from: The Weekly Times Melbourne 04 January 1930, page 6
TORNADO SWEEPS TOWNSHIPS
Axedale and Knowsley Suffer
Swooping along on a two mile front late in the afternoon of December 25, a terrific tornado caused extensive damage. The townships which suffered most were Knowsley, where not a building escaped damage, and Axedale.
The storm passed Bendigo more than 15 miles to the south, and levelled many trees and much fencing. All railway and post office telegraph lines are down between Heathcote and Bendigo, Axedale being the furthest station which can be picked up.
Reports stated that uprooted trees blocked the roadway and probably the railway line between Derrinal and Axedale. Gangs have been sent to inspect the railway line and restore the telegraph service. Bendigo hardly felt the blow.
The tornado was one of the most severe experienced in the Bendigo district. So far, no word has been received of loss of life. The severest section of the storm was from the fringe of the Wellsford Forest across Axe Creek to Axedaie and then on to Longlea.
The tornado had a width of two miles and took only about three minutes to pass over. It was followed by heavy rain averaging an inch.
When the storm left the forest, it first struck the home of Mr William Hawkins 4 1/2 miles from Axedale, on the banks of Axe Creek. Most of the house was unroofed, and damage was done to the outbuildings and fencing About a mile nearer Axedale the homestead of Messrs. Hawkins Bros was also struck by the storm, and fiverooms of the seven roomed house were unroofed. Extensive damage was caused to the outbuildings.
Similar damage was caused at other farms at Axedale. Mr D. Cochrane, who had been building a new home, had erected a large garage, workshop and shed. This and his house were badly twisted, and portions were blown away. Part of the house was lifted from its foundations.
Main Roads Blocked
Between this place and the Axedale township, many trees were blown down, and the main Bendigo Road was blocked. The roof of an unococupied house was torn off.
Mr J. Clyne’s house was damaged, and the properties of Messrs W. Weston, J. Ryan and W. S. Millington suffered. The roof of Mr H. Doyle’s house was lifted bodily and parts were scattered in all directions.
A valuable trotting horse, the property of Mr John Brundle, became frightened and took shelter in a corner, where a tree fell on it. It was rescued unhurt.
The storm next travelled to the Marydale Estate, owned by Mr F. Keighraan. The wool shed was wrecked and much fencing was destroyed.
When the motor train from Wallan arrived in Bendigo 30 minutes late today, the staff reported that Knowsley had appeared to get the fury of the storm Not a single place in the old township remained Intact.
The Roman Catholic Church, -a weatherboard building, and a private house were razed to the ground.
The goods shed at the station and the the railway caretaker’s house were unroofed. The verandah and roof of May’s store were torn off and a motor garage in the town suffered badly.
All along the railway line, trees and telegraph poles had been torn up and. strewn over the line. Gangs of men worked ail night to clear the line, Mrs. Hunter, Mr. Harop and Mrs .J. Evans, at Knowsley, were heavy losers by the storm
(Punctuation and paragraphs have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)
from Axedale Antics, Issue 146, September 2008
Axedale Public Hall
“Last month’s article in praise of the Axedale Public Hall inspired a couple of locals to contact the Antics and pass on a few memories. We welcome this feedback and hope that more of you will be inspired to add your own snippets of information to our fund of local knowledge.
Apparently, in it’s hey day, the Axedale Hall had the reputation of having the best dance floor anywhere in the district and people came from far and wide to do the Pride of Erin, the Barn Dance, Maxina, Charmaine, Evening Three Step, Modern Waltz and the Foxtrot, among other old time dances.
The hall custodians prepared the floor by scattering wax flakes or crystals and then ‘bagging’ the floor. Sometimes a box, covered in hessian or carpet was used and often small children helped the operation by riding on the bags or on top of the box, to add a bit of weight. The Dunlop family have been closely associated with the hall and Roy Dunlop was the regular M.C. or Master of Ceremonies. Peter and Kate Dunlop continue this involvement; Peter being the Secretary of the Hall Committee.
