Stanley Harold Stafford (1918-1990)


An outgoing, grass roots Nat Mapper 1965-1981


By Laurie McLean July 2020


Stan Stafford circa age 67 years at Dandenong in August 1985.

Oz Ertok image from XNatmap library.


Stan Stafford was a popular and ever-outgoing character with Nat Map from the mid-1960s until his retirement in June 1981.† Stan came to Nat Mapís Melbourne office around 1965 as a storeman.† In this position Stan was employed directly by Nat Mapís parent organisation the then Department of National Development through its Victorian Regional Office.


However, Nat Map was not Stanís only source of income.† During most of his time when based at Nat Mapís Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street Melbourne, Stan also worked after hours in a cleaning business that he operated with his wife Nell.† Stan is understood to have worked mainly for office cleaning clients.† One such office was that of the food and agribusiness enterprise Craig Mostyn and Company Pty Ltd in Jolimont Road Jolimont.† Stan apparently ceased his cleaning business prior to the Nat Map office move to Dandenong during March-April 1977.


Stan-the Nat Map storeman circa 1965-1971

Stan Stafford started in the Nat Map store in the Rialto Building around the time the store relocated to the Rialto from an earlier site on the ground floor of 38‑40 Lonsdale Street in the north east of Melbourneís central business district.† This earlier site was on the north west corner of Lonsdale and Little Leichhardt Streets. †Following major redevelopments after the 1960s, Little Leichhardt Street was renamed Madame Brussels Lane after Prussian‑born Caroline Hodgson nťe Lohman (1851-1908) who operated several establishments in the area for over 30 years from the early 1870s.


The holdings in the Nat Map store comprised field survey instruments (ranging from Tellurometers and theodolites to meteorological measuring instruments as well as prismatic compasses and measuring tapes and steel bands etc). †The store holdings included field camping equipment (swags, stretchers, tents and cooking utensils, petrol-powered generators, and refrigerators, etc).† There were also vehicle-related and general hand tools (including spanners, jacks, tyre repair items) and axes, spades, shovels, crowbars, chainsaws etc).


Shortly before the commencement of each yearís field survey operations, Stan Stafford would issue the above equipment items to field survey party members, through a formal stores requisition and group stores record documentation process.† Stan would receive the equipment back into the store at the end of each field survey season.† After which, technical equipment would generally be sent for calibration or repair and camping equipment such as canvas items would also be repaired as necessary.† Such repair and refurbishment work as well as new equipment purchases was effected prior to the next field season.


Initially, the Nat Map store at the Rialto Building was located in the basement at the northern (Collins Street) end of the laneway on the Flinders Lane level.† However, by at least mid‑1966 the store was moved to the southern (Flinders Lane) end of the Rialtoís lower ground floor; one floor above the laneway.† From the lower ground floor a hand winch on the balcony was used to lower (and raise) the stores to load (and unload) vehicles parked in the laneway.† The store remained on the lower ground floor until early 1977 when Nat Mapís Melbourne office relocated to Ellery House at 280 Thomas Street Dandenong.


Stan Stafford, did not remain as Nat Mapís storeman for all of his service at the Rialto.† In late 1970, the position of senior storeman was created but Stan was unable to secure a promotion to this higher level.† Instead the new position was taken by Peter Clive Stocco (1928-2004) formerly with the Victorian Police Department.† Peterís appointment to the senior storeman position was promulgated in the Commonwealth Government Gazette on 22 October 1970.


Stan - Nat Mapís Melbourne office utility driver 1971-1977

In early 1971, Stan Stafford left the Nat Map store and took up a position as the driver of a Holden utility that was used as the Nat Map Melbourne office general transport vehicle.† In this position as a motor driver, Stanís formal responsibilities were to: drive a departmental vehicle as directed in connection with the collection, delivery and dispatch of maps, stores and equipment.


This position change was a minor promotion for Stan; a salary increase of $80 per annum.† Stanís promotion was promulgated in the Commonwealth Government Gazette on 4 February 1971.† His new position (number 147) was in Nat Mapís Administrative Section rather than with the Departmentís Victorian Regional Office.


The vacancy in the Nat Map store arising from Stanís promotion to motor driver was filled by the transfer of David George Macaw (circa 1916-1996).† Dave Macaw had previously worked as a civilian storeman with the Department of the Army.† He had briefly served as a Private in the Army during World War II (from June 1940 to May 1941).† Dave Macaw joined the Nat Map/VRO store around 1971 and continued as storeman and later as the senior storeman after Nat Map moved to Ellery House, Dandenong in early 1977.† Dave retired (due to ill health) from the then Department of National Development and Energy on 31 July 1980.† His retirement was promulgated in the Commonwealth Government Gazette on 25 August 1980.


