More photos to share

While home a few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to look through a few old slides with cousin John.

Here they are to share – great photo of Uncle Tuck, his son and daughter in-law George and Gladys Robinson on their 25th wedding anniversary along with Aunt Dolly’s daughter Audrey.


The two taken on Woody when Robinson Bros were shipping sheep off shore – not the easiest job in the world. Uncle Dick is in the background with his arm in a sling.

The blue of the water in the photo is just magical!!

Robinson Bros and the Seaplane


Robinson Bros on the Seaplane at Lady Barron wharf.


Cousins swimming off the Seaplane at Badger Corner.

The Seaplane


The Seaplane




Robinson Bros replaced the old and weary Coogee around the 1930’s with the smaller Seaplane.

The Seaplane was built by Tom Davey around 1910-20 (? son of Richard ‘Dick’ Davey) at the Bluff, she was 23 feet long and 9 feet wide and originally built with a centre board which had been removed prior to Robinson Bros purchasing her. 
Robinson Bros used the Seaplane for about 40 years carting all and sundry, including bales of wool and sheep back and forth to BDog, LDog and Woody. There are many stories of lucky escapes in both the Coogee and Seaplane. I remember climbing aboard the Seaplane from the rock landing  (built by the Robinson’s just off the road in front of the homestead) where we loaded/unloaded at high tide. Eventually the Seaplane was pensioned off and replaced with the faster speed boats. The Seaplane moved to a permanent mooring at the Bluff after Robinson Bros sold her and was the only casualty of the last big fire on FI in 2002 – burnt beyond repair. Those in the family who remembered her, saddened to hear of her fate. These photos are from Wally’s and daughter Dorothy’s family album


Island Shed_Artboard 4 - WoodyWest Anderson or ‘Woody‘ is around 400 acres.

July 1844 this article published in the Port Philip Gazette of the Isabella being wrecked near Woody.

This link gives perspective of the islands to FI and CBI


Woody is where Dad and his cousin KC heard the family history/tales from their fathers and Uncles. This connection is possibly why we all love Woody.

Feb 1916 Dan Bowman notes in his diary, he, George and Horace visited Tin Kettle and Woody – quite a few years before taking over the lease.

The Badger Corner Robinson’s leased Woody after the passing of Jules Leon Vireaux. The executors advertised The Goodwill of the Lease and Occupation Licence of Woody and Tin Kettle Islands’  in the Examiner late 1921.

The Badger Corner Robinson’s formed, from what we gather a family partnership as follows, James Senior 70, Tuck 38, Wally 36, Bertie 34, Louie 33, John 32, Dick 30, Dolly 29 and Horace 28. The partnership of nine ran stock on Tin Kettle after winning the tender.

FHP_00346 001Horace, John and Dick also formed the company Robinson Bros (HJC) on successfully tendering to lease Woody, this was in addition to their family partnership on Tin Kettle. After the death of John (1956), Horace (1958) and Dick (1971) the partnership continued as first cousins, finally father and son. In 2013 the partnership was put to rest after a 90 year association.

Working on Woody in the very early days, Robinson Bros could be camped there for extended periods, providing the opportune time for reminiscing. My brother, son, nephew and cousins attest to this, as they too have experienced this handing down of history. Dad, the entertainer when he gets going, we loved hearing his stories when we were growing up (and still do) as told to him by his father and Uncles.

The hut and shearing shed are on the southern bay with a stunning outlook across to the unusual granite rock formations in the foreground of Cape Barren. Working on Woody: whilst sounds like fun, is, extreme, physical work, every thing carted on and off the boat via the beach, food and water, bedding, shearing equipment, generators, gas bottles, wool bales, dogs, even wood, Woody has not a single tree! It’s no wonder all the Robinson’s have crook knee’s.

This small island paradise home to sheep and up until about 25 years ago, cattle. Getting the stock on and off always a well executed plan, again in the early days the cattle swum on/off to the trading boat, a difficult and high risk job so its good those days are long gone.


When we were kids the Holloway barge was the mode of transport; we would spend the day on the barge with Greame going to collect the stock, always a long day and never boring.

Shearing time; again a well planned event around the variables of tide and weather – nothing is ever taken for granted in the Straits.

The Coogee was used in the early days until replaced with the Seaplane, the first boat I remember. Speed boats replaced the Seaplane. The Seaplane being the only casualty of the 2000 FI bush fires, burnt on her mooring at Long Point. No doubt the early Robinson Bros would’ve had a stream of family visiting when working on Woody.



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Tin Kettle

Family history –  the Badger Corner Robinson’s had Tin Kettle (East Anderson Island) at one time farming sheep.

The early occupier was E.M Robinson from Green Island and no relation. I did find an article 1921 Estate of Jules Vireaux (son of E.M Robinson), where Tin Kettle and Woody were up for lease.

