An Illumination

Melbourne University has been running a fascinating exhibition on the history of illuminated manuscripts and it is now in its final weeks. As part of the exhibition the university has also been running lectures and workshops and I was lucky enough to attend one on parchment.

Both this talk and the exhibition itself gave me a fascinating insight into the world of illuminated texts. If you are in Melbourne it is absolutely worth a visit and will be running until the 15th of November.

The books in this particular exhibition are in the codex form. This form began in the the 1st century CE and by the 4th century had mainly replaced the papyrus scroll. Codexes are usually made from parchment, a fascinating material in and of itself. Parchment was made from the skin of animals, usually goats, lambs or calves although there were exceptions.

Parchment replaced papyrus for a number of reasons, one of the main ones was that production of parchment could be decentralised. It could be done anywhere where there were animals, whereas papyrus could only be made in a handful of places, such as Alexandria, where the materials were available. Parchment can also be wiped clean and re-used. Parchment was the mainstay of the codex also because it is really durable. Unless it gets wet parchment will last for centuries. Which is why many illuminated manuscripts survive today, despite the fact that they are hundreds of years old. Which is not something that can be said for even reasonably modern paper.

Codexes were not made up of one animal skin. Multiple animals were used and it is possible for researchers to discover an amazing amount from the skins in an individual codex. Everything from how many animals were used, to what type of animals, the age of the animals, the health of the animals, the tools used to do the work and even the region the codex was made in.

Parchment was made by first treating the skin of the animal with lime to remove blood, dung and organic material and to loosen the fat. The skin was then stretched over a wooden frame, kept under tension and scraped repeatedly with a curved blade as it dried to create a smooth writing surface. Finally it was treated with chalk to remove any excess oils and fats.

There were two more key processes to the creation of an illuminated book. The writing and the illumination itself. The text was written in iron gall ink, usually, a fascinating substance that was made with the galls created by one type of wasp on oak trees. This ink was responsible for pretty much all recorded western history for 1400 years. The fascinating video from the BBC below explains where these galls come from and how they were used.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p033dbrb/player

Aside from the text the other important part of these codexes is the illumination. The word comes from the latin illuminare and refers to the glow that comes from the decorations, especially the gold leaf.The tools and processes for illumination are actually quite similar to the process and tools for creating icons, something which I’ve written about before.

The illuminations were begun by drawing the outline with lead or ink, then the areas for the gold were painted with bole, a red clay, or with gum, then the gold leaf was applied to the surface and burnished. Finally other colours were added. The colours were made from a wide range of materials for example lapis lazuli for blue and madder for a reddish colour. The lapis lazuli largely came from Afghanistan and was highly prized. The materials were ground up and mixed with a binding material like egg white to give it viscosity and make it stick to the page.

Examples of some of the materials and tools can be seen below.

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The works created using these methods are stunningly beautiful.

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A leaf probably from part of a choir book, the illumination has been attributed to Joannes Zmilely de Pisek

Prague c. 1500

The exhibition holds a variety of codexes which cover the different purposes for which they were used. The use for codexes was largely religious in nature, not always but mostly, and this is what is represented in the the exhibition.

The codex has been part of church life for centuries, used both by clergy and parishioners. It wasn’t until around the 11th century though that codexes for specific services came together.  Around the 11th century the different texts used by the priest during Mass were compiled into the Missal.  An example of which can be seen below.

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Missal, Use of Rome

Catalonia Spain c. 1450

The other codex that came into being at a similar time is the Breviary. This codex held a compilation of the texts for the Divine Office. An example can be seen below

Breviary

Breviary, Use of Rome.

Associate of the Jouvenel Master (illuminator)

Bourges France 1460-1470

Codexes were not only for the use of clergy. Books for private devotion were also reasonably common. One of the earlier examples is the Psalter. As Psalter is one of the books of the Bible produced as an independent manuscript. It contains 150 songs of praise, thanksgiving and petitions to God and was used for private prayer. It wasn’t uncommon for Psalters to be personalised, with heraldry and often references to their owners. They were to an extent symbols of status. They also were often signposted with illuminations to allow the user to follow along, so to speak, with public worship. A leaf from a Psalter can be seen below.

