HM Ship Minerva circa 1804

HISTORY OF THE FIRST PETER MC CANN Note: Mc means the “son of”

Unfortunately in 1922 during the Irish Civil war, the majority of Irish State, domestic and ecclesiastical records were destroyed when the IRA burnt down Custom House and irreplaceable historical records were lost. The following stories have been supplied by the Mc Cann Family from family histories traced by past members of the family, and the amazing book compiled by Peter Mc Cann, grandson of the first Peter Mc Cann who was transported to Australia as a convict

Peter McCann, was born circa 1769 in County Monaghan which is part of the historical province of Ulster, now known as Eire or the Republic of Ireland, His parentage is unknown. At about the age of 29, he was a Catholic labourer, and charges were brought against him by a Mr. Irvin for robbery at Monaghan, Ireland. He was convicted in April 1798 and was sentenced to transportation for a term of seven years.

At that time a rebellion – “The Rising”, one of the most concentrated episodes of violence in Irish history had resulted in a death toll of 30,000. Hundreds of men convicted of rebellion were sentenced to transportation or to death. The ships “Minerva” and “Friendship” transported the rebels to NSW. Prisoners were taken from the Geneva Barracks in Duncannon, County Wexford, and from Dublin to Cork.

PETER Mc CANN, AND MARY FITZGERALD is our first story in the Mc Cann history in Australia

Mary Fitzgerald was born circa 1787 at Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. She was convicted in 1801 at Waterford, Ireland, and transported on the Ship “Atlas”, on 29th November, 1801, to NSW. She was sentenced to seven years transportation and sailed with her Mother/Sister Ellen Fitzgerald. They arrived in Sydney NSW on 7th July 1802

On 9th January 1804, Peter McCann and Mary Fitzgerald were married at St. Johns Church of England, Parramatta. Peter and Mary had two children, Nicholas born on 28th November 1803 and Catherine born on 1st July 1805.

Peter McCann rented and farmed land at Cornwallis Farm, Windsor. According to the 1806 “Muster” (Census), Peter and Mary lived there with their two children, Nicholas and Catherine. Their Grandson Peter McCann was born in 1828 and died in 1908. Peter recorded his father’s description of his grandmother Mary as his “beau-ideal of a wife and mother, a frugal and industrial wife and an affectionate mother brought up to farm life.”

The First part of the story, written by Peter McCann Grandson of the first Peter Mc Cann, to record the McCann Family history, begins with the first Peter Mc Cann, and his son Nicholas. Grandson Peter described his grandfather “as a man of splendid physique, six feet three inches in height, stout in proportion, and weighed 16 stone.

Also related in his history book, The “Governor, evidently realized that he had in him the makings of a good colonist; as he selected him along with others, to till and work a large area of land, Under the “bounty system” then existing, he was provided with implements, provisions, seed and cattle until such time as he could make the land yield a return.”

The book goes on to say that because Mary was brought up to farm life, and Peter being a man possessed of great physical strength, activity and a great capacity for industry, together with the high prices they obtained for their produce they quickly began to prosper in life.

Life as they knew it then, was short lived. On 21st October, 1806 Peter at the age of 37 free by servitude accidentally drowned in Rickerby’s Creek, near Windsor in a Hawkesbury River flood.

At the time of Peter’s death, Mary was 19 with two young children and not surprising in a land with an overwhelming imbalance between males and females, Mary remarried on 2nd November 1807, to a farm neighbour James Neill, who had been transported to Sydney on the Marquis Cornwallis in 1795. Mary gave birth to two children with James Neill. James died in 1811 at the age of 40. Mary married a third time in 1813 to John Hill, with whom she had two more children.

Mary’s Mother, Eleanor Fitzgerald married John Norris. John Norris was a convict, a stone mason and brick layer and was a native of Birmingham. He was also Peter McCann’s closest friend. He had opened a Monumental and Builders yard on the Main road between Parramatta and Sydney, and he was the Godfather to Peter and Mary’s son, Nicholas McCann. John Norris was a great influence on young Nicholas.

