Category Archives: Uncategorized

A day trip to …Ormond


To be honest, I wasn’t really quite sure where Ormond is. Having now visited it to see Box Cottage, which was open for History Week, I can now tell you that it’s on the Frankston train line.  Ormond station has been rebuilt as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project and looks quite a lot like Rosanna station except that it is below street level and Rosanna is high above it. I guess that there will be a legacy of these concrete and stainless steel stations, with their orange and limegreen geometric ‘decorations’.


North Road Ormond is rather unprepossessing.


We had lunch at Mountains of Bears, and it was excellent. It’s located down a little 1950s arcade with tables outside in the arcade, as well as in the cafe. We had an excellent paella- better than I had in Spain and much closer to home. They took a great deal of care with their coffee art.

We had ventured down to Ormond to visit Box Cottage Museum, which houses the City of Moorabin Historical Society.  The cottage has been reconstructed after falling into disrepair on the adjoining block. Another house had been built in front of it, and so it stayed at the back, used as a shed in what had by 1970 become a timber yard.  The timber yard owner, Mr Lewis suggested that the cottage be dismantled and relocated. It was reconstructed in the adjacent park as part of Victoria’s bicentenary, with timbers donated by Mr Lewis.

The original owners were William and Elizabeth Box, who arrived in Melbourne in 1855. At first they leased market garden allotments before they purchased two ten acre lots on what had been the Dendy Special Survey in 1868 and 1869. The cottage was built sometime in the 1850s.  They were successful market gardeners and raised 13 children in the cottage before building the larger house at the front.  From 1917-1970 it was occupied by the Reitman family who leased and then purchased the houses and land. August Reitman was a monumental mason, potter and sculptor, and was employed to carve war memorials in Victoria after WWI. His business shifted to Highett and the cottage was used as a workshop.

There is also an outside barn area with agricultural and household artefacts, including an original wagon that took vegetables from the market gardens to Melbourne. Because of the sandy road, a sort of tram line was built into the roads to assist the wheels on heavily laden drays.

Box Cottage was open today for History Week, but it generally opens on the last Sunday of the month between February and November between 2.00 and 4.00 p.m.

Infanticide: an interesting article

There’s an interesting article on the Australian Policy and History website today. It’s called “‘How is this not murder?’ Infanticide and the Law in Australian History”, written by Caroline Ingram.

Update: Serenading Adela

The best-laid plans of mice and men….

The full length version of Serenading Adela will not be shown after all, because of technical difficulties. They’ll still be showing the other short film, and the cut-down version of Serenading Adela that had already been released online.…and there will still  be cake.

Serenading Adela: The Film Launch


Update: The full-length film of the performance will not be available for the event. They will still show ‘Against the Odds’ and the shorter version of the film already released online.

You might remember that earlier this year I was involved in the ‘Serenading Adela’ project. It commemorated the night, one hundred years earlier, when women marched up Sydney Rd to Pentridge Prison to ‘serenade’ Adela Pankhurst, who was incarcerated there under the War Precautions Act.  They made a film of our performance, and they’re launching it tomorrow Friday 28th September at the Brunswick Scout Hall, 213a Weston St Brunswick at 2.30 p.m.  As well as the film of the performance, there will be a short feature ”Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in World War I’

Surely that’s better than watching two footy teams that we don’t care about – indeed, may even actively dislike- marching in the city!

See the Facebook event at

Or if you’re boycotting Facebook, here’s the blurb:

Did you love “Serenading Adela, A Street Opera” and want to watch it again? Or were you one of the many who were too late for tickets?

Please join us to launch our new full-length archival video of the Centenary Performance of Serenading Adela, a Street Opera. It’s being edited from footage of four cameras there on the day, by Jeannie Marsh and Bernard Peasley.

In the best matinee tradition, we’ll show a short first: ‘Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in World War I’ tells how diverse groups and individuals collectively defeated conscription and left a lasting legacy for Australia. From the Living Peace Museum, with a Brunswick focus.

We’ll be serving a delicious afternoon tea to follow the film.

