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Showing posts from October, 2023

Swannell Part 5 (final) – A visionary and his unexpected legacy

After reflecting on the past few weeks’ tales about John Swannell, I decided he would be dealt a great injustice if I omitted details relating to a remarkable outcome as a result of his settling Lake Rowan and nearby St James. Continuing our recent historical accounts regarding John Swannell, it is essential to provide additional insight into his remarkable role in the foundation of early Victoria. With the establishment of Lake Rowan and the neighbouring St. James, George Coles Snr chose this region as the home for his growing family, which includes 10 children, and his store. Due to the failure of the railway line to travel through Lake Rowan, the township suffered with an exodus of businesses heading towards the new station at St James. George’s eldest son, George Jnr. bought the family shop from his father in 1910. This was the start of something special for Australian retail shopping. Four years later, he and two of his brothers opened a shop in Collingwood, and the rest is histor

Swannell Part 4 – His expanding family exploring new adventures.

In the early 1870s, we find John Swannell, a man of unyielding determination, ready for his next adventure. After exhausting all the pioneering opportunities in the Pentland Hills region, he had quite the list of accomplishments: from opening quartz gold mines to restoring bridges and building hotels. But he wasn't done yet. His thirst for exploration led him to native land at Rowans Swamp, although the name wasn't quite appealing and swiftly rebranded to Lake Rowan, thanks to the marketing department! Located between Yarrawonga and Ballan, his property had no passing traffic, so John decided to take matters into his own hands. He organised a working bee with George Clyne on the plough and Mr. West in charge of locating the survey pegs. Their hard work resulted in a 23-mile road that would lead travellers directly to his new settlement. John's rapid progress relied on his unwavering support for local farmers. He provided them with everything they needed to get established,

Swannell Part 3 – This stoic pioneer gets on with it

John Swannell Part 3 – This stoic pioneer gets on with it... In the latter months of 1868, John Swannell displayed remarkable determination and endurance. He took first prize at the Ballarat National Show in October for the Best Pair of Two-Tooth Leicester Ewes (not sure if this was for two ewes or a set of teeth!). The following month, he was again buying up more township property in Myrniong – this time it was a block of land from Mr Smith for £149. Without delay, John constructed a bluestone building intended for use as the police station & lock-up, of which he was the contractor to supply its food and supplies. These historic buildings still stand today, serving as a private residence. In late December 1868, near Pyke’s Flat, John was thrown from his horse, suffering painful injuries. His horse was spooked when he opened a pocketbook (the original kind, not the electronic version of today), worsening the situation. Attempting to regain control, John got dragged until his back h

Swannell Part 2 – A sombre time that grips the entire community

We continue John Swannell’s story, this week in the early months of 1867, when he had quite a task on hand. With the Myrniong Races being held on New Year’s Day, the sweltering heat didn’t deter John’s responsibiity of quenching the thirst of the visiting gentlemen with gallons of ginger beer and lemonade. Quite the feat and one appreciated by everyone in attendance. John also successfully secured a Slaughtering Licence for his Myrniong butcher shop, further diversifying his talents. Alongside him, Henry Simmons, owner of the general store & post office, became Agents for Bacchus Marsh Express Newspaper for the residents of Myrniong. Mid-year, John contributed to his challenges, submitting a tender for road maintenance in Bacchus Marsh. By then, he had also accrued over a dozen blocks of land throughout the Myrniong township. The early days of 1868 brought joy alongside continued community involvement for John. His second daughter, Elizabeth, was born, while he remained deeply enga