|Lookout tower, Wombat Hill|
At the summit of Wombat Hill.
Officially opened on November 19, 1938.
Satellite image from Google Maps.
LORD AND LADY HUNTINGFIELD AT DAYLESFORD
(The Daylesford Advocate, Tuesday, November 22, 1938)
Tower Dedicated to the Pioneers
GOVERNOR OPENS AGRICULTURAL SHOW
His Excellency Lord Huntingfield, Governor of Victoria, and Lady Huntingfield, were given an enthusiastic welcome at the weekend, on the occasion of their first visit to the district.
They were present at the Country Women’s Association ball on Friday evening, and on Saturday His Excellency opened officially the Look-out Tower on Wombat Hill, and declared the Daylesford Agricultural Society’s annual Show open.
The town was gaily decorated for the occasion with streamers and bunting.
Wherever His Excellency and Lady Huntingfield appeared, crowds of people gathered.
The Vice-Regal party, accompanied by Lieutenant Robertson, A.D.C., came to Daylesford by train. They were met at the station on Friday evening by the Mayor and Mayoress (Cr. And Mrs. T. A. Whitely), the President of the Country Women’s Association (Mrs. D. A. Anson), the secretary (Miss Ruby Murphy), and the Town Clerk (Mr. G. Cocks) and Mrs. Cocks.
Members of the Masonic Lodge entertained Lord Huntingfield, while Lady Huntingfield met members of the Country Women’s Association and representatives of other women’s organizations at a function held in the Council Chambers.
The Vice-Regal party was enthusiastically received at the ball, where the guests were presented to them.
A feature of the ball was the original and appropriate decorations.
A civic reception was given to Lord and Lady Huntingfield on Saturday morning, then they visited the Daylesford mineral springs and inspected the Wombat Hill Gardens.
In the afternoon they were the guests of the Agricultural Society, firstly at the official luncheon, and then at the show.
Although it was not on the official program, Lord and Lady Huntingfield visited the Hepburn mineral springs and baths. They left for Melbourne by car later in the afternoon.
In 1929, Daylesford received a representative of His Majesty the King – Lord Somers – who came here to open officially Lake Daylesford, and the recently developed mineral springs.
His Excellency and Lady Huntingfield have taken a keen interest in country districts, particularly in agriculture. The announcement of their departure next year was received with great regret, but as His Excellency explained at Daylesford, he and Lady Huntingfield have their family in England, and they feel they should return.
Punctually at 10.30 on Saturday morning the Vice-Regal party arrived in Vincent Street, where a guard of honor comprised of militiamen under Captain Gribble, and returned soldiers, were inspected.
Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were also present, the Guides being under the leadership of the District Commissioner (Mrs. A. D. Anson) and the Divisional Commissioner, Mrs. Troup.
A large gathering was present, and Lord and Lady Huntingfield were given an enthusiastic reception.
An interesting ceremony, the carrying of the King’s Color by members of the Daylesford Militia, was witnessed.
A civic reception was accorded Lord and Lady Huntingfield in the Council Chambers by the Mayor and Mayoress (Cr. and Mrs. Whitely).
In proposing a toast to them, the Mayor said it was one of the proudest moments of his life to have the honor and privilege of welcoming Lord and Lady Huntingfield to Daylesford.
“We welcome them to this town,” he said, “firstly as Daylesford, and then as the Spa Center of Australia. I feel it is my duty as Mayor to inform His Excellency that we have 87 per cent of the known mineral springs of Australia within a small radius, and they are said to be superior to the springs anywhere in the world. If this spa center were in America it would not be a Borough, but a City.”
At a reception to engineers recently, the Mayor said, he was told that Melbourne water was the cause of many complaints. Here the situation is reversed, as our water is the cure for all complaints.
Concluding, the Mayor said: “We wish you ‘bon voyage’ and a safe trip, a we hope that in the future you will endeavor to come back to Australia, we are very proud of you, because you are an Australian, and because we know that some of the best men in Australia come from Queensland.”
“You will leave behind you in Daylesford a lasting memorial and a very fitting one at that.” He said he extended to them a hearty welcome, and expressed the hope that they would enjoy themselves to the full.
In acknowledging the toast, His Excellency said he wished to thank the mayor for the very cordial reception.
“It is with great pleasure that we come to this part of Victoria. We have never actually visited your Borough, although we do know of the mineral water and its properties and potentialities. The Mayor has said if Daylesford were in America it would be a great city. I believe it is true, but were it in England it would also be a great city. We hope it will not be very many years before the people of the world realize the importance of the Daylesford Springs from a healing point of view. You have in Mrs. Whiteley a great champion of the waters, and she hopes to fire me with the same enthusiasm for the springs as she has. As a little boy in Queensland I lived near a mineral spring which has since become famous as a spa. It became famous after we were there, so I hope Daylesford becomes famous when we go.
“It is with great regret that we say good-bye to the warm-hearted people of Australia,” His Excellency said, “because we have had a very happy and interesting time among you. I was very grateful when His Majesty appointed me to this State, but five years is a long span to be chief executive of a State. If we can help abroad by being ambassadors to Victoria and Daylesford, we will be very happy to do so. Coming, as we did, in twelve hours from Kerang and Cohuna, where, except in the irrigation area it is almost like a desert, it is pleasant to find ourselves in this green and sunny part of Victoria. I congratulate you all on living in this part of the State, and I congratulate you also on making the place so beautiful with trees.”
On behalf of Maxwell Consolidated, Cr. Metzner (a director) asked Lady Huntingfield to accept a specimen from the 500 feet level. He explained that Daylesford had another potential asset in mining. The box, he said, was carved at the Technical School from Victorian wood.
