Max and Sally Tresise

Max and Sally Tresise were among the very first residents on the Twin Views Estate. The estate had formerly been the sixty acre farm in Taylors Lane of the Raymond family. The Raymonds had sold to developers Wallace and McKay, who appointed Gordon Norris of Dandenong as the selling agent. It was one of the developers, Jack Wallace, who built the first home on the estate at No 2 Norris Road. 

Like so many other future Rowville residents over the years, Max and Sally had never previously heard of Rowville and had simply gone for a drive one Sunday in 1961 in the hope of finding a large block away from the city. As they drove out along Wellington Road their attention was attracted by a large sign on the corner of Taylors Lane advertising the new estate of one acre blocks. One look convinced them that this was where they wanted to build their home and raise their children, Paul, Kate and Robert. They selected the block at number 19 Norris Road because of its outlook across empty paddocks to the Dandenongs. They paid 1,100 pounds ($2,200) for it.

Max, who was a carpenter by trade, soon put up a shed and as the estate had no water supply, decided for a number of reasons to put in a swimming pool. Apart from the obvious reasons of providing a place of future recreation for the family there was also the need for a supply of water for the builder, to establish their garden and as fire protection against a possible blaze in the seemingly endless grasslands to their north.

While the hole was being excavated a man wandered up and enquired what was going on. The visitor, to Max’s discomfiture, identified himself as the building inspector of the Shire of Ferntree Gully. Rather tersely he suggested that Max be sure to obtain a building permit before he went ahead with any further projects. Sally and Max moved into their new home in 1963.

Because there was no mail delivery Max followed the example of several other residents who could not get to the tiny Rowville Post Office during office hours and nailed a letter box to the trunk of the big pine tree near the post office door. Miss Bergin, the elderly Postmistress, would put the mail into this “nest” of letter boxes each day.

Sally did her shopping at the Knoxfield Shopping Centre because she took her eldest child Paul to the kindergarten there. At that time the Knoxfield Kindergarten was the closest one available to Rowville families.

To Darwin with Paul Kochan

Their immediate neighbours at 21 Norris Road, Paul and Marcia Kochan, were the next ones to move into the estate. Paul was an engineer with Volkswagen in Clayton and soon after his arrival invited Max to go with him and another driver on a test run of two new Volkswagen “Beetles” to Darwin and back. In ten days they travelled 7,000 miles (11,200 kilometres) and drove the last leg from Brisbane to Melbourne non-stop!

However, they nearly didn’t make it. When they reached Darwin the wet season struck with a vengeance and they scurried south while the roads were still open. But when the little convoy arrived in Cloncurry they were told by the police that they could go no further as all the creeks between there and Julia Creek were rising rapidly. Paul decided to ignore this advice and charged on, with Max an increasingly nervous passenger.

After surviving the crossing of a series of flooded creeks, both beetles finally lurched to a halt, deeply bogged in a sea of mud. The three of them abandoned the cars and followed a set of wheel tracks on foot to a cattle station where Max persuaded the owner to return with them in his four-wheel drive to rescue the two stranded cars. He towed both of the cars to solid ground and they made it to Julia Creek where Paul managed to get the beetles aboard a flat car on a goods train to Charters Towers. So, after an unforgettable trip, Max was glad to be safely home in Rowville.

Councillor Max Tresise

Max and Sally had only been living in Rowville for three months when a public meeting was held in the little meeting room beside the Post Office to discuss the hot local government issue of the time: severance, that was, the proposal to split the Ferntree Gully Shire into two new Shires: Knox and Sherbrooke.

Max spoke in favour of the severance and of local representation for Rowville in the new Shire of Knox but was very surprised when the next morning the President of the Rowville Progress Association, Harry Raymond, knocked on the door and asked Max to accept nomination as the third candidate (Bernie Seebeck and Aloysius (“Wish”) Drummond had already been nominated) for the Rowville Ward.

Max had always been a public-spirited person and had been a member of Apex before coming to Rowville. His father Bill had made an outstanding contribution to Australian public life. On a visit to America in the 1940s Bill had been tremendously impressed by the work of the Lions Service Clubs and on his return had established Australia’s first Lions Club in Lismore NSW in 1947. In fact it was to promote Lions that Bill Tresise sold up his business in Lismore and brought his family to Melbourne. (Some years later a Tasmanian family also made the decision to move to Melbourne, thus creating the opportunity for their eldest daughter Sally to meet Max.)

