‘Mr. Draper established himself up the creek’, records Andrew Ross in the Evelyn Observer on 9 January 1891.
In 1862, under the recently passed Duffy Land Act, my great grandfather Charles Draper selected 80 acres of land for purchase and 80 acres for lease and later purchase on the Running Creek, near the junction with Deep Creek and Arthurs Creek in the Parish of Linton. He called his property ‘Charnwood’, after Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire where he was born. The name of Charnwood and its owner became well known as pioneering orchardists throughout Victoria and the colonies and the property welcomed many distinguished visitors. By the 1890s there were 200 acres of fruit trees, including a fruit collection of ‘about 700 varieties’ of apples. The fine collection of ornamental Begonias is believed to have provided the stock for those in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens today.
My grandfather James Draper, sixth child of Charles and Catherine Draper, was born at Running Creek, now Arthurs Creek, on 9 January 1863. Jim lived at Charnwood until his marriage to Blanche Hurrey, of Craigie Lee, Yan Yean, in 1900.
Jim and Blanche established themselves at Barton Hill, Running Creek Road, where they raised a family of five boys and four girls. The property was named after Sir Edmund Barton, who became the first Prime Minister of Australia on 1 January 1901, Federation Day.
My father, James Chester Draper, born in 1905, was the third eldest child and became known locally as Chester, to avoid confusion with his father, Jim. He listened with great interest as his father recalled stories about life in the early days living and working together on the family orchard and farm.
Chester was an avid reader and raconteur. His anecdotes aroused considerable interest in local history, particularly in the hills and valleys of the Arthurs Creek District. Chester lived to the age of 93. The following articles about ‘Early Days in the Arthurs Creek District’ supplement his work, and were first published in the Community Newsletter. Hence there is some repetition as these were published as stand alone, single articles. They are dedicated to my parents Chester and Beatrice, who came home to their district and spent their final years at ‘Maranui’ in Ridge Road, looking out towards the Kinglake Ranges. The spelling of some place names will differ, and in some instances these place names are expressed as per usage at the time.
Our history is part of our ongoing heritage. Many hours of research have been undertaken to collect information and verify details for Up the Creek: Early Days in the Arthurs Creek District. Much assistance has been provided over many years by past and present residents of the district, and I am grateful for their support. Today the Arthurs Creek community faces new challenges as it seeks to retain its identity as a rural community close to Melbourne in the green wedge of the Nillumbik Shire, and there is much to inspire us in the stories of a tight-knit community that weathered floods, fires, droughts and world wars many years ago.
Bruce G. Draper
Special thanks go to the Committee of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute for their enthusiastic support, particularly Gayle Corr and Lois Stubley as editors of the Community Newsletter, and Colette Apted as Chairperson of the Historical Committee. Thanks also to Bronwyn Hodges (nee Reid) and Catherine Ashley (nee Draper) and her husband Wade Ashley who helped me create this book.
How green was my valley and long may it be so.