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Kangaroo Ground Chronicles

Volume 12 No 4 Summer 2006


The Christmas Hills Story: Once Around the Sugarloaf II, 278 pp. by Mick Woiwod, Andrew Ross Museum.

This is a highly revised and reformatted edition of Mick's 1992 book Once Around the Sugarloaf: The Transformations of a Victorian Landscape & the Story of its People.
Funded in the main by Andrew Ross Museum, the book runs to 278 A4 pages.


Barak & the Black Hats of Melbourne, by Mick Woiwod

Deeply researched and exactingly referenced throughout, William Barak and the Black Hats of Melbourne has been a decade in the making. It's a story guaranteed to reignite the history wars of the past decade and alert the reading public to a thought-provoking interpretation of Victorian race relations and the rationale behind the final closure of Corenderrk and the dispersal of its people in 1924.

The undercover culture war that broke out in Melbourne in June 1875 after the shooting of the six deer continued, uninterrupted, through to the end of the colonial era. Led by the Legislative Council's Usher of the Black Rod, the machinations of the Black Hat brigade are so convoluted that the Victorian Parliament, after having mounted a Royal Commission in 1877, and another larger Inquiry in 1881, had been still unable (or unwilling), to expose the scam.

William Barak and the Black Hats of Melbourne places before its readership, an intriguing story of race relations that no other author or researcher has so much as imagined to exist. So carefully hidden away were the machinations of leading lights in the Melbourne based acclimatisation society that they have until now succeeded in escaping even the trained eyes of historians.


and the
Black Hats

Mick Woiwod

The Diary and Reminiscences of Andrew Ross, 394 pp., Andrew Ross Museum 2011

Transcribed from Ross's 300 page, handwritten Diary held by the Andrew Ross Museum and the series of 42 Reminiscences that he wrote after his return to England - the combined manuscript runs to approximately 394 pages.

These two nineteenth century works compiled by Andrew Ross have been described as the most important surviving primary source document detailing, not only Kangaroo Ground, but also the entire Yarra Valley.

Soon after the museum established in 1993 it acquired a copy of Ross’s 300 page diary.

Then, in 1995 Bruce Nixon, the museum’s chairman commissioned the diary’s transcription into digital format, a document that over recent years has been further developed and slowly redesigned as a book.

The Diary and Reminiscences of Andrew Ross 1824 - 1896 was formally launched in 2011.

It is available from Andrew Ross Museum or the Eltham Book Shop at a cost of $30.00 plus postage.



The Diary and Reminiscenses
of Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross Museum

Reminiscences of Andrew Ross, Mick Woiwod (editor), 65 pp.,Andrew Ross Museum, 1993

A 62 pp. compilation of the 42 essays that Andrew Ross wrote upon his return to England in 1876 detailing his interpretation of the first 13 years of his 25 years’ life as a major mover-and-shaker in Kangaroo Ground and surrounding districts.


Hidden Country: The Forgotten Cultural Landscapes of the Middle Yarra,
75pp. by Mick Woiwod, Andrew Ross Museum.

This 75 page A4 publication also breaks entirely new ground and deals with the Yarra Valley story between 1836 and 1851 when practically the country between Heidelberg and Healseville was the sole preserve of 20 or so squatters - men such as Athur, Watson, Gardiner and the Ryrie brothers - who by and large remained in controll for less than a decade then disappeared from the region's history books.

Most local history books open with the arrival of a district’s first farmer with his plough, generally in the early 1850s. But, what about the fifteen or so years before that first farmer arrived? What was happening here in the Yarra Valley then when a people who had seen it as home for thousands of years either died or were pushed aside. What role did the owners of the fifteen sheep and cattle stations between Heidelberg and Healesville play in their demise and how did their occupation of the land expose succeeding generations of settlers to the periodic onslaught of major bushfires?


The Coranderrk and Birrarung Databases, compiled by Mick Woiwod

The Coranderrk and Birrarung Databases ares the collections of Mick Woiwod's research notes. The Coranderrk Database runs to approximately 79 pages and consists of a chronology detailing the action at Coranderrk between 1867 and 1924.

Similarly The Birrarung Database is a collection of Mick's research references.

Mick used the references in the databases for information which he included in his books that are listed on this website.

The databases are available as published books and also on CD for quick reference via computer.


Mick Woiwod

Mick Woiwod

Another View of Kangaroo Ground: Its Land and Its People, 69 pp. by Mick Woiwod, Andrew Ross Museum, 2002

Kangaroo Ground can be said to have two stories: that of its extensive geological formation and Aboriginal occupation and that of its later European settlement. Of the two, the former is by far the most gripping and by far the longest. It’s a story of belching volcanoes, land uplift and of wombat-like creatures the size of hippopotamuses. This book tells of how Aboriginal people transformed its landscape with fire and by doing so made it a safer place for themselves and ourselves to live.


