An historical account of Traralgon, written for the boys and girls of the city.
First published in 1970. Reset on CD Rom 2001
About the author - William J. Cuthill - click here

Chapter 5 - The Boom Years

We now come to a time in our story when so much happened that you will not be surprised to find that our town stood still for many years afterwards. The railway had changed the lives of the citizens of the new Shire, but, before I tell you how busy the town became, I feel that I should go back to the days of the Shire of Rosedale for a moment. So many things had also happened during those ten years that, in telling the story, I was bound to miss something.

The people were then setting up Friendly Societies - you probably call them Lodges - where they met and helped each other when someone was ill or out of work. The first Lodge in our district was the Excelsior Lodge of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. It started in Rosedale in 1871, but, so quickly did Traralgon grow, it moved here in November, 1875, and has been meeting regularly ever since. It was our first Lodge, but maybe it is not as well known to you as some of the bigger Lodges which followed it in later years. It was followed in 1878 by the Independent Order of Rechabites, which still meets here, too. Rev. W. Batten, the Methodist Minister, was the first Secretary of this Lodge. This brings me to the Methodist Church, which I should have mentioned. The Church started here in 1878 under Rev. Batten, a Home Missionary, and, like the Church of England, the Methodists held their services in the Presbyterian Church in Campbell Street. The next Minister, Rev. D. J. Flockhart, lost no time in erecting a wooden Church on the rise on the corner of Argyle and Mill Streets in 1879. This Church was enlarged in later years and, when the new brick Church was built in 1939, the old building was moved to one side and was used as a Sunday School for many years.

You will remember that Traralgon was a stopping place for the drovers taking cattle along the Melbourne Road to the markets in the City before the railway came, and how they would yard them here overnight. The Haxells, who were running the Traralgon Hotel at the time, had yards behind the Hotel, about where the Valley Theatre has been built. In 1875, an Auctioneer named Paterson started to hold cattle sales in Haxell's yards every three months, and this was the beginning of the cattle trade here. More farmers were able to send their cattle into Traralgon to be sold, instead of going to Rosedale, and, in 1879, the firm of Little and Borthwick opened another cattle sale yards in Breed Street at the corner of Hotham Street.

And now I can come back to the story of Traralgon when it first became a Shire of its own in 1880. Councillor Kelleher had been elected Shire President and, on 11th February, 1880, the Council sat down to deal with the first business of the new Shire. Mr. Mitchell, who was the licensee of the Traralgon Hotel, let the Council use the public rooms there free of charge, for the Shire had no money until a loan could be arranged with the Bank of Australasia.

One of the first things that the Council thought should be done was the building of a railway to Yarram through Callignee. This was the first of many schemes like this. Sometimes it was thought that it would be better to run the line through Gormandale instead, but, after about forty years, and the coming of the motor car, all chances of such a railway being built had disappeared.

Following on the opening of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, the new Church of England was opened in February, 1880, on the corner of Seymour and Church Streets. It was just a small wooden building - all that the people could then afford.

The story of Traralgon is really the story of the Shire. Mr. Frederick Farrell was appointed the first Shire Secretary and Engineer, and the Council then had all the houses and land valued. This having been done, the Council "struck a rate", that is, it decided that all landowners should be taxed according to the value of their land to help to pay for the running of the Shire. Some of those taxed thought that they were being asked to pay too much, and took the Shire before the Traralgon Court, just like some people still do today.

We now come to the story of the first "Long Bridge". There were now two bridges over the Creek - a small one, very rickety, where the footbridge is today, and the other under the railway line near the Recreation Reserve - also in a bad state. Where was the new bridge to go? Looking at the map, you would say it should go in a straight line with the road to Rosedale, but a lot of people thought otherwise, and there was much bad feeling about it. The Council decided that it should go in just south of the Star Hotel, the old building that is still there.

It was in these years that John Peterkin started building more sawmills. The people who built the railway had their own sawmills, and now that the railway could carry red gum timber to Melbourne, John Peterkin lost no time in taking a leading part in this trade. He built a large sawmill out at Toongabbie and, later on, one in Traralgon.

The Council held its usual election in August, 1880, and, this time, John Bodycomb from Callignee was elected a Councillor. Mr. Bodycomb served his Shire and the People for 38 years, being President on six occasions, and I think that the name Bodycomb should be written after those of Hobson, Turnbull, Duncan Campbell, Peterkin and Dugald Campbell.

Although the Council had very little money, it was already thinking of building a Shire Hall. And as Morwell was half of the Traralgon Shire - the better half perhaps in the minds of the people at Morwell l - they wanted the Shire Hall to be built there. But Traralgon won in the end.

In November, 1880, James Campbell became Shire Secretary and Engineer. He is the man who named the eastern end of Kay Street Argyle Street, because he came from Argyllshire in Scotland.

When Traralgon was in the Shire of Rosedale, the bridge at the Scarne was erected, and now people out at Tyers wanted to have a bridge built over the river at the Bluff near the cemetery. Tyers was in Rosedale Shire then, and when the Rosedale Shire refused to help by paying half the cost of the bridge, the people at Tyers set to work with a view to being cut off from Rosedale Shire and joining Traralgon.

It was at this time that a tannery was built in Traralgon at the Creek end of Franklin Street where the Council had its depot. It was quite a busy place, but it was closed down when the land was bought for a butter factory about twenty years later.

The year 1881 was the year of the Bridge. Some of the people were so dissatisfied about the bridge not being in line with the road to Rosedale that they even went to Melbourne to complain to the Minister in Parliament. He sided with them, and the Council eventually had to put the bridge in line with the road. This made it so much longer that it received the name of "The Long Bridge". It served Traralgon right up until 1932, and Mr. Murdoch, one of the builders, will be remembered by his name being given to Murdoch's Hotel at Morwell. Maybe the bridge, being so much longer, did not hold back the floodwaters in the creek as it may have done had it been shorter and built further north.

Traralgon was a poor Shire with very little money and no roads and few bridges. The Government in Melbourne decided to help those Shires which, like Traralgon, had all the work to be done and no money with which to do it. The Government decided to give such Shires £3 for every £I that they collected themselves. You can just imagine how that helped Traralgon, for any road or bridge that had to be built would now cost the Traralgon people only one quarter, the Government paying the rest.

The Traralgon Town Band was formed at this time. It met for a start in the Old Auction Mart, between the present "Journal" Office and the corner, and later in the Fire Station which used to be in the Railway Reserve in Princes Street. Mr. P. Morris was the first Bandmaster.

In the early Eighties, too, we had a second trading bank. The Colonial Bank opened a branch where the Almond Cake Shop is situated in Franklin Street. Mr. Harry C. Jones was the first manager. A few years later the Colonial Bank built the big building on the corner of Seymour Street and, in 1918, when the National Bank and the Colonial Bank joined together, the National Bank moved into the building which it still occupies.

