Singapore stay

Singapore stay

Wide-eyed and youthful, I first visited Singapore in October 1969 when the Union Jack still flew over RAF Changi, sampans lined the river, the urban landscape was low-rise and Jurong was landfill pending industrial development. In March 2022, we took a ‘toe in the water’ seven-hour flight on Singapore Airlines via the ‘vaccination travel lane’, staying at the Shangri-la Resort on Sentosa Island and at the wonderfully renovated Fullerton Hotel in the historical heart of Singapore. My first trip away from the hotel was by ‘Grab’ [the local ‘Uber’] to the National Museum of Singapore which sets a high standard of displays, notably the huge screen showing an ancient map and moving magnifying glass bringing ancient geographies alive. I also travelled on the MRT [Mass Rapid Transit] trains, the North East Line to Punggol, and on another day first to Tuas Link on the far west of the island and, after a coffee and muffin in Starbucks at a mall at East Jurong, around the Northern Line to Marina Bay, then to Vivo City. Trains are driverless, frequent, well patronised, cheap and nowhere is more than a short walk to station; a whole air-conditioned world underground in this city-state of seven million people only fifty kilometres from east to west. There were many other highlights: the astonishing transformation of the urban landscape; the vigilance and discipline of Singaporeans regarding Covid restrictions; tropical warmth, beach, pool, hospitality and service; heritage buildings in the city centre; the Botanic Gardens; and Fort Siloso’s gun emplacements and surrender galleries. I felt enormously lucky to experience this much-needed ‘fix’ of place and history.

The stories behind some stain-glass windows at St Thomas’ Church

The stories behind some stain-glass windows at St Thomas’ Church

This new Trove List I have titled ‘Barwon Park – The stain-glass windows at St Thomas’ Church, Winchelsea, Victoria’ and it documents the link between the Church of St. Thomas in Winchelsea, Victoria, Australia, and the Austin and Batson families as expressed through four stain-glass lights.

The Austins of the Barwon Park estate were among the founders of the church in the 1840s, with other trustees they arranged the bluestone building’s construction in 1858-60 and worshipped there until Mrs Elixabeth Austin died in 1910.

The Batson family then owned the Barwon Park Mansion from 1912 until 1973 when they bequeathed it to the National Trust of Australia [Victoria].

– Item 1 in the List describes the opening of the church in 1860. A stone was laid by Thomas Austin, one of the Trustees, assisted by his first son Thomas James Austin, who placed a time capsule.

– Item 2 mentions that, only four years later in 1864, Thomas Austin, installed a three-light memorial window above the altar in the chancel memory of three of his children who had died young, including, sadly, the thirteen-year old Thomas James.

Interestingly, the centenary history of the church records, in the words of the Vicar, Rev Edward Tanner, that in 1862: ‘At the commencement of the year a madman (incidentally named John Hoolahan) smashed in all the windows on the North side of the Church, the vestry, and the chancel’.

– Items 3 and 4 are death notices for Emily Jane and Thomas James, two of the children memorialised above the altar.

– Item 5 notes the windows’ grandeur, as reported by an observer in 1969.

The wording beneath the three lights in the window above the altar is, from left to right: ‘E. J. Austin was born Sep 16th 1857 Died at sea 1861’; ‘T. J. Austin was born Oct 2nd 1847 Died May 1st 1862’; ‘S. J. Austin was born Nov 20th 1852 Died Dec 31st 1852’. The names of the three children were Emily Jane, Thomas James and Sophia Jane. In each window is an image of Christ’s ministry in Galilee, from right to left – healing the sick, preaching to the apostles, teaching children.

There is no mention in the 1954 church history pamphlet, or in Alan Willingham’s 1982 conservation analysis report on Barwon Park Mansion, of the identity of the makers of the three lights. Possibilities include Clayton and Bell of London, John Hardman of Birmingham, and William Wailes of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, all of whom made windows for Australian clients in that era. The maker may also have been the newly-established North Melbourne firm of Ferguson and Urie. The Austins had been in England from 1861 to 1864, only returning to Winchelsea in March 1864, and so the windows, ‘unequalled in the colony’ at the time and already installed by July 1864, may well have been ordered in England in the aftermath of the loss of both Emily Jane and of Thomas James, and then carried back to Australia with the family, or delivered very soon after. Thomas Austin was to die in 1871 but Mrs Elizabeth Austin lived until 1910, a regular churchgoer, advised by the vicars of the church especially Rev. John Freeman, benefactor of charitable causes in cluding the Austin Hopital for Incurables. She must have gazedwistfully if stoically at the three altar lights each week and mourned her lost chidren, including her eldest son. Eight other children survived and did well.

