of the band, the Guard of Honour thankfully marched off the sun-drenched field and retired. The band was the last off the field. The pomp and ceremony of about 50 minutes, had ended.

As we returned to the car park we noticed the troops, still in formation but in the shade of the trees, being drilled hard. Was this to get their circulation going, or was it because so many of them collapsed from heat exhaustion? Their mates were sprawled on the ground before them, still being attended to by paramedics. We couldn’t help but feel sorry for them, dressed in their hot, tight-belted dress uniforms. Heat exhaustion had happened before, at least once in 1913, and again at the 1927 opening of the Provisional Parliament House – so in a way, they were re-enacting history.

Unlike those in 1913, who had to untether or catch horses and harness them to drays, gigs or buggies, or crank the motorcar to get it started, we returned home in an air-conditioned car, travelling on sealed roads via a streamlined motorway and tree-lined streets. Canberra has not only come of age, it is now a city, thanks to all those ‘human hands’ that built the infrastructure so long ago. Happy Birthday, Canberra!

Author: Patricia Frei, Editor of Canberra and District Historical Society Newsletter
Reprinted from CDHS Newsletter






Editor's note: It is often said that good news is not news. However, it is always cheering to hear success stories from some of our many regional and local historical stories. Here are three such stories. If your local historical society has similar good news stories, please let the Federation know.



Queanbeyan (NSW) and District Historical Museum Society

“The Way We Wore” an exhibition of bridal gowns



Photographs of some of the elegant brides on their wedding day courtesy of Queanbeyan Historical Museum


From April 13th to April 27, in celebration of Queanbeyan’s 175th Birthday, Queanbeyan Historical Museum presented a charming exhibition of bridal, bridesmaids and other gowns dating from the 1880s to the 2000s.  The gowns were a reminder of the more intimate scale of the past juxtaposed with the stylish modern building of The Q Performing Arts Centre.

Using the Museum collection, and with support from the community, Museum curator Gillian Kelly, put together an outstanding collection of gowns with accompanying historical photographs reflecting the community milestone of marriage.

The gowns ranged in style from the lavish and exquisite to the simple and the quirky, illustrating changes in fashion and taste for wedding apparel over 130 years of history in the Queanbeyan area.

The exhibition and its accompanying historical photographs, also ranging over 130 years, was a fascinating trip through Queanbeyan's history and the local brides and their families.


Maryborough (QLD) Historical Society

Society battles back after the floods with first exhibit



Maryborough Historical Society member Jackie Templeton sorts through items in the first exhibition since the flood.  (Robyne Cuerel)


In its first display since the January floods, the Maryborough Historical Society helped to remember the nation's fallen soldiers in its annual Anzac Day exhibit. The exhibit includes rare photographs, badges and even the rare book Australian Chivalry, published in 1933 and discovered by the society this year. Volunteer Ken Brooks said it was the first time the society had been able to open to the public since the floods.

The School of Arts building on Kent St, which houses the society and its collection, was inundated by about 30cm of water. The floodwater left several rooms unusable until repairs can be done and revealed termite damage. The extensive collection had to be quickly moved from harm's way and volunteers now face the daunting task of restoring it. The repairs will include restoring some of the original look to the building and a new look for the collection itself.

Mr Brooks said volunteers would learn about developing exhibitions, properly mounting displays and proper interpretive displays over the next few months. He said the society was also applying for a grant to assess the book collection, many of which belonged to the original School of Arts founded in the 1860s. It is unusual that kind of collection survives," he said.

The whole building is expected to be reopened to the public in time for the Maryborough Open House event in October. While the building will be closed today, the exhibit will be open to the public from 9am-1pm on weekdays.


Article by Hannah Busch  Fraser Coast Chronicle


The York (WA) Research and Archival Centre

New home for the York Archives



At the opening of the new building (left to right) Bill Roy (President York Society, Julie Rae (Convenor Archives) , Sir William Heseltine (York Society), Tony Boyle (Shire of York President), Sheila Hood (Lotterywest).