First Shire HallPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of the Shire Hall, Traralgon, and the Shire Councillors, 1881. The Shire Secretary, James Campbell, is on the left, and the Shire President, Cr. Dugald Campbell, is second from the right.

All this time the Shire Hall was being planned. The Council had various pieces of land offered to it. Mr. Mitchell, who was always trying to build the town around his hotel, even offering a piece of land in Kay Street next door to his hotel for nothing. But the corner of Mitchell Street was finally chosen. Then, of course, the Shire President had to lay the foundation stone. Mr. Henry Breed, the Argyle Street butcher, was the man and, on 19th July, 1881, there was quite a ceremony. The band was not good enough yet to take part, but all the schoolchildren were there. Mr. James Campbell, the Shire Secretary and Engineer, had written a History of Traralgon, and the papers say that that history, together with all the newspapers of the time, was placed in a hole under the stone. No one seemed to remember where that stone was placed and, when the Old Shire Hall was pulled down by the Apex Club in 1966, they certainly found a bottle, but it contained only the old news- papers. There was no History of the Shire there at all. So it is a great pity that Mr. Campbell's story of Traralgon could not be read to the school children of Traralgon today, nearly ninety years later, just as the boys and girls heard it in 1881. The Hall was finished by October, and the Council moved in and held its first meeting there in November.

Tyers became part of Traralgon Shire in November, 1881. The idea at first was to take over all that part down as far as the Scarne, but eventually the boundary was fixed at Rintoul's Creek. There was now no question of sharing the cost of a bridge at the Bluff with Rosedale Shire, and Traralgon, with its £3 to £I from the Government together with another gift of £500 towards the bridge from the Government, was able to build it and have it opened during the year 1882. Before that, of course, the Tyers people had to go right down to the Scarne before they could cross the Latrobe.

With the opening of the Long Bridge, the traffic was no longer going past Mr. Kaye's Star Hotel on the way to Rosedale. In 1882, Mr. Kaye bought a piece of land nearer the road for a start, intending to rebuild his hotel there. Then he tried to get the Council to reduce the width of Rosedale Road. But all for no purpose. He eventually bought a piece of land in Argyle Street and built his hotel there, right next to the one already there. But I will come to that later.

The Council was very bridge-minded as you can see, for, in this same year, the Cordial Factory Bridge was also built, providing an easier way out of the town to the south when the low level bridge under the railway line was under water.

With a creek running through the town, Traralgon was always certain of water, but the idea of a town water supply came up in 1882. Before that there was just the town pump near the Long Bridge. Cr. Mattingley had the idea of boring for underground water, but no other Councillor would support him.

In May, 1882, Mrs. Jane Downing, who had bought the building on the corner of Church Street and Princes Street, which was originally a produce store, applied to the Court for a licence for a hotel there, which she called the Royal Exchange Hotel. She had made a few alterations to it, of course, but it was a good place for a hotel. Travellers to Morwell could have their last drink there before setting out on the ten mile walk or ride, and those coming from Morwell found it a very good place to pause for refreshment it they did not have enough strength left to reach the Club Hotel around the corner in Franklin Street.

In July of this year, another Campbell, James Campbell, bought the Rubicon Hotel from John Petersen. It was he who, in the following December, changed the name of the hotel to the "Commercial", because his boarders did not like the "Rubicon".

It was at about this time that the first chemist opened his shop in Traralgon. His name was Paul Kleesattel, and he was a Pole. He started business in the centre block in Franklin Street and, in about 1887, he moved his business into a new shop on the corner of Seymour Street, and there has been a chemist's shop there ever since.

Poor Mr. Kaye in his Star Hotel was losing business now that the traffic across the Long Bridge was not passing his hotel. So he received permission from the Court to build his new Star Hotel right next door to James Campbell's Commercial Hotel in Argyle Street. Campbell tried hard to stop him, without result, and the new hotel was erected and, by arrangement with the Freemasons, a large assembly hall was built upstairs. The Masonic Lodge met here, and the hall was even used for skating and dancing.

In March, 1883, I find that the Traralgon people were not at all happy about their Court still being held in the two rooms beside the Traralgon Hotel, and the Council sent the Shire President and others to Melbourne to see the Government. There was a move on, too, to get a proper Post Office instead of Campbell's house, "The Retreat", in Kay Street. So it was suggested that the Post Office and Court House might be built together in one building on the old Police Station corner, and the Government seemed to be quite ready to put it on the list of things to be done.

Traralgon was becoming big enough to run a Football Team, and the Traralgon Football Club was formed in this year. The first match was played against Morwell in June, 1883, and Traralgon won by five goals to none. In those days, behinds were not scored. Traralgon also played against Rosedale and Warragul. Our colours then were a blue guernsey with a red sash. The footballers also wore red sox and a red cap.

Franklin Street looking South 1894 PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of Franklin Street, looking South, in 1894. The Shire Hall is clearly visible on the far left, followed by Peterkin's Store on the corner of Argyle Street, and Franklin Street.

There were quite a number of shops in Franklin Street now. Coming from the Railway Station, there was nothing until you came to Day's delivery store where the Crown Hotel is today. Goods were stored there when they arrived from Port Albert before the railway came. S ullivan's blacksmith's shop was on the National Bank corner. Then down opposite the Police Station was Adair's bakery and then Peterkin's store on the corner. Around the corner in Argyle Street was the Commercial Hotel and then the Star Hotel with a couple of small shops in front, and then Henry Breed's butcher's shop.

clubhotelNow we go back to the Railway Station and come up the west side of Franklin Street. The wooden Mechanics' Institute was on the corner of Hotham Street, and the Club Hotel was across the road. A little further on there were three shops - H. E. Henden, our first newsagent, was in the first, Kleesattel the chemist in the second, and Jones the jeweller in the third. Moving on, there was a shop selling ladies' underwear, then Lumley & Galbraith, the grocers. A. L. Galbraith the baker was next door, then Hector O'Neill had a boot shop. Then came the National Bank, and on Jeffery's corner Fred Smith had a saddler's shop. There was nothing at all in the next block until you came to the Police Station on the corner of Kay Street, and around the corner, going west, you came to PHOTO: Betteson & Ikin's grocery store.

Just compare that with the Franklin Street you know today. The shops were open every day except Sunday, and until 11 p.m. on Saturday night. Why, they even agreed to close their shops every Wednesday afternoon in 1883.

1894 Franklin St looking North PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of Franklin Street, looking North, in 1894.

And all this time there was no doctor in the whole of the Traralgon Shire which reached as far as Mirboo. The Council even advertised a salary of £150 a year to any doctor who would come here to live and to act as medical officer for the Shire. A number of doctors put their names down, but the fellow who received the job did not arrive.