While working in Nat Mapís store, Stan Stafford necessarily spent most of his work time in the store on the lower ground floor of the Rialto.† As a consequence, Stan was not often seen in other parts of the Rialto office.† However, as the office utility driver Stan interacted with staff throughout the office.† One manifestation of this interaction was Stanís generous organisation of the office-wide Christmas parties at the Rialto after he had left the store.† For these events, Stan would arrange the collection of staff funding contributions and arrange the supply and delivery of drinks and light nibbles.† In part, due to the success of these informal staff events, a formal staff social club was established when the office moved to Ellery House Dandenong in early 1977.


Ill health event circa 1977

In early 1977 (or late 1976), Stan Stafford suffered a serious heart attack.† This event happened on a Monday morning but Stan had been feeling unwell throughout the previous week end.† After visiting his family doctor at Middle Park on the Monday, Stan attended a diagnostic clinic in St Kilda Road for an electro cardio graph procedure.


During his attendance for this procedure Stan suffered the heart attack.† As a consequence, Stan was conveyed by ambulance to the Alfred Hospital in Commercial Road for emergency treatment.† Stan remained at the Alfred for some time and then spent further time off work on leave to convalesce.


Stan-Technical Assistant, Ellery House 1977-1981

Stan returned to work around the time the Nat Map office moved from the Rialto Building to Ellery House Dandenong.† However, his health was not sufficiently robust for him to continue as the utility driver especially as Dandenong was some 32 kilometres from the Melbourne city centre.† This extra distance added significantly to many office transport vehicle journeys.† In June 1977, Polish born Kazimierz (Joe) Stanczewski was appointed as the office motor driver at Ellery House.


Also in June 1977, Stan Stafford took up a Technical Assistant Grade 1 position in the Survey and Map Records Section at Dandenong.† Stanís promotion to this position was promulgated in the Commonwealth Government Gazette on 30 June 1977.† Although gazetted as a promotion, the salary range of his new position (number 941) involved a minor drop in salary for Stan albeit just $5 per annum.


Stanís formal duties as Technical Assistant Grade 1 were to assist in the recording of mapping material received in the section and the maintenance of libraries of such material.† He also assisted in straightforward counter inquiries concerning mapping material.† Stan operated and undertook routine cleaning and maintenance of the office dyeline machine.† He also provided technical assistance in the Section generally.


The major part of Stanís duties after Sam Rizzo left the section was to manage the daily inward and outward flow of aerial photography film negatives to and from the photographic services contractor.† This was a materials handling exercise involving valuable aerial films.† Black plastic cannisters containing 230 millimetre format aerial survey films were assembled and documented as required in the halon gas (bromotrifluoromethane) fire-protected film vault each afternoon and loaded into the contractorís vehicle next morning.† Film cannisters returned by the contractor were checked against documentation and placed back in Compactus storage units in the film vault.† During Stanís time on this task at Ellery House the contractor was Air Photographs Pty Ltd who operated from premises in Burwood Road Auburn.


When Stan tookĖup the Technical Assistant Grade 1 position, the Survey and Map Records Section at Dandenong was headed by Norman Keith Hawker (1926-1995) as Senior Technical Officer.† Other staff in Nat Mapís Technical Support Section when Stan worked there included: Alan Leo Chaikin (1924‑1999), Milton Ralph Biddle, Alan Clayton Mason (1927‑1994), Vivienne Ann Wraith (1935-2014), Patricia Joan Booth (later Mrs Tricia Hatfield), Salvatore (Sam) Rizzo, Laurie McLean, Henry Leonard (Harry) Simpson (1923-2009), Penelope (Penny) Thomas, Judy Rodriquez, Elizabeth Victoria (Vicki) Charman (later Mrs Vicki McRae), and Eric William (Blue) MacGibbon.† After Norm Hawker retired in March 1978, the Senior Technical Officers in charge of the section included, John Allen, Alan Mason (acting), Gregory Ross (Joe) McRae, and Robert George (Bob) Foster (1928-1997).


