Dhurringile Rural Training Farm Auxiliary Murchison

Filed away in the Heritage Centre are many documents, photographs and items of historical interest and one little treasure is the minute book of the Dhurringile Rural Training Farm Auxiliary Murchison.

Dhurringile Mansion circa 1970
Murchison & District Historical Society Collection

Dhurringile Mansion, a substantial and imposing building of 68 rooms built in 1877 by the Winter family, is located half-way between Murchison and Tatura. The property is currently a low-security Prison but its earlier history was that of a Rural Training Farm. Young boys, mostly orphans, were brought from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland after the second world war under a scheme administered by the Presbyterian Church and accommodated in the mansion.  The concept of the project was to train boys in agricultural skills on the land surrounding the mansion, and for them to eventually settle in the local farming district. Officially opened in 1951, approximately 100 boys participated in the scheme until it closed at the end of 1964 due to lack of interested candidates.

Boys leaving from Glasgow, Scotland in 1961 on the Flying Scotsman, on the first leg of their journey to Dhurringile in Australia – image from National Museum Australia website

The ladies of the Murchison Presbyterian Church formed an Auxiliary to support the boys and over the years the Rural Training Farm operated, worked tirelessly fundraising to buy shoes and clothing, furnishings for their rooms, and to provide presents for the boy’s birthdays and at Christmas time. All this and entertainment in the form of concerts and parties was provided in the effort to make life in an institutional setting more homely.

Minute Book Dhurringile Rural Training Farm Auxiliary Murchison
Murchison & District Historical Society Collection

Hand-written in neat script inside a simple school exercise book, the minutes of the meetings are recorded without any flourish or fanfare, and provide an insight into the loving care and concern they had for the young boys. The initiatives of these ladies were very generous and varied, and must have required much time and effort on top of helping to run family farms, businesses and raise their own families. Some of the projects undertaken required reasonably large sums of money, such as purchasing football boots and running shoes for all the boys. The final report written in the minute book conveys genuine attachment by the women to these boys and a real desire for them to do well and find a meaningful pathway in their life’s journey. Some of the ladies remained part of the group for all the 13 years it was functioning.

The picture painted by the words in this little book is truly heart-warming.

The efforts of these Murchison women were appreciated by many of the young boys and some kept in touch for years after they had moved on to employment situations, were married and raising their own family both locally and in Melbourne.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

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Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful Christmas time and a wonderful New Year.

Thank you to all our volunteers and supporters who have helped the Society to continue to meet its aims during a very challenging year that was 2020.

We look forward to continuing to preserve and promote our local history in 2121.

Our Heritage Centre will be open each Saturday morning from January 2nd

10 am – 12.30pm

Kay Ball, President,

Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

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An amazing item made by an Italian Prisoner of War when held in Camp 13 Murchison during World War 2, came on the market and was auctioned through Lloyds Auctions in Melbourne recently.

It is a detailed working model of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – accurate in its engineering features and is 1:3000 in scale. There are 25,000 separate parts and 50,000 joints. A pulley system draws models of vehicles across the bridge. The materials needed to create the model were scrounged within the camp – a staggering feat in itself. An official Army report describes the model as ‘a masterpiece of ingenuity’.

Model of Sydney harbour Bridge 1:3000 SCALE

The creator was Lieutenant Trucco, an Army Dentist. A shortage of doctors meant he was asked to care for the men in camp 13 who required attention for minor medical complaints. This necessitated him to study medical text books and improvise with his limited dental equipment. Somehow, in his spare leisure time, he was able to build this model which took him two years from 1941 to 1943.

When the war ended and the prisoners were being repatriated, the size of the model would have prevented him taking it home to Italy. Many years later, Lieutenant Trucco’s son came to Tatura looking for the model but locals did not know of its existence let alone what happened to it.

According to the Auctioneers information, this outstanding handcrafted model came into the ownership of Sergeant Meredith, a guard at Camp 13, who took it home to Horsham where it was often on display at shows and exhibitions.

The purchaser of the model from the auction is unknown – one hopes this amazing piece of war-time history will be greatly appreciated for the ingenuity and skill required in building the parts and piecing it all together under very restricted circumstances.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society.

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Visitors to the Murchison Heritage Centre are now welcome on an ad hoc basis by arrangement – please make contact via email:

murchison-historical-society@hotmail dot com (change the word dot to .)

or telephone: 0475 018 743

Visitors must, of course, comply with current Covid-safe protocols.