In September, 1883, the Roman Catholics were able to move into their new brick Church which they had dedicated to St. Michael. You will remember how, until now, they had been holding Masses at the old Court House. Their first brick church was pulled down when the big new church was built in 1935.

In November, the railway line from Traralgon to Heyfield was finished, and trains started to run that far. Where a road crossed the railway there would be gates and a gatehouse, where today we have just a plain level crossing with flashing lights. The line repairers lived in these gatehouses. There was one at Collins Street, another on the road to Rosedale, and so on. Most of these were pulled down when they became too old to repair, with the result that we now have just the plain level crossings without gates or gatehouses.

Before the end of 1883, another important event occurred. The first newspaper was printed in Traralgon by young John Baird. He called his paper "The Record", and his printing press was set up in Day's old delivery store. He was able to move into his new office in Seymour Street twelve months later and, for nearly eighty years that building was never altered except to have a verandah built across the front. The "Record" and the "Journal" joined up in later years.

In 1884, the Council decided to put in some street lights. There was no gas and no electricity. These lights were kerosene lamps on a post. There were to be six - one on the corner where the A.N.Z. Bank is now. It was just a paddock then. Another was to go outside Jones' who now had the blacksmithy on the National Bank corner. A third was placed outside Fred Smith's the saddler's on Jeffery's corner, another on Peterkin's corner, one outside the Police Station where the Post Office now stands and another outside the Post Office in "The Retreat" in Kay Street.

The Council decided to name more streets too. As I told you earlier, the principal streets were named by the surveyor when he made the first plan of Traralgon in 1858. But people were building houses on blocks all around the town. Princes Street speaks for itself, Argyle was named after the Scottish clan of James Campbell the Shire Engineer, Mitchell after the publican in the Traralgon Hotel, Church also speaks for itself, Breed after Henry Breed the Councillor and butcher, Peterkin after the famous John Peterkin, Mason after the Member of Parliament who was doing so much for the town, Mill Street where Peterkin had his sawmill, Berry after another Member of Parliament, and Gwalia is another name for Wales.

While I am telling you about the street names, maybe I should jump ahead a little and tell you about the remainder of the early names. Campbell after the Traralgon Park Campbells, Service after another Member of Parliament, Deakin after the famous Alfred Deakin who, in later years, was the second Prime Minister of Australia, George and John after nobody knows who, Flora Street, a new name for Rosedale Road which did not stick, Munro after the first manager of the Bank of Australasia and, of course, High Street.

Shortly afterwards, John Peterkin divided up Loch Park. These were the days of the land boom, when everybody went in for buying blocks of land. Mr. Peterkin named three streets after his daughters Ethel, Mabel and Olive. Olive Street was the top end of Henry Street, but it has been dropped too. Then Henry Breed sold up his land in Henry Street, and he named his streets Henry, after himself, and Ann and Albert after his children. Then Francis Mason cut up Hyde Park and named the streets there Charles, Marie and Rose after his children and, lastly, the Templeton's called the streets of their land Collins, Bourke and Swanston after those in Melbourne, and Morrison after Dr. Morrison, the first doctor to live here.

PHOTO: Dr. R.G. Morrison, in 1890.dr morrison

And now back to 1884, when the Campbells built the first sawmill in the town, on the east side of the creek. John Peterkin bought them out and built another sawmill in the following year on the block next door to the offices of the Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Authority in Seymour Street. This was really a big mill, and even had its own railway line across to the railway yards. It worked twenty-four hours a day, and Peterkin cut out all the red gum on the west side of the creek. The bullock wagons hauling the logs into the mill turned Grey Street and Mill Street into a bog in winter time. But Peterkin's sawmills were the life-blood of Traralgon in these times.

You will remember how the Mechanics' Institute was rebuilt after being blown down in the big storm in 1876. It was standing on a good corner in Franklin Street, and the trustees of the institute thought that it would be a good idea to sell the land for a lot of money and to build another institute on a cheaper block. The Government in Melbourne gave permission, and Mr. Hickox of the Club Hotel bought the place at the auction sale. He moved the building right up to the footpath, and for many years it was used as a drapery store by Adams & Maxwell, and later on by W. D. Leslie & Co. The Mechanics' trustees bought some cheaper land in Hotham Street where they built their new brick building which was to be the Mechanics' Institute and public hall for Traralgon for the next forty years.

1884 was the year that Walter West came to Traralgon. He was a coachbuilder and blacksmith who, in later years, became Shire Secretary and also Member of Parliament for this district. Here is another instance where a tradesman, arriving in the town and setting up his business, was able to take an active part in the affairs of the people and to eventually reach the very top, West started off in business with his brother by buying out John Sullivan who, you remember, was once the blacksmith on the National Bank corner, but who now had a business further east down Seymour Street. The firm changed from time to time and, for a while, Walter West and James Mayze were partners. When Walter West became Shire Secretary in 1907, he sold out to people named Bruton.

Hilltop ReservoirPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail, for a full page view of the Railway Reservoir.

When the railway was built some seven years before, they had to have water at the station to refill the engines. Although the creek was quite handy, it would have meant pumping water up into the big tank where the engines filled up. There was a better idea than that. Up in Hobson Park there is a big dam which we call the Railway Reservoir. This was built at the same time as the railway line, and pipes were run from the station up to the reservoir. Water was thus on tap at the station as soon as the first winter's rains filled it. In later years, when water was brought in from the Tyers River, the wall of the reservoir broke away, and the gully was dry for many years. But this railway reservoir comes into our story, for pipes were laid down Franklin Street during 1884 by the Council for use in case of fire. And Traralgon was due to have a really big fire within a few years.

During 1884, Dr. R. C. Morrison moved from Bairnsdale to Traralgon and became the first doctor to live in our town. The Council made him temporary Health Officer for the Shire in place of Dr. Macdonald, who lived at Eaglehawk, but practised in Sale. It had taken so many years to get a doctor to live here. Dr. Morrison's old house is still standing between Queen's Parade and Shakespeare Street, near the Cordial Factory Bridge.

In the next year, Dr. John Montgomery also came here and set up his consulting rooms in the Grand Junction Hotel. He was one of the Montgomerys from the Heart Estate at Sale. The Council then accepted Dr. Macdonald's resignation as Shire Health Officer and appointed Dr. Montgomery in his stead.

Two new hotels were built during 1884, the big brick Grand Junction Hotel and the wooden Crown Hotel. Hugh McAuley, who had the Wheatsheaf Hotel, found that all the trade was going to Franklin Street, so he built the Crown, which opened at the end of 1884, and closed the Wheatsheaf. The Sportsman's Arms Hotel at Tyers also opened at the end of 1884, and you can still see the old brick building on the north side of the river. Mrs. Jane Timms even opened a wine saloon on the Rosedale Road at this time.

