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



The Axedale Catholic Church is a wonderful example of Axedale bluestone


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)

St. Patrick’s Day Fun 1916

from: The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, 23 March 1916, page 2

St. Patrick's Day Carnival



St Patrick’s Sports Carnival. A successful gathering will Show a handsome profit. St. Patrick’s Day was commemorated in Heathcote yesterday, when a sports carnival was held in the show grounds.

The committee were favored with exceptionally fine weather, and in consequence there was a nice attendance of townsfolk and visitors from the surrounding districts, together with a goodly number of patrons from a distance. Upon this occasion of the local celebration of St Patricks’ Day, the sports program was slightly varied. a number of horse and hunting events being substituted for the dancing competitions, with the happiest results, both from an enjoyable standpoint and financially, thus making the celebration an undeniable success.

The excellent and interesting program was run off without a hitch, and the committee is deserving of every praise for the creditable manner in which they carried out their various and sometimes arduous duties. The hunting and jumping competitions proved to be a very pleasing and attractive innovation, inasmuch as the horses competing were some of the best of their class -notably, those belonging to Messrs. Glens, Hicks, and Robin’s animals, which, by the way, were exhibited at the recent show of the Heathcote Agricultural, Horticultural and Pastoral Society.

The Draught Horse Handicap was somewhat of a novelty, and attracted no mean amount of interest, while causing much merriment. Specially admired were the selections rendered by De Gilio’s String Baud, and the committee is deserving of every praise for securing their services. Every event on the program was closely contested, and got off well to time, with the result that there was not a dull moment all day.

Additional amusement was also afforded both young and old by the presence of numerous counter attractions, and these were liberally patronised. The fruit and lolly stall was conducted by Miss Morrison, assisted by Misses Farley (2) and Lacey. Mesdames T. J. Farley, Gallagher and Miss Brennan presided over the fancy good stall, and were ably assisted by Mesdames P. Ring, Harris, Lally, Mardline, Misses Dempster, Smith,  McCallum, Hood, Flowers, Ashworth and Mr Reid.

A busy time was experienced in the refreshment booth, where Mrs J. J. Farley was in charge. Her assistants were Misses Doolan, Norris, Tehan, Gallagher, and Mesdames P. Ring, J. P. O’Brien. The president (Mr T. J Farley), conducted the publican’s booth in a most creditable manner and spent a busy afternoon.

The other most noticeable workers were Messrs J. J. Farley, J. Perry, J. Ring, J. J. Murphy, R. C. Dwyer, M. Tobin, W. Watkins, J. G. Hill, and J. Long. The secretary (Mr T. P. Lewis) was one of the hardest workers on the ground, but he proved himself to be equal to the occasion, and carried out his duties efficiently and well. He was ably supported by the president (Mr T. J. Farley) and the members of the committee, all of whom worked hard to cause things to pass off smoothly.

The following are the details of the various events:

PONY HUNTER.14.2 14.2 and under. First, £8; second, £1,

W. G. Hick’s Hyland Laddie, … 1
J. Ring’s Steele Bell, … … 2
Five competitors.

BOY’S RACE. 16 years and under. First, 7/6; second, 2/6
Victor Lewis … … … 1
Busty McDonald … … … 2
Ken. McKenzie … … … 3

HANDICAP BICYCLE RACE One Mile. First, £2; second £1.
J. McKenzie, 150 yds …… 1
F. Horsbhurgh, 160 yds … 2
O. Wright, 180 yds … … 3

GIRLS’ RACE, Under 15. First, 7/6; second, 2/6.
Elsie Lewis … ….., 1
Lily McDonald … 2..

QUOIT MATCH. First, £1 5s; second, 2/8.
J. Tanian … … …. 1
J. Chapman … … 2

OPEN HUNTERS. First, £6; second, £2,
J. R. Glen’s Victory … … 1
J. G. Robin’s Iona … … 2
J. R. Glen’s Wellington … 3

DRAUGHT HORSE HANDICAP. First, £2 10/ ; second, 10/-.
J. Dwyer’s Iona equal 1
J. Warren’s Patrobas  2
R. Anderson’s Lucky Bean 3

HORSES HIGH JUMP. First, £5; second, £2.
J. G. Robin’s Snowflake, 6ft. 11in. 1
J. R. Glen’s Wallarroo … … 2

LADY’S HUNT. First, £4; second £2,
J. G. Glen’s Victory … 1
W. G. Hick’s Tally Ho … 2
Wellington, Silver Light, Baruna and Iona also competed.

STEPPING THE CHAIN. First, 15/- ; second, 5s.
Mat. McGrath …… … 1
Fred. O’Sullivan … … 2

A grand ball and supper was held in the Shire Hall in the evening, and was a great success, the hall being crowded with trippers of the light fantastic. An open-air picture show was also held in the Barrack Reserve under the auspices of St. Patrick’s Sports Committee, and this, too, like the sports and the ball, was freely patronised.

A special meeting of the McIvor Shire Council was held today to deal with a number of important matters. A full report will appear in our next issue.