– Item 6 says that some other windows were installed elsewhere in the church in 1913. they are much simpler design and materials, light green cathedral glass, a large central design and a round inset, differing in each window, with the emblems of the Holy Spirit, St. Thomas and St. Matthew. They were installed and funded by the Girls’ Friendly Society.

– Items 7 and 8 refer to a window in the style of the Austin windows installed in memory of Arthur Stanley Batson of Barwon Park who died serving in the Australian Light Horse in the Middle East in 1918. –

This window is at the front right of the nave of the church and is a full-length image of Christ pictured at night carrying a lighted lamp. The wording is: ‘In loving memory of our son and brother Arthur Stanley Batson 8th Light Horse who died at Abbassia Egypt on 14th Oct 1918 aged 25 yrs 10 mths’. According to information in the Victorian Heritage Database the window was made by the artist William Montgomery [1850-1927] who also made another window in the church dedicated to the men of the parish who died in the Great War. Another website –  – says Montgomery learned his trade in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but went on to make many stain-glass windows for Melbourne churches,had once worked for Clayton and Bell in London, just possibly a clue to the makers of the 1864 windows three generations before. Stanley Batson’s parents were Stephen and Emily Batson and his siblings were, Lilian, Sydney and Mabel. The Virtual War Memorial website says the Church of England Messenger reported the granting of two faculties for stained glass windows in 1920. Montgomery based the design on Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World and “quoted £62 2s. 0d. for the window…”

Barrabool Butter Factory

Barrabool Butter Factory

I have just finished making a Trove List of some resources for the history of the Barrabool Butter factory which stood from circa 1904 to the 1950s at 367-9 Moorabool Street, South Geelong, which is in 2022 the site of our busy local APCO service station. The factory had been founded in the 1890s by a group of dairy farmers at Ceres, a settlement on the crest of the Barrabool Hills 10km west of Geelong which overlooks Geelong and Corio Bay, and reported as follows – ‘BUTTER FACTORY AND CREAMERY. The above subject was explained last evening by Mr Chas. Craike at a meeting of farmers held in the Barrabool Inn, at Ceres. There was a fairly representative gathering of farmers residing on the Barrabool Hills…The establishment of a butter factory and creamery in Geelong would benefit the whole of the surrounding districts. There was an unlimited market for butter, fruit and wine, and the existence of a butter factory would have the effect of increasing the dairying industry and would give the ground a rest for tillage cultivation. The Barrabool Hills district Mr Craike contended was very suitable for dairying; it possessed excellent grazing land and had railway facilities for the speedy conveyance of produce’. As another item in the List describes, in 1904 a fire destroyed their first venture housed in a two-storey building in Fyans Street close to South Geelong railway station. Articles in the List, and also the heritage citation for the Ceres recreation reserve, also recall that the factory’s proprietor was Alfred Beaumont McDowall (1871‐1942), a son of Ceres’ pioneer storekeeper, postmaster and Wesleyan lay preacher, Robert McDowall. A. B. McDowall also lived at Ceres and was active in community affairs, retiring in 1922 as postmaster after 34 years’ service. Buttermaking had resumed by 1905 at a new site not far away in Moorabool Street: ‘LOCAL EXPORT OF BUTTER. The output of locally manufactured butter is growing, judging by the work now being carried on at the Barrabool Butter Factory, South Geelong. This factory has just completed packing an export order of 3 tons 56lb. for London, and the time occupied in preparing the quantity, from the cream was only ten hours. The output of the factory averages 14 tons per week.’ In 1913, M’Dowall was injured in a road accident while carrying cream cans and his horse had bolted. The factory also had encounters with the law over offensive smells from butter washings and butterfat content below the regulation amount. In 1921 the firm was taken over by E. O’Connell of the grocery business of Corio Stores in Little Malop Street in central Geelong who also owned the Geelong Butter Factory, also close to South Geelong station. O’Connell intended to continue both establishments: ‘The fusion will be for the benefit of dairymen around Geelong, as good prices must prevail for their cream so that Mr. O’Connell may compete with the factories at Terang, Camperdown and Colac. Cream is drawn from all parts of the State, including such distant places as Maryborough, Chiltern, Dimboola, Jeparit, Horsham, Coleraine, Penshurst, Beech Forest, Apollo Bay and even to Narracoorte (South Australia). His books contain the names of 3000 suppliers.’ There were dozens of small butter factories in Victoria with rugged competition for supplies of cream and, eventually, smaller and less competitive factories closed as technology and communications improved. Sands and McDougall business directories show the Barrabool Butter Factory as present in Moorabool Street in 1935, the site is listed as vacant in 1940, and then as being used for storage by O’Connell’s Geelong Butter Factory until the 1955 directory. By 1960 the site was the home of Kardinia Park Motors and Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd. and by 1970 it is listed as W.C. and L.B. Cowley’s service station. The factory was a fairly modest building clad in corrugated iron [in Australian vernacular, a ‘tin shed’] and it would have contained butter churning equipment and refrigeration for cream and butter.