Everyone has been to the Traralgon Show. The first event in the year 1885 was the formation of the Agricultural Society. Mr. Baird had the idea given to him a few months before, and he wrote it up in the "Record". So Mr. Dugald Campbell called a meeting, and they had two hundred members in no time at all. Mr. Campbell was made the first president of the Society and, as usual, the same batch of leading citizens formed the Committee. They were able to hold their first Show in the following November.

At this time, too, we lost another pioneer - Mrs. Elizabeth Windsor died on 24th January, 1885. You know how, in about 1846, the Windsors lived in the first house in Traralgon, which was on the Methodist Church corner. There they would provide meals and a bed for travellers before the Traralgon Hotel was built.

There were some people in Morwell who were not happy to think that their rate money was being spent in building a Shire Hall here in Traralgon, and this eventually meant that, just like when Traralgon was part of Rosedale Shire, the Government agreed to the Traralgon Shire being divided into three parts called Ridings. The town area became the Central Riding, Loy Yang and Callignee the Eastern Riding, and Morwell and Mirboo the Western Riding. We must keep these divisions in mind for, a few years later, the discontented people in the Western Riding were able to break away and to form their own Shire of Morwell.

Building was booming, and there were now four brickyards in the town. James Dunbar's yards were up the hill in Bank Street, Frank Hickox had bought out Peter Bonhomme who had the yards at the corner of Hazelwood Road, Oswald Marriage had his works up in Grey Street near Keys' Park and Albert Costin made bricks down on the Rosedale Road , where the Sewerage Board depot is today.

In August, 1885, the Freemasons formed a lodge here. James Campbell, the Shire Engineer, was the first master, and as I told you how he came from Argyllshire in Scotland, you can easily see how it took the name of the Argyle Lodge. It met in the room upstairs at the Star Hotel for the next seven years, and then moved to the Mechanics' Institute where meetings were held until 1925. Since then the temple on the corner of Church and Seymour Streets has been the home of the lodge.

You girls and boys have always known the racecourse to be up over Bye's crossing on the Princes Highway. As you already know, the first race meetings were held behind the Traralgon Hotel in Traralgon Park, But, in August, 1885, the Shire Council was able to get the Government to hand over a large piece of land out on Grey Street near the turn off to Tyers for a racecourse. Races were held there for many years, but the Racing Club lost so much money that, in the end, the citizens running the Racing Club had to pay the debts out of their own pockets. The Government sold the land, and it was used for grazing. For some years afterwards, the Racing Club still used the course, paying some- thing to the owner for each meeting. Things became better in later years, and the Racing Club was able to move to the new course up on the Princes Highway in 1914,

In these early days, too, we had some soldiers of the Victorian Mounted Rifles here in Traralgon, This was our first militia, and all the men were volunteers. They had to provide their own horses, but the Victorian Government gave them their uniforms, Edward Whittakers was the lieutenant in charge of the Traralgon men for a start and, some time later, Dr. J, P. Montgomery was a captain in the unit. Some of the young men who trained in the V.M.R. here, fought for their country as "Soldiers of the Queen" in the Boer War in South Africa. After the Commonwealth of Australia was formed, this unit in Gippsland became the 13th Australian Light Horse Regiment,

Roadmaking in the hills to the south of Traralgon was always difficult before we had the Country Roads Board, because of all the rain and the soft soil and no stone for road metal. The best method in the bad parts was to "corduroy" the road with round timber laid side by side across the road. It made travelling in a horse and cart very bumpy, but it was better than mud two feet deep. The chance of a railway to Yarram through Callignee seemed as far away as ever, and some people here in Traralgon tried to get the locals to put their money into a company to build a tramway out to Callignee. The idea was not popular, and so the company was never formed.

1896 Callignee School PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of Callignee School with the school children and their teacher, Mr. Joseph H. Anson, in 1896.

But they did form a company to try to sell the brown coal which you know lies so thickly so close to Traralgon. The company spent all its money putting down a bore to see how far the coal went. Today we have the Government doing that for us, and since then test bores have been drilled all around Traralgon so that we know exactly where the coal starts and where it finishes.

You will remember that, back in the days of Duncan Campbell, the road to Rosedale went down the bank from the Argyle Street Post Office and across the Mitchell Street flat, and how it was not until the Long Bridge was built that people were able to drive straight down Argyle Street on their way to Rosedale. The Government felt that it was about time that this land was cut up into blocks and sold, despite the fact that it was once a swamp where Constable O'Connor used to shoot ducks. And so, in December, 1885, it was sold, but the little short street, called Wright Street, at the bottom of Grey Street, had to be left so that those who wished to use the old bridge could do so. The flat is now covered with houses, and when the Traralgon Creek is in flood, the whole area can still be covered with flood waters.

Another red letter day for Traralgon was 19th December, 1885. The Governor, Sir Henry Brougham Loch and Lady Loch visited our town. You need to go back to 1847 to the last similar happening when Superintendent Latrobe came here when he tried out the new Gipps' Land Road and slept in a tree near the Moe on his way. You will recall how Mrs. Hobson had him stay at her humble home. Although Latrobe became Lieutenant Governor to Sir Charles Fitz Roy, the Governor of New South Wales, when Victoria became a separate colony in I85I, this was really the first time that the Governor had honoured our town by his presence. He was probably in this part of the country because of the opening of the railway line from Morwell to Mirboo. He arrived here in the State Carriage on the train, and was welcomed by the Shire President , Cr. John Peterkin, and, of course, Ethel Peterkin, his daughter, presented the bouquet of flowers to the Governor's lady. Sir Henry said that he hoped to come back to lay the foundation stone of the new Post Office and Court House, but his wish never came true. We still remember his visit, for Loch Park was so named in his honour.

1886 franklin  east PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of Franklin Street, East Side, from the Post Office Tower, in 1886.

In February, 1886, the National Bank opened a branch here. So we now had the Bank of Australasia around the corner in Kay Street near the present Infant Welfare Centre, the Colonial Bank in its new building on the corner of Seymour Street and the National in the room in the Grand Junction Hotel next to Woolworth's Apparel Store. About twenty-five years later, it moved into a new bank building in Franklin Street next door to the Court House and, when the National and the Colonial Banks joined forces in 1918, it went over to its present site on the corner of Seymour Street.

Franklin St West Side 1886 PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of Franklin Street, West Side, from the Post Office Tower, in 1886.

