BURNS, Mr Robert (Bob)

  25-02-1940   17-01-2010

The Creswick Advertiser reported – “it would be easier to report what Bob Burns is NOT involved with within the community, than list those of which he is !” ….. We probably see lots of nods in the room when I say this is the Bob we all knew.

Bob’s primary contribution to Creswick was his involvement in anything that needed to be started or done, Apex, the CFA or helping people.

Bob was born in Creswick on 25th Feb 1940 to Rita Bernaldo and Rupert Stanley Burns, a blacksmith and miner. One of 4 children Bob was the third child; Rupert was still born, Heather born 1938, then Bob, and finally Thelma was born in 1948.

Bob’s mother Rita’s family migrated to Australia from England and was from a spanish heritage. Her father was from Manilva in Spain, her mother was from Staffordshire. Their plan was to settle and mine in Creswick. They eventually settled in Hyde Park, where Rita grew up and lived almost all of her life in the family home where Bob also grew up.

Bob married Kathleen Cecilia Pedelty, from Blowhard, in Ballarat on Sept 19th 1964 and they continued to live in the family home.

Their children were - Rodney , born 1965 , who at age 2, died as a result of congenital heart disease, Annette Maree born 1967, Joanne Leah Clayworth in 1970 and Glen Francis in 1973. In fact Annette was born just a month after her brother died. From my contact with Annie (Annette) she was probably the joy delivered to the family at a very sad time.

Bob was educated at Creswick Primary school and then went to Ballarat for secondary education. He left school at age 14 and went to work, as by this time his father had died and he was charged with the responsibilty of supporting his mother and sister Thelma . He actually wanted to be a police officer and applied for this position but was rejected on health grounds, having crooked toes from wearing tight shoes.

Their loss was to be Creswick’s gain.

Bob’s work history involved completing a carpentry appenticeship, having engineering and welding expertise, working at JC Robinson Fibre Plaster Manufacturer, Vitclay pipes, Straw Products Pty Ltd , as a builders labourer, Jas Smith Pty Ltd, Mines Dept, Engineering – welding. He then set up Victorian Pressed Metals Pty Ltd as owner operator and later worked at Morsbearings 

as Ballarat manager. The building where Bob operated his engineering business is still standing near the cemetary in Nth Creswick . Bob was known for his generosity in this business.

Victorian Pressed Metals was responsible for the steel constuction of Grenville St Parking bridge over the Yarowee Creek in conjuction with Troon Engineering. This bridge is 210 Feet long and 30 feet wide.


The Apex Club of Creswick was one of the very active service clubs in the 70’s and 80’s.

Many Apex members, including Bob grew from their association with the club, completing public speaking education , obtaining a certificate in 1975 and organising competitions for young citizens.

Bob was always deep in the organisation and workings of Creswick’s community events. Everyone talks of the barbeque built by Bob, which took 3 men to lift and could cook 200 sausages at once, taking ages to warm up and days to cool down. Bob was the person who arranged for car clubs to be supporters of this event, being a member of the Goldfields and Chrysler Car Clubs

The Apex Club of Creswick also ran the annual Carols by Candlelight and coordinated and assisted with ; the Centenary of Creswick Railway station, the Centenary of Creswick Primary School, paper drives (early recyling!), the Creswick Hospital Disaster exercise during Fire Prevention Week, arranged after the 1977 bush fires, fire disaster clean up in 1977, Ballarat Air Pageant 1977,and district conventions, and Riding for the Disabled Concerts - such as “The Sound of Brass” , and “Your kind of Music” in the 1970’s attracted well known artists from around Victoria.

During his association Bob was Creswick Apex Publicity officer and Apex action director. His association with the Apex art show, inaugurated in 1971 was a passion, having a second cousin who was a well known artist - and a family with an interest in art.

Apex promoted Mens Health organising local seminars….. probably when men’s health was not an attractive topic.

One of the most exciting events was the visit by Gina Lollabrigida , in 1975, supporting Multiple Sclerosis . Gina had recently Published a book “Yesterday,

Today and Tomorrow – my life” and Apex Ballarat and Creswick were resposible for the promoton including posters, and pamphlets . The Ballarat Courier wrote - “she’s going to pull the heart and purse strings of every red blooded Australian”. The advertising of a Grand Ball at the Ballarat Drill Hall, promoted it being compered by Brian Naylor and featuring a fashion show, judging of MS Super Bird Contest (we presume this was a beauty contest) - it was $12 per head and included a “heavy supper and free liquor”!

A telegram received from Gina after the event said ….“ sorry I couldn’t enjoy the spaghetti and vino at the motel – save it for my next visit. And … there’s really no truth in the rumour that I’m tempermental – it was all part of the act. Muchoes gracias to Senor Bobbie Burns”

Bob was passionate about children and childhood safety , always being involved in anything related to this - his son had died at age 2.

