Newsletter #221, March 2017


Guest Speaker

The Guest Speaker at our next Meeting will be Alex Reardon who is a well known local artist.

Notes from the Committee

We received an application for membership from Lyn Kirk. Lyn is well experienced with Computers and wishes to be a member of the Historical Society. She attended the February Meeting where she was welcomed as our newest member by President John.

The small books which are always on sale at General Meetings were also sold at the recent opening of the Rocket Shed on the Australia Day weekend. As a result a further $185 was added to our funds.

Planning for the Exhibition at the Hub in June is well underway. There are numerous details both large and small which have to be attended to during the coming months. Display cards which featured at the Rocket Shed opening were well received by the visitors. The cards, 23 of them, have been laminated, they look great and will last for a long time.

It is also our intention to launch the Inverloch book, written by President John Hutchinson, at the June Exhibition. The book is with the printer in St. Arnaud at present following further intensive proof reading.

Thankyou to Rachel Crichton for her work at the welcoming table and sale of small books during the past several years. We have valued her support and involvement in the Historical Society and wish her all the best for the future.

Thankyou to Wendy McBurnie for taking over from Rachel as we commence our New Year.

Accessioning on computer of all items such as maps, photographs newspaper articles, books, postcards, and artefacts including coins, cameras, 100 year old cake tins, a boot last, scales with weights, and much more is a continuous process. It is being done by John Hutchinson and Graham Paterson.

Please remember to pay your membership fees. We still have some financial memberships outstanding at this stage of the year.


We were saddened to learn that Mavis Parks, another long time member of the Historical Society passed away recently. Mavis was an enthusiastic and supportive member, sharing her talents, and over the years, donating items of memorabilia regarding Inverloch’s early history. Mavis was also the very capable Treasurer for many years, and it is true to say that she always had the history of Inverloch at heart. We send our sincere sympathy to all members of her family and friends.

Guest Speaker – Sam Gatto

Sam Gatto was introduced by John Hutchinson. John mentioned that he was present at the launch of Sam’s book about Wonthaggi and the First World War. He also said that Sam was a former President of the Wonthaggi Historical Society. Sam thanked John for inviting him to speak at our meeting

Guest Speaker: Sam Gatto

Sam began his talk by telling us that when he arrived in Australia he was unable to speak English. However, Anzac Day was meaningful to him from the time he arrived. While listening to the radio in his classroom at school, the stories of Simpson and his Donkey, and hearing the word “Lest We Forget” made a big impression on him.

In his early teenage years he became a member a member of the Wonthaggi Citizens’ Band, and he marched along with the Diggers. On one occasion after the march had concluded, and while waiting for the bus to return them to Wonthaggi, some old Diggers appeared nearby and began talking about the war. They were talking mostly about their old mates who were missing or who died in the war and the tough times they experienced.

Sam became a teacher, with Australian History being his special interest. He eventually taught Australian History at Matriculation (year 12) level. He left Australia and was overseas for 30 years before returning to Australia. He researched constantly, and wrote a booklet on the home front in World War One, specifically, Wonthaggi. He mentioned the significance of important Wonthaggi people such as M.J. Mc Mahon former Mayor of Wonthaggi, President of the first Miners’ Union Committee and a great pioneer of the area. He also noted the influence of Dr. F Looney, a popular medical man who left Wonthaggi to join the Royal Medical Corps.

During the centenary of World War One 2014, Sam was researching for an essay when he noticed that his notes were getting bigger, so he decided to go much further Sam had been in Switzerland for 30 years working as a teacher. He read many books about Australia during the time of World War One. He also read Historical Journals and local newspapers of that era.

Part one of his book was about the home front in Wonthaggi, Part two featured three individual Case Studies. The first chapter was about the Hegarty Boys who were from a mining family. Two of the boys lost their lives to the war. Chapter two was about Dr. Looney one of the communities pioneer doctors. The third chapter was about “Moff” (William Moffat Tinkler) a well known and loved Wonthaggi personality who although wounded several times, survived the war and lived until he was 86.

Sam said he enjoyed writing the book, a story people would want to read.. He made special mention, and gave much credit to Irene Williams of the Wonthaggi Historical Society, to his wife Claire and to his friend John Hodgson in Switzerland. John Hutchinson then thanked Sam for speaking to the I.H.S. members today, He said Sam had done a tremendous amount of work, it was a fascinating story. Sam was presented with a basket of fruit in appreciation of his talk today.

Guest Speaker Sam Gatto

Editor: Ian McBurnie