Just in case you have the idea that all school children went to the State School, let me tell you that there were various private schools here in the early days. You will remember Mary Campbell, the school monitress with Mr. Henry Sanders, and who was later a pupil teacher when Mr. Mattingley was head teacher. After she married Mr. John Fynney, the Treasury Officer here, she started a small school of her own in the Campbell home, "The Retreat" in Kay Street. The Peterkin children went to her school. Hers was probably our first private school, but it was soon followed by several others, among them one where Mrs.Andersoon was the teacher and another where Mrs. Crowe was the teacher, and, as the years went by, more private schools were opened and closed - too many to put them all in our story,

In the early Eighties, there was a land boom here in Victoria, people buying land and cutting it up and making huge profits. There was no shortage of people ready and willing to buy the blocks. Here in Traralgon we had our share. Up until this time, the Government had been cutting up the land and selling it, but now we saw the local men taking the place of the Government. I told you a little about this when I was telling how the streets received their names, John Peterkin was the first, and he sold all the land between Breed Street and Loch Park Road right up to Kay Street, apart from twenty acres at the bottom of Henry Street. Henry Breed was next, and he called his twenty acres at the bottom of Henry Street the "Ben Venue" Estate. This land, which was sold by the Government for £4 an acre fifteen years before, brought £120 an acre at the sale. Then Richard Mackay, the auctioneer, outbid all others for the right to cut up and sell Hugh Dunbar's land beyond Loch Park Road, but the boom had burst by now, and his sale, in March, 1886, was a failure, A. W. Milligan tried to sell James Dunbar's land south of the railway line opposite where our Hospital is today, and he did no good either. That was the end of the big land sales in Traralgon for many years. These sales left us with many blocks of land on narrow streets which were not built on for 50 or 60 years. In those times, people did not see the necessity for nice wide streets, and we were left with Mabel, Ethel and those other narrow streets which will all need to be widened some day,

With shops closing here at 5.30 pm on weekdays and noon on Saturdays, it may be difficult for girls and boys today to realize that, in 1886, the Traralgon Traders were trying to have their members agree to close at 6 pm every evening except Saturday, when they remained open until 11pm. The late shopping night was popular with the public, but not with shop assistants, right up until the Second World War. Maybe it has gone forever in this country, although it is still popular overseas.

Traralgon waited forty years for its first doctor to live here, but it waited sixty years for its first dentist. In those early times, the doctors looked after the teeth of the people and, of course, if there was no doctor, why not the chemist? He should know. But trained dentists from Tasmania and Melbourne did come to Gippsland in the 1860's and they visited each of the larger towns like Sale. But there were also quack dentists about like Professor Mason who pulled out teeth free of charge in public just for advertisement, while his assistant, Sheridan, played the cornet to drown the shrieks of the patient. Our first chemist, Paul Kleesattel, was called on at times, but people said that, as a dentist, he was a good chemist. By 1886, we had visiting dentists coming here from Sale and Melbourne, but it was not until 1900 that Mr. A. J. Trood became our first resident dentist.

1886 the retreatPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of the Campbell home, "The Retreat", in Kay Street, which was the first Post Office before the new building was erected in 1886. This photo was taken before it was demolished in 1953.

It was during the year 1886 that the public buildings in Traralgon were constructed. The Post Office and Court House must have been, at that time, one of the best buildings in Gippsland, and Traralgon, small as it was, was fortunate in having the Government spend so much money here. The Post Office in "The Retreat" a few doors away in Kay Street was moved into the new office where Mrs. Starke, who had been the postmistress in "The Retreat" became the first postmistress there. Constable Donoghue was already in his new Police Station on the corner of Seymour and Franklin Streets, and the land between the Court House and the Police Station, was the paddock for the troop horse.

1886 Post OfficePHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of the Post Office and Court House constructed in 1886.

Traralgon was going ahead like wildfire. More and more new shops, mostly wooden, were going up in Franklin Street, and the people of Toongabbie thought that they, too, should join up with Traralgon Shire, just as Tyers had done. But nothing came of this move, and Toongabbie is still part of the Shire of Rosedale.

In September, 1886, another famous name comes into our story - Daniel Ryan bought the Commercial Hotel from Peter Kelly who then bought the Royal Exchange Hotel. Daniel Ryan was the father of Mr. Amby Ryan who, until his death recently, had been the licensee of the Commercial Hotel from 1915 to 1919. He then went into the Club Hotel for seven years, and in 1934 became the licensee of the Traralgon Hotel. Amby Ryan will be long remembered for his ability as a footballer. He was captain of the Traralgon Club for some years.

The year 1887 saw the second newspaper published in Traralgon. It was called "The Gippsland Farmers' Journal", and was printed by Mr. Thomas Allard Pettit, the first issue being on 27th January. The "Journal" office was up at the south end of Franklin Street, opposite Woolworth's Apparel Store, and the paper was printed there up until 1932. Mr. Edward Barbor became a part owner of the "Journal" in about 1921, and in a few years he was the sole owner. He bought out the "Record" in 1932 and amalgamated the two papers, closing the "Journal" office in Franklin Street and running one paper, still called the "Journal", from the "Record" office in Seymour Street.

So, if you have to read the story of Traralgon in the old newspapers, you have to read both the "Record" and the "Journal" up until 1932. By the way, the only full copies to that date are in the La Trobe Library, for, when the two papers were joined, all the old copies were taken out to the tip and burned.

1888 seymour st westPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of Seymour Street, looking west, in about 1888.

I think that I should tell you here that a second chemist opened a shop in Traralgon in 1887 to compete with Mr. Paul Kleesattel. He was J. G. B. Duncan. When the Government sold the old Police Station yard in 1891, he bought a piece of the land and built his shop where Mr. Grant now has his chemist's shop. Mr. Kleesattel then built his new shop on the Seymour Street corner and, for the next fifty years, we had just two chemists, and although the chemists came and went, the two shops were always chemist's shops. Mr. Duncan's old shop and residence were pulled down by Mr. Ward the chemist, some years ago when he built his new shop there.

1889 duncan chemistPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of Mr. J.G.B. Duncan's Chemist's shop, on the corner of Franklin and Seymour Streets, 1889.

Probably our strongest Lodge in money and numbers is the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows. They, too, started up here in 1887, and one of their most famous members was Walter West, who joined in 1889. He became Grand Master for the State of Victoria in 1916, another honor to come to Traralgon.

And all this time the Traralgon Shire Council had been collecting £3 from the Government for every £I it gathered in in rates. They thought that they were going to lose it when some Shires up in the Wimmera, where destroying rabbits was costing them a lot of money, tried to come in on the scheme, too. So it might have ended up without there being enough money to go around. There was a big meeting held here in Traralgon by all the Gippsland Shires, and the usual big deputation went down to see the Government in Melbourne. But fate was kind. The Government kept up the money - Traralgon would have been in real trouble had it not done so.

