Posted by: jkirkby8712 | September 14, 2011

Thursday, 1st September to Wednesday, 7th September 2011 – the first week of Spring – history, family & health issues!!

This is another of my consolidated contributions, with daily entries having slipped by over the last couple of weeks – hoping to catch up and get back into a regular daily routine very shortly……  I began Spring with a trip to my ancestral  [Australian] homelands, and a dose of laryngitis!

Thursday, 1st September 2011 – Spring is here, accompanied by a throat virus!!

I just couldn’t believe it. After joint planning of this weekend’s activities for over nine months, I wake this morning with a throat infection, and a day, for any other reason, I would have simply remained in bed and visited a doctor during the day. Although I knew that was what I should do,  I was in fact up, and on my way north on the highway by 8.45 am.  A sore throat and head ache, but neither bad enough to convince me that I should cancel this morning’s commitment in Castlemaine, even though I knew it might react against me over the next couple of days. I decided that if things became too severe, I would try and find a medical facility on my travels, and at least get some anti biotic prescription  [eventually, early in the afternoon, I did at least call in at a local pharmacy, and purchase something which was supposedly a little than what I’d prepared myself with before leaving home].

Although it was dull and overcast before I left Sunbury and for a few towns up the highway, the day would turn out to be a beautiful welcome to Spring [first day of Spring], and I took advantage of the sunshine, spending as much time as I could, in the sun, but out of the shade & coolish breeze.

I arrived at the Castlemaine Historical Society building on time, at 10am, to be greeted by the Society treasurer & his wife. While the next couple of hours would not produce very much ‘new’ information [it simply didn’t exist] they had undertaken quite a deal of research into my particular query  – which was, the finding of evidence that William Kirk & his wife Isabella, and their unfortunate first child, Mary, had been in this area in the 1854/55 period. The Society had an extensive collection of records, but the name Kirk [the right family anyway] were not recorded in any fashion during their supposed time on the goldfields. However, what I did come away with, were a number of further suggested search avenues, most of them involving a visit to the Public Record Office – something I will have more time to follow up, after October. But as far as this area was concerned, there was little to help with my enquiries – looking at the kind of research that this couple, in addition to the Society itself, had carried out, if there had been something to find, they would have done so! Anyway, for what it was worth, I left with them, a copy of the booklet on the ‘life and families’ of my ancestor, which I had prepared for this weekend.

I had a bit of a wander around the Castlemaine CBD before I went searching for tonight’s accommodation – made the ‘mistake’ of visiting a rather large and expansive book shop – I call it a mistake, because I made a purchase, which a little while later, I would almost regret doing!  A magnificent publication entitled ‘Footprints Across the Loddon Plains’ – a shared history between the arrival of Europeans in Australia generally, and more specifically, in that part of central and north Victoria, and with some 30,000 years or more of Aboriginal history of the local tribes. I bought this book because it complimented the History of the McMillan’ family that I had recently purchased, dealing with the same area – around Lake Boort in particular, where one branch of my own family [the Sutties] had first settled. This book also consisted of some considerable diary entries of some of the early settlers of that time.

My comment above about ‘regret at the purchase’ came about when I visited the Castlemaine Art Gallery later in the afternoon, and discovered two or three books that I would have liked to have purchased that dealt directly with the gold rush period in the Castlemaine area, as well as a couple of great biographies on the artist who was currently been featured in the Gallery, named Jack [his surname, forgotten his first name]. His collection of paintings and other works was so vast – a huge genre of different styles and subjects, covering all aspects of Australian life, from the interior of a city church, to the far distant outback regions of the Northern Territory. But I decided that one rather expensive book purchase was enough for the one day [though perhaps I might return tomorrow!!].

I went for a mid afternoon drive out to the Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery, just a few kilometres from the town centre. – and forgot to take my camera with me, after making a point, a little while earlier of  purchasing some fresh batteries for the damn thing!!! Back tomorrow morning!

The site of the ‘cemetery’ was so peaceful, and deserted – graves, which consisted in most cases of simply a small slab of rock stuck in the ground, and if names had of existed, they were now long since worn away – in fact, there were probably just half a dozen, where any kind of name existed, and in those cases,  a modern little plague had been placed to spell out the original details. As already discovered this morning, no record of any ‘Mary Kirk’ buried there – I just had to accept the Death Certificate which said this was where she was buried, at 5 weeks of age, on or after the 13th May, 1855.

The following wording appears on the welcoming notice board at the entrance to the ‘cemetery’ area which is simply an excised piece of fenced in land covered in box gums, and the countless little rock mounds and/or attempts at an actual grave, most of them quite small.

Pennyweight Flat Cemetery 1852-1857

‘Over 200 children were buried here, having fallen victim to the diseases of the gold rush.  This site is a rare surviving example of a Gold Rush cemetery. Shortage of water, contaminated water, poor diet, and frequent accidents took a heavy toll on those who flocked to the diggings in search of fortune. Those children who accompanied their parents and babies born on the goldfields were particularly vulnerable to the harsh conditions. Between 1852 and 1857 about 200 bodies, including children and babies were buried here at Pennyweight Flat on the fringe of the Mt Alexander gold workings. A pennyweight is a very small measure of gold, no wealth was sacrificed by establishing the cemetery here. The site was so barren it would not be disturbed by fossickers or miners. Today’s peaceful landscape, including the grey box-trees which began to grow just after the cemetery was established, looks very different from the swarming activity of what was once the richest alluvial [surface] gold-field in the world. So wealthy were the Mt Alexander diggings that stories of “gold for the taking” spread around the world, prompting one of the great mass-migrations of the nineteenth century. Often unrecorded and uncoffined, buried in shallow graves, these fossickers and their families represented the coming free Australia’.

With the throat situation deteriorating as the night closed in, my plan was to stay ‘in’ and hope things were better in the morning. Not optimistic.  Meanwhile, not expecting it, but I managed to get onto the internet tonight which was useful, was able to update a few tasks. Also noticed a couple of promising Australian sporting  outcomes. Sam Stosur, for example in the US Open, which began this week, has won her way into the third round, after defeating Coco Vandeweghe of the USA in two sets 6/3,6/4.  I try and keep a track on Sam’s overall tennis progress from her Face Book site, hope her run of wins here continues. Meanwhile, the ‘new’ Australian Test cricket team is over in Sri Lanka, and the 1st Test is underway. Progressive scores towards the end of Day 2 show:  Australia 273 and 3 for 83. Sri Lanka 105.  Test debutante for Australia, Nathan Lyons, whom not even my cricket playing son knew much about, began his career with a first ball wicket – the first Australian in 117 years to achieve the feat – and ended up taking five wickets of the small Sri Lankan innings. Great start to a career!