FREE ENTRY but donations towards film costs and future projects will be enthusiastically solicited.

The Scout Hall is 213A Weston Street Brunswick. Note as this is the Grand Final Public Holiday, crossing the city by tram may be a challenge – a train to Parliament, then the 96 tram to Miller Street, recommended (or check PTV for updates).

Six Degrees of Separation: From ‘Where Am I Now?’ to ‘Sex and Suffering’

A few of the blogs that I follow join in with the Six Degrees of Separation meme, hosted by Booksaremyfavouriteandbest .  I gather, if I’ve read it correctly, that everyone starts off with the same book. Participants then make mental leaps to name six other books that they’ve reviewed on their blog. [See Sue’s comment below – it doesn’t have to be reviewed on your blog]. This time the meme starts off with Mara Wilson’s Where Am I Now?

Well, I hadn’t even heard of the starting book, or of Mara Wilson. But the little girl on the front looked familiar- and of course! It’s Matilda!

Her surname is Wilson, and she shares it with Rohan Wilson whose book The Roving Party fictionalizes John Batman, the putative founder of Melbourne as he bashes his way through the Van Diemen’s Land bush to ‘conciliate’ the remnants of the Plindermairhemener people in 1829.

A non-fictional approach to that same John Batman (and yes, that really is his name) is taken in Bain Attwood’s Possession, which closely examines Batman’s ‘treaty’ with the indigenous people of Port Phillip, and the uses to which the Batman/Fawkner ‘discovery’ story has been put in Melbourne historiography.

A more famous book called Possession, written by A. S. Byatt won the Booker Prize in 1990.  I’ve read it, of course, but that was before I started writing this blog. Hilary Mantel was one of the judges and so naturally we mentally leap to Bring up the Bodies, her not-yet-completed trilogy about Thomas Cromwell.

The topic of bodies is linked to death, but death seems to evade the old colonel in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch, as he wanders his decrepit palace, wanting to die but somehow waking up again the next morning to start all over again.

Two other patriarchs, on different sides of the American ideological chasm over abortion in present-day America are found in Joyce Carol Oates’ A Book of American Martyrs.  Dr Gus Voorhees is shot for his pro-choice activities, and Luther Dunphy, an evangelical Christian, is the man who shot him.

The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne delivered babies, but it also tried to save the lives of women whose abortions had been botched or incomplete. Janet McCalman’s Sex and Suffering is a history of the hospital, from its earliest days in Melbourne.

What an odd place to finish up! That was rather fun.

Movie: Mary Shelley

It’s the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and so there’s been quite a bit about both the book and its author around this year.  This film, directed by Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour looks at Mary Shelley as daughter, sister and partner as well as writer. I liked the way that it emphasized the importance of Shelley’s impoverished father William Godwin and mother Mary Wollstonecraft as intellectuals, although their radicalism was downplayed. The film finishes on rather a high note with the publication of the second edition, although it could have extended even further where the loss and poverty of Shelley’s life became even more tragic.  However, while mentally cheering inside, I don’t know that I actually buy the suggestion that the book was written as Shelley’s jab at the two monstrous men in her life, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron (who is particularly creepy in the this film.) Elle Fanning is luminous, and it’s beautifully staged.

My rating: 3.5 stars (of 5)

The Statement from the Heart

The Garma festival, held each year in Arnhem Land, took place last week. In its own words,

Garma attracts an exclusive gathering of 2,500 political and business leaders from across the globe. YYF is committed to improving the state of Indigenous disadvantage by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.

This year the theme was “Truth Telling”.  A number of speakers made reference to the ‘Uluru Statement’, a beautifully written, important report from the Referendum Council, which had been appointed by the government and comprising indigenous and non-indigenous representatives. You can read the Final Report of the Referendum Council here. Even if you don’t read the whole report, read the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

It was delivered to government in May 2018 and almost immediately quashed.  The speed and apparent finality of its dismissal by the government was damning. The Great Australian Silence descends again.

But there’s talk. Noel Pearson  spoke. And Richard Flanagan wrote.  Read it.