Francis Bennett arrived in the colony in 1838. He was the son of Alexander and Martha Bennett. The following year on 17 July 1839 he married Mary, daughter of John and Janet (née Park) Herd, at St James old cathedral, near Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne. He had been connected with the sea, having an interest in several schooners trading between Hobart and Western Port. He successfully piloted the first large vessel, the Black Swan up the Yarra.
He took over the 21,000 acre Loutitt Bay Cattle Station from John Herd in 1855. This run stretched from Painkalac Creek to present day Lorne.
Later he farmed 100 acres along the east side of Larcombe Street. He was a director of Corio Quartz Mining Company and was memorable for having christened one of his daughters "Kardinia Park".
Francis and Mary had the following children:
George — born 21 September 1840 at Melbourne, married Mary Ellen Taylor in 1861, died 1907 at Kensington Hill (Leopold)
William — born 5 May 1843 at Melbourne, married Mary Annie Rae on 19 April 1871 at Camperdown, died 28 January 1918 at Melbourne
John — born 16 February1846 at Highton, died 1938 at Bayswater aged 92, buried at Springvale Botanical Cemetery
Eliza — born 31 March 1848 at Highton, married Thomas Yates on 23 May 1871 at Christ Church, Geelong, died August 1927 at Geelong
Francis Alexander — born 30 Apr 1850 at Highton, married Amy Sarah Cowland on 6 November 1878 at St John's Church, Horsham, died 1921 at Murrumbeena aged 82 years
Kardinia Park — born 12 March 1852, married Frederick William Eaton on 13 July 1870 at St Paul's Church Camperdown, died 25 July 1873
Robert Park — born 25 July 1854 at Highton, died 21 January 1937 at Emerald, buried at Springvale Botanical Cemetery
Mary (Minnie) — born 4 August 1856, married James Young on 25 May 1879 at her parent's residence Pine Grove at Kewell, died 24 December 1934 at Hamilton
Martha — born 1858 at Highton, married James Cox Rowlands in England, died 24 December 1934 at Hamilton
James Ayrie — born 17 July 1860 at Aireys Inlet, married Vesta Olivia Summers, died 1890 at Urana, NSW
Alexander — born 1862 at Highton, died 1934 at Wonthaggi aged 69
Francis was a trustee of the Church of England at Highton and was on the Anglican School Committee. He was a South Barwon Shire councillor serving from 1865 until 1870. He was appointed by the Board of Education to the local committee of common school number 304.
Francis Bennett lived on 100 acres of land on the corner of Larcombe Street and Roslyn Road which has Kardinia Creek running through it. This creek has been piped under part of Bellevue Avenue and just south of Barrabool Road, then crosses Barrabool Road near where it joins the Barwon.
Francis settled at Kardinia Farm, Highton with his family about 1850. He shifted to the Wimmera in 1874 and remained there until his death on 28 December 1894 at the age of 80 years. He had been in the colony 56 years.
A letter to the childrens' column by Kardinia Park, daughter of George and Mary Bennett.
About 1850 Francis settled at Kardinia Farm, Highton where he spent many years. He shifted to the Wimmera in 1874 and remained there until his death on 28 December 1894 at the age of 80 years. He had been in the colony 56 years.
Francis and Mary must have been really inspired by the beautiful rolling hills and the creek where they lived as they used this name when they christened their second daughter Kardinia Park. The name Park was Mary's maiden name. She was the first of a number of girls who bore this name. Two of Kardinia's brothers, George and Francis, used the name for their daughters. George's daughter Kardinia also used this name for her daughter, born in 1901. George's first daughter Lydia Ellen Bennett married Frederick William Hart and included the name when naming their daughter in 1898. Kardinia's sister, Eliza and her husband Thomas Yates, also used the name. The name certainly did not come from Geelong Football Club's home ground as the park was known as Chilwell Flat until 1872 and Geelong used other grounds before World War 2.