The Artists


print: wood engraving
Engraved by F.A. Sleap and J. Macfarlane
Published in the Illustrated Australian News and Musical Times
Melbourne: David Syme & Co., March 1, 1890

1. On the beach at Lorne
2. Cumberland Creek (Inset of Creek)
3. Falls on Cumberland Creek
Collection: La Trobe Picture Collection
State Library of Victoria

By the 1890's, Lorne had become one of the most popular coastal holiday and health resorts in Victoria. Apart from these prints of the wood engravings of Lorne and Cumberland Creek appearing in the illustrated papers of the day, advertising the natural beauties of Lorne and its surrounds, artists, photographers, writers and poets were also making the public aware of this coastal retreat.

Around the same time that these 'Sketches at Lorne' appeared, a small, 24 page booklet on Lorne was published in Melbourne, by Fergusson & Mitchell Ltd. The title of this booklet was Pen & Ink Sketches at Lorne authored by G. Brougham Austin and sold as a 'souvenir of Lorne', 'In Aid of the Building Fund - Church of England, Lorne'.

For those interested in the history of Lorne, 'Pen & Ink Sketches at Lorne' provides considerable information on Lorne and Loutit Bay in the early years of European settlement, which is not readily available. This being the case, the booklet has been reproduced on this site with its stories and detailed pen and ink illustrations.

Little is known of the wood engravers, F.A. Sleap or J. Macfarlane who produced these wood engravings of Lorne. We know that they produced a number of wood engravings for the series 'Sketches on the Coast' for the Illustrated Australian News in 1884 and that both worked on the Illustrated Australian News and Musical Times in 1890.

The first of the wood engravings presented here, produced by F.A. Sleap and J. Macfarlane is titled 'On the beach at Lorne', and depicts one of the natural coastal attractions of Lorne. The view is from the shoreline, across a small section of Loutit Bay, probably towards the tip of Point Grey. Point Grey is the point on the southern end of Loutit Bay, and shelters Loutit Bay and Lorne from Bass Strait. The name Point Grey is considered to have derived from the descriptive. Loutit Bay is now widely known as a popular, if not famous amongst surfers, surf beach.

In the 1890's, the surf and the rocks were elements of nature that the majority of Lorne visitors chose to admire from the shore. The memory of the many ships that had been lost in and around Loutit Bay was still strong.

Among the ships lost, were 'Rebel', wrecked in Loutit Bay on 17 February 1855, 'Otway' in 1862, 'Anne' in 1863, and the ketch 'Henry' in 1878.

Also sightseers at Lorne in March 1886 had watched helplessly as the American clipper, 'Paul Jones', around 9 kilometres off Lorne, burnt to the waterline.

One of the more tragic maritime events to occur in this region happened on 7 March 1891, a year after these wood engravings were published. This was the sinking of the 'W.B. Godfrey'. The 'W.B. Godfrey' struck rocks west of Lorne, towards Wye River, where a small stream, now known as Godfrey Creek enters the sea. Several attempts to salvage the ship and estimated '20000 feet of timber' cargo from America, led to the loss of five lives, including that of a Captain Gortley and Victor Godfrey both of the 'Clara'. Their two bodies were buried on the low cliff overlooking the wreck, and it is believed that the bodies of the drowned seamen now 'remain buried beneath the present road surface' of the Great Ocean Road. Some remains of the wreck of the 'W.B. Godfrey' are still visible today scattered on the rocks below the cliff.

In November 1891, Rudyard Kipling made a brief visit to Melbourne, and also visited Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart. During his time in Melbourne, it is believed that he visited Lorne, and after his visit wrote the following lines:

Buy my English posies,
You that will not turn;
Buy my hot Clematis,
Buy a frond of fern.
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road to Lorne,
Buy my Christmas Creeper,
And I'll say where you were born.

In these lines, Kipling mentions the Erskine. His reference is to the Erskine River Falls, which are discussed in more detail in Pen & Ink Sketches at Lorne. The Erskine River flows east through the centre of the township of Lorne into Loutit Bay, and was named after a ship's officer, Erskine, who was engaged in coastal survey work. The well-known Erskine Falls are approximately eleven kilometres upstream from Lorne, via the Erskine Falls Road, and are situated within the Angahook-Lorne Park.

The second and third wood engravings produced by F.A. Sleap and J. Macfarlane depict the Cumberland Creek. The Cumberland Creek, or Cumberland River, as it is now known, is an east flowing river, approximately six kilometres south west of Lorne. It is situated to the north of Mount Defiance and enters Bass Strait a little south of The Brothers.

In some records it has been suggested that the Cumberland River was named after the border County in England, while others suggest that it was named after the ship 'Cumberland', which brought the New South Wales Surveyor-General, Charles Grimes to Port Phillip in January 1803. Cumberland Falls and the many other falls in the vicinity of Lorne were, and still are, very popular scenic destinations for the intrepid bush walker, and the publication Pen & Ink Sketches at Lorne, provides information on a number of these falls. It also has an entry on Cumberland Creek, as it was then known.

Further information on Lorne can be located on this site with the entry for the work 'Loutit Bay' that was painted by Elizabeth Parsons in 1879.

Andrew Mackenzie

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Left: Arthur Streeton - Above Us The Great Grave Sky, 1890
Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

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