I should be forgetting about politics for a few days, but it’s hard to ignore the latest crisis which has hit the Federal Government –  the High Court opinion that, in basic terms, Labor’s plans to send asylum seekers to Malaysia in a so-called swap deal is illegal, and as GetUp suggested the Government’s plan is in tatters. Or as the ever critical Coalition opposition  put it, ‘Yesterday, the High Court highlighted the chronic incompetence of the Gillard Government’. Anyway, apparently the Cabinet is meeting tonight to ‘make a choice’ –  to recommit to processing asylum seekers in a faster, more humane way here in Australia, or to reopen John Howard’s ‘Pacific Solution’ processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.  Even that latter solution may be considered illegal, although I gather that one of the factors in the Malaysia ruling was that country’s past poor record on the treatment of refugees. I think I’ve made my view clear  – we should accept our international obligations, and  process any asylum seekers onshore here in Australia.

As for my football team, Carlton has made three changes to the side that came home strongly against Hawthorn in round 22, for this Saturday night’s game against St Kilda at the MCG. Three players who represented the Northern Bullants last weekend have been elevated to the Carlton team for this Saturday night’s match against St Kilda at the MCG. While Carlton had a bye last weekend the Bullants played their final home and away game for the season and Kane Lucas, Setanta O’hAilpin and Zac Tuohy all convinced the match committee they were ready to return to the Carlton side. Kane Lucas has played the one game this season, in round one against Richmond, and he has overcome some minor injuries to be in form at the right time of the season. Setanta O’hAilpin has been kicking goals in the VFL in recent weeks and he returns for his first AFL match since round 11 when the Blues defeated Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium. The big Irishman has played five games in 2011  Zac Tuohy has been recalled to the Carlton side after being omitted for the round 22 match against Hawthorn. Zac made his debut in round 11 against Port Adelaide and he has played nine games for the season. It will be only the second time Carlton’s Irish duo, Setanta O’hAilpin and Zac Tuohy have played in the same team for Carlton. Marcus Davies and David Ellard have been omitted from the team while Bret Thornton is out injured.

In the meantime, Denis Collins, the 30-game wingman with Carlton in two seasons through 1978 and ’79, has died suddenly of a heart attack in the Western Australian town of Hyden. He was 58.   The son of former Fitzroy and Essendon premiership player Jack Collins, and brother to Footscray’s one-game player Daryl, Denis was a born and bred Braybrook boy and a contemporary of Doug Hawkins. Collins represented Footscray in 100 senior matches over six seasons before crossing town to Princes Park. He was 24 years and 333 days old when he first turned out for the Blues in the No.1 guernsey, against Melbourne in the third round of ’78 at Princes Park. Carlton won. Collins, who inherited the nickname “Scruffy” due to the full beard he sported when he played, is remembered as an aggressive running player. The 1979 Carlton premiership captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko said of Collins: “To play in the VFL as it was known you had to be a very good player, but he’d be a sensational AFL player now – he had good skills and a ton of pace”. “If memory serves he was in the mix for the 1979 Grand Final team,” Jesaulenko said. “It was a toss-up between him, Michael Young and Peter Francis for the two wing positions, and our decision to go with Michael and Peter proved right because they finished amongst the team’s best.” That Collins’ old team should meet St Kilda in the final round of the home and away season this Saturday night is somewhat ironic, for it was in the final round match of 1978 between the two teams that Collins found himself face-up on the Moorabbin turf following a confrontation with the Saints’ volatile footballer Robert “Mad Dog”Muir.  Mad dog was an appropriate name for Muir – if he was playing today, well he wouldn’t be, he would have been banned for life by now!!

Now, men are meanwhile often accused of not looking after their health –  Carlton midfielder Andrew Carrazzo has joined the fight against men’s cancer. The 27 year old has teamed up with Blue September, an awareness and fundraising initiative for men’s cancer, to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and Bowel Cancer Australia.  Speaking at Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station yesterday, Carrazzo said men needed to move on from a time when going to the doctor’s was a sign of weakness. “The Blue September cause is brilliant. The stigma of a previous generation was to stay away from your doctor, but I think that’s slowly changing.” he said. “I’ve had a history of a few health issues in my family, so I’m constantly encouraging members of my family to go and get their health checked.”  A promotion worth supporting and taking note of!


Friday, 2nd September 2011  –  a Spring morning on the roads

I woke with a ‘voice’ that was almost non-existent, glad {I think][ that it’s tomorrow midday I have to talk, think this is going to develop into a basic but annoying cold.  Susie responded on Face Book with my reference to a sore throat, that typical of me, have a few days off work, and get ill!!!  Probably a truthful  fact about most of my working life.  Poor sleep overnight, but at least the motel was fairly quiet, bit of traffic out in the street but of no real concern to me. This morning, looks like we are in for another lovely Spring day, sun shining brilliantly.  Not good news in the US Open Tennis with our Aussie reps who were competing  overnight, all going out – Bernard Tomic. Jelena Dokic and the Jarmila [ex Groth].

After signing out from the motel, I drove back out to the Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery, this time laden with my camera, with the aim of recording a few scenes from the site. It was quiet, early morning peacefulness away from the bustle of the town across the gullies, and while there was no sign of any wildlife around now, animals have obviously being in the area since I was here yesterday, most likely wallabies, etc. As described yesterday, it was a cemetery that functioned between 1852 and 1857, in the earliest days of gold diggings in the Castlemaine area, and many of the burials were of children, often born on the goldfields. The area consists of a small knoll enclosed by a rock wall overlooking the Forest Creek, and, while it’s history reminds us of the hard conditions that would have existed during the gold rushes.  The picture below, shows a rare ‘gravestone’ still existing – in most cases, the graves then, and now, simply consisted of pieces of the rock presumably lying scattered around the area.


 Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery Colles Rd Castlemaine.


Somewhere, in this lonely and deserted little piece of Australian bushland, the first child of my Great Great Grandparents was buried, at 5 weeks of age. Her name was Mary.

