Phillip Island & District Historical Society

President's Annual Reports

Last updated on 25-Jan-22

President's Report 14th September 2021 

Dear Members Welcome to you all, it is good to be able to again, meet together and to see your smiling faces. This year has had its problems however we have achieved a great deal. Beside the colossal challenge of safely documenting and moving the thousands of items in our collection, cleaning out the museum and establishing a temporary premises in which to work over the next two years, we have moved the bulk of the collection into storage in Cowes and our working files and equipment to the Genealogical Society’s rooms.


We have also continued discussions with the Council and the architects of the new cultural centre to ensure that we have the best possible replacement for the Society and the museum. We have continued to work on projects such as the WWII video collection and the Phillip Island Oral History Project, which is spearheaded by Christine Grayden and conducted by Andrea Cleland interviewing local identities and capturing the wonderful stories on the life on the Island over the past 60 years. 

We also led the Pioneer Palaces of Rhyll tour in conjunction with the Bass Coast branch of the National Trust, celebrating the Heritage Festival, wherein we guided a bus full of interested participants to 9 pioneer cottages in Rhyll. Subsequently we applied for and received a grant from the Rotary Club of Phillip island to produce a booklet of this tour, which will be available for sale at the end of this month. 


We also received a grant from the Bass Coast Shire for the binding of some 36 volumes of local newspapers, which will be available for any research required in the future. We have also taken possession of newspaper clippings in themed order from the Phillip Island library covering an array of themes connected with Phillip Island over many, many years – another wonderful tool which will be available for researchers. 


During the past 12 months we have also wrestled with the possibilities of our temporary premises, which will be our home for the next two years, and we are very grateful to the Phillip Island & District Genealogical Society for their understanding and commitment in ensuring that the rooms that we will be sharing during this time are workable and very comfortable. Over the next 2 to 3 weeks our move should be complete, and we will take a break before resuming cataloguing and sorting the files now in our temporary home. We have relocated a number of items from the Museum, some to local organisations and others to Historical Societies all of which will be put to good use. 


We plan very soon to have MONSTER MUSEUM RELOCATION SALE to dispose of the remaining equipment and fittings. The next 12 months to two years will see a lot of work to be done in respect to the new museum and organising the fit-out of the Society’s new research rooms. It will be an exciting and challenging time and your committee looks forward to it! Finally, my thanks go to those dedicated volunteers who have worked so hard to pack up the Museum and sort through years of accumulated items. I am most grateful to you all. 

Graeme Clauscen President





Summary of activities

The Phillip Island and District Historical Society's mission and aims include the acquisition and preservation of authentic historical records. During the year under review the society has successfully transferred all the video and audio tapes within our collection to a digital format for preservation. We have also continued with cataloguing and scanning of historic photographs and documents to digital format for uploading online for the benefit of remote access. The activities also form part of our risk mitigation strategy. 


Another aim of the Society is to help and use influence in the preservation of places of historical interest. This year the Society had the opportunity of being actively involved with the local council in a study to identify places of significant heritage values within our local region. This work will result in the Heritage Gaps Study and Prioritisation Framework which will progress to a planning scheme amendment, ensuring the protection of significant historical places and structures. 


By supporting the research of a local author, the society assisted in the publication of volume II of At Home on the Hill - a 250 page glossy book covering the lives of all pioneers buried within the Phillip Island Cemetery from 1901 to 1920. Unfortunately the Society was forced to close its Museum during the COVID lockdown, but nevertheless we continued to produce regular Newsletters as well as updates to our website providing information on local history events and projects, which encourages community involvement and sparks interest in the preservation and value of local history.


The society was also successful in obtaining a grant to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, and did so by researching and commencing the development of several videos for our You Tube channel about the experience of those living on Phillip Island during WW2, and of the veterans of WW2 who were interviewed in our museum in 1995.The videos will be uploaded as completed.  This project also included a number of research essays on our website and an online exhibition on our website. 


President’s report presented by Graeme Clauscen:

The 2018 – 2019 year has been one of interesting and exciting events.


We started with an open day in August to show off the changes to the layout of the Museum, which has been acknowledged by many as a great improvement. My thanks go to those who helped with this project, and to the Bass Coast Shire for a grant of $700 to help with the heavy lifting.


Other open days were held during the year for the Seniors Festival, the National Trust Festival, and NAIDOC Week. Special displays were prepared for each of these events, and were well received. Congratulations to the Members who prepared and assisted to run these days, they were very successful. The Society also hosted the S.E. Historical  Association in May, and Christine spoke on Mary Potter's Nature Notes.