The York Research and Archival Centre has been the hub of local history research in York for many years, though housed in very limiting circumstances. The extensive collection contains a wealth of material on the many aspects of York's history, and provides a wonderful resource for family historians. Volunteers are always willing to help steer a researcher through the collections, which include a database of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Cemetery Records, historical maps and plans of York and districts, journals, diaries, and local newspapers.

The centre’s new home is a truly magnificent corrugated iron and stone building, built at the back of the Old Monger Sandalwood Yard property owned by the York Society. With a temperature regulated room for all records in new compactor shelving, a large meeting and research room, and a work room for volunteers, the building is a credit to its architect and the York Society committee members who provided his extensive brief. It has been funded equally by the Shire of York and Lotterywest.

The opening of the building on 13th April was attended by some 70 people with honoured guests Sheila Hood from Lotterywest, Tony Boyle the President of the Shire of York, Sir William Heseltine, GCB, GCVO, ACPC an honoured York Society & RWAHS member, Bill Roy the Society’s President and Julie Rae its Convenor.

York is about 100km east of Perth and the York Society is affiliated with the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, Inc.




Editor's note: A small selection of news items has been chosen to illustrate the diversity of activities happening in historical societies around the nation.



Canberra and District Historical Society

Centenary Canberra Day Oration


The Centenary Canberra Day Oration was held at the National Library of Australia on 12 March.  Canberra poet Geoff Page spoke on the topic of 'Canberra: my first forty-nine years in the City of Curves'. Geoff’s other connection to Canberra is through his grandfather, former Prime Minister Sir Earle Page.

Geoff‘s personal experiences and insights of the city's last five decades were enthusiastically received by an audience of over 200 people. His talk included some of the poems he has written about Canberra. An article written by Geoff in a forthcoming NLA publication, 'Canberra Then and Now',  and previous articles, were available after the Oration. Some of Geoff's backlist titles were also available at a 20% discount.

This event has been held on Canberra Day, 12 March, since 1966. The Canberra and District Historical Society has been honoured to have a number of eminent speakers over the years, presenting talks on major Canberra and national issues. The oration is also published in the latest edition of the Society’s Canberra Historical Journal.


Canberra Day Orator Geoff Page

In other CDHS news, the Society held its Autumn Open Day on Saturday 13th April and is very much looking forward to hosting the FAHS AGM on 9 August.  Preparations are also well underway for our 2013 Centenary Symposium “Hidden Histories and “Back Stories”' which will be held on Saturday 10 August in the Sir Roland Wilson Building, Australian National University.


Esther Davies CDHS



History South Australia 

History festival - May 2013


South Australia’s History Festival About Time is taking place from 1-31 May.  The entire month sees an extensive array of all things historical. This year About Time comprises 522 events held by around 300 organisers, with over 100,000 attendees expected state-wide.  A diverse range of institutions including museums, archives, community and cultural organisations, universities, libraries, schools, churches, galleries, businesses, cemeteries, gardens and government agencies, all host events  South Australians from all over the State indulge in a feast of community events.  About Time is a testament to those who care for SA’s rich history and are custodians of our stories, and who wish to share them with others.

Just a few of the events on offer include:
•   Colonial SA’s gritty underbelly on a tour of West Terrace Cemetery
•   A cemetery tour on obscure and quirky way South Australians have met their fate
•   A talk on our City’s namesake English Queen Adelheid at the Town Hall
•   A display on 1973 – and ‘the Dunstan decade’ at the Festival Centre
•   A display by the Muslim Women’s Association of SA including a recitation of the Qur’an at the Migration Museum

The online program of events can be viewed online at It  also includes a handy festival planner.  You can follow the festival progress on Twitter using the hashtag #AT2013.

As part of the history festival, the city also hosted the second annual Open House Adelaide on 4 & 5 May.  This increasingly popular component of About Time, which is a part of the international Open House Worldwide movement, encourages the owners of significant buildings to unlock their doors and let the public in for free. It also showcases the diversity of the built environment of Adelaide - past, present and future. This year Open House Adelaide provided access to over 50 different properties.