From Pennyweight Flat, I drove around to the Bourke & Wills Memorial, situated at the top of a steep little hill, just on the fringe of the main business area of Castlemaine.   This was in recognition of an across Australia expedition of the two overland explorers – Robert O’Hara Burke and William John  Wills, who were part of an expedition from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria at the northern top of Australia, during 1860/61.  On August 20th 1860, this expedition left Melbourne for the Gulf of Carpentaria, 16 men led by Burke, set out from Menindee near Broken Hill, after the earlier stage from Melbourne had been completed, to traverse the continent from south to north.  Of the lead party which succeeded in reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria, only one survived.. The rest is history, and from one such history, we read that  ‘Seven men eventually died in the attempt at crossing the continent and little scientific knowledge was gained by the passage of the expedition. However to dismiss the affair as “ill-fated” is to simplify the complex reasons for the expedition and to ignore the incredible achievements and determination of the first men who walked across the continent’. A story for another time, but I was interested in the reasons for such a monument being erected here in Castlemaine, obviously because the initial party had gone through this area on the trip from Melbourne to the Broken Hill area [in southwest New South Wales].  Additionally, Burke was a superintendent of the police at Castlemaine,  up until the time he led the expedition.  I walked up to the monument from a small car-park, not realising I could have driven to the base from another direction. I only mention that because the brief uphill climb made me fully aware of the fact that I was not feeling as well as I would have preferred this particular weekend.  From Wikipedia, the following is a useful little brief précis of the event.

‘The idea was to open up a route by which the new-fangled invention of the telegraph line could be connected via Java to Europe, to explore whether there existed a large inland sea, and to discover a possible route for a railway.
An added incentive was a 2,000 pounds reward for the first people to survey a route north, and already, Sturt and Stuart were planning similar journeys from Adelaide. Burke was to lead the expedition with Wills as surveyor and they took a 2 year supply of food, as well as 80 pairs of shoes, beds, hats and buckets.
At the Darling River, Wright and Gray joined the crew and led them to Coopers Creek where, on Nov. 11th., they set up base camp.  It was at this point things began to go wrong.
After a long wait at the base camp for the others to reach them with additional supplies, an impatient Burke decided to leave with Wills, King and Gray anyway and worry about the additional supplies when they returned.
Arduous conditions, intense summer heat, and problems with dysentry and health delayed their return from the Gulf which they reached in Feb. 1861, and the party waiting at the base camp had left the previous day, leaving buried supplies under a tree beside the creek after carving “DIG” into it and presuming the party would find it easily….They didn’t !
The tree at Coopers Creek with its inscription is now a national monument.
Gray died of dysentery on the return journey from the gulf and Burke, Wills and King did not find the food and water supplies when they returned. Burke and Wills survived for two months at the site, while King wandered around delerious and was helped by aboriginals. He was found by a search party and returned to Melbourne where he died in Jan. 1872 aged 31. His grave is in the Melbourne Cemetery’.


From this point onwards, I decided to leave Castlemaine behind, and head north towards our eventual destination, of Charlton where my ancestor lived for over 30 years and was a prominent member of the local community with his coach building business in the latter part of the 19th century.  First stop was another little gold-mining town of that era, Maldon – just 26 kms up the road. This was a much smaller and older looking town, where it didn’t seem as though a great deal of modern development had occurred for a long time. One bit of promotional material partially promotes this view with this description – ‘Maldon is a charming historic town which looks almost as though time has stood still since the end of the 19th century. Maldon is Victoria’s best preserved gold rush town with its carefully maintained colonial buildings and historic precinct. In 2006, the National Trust awarded the “Most Intact Historic Streetscape” title to Maldon. The town has 21 sites listed on the Australian Register of the National Estate. Its 19th century streets showcase an eclectic mix of galleries, collectables, handcrafts, old pubs, cafes, provedores, restaurants and more’.  Probably not the kind of place to attract younger generations to remain around for very long, with other attractions further afield. Had I been feeling a little healthier, and had more time, I would have explored the area a little more. While we have little evidence of the fact, my great grandparents lived in this area after leaving Castlemaine [where we believe their second child, John, was born], as records show us that their third child, another girl, also named Mary, was born in Maldon.

During my brief stopover in Maldon, I did notice that the  Museum & Archives Centre was closed – but I took a note of the opening times for future reference.

The balance of this morning’s trip short have been about an hour or son, but owing to road closures – apparently in this part of Victoria, there were still parts of farmland and road  underwater from the floods of six months ago [we would hear of the long term flood affects in Charlton over the next couple of days]  –  I was forced to drive further northwest than intended, via the inland city of Maryborough, in total a distance of 174 kilometres further on from Maldon. In the main however, it was a pleasant drive, beautiful Spring morning, a good time to be on the country roads with not a great deal of traffic around, and I was not in a hurry in any case. I enjoyed the opportunity to drive without being hazzled by pushy drivers, and other traffic all wanting to constantly rush everywhere, as is the normal city experience.

I think it was around 1pm when I eventually reached Charlton, after a leisurely and comfortable drive. Before I stopped, I found my way out to the Charlton Cemetery, where the various family descendants of my Great Great Grandparents would be meeting tomorrow. A couple of kilometres out of town, on the Borung Highway to Donald. I think it is well over 30 years since I had visited the site of my ancestor’s grave, and it took me a few minutes to find what I was looking for. Up until recently, ‘William’s’ grave had been unmarked and poorly cared for, since he was laid to rest 100 years ago, tomorrow –  but  the family of my old late friend and ‘second cousin’, Emily Bowers, had since organised the construction of a plague for the grave, and that was one of the reasons for tomorrow’s visit. Anyway, I eventually found the grave site, and the impressive looking new little plague that had recently being erected. I actually found it per medium of a photo taken back in 1978 – there was a distinctively named headstone in the adjacent site.  Had a bit of a wonder around, took a few photographs, and found the ‘cemetery’ toilet, which didn’t look as though it had been visited for some years – decided I’d better warn my family not to depend on it’s use when they come tomorrow!!

Found my motel accommodation for the next couple of nights, but  a sign on the door ‘back at 2.30’ prompted me to wander down to the local  café for a coffee etc.  Town of Charlton was fairly quiet, and as would be discovered later, and on Sunday, not much open that didn’t need to be outside of business hours.  A little later, back to the photo, just opened again for business. As I  registered my name, the lady waiting behind me introduced herself – Dianne from Newstead!  It was my letter which she found a few days ago, that had brought her here. About 10years younger than myself, Dianne was like myself, a great great grandchild of William Kirk, the man we were up here to dedicate the cemetery plague to.  She was a descendant of John Kirk, one of the brothers of my Great Grandfather.  We had adjourning  rooms  at the motel, and while adjourning separately at this point, would meet up later with the Daveys for an evening meal.

