Merino Water Holes & Merino District
Historic Timeline of Events

Glenelg & Wannon Region, S-W Victoria, Australia

1837, 3rd August : "Merino Downs" occupied by the HENTY family when they arrived with the first flock of sheep from Portland. More stock was then sent up and the family occupied adjoining land which they named "Muntham," "Connell's Run" and "Sandford." An obelisque marks the spot where the tent was pitched on the first night of their arrival at what was to become the homestead on "Merino Downs" station.

1838, 18th March : Joseph HAWDON, Charles BONNEY and a party of 10 men, 2 black boys, 2 drays and 300 head of cattle left HENTY's cattle station at the junction of the Glenelg & Wannon rivers and passed about 30 miles north of Mount Gambier and became the first group to make the overland journey from Port Phillip to Adelaide.

1838, June : Stephen HENTY and two men left "Merino Downs" and travelled on a compass bearing for Mount Gambier to the west. The trip took two days and Stephen HENTY believed they the first Europeans to visit the area. They rode south to the coast and east along the coast to Portland, the journey lasting for 28 days. As a result of this exploration, the HENTY family decided to establish a cattle station at Mount Gambier.

1841 : The HENTY party established a cattle station at Mount Gambier when a party of four (James SMEAD, Joe FROST, a Sydney Aborigine named McKAY and Paddy HANN, an old soldier as their cook) took a mob of 400 cattle and established a settlement at Browne's Lake, Mount Gambier. This station lasted until 1845 when the HENTYs lost their claim to this land due to unprincipled action by others.

1840s : Merino known as "The Waterholes" then "Merino Waterholes".

1840s : George BILSTON operated the "Mocamboro Inn" near Merino Water Holes.

1842 : George CROCKFORD, Servant at "Merino Downs" died in a cart accident.

1844 : Patrick CURTAIN leased "Merino Water Holes" station from Oct 1844 - Oct 1851.

1847, December : A township is to be marked out at the Merino Water Holes by Mr. WADE...

PORTLAND. GOVERNMENT LAND.--Mr Wade arrived in town on Monday last, with, his drays and baggage, from Mount Gambier, having completed the marking of the boundary line between New South Wales and South Australia, as far north as requisite for all practical purposes for many years. He will proceed immediately to lay out a township at the Merino Water Holes, and afterwards survey the run at present occupied by Mr Millard, of the Surrey or Fitzroy River, the land on the north-eastern side to the Shaw River, immediately opposite Mr Baxter's ; and a quantity north of the township of Warrnambool, which will be in a short time put up to public competition.
Source - "The Geelong Advertiser" (Vic.) Tuesday, 14th December 1847.

1848, January : Patrick CURTAIN submitted his application to lease "Merino Water Holes" station. Source - "The Melbourne Argus", Tuesday, 8th February 1848.

1849 : Father CAVANAGH used to celebrate Mass at "Glenlivet" station between Merino Water Holes & Digby.

1849, January : Patrick CURTAIN submitted his application to lease "Merino Water Holes" station. Curtain Patrick. Name of run, the Merino Water Holes. Estimated area, 160 acres. Estimated grazing capability, 40 head of cattle. Source - "The Sydney Morning Herald", Friday, 30th March 1849.

1850s : Mr HUGHES's Private School operated at Merino Water Holes.

1850s : Jasper WOOD established his shoemaking and saddlery business.

1851 : John "Nobby" HOLLAND, adult, found drowned at Merino Water Holes.

1854 : Mr. Fred. FORD built his store at Merino Water Holes and incorporated the first post office agency. This store was later rebuilt as COULSON's in 1909.

1855, August : New Village. A new village, to bo called "Merino," is to be established at the Merino Water Holes, about forty-three miles from Portland, on the road to the Wannon and Upper Glenelg. Source - "The Argus", Wednesday, 15th August 1855.

1855 : Merino township allotments sold to - CLARKE, J.F., EGAN, J. & F., FITZGERALD, J.B., LEAKE, J., MACKWOOD, T., McCLELAND, C., McDONALD, H., ROSE, H., ROBERTSON, SILVESTER, T.W., SMITH, J., SWIFT, K., WOOD, Jasper.

