The work of 19th century educational philanthropist Francis Ormond has been recognised in two new books.
Story By John Dunn
Ted Stephens was giving the Australia Day address at the RSL memorial at Shelford, near Geelong, Vic, in 2012 when he noticed a cairn on the opposite side of the road. After the ceremony he took a closer look.
A bronze plaque on it read in part: “On this site stood the Settlers Arms Inn built in 1843 by Captain Francis Ormond and demolished to make way for the construction of the new bridge over the Leigh River in 1983.”
Ted was intrigued. His father, Harold, had farmed here, as he does now, since the 1920s and his family was aware of Ormond’s standing in Victoria’s Western District. They knew that Captain Ormond’s son, also named Francis, had become one of Victoria’s greatest educational benefactors, responsible for establishing the prestigious college that bears his name at Melbourne University, a Working Men’s College that has become the renowned RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, now Australia’s largest university) and the equally fine Gordon Institute of Technology in Geelong.
But they knew little else of Francis Ormond because, extraordinarily, nothing had been written about him apart from a book by Presbyterian minister Rev. Stuart Ross a century ago. “I resolved to discover more about Francis Ormond and how he was able to grow from the son of a migrant sea captain turned hotel keeper at the Settlers Arms to become one of Australia’s most effective philanthropists,” Ted says.
This Story is from Issue #101
Outback Magazine: June/July 2015