The Mirror News

RHSV award for Prom district tramlines book

• Wellington Shire Councillor Garry Stephens and local supporter of renewable energy Bruce Beatson with
Chief Operating Officer Erin Coldham.

A METICULOUS and generously illustrated book on South Gippsland’s early tramlines has won the History Publication category of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s (RHSV) 2021 Victorian Community History Awards.

In the Shadow of the Prom – Early South Gippsland Times, Tales and Tramlines by Mike McCarthy was published in 2020 by the Melbourne-based Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc. after more than 40 years of research.

The book was originally launched during a celebration held at the Foster Museum on Sunday November 29, 2020.

Many of its photographs and much of its information come from the collections and memories held by the Foster and District Historical Society, the Toora and District Family History Group, the Port Welshpool and District Maritime Museum, the Port Albert Maritime Museum, and the Yarram and District Historical Society.

Other sources included the pages of The MirrorThe Toora and Welshpool Ensign, other Gippsland region as well as state-wide newspapers, local history books, the Public Record Office of Victoria, State Library Victoria, and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The RHSV citation states that In the Shadow of the Prom “represents community history at its best.

“The work minutely details the role of tramways in linking small local communities in South Gippsland to the wider world.

“In areas where it was hard to build all-weather roads, tramways became the preferred means of moving produce—such as timber, fish, as well as a variety of equipment—to places they were needed,” the citation continues.

“In servicing local industries and providing personal transport, tramways were crucial to the life and survival of otherwise isolated communities in this largely untouched region.

“This study of light railways is well referenced and profusely illustrated with photographs, maps, and diagrams.

In the Shadow of the Prom is a beautiful testament to the value of painstaking, prolonged and passionate historical research into community history,” the citation said.

“Mike McCarthy’s labour of love combines history with studies of photography, geography and the history of technology to reveal the heart and soul of his beloved South Gippsland.”

The RHSV told Mr McCarthy his book had been shortlisted for what he described as “the best book award” a few weeks before the presentation ceremony was screened on YouTube on Wednesday October 27, 2021.

“It was such an honour to be on the list, but from then it was torture, wondering how it would go, and so the announcement that In the Shadow of the Prom had won really was a source of great satisfaction,” he said. “I’m glad I was sitting down!”

Mr McCarthy said the actual prize was “a certificate and $2000, and I’ve split the winnings with my wife Shirley, who gives me the freedom to pursue the things I’m so passionate about.

“I love my tramlines!”

A life member of the Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc., In the Shadow of the Prom is the fourth book Mr McCarthy has written on this highly specialised subject.

His earlier titles are Bellbrakes, Bullocks and Bushmen, on Gembrook’s tramways and timber mills; Settlers and Sawmillers, set in West Gippsland; and Mountains of Ash, about the Warburton district’s mills and trams.

A fifth volume, on the tramlines of the Erica district, is currently in preparation.

“One of the things I’m really happy about and thankful for is how tremendously helpful the historical societies and museums in Gippsland and in other places have been,” Mr McCarthy said.

“My books are sold in the museums and the societies tell me they do well out of them, which gives me a lot of pleasure knowing they are making some money out of what they’ve helped me achieve,” he said.

“Their pictures and information are in my books, which gives them a sense of ownership; it’s a symbiotic relationship and one that I’m very grateful for.”

In the Shadow of the Prom – Early South Gippsland Times, Tales and Tramlines is available from the Foster Museum in Main Street and through the Foster and District Historical Society’s website at at a cost of $66 plus $15 postage.

• In the Shadow of the Prom – Early South Gippsland Times, Tales and Tramlines by Mike McCarthy has won the History Publication category of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s (RHSV) 2021 Victorian Community History Awards.

ON Monday evening November 15 Star of the South Offshore Windfarm’s CEO Casper Frost Thorhauge and Chief Development Officer, Erin Coldham and other members of their team put on drinks and food at Café Aga in Yarram for an end of year get together to thank locals for their support

 The night kicked off with a welcome from young local Stella Bodman who joined the team six months ago.

“I left Yarram five or six years ago to study Marketing at Uni and am so thrilled to have this awesome opportunity to move back to my hometown and work with the Star of the South,” Stella said.

 She then handed over to Casper who said that after two and a half years here in Australia it was time for him and his family to move back to the northern hemisphere to be closer to home.

“I am very confident that the team here will bring the windfarm into a great future. We are not here for a short time; we are here for a lifetime.

“The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments are bringing in legislation that will create a pathway we need to build the offshore windfarm,” he said.

 Erin then said how good it was to see people in real life. “Some of you I’ve seen over the screen, like our zoom meeting with Rotary.

“Those of you who know me know that I am quite purpose driven and I want to see this project get up for this community. Gippsland will be the home of offshore wind,” Erin explained.

“One thing I know about Gippsland is that it has remarkable community spirit. It doesn’t matter where you go, whether it’s Yarram or somewhere else in Gippsland or if I’m over in the valley or out in East Gippsland you see this community spirit shine through.

“Look at Heesco Town, I love telling the story of Eric Greenaway and the Tindalls and everyone that’s been involved in pulling this together and putting Gippsland on the map.”

 The large group of likeminded people enjoyed the delicious food and local Gippsland wine and beer. 

“I, like most people present, am a supporter of a renewable and sustainable future for us all,” said local man Bruce Beatson.

 Eric Greenaway said he had a great chat with Casper as he has been to Denmark many times to visit the Danish exchange students he has hosted over the years.

“I have been to Copenhagen more than most Danish people,” he said.

 Casper explained that they are interviewing for a new CEO and that they have already employed a new Technical Director, Australian Myles Daniel, who has overseen the development of many offshore windfarms in Europe.

 Erin encouraged the community to let them know how Star of the South can improve.

“We need to do this with community support and buy in,” she said.

Please contact us on 1300340340 or at [email protected] of the South thank local supporters


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