The Old Treasury Buildings c.1838 Cnr King William and Flinders streets, Adelaide (Opposite G.P.O.)  (courtesy of Tour Adelaide)

For more information about the History Festival or Open House Adelaide, contact Allison Russell:

South Australian History Fund (SAHF) opens 3 June

The SAHF provides funding for small history projects, publications and research projects. The 2013-14 grant round will open on 3 June and close on 22 July 2013.  The 2013-14 Guidelines and Application form will be available from the SA Community History website here from 3 June.  You can also download lists of previous recipients of the SAHF and general guidelines from the site.  For more information contact Amanda James or Pauline Cockrill:

State History Conference 21-24 September

History SA, the Oral History Association of Australia and the University of South Australia will jointly host this years’ South Australian State conference, which will bring together professional, academic, community and oral historians. Entitled “She Said He Said” - Reading Writing and Recording History, the conference will feature a range of themes relating to contested histories; memory, technology and new developments in oral history; urban history, and Indigenous history. We hope the conference will also consider history and the future.

The conference will be held at the University of South Australia, City West Campus, Adelaide, South Australia.

For more information, contact Mandy Paul:


Royal Australian Historical Society


Bicentenary of Blue Mountains Crossings


The last report from the RAHS commented on the Society’s involvement in the various commemorations planned over the next three years for the bicentenaries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains and the opening up of the western plains of New South Wales.   A very welcome grant of $80,000 from the state Premier arrived unexpectedly, some considerable time after the then RAHS President David Carment had explained the need face to face.


The RAHS has moved quickly to commit all of this $80,000, partly to assist external projects and partly to fund its own contributions. One project has been planned by the Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association. Later in 2013, during the Festival of Walking, cultural walks with an emphasis on places of Aboriginal spiritual significance, will be organised through the Blue Mountains National Park. In May 2013, to commemorate the actual expedition by William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth, a re-enactment will be mounted by descendants of all three, setting out from Blaxland’s property near the Nepean River.


A new play called simply Crossing! has been written by Gregory Blaxland’s descendant Wendy Blaxland.  The production by Wendy and her daughter Jessica Blaxland Ashby will be performed at various venues in May and June. The government grant administered by the RAHS has been of vital assistance to these enterprises. At the urging of another descendant, Dr David Blaxland, RAHS is also providing seeding money for a new Foundation for the continuation of worthwhile activities relevant to the Crossing.


Digitisation of glass negatives


Within the RAHS itself, the major thrust is the digitisation of its highly significant collection of glass negatives by Frank Walker (1861-1948), a long-serving Councillor of the RAHS and its President at the time of the centenary events of 1913. An expert committee headed by Councillors Elizabeth Ellis (formerly of the Mitchell Library) and Christine Yeats (formerly of State Records NSW) is in charge of the digitisation project.  The Society has produced memorial badges for distribution to school-children throughout the Blue Mountains area.  It also has a wide-ranging program for restoration of the many historical plaques in the Mountains which were erected by the RAHS and have been documented by Siobhan Lavelle (of the Heritage Branch of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage).  In September, a special number of the quarterly History magazine will be dedicated to issues relating to the Crossing.



Frank Walker c 1910 [ Frank Walker Glass lantern slide Collection ]

Ian Jack RAHS



Royal Historical Society of Queensland

Centenary year of the Royal Society of Queensland


This year the Royal Historical Society of Queensland is celebrating its centenary year, the first meeting of the Society having occurred on 21st August 1913.  The Society’s celebrations will comprise of a range of different events to be held throughout the year including exhibitions, lectures, ‘At Homes’, book launches, research and publication activities, dinners and informal social events.

The Society will also use its Centenary year to draw attention to other long-term projects such as the promotion of the heritage of Brisbane’s North Bank.  Recently the RHSQ completed the two-year Historic Precinct Signs project in partnership with the National Trust of Queensland and Brisbane City Council.  These signs are identifiable by the royal blue colour and steel top, and are situated at five sites around the historic William/George Street precinct. The project has been a collaborative effort by a team of RHSQ volunteers, and affords a great opportunity to not only promote Society activities, but to engage with the wider community to foster a greater interest in local history.