Foundry Palms Motel in Charlton – room comfortable enough, only drawback, there was no phone outwards, an ongoing legacy of the floods earlier this year


We would in fact quickly learn, that the affects of the floods which devastated this area back in January [the second time in a few months], were still being felt in many ways with businesses only partially reopened, or in some cases not at all. One such establishment was the Golden Grains Museum which we planned to visit in the morning. Meanwhile, the motel booklet virtually had little about the motel facilities referred to in it, but was filled up with photos, stories, and messages about the floods!!!  I had very quickly realised that my mobile phone would not work up here [not a surprise, as the system I use is fairly useless once you get off the main highways], so I was going to make use of the motel phones, but with no instructions in the room as to how to use the phone, could not get a line out. A query from Janice Davey, soon after she and husband Rhys arrived a little later on, of the proprietor was greeted with the response – ‘ohh, the phones have not been working since the floods!!! That left me in a quandary that was going to bother me until early Saturday afternoon – how to get in touch with Susie, as well as Jean & family! [and vice versa, they’d not be able to get through to me!]

Janice & Rhys arrived late afternoon, from Nicholson in Gippsland.  Janice was one of the daughters of Emily & George Bowers [whom I had gone to know quite well from the 1970s onwards, Emily being a surviving granddaughter of our William Kirk]. They had both passed on now, but it was Janice’s initiative with the support of her siblings, that the plan to have a plague constructed  for William’s unmarked grave, and the fact that tomorrow’s date would be 100 years since his death,  was what was behind our all being up here this weekend, a plan hatched almost 12 months ago!. Rhys was about 10 years younger than Janice, her second husband, a bit of a typical country guy, loves a beer, and time at the pub. Not sure what job he has at present, although as he was around my age, perhaps he was ‘retired’, didn’t think to ask.  Interestingly, as soon as we met soon after their arrival, Janice had bounded over to my room with a series of photos to show her, together with her proposed outline of how things should proceed tomorrow afternoon. I was glad to see that she had things pretty well organised. Meanwhile, I introduced Janice & Dianne to each other – needless to say, they hit it off together, very quickly. Both ladies were rather impressed with the little booklet I had produced for the occasion – on the life and families of William Kirk. Rhys was a little more non-plussed about it all – think he had really just come along for the ride [or as the driver], and he was more content to settle down to some consistent drinking [though Janice not far behind on that score] than getting into any detailed family history stories.

The four of us had an evening meal in the hotel [pub] next door, very convenient – Friday night, early, it was very quiet, and certainly not many people in the dining area, so we had most of the place to ourselves. As with most of the weekend, I would be conscious of my laryngitis, and associated throat/cough condition – tried not to impose it on anyone else, which meant that I didn’t join in the general conversation as freely as I would have preferred. Consequently, it was not a late night [at the pub] for me, and I left the Davey’s there [where they apparently joined in with some locals] and returned to my motel room, where on the television, there was a very one-sided [surprisingly] football match on, which saw Geelong thrashing premiership favourites Collingwood in the last round of games before the finals.  I’d earlier learnt that Dianne was a Collingwood supporter, in fact had a large tattoo of a magpie on one of her arms, just one of many tattoos that we were told covered much of her body. Married to someone who runs a tattoo parlour in Bendigo, no real surprise I guess, but certainly, she was turning out to be a far cry from the person I had been imagining from our email conversations of the previous 6 months.  Dianne had replied to a letter which I had written to an elderly relative of hers, some 30 years earlier, which had just been put aside.

The motel was comfortable, though I didn’t sleep particularly well in my state of laryngitis, etc.

 Saturday, 3rd September 2011 – 100 years today, since the death of our Australian ancestor, William Kirk.

A sunny morning in Charlton those the breeze for me was a little chilly –normally wouldn’t worry about it, but later on, up at the Cemetery, I found myself alternating between being too warm, and not warm enough. Wasn’t sure how the voice would last for this afternoon’s ‘recitations’, about that, I was not as confident as I would have preferred.

We had an appointment at the Charlton Golden Grains Museum for 10 am. I went out about 30 minutes before then – decided to try and contact Susie via a public phone. Needless to say, her phone was not switched on, but I left a message as best I could. For the next three hours, I would be worried that she would not get to Charlton, or would not be able to find the cemetery, etc – was simply frustrated that in this modern age of communication, I could not ‘communicate with her! Meanwhile, as anticipated, Jean in Ballarat was trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with me – wondered why my phone was off, and assumed I would have reception. I’d tried to leave her a message also, last night!

Just on 10am, I met Reg Brownjohn at the museum. I very quickly realised that his comment on the phone the other day, that there were no museum displays currently on show, meant exactly that.  There was ‘NOTHING’ in the museum.  When the floods occurred in January, most of the museum material was luckily able to be moved to alternative storage in local churches, etc –  and it was all still there, stacked away in boxes, etc. The clean up of the building was still in progress!!! Soon after I arrived, Dianne walked in, followed by Janice & Rhys, and I greeted them with the good news!!!

Ohhh well, such is life!!  Soon after, some more of Janice’s family arrived – two brothers, Wal & Harry & their wives,  and briefly afterwards, Ross & Marion Harris, a couple that I had visited back in 1978, descendants of a different  branch of the George Kirk family, that Janice and her siblings belonged to [George was yet another brother of my Great Grandfather].  At that point, it was decided that a coffee stop was in order, and after a bit of ‘window shopping’ and ‘flood photo display’ viewing, everyone adjourned to a very popular [and crowded] local coffee & eating venue, where after some considerable re-arrangement of the furniture, etc, in order to accommodate us all, we got settled.  Not very comfortably for this writer I’m afraid, it was simply too hot, and I’d have preferred to have been sitting out on the footpath where some tables available.  Anyway, we stayed put  –  Wal Bowers, from Stawell, who was a younger spitting image of the ancestor we had come to honour, was apparently so impressed with the booklet that I’d presented everyone with, that he shouted me my cappucinio!!  The scones with cream & jam looked inviting – but I was strong, and just stayed with the coffee!!

