Memories of Axedale Public Hall

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.

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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

 

 

 

How Axedale was named

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

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The Axedale Catholic Church is a wonderful example of Axedale bluestone

A model Country School

from: The Bendigo Independant, 19 April 1902

Model country school

A Model Country School

AT AXEDALE.

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)

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article227558242

Axedale Library

Axedale now his it’s own library agency. Situated in the Axedale Community Hall, the library is open on Friday from 2-5, and is manned by an enthuastic bunch of local volunteers, with support from the Bendigo Goldfields Library.

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Community volunteers with Bendigo Goldfields staff being congratulated by Cr. Yvonne Wrigglesworth, Eppalock Ward Councillor

The library will have an extensive stock of books, DVDs, CDs, audio books and magazines. These can be ordered for convenience through the library website.

The Axedale Library is more than just a libary. Locals can drop in for a cuppa with friends or chat to the librarians.
 There is also a community trading table, which is becoming very popular. Bring along excess produce from your garden and swap it for other produce from the table. If you don’t have produce to donate, you can purchase goodies for a gold coin donation. All proceeds go to the community.

Concert at Drake’s Hall 1915

from: The Advocate, Saturday 04 September, 1915, page 14

drakes hall

transcription:     AXEDALE

At Mr. Drake’s Hall on Wednesday, 25th August, the annual concert was held, in aid of the funds of St. Mary’s Church. The Rev. M. Heffernan occupied the chair.

The attendance was very large and the programme good. The following ladies and gentlemen contributed items: — Misses M. Bentley, C. Ronan, V. O’Donnell, E. and M. O’Connor, and C. J. Drake, Messrs. W. Ruth, J. Herrick J. R. McDonald, and A. Brown.

Mrs. W. Ruth acted as accompanist, and her playing was a feature of the programme.

The manner in which the artists rendered their respective items must have been pleasing to the party who travelled from Bendigo over bad roads to entertain the residents of Axedale.

Mr. C. Burke, of Bendigo, with his usual generosity, placed his fine car at the disposal of the artists. He also contributed to the funds by raffling a clock which was won by Mr. R. O’Brien, of the Crown Hotel, Bendigo (ticket No. 39)

Mr. W. Hawkins acted as secretary, and was ably assisted by a ladies committee, with, Misses D. Neylon and A Brown as joint secretaries. The Rev. chairman thanked all who assisted to make the concert such a social and financial success.

(Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)

Anzac Day 2017

 The following report of the Anzac Day commemoration service, written by Lorraine Gunn, appeared in the May edition of Axedale Antics

What would we do in Axedale without our volunteers? At around 5.30 to 6am on the morning of Anzac Day, no doubt after a restless night, Phil Hughes woke to a rainy morning with a doubtful weather forecast, and he was the organiser of an outdoor celebration of the most solemn day in the Australian calendar. What were his options?
By 6.30 the troops, members of the Axedale Our Town Our Future committee, were rallying to transfer the celebrations to the Axedale Hall and by 8 am. CFA volunteers had breakfast ready for early arrivals.
A wonderful crowd of more than 200 filled the hall and seamlessly, the event proceeded to mark the 102nd anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli.
President of the A.O.T.O.F. committee, Jennifer Jones, gave a speech of welcome and  handed the ceremony over to Phil who conducted the program with dignity and  reverence.
The Mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo, Margaret O’Rourke was in attendance together with representatives of parliamentarians, the R.S.L., school captains and Axedale service and sporting clubs, all of whom laid wreaths. Serving and veteran members of the defence forces were given the opportunity to lay a remembrance poppy followed by members of the public who wished to do so.
In addition we were entertained by the Axedale Primary school choir and the Axedale in Harmony Singers as well as a pipe band and a bugler. The choirs led the singing of the national anthem of New Zealand, first in the Maori language and then in English and to conclude the celebrations, Advance Australia Fair was sung by all participants.

 

Sue Morvell CWA

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Meeting at Axedale 1917

from: Bendigo Advertiser, Tuesday 17 April, 1917, page 6

Meeting in Axedale

 

A largely attended meeting was held in Drake’s hall, Axedale, on Saturday evening.
Mr. J. Heffernan, JP. presided. Convincing addresses were delivered by Mr . D.B. Lazarus Luke Murphy and M. E. O’Brien.

Mr. O’Brien denounced in scathing terms the efforts which were being made in certain quarters to raise the sectarian issue and exhibited a pamphlet which was being circulated in this electorate, and having for it’s object, the segregating of the Catholic vote.

Mr. O’Brien said he did not know in whose interests the leaflet was being distributed, and was cheered for the statement that he could authoritatively affirm that there was absolutely no organised Catholic vote in this electorate; emphasising the fact that though Catholics may have grievances,they cast them to the winds when the Empire needs demand their co-operation.

He further said that at such a time of national stress as this, neither party politics nor religion should prevent us from presenting an undivided front to the powerful arch enemy that sought our destruction.

The speaker further affirmed that, during the 25 years in which he had been privileged to use the franchise, he had never on any occasion been advised how to vote, nor asked how he voted by one of his spiritual advisers, though always in close touch with them.