For some time the Presbyterians had been dividing their services between the Church over in Campbell Street and the old Mechanics' Institute, and, in this year, they took over the Temperance Hall in Kay Street and held services there instead of in the Mechanics'. You all know the Temperance Hall which was the Presbyterian Sunday School for so many years, and which has now been moved around the corner into Church Street.

We now come to another name which is well known in the district. When a Police Station was first opened at Toongabbie in 1867 when the traffic started going through that way to Walhalla in greater numbers, Senior Constable Felix Keon was placed there in charge. In 1887, when Const. Donoghue retired to his home on the Highway near the present Racecourse, Senior Constable Keon came to Traralgon which, by this time, had two policemen on the Station.

Although Traralgon was still a small place, the people were bold enough to build wooden grandstand on the Recreation Reserve and also to put up a brick Mechanics' Institute.

It was a common thing in those early times for Councils to build a gas works so that they could light their streets by gas light as well as make a profit by selling gas to the public for lighting and cooking. A gas works engineer tried to get the Traralgon Council interested in 1887, and a public meeting was called. But the local people were not in favor, so nothing was done. Instead, the Council put in another kerosene lamp outside the Temperance Hall where the Presbyterians held Church.

At the end of 1887, James Parer took over the Grand Junction Hotel from Cornelius Neville. The Parers brought the first "safety bicycle" to Traralgon. Before that time, the only bicycles had been the penny- farthings and the bone shakers, and the arrival of the safety bicycle, our present cycle, helped to start the Traralgon Cycle Club. In a photograph which we have of the old Cycle Club, one lady has a type of tricycle with wooden wheels and with pedals on the front wheel. The Cycle Club was more of a social club, and outings were very popular with the ladies.

1898 cycling clubPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of The Traralgon Cycling Club, in about 1898.

Early in 1888, the Council even went so far as to advertise in the paper its intention to ask the Government in Melbourne to build tramways from Traralgon to Callignee and from Boolarra to Mirboo. A survey of the line which it would take from Traralgon out through Traralgon South and up the valley of Stoney Creek showed that the grades would be too steep for the steam engines of that time, and the Council failed in its efforts. Callignee still had to depend on corduroy roads for many years to come.

I have already described Franklin Street as it was in 1883 to you. What a difference there was by 1888! Coming up from the south, you had the Grand Junction Hotel which also housed the National Bank. Then there was nothing on Steele's or the Bank corner, but there was a two-storied coffee palace in Hotham Street where the dairy is today. There were several shops in Franklin Street before you reached the first Crown Hotel. Then more shops and the Colonial Bank on the corner of Seymour Street. Around the corner to your right was Manning's butcher's shop and, further down, the coach-building works of West & Mayze. Returning to Franklin Street, there was Kleesattel, the chemist, on the corner, and then a series of shops right down to Peterkin's store where Clauscens are today. Around the corner in Argyle Street you found, first, the Commercial Hotel and, next door, the Star Hotel.

Starting at the Railway Station end and coming up the west side, there were shops all the way from the corner of Princes Street to Hotham Street where the old Mechanics' Institute was now a store. Across the road, the Club Hotel stood on the corner and there were more shops right down to Jeffery's corner. Around in Seymour Street we already had the "Record" office. The Police Station was across the street, and there was the police paddock which stretched to the Court House.

The other buildings of importance were the first Shire Hall, the Traralgon Hotel, and another store and the Bank of Australasia in Kay Street near the present Infant Welfare Centre.

In August, 1888, the Salvation Army started a Corps here in Traralgon, and the Army was active here until 1910. In the early days they had the support of the Army in Walhalla, and the Walhalla Salvation Army Band would often visit this town. Mr. Woodyatt, the storekeeper, complained to the Council that the Band frightened the horses in the street. The Army is now back with us after so many years absence.

These were the days when so many of our local bodies, which we now take for granted, were started. The Traralgon Fire Brigade, all volunteers, was formed in November, 1888. Each member had to Pay 2/6 to join and 1/- a month after that. Mr. James Dunbar loaned the Brigade a building in Hotham Street for a Fire Station, and the townspeople collected £160 and bought a pump which was worked by bars on each side of the firecart and 500 feet of hose. Just as well we had a Brigade a few years later when Traralgon had a really good fire. I will tell you about that later.

They seemed to be able to get money for everything. The Agricultural Society built a large wooden Exhibition Hall down in the Show Grounds, and it served its purpose right up until a few years ago, housing all the needlework and cookery exhibits.

The supply of water from the Railway reservoir was not good enough for the town, and every twelve months or so a move was started to get a Waterworks Trust going for the purpose of providing a good supply. The Council even asked the Shire Secretary to start the necessary steps to form a Trust in 1888, but nothing ever came of it, and it will not be until I tell you the story of the year 1905 that I will be able to relate how Traralgon first received the water from the Tyers River in 1908.

Now, at this time, the people of Traralgon had quite a choice of hotels - the Traralgon, Star, Commercial, Crown, Club, Grand Junction and Royal Exchange - but this was not enough. The gentlemen needed a Club as well. The Traralgon Club was started by Frank Hickox, and they built a timber and galvanized iron building in Argyle Street opposite the Star Hotel. Being built over the bank, it was single-storied in front and two-storied at the rear, and besides bedrooms for those who slept at the Club, there was also a tennis court and billiard room. But, with all the hotels selling beer until late at night, the Club lasted for only one year and then closed down because it did not pay.

1889 Traralgon ClubPHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of The Traralgon Club, in Argyle Street, in 1889.

From the beginning of 1889, the Traralgon Presbyterian Church which, up until that time, had been part of the Rosedale circuit, had its own Minister. Rev. J. G. Wilson from Rosedale moved here, and a search had to be made for a suitable manse for him. The Church did not have enough money to buy a place in the town, but it still owned the land given to it by the Government in 1871.

In 1890, a manse was built on the corner of Gwalia and Peterkin Streets, and when you go down Peterkin Street past the Scout Hall, you can see it there, standing on the site where the bark-roofed school should have been built instead of over in Campbell Street, although, of course, the Church sold that manse years ago.

The Bank of Australasia, now the A.N.Z. Bank, was built during this year. The Bank had started business in Peterkin's store in 1876, and then moved to its own building in Kay Street where Mr. John O'Brien lived until his recent death. His son, John O'Brien, now lives there. But when the new brick building was completed on the corner of Hotham Street, it moved there, and has been there ever since, although the old building was pulled down and a larger and more modern building put up in recent years.

And as the main thought of girls and boys each Saturday during the winter is the Traralgon football team, let me tell you that the first competition took place in 1889 when Traralgon, Morwell, Thorpdale, Trafalgar, Warragul and Moe competed for the S. Miller Cup. Morwell were premiers and Traralgon runners-up. And it was not until 1900 that Traralgon won their first premiership.

PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of The Traralgon Football Team, in 1900. football team 1900

By now, too, the land in Franklin Street near the Post Office was becoming too valuable to be left just as a paddock for the police horse, so the Police Station buildings were moved around into Kay Street where you have the new Station today. Next year the whole of the land was cut up into blocks and sold and, in no time, there were shops all the way down to the Court House.

The Council still could not make up its mind about a gas works, so it was left to Oswald Marriage, H. C. Jones, J. S. Milligan and other leading townsmen to form the Traralgon Gas Company and to build their own gas works. They chose the corner of Breed and Kay Streets which was all swampy, unsuitable for houses, and cheap. They were able to make agreements with the Council to change over the kerosene street lights to gas and, a few years later, to light the Railway Station, Post Office and Court House. But they were running at a loss after they paid the interest on the money that they had borrowed to build the works.

It was the object of every Agricultural Society to run the leading show in Victoria - called the Grand National Show. Traralgon Society, although it was formed only four years before, was given this honor in 1889, and in November it put on the Show. The Governor, the Earl of Hopetoun and his Countess were to attend, for this was the first Grand National Show ever to be held in Gippsland. But illness stopped the Governor from attending. The Council had prepared a beautiful address of welcome, too. Still, it was not wasted, for, in the following February, the Shire President and Shire Secretary and the President and Secretary of the Agricultural Society went down to Melbourne on the train. There they met the Governor, and Cr. Peterkin delivered his speech. Mr. Campbell, the Shire Secretary, handed over his address, and the Earl of Hopetoun even read the address he would have given if he had been able to make the trip two months before. It was not until 1894 that the Governor was able to keep his promise to visit our town. Some excellent trophies were competed for at this Show and the Drane family still have two of them which were won by Mr. Thomas Drane.

1896 Lord Brassey at Show PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of The Governor, Lord Brassey, and his party at the Traralgon Show in 1896.

Today we know exactly where all the brown coal lies around our town - how there is about 700 feet of coal not far below the surface at "Minniedale" on the road to Gormandale. Even in these early times, the people of Traralgon were looking for coal around the town. They knew that there was coal at Morwell and also at Boola Boola. They formed themselves into the Traralgon Coal Prospecting Association, and put down a bore themselves beside the railway line, close to the town. Nowadays the Government does all the boring, but, in those days, the Traralgon citizens thought that they could make money quickly by finding coal which was a little better than the brown coal which could be seen on the surface near where Yallourn is today. But our people found nothing and used up all their money. The Council stepped in, too, and asked the Mines Department in Melbourne to send down its diamond drill to help. The Department did send the drill, and it tried for coal around Rintoul's Creek.

I have told you how the railway made it possible to make butter in Gippsland and to send it to Melbourne for sale. Butter factories soon followed, but here in Traralgon our first factory was not built until 1890. Before this time, the Dunbars had a farm butter factory where the separator was worked by horse power. This was the first separator in the district, while the first hand separator was owned by Duncan Dunbar at Hazelwood. The butter made on the farms was sold by auction in the old auction mart in Seymour Street between the present "Journal" Office and Jeffery's corner where you will remember the Town Band used to practise. This home-made butter would sometimes bring only 3d, and 4d, per pound, and in summer time it was like oil before it reached the City, for the railways had not yet started using cool trucks full of ice to keep the butter cool during the summer.

Our first butter factory was started by the same busy people- among them were Hugh Dunbar, Edward Whittakers and John Peterkin, while Thomas Row was the Secretary. The factory was built at the east end of Seymour Street on the bank of the creek, and it became a bacon factory in later years, and then the bus depot until a few years ago. In its first year this factory turned out 50 tons of butter. As there were no separators on the farms, the factory bought the fresh milk, and the farmers took home the skim milk for their pigs and calves.

A second butter factory started up some years later when a Melbourne Company bought out the tannery. This was the Company which some years later built the large factory across the road from the Grey Street School. It stopped making butter there some years ago and the building is now used for making soft drinks by Alpine Aerated Waters. It was so many years before we had a doctor living in our town, but it was not until 1890 that the first solicitor came to live here. His name was Percy Pye Serjeant, and he started here as a partner with other solicitors who already had an office here. You see, solicitors from Sale had been coming to Traralgon for some years before this. In 1897, Mr. William M. Bruce joined Mr. Serjeant, and in 1907, Mr. Hugo Frost- Samuels of Morwell joined them. The legal firm of Serjeant, Bruce and Frost-Samuels served our town and district for years. Percy Serjeant's name comes up time and time again in the story of Traralgon. The firm is now called Bruce, Littleton and Hackford, the famous Serjeant name having been dropped.

In about 1890, the Town Tennis Club was formed and built its courts on the corner of Kay and Church Streets where there is now a service station. The leading player then was Barney Murphy, who worked for the National Bank, and he was good enough to go to England later on with the Davis Cup team. When these courts were sold, the Tennis Club moved to new courts around in Princes Street. These courts, too, have gone today, for the Bowling Club needed more land, and took over the courts.

In the middle of 1890, the people of Morwell were working to cut themselves off from Traralgon and to form a Shire for themselves.

The Morwell "Advertiser" printed a poem - let me give you the first verse:

"Dear Father, listen to the prayer
Of your ever grateful boy,
For all that you have ever done
To fill his heart with joy.
Your dear old face will always shine
Before my life for ever,
But Daddy dear, I've come of age,
And you and I must sever."

And so it goes on to complain that rate money collected in Morwell was spent in Traralgon, and so on. When the people of Morwell, headed by Mr. Murdoch, the builder of the Traralgon Long Bridge, had their notice put in the Government Gazette, the people at Mirboo decided that that would not suit them. They then asked to be taken over by the Shire of Woorayl on the other side of the Strzelecki Ranges.

On 25th January, 1891, the town was shocked by the death of Councillor Dugald Campbell who had been thrown from his horse. Although the Campbells were men of money, this did not prevent Dugald Campbell taking part in every movement which would assist his fellow citizens. His name has appeared so many times already in this story that you will not be surprised when I tell you that his funeral was the biggest that had ever taken place here up until then. A grateful public put their money together, and a very good portrait was painted of Mr. Campbell and was hung in the Council Chamber for all to see.

The Morwell people were still trying to get their own Shire. They had a petition drawn up for all to sign, and they insisted that anyone who signed it paid one shilling towards the cost of sending a deputation to Melbourne with the petition. Quite a good idea, don't you think? They were complaining that half the rates of the Traralgon Shire came from the Morwell and Mirboo areas, yet they had only three Councillors out of the nine. But the Government in Melbourne still refused to cut the Shire in two.

But 28th May, 1892, was an important day for the people of Morwell for, at long last, their efforts at getting their own Shire were rewarded. On that date the Government in Melbourne set up the new Shire, and Traralgon Shire was now just about half its previous size.