1855, 21st December : Merino Water Holes Land Sale.

1856 : "Farmer's Arms" Inn built by Capt. Thomas Henry CLARKE at Merino. Later on the same site the "Railway Hotel" was built.

1857 : FULTON's three storey flour mill built of local bricks at the western end of Maud Street.

1857, September : A rather unfortunate affair took place at the Merino Water Holes a few days since. A carrier of the name of Patrick Hennesay [sic Hennessy] had an order drawn by Mr. Henwood, of Lalee Station, upon Henty, Learmonth, &. Co., for 84, dated the 4th September. Hennesay says that on the morning of the 14th inst., he went to bed in the Farmers Arms, with the order safe in his trowsers pocket, and placed it under his head. In the morning he discovered that the contents had been extracted while he was asleep, but by whom is not known. The order has been stopped at Messrs Henty and Learmonth's, and it being a large amount, it is not so easy to pass in the bush, therefore it is to be hoped some clue may be made out soon for the recovery--Correspondent. Source - "The Portland Guardian" (Vic.) Friday, 18th September 1857.

1858, March : TENDERS are invited for the Erection of a School at Merino, (Workmanship only). Plans and Specification to be seen at the Farmer's Arms, Merino. Source - "The Portland Guardian" (Vic.) Friday, 26th March 1858.

1859, February 1st : Denominational School (C.of E.) Private Boarding School opened at Merino. Source - "The Portland Guardian" (Vic.) Monday, 7th November 1859.

1859, March 1st : Coroner's inquest by Dr. INVERARITY at Merino into death of William TYRER, aged 56y, who died at his daughter's tent (Martha Jane PESKETT) at Merino..

1859, August 27th : Coroner's inquest by Dr. RADFORD at the "Farmers Arms" Inn into death of James RODEN, aged 56y, found dead in McLeod's Creek.

1860s : Roman Catholic Private School operated at Merino.

1860 : Grant's (no.1) Inn built for GRANT, north of Merino at Dwyer's Creek on the Mocamboro Road.

1860 : Merino Freemasons Lodge was formed.

1860, March 11th : MERINO. Incendiarism.-We hear that Mr. J. Egan has had two large stacks of grain set fire to by some malicious person on Sunday 11th instant. We hope the offender may be brought to justice. The stacks were entirely destroyed, one of the containing 70 tons of fine hay.
"Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser" (Vic.) Friday, 16th March 1860.

1860, March 22nd : MERINO. On the 22nd inst. a coroner's jury, was summoned by Caleb Radford, Esq., District Coroner, at the instigation of Mr. John Egan, for the purpose of investigating into the cause of the fire that destroyed the hay stack, and straw belonging to himself, on the evening of the 11th inst., at 2 p.m. The following jury was formed :
T. H. Clarke, foreman; Thomas Grenville; Thomas Mackwood; William Powall; Edward Short; William Mallison; George Bilston; John Wilhams; George Hy. Clarke; Robert Edwards; Joseph Syret; Richard Thompson.
On the jury being sworn they proceeded to examine the spot where the stacks stood, and on returning to the Merino Inn, (the nearest public house) to the occurrence, John Egan was first called and sworn.....
George Windrun accused of starting the fire, verdict "Not Guilty."
Evidence given by - John Egan; George Windrun; William Powell; Adam Turnbull; George Butler; William Grant; Henry Frederick; James King; Dinah Egan; Miss Rowe; David Maddick; Robert Boyd; Robert Stevenson; Charles Brown.
"Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser" (Vic.) Friday, 16th March 1860.

1861 : A grant for two acres of land gazetted to the Roman Catholic Church.

1862 : Mocamboro Inn built for George Yarra BILSTON, north-west of Merino on the Mocamboro Road.

1860, Oct : First burial in Merino Cemetery, Miss Jane CROAKER, age 22y from "Merino Downs".

1863, January 12th : THE Merino School, conducted by Mr. and Mrs. KENNEDY was Re-opened after the Christmas holidays on the 12th. instant. Source - "The Portland Guardian" (Vic.) Thursday, 15th January 1863.