Early life-parents, siblings and grand parents

Stanley Harold Stafford was born at Williamstown on 16 August 1918.† Stan was the second of the 3 children born to John Thomas Stafford (1888-1964) and his wife Hilda Jane Stafford nťe Mouchemore (1889Ė1952).† Stanís siblings were his older brother John William Stafford (1915-1980) and his younger sister Veronica Hilda Stafford (1927-1997).† Stanís brother never married.† In 1944 Stanís sister Veronica married William Rueben Wendt (1921-1985) in Victoria; there were no children from this marriage.


Stanís father John Thomas Stafford was born at Williamstown on 23 July 1888 to Henry Cohen Stafford (1860-1952) and his wife Caroline Eliza Stafford nťe Tomlinson (1862-1935).† Stanís father John Thomas Stafford died at Williamstown on 9 March 1964 at 75 years of age.† For most of his working life JT Stafford was employed as a labourer.† Stanís father John was the 5th of the 12 children born to Henry and Caroline Stafford between 1882 and 1907.


Stanís mother Hilda Jane Mouchemore was born at her parentsí residence then in Fish Street Queenscliff on 4 September 1889 and died at Williamstown on 19 January 1952 at the age of 62 years.† Hildaís parents were Daniel White Mouchemore (1858-1911) and his wife Mary Mouchemore nťe Carver (1860‑1928).


For much of his working life Stanís maternal grandfather, Daniel Mouchemore, was a fisherman at Queenscliff. †Daniel was born at Mordialloc in 1858 and died at 52 years of age in Geelong Hospital on 4 November 1911. †Stanís maternal grandmother Mary Carver was born at Drysdale on 7 March 1860, the second of twins. †Her twin sister was Catherine Carver (1860-1921).


Stan Stafford, the later Nat Mapper, appears to have been named after his late uncle who died 7 years before (Nat Mapper) Stan was born.† This uncle was also named Stanley Harold Stafford.† The older SH Stafford was born on 27 September 1901 at Dromana and died at 10 years of age in the Austin Hospital at Heidelberg on 28 October 1911.† The older SH Stafford was the 11th of the 12 children born to Henry Cohen Stafford (1860-1952) and his wife Caroline Eliza Stafford nťe Tomlinson (1862-1935).


Stanís paternal grandfather Henry Cohen Stafford was born on 7 December 1860 at Cape Barren Island Tasmania (the birth was registered at Launceston).† Henry Cohen Stafford died on 19 December 1952 at Heidelberg.† Stanís paternal grandmother Caroline Eliza Tomlinson was born at Williamstown on 8 March 1862 and died at Williamstown on 24 June 1935.


Henry Cohen Stafford and Caroline Eliza Tomlinson were married on 22 December 1881 at the Free Church of England that operated in More Street Fitzroy from around 1860 to 1907.† As mentioned, Henry and Caroline Stafford were to have 12 children, 7 of which were born at Williamstown and the other children were born at Gabo Island, Aireyís Inlet, Portland, Cliffy Island and Dromana.


After an early career in the Victorian Navy, Henry Cohen Stafford joined the light house service in July 1884.† From electoral roll entries and other sources, his posting as a lighthouse keeper included: Gabo Island (1886), Cape Nelson (1894-1895 and 1917-1920), Dromana (1901), Cape Otway (1902), Queenscliff (1904), Cliffy Island (1907), Cape Schanck (1909), and Airey's Inlet (1914). †(This listing may not be complete and dates at the various light houses are not necessarily the full term spent there.)† Further information on Henry Cohen Staffordís career and related matters is provided in Appendix A.


World War II Service

At age 21 years, Stan Stafford enlisted in the Australian Army (Citizen Military Forces) at Yarraville on 8 January 1940, Service Number V68021.† When he joined the Army Stan stated that his civilian occupation was nickel plater. †Stan Stafford was taken on the strength of 32 Battalion on 20 January 1940.† On 17 August 1940, Stan was promoted (temporary) Corporal but relinquished that rank on 2 September 1940.† Stanís service record does not indicate a date of discharge.† However, it appears that Stan was still in the Army after he married in September 1941 as his service record marital status was amended from single to married.† From his Service Number, it is unlikely that Stan served overseas.


Marriage to Ellen Gibbs 1941

Stan Stafford and Ellen Alice (Nell) Gibbs married at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Middle Park on 27 September 1941. †A newspaper report of their wedding is at Appendix B.† At the time of their marriage Stan was 22 years of age and Nell was 23 years of age.† Stan and Nellís marriage was to last for some 49 years until Stanís death in 1990.† Stan and Nell Stafford were to have 4 children; daughter Lynette Ellen (1943‑1986) and sons Peter, John and Colin.† Peter Stafford died at Melton in 2014.


Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Middle Park in recent years.

An XNatmap image.


About Ellen Gibbs

Stan Staffordís wife Ellen Alice (Nell) Gibbs was born at Portland in western Victoria on 8 January 1918.† Nell was the first daughter of Charles John Gibbs (1896‑1950) and his wife Jeanie Fleming Gibbs nťe Smith (1898-1978).† Charles Gibbs was born at South Melbourne and Jeanie Smith was born at Byaduk, a hamlet on the Hamilton to Port Fairy road in western Victoria about 20 kilometres south of Hamilton.† Charles and Jeanie married in Victoria in 1917.† Charles Gibbs died at Albert Park in 1950 and Jeanie Gibbs died at Coburg in 1978.


From electoral roll entries it appears that for most of his working life Nellís father Charles John Gibbs was employed as a labourer and her mother Jeanie Gibbs was occupied with home duties.† Charles and Jeanie Gibbs resided in Palmer Street Portland from around the time of their wedding in 1917 until 1921 when they resided at 190 Mary Street Richmond.† In 1922 they resided at 170 Princes Street Port Melbourne.† In 1925 Charles and Jeanie Gibbs were residing at 313 Raglan Parade Warrnambool and in 1928 they were back at Palmer Street Portland.† In 1936 Charles and Jeanie Gibbs were residing at 3 Morris Street Emerald Hill (South Melbourne).† From 1941 until at least 1949, Charles and Jeanie Gibbs resided at 82 Neville Street Middle Park.


Stan and Nell Staffordís Melbourne residences

From electoral rolls, immediately after their wedding in 1941, Stan and Nell Stafford lived with Nellís parents in Neville Street Middle Park (their wedding report stated number 42 but later relevant electoral rolls indicated number 82.† In 1949, Stan and Nell resided at 22 Little OíGrady Street, Albert Park where Stanís occupation was listed as nickel plater and Nellís as home duties.


In 1954, Stan and Nell were again residing at 82 Neville Street, Albert Park with same occupations as in 1949.† The Neville Street address was where Nellís parents had resided for much of the 1940s.† However, Nellís father Charles died on 24 January 1950 and her mother Jeanie moved to 36 Sutherland Street Brunswick West during 1949.


Between 1963 and 1977, Stan and Nell and their children resided at 285 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park.† During their years at 285 Beaconsfield Parade, Stanís occupation was listed as plater and Nellís as home duties.† The now refurbished 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, single fronted terrace dwelling that faces South Melbourne beach and has rear access to Ainsworth Street with a garage is still standing.† It last sold at auction in November 2015 for $2.6 million.


Several Nat Mappers remember calling at the Staffordsí Beaconsfield Parade residence over the years where Nell would invariably provide a nice cup of tea and a slice of tasty fruit cake.


Within a year or so of the Nat Map office moving to Dandenong in early 1977, Stan Stafford advised a few of his work colleagues that he had been unable to renew his lease on 285 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park.† As a consequence Nell and Stan decided to look for rental accommodation in Melbourneís eastern suburbs as it would be closer to the Dandenong office and nearer some of their children.


An electoral roll for 1980 listed Stan and Nell Stafford as residing at Unit 1, 105 Dorset Road Boronia.† On that roll, Nell was listed as being occupied in home duties and Stan was listed as a public servant.† The 105-107 Dorset Road complex was a small block of low set units that is still standing.† It was about 16 kilometres north of Nat Mapís Dandenong office.


Nat Map retirement

Stan Stafford retired from Nat Mapís Dandenong Office as a Technical Assistant Grade 1 on 8 June 1981 at age 62 years.† Stanís retirement, on invalidity grounds, was promulgated in the Commonwealth Government Gazette on 18 June 1981.


Soon after he retired, Stan and Nell Stafford moved from their unit in Boronia to a newly built low-set housing unit complex in Wangaratta in north east Victoria.† The complex was built by the Victorian Government as part of a social housing program.† Here Stan was able to enjoy some 9 years in retirement.



Stan Stafford died peacefully at his home in Wangaratta on the early evening of 6 June 1990.† He was 71 years of age.† Apparently, after their evening meal, Nell found Stan unresponsive in his lounge chair in front of the television set.† Stan was survived by Nell, his wife of 49 years and by 3 of their 4 children; sons Peter, John and Colin.† Stan and Nellís eldest child, daughter Lynette Ellen, died in 1986 at age 43 years.


