Charles Hammond

Artist & Photographer of Melbourne, Australia

Home Leaving Home His Family His Adventures His Story


The following article appeared in The Mountain District Free Press on October 4th, 1946. All the illustrations are also by Charles Hammond, taken from his illustrated Diary.



By Chas. E. Hammond, 'Winscombe', Tecoma.

Ferntree Gully has always been a favorite resort for tourists and picnic parties many years before the Dandenongs were opened up for selection after the landboom in the early 1890s.

The old Ferntree Gully Hotel run by Mrs Grimwood and daughter was not the first. The original hotel was a picturesque shanty with a shingle roof, with a duck-pond in one corner and a running creek through the orchard. It must have been there when Cobb and Co.'s coaches were on the roads, for I heard from the old residents that the coaches used to run there from Melbourne.

I never saw the old shanty, but I did see a picture of it in 'The Illustrated London News.' so it must have been famous on the other side of the world (probably in the 1850's and 60's). I stayed for 12 months in the second hotel (Mrs Grimwood's) in 1896 while waiting for Melbourne to recover from the landboom crash of 1893. Judging from the size of the cypress trees, willows and fruit trees in the old orchard they must have been at least 50 or 60 years then. (I have paintings of the hotel that I painted at that time, 50 years ago.)

Ferntree Gully Hotel 1896
Ferntree Gully Hotel (centre) from the Quarry road. 1896
Click on the photos to enlarge them.

These grand old trees have only lately been cut down when the new hotel of Spanish design was built a few years ago (the third on the same site). When the road was surveyed it was found to run through the bar of the old hotel, so the new one stands a little further back.

In the early 1890's, before the railway was extended from Bayswater (the 20-mile terminus) to Upper Gully, the road was thronged with picnickers on Cup day and other holidays. They came in removal vans, horse buggies, saddle horses and bicycles.

Ferntree Gully was a favorite run for the Melbourne and Fernside bicycle clubs. They turned out in their blue uniforms and knee breeches, some riding the high-wheelers and others on safety machines.

National Park Ferntree Gully
National Park Ferntree Gully. 1905

Picknickers played 'hoop-la,' 'kiss in the ring', rounders and other games on the small patch of grass in the National Park to the music of accordions and concertinas, their laughter echoing among the tall gums and tree ferns by the rippling stream.

On this green at the foot of the steep track were three logs placed in a triangle. They marked the grave of Mrs Dobson, wife of Tommy Dobson, one of the earliest residents of the district (probably the first burial at Ferntree Gully.)

It was on Hospital Sunday, October 29, 1889 that I had a ride to Ferntree Gully that I shall never forget. I had just landed back from Melbourne after two years at sea and in England. Brother Bert (artist) proposed a ride to the Gully to celebrate the occasion.

Charles < Bert ride in the rain 1889
Charles and Bert ride to the Mountain View Hotel,
Burwood Road, to shelter from the rain. 1889.

It was a glorious morning, not a cloud in the sky as we started off from Melbourne on our horses. Nearing Glen Waverley clouds began to cover the sky, then down came the rain. My thin summer suit was soaked through in a few minutes. We sheltered at the old Mountain View Hotel until the rain eased off, then rode on.

When we neared old Dan Foster's homestead on the Burwood Road the rain started again, so we made a dash for his stables and rested until the rain stopped. Then hoping that was the last squall, we rode on towards the Gully. When we were nearing the Club Hotel at Lower Ferntree Gully a terrible storm broke over us. It must have been a cloud burst.

Charles < Bert pass the cyclists 1889
Charles and Bert pass the Fernside Bicycle Club. 1889.

In a few minutes the Burwood Road was flooded. In the low parts the water was up to the horses' girths. It rained for the rest of the day. We returned home by way of the Oakleigh Road with the rain and icy cold gale blowing in our faces all the way. On the Dandenong Road we passed the Fernside Bicycle Club, who had been for a run to the Gully. There were a few high-wheelers among them, but they had to walk as the gale blew them off as soon as they tried to mount. We arrived home half-frozen.

1888, 1889, 1890, 1891 and 1892 were the years of the great land-boom, where many of the big mansions were built around Melbourne (the Naughty 90's!), when carriages and high-stepping horses with liveried coachmen on the box seats were seen in the streets every day.

