Farewell to Jan Hillgrove

Warwick Finlay, Kay Ball and Jan Hillgrove (front).JPG

Warwick Finlay, Kay Ball & Jan Hillgrove

The Murchison Historical Society recently bid farewell to a much loved and esteemed member, Jan Hillgrove. Jan has gone to live in Woodend to be nearer her daughter.

Jan was a member of the Society from the beginning, 30 years ago, and over this time served on the Executive; many years as secretary, several as Treasurer. A willing helper in many different ways, Jan lent her hand when events required it such as catering, ticket selling or fundraising. Jan had a strong sense of fun and enjoyment whatever the task and always with a happy disposition, which brought cohesiveness to any group she was working with.

Jan will be missed and not only by the Society. CWA will miss her as well as the local Primary School where Jan was an excellent volunteer and dearly loved.

Members of the Executive gathered at Wagner’s Produce Store for a coffee and chat and to present Jan with a gift of Azaleas, flowers and lots of good wishes for her re-location to Woodend. We have it on good authority that the azaleas are already at home in the two planters presented to Jan by the school and they look just great beside her new front door!

Jan Hillgrove's send-off by members of Murchison & District Historical Society

Jan with members of the Society and her presentation of flowers and pot-plants.


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A Milestone for Murchison and District Historical Society Inc.

December 18th 2015 marked 30 years since the first meeting of the Murchison and District Historical Society.

Marg Brown & Loel Thomson                      Bryan Thomson & Honor Ewart     

Members celebrated at the Heritage Centre with a lunch catered for by Longleat Winery and entertained by Maurie  Foun, an award winning Bush Poet. It was a great opportunity to reflect on progress and achievements, events and other milestones. Special guests were Loel and Byran Thomson whose enormous support facilitated the establishment of the Heritage Centre.

         Maurie Foun & Marg Lock            Helen Newton, Mary Appleton &            Anne Finlay

The Historical Society formed in December 1985 following the very successful “Back-to-School” event celebrating 125 years of education and achievement in the Murchison district. A great deal of interest was created by the display of historical information for this occasion, and lead to the formation of the historical society.

The Society gathered momentum, with well attended monthly meetings held in the Community Centre to discuss future planning and to hear a range of guest speakers. Visits were made to a variety of local sites of interest and neighbouring Historical Societies, as well as excursions further afield to history related destinations. Some members attended seminars and workshops on collecting, preservation, storage and display of all aspects of our local heritage. Much of this was facilitated through our membership of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and the Goulburn Valley Regional Historical Group.

Early years for the Society were exciting, but it was a frustrating time for members not having any money or a home in which to work. Our early financial plight was recognised by Loel and Bryan Thomson of “Noorilim”, who twice made their home available for public open days to raise funds specifically for the Society. The public response was huge and thoroughly rewarding for the Society. At this time, the City of Greater Shepparton (CoGS) was able to lease the former Maternal and Child Health premises in Stevenson Street to the Society to develop the Heritage Centre. A purpose built and spacious gallery was added in 1997. The Heritage Centre provided a home for our growing collections of documents and artefacts and allowed a venue for exhibitions, special events and permanent displays.

Since then, the loyal membership has been working with a greater sense of purpose, while at the same time gaining the co-operation of the general public. Together with the support of CoGS, several successful applications for Government grant money and some generous local sponsors, the Society is very well placed to fulfil its original aims and objectives.

A five year plan to improve facilities for visitors to the Heritage Centre came to fruition in 2015 when an extension to the front of the building was opened providing a meeting room, new kitchen, a research room, improved foyer area with toilet for the disabled, and “shop front” entrance and all abilities access.

Everyone involved to date has combined well to build a valuable resource for the benefit of future generations and develop a significant community asset.

The temporary exhibition area currently features a display about the development of the Society over these last 30 years. Come and visit the Heritage Centre and take a trip down memory lane – you are sure to recall lots of the events and exhibitions represented on show. The Heritage Centre is open each Saturday morning 10 am – 12.30 pm and entry is only a gold coin donation.

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President: Kay Ball  5826 2518

email: balljk4ATbigpondDOTcom  (convert AT to @ and DOT to .)


Committee member Lyndon Gregory:  0438 528 542

email: lyndon.maursATbigpondDOTcom  (convert AT to @ and DOT to .)


Heritage Centre, 4 Stevenson Street, Murchison


Murchison and District Historical Society Inc.

PO Box 98 Murchison VICTORIA  3610


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Ossario Day 2015


Colourful Military

The annual ceremony at the Ossario in Murchison was held on Sunday 1st of November this year.

Attendees arrived early with the Murchison Lions Club already set up to provide local flowers and offer coffee and tea for many who have travelled from Melbourne and further afield. The usual colourful military uniforms and banners were much in evidence. Many hundreds of relatives, friends and members of organisations who wish to pay their respects to the World War 2 Italian Internees and Prisoners of War, whose remains lie in the Ossario in Murchison Cemetery attended. The event starts with a parade along the pathway to the Ossario by those laying wreaths on the monument in the forecourt area of the grounds. Speeches, singing of hymns and national anthems, band recitals, and a superb solo trumpet rendition of El Silenzio were presented and a Catholic Mass was celebrated.

This year, after the official ceremony a new plaque which stands near the gates to the Cemetery, telling the story of the Ossario, was unveiled.

The information board originally in this spot for many years had deteriorated and the wording was difficult to read. The Murchison & District Historical Society, concerned about the poor condition of the sign met with the Italian Consul General, Mr. Marco Maria Cerbo and Mr. Francesco Pascalis the President of the Committee for Italians Abroad for Victoria and Tasmania, and in collaboration with the Murchison Cemetery Trust, worked together to arrange for a new one.