A little bit of ‘antique shopping’ for some of us at this point – interesting to note that  many of the shops will showing the affects of the floods of 8 months, still not fully stocked, or part of the establishments not yet been used. I also made sure that all present had taken possession of my ‘booklet’ – a document which immediately seemed to pleased most of it’s recipients, even before they’d had the opportunity to read the contents.  Soon after, I left the rest of the party, and drove up to the cemetery on my own – just wanted to get my ‘bearings’; so to speak, and also be there, in case either my daughter Susan, or sister Jean & her family arrived early. Met a local couple at the cemetery – they were tidying up the ‘Presbyterian’ section where William’s grave was situated, something they like to do every now and then. They had noticed the ‘new plaque’ on William’s grave, and the general attention that had recently been devoted to it. I mentioned the activities that were going to follow shortly. The picture below shows the Presybterian area as it is today – William’s grave was just to the rear of these plots.


Jean, with her three children – Rosemary, Vincent & Alwyn, and Rosie’s boyfriend, Marc [an English lad] – arrived soon afterwards, and over the next 15 minutes or so, most of the families we expected today began to arrive, and Janice soon had things set up. Lilian Kirk, widow of Jack Kirk from Donald, whom I’d last visited about 18 months before Jack passed away, and her daughter & son in law arrived, and also, the promised ‘reporter’ from the local newspaper, who was going to do a coverage of the occasion. She was very good with her attention to details, photographs, etc. Just before 1pm, everyone was present  –  except my Susie, and I guess by then, I was beginning to resign myself to the fact, that for some reason, she would not be coming. As those thoughts began to arise, Susan suddenly drove in, and you had one very relieved and happy Dad. It had taken her longer than anticipated to come across from Bendigo.

Now because I’m in the position of writing this in retrospect, I can take advantage of that, and quote directly from the local newspaper report of today’s events, which would appear  in ‘The Buloke Times’ on Friday September 9th [a newspaper which covers the area we were in today]. Although as far as I can tell, the ‘journalist [Jenny] didn’t put her name to the article, she did a wonderful job, and we gained a full page in the newspaper. The following is how it read.

“One hundred years is a long time between drinks, but last Saturday the descendants of William Kirk – coach builder of Charlton – gathered at the Charlton cemetery to honour their forebear with the unveiling of a plaque at  his grave site and the raising of a glass to his memory.

The gathering, marked as the ‘occasion of the Centenary recognition of William Kirk’s death, 3 September 1911, and the Plaque Dedication Ceremony 3 September 2011’, saw representatives from three of the eight branches of William Kirk’s family gather to toast the man and his achievements, and to bring family memories to share amongst the gathered generations. Beside the railed gravesite, draped with a Royal  Stuart tartan [representation of the Kirk’s allegiance to the Stuart clan], fourth and fifth generations brought the man to life with outlines of his origins, his arrival in Australia, and the establishment of the renowned coach making business in Charlton.

Janice Davey, descendant of William’s youngest son George, opened the ceremony, welcoming all, and inviting each of the descendants to introduce themselves and which branch of the family they represented.

Family members then had the opportunity to speak of their accumulated knowledge of the family lineage, with many emphasizing the strong and ongoing ties they felt for Charlton. ‘Three years ago we came to the Charlton cemetery to scatter my mother’s ashes,’ said Janice, ‘and while we were here we looked around for William’s grave, but couldn’t identify it. So we decided to do something about it.’ Last Saturday was the culmination of that quest.

Bill Kirk [great, great grandson, and descendant of William’s sixth child, James Kennedy Kirk] had been collating as history of the Kirk family, which has been traced back as far as 1475. Bill’s contribution towards marking last Saturday’s occasion was a précised booklet on William Kirk’s life covering – his birth at Dysart in Fife, Scotland, on 18 March 1830, his arrival in Melbourne as a twenty-one year old in 1852, his subsequent marriage to Isabella Blair Kennedy on 21st July 1854, the births of eight children [only six survived], his moves from Castlemaine, Maldon, to Talbot, where he opened a coach factory, the move to Charlton and the establishment on the business on the corner of High and Kaye Streets in 1879, and the ultimate opening of factories in Boort and Wycheproof.

‘I really wish that William had written and left a diary’ said Bill, referring to the hours spent researching and cross checking details. In the opening paragraph of William’s history, Bill states that it ‘is in no degree as complete as I would have preferred….’ but exhort the fact that ‘it is hoped, that from this document, enough questions will be raised to encourage other members of William Kirk’s now vastly “extended family”….to come forward with additional information, corrections, new facts, etc to enable…a more complete picture of the life and achievements of our common ancestor’.

From the perspective of William Kirk’s family and business, a fascinating picture of Charlton emerges. The reminiscences of his granddaughter, Emily Bowers [nee Kirk], make mention of things such as the pieces of iron used to chimed the starting time, lunch, and knock off times at the Charlton Factory [“It sounded a clear mile away”], the trips to the country shows, where in the paper of February 7, 1903 it was stated that ‘the fact the Mr Kirk has won no fewer than eleven gold medals for his vehicles at different  agricultural and pastoral shows is evidence in itself as to the work executed at the factory’. Emily also referred to playing the piano for the silent movies when she was fifteen and got 10/- [shillings] a night ‘which was terrific’.  Recollections of the ‘big flood’ where her sister rushed out to scoop up a fish off the road in her woollen hat and where her brother made a boat and rowed down to the Post Office to collect the mail, show that some things never change!

Original Kirk memorabilia was also brought to the gathering. Items included an original coach plaque, large coach  making spanners, and the official program of the Opening of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1901, held at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, where William received invitations to attend various functions leading up to and including this historical occasion. The four original invitations still survive and are in the keeping of Marion Harris, also a descendant of the George Kirk side of the family.

Dianne Carroll [a descendant of William’s eldest son, John] spoke with great pride of having one of the two cruet sets which had always been used by William, who was a stickler for formality at the table. ‘and the cruet set now sits at the end of my table!’ said Dianne.

A poignant moment came with the reading of William Kirk’s obituary by great, great grandson, Bill Kirk. A toast [of good Scotch whisky of course] was later proposed by descendant Wal Bowers, summing up that ‘It’s nice to be around one hundred years later to wish William well’.

Donald’s Lil Kirk was also a part of the gathering, through her marriage to Jack [Jack being a descendant of the John Kirk branch of the family], with their daughter Christine Bailey, a direct descendant.