Land sales, reckless spending and strikes brought the good times to an end in 1892. Then in June, 1893, came the crash! - when every bank in Melbourne closed its doors, some temporarily, some permanently. Thousands were ruined and thousands of unemployed paraded the streets and threatened trouble.

It was then that the Government decided to open part of the Dandenong Ranges, divided into 10-acre blocks at £1 an acre, where selectors could grow vegetables and small fruits (including blackberries) for the Melbourne market.

Charles and Bert in their studio
The Hammond Bros. Studio, Melbourne 1893.

It was heartbreaking work for these early settlers, their blocks covered in dense forest and scrub. The tracks cut in the mountain sides were axle deep in mud and strewn with boulders. It was a two-day trip to Melbourne. Loading up and starting one day, camping by the creek at Wheelers' Hill for the night, and on to market next morning.

My brother and I had a studio in Melbourne at this time, but the city was like a morgue and it was impossible to make a living by art, so after the studio has been broken into by burglars we went pioneering too, but not in the Dandenong Ranges.

It took several years for Melbourne to recover. In 1896 I came to live at Ferntree Gully and for the next year or two the old hotel was my home. Mr Cocks and family had just taken over from Mrs Grimwood and her daughters.

Many old-timers came to the hotel. One of them was Moore, the bullock driver, a big bearded giant who had worked with his team for many years in the district. I believe it was he who felled the tree that gave 'Mast Gully Road' its name and hauled it to Sandridge. (The German teamster mentioned in the 'Free Press' was probably old Mr Schultz, also an old-timer living in the Gully in 1896.)

At this time the hills beyond the Gully were becoming well settled and the residents wanted a railway to open up the country. They wanted the broad gauge continued from Upper Gully but the Commissioners said there was not the population to warrant it, so 'it must be narrow gauge or nothing.'

Coles' Nursery, Belgrave
Coles' Nursery and the railway, Belgrave. May 1913

It was 1900 when this line was completed and townships sprang up all along the line. Mr Geo. Gilmore, of Kallista, assisted the Commissioners to name them. Kallista was then South Sassafras. The beautiful and fashionable township of Upper Sassafras with its well laid out gardens and asphalt motor road, was in the early 90's a few slab and bark huts and small cottages. I have photographs of them in my pictorial diary.

Cole's Nursery was, I think, the first settlement in what is now Belgrave, in 1883 (then called Monbulk). This fine property got into the hands of the bank after the land boom, and Mr Lipscombe bought it. One of the early residents of Belgrave was Mr Terry, who owned a lot of land now known as Terry's Hill. He subdived it into one and a half acre blocks, which he sold for £15 each to Dr Syme, Messrs. Collingwood, William Kerr, Frame, Washitt and others.

Dickinson's Belgrave Store
Dickinson's Belgrave Store (now Tecoma). 1912.

Mr Benson, who owned the hill at the back of Belgrave station, and Mr Lipscombe were responsible for altering the name from Monbulk to Belgrave. Mr Dickinson was the first storekeeper and postmaster. Mr John T. Mahoney started the first saw mill and built the first Coffee Palace (which burnt down). Wilson and Bowden ran the first coach to and from Ferntree Gully until the First World War, when Mat. Tankard started the first motor service. The first school was a half-time one, held in Walter Dickinson's cottage next to the Old Belgrave store (now Tecoma).

Tecoma, where I have lived for the last 36 years, is one of the latest townships on the line. The station was opened on December 1, 1924. It was previously part of Belgrave.

There is a great future ahead of these beautiful blue Dandenongs. I have watched them grow for over 50 years and have always loved them, and would rather live here than anywhere else in the wide world.

CHAS. E. HAMMOND, 'Winscombe', Tecoma.

The following article appeared in The Ferntree Gully and District Times editions dated 29 October 1953 (page 2) and 5th November 1953 (page 2, 8). Charles Hammond died at Winscombe, Belgrave in the Dandenong Range, Victoria, Australia on the 1st December 1953, within a month of the appearance of this article. He was buried at Ferntree Gully Cemetery (Ref COE D 3 17), in an unmarked grave. His wife Augusta Frances Hammond nee Cecil died 1 May 1935 and was buried at Coburg Cemetery (Ref RC B 78) Melbourne, with her father Thomas Cecil.


He lives alone with his memories ... now we may turn back the pages ...!

By Leslie Hunt.