Regular Saturday mornings open times – 10am to 12.30pm will resume in the New Year.


Large collection of historical photographs and documents available for research by appointment.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

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Greater Shepparton Cultural Heritage Awards

City of Greater Shepparton in conjunction with the Heritage Advisory Committee, present Cultural Heritage Awards biannually. Nominations for the 2021 Cultural Heritage Awards can now be received until Monday 22 February 2021, and the Awards Ceremony is planned for 1 May 2021, which coincides with the Australian Heritage Festival. There are 9 different entry categories:

  Category 1 (Reuse of a Heritage Place)

  Category 2 (Restoration of a Heritage Place)

  Category 3 (Maintenance of a Heritage Place)

  Category 4 (Best Research Publication or Manuscript)

  Category 5 (Other Publication)

  Category 6 (Student/Youth Contribution)

  Category 7 (Interpretive Signage)

  Category 8 (Community, Multicultural and Indigenous Events and Tourism)

  Category 9 (Other Contribution)

These Awards recognise the outstanding contributions by both individuals and organisations to cultural heritage in the Greater Shepparton community in the areas of conservation, research, education, promotion, interpretation, training and awareness-raising locally.

Further links for associated documents:

Greater Shepparton Cultural Heritage Awards 2018 – Guidelines

Cultural Heritage Awards 2021 – Pamphlet (greatershepparton.com.au)

Cultural Heritage Awards 2021 – Nomination Form (greatershepparton.com.au)

Some winners of 2019 Awards:

Student/Youth Contribution; Year 5/6 (2018) Wilmot Road Primary School Students for the Signage on the Peter Ross Edwards Causeway
Best Research Publication or Manuscript:
‘Remembering the Dookie Fallen – 100 years on’ by Helen Rankin & Dianne Feldtmann
Maintenance of a Heritage Place:
Former St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Moorilim
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Rock on Murchison event was not the winner of our category in the Victorian Community History Awards announced on 28th October but all who contributed to the occasion in September 2019 can be extremely pleased with the acknowledgement received. Those involved, from Murchison Historical Society members, many organisations in the town, local businesses, Greater Shepparton City Council and to individuals that made the event such a success can be justly proud of the commendation from the organisers.

The awards are the combined effort of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and The Public Record Office of Victoria and it is a mammoth task and very well arranged. The judges must have had a daunting task as there were a record number of entries and the standard was extremely high. Some entries are from professional writers and big organisations such as Monash University and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image so it is wonderful that small groups like ours can manage to compete and receive recognition in amongst these professional and very well-resourced entries.

So, congratulations on this commendation to all who had input to our very special celebration of the 50th anniversary of the fall of the Murchison meteorite last year.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society

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As a commemoration of 75 years since the end of World War 2, Heritage Victoria engaged Heritage Advisor David Helms to research and compile an assessment on the cultural heritage significance of the Italian Ossario. This resulted in the Ossario being listed on the Victorian Heritage Register on the 1st of October 2020 as a Registered Place (VHR Number H2405). The official statement reads: “the Italian Ossario is of cultural heritage significance to the State of Victoria”.

The Italian Ossario is a sacred place and is located in a peaceful setting in the south east corner of the Murchison Cemetery. The Italian word ‘ossario’ translated as ‘old bones’ is a place of final rest for human remains that have initially been buried elsewhere. The Ossario shelters Italian military Prisoners of War (POW’s) brought to our shores and Italian civilians, thought to be a security risk, who were both resident in Australia and allied territories overseas, and passed away during their imprisonment in Australia.

Entry to the Ossario is through wrought iron gates with sculptured relief on pillars either side. The structure of the building is distinctly Mediterranean. It is quite unique as it was built and is maintained by the Italian Community, not the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as other foreign War Grave Cemeteries are in Australia, such as the German War Cemetery at near-by Tatura and the Japanese War Cemetery in New South Wales.


Prior to its construction, the graves of Italian POW’s from Camp 13 Murchison, were located in the Murchison Cemetery. Each year, beginning in the 1950’s, a Mass of Remembrance was celebrated in the open air at a temporary altar draped with flags, until the Commonwealth Government authorized the building of one Memorial on Australian soil.

The Murchison Cemetery Trust handed over a piece of land, fundraising began and Mr. Luigi Gigliotti, a notable community worker in Kyabram collected 25,000 pounds ($50,000) from the Goulburn Valley Italian Community. Negotiations occurred with the Italian Government, Consuls, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and families of the deceased. This resulted in the remains of Italian POW’s and civilian Internees, previously buried in local cemeteries close to the detention camps in all states of Australia, being interred in one place, at Murchison.

