history at centenary


St George’s church was established within the Anglican Parish of Lara soon after Balliang became more closely settled. After much hard work by a building committee and the designer, Mr Frank Lee, Archbishop Henry Lowther Clarke of Melbourne (4th Bishop and 1st Archbishop), dedicated the church building on 3 July 1912 before a congregation of 70 persons.

The building is in the Early English Gothic style constructed of timber stud walls and an iron roof. It stands on a 1 acre (0.4ha) allotment purchased in March, 1910. Mr Lee was asked to replicate the design of Anakie C of E.

The Bacchus Marsh Express of 13 July described the church as having a distinctly different appearance to that of today:

“Gothic pointed windows and Gothic filling to its four gables, give it a decidedly ecclesiastical appearance, and the outside walls being painted a dark blue, with white trimmings, have a solid appearance. Inside it is lined with narrow boarding, with a dado of Indian red, the upper half a terra cotta, and the ceiling varnished the wood’s natural colour. Two principals, with heavy brackets, showing below the ceiling, are stained oak and varnished.”

The minutes of the first meeting of the congregation held in the school on July 6, 1912 and chaired by the vicar of Lara, Rev Fowler, record that the building fund had a debt of £230/15/3.

The meeting elected: Mr F Lee as Vicar’s Warden;

Mr A Coe and Mr O Burgess as People’s Wardens;

Messrs C W Bird, E H Prime, W Vanstan and C Best as Vestrymen,

Mr A E Whinfield and Mrs H Bissell as Auditors.

Development of the Church

What was perhaps the first ‘working bee’ to be held in the district was organised at 2.00 p.m. on 19 July 1913 for the purpose of beginning the erection of a fence around the Church grounds! A vote of thanks to Mr R Fry for his work erecting the fence at the front of Church was passed at the annual meeting in 1919, six years later – so it took quite a time to finish things in those days!

The vestry bought the oil lamps hanging in the nave of the church in 1920 at a cost of £3/8/-, and a further Alladin lamp was bought to hang in the chancel in 1925 for £6/2/6.

In May 1921 the vestry requested the secretary, Mr E H Prime, to write to the Macedon nursery regarding trees to be planted in the church grounds. A list of botanical names, perhaps these trees, appears in the back of the first service book. Some replacement trees were planted in October 1921 and dedicated to the memory of Mr Nathan Clark, the father of Mrs E H Prime.

A communion table (altar) was bought in 1924 at a cost of £10/17/6 to replace one previously loaned by Mr Lee. This has been loaned to Holy Trinity, Bacchus Marsh and the present altar which is more in the style of the other furniture came from the Anakie Anglican Church (now deconsecrated).

The stained glass window in the north wall of the chancel was donated by Mrs Prime in 1925, the same year that the first special Anzac service was held in the church on 26 April.

The kneelers were made by Mr G Fry in 1926, and curtains at the back, the original chancel carpet (since replaced) and the vestry cupboard were purchased in the same year. Vestry purchased the large wooden cross on the east wall of the sanctuary from B E Purnell in 1958, and Mr J T Fry donated the pedestal for flowers in 1959.

Recent changes

In 1980, the rapidly growing Parish of Lara became two parishes, one based on Lara and Little River (Lara), the other on Corio, Anakie and Balliang (Corio). However the rapid growth in the southern part of the Corio parish during the 1980’s and the distances between the centres lead a further change in parish boundaries. In 1991 St George’s became part of the Parish of Bacchus Marsh to which it was geographically closer and with which it had greater community associations.

An official changeover service was held in March 1993 with Bishop John Bayton, Revd Geoff Traill (Vicar of Corio) and Rev’d Graeme Perkins (Vicar of Bacchus Marsh) officiating. The Bishop planted a commemorative Ironbark tree near the front boundary of the church after the service.

A new building to meet our need for a meeting room and toilets was moved to the church grounds in 2009. Bishop Philip Huggins blessed the building after a St George’s Day Patronal Celebration Service.

75th Anniversary

The 75th anniversary year of 1987 was one of ‘enlightenment’ and greater comfort for St George’s! In that year the electricity was first connected to the church (after an abandoned move in 1960) and carpets were laid throughout. Celebrations during the year included a service of switching on the lights led by Bishop David Shand and a special anniversary service and function attended by many former and current residents of the district. Special anniversary spoons were made and have become quite a collector’s item! Do you have one?