‘Lydswood’ List

‘Lydswood’ List

‘Lydswood’ is a Victorian-era house located at 12 Stanhope Street, Mont Albert, close to Mont Albert railway station in what is today Melbourne’s middle suburbs. It was built in 1892 for a manufacturer’s agent named Joseph E. Newport, the tile roof was imported from Ireland, and the house’s original name was ‘Elourea’. Its current name seems to refer to Lydia [Mrs Newport]. Sands and McDougall’s Directories from 1895 and 1905 list Newport as a manufacturer’s agent importing and distributing luxury haberdashery items. In 1895 he was in Degraves Street in the City and, in 1905, is listed at 277 Flinders Lane, with agencies for: [1] A. W. Bucholtz, lace and curtain manufacturer, Brussels, Belgium; [2] Chas. Bayer, corset manufacturer, Gloucestershire, England, and also Paris [the ‘C.B. Erect Form’ corset, a very flexible and strong whalebone corset for which Newports were agents from circa 1886 onwards]; [3] J. Brown, curtain manufacturer, Madras, India. J. E. Newport died in 1907; house and contents were sold, the advertisement listing contents of the sale suggesting opulent detail. The house [including outbuildings] is recorded by the National Trust. The items in this List comprise:- [1] some information on the early history of the house [including mention of Mrs Newport entertaining ladies in 1898 after golf at the adjacent course and of family weddings including much later [in 1918 ]of Hilda Newport, an Army nurse; [2] some information about Newport’s business [including reports of a theft, a legal case, and a 1909 fire at the agency’s Sydney warehouse]; and [3] some current information about the property.

Featured Image

Lydswood in the 1970s from a family collection.

James Harrison

James Harrison

Lex Chalmers has sent me this information about the National Trust, Geelong Branch web site,

In the site you will find The Unpredictable James Harrison, a live streamed discussion and photos of the Exhibition of his models, medals and memorabilia the Branch held in Geelong. Harrison was a remarkable Geelong figure who invented and commercialised refrigeration.

The April 3 , 2022 ABC Landline program had a terrific segment about Harrison as part of a series about Australian inventors

The National Trust site also has information about Branch meetings and Notable 20th C Architecture guided tours, the Branch project for UNESCO Design Week 2022.