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Leaf from a Choir Psalter (King David in Prayer)

Italy or Spain c. 1430

In the late 13th century a new type of personal prayer book began to become more popular than the Psalter. The Book of Hours was made up of devotions based on the Offices of the Breviary primarily the Hours of the Virgin. While the content of the Book of Hours varied according to the preference of the owner the Book of Hours commonly contained, along with the Hours of the Virgin, some of: the Office of the Dead, the Hours of the Cross, the Seven Penitential Psalms, the Litany of the Saints, short excerpts from the four Gospels, and prayers for particular saints. The Book of Hours usually opened with a calendar of the feasts of the Church year. Like the Psalter the Book of Hours was a status symbol and was thus richly illuminated and often contained references to their owners.  An example can be see below

Book of Hours

The Mildmay Master (Illuminator)

Book of Hours, Use of Rome.

Bruges, Southern Netherlands, c. 1460s

The centrepiece of the exhibition is the Rothschild Prayer Book. The Rothschild was created primarily in Ghent, but some pages were probably created by other artists in other Flemish centres and inserted into the manuscript in the main workshop in Ghent. As such it is a beautiful example of a coordinated undertaking from the hands of several masters. It dates to c.1505-1510 and is the culmination of centuries of development of the Book of Hours. Unfortunately it was the one thing I was not allowed to photograph. But the digital copy below can at least give an approximation of this work of art.

Rothschild

This by no means covers the entirety of the exhibit, but I hope it has given a taste of the truly beautiful books displayed there and the complex and intriguing world of the illuminated manuscript.

Reference: Visit to the exhibition and talk on parchment by Libby Melzer and Grace Pundyk.

For more information on the exhibition

https://events.unimelb.edu.au/illumination

Churches of Melbourne: St Joseph’s

Having lived in and around Melbourne for many years I’ve noticed that Melbourne has some truly beautiful churches and that individual areas seem to have common qualities when it comes to their churches. So I thought it might be interesting to have a look at a few. I wanted to begin with St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Orrong Road in Elsternwick because this was where my grandparents were married in 1944.

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My grandparents are, obviously, in the middle of the photo and my great grandmother is on the left.

St Joseph’s was founded in November 1897.

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The first priest of St Joseph’s was Rev. Fr Carey, but he was Dean of St Mary’s Church in West Melbourne rather than a priest for St Joseph’s alone.The second priest was Rev Fr. Gough, he was the parish priest for St James’ Church in North road to which St Joseph’s was attached to at the time.

The first priest of the combined parishes of St Joseph’s and Holy Angels was Rev. Fr.  John Barry.[2]Barry was born in Cork in 1875 the eldest of ten children. He arrived in Australia shortly after his ordination in 1899. He was a parish priest in Mansfield before St Joseph’s and after his time at St Joseph’s he went on to be an administrator of St Patrick’s Cathedral and was appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Melbourne by Archbishop Carr of Melbourne. Archbishop Carr died shortly after this appointment, but it was confirmed by Archbishop Mannix and Barry was in charge of the Archdiocese of Melbourne during Mannix’s absence overseas in 1920. In 1924 Barry was appointed Archbishop of Goulburn and was immensely influential in establishing catholic institutions in Canberra. He died in 1938 and his obituary described him as “Always practical and with his skilled fingers forever on the spiritual pulse of his Diocese”. [3]

He can be seen in the photo below second from the left.