An Italian version of the wording was requested. Mia Spizzica who is conducting research about Italian internees in Australia for her PhD, arranged the translation to be provided by her supervising academic, Dr. Raffaele Lampugnani.  Dr. Lampugnani, a busy man, who has many publications to his name and established the Department of Italian Studies at Monash University, gave his time to write the Italian version.

The handsome new sign, made by Bicknell Signs in Shepparton, explains the history of the Ossario and is a now of a suitable standard that reflects respect for the 129 men and 1 woman whose last resting place is the Ossario in Murchison Cemetery.

Kay Ball President Murchison & District Historical Society


Murchison Primary School representatives

The plaque unveiled - the man on the right in Alvine Crespan who built the extension to the Ossario

Plaque unveiled. The man on the right in Alvino Crespin who built the extension to the Ossario

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Open Day at Day’s Mill

Parks Victoria who has responsibility for Day’s Mill and Farm, held an Open Day on Sunday 8th of November.

We drove out to Day’s Mill taking June Day with us who is always keen to visit the family farm when the opportunity arises.

An information brochure describes the Farm complex as … “the best preserved 19th Century flour mill in Victoria and contains probably the finest example of traditional milling technology in working form in its original setting in Australia. The property consists of the mill, a house and about a dozen farm buildings on 4 hectares (10 acres) of land south of Murchison… ” and it is classified by the National Trust.

William Day purchased the land in 1865 and set about to erect a two storey flour mill. After William died in 1872, his wife Ann was left to raise their 7 children who were then aged from 5 – 19 years. Ann showed considerable strength and capability over the next 20 years, successfully running a prosperous farming enterprise despite being a woman at a time when the business world was a male dominated arena.

June was born at the farm 87 years ago and lived there until the early 1980’s when she moved into the township of Murchison. We looked through the house, built in the early 1900’s, and there in one of the rooms is a wicker cot where June and her twin brother Robert, who were born prematurely, were nursed together “top to tail” all those years ago!

June thoroughly enjoyed looking around the property that Parks Victoria keep in tidy order, although there are many signs of ageing dilapidation.

Parks Victoria is attempting to gain funds and support for many of the repairs needed to keep this National treasure from deteriorating further.

John and Kay Ball


June Day & John Ball outside Day’s Mill house


Jun Day beside the cot

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An Outer Space Experience

Warwick Holmes

Guest Speaker Warwick Holmes



Cooking up a Comet with Brandan







The special Event staged by Murchison and District Historical Society to celebrate History Week this year, ‘An Outer Space Experience’ on Saturday 24th October, was a great success.

There was a good attendance, some travelling considerable distance.  Everyone who came was amazed at the story of the Rosetta Space Mission as presented by Avionics Engineer, Mr. Warwick Holmes. Warwick is passionate about Space and Space exploration and also a huge fan of the Murchison Meteorite. He kept emphasising that the significance of the Murchison Meteorite can’t be overstated as it is the most important meteorite that has landed on Earth. Warwick worked for the European Space Agency and helped build the Spacecraft for the Rosetta Mission.

The Rosetta Space Mission, was a most amazing feat, sending a satellite millions of kilometres into Space to meet up with the Comet 67P, and to land on this Comet that was travelling at 18 kilometres a second – WOW! The lander then sampled the Comet surface and sent data back to Earth. It is so far away that there is a delay of 50 minutes for messages to be transmitted in either direction.

The Mission came about because of so many unanswered questions raised by the rare components of the Murchison Meteorite. Planning took nearly 5 years, building the Space craft took about 4 and half years and it was more than 10 years travelling to the Comet, not a rushed project!

In the Murchison Heritage Centre in Stevenson Street, you can see a sample and learn more about this 4.6 billion year old meteorite.  The Heritage Centre is open every Saturday morning 10 am – 12.30 pm, other times by arrangement and groups are always very welcome. To book a group, call Janet 5826 2363, general enquiries, Kay 5826 2518 or Lyndon 0438 528 542.


A light hearted moment when Warwick explored the town



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WOW!! Meteorites, comets and spacecraft! A Very Special Event in Murchison

Mr. Warwick Holmes, Australian Avionics Engineer, is coming to Murchison to give two presentations on Saturday 24th October.

Avionics is concerned with electronic systems used on aircraft, satellites and spacecraft to ensure that all systems work smoothly and Warwick will share his experience of working in this field during his time with the European Space Agency.

Warwick is an engaging speaker with a great deal of knowledge at his finger-tips about space exploration and in particular the Rosetta Space Mission, a $US 1.6-billion project. The Rosetta spacecraft took 10 years to travel 6.5 billion kilometres to its destination, a comet near Mars, and to land a probe on that comet which was travelling at 18 kilometres per second.

The landing of a probe from the spacecraft on to the comet was hailed by NASA as a “breakthrough moment in the history of space exploration”. Scientists hope the lander, equipped with 10 instruments, will unlock the secrets of comets – primordial clusters of ice and dust that may have helped sow life on Earth.

And what has this got to do with Murchison? The Rosetta Mission’s most important goal, according to Warwick Holmes, was to confirm the existence of 91 extra-terrestrial amino acids analysed in the Murchison meteorite and believed to be the core of an evaporated comet. Since the meteorite scattered over Murchison in 1969, there have been more questions than answers about its unique properties and the unanswered quandary if this is how life form was originally brought to planet Earth.

So – come along and hear this impressive presentation on Saturday 24th October at the Community Centre in Watson Street Murchison. The morning session will start at 11am and is geared to students with science experiments included, and the afternoon session will be at 2pm.

Entry is by gold coin donation to assist with expenses. The event is hosted by Murchison and District Historical Society Inc. as a way of celebrating History Week. For more information ring Kay: 5826 2518 or Marg: 5826 2398.

Warwick Holmes

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