Community Celebrations

In November 1998, a Thanksgiving Service for the 90th Anniversary of the Balliang District was held as part of the community celebrations. Over 130 present and former residents attended the service led by Rev Roy Gabb (Assistant Priest in Bacchus Marsh) with Rev Liz Bufton (resident in Staughton Vale) preaching.

After the bushfires in the Brisbane Ranges and Balliang in January 2006, which affected many members of the community, a Service of Thanksgiving was held on 12 February. Bishop Paul White and the Rev Darrell Couch (Vicar) led a congregation of 45 in prayer.

A Service of Thanksgiving for the Balliang Centenary was held on 2 November 2008. Rev Darrell Couch (Vicar) led the service and Rev Liz Bufton preached the sermon. Ninety present and former residents of Balliang attended.

Service by Balliang families

Many local families have served the Church over the years, and names such as Fry, Bissell, Vanstan, Prime, Griffiths, Dukelow, Davis, Beggs, Wilkie, Bird, Gilmore, Heath and Craig appear regularly over long periods.

Some long contributions of service to St George’s Church noted in the minute books include:

Parish records

The Parish of Bacchus Marsh, of which St George’s is now part, retains the records of all parish services and meetings which survived the Lara bushfire in 1969. Some interesting dates extracted from those records is summarised below. The records contained in these books are probably not complete eg marriages seem to have been recorded in other documents not kept at the church.

You may find that these records contain historical records of your family or friends. Please contact the organising committee if you would like to see if more information is available.



1913      22 October

              25 October

1930        5 September

1947      15 February

1978        7 October

1982      27 June

2006      25 March


John Charles Davie and Fanny Bissell

William Thomas Beggs and Elizabeth May Smith

Robert Roberts and Bertha Rose Davis

Herbert Tucker and Audrey Vanstan

Malcolm Philip Gilmore and Lee Patricia Burridge

Robert Brent Davie and Juliana Kaya Prtic

Christopher John Sharkey and Kate Robinson

other events-1



1913     9 November

1915   28 February


1916    22 October

            31 December

1917      1 April

            15 April

1920     7 March

            3 October


1924    13 April

1926    12 September





             16 June

             11 August

1942       4 October

1945     30 September

1950     26 July

1953     19 April

1953       7 February

      3 October


Ellen Coe

Edith May Bissell

Edna May Beggs

William Joseph Beggs, Alma Adelaide Bissell

? three baptisms

Georgina May Peters and Lloyd George Peters

Mavis Martha Bissell

Len Peters

Emily Jane Dukelow

Kenneth Beggs

William Robert Vanstan

Audrey Vanstan

Audrey Beggs

Lawrence Beggs

Jennifer Anne Griffiths

Valda Elizabeth Griffiths

Jeffrey Laurence Young

Lois E Wilkie

Diana Jean Dugdale

Glenda Marjorie Wilkie

Roger John Charles Gilmore and Gregor Malcolm Gilmore

Lindsay John Vanstan (at Sunday School)

Gregory Wakely

Reginald Peter Bird

Malcolm Philip Gilmore, Philip Tucker

Lesley Ann Beggs

Shirley Margaret Beggs

Donald William Vanstan

Graeme Rodney Beggs

Leanne Vanstan and Rosalind Tucker

Malcolm Hunt

Ashley Hunt

Glenn William Towan

Adam Christopher Bird

Vicki Maureen Craig

Natalie Margaret Ward

Darren John Craig

Rachael Elizabeth Bufton

Malcolm David Craig

Melinda Kim Bufton

Russell Andrew Heath

Wayne Steven Heath

James Robert Peter Mar

Cherry Ellen Moodie

Claire Cowley, Tim Stokes

Susan Ann Heath

Bradley James Stokes

Ross Moodie

Amanda Jane Heath

David Joseph John Penny

Michael Alexander Jochum

Samuel Douglas Vanstan

Thomas George Vanstan

Tinonie Alice (Mar)