After a service in their Roman Catholic church, Stanís remains were buried at the Wangaratta Cemetery in Tone Road. †Nat Mappers known to be among the mourners at Stanís funeral were Michael Lloyd, Graeme Lawrence and Reg Helmore.


Stan Stafford is fondly remembered by his Nat Map colleagues.


Sadly, Nell Stafford died on 27 October 1999 at 81 years of age.† Nellís remains were buried beside those of her late husband at the Wangaratta Cemetery.


Stan and Nell Staffordís grave at Wangaratta Cemetery.

An XNatmap image.





Appendix A


About Stan Staffordís Grandfather: Henry Cohen Stafford (1860-1952) and the Cape Nelson Lighthouse


Beacon of the Night - by Openlight

Situated 4Ĺ miles from Cape Grant, 7Ĺ miles from Cape Bridgewater, and 21 miles from Lady Julia Percy Island, stands the Cape Nelson Lighthouse, which, with Spit Point, possesses the fourth largest tower in Victoria, the largest being that of Gabo Island Lighthouse, whilst Cape Everard and Dromana towers hold second and third place, respectively, in point of height.† Both the Nelson Lighthouse and the living quarters are built of stone, the tower itself being of blue stone, of rather poor quality, quarried some four miles away, on the Portland side of the Cape.


The lighthouse, which was erected in 1884 and lit the same year, stands 106 feet high.† By the kind permission of the Chief, we ascend in spiral manner over a hundred steps, and reach a point close to the top of the tower, where, looking down from the railing on to the huge cliffs - themselves nearly two hundred feet in height and rising abruptly from the water's edge - we spend a pleasant half hour surveying the scene, a thick mist precluding the possibility of our vision penetrating for seaward.† But it sufficed to gaze down that 300 feet to where the foam of the breakers was pitching over the rocks at the foot of the bluff, momentarily covering these huge boulders as with a white tablecloth, whose cleanly appearance would satisfy the eye of the most fastidious housewife.† Large geyser-like columns of water would persistently shoot skyward, as if bent upon emulating the dizzy height of the motionless sentry near by, only to tumble down defeated, then gather volume for a more vigorous effort. †And to humanity they set the fine example: Aim high if you would shoot over the trees.


Yet a few steps more to finish our climb, and we come up level with the powerful eye of the Nelson (temporarily closed while Old Sol carries on).† Here the keeper kindly removes the protection from the huge reflector, which is 12 feet in diameter and 14 feet high, and, under ordinary weather conditions, throws a light to sea for 23 miles.† The light itself is incandescent, vaporising its own gas from kerosene oil.† As we gaze we contemplate.† What a tremendous power for good has this monster upon which we stand!† How welcome must be the well‑known gleam to the ships that pass in the night!† How science has leapt and bounded, like the very waves themselves, and triumphed over space - in the piping times of peace, as in the great roar of battle!† Why has science ever been used as a power for anything else but good?† Maybe the poet would write again - Wherefore weariest thou thyself With thy vain imaginings.


The Cape Nelson light was opened by Mr Fish, as head keeper, with Assistants Murray and McBain. †Mr Fish is still alive, although over 90 years of age.† He also opened the Cape Everard Lighthouse some four or five years after Cape Nelson, retiring from the service about 1889.


The Cape Nelson lighthouse in recent years.

An XNatmap image.


During the 36 years' existence of the Lighthouse, the changes to the staff have been numerous.† The only permanent assistant at the present time is Mr H Dickson, who came to the Nelson in August, 1917, being transferred from Cape Everard.† The present head keeper at a Cape Nelson, Mr Henry Stafford, joined the lighthouse service the same year that Cape Nelson light was lit, being transferred from the Victorian Navy to the lighthouse service in July 1884.† He was in charge of the Nelson light from 1894 to 1895, and again from 3 November 1917, to the present date.


To use his own humorous phrase, he is going on the scrap heap at the end of the year, having attained the retiring age.† Congratulations to the Nelson's popular Chief, and Providence long grant him health and strength, that he might enjoy, after the gong sounds for downing tools, a much-deserved rest from duty well done, which achievement is the consolation and pride of the individual.† Keepers may come and keepers may go; but the mighty and indispensable beacon of the nightóthe brilliant, fixed star whose busy astronomers are the seamen on the bridgeómust continue indefinitely her beneficent work, like an untiring giantess, guiding ye wearie mariner over the trackless deep, through the silent watches of the night.


