Taits Point was named after an early settler in the area, James Tait, who arrived in Melbourne on the Palmyra on 25 November in 1839 with his wife Helen (née Easton), his son Alexander (aged 2) and daughter Agnes who was born as the Palmyra was coming into port. Agnes married Ewing Blyth on 26 October 1859 at Connewarre. An older daughter, Ann (aged 4), died during the voyage. James was the son of Alexander and Margaret (née Younger) Tait. On arrival they were employed by Charles Williamson. In 1840 James Tait was employed by John McVean on a run at Connewarre. On 5 November 1855 they selected 126 acres at what is now Taits Point at the end of what is now Staceys Road. They called their land Connewarre from an aboriginal name meaning black swan. They cleared the land and planted a market garden. Their children born in the Geelong district were:
Alexander — born in 1842 in Geelong, died on 18 June 1917 aged 75 at Connewarre, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
George — born in 1844 in Geelong, married Jane Gill in 1872, married Mary Jane Blair in 1887, died on 3 June 1923 at Mount Duneed, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
Ann — born in 1846 in Geelong, died on 9 April 1940 aged 93½, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
James Easton — born in 1851, died 16 December 1894
Robert — born 1851, died 15 March 1933 aged 46 at Mount Duneed, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
Helen Younger — born 1854 at Geelong, married Robert Henry Blair in 1875, died in 1926 aged 72 at Port Campbell
Margaret Janet — born 1856, died 17 November 1935 aged 79 at Geelong, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
Elizabeth — born 1859, married William Scott, died 8 July 1926 aged 66, buried in the Church of England section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
James was a member of the Connewarre Road Board for five years.
Connewarre had been a tribal area for members of the Wathaurong tribe for hundreds of years. Convict William Buckley who had escaped from the first penal settlement at Port Phillip in 1803 lived with the tribe in this area for many years.
Between Geelong and Barwon Heads the Barwon River flows through a series of shallow tide-affected lakes and swamps. These are Lake Connewarre, Reedy Lake, Hospital and Salt Swamps. Taits Point was formed by a basalt flow from Mount Duneed damming the river to form Reedy Lake. The lakes were subsequently connected when the river channel finally eroded through the basalt. Prior to European settlement the river was salty upstream of Geelong. Two breakwaters were built to provide fresh water for the early settlement and industry in Geelong.
The number of Wathawurrung people who occupied this area had declined rapidly after 1830.
James Tait died on 12 October 1883 and is buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery. His wife, Helen who died on 3 November 1899 is buried with him. Many of their descendants are still living in the Connewarre and Mount Duneed area today.
Francis Beech arrived in Sydney in 1844 as a private soldier in the 11th regiment. He came to Geelong in 1849. In 1864 he was appointed manager of the Little River and Duck Ponds Farmers' Commons, a position he held until he resigned as he was leaving the district. By the 1870s he was living at Moorabool on land known as Hendre's Farm. In 1881 he was granted a slaughtering license by the Barrabool Shire Council.
On 21 January 1884, Francis Beech spent the day in Geelong, travelling by train, to attend the funeral of his friend George Hiscox who died on 19 January. He lived ¼ mile from the Pettavel Road station which had opened the previous year. He retired to bed with his wife Jane about 9:30pm. It sounds dramatic to be "murdered at midnight" but this wasn't the case. They were awakened around 1am when the dressing table fell to the floor. Mr Beech called out "Who's there?" Mrs Beech heard gunshots and her husband called out as if he was seriously hurt. She had a less serious bullet wound. Later she found it difficult to recall what happened next, but thought she woke the two servants, Amanda Clark and Frank Haworth who slept at the other end of the house about 40 feet away. Haworth rode to alert the neighbours and on returning and finding Mr Beech had died he rode to Mount Moriac to inform police, then to Geelong to get Dr Reid, then to inform Geelong police. It was then 5am.
Geelong police went to Pettavel after sending for detectives from Melbourne who arrived on the midday train. Two undersized black trackers arrived from Benalla at 7pm. They were of little use as there had been too much rain by the time they arrived. There seemed to be no motive for the murder and nothing was stolen.
The crime scene was contaminated by the delays. As news of the murder spread throughout the district, hundreds of people turned up from as far away as Winchelsea to see the body and the horrendous scene. The Geelong Advertiser described it as "the ghastly spectacle of the dead body, with rigidly set eyes and firmly-clenched hands".
The inquest was held at the deceased's house. The following jury was empannelled: Colonel Conran, Daniel Dean, William Ham, R L Fletcher, W Fletcher, W Irvine, F B White, Sproule Bryan, A Young, T Harding, G Rogers, A McIntyre and F Marendaz. The inquest was resumed the following week at the Pettavel Road State School. Mr Beech had sustained 5 gunshots each of which could have been fatal.
Suspicion fell on a stranger, who turned out to be an escaped lunatic from Yarra Bend Asylum, who was named William Bourke but who used the alias Captain Donovan. He was arrested on 24 March at Mortlake. At the trial the evidence was circumstantial and the prisoner maintained that he had stolen things in Melbourne which would prove he was there for the whole of January. The jury unanimously decided to discharge the prisoner. He was then sent back to the asylum from which he had escaped the previous July.