 “At Homes” are an important part of the RHSQ’s annual program, so this year, in conjunction with the regular “At Homes’ and Wednesday Lunch-time Talks, the Society is planning a special Centenary Open Day for the 2nd June, which also coincides with Queensland Week. The purpose of the day is to provide an opportunity for the wider community to celebrate the Society’s community through a program of public history lectures, music, a display of vintage cars, period Queensland films and a sausage sizzle.  The Society’s Centenary Seminar will be held on 22nd June, with lectures given by local historians and centred upon the theme “1913”.

The RHSQ, in partnership with the Queensland State Archives, will hold our annual Queensland Day Dinner on 6th June at the newly refurbished Brisbane City Hall, and a special Centenary Dinner on 21st August at Tattersall’s Club.  Another special centenary celebration is a Centenary Reception to be held by the Patron of the RHSQ, HE The Governor, Ms. Penelope Wensley at Government House on 17th September for the Society and its members.

Other centenary-inspired projects include two Society medals being struck in the centenary year - the Presidents’ Centenary Medal (available for purchase) and the Centenary Medal. The Centenary Medal has been donated by Professor John Pearn and Greg Faux as an annual award to acknowledge and commend the achievements of a local historian who has made substantial contributions to the advancement of regional history and community museums in Queensland.   A Centenary Project has been approved for conservation of significant items in the Welsby Library and a special Centenary Edition of the Queensland History Journal will be published this year.

Since its inception in 1913, the RHSQ has maintained its position as Queensland’s peak history body by staying relevant to changing generations, whilst maintaining its core values.  The RHSQ’s centenary year provides the Society an opportunity to celebrate its important role in Queensland’s historical community with its members, affiliated societies, academic and wider community. Further details on our upcoming events are listed on our website

Helen McMonagle President RHSQ



Royal Historical Society of Victoria

Royal Historical Society of Victoria Pioneer Register


In 1909 the Historical Society of Victoria (‘Royal’ was bestowed in 1952) was formed by people who were keen to capture the history of our State while there were still some of the pioneer settlers still living.  In about 1917, when the Society’s home was at 421 Collins Street, Melbourne, a bright spark came up with the idea of creating a ‘Register of early colonists who arrived in Victoria before 21st November 1856’-the date on which the Parliament of Victoria first met.  Later the date was extended to include all who arrived in or were born before the end of 1900.  Suitably titled one-page forms were made available and members and others were invited to fill in, as far as possible, particulars about an early colonist and return the form to the Honorary Secretary.  In the 96 years since then, more than 1200 completed forms have been filed in alphabetical order in the library of the (now) Royal Historical Society of Victoria, and are believed to contain about 25,000 names.

The particulars on the forms include:

Colonist’s name in full
Date and place of birth
Names of parents and their residences
Date of arrival in Victoria and name of ship
Places of residence, with dates
Public offices filled, if any
Any literary work done – publications, or contributions to the press
Date and place of marriage
Name of wife in full, with parents’ names in full and their place of residence
Names of children
Date and place of death
Is any portrait of colonist available?
Signature of informant  /  relationship to colonist, if any / address  /  date

Given that the bulk of these amazingly informative documents carry a date prior to the 1950s, and that there are so many of them, it is obvious that here is a genealogical treasure trove just waiting to be explored.  The forms were often accompanied by photographs, excerpts from diaries and journals, brief family histories and other information One example is a form completed by the grand-daughter of James William Hamilton who in 1956 provided details of his arrival in February 1852 on the ‘Stebonheath’ from his place of birth on the Isle of Wight.  On the reverse of the form was included the following narrative (punctuation as in original): 


