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Oliver Family, World Travellers

Travel Diary – Olive Oliver, 1911

Image: Travel Diary – Olive Oliver, 1911

Source: Museum Victoria

Olive Margaret Oliver was born in 1879 in Armadale, Melbourne to William and Margaret Oliver (nee Affleck). William Oliver was the eldest of three sons born to John and Mary Oliver (nee Rutherford), both Scottish immigrants, who arrived separately before marrying in South Australia in 1853, William was born in South Australia later that year. The family later moved to Victoria where William attended school and following the death of his father in 1857 his mother remarried.

William led an interesting life. He was a pastoralist and, as his pastimes indicate, a very wealthy one. William liked yachting and travel and, throughout his life, went on various adventures in Australia and overseas. In 1878 William married Margaret with whom he had three children, Olive in 1879, Elizabeth Mary born in 1880 in Malvern, and William Donald ('Don') born in 1885 in Toorak. Sadly in 1882, before reaching the age of two Elizabeth passed away.

Don was educated at Geelong College, and it is possible, but not certain, that Olive was also educated at a private school. Olive's mother, Margaret, died in Queenscliffe, Victoria in 1902, aged 42 years old.

In 1911 William along with his two children Miss Olive Oliver, by then a wealthy 32-year old, Mr Don Oliver, and Olive's friend, Miss Gretta Nicolls, embarked on a yearlong round-the-world tour of the United States of America, Britain and Europe. During this trip the Oliver's visited Roxburghshire, the area both William's parents were from. In her diary of this journey, Olive writes that on 27 August 1911 the travellers visited an old church yard in Hownam that had gravestones of Oliver's and Rutherford's.

Having launched his first yacht, Hurrica I, in 1899, and later commissioned Hurrica II to V, William took a month long yachting cruise with Don in 1913. It is thought he had three full time workers keeping his yacht in perfect condition for when he sailed to his favourite locations of Wilsons Promontory and Bass Strait, or raced on Port Phillip Bay.

In the latter period of his life, it was aerial journeys that William preferred. In 1927, aged 74, William toured central Australia by plane, stopping at Oodnadatta, Alice Springs, Farina, Maree, Charlotte Waters, Simpsons Gap, and the MacDonald and Flinders Ranges. Again in 1930, now aged 77, William chartered another plane for an extensive holiday - six weeks through New South Wales, Queensland and North and Central Australia. An article in the Sun Newspaper on 22 July 1930 proclaimed it 'The Modern Way of Making A Holiday Tour'.

William lived until November 1950, aged almost 97 years old, outliving his son, Don, who died in July of the same year. William's estate was thus granted entirely to Olive, aside from 500 pounds granted to his niece, Irene Margaret Saxonne Affleck. The estate included three properties in South Yarra on the hill behind the Royal Botanic Gardens, one the Oliver home being 'Grosvenor' at 80 Walsh Street, South Yarra. It was whilst living at this address that Olive died in October 1961. She was buried in a grave with her parents at the Melbourne General Cemetery, in the Presbyterian section.

Very little else is known about Olive Oliver. If anyone has any further information about Olive, please contact the Discovery Centre at Museum Victoria.

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