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Barry’s boss while he was administrator of the Melbourne Archdiocese was Archbishop Daniel Mannix, a towering figure in Melbourne history. Another Irishman from Cork, he was born in 1864 and was Archbishop from 1917 until his death in 1963. The magnificent St Patrick’s Cathedral was the heart of the diocese. IMG_9694IMG_9693

Archbishop Mannix’s statue can be seen outside the Cathedral. I will probably write more about Mannix at a later date, but for more information now see http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mannix-daniel-7478

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Mannix also solemnly blessed St Joseph’s in 1918 and a stone was laid in the church to commemorate the occasion.

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Rev. Fr. John Collins was priest when St Joseph’s was blessed, but he was still priest of a combined parish. The first priest appointed parish priest of St Joseph’s alone was Rev. Father Michael Dolan who died in 1936 aged 69. He was the first Melbourne priest to be ordained in St Patrick’s College in Manly, the primary Australian Catholic Seminary founded in 1889, in 1895.[4]

The clergyman at St Joseph’s at the time of my grandparent’s marriage was Walter P Walsh. Walsh died in 1951 and is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery[1]

The interior of St Joseph is interesting. IMG_1259
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There are several memorial windows and as far as I have been able to establish most relate to the Cross family. One window is dedicated to Margaret Pape, the wife of Max Pape. Margaret was the daughter of William John Cross, who is commemorated in another window. She died in 1901 at the age of 39 and her husband predeceased her. [5] IMG_1251IMG_1254

William John Cross is commemorated in another window with his wife Catherine Mary. IMG_1253IMG_1252

William John and Catherine probably had a son John who is possibly the John commemorated in another window. Catherine probably died in 1865 at 40 years of age so the window must have been put in some time after her death. [6]  William John probably died in 1889 in his St Kilda Road home called Cintra.[7]  William John and Catherine were probably married in 1854 and were both from Ireland. William John was from Country Kilkenny and Catherine was from Carrick on Suir. [8] IMG_5665

The main bridge in Carrick on Suir.

There is also another William John Cross, called WJ in his window and his profession is listed as gentleman. He too lived in St Kilda road, but he was married to Margaret Cross who died some time before 1883 when William John was appointed an executor of her will. [9]

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Margaret’s Cross’ window is on the right.

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There is also quite a lovely window donated by the group the Children of Mary.

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St Joseph’s is typical of many Melbourne churches in that it reflects the local community and the people involved with the church. It is by no means the most beautiful of the churches but it is still lovely in its own way and is firmly part of the evolution of Melbourne as a city. Also its red brick exterior is typical of churches in the area. You can see the similarities in the Uniting Church just down the road. I am hoping to find out for about this church in the future.

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[1] Obituary of Walter P Walsh. The Argus 1951. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/23091500

[2] Details of St Joseph’s Church obtained from the manuscript: Historical notes on schools, churches, etc. in Elsternwick and Caulfield. Available from the State Library of Victoria. Accession number: MS 9308

[3] Obituary of John Barry. Canberra Times 1938. http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/barry-john-67

[4]  Obituary of Michael Dolan. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/11930493

[5] Obituary of Margaret Pape. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/9620132/3?print=n.

Deceased details from St Kilda Cemetery. http://stk.smct.org.au/deceasedsearch/result/42604S

[6] Obituary of Catherine Mary Cross. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/5771864/4?print=n

Division of estate of Catherine Mary Cross to her son John Cross. Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/8452440/5?print=n

[7] Death notice of William John Cross. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/170503498/3?print=n

[8] Marriage notice of William John Cross and Catherine Mary Dynan. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/4796762/3?print=n

[9] Division of the estate of Margaret Cross. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/8498070/5?print=n

 

 

 

The photos are either mine or my family’s apart from the photo of Barry which can be seen at: http://www.cg.catholic.org.au/news/newsletterarticle_display.cfm?loadref=70&id=582

Historic Buildings, Modern Art.

In many cases historic buildings are finding a new meaning in an increasingly technological world as canvases for modern art. Whether it is as a cinema, or a projection space or as a place for installations. This sort of repurposing brings new life and new significance to historic buildings.

