THOMAS WILKINSON PINNIGER arrived in Melbourne on 8-11-1852 and became Government Surveyor in 1853. He was in charge of a geodetic (allows for the curve of the earth) survey of Central Victoria. His survey points were marked by stone cairns, 17 of which have been located. Some are still intact, others now consist of a circle, or a pile of stones. He also planned and surveyed the township of Yea, laying out the wide main street with a centre plantation. In 1857, Pinniger married Helen Stewart at her brother , Gideon’s property, “Habbies Howe”, Highlands. Their son, George Stewart Pinniger, became Surveyor General of Victoria from 1925 – 1926.
T.W.Pinniger died at his home in Malvern in 1927, in his 90th year. A few years ago, the Yea Historical Society decided to erect a stone cairn in the centre plantation in Yea to T.W.Pinniger’s memory, as there was no landmark named after him. This was built by Howard Mitchell of Ruffy. At the ceremony to unveil this, Pinniger’s niece, Helen Gibson,-then aged in her 90s, was present.
Among the surviving cairns in this district, there is one on Mt Good Morning Bill, at Ruffy. (Highlands Ramblers have been there). Also one in the Switzerland Ranges at the back of Gleneagles property, one on a rock near “Rantin Robin Rocks”, and one at Ruffy on Mt Cecelia. One site was on Looking Glass,- nothing left there, and one south of Dennis Spiteri’s gallery, where the remains were bulldozed away during World War2 to make way for a light beacon – not much of that left either. This beacon was to guide aircraft. The light was visible for many miles around. There are many other sites around the Yea district and it is quite exciting to find them from the original survey maps which have been transposed on to the 1:25000 maps. By Peg Lade for The Granite News.