Axedale – An inland seaside resort?

Axedale a seaside resortCAMPASPE STORAGE BASIN
(To the Editor of the Advertiser)
Sir, —In deciding to construct a storage basin on the Campaspe at Kimbolton or ??  {unreadable words}, as it is officially known, to supply the off-take weir at Elmore, which is to irrigate some 40,000 acres, south of the Waranga Loddon channel, the Water Commission have not to my idea, fixed on the east site, and I have no hesitation in saying this, for I have known the river some 50 years.
One of the great factors to the success of a storage basin is to have the stored water spread over as little area as possible, so as to check evaporation in summer and seepage all through the year.
This is impossible at the selected site, as no river vallev worth speaking of, exists and the water will be spread over a large area outside the river banks of no great depth.
The site I am in favor of, and one well known to all Bendigonians, is at Axedale, just
below the road bridge, and opposite Ingham’s quarries. Here is a magnificent, river valley, perhaps unequalled in the State for such a purpose, from 250 to 300 yards wide, the banks rising 80 to 100 foot high, while up the stream the valley opening out over the Marydale flat, on one side and the racecourse on the  other, with the high banks still around, forms a basin almost a mile wide, giving a great depth of water over the whole area.
This site also has the advantage that the racecourse and police paddock are Crown lands, costing nothing for resumption, also has an increased watershed of great value.
I know that the railway and road bridges would be submerged, but in these days of
advanced engineering, it would not be impossible to carry the traffic of both over the
barrage wall. Such would mean a deviation of the railway line through Axedale township,
but it would have the advantage of bringing the station, now a mile away, right, into the township, open up the blue stone quarries on each side of the river, and make Axedale a seaside resort,  on account of its direct railway communication to what would
be one of the finest inland lakes in the State.
Again the impounded water could be used for turbines to generate electricity for the
use of the Bendigo mines and other industries, also for electric lighting and traction
for electric railways and buses and many other things of which we are in need and
behind the rest of the world.
Bendigo should look well into this matter, as it concerns them as deeply as the farmer
on the northern plains, and it may mean the very life of the mining industry, where a cheap motive power is very badly needed.
yours etc.

11th August, 1908. FARMER.

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



New Church at Axedale 1902

from:  Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 16 August 1902, page 3.
The new Roman Catholic Church at Axedale, which has been designed in the early
English style of Gothic architecture, stands on a very commanding site close to the centre
of the township. The grounds have been suitably fenced in and laid out in a tasteful
The church consists of nave 26ft., sanctuary 17ft. by 16ft., vestry 11ft., and a porchway at entrance 8ft. by 8ft. The nave has a height in the
centre of 33ft. from the floor line to the apex of the ceiling, and is lighted by nine lancet
headed windows, which are glazed with tinted lead lights.
The sanctuary is placed in the east end of the building, and is octagonal in form, and separated from the nave by means of a wide and lofty Gothic-headed archway, which is suitably embellished with  hard moldings and carved bosses. This apartment is lighted by two lancet-headed windows, and one large rose window, cusped in the form of a quatrefoil.
All these windows are glazed in a very  effective scheme of colored glass decoration.  The vestry is placed on the right hand side of the sanctuary, with access from same as well as from the outside.
The construction of the building throughout is of the most substantial kind. Bluestone is used for all the walls, with brick and.cement dressings to all the doors and windows, and the whole is neatly tuckpointed.
The interior walls are plastered to represent rough cast work, and are suitably lined out and tinted.
The roof principals and ceiling lining are in clean dressed oregon pine, with bold molded cornice and frieze molds.
The whole of the woodwork inside is varnished, thereby preserving the natural grain of the woods employed. Ample provision has been made for both inlet and outlet ventilation.
The nave is furnished with a sufficiency of comfortable seats of neat construction. The sanctuary is railed off by a handsome line of ornamental wrought iron railing, surmounted with a suitable cedar handrail.
The altar is a handsome structure, happily conceived and faithfully carried out in detail to harmonise with the period of Gothic, in which the church is built. All other necessary furnishings have also been provided to make the church complete and ready for the opening day, which is fixed for tomorrow (Sunday).
The building was designed and supervised by Messrs. Keogh and Austen. As R.V.I.A.,
architects, of View Point, Bendigo, the contractors for the work being Messrs. Brett
and Gover of Bendigo. who have carried out their contract most faithfully.
*Please note: This article appeared in the newpaper as a single paragraph. I have chosen to include paragraphs for ease of reading. 
Recent photo of St. Mary’s Church
The foundation stone laid 16 February 1902
 Plaque to commemorate 140 years 1902-2002

