Down Under news from ‘Little Fort William’

Alex Clarkson and David MacKenzie enjoy a recent issue of The Lochaber Times 'down under'. NO F47 Alex and David 001

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Melbourne’s south-eastern suburb of Frankston is famous for a number of reasons, most notably as a seaside mecca for visitors to the Australian state of Victoria.

The first foreign settlers arrived on its shores in 1835 and over the following decades as more arrived, it developed as a small fishing community.

It was the coming of the Melbourne railway in 1882, which saw Frankston develop into a seaside resort.

Frankston’s population boomed following the Second World War and by 1982 the population stood at 82,000.

Widely believed, like many other places in the area, to have been named after a British army general, one of its most famous residents was the author Nevil Shute, who wrote A Town Like Alice and On the Beach – the movie version of the latter starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner was partly filmed in Frankston.

The beach at Frankston in Victoria, home to many families that emigrated from the Fort William area. Photograph: Travel Victoria/www.travelvictoria.co.au NO-F47-Frankson.jpeg
The beach at Frankston in Victoria, home to many families that emigrated from the Fort William area. Photograph: Travel Victoria/www.travelvictoria.co.au
NO-F47-Frankson.jpeg

Less well known, however, is that so many families from the Fort William area of Lochaber emigrated to Frankston in the 1950s and 60s, that it is often nicknamed by the Scottish expats as ‘Little Fort William’.

And this week, we were contacted by one of those, Mrs Trudi Mackenzie, who passed on some information about the strong links which remain between Fort William and the Lochaber families now resident in Frankston.

Mrs Mackenzie included a photograph (seen here) and told us: ‘These two chaps in the attached photo both migrated to Australia many years ago and thought you would like to know that they still get together at the bowls club to read through your newspaper.’

The picture shows Mrs Mackenzie’s husband, David, and his friend Alec Clarkson.

Mr Mackenzie told us: ‘In the 1950s and 60s a number of Fort William families emigrated to Australia and many settled in Frankston, Victoria.

‘These families included the Murrays,  Mackenzies, MacLeans, MacLarens, MacInnes, MacDonalds, Clarksons, MacIvers, Gunns, Clarks, Pattersons, Thompsons and Frews.

‘A number of them left their jobs in the railways,the BA Factory, Fraser’s Furniture Shop, etc. I left the Fort in 1955 from Seaview Terrace and came to Australia with my parents and older sister Marjorie and her husband Robbie.

‘Unfortunately many of the older folks have passed on, but we hold dear the many good memories of family gatherings and New Year parties.

‘On a recent trip to the Fort I was surprised to see my old school in disrepair and even more surprised to see a cruise ship in Loch Linnhe.

‘My memories recall Loch Fyne and Hobbs’ yacht Tirlundi [sic]. ‘

Joe Hobbs was a Canadian entrepreneur who bought Inverlochy Estate in 1945 and converted it into a hotel, as well as starting the Great Glen Cattle Ranch between Fort William and Spean Bridge.

CAPTION: Alex Clarkson and David MacKenzie enjoy a recent issue of The Lochaber Times ‘down under’.

NO F47 Alex and David 001