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  • Writer's pictureKinglake Historical Society

Marvellous Tank Murals

Updated: May 29, 2022

The tank murals beside the Kinglake West Mechanics Institute and the Kinglake West Primary School have now been now completed and what a great result! Congratulations to the artists, Tim Bowtell and his local assistant Tim Honey, and to the Dindi Arts Trail committee members and project manager, Barbara Joyce.
Kinglake Historical Society members are most impressed with the artwork and so pleased to have these historical pictures located so close to the Heritage Centre where our visitors can see and enjoy them. They will surely be of interest also to the staff, students and parents of Kinglake West Primary School – scenes from Kinglake’s past brought to life in such a striking way.
There are Harry Thomson and Maurice Power in their luxurious hut on the ‘Mountain Rush’ goldfield in 1861 – two friends who later took up farming land in the district. Each played an important part in the community, growing raspberries, raising families, attending the local dances and sports meetings and helping the little settlement to grow.
Next, we see a team of horses with a load of sawn timber from one of the local sawmills, plodding along the wooden rail line on their way to the Whittlesea railway station. From 1910 to 1930, there was a total of 40 miles of line through the bush and along the main road with horse teams busy up and down it every day, carting timber and produce down and bringing supplies back to the settlers’ families. It was a hazardous business getting down the last hill near the Toorourrong turnoff and around the sharp corner there with some loads ending up in Jim Downie’s paddock.
The third tank shows a group of Kinglake schoolchildren in 1910 on a nature walk to the huge tree in the bush near their school. This tree was known as ‘Big Ben’ and the children would link hands to see how many of them it took to encircle its trunk. Giants of this size were not uncommon in the Kinglake bush in those days. We can see that children’s schoolday clothes were a little different back then.

Together with the ‘Big Ben’ scene is a cameo of Mrs Mary Burton and her child. The Burton family were early settlers at Kinglake West and the children attended the local school. Mary Burton is remembered as a local midwife who gave assistance and comfort at home births for many local families – it was a long trip in a horse and cart in those days to the nearest doctor at Whittlesea!
We look forward to seeing all the murals completed across the ranges. There are already any number of good reasons for visiting the Kinglake district – the National Park, Heritage Trail and Heritage Centre to name only a few – and now the murals have added another attraction, highlighting our history and our environment in a most impressive way!

Deidre Hawkins
Kinglake Historical Society
c/o Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House phone 5786 1301

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