Lost Children’s Tree.

On Sunday morning, 30 June 1867, a group of young children from Connells Gully near Daylesford wandered into the bush past familiar shallow gold diggings to look for wild goats. William Graham, aged 6½, his brother Thomas, 4 years 3 months, and Alfred Burman aged 5, crossed Wombat Creek and headed towards Muskvale. But whenContinue reading “Lost Children’s Tree.”

A. W. Howitt.

Alfred William Howitt (1830-1908) had an impressive and many faceted résumé  as expert bushman, explorer, natural scientist, geologist, botanist, public servant and pioneer authority on Aboriginal culture and social organisation. Like thousands of others, Howitt arrived in 1852 to make his fortune in the Victorian gold fields, with modest success. But it was here thatContinue reading “A. W. Howitt.”

Brian Gibson – Senator

Brian Gibson was the first, and only, graduate of the Victorian School of Forestry to be elected to Federal Parliament. Brian commenced at VSF in 1954, following in the footsteps of both his father Kingsley (Ken) and an uncle, Colin, as students at the school. After graduation in 1956 Brian worked for the Forests CommissionContinue reading “Brian Gibson – Senator”

Andrew Leonard (Ben) Benallack.

Ben Benallack entered the Victorian School of Forestry at Creswick in 1920. His classmates included Alf Lawrence, who later became Chairman of the Forests Commission from 1956 to 1969. Ben held the diplomas at both Creswick and the Australian Forestry School at Canberra. During his early years he worked as assistant forester and later officer-in-chargeContinue reading “Andrew Leonard (Ben) Benallack.”

Otways Redwoods & The Balts.

The first batch of “Balts” destined for the Otway forests arrived in Colac on 8 April 1949, after having travelled by train from their processing centre at Bathurst in New South Wales. Others had been assigned to nation-building projects like the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Many of these post-war immigrants and refugees came from Lithuania, Latvia,Continue reading “Otways Redwoods & The Balts.”

Moscow Villa & Bill Ah Chow.

Moscow Villa has miraculously survived bushfires and vandalism, along with the ravages of time and weather, to become an iconic visitor destination in the remote State forests of East Gippsland. But few people know the remarkable story about the man who built it, Thomas William (Bill) Ah Chow. Bill was Chinese, ANZAC, farmer, roustabout, horseman,Continue reading “Moscow Villa & Bill Ah Chow.”

Soil Savers – Maisie Fawcett and Judge Stretton.

Soil erosion was identified as an emerging problem across rural Victoria almost immediately after the gold rush of the 1850s. The Royal Commission of 1897-1901 into the destruction and wastage of Victoria’s forests also identified the importance of protecting soils and forested water catchments. In 1917 an Erosion Inquiry Committee was formed by the MinisterContinue reading “Soil Savers – Maisie Fawcett and Judge Stretton.”

Conrad Wood – Bushfire Biggles.

If ever anyone could claim (not that he ever would) to have pioneered modern aerial firefighting and forestry aviation in Australia it was Conrad Wood. Woody graduated from the Victorian School of Forestry in 1957, and after postings with the Forests Commission Victoria (FCV) at Swifts Creek and Sirex surveys, he gravitated into the orbitContinue reading “Conrad Wood – Bushfire Biggles.”

Firebombing Folklore, Fantasy & Fairytales.

Late one summer afternoon in the early 1980s, a small fixed-wing firebomber was dispatched from Benambra to a smoke sighting near Gelantipy which had been reported by the local firetower. The experienced bush pilot took-off in the fading light and lengthening shadows to try and locate the fire but couldn’t find it. On the returnContinue reading “Firebombing Folklore, Fantasy & Fairytales.”

Florrie Hodges – 1926 bushfire heroine.

The 1926 Black Sunday bushfires are largely forgotten now, being overshadowed by the catastrophic 1939 Black Friday bushfires thirteen years later. The fires on Saint Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1926, swept across large areas of Gippsland, the Yarra Valley, the Dandenong Ranges and Kinglake. The figures vary, but it’s thought that as many as 60Continue reading “Florrie Hodges – 1926 bushfire heroine.”

Gladys Sanderson – 1939 Bushfire Heroine.

Gladys Elizabeth Sanderson was the relieving Post Mistress at Noojee during the devasting Black Friday bushfires on January 13, 1939. She became famous for her unwavering bravery by continuing to keep the phone lines open and making calls to the Warragul Post Office, which she prefaced by the phrase “Noojee Calling”. The only person inContinue reading “Gladys Sanderson – 1939 Bushfire Heroine.”