As recorded in the McCann book that John Norris seems to have been “a splendid tradesman, sober, industrious and meticulous. He seems to have had a great capacity to make money, and at the same time to take care of it.” He married late in life to an older lady of his own age, and did not have any family of his own. It was said that this was probably because his chief object in life was to make a man of young Nicholas.

Continued in Part 2

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Mousley Family of Geelong, Bambra and Anglesea

Joseph Mousley was born in Staffordshire, England in 1811 the son of Thomas Mousley (1772-1832) and Elizabeth Allsop (1779-1830).  In 1835 he was convicted in Staffordshire of sheep stealing and sentenced to life with transportation to Tasmania.  Joseph a plowman was 23 years old.  He left London aboard the Lord Lyndoch in April 1936 bound for Hobart arriving in August.   He received a ticket of leave due to good conduct “having been convicted of only two minor offences during the ten years he has been in the colony.”  In 1849 he married Ann Hebuirn (1826-1909) the daughter of Thomas Hebuirn (1800–1879) and Elizabeth Emptage (1802–1854) in New Norfolk, Tasmania where their first child William (1847–1849) was born.  By 1848 they were living in Chilwell, Geelong where 5 more children were born; Joseph (1848-1849), Thomas (1850-1858), Anne (1852-1917), Joseph (1855-1921) and Harriet (1857–1907).  By 1860 they were living at Bambra where Joseph established a farm and a further 4 children were born; William Henry (1860-1945) Mary (1862–1945), Albert (1864–1833) and Elijah (1868–1927).  The Hebuirn family also moved from Tasmania to Chilwell and Joseph and Thomas carted water to the residents of Chilwell before he moved to Bambra.

Joseph died in 1899 at his residency in Chilwell aged 88 years and is buried in the Eastern Cemetery.  In his will he appointed his son Joseph and William Wallace, nurseryman of Newtown as trustees of his estate that comprised a farm at Bambra and two properties in Chilwell.  He left his savings to his wife Ann and an annual income of £20 to be established.  The Clover Hill farm at Bambra of 94 acres and stock he left to his son Joseph.  The residual of the estate was to be sold and divided amongst his other living children; Ann (Mrs Bennett), Harriet (Mrs Armistead) William Henry, Mary (Mrs Armistead), Albert and Elijah.

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Born in 1928 in Geelong (or Deadsville as he called it), Owen moved to Torquay in 1940. He was one of the first members of the Torquay Surf Lifesaving Club (founded in 1946. Yatey joined the Surf Club in 1947, and gained a reputation as a legend on 17 foot surf skis. With Vic Tantau, he was one of the first to surf Bells beach in the late 40’s. He was a legend of the surf, winning medals in competition and skied with Brian Beck in the Double Ski competition.

A man of the sea, he became a Cray fisherman in 1956 and was known to catch waves at Bells in his boat for the amusement of himself and locals. He was well known for rescuing many boats that floundered in bad weather off Fisherman’s Beach and towing them to safety.

The stories of his colourful antics are legendary and include surfing a double ski and competing in surfing competitions. He would take surfing legend Peter Troy to Bells in his motorcycle sidecar on the old disused Cobb & Co coach track and watch him ride the waves on his rubber Surf-o-Plane. He was a long time member of the “D’s Club, (Drinkers Club of the 1960’s) an offshoot of the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, which Owen was a long time and foundation member. The D’s club began in 1960, and a lot of time was spent at “Boot Hill” off Darien Road, where the boys of Boot Hill enjoyed an ale and a lot of fun. In the beginning the D’s were not actually recognised by the Surf Club, however as time went on and the membership grew both of the Club and the “D’s, the D’s became well known and were instrumental in many fund raising pursuits.

He was equally passionate about music and played the trombone. His first band was called the Sand Dune Savages but later played in the better-known Big Fat Brarse. By all accounts “Yatie” lived life to the full and his gigs were known to reflect his love of life.