Referring to the much discussed utterances of a high church dignitary, Mr. O’Brien said that while in church matters .Catholics were solidly united yet in politics their views were varied, and that each intelligent member of that church would resent to the uttermost, any attempt to wield political power or pressure by virtue of spiritual leadership.

Catholics, he said, honored and respected their spiritual Advisers as such, and, so the besmirching of their high and sacred calling by interference in politics would assuredly have the effect of diminishing that loyalty and reverence which Irishmen, and the sons of Irishmen so consistently accord to those whose sole duty it is to minister to their spiritual needs.

 

On the motion of Mr. J.P. Christie, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded the chairman. The meeting terminated with the singing of the National Anthem.

(B. Mundy 214 Hargreaves Street)

(Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)

Fatal Accident at the Campaspe 1866

 

from: Bendigo Advertiser, 24 April 1866, page 3

axedale inquest

transcription:

INQUESTS

THE FATAL ACCIDENT AT THE CAMPASPE

Yesterday Dr Pounds, the District Coroner, held an inquest at the Campaspe Hotel, Axedale, touching the death of Joseph Scott Bradshaw, who died from a gunshot wound accidentally received on Sunday last.

It appeared from the evidence that the deceased, in company with William Baxter, Thomas Dorham and Alfred Bailes, started from Sandhurst in a spring cart at seven o’clock p.m. on Saturday, for the Campaspe, upon a fishing and shooting excursion.

They reached their destination at ten o’clock that night, and camped out on the side of the river about a mile from Axedale.

They commenced shooting at about five o’clock the following morning, near the spot where they had camped, and at about four p m, when they were thinking of returning to Sandhurst, Bradshaw, Derham and Bailes said they would first enjoy a bathe.

Baxter said that in the meantime he would fire off a couple of shots, and as they had only two guns, he requested the deceased, who carried the powder flask and shot pouch, to load one of the guns, a double-barrelled one, for him.

Bradshaw took up the gun to comply with the request, and whilst holding the butt end on the ground, his left hand over the barrels near their top, and as he was pouring the powder from the flask with his right hand, and before he had put a wad upon it, the other barrel, which was charged with powder and duck shot, exploded, and deceased fell back on the ground, when blood gushed from his face.

The other two young men ran to the spot, and Bailes at once went for Dr O’Grady. After receiving the wound, deceased only lived some ten or fifteen minutes.

Mounted Constable Wright, of Axedale, who was sent for, deposed to finding the gun with one barrel which appeared to have been recently discharged, and both lock hammers down, and under each an exploded percussion cap.

George William Hart, mining, surveyor, said that the deceased had been apprenticed to him. He was not quite nineteen years old,  and was a well conducted, sober lad. He had lent deceased the gun, which was a perfectly safe one. There was no danger of the hammers going off at half-cock.

Dr Atkinson, who had made a post mortem examination, stated that death had resulted from a gunshot wound.

The jury having heard the evidence found  ‘That the deceased, Joseph Scott Bradshaw, came suddenly by his death at the River Campaspe from injuries to his body, caused by the accidental explosion of his gun, it being then charged with powder and shot’.

(Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)

 

Raid At Axedale 1858

Farmers airing their grievances:

from The Bendigo Advertiser, Wednesday 30 June 1858, page 2

A deputation of the farmers and settlers on the Axe, Emu, Mosquito, Kangaroo, and other creeks between Sandhurst and the Campaspe, waited yesterday on the Police Magistrate, Mr. McLachlan, with reference to the impounding of their cattle, by Mr. Costello, of Axedale.

The deputation set forth the grievances under which they labored, in being subjected to the raids of unscrupulous men, who, under the sanction of law, harassed them at their very thresholds. All they required was justice.

Mr. McLachlan could only say that, as Police Magistrate, he would be most happy to afford the redress the law allowed to aggrieved parties who came before him.

Complaints should be made in the proper manner, and they might depend upon it, that justice would be duly administered.

The settlers, we understand, do not intend to allow the matter to rest here, but will take steps to have their case properly brought under the notice of the Government.

(Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)

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Inquests at Axedale 1874

Inquests into the deaths of two babies were held in Axedale on 27 October 1874 at the Raglan Hotel and Drakes Hotel.

transcription: 

INQUESTS

The district coroner held an inquest yesterday, at the Raglan Hotel, Axedale, on the body of Ann Mulcare, a child ten weeks old, who had been found dead in a cradle on the previous day. The evidence given, showed that the child had been left at home, in charge of an elder sister, whilst the mother was in Sandhurst.

The child had been put to bed, but on going to the cradle afterwards, the sister found that the child was dead. In putting her to bed, care was taken that the clothes did not cover her face, and these were in the same position when it was discovered that the child was lifeless.

Dr. Macgillivray stated that he had made a post mortem examination of the body, which was that of a well nourished child. The brain was much congested, and the lungs in part only, showing that the child had not been suffocated. The cause of death was congestion of the brain. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

An inquest was subsequently held at Drake’s Hotel, Campaspe, on the body of Bertie Gloster, a child five months old, who also died on the previous day. Rosa Gloster, the mother, stated that a week ago the child took a cold, but finding that it was not getting better she determined to come to Sandhurst for medical advice.

On the road, about two miles from her place, the child died. Dr. Macgillivray stated that the cause of death was acute pneumonia and pleurisy, and the jury returned a verdict to that effect.

(Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)

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