In the early Nineties, another factory was opened here for turning pigs into Bacon. Peterkin & Price opened a bacon factory on the corner of Campbell Street and Rosedale Road. This factory was followed in later years by another much larger factory. When the butter factory opened its new factory in Franklin Street in 1906, its old factory in Seymour Street was changed into a bacon factory by Mr. A. Saunders. The Saunders family carried on bacon curing there for the next forty years.

John Peterkin left Traralgon in June, 1892, instead of remaining here in retirement like so many of our senior citizens seem to do. His departure must have been a loss when we look back on what a great part he had played in our History. Shire Engineer, James Campbell, also resigned, and we lost another good citizen.

When Traralgon was first settled, there were thousands of koalas here. How many of you have yet to meet a koala up in the bush at Le Roy? The farmers shot hundreds of koalas just for their skins, and, in 1893, Mr. F. Shiells, the saddler, was advertising that he wanted to buy good skins at once. And the price he paid was probably about 3d. a skin.

This was the time, too, when the Council first started to use the old brick holes for rubbish. They picked Costin's old yard where the Sewerage Board Depot is now in Rosedale Road, and it soon filled. The Council was then able to use it for a Pound where horses and cattle found wandering on the roads could be locked up by the Ranger.

The Traralgon Gun Club was formed in about 1893, when shoots were held at the Recreation Reserve. Nowadays Gun Clubs shoot at clay pigeons tossed in the air by a machine, but live sparrows were used at these early shoots. There were no starlings here then. When starlings made their way into Gippsland, they could be trapped in thousands in nets when they roosted for the night on the reeds around the Gippsland Lakes, and the Gun Club then used starlings for its shoots. The Club held its shoots in later years up near Keys' Park, and in about 1914 it used land near the Cordial Factory Bridge. There were more moves - over the bridge at the north end of Franklin Street and elsewhere as houses were built and people objected to shooting going on at their back doors.

Our volunteer Fire Brigade moved into its new Fire Station in Princes Street in August, 1893. The old building was pulled down when the Brigade received its new brick station from the Country Fire Brigades Board in 1921, but the old fire bell was left in the Railway reserve for many years, and anyone who wanted to call out the Brigade could ring either the bell at the new station on the corner of Franklin and Argyle Streets or at the old one in Princes Street.

The Governor, the Earl of Hopetoun and Lady Hopetoun, were able to come and see Traralgon for themselves in 1894. We have a good photograph of them with other members of their party taken outside the Grand Junction Hotel. They can be seen ready on their horses for the ride out to Callignee. In another photograph, which was taken out at Callignee, you can see them there among the big trees, surrounded by the farmers from that small settlement.

During the last war, our country needed flax for making web equip- went for our soldiers, and farmers were asked to grow flax instead of other crops. There was a flax mill at Drouin where the flax was treated to clean the long tough fibres from the straw. Would you be surprised to learn that flax was grown hereabouts from 1895 onwards? The Woolf Brothers grew crops at Callignee and at Tyers. The Government was trying to make the crop a regular one among the farmers, and even paid them £2 an acre just for growing it. But flax was not a popular crop, and flax growing has never been a major crop in Gippsland.

We had our first big fire in March, 1896. It started in Price's butcher's shop in the centre block and burned down all the shops from Jeffery's corner and the Auction Mart, down to the brick wall at Hunt's, the hairdresser's. They were all wooden shops with residences at the rear, and belonged to Hewitt, the saddler; Kinna, the bootmaker; Price, the butcher; Hales, the baker; Barden, the draper; Miss Tanner, the dress- maker, and the storeroom of Bain & Macdonald. The Traralgon Fire Brigade was there and did its best with the water from the 1½ inch pipe from the Railway reservoir. Its equipment was just the old hand firepump which was called "Ethel" after Ethel Peterkin, and a newly arrived hand reel. That fire cost the people concerned £3,000 for their buildings and a further £3,000 for their contents - a lot of money in those days.

In 1896, the Presbyterians were able to sell the old Church over in Campbell Street, and with that money they were able to buy the Temperance Hall in Kay Street for £175. Mr. Sutherland Williamson bought the corner of Church and Kay Streets for £45 and made a present of the site for a new Church which was not built for nearly twenty years.

The Council then decided to buy the Gasworks. It cost £2,000 as a going concern, and was handed over by the Traralgon Gas Company in February, 1897. Some people were not happy about this and, after six months, they got up a petition against the Council buying the works. But the street lights were costing less, and there was enough profit to pay the interest on the money still owing. So the Council kept the Gasworks for the next sixty years.

Earlier in our story, I told you a little about Walter West. In April, 1897, he won a Council election, and became a Councillor. He thus started on his long career with the Traralgon Shire Council. All the very old boys and very old girls of the Traralgon School will remember their teachers, and it was in about 1897 that Mr. Smithwick, who took over from Mr. Dwyer, left Traralgon. The next Head Teacher was Mr. A. Birrell, who was here for about eight years.

The Boer War had now started, and one famous man left Traralgon for the War. He was Dr. H. R. Horne, who was given quite a send-off at the Club Hotel before he left for camp in February, 1900. He had a romantic career before he returned, for he even went to China to help in putting down the Boxer Rebellion. He was stabbed there by a Boxer rebel, but lived to return here to practise again as a doctor. He met his death here in a motor car accident while driving one of those early motor cars out along the Highway near Sheepwash Creek.

football team 1900 PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of The Traralgon Football Team in 1900.

PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a photograph of the Traralgon school children celebrating the Relief of Mafeking in May, 1900. 1900 Mafeking

In September, 1900, James Rogers, the grandfather of Mr. H. D. Rogers, became licensee of the Star Hotel. He will be mentioned again in connection with this hotel in our next chapter.

This was the year that Traralgon won their first football premiership. Mr. T. W. Ord, who was licensee of the Club Hotel, was President of the Club, and he gave a cup for competition. There were only three teams in the competition - Traralgon, Toongabbie and Gormandale, and Traralgon defeated Gormandale to take the cup, In 1899, the previous year, Traralgon had been playing in the Morwell Association for the Hall Cup, the teams being Traralgon, Morwell, Boolarra, Yinnar, Toongabbie and Gormandale, but our team won only six matches out of sixteen played.

Now, I have taken you through the first twenty years of the Shire of Traralgon when Traralgon grew so rapidly that, by the year 1900, it was quite a good country town, far larger than Rosedale, its early rival, but still a long way behind Sale, which was a borough already in 1863.

In my next chapter, you will read about Traralgon - the Country Town, and I will take you up until 1936 when the secret was let out- the Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd, was about to build a big paper mill here.

End of Chapter 5

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