Ever youthful and professing he didn’t start growing up until he was 50, the age when he had his first heart attack, Owen married three times and fathered six daughters, five with his first wife Trish, and one with his second wife.

A true local identity, a founder of Bells and a stalwart of the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, and the “D’s” Club, Owen’s legacy lives on.

Owen receives his award from the Torquay Surf Life Savings Club

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Arthur William Simmons married Rebecca Hunter in 1877. As farmers they owned and ran properties at Freshwater Creek and Waurn Ponds (now Deakin University).

Their son Thomas married Cecelia Lemin in 1914 and had two sons – Arthur and Alan. They lived at the Freshwater Creek farm. Thomas died in 1921, aged 39 from septicemia after a sheep stood on his toe.  Cecelia then married William Cunningham. They continued to farm at Freshwater Creek. The boys rode their horses to school.

Arthur met Phyllis Mousley at the local dances and used to ride his Raleigh motorcycle to get petrol from the Anglesea General Store, Post Office and Tea Rooms in the hope of seeing Phyllis. It was run by her family since opening in 1917. Her father Reuben had served in Gallipoli inWW1 (His ashes, with his first wife May, are buried in the cemetery).

The Mousleys had settled in the area after Reuben’s grandfather Joseph, who had been transported to Hobart Town in 1836 to serve a life sentence for sheep stealing, was pardoned and moved to Geelong in 1848. He married and had 10 children, one of whom was Rueben’s father William.

Arthur and Phyllis married in 1938 and bought land at Anglesea for £8 in 1941. Their house was built from recycled materials due to war time scarcities. Phyllis continued to help the family business, manning the switchboard during the Black Friday bushfires of 1939. Arthur worked for the Forestry Commission while Phyllis and the children worked their land in Anglesea (now the industrial estate). Phyllis died in 2000 and Arthur passed away just before his 98th birthday in 2014.

Arthur served on the Bellbrae Cemetery Trust from 1960 until his death in 2014 and is buried in this cemetery.

Arthur William Simmons
Arthur William Simmons

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Several years ago, our Society had the privilege of interviewing Alva Barrow, A Torquay resident whose family have lived in our area since settling in Grovedale in 1854. Alva’s story started with her Great Great Grandparents John (Johan and Dorothea Schmidt) who settled in Grovedale in 1854. They had six children. Alva’s Great Grandfather, Johan Gottleib, was their fourth child. They first settled in Grovedale which was then called German Town, and Johan was naturalized as an Australian in 1861.

Johan Gottleib Schmidt was born in Zilluchow Prussia in 1838 and died in Australia in 1888. His wife Johana Louisa Paulina Leibhardt was born in Pommerzig Prussia in 1844 and died in Torquay in 1921.

Johan arrived in Australia at Point Henry with his parents John and Dorothea Schmidt on the Williamsburg in 1853. Johana arrived in Australia in 1854. Johan Gottleib Schmidt and Johanna Louisa Paulina Leibhardt were married in Belmont in 1865. The couple settled in Freshwater Creek where they raised their family of twelve children.

JOHAN GEORGE AUGUST SCHMIDT was the fifth born child to Johan and Dorothea Schmidt, and was born in 1874 at Freshwater Creek. He was raised on the family farm at Freshwater Creek where his parents died in 1958.

Johan George August Schmidt was Alva’s grandfather. Having settled in Freshwater Creek, the family lived in a mud and bark hut and drew water from the creek. He was educated at the local Freshwater Creek school and his parents Johan and Johanna Schmidt were on the school committee. They were also founders of St. David’s Lutheran Church at Freshwater Creek.

Their son Johan George Schmidt known as Jack Smith worked as a groom for Morrie Jacobs driving him about in his jinker. It is believed that this is when he met his future wife, Violet Mary Frances Cameron. Violet was born in 1886 and died in 1927. Johan (Jack) and violet were married at Belmont in 1900 and began their married live by building a cottage about one mile from Torquay. They called it Grass Tree Cottage.