Truncated extract from the Portland Guardian, Thursday 19 August 1920, page 2.




A pleasurable interview was that with Mr H C Stafford, a former light-house keeper, of Cape Nelson who hereunder relates a few of his varied and interesting experiences:


I am a native of Portland, born in 1860 [on Cape Barren Island], and am 69 years of age.† At present I am in the best of health.† I started my career in a whaling barque called the Hobart, and later joined the Survey (sic)* [probably HMSV Victoria], the oldest and first Victorian gunboat [actually a sloop-of-war] in Australian waters owned by the Government.† I later on joined the [Victorian] Navy, and afterwards transferred to the light-house service.† I came to Portland 34 years ago (1895) and was stationed at the light-house on the south side of the bay.† This light-house was later dismantled, and every stone was marked and re‑erected in the present structure on the north bluff.


Three generations of Mr Stafford's people have been light-house keepers.† His step-father's father was the first light-house keeper in charge of Kent's Group, situated 40 miles east of Wilson's Promontory in Tasmanian waters, all waters over 5 miles out then coming under the heading of Tasmanian waters.


Mr Stafford remembers many tragic wrecks, including that of the steamer Federal, on which all the crew were drowned.† He himself found the body of the chief engineer and buried it on Gabo Island, but it was later exhumed and sent to Melbourne.† He has seen mighty ocean liners tossed like corks on the waves, and also witnessed the wreck of the Curlew, a scow bound from New Zealand to Melbourne with a cargo of tin, all hands of which were saved.


During his term at Queenscliff, the P&O mail steamer Australia was wrecked off Point Nepean reef, and Mr Stafford was the first man to see the signal of distress.† He immediately signalled the life-boat crew, who saved all on board with the exception of a Lascar [an Indian sailor] who was killed, being crushed between the boat and the steamer during the excitement which prevailed.


An article in the Portland Guardian, Thursday 21 November 1929, page 2.


*No record of a gunboat named Survey was discovered during research for this article.† The vessel referred to here was probably HMVS Victoria (1855-1880).† She was the first armed vessel obtained by the colonial Victorian Navy and among other duties undertook extensive survey work; see below for more information on the Victoria.


Vessels mentioned by Henry Stafford in above Back to Portland article


Whaling Barque Hobart

During research for this article no mention of a whaling barque Hobart was discovered.† However, the Hobart press reported the arrival and departure of numerous whaling barques of both Australian and American origin.† Barques were three‑masted vessels with square-set sail and rigging on all three masts.† Often, however, the mizzen mast (at the rear of the main deck) carried a gaff‑rigged mail sail instead.† This configuration was favoured because it was relatively easily managed by a skeleton crew when the whaleboats were in operation.


A typical layout of a medium to large whaleship, be it British, American or Australian, featured three whaleboats on high davits on the port side and one boat on the starboard quarter.† A framework could be lowered amidships, usually, but not always on the starboard side, to facilitate cutting in of whales tied alongside.


The tryworks were usually erected on deck forward of the fore hatch, consisting of a brick furnace containing two 250 gallon trypots.† A wooden framework or goosepen around the brick base of the tryworks was filled with water, which circulated around and beneath the base of the furnace guarding against accidental firing of the deck.† A cooling tank, often of copper, was beside the tryworks, or in larger ships between decks beneath the tryworks.† Once cooled, the oil was casked in wooden casks and stored below.


Barques reported in the Hobart press in the 1870s and 1880s varied between about 150 tons and about 300 tons.


HMVS Victoria (1855-1880)

The 880 tons displacement or 580 tons measurement, Victoria was a sloop‑of‑war that had the prefixes HMVS-Her Majesty's Victorian Ship and also HMCSS-Her Majesty's Colonial Steam Sloop.† She was a combined steam and sailing vessel.† Victoria was the first warship to be built in England for one of the British colonies. †She was the second ship ordered for an Australian colonial navy, after the Australian-built gunboat Spitfire for the colony of New South Wales. †Victoria was designed by the British naval architect Oliver Lang and launched in London on 30 June 1855 by Lady Constance Talbot. †Commander William Henry Norman sailed the Victoria from Plymouth to Hobsons Bay, arriving on 31 May 1856.


