Tag Archives: Byaduk

In the News – August 8, 1919

The Minister for Home and Territories , Mr Glynn announced there would be an Australian Census in 1921.  The chief statistician Mr Knibbs had left for an international statistical conference in Europe to learn how other countries conducted a Census.  He would be looking at borrowing a Power machine to help with the counting.

Portland Guardian. (1919, August 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63959361

The census was held on April 3, 1921.  Thanks to the Hollerith electric machine, an American invention, results were expected in two years!    I’m not sure if this is the Power machine Mr Knibbs was investigating, but it seems he did pick up some tips from his trip to Europe.  On April 4, 1921, The Argus published an interesting article about how the information for the census was collected.

Mr George Albert of Hamilton was found after five days missing.  He was located at Byaduk on the property of Gershom Harman, grandson of Joseph Harman.

Portland Guardian. (1919, August 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63959361

The Leader of the Pack

When I think of my ancestors, the first name that comes to mind is James Harman.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because if I was to a pick a leader of my ancestors, the boss or the chairperson,  I think It would be James.

In the 15 years or so I have got to know my ggg grandfather, I have imagined him as organised, official and proud.  He was a leader in the church and the farming community speaking up for what he believed.  I can just  imagine him standing before my other ancestors, organising and guiding them.  Who would be his deputy?  I would think either of James’ brothers Jonathon or Walt who, in their own activities in the community, were of  the same mould.

James was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1830, the son of Joseph and Sarah Harman.  He married Susan Reed of Whaddon on August 15, 1852 just two months later on October 20, 1852 they set sail aboard the “Duke of Richmond” bound for Portland, Victoria, Australia.  They spent time in Port Fairy before settling at Byaduk in the early 1860s.

At Byaduk, James was involved with the church, served on the first committee of the Byaduk State School at the age of 81, and farming activities such as ploughing competitions and the Farmers Union.

James and Susan had 10 children from 1854 to 1875, five boys and five girls.  Even that was orderly.

Reuben James   Birth: 1854 in Port Fairy, Victoria  Marriage: 1877 in Byaduk, Victoria to Elizabeth BISHOP Death: 05 Jan 1937 in Ballarat, Victoria.

Alfred   Birth: 1856 in Portland, Victoria  Marriage: 1883 to Louisa NEWMAN Death: 06 Nov 1922 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Isabella   Birth: 1857 in Port Fairy, Victoria Marriage: 1885 to Stephen WARD Death: 02 Aug 1886 in Port Fairy, Victoria.

George Henry   Birth: 1860 in Port Fairy, Victoria Death: 1861 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Julia   Birth: 1861 in Muddy Creek, Victoria  Marriage: 1882 to George HOLMES Death: 20 Dec 1896 in Casterton, Victoria.

Martha    Birth: 1863 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 08 Nov 1888 in Hamilton, Victoria to Frederick Charles HUGHES Death: 28 Dec 1960 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Henrietta   Birth: 1866 in Byaduk, Victoria. Death: 1952 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Albert    Birth: 1868 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1907 to Emma CARMICHAEL Death: 26 Nov 1927 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Alice   Birth: 1871 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: Dec 1896 in Macarthur, Victoria to William James McLEAN Death: 21 Jun 1927 in Hamilton, Victoria.

George    Birth: 1875 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1908 to Hilda May HILL Death: 25 Sep 1947 in Hamilton, Victoria.

It was reading James’ Will, written in 1914, that really defined him for me.  In great detail,  he had carefully considered his beneficiaries and ensured that Susan and his spinster daughter Henrietta would be looked after once he was gone.  It also offered information of James’ property and farm related assets.

The first of James’ last wishes was that his watch and chain be passed on to his grandson, Albert Lionel HARMAN, the eldest son of George HARMAN.  Daughter Henrietta was to receive the furniture in the  house and all household effects.   She was also the beneficiary of James’ poultry.  He  made provision for Henrietta to stay in the house with James’ grandson Charles, only son of  Isabella who died when Charles was a baby.