Illustrated by Charles Hammond from his pictorial diary

The 'old-timers' of the Dandnongs need no introduction to Charles Hammond of 'Winscombe', Main Road, Tecoma, a local resident since 1912, and a man who has done more to publicise and popularise our lovely hills than many who have been paid to do it.

Since his beloved wife died 18 years ago, Charles has lived alone with his memories, and has graciously allowed us to turn back the pages with him so that we may re-live some of the thrilling episodes of his eighty-three years.

Born in London in February 1870, he was one of nine children born in comfortable circumstances, with several rich uncles, one a director of the P and O Line, another the owner of St Gation, the Derby winner of 1884, whilst his father inherited large estates, but, alas, lost them in sport, mainly fox-hunting.

Charles' mother was a member of the renowned Quaker family - Fry- his sister Emma is the mother of the great British playwright, Christopher Fry (his real name is Harris, but he took Charles' mother's name when he commenced writing).

When Mr Hammond senior had lost all his money, he emigrated to Australia, leaving his family to fend for themselves; fortunately they were able to stand up to the world, four of the children seeking fame and fortune in the then adventurous prospects in the 'Colonies'.

Hal went to Canada, joined the Mounted Police, and fought against the Indians; two of Charles' sisters married and sailed for New Zealand, Bert came to Australia, and Charles himself, at the age of 15, sailed from London to Hobart in the Royal Mail Steamer 'Arawa'.

At 17 he had been half-way round the world and back, surviving many perils, least of which was sailing back from Port Melbourne to Hong Kong in the big American ship 'Great Admiral' carrying a skysail yard, without his oilskins, which were stolen in our capital city.

Fox-hunting in Leicestershire
Charlie paints the fox-hunting in Leicestershire.
Click on the photos to enlarge them

Aloft to furl yards in all weathers (via Manila, London to Liverpool) he suffered no ill-effects though few people would care to repeat his performance today, despite the discovery of penicillin!

For two years he then remained in England under the watchful eye of a kindly uncle, hunted with the Leicestershire packs, and learned many of the farmer's and horsebreaker's tricks.

At the age of 20, however, his feet were itching for fresh pastures, and he returned to Melbourne to live with his favorite brother, Bert, setting up a studio in Collins Street, where Hammond Brothers did extremely well as fashionable photographers, and Charles continued his painting and his sculpture.

The Great Fire of Melbourne
Charlie paints The Great Fire of Melbourne.

The marvellous scrapbooks carefully compiled and well-kept provide almost a day-to-day diary of Charles Hammond's successes from 1889, but standing out above all other masterpieces, is the celebrated drawing of the Flinders Street fire, known as 'The Great Fire of Melbourne'.

On the night of January 21st, 1897, he was awakened by a friend sharing a studio, who pointed to the glowing sky over Flinders Street and Swanson Street.

Charles needed no second bidding, and was soon at the scene, sitting on the railway steps, carefully recording the details of Craig Williamson's blaze on his drawing board whilst volunteers trundled precious stocks of wines and spirits from Young and Jackson's to safety in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral!

By noon, Charles had his drawing into the office of the 'Weekly Times' - the ONLY record in existence of the fire at its height! The photographers only obtained shots when the fire was out or practically extinguished, as at 3 a.m. on a Sunday there were no trains, trams or cabs to bring them.

A recent issue of a famous Australasian periodical pays high tribute to this drawing which has preserved for posterity the actual scene on this unforgettable night.

postcard illustrating Gordon's verse
One of Charlie's illustrations of Adam Lindsay Gordon's verses.

Amongst many contibutions to Victorian art at the turn of the century we have Charles Hammond's illustrations in newspapers, magazines and on the popular series of postcards, the forerunners of today's novelettes and comics - sets of cards gaily colored, telling the great bushranging tales or illustrating 'Banjo' Patterson's and Adam Lindsay Gordon's verses.

Meanwhile his father had purchased the land on which the district we know as Sandringham was built, then tea tree scrub.

His father's division of this estate and Fairfield Park started the speculations which brought about the great land boom and the closing of the banks in 1893.

It also meant the closing of the studio and the departure of Bert and Charles for New Zealand - the fare at this time was only £1, due to a competative fight between steamship lines.

After working on stations in New Zealand with sheep and cattle, Bert and Charles came back to Melbourne in 1895, and Charles resumed what has proved to be 50 years of illustrating and photographing the news and the beauty of the Southern Hemisphere.

Prior to his arrival in Tecoma in 1912, Charles worked in Sydney and Newcastle, and had a spell in Gippsland at Sale, where in 1911 he was champion rifle shot, using the skill he had acquired after his visits to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in London when he was a youth of 18!

To be continued next week.


Chas Hammond's Story

By Leslie Hunt

Riding from Melbourne, sometimes on horse, and other times on his bicycle, Charles spent his weekends and holidays clearing his land, working by the light of a lantern, eventually building his home, later adding one of the Dandnongs' most attractive gardens, the venue for many an afternoon-tea when his dear wife was entertaining her city and country friends.

Winscombe, Tecoma 1912
Charlie builds a hut at Winscombe
'Make a start to clear the land and build a hut
out of the saplings. (Temperature 104º in shade)'
Charlie in his garden at Winscombe
'Back Garden Winscombe, original hut on right'
Click the photos to enlarge them.

Today, although a little overgrown, due to anno domini, the garden is still a picture, and one can imagine the atmosphere, so plainly captured in the paintings and photographs, with beautiful women in their summery finery, men in their blazers, Mrs Hammond at the piano, and Charles with his zither or mandoline, soft music in a perfect setting.

Charles Hammond's contributions to local literature have not yet ended as his albums will supply much of the history which is being compiled by various authors and the Fern Tree Gully Shire Council.

One of Charles Hammond's first paintings was the old Fern Tree Gully Hotel which he first drew sitting on the top of Lording's Store in April, 1896.

Ferntree Gully Hotel 1896
April 1896 Painting the old 'Ferntree Gully Hotel'
from the roof of Lording's Store.

Another masterpiece was the drawing of the great Federal Demonstration at the Melbourne Town Hall on the eve of National Victory, July 26th, 1899.

Charles sat at the back of the hall recording his impressions, worked all day Sunday at the drawing, which was delivered to the 'The Weekly Times' on Monday morning - an epic record of the pre-Commonwealth era.

Alas some of our veteran's best work has not been given the pride of place it deserved, for example his model, cast in plaster, for the Soldiers' Memorial at Port Said, which Charles did in 1922, and exhibited in 1923.

The experts said that his model, which included a fountain, surmounted by two Anzacs with their horses, was the best in the competition, but Charles was ill and unable to attend the judging in the city.

As a result he lost the prize of £200 offered by the Goverenment, and the task of completing the memorial in bronze was given to Web Gilbert, who died whilst working on the statuary. Paul Monford, who did much of the work on The Shrine in St Kilda Road, completed the Egyptian memorial to the gallant Australian soldiers. The Saga of the Anzac Memorial.

Another fond memory held by Charles is his design for the postage stamp to commemorate the opening of Canberra - again the experts agreed that the Hammond design was the best, but the Government would not 'take a chance' on an unknown artist, and so Charles was disappointed beyond words, and resolved never again to submit his work for Commonwealth or State competitions.

In 1899 the Australian Literature Society came into being, and Charles Hammond was at the inaugural meeting on 6th September, many of the early members being numbered amongst his closest friends and later, regular visitors to Tecoma.

It is little wonder that when Charles sits in his glorious garden, playing his zither, or gazing at his pictures and his scrapbooks, his mind wanders over his eighty glorious years, packed to the brim with adventure such as few of us have ever known.

It is an interesting thought that Charles might have been an English cricketer had he remained in the Mother Country instead of returning to Australia in 1890 - he inherited a family gift which many well-known players said would have put him in the top class - as it did his famous cousin - Walter Hammond, skipper of so many English Test sides, who, like Charles, had the stylish off-drive so rarely seen today.

Perhaps this gift with the wrists and hands accounts for the beauty of Charles Hammond's drawings and paintings, which will bring fame to our hills long after we are forgotten.

Fernshaw Coach
Oct 1889. Coaches at Fernshaw. Coach from Healsville arriving with mail.
Coach in foreground carries mail over Blackspur to Narbethong.


  • The Mountain District Free Press, October 4th, 1946.
  • The Ferntree Gully and District Times editions dated 29 October 1953 (page 2) and 5th November 1953 (page 2, 8), from the newspaper collection held by The State Library of Victoria
  • All of Charlie Hammond's art and photographs are from the collection held firstly by Christopher Fry in England and now by The State Library of Victoria and photographed by Evan Lewis.
  • The collection of John Waterhouse

Home Leaving Home His Family His Adventures His Story

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional