Ballarat Heritage Services, Bakery Hill Post Office
Digital images of Winter's Swamp
Study of Winter's Swamp commissioned by BEN and completed by BHS. The swamp was named after one of the first European settlers in the district.
LAT -37 32 LONG 143 47, Parish of Dowling Forest, County of Grenville
Winter Swamp, on the southwest corner of Ballarat West Town Common, was not included in the original proclamation of the Common in 1861. However, being marshland, it was not considered suitable for grazing, so was added to the Common soon after 1861. Winter Swamp is a large wetland with native and exotic pasture significant for wildlife.
John Winter (Jock) was born in Berwickshire, Scotland. He married Janet Margaret Irving the daughter of Robert Irving, advocate, Bonshaw, Dumfries, Scotland. Winter died in Ballarat in 1875 and was buried at the Ballaarat Old Cemetery. He took up the run Bonshaw from 1841; Leigh River Buninyong 1842-46; Junction, Delatite, March 1851 to September 1862; with sons: Carag Carag and Corop, April 1857 to September 1872; Colbinabbin and Stewart’s Plains, April 1857 to December 1872; St Germains February 1867 to March 1871. (The name became Winter-Irving in 1890).
Mr John Winter, who died on August 22 at the age of 72, was a man of some note it the mining community of Ballarat. He was a self-made man, and one of our oldest colonists, it being over a quarter of a century age since he took up county about Ballarat and settled at Bonshaw. He died very rich. It is calculated that if he had retained an interest in all his runs, his income must have been not less than £10,000 or £50,000 a year. Some eight or ten years ago he sold his Bonshaw pre-emption to the Bonshaw Gold mining Company for £20,000, and a few years later the ground belonging now to Winter's Freehold Company brought him £50,000 more, the payment being made at the requisition of the deceased in sovereigns. In these relations Mr. Winter has been closely identified with the mining industry at Ballarat. The deceased was a native of Lauder, in Berwickshire, and landed in Victoria several years before the gold discovery.
The principle task of this project was the delivery of a report outlining the history of European settlement in the Skipton and Cardigan/Ballarat districts as pertinent to the use of and impact on the natural environment of the two reserves Skipton Common and Winter Swamp.
The report was delivered in digital form only. The report, upon completion, was presented to the Network’s Committee in order to discuss the project.
The report identified and described the uses of Skipton Common and Winter Swamp, and their impacts.
In particular, this report examined farming/grazing (official and informal), mining, vegetation removal (including the removal of woodlands for timber, grasslands for pasture improvement) & use of riparian areas for access to water and timber removal. Recording the more benign and environmentally friendly uses such as picnicking, community activities, nature walks and the roles of organisations such as Field Naturalists’ and Bird Observers’ clubs, school and scout/guide groups will be relevant in helping to depict overall community attitudes towards the reserves; e.g.: has the Common generally been viewed as little more than a grazing paddock and fire hazard; has Winter Swamp always been the unknown natural asset that seems to have been its lot for at least the past 40 years? In this regard, the more contemporary history of actions surrounding the use and management of the reserves is of particular interest, in view of the extant evidence at both reserves; e.g. the actions of the Shire of Ballarat in the 1980s in establishing Winter Swamp as something of a competitor to Lake Wendouree but with a more environmental bent (although almost none of the plants used are indigenous species, but that is part of the story); the trotting track constructed on Skipton Common in the 1960s following representations to Premier Henry Bolte and the cropping of the western section of the Common to raise funds for the town’s new swimming pool, the fertilizing of the land putting an end to the native grassland vegetation.
There are obviously multiple sources of information to source in preparing the report, however sources that the contractor is specifically requested to consult are the Skipton Historical Society, the former Skipton Common managers (specifically Graeme Pett), the Cardigan Windermere Landcare Group and the Learmonth Historical Society (believed to hold many of the former Shire of Ballarat’s records pertaining to the Council’s role as the Committee of Management for both Winter Swamp and the Ballarat West Town Common – Winter Swamp was split between 2 separate Crown Land tenures). The contractor is also encouraged but not required to utilise community newsletters, such as the Skipton Community Newsletter, to publicise and seek information about the project.
Skipton Historical Society (Mary Bradshaw) contacted on Thursday 12 June 2.30pm. Mary lived on a farm out of Skipton but is currently living in the township. She remembers walking along the creek of the Common especially in spring and autumn in bare feet and that it was a very pretty place. There were a few snakes around the waterway in summer.
People put cows and a couple of horses on the commonage to graze. Graeme Pett has always lived close to the Common and would know a lot about it. Other possible contacts would be Nicole Petress, Secretary of the Progress Association, and the Corangamite Council, Camperdown.