"The new bush nursing hospital which was opened at Broadford on Saturday was built, complete with operating theatre, kitchen, and laundry for only £200 a bed, and the building was opened free of debt. The central council of the Bush Nursing Association of Victoria provided £550 otu of its appropriation from the Edward Wilson (of “The Argus”) Trust, and the remainder of the total cost of £1,700 was obtained by subscription and from entertainments in the district.
The opening ceremony was performed by the president of the Victorain Bush Nursing Association, Lady Mitchell.”
(From The Argus, Monday 13 March 1933. Article abridged).
The building shown in the picture still stands today on the corner of High & Short Streets in Broadford, and now operates as the Broadford Community Centre.
Broadford Paper Mill Workers 1938
"The Broadford Mill started production on the east bank of the Sunday Creek on October 27, 1890….”
These are the opening words of the book “Through The Mill”, edited by Andrew Rule, that was published in 1990 to celebrate the A.P.M. mill’s centenary. This picture of the mill workers of 1938 is just one of many in this book.
A few copies of this book are still available from the Broadford & District Historical Society. Check price and postage details under “Product Sales’ to the left of this window.
Broadford Dairy Company
A Major Local Industry Comes and Goes
The Broadford Dairy Company was once one of the major industries of the town, but this was not always so. The photo above shows the factory in its heyday, early last century. Situated in Murchison St. in Broadford at around number 31-33, much of it can still be seen. However there was considerable opposition to its construction, as can be seen in the following article, taken from The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times, dated July 4th 1891.
” The Failure of the Creamery Scheme.
So it seems that Broadford is not to have a creamery, or butter factory, after all! A few members of the committee, including MR, McLeod, and Mr. Grey, the Secretary, gathered to a final conference at Bidstrup’s hotel, last Tuesday afternoon, when it was agreed that the practical interest and support given to the project by the farmers of the district, was so deficient, that it was useless under present circumstances to proceed with the matter, and it was therefore decided to let it drop.
One cannot but regret the reasons that have compelled the well-organised committee to come to this conclusion, but they had no other course open to them. No doubt the farmers and graziers of Broadford know their business best, and certainly should be credited with knowing what is most conducive to their own interests, but we confess our inability to see that they were warranted in letting so grand an opportunity for facilitating the growth of a great and permanent industry fall through, on the grounds that a creamery would be an unsafe speculation-and there is no other reason to account for the failure…..”
Read more of this article online at: http://trove.nla.gov.au
This picture of the bridge over Sunday Creek, Broadford, shows how the town looked at the end of the 1800s. This was the town that Rita Jones knew so well. On Boxing Day 1899, eight year old Rita crossed this bridge on her way to buy some apricots for her mother. She was spotted later crossing the bridge on her return journey. She then disappeared.
Using articles from The Argus & Broadford Courier, and details acquired from the Public Records Office and the Victoria Police Museum, the Broadford & District Historical Society will attempt to tell the story of Rita Jones – a sad tale in the history of Broadford.
The original photograph (above) is in our Society’s collection and on the back is written: “Wild Man’s Cave, Sunday School Picnic, 1906.” It shows a Sunday School Picnic group of 32 adults and children at the entrance of the “Wildman of Tallarook”‘s cave hideout. The story of the “wildman” is an interesting one and local Tallarook resident Robert Hollingworth was inspired to write a novel based on his own research. His book is entitled They called me the Wildman; The Prison diary of Henricke Nelson. It was first published by Pier 9, an imprint of Murdock Books Pty. Ltd. in 2008, and it is also available in local libraries.
Under the heading Author’s Note in Robert’s book, the opening two paragraphs read as follows:
“Henricke Nelsen came to Australia in 1861 and was not long in the colony before he began to live a secret life in Victoria’s Tallarook ranges. There he built a secret underground dwelling and this mountain hideaway became his home for more than a decade. If he had chosen to, he could have been employed on any of the stations, or at the railway, tannery, paper or flour mills, he could have lived in Tallarook and gained work there – the record shows that he was a capable man. But instead he chose a secret, solitary life unnoticed by anyone on the plains below.
In 1880 his underground abode was discovered and Nelsen was arrested. Upon investigation, the authorities found he possessed ‘every item necessary for a well-kept home’ including one or two books in English, a torn Bible, and, nearby in a deep cave a well-stocked larder. Nelsen denies living there, but the evidence found on site was overwhelming and included a dated train timetable with his name on it. Nelsen was charged with vagrancy and sentenced to six months’ hard labour.”
Broadford Salvation Army Hall
The first Salvation Army officers commenced work in Broadford in 1891. It was reported in the Broadford Courier & Reedy Creek Times in April of that year that Captain Frances Armstrong and another “lassie” officer had visited Broadford and the first meeting had been held in the Mechanics Hall.
In 1894, the Army set about raising funds to construct a barracks. Mr Arthur Parker had donated the land on the corner of Powlett and Gavan Streets.