Music for the dancing was usually just provided by the piano and drums, and Maisie Evans and Win Byrne were regular pianists with Les Giri on the drums. Power for the dances, balls, and other entertainments was provided by a generator powered by an old Fordson tractor, which on occasions was notoriously difficult to start. There was a house on the corner of McIvor Highway and Mitchell Street, where the barbecue now stands, and the tractor was kept there, at the ready. Before it’s demolition, the house was the residence of the two Misses Ryan.
Although it is hard for us to imagine life without electricity, it only came to Axedale in December 1955, and country life was beginning to change. Young people were beginning to be known as ‘teenagers’. Some of them were even getting their own cars at 18 years of age, (although at Bendigo Teachers College in 1955, only 3 out of 200 had a car).
Rock and Roll music became popular. Shock horror, Elvis Presley ousted Johnny Ray (of ‘Crying’ Fame) and Bill Haley and The Comets burst onto the scene in the film “Rock Around The Clock’.
The first drive-in picture theatre opened in 1956 and competed with The Lyric, The Plaza, and The Princess, which were the existing Bendigo picture theatres at that time.
Dances were held at the YMCA and St. Killian’s on Saturday nights, and once a year a grand presentation ball was held in the Bendigo Town Hall, where each student was presented to the Mayor of Bendigo
November 1956 saw the arrival of TV, in time for the Melbourne Olympic Games, and even the liquor licences were changing. We said goodbye to the ‘6 o’clock swill’ and social life changed. Young people were mobile, dinner dances became popular, and by the time I returned to this district in 1965, the hall was used infrequently and carried a burden of debt.
Sometimes a new resident comes to a town, views the scene from a new perspective, and decides to make a difference. Such a person was Senior Constable A.E. (Ted) Godkin, who came to Axedale from Nagambie in 1967.
Ted could probably be described as a ‘sportsnut’. He was a champion lawn bowler and was immediately snapped up as a Pennant player by a top Bendigo club. He soon observed that Axedale had no sporting facilities at all apart from a sadly neglected public reserve, covered in 10ft high thistles, and a flat area where a couple of granite posts were the only remains of a tennis court. Then there was this beautiful hall, which stood like a white elephant, rarely used, and almost a liability to the community who still had to finish paying for it.
Having played an indoor version of the game of bowls in earlier days, Ted could envisage a regular competition which would provide recreation for people of all ages and an income stream to the Hall Committee. He lost no time in borrowing the necessary bowls, mats and measuring equipment, and spread the word around the district.
I’ll never forget the first bowls night. The Axedale people sat on one side of the hall while the Knowsley people sat on the other, because they didn’t really know each other at all well. The “Blowinskis” those of us who were new to the district, sat across the front while Ted explained the finer points.
It took off like wildfire. We managed for a while with borrowed equipment but soon were able to purchase new mats and sets of bias bowls. Indoor bowls was played two nights each week, Wednesday and Saturday, and it wasn’t long before Tournaments and Championships were on the agenda. We were able to fit seven mats in the hall, so it was not uncommon to have more than 100 participants. With a regular rental income, the Hall Committee soon covered the existing debt and went from strength to strength.
An extremely hard working Hall Committee Ladies Auxiliary ( a plaque in the hall commemorates a lifetime of service by Mon Colvin, 23 years as Secretary) ran an annual casserole luncheon, three debutante balls and formed a Euchre club.
Best of all, we got to know our neighbours and made lasting friendships. The Axedale Indoor Bowling Club functioned for more than 30 years until the cost of public liability insurance became prohibitive but in future issues we will explain how the sporting facilities we enjoy today sprang from the foundation
**written by Axedale resident, Lorraine Gunn
This is a great article of memories of the Axedale Public Hall and social life in a small country township.
from: Axedale Antics, Issue 145, August 2008
As we drive through Axedale, the centrepiece of our small township is our local Hall. Set in a surround of lovely old pepper trees, so typical of a northern Victoria town, it features picnic tables, a barbecue, a playground/skate ramp and entices many tourists passing through the region to stop a short while, take a break, enjoy a cuppa and make use of the facilities. We often wonder what impression the travellers gain of our town. Do we ever ask ourselves how fortunate we are to have such a well kept meeting place? Who built it originally? Who maintains it?