Victoriaís armaments varied over her service life.† In 1856 she had a 9-foot 6‑inch pivot gun and two 6-feet 32-pounder guns.† In 1867 she had four 32‑pounder guns, one 40-pounder Armstrong pivot gun and two 12-pounder brass field guns.


Between April 1860 and March 1861, Victoria operated in New Zealand waters including as a troop transport and a shore bombardment vessel during the First Taranaki War between the Māori people and British settlers seeking their lands.† Victoria performed other tasks including the evacuation of women and children from the town of New Plymouth.


View from the beach at Sandridge (Port Melbourne), Victoria, of two colonial warships, HMCS Victoria (left) and HMVS Nelson circa 1868.

Australian War Memorial water colour drawing Accession Number ART91193.


Between August 1861 and March 1862, Victoria was engaged in the search for explorers Burke and Wills in the Gulf of Carpentaria.† She ferried William Landsboroughís Queensland Relief Expedition from Brisbane to the Albert River in the Gulf of Carpentaria. †After finding only traces of the missing explorers, Victoria returned to Melbourne on 31 March 1862.


In July 1866, the Victoria and another vessel, the Pharos, made 2 voyages to King Island to recover some 460 passengers and crew who survived the wreck of the immigrant sailing ship Netherby that had been bound for Queensland.


During her Navy service Victoria was engaged in numerous survey tasks.† For example, in February 1875, Victoria was reported to have been recently engaged on surveys in Bass Strait around Flinders Island, Cape Barren Island, Armstrong Channel (between Cape Barren Island and Clarke Island), Banks Strait (between the Furneaux Group and Cape Portland on the Tasmanian mainland and at Waterhouse Island (to the west of Cape Portland).† Victoria was then currently surveying in Hobsons Bay.


The colonial Victorian Naval Forces comprised a permanent force known as the Victorian Navy and a 300-strong Victorian Naval Brigade consisting of the Williamstown Division and the Sandridge (Port Melbourne) Division.† The combined Victorian Navy and the Victorian Naval Brigade were known as the Victorian Naval Forces.† Following the success of Victoria, the Victorian colonial government ordered an ironclad ship, HMVS Cerberus and was gifted the composite steam-sail warship, Nelson.† The Victorian naval force was considered the most powerful of all the Australian colonial naval forces.


In 1880 Victoria was decommissioned and sold into civilian service.† A word of caution here: in 1884 the Colony of Victoria added 2 flat-iron type gunboats of 530 tons displacement to its Navy. †These gunboats were named Victoria and Albert for Queen Victoria and the late Prince Albert.† HMCSS Victoria (II) was decommissioned circa 1896 and sold to the Western Australian Government.


Loss of the Federal 1901

On 21 March 1901, the SS Federal under captain O Rice went missing in a gale off Cape Everard in far eastern Victoria.† Built in 1890, she was carrying coal from Port Kembla in New South Wales to Albany in Western Australia.† A crew of 31 people were onboard.† The loss of the Federal was not reported until 2 April 1901.† The body of chief engineer J Hill and much wreckage was found on Gabo Island by the lighthouse keeper Henry Stafford.† By 20 April 1901, 5 other bodies had been found near Cape Everard, along with a boat bearing the name of the ill-fated collier. †A later inquiry into the loss of the SS Federal was unable to come to any conclusion about her fate.


SS Federal.

Australian National Maritime Museum image.


In an earlier incident, on the night of 9 March 1893, the Federal had been driven ashore at North Breakwater opposite Nobbyís at Newcastle, New South Wales during the great floods in the Hunter River.


In 2012, recreational diver Damien Siviero explored the wreckage of SS Federal during a diving trip organised by a group of friends.† Apparently the Melbourne‑based friends had been tipped off about the location of the shipwreck by local fishermen.† The divers filmed the shipwreck and reported it to authorities. †Several years later, scientists onboard the CSIRO Research Vessel Investigator surveyed the SS Federal and mapped the wreck at the bottom of Bass Strait in deep water about halfway between Ram Head and Cape Everard.


Loss of the Curlew 1915

Built in 1907, the Curlew was a New Zealand-built scow, a distinctive type of broad, flat-bottomed sailing vessel that evolved for use in shallow water and for crossing dangerous bars at river mouths. †In September 1915, the Curlew was sheltering from a gale at Greater Glennie Island (about 7 kilometres west of Wilsons Promontory). †The wind changed direction and the vessel was blown onto the rocks.† Wreckage from the vessel is still to be found at a number of locations on Wilsons Promontory. †Iron bark piles were seen floating in the vicinity of the Promontory and were a temporary danger to navigation. †However, reports stated that the wood was green and tied with chains which would sink.


