Dr Charles Fitzmaurice Harkin

Dr Charles Fitzmaurice Harkin owned this house from July 1905 to November 1928, when he transferred it to his son, Charles ‘The Younger’, who sold it to Leslie (‘Let’) Wain in June 1932.

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Dr Charles Fitzmaurice Harkin was born at Bright in 1866, the only son of Henry Harkin, who was a local Police Officer and later Police Sergeant at Wodonga. After schooling at Wodonga and Albury, he studied medicine at Dublin University, where he won the surgical prize in his day, though he left most of his surgical work from his Chiltern practice to be done by his friend in Rutherglen, the famous surgeon and wine maker, Sir John Harris.

 

After practising in Albury for a short time upon his return from Ireland, Dr Harkin bought out the practice of Dr Walter in Chiltern in 1890, which was situated in the historic house “Lakeview”. “Lakeview” is now owned and restored by the Victorian Branch of the National Trust, in remembrance of the authoress “Henry Handel Richardson”, who lived at “Lakeview” as a young girl.

 

In 1892, Dr Harkin purchased the house in Main Street owned by James Moore, the local blacksmith. In 1897 he renovated it and added a new brick surgery, waiting room and one other room for his medical practice.

Other activities pursued by Dr Harkin, other than medicine and wine making, included golf and tennis. He was the first President of the Chiltern Rifle Club in 1891, a Justice of the Peace in 1898, a Shire Councillor 1894-1900 and Shire President 1896-1897 and 1899-1900, a Director of several of the local gold mines, President of the Viticultural Association and Victorian Representative of the overseas Wine Marketing Board. He had the first car in Chiltern, a Stanley Steamer. Dr Harkin’s son, Charles, was also a Chiltern Shire Councillor from 1935-1938.

Harkin married Emily Elizabeth Tayler, daughter of Lloyd Tayler, the well known 19th century architect, who designed many famous buildings including the Australian Club in William Street, Melbourne. Harkin was Emily’s second husband, having previously married Percy Dobson (a Melbourne property speculator and developer) in July 1885. Emily owned (first with Dobson, then later with Harkin) the famous ‘Killara’ property in Mentone. It appears that Dobson’s economic situation changed soon after his wedding to Emily, and he died in February 1890.

 

Emily had a daughter (Alizon) born in 1893, and it was widely speculated that Dr Harkin was the father. Harkin married Emily in Bright, in 1896. They had two further children, both boys : Henry Lloyd Fitzmaurice Harkin (who would serve in the First World War as a driver and would die at the young age of 25 in 1922) and Charles Fitzmaurice Harkin (‘The Younger’) who served in the Second World War as a Gunner in the 2/11 Field Regiment.

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Gayfer's Chiltern Vineyard gained an impressive reputation, particularly for its White Port. Full bottles still exist in some wine buff's private collection

Chiltern’s importance as a wine producing area has always been in the shadow of its more famous and larger wine producing neighbour to the west – Rutherglen. Chiltern was not only a service centre on the Melbourne Road, but also the centre of a gold mining industry. When the gold ran out in 1911, it was necessary to find an alternative industry to keep the town alive, so a group of local business men, led by the local GP Dr Harkin, established the Chiltern Vineyard Co. in 1913. Later, Dr Harkin bought out the others and kept the vineyard going (with the help of his son, Charles Fitzmaurice Harkin ‘The Younger’).

The Chiltern Vineyard Company was located on 96 acres of land on the south side of the Hume Highway, west of the Old Chiltern Cemetery, opposite the 165 mile marker. The property was later expanded to 150 acres and in 1922, the cellar building was moved to the vineyard from the Chiltern Valley Gold Mine No. 3.

 

The vineyard made a rich burgundy-style red wine from black Shiraz grapes, which was used widely as a treatment for anaemia. The famous agency of Burgoynes (the winery that was originally established by Mortimer Gleeson) imported Dr Harkin’s wines into England, where they were promoted as a cure for anaemia as late as the 1930’s.

He continued the management of the Chiltern Vineyard until it was sold to Mr Roscoe H Gayfer in 1948, when it became known as Gayfer’s Vineyard. Dr Harkin delivered into the world Keith Gayfer (Roscoe’s son), in 1917, who would later go on to run the vineyard with his father.

 

The Chiltern (later Gayfer’s) Vineyard no longer exists, having made way for the Hume Highway in early 1990.

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Keith Gayfer (above) and the winery building after it was relocated from the Chiltern Valley Mine (below)

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Emily Elizabeth Harkin died late in 1948 and was buried in Chiltern’s new cemetery on the 27th November 1948. Dr Harkin was buried there on the 29th September 1950. Today he is remembered by a display of his surgical instruments at “Lakeview” and by a street in Chiltern named after him.

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