Such was life

Echuca’s anniversary

In 1864 the railway connecting Melbourne to Echuca opened. This had an enormous effect on the town, with the resultant increase in trade turning Echuca into Australia’s largest inland port. Read the rest of this entry »

Melbourne’s historic skyline

Melbourne’s skyline developed rapidly once the first passenger lifts were installed. The L. Stevenson & Sons warehouse in Flinders Lane had two of the first hydraulic goods lifts installed in 1865. However, it was not until the 1880s that a rise in the height of Melbourne’s skyline saw the first passenger lifts installed. Read the rest of this entry »

First shot fired!

On 5 August 1914, the day Australians learnt of the declaration of war, the German trading ship SS Pfalz was just leaving Port Phillip Bay. The ship had originally planned to depart the previous night, however, a last minute decision to take on additional coal meant that the departure was delayed until the following morning. News of the imminent outbreak of war was on everyone’s mind and the German crew were especially anxious as they slowly steamed towards the Heads. Read the rest of this entry »

Olde Melbourne guidebooks

Wondering what the cab fare rate was in Melbourne in 1973? Or the opening hours of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1911? Or where must imported explosives be unloaded in 1925?  Melbourne’s old guide books hold the answers; they combine miscellaneous facts with practical information for the visitor to the ‘seventh largest city of the British Empire.’ (The Melbourne guide book, p. 1) Read the rest of this entry »

Violet Town railway disaster

On a very hot Friday, 7 February, 1969, just after 7.00am, the Southern Aurora, Australia’s overnight express passenger train between Sydney and Melbourne, collided head-on with an Albury-bound goods train, 174km north of Melbourne. The Melbourne-bound Southern Aurora ran through the Violet Town crossing loop where it should have waited for the goods train to pass. Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected sketches

A library patron recently led me to a beautiful book containing sketches by the prison artist William Stanford. The patron had an old newspaper article which mentioned the book, but did not give its title. According to the article:

Although shabby, the book (which the writer of this article recently presented to the public library) is a treatise on physics.  It is well bound.  It has been interleaved with blank paper, and on these leaves are pen and pencil drawings of surprising beauty and craftsmanship – signed William Stanford.

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Is your Victorian history project award-worthy?

Nominations for the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s 2014 Victorian Community History Awards are now open. The awards recognise ‘excellence in historical method’, and the types of works that can be nominated include: Read the rest of this entry »

It will look better embossed!

Frank Firestone was responsible for many examples of iconic design and advertising imagery for predominantly Australian brands and products. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria’s lost places

Here’s a test of your local history knowledge: where is Emerald Hill? What about Sandhurst, Sandridge, Hotham or Phillipstown?

If you’re not sure, don’t worry! Gazetteers and atlases are rich with examples of Victorian place names that have fallen out of use. Read the rest of this entry »

Temperance and Melbourne’s grand coffee palaces

The temperance movement originated in the 19th century and urged for the reduction or prohibition of alcohol. Temperance societies were initially founded during the 1820s in the United States and England, and during the 1830s they emerged in Australia. Read the rest of this entry »