1864-7 : Gum Creek School operated at Dwyer's Creek, north-west of Merino. Blown down in 1867.

1864 : A small wooden chapel was built by Mr. FARLEY for the Roman Catholic Church and named "Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception".

1865 : By 1865 the population of Digby was 200 and that of Merino district was 900.

1865 : Rev. Dr. Cusack RUSSELL laid the foundation stone for "St Peter's Church of England" then known as "The Church of Merino Downs" The church on a hill overlooking Merino was opened on 22 Dec. 1867.

1865, August 25th : 20,603 acres of land at Mocamboro, near Merino avaiable for selection on this day. MOCAMBORO -Situate from two to 12 miles south east from Casterton, on the south bank of the Wannon and the east bank of tho Glenelg River, at their junction.

1866 : Merino had two police constables and were housed temporarily in premises behind Arthur OWEN's shop. Soon after this police barracks were built on the west corner of Burke and Annesley Streets.

1867-76 : Dwyer's Creek School operated at Dwyer's Creek, north-west of Merino.

1867 Dr William Harvey JACKSON : from Dublin, Ireland living at Merino when he was married at St John's C.of.E., Digby to Jane CLIFFORD from Co Cork, Ireland.

1868 : A Presbyterian Church was construced in 1868 and opened on 8 Aug. 1869. Earlier services had been held at the "Farmers Arms" in High Street.

1868, October 25th : A fatal accident occurred last week at Mocamboro, resulting in the sudden death of a man named William SHEEHAN, aged twenty-seven years, who on his return from Merino to John Egan's, his employer, at Dwyer's Creek, ran his horse against a tree near the Mocamboro Inn. Both horse and man fell, and Sheehan died shortly after from the effects of the fall. Deceased had no friends in the colony. Source - "The Argus" Thursday, 5th November 1868.

1870 : Merino Mechanics' Institute and Free Library built by NORTHCOTT & DIWELL.

1870 : "Merino Inn" built for Thomas MACKWOOD.

1870 : Digby Courthouse moved to Merino.

1870 : Waterloo Inn built for Angus McPHERSON, east of Merino at Tahara.

1870, March : A son of Lawrence EGAN from Tarpena, South Australia, when visiting his uncle, John EGAN's farm at Dwyer's Creek, wandered away after drinking and was lost for 3 days, fortunately he survived after being close to death when found by stockmen.

1871, Thomas WARNER : age 66y, General Servant at the "Merino Inn" employed by Thomas MACKWOOD died while milking a cow and an inquest was held on 1st August, 1871 at Merino. Coroner - Albert SPRIGG, Jurors - Elijah EASTICK (foreman), John HICKS, William FRANCIS, Samuel SWARZENSKI, Christopher COULSON, Hugh CAMERON, Angus MacKAY, William CROSS, Israel MALING, Duncan McQUIEN (McQUEEN), Joseph JONES & Storar GRAVES. Witnesses who gave evidence... Thomas MACKWOOD, Innkeeper, "Merino Inn", Ellen DALEY, General Servant, "Merino Inn", Thomas KENNEDY, Mounted Police Constable, Merino, William Harvey JACKSON, Doctor of Merino. Verdict - death caused by ruptured blood vessel in the lung.