Mr & Mrs James Hamilton arrived off Point Henry near Geelong in February 1852 with four children, Martha, Mary, James and William.  He had been a master sawyer in the Isle of Wight and brought his big saws with him.  Going out to the Anakies to select land he was waylaid by a bushranger who stole half his money.  He selected land and set up his trade.  In later years he sold out and went by bullock wagon to Officer. and cut the timber for the sleepers to build the Geelong to Ballarat and towards Melbourne from Geelong railway lines.  As the ground was cleared it was dug over and planted with grain by hand, when ripe was cut by hand, grain was bagged and sent by horseback to Steiglitz for crushing for food.  The family first lived in tents until the father gradually built a log house, surrounded by stub fence for protection from blacks.  My mother Alice was the first white child born in the Anakies.  The blacks used to come to see the white picaninny and often used to visit the house for a little flour.  They were the Barrabool tribe under King Billy.  The lonely grave at the Anakies is Mr James William Hamilton who died aged 50 of blackwater fever.  The son James was later a mounted policeman and chased the Kelly gang.  All supplies had to be got from Steiglitz by horseback, the only means of travel.  The eldest daughter Martha married a Mr Harris and kept the store at Steiglitz

Martha (Mrs Harris) was born on the Isle of Wight, England, and died on 26 October 1926; Mary (Mrs Holden) was born on the Isle of Wight on 20 August 1846 and died 22 May 1947; William; James died 26 January 1922; Alice (Mrs Fleet) was born at Anakie on 15 October 1857 and died on 2 March 1951; Elizabeth (Mrs Bonney) was born at Anakie and died on 2 March 1934; Harry was born at Anakie and died on 28 June 1944; Jack was born at Anakie and died on 19 July 1947.  Their mother, Mrs Hamilton, was Anne nee Dunford.

Further examples of biographical and/or genealogical information contained in the files include the form completed by Matthew John Murray, dated 10 September 1919 about himself.  He was born on 22 June 1846 in Melbourne, the son of Phillip Murray and Elizabeth (Henderson), natives of county Fermanagh, Ireland, who arrived on the ‘Christina’ from Sydney in March 1845.  He married on 17 January 1871 at St Ignatius, Richmond to Elizabeth Coffey, daughter of Michael Coffey and Ellen (Masterson) of County Meath, Ireland, and had six children.  Murray included a memo about his parents: 


My parents sailed from Plymouth 14th February 1839 for Sydney in ship “Red Rover” with passengers & cargo, 500 tons, Cap. Smith.  Calling at an island (near Cape Verde) ship got on rocks.  Passengers brought to Sydney by the “Ferguson” – arrived there end of July or beginning of August 1839.  My parents left Sydney in 1845 to join a brother & two sisters who arrived in Melbourne in meantime.

William Hall junior was born on 2nd January 1827 at Frome in Somerset, England, the son of William Hall and Joanna (nee Noad) of Paulton, Somerset.  He arrived on the “Andromache” on 23 June 1840 and from 1848 lived at Purvis Place Williamstown, marrying Maria Pitson at St James Cathedral on 14 April 1853.  Giovanni Roberto Merlo was born in 1836 at Villa di Tirano in Lombardy, Italy, and arrived in 1861 on the ‘Green Jacket’, gold-digging at Ballarat until 1867 when he married Mary Ann Tuddenham of Ross Creek at St Alipius, after which they moved to the Alexandra district and had eleven children before dying aged 75 years in 1912.  


Giovanni (John) Merlo and his wife Mary Ann ( nee Tuddenham )

Joan Hunt  RHSV



Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Historical societies’ and individual members’ achievements—Western Australian Heritage Awards 2013


Royal Western Australian Historical Society affiliated societies and individual members of those organisations and the Society were among those honoured when The Western Australian Heritage Awards for 2013 were announced recently.

The Cockburn Sound Historical Society was the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Heritage by a Community-based Organisation category for its local and regional promotion activities.  These include features in the Perth/Fremantle catalogue designed for State Tourism, the City of Cockburn’s catalogue encouraging exploration of its environs, conducting groups, annual events for the community and for contributing to the Western Australian Heritage Festival exhibitions. The Davilak Ruin’s information board’s update is the precursor to their exciting planned next stage of preservation. Highly commended in the same category was The Newdegate Historical Society for its persistent efforts in developing the Hainsworth Building, an historic shop and residence, as a museum and local historical icon.

Also highly commended was The Broome Historical Society in the Outstanding Conservation of a Non-residential Place for its restoration of the Sailmaker’s Shed.  This building is one of the very few sites in Broome representative of the town’s pearling heritage and has the potential to become a significant site for increased activity that will enhance and highlight this important phase in the town’s history.