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

Axedale Bridge on Fire

from Bendigo Advertiser, September 1, 1890



 At about five o’clock on Saturday morning, a farmer named John McNeill, residing at Weston  was on his way into Sandhurst, and when crossing the bridge which spans the Campaspe, on the main road from Heathcote to Sandhurst, he noticed that  the structure was on fire. He at once roused up Mounted-Constable Hayden, who is in charge ofthe Axedale police station, and informed him of the matter. The constable. hastily dressing himself, ran over to the spot, and taking in at a glance  the position of affairs, and seeing that the fire had obtained a good hold on the woodwork, he sped  away to the township, a few hundred yards distant, and called up the residents, ordering them to  bring as many buckets and axes as they could lay hands on. Mr. J. Minter, of the Raglan Hotel took down his dray and two water tanks, and by this means a supply of water was obtained from the river. The volunteers with their buckets set to work to try and extinguish the flames, but their efforts were altogether futile as the fire had got in between the boards of which the floor of the bridge was composed.

While this work was proceeding, several narrow escapes from serious  accidents occurred. Several volunteers, in their eagerness to cope with the fire, rushed down the embankment under the bridge where the ashes of the debris which had accumulated there were some two or three feet deep. On top they were quite cold, but below the surface, the ashes were quite hot, and before the men could get out again their boots were somewhat scorched. While trying to get out of the ashes one of the men ran further under the bridge, when one of the burning boards from the flooring fell away, almost alongside him. Seeing that it was utterly useless to try and  extinguish the fire by means of water, the men set to work and cut the timber away so as to stop the further progress of the flames. In this they were more successful, and after considerable labor they managed to keep the fire confined to about thirty or forty feet of the bridge.

This portion however, was completely destroyed, as even yesterday afternoon the beams were burning away fiercely. On Saturday morning Mr. J. D. Bywater,who is a member of the M’lvor Shire Council  was on his way into Sandhurst when he heard of the fire. He at once engaged a number of gangers employed on the railway to try and put the fire out, and also to place timber across the roadway so as to prevent persons with vehicles passing along there.  

 On Saturday afternoon Mr.H. Robinson, the engineer of the shire, visited the scene of conflagration,and he expressed the opinion that it would be at least a month before any traffic could go across the bridge again, and it would be about three months before the necessary repairs could be completed. He roughly estimated the damage done at about £100. 

Before referring to the origin of the fire it is necessary to explain that the bridge is built of bluestone and timber. It is about 400 feet in length by 22 feet wide. There are about a dozen spans in the bridge, the abutments and piers being substantially built of bluestone, obtained at Mr. Ingham’s quarry in the vicinity. The girder, beams and supports are of red gum timber, while the hand-rails were made of softwood. The flooring consisted of two layers of thick red gum boards, covered with a coating of road metal. The bridge had to be made so long because the river at this point in time of flood is very wide; in fact, even long as the bridge is there have been times when the flood waters have risen over it. At the present time, however, the river, although pretty high, does not occupy more than four or five of the spans, leaving seven or eight spans on the McIvor side of the river, the embankment gradually descending from the  eastern end of the bridge, until it reaches the water.

An enormous quantity of debris has been brought down by the floods, and after the waters have receded the debris is left deposited on the embankment against the piers. This is a favorite camping ground for tramps and swagmen, and it is surmised that the fire was caused by some person who had camped there and left without  putting out the ashes after him.        

The debris soon ignited, and the flames  spread to the timber in the floor of the bridge,with the result described above. At any rate, that appears to be the popular belief amongst the  residents in the locality, and it was a noticeable fact that not one even suggested the thought that it had been caused maliciously.

The bridge was built by the Government some twenty-seven or more years ago, and was regarded as one of the best bridges in this part of the colony. It cost some thousands of pounds, and  it was on the main road from Heathcote to Sandhurst.It was extensively used by the travelling public, particularly farmers and woodcarters  doing business with this market.

The loss to these people through the traffic over the bridge being stopped—as there was a large quantity of timber and produce sent in here daily—will be something considerable, and no time should be lost before a temporary bridge is erected. It would be absurd to think of cutting off the traffic at that point for two or three months. Persons living in the vicinity are naturally very anxious to have the bridge replaced as soon as possible. With the river running at its present height, it is impossible for anyone to ford it.  

It is rather a curious circumstance that even so early as five o’clock on Friday night different persons saw  smoke coming from under the bridge, but they did not take any particular notice of the fact, surmising that, as usual some swagmen had camped there..    

On Saturday morning a number of people passed over it on their way to Sandhurst, and although they noticed the smoke they did not think anything serious was the matter. Their surprise may be better imagined than described. When making their return journey home, they found the bridge was impassable. They had to either stay in the township that night or make a detour of about 10miles over bad roads to Russell’s bridge, which is about 5 miles further along the river.  

There is no doubt the fire, whether caused wilfully orthrough accident or negligence, originated in the debris, and the McIvor council have comein for some pretty warm expressions of condemnation for having allowed the debris to accumulate  there to such an extent. At the Railway bridge, ashort distance away, men are engaged, after every flood to remove and burn the debris.  Had the council adopted the same plan the present trouble would not have arisen.

An investigation will probably be made to ascertain, if possible, the actual cause of the outbreak.

The burning bridge was inspected by a large number of people yesterday afternoon, some of them having driven many miles.