Wyndham History

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    Ferry operator Elliot Armstrong opened his Bridge Inn on the opposite side of the river, in line with Werribee Street, where the present Racecourse Hotel now stands. Later Armstrong’s Bridge Hotel was known simply as Armstrong’s Inn.
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    Thomas Chirnside builds Point Cook Homestead.
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    Ellen Armstrong, the inn-keeper’s nineteen-year-old daughter, opens the first school with nineteen pupils, operating from a pre-fabricated zinc house erected in the backyard of the hotel.

    When Thomas Walker, the government inspector paid ‘Miss Armstrong’s School’ a visit he found that she: ‘had good discipline and the general tone of the school was very satisfactory’. Walker described her as ‘painstaking and persevering and well-liked by the parents’. He recommended that government aid should be given towards her teacher’s salary.
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    A Police Paddock is established with a two roomed house for the first constable.
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    After a few false starts the Geelong to Melbourne Railway finally opens. Legend has it that Thomas Chirnside used his influence and insisted that a station be built in the town, and that it was named Werribee Station, however, the railway company had used the name Werribee right from the start.
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    Richard Heath opens a General Store and Postal Agency in Cottrell Street
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    Once again Thomas Chirnside led the donations, this time for the construction of the first church in Werribee, St Thomas’ Anglican Church. He started by donating an acre of land on the corner of Greaves and Synnot Streets, then added £100. The first church, a simple gabled weatherboard building with a small porch entry used as the church hall today, still stands behind the more expansive brick building constructed in 1900. A Mr Rodda conducted the first service in June of that year. The church was also used by several other denominations until their own could be built.

    The Greaves and Synnot Street site has a long history in the provision of religious services in Werribee. In 1851 Mr Fitzgibbons built the first house in Werribee there, and the first church service in the village was conducted from a cart-shed at the back of this house.
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    1859 — The first police lock-up was built in Synnot Street, where a force of twenty-five troopers was stationed.
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    By the middle of the century demand for land, ready for settlement, began to exceed the capacity of the government to prepare property using traditional surveying techniques based on astronomy.  In response a modern method of mathematical triangulation was implemented, expecting that this technique would allow for a comparatively expedient survey of the entire State.  

    What was required to begin the process was some flat land, and the Wyndham Shire had plenty of that to spare.  Government Astronomer Mr R. L. J. Ellery was chosen to conduct the survey and he began in January 1860 by selecting a site on the Werribee Plain near what is the present-day Hopper­­­s Crossing railway station.

    What is known as the South Base Stone, a basalt block set 1.5 metres deep into the ground, its surface flush with the ground showing a fine metal plug at its centre, was the starting point for the measurement of the first base line.  Painstakingly accurate measurements were taken from this point, using three ten-foot long steel bars, accurate to within five decimal points of an inch, and set up under canvas to prevent heat expansion of the metal, measured and moved forward leap-frogging the other two bars one by one until a perfectly straight line was measured out to mark the setting point for another stone.

    The North Base Stone was set at five miles from the south stone. Further calculations were taken to set another on Green Hill on the west side of the Werribee River giving a direct line now totalling ten miles.  From these starting points, an accurate line of a known length was established, and with a system of mathematical triangulation distances could be measured across the entire state.

    The first accurate Survey of the Colony of Victoria began at the South Base Stone, set into the ground at Hoppers Crossing in the Wyndham Shire.
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    Wyndham Racecourse and Recreation Reserve gazetted
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