There are many examples, but I thought I’d just discuss a few. I’d like to begin with some I have previously mentioned in an earlier post.

Fontevraud is an abbey in France that was founded in the 11th century. Various parts of it have been used for artistic installations. Font art The Cloister. You can walk on this sculpture, creating whole new ways of seeing an ancient building.Font DormThe dormitory. You are able to lie in these boats, simulating the experience of the sleeping monks.

The two installations in Fontevraud both work with the history of the building to give alternative ways of experiencing it.

Another example from France is Foix Castle not that far from Toulouse.  You can see the castle below. It is perched on a a lump of carboniferous limestone and parts of the castle itself date from the 11th century. It was involved in the Albigensian Crusade and was part of an area of known Cathar sympathisers.

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The installations below could be found inside and were both representations of people at prayer. Again repurposing an old building and using its own history for art.

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IMG_9103Fontevraud and Foix notwithstanding, probably the best known historic building repurposed for art is The Louvre itself in Paris. IMG_7023It is an ancient palace and castle and now one of the most famous art galleries in the world.  As you can see from its foundations, incidentally one of my favourite parts of The Louvre, it has been there for a long time. In fact it began its life as a fortress commissioned by Phillip Augustus to protect Paris in c. 1190. This fortress was large even for its time, with a keep measuring roughly 15m diameter and 30m in height. IMG_6997Within the Louvre itself you also have the repurposing of rooms, such as Napoleon III’s apartments, for the display of modern art. In this particular case they were integrated to simultaneously blend in with the overt opulence and to reflect it. IMG_6944 IMG_6939 IMG_6937IMG_6929

Historic buildings are not just used for static art. They are also used for performances, such as the Vivaldi concert in the stunning Sainte Chapel you can see below.  Sainte Chapel was commissioned by Louis IX, later Saint Louis, and was originally built to house his collection of holy relics. It is one of the few survivors of the full colour that would have been present in many of the larger churches and cathedrals. It also has one of the largest collections of 13th century stained glass. IMG_7918IMG_7930 IMG_7922

Aside from music and art installations historic buildings are becoming canvasses in their own right. This often happens in festivals such as the recent Melbourne White Night. Melbourne has many historic buildings, by historic in Melbourne I mean 1800s and early 1900s not medieval, and on White Night several come alive with astounding light and sound displays.

The State Library of Victoria is one of my favourite buildings in Melbourne. The SLV has been on its site, though in a smaller building, since it opened in 1856. The founders wanted to create a place of learning for all Victorians and a place to preserve Victoria’s heritage. It is not one building. It is actually made up of 23 individual buildings that have been repurposed and integrated over the years. In the SLV my favourite room is the Latrobe domed reading room which was opened in 1913. The dome itself is 114 feet in diameter and 114 feet high. It is a wonderful place to study or write. During a normal day it looks like this. lobBut on White Night this year, this happened.

Other buildings were illuminated externally. Such as the Forum Theatre. The Forum opened in 1929 and is slightly insane in its own right even without illumination.  It was built as an immersive theater and the interior has a large number of greek and roman statues as well as a blue sky with stars. This is what is looks like normally.

Interior

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And this is what it and its surrounding buildings look like when they’re lit up. IMG_1186

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The final building I wanted to look at is in some ways the most spectacular and the most important historically. The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens was completed in 1880 for Melbourne’s first international exhibition. It is one of the world’s oldest examples of exhibition pavilions. It was also the site of Australia’s first parliament in 1901.  The Argus described the event as.

The atmosphere was radiant and illuminated the vast spaces of the building and the great sea of faces with a bright Australian glow. A sight never to be forgotten was the assemblage which, in perfect order but with exalted feeling, awaited the arrival of the Duke and Duchess in the great avenues which branch out from beneath the vast dome of the Exhibition Building. (Argus 10 May 1901)

And it was depicted in the famous Tom Roberts painting below.