The first barracks were built in 1895. Our Picture of the Month shows the hall built in 1912. The Salvation Army still occupies the site today, on the corner of Gavan and Powlett Streets in Broadford.
Gold Mining in Reedy Creek
Alluvial gold was found along Reedy Creek in 1858 and alluvial mining peaked in 1864 when there was a large rush to a tributary called Nuggetty Gully. About 400 miners were said to have attended this rush. After the initial frenzy of the rush, alluvial miners settled along the creek constructing a number of water races to facilitate banks sluicing.
The alluvial mining population along Reedy Creek dramatically increased in 1866 when some 300 Chinese miners arrived, rising to 450 by the end of year. The Chinese miners erected stores and many huts. By 1868, most of the Chinese miners had deserted Reedy Creek, those that stayed were reported working for European puddling machine owners.
The Reedy Creek field experienced a revival during the late 1870s when prospectors proved a payable resource in the defunct Doyles Reef mine. The erection of a crushing battery at the mine led to other abandoned mines in the vicinity being taken up. By 1881 the field had six batteries and the larger mines were reported as being well-capitalised and fully equipped with rock drills, pumping and winding gear, etc. Average yields from the Reedy Creek reefs in 1881 were from 1oz to 10 ounces per ton.
The three principal Reedy Creek mines on the field during the 1880s were the Langridge, Crown, and Doyle’s. Doyle’s had the deepest shaft, down 610ft by 1884. By 1888, these three claims had worked out their shallow ground and needed to prove deeper ground, and the mining registrar suggested that the companies would do better to amalgamate and sink one main shaft, as the three lines of reef were only about 400ft apart. ‘At present,’ he wrote, ‘there are nine enginedrivers, three legal managers, and three mining managers, besides firewood for three engines required.’ Amalgamation took place soon after, and Langridge & Doyle’s United GMC was formed.
Further attempts to develop the Reedy Creek reefs did not bear fruit after 1890.
The photo in the Historical Society reads: “Sarah Underwood. Born Carlisle, England, 14th October 1820. Died 8th September 1914. Broadford’s first midwife 1853 to 1898.”
But how true is it? Sarah Underwood was born Sarah Jackson, daughter of Thomas Jackson and Hannah Newton near Carlisle in England. At the age of 19, Sarah married a carpenter, Isaac Johnston and the couple proceeded to have 7 children. It appears that the family lived in a little town called Ainstable, several kilometers south-east of Carlisle.
Six of their children were born before the family emigrated to Australia on “Constance”, arriving in December 1854. The children were listed then, as Hannah Jane aged 11, William 9, Thomas 7, Isaac 6, Joseph 3 and Margaret only 1. The family settled in Broadford and a seventh child, Sarah Hannah, was born in Kilmore in 1857.
In 1861, Isaac aged 42 was killed in an accident, near the Telegraph Hotel, four miles north of Kilmore. This was only 7 years after arriving in Australia. At this stage they were living in McKenzie Street in Broadford. (The house has since been demolished.) Sarah, now aged 39, was left with six children aged between 8 and 18. Life must have been very difficult for her.
Five years later, at the age of 43, Sarah remarried. Her husband was Thomas Underwood, another carpenter, who came from Bristol and was living in Flowerdale. He was six years older than Sarah, being 50 at the time, but they soon produced another daughter, Mary Ann, in 1866. She died at the age of 5 months in Broadford.
From all of this we have no definite evidence of Sarah actually being a midwife. However the 1898-1901 Broadford Rate Book lists her as being a nurse. In those days home-births were the norm., and it was nothing for a midwife to travel many miles to assist with delivery, at all hours of the day or night. Sometimes they stayed over if there was a lot of travel involved. Sarah may well have been a midwife at this time but there are no records to confirm this fact.
Interestingly, Sarah’s third son Isaac married Agnes Parker and this couple had six sons. Husband, Isaac died around 1900, leaving Agnes with the young family. It was then that Agnes had the idea of starting a home for expectant mothers, so the midwifery link continued.
Sister Agnes Johnston operated from the house and shop at 107 High St.. For years it was the home of Fred Challis and family, and it now operates as an osteopath surgery. Agnes died at the age of 82, in 1940, after assisting in the birth of over 400 Broadford babies. It was only with the opening of the Bush Nursing Hospital in Broadford that she finally retired from her work. She is buried in the Broadford cemetery.
Early Broadford Postal History
Broadford’s First Post Office. For some years it was known as “Blossoms Cafe”, but that was later changed to “Cliftons on High” and later still, to "Sugar and Spice".)
The Post Office was first established in Broadford on 1st of July 1852 under the management at Mr. Donald Ferguson. The office was unofficial at the time and was probably operated in conjunction with a small store, at the site where Blossoms Restaurant stands today. Mr. Ferguson’s annual allowance was based on a percentage of postal business transacted, and during the first year of operation this amounted to ₤20.
Broadford was the 19th post office to be opened in Victoria. In 1860 the annual Mail Return for the year showed that a total of 18,845 letters and 15,011 newspapers were handled at the Broadford Post Office that year.