Tolmie a little bit of history
Old Tolmie Township
In the 1880’s the township of Wombat was established in the heart of the Wombat Ranges. The rich, deep volcanic soil was suitable for growing a range of crops despite the cold climate and selections were offered up to carefully chosen families in an attempt to stamp out the outlaw element of the Kelly gang and bushrangers such as Harry Power.
Prior to the establishment of the township, the area was part of the 40,000 acre Dueran Pastoral Run that was held by Ewen Tolmie from 1860 to 1880. The tragedy of Stringybark Creek in 1878 when the Kelly Gang took the lives of three policemen, along with the exploits of bushranger Harry Power, prompted authorities to open up the ranges to carefully chosen selectors in order to deter the presence of this outlaw element. Only those who passed a strict examination were granted land.
In September 1889 the Wombat Ranges become known as the Tolmie Tablelands when Wombat was renamed Tolmie in honour of Ewen Tolmie (1838-1883). Tolmie township grew into a thriving centre with store, hotel, school, churches and hall. It was a common sight to see six or eight wagons outside the hotel and store or camped for the night. At one time, the school accommodated 70 or more students.
To encourage the selectors, the Government had promised a railway line to the markets in the valley but despite a long, persistent and occasionally bitter fight by the community, the Government failed to come good with this promise and many were forced to leave the district. The heyday of Tolmie was over, but in more recent years the abandoned blocks have been again taken over and Tolmie has settled back into a small, but close knit community enjoying the delights of the clear air, cool climate and relaxed lifestyle we know today.
Wombat/Tolmie State School No. 2305.
The Wombat State School was opened in 1880. The name was changed to Tolmie in 1889 and by 1901 with growing attendance, a new school was built and the old building became the teachers residence. Sadly the new school burnt down in 1908 and teaching continued in a rented building and then the original school building and from 1917 to its closure in 1953 was a part time school along with Toombullup East and later, Wattle Range.
The pine trees in the school grounds were planted in 1922 in memory of soldiers who lost their lives during WWI
St Josephs Roman Catholic Church
Built in 1904 by Mr Jas. Thompson. It was formally opened on 6th April 1907 by Rev Father Egan.
Now known as the Uniting Church. Built 1889 by local builders. The Rev Robert Thom was the first minister from 1889 to 1911. The early services were conducted by missioners who travelled by horse from Cheshunt. In 1900 the Church was included in the Mansfield charge. In 1970 the Bonnie Doon Presbyterian congregation donated the lights and heaters to the Tolmie Church. The church has been extended over the years and the original shingle roof replaced with galvanized iron.The church is still used for special celebrations such as Christmas, Easter and the occasional wedding. There was a graveyard to the rear of the church but sadly none of the original headstones remain.
Built in 1887 and it was sold and dismantled for relocation in 1936. A laurel tree and daffodils remain to mark its site. The hotel included a store, butchers and stables.
Tolmie Mechanics Institute
Built in 1920 and opened with a dance on July 2nd 1920. Admission was five shillings for gentlemen, while ladies were free. The hall included an anteroom with an open fireplace (now a storeroom). A supper room was added in 1951 and a new toilet block added in 1982. Further improvements occurred in 1985 and then a major renovation adding the verandah and deck, cladding the toilet block and introducing larger windows in the supper room was completed in August 2008.
Many dances and concerts have been held at the hall over the years, in particular the dance held in the evening of every Sports Day.
The Post Office opened at Mr Walkers Store in 1888, receiving 2 mail deliveries from Mansfield per week.
Throughout it’s history of good times or not so good, one event has prevailed in Tolmie…the annual Tolmie Sports Day. The first sports were held on Jan 12th 1888 and were known as the Wombat School Picnic.
The program of events has changed very little over the history of the Sports with foot racing, woodchopping and horse events remaining firm favorites. The Old Buffers Race for men which is still run today is one of the original events in the 1890’s.
When the Toombullup East School closed down in 1959 the building was donated to Tolmie for use as the Tearooms for the Sports. It is still used for this purpose today. The Tearooms are reknown for the floral decorations which the ladies of Tolmie do every year.
3 years were missed during the war years.
Tolmie Table Tennis Club
Tolmie Tennis Club
Wombat United Cricket Club - first ever match at Wombat in Dec 1887
Tolmie Football Club (disbanded in 1982).-Tolmie were premiers of the Benalla and District League in 1952.
Tolmie Cricket Club -The club was formed in 1948
Tolmie Bush Fire Brigade
The Tolmie brigade was formed in 1939, with the Country Fire Authority being formed in 1947. After making application in 1949 for a truck or tank and pump, Tolmie received its first Fire Unit in 1962 – a Chev Tanker Truck. This was later replaced by a Willy’s Fire Unit which being four wheel drive was more useful. The fire shed was upgraded to the current building in 2008 just after significant bushfires had raged throughout the Tolmie area for 2 months. It was officially opened in May 2008.
Electricity comes to Tolmie
After many years of Kerosine Lamps and Lighting Plants, a public meeting was held on the 9th Sept 1965 to make application for electricity to be connected to Tolmie.
In June 1968 all interested persons were signed up and the project commenced, and was duly completed. A Gala Ball and Switch on Ceremony was held on 22nd May 1970 and was attended by a very pleased and happy gathering of Tolmie residents and friends.