Grass Tree Cottage

Grass Tree Cottage was built on what is now the Corner of Combs Road and the main road to Geelong (now Surf Coast Highway). It was opposite to a water hole where travelers and the coaches stopped to water their horses. Violet used to sell the travelers cool drinks.

Jack and Violet’s first child, Ina was born in Grass Tree Cottage. The White family had bought the cottage and used it for their farm workers when Jack and Violet moved into Torquay. It later passed to the Mc Cann family when the White Estate was sold after Alfred G. White’s death in 1952.

In 1950 the Polworth family moved into Grass Tree Cottage with their seven children. It had no power and water and cost the family one pound a week, payable yearly. One year Tom Polwarth went to pay the rent and Mr. Mc Cann gave it back to him. Tom had made improvements to the cottage by adding a water tank that supplied water to the bathroom and kitchen Power was connected to the cottage in approximately 1956. After the Polworth family moved the cottage continued to be rented until it was demolished in 1992 to make way for the duplication of the Geelong Road, now known as the Surf Coast Highway. Alva’s family always referred to Grass Tree Cottage, as the house that Jack built.

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FELIX & FLORENCE ROSSER – Felix (1854-1919) Florence (1871-1928)

Felix Rosser was the son of British convicts, Isabella and Frederick, who were transported to Hobart in the 1840s. They married in Hobart after receiving their “free certificate”, then moved to Victoria, settling in Geelong where Felix was born in 1852. He had two siblings, William and John. Felix married Florence Klemke in 1889 and they had six children: Alice, Myrtle, Arthur, Victor, Harold and Joseph.

Felix is known for being the first person to sight the floundering ship, the Joseph H. Scammell, on the night of 7 May 1891.  He saw the red and green lights of a ship approaching Point Danger when checking his cray pots. He attempted to row his boat toward the ship, but due to the wild seas was unable to reach it. Felix and two mates lit a fire on the front beach to let the ship’s captain know help was coming and dispatched a rider to Geelong. After two attempts, he was still unable to reach the stricken ship. He tried again at dawn after noticing a life boat drop from the ship with three men in it.  He managed to navigate them to Zeally Bay and then he went back and saved the Captain, his wife, his daughter Hattie with her Persian cat, and the Stewardess. Eventually all on board were saved.

The Rosser Family were among the earliest settlers in Torquay, and Florence was active in community affairs. In 1896 Florence joined the lobby petitioning for a school for the Torquay children. In 1900 the school was housed in the Torquay Improvement Association, a local hall and then the Church Hall. Finally, in 1910 the Torquay Primary School building was constructed in Bristol Road.  Florence was on the first Committee. Her children were among the first to attend the new school.

Two sons, Harold and Victor, enlisted for service in the AIF during World War 1. Victor was discharged on medical grounds, but Harold was killed in France in 1918. Florence grieved his loss for the remainder of her life.  Felix went missing in the bush in late July 1919. Sadly, his body was found on August 9th, 1919. Known for his acts of bravery, fishing skills and his resourcefulness he was a true character in Torquay history, Felix Crescent is named after him.

(Our thanks go to Richard Greenhough for his assistance in compiling the History of Felix and Florence Rosser)

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Rosser Family Felix and Florence, Alice, Myrtle, Arthur, Victor, Harold and Joseph.
Harold Rosser, killed in Action WW1
L to R Mr. Essington, A Edmond,(head) William Killed In Action WW1 Rice, Leslie Austin, Mrs. Jack Smith, Mrs. Felix Rosser
Florence lobbied for a School to be built in Torquay and finally the School was built and opened in June 1910

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GROSSMAN FAMILY – Bellbrae Pioneers

The Grossman Family were early pioneers of the Bellbrae area around 1865 when Albert Frederick and wife Anna Louise (Louisa) Grossman (nee Einsporn) migrated to Australia with thirteen children. They joined many German and Prussian families who settled in Bellbrae, Freshwater Creek and Grovedale.