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This is what the Exhibition Building looks like during the day, a beautiful example of exhibition architecture. promo-reb-thebuilding

Below is the truly stunning work of moving modern art it became on White Night. Sorry about any talking in the background.

Historic buildings have their own story and their importance and purpose is fundamental to what they are. Integrating modern art allows whole new interpretations of the past, new ways of viewing history and art and the ability to bring these buildings to brand new audiences.

For more information see…

http://museumvictoria.com.au/reb/

http://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Parliament_House_Art_Collection/Tom_Roberts_Big_Picture

http://www.forummelbourne.com.au/history.php

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/search-discover/history-our-building

http://guides.slv.vic.gov.au/content.php?pid=405532&sid=3319092

http://www.grands-sites-ariege.fr/fr/chateau-de-foix/detail/34/presentation-2

http://www.louvre.fr/en/history-louvre

The photos and videos are all mine apart from:

The inside of the Forum, which can be found at http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g255100-d258068-i46387954-Forum_Melbourne-Melbourne_Victoria.html#85255678

The Exhibition Building which can be found at http://museumvictoria.com.au/reb/

The Tom Roberts painting which can be found at http://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Parliament_House_Art_Collection/Tom_Roberts_Big_Picture

Cemeteries: Melbourne General Cemetery.

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Cemeteries are always a really interesting lens through which to view the history of a city. In the case of Melbourne is has several old cemeteries as well as the more modern ones. I thought I’d start with the Melbourne General Cemetery as it is one of the oldest and I believe the biggest.

I first went to the Melbourne General Cemetery a year or so ago when I found that my great great great grandfather Robert Henry Woodward was buried there. He was one of the first of my ancestors to come to Australia so I was interested to see where his grave was. Unfortunately it is no longer marked. You can see where he is buried in between the two other graves in the photo below. IMG_9755

Robert Henry’s is not the only grave that is unmarked in the cemetery because, while the records of those buried survive not all the headstones do. Robert Henry is only one of the approximately 300 000 people buried in the Cemetery since 1853 and their graves can be seen covering a staggering 106 acres. The Cemetery is truly vast. IMG_1115 IMG_1116IMG_1108 IMG_1107Some  burials date even earlier than 1853 though, as a portion of the burials removed from the Old Melbourne Cemetery were re-interred in the Melbourne General Cemetery. The Old Melbourne Cemetery is an interesting story in itself because it stood on the land that now houses the Queen Victoria Market.

IMG_1133The Old Melbourne Cemetery was closed in the 1850s and many of the red gum headstones were stolen for firewood. An estimated 10 000 people were buried there, including many indigenous burials and John Batman the ‘founder’ of Melbourne. When the Queen Victoria Market expanded in 1917, 914 bodies were re-interred in other cemeteries including the Melbourne General Cemetery. However there are still thousands of bodies beneath the Queen Victoria Market and its car park today. IMG_1144 IMG_1143 IMG_1142The market does not have a multi story car park because, due to all the bodies buried there, you can’t go underground. Unfortunately there is no record of those interred in the Old Melbourne Cemetery as the official records were destroyed during a fire in the Melbourne Town Hall. The only sign of the thousands still beneath the earth is a memorial to John Batman, in the car park, and a memorial called Passage, dedicated to those still buried beneath the market and its car park. IMG_1146 IMG_1147 IMG_1151Passage

Many of the burials in The Melbourne General Cemetery have interesting origins as well. The cemetery itself is quite varied. As you can see below it is divided into a number of sections.

Melbourne Cemetry_V3_DPMG - FINAL

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The Cemetery was also designed specially like a public park with winding roads, separate religious rotundas and a large number of evergreen trees and shrubs.

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There are a number of buildings on site as well, including the heritage listed gatehouse that was rebuilt in the 1930s. The oldest building is the Jewish Chapel which dates to 1854.

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The Gatehouse.

There are also a number of significant people buried there. Including several Prime Ministers.

