This is a little family story about old roads. A couple of stories just for Trove Tuesday. I wouldn’t have remembered them if Inside History hadn’t organised the cloud funding of the earliest editions of the Hamilton Spectator. It was just a small entry in the Hamilton Spectator that reminded me of two stories my father told be about roads. A small entry that had been overlooked when I first searched the paper version of the Hamilton Spectator many, many years ago at their office. And which I had overlooked in searching microfilm at the State Library of Victoria. As part of the launch of the introduction of the Hamilton Spectator to Trove Newspapers I was invited to submit an initial search. A no brainer. Both my great grandfather Samuel Baulch and my two greats grandfather William Learmonth were in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the release of Crown Land in Victoria.
But it was a line about Samuel’s brother Alfred that caught my eye. G Payne and Alf Baulch of the parish of Macarthur were absent from the Local Land Board sitting in Portland on 15 September 1870.
The Hamilton Spectator, 17 June 1870, p4, c2.
Now there may be many reasons as to why these two men didn’t go to the Land Board sitting.
One may have been the difficulty of actually making the journey for Macarthur parish sits in between Hamilton and Portland and between Hamilton and Port Fairy (or Belfast). So they had some distance to travel. But the roads weren’t same as they are today.
For example, my father told me the story of how he and his father drove the truck to Heywood to pick up or deliver a load. They decided to go by the direct route – following what is now the Woolsthorpe – Heywood road. Travelling directly west from Dunmore. But there was no road and the track beyond the gate into the Dunmore forest to Ettrick was so bad that they travelled north to Myamyn and came east to Macarthur before travelling south home to Dunmore. A lot further but apparently quicker.
So the track through the stones may have been so bad that Alf Baulch was unable to attend the Land Board meeting in Portland. Certainly his older brother James paid his rent in Belfast from time to time rather than travel to Portland to do so.
Of course the first tracks which later became roads went from one run to another. For example, there was a track from Harton Hills south through Dunmore to the crossing place at Orford. But it was the track out of the Dunmore Pre-emptive Right (PR) to Macarthur that is the source of my next story. When the Heywood – Woolsthorpe road was eventually proclaimed it not only went through the forest but it also passed through the Dunmore PR. This meant that some old roads were closed and others opened. That some land became part of my grandfather’s holding and some returned to the Crown.
Certificate of Title Vol 5118 Folio 441
Years later it was discovered that the areas had been miscalculated with a consequent effect on the rates levied. My father visited the Shire Office for half a day. Without any resolution as far as I can remember. There was another consequence too. By financing the power to the Dunmore Woolshed my grandfather helped bring power to the Macarthur Butter Factory. With the changes due to the making of the Woolsthorpe – Heywood road there is now a title plan to show “transmission of electricity” across what was the old road but which is now private land.
Title Plan TP 551Y
So even just one line in a Trove search can remind me of family stories that may have so easily been forgotten!