Posted by: jkirkby8712 | July 30, 2011

Saturday, 30th July 2011 – Quiet Saturday, and a relaxed mood amidst thoughts of 175 years of this town!

I have a habit of remembering dates, but forgetting lots of other important facts!!  Today is the birthday of a friend I used to work with – have only seen her once in the last 16 years, just where have those years flown to?   Anyway, wherever you are, CL, enjoy your day, and keep smiling that beautiful smile I will  always remember J


Meanwhile, this writer is not really in the mood for doing any of those many tasks he should be attending to this weekend. A reasonable sleep for a change overnight, following last evening’s brief ‘party interlude’ for son James, and his celebrations at Briodie’s  [Irish] Hotel in Brunswick. He had all of his family there at different stages plus a bunch of ‘hard drinking’ friends and fans, the majority of whom turned up ‘after’ I left!!  Adam & Jodie were still there, presumably for the bulk of the evening, Interesting to learn that Adam had bought himself a share in a racehorse  – well, a ‘trotter’ to be precise, with a guy he works with, and the owner/driver of the horse. Another interesting expense for him to take on, perhaps I can begin to feel not so guilty about passing over to Adam some of his car related expenses that I continue to support him with!!!  Certainly,  he seems to be doing much better for himself these days. As for the later stages of last night’s celebrations, I’m not sure I want to hear too much about them, or what eventuated.   A very tired Susan, after her week at the school in Gisborne, came back home with me, and I think she was asleep before I even finished watching the football!!


Speaking of the football  –   well I am now anyway  –   I got home last night to find the TV coverage of the game, Carlton vs North Melbourne was beyond the halfway stage, and  the Blues were behind. However, as a Carlton supporter, I did get to watch the better part of the game, and  my Blues eventually got on top of their opponents, and went on to a reasonable, if not below form display! The Blues moved back into 3rd position on the Ladder, for the time being, but could end the season down in 5th position, depending on th their results and that of other teams around us!!  I hope not.

Quarter by quarter scores were as follows.


Carlton Blues:                         1.4.10     3.9.27     6.12.48      FINAL:  11.14.80

Nth Melbourne Kangaroos:   3.2.20     6.2.38     7.6.42        Final:      9.8.62


My earlier relaxed  mood stayed around today – it was a dismal and chilly day in Sunbury, and not an encouragement for outside work!  So I spent part of the afternoon cooking a roast for Susan and myself  [which, in retrospect, didn’t turn out as good as I had anticipated – the half leg of lamb I had purchased this morning, had more bone in it than had been obvious, and I was a little disappointed at the outcome  –  my cooking needs some attention [or maybe, I need a cook!!].


Meanwhile, I think I have mentioned previously that Sunbury is celebrating it’s 175th anniversary this year since the town’s formal establishment in 1836, and the following brief extract, outlines some of the town’s history, as detailed in the Australian Heritage magazine recently. The comments below, in italics, are my notes.


The Sunbury area’s first white settlers were George Evans and William Jackson, who arrived in July 1836. It was Jackson, who, together with his brother, Samuel, named Sunbury after the English Sunbury-on-Thames. Evans took up the Emu Bottom run. His original sandstone homestead (1836) remains today as part of a more substantial building [and is today, one of Sunbury’s historic tourist and entertaining venues].  W.J.T. ‘Big’ Clarke was another early pastoralist to obtain land in the Sunbury area. The double storey, bluestone fifty room ‘Rupertswood’ mansion  [a painting print of which  was recently commissioned for the 175th anniversary, and I have just recently purchased a copy  – currently trying to decide which location in the house I want to display it] was built by his son, Sir William Clarke, from 1874/76. The mansion features a 100 feet high tower and a description from the time states that it was built in the ‘Byzantine order of architecture’. A ballroom was added to the building in 1881/82.

Rupertswood, one of the largest residences in Victoria, was also an important social centre [and remains that way today] and played host to parties, balls and hunt meets. Clarke, who was the president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, met the English cricket team while sailing home from a European tour in 1882 and invited them to join him for Christmas and New Year at Rupertswood, a visit which has been credited as giving rise to the existence of the Ashes trophy. The Ashes, today a biannual series of test cricket matches played between England and Australia, was born as a result of Australia’s surprise seven run victory against the English team in a one off test match at The Oval in England in 1882. This was the first time that an Australian eleven had played an English eleven.