Anna Margaret Vanstan

Harry Bufton

Charlie William Creek

Jack William Sharkey

1955     17 April

1957     24 November

1958        2 February

      2 March

    20 July

    23 November



1973      27 January

              25 March

                1 April

     8 April

    18 August

               7 September

             17 October

    21 October

      7 November

               9 November

1980       8 June

1981      14 February

                10 May

             22 May

             12 September

1985     31 March

               3 November

1986     27 April

1990     28 January

             28 August

               1 September

1994       9 January

1998     14 June

2002     14 July

2007     28 October

2008     26 October


1912        3 July

1913      21 March

1916        2 January

1916      22 October

1918      17 November

1919        2 March

              20 April

              20 July

1920        7 March

                4 July

1924      15 August

1926      18 July

                1 August

1927      19 January

1929      13 January

1929       14 July

1933         9 July

1935       23 June

1936         5 January

                 2 February

1937         9 May

1937    10 October

1938      3 June

1940      7 April

              4 April

1943     21 February

1943       4 April

1944     17 September

1945     21 January

               4 March

             15 April

             13 May

             19 August

1949      9 October

1950    10 September

1952         February

1953    15 May

              5 August

1958    28 September

1960    31 January

1960      4 December

1962     11 February

           15 July

1969       3 August

1973       1 March

1986     13 April

1987     14 April

             12 July

1990     17 March

1997       2 February

1998     15 November

2006     12 February

2008       1 February

               4 February

2008       2 November

2009     26 April


Dedication of the Church by Abp H L Clarke

“Story of the Cross” sung (Good Friday); solos by Mrs Prime & Mr Vanstan

Intercessions in connection with the War

Farewell to Rev H Fowler

Thanksgiving for victory in the War

Dedication of the font - a gift of Mrs Burgess

Dedication of the lectern - a gift of Messrs Lee and C Beggs

Holy Vessels first used - a gift of Mrs Edols

Memorial service for W Vanstan

Memorial service for Mr Richard Fry (dec 17/2/20)

Memorial service for Mr Clarke and Mrs Bissell

Confirmation of 15 candidates by Bishop Green of Ballaarat incl Myrtle Davis, Bertha Davis, Nancy Prime, Betty Prime, Lon Davis and Tom Davis

Services celebrating the fourteenth anniversary of the dedication of St George’s church

Funeral of Mr F Lee

Confirmation (at Lara) of Ellen Coe, Jack Coe, Edna May Davis, Herbert Victor Davis, Norman Francis Davis, Philip Prime, Christina Vanstan by Archbishop Lees

Memorial Service for Archbishop Lees

Thanksgiving for King’s recovery

Memorial service for Mr S C Bird Sr

Memorial service for Mr Dukelow

Memorial service for Lloyd Peters

Memorial service for King George V

Celebration of Coronation of King George VI

Memorial service for Mr T Beggs

Memorial service for Mrs Bird Snr

Memorial Service for Mrs M E Lee

Memorial service for Mr S Bird

Visit by Archbishop Booth of Melbourne

Memorial service for Mr S Bird

Last service taken by Rev Perry

Memorial service for Florence May Fry

Sunday School commenced under Mrs C W Bird

Geelong G S choir sang at Harvest Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving for Victory over Germany

Thanksgiving for Victory over Japan

Vases (brass?) dedicated to memory of Florence May Fry

Presentation to Organist, Mr Prime

Burial of Mr H Bissell

Memorial service for Mrs J F Fry

Youth service – lessons read by Barbara Vanstan and Peter Griffiths

First “Back to Balliang “ service

Farewell to Vicar, Rev R Butters

Farewell presentation to Mr & Mrs E W Vanstan

Sunday School started under Mr Brockenshire and Beverley Craig

Jubilee celebrations of the Church opening – Attendance 70

Special collection taken for the rebuilding of the church at Lara

St George’s forms part of the new Parish of Corio (with Corio and Anakie) – Vicar, Rev Mick Potter

First Blessing the Plough Service – Vicar, Rev Howard Langmead

Electricity connected for the first time to St Georges – lights switched on by Bishop David Shand, Bishop in Geelong

75 Anniversary of St George’s Thanksgiving with Bishop David Shand and 170 residents and visitors; new wooden candlesticks blessed.

St George’s becomes part of Parish of Bacchus Marsh (with Bacchus Marsh and Myrniong). Bishop John Bayton planted a tree (an ironbark) commemorating the occasion near the Church noticeboard. Rev Geoff Traill hands over to Rev Graham Perkins.

Farewell to Audrey Tucker

Thanksgiving Service for 90 years of settlement of Balliang District

Service of Thanksgiving – Brisbane Ranges Bushfire

Memorial Service for Betty Griffiths

Funeral of Elsie Bown

Celebration of Thanksgiving for Balliang Centenary

Patronal Festival and Blessing of the new relocated meeting rooms by Bp Philip Huggins (donation of Mr & Mrs C G Winfield).