3. Echuca and Moama 1874 to 1883
Echuca / Moama
The Cairnes family take new opportunities in the mid 1870’s. After the floods on the Murray around Echuca and Moama in 1870, the twin towns were rebuilt on higher ground and moves were put in place to take the rail to this border twin town. Huge stands of timber were ready to be felled and milled and trade grew a pace.
Leaving behind Elizabeth’s parents and William’s sister Theresa Philips in Castlemaine, the family moves further north to the borders of NSW and Victoria, where the rail line had been established some years previous.
There is evidence of the family in the Echuca area on the River Murray from about 1874 to about 1884.
The railway crossing over the Murray was introduced during this period in 1876, thus partly doing away with the river punt and allowing produce to cross into NSW uninterrupted by the mighty Murray. It meant great economic changes to the area in a relatively short period.
There is also evidence that WBC had a timber yard, and an Undertakers and presumably ran an Ironmongers supply. There are adverts in the local papers stating he supplied buildings also.He lived on the NSW side of the Murray in Moama, though records provided by the Echuca Historical Society tell us he never owned property there.
Flora Moama Cairnes is born here in 1875.
William’s father, Montgomery Cairnes dies 12 March 1877 in Dublin Ireland.
The following year in April 1878, WBC is found returning from London on the SS Garonne with a Mrs W B Cairnes. His mother returns with him at this date to settle with her only surviving son in Victoria. Presumably they all returned back to Echuca after the long return journey from Ireland.
In the same year, WBC is appointed a JP in Moama, Echuca’s twin town on the NSW border.
He also is appointed a magistrate in Victoria. He is 46.
His Timber yard and Undertakers and wooden house were opposite the Court House where the Subway food outlet now is. It took up the whole block on the riverside corner of Heygarth and High Streets.
William their first born dies in Echuca , 1880 age 23.
Their one year old Arabella, born in Echuca, also dies this year, in the same month. They are both found buried with WBC’s mother, and Elizabeth’s parents at the Cambells Creek Cemetery near Castlemaine in the Wesleyan Section. This must have been a heartbreaking time for the family, as William looks like such a strong and sturdy young man. I have found a newspaper entry on Trove recently as to how they both died.
In 1882 Elsie May Cairnes is born in Castlemaine, though the family has been living in the Moama /Echuca area. There is an advert in the Riverina Herald of the time, describing a private sale. WBC named their next house in Yarrawonga Cairnesville too. It was still being called Cairnesville way after the family had left for Yarrawonga- into the late 1890’s. I can’t find where the exact address was.
Perhaps Elizabeth , now age 40 , has returned to her parental home to be with her midwife mother for the birth of this child. She has her last two children in Yarrawonga in 1884 and 1886.
By 1885 there is evidence that WBC has moved his family from Echuca and is a storekeeper in Wilby, just south of Yarrawonga.
There are advertisements placed in local papers asking for tenders to move 30 tons ( of timber or belongings?) by river steamer to Yarrawonga.
The family is on the move again.
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