Almanac Local History – Pine Ridge Cemetery Coburg: George Launder

 

 

 

 

 

Allan Barden recently published a detailed piece on the Pine Ridge Cemetery at Coburg. We have picked out some of the characters about whom he wrote.

The next in the sequence is…

 

GEORGE LAUNDER

 

1838-1914

Involved in the construction of the MCG, competed in ‘First Boxing Day’ Test and had rifleman skills fit for tracking infamous bushrangers.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)

 

Like everything George Launder was passionate about, he rallied behind getting the best sporting facilities and not backing down until it was done.

 

A carpenter by trade, George arrived in Australia in 1850 from England, aged 16. One of the first notable building sites in Melbourne that George worked on was the MCG, in 1853. He later became a member of the MCC. In fact, George played in one of Melbourne’s first Boxing Day matches! In 1849 he played a game on the ‘Old Melbourne Cricket Ground’, just near where Southern Cross Station is now. The ground had to be moved to make way for Melbourne’s first steam train. A newspaper article described the game with young George Launder and a few other Englishmen playing to win ‘a leg of mutton and trimmings’. At the time, the ground still bore traces of John Pascoe Fawkner’s plough, as the site had been Fawkner’s first wheatfields a few years earlier. The story goes that the players all went for a drink afterwards and talked about how they might bring the English cricket team out for an Australia v England match. It was another 12 years before that actually happened.

 

He had been an enthusiastic rifle shot for many years. He was a marksman from 1859, and attended the first military camp at Werribee in 1861. He won the National Rifle Association’s medal in Brisbane in 1863, and during a long career as a rifle shot he carried off many prizes. In 1869 he joined the Volunteer Engineers, and 19 years later was awarded the Parnell medal for military engineering. Within the following 18 months he fired in a match at Williamstown, in which the members of the ‘old brigade’, the pioneers of the eight-hour day movement, made a very good showing against the Engineers Corps.

 

In 1879 his excellent marksman skills came in handy, he offered his ability and knowledge to the Victorian police in the pursuit of another notorious bushranger – Ned Kelly! Because who better than an award winning rifleman to teach others how to shoot him down. It probably helped that he had bushranger tracking experience too, he was part of the police volunteers team who captured ‘The Wild Scotchman’ James McPherson in Queensland.

 

 

Read more on George Launder (from Labor Call) HERE.

Read more from Allan Barden HERE

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