In accepting the gift, Lady Huntingfield admired the specimen and the casket, and said she did not expect to carry away with her such golden memories.
His Excellency proposed a toast to the Mayor and Mayoress. He said he thought the people were well and worthily represented by civic authority in the Borough.
The Mayor acknowledged the toast.
All guests were presented to His Excellency and Lady Huntingfield.
TRIBUTE TO PIONEERS
A tribute to the pioneers of Daylesford, and to those of Australia, was paid by His Excellency Lord Huntingfield when he officially opened the Tower on Wombat Hill.
When the Vice-Regal party arrived, children from district schools sang a verse of the National Anthem.
After being introduced by the Mayor, His Excellency said:-
“I have been asked by the Mayor of the Borough of Daylesford to officially open this Lookout Tower, which is a memorial to the pioneers of Daylesford and district.
“In doing so, I assure you that it is a great pleasure for Lady Huntingfield and myself to come here to take part in this ceremony.
“I ask you to cast your minds back in imagination for 150 years, and you will realize then the great age of Australia. One hundred and fifty years ago last January there came into Sydney Harbor the first settlement in Australia. Last January I was privileged to take part in celebrating that event in Sydney. Now come another fifty years closer to our own time. On this very day four years ago His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester took part in the celebrations of the first settlement at Portland, Victoria. It was only in 1851 that Victoria was separated from New South Wales, and in 1855 the Constitution of our State, as we know it today, was adopted.
“If you ask to visualize the cast advance that has been made in the 150 years since the first settlement in New South Wales, and in the 100 years since the first settlement in Victoria.
“The whole of this district was occupied by a race of aborigines, the oldest type of man known to the world. They were still in their first food gathering stage when they were found. Then came your pioneers, and to them all of the people here owe an immense debt of gratitude which can never be paid. This Tower is the greatest tribute you can pay to their memory, and I ask you to always remember that when you come here.
“The wonderful advance that has been made since those days should not be taken for granted. Our conditions today were made attainable only by the courage and endurance of the pioneers,” His Excellency said. “I want you to remember the wonderful work they did in the district and in Australia, and I hope that in days to come all here will never forget the deeds of the pioneers of this district.
“I now unveil this Plaque, and declare this Tower to be open.”
His Excellency thanked the children for being present and promised to ask that they be given a holiday on Monday, November 28. “I would also like it to apply to the Catholic Convent I see opposite,” he said. His Excellency asked the children to think of it as the Governor’s holiday.
On a plaque on the Tower are these words:-
MANY DIFFICULTIES WERE OVERCOME
More than ten years ago the first step was taken to have a Look-out Tower erected on Wombat Hill.
The first practical act in the furtherance of the plan was the purchase by the Daylesford Borough Council of the poppet legs on the Ajax mine. Lack of money retarded progress of the plan, and although the council had what was considered suitable equipment, the difficulty was to raise sufficient money to remove the poppet legs and re-elect them.
The building of an artificial lake, and the development of the Daylesford springs, occupied the attention of Borough councillors and the people for years, but when these projects were completed the Tower became again the subject of discussion.
A Progress Association functioned in Daylesford at that time, and this body appealed for public assistance, promising those who subscribed that all money would be devoted to erecting a Look-out Tower. As a result, money was raised, and this was due largely to the efforts of Mr. G. Dawson, the secretary, and Miss Dolphin, who formed a ladies’ committee.
Unfortunately, it was soon realized that the money was quite inadequate for the purpose, and again public enthusiasm was allowed to wane.
How close Daylesford was to not having a Tower, will be realized by those who recall the public movement to appropriate the money raised by the Progress Association to another worthy object on the grounds that it was quite impossible to erect a Tower with so little money in hand. Officials responsible for the raising of the money were firm, and confident that the day would come when their original project could be carried out, and the money was left intact.
A few years ago Mr. H. A. M. Bromfield revived public opinion through an appeal published in the “Advocate.” He pointed out that with a little enthusiasm the work could be done.
Public meetings were held, but still the chief difficulty – lack of money – was always present. Chief credit for the Tower must be given to Mr. H. A. M. Bromfield. The financial problem promised to wreck the enthusiasm shown in response to his appeal, and he made a personal canvass of the town and district, devoting the whole of his Christmas holiday to it. His effort was a success to the extent that he revived public enthusiasm and brought the amount in hand up to more than £100, but still there was insufficient money. He enlisted the support of Mr. J. H. Lienhop, M.L.C., and Mr. G. Frost, M.L.A., and as a result a Government grant was made.
A change from poppet legs to a concrete Tower was suggested by Cr. Martin, but it involved additional money.
In the carrying out of the scheme, none rendered greater assistance than Mr. McKenzie, of the Public Works Department.
The architect was Mr. Peck, of Maryborough and the engineer Mr. T. Ewing.
It was appropriate that, although tenders were called for the work, Mr. George Clayfield was selected to build the Tower. He is a pioneer of the town, and there are many permanent monuments to his craftsmanship. The Town Hall is one, a memorial to the pioneers is another, and there is a span of half a century between them. He has spent a long life in building what we know as Daylesford, and truthfully can he say of the Tower, “This is my monument.”
The Tower cost £1028 to build and it is 74 feet high. The money was obtained from the following sources: Government grant from Unemployment Relief funds, £650; public contributions £112; Forest Commission contribution £50. – Total, £812. The balance of £216 has yet to be raised, and the Borough Council and leading citizens are endeavoring to do that now. Buttons with a picture of the Tower on them will be on sale soon.