1872, January 15 : A TORNADO.--A storm, attended with rain, thunder, and lightning,and a whirlwind in its most violent form, occurred between Digby and Casterton about 4 p.m. on Monday, the 15th inst., and which--for the belt of country to which the fury of the tornado was confined, about sixteen or seventeen miles in almost a straight line--did considerable damage, carrying away chimneys, hay, and all kinds of agricultural produce, and twisting the tops and branches off nearly all the trees, either young or old in its course. Mr John Cawker of Merino and Mr. McLean, of Casterton, had a narrow escape. Driving in a buggy they were overtaken in the storm, and, to escape the rain, which came down in a sheet, they pulled up under a tree for shelter. Hearing the tree creak and groan in a peculiar way, they took alarm and moved on, but were hardly well away when a huge limb of the tree came down with a crash, the buggy and men escaping narrowly. Amongst the sufferers by the storm may be included a number of the inhabitants of Merino, where, in many cases, windows and doors were torn away, and chimneys blown down, whilst hay, fruit, and fruit trees were destroyed. The tornado took Mr F. Henty's property at Merino Downs in its course, and a number of garden trees and a hay-stack sustained great injury. The violence of the storm, which only lasted about twenty minutes, may be, imagined when we add that large trees were snapped asunder, and the fragments, limbs of great weight, carried a considerable distance before they reached the ground. The direction of the storm was nearly north-west, and in its general characteristics was not unlike the one in 1860, which did considerable damage to the counties of Villiers and Heytesbury, between the towns of Belfast and Ararat. Source - "The Portland Guardian" (Vic.) Thursday, 18th January 1872.

1873 : Merino Common School.

1874 : Population of Merino and the surrounding district was nearly 2000.

1874-1916 : Bowtell's Creek School operated at Dwyer's Creek, north-west of Merino.

1874-1916 : Mocamboro School operated at Dwyer's Creek, north of Merino.

1877 : A petition to get a Merino School was signed by residents.

1877, Dec 7th : Victorian Minister for Mines, Major SMITH and the Minister Lands, Mr LONGMORE had lunch at Merino following the formal opening of the new Casterton State School by Major SMITH. Theye promised Merino residents additional postal and telegraphic communications if possible.

1878-1947 : Henty School operated at Henty, north of Merino.

1878, May 31st : Mr BERRY, Chief Secretary of Victoria laid the foundation stone for the new Merino State School. Students were given a holiday and a deputation asked him for the telegraph to be extended to Merino.

1879-1954 : Merino State School.

1879 : Work commenced on the railway line from Branxholme through Grassdale, Merino, Henty and Sandford to Casterton. The line was not opened until 1884.

1880-1904 : Tahara Bridge School operated on the Wannon River, north-east of Merino.

1882-1920 : "Junction Inn" built for HORNIBROOK, north of Merino at Mocamboro between Merino and Sandford.

1883, May : Rails for new railway expected to be laid to Merino by the end of the month.

1883, May 14th: DROWNED IN A CREEK. [BY TELEGRAPH.] (FROM OUR OWN CORESPONDENT.) CASTERTON, FRIDAY. This afternoon, three shearers on horse-back attempted to cross Dwyer's Creek, a tributary of the Wannon, about seven miles from here. The first, who crossed with difficulty, sang out to his mates not to attempt it, but to go round. One followed his advice. The other afterwards attempted to cross, but in the water parted with his horse, and although the man who had already crossed tried to save him he was drowned. The deceased, who was a young man of about 25 years of age, named George TAIT, was a resident of Heywood. Source - "The Argus" Saturday, 15th September 1883

1884, February 15th : The first section of the new railway, of 24 miles, from Branxholme through to Casterton, terminates at Mocamboro, now called Henty, after the owner of the Merino Downs station was opened today by Mr O'MALLEY, traffic mannager. There was no demonstration and he placed the Station Master and porters at Henty. The train, that passes through Merino will not either deliver or take goods at this station. "The Argus" Saturday, 16th February 1884.

1884, May : The big cutting on the Branxholme and Casterton line near Sandford has been completed. This is one of the largest cuttints in the colony, over 120,OOO cubic yards of earth having been taken out. Most of the navvies have left and all the earthworks are completed, only the platelayers being now employed. The rails are laid to Sandford and the whole length will be completed in three months. "The Argus" Tuesday, 27th May 1884.

1884, September 1st : The railway from Branxholme to Casterton is receiving its finishing touches and will be handed over to the Government on Saturday. The opening ceremony will take place on the 1st September, when the line will be open for traffic. Great preparations are being made at Casterton, and the event is causing much excitement in the district. "The Argus" Friday, 1st August 1884.

