Paynesville Memories

Paynesville Memories

We hope you enjoy reading and listening to these memories and short stories that we continue to collect. Don't forget that this website is a constant work in progress and we will continue to add more Paynesville memories as they come to hand, so please keep checking back!

If you have some stories or photos you'd like to share yourself, about Paynesville's history, please contact us through our contact page or share them on our Paynesville Memories Facebook page!

In about 1945/46, all the milking cows used to congregate, they were always together…either on the old football ground [corner of Victoria and Wellington Streets] or the new football ground down behind the hotel.

Bruce [Stanway] and I had a good idea one night, we thought we'd give the cows a bit of a break. So, we rounded ‘em all up, in the moonlight, and put ‘em all on the Raymond Island ferry. Must have been about 14 or 15 cows. Got 'em all on the ferry and we took 'em over to the Island, put ‘em on the Island, and then wound the ferry back to Paynesville and never thought any more about it.

The next morning, we were waiting for the school bus down by the ferry landing and old Fred Fleischer came along on his horse, Goldie. He said “You boys haven’t seen the town’s cows anywhere have you? I’ve searched and searched and there’s not a cow to be found”.

Luckily, it was blowing from the south west, because they were all mooing their heads off on the Island. We got on the school bus and old Fred still hadn’t found the cows. So, he’s talking to somebody else after we left. “I can’t find the cows”, Fred said. “Have a look over there, Fred”, and there were all the cows waiting at the ferry landing for the ferry back to Paynesville.

George James, the Great Grandfather of our Paynesville Memories interviewees, Bryan James, Molly Fleischer and Marnie Milne, was born in London in 1813.

Melbourne was incorporated as a town on 12 Aug 1842 - its first municipal council being elected on 1 Dec 1842. George James was one of the original Councillors elected in that year.

After making a fortune as a wine merchant, general merchant and land speculator George, with his wife and children, left Melbourne on the ‘Victoria’ in September 1853 for UK where he bought an old mansion near Southampton and replaced the old building with a substantial new family home he named ‘Ridgeway’.

In the English Census of 1861, the following people are listed as residing in the home: George James and his wife and 7 of their children, a coachman and wife and son, a gardener and wife and niece, a butler, a housemaid, a cook and 3 three nurses, plus 2 visitors from overseas.

It would seem that Australia had made the James’ family quite wealthy!

George and his wife, Elizabeth Maria, paid at least one brief return visit to Melbourne where he retained property providing substantial ongoing income until he died in 1877.

Several of George's children returned to Melbourne before George died and most others went there after he died in 1877. His widow (and her daughter Isabella, who never married) settled on a property she selected near Paynesville in eastern Victoria and they are both buried in the local cemetery.

George and Elizabeth’s daughter, also Elizabeth Maria James (b. 1854) drowned with her son in a boating accident on Lake Victoria in 1888.

The family successively occupied properties at ‘Eaglehurst’ (on the corner where Newlands Drive meets Grandview Road), then Lynton in Newlands Drive. In 1952, they built and lived in the house ‘Sunset’ that overlooks Sunset Cove.

The James family were known to have come from a wealthy background, but became local shopkeepers, residents and part of Paynesville’s community as respected citizens. The James family and descendants have influenced the town throughout its history.

At the Paynesville Cemetery, in the distant south-west corner, the James family chose an isolated plot and planted an oak tree. This fenced-off corner of the cemetery is the closest to the family property, ‘Eaglehurst’, where an oak tree planted by Elizabeth Maria James, stands to this day.

The family monuments in this little corner only give names and dates. There are many stories that are untold.

We sincerely thank Bryan James, Molly Fleischer and Marnie Milne for providing their stories to maintain the memory of this significant local family.

This audio comes courtesy of Gerard Callinan (Gippsland Oral History) when he was speaking with Bryan and Faye James. The war years came up and Faye mentioned her writing, as a child, to Australian Servicemen overseas. Lovely memory from a lovely couple.

Just press the red circular 'Play' button top left corner of the image below.

This audio comes courtesy of Gerard Callinan (Gippsland Oral History) when he was speaking with Leigh Robinson. A lovely memory about bringing a French orphan to Paynesville after World War 1.

Just press the red circular 'Play' button top left corner of the image below.

Another audio memory courtesy of Gerard Callinan (Gippsland Oral History) when he was speaking with Leigh Robinson, about rolling a tyre down the school hill. Don't try this at home kids!

Just press the red circular 'Play' button top left corner of the image below.

Audio courtesy of Gerard Callinan (Gippsland Oral History) continues. This snippet is taken when Gerard was speaking with Mervyn and Marion Day. Marion recalls her first 'bought' piece of clothing.

Just press the red circular 'Play' button top left corner of the image below.

Ted tried to break the record from Paynesville to Bairnsdale on a bike [motorbike].

And where the bridge was down near the morass…along the river...the bridge was on a turn, but the boards were straight and it was frosty.

And that's where Ted came to grief…the bike ended up wrapped up in a fence and he hit a post. That wasn't good, he was unconscious for four or five days.

Everyone in those days used to go Swan egging, and you'd find a nest with half a dozen Swan eggs in it, so you'd take four and leave two. But my Mum used to cook the best cakes you have ever seen using Swan eggs!

One Swan egg is equal to six chook eggs, and Mum used to love cooking these cakes, sponge cakes especially. Mum used to cook them for all occasions. If there was something on in Paynesville, she would always take a sponge cake along.

Dennis: We used to light up a little stove we made with a bit of tin over the top and cook them up, and they were alright too! We had shanghais, and we used to kill them and we would pluck them and gut them, and put them under a piece of tin on this fire...

Sandra: And I beg to differ! I have eaten a parrot too that we had shot, because my father taught me how to shoot with a little gun and my brother and I cooked a parrot and it tasted eucalyptusy!

Dennis: I didn't mind them. I was probably hungrier than you!

We also had a trade in crabs. When we were probably 8 or 9, Rossy was 2 years older than me, we used to go out in Dad's boat and we had all these hoops off wheels, and we had a net between them, and we used to get sheep's heads off our cousin Paddy Robinson who was the butcher, put that in the middle and sometimes you would get a whole box of crabs. At one stage the whole lake was infested with crabs, and they ate all the weed off. We were getting 30 bob a box for these crabs, and that was a lot of money.

Sandra: We would have been 14 or 15.

Q: And how did it start? What was your first date?

Sandra: Oh well, as I think I have said here before, we would all congregate in front of the milk bar, so I don't think there was any really arranged date so much.

Dennis: Because she used to come out with me to the pictures, and I had never gone to the house to pick her up. See. Her father came down one night and starts poking me in the chest in front of everybody! If you want to take my daughter out, you come and pick her up!

Q: Your Grandmother. What did your Grandmother say about.... ?

Sandra: "You are not going out with a Wilson!". Actually, she thought it was Ted, and she said that he is too old for you, being 4 or 5 years older.

Q: So, when she found out it was Dennis, was she calmed?

Sandra: No!