Axedale Historic Loop

One of the exciting projects of 2015/2016 for local community group, Axedale Our Town – Our Future is the Axedale Historic Loop project named “A Town Once Divided Now United”.

Stage 1 was completed late in 2015. This  involved signs being placed at significant historic sights around Axedale. At the community park there is a main sign with map and directions to the various signs around the township.


Map at Community Park with directions to historical signs


The sign below is  an example of the signs and the information given, just to entice you to come and check them out for yourself.  This sign is  placed at the Axedale Tavern and gives historical information about the Hotels of Axedale.


The loop can comfortably  be both walked or cycled – a great opportunity to involve the family and combine fitness and history.

Stage 2 which is now in progress, is the development of a smart phone app. Further information on the app will be posted when it “goes live” in the very near future.

*Research for the project was done by historian Robyn Ballinger.

*Funds for this project were provided The City of Greater Bendigo and  Heathcote and Districts Community Bank Branch. A Local History Grant from the Public Records Office of Victoria of $12,000 was also received to develop the Smart Phone App.


Axedale Fair 1870




Benson and McLoskey report – The first Axedale Fair was held at The Campaspe on Monday last, and resulted in a greater success than the most sanguine of the promoters could have anticipated.  From an early hour in the morning, cattle, horses, pigs, &c, were to be seen coming at intervals, in all directions, and before 12 o’clock, the stock yarded and penned, numbered from 400-500 head.  The farmers, squatters, and residents from the surrounding districts, assembled in full force and the support and encouragement accorded by the land and proprietors of the Wild Duck Creek, Heathcote,  Coliban, Kimbolton, Miami &c contributed in no small degree to starting the fair on a good footing at the outset. There were buyers present for all classes of stock at good prices, and although in some instances, high reserves stood in the way of business, there were nevertheless, a large number of sales affected by auctiom, to say nothing of the dealings amongst the farmers themselves.  There were about 100 pigs penned bit this was not sufficient to meet demand, as fully One or two hundred more fat pigs could have been placed at very good prices. Dairy cattle brought from 1.5 to 1.8, young calves 6s6d to 20s, stores 1.2 10s to 1.3 6s per head; light, useful horses from 1.5 to 1.9 per head. No sales of heavy draught horses were affected by auction. It is intended in future to hold regular fairs at the Axedale township upon the first Monday in every month; notice of which will be duly advertised. 



Fire at The Raglan Hotel

The Raglan Hotel still exists today and is situated on the main intersection in Axedale. Today it is a home and also home of The Axedale Gallery.

The hotel was built in the mid 19th Century. In February 1877, there was a very serious fire, with devastating consequences for the owner:

“The village of Axedale, situated on the Campaspe, about fifteen miles from Sandhurst, was on Monday evening the scene of a very serious disaster. The Raglan Hotel at that place will be well-known to old as well as modern travellers on the McIvor road. It was built, we believe, somewhere about the year ’55, and was a substantial little structure, the main portion of which was formed of 14-inch walls of stone and brick.

This portion of it contained six rooms, but a wooden addition at the rear, of considerable size, intended for the purposes of a dancing room, on the occasion of the local races and other gala days, was divided into three apartments by means of shifting wooden and calico partitions. It was in this part of the hotel that a fire, which has reduced the whole fabric to ruins, broke out about six o’clock the night before last. No satisfactory explanation can be given of the origin of the conflagration. But we may here state that neither the house, which was the property of Mr. Doak, nor the furniture and stock belonging to the licensee, Mrs. Tierney, were insured.