1884, September 2nd : The branch line from Branxholme to Cssterton was opened throughout its full length yesterday for both passengers and light goods traffic. There are five intervening stations, vis, Murndal, Grassdale, Merino, Henty and Sandford. The line has been opened for six months past as far as Henty, which is 23 miles from Branxholme and nine miles fiom Casterton. "The Argus" Tuesday, 2nd September 1884.

ca 1885 : Merino Cooperative Butter Factory established.

1885, Jan 5th : MERINO, Monday. A man named James BRENNAN, aged 60, was found dead this morning at Struangate, four miles from Merino. He got a cheque from Mr ROBERTSON, of Struan, on Saturday, and left last evening for Merino but got no further than the gate, where he dropped dead from heart disease. A magisterial inquiry will be held tomorrow. Source - "The Argus" Tuesday, 6th Jan 1885 (Country News)

1886, February 8th : The Right Rev. Dr. MOORE, Roman Catholic Bishop of Ballarat, visited Merino and consecrated the new Church.

1887 : Four street lights installed in High Street, Merino.

1889 : The official Post Office built by H. KOHN.

1889 : Merino Park was founded through the vision and efforst of Jas. TAIT.

1892, 5th May : Visit to Merino by Lord HOPTOUN, Governor of Victoria

1892-1949 : Tahara School operated east of Merino.

1896 : FULTON's Flour Mill at Merino sold to the HOLMES brothers from Sandford.

1900, February 27th : James FULTON, J.P., proprietor of the steam flour mills, died after a lingering illness. The deceased, who was 63 years of age, had resided in Merino for about 36 years.

1901 : The Merino Flour mill has been taken by Messers. Holmes Bros., of Casterton, under lease, with right of purchase. Mr Jos. Holmes, of Byaduk and Mr William Holmes of Sandford, two experienced millers, will take charge, the Casterton business being carried on as at present. "The Argus" Saturday, 2nd February, 1901

1903-1934 : Tahara West School operated east of Merino.

1907 : Manuel telephone exchange established at Merino with the following subscibers connected with the numbers:

  1. A. M. McLEOD, "Talisker"
  2. C. BRYCE, Commercial Hotel
  3. Vacant
  4. GRANT and McEWEN, Storekeepers
  5. John HUXLEY, "Struan"
  6. Donald JOHNSON, "Glenorchy"
  7. Mrs HEAZLEWOOD, Store

1910 : Merino Butter Factory taken over and modernised by J. E. HANDBURY and Sons.

1911, Oct. 20 : Kishn SINGH c. 1864-1911, an Indian Hawker, cremated in the Merino cemetery, after drowning in the Crawford (Smoky) river at Hotspur.

1913-1945 : Tahara Bridge School operated near the Wannon River, north-east of Merino.

1919 : "Struan" station purchased from Mr. HUXLEY and dived into 39 soldier settlement blocks known as "Struan Estate" and later as "Paschendale" due to the confusion with "Struan" on the Mosquito Creek, near Naracoorte.

c.1920 : "Glenorchy" and "Glen Levit" stations were purchased by the government divided up into soldier settlement blocks known as "Glenorchy" Estate.

1921 : Merino R.S.L. was formed with the first president, R. EDWARDS and first secretary, D. ROSS.

1922, May : The Victorian Governor attended a Masonic function at Merino as a aprt of his tour of the Western District.

1923-1949 : Paschendale School operated on the near the Wannon River, north-east of Merino.

1924, April : Merino R.S.L. Soldiers' Hall built in connection with the Mechanics' Institute was complted and taken over.

1924, April : Mr T D CLARKE of Merino, resigned from his postion as Merino Poundkeeper, after 59 years service.

1925-1949 : Glenorchy School operated south-east of Merino.

1930 : Merino Mechanics' Hall rebuilt.

1932-1952 : Talisker School operated north-east of Merino.

1932 : Merino Soldiers' Avenue of Honour planted in 1932 in Annesely Street.

1954- : Merino Consolidated School.

1955 : S.E.C. switch-on ceremony when Merino joined the electricity grid in the state of Victoria.

Source 1 : "Historic Souvenir of the Back to Merino and Henty Centenary Celebrations",
November, 11th to 15th, 1937.

Source 2 : "Merino Digby Heritage", 1977.