On Friday 24 September 1915 the Curlew was anchored in the shelter of Great Glennie Island in strong north west winds having arrived there on the previous Friday (17 September 1915). †At 3.00 pm the wind shifted to the north north‑west and strengthened driving the vessel towards the rocks. †The crew abandoned the vessel when she was within a few fathoms of the island and made their way to shore. †At about 7.00 pm they heard the scow strike the rocks. †Next morning the vessel had disappeared and the crew spent two nights sheltering on the island until picked up by the SS Manawatu.*

(*The Union Steamship Company's steamer Manawatu of 183 gross register tons had spent many years on the New Zealand coastal trade.)


RMS Australia 1904

The Royal Mail Steamer Australia (6901/3702 tons) was built at Greenock on the Clyde River, Scotland in 1892 for the P&O Steam Navigation Company and was considered one of the top class vessels in the England-Australia trade.† When lost, she held the speed record from England to Australia and was one of the most luxurious vessels afloat.


Under Captain Cole, she was wrecked on the eastern side of Port Phillip Heads, due to pilot error on 21 June 1904.† Australia hit Corsair Rock at 15 knots which ground off her plate rivet heads and opened a five metre split alongside her keel.† The passengers and some of the crew were taken off in rescue craft sent out from Queenscliff.† She lay balanced on her middle in a groove she had cut in the surface of the rock and with a slight list to starboard.† To repair the split was impracticable and to refloat her was impossible.


The underwriters removed vast quantities of valuable cargo, cut a huge gap in her side, and in five weeks of fine weather four divers, under the direction of George Beckett, Australiaís most famous diver of the period, recovered more than 100 cases and packages of goods, mostly consigned to Melbourne firms.


Then under the threat of dirty weather they decided to put the vessel and what remained of her cargo up for auction; the successful bidder was a rather surprised draper, the Honourable Mr John George Aikman (1858-1928), a Bourke Street draper, pastoralist, a Member of the Legislative Council and a Lord Mayor of Melbourne.† Aikman bought the vessel for a mere £290 and the remaining cargo for £60.† Beckett removed the shipís phosphor bronze propeller which brought £1,000, and muntz* metal in the cargo valued at £750. (*An alloy of 60 per cent copper and 40 per cent zinc used for sheathing ships and other purposes.)


The weather held and a strange assortment of cargo was hauled to the upper deck and shipped off to Melbourne.† There were, for example 10 crates of enamelware, a big case of Booseyís brass band instruments, tons of bar metal, Irish whisky, Indian tea, and cases of drapery and haberdashery.† Most was put up for auction in the sheds at Port Melbourne and salvage from the Australia was peddled in every town in Victoria, and many interstate.† Eventually the bow section broke off and slid into deep water, and plunderers set the remaining section alight.† The burnt-out shell of the ship still contained hundreds of pounds worth of brass and copper.† Beckett methodically stripped the engine room and when he had finished the draper showed a profit of more than £180,000, a vast sum for those days.


A few days after the huge salvage sale, a mysterious fire gutted the ship, burning for five days.† Suspicion was directed to Queenscliff fishermen who had apparently been helping themselves to whatever they could find.† Two years passed before the wreck broke up, and the remains were finally blasted away in 1911.† What little remains to be seen are located over a wide area some 300 metres west of Rock Beacon, at a depth of† 5 to 7 metres.



Appendix B


Stan and Nell Stafford wedding report


Wedding Bells STAFFORD - GIBBS

A wedding of local interest was celebrated at the Carmelite Church, Middle Park, on Saturday last September 27.† The contracting parties were Ellen Alice daughter of Mr and Mrs Gibbs, 42 Neville Street, Middle Park, and Stanley Harold, second son of Mr and Mrs Jaca Stafford, 19 Maclean Street, Williamstown.


The bride, charmingly arrayed in white lace bridal gown and orange blossom, was attended by her sister May, who wore blue marquisette.† Brother Will was present in the capacity of groomsman.† After the ceremony a reception was held at the home of the bride's parents.† The bride's mother was attired in a blue ensemble, and Mrs Stafford, mother of the bridegroom, similarly robed in brown with mustard trimmings.


(From Williamstown Chronicle, Friday 3 October 1941, page 1.)