Kangaroo Ground: The Highland Taken, by Mick Woiwod,commissioned by Bruce Nixon, Tarcoola Press, 1996

This major history of Kangaroo Ground details the district’s story between 1841 and 1996, describing it as having been unique in the Yarra Valley in that its early settlers were all Scottish and its soils were more fertile than those of surrounding districts. Their soil gave them the sort of power that saw the then extensive Shire of Eltham governed from little Kangaroo Ground for a remarkable 69 years. The author describes the Kangaroo Ground landscape that these farmers worked in the early period as having been already significantly modified by Aboriginal fire-stick farming before their arrival.


The Last Cry, by Mick Woiwod, Tarcoola Press, 1997

The main theme of this 300 pp. historical novel is the story of its Wurundjeri people as it played out between 1847 and 1851 as the settler world moved out towards them in the Yarra Valley and took away their land. Thoroughly researched, its principal characters are Ngayuk, a young Wurundjeri initiate and Jaga Jaga, the rainbow warrior of the Yarra Valley who was determined to push the invaders back into the sea. The story opens in Kangaroo Ground and moves up and down the Yarra country and out into wider Victoria. Most all of its characters on the white side of the cultural divide are drawn from actual players in the interaction. Launched by senior elder, Joy Murphy, the novel includes maps and a glossary of 300 Wurundjeri terms to assist the reader with the action.



Against the Odds: Research Rural Fire Brigade 1950-2000, 128 pp. by Mick Woiwod, Para Press, 2000

The Research Fire Brigade established in 1950 with little more than an ancient World War II ex-Army Blitz-Wagon and a dozen or so knapsack-sprays and beaters, plus a ton of enthusiasm. With little more than this, its crew had set out in the 1962 bush fires to take on what was to prove the worst conflagration the Shire of Eltham had ever confronted. With its radio transmitter out of action, it lost contact with its base but nevertheless remained in the field for the better part of two days fighting the fire wherever it was able, all remaining brigade members understanding it to have been lost. Today, equipped with state of the art fire-fighting equipment, the brigade ranks among the most active in the region.


Tread Softly: You Tread on Dreams, 154 pp. by Mick Woiwod, Kangaroo Ground Cemetery Trust, 2001

The Kangaroo Ground Pioneer Cemetery is the oldest operating cemetery in the Yarra Valley, it having opened in 1851 when the people of Kangaroo Ground had been faced with the need to find a place to bury, the 5 year-old sister of John and Joseph Furphy. For its first 140 years, its local trust managed cemetery affairs on a shoestring budget knowing that their turn too would inevitably come to pay burial fees. Of latter years its trust has been more upfront and has transformed its five or so acres into something its community can justifiably feel pride.



Golden Days on the Caledonian Diggings, 66 pp. by Mick Woiwod, Andrew Ross Museum, 2005.

The discovery of gold in the Stringy-bark Forest a few miles east of Kangaroo Ground in 1854, brought substantial changes to the district. Very little had survived about day-to-day living on these goldfields until the museum was presented with the Diary of Thomas Young (1821-1910) who, between June 1865 and July 1866, had carted ore between the district’s various working mines and Nickinson’ crusher in Panton Hill. In between times Thomas wrote about daily life on the Caledonian field and of how he and his wife, Brigid, raised their large family in a basic bark-and-slab hut in a bush clearing.


Boat O’Craigo, 355 pp., by Mick Woiwod commissioned by Stephen Graham, Boat O’Craigo Vineyard, Kangaroo Ground, 2006

When news reached Scotland in 1852 that immense quantities of gold had been discovered in Victoria, Robert Graham hopped on board the first available ship and compiled a marvellous shipboard diary detailing the action along the way. Upon arrival in Melbourne, he headed direct for Bendigo but, much like the Kangaroo Ground farmers, he decided better money could be won with a bullock team carting supplies to the diggers. Later on, he himself became a successful farmer and thereby established a dynasty. Today, his great grandson, Stephen Graham is proprietor of ‘Boat O’Craigo Vineyard’ on Kangaroo Ground’s Garden Hill.


Auld Duncan’s Kangaroo Ground Tales, 86 pp., by Mick Woiwod, Andrew Ross Museum, 2007

In 2006, the Andrew Ross Museum, aware that few young children read history books, decided to produce an illustrated volume about Kangaroo Ground especially for them. Upon finding it near on impossible to write to young children, Mick chose instead to do so under the pseudonym ‘Auld Duncan’


Amongst the Old Folks, 136 pp., by Mick Woiwod, Rye Cemetery Trust, 2007

Following the success of Tread Softly: You Tread on Dreams, a request that he couldn’t refuse, came to Mick from his Rye Historical Society brother to do likewise for Rye for a companion volume.