SoftDawn | Early Pioneers | Holians Spread Out | St James & Devenish | Holians & Kellys | Contact Us

76 Cousins, The Story of an Irish Migrant Family in Early Victoria & Queensland


In 1841 an Irish family arrived in a sailing ship at Port Melbourne, six years after the settlement of Melbourne by Europeans. The family's name was Holian and it was composed of the parents, two daughters and two sons. This was the beginning of the Holian story in Australia. It is an ordinary story, but also a remarkable one. Their story illustrates the life of early Victorian pioneers, their primitive living conditions, the challenges and disappointments, but also their huge achievements. It involves the first four generations of Holians who lived in the Geelong region, North Eastern Victoria and southern Queensland.

The Frankfield

The Frankfield brings migrants to Melbourne from Liverpool.

A part of the Holian story is the story of the Kelly Gang. Having selected land in NE Victoria in 1874, the Holians weren't far from the Kelly home. It was six years before the Siege of Glenrowan. The young Kelly boys became friends with the Holians and when the Gang was on-the-run the Holians supported them with food and shelter. When, some years later, a young Holian family moved to southern Queensland to select land, they discovered a different fate of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart, the youngest members of the Kelly Gang, who were believed to have died in the burning of the Glenrowan Inn.


A concept plan has been written for a TV documentary which could be the basis for a movie script being developed. You can download and read the eight-page concept plan. The original purpose of this website was as an active repository for documents written after research into Holian family history. It was thought the website could eventually provide background material for the documentary.

This website is NOT an official Holian family website. Rather it is a repository for articles written by Robert Dorning (Great Great Great Grand Son of Michael and Catherine Holian) about his mother's side of his family, the Holians. Robert grew up not meeting his mother's relatives, so this is an attempt to fill the gap in his knowledge about his origins. He has found it an intriguing story. The website is offered as a contribution to Holian family history which already has an extremely strong foundation. The official Holian family website was at:, but is no longer current.

Robert's mother, Mary Dorning (nee Holian) was born in 1912 at St James in North East Victoria where her grandfather had selected land in 1874. After the death of her father Patrick Ambrose Holian, in 1919 from the Spanish Flu epidemic, her mother Rosannah moved her four children to Richmond where she could find a job, earn a living and raise her kids.

NOTE: This is a basic website, in that there aren't links within, and between pages. This means that to move between pages you need to return to this page, 76 Cousins, and use the links on this page.


Rose, Mary & son

Rosannah Holian (nee Fitzpatrick), daughter Mary Dorning (nee Holian) & son Robert at Kalkallo in 1945. Photo by Vince Holian.


DISCLAIMER: The documents able to be viewed on this website are not necessarily finalised and may change. More photos are required and will be added as they become available. Also, documents may be added, merged or deleted. This disclaimer will remain in force until it is removed when it will become invisible.

SoftDawn | Early Pioneers | Holians Spread Out | St James & Devenish | Holians & Kellys | Contact Us