The honour accorded to William Kirk last Saturday spoke of a strong family connection spanning the generations – a relationship which to not only binds the man, but which carries a deep connection to the town in which he made his mark. The coach image representing William Kirk’s factory appears on the Charlton Centennial Mural housed at the Charlton Shire Hall”

So that was how an hour or so at the Charlton cemetery was occupied today. Some of those present had to leave at this stage, Janice Bowers had organised food etc, and our plan was to use one of the town’s barbeque facilities for a bit of a luncheon celebration. That was where plans went a little astray –  presumably, as another consequence of the floods, none of the public barbeques were working, and eventually the two family groups split up briefly. I knew that both Susie, and my sister’s family wanted to get going before too much of the afternoon had disappeared, so we all found a takeaway shop for a bit of mid-afternoon food, before saying our farewells. Jean & family headed off back to Ballarat, two to three hours away, while Susie was returning to Bendigo. Tomorrow was actually Father’s Day, but she would still be in Bendigo, so I would not see her in Sunbury tomorrow night. As a consequence, I even got a brief hug and  kiss – Susan and I are generally not very demonstrative in our father/daughter relationship [different with youngest daughter Jodie, who always has a kiss for Dad!] – so a parting greeting like that from Susie was nicely welcomed by this old Dad!!

I later rejoined the various descendant families of George Kirk, together with Dianne who had decided to stay an extra night with the other, all of us in the same motel. Some great old conversations going on between the various siblings and their new found relative, Dianne [from the John Kirk line]. Apparently, when the families came up here a few years ago to scatter their mother’s ashes, they took some of the ashes back.  This afternoon, the plan was to scatter the last remains of Emily Bowers [referred to in the article above], and while I had returned to the motel by the time they was done, rather than place the ashes in the river, they were scattered around the trees on the banks of the river [which is in fact the Avoca River, the water source that caused many of the flooding problems earlier this year]. A little piece that I found about the river & Charlton itself.

In the first copy of the East Charlton Tribune, published on 20th May 1876, were printed these words:  “East Charlton stands on the eastern bank of the Avoca River in a beautiful valley between two ranges of hills, and is distant twenty miles from Wedderburn and twenty- eight miles from St. Arnaud.  The country around is of a very rich nature and bids fair to become the finest agricultural district in the colony.  The whole of the land for many miles around has been selected.  The wheat grown in the vicinity of East Charlton during the past season realized the highest price of any in Victoria.”

  The Editor was obviously writing with pride of the district with which he was connected.  Now, nearly 150 years later, we write with the same pride of our town, with its successes and failures, and of how it has developed in the years between.

Charlton is the first town along the Calder Highway that does not owe its existence to gold mining.  It is based entirely on Agriculture and its subsidiary Industries”.

A bit of a rest for me over the next couple of hours before dinner. Not feeling too well, still, and to be honest, would probably have preferred to miss a ‘social’ gathering tonight – however, there about a dozen of us still in Charlton, and dinner at pub next door was an appropriate way to conclude the day, despite the ongoing presence of my laryngitis. Actually, I didn’t have to pay for tonight’s meal  – Wal Bowers from Stawell, was apparently so impressed by my written contribution to the day, that he insisted on paying for my meal.  Argument was not permitted!!! I chose the healthy option, as with last night – the fish dish!! And just one glass of red wine, following on from  a ‘medicinal’ whisky!!

Wal & Jan Bowers returned to Stawell tonight, and I decided to have an early night also, leaving the rest of the team to enjoy the delights of the Charlton pub on a Saturday night – much more activity there tonight, and by the time I left, the dining area was full, lots of families, etc.  Meanwhile, staying at the motel tonight, apart from myself, were Janice & Rhys Davey, Jan’s sister, Dell, Marion & Ross Harris, and Dianne Carroll, who was sharing a room with Dell, I think, after getting ‘permission’ from her husband in Newstead, to stay another night.  As for myself, well I did have ‘another’ excuse for returning to my motel room –  it was Carlton’s last match of the season before the finals commenced. Not a match that would affect our position on the ladder – 5th spot was decided and that was where we would stay! But a win was needed as a confidence booster – Carlton had played in the finals over the past two years, and had been beaten both years, in the first week. There was a real danger of that happening again!!  We would be playing Essendon next weekend, in another Elimination Final!

Well, things didn’t go to plan, and as the scores below indicate, the Blues got off to a reasonable start, but St Kilda, as they often do with opposing teams, gradually wore us down, and went on to a fairly convincing win in the end. I probably wasn’t feeling well enough to be too disturbed by that outcome tonight, but for the record, the quarter by quarter scores were as follows:-  

Carlton Blues:             3.5.23        5.8.38           9.6.60     Final:          9.12.66

St Kilda Saints:           1.2.8          4.3.27           7.12.66   FINAL:      13.8. 84


Sunday, 4th September 2011- leaving Charlton, on a Father’s Day drive.

I went out for a brief walk this morning, a couple of blocks down the road, looking for the sites of the old coach factory, and the houses that the Kirks lived in during their time in Charlton. Of course, all the buildings were long since gone, but I was confident of the actual blocks of land on which our ancestor had worked and lived. Mind you, this was around 8.30am on a Sunday morning in a country town, where there was virtually no activity and nothing was open. So my walk didn’t achieve much, other than personal satisfaction, but it did upset all the neighbourhood dogs, which were obviously not used to someone walking down ‘their’ street early on a Sunday morning!! Rather than aggravate them more than I already had, I  retraced my steps at that point, and  with a coffee or two, spent a quiet hour or so, sitting out front of the motel room, in the sunshine. Marion Harris gave me her copy of a little souvenir booklet of Talbot which she had in her possession, she felt I would make better use of the history contained therein.  Bit of a chat with her and Ross, and also Dianne before I left this morning. Didn’t see Dell, but Janice and Rhys put in a brief appearance before I was on my way. I’d brought up with me, three bottles of red wine which I’d aimed to share yesterday, but didn’t get that opportunity, so for those who were left behind this morning, that was my parting gift – a bottle of red each!

The drive back to Sunbury took me around 3 hours, with brief stops, etc. I was in no rush, but nor did I do any ‘history searching’ around places like Wedderburn or Bridgewater along the way, as I normally would – the early Kirks had been in those areas also, but I think by now, all I wanted to do by now was return home, even though I was enjoying the drive. Traffic was reasonably light, at least until we got to the Calder Highway stretch between Bendigo and Sunbury. I was feeling a little better [had been quite touched, back at the motel this morning, by some genuine expressions of concern for my well-being, by Marion in particular], and  in the warmth of the car, I felt at peace with the world!!  From memory, there were a few patches of rain along the way from time to time, but generally the weather continued in it’s Springlike fashion of the past few days.. It wasn’t until I got down to the Bendigo area that I got back some phone reception – Father’s Day greetings from Adam and Jodie!