Our inaugural Australia Day Breakfast on January 26, 2008 (don’t forget to put it in your diary for next year) proved what a boon the local hall is to Axedale; the ideal venue for a laid-back community celebration of what it is to be an Aussie. Down through the years our hall has proved to be the hub of social interaction within the community, hosting dances, balls, concerts, school break-ups, family celebrations, farewells, meetings and various fund-raising efforts.
Before the present hall was built, halls connected to the two main hotels were used for meetings and dances. ‘Accent on Axedale’, published in 1970, tells us that “in 1927, Mr.W. Millington called a meeting to decide on ways of financing the erection of a Mechanic’s Institute or hall”. As a result, a committee was formed with P.O’Dwyer as the Chairman and W. Millington, the Secretary.
Various fund raising efforts were held over the years; mainly the annual sports and picnic days at the reserve. Finally with the help of a Government grant, the hall was built. It was opened by the Hon. J.H. Lienhop M.L.C. on December 12,1945. A debutante ball was held on December 28 1945, with 13 local girl forming the set. A Younger Set was formed with the proceeds of this first debutante ball. They bought some of the seats and the piano. They disbanded in 1951, and the remaining money was handed to the hall committee. It was to be very many more years, however, before the hall was finally paid for.
It must be remembered, that back in those days the social life of a community revolved around formal gatherings or entertainment. There was no TV, DVD or internet, mobile phones only limited transport and the cinema was a rare treat. Does anyone else remember ‘tea meetings’ and ‘lantern lectures’. These were generally held in connection with one of the churches, and often involved a visiting missionary, newly arrived from darkest Africa or some remote island community. Endless slides of native children singing hymns were shown to an audience, usually huddled under blankets or travel rugs to keep warm, and very often the projector would ‘blow up’ halfway through the performance which concluded with a collection for the mission.
These are my childhood memories, but, although they were set in a different part of Victoria, undoubtedly, Axedale residents experienced similar social functions.
‘Kitchen Teas’ were popular in my township, and nearly every bride-to-be in a country town would be asked to nominate the colour scheme of her future kitchen and people from far and wide would gather at a dance in the local hall, bearing a small gift in the appropriate colour way; ‘cream and green’, ‘cherry and cream’, ‘blue and white’, etc. A large trestle table on stage would be covered with sieves, cake tins, canisters, rolling pins, basins and all the myriad of kitchen gadgets, pot holders and tea towels needed to equip the new home. Sometimes there would e a wallet of cash to help with wedding expenses, and even the gift of clothing coupons during war time rationing. Those attending would not necessarily be wedding guests; just well wishers, casual friends and neighbours.
Another custom which occurred a few weeks after a newly-wed couple arrived home from their honeymoon, was the ‘tin-kettling’. Many a couple, wife with hair in curlers, husband unshaven and pyjama clad, would be disturbed by an almighty din outside their matrimonial home. On investigation, it would prove to be a group of friends and neighbours bearing plates of supper and creating a ruckus, to welcome home the newly married couple.
In the district where I was raised, there was such a dance in the local hall, every Saturday night. The dance band, and often a family group, would usually consist of a piano, saxophone and drums (no guitars), and the program was normally 50/50, meaning half old-time and half fox-trot. This was before the days of rock and roll, but I clearly recall the jive and jitterbug! Many of the dancers wore uniform and often the function was a welcome home for a veteran, or to farewell a young person off to to war. The older men and matrons of the town would prepare the hall, wax the floor, decorate, organise the music and the supper, then retire to the supper room to play Euchre until refreshments were required. Children danced together and learned ballroom dancing while their Mums played cards.
Once girls turned 16, (there were no ‘teenagers’ in those days), it was usual for them to ‘come out’ at a debutante ball. It was the custom for a young lady to put her hair up and wear her first long white dress. She could then attend the balls, which were the special occasion fundraisers in country towns. ‘Belle of the Ball’, ‘Star of the Evening’, ‘Young Farmer of the Year’, all of these competitions carried sashes for the winners and every girl had a number of ball gowns in her wardrobe. Very often bridal gowns were designed in such a way that by the addition of a bolero and the removal of the train, a useful ball gown was the result. Overskirts were added, gowns were dyed a different colour etc. Our forebears were a thrifty generation, but they knew how to enjoy a rich social life.