The Ossario was built of Castlemaine stone with Roman tile roof and bell tower, open sanctuary and included an altar of Italian white marble. The crypt below ground level held caskets containing the remains of 129 men and one woman.  Their names are cast in bronze on the wall of the sanctuary and decorative bronze gates completed the building.

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The Ossario was officially dedicated on the 10th September 1961. A memorial to their fallen comrades built by Italian POW’s at Camp 13 Murchison was relocated and placed to the left of the building in 1968.

Following the disastrous Goulburn River floods in the early 1970’s that inundated the crypt, the Victorian Health Commission ordered the caskets to be relocated above ground level. This required extensive alteration to the Ossario in 1974, with the addition of an area behind the sanctuary where the remains now rest. The crypt was then filled in with sand. A memorial on the right side of the forecourt created by Attilo Greco was installed in 1975, dedicated to the armed forces of Italy and funded by the Italian Government. The Ossario is approached by an avenue of Mediterranean Cypresses planted in 1989 each bearing the name of Italian Military Service Organizations.

It is a European oasis in the Australian bush-land, a little piece of Italy.

Consul General of Italy leads the official Procession 2015

A remembrance service with speeches, Catholic Mass and choral singing is held annually on the nearest Sunday to Armistice Day in November. Hundreds of Italian relatives, descendants and friends attend each year, coming from overseas and from all around Australia. Italian and Australian dignitaries attend the Service beginning with a procession and the laying of wreaths on the memorials in the forecourt area and then the singing of both the Australian and Italian National anthems. It is a moving and colourful ceremony, with flags flying, music, and Italians from all the Services wearing their striking uniforms.

Eye-catching Uniforms

This year Covid-19 restrictions caused the annual service to be cancelled. Although unable to attend the memorial service and remember those that rest in the Ossario, we can at least applaud and celebrate the listing of this unique place on the Victorian Heritage Register, a fitting acknowledgment of its value to the cultural heritage of our State and of its importance to the Italian community. It also acknowledges the significant history associated with POW Camp 13 Murchison.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society


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We are delighted to learn that ROCK ON MURCHISON, our 50th Anniversary celebration of the Fall of the Murchison meteorite in September last year is on the short list for the Victorian Premier’s History Award and Victorian Community History Awards. Winners will be announced during History Month in October.

There have been 176 entries across the nine categories which is the second largest number of entries to the Victorian Community History Awards in 22 years. Our project has been submitted in the Collaborative Community History category and is one of 16 projects on the short list.

We are looking forward with excitement to the naming of the winners! Below is the link to the short list announcement by Royal Historical Society Victoria:

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Murchison & District Historical Society have had an enquiry asking if we could help identify this hotel. The photograph is a family gathering of the Tilson, Blann, Dwyer and Morsesse families.

David Tilson was living in Murchison at the time this photo was taken, but it is not a Murchison hotel. One family member thought it was taken at Rushworth but that has not been confirmed.

Some of the family died in Murchison and are buried in Tatura, and Charles Blann was killed in a mining accident and was buried at Whroo in 1870.

Under the BAR sign is the name ‘Charles’ which is probably the first name of the Licensee.

If you can throw any light at all on this mystery, Linda Dunell would be delighted to hear from you – her mobile number is: 0437 586 321.

Kay Ball, Murchison & District Historical Society

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More About Murchison Meteorite

We can always learn more about Murchison meteorite (Mm), and the many studies completed on Mm over the last 50 years provide the ground work for further research.

In April last year, a Carbonaceous Chondrite meteor, the same rare type as Mm showered down on a little village in Costa Rica (which is south of Mexico and north of Panama and South America). A short film about the incident released recently, connects this event to our Murchison meteorite and gives even more insight to Mm. You will also see a shot of our main street, anniversary stamp, Philipp Heck our guest speaker when we celebrated the 50th anniversary last year and a familiar photo of the Gillick family collection of Mm.

Mrs. Emily Gillick with son Kim looking at Murchison meteorite fragments on the floor of the Murchison Post Office after collecting them in 1969

The following link will show you the film clip.


The material from this fresh meteorite that showered over the village of Aguas Zarcas will provide more samples of carbonaceous chondrite for the scientists to study and build on the volumes of knowledge gained from our own world-famous Murchison meteorite.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society

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