In 1885 Jane Beech and Frank Haworth were charged with the murder. The prosecution alleged that they had been romantically linked, despite their 23 year age difference.
John Ralph, a carpenter, stated that Mrs Beech had told hem a few weeks prior to the murder that "Mr Beech has made his will, and I have got everything." She was concerned a girl named Fanny Young, who had worked for them for two years and left six months prior “in consequence of the state of her health,” would return. She did not know what she would do if this happened.
Fanny, now Mrs Thomas told the court she had to leave the Beech's employment because of her pregnancy. Just before she left Mrs Beech had asked her who was the father of the child and she answered "time will tell." She told the court that Mr Beech was the father. The bench ruled this evidence could not be included as it had never been proved in Beech's lifetime. The prosecution case was now crumbling and the prisoners were discharged. Mrs Beech fell on her knees crying, "Jesus, Jesus, my precious Jesus, I am saved. My God, my God, I am innocent."
A murderer was never found.
Francis and Jane Beech are buried together in the Church of England section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery. Jane died on 5 March 1926 aged 95 years.
We went to Ballarat to the Heritage Weekend and had a lovely day. We ran into local apothecary, John Harrison who told us about the gruesome cures for many ailments in the past.
A Presbyterian school which opened in 1856 on the north east corner of Mount Duneed and Pettavel Roads had 31 pupils by 1858. It was originally named Duneed with William Savage as head teacher. A stone church was later built on the Mount Duneed Road site by the Presbyterians. — J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria
The many motorists who drive towards Mount Moriac on the Princes Highway would probably not guess that a settlement near the corner of Cape Otway Road and Devon Roads was a very busy little centre in the nineteenth century. The long climb up the hill from Waurn Ponds made a natural spot for weary travellers and their horses to take a rest. Numerous wagons and vehicles obstructing the road outside the Clifford Hotel drew the attention of the Moriac police who were eager to get rid of "this nuisance".
Further down Cape Otway Road a Wesleyan church at Wellington was active for about fifty years.
To the east a number of buildings in Pettavel Road bore the name Pettavel including a railway station, which was a great asset to the district, a school and a church.
The church had been used as a hayshed before an arsonist set it alight on 19th December 1972. The fire could not be extinguished without dismantling the building. This took all day. The police kept watch and late in the day the culprit turned up and was apprehended.
Many sources have stated that the birthplace of Arthur Streeton was Mount Duneed. A monument in Ervins Road gives Mount Moriac as his birthplace. We looked at his birth certificate to see what was recorded. The birth was registered on 8 April, 1867 at Mount Moriac and stated that he was born at Duneed. This could have been anywhere in the Parish of Duneed which stretches from Torquay Road, Mount Duneed to Mount Moriac just past Hendy Main Road.
We knew that his father was a school teacher and lived at the schoolhouse, but which school? At this time there was more than one school named Duneed. There was Common School number 167 near the south east corner of Cape Otway and Colac Roads. Its original name was Colac Road, but was changed to Duneed in 1856. The name was changed again in 1871 to Clifford. There was also a school on the north east corner of Pettavel and Mount Duneed Roads. This school number 186 was originally named Duneed. It was changed to Pettavel in 1884. Duneed Free Church School was opened by the Presbyterians in 1858 in Mount Moriac. A national school was established near the junction of Barrabool, Considines and Colac Roads. It was first known as Mount Duneed number 401. In the next year it was referred to as Modewarre School, but in 1869 it became Mount Moriac.
It is easy to see why later generations were confused. To find the answer his father's school records were checked. This shows that Charles Henry Streeton taught at Duneed School number 187 until 13 June 1869. This area is now known as Mount Moriac.
An exhibition of interest to Mount Duneed History Group members is to start on Saturday 27 February at the Geelong Gallery.
We will be revealing the birthplace of this prominent Australian artist at the next meeting of the history group on 3 March.
Where was he born?
Arthur Streeton's birthplace will be revealed at the next meeting of the Mount Duneed History Group on Thursday 3 March at 7:30pm. New members welcome.
Noted Australian landscape painter Arthur Streeton (a leading member of the Heidelberg School) is reputed to have been born at Mount Duneed in 1867. Is this correct or was he born in the Parish of Duneed, which includes Mount Moriac? A monument erected in his memory is situated near the corner of Princes Highway and Ervines Road, Mount Moriac.
He was discharged as medically unfit early in World War I, and was later official artist with the Australian Imperial Force.
On the home front, women dealt with the consequences of war - managing children and family responsibilities alone, shortages of resources, as well as their fears for the future, and the grief and trauma of losing loved ones. Female Relatives Badges were issued to the wife and/or mother (or nearest female relative) of those on active service during the First and Second World Wars. Each service person is represented by a single gold star on the suspension bar. This medal numbered 153223 on the back was issued to Mary Briggs during WW2.
The colour patch suspended at the bottom of the badge could represent Headquarters 19th Infantry Brigade. In May 1942 the 23/21 Battalion relocated from Victoria to the Northern Territory, where it became a part of the Northern Territory Force under the 19th Infantry Brigade. Most badges do not have a colour patch attached.
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