This 1930 article tells us Robinson Bros had Tin Kettle. Eventually Dolly and Tom Diprose took over Tin Kettle and has passed on through their descendants and remains so in 2014.

I have fond memories of Tin Kettle – the last time I was there the kids were quite young, we popped over for the afternoon. Roy Mac was doing a little scuba diving for cray’s. The young cousins were having a ball mucking around on the beach at low tide. As parents ever mindful of the isolation in this part of the world and we didn’t expect the kids to find a half dead blue ring octopus as they were playing……….. they had no idea what it was. alas us parents accumulated a few extra greys that day! Kids – you cannot take your eyes of them for a minute in the backyard of the Straits.

Robinson cousins heading to Tin Kettle, Woody and Isabella Island.

Great Dog Island – family history

Big (Great) Dog and Little Dog Islands or the ‘The Dogs‘.

Island Shed_Artboard 3 - Big Dog

Whilst we have a more recent connections it’s been interesting to learning Marsey Waterhouse Barrett lived on Big Dog – post WWI, the ‘Linda’ was built there in 1887 by Henry Taylor  and fills in the gaps of why Brownrigg visited Big Dog with John Smith and Fred Collis in 1882.

Dad knew the ship Linda was built on Big Dog, on certain low tides you can still see the runners – about 200 yards east of Riddles shed. It’s amazing to learn the extent of boat building industry in the Straits in those early days. The outer islands home to dozens of families and boats the only mode of transport. These families as isolated as they were had consistent contact with each other and the mainland due to the extensive shipping network that existed.

The Long Island Barrett family lived on Big Dog before moving to Long Island.

Big Dog was originally on Goose Island –   Dad’s said his Grandfather Jimmy Holt was contracted to move the dismantled house from Goose to Big Dog in his boat the Coogee. He is not sure of the time frame. An early picture of the homestead. The back building was originally the kitchen. The kitchen in our time was the first room to the left on entering the front door. The lounge room was directly behind the kitchen and the bedrooms on the other side of the passage. I also remember the Cherry tree on the East side of the home – they were delicious! and the palm type tree at the front. In November 2014 at the Museum Emita in the light house history folder – Goose Island history section there is a fantastic photo of two identical homesteads taken prior to moving, when I mentioned to Dad he said ‘thats right one went to BD and the other to Emita and was the home of Mr Fisher’. The evidence needed to corroborate the stories handed down.

The Mills family is another name associated with Big Dog – Walter Robinson married Doris Mills or Aunt Dorrie. She was well-known for her horse riding skills. Dad’s Uncles said she could handle herself rounding up the cattle, better than any of the men. It wasn’t unusual for the folk on Flinders looking over to Big Dog to see Aunt Dorrie on her horse.

1913 Dan Bowman wrote in his diary: 28 May 1913 the Toroa discharged 50 head of cattle at Great Dog Island: meaning the cattle would swim the short distance from the boat to their new home.

Marsey Waterhouse Barrett lived on Big Dog after his return from WWI farming the land until his death in 1940.

In the mid 1960’s Robinson Bros. took on Big Dog to run 450 head of sheep. As children we spent a lot of time there when Dad and his cousin went over to work.

One time we all remember vividly: the dreaded ‘BBQ’ on the beach below the homestead one summers day in the 70’s. The scene: three families having a fun time on the beach: until Mr Tiger Snake turned up for a swim (scared out of the bushes by the kids fetching sticks for the BBQ) when Dad saw the snake he put me under one arm and my cousin under the other so we could get the heck out of the water only to find Mr Tiger Snake positioning itself between us and the beach, each time Dad made a move so did the snake. Quite a predicament and lucky for us the dinghy was close by and came to our rescue………

One of my earliest memories is visiting Mr and Mrs Riddles shed on Big Dog – the few things I remember clearly, how excited we were to see Mrs Riddle, the fresh tussock floor covering, but most of all – the smell; tussock, sea air, birds cooking, smoke, a blend unique to birding and only loved by those born into the industry.

Big Dog Island 1963

The Willis’ birding shed was to the West of the homestead and we would sometimes visit. At least we had solid ground to walk on as we headed across the paddock, not like Little Dog where it was hard work walking anywhere.

Below memories from those good old days!

Frank Willis

Heather Willis 

The papered walls and the tussock floor covering.

Washing day – Lady Barron in the background behind the washing

Frank as we all love to remember him

Goose Island number 1 number 2

My last visit to Big Dog was to help with the last of the shearing, my kids were only small and we had a happy day helping out out with the shearing lots of laughing and story telling (mainly about the snake) marking the end of our association with this lovely spot.

The other day when were talking about the old days – Dad said he didn’t miss ‘the boggy, rocky beach’ ……………….and we were all there with him.