The fire, therefore, was the work either of a malicious incendiary, or of some of those mysterious agencies which form the grand chapter of accidents. From inquiries instituted yesterday on the ground, it appeared that the people of Axedale believe firmly that the fire occurred accidentally. Mrs.Tierney, with her son and daughter-in-law, had visited Sandhurst on Monday, leaving a man in charge, who was the only person on the premises, and as his duties confined him to the bar or front part of the building, he has no knowledge whatever of the cause of’ the unfortunate occurrence.

There was not a fire in any room on the premises during the day. The fire was first discovered by a little girl, the daughter of Mr.Drake, of the Campaspe Hotel, which is situated immediately opposite to the old Raglan. She was crossing the street on some errand when she saw flames issuing from the back, wooden building, and she immediately gave the alarm. Mr. Drake, with several persons who happened to be in his house, rushed across the road, and the whole population of Axedale quickly gathered, on the spot.

Every endeavor was made to save some of the property, but so rapidly did the flames extend that only some articles of small value, such as bedding and clothing, could be saved.

Naturally, the first rush was made to the burning dancing-room, but the fire had taken such a hold of it that all attempts in that direction had quickly to be abandoned, and attention was directed to the saving of property in the front part of the hotel. But the heat and smoke were so intense and suffocating that the people were driven back without effecting any great good.

The spread, of the fire was so rapid, we were assured by eye-witnesses, that from the time of its discovery barely ten minutes had elapsed when all hope of extinguishing it or rescuing the stock and furniture was at an end. The main portion of the building was in the form of a half square, the dancing-room forming a third part of the square. The flames from the latter were driven by a smart breeze which was blowing at the time through the somewhat narrow second side facing the Campaspe, and thence into the bar and parlor side fronting the main road.

It is to be understood that although the chief portion of the house was composed of solid walls of brick and stone, yet at the end to which the dancing-room adjoined the gable was formed of calico and wood, through which the fire rushed with great fury. But it is a little extraordinary that, although it had immediately to encounter a stone brick partition, it swept over it and another of the same description also, consuming the ceiling and roof. In these partitions there were no doors nor openings of any kind, but in a third one there was a door leading into the bar.

It can be imagined with what force the devouring element swept through the narrow building and its partitions, when it is remembered that scarcely ten minutes had elapsed before every part of the house was one mass of flames. Within three-quarters of an hour the work of destruction was complete; the wooden dancing room levelled with the ground, the rest of the building completely gutted, the solid walls cracked and crumbling with the intense heat, the iron roof entirely collapsed, and the wooden part of the roof utterly consumed. There was a good dam of water close at hand, but it was found utterly impossible to make any effectual use of it.

The hotel had been erected in a hollow, and the floors were raised very high from the ground, consequently the fire raged both above and below, and being confined within the solid walls of the somewhat narrow building, obtained tremendous force. How the accident could have been occasioned is a mystery which it is difficult to solve. The dancing-room in which it originated was almost empty, there being only a tarpaulin lying on one part of the floor, and a bag or two of wheat on another.

As we have said above, although every possible exertion was made by the people of the town ship, nothing whatever of value was saved. Mrs. Tierney had only been in possession of the house a few weeks, her license having been issued on the 1st January. By this calamity she and her son and daughter-in-law have been bereft of all their worldly goods, and the loss is all the greater since a full stock had only very recently been laid in. They are, therefore, placed in very distressed circumstances, and when we visited Axedale yesterday, an old out-house had been fitted up in order to afford them a temporary dwelling. This time last year they met with a misfortune which reduced them to utter poverty, and just as they were struggling hard to retrieve their fortunes they have been met with this second and crushing disaster. A large fire, we were informed, was raging at some miles distance, in the direction of Emu Creek at the time the Raglan was burned down”


A little about Axedale

The discovery of gold in Bendigo, in the 1850s brought many travellers through Axedale, as they were on the search for  their fortune. They would have found Axedale to be a pretty spot, on the banks of the Campaspe River. Some of those travellers, rested by the river and continued on. Some settled in Axedale.

