Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser 1857 – 1867 digitisation on Trove

MEDIA RELEASE 30 May 2018

Local history grant from the Public Records Office Victoria

Maud & Anetta Whay, around 1900. Private collection: Robyn Ansell

Later in 2019 teachers, students and residents of Maryborough past and present will be able to read the Maryborough newspaper online for eleven years of the goldrush period 1857 to 1867. It will be made available through the National Library of Australia on the Trove website. The State Library of Victoria, which holds the microfilms from 1857 onwards, will send the microfilms to Canberra for digitisation.

Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Beechworth, other significant Victorian goldfields towns, have newspapers for the goldrush period on Trove. To provide comparable Trove coverage for Maryborough will make a rich goldfields history resource available worldwide online to researchers and family historians. The World War I period 1914 to 1918 is already available on Trove. Users can easily browse the newspaper and download selected pages or individual articles.

The Maryborough Midlands Historical Society holds many decades of the Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser in hard copy at Worsley Cottage in Palmerston St., however the paper is fragile. It is expected that digitisation will reduce the need for people to handle the hard copies for 1857 to 1867.

The Local History Grants program which will pay for the digitisation is funded annually by the Public Records Office of Victoria. The successful application was made by Robyn Ansell from the Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria CAFHOV, established in 2001. Robyn is also a member of the Maryborough Midlands and the Creswick historical societies. Her great grandfather William Henry Ah Whay came to Maryborough as a teenager from China around 1860. He lived there for 60 years, marrying a young girl from the Creswick Black Lead Chinese camp and fathering eleven children.

Many Australians are descended from Chinese who came to Australia in the last 150 years but may not know about this element of their heritage. They have been discovering it through genealogical research and DNA testing. The Facebook page and website for CAFHOV may be of assistance to them. www.facebook.com/cafhov and www.cafhov.com.

Robyn Ansell Treasurer CAFHOV.

Vale CAFHOV member Raymond Lew-Boar

CAFHOV members Sophie Couchman and Barbara Nichol first met Ray in 2005 after he learnt of some of their research. He became an overseas member of CAFHOV soon after.

Ray became a very enthusiastic supporter of research into the early Melbourne Chinese community. He generously donated family photographs and other memorabilia to the Chinese Museum and shared his knowledge and contacts with those interested in Chinese Australian history.  He recorded an interview with Sophie of some of his recollections of growing up in and around Little Bourke Street for a self-guided walking tour of Melbourne’s Chinatown.  Ray not only had an impressive memory, but was also a wonderfully vivid storyteller.  His generosity also extended to sharing with Barbara many insightful observations for her research about the management and other challenges of running busy restaurants.  Sophie and Barbara valued not only his contribution to their research but also the friendship that soon followed.

Ray first made contact with Barbara from his home in Cheltenham in the English Cotswolds after learning of her interview with his older half-brother, restaurateur Harry Toe (Lew Coon Toe) and Harry’s children Yin and Susan, in June 2004.  Ray’s parents, Lew and Nellie Boar, operated three Hong Kong Cafes from the 1920s to the early 1940s – the first in Little Bourke Street, followed by their bold, but short-lived, move into fashionable Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda, and their last, the popular Hong Kong Cafe in Russell Street.  Of his childhood in Celestial Avenue, Ray observed that he thought he and his two brothers were spoilt – having doting parents and an older big brother around ‘feeding us whatever we wanted… or should I say, demanded!!!’ Ray often spoke of the impact of his father’s tragic death in 1942 and of his mother’s and his brother, Toe’s, efforts to continue to operate the Russell Street restaurant and support the family before Nellie sold the business and purchased the smaller Nam Wah Cafe in Exhibition Street in partnership with a friend.

In late 2013, Ray made the difficult decision to leave his Cotswolds home and friends of some forty-four years and return to Melbourne to spend more time with his very supportive family. His Melbourne friends also looked forward to spend more time with him, but, sadly, Ray died on 11 May 2014.  Barbara and Sophie were saddened that, after being an overseas-based CAFHOV member for so many years, other CAFHOV members had only a few brief gatherings to get to know him.

One of Ray’s Christmas emails to Barbara and her husband pretty well sum up the sentiments expressed by all at his funeral service: ‘I don’t want much for Christmas, I just want the people who are reading this to be well, and happy. Friends are the fruit cake of life …. some nutty, some soaked in alcohol, some sweet … but mix them all together and they are my friends!!!!’

Ray was a witty, warm and generous friend who made all who knew him feel special – he will be greatly missed. CAFHOV members extend their sincere sympathy to Ray’s family.