The winner of the Outstanding Voluntary Contribution to Heritage by an Individual was Jenny Edgecome who has been an outstanding champion of heritage in Toodyay, working as part of the Toodyay Historical Society to preserve and promote the town’s unique heritage. Highly commended in this category was one of the Society’s Vice-Patrons, Professor Bolton AO for his volunteer work over the past 40 years to preserve and promote Western Australia’s maritime heritage, primarily as a founding member of the Australia and the Netherlands Concerning Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS) committee. A finalist in this category was Mervyn James Andre who has worked with the Esperance Bay Historical Society for almost 40 years as a Management Committee Member and President.  As Shire President between 1978 and 1987 he played an important part in promoting local history and heritage efforts.

Andrew Bowman was the winner of the Outstanding Newcomer: The Professor David Dolan Award for his voluntary efforts with the Carnamah Historical Society that have contributed to Carnamah's heritage rising from relative obscurity to inclusion in the National Museum of Australia’s Landmarks: People and Places across Australia gallery.  He has led the way with multiple virtual and online endeavours that have provided the opportunity for thousands more people to discover and engage with the district's heritage.  He's helped conserve the heritage-listed Macpherson Homestead and the collections of the Carnamah and Young Australia League museums. He is a member of The Royal Western Australian Historical Society’s Council and serves on its Affiliated Societies Committee.

This article is drawn from the listing of the 2013 Western Australian Heritage Awards on the Heritage Council of WA website


Tasmanian Historical Research Association

“The ambitions of Jane Franklin: Victorian lady adventurer” - book launch


It was most appropriate that the wife of the Tasmanian governor, Frances Underwood, launched Alison Alexander’s biography of a nineteenth-century governor’s wife, Jane Franklin.

In the sandstone temple which Jane Franklin built in the bush outside Hobart as a museum, Mrs Underwood launched The ambitions of Jane Franklin: Victorian lady adventurer (Allen & Unwin). Colonial ladies and gentlemen attended, and adventurous audience members were carried in a replica of the chair in which convicts carried Jane Franklin herself on her trip to Tasmania’s west coast.

Jane Franklin did many other unusual things in the colony: tried to rid it of snakes, started an agricultural colony and a scientific society and journal, tried to turn Aboriginal children into Europeans – and also assisted her husband in politics.  They were attacked by his opponents, but Jane used the lessons she learnt in this tough school back in England, after her husband disappeared trying to find the Northwest Passage.  This indomitable woman persuaded the British and others to search for him far more than they wanted to, and then convinced the world that her hero had discovered the passage, despite a total lack of evidence.



Book launch guests at Lady Jane Franklin’s sandstone temple

Alison Alexander THRA


Letter to the Editor, and a response

Who actually DID cross the Blue Mountains first?


Editor’s Note In a “first” for the FAHS Newsletter, we received a letter responding to an article in the December edition. The confirmation that the newsletter is actually read and elicits responses is indeed cheering.  Although it is now some time since we received the letter, and there is no guarantee we will be able to print future letters, we have decided to print this one together with a response from Dr David Carment of the RAHS.

The Letter

To the Editor,

In the Federation Newsletter No. 36 - December 2012, the article “Western Crossings: Commemorating the Bicentenary of the First European Crossings of the Blue Mountains” gave – as usual – full credit to Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson; the article states: “(their) journey in 1813  ...  that led to Bathurst’s foundation in 1815.”  That sort of thing was what I recall hearing in school and no doubt you do too. It is, however a serious distortion of what actually happened and articles of this character do a serious disservice to the man – George William Evans – who actually DID cross the mountains first. I have a copy of the extensive biography of Evans by AK Weatherburn and it makes very interesting reading; at the same time it is depressing to think how he has been treated by posterity. To quote the Australian Dictionary of Biography

 “He (Evans) set out in November (1813) and successfully (reached) the Macquarie River some forty-two miles (68 km) beyond Bathurst, and was thus the first European to cross the Great Dividing Range, the more famous expedition led by Gregory Blaxland not having actually crossed the main range.”

 The famous trio were considered “gentlemen” but Evans was never bracketed in that class – he was a lowly surveyor.