IMG_1068John Gorton

IMG_1067Robert Menzies and Pattie Menzies

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A memorial to Harold Holt who disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach on Point Nepean.

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This is a memorial wall to Australia’s Prime Ministers, not everyone listed in dead.

There are some very interesting individual memorials as well. Including the monument below which is dedicated to indigenous man Derrimut whose timely action saved early settlers from a massacre. IMG_1119 IMG_1120

Other memorial monuments include:

A memorial dedicated to Elvis.

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A memorial dedicated to Burke and Wills and their expedition force.

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And a memorial dedicated to Hungarian Freedom Fighters.

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 There is also a wide range of funerary monuments such as:

Unmarked graves.

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Whole families in one place.IMG_1105

Decorative towers.

IMG_1103 IMG_1102Small buildings.

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Towering plinths.

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 High Crosses.

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Angels and angel like figures.
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Simple grave stones.

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Modern mortuary chapels.

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And plaques in the rose garden.

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The Melbourne General Cemetery is a fascinating, if overwhelming and slightly haphazard, look into Melbourne’s past. It is also a working cemetery so it will continue to be part of Melbourne’s heritage in years to come. It is well worth visiting not only as a place with a fascinating history, but also somewhere that is surprisingly beautiful and very peaceful.

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Also if you make it there during Melbourne Open House, you might get to see the vintage hearse.

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For more information

http://mgc.smct.org.au/about-our-cemetery/

http://www.qvm.com.au/about/history/

All the photos are mine apart from the plan of the cemetery which can be found at.

http://mgc.smct.org.au/Assets/Files/Melbourne%20Cemetry_V3_DPMG%20-%20FINAL.pdf

Point Nepean

Point Nepean: the end of the Mornington Peninsula, one of the ‘heads’ of Port Phillip Bay, a national park, the site of a disappearance of an Australian Prime Minister, a series of army forts, a former army training area and the site of the first shot fired by the British Empire in WWI.

Point Nepean Aerial

Photo from http://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/NewsMedia/PhotoGallery/tabid/216/AlbumID/645-1/Default.aspx

For those who haven’t been there Point Nepean is about an hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne Australia. It is is one of the few places where you can stand on a spit of land with the ocean on one side and the bay on the other. It is also the place that claimed one of Australia’s Prime Ministers. Harold Holt went swimming at Cheviot beach, see the photos below, in December 1967. He never returned. He was officially pronounced dead on the 19th of December.  There have been many theories over the years, ranging from a Japanese submarine to sharks. The last is actually a possibility. I think he just drowned. It is a very unsafe swimming beach with unpredictable currents and frequently a number of rips.

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There are also several of army forts along the length of Point Nepean, from WWI and WWII, such as the Cheviot Beach fortifications, Fort Pearce and the Eagle’s Nest. All of which can be seen in the photos below.

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cheviot I thinkPoint Nepean is probably best known for the role it played in WWI. WWI was declared at 11pm on the 4th of August 1914 in Britain (9am of the 5th Australian time). A German cargo steamer the SS Pflaz, having anticipated a declaration of war, was trying to get clear of the heads of Port Phillip Bay and find a neutral port in South America.

Signal flags were raised at Fort Nepean, at the very end of Point Nepean, and Queenscliff ordering the SS Pflaz to stop. There was no response and a ‘heave to’ shot was fired from the gun emplacement at Fort Nepean. Eventually the SS Pflaz returned to the harbour under armed guard. This shot was the first shot fired in WWI by the British empire. This was the only shot fired in anger from Australian territory in WWI

Incidentally Fort Nepean also fired the first Australian shot from WWII on the 4th of September 1939. The SS Woiniora failed to identify itself as it came through the heads. Once the correct code was signalled the ship was allowed to continue on its way. The remains of the gun below are in the position the shot was fired from and the other photo is the view from the gun emplacement.