Featured Image

Museums Victoria,

My new Trove List

My new Trove List

This is a list of thirty items, which are just some of the hundreds of articles about the “Barwon park estate”, property of Thomas Austin at Winchelsea, west of Geelong, that appeared in Australian colonial newspapers from March 1864 to March 1869, the five-year period between Thomas and Elizabeth Austin’s visits home to Somerset in England. There were 126 articles in the Geelong Advertiser newspaper alone and that newspaper was often the original source for items then telegraphed or mailed to newspapers in Melbourne, across the colony of Victoria and to other colonies, including to Van Diemens’ Land where Thomas Austin had learned the pastoral business. In the period there were also a large number of advertisements mentioning Barwon Park [including sales of wool, stock and horses] and two family notices reporting the marriage of their daughter Elizabeth to Dr Embling. The peak year with 31 articles in the Geelong Advertiser was 1867, the year of the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh: in other years the totals were: 1864, 11; 1865, 26; 1866, 30; 1868, 21; 1869, 15, an annual average of 25 articles, many of them exceeding 1000 words in length. The List refers to his acclimatisation work with a focus on rabbits, his interest in the breeding of horse races and his hospitality to the Duke and other dignitaries. Austin died aged only 56 and was quite a media celebrity in his time. The articles suggest he was comfortable with celebrity and had a very positive profile. His achievements in building the mansion and in breeding Lincoln cross sheep were yet to come at the time these articles were published, and of course his wife’s later philanthropy. One wonders what could have been achieved.
[Note: See the other Trove Lists made by this Voluntrove on Barwon Park.]

The Austins’ Second Visit Home

The Austins’ Second Visit Home

I have made a 23 item Trove List titled Barwon Park: Thomas Austin’s Second Return Visit to England, March 1869- January 1870 which can be accessed at

On 8 March 1869, the Geelong Advertiser reported: “…One of our eldest and most respected fellow colonists, Mr Thomas Austin of Barwon Park, will leave by the Somersetshire, which sails from Hobson’s Bay today, on a visit to England. He does not intend to be away very long from us, it being his intention to be back by Christmas…” Another reports explains why Austin was making the journey: “…Mr Austin in explaining the reason of his leaving the district to the Winchelsea Shire Council said that, out of five doctors who had attended him during his illness two had despaired of his life, while three said he would recover; and he had recovered so far, for which he thanked God; but one and all of the medical men that he had conversed with advised him to give up the cares of this world for a season and visit England, which was certainly against his will. He had made Winchelsea his home, and in it he hoped to live and die…”.

The initial cause of the illness had been reported in the Hobart Mercury in November 1868: “…An accident of a serious character, which seems to have occurred some time ago to Mr. T. Austin, of Barwon-park, is thus spoken of in the Geelong Advertiser of yesterday. All will share in the regret expressed as to Mr. Austin’s condition. Rather more than a month since Mr. Thomas Austin, of Barwon-park, had one of his fingers punctured by a thorn, of which he took no immediate notice ; but very shortly, symptoms manifested themselves of the presence of poison, and to such an extent that at one time it was thought he must succumb to its influence…”

Austin sailed to England on the Somersetshire in March 1869 with his wife, a daughter [Harriet] and her husband [Sydney Austin, also a cousin of Harriet’s]. The voyage benefited Thomas: “…Mr. Thomas Austin, of Barwon Park, has arrived in London by the steamer Somersetshire, with his health much improved, after a rapid passage of sixty-one days…”However subsequent recovery was not completely smooth: on 7 August 1869 the Leader newspaper said: “…Thomas Austin, of Barwon Park, is still very unwell, and it is doubtful whether he will even return to the colony…”

Nevertheless, under Captain J. S. Atwood, the Somersetshire departed for Melbourne in December 1869 with “full general cargo, 60 first-class and 170 second and third-class passengers, including Judge Chapman and a number of influential colonists, one of whom (Mr. Austin) has in the ship several valuable rams, for the improvement of the sheep in New South Wales”. The ship arrived in Melbourne about 16 February 1870 and a few days later, on 26 and 27 February, Austin entertained Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, for a second time with a tour of the almost completed mansion for which the Austins had purchased much furniture in London while away. Lunch and shooting on the Barwon Park estate followed.

Featured Image


Thomas and Elizabeth Austin’s First Visit Home

I have made a Trove List titled ‘Barwon Park: Thomas Austin’s First Return Visit to England’, some 56 online resources for the story of Thomas and Elizabeth Austin of Barwon Park, Winchelsea, Victoria, Australia, in the years 1859 to 1864, pivotal years for the family. Two young children died but there was the safe arrival of another. They had a three-year sojourn in England and then returned to colonial life, until Thomas died in 1871 followed by Elizabeth’s long widowhood through to her own death at Barwon Park Mansion in 1910.

