At the end of September our Society received news of the passing of Ray Baines on the 27th of September, 2016. Ray was a long term resident of Torquay from the later 1930’s, with a sojourn to Melbourne where her two younger children were born. Ray was the wife of James (Jim) Baines, our very own historian, worthy of a lot of comment, but this is about Ray. Harry Berryman and I were fortunate two years ago to interview Ray at Elouera Nursing Home. She was a sprightly 97 year old at the time. This is her story as she told it to us.
Ray was born in 1917 in the Otway Ranges near the town of Dean’s Marsh. Her father was a blacksmith, wheelwright and coach builder, and her maiden name was Douglas. Her grandparents migrated from Scotland and her father grew up at Mt. Moriac. Ray had a brother Alex and two sisters, Marjorie and Joan, who died at 2 years of age. Ray was named after her cousin Ray Trigg who was killed at Fromelles, France in July 1916.
Ray’s father made coaches, and, he used with gold leaf for the painting of the trimmings for the coaches. She remembers being able to look at her late father’s gold leaf collections as a child.
Jim’s Grandfather came to Australia to work as a journalist for the Age, possibly around the mid 1850’s. He ended up in the gold rush and finally as a farmer at Boort, and the family later moved to Kyneton with Jim’s father James Henry Baines around the time of World War 1 for the sake of the children’s education.
Ray remembered living at Dean’s Marsh through her child hood, when there was no power and light was by a lantern. During the late 1930’s the School master (teacher) of the school at Dean’s Marsh was going away. The school teacher’s name was Munro, who had come to Dean’s Marsh after being discharged from the Army after the First Wold War.
Ray was visiting the school teacher and his wife and was told that there would be a relieving teacher while they were away.
It was dark when Ray left to walk about one mile to her home and she was carrying a lantern owned by the Munro’s to show light for her walk.
She noticed that the school door was open and a light visible. She walked to the school building to check and met the new teacher Jim Baines. Jim was a school teacher when they met, Ray became a school teacher later in the mid 1900’s, and this is Ray’s version of their life together.
After a courtship Ray and Jim were married and they lived for a while at Dean’s Marsh and then Jim was transferred to be the School teacher at Torquay Primary School and lived at Cowrie Road, Torquay, then in Pride Street. It was Jim who instigated the planting of the New Zealand Christmas trees (Pohntukawa) in the median strip of Pride Street.
Ray could remember having to go to the Post Office to collect their mail every day as there was no postal delivery. She also could recall Dave Berryman riding his butcher bike delivering meat around Torquay. ( As well she remembered Mick Pickett the first Postie, and that there were no house numbers in the streets of Torquay during their time in Torquay. This came in the 1950’s. )
They were surprised that there was no street signs, and more importantly no postal service for the delivery of the post. They approached the TIA (Torquay Improvement Association) (then known as the Torquay Progress Association) and the owner of the Two Bays Guest House at the time with a view to creating street signs.
James assisted in the making of the street signs from materials supplied by the TIA, and Ray painted them. The timber was donated by a local builder at the time. Subsequently when land on the West side of the Surf Coast Highway, Baines Court (later when it became a through road, it was renamed to Baines Crescent.) was named after the Jim Baines.
In 1942, Jim and Ray had transferred with a promotion to Melbourne and he taught at several Melbourne schools, including Camberwell, Moonee Ponds, Ringwood, Coatsville, South Oakleigh and Clayton North Primary School. They lived in Eastgate Street, Oakleigh, and it was while living here that two of their three sons were born. Douglas was born while in Torquay, James and Kester in Melbourne.
Ray was founding secretary of the Parents and Friends Association of Melbourne High school, and here she says that she met a lot of influential people. After Monash University had been completed Ray decided that she would like to continue her education and with the encouragement of her friends from Melbourne High school days, it was arranged that she would attend Monash as a mature aged student. Ray attended Monash, driving in her car each day, and she completed her Arts Degree, majoring in French and History, and then completed and trained as a Secondary Teacher gaining her certificate in 1971.
Jim was constantly researching his projects and attended the library when not teaching. They travelled overseas in 1974 on a four month trip to Britain, Europe and North America. During this trip they visited Coatesville, Pennsylvania, a town that Jim had found with the same name of one of the schools that he taught at and had maintained a pen pal relationship for many years. They visited the school during this trip and one of the photos attached is of them at Coatesville. Ray became a Teacher full time in 1972 and her first posting was at Bacchus Marsh High School. Eventually Jim retired and Ray semi-retired, but stayed on at North Geelong as a temporary teacher.
Ray and Jim decided to return to Torquay for their retirement. Ray had purchased land in Jan Juc when it was first subdivided, and they had their own house built by E. J. Lyons out of Mt. Gambier lime stone at 19 Sunningdale Avenue in 1976.
Jim Baines had researched the history of Torquay in 1938 and completed it in 1978. His notes and the original manuscript are held by the Torquay and District Historical Society. When Jim and Ray returned to live in Torquay in 1978 Jim updated his book “The Torquay History”.
Jim had originally been asked to write a book on native flora around the area and expanded that to all Australian native flora. He completed his research in the seventies for this project, and when they returned to Torquay he finished his manuscript on flowering native plants. Unfortunately Jim died in 1979, two years before his acclaimed research was published as Australian Plant Genera, An Etymological Dictionary of Australian Plant Genera, Part 1 in 1981.
Ray continued to live in Torquay and was very involved in the community during her time. We are saddened by Ray’s passing and extend our condolences to Kester and his family as well as their wider family.
Compiled and researched by Lorraine Marshall and and Kester Baines