Woodfield – Brankeet – Doon

Browsing through copies of the registered births, deaths and marriages of my mother’s family, the Pollocks, it became obvious to me that the location of their property, Meadowbank Farm, was variously described in these documents.

The deaths of John Pollock in 1897, of Margaret Pollock, his widow, in 1908, and William Pollock, his son, in 1928 were described as having occurred at Woodfield. The birth of Jack Pollock in 1877, and both the birth of Agnes in 1880 and her death in 1881 were recorded as having occurred at Brankeet. In 1887 William gave the “usual residence” on his marriage certificate as Doon, in 1889 my mother Margaret was said to have been born in Doon, and in 1942 my grandmother, Mary Anne Pollock died, not on the farm, but in the actual town of Bonnie Doon where she resided in Church Street. The township of Doon was renamed Bonnie Doon in 1891 because of confusion with Dooen, also in Victoria.

I had planned to walk the railtrail from Woodfield to Bonnie Doon but was reluctant to call this posting (as I had done in the previous posting about McGuigan country) Walking Pollock Country because the Pollock farm had a frontage of just one kilometre and I would be walking also in what had been Evans, Stanley, Shaw, Prowd and Almond country. So Woodfield – Brankeet – Doon it is!

I set off walking from the remnants of the station and stockyards at Woodfield. I remember well holidaying more than 70 years ago with my cousins, the Black family, who lived at “Brooklands” on the Ancona Road up from Woodfield. From there, at night we had watched the glow in the southern sky from the disastrous Rubicon fires.

As I traipsed along with the Brankeet Arm of Lake Eildon to my left (it was called the Bonnie Doon Backwater years ago and was Brankeet Creek before the flooding of the lake) together with those treeless green hills above it, I watched the landscape to my right for signs of the old Pollock farm which had been subdivided into farmlets in the 1970s. At one point I saw an old gateway leading to an avenue of ancient pines/cypress. This is what I was looking for and would investigate in the next day or two. I pressed on where the railtrail took me around the back of the former Almond farm. Coming into Bonnie Doon I paused to look at the mound which once had been the platform of the railway station opposite where the Community Centre (once a school) is now situated.

On an impulse I walked up to the Soldiers’ memorial and read the inscription naming Lance-Corporal D.H.Pollock, my Uncle Dave, who served with the 1st A.I.F. in France. A shower of rain sent me scurrying into the nearby bus shelter where I ate my lunch. I resumed the railtrail walk around the lake and on to the rail bridge and after the 8 kilometre hike dropped into the Bonnie Doon Hotel to complete my heritage walk. Heritage is not quite the right word because the town and railway line that I remember are now well and truly under water. The site of the house where my grandmother lived and died is still above water and is now occupied by a modern “weekender”. Further back along Church Street the three church buildings still stand. The Pollock family, being of Scottish descent, attended the Presbyterian church there; Granny Pollock was born at Govan near Glascow in the 1820s and her son, William Hendry Pollock was born there in 1847.

Published in: on October 7, 2013 at 7:27 pm  Comments (1)