Simmons Reef to Gobur to Bonnie Doon

Harold and Lenore Snook (nee McLauchlan)

Hey! Remember the two girls we saw at Bonnie Doon? Well, I met one of them at Tom’s Hamburgers last night.

It was Sunday morning when my older brothers were enjoying a lay-in after their Saturday night’s outing. It was my eldest brother’s voice I heard calling from his room to his three-year-younger brother in the adjoining room. This one-way conversation was my introduction to a new phase in our family’s comings-and-goings. Gradually, thereafter, a track was worn between our home in Chatsworth Road, East Prahran, down Malvern Road, to Surrey Road, South Yarra where the the two girls, being sisters, lived with their parents, Harold and Lenore Snook. Around the corner from Surrey Road was the Prahran Congregational Church close by Tom’s Hamburgers, and it was at this church that my brothers married the two sisters, but of course, not at the same time.

In a previous blog about my half-uncle Jack Pollock I mentioned that my brothers’ father-in-law, Harold Snook, had told me about Jack’s untimely demise in the Doutta Galla Hotel at Newmarket. Harold and his family were living then at Bonnie Doon in the 1930s when the Pollock tragedy was unfolding.  Mrs Lenore Snook was the postmistress and Harold worked for Mitchell & Evans’ store; his specialty was in hardware and building materials. He was a handyman and his expertise has been passed on to his grandsons; he also played football (we call it Aussie Rules these days) for Bonnie Doon and had played previously for Fremantle.

Recently my wife brought home a paperback from book-sorting at Lifeline for me to look at and buy if interested. It was titled Dolly’s Creek, its subject: archaeology of a Victorian goldfields community. My interest was lukewarm until I noticed that the front cover illustration was a picture of Elizabeth Shepherd’sSimmons Reef, Mount Blackwood, Victoria. My hazy memory had me looking in my family history files and, sure enough, there it was: Simmon’s Reef, Blackwood, the birthplace of Catherine Josephine Bell in 1861, daughter of Robert Bell, miner, and Joanna Bell (maiden name Ellicot).

Who were they, you might ask. Well, Catherine was married 20 years later at Simmon’s Reef to Donald Dow Mellies McLauchlan of Red Hill, Blackwood, a miner aged 28. His father was Donald McLauchlan, a sailor from Portland, Victoria, and his mother was Margaret McLauchlan (maiden name McKenzie). At some time Catherine and Donald moved to Gobur in north-eastern Victoria in the region of Alexandra, Yarck, Kanumbra and Bonnie Doon. Their children included daughters Margaret (Mrs Neal), Beatrice (Mrs Davis), Robina Lenore (Mrs Snook), Lily May (Mrs Terry) and a son Donald. We often heard our sisters-in-law speak of Aunty Marge, Aunty Beat, and Aunty May, and we ourselves spoke of Nanna and Poppa Snook, grandparents of our niece and nephews.

The tenure of memorials at Springvale cemetery were limited to 50 years and my sisters-in-law and I agreed to transfer those of our two sets of parents together with their ashes to the cemetery at Bonnie Doon. From there Harold Snook would have been able to kick a football into the sports ground where he had played for the Bonnie Doon team and another to the site where Mrs Snook had been active as postmistress eighty years ago. And my mother? Nearby are the graves of her parents William and Mary Ann Pollock, and her sister Lily Black. I hoped it would be a case of Welcome Home for her.

(On the advice of my own grand-daughter I have omitted names of the two sisters and my brothers to protect present-day identities.)

– almewett

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Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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