It was around 1 pm when I got home this afternoon, and admittedly, really didn’t feel like doing much at all. Susan’s cats were glad to see me – until they had finished eating the food I gave them, at which point they lost interest in my existence.  Not much mail of interest, nor was there a great deal of ‘exciting’ material in my email in box!! It seemed no-one had missed this old guy very much!! Meanwhile, late afternoon, I remembered Adam’s ‘Fathers Day’ message this morning in which he mentioned that ‘his’ horse was running in the first race at Bendigo today  – in fact it was this evening, Race 1 at 5.45 pm, Dimensions.  I had a small bet on the horse, anticipating that it would nevertheless finish near the end of the field. In fact –  in a Trotting event – the horse led the race, for the entire distance, until about the last 200 metres, at which point it was over-run by the favourites, and finished in 4th place!!! I’d had a small win and place bet on it, so had the horse managed a 3rd position, I probably would have got my money back.  Oh well, such is life!  Adam of course, was able to watch the race on his pay TV, while I was dependant upon the radio.

Drove over to Goonawarra at around 6pm, for a quiet family dinner for ‘Father’s Day’  – all present except Susie [up in Bendigo] –   to be honest I was not really much in the mood for another gathering, as my dose of laryngitis seemed to have deteriorated as the afternoon wore on, and by early evening, I had decided there would be no going to work tomorrow, nor would I be doing the late radio show on Monday night. In both cases, those decisions were as much for the sake of those I would come into contact with, as for myself. Meantime, I noticed that young Jodie wasn’t in much better shape over at the house –  and to her complaint was added a rather nasty cough, which of course she had not been to a doctor about!!  I imagine a few ‘young’ late nights probably didn’t help much in her case either!!  Despite all that, a very pleasant meal, nice card from Jodie, and a little collection of interesting gifts from the two ‘boys’  [James & Adam]. I left the three of them with a copy of my ‘William Kirk’ ancestral booklet!

Overnight:   In last night’s World Athletic Championships, with just a day of the competition to go, Australia won our first and only Gold Medal, with a magnificent win to Sally PEARSON in the 100 metres Hurdles event –  after breaking her own Australian record in the semi-finals 90 minutes earlier, Pearson did it again and kept her unbeaten run this year going, by taking victory in 12.28 seconds, the 4th fastest time in history. It had been a relatively dismal competition for the Australian team, which won only two other medals overall –  Mitch Watt, a Silver in the Long Jump., and Jared Tallent, a Bronze in the 50 Km Walk early on Saturday.  Last night’s performance had been 8 years in the making, with Pearson making her first Australian team at the age of 16 in the 4 x 100m Relay at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.

Meanwhile, in the MotoGP competition 13th  race of the 2011 season, Casey Stoner could only manage 3rd place tonight, from pole position in the San Marino Grand Prix  –  1st: Jorge Lorenzo [Spain], 2nd Dani Pedrosa [Spain] –   and as a consequence his leading position in the overall championship was shortened by another 8 points, after 13 rounds with still five more races to go [including the Australia GP]. Current Championship standings show:  1st:  Casey Stoner [Australia]: 259pts;  2nd: Jorge Lorenzo [Spain]: 224 pts;  3rd:  Andrea Dovizioso [Italy]: 185 pts; and 4th, Dani Pedrosa [Spain] 150 pts.

Today also saw the final home and away matches of the 2011 AFL football season, with the finals commencing next weekend. Let’s see how the 17 teams finished, after 22 rounds of football each.

  1. Collingwood……………………80pts
  2. Geelong………………………….76pts
  3. Hawthorn……………………….72pts
  4. West Coast……………………..68pts
  5. Carlton……………………………58pts
  6. St Kilda…………………………..50pts
  7. Sydney……………………………50pts
  8. Essendon…………………………46pts…………………………………………………………
  9. North Melbourne………………40pts
  10. Western Bulldogs……………..36pts
  11. Fremantle…………………………36pts
  12. Richmond………………………..34pts
  13. Melbourne……………………….34pts
  14. Adelaide………………………….28pts
  15. Brisbane Lions………………..16pts
  16. Port Adelaide…………………..12pts
  17. Gold Coast………………………12pts [first season]

So the Finals’ series commencing next weekend would have:

  • Friday –  2nd Qualifying Final: Hawthorn vs Geelong
  • Saturday: 1st Qualifying Final: Collingwood vs West Coast
  • Sat night: 2nd Elimination Final: St Kilda vs Sydney [loser eliminated]
  • Sunday: 1st Elimination Final: CARLTON vs Essendon [loser eliminated

That last game, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, will attract well over 90.000 people – would be nice to be able to be there, but I think it may be rather difficult to obtain a ticket, particularly in view of my non-member status these days!!

Monday, 5th September 2011-  Monday at home

Another beautiful Spring day, which saw this writer at home. Not intended that way, but with a couple of busy days coming up at the office, I decided it might be wiser to rest up today, and try and get this confounded virus cleared up. Not sure if it worked, but that was the theory anyway

During the afternoon,  as an energy saving device, I sat down and watched one of the video tapes that Adam had recorded for me back in 2000 –  the Sydney Olympic Games. He was on school holidays at the time, and I was up in Sydney, as a Volunteer at the Olympic Games. Adam had produced a great collection of tapes for me, but to be honest, I’d not got around to watching many of them, so quite enjoyed reliving the events that were on this particular tape which included one of the athletics night program that Robert and I had been to see. There was also a brief section on the disastrous ‘Walk’ finish by Australia’s Jane Saville.  I had been at the Olympic Stadium that day [had the morning off from my volunteer duties] and had been watching Jane’s approach to the stadium at the end of the 20 kilometre walk – she did not have far to go, and was about to walk in to her home stadium, where I and thousands of fans were waiting, after watching her progress on the big screen, for her to come inside as the Gold Medal winner,  when suddenly an official stepped out in front of her, waving a red card  – she was disqualified, with the entrance to the stadium in her view!  As I watched the replay of that occurrence, and the interview with her, that followed some time later, it was the reliving of quite an emotional moment.  I would write about that day, in my ‘Olympic Memoirs’ which followed a few months later.