Albert Grossman died in 1902 and his wife Louisa in 1940. They are buried in Freshwater Creek Cemetery.

Conrad Grossman (1902-1992) was the youngest child of Albert and Louisa. He attended the Bellbrae (then called Jan Juc) Primary school from 1908 to 1914.

Conrad first married Pearl Dryburgh—a local girl who also attended Bellbrae Primary School. Pearl was the granddaughter of George Hunter, another early pioneer of the district. Conrad and Pearl had 2 children, Jean and Keith. Conrad’s second wife was Rita Gwendoline who died in 1985 aged 74.

The Grossman family first lived at a property on Spring Creek which they called Kithbrook. They also lived for a short while on Tara on the Jan Juc Creek, before returning to their property at Bellbrae. Conrad purchased land previously owned by the Ashmore family on what is now called Grossmans Road in Bellbrae. The Grossman family was engaged in share-farming, wood cutting, wood carting and chaff cutting.

In addition, they supplied milk to Torquay and surrounding areas from their Bellbrae farm. In 1948 Conrad Grossman built and operated the dairy on the corner of Pearl Street and Boston Road Torquay, and son Keith delivered milk to the towns people of Torquay.

Although the dairy was sold in 1952, Keith Grossman continued to deliver the town’s milk for the new owners. He also went on to farm land on Grossmans Road. Conrad’s daughter, Jean, married into another German pioneering family, becoming Jean Seiffert.

Louisa Grossman nee Einsporn
Conrad Grossman

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GANLEY Margaret

It is with sad hearts that we acknowledge the passing of our friend and contributor to The Torquay and District Historical Society. Margaret Ganley and her family have been involved with the preservation of Torquay’s history for many years,  and we have been privileged to hold many of their family’s historic photos, to remind us of her proud history and that of our wonderful town as far back as to the late 1800’s and the beginning of the 20th century.  Margaret was the grand daughter of William Pride, who was an early visitor and one of the first to settle in Torquay. He was a  foundation member of the Torquay Improvement Association and purchased the Joseph H Scammell when it floundered on Point Danger in 1891 Our condolences to Carleen and Margaret’s family, she is and will be sadly missed and always remembered. A beautiful lady with a magic smile. Torquay and District Historical Society

Pride family history

On May the 7th 1891 the ship Joseph H. Scammell during a wild storm went onto the rocks at Point Danger, 400 yards from the shore and about half a mile from the Torquay Coffee Palace (Follett’s) (Now the Torquay Hotel).  There she became stuck.

Local fisherman Felix Rosser was inspecting his crayfish pots at around 11pm, on that night and saw the red and green lights of a ship approaching in close, and then, torches flashing from on deck.  The storm was so severe he could do nothing. A rider was sent to Geelong to raise the alarm and he rowed out to the Scammell to let them know that they would be rescued in the morning.  The Customs officers, and constabulary arrived the next morning and all were rescued.  The deck house broke away when the Scammell broke up, and floated to shore. Mr. Pride paid Forty pounds for the deck house and transported it to The Esplanade where he extended it and it became the Holiday Home of the Pride Family. The Pride Family still own the house located in Pride Street, which in 1891 was the rear of  the house on the Esplanade and at the writing of this post it has been the home of Margaret for all of  her life.  8th January, 2020.

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John Calvert Bell

JOHN CALVERT BELL, was born in 1861 at Leigh in Victoria, His father James Bell was born on 21st August 1829 in Dornock, Dumfries Shire in Scotland, and his Mother Mary Singer Bell was born in 1837 at an Indian Military hill station, Midnapore near Calcutta. Her father was Alexander Stewart Singer who had served with the East India Company.