Axedale soon became a thriving community, with many hotels, a bakery, store, post office and churches. There were also industries such as a blacksmith, coach service to Bendigo, brick kilns, sawmills, along with mining of gold, sandstone and bluestone.

Today Axedale is a thriving rural hamlet, offering a relaxed and peaceful lifestyle. Being only about 20 kilometers from Bendigo, many have settled in Axedale and commute daily to Bendigo for work.

Axedale Update from The Correspondent 1887

newspaper article


Axedale. From Our Correspondent. Friday     

The hotels and business places here are doing a rather brisk trade at present, on account of the large number of extra stomachs – the owners of which are at work on the railway – that require to be filled and satisfied with liquids and solids, chiefly the former, I am sorry to say. The railway is progressing here, but not so satisfactorily to the contractor as he might expect, it being very difficult to obtain steady men.

They have started driving the piles of the bridge of 99 arches, each 20 feet span, over the Campaspe, and are cutting through the hill on the Rodney side of the river adjoining Mr. Heffernan’s estate. The hill is composed principally of bluestone, which has to be blasted, and it appears strange that, with an immense quantity of such material at hand, the bridge should rest upon wooden tiles. It is impossible to deny that at the end of twenty or twenty-five years, “the bridge will have become unsafe, whereas the bluestone would have stood for generations. It certainly seems a “penny wise and pound foolish’ policy.

A new policeman is about to appear on the scene here, that office having been satisfactorily but temporarily filled by Mr. Myers. The newcomer, poor fellow – l beg your pardon, ladies -had to enter the bonds of wedlock before he could accept the position, as the station can only be occupied by married men. The happy pair   will spend their honeymoon here, so we wish them a pleasant one.

There is a a local industry being carried on here, which is capable of being largely developed, namely the bluestone quarry, the proprietor of which, Mr. J.Ingham, deserves credit for the perserving manner in which he has worked the quarry under discouraging circumstances. He has raised some immense blocks of stone, one some time back measuring 16ft 6 in. by 12ft by 2ft. There is one at present lying in the quarry measuring 9 by 6 by 2   feet, which is without a flaw, and when struck, rings like a bell. There are many more of the same size and quality in sight. Mr. Ingham, has purchased the engine and stone sawing machine which were used for cutting the stone at the new public buildlings at Sandhurst, and he, therefore, in future intends to supply stone in the finished state. When the railway is completed, he intends to have a tramway connected with the line above Mr. Heffernan’s estate, from the quarry, it having been surveyed and found possible. He will then be able to deliver the stone with expedition, in any quantity, and at a cheap rate, to any part of the colonies. The stone is harder, and of better quality than that found, at Malmsbury, and there is an inexhaustible supply sufficient, as Mr. Ingham, tersely puts it, ‘ to build a city.” ‘The rain which fell last Monday was very much required by the farmers, but hardly sufficient fell to enable them to carry on ploughing operations. The cry is still for more.


A friendly chat with Doreen Sherriff

FullSizeRenderRecently I had a lovely conversation, over a meal, with ex Axedale resident, Doreen Sherriff, to discuss her experience of life in Axedale. Doreen lived in Axedale, on and off, for about 35 years, and I had heard from others, of her involvement with many community activities. But I hadn’t realised the extent of her involvement until we met.

Doreen told me about her involvement with the creation of the local community paper, Axedale Antics. It was interesting to hear snippets about the early days of the Antics. The Axedale Antics came about, when Doreen, and others,decided that the local community needed a way to hear about events and happenings in the area.Today, the Axedale Antics is still considered required reading by most residents of the area.

Doreen was also involved in starting Neighbourhood Watch in Axedale, and told me that there was excellent community involvement and enthusiasm that made the program a success.

I hadn’t heard previously that there was a fair in Axedale, until Doreen told me that she was involved with getting the Axedale Colonial Country Fair started, and was an organiser for approximately 6 years, each year seeing the fair increase in size.

There were rides and entertainment, games, competitions, and much more. The Bendigo Chinese Association were also involved, holding a parade which was loved by all. There was a town criers competition. Town criers came from all over the state to be involved. The fair was held at the Recreation Reserve, but due to the reserve being flooded one year, it was held at the Bendigo Showgrounds.

