Cowslip Street, Violet Town
Violet Town’s history
Violet Town is a small community where the past is still evident. Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of New South Wales, passed through the area in 1836 on his Australia Felix expedition. He noted several streams and chains of ponds and one, where native violets grew, was called Violet Ponds. That site was surveyed in 1838 as a site for a township, alongside the now called Honeysuckle Creek.
For thousands of years prior to European settlement aboriginal people occupied the land around Violet Town. Following the taking up of Honeysuckle Station by the Scobies in the 1840s, land selectors and developers arrived, businesses opened and the town grew through the 1860s as a hub connecting to Sydney and Bendigo. The first Post Office opened in 1852.
In 1873 the township was split with the arrival of the railway, and the orientation of the town turned from the old highway (now High Street) to Cowslip Street. In this decade, the current cemetery opened – a list of names on headstones is available at http://www.ozgenonline.com/%7ECarols_Headstones/Violet_Town.htm
Violet Town Shire was created on 11 April 1895. The Australian Handbook, 1903, described the town:
Violet Town was the scene of the tragic Southern Aurora train crash in 1969. Read more at https://www.violettown.org.au/local/local-interest.
In 1980, the Hume Freeway diverted north-south traffic around the town. In 1994, Violet Town Shire was amalgamated with the Euroa and Goulburn Shires to form the Shire of Strathbogie.
As the earliest inland surveyed town, Violet Town’s European settlement history is long and rich. Part of the historyof the town has already been captured by the publication of several books. Don Chambers wrote about Violet Town’s beginnings and development to the start of the twentieth century in his excellent book Violet Town, or Honeysuckle in Australia Felix1836-1908 (Melbourne University Press, 1985). From petition to partition: the Shire of Violet Town 1895-1994 written by Ron Michael, was published in 1996.
A more recent book is Violet Town 1917 ANZAC Avenue of Remembrance, by Sheila Burnell and Jenni Kennedy, published by Victoria Violet Town RSL Sub-Branch in 2015.
A number of stories, articles, anecdotes and newspaper articles relating to the history of Violet Town was collated and presented as an e-book called What it was like then by Darryl Parker. This is available online at https://www.violettown.org.au/images/ebooks/What-it-was-like-then.pdf
The Rev George Edwards researched and wrote copious notes about the history of Violet Town. Dated about 1984, they are available here https://www.violettown.org.au/images/history/History_of_VT_and_St_Dunstans.pdf
In 2019 a volunteer run museum, the Ian Errey Museum, was opened in an old shop building at 20 Cowslip Street. The old hardware shop had been resurrected by many hours of volunteer work together with the relevant tradespeople over the previous 2 years. The museum volunteers set up the main section of the old shop as the museum, opening on the weekend which marked the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Southern Aurora Train crash in Violet Town.
Displays in the museum focus on significant events in the history of the town and district and other specific aspects. Displays are changed two to three times a year.”
In April 2009, the Violet Town History Group formed as a subcommittee of VTAG with the aim of recording the history of Violet Town and surrounding district. This followed from the formation of an informal group that research and wrote the book District Schools –Earlston, Koonda, Tamleugh and Upotipotpon South.
Members of the group have published books on a variety of topics including the history of the swimming pool and the bush nursing centre; this books are available at the Violet Town Library. The group has held exhibitions, an open day, and produces and sells an annual pictorial calendar. Back issues of the calendar can be seen at https://www.violettown.org.au/photo-gallery/index.php?/category/6
Many of the historical buildings and sites in town now have an historical plaque giving information about the history of that location, thanks to a grant from Public Records Office of Victoria.
The group has produced a Heritage brochure with a town map, available from our friendly retailers around Violet Town. Details of a heritage walk centred on Cowslip Street are available at https://www.violettown.org.au/what-s-on/the-heritage-walk
The Group meets once a month on the second Wednesday, 10.00 am - 12 noon at the Community Complex meeting room. Interested members of the community are welcome to attend.
A large and growing collection of images sourced from residents and former residents and curated by the History Group is available at the Violet Town Photograph Gallery.
You may know some details about one or more of the photographs that you would like to share; it could be the date, the scene, the names of people in a photograph, or the occasion. You also may have photographs or historical documents at home that you would like to share. If you have, please contact Brian Garrett. The group is able to scan materials so that you can hold the originals.