John and Elizabeth Blunden were married in England in 1844 and sailed to Adelaide from Portsmouth, England, later that year, in the little brig "William Wise", 300 tons, which took six months to come out and, as can be imagined, was scarcely comfortable.
Elizabeth Blunden brought out with her, a harp, a lute, a spinet and some very lovely dresses and quaint little bonnets, of silks and brocades and fine lace, and her grandchildren can just remember gazing at these beautiful old garments in awe and delight.
It took six months for John Blunden and his wife, Elizabeth, to make the long journey to Victoria in a bullock wagon over a rough track. On the way Elizabeth’s harp was jolted out, and a wheel passed over it so it was completely broken which was a great grief to this young girl in a strange land, among unknown people and completely unused to the primitive conditions after the comfort and luxury of her English home.
They prospered, and met with many trials and tribulations, but they had much happiness sharing an adventurous life together. They took up land in the WIMMERA district and called their station (of approx 57,500 acres sheep and cattle) "Concongella" where the doctor also practised his profession and their six children were born – Ada, Ralph, Reginald, Godfrey, Blanche and Florence. The last two girls were twins, but a young nurse playing with Blanche one day, tossing her up and catching her, the baby somehow broke her neck. This is the story handed down, and of course Blanche was the strong one and Florence, very delicate. Elizabeth was forced to raise her children under primitive conditions, and to have them educated by tutors.
Their first home would probably have been a wattle and bark hut, or a slab hut, with a bark roof. Later they built a solid bluestone home with verandas on two side and in a superb position on a high rise of the Barwon river surrounded by magnificent trees. The homestead was 100 years old when it was sold in good condition in 1974, and the creek below the homestead is still called "Doctors Creek" after Dr John Blunden, who was the district coroner, a doctor, and also a run holder. There was always a store on the property, supplying bushman remedies, blue bottles of castor oil, and brown bottles of pain killer! He ran about 12 000 sheep, and shepherds worked from dawn to dusk, with their rough haired Scottish collies trotting beside them. The first gold was found on the property in 1853.
John took on a freehold property in 1854 - "Ellendale", near Geelong, and in 1858 "Concongella" was sub divided from its original 90 square miles.
Family prayers were part of station life, as they lived in a state of perpetual anxiety. There were marauding blacks, deadly snakes, sickness, drought, floods(1851) and bush fires, and labour shortages to contend with. They had their own cemetery on the station. They made champagne on the property - the "Great Western" that is still drunk today, and the Great Western Vineyards are still producing.
Elizabeth had some scary experiences in those early days. They had Aboriginal workers. One day after she had just arrived from England a naked Aboriginal man ran into the kitchen. Elizabeth got such a fright she hit him on the bottom with a frying pan (she had forgotten she was a lady!). Another time one came in and said he was sick. "Didn’t you take the pills that Dr John gave you? She asked. "No missy, too much shit shit".
Years later when the family had to be educated, they moved to Geelong where Dr Blunden bought a practice at Highton and the three boys went to the Geelong Grammar School, and the girls had a governess and tutors. Dr John was also the local coroner and Doctor, as well as run holder.
Later they moved to Colac where John practised medicine in partnership with Dr Rae living at "Merinen" by the lake. In 1875 John was recorded as "Surgeon and J.P. in Colac, and Magistrate of Midlands".
Going back some years to 1853, a few months or even weeks before the twins were born, Elizabeth's father, Andrew Nance, died in England leaving a substantial estate to be divided between his children and a legacy to each of his grandchildren who was alive at the time of his death, to receive as they became twenty-one years old.
As Florence was not as yet born, she got nothing, but the money was not a fortunate inheritance for her sister and two of her brothers. Ada married an English schoolmaster with an Oxford degree, William Field Barnard, M.A. He was a fortune hunter and it was a sad marriage. He soon spent her money and broke her heart and eventually died, leaving her with six children in poor circumstances. Ralph and Godfrey were both big handsome men, very musical and always popular, being very entertaining and much entertained. They invested in land and other schemes, but they did not become rich and were unfortunately killed in train accidents.
John and Elizabeth's son, Reginald, went to New Zealand and bought an excellent sheep property near Christchurch, where he married a well-to-do widow, Alice Moore, who had five daughters.
Reginald and Alice then had five sons and a daughter, all of whom grew up and prospered. He too was killed in a motor accident years later.
After living some years in Geelong, Dr John Blunden and his family moved to Colac, where he practised in partnership with Dr Rae. They lived on the bank of the lake in a house called "Nerinen".
In 1875 John was recorded as "Surgeon and Justice of the Peace in Colac, and Magistrate of Midlands".
Andrew Strachan Murray was the third son of Hugh and Elizabeth Murray, pioneers of the district, and the owners of a sheep station of some 10,000 acres called "Borongarook" which he, Andrew, was managing for his widowed mother. According to his own story, riding in Colac one day, he saw and was introduced to John's daughter, pretty Florence Blunden, and then and there decided to marry her, for he had fallen desperately in love. He was a good-looking man of twenty-five years, and after two years of persistent courtship she agreed to his proposal, for she was an attractive little lass with many suitors and no doubt found it hard to choose.
The wedding duly took place on 4 November 1874, and thus they became parents, much loved and revered by all their family of five, Ilma, Mervyn, Vera, Esme and Reginald, who grew up mostly in the old home "Borongarook".
Of their grandfather, Dr John Blunden, the grandchildren did not know a great deal……..he was always very proud of his lovely thick head of hair, which he declared was due to the fact of the boys not being allowed to wear hats. He was the big, bluff, kindly, country doctor, a very popular and delightful Grandfather. The grand children all loved him and he often came to stay with them after he retired.
The other son, George, had meanwhile grown up and left for the northern part of New Zealand, where he married and drifted away from the family – probably before Florence was born and she never saw him, though he did write occasionally. (George was born at Catherington. Hants, in 1839 to John Blunden's first wife, Harriet; Florence was born 1853.)
John and Elizabeth were always spoken of with affection and admiration, and remembered as "fine, Christian people".
Elizabeth was an adored grandmother and her grandchildren often went with their mother to stay with her in Melbourne.
John and Elizabeth Blunden mostly enjoyed good health, and spent their last days in a suite of rooms in Osborne House, Nicholson Street, an elegant apartment house built opposite the Exhibition Gardens in Melbourne(still standing in 1980).
Dr Blunden died in 1893 and Elizabeth in 1895 and were buried in the St Kilda Cemetery.
John and Elizabeth Blunden had six children, Ada, Ralph, Reginald, Godfrey, plus twins Blanche and Florence.
GODFREY BLUNDEN (1)
GODFREY BLUNDEN (2)
Their daughter NOEL is a Doctor of Economics,
Their son Ronald is a book publisher in France.
Their children: BYRON journalist,
KENNETH artist and teacher, married Julian De Brett, a teacher:
JANET a nurse married a journalist.
RALPH in 1944 became production officer for the advertising department of Prestige Ltd. In 1959 after working in the publications department of the Department of Labour, he established his own agency Ralph Blunden Pty Ltd. After selling that he worked as creative director with the advertising agency "Grey International" Sydney.
ELBERT commercial artist.
PETER Bachelor of Architecture, married Mary Si Leitnowska, divorced and married Mary de Jesus Escolar de Castille in 1972.
ANDREW civil engineer.
ADA married Professor Barnarda of Melbourne University, an Oxford MA and a Master at Melbourne Grammar.
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with
questions or comments about this web site.