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RAN Mine Depot Fyansford

The depot operated only "for the duration" of some part of World War 2, and as a sub-depot of Swan Island; National Archives of Australia file listings suggest between 1942 and 1946. Fyansford is shown in the Navy List between July 1943 and January 1947.

"The Barwon Paper Mill was erected by Andrew Miller in 1876 and commenced business in 1878. The architect was probably Joseph Watts, the known designer of the manager's house and adjacent cottage row. Locally quarried bluestone was the predominant building material. Water from the Barwon River is diverted at Baums Weir along the 900m long bluestone race and up into the mill, originally used to power the mill's waterwheel, which is no longer working. The water then returned to the river down the face of the building downstream of Buckleys Falls.

The mill closed in 1923 and was used as cool stores and for the manufacture of ice. During World War Two the mill was used a mine depot by the Royal Australian Navy. Later still the buildings were used for a fibreglass works and a box factory. It is currently privately owned and used as a light industrial complex, with a dozen or so tenants operating small businesses from sail making to furniture stripping and motor repairs. The mill cottages along Lower Paper Mill Road, also erected at the end of the 1870s and are each individually owned." (Source: Barwon and Moorabool River Reserves Management Plan Final Report May 2006)

One employee of the depot who has been identified is G. F Bloy. Having commenced as a labourer at Swan Island on 3 July 1939, he was transferred to Fyansford on 13 April 1943 where he was "Storehouseman responsible to the Officer-in-Charge at Fyansford. Assisted in setting up Fyansford Mine Depot for the assembly of mines. Was responsible for the custody and accounting for all stores. Supervised the loading of mine lays in H.M.A.S. "Bungaree" at Geelong." He returned to Swan Island on 21 January 1946, later becoming a Foreman of Stores, Grade B, the rank he held when the Swan Island depot was closing in 1960. (RAN Mine Depot, Swan Island letter of 12 April 1960)

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Robert Curran
borclaud @ tpg.com.au