Coming from this kind of background Max was therefore prepared to put himself forward but felt that at the age of 32 he was rather young to be acceptable as a candidate. Harry Raymond assured him that he would be supported and offered to take him around the district and introduce him to the ratepayers. Max indeed was given a good reception as Harry had promised but recalled, with a laugh, meeting Mr McIntyre who had a farm bounded by Taylors Lane and Kelletts Road.

His first words to Max were, “You’re too wet behind the ears to get my vote young feller,” but after half an hour’s persuasive conversation he shook Max’s hand and said, “Well, you’ve got my vote”. It wasn’t until the election was over that Max discovered that Mr McIntyre wasn’t registered on the voters’ roll. In those days there were only 400 names on the roll for the ward.

Max was elected and enjoyed his two year term. He was impressed by the calibre of his fellow councillors and their determination to develop policies rather than to merely react in an ad-hoc way to the matters brought before them.

One major issue taken on by the fledgling Council was a battle to prevent the MMBW (Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works) establishing a huge sewerage treatment area in Rowville. Locals erected a large sign in Stud Road saying “Welcome to the Knox Fly Farm” as part of the campaign. Fortunately for us the Council won the fight and a new site was chosen south of Dandenong.

The new Knox Shire “inherited” 112 miles of unmade roads and so road sealing schemes became a major priority. Those who bought blocks on the Seebeck (or “Ashbrook Highlands”) Estate and the Stamford Estate will remember the inconvenience of those rugged, unmade roads that sorely tested the suspensions of residents’ cars.

The three roads on the Twin Views Estate were also unsealed but because there were far fewer residents there than on the other two estates, the roads were never as bad. About once a month the Norris Road householders would get together on a Sunday morning with rakes, shovels and barrows to repair the road.

About 1974 each householder on the Twin Views Estate contributed $800 to a contractor to seal the road. He used a relatively inexpensive method known as “soil stabilisation” in which the existing gravel roads were dug up and mixed with cement then rolled and sealed with asphalt. It proved to be a very successful process as 18 years later (1992) the roads are still in good order.

Water Problems

Water (or the lack of it) was a problem, especially during the 1967-68 drought when everybody’s tanks were running low. Paul Kochan mentioned to Max that he could borrow a truck from Volkswagen and that they could put a 500 gallon water tank owned by Max on the back of it and fill it from the water point on the main near the Post Office. So, one hot evening after work, with the assistance of Col Lancashire from Taylors Lane, they headed towards the post office. They filled the tank once without any problems and transferred its contents to Col’s tank. On the second attempt, however, they found that the pressure in the main had dropped and they were forced to fill the tank with buckets. This lot went into Paul’s water tank. The bucketing had slowed them down so much that there wasn’t time to obtain a tank load for Max as Paul had to return the truck to Volkswagen that evening. To add insult to injury not only did Max miss out on his tank full of water but the next day when he called into the Post Office he was given a good ticking off by Miss Bergin saying, “Was that you Councillor Tresise, (with heavy emphasis on the word Councillor) who made the water in our pipes so dirty last night?” Water was connected to the estate in 1970.

Scouts and Brownies

Because of ill-health Max did not nominate for a second term on Council but remained active in local affairs. He served a term as President of the Rowville Kindergarten Committee, was on the Mulgrave State School Committee and set up Scouting in Rowville. Sally too was active in that area and became the first Brownies’ Leader in Rowville.

Some Stories

The Tresises were adopted about 1970 by a wild white cockatoo they decided to call Fred. Fred had an engaging personality but was slyly destructive. He flew over to the home of their neighbour at number 17, Kevin Morgan, and removed the putty from around one of his large windows causing it to crack. So Fred was given away to a succession of friends. When his last owner found him removing the western red cedar frame from around his kitchen window, Fred had to go and was released in Churchill Park. He is still seen occasionally flying around Rowville and will answer to the greeting, “Hello Fred”.

No sooner had Kevin Morgan replaced his window than Mike and Moya Aston bought the house at number 15 from Harry Gelber and moved in with their children and Great Dane, Heidi. Heidi was huge and immediately established herself as the dog to be reckoned with on the estate. As well as frightening dogs and children she broke into Kevin’s fowl shed and frightened the feathers off a number of hens. So she too had to go.

The large market gardens owned by Don Collins east of the estate were a source of great temptation around harvest time. One of the Clayton-Jones boys quietly stalked a couple of elicit harvesters one evening and affecting a deep adult voice, called out “Hey, what are you two doing?” Two figures froze for a moment then the corn cobs scattered from their arms as they sprinted back to the estate.
Interviewed by Bryan Power

First published in the February 1992 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News. 


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