The Australian Kidney Foundation commended Bob for his promotion of Kidney health, at one local dinner the theme was “the gift of life” , when donor cards were available and the guest speaker was from the Australian Kidney Foundation.

The Oasis Club of Creswick , or Old Apexians was formed in 1980 when Apex was disbanded.

The Creswick Advertiser reported in 1980, of the Gold Festival weekend, staged by the Oasis Club.

1982 saw the New Australasian Disaster Centenary commemoration committee formed with Colin Wrigley as chairman, when funds were sourced and the New Australasian disaster was commemorated.

The town fountain was reported to be in working order after the Fountain Restoration Committee, which included Bob and Fred James (using their plumbing and engineering expertise). The plan was to have the fountain looking and working as it did over a hundred years previously.

In April 1977 the Creswick Shire Council, on the initiation of Tom Evans MP, invited Bob to be involved in the interim development order implementation, where the Shire was required by legislation to plan for, and obtain and maintain Regulatory Approvals under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1961. The role had budgetary, change management and strategic planning modes. He was described as a person “interested or associated with an organisation promoting the development of the Creswick Shire”.

In 1977 the Creswick Post Primary School Committee was formed. Bob’s involvement meant government representation, plans, land searches and promotion. Proposed plans were presented to the Creswick Shire Council, after deputations to the Minister of Education, Regional Director and local Members of Parliament. At the time, Creswick had been identifed as needing a post Primary School and the Creswick Advertiser, advised residents on a weekly basis of the status of the project. The Creswick Secondary School Committee lobbying ensured that Creswick had been placed on a priority list, and a site reserved on the land now occupied by the Doug Lindsay Reserve. We remember this committee as being very active, but unfortunately the school has never been forthcoming.

In April 1978 Bob was appointed a Commisioner for taking affidavits by the Victorian Government. In the letter of appointment, Tom Evans included arrangements for a working bee at the Clunes Scout Hall, including a BBQ and asking for local tradesmen to repair the Hall.


Bob is listed as being a Reserve Member of the Creswick CFA in June 1981, and then an active member from November 1983. In July 1987 he was appointed apparatus officer and then foreman in July 1989. In 1991 he became a reserve member for a period before being allocated an Operating Support role in 1994. He resigned from the CFA in 1998. Many people will remember Bob in his uniform at events.

AWARDS and recognition

Creswick Advertiser awarded him Citizen of the week.

18/7/72 - Creswick Apex- “the ideals of the Assocation of Apex Clubs “ – for enterprise friendship and understanding.

In 1974 - a letter from Lady Nell Seeing Eye Dog School and Rehabilitation Centre thanked Bob and Apex for selling pens and arranging school visits in support of this project, when a donation of $115.20c was forwarded to the centre.

6/5/1979 –”Life Membership´was awarded by Apex citing – “ untiring and enthusiastic dedication to the work of Apex, meritorious service to Apex and to the Community Apex Serves” He was “Mr Apex” for 8 years and at a dinner received a standing ovation.

4/8/1979 – Apex awarded him a Certificate of appreciation for - “invaluable services and co-operation extended”

30/7/80 – Letter of appreciation for the Creswick hospital Mothers’ day appeal participation

7/8/80 - Bob was made a Creswick Hospital Life Governor – “in recognition of Services rendered”.

Meals on Wheels acknowledged in writing, the funds raised from the Art Show.

This presentation must also honour the contribution over many years of members of the Apex Club of Creswick to the community.

Car enthusiaist

Bob and Kathleen were active members of the Goldfields Car Club and Chrysler Club of Victoria. Following Bob’s death, a remembrance was published in their magazine, “Chryco reporter” in Feb 2010, noting the same personal involvement in the car club as with his community of Creswick . His VE Valiant was a familiar sight on Annual Tours . The words “supportive, encouraging, working behind the scenes, promotion, sponsorship” were all part of the note received from the club, Bob being described as “ a dear member who is fondly remembered”

His community spirit was always forthcoming as we heard about him mowing peoples lawns, doing messages, collecting newspapers, repairing broken household items, and all done in a spirit of good humour and availibility. Bob was known to always have his tandem trailer on the back of the car and ready to tackle any job.

Bob’s family talk of Bob being passionate about the importance of a harmonious and inclusive Creswick. He loved Creswick and wanted it to be on the map. He loved Australia Day and loved to see people together and enjoying themselves.

Family members recall bush walks, billy tea, childhood stories, and Christmas Carols by Candlelight.

His only ambition was to make life better for others.

He was an example of a doer, an ideas man, who then got others interested. People like Bob are often not acknowledged for their community contribution. This is our opportunity to do so now, therefore making him an worthy recipient for inclusion on the Honour Roll. 

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