Home' Australian Pharmacist : February 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist February 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 13
As with so much of Australian history,
the story of the pharmacy intertwines
with other fascinating historical
anecdotes. For instance, the pharmacy
was operated by David McEwen, father
of former Prime Minister 'Black Jack'
John McEwen. It was purchased by Roy
and Hilda Dow in 1936 who operated it
until its closure in 1968. And the way the
pharmacy was when Hilda Dow closed
the doors on the business in 1968, is the
way you find it now.
Cheryl Janetzki manages Dow's Pharmacy
for the National Trust and conducts tours
for the princely sum of $2. For that you
get a passionate and insightful history of
the pharmacy, as well of the pharmacy
business going back decades.
'The pharmacy is exactly how Mrs Dow
left it when she walked out the door in
1968,' Ms Janetzki says.
'There are pill-making machines and
gelatine capsules that you would never
see any more. I do the tours and I show
people how pills are made.
'Nothing has been taken out of the
chemist except for any dangerous
'Apart from that it is as Mrs Dow left
it. The pill-making machines, the old
containers and jars, the merchandise
which was sold then -- they're all still here.'
Apart from the physical attractions of
Dow's Pharmacy, the story of Hilda Dow
is in itself a revelation for her pioneering
role for women in pharmacy.
The Australia Women's Register of the
National Library of Australia describes
Hilda as being the daughter of police
magistrate Charles Grey, and sister
of Royal Melbourne Hospital Lady
Superintendent Helene Grey, OBE.
'Hilda Grey became a student of the
Victorian College of Pharmacy in 1919,'
the NLA says.
'In 1929, she was working at Poynton's
pharmacy in Morwell, when she
purchased the pharmacy at Chiltern
'She was elected to the Pharmaceutical
Society of Victoria as a member in 1930.
Hilda apprenticed her husband, Roy Dow,
and the two ran the pharmacy in Chiltern
until 1968, when they closed the doors.
'In 1988 Mrs Dow donated the pharmacy,
which had been operating on the site
since 1859, intact to the National Trust,
and it is now a museum.
'Hilda Dow was a foundation member
of the North East branch of the National
Trust, a member of the hospital
committee and board, of the Infant
Welfare Centre and the Red Cross, and
a member and office bearer of the
Chiltern Branch of the Country Women's
There are some clouds over the future
of this important museum. PDL and the
Pharmacy Guild in Victoria donated new
flooring some years ago but the building
is in need of repair and maintenance to
ensure it continues to provide visitors
with a journey into the pharmacy
A fascinating pharmacy time
By Peter Waterman
It would have to be the cheapest
time machine trip imaginable. For $2,
you can be transported to 1968 and into
a pharmacy exactly as it operated in
But first you have to get to Chiltern in
the Rutherglen region of Victoria, only a
few hours out of Melbourne and only
minutes off the Hume Highway. For it
is in this quaint town that you will find
Dow's Pharmacy, now a national trust
building but once a thriving business in a
then-thriving gold mining town.
Chiltern is characteristic of many of the
towns that grew, and foundered, on the
vagaries of the gold boom. Gold was first
found in 1858 some 3.5 kilometres from
the present township and within months
up 20,000 miners were on the field. A gold
town of hessian and canvas, of sly-grog
shops and 32 hotels was established but
by 1859 the alluvial gold rush was all over.
The easily-obtainable gold of the Indigo
Lead was worked out and most of the
alluvial miners pushed on to other fields.
However, some miners remained and in
1859 sank a shaft, striking Chiltern Lead
which sparked a new gold rush, one that
required more technical mining skills.
All these miners needed medical support
and Dow's Pharmacy was built in 1859,
a single health oasis in a sea of pubs.
machines, the old
containers and jars,
which was sold then --
they're all still here.'
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