The highlight of the year was the celebration for the 150th Anniversary of closer settlement on Phillip Island. There were a number of events held over the year, but of course, the “event” of the year was the Re enactment of the first land ballot, by the Society.


The re enactment was held at the Cultural Centre in Cowes, on Saturday 10th November 2018 at 2.30pm. A large crowd was in attendance and it was standing room only, The cast was drawn from Members of the Society and descendents of some of the early settlers. Some of the cast had never been on a stage before and were very nervous, but everybody did a fantastic job. Congratulations  to all,


My “Special” thanks must go to Christine Grayden who put the whole performance together, writing, directing, wardrobe, props, and so much more.


Our Touch Screen has been a great success, with lots of use by visitors to the Museum. We submitted this project for the MAV Awards and made the finals; unfortunately we did not win.


We sought and received a Bass Coast Shire community grant to build a platform on our Website for online exhibitions. This will enable us to put our various exhibitions on our website for all to see. Presently they are stored in our Archives Room out of sight.


Simon Eddy has been contracted to carry out this project and it is now complete, with the first online exhibition now 'live' on the website: "First World War Servicemen from Phillip Island". We encourage all members to browse the exhibition and tell their friends about it. Other online exhibitions will follow.


In August Christine and I attended a meeting with the Council and the new Architects (Perkins) for the proposed Cultural Centre rebuild. We were presented with an old set of plans that had been rejected earlier by those involved. I left feeling that we were back to square one.


However, at a later meeting Perkins presented a revised plan with a new internal layout. The amount of space allocated to the Society was changed and reduced, we were not overly impressed with the proposal and made our feelings clear. This project is ongoing and we will have to keep a close watch on progress, to protect the interests of the Society.


Our Cataloguing team have been busy this year making inroads into items needing to be catalogued. They have done a wonderful job, and the next step will be to photograph many items of our Collection so we have proper records.


Judy has been busy uploading items in to the Victorian Collections website with over 3000 items now listed. Judy is also transferring all the  hand-written items listed in the old Registration Book to an Excel spreadsheet. This will give us an electronic record which will be searchable. Thanks to Judy, this will be a valuable tool.


This year we had a number of Guest Speakers at our Meetings including Mike Cleeland with a fascinating speech about Dinosaurs, Christine Grayden gave us a look into the life of Samuel Amess and Duncan Sutherland from Phillip Island Nature Parks on the introduction of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot to Churchill Island.



Alice Robinson

Alex Davis, Life Member


Two of our long time members and enthusiastic supporters of the Society. They will be missed. 


Graeme Clauscen



The society has had an exceptionally busy year. 

After expressing our concern at the state of the John Adam mural at the front of the building, Bass Coast Shire Council decided to fund John to restore the mural, and after negotiating with the society decided the safest place for it was out of the weather in the meeting room. Another Phillip Island mural was provided by Hec Goodall, and the society negotiated to have this mural placed above the noticeboard on the Civic Centre building where it greets lots of visitors going to the Information centre.


Our speakers for the year were, in October Jan Child, CEO of Bass Coast Health came to speak to us about the new Cowes Medical Hub, and in November Duncan Sutherland gave us an update about the Eastern Barred Bandicoots on Churchill Island. For our annual dinner our speaker was Phillip Island Nature Parks CEO Catherine Basterfield, who brought us up to date with developments in the Parks. 

We then went to quarterly lunch meetings, which saves the committee a lot of work and also saves us the monthly fee for the meeting room. Our first lunch speaker was Matthew Bowtell who told us about the free service he offers providing 3D printed prosthetic fingers and hands to people, especially children, in need. For our May lunch meeting, Phillip Island Nature Park’s Conservation Manager Jessica McKelson, spoke on “From Primates to Penguins”. 


Our big project for the year was having our Touchscreen presentations developed by Simon Eddy and a cabinet built by volunteers Frank Maiolo and John Eddy. The touchscreen is now operational in the museum and is very popular with visitors.

A sub-committee has been working hard on the re-enactment of the first land sale ballot in November 1868. The re-enactment will take place on Saturday 10th November, and will include half an hour of folk songs played by guitar and mandolin, followed by the performance of the re-enactment. A scrumptious afternoon tea will follow. All are welcome, and you are encouraged to wear period costume and join in the performance as land seekers. 


Our volunteer cataloguers continue to meet on Friday mornings and have made good progress on cataloguing our photos, etc. Gaye has been cataloguing the book bequest and other collections. We thank them for their tireless efforts to make our collection available to everyone via the Victorian Collections online cataloguing program. We have had many donations over the year which Judy has been handling. Judy has also done a power of work to the big old Phillip Island album, which used to be on the big table and was so popular with visitors. It was falling apart, so Judy has revitalised the old album, which is now two albums, and they will be back on display on the table very shortly. 