JAMES had followed his older brother John Bell to Australia who had followed the lure of gold. John Bell had done very well and had settled in New South Wales. Mary, after the death of her parents had come to Australia to join her brother who had arrived earlier with John Mc Arthur. Mary and James met on the journey here and were married at Christ Church, South Yarra soon after their arrival. They had three children, John Calvert Bell, Alexander Singer Bell (born 1863) and Clara Johnstone Bell (born 1866). James Bell died in 1887 and is buried in the family plot at the East Geelong Cemetery. His wife Mary lived on for another 46 years and spent her final years in Malvern.

JOHN CALVERT BELL spent his childhood at Teesdale and his wife Frances Ellen Wilson also grew up around Teesdale. Their fathers were prominent members of the community and came from strong pioneering first generation Australian families, both were well educated. John Calvert Bell was brought up at “ The Leigh” in Inverleigh and spent time on other family properties in Victoria and New South Wales. He was educated at Geelong College. Frances (known as Fanny,) was the daughter of Charles Anthony Corbett Wilson and Maria Powell and was born on 26th September 1863.

DURING THEIR EARLY MARRIED life John and Frances moved several times.
Their first child CLARA IRENE STEWART BELL was born in Geelong on 7th September, 1886, NAOMIE FRANCES WOOLBROOK BELL was born at Woolbrook, Inverleigh in 1887. In 1889 the family resided at “Retreat” Bambra, near Deans Marsh, where HONOUR CALVERT BELL was born on 24th December 1889.

In 1891 J.C. Bell purchased Calder Park Estate, which his brother Alexander had been leasing. His first son HAROLD GEORGE BELL was born there in 1891. MARY KATHLEEN (“ GILRLIE) BELL was born at Calder Park in 1893, and another son JOHN WILSON BELL was born at Calder Park in 1896 but was to die after 10 days and is buried at Mount Duneed. The older girls were sent as boarders to Loreto Abbey, Ballarat, a Catholic convent school and Girlie followed later. Sonny (Harold) attended Knowle House, Central College, Geelong.

By 1900, Frances was suffering ill health and died on 17th September 1901, leaving J.C. Bell a widower with five children, the eldest just fourteen years old, and Mary Kathleen (“Girlie”) the youngest at 7. At this time J.C. Bell moved his family to “Addiscot” near Jan Juc (now Bellbrae) The property came with 700 acres of the coastal reserve. John Calvert Bell renovated extensively and worked to improve the land, felling the ironbark trees and fencing large areas.
In 1908 John Calvert Bell married Irene Agatha Wilson, the sister of his late wife. Irene had been living at “Addiscot” helping him care for the children after the death of Frances. CLARA Irene Stewart Bell, heavily influenced by the nuns of  Loreto and Mother Gonzaga Barry, and soon after leaving school entered the convent and became a Loretto sister. NAOMI travelled widely with her cousins, ultimately marrying a sea Captain Edward Charles O’Byrne and settled in Dublin.
Naomi died while he was away on one of his voyages and was buried in
Dublin in December 1920.

HONOUR Calvert Otway Bell , after boarding school, like her sister entered the convent in 1918. Honour died in hospital in Ballarat in December 1967. HAROLD GEORGE BELL followed in his Father’s footsteps onto the land visiting large pastoral holdings in Western Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. He was the manager of Morronga Station in the Riverina area when he enlisted in the Australian Infantry forces at the outbreak of War in 1914. He left Australia with the 11th Field Artillery and was killed near Ypres in Belgium in the Battle of Menin Gate in October 1917.

Girlie (Mary Kathleen) remained at Addiscot and cared for her father who died in 1937. Girlie lived  the remainder of her life in a small shack at Addiscot and later in a cottage at Bellbrae. She lived mostly as a recluse, but was well known in the area. She died in 1978.

Bell Family

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On 17th December, 2019 we celebrate the 100 years anniversary of the first flight across Bass Strait from Tasmania to Victoria, achieved by Arthur Leonard Long.

Monument to Arthur Leonard Long

How many times have you walked past this structure on Torquay’s foreshore. But do you realise that it recognises a very significant moment in the history of Australian aviation?