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Point Nepean also served as a quarantine station from the 1850s until 1952 when it was taken over by army cadets, with the proviso that it would be vacated if it was needed again for quarantine. Many immigrants were quarantined there from passengers, steerage and first class, from the 1850s all the way through to assisted immigrants in the early 1950s who were kept there while their belongings were fumigated against foot and mouth disease.

1912 saw the largest intake of the quarantine station with 1291 from the ship, the Irishman. They were mainly agricultural labourers. The photos below are some of the quarantine buildings. The final photo is the view along the balcony of one of the hospital buildings.

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Also Point Nepean has been in use as an army base of some form for centuries and there are many of the beaches you still can’t walk on because of unexploded ordinances.

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Point Nepean is a truly beautiful piece of land as well as a fascinating peace of history. If you get the chance to go there, it’s worth it. It is quite lovely and for the moment very unspoiled.

Parliament House Melbourne

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Melbourne Australia is my home city and I’ve always felt that many of its more interesting buildings are undervalued by residents. Parliament House is one of these and one of my favourites. While most Melbournians could tell you where it is and to some extent what goes on in there, very few have actually been inside. Melbourne is a gold rush town in many ways and Parliament House epitomises this. It is opulent to say the least. parl

The above photo is the central light in the library. All the gold you can see is 22 carat gold leaf. In many parts it’s double layered because the only way to mend it was to apply a second coating.

Parliament House was built in stages. It began in 1856 with the Legislative Chambers. The work was completed in an astonishing ten months in time for Victoria’s first Parliament to meet there.

There are two Chambers.

1. The Lower House: The Legislative Assemblyparl leg coun

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2. The Upper House: The Legislative Council.

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Today the carpet and the decor of the majority of Parliament House is divided into green, for the Legislative Assembly, and red, for the Legislative Council. When you pass from one half of Parliament House to the other the colour scheme immediately changes.

The next stage of the building process was the library and it was completed in 1860. It joined the two Chambers together into a u shaped building. It’s probably my favourite room.

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Queen’s Hall and the Vestibule were the next stages. They were finished between 1878-79. They filled in the space between the two Chambers, making the building much more like the one we are familiar with today.

Queen’s Hall was dedicated to Queen Victoria and you can see her statue there today, alongside paintings of Victoria’s Premiers.

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You enter Parliament House into the Vestibule and it has two noteworthy items.

1. The pressed metal roof which was intended to be temporary. Though I think it looks pretty amazing for a temporary structure.

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2. The Minton floor tiles. The inscription, which you can’t actually see in the below photo, is from Proverbs 11:14 and reads `Where no Counsel is the People Fall; but in the Multitude of Counsellors there is Safety’

parl floorThe West Facade and the Colonnade were completed between 1881-1888. There was also supposed to be a 20 story dome, but unfortunately economic conditions had changed and there simply wasn’t the money. The photo below is the Colonnade.

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The steps and lamps were completed in 1888-1892.

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The North Wing was finished to basement level in 1893. Former Prime-Minister Billy Hughes erected a tin hut on the top of the North Wing to have somewhere to hide where the press couldn’t find him. It was known as the Billy Hughes Hideaway.

The final work on Parliament House was completed in 1929 with the building of the refreshment hall, also known as the North East Wing.  It was financed with the 50,000 pounds stirling that the Federal Parliament gave to the Parliament of Victoria as a thank you gesture for being permitted to use Victoria’s Parliament House. The Federal Parliament sat in Parliament House in Victoria before Canberra was built.

Parliament House is still incomplete. Some of today’s MPs work from portable classroom like buildings out the back. They may not have the prestige of offices in Parliament House, but they do have decent air conditioning and heating, which have been fairly recent additions to Parliament House proper. They also have windows which some of the ministers who have offices in the Parliamentary basement are not able to enjoy. These buildings are affectionally known as the chook house.

Two final interesting Parliament House facts. Both from the Legislative Council.