The English Sporting Times ran a satirical obituary, written by journalist Reginald Brooks, after the match which lamented the death of English cricket and stated that, ‘The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia’. The English team, captained by the Hon Ivo Bligh, travelled to Australia to reclaim ‘the Ashes’ in 1882/83, winning a three test series 21. Though there was a long held view that the Ashes trophy was presented to Bligh after the third match, further research around the centenary of the Ashes gave rise to another version of events. This account tells the story of the Ashes urn being presented to Bligh after a social game at Rupertswood. The urn was said to contain a burnt bail, but it has also been stated that the urn

contains the remains of a burnt stump, ball or ball cover. It was also

suggested by Bligh’s daughterinlaw that the urn actually contains the

remnants of her motherinlaw’s veil. Bligh retained the urn until his death in  1927. It was given to the Lord’s cricket ground in the 1930s and remains there today.

The Clarke family sold the Rupertswood property to Sunshine Harvester manufacturer, H.V. Mackay in 1922. Rupertswood was subsequently subdivided and the remaining property was acquired by the Salesian order of Catholic priests and brothers in 1927.

The railway reached Sunbury during the construction of the line between Melbourne and Bendigo from 1859 to 1862, around which time Sunbury’s first vineyards were being planted. The Sunbury region grew into an important winemaking area and Victoria was producing half of Australia’s wine at one point during the 19th century However, an infestation of the ‘Phylloxera’ vine louse devastated the state’s vineyards (though it bypassed Sunbury) after entering Victoria in the 1870s and the depression of the 1890s signalled the further decline of the winemaking industry

The ‘Craiglee’ vineyard was established in 1863 by politician and

businessman, James Stewart Johnston, who constructed the property’s

bluestone winery between 1865 and 1868. Winemaking at Craiglee ceased in the 1920s due to the economic circumstances and public tastes of the time. Vines were replanted on the site of the original vineyard by Patrick Carmody in 1976 [and on a couple of occasions in the late 1980s,  I helped  to pick the grape crop at that winery, as part of my kids’ school community outreach]. James Goodall Francis, who became the Victorian premier in 1870, also established his Goonawarra  vineyard in 1863 [the family home here in Sunbury, where my wife,, her mother and one son & daughter still currently live was built in 1983, just over the hill from this winery, on the estate which is known as the Goonawarra Estate  –  the name derived from an Aboriginal name for black swan]. The vineyard continued to operate for a while after Francis’ death in 1884, but the land here too was eventually given over to other farming activities [and then eventually, the housing estate referred to]. The remaining 17 acres of the Goonawarra property was bought and replanted as a vineyard in 1983 by John and Elizabeth Barnier. Original buildings such as the homestead (1863/75) still remain on the property today [and is used as a restaurant and winery for sales, etc]

The Sunbury township was also developing in the 1860s. A Catholic church and school, as well as an Anglican school opened in 1860. In 1867 a permanent Anglican church was established, and a Presbyterian church was built the next year.  An industrial school opened at Sunbury in 1864 [on the top of Jacksons Hill]  and was converted to a mental asylum in 1879. Extensions were made to the building between 1891 to 1914. The asylum was renamed the Caloola Centre in 1985. It was decommissioned in the early 1990s and opened as a campus of the Victorian University of Technology in 1995  [which institution subsequently ceased operations in Sunbury about 18 months ago –  Radio Station 3NRG is now one of a number of community facilities which operate out of  some of  the former buildings].

Sunbury, around 35 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, began to develop as a commuter suburb of Melbourne from the 1960s. In the 2006 Census Sunbury’s estimated population was recorded as 31,004 people [I continue with people who try and describe Sunbury as a Melbourne suburb –  we are a town in our own right, and while development of business and retail establishments, and residential areas have grown enormously since our arrival in 1983 – encouraged to come here by the motto ‘Country living, City style –  I will continue to regard our town in that manner – certainly, it is a beautiful relief, even today, from the inner suburban pandemonium of the areas I work in during the week].


As part of the 175 celebrations,  a ceremony to retrieve time capsules, which were interred 25 years ago to commemorate the 150th year of Sunbury, will be held on 15th August, 2011 from 2pm at the George Evans monument which is situated outside the Sunbury Library and

George Evans museum. The contents will be on display at the George Evans museum later in the year.  Back in 1986, sixteen community groups and schools filled plastic pipes with local memorabilia from the day and they have now been sealed for 25 years. It is hoped that another collection of time capsules will be buried with a view to

retrieval during Sunbury’s 200th anniversary in 2036’.

Over the coming months, I hope to include a few more little historical notes about my town in these pages. The local Sunbury Heritage and \Historical Society has recently produced a series of short ‘messages’ about our young history, and these are broadcast daily on our radio station.




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