Shirley came around for a while this evening – to use Susie’s computer [typing up and sending yet another job application & resume] – then I settled down to what would be a rare Monday night at home from now on! Was glad I had decided not to go into the studio. The radio could do without me for a night, and there was virtually no voice available to do much in the way of talking in any case!  It gave me the chance to watch Q & A for the first time in 3 months – what I noticed about that, was that despite the usual mix of politicians on the panel with people from other sectors, the pollies tended to get priority in response time, while the host just occasionally seemed to bring the other panellist in for a comment now and then. That annoyed me a little, as I would have preferred to have seen the non-politicians have the opportunity for a bit more input into the program than Tony Jones generally allows them.


Tuesday, 6th September 2011 – another twist in the asylum seeker hazzle.

Another twist with the latest on refugees – it seems that the Government are considering working with Tony Abbott to send asylum seekers overseas… again.  Just last week the High Court stopped the Government sending asylum seekers to Malaysia because, in short, it found that Australian law requires that minimum human rights standards be met in processing and protecting asylum seekers.   The answer? The Government and Tony Abbott would rewrite laws to remove those human rights requirements. According to GetUp, it sounds like John Howard and Phillip Ruddock all over again? That’s because it is, according to GetUp.
But it’s not a done deal yet. The Government could opt instead to manage asylum applications here in Australia, where it’s cheaper, faster and more humane. Replying to calls and emails from GetUp members this week, many Labor MPs and Senators have already broken rank, saying they would never stand for a return to the Howard Government’s cruel offshore processing.  Certainly over the next week or so, the Government has a lot of deliberating to do!

Even Immigration Minister Bowen himself recently said “the Pacific solution did not break the people smugglers’ business model. It broke the will and spirit of asylum seekers.” Yet the same Labor party that has been so critical of John Howard’s offshore processing model is now considering embracing that same policy with Tony Abbott’s Coalition. It was bad policy then, it’s a bad policy now.  Sending asylum-seekers to other countries that don’t have adequate legal or human rights protections was struck down by the High Court on Wednesday. Yet with Labor split over what to do next, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is openly considering a return to the “Pacific Solution” of the Howard era. Personally, I think that is a sad choice, and a negation of our obligations to these people, and for a change, I’m almost agreeing with GetUp’s stance on the issue.   Problem is, according to that organisation   – “the Pacific solution did not break the people smugglers’ business model; it broke the will and spirit of asylum seekers.” These are Minister Bowen’s own words, spoken to Parliament on June 15 of this year. We need to urgently remind the Minister of his own words — and make sure he can’t back away from them.

At the office, where I had returned, another hectic day of final preparations for tomorrow’s AGM, which at this stage, promised to be very volatile, judging by some of the emails floating around, which had an almost defamatory tone of criticism, aimed at the committee but in particular, the Coordinator, Jackie. It’s obvious that there will be some ‘trouble makers’ at the meeting – thankfully, we have a strong ‘Returning Officer/cum stand-in person to run the meeting, as evidenced by her control of things over the past two years  – Jennifer is her name[or his], was a man, now living and working as a woman! Irrespective of that little anomaly, an extremely competent operator in these situations.


Wednesday, 7th September 2011 – Annual Meeting Day

Early morning visit to the radio station, as per normal for a Wednesday, brief local sporting report, followed by a reasonably easy drive to the office, where after a brief stopover, I caught a ‘crowded’ peak hour tram into the city – rather glad to be able to exit that little conveyance of ‘squeezy humanity’ into the ‘fresh air’ of the CBD, actually alighted a few blocks from where I needed to go, decided a walk in the sun was a good call.

It was Annual General Meeting day [AGM] of my workplace and this year, it was been held  in a very modern and comfortable  reception/conference facility attached to the Collins Street Uniting Church in the heart of the city [in past years, we had used the facilities of the Northcote Town Hall, but it had been decided that the city location was more suitable and easily accessible for members to get to].  Although this was a new establishment since my days here in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I was familiar with this area, particularly Scots Church across on the other corner of Collins & Russell Streets, where I had met and made my first group of friends, after coming down to Melbourne to work, at the end of August, 1966. But that’s another story!!  For today’s AGM, we were expecting between 50-60 members and other, including some potential ‘troublemakers’. The latter ‘group’ did arrive, and throughout the meeting, did their best to try and disrupt and discredit the organisation, but thanks to the competent and official [work by the rules] control of our Chairperson for the day, ‘Jennifer’, the overall process was kept in order.  Even my financial report [well, it belonged to the Committee treasurer really, who became the new Chair] attracted a rather pedantic and unnecessary question – with the questionnaire not even sure what her question was about, as she was asking on behalf of a non-member!!  This was typical of the type of negative attitude we expected, and got today.

Throughout the whole process, I was reminded that this would be my last VPTA AGM, most of which over the past five years, had been as equally volatile as today, if not for different reasons. Someone asked me if I would miss all of this ongoing confrontation, and committee/staff upheavals that seem to have been a regular feature of the place in my time there – the honest answer, was no, I would not miss it – I’d met some good and genuine people through the organisation, but also a certain group that I would be happy not to come across again. I had no regrets that this would be my last AGM with this particular workplace!

Meeting finished, new committee elected under new leadership, which on the surface, promised a better future for the organisation [though that prediction has been made on previous years]. I managed to have a bit of lunch, despite been tied up with administrative matters at the same time, and eventually was able to ‘escape’, and catch the tram back to Northcote – at mid-afternoon, it was a much more pleasant & less crowded trip.

Meanwhile, there was an event ‘celebrated’ [or more appropriately, recognised] today, that I’d not really being familiar with previously.

The men and women who courageously fought to defend Australia from enemy attack were remembered on today – Battle for Australia Day. Hundreds of veterans gathered across the country to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australians who defended their home land during World War Two. The  first Wednesday in September is the annual day of commemoration to specifically remember the battles fought in direct defence of the Australian mainland. In 1942, Australia came under direct enemy attack, firstly with the bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942 and subsequent bombing raids across northern Australia. Later that same year, Australian forces were engaged along the Kokoda Track in New Guinea, halting Japanese advance closer to Australia. Also in 1942, Australian and allied troops defeated that Japanese at the Battle of Milne Bay, the first defeat of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War Two and a decisive turning point in the war.” Battle for Australia Day also commemorated the death of 19 Australian and two British sailors who were killed when three Japanese midget submarines penetrated Sydney Harbour on 31 May 1942. My mother, who was living in the South Head coastal suburb of Vaucluse at the time, remembered those subs coming into Sydney Harbour, and the fear their presence generated with a brief time.


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