It was a day filled with memories and nostalgia as ancestors of one of Ballarat’s pioneering figures gathered for a reunion last Saturday.
A room in Oscars was abuzz with about 20 members of the Hambly family, as they gathered to relive memories and share information about their ancestor William Samuel Rawlings Hambly.
Driven by a quest for gold, William Samuel Rawlings Hambly traveled from Cornwall to Ballarat in the 1850’s, arriving in the early days of the gold rush.
While his enthusiasm to find gold didn’t last, he set down roots in the city and moved on to a business selling boots to miners, first at Main Road and then in Sturt Street, with his business partner Mr Gimblett.
In fact rumour has it that his shop was the first with a glass window.
Mr Hambly married wife Susannah in 1850, going on to father 10 children with her, through whom his legacy has lived on. One of their daughters, Dorothy May Hambly, married none other than Richard Walter Richards.
Perhaps better known as Dick Richards, the Ballarat icon spent 44 years as a lecturer and 12 years as a principal and was awarded for his work with the School of Mines with a posthumus distinguished alumni award recently.
It was between 1914 and 1917 that he took leave of absence to go on a journey that was ill fated, as he pitched his lot in with Sir Ernest Shakleton, becoming part of the Ross Sea Party. The project was part of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which was focused on setting down supply depots across the Great Ice Barrier from the Ross Sea to the Beardmore Glacier. Not everything went to plan however, as members of the party ended up marooned there for two years after their ship Aurora lost its mooring and was taken out in the ice.
“There were ten men marooned down there, seven survived. They still had to lay the food depots all the way to the south pole, which they succeeded in doing, despite enormous problems, because most of their stores were on the ship at the time it was taken out,” Grandson Richard Lathlean said.
“They survived by using some of the provisions which were in Scott’s hut down there. Scott’s expedition was a very well provisioned expedition and they survived using that and slept in the hut there. They also had to kill seals for fresh meat and use their fat for lighting and heating and so on.”
Mr Lathlean has fond memories of of the time he spent with his grandfather, who he called a ‘really lovely man’.
“He was a physicist and mathematician. He did work in the world war in terms of optics. My memories of him are walking through the sand hills at Point Lonsdale when he’d retired. Talking about various physics principles,” he said.
“He was a mixture. He was extremely well read, a very literate man. He was a very strong Christian man back in those times and even to his dying day he read the bible every day. He also had a great love of music and he had a very good baritone voice.”
Another of William Rawlings Hambly’s daughers, Violet, married the renowned sculptor, Victor Greenhalgh.
A visionary in Victoria with his modern sculpting style, his work can be admired in Sturt Street in the King George V sculpture. The Botanical gardens also displays his talent, as eight of his portrait busts of Australian Prime Ministers have pride of place in the Avenue of Prime Ministers. Three of his works can also be found in the National Portrait Gallery and his legacy to the tertiary art education centre lives on.