Sunbury Festivals and my great-great-grandfather, Edward WINTER’s, farm.

Pondering the fact that Mum’s side of the family had strong links to the Sunbury area in Victoria, I wondered if the original WINTER farm as detailed in my last blog post How I ‘met’ my great-grandfather William WINTER. Part 1. was anywhere near the Sunbury pop festivals of the 1970s. I did a bit of googling and the results were surprising…

According to Wikipedia, the annual festivals (1972-1975 inclusive)—Victoria’s version of Woodstock—were held on ‘George Duncan’s farm, Diggers Rest’:

The four Sunbury Pop Festivals were held on the same 620-acre (2.5 km2) private farm along Jacksons Creek, 3.5 km south of Sunbury and 2 km north-east of Diggers Rest.[3] The property was owned by 50-year-old farmer and local identity George Duncan who offered the use of his land at no cost to the organisers. The property was known locally as “Duncan’s farm”… The entrance gates to the Sunbury Pop Festival were off Watsons Road, Diggers Rest. Promoters rejected the name of Diggers Rest ’72 in favour of Sunbury ’72 as being more suggestive of a good time and sunny destination. (Jenkins, Jeff; Meldrum, Ian (2007). “Festivals”. Molly Meldrum Presents 50 Years of Rock in Australia. Melbourne: Wilkinson Publishing. pp. 245–251).

The festival venue was closer to the smaller township of Diggers Rest, so many attendees who travelled by train alighted at Diggers Rest railway station, and not Sunbury.

‘off Watson’s Road, Diggers Rest’. This was intriguing. Watson’s Road, Diggers Rest was the southern boundary of my great great grandfather, Edward WINTER’s, farm.

I turned to Google Earth to compare the topography.

A wonderful attribute of Google Earth is that you can overlay an old Parish map onto an aerial view of the land as it is today. By lining up the main landmarks, such as water courses, you can see where the parcel of land in question is in comparison to the current features.

I made an overlay of the Parish map of Holden outlining the original survey of allotments, as accessed through the State Library catalogue, onto the aerial view of the Sunbury/Diggers Rest area as it is today .

After lining up Jackson Creek and the Calder Freeway dissecting Diggers Rest I could see how Edward WINTER’s farm lined up with the land.

This is the result:

Overlay of Parish of Holden on Google map of Sunbury and diggers Rest highlighting Edward Winter's farm

Overlay of Parish of Holden, County of Bourke (courtesy of State Library of Victoria) onto an aerial view of the current landscape around Sunbury/Diggers Rest via Google Earth.

Edward WINTER’s farm, within the black circle (Section 17 allotments C and D), is not quite down to Jackson Creek but no doubt some of the Festival  revellers would have walked or driven down Watson’s Road, the southern boundary of the farm, to get to the entrance of the festival. I don’t know exactly where George Duncan’s farm was but I suspect it was next to the WINTER farm, to the east, running along Jackson Creek, but for all I know Duncan’s farm may have incorporated the WINTER farm, or part of it.

The YouTube video Arriving at Sunbury Rock Festival 1970s gives you a feel for the general landscape-dry and rocky-as well as some amusing interviews by ‘Molly’ Meldrum with the revelers.

The farm was owned by the WINTERs from 1854 to about 1870 so we’re talking about a more than 100 year gap between the WINTER clan working the land and Billy Thorpe belting out Oop poo pa doo down the road. Not quite the singalong ’round the piano of Edward WINTER’s day.

My brother went to a couple of the Sunbury Festivals much to my mother’s horror. Little did she know, or he know, or any of my relatives know, that the festivals were so close to our forebears’ farm. An interesting little aside….

ADDIT I’ll return to Part 2 of the William WINTER story eventually…

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4 Responses to Sunbury Festivals and my great-great-grandfather, Edward WINTER’s, farm.

  1. Rosemary says:

    Interesting to read how you source your information like overlaying a parish map over Google earth. The Sunbury YouTube clip was useful to see the countryside as well as go down memory lane with the hairdos etc. I wonder what the relatives would have thought of it all!

    • Marg says:

      Shocked I’m sure! Imagine a concert like that in your backyard. It is great to see the fashions and I think we used to talk differently?!?

  2. Dave White says:

    Love your work, I have a FB group on the history of Sunbury & surrounds and often the name Winter pops up associated with the local watering holes. Your article about the foot race won by W.T.R. Winter was terrific. I have shared with my readers. Naturally the Pop Festival also pops up and you may be interested to know that there is also a FB group of the festival. Now I am on the search for a WINTER cordial bottle 🙂

    • Marg says:

      Thanks so much for commenting on the blog Dave. I have a burning fascination for how my forebears lived which drives this blog. ‘Ma Williams’, as she was known, nee MILLETT, WTR’s mother, had the Royal Hotel in Sunbury. WTR’s sisters, Susan WINTER and Irene HILTON took it over after their mother’s death. WTR seemed more like the adventuring type and tried a number of things, and yes, cordial was one. A member of the family found a bottle in Elmore years ago. WTR’s son, Bill WINTER had his own soft drink factory in Geelong, ‘Noddy’s soft drinks’ in the 1960s/70s.
      I’ll definitely have a good look at your FB page. Thanks for the info.
      Cheers, Marg.

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