This room retains a handful doors to nowhere from the days before the Vestibule and Queen’s Hall were built. You used to be able to walk though this door onto a walkway and then straight onto Bourke Street.

parl door to nowhere

There are also a number of angels that decorate the roof of the Legislative Council. Many of them have traditional titles such as justice. There is one, however, who is uniquely Victorian. This angel is holding a cornucopia in one hand to symbolise the fertile riches of Victoria. With the other hand she is scattering gold dust. This beautifully summarises how Victoria came to be, first as a colony and then a state.

parl vic angelSee http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/the-parliament-building/history-of-the-building for more information. Or if you live in Melbourne go on a tour. They run pretty regularly, are free and really interesting.

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge lies on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, not far from Port Campbell. The Twelve Apostles are the best known of the Great Ocean Road’s natural landmarks. Loch Ard Gorge, however,  is known and named for a reason other than its natural beauty.

Loch Ard Gorge is the site of one of Victoria’s worst shipwrecks. The Loch Ard sailed from England on March 2nd 1878 with 54 passengers and crew aboard. It was bound for Melbourne.loch ard sunshne
lochard1At 3am on the 1st of June 1878 Captain Gibbs was expecting to see land as they should have been approaching Victoria’s coast. He was looking for the lighthouse at Cape Otway, but the ship was sailing through a heavy fog.

At 4 am when the fog lifted Captain Gibbs realised they were far too close Victoria’s sheer cliffs. The Captain tried everything including lowering the anchor and attempting to tack back out to sea, but the ship ran into a reef jutting out from Mutton Bird Island. Waves broke over the ship and masts and rigging came down, knocking passengers and crew overboard. They managed to launch a life boat but it crashed into the side of the Loch Ard and then capsized. Tom Pearce, the crew member who had launched the lifeboat, managed to cling on underneath it and was swept out to sea. When the  flood tide came in he drifted back to shore and into what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge.  He swam to shore and dragged himself to beach. tom

Tom Pearce

loch ard close

Loch Ard Gorge

 Tom was one of only two survivors. The other was a passenger, Eva Carmichael. Eva had been making the trip to Melbourne with her family.  She ran onto the deck to find out what was happening. In all the chaos Captain Gibbs grabbed her and said “if you are saved Eva, let my dear wife know that I died like a sailor.” She was then swept over the side by a wave. She saw Tom on the rocky beach and shouted and waved until her saw her. Tom swam out and dragged the exhausted Eva to the beach. They went back to the cave and opened a case of brandy that had washed ashore and huddled together to try and keep warm.

eva

Eva Charmichael

A while later Tom scaled a cliff, which was no small feat in itself, to try to find help.

cliff 2

The cliffs at Loch Ard Gorge

He followed hoof prints and came by chance upon some men from the nearby Glenample Station. By the time he led them back to Loch Ard it was cold and dark. Eva stayed at Glenample for six weeks recovering before returning to Ireland, this time by steamer. Tom went to Melbourne to receive a hero’s welcome. Many expected Tom and Eva to marry, as they’d spent the night unsupervised, but
they were to be disappointed when Tom and Eva went their separate ways.

It is a miracle that anyone survived. The seas on that piece of coast are known for their savagery. The video below was taken on a mildly stormy day, it is only too easy to imagine what it would have been like when the Loch Ard sank. Especially with the waves destroying the ship.

Although there were only two survivors of the Loch Ard, some of the cargo also survived, including a Minton Porcelain Peacock, one of only nine in the world, the most unlikely thing to have endured a shipwreck. It was destined for the International Exhibition in Melbourne in 1880 and must have been packed exceptionally well. It now resides in Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village in Warrnambool and was recently valued at over $4 million. It is also on the Victorian Heritage Registerr519455_2867236
peacock

The wreck of the Loch Ard remains at the base of Mutton Bird Island. It can be dived by experienced divers.

The peacock photos are from http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2010/02/23/2827955.htm

For more information on the Loch Ard see http://www.flagstaffhill.com/history-queries/wreck-loch-ard/