A good friend once told the story of a Saturday night dance in a Mallee township where a stranger pulled up his truck to the doorway of the local hall. Wearing shorts, army boots, no socks, a singlet and a hat, he asked each girl in turn to dance. When no-one would accept his invitation, he stomped out, returning with a hatful of wheat, which he threw across the dace floor. “If I don’t dance, nobody dances”, he said before roaring off in his truck. My friend was amazed when the locals calmly grabbed brooms and swept the floor, before resuming dancing as if nothing had happened.
When I came to Axedale 44 years ago, the effects of TV, the cinema (or the ‘pictures’, as we called it, drive-ins and the availability of transport had changed the social lives of country people and our local hall was not receiving the amount of use it required to pay off the remaining debt.
In our next issue we will explain what happened to save the day, and to ensure that our Hall remained the magnificent asset it is today.
….more to come in next post
**written by Axedale resident Lorraine Gunn
The following article was printed in the Axedale Antics, May 2009 issue.
Have you ever wondered how Axedale got it’s name?
Situated where the McIvor Highway meets the Campaspe River, Axedale is believed to have taken it’s name from the old ‘Axe’ or ‘Axedale Station’, which was first licensed to A. Jennings and George Playne in 1840. It was taken out under licence number 64 of the Westernport Squatting District, for 67,000 acres. This was part of the original Campaspe Plains run and was estimated to carry 12,000 sheep.
The run changed hands a number of times, until 1859, when the station came into the hands of Charles Vaughn and Edward Wild.
Vaughn landed in Port Phillip in 1841, and was appointed inspector of markets in 1845. He was an accountant, financier and pastoralist, as well as being a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria from 1856 to 1864.
In 1855, Patrick Drake built and operated the Campaspe Hotel – it remained a family business for many years.
The ‘Victorian Gazetter’ of 1865, described Axedale as a postal township in the electoral district of Mandurang, under the control of the Strathfieldsaye Roads Board.
There was a steam driven flour mill and a coach service to Sandhurst. There were seven hotels – Campaspe, Raglan, Perseverance, Shamrock, Union, Freemasons and Commercial.
The township of Axedale was laid out shortly after the Crimean War and the Raglan Hotel took it’s name from Lord Raglan. Some of the streets perpetuate names associated with the war.
Strathfieldsaye was the nations’s gift to the Duke of Wellington after Waterloo, according to ‘Accent on Axedale’ (1970), and many of the old official names have a Wellingtonian flavour.
In the 1860s, Nathaniel Ingram selected land in Axedale and opened a bluestone quarry on the eastern side of the Campaspe River. This quarry produced dressed curbing and pitchers for use in Bendigo. Evidence of this can be seen in the Bendigo Creek and curbing in the streets. A fine example of dressed stone can be seen in the Axedale Roman Catholic Church. – Axedale Antics, May 2009 issue
from: The Bendigo Independant, 19 April 1902
A Model Country School
Several of the State school inspectors at present visiting the Bendigo district, called at the Axedale State school, ” No. . 1008 (Mr. E.A. Whitelock head teacher), and entered the following report in the register: April 18, 1902
“We paid an unannounced visit today. .We find the school to be thoroughly well organised and taught. The school largely works itself, as the pupils and monitors are interested in their school life, and have both well trained in their various duties. . The teacher keeps in touch with all classes.
The teaching largely achieves the valuable results of getting the children to think, and then to express themselves fully. There is an absence of routine work. There is no mere repetition of the teacher’s thoughts. The writing, arithmetic etc. seen, are excellent.
The commendable tone in the school can have been created only by skilful devotion to the best interests of the children. The school room is a picture of neatness and taste, and is well equipped with apparatus of all kinds, growing plants, pictures, diagrams etc.
We consider Mr. Whitelock’s work and influence here worthy of the department’s recognition. We hope the parents are appreciative.
This highly creditable report bears the signatures of no less than four inspectors, namely: Mr. A. Fussell, district inspector; Mr. P. Goyen, chief inspector, Otago, New Zealand; Mr. Wm. Hamilton (Castlemaine District) and Mr T.W. Bothroyd of the Maryborough district
(Punctuation and paragraphs have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)