The List is available at

Selected important information, usually in the form of actual newspaper text, appears in Notes with each item. Items appear largely in the order in which they were found and users should review the entire List to best effect. For a brief biographical introduction to the Austin family see the link to the Australian Dictionary of Biography [ADB] item which opens this List.

By way of background, Somerset-born Thomas Austin and three of his brothers [Solomon, Josiah, James] had learned the pastoral business in Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania]. They then collaborated to claim land in the Port Phillip district, including a tract of grazing land called initially Toulon Station and later ‘Barwon Park Estate’ at which Thomas was the principal occupier and later legal claimant. James Austin sold many of his assets in 1854 and retired to Glastonbury in their native county of Somerset. Another significant event was the death of Josiah Austin at in Baltonsborough, Somerset in 1859. His estate in VDL, Victoria and England was being broken up and sold under the guidance of James and Thomas in this era.

The Austin family departed on the ship Yorkshire in April 1861 for their first return trip to England. Sadly, their daughter Emily died aboard on 3 May 1863 to the south east of South Africa, aged 3 years and 7 months. Their eldest son, Thomas James Austin, who had travelled back to England with James Austin in December 1860 died in May 1862 of “water on the brain” a quite common fatal illness of children at the time. Another son, Herbert, was born only 2 days after Thomas James died.

Prior to his departure racehorses Thomas had bred, and many household items, had been sold and a manager was appointed, namely Thomas Maidment, also later a successful pastoralist. Efforts at “acclimatisation” [the introduction of British species of animals including rabbits] continued at Barwon Park. No doubt Thomas used the time in England wisely including lobbying with regard to Victorian land laws and researching British sheep breeds, including the Lincoln which he was to later cross-breed in Victoria to great productive effect.

The family left Plymouth again on the Yorkshire on Nov 1863. Aboard was another consignment of animals, including – fatefully – more rabbits. PROV Assisted Passenger Lists tell us the Austin party comprised Thomas and Elizabeth, their eldest daughter Elizabeth, and Anna, Ellen, Harriet, William and baby Herbert Austin plus their cousin Sydney Austin [who was to later marry Harriet] and servants. The family returned home to a huge welcome at “the Barwon” [the township next to Barwon Park by now named Winchelsea] in March 1864 after almost exactly 3 years away from Barwon Park.

Thomas resumed life as a successful and innovative wool producer and sheep breeder, advocate of acclimatisation, host of rabbit shoots including in 1867 welcoming the first British royal to visit Australia the then Duke of Edinburgh, sheep breeder and participant in local civic life. A large mansion was completed nearby in 1871. Elizabeth Austin herself became a benefactor of note later on.

Photographs of Papua New Guinea

Recently I arranged now-historical images from my younger days, and which I had scanned from some of my slide collection, into ten themes for upload to the respected Pambu online archive, under the expert guidance of Ms Kari James of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau at the Australian National University. The 152 scanned 35mm slides were taken between October 1969 and November 1973, when I was researching a master’s thesis for the University of Bristol and flying regularly to the Papua New Guinea Highlands observing roads and road transport. My mentors in the Highlands were [the late] Edith Watts [later MBE] and [the late] John Watts, then the member of the TPNG House of Assembly for the Western Highlands, and the Watts family at their coffee plantation at Ulya near Mount Hagen. At the University of Papua New Guinea [UPNG] ,where I was with the Department of Geography and taught in the Preliminary Year course, I met many wonderful people among both students and staff.

The ten themes:

  • Village Life in the Lumusa District, Baiyer River, Western Highlands District, TPNG [Images 1 to 25]
  • Baiyer River, coffee and roads in the cash economy [26-46]
  • The Baptist Mission, Baiyer River [47-57]
  • Highlands Highway, roads and road transport [58-76]
  • Ulya, in and around the plantation [77-94]
  • Mount Hagen, the town [95-104]
  • Wahgi Valley, Kindeng, tea plantation, [105-113]
  • Wahgi Valley, Kindeng, smallholder projects [114-126]
  • UPNG [University of Papua New Guinea], the campus and some events [ 127-137]
  • UPNG [University of Papua New Guinea], the students [138-152]

The collection is live on Pambu at: