Finding Grandpa's Farm at Boinka

Finding Grandpa's Farm at Boinka

Using the Internet and a little family history to find a Mallee farm.

My father told us he was born in 1913 at Ouyen Hospital and for a year after that lived in a tent on his father's farm at Boinka. I had always wondered where the farm was but there were no clues in any family documents. So on a rainy day last winter I decided to search the Internet for any help.

I knew that my grandfather, R. W. Leary, migrated to Australia in 1910, and after working on the tramways in Melbourne for a short while, had gone up to the Mallee on an invitation from Mr. Cuttle to work in his store at Ultima. Sometime after that he had taken up a farm allotment.

Using the National Library of Australia's website "Trove", I searched through Victorian newspapers for the years 1910-1912 for any articles containing appropriate words such as "Boinka", "Leary", "allotments", and so on. To my great surprise I found the following article.

From "The Argus" 11 March 1911: "Crown Lands Office, Melbourne, 10/3/11. MALLEE LANDS. The following are the names of the SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS dealt with by special Land Boards held at Kerang, Wycheproof, Sea Lake, . . . . . . . . Parish of Boinka. - Allotment 2, H. G. Scown; . . . . . . . . Parish of Manpy. - Allotment 1, K. Jones, . . . . . . . . 14, R. W. Leary; 15, J. Cumming . . . . . . . . "

There it was, allotment 14 in the Parish of Manpy, not Boinka as I had been searching for. So where was Manpy? A quick check on Google Maps came up with nothing. After further searching for old maps of the Mallee region, I found a 1922 Department of Lands and Survey map of Manpy in the County of Weeah. The map showed Manpy to be south of the highway between Underbool and Boinka. The allotments were clearly shown and most of the names correspond to those in the 1911 Crown Lands article. Allotment 14 was now in the name of "J. Cumming" as were several other allotments. I knew my grandfather had left his farm well before 1922 and assumed the land had then passed onto his neighbour J. Cumming who had originally been allocated allotment 15.

Going back onto Google Maps I soon found the Manpy area is a region with Linga as its centre. On satellite view the fences of the allotments clearly show up and are exactly as they were on the 1922 survey map. Boinka is the closest town to allotment 14 and probably explains why the farm was described as being at Boinka.

The satellite view also shows how dry and infertile the landscape looks. My grandfather cleared his square mile of Mallee scrub and planted several crops, but after about three years of hard work with no returns he walked off and resumed work for Mr. Cuttle in his store at Waitchie. Later he moved back to Ultima and worked again for Cuttle's Stores there until about 1939.

The directions facility of Google Maps informs me it is 5 hours and 35 minutes by car from my front door in Camberwell to grandpa's farm on Crows Road, Linga. It's a trip we look forward to doing in the cooler months of next year.