Barton Hill

Chapter 1

Published Sep, 2021

'Ches' also known as 'Jim' (James Chester) Draper and his brother Tom Draper, at 'Barton Hill', just before riding to church at Whittlesea. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper

We lived at ‘Barton Hill’ in Arthurs Creek. My father[1] and mother[2], and Lily[3] and Muriel[4]. Tom[5] and Cathie[6] were older and lived with my father’s sister Auntie Mary Hurrey[7] at Egremont Street, North Fitzroy. She ran a dairy, which sold Hurrey Brother’s milk from ‘Craigie Lee’ in Yan Yean. Her husband Jim Hurrey[8] drove a milk cart. Cathie and Tom attended St. Luke’s Church of England School at Fitzroy[9]. At ‘Barton Hill’ my parents milked cows and sold some butter and hen eggs, as well as fruit in season.

The fruit season would start at Melbourne Cup time when we would sell strawberries, peas, gooseberries, cherry plums, and early apples. There were 60 acres of orchards and about a quarter of it was plums and apricots. We sent the fruit to the Eastern market, to agents, by rail – not enough manpower to take it to Victoria Market. As the plums and apricots ripened, jam factories bought some – plums at 30/- a ton and apricots 3 pounds a ton.

We had only two draught horses, Dick and Kate. They had to do all the plowing and carting. My father had a chestnut riding mare. She used to buck when he got on her.

The countryside, apart from the orchard, was black trees and stumps, and bracken around logs on the ground. There had been a very big bush fire in 1900 following a bad drought, hence all the dead trees. Our fowl house was of wire netting around four black trees – these had a roof of hay and on the roof were fantail pigeons. They had their box nests. There were several pigsties. Near the cow yard were gallows set up between two trees. A lot of meat was used in those days.

In front of the house was the ‘tin house’. This was the shed moved from the ‘Charnwood’ mine when it was discontinued by Auntie Mary. It held all the mining gear – windlass, buckets, drills, etc. as well as our other tools. The green hide buckets were interesting. They could be thrown down the mine without being damaged.

There were two dogs. Spark who was a cattle dog, blue in colour as today’s heelers, but with short hair. Trotter was a silky terrier. He was Lily’s pet. She nursed him but the rest of us would be bitten if we went near him.

My father had 640 acres of land at Glenburn[10] and Auntie Mary had 700 acres. It had been fenced and ring barked. When it became overrun with rabbits in about 1905, my father let these runs, as we called them, to ‘Glenmore’ station for seven years. They had to provide netting fences.

Auntie Mary died in 1911 and Tom and Cathie came home. I was six plus, and with Lily, we were given Kate (the draught horse) in a spring cart and started for school at Yan Yean, five miles away. Cathie was the driver and first day Kate thought we were going to the water hole at the far end of the paddock. She hit the gate post and pulled up; the steps of the cart were broken off. We got to school and back and proudly said we only broke the step.

My father bought a white pony, Dolly. We all learned at once to ride her. It came holidays and my father drove the spring cart and I rode Dolly bareback to Glenburn. The run was five miles from the road through several paddocks. The scrub had grown up in his track and he had to cut his way. On a siding the cart tipped over. My father was caught under the shaft with the horse lying on it. He got me to lift the point of the shaft and he pulled himself out. He was bruised black from the waist down. He put whisky on it. We camped in the cart with the wagon cover over us.

The fruit wagon was round topped (others were square topped). It carried 100 cases of fruit in a load and was very well known on the road – usually used later on with four horses.  As well as the ‘tin house’ mining shed we had ‘Jacob’s house’. On his way to ‘Glenburn’ one day, my father was going from Kinglake down the Boggy Creek to Glenburn when he found Jacob aged fourteen on a draught horse, bareback, heading for Queensland. Jacob camped the night with my father and came home with him next day. They built a bark hut for Jacob with an iron roof and a simple bed and earth floor. Jacob stayed seven years.

We poisoned rabbits at ‘Glenburn’ – phosphorous used with pollard and bran and distributed through a sledge with two wheels which operated the baits. The dead rabbits were so plentiful, you could step from one to the next all over the paddock. The rabbit poisoning continued every year until I left home in 1927, except that only Tom and I did the job when we were a bit older.

In 1915 my father got rheumatic fever and Tom and I dug the potatoes at ‘Charnwood’. I was then ten and he eleven. We somehow loaded them on the dray – one and a quarter hundred weight in a bag.

Fruit was so plentiful; it was always difficult to dispose of. On one occasion, a drying factory was started at Hurstbridge. My father sold them 1,000 cases of size 2 3/4-inch apples at 1 shilling a case. We carted that lot, then another 500 cases, all in our own cases.  Sometimes we got 1 shilling a bag for apples for cider.

One year when plums were unsaleable, the Victorian Producers Co-operative decided to start a jam factory at Hurstbridge. They would buy 1 ton of plums for every share bought in their company. My father bought 40 shares and we got busy and picked the 40 tons of plums (40 cases made a ton). The jam factory not being ready to go, the plums were put into the cool store, but as all the orchardists sold their plums, the cool store was filled in a few days, and the fruit did not cool. It heated and went bad. We got word to sort the rotten plums, and found it was light-coloured plums only which had to be sorted. Instead of sorting them, we moved them to the dark plums. The plums were then pulped into kerosine tins, but they went bad. The Victorian Producer’s Co-operative got this fruit carted away and tipped down a disused mine, but the Department ordered they be removed. I did not hear the outcome, but we got nothing for the 40 tons of plums.


[1] ‘Father’ was James Draper (1863 – 1940), son of Arthurs Creek pioneers Charles Draper (1825 – 1909) and Catherine Draper (nee Chester, 1828 – 1884).

[2]‘Mother’ was Blanche Hurrey (1880 – 1968), daughter of Yan Yean pioneers Thomas Henry Hurrey (1835 – 1893) and Mary Jane Hurrey (nee Hall, 1844 – 1921).

[3]‘Lily’ was Lily Evelyn Draper (1906 – 2003), younger sister of Jim.

[4]‘Muriel’ was Muriel Blanche Draper (1907 – 2003), younger sister of Jim.

[5]‘Tom’ was Thomas Barton Draper (1903 – 1959), older brother of Jim.

[6]‘Cathie’ was Catherine Mary Jane Draper (1901 – 1997), older sister of Jim.

[7]‘Auntie Mary Hurrey’ was Mary Jane Hurrey (nee Draper, 1859 – 1911) who was the sister of James Draper and had married the brother of Blanche Draper, James ‘Jack’ Edward Hurrey (1879 – 1932), making Mary and Jack an Aunt and Uncle to Jim by both blood and marriage on both sides.

[8]‘Jim’ or ‘Jack’ was James Edward Hurrey (1879 – 1932).  Thomas Henry Hurrey (1877 – 1966), John Thomas Hurrey (1884 – 1915) and James established themselves as wholesale and retail dairymen under the name ‘Hurrey Brothers, Craigie Lee Farm Dairy’. Thomas and John worked the farm, while James managed the retail dairy located in North Fitzroy. Established in 1893, the Hurrey Brothers, Craigie Lee Farm Dairy continued until 1952. The Yan Yean property remained in the hands of the Hurrey family until 1989. The Craigie Lee name was synonymous with quality milk, so much so that another dairy in the local area started up using almost the same name, just a change of spelling. “Craigie-lea Dairy”, run by Mr R.W. Horne, began operating in Thornbury in 1924 and still delivered milk by horse and cart in the 1970s.

[9] St Luke’s Church of England School opened in North Fitzroy in 1874.

[10] Later extended to 1,300 acres. Glenburn, near Yea in Victoria, had also been worked by Jim’s uncle, Joseph Charles Draper (1851 – 1902) who was described in the papers of the day as a grazier of Glenburn.


Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey, 1880 - 1968) and James Draper (1863 - 1940); the parents of James Chester Draper, and Bruce G. Draper's grandparents. Pictured during their engagement. They were married in 1900. Photo credit Draper family
James 'Jim' Draper (1863 - 1940) and Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey, 1880 - 1968) pictured with their children, from left to right Lily (1906 - 2003), Thomas (1903 - 1959), Catherine (1901 - 1997), James 'Jim' Chester 'Ches' (1905 - 1998), and Muriel (1907 - 2003). Blanche is holding Leslie (1909 - 1992). At their property, 'Barton Hill', Arthurs Creek, Victoria c 1910. Photo credit Draper family
Orchards at 'Barton Hill', Arthurs Creek, the home of James and Blanche Draper c 1920. Photo credit Draper family
Robert Draper (grandson of Blanche Hurrey) with the 1880’s cart he donated to the Whittlesea Agricultural Society. It spent its working life with the Hurrey family at ‘Craigie Lee’, and was used to carry sheaves of oaten hay and cans of milk from the dairy farm to the Yan Yean rail platform for transport to the Hurrey Brothers Dairy in North Fitzroy. Volunteers of the Heritage Section restored and rebuilt it to its former glory, and in the 160th year of the Whittlesea Agricultural Society (founded in 1859) this important piece of local history was unveiled on September 29, 2019. Credit
Horse drawn carts and drays were commonly used by early farmers of the Plenty Valley for general farm use. The cart was later purchased from Hilda Hurrey (1911 – 1989), niece of Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey, 1880 – 1968) by Robert Draper, grandson of Blanche. Photo credit Suzanne Coburn. Information credit 'A Restoration Journey'
Fruit wagon with driver (thought to be James Mann) and horses, Arthurs Creek. The Evelyn Observer of 1917 reported that a local fruit wagon was on its way home from market with a passenger sitting on the empty cases behind. Coming down one of the hills these slipped, and the passenger was deposited on the roadway… In October 1873 James Mann selected land on the upper reaches of the Arthurs Creek in the Parish of Queenstown which he named ‘Lang Fauld Farm’. He was joined by John Mann in 1874 who selected adjoining land which he named ‘Carseburn’. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Arthurs Creek Fruit Growers c 1895
Left to right back row: John Charles Draper (1881-1968), James Draper (1863-1940), Mary Jane Draper (1859-1911). Front row: Samuel Wilson Atkinson (1888/9 - 1946), Mrs Fannie Letitia Atkinson (nee Langham, 1854 - 1928), William Plenty Draper (1855 – 1907), Elinor ‘Isabel’ ‘Bel’ ‘Bella’ Draper (nee Williams, 1859 – 1932). Photo taken circa 1895. Information credit Bruce G. Draper, Lionel Draper, Pam Goodey and Ross McDonald. Photo credit McDonald and Draper families
Joseph Charles Draper was the second child and first son of Charles and Catherine Draper. He was born in 1851 in Shepshed, Leicestershire. In 1880 he married Hannah Laidlay who was also born in England. Hannah outlived her husband by 21 years, and died in 1923. Joseph was described in the papers as a grazier, of Glenburn, Yea. This funeral card dates from 1902 and is printed on the type of cardstock also used for cabinet card photographs. The cabinet card was a style of photograph which was widely used for photographic portraiture after 1870. It consisted of a thin photograph mounted on a card. Mourning cards were popular after the 1860s for public figures and by the 1880s it was normal to print cards to memorialise loved ones. These cards were handed out at funerals or sent to friends and relatives to announce a death. This card conveys a significant sense of loss. Image credit Bruce G. Draper
The Hurrey family of 'Craigie Lee', the property they purchased in 1886. Back left to right: Alice (1874 – 1966, Mrs Mackintosh), Thomas Henry (1877 – 1966), James ‘Jack’ Edward (1879 – 1932), Elizabeth (1872 – 1937, Mrs McKenzie). Seated: John Thomas (1884 – 1915), Blanche (1880 – 1968, Mrs Draper), Mary Jane (1844 – 1921, nee Hall), Mary Jane (1875 – 1948, Mrs Gardiner). Front: Louisa Annie (1891 – 1960). Thomas, John and James started the 'Hurrey Brothers Craigie Lee Dairy Farm', with Thomas and John running the Yan Yean property, and James running the retail outlet in North Fitzroy. When Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey) sent James Chester’s older siblings Tom and Cathie to school, they lived with Mary Hurrey (1859 – 1911, nee Draper) at Egremont Street, North Fitzroy, where she and her husband James ‘Uncle Jack’ ran Hurrey Brothers Dairy. This arrangement continued until James Chester Draper was aged six years and nine months. Photo credit Hurrey and Draper families
The bluestone Craigie Lee homestead constructed c. 1860 was purchased by Thomas Hurrey in 1886 from James Bett. Bett had earlier purchased it from George Sherwin and Aeneas McPherson in 1868. The Hurrey Brothers, Craigie Lee Farm Dairy, was established 1893 and continued until 1952. The property remained in the hands of the Hurrey family until 1989. Craigie Lee is significant for its association with Sherwin, and the Hurrey family both prominent early pioneers of the Whittlesea District. Information and image credit Whittlesea Historical Society Inc., Victorian Collections, Painting - Oil, by Paul Woodford, Craigie Lee at Yan Yean by Paul Woodford
The name Craigie was first found in Ayrshire formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire. Lee is derived from Old English lēah, meaning a meadow or forest clearing. This developed variously into the names Lee, Lea, and Leigh. Photo credit Lost Mernda Facebook Group, courtesy of Neil and Andrea
Hurrey Brothers, wholesale and retail dairymen. Milk twice daily from our own farm at Yan Yean. Photo credit Lost Mernda Facebook Group, courtesy of Neil and Andrea
Thomas Henry Hurrey was born in 1835 in Launceston, Tasmania. His wife Mary Jane Hall was born in 1844 in Stranefeley, Brookforough, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. They both died at Craigie Lee in 1893 and 1921 respectively. Blanche Hurrey, who married James Draper, was their daughter. Photo credit Lost Mernda Facebook Group, courtesy of Neil and Andrea


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