Farming implements, including a chaff cutter and a set of harrows, were left to son Alfred.  He would also receive two horses and their harness, a number of sheep and half of the grain and hay on the farm at the time of James’ death.  James had a contingency if there was  no grain or hay on the property at the time of his death.  If this was to happen, Alfred would receive £30 instead.  There were conditions for Alfred however. He had to undertake to give his mother Susan 15 shillings a week and give £100 to each of his sisters, Martha and Alice within a year of his father’s death.

Reuben and Albert shared in a large amount of James’ land at Byaduk and Lake Gorrie, near Macarthur.  The description of the property at Byaduk known as the “House Paddock” gives some idea of the out-buildings that existed but also James’ methodical approach to such matters.  It read:

“…commencing at the junction of the Hamilton to Byaduk main road with the Louth road running southerly along the said main road to the entrance gate thence Westerly along the wire fence to the corner of the stack yard and including the woolshed and barn thence Northerly along the wire fence to the Louth road thence along the Louth road easterly to the commencing point.”

The  partnership of James and Susan Harman was to come to a rapid close in 1916.  On April 10, Susan passed away aged 86.  Just over four months later on August 14,  James himself died also aged 86.  Together they had left England as newlyweds, settled themselves in Victoria before starting their large family.  They had seen births, deaths and marriages as their family extended and together they witnessed the growth in the country they had arrived in over 60 years before.  It seems right they went so close together after 64 years of marriage.  They were buried side by side at the Byaduk cemetery.

Jim’s Gone A-Droving

In the 1970s, I visited a Western District drovers’ camp with my father.   I remember the weathered stockmen, their battered caravan and wiry dogs.  It was not uncommon in those days to drive up behind a mob of sheep being slowly moved along the grassy roadsides.

Then, drovers moved stock to find feed when grass was scarce, but in the early years of settlement, the only way to get stock to and from market or from the ports was to use a drover. Known for their hard-drinking and foul mouths they were often away for months at a time.

My ggg grandfather James Bishop was of those hardy breed.  He herded cattle from Adelaide to the Western District and moved sheep for the local stations for around 30 years.

Jim was born in Dorset in about 1825.  I am still to find how he came to Australia, but I first catch up with him in this country when he married Sarah Hughes on October 26, 1852 at Adelaide.  They had one child in Adelaide, Mary Elizabeth, but she died aged two.

James and Sarah then moved to Ararat, where James tried his luck on the goldfields.  Charles was born in 1856 in Ararat, followed by my gg grandmother Elizabeth on September 12, 1857.  Her birth certificate shows James’ occupation as a miner.  James and Sarah had one more child at Ararat, George in 1859.

Not long after, the Bishops moved back to South Australia with two children born in Mt Gambier.  Peter Fraser mentions in Early Byaduk Settlers that James Bishop went to Byaduk around 1865.  This is backed by the birth of Mary Bishop at nearby Macarthur in 1865.   In 1870, Jim selected 16 acres of land at Warrabkook between Byaduk and Macarthur.   Robert, Louisa and Alice were born at Macarthur and William was born at Byaduk.


Mary Elizabeth – Born:  1853 Adelaide, SA.  Died:  1855 Thebarton, SA

Charles – Born:  1856 Ararat, Victoria.  Died: 1916 Macarthur, Victoria

Married:  Sarah DANCER

Elizabeth- Born: 1857 Ararat, Victoria.  Died: 1890 Byaduk, Victoria

Married:  Reuben James HARMAN

George – Born: 1859 Ararat, Victoria.  Died: ?

Married:  Mary HUGHES

Harriet – Born: 1860 Mt Gambier, SA.  Died: 1922 Merino, Victoria

Married:  James ELSTON 1882

Ellen- Born: 1862 Mt Gambier, SA.  Died: 1931 Byaduk, Victoria

Married:  Frederick Watson HINDES 1885 Married:  Abraham CLARKE 1905

Mary- Born: 1865 Macarthur, Victoria.  Died:  1889 Byaduk, Victoria

Robert- Born: 1867 Macarthur, Victoria. Died: 1945 Port Fairy, Victoria

Married:  Edith HARMAN 1901

Louisa – Born: 1870 Macarthur, Victoria.  Died:  1915 Strathmerton, Victoria

Married:  Jonathan Thomas REEVES 1892

Alice – Born: 1872 Macarthur, Victoria.  Died:  1894 Byaduk, Victoria

William James – Born 1874 Byaduk, Victoria.  Died:  ?

Peter Fraser tells of  Jim droving cattle overland to the Adelaide market and I have  found several references to Jim’s droving in The Argus.  “Pastoral Intelligence” notes in The Argus updated readers on the weather, crops and stock movements, among other things.  Jim is mentioned on August 4, 1890  droving fat cattle from Muntham, between Coleraine and Casterton to Warrnambool.  The same article mentions the weather as being very cold with constant heavy rain over the previous 24 hours.   Tough conditions for a drover of any age, but at 65 Jim must have found it incredibly tough.

A month after the Argus article, Jim’s eldest daughter Lizzie (Elizabeth) died of consumption (TB) aged just 33.  Only a year before, daughter Mary also died at age 24.  Of 11 children born, Jim had lost three of his daughters.  Also, his wife of 33 years, Sarah,  died in 1885 at only 51 years.  Another daughter, Alice, died before Jim’s own death.

Jim just kept droving.  In October 1892, he was moving cattle from the property of the Powers at Byaduk to Framlingham near Warrnambool this time in humid conditions.  Two months later he was moving heifers during a cold December.

PASTORIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1892, December 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 6. Retrieved July 12, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8493210

The last article I find about Jim is on February 15, 1893.  He had taken horses from William Melville’s Weerangourt station at Byaduk through to Ballarat.

Jim died just two years later in 1895 at Hamilton, aged  70, leaving behind four sons and three daughters.


Western District Volcanoes – Are They Sleeping?

Twice in the past week I have gone deep into volcanic Western Victoria.  I passed the Grampians and its rock formations, Harman Valley at Byaduk, Mt Napier and Mt Elephant at Derrinallum.  Along with the dry stone walls that weave through the countryside and the rocks that still litter the landscape, the volcanic activity of the past is evident.

Lake Surprise, crater lake, Mt Eccles, Victoria

Mt Napier and the Harman Valley

Mt Napier (in distance) and the Harman Valley


















Since my travels, an earthquake at Korumburra in West Gippsland on Tuesday and a perfectly timed conference in Melbourne, has seen the Western District volcanoes  in the news.  Questions are being asked about the likelihood of them erupting again.  Speaking at the Congress of Geodesy and Geophysics, University of Melbourne Professor Bernie Joyce reminded us that the last volcanic eruption  at Mt Gambier was 5000 years ago, yet these volcanoes normally would erupt every 2000 years.  According to Professor Joyce we are overdue and contingency plans should be made in readiness for a possible eruption

Back in 1902, similar issues were raised.  It was a year not dissimilar to 2010/11 with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes being reported all over the world.

NATURE’S UNREST. (1902, September 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 14. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9079350

I have  found newspaper reports of earthquakes at Yea, Castlemaine, Moe and Goroke in the same year.  Also, South Australia experienced several earthquakes in the latter part of 1902.  A large earthquake in September, felt  over most of the state, saw chimneys brought down.  The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal reported with some relief that the earthquake was not felt in Mt Gamble (sic), obviously meaning Mt Gambier

The Earthquake in South Australia. (1902, September 22). Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851-1904), p. 2. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64341983

Just as well, as panic would have prevailed.  Earlier in July, Mt Gambier authorities had tested the temperature of the famous crater lake, Blue Lake, in light of earlier South Australian quakes

TEMPERATURE OF THE BLUE LAKE. (1902, July 9). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901-1929), p. 6. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55696129

So what was the explanation to the seismic activity back in 1902?  A paper by H. I Jenson, a student at Sydney University, explained a relationship between sunspots and seismic activity.