When we jump on a jet to make a quick trip to Tassie in around the hour, it is sobering to reflect on the fact that it is just under 100 years since the first aeroplane flight from the Apple Isle to Oz, and touchdown was irrevocably on Torquay soil.

The story of the journey is just one chapter in the remarkable life story of the pilot Arthur Leonard Long, a WW1 veteran who was born in 1896 in southern Tasmania. He served for 3 years in the AIF in France and Egypt before joining the Australian Flying Corps to fly many precariously low bombing missions over France and Belgium, even sustaining a shrapnel wound in his leg from his own bomb!

After the war, Arthur purchased surplus aero engines from the RAF, had his own plane built by Boulton and Paul in Norwich, and had it shipped home to Tasmania where he thrilled the locals with aerobatic displays, pioneered aerial photography and commenced the first passenger flights between Hobart and Launceston, one passenger at a time! He also delivered newspapers to remote parts of Tasmania, but the lack of space in his little plane seriously hampered his capacity to grow his novel business. He even survived a mishap in the Tasmanian high country that required him and his mechanic to put the plane back together in Launceston.

By late 1919, a distant horizon beckoned for 23 years old Arthur L Long. He was dreaming of flying to Melbourne, and he was challenged by news that a Victorian pilot was preparing for a Bass Strait crossing! But there were a few clouds on Arthur’s horizon. His trusty kite, made of fabric over a wooden frame, only about 18 feet long with a wingspan of 24 feet was not the most robust of vehicles, and most critically could not carry sufficient petrol and lubricating oil for the anticipated journey.

Not to be deterred, Arthur had an improvised petrol tank fitted, beside the pilot, in the front seat, with a hand pump to top up the main tank along the way! Also, an extra oil container was fitted in the cockpit that could be tapped by a rope operated by the pilot. These innovations however meant that there was no room for the mechanic, so Arthur had to wing it alone and he set out from Launceston for Stanley, the closest spot to Victoria and waited there for more favourable weather.

The intrepid Arthur took off from Highfield in the early hours of 17 December 1919 flying at about 500 feet due to a heavy wind and clouds. He did not see land for nearly 3 hours and about halfway across the strait, the rope connected to the oil reservoir broke and things looked grim, so the sight of land at Torquay was a godsend. Arthur landed “in a small field about a mile southwest of the township” and with the engine still running, he managed to get the spare oil into the sump, jumped aboard and took off without delay eventually to land at Careys Aerodrome, Port Melbourne, 4 hours and 10 minutes after leaving Stanley. His average speed was about 112kph.

Torquay’s role in this momentous event may have been fleeting and accidental, but it is nevertheless inscribed indelibly in the annals of Australian aviation history. So much so that in 1926, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, at the instigation of Mr. W Russell Grimwade, decided to erect a memorial at Torquay “ mark the notable achievement..” As it was deemed impractical to erect a memorial at the actual landing site, the trustees of the Torquay Public Reserve were approached to allow it on the Torquay foreshore where is stands today. The memorial was constructed by Messrs. J C Taylor and Sons of Geelong. There was an unveiling ceremony in November 1926 in the presence of an assemblage of residents and some visitors from Melbourne and Geelong” which included Arthur Long himself, who by then had forsaken aviation for arguably the less hazardous enterprise of stockbroking,

At the gathering, Mr Chas. Daley the Hon. Sec. of the ROYAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF VICTORIA (HSV) referred to “….the growing sense in the community for honouring the pioneers of settlement and enterprise, and of the desirability, in a country devoid of those objects and historic associations which through centuries in older lands have so deeply impressed the memory and preserved traditions , of leaving visible records of great deeds and notable men.” May we ponder his words as we pass by this monument recording an incredible deed by an exceptional man.

(The author is indebted to RHSV and ABC Tasmania publications in the preparation of this article) Compiled by Frank Vagg
Arthur Long’s Boulton Paul Biplane
Arthur Leonard Long

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