There were also hot air balloon rides at the fair. The hot air balloon was flying over Axedale on the day the old store was demolished.

It was a lovely few hours that we spent together, reminiscing for Doreen, and for me, leaning about the history of Axedale. I have a feeling that Doreen has many more stories to tell. On another day, perhaps.

I would love to see any photos out there of the Axedale Colonial Fair. If you have any, could you please let me know in the comments, below.


Valedictory gathering at Axedale 1899

from Bendigo Advertiser, Monday 19 June 1899, page 3

Quite a large gathering of children and others connected with the Axedale state School assembled on Friday evening in the schoolroom at the invitation of the head teacher (Mr. S.E. Adams) to do honour to Miss Balmer who is giving up her position as workmistress in the school.  Soon after dark, the little ones gathered,, and games, mostly of a novel kind, were heartily indulged in by the youngsters.  Cake-eating contests and an elephant ride caused much amusement.

At 8 O’Clock a capital programme of music etc was initiated. The state school, assisted by a few scholars from St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School, with the kind acquiescence of Miss Kennedy, the teacher, gave a most attractive performance.  every item was rendered with evident enjoyment by the little ones, whose sweet singing and graceful actions reflected the greatest credit on all concerned in their training.  Among the soloists were Daisy Cundall who sang “Who’ll be my Valentine”, and had to repeat it by special request.

Mary Jones who gave “Katie Farrell” very acceptably, and Tensie Connell who sang “Robin Redbreast” with much sweetness. “Sally Horner was rendered with notable expression by Daisy Cundill and Eileen Hanson both very little ones, and the last mentioned little lady sang “I’m going to write to Papa”, and performed a step dance very gracefully.

Mr. T. Drake gave a very interesting musical interlude with flageolet, bellows, glasses, etc.

The children’s choruses were “When the soldiers beat their drum” and “Four Jolly Smiths” (with anvil accompaniment). A concerted piece, “Railway Trains” caused a deal of amusement, and the children who took the parts of guard (W. Winzar), porter (L. Allen), obstreperous passengers etc deserve special mengion.

Class recitations, “Which Love Best”, and “The Crusaders Motto”, were effectively rendered and very amusing action rhymes, (written by the head teacher) were given as follows: “The girl and the mudlark”, “Lollipops”, “Washing Day”, “The Birdie’s song”, “Swing song”, and nursery rhymes re-written.

Almost all items on the programme were given in character.  a special treat was the rendition of song’s dialogues, andinstrumental selections on the gramaphone, very kindly lent and manipulated by Mr. John Heffernan.

At the conclusion of this part of the programme, an enjoyable supper was partaken of, after which Mr. W.S. Cahill (chairman of the Board of Advice), who had kindly consented to take the chair for the evening, referred in appreciatory tersm, to the good work Miss Balmer had done during the five or six years she had been connected with the school.

Mr. Adams  also spoke of his lady assistant in highly complimentary terms, making reference to her schokastic abilities, and amiability. Mr. Cahill then, on behalf of the children, presented her with a very nice gold bracelet, bearing a suitable inscription, loud cheers being given for Miss Balmer

Cheers were also given for the head teacher and votes of thanks too Mr. Cahill (on the motion of Mr. Kerr), to Mr. Drake, who lent piano and lamps, to Miss Kennedy, who also gave assistance in several ways, and to the many other ladies and gentlemen who had assisted, brought to a conclusion a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment.













Axedale Map 1858

Axedale Map.

Victorian Department of Crown Lands and Survey. The Township of Axedale, and suburban allotments, Parish of Axedale, County unnamed 1858. Map RM3359

This map can be found in the Digital Maps Collection, at the National Library of Australia. The map which was surveyed in 1858 is mounted on linen and measures 44.9cm X 28.4cm and shows land holdings and newly subdivided land.


(To see detail more clearly, click on the map)

Can you see where you live today. I’d love to hear in the comments below, if you can see your block.