INTERVIEW WITH MR. E. F. PITTMAN. (1902, September 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), p. 7. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14506300












Could the Western District volcanoes erupt again was a question being asked at the time.  Professor David from Sydney University said in 1902 that although science was not advanced enough to fully predict, he did not expect any volcanic eruptions in any part of Australia in the near future unless there was stronger earthquake activity.

Professor W Howchin of Adelaide University was sure it could and cited other extinct volcanoes which had gone on to erupt.

The last word goes to Professor W.G Woolnough, a noted volcano expert of the early 1900s.

LECTURE ON VOLCANOES. (1902, August 12). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889-1931), p. 6. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4868528

Crater lake, Tower Hill, Victoria

Byaduk’s First Shoemaker

The Harmans arrived in Byaduk around 1863, one of the early families in the area.   Peter Fraser’s Early Byaduk Settlers credits family head, Joseph as the first shoemaker in Byaduk.  He may not have been alone  for long as Bailliere’s Victoria Post Office Directory of 1869 lists both Joseph Harman and John Hurrell as shoemakers in the town. Joseph  had worked as a shoemaker in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire as well as an agriculture labourer.

Joseph Harman was born in Melbourn around 1805 and married Sarah Mulberry in 1827.  There first son James died as a baby, but Sarah had another 12 babies over the next 22 years.  The 1841 and 1851 Census both show the family living in Drury Lane, Melbourn.  In 1852, they said goodbye to their newly married son James and his wife Susan who were sailing for  Australia.  In 1854, they again said their farewells as their next three sons, George, Jonathan and Reuben, followed the path of James and Susan to Australia.  However, by the time the boys arrived in Sydney, Joseph along with Sarah and youngest children Sarah (10), Walt (9) and Alfred (2) were themselves sailing for Sydney.

The Harman family sailed on the “Queen of England” on September 30, 1854.  To that point there are four children I cannot fully account for, Mary Ann (born 1829), Arthur (born 1842), Ann (1848) and Elizabeth (1849).  I have found death records for two other children of Joseph and Sarah, but not these four.  I do feel confident I may find Mary Ann and am now following a lead on her.

The “Queen of England”  arrived in Sydney in early January 1855.  The five Harmans disembarked  and reunited with the three boys who had been in New South Wales for two months.  I lose them for a couple of years, although Joseph’s death certificate states he resided in  New South Wales for two years.  I am looking around the Maitland area for them.  By 1858 they had reached Port Fairy and, after six years, the family reunited.

Joseph died at Byaduk in 1893 at the ripe old age of 89.  Sarah had died 13 years earlier.  Joseph’s obituary in the Hamilton Spectator perhaps gives some insight into Joseph’s character and maybe even relations between him and his sons.  It stated that Joseph was a Methodist, who became a Presbyterian.  Considering James and George’s standing in the Methodist church, I wonder how this decision by Joseph was accepted.

Both Joseph and Sarah were buried at the Byaduk Cemetery. While there is no visible headstone for the pair, there is a large plot enclosed by a rusted wrought iron fence I believe is their resting place.  It is surrounded by graves of other Harman family members in a picturesque corner of the cemetery.

A View of the Byaduk Cemetery

In the News – June 16, 1881


The Byaduk Farmers Club held their annual ploughing match on June 14, 1881. The venue was the farm of the Christie brothers and 13 competitors displayed their finest ploughing techniques.

James Harman was a keen competitor of ploughing competitions and on the day won the Champion class.  His plough of choice was the Lennon made in North Melbourne by Hugh Lennon.  Only the year prior the Lennon plough had made news with the capture of the Kelly Gang.  The armour forged for the gang had been made out of Lennon plough boards.

Reuben Harman, James’ younger brother won the B class.  Reuben was 41 at the time and died only two years later.  He was also a fan of the Lennon.  Another Harman, Arthur came second in the C class with a Hornsby plough and along with his uncle Reuben won a prize for best crowns.

BYADUK PLOUGHING MATCH. (1881, June 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 6. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5987319

Other notable Byaduk residents to win prizes were William and Alexander Christie and Peter Fraser.  Thanks to Peter Fraser, then an 18 year old, we now have the book Early Byaduk Settlers, a recollection of his life in Byaduk.

