Maffra and District Historical Society

M&DHS operates the Maffra Sugar Beet Museum, part of the Local History Collection at the Maffra Library, and a Dairy Museum at the Robotic Dairy at Winnindoo.

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Location: Victoria, Australia

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gippsland Guardian Fundraising

Wellington Shire Heritage Network Inc is delighted to announce they have received funding of $4,000 from a Wellington Shire Community Grant towards putting the Gippsland Guardian online through Trove from 1855 to 1868.

This is Gippsland's first newspaper - the Gippsland Times is already online from 1861 to 1954, but this takes us six years further back, in a vital time in Gippsland's history, especially for gold discovery. The Guardian was published at Port Albert, but covered as far as Bairnsdale and Omeo, so the importance of this newspaper cannot be overstated.

Maffra and District Historical Society will be lending the other $3,300 needed so that arrangements can begin now, while fundraising takes place.

If you feel you would like to be part of making this vital history available to everyone, donations (no matter how small!) can be forwarded to

The Treasurer, Wellington Shire Heritage Network, C/ Post Office, Briagolong 3860, or check if your local historical society, family history group or kindred organisation is a member, and accepting donations.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Trove Tuesday is when bloggers around Australia post stories pointing to the sorts of things they have found in newspapers on Trove. So here is one from Maffra for today.

At the start of WWI, Maffra had the only sugarbeet industry in the Southern Hemisphere (which is why we have a Sugarbeet Museum). The factory imported seed from Germany each year, and distributed it to the local growers.

The Declaration of War was announced in the Maffra Spectator of 6 August 1914.

Then, in the Maffra Spectator of 10 Aug 1914 apprehension began to rise as to the whereabout of the Lothringen from Germany, carrying the 100 bags of seed for the season's beet crops. Frantic cables were sent to a family member in California, in an attempt to source 75 bags of seed.

In the edition of 17 August, as the paper was being set up, the whereabouts of the ship were still unlcear, although a note was able to be inserted as it went to press that the ship had arrived. As all seed was grown in Germany, Russia and France, thoughts rapidly began to turn to producing local supplies. Elsewhere in the paper was the full story. The ship had steamed in through the heads two days before, with the captain having not heard that war had been declared, as there was no radio equipment aboard. It was promptly seized.

But at least the Beet Seed arrived for that season. Just in time.

A full account of the seizure appears in the Williamstown Advertiser of 22 August, very much in "Boy's Own" terms. An account of the seizure of one of the other ships appears below, HERE. The seized ships (there were at least three) were then formally seized through the Admiralty Court (not a court I had come across before), and sent off to Sydney. By 12 December it had been taken over by Burns, Philp and Co, and was loading cargo for Calcutta.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thinking of Visiting Us?

We really enjoy the visits of most family historians to the Museum, but just sometimes there are those who make us wonder why we are helping them. There is a longer post HERE that gives some pointers how visitors can better enhance their chances of finding material when travelling a distance to access our collection.

Comments are welcome!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Bulletin is out!

The September Bulletin is in the post. Or being hand-delivered around Maffra. Inside are:

The Dennett Family of Maffra - the story, with photographs, of one of our significant early builders and hardware merchants. Undertaker as well.

Trip to Dargo, 1913. The analysis behind this photograph, as Doc Doherty takes a look at motoring history:

We think the women are identified, but only a few of the men so far:
They are possibly a Mrs Bennett (but which one!), Miss Dorothy Humphries, Miss Emmie Linton and Mrs Rebecca Mills.

But there is more - we have a report on new photographs added to the collection, plus two pages of Presbyterian baptisms 1868-1869, plus news and notes.

Copies are $4.00 each, plus 60cents p&p, from P.O. Box 321, Maffra, 3860.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Trucks and Tankers are Coming!

Our new book, Maffra Milk Trucks and Tankers, is almost finished. It is now 70 pages (single-sided), with over 65 of those pages each featuring one truck/tanker photograph from our collection. Our latest discovery (thanks Ross!) is to identify this truck at Willsmere c.1922 as a Daimler. Under very careful examination we can see the fluting on the radiator distinctive of Daimlers - now that we know what we are looking for.

The book is comb-bound in landscape format, and will retail at $24 plus $3.50 package and posting. We will be releasing it during History Week, on Sunday 28 October at the Federation Picnic at the Gippsland Vehicle Collection. Although there just might be a couple of sneaky pre-release functions - such as on 14 October at the Stratford Heritage Farm Day, or on the afternoon of Thursday 26 October at the Maffra Library, when we will be showing old photos - more about that soon.