Allan Jamieson, Burnie Historical Society, Tasmania

The Response

Dear Allan,

The purpose of my very short newsletter article was to draw attention to the bicentenary commemorations that have now commenced rather than to provide a historical account of the first crossings. I have written elsewhere that these are best seen as a sequence that includes the journeys of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, Evans, Cox and his road builders, and Macquarie.

I agree with you regarding Evans' importance. You may be pleased to know that he is receiving more recognition. Ian Jack, for instance, recently gave a most interesting talk about him at History House and he is going to get quite a bit of publicity as the commemorations proceed.

Kind regards,
David Carment

Emeritus Professor David Carment, AM



Canberra 2013 Centenary Symposium

'Hidden Histories and “Back Stories”'


Saturday 10 August at Sir Roland Wilson Building, Australian National University

Canberra and District Historical Society in association with the Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies

Registration Fees $60 members
                               $65 non-members

                               $30 students
(Morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea are included in the registration fee)




Can you help? Looking for teachers and/or pupils at Telopea Park School before December 1938

As a part of its 90th birthday celebrations in September, Canberra’s oldest school Telopea Park School will be hosting an afternoon tea for those students enrolled in the school on or before December, 1938.  If you fit into this category, or know of someone who does, and would like to receive an invitation, please write to the school at the following address:

Founders’ Day Afternoon Tea”
Telopea Park School, Lycee Franco-Australien de Canberra
NSW Crescent, Barton ACT,  2600


Alternatively, you can contact the school by telephone 02 6205 5599 and ask to have your/their name and address added to the “Founders’ Day” invitation list.

Esther Davies CDHS




World History Association Symposium - Fremantle, 3-5 October 2013


We recently received the following message from Winston Welch, Executive Director of the World History Association


Dear Colleague,


We are delighted to be able to confirm our speaking line up for the World History Association 2013 Conference Faith, Empire and Conflict, October 3rd-5th, 2013, hosted by University of Notre Dame Australia--Fremantle and co-sponsored by the Australian Historical Association. The conference offers a wonderful opportunity to commune with an international community of world history scholars and teachers.

Since the days of Ancient Civilizations the world has been shaped by the rise and fall of empires, the disputes of faith and the outbreak of conflict. From Mesopotamia to Rome and Byzantium to Gallipoli, civilizations have been shaped by three critical elements: empire, faith and conflict. Perhaps more than any other period of world history, the past century has seen empires brought to their knees, faith pitted against faith, and conflict sweep the globe.

On the eve of the centenary of the Great War, we invite you to join us for a unique opportunity to examine the intersection of empire, faith and conflict in world history and their impact in shaping the modern world.

Andrew May (Melbourne) has agreed to give the keynote; Michael McCarthy (Maritime Museum of WA) will give a special guest paper; and the AHA has convened a panel on the Pacific which includes Margaret Jolly, Hilary Carey and Tracey Banivanua Mar. Special Speakers notes are at this link

We would like to ask your assistance to publicise the conference and that you kindly distribute on your email lists Call for Papers link and post the attached pdf in your workplace.

There is a simple Abstract Submission link and Conference Registration link here

Complete information can be found at

We thank you for your kind support in sharing this information with your colleagues, and look forward to seeing you in Fremantle.

Best regards,
Winston Welch
Executive Director







Nominations for the FAHS Merit Awards for 2013 close on 30 June 2013.

Information about the awards (including a list of previous recipients) is available on the FAHS website.

The guidelines (in PDF format) and nomination form (in PDF and DOC format) can be downloaded from the website.

Please consider nominating a member of your society – successful nominations help raise the profile of all volunteers in local history.





Are you passing this FAHS Newsletter (and its sister publication, the FAHS e-Bulletin) on to those within your historical society who may be interested in them?

The FAHS tries to send the e-mails to the current President or Secretary, but it is not always easy to keep up with changes in office-bearers which may have taken place. If you are not the most appropriate person for us to be sending them to, we would be grateful if you would let us know of an alternative, so that the publications can reach as many of your members as possible.




History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
Winston Churchill