Following the match, the participants enjoyed the annual dinner at Hardy’s Temperance Hotel.  As the Harmans were staunch Methodists, the venue would have been seen as most appropriate.

Ploughing matches were a popular activity for farmers in the late 19th century.  They were an opportunity to display skill, show off the latest farming implements and to gather socially with other farmers.  The first ploughing match was held in the Portland area in the 1850s and they appear to have peaked in the 1880s when Inter-Colonial Ploughing Matches were held at Werribee Park and Ballarat.  The sketches below depict the 1882 event at Werribee Park where 3000 spectators were attendance, including several parliamentarians.  Farmers came from New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.

INTERCOLONIAL PLOUGHING MATCH. (1882, August 5). Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876-1889), p. 120. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63185745

Ploughing Matches. (1896, January 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876-1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING, Supplement: Supplement to the Portland Guardian.. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63634032

By the mid 1890s, the Portland Guardian was lamenting the demise of the ploughing match.  This was put down to a number of reason including the move of young people off the land and more advanced implements.  The writer sees horse racing as no match to the social and competitive nature of the ploughing match, which were also free of the “curse of Australia”, gambling.  In the 20th century, the rise of the tractor meant ploughing by horse became almost unknown.  The skill required to plough was not as great as that of horse ploughing and there was no longer a need to demonstrate one’s abilities.  Field days today, allow for the display of the latest farming equipment and techniques filling a void left by the end of ploughing matches.

The Ploughing match results offer another insight into the lives of our Western District families.  They often have a comment on the highlight of the day and list the farmers’ place of residence.

The Harmans of Byaduk

I grew up in Hamilton, with Byaduk only about 20 kilometres from my home.  I passed through it on trips to coastal Port Fairy, visited the nearby dormant volcano Mt Napier with school and heard stories about the Byaduk caves.  Never for a minute did I know that I had any link to the small town with its drystone fences and rocky paddocks.

I  had heard of the Harmans from the conversations of my great uncles and aunties,  but when I asked who they were Nana would just say they are “cousins”, so I figured they were not that closely related.  It was not until I started finding out more about my family tree and Nana told me all the names she knew, I discovered that her mother Sarah was a Harman.

My Great Grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Harman

When first researching, I would look through records for certain family names and would often come up with very little. That was until I started on the Harmans.  There was loads of information and they soon became my favourite family, and not just for the ease of researching them.  I discovered an upstanding, religious family that always dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.  A family that got involved in the community whether it be building schools, ploughing competitions, the Methodist church or the Farmers Union.  Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s,  they were a well known family in the district.

Coming to Australia in three separate groups, Joseph and Sarah Harman and their mostly grown up children, reunited in Port Fairy during the mid 1850s.  They established themselves in the town, but with the land opening up in 1861 they moved to newly settled Byaduk around 1863.  Joseph was the first boot maker in the town, while  sons James, Jonathon and Reuben began farming the stony land.  George, who was second eldest, seemed to have no wish to farm and by the late 1860s had returned to Port Fairy where he worked for the local council.

The family grew and by the turn of the century another generation of Harmans were raising families with the union of marriage linking them to other well  known families in the district, including the Kinghorns, Bishops and Olivers.  The family was also beginning to branch out to other parts of the state, including Gippsland. In 1907, three members of the Harman family appear in a photograph of Byaduk pioneers, James, Jonathan and Reuben’s wife Elizabeth.

Byaduk Pioneers 1907

I eventually left Hamilton and did not return to Byaduk until the 1990s to visit the cemetery.  By this time I knew something of the Harman’s standing in the community but had not realised that there was so much recognition of it.  While not that surprised to find a road named after them, I was surprised the Byaduk Caves had names Harman’s Cave No 1 and Harman’s Cave No 2 and that the volcanic lava flow that runs from Mt Napier to Byaduk is called “Harman Valley”.  Also the Byaduk area has been recognised as part of the Kanawika Global Geopark

The Harman Valley, Byaduk

The name of Harman is not common in  Byaduk today but I am proud that ongoing recognition of their presence there is ensured.


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