KORUMBURRA’S Bob Newton comes at history from an entirely different angle.
It’s the people of the district, their stories and their connections to each other which interests him most.
And it’s led him to write his second book, a 415-page tome of 97,000 words and with over 400 photos – titled ‘Korumburra and District: Road Names and Places History’.
Now that might sound like a dry subject to some but according to Bob, it’s really just a vehicle for telling the story of the district’s history and its people.
“I’ve always been interested in local history but more from the point of view of people telling their own stories,” said Bob this week, ahead of the official launch of the book by Russell Broadbent on Sunday, May 27 at 2pm at Coal Creek.
“I’m interested in where they come from and who they are connected to.
“Plus, I’ve always had an interest in road names. I’d look at the name and wonder what the story was behind the name and now I know.
“There are over 500 streets, roads and lanes covered in the book, all indexed, explained and in most cases including photographs of the family or a notable point of interest.
“When I was on council, I also took an interest in the naming of new roads and I took notes from that plus I’ve also looked up the shire records and found out other information and it’s all there now.
“One of the most interesting ones is Witton Street (off Elmores Road and Kardella Road), named after Alfred Edwin Witton, brother of Boer War veteran George Ramsdall Witton.
“You’ve heard of Breaker Morant, Lieutenant Harold Morant? Well Lieutenant George Witton and another soldier Lieutenant Peyter Hancock were the other two blokes sentenced to death by firing squad during the Boer War, in February 1902.
“However, while the other two men were shot, Witton had his sentence commuted to life with hard labour but was ultimately pardoned by King George V and returned home as an innocent man, going on to farm at Drouin and serve as a director of the Drouin Butter Factory.
“Alfred Witton was a councillor at the former Shire of Poowong and Jeetho (covering this area) and the Shire President from 1915-16.”
There are many stories like it, in fact, the Newtons themselves get a mention for Newtons Road at Arawata, named after William Frederick Ladd Newton, Bob’s grandfather.
“They selected land in the area in 1881 after coming across from England in 1876.”
Among other things, Bob’s grandfather was a tea and jewellery merchant, delivering locally by packhorse and then horse and gig with the name ‘Griffiths Tea’ painted across back of it.
A collector of note, Bob has a number of old Griffiths Tea tins in his extensive collection.
But there’s more, a lot more and you can hear all about it if you attend the official book launch by McMillan MP Russell Broadbent later this month.
Bob’s not done with yet.
He has six or more other books in the pipeline.
“I’m doing the same for Mirboo North, Leongatha and Foster, the roads history, and I’m also writing a book on wire strainers and the Scott family.”
Bob has the largest collection of wire strainers in Australia and one of the biggest in the world. Big deal you might say! But most of the wire strainers are collectable, some highly valuable and all are of intense interest to collectors across the country and the globe.
Bob asks those who would like to attend the book launch on Sunday, May 27 at 2pm at Coal Creek to simply call or message his number 0408 515 923 for catering purposes. All are welcome to attend. Maybe you’d like to know something about your road name.