In November, Graeme and Christine attended the Victorian Collections Day at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. This day was full of information relevant to us and our collection.

Christine continues to receive many requests for information via email and with the help of committee – especially John Jansson – is usually able to help. Snippets of extra information or enquiries also come from our Victorian Collections entries.


The new Medical Hub was opened this year and features many enlarged and framed photographs from our collection. Christine worked with Bass Coast Health’s communications officer on this, and the photos were very well received at the opening day.


We held two Open Days – one for the Seniors Festival and one for International Museums Day. Both were popular.


The committee has been planning a revamp of the museum for some time, mainly to change the layout to move the front desk, which formed something of a barrier to our visitors, and also to move our bequest book collections away from the window and onto the east wall. After obtaining a $700 Bass Coast community grant we were able to employ Phillip Island Removalists to move the heavier stands for us. About 3/4s of the museum has been moved around and two display stands de-commissioned to make the museum fully accessible by wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams. We have introduced a few new displays and upgraded others. This is a great outcome for the museum. 


We have been closed for several weeks while the re-organisation takes place, but will be open to the public again from this Saturday 11th August, and will be having an Open Day on Friday 17th August. So come along and enjoy the museum and refreshments in the meeting room.


Since we have less display space for our temporary special displays now, the committee decided to apply for grants to have a programmer develop a platform for our website to have online exhibitions, starting with John’s World War One Phillip Island soldiers, and his Maritime History of Rhyll displays. Once the platform is built into the website we will be able to put up as many online exhibitions as we like.


In January we were saddened by the death of Cherry McFee, a Life Member, previous office holder and still active in helping with enquiries until the last. She is certainly missed. Recently we lost Nancy McHaffie, a faithfull worker.


Finally I would like to thank the following: committee members for their hard work and help this year, members who attend our meetings and give input to the workings of the society. To Gaye, Bruce and John for attending SEHA meetings on our behalf, and a special thanks to those members who have given their time to keep the Museum open and look after our Visitors.                             Graeme Clauscen



Balance Sheet 30th June 2017

Income Statement 2016 - 2017

Statement by members of the Committee 2017



This year has been one of successes and disappointments; successes more than outweighing disappointments.

We were nominated and finalists for three awards - cataloguing; small museums award, and Christine as volunteer of the year - with Museums Australia Victoria and although we did not win an award the achievements of our group were impressive.


In October Libby Skidmore read an article about driving through Gippsland 1923.

In November we watched the new History of Phillip Island DVD, which is very popular.

In February Christine Grayden read an article on Picturesque Phillip Island from 1869.

In March John Eddy gave us the history of Scenic Estate Reserve.

In April Miranda Sage spoke about Beachside Cottage in San Remo.

In May David Severino spoke about beekeeping.

In June Julie Box spoke about local artist Ina Davies.

In July we watched the DVD 'Island Voices' put together for the National Trust festival

In August we had our annual Show and Tell session.


We have had a number of groups through such as primary and tertiary students and elderly citizens groups.


Whales; shearwaters; Hec Goodall cartoons; 50th anniversary; Sport & Leisure; Open Day for NAIDOC week which was very successful.


Hec Goodall donated a mural

Conservation works completed by John Adam, artist, on the history of Phillip Island mural.

Working with Shire to find a place to display them.


Numerous donations during the year


Phillip Island Community Benefit Fund for touchscreen for the museum. This is our current project, with six topics to go on the touchscreen to start with, featuring images, text and audio.


John, Anne and Christine attended training funded by BCSC on Conservation of Museum Objects and Exhibition development.

A group of our members did a four museums tour in Melbourne in March, which was very useful and enlightening.


Several of our members were invited to Govt House to meet the Governor to mark the occasion of PINP's 20th birthday.

The Governor General also visited recently and Graeme represented our society at that event at Cape Kitchen.


BCSC has committed the funds to have plans and specifications drawn up for the redevelopment

The Transit Hub on the east side of the building is to commence soon so we are in negotiations with the council on relocation of Rudy Coels's historic shed. Bill Overton has offered to store Bill Barrett's duck punt which is currently stored in the shed.


I wish to thank the cataloguing team for their continued work on uploading all of our photos and other objects, including our historic book collection, onto the online cataloguing program Victorian Collections.


I would like to thank the committee and all the members for all their support this year. Thank you to the committee for all of their hard work allowing us to make so much progress this year. Graeme Clauscen.