Journey back with us to the old township of Yallourn in Latrobe Valley, Victoria – a unique town built between the 1920s and 1950s by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) to house their workers and then dug up by the same SECV for the coal beneath in the 1980s. This is our way of revisiting our town with our children and grandchildren.

In memory of Mavis & Paddy Mewett, who loved Yallourn so much. We have been able to upgrade our website thanks to the generosity of Kay Hall (Mewett) as a tribute to her parents. Our original software had to quickly be updated and we have now been able to stay in business. Stage 2 Redesign will make the site more user-friendly and even more informative...so please be patient and let's know if you have any suggestions.

See the many photos and house plans, read information, memories and stories. Most of all, play a part in it with us by adding your own photos and memories and help us name the various people in existing photos - for everyone to share. (To contribute, contact julie@yallourn.org to set up an account.) Ex-residents, please also take the time to add your family to the map (HERE).

For more information, visit YALLOURN ASSOCIATION at www.yallourn.org and please 'Like' our Facebook page.


IMAGES OF YALLOURN - 1973 - Christmas in Yallourn

Submitted by Julie George on Thu, 19/12/2019 - 14:23

Caption: Santa Claus and Friends at Yallourn ‘W’ Picnic at Neil Ipsen’s property at Beck’s Bridge.

To see more photographs of Christmas celebrations for 1973 go to: The December edition of the 1973 ‘Contact’ magazine. This can be found on this website by simply typing the word: ‘Contact’ in the Search field (above); and then by scrolling down through the various editions of the magazine.


Submitted by Julie George on Wed, 18/12/2019 - 11:19

The idea of this project, ‘From the Newspapers’ was seen as a fitting way to highlight the selfless endeavours of the residents, of earlier days, who ‘paved the way’ in developing the township of Yallourn.
The series of articles commenced in January 2015; and, over the past five years, more than seventy extracts from various newspapers have focused upon local families, personalities, organisations and events of Yallourn since 1921.
The footnotes, which accompanied each story, tried to ‘shed further light’ on a particular period of the town’s history and tried to help younger readers appreciate what made Yallourn such a unique place.

Julie George and I would like to express our sincere thanks to:
(i) Former residents of Yallourn who forwarded anecdotes, information and photographs.
(ii) Readers who provided suggestions to augment the various articles in the project.

We would also like to acknowledge the following people for their interest in the articles and their assistance with the compilation of footnotes for the extracts…
• Peter Thwaites and John Farquharson.
• Julian Beck & Cecilia Olmos Vancouver (British Columbia Sporting Hall of Fame).
• Anna and Michael Meszaros ( Association of Sculptors- Victoria)
• Heather Barton (AM-Order of Australia).
• Frank Tabone (Latrobe Valley Maltese Festival).
• Philip Moses (Secretary, Australian Jewish Historical Society).
• David Langdon (Richmond Historical Society).
• Bryan McKenzie (ex-Swan Hill Genealogical & Historical Society).
• Bet Jenvey, (Research Officer for the S.H.G & H.S).
• Professor Jeffrey Rosenfeld (Monash Health).
• John Peck ( Trotting Historian), Kathy Gerbert (Harness Racing Australia ), Kyle Galley ( Warragul Harness Racing Club), Dean Baring, Michael Taylor and Flora Robson (Harness Racing fraternity).
• Dr Kay Steel (Federation University).
• Dr Julie Fenley-Churchill Campus (Monash University).
• Caroline Oxley- Research Officer- Victoria Police Museum.
• Justin Hosking (Hosking Lawyers- Rosebud).
• Kylie Best- State Library of Victoria.
• Staff - Rosebud Public Library.
• Staff- State Library of Victoria.
• Staff- City of Footscray Public Library.
• Staff-National Library of Australia
• Staff -The Australian War Memorial.
• Libraries Australia Help Desk staff.
• Michael Roberts-Historian Collingwood Football Club.
• Tony De Bolfo- Historian Carlton Football Club.
• Boyles Football Photos.
• Members of the Old Coal Museum at Yallourn North.
• Bruce McMaster & Florence Butcher- Morwell Historical Society.
• Moe Historical Society.
• Fran Clarke, Margaret Reid, ‘Mossie’ Williams, Lyn & Murray French, John & Lance White, John Hutchinson, Gaynor Gould (Fairclough), Grant & Dawn Cowley, Jim Richardson, Norm Hall, Andrew, Lyn & Elizabeth Spaull, Heather Stone, Victor Berquez, Stan Oakley, Barbara Bunting (Davine), Isobel Woodside (Docherty), Elaine Hosie (Verey), Veronica Barfoot (Lacey), Alison Bonnici, Frank Widdows, Leonie Godridge, Richard Bush, Heather Baker (Norden ), Kay Heeps (Spurrier) , Trevor McColl, Joan Ashmead, Chris Francis, Laurie Shipp, Paul Carter, Barry & Marion Spurrier, Bill Jackson, Dianne Goulding ( Stevenson ), Sue Van Dijk (Wallace), Lois Gust , Jim Watt (Jnr), Fae Horman (Lawson), Alan Ripper, Muffy Forsyth, Perry Middlemiss, Ian Fleming and Brian Handley.

The list of articles posted by Julie since 2015:-

1 1934 Tiger Snake’s Fatal Meal Mr McClarty
2 1952 Heather MacKay wins a Bicycle Young Heather McKay
3 1934 A Day at the Melbourne Zoo Yallourn State School
4 1948 Excellent Exam Results Margaret Reid
5 1932 Young Boy Visits Melbourne Harry Rickard
6 1928 Safety Rope Saves Life W. Bloomfield
7 1934 School Christmas Party Yallourn State School
8 1947 Rhodes Scholar from Yallourn Michael Thwaites
9 1921 The Christmas Tree Coal Mine Camps
10 1935 Annual Exam Results Yallourn H.E.S
11 1945 Yallourn Flower Show Inge Melgaard
12 1945 Opening of YHS Yallourn High School
13 1954 Boxing & Wrestling in Yallourn Yallourn Boys’ Club
14 1934 Housewives Association –AGM Mrs Alice Wilson
15 1949 Yallourn High School Results Scholarship winners 1949
16 1934 Christmas at Yallourn S.S. Christmas events in Yallourn
17 1922 General Monash’s Vision Sir John Monash PDF
18 1936 Jock Lawson & the Bowling Club. Jock Lawson & Family
19 1952 The Runaway Train. Ed Whelan
20 1953 Library Borrowing at Yallourn. Notes regarding Christobel Mattingley
21 1927 Landslide at Yallourn
22 1953 3D Films at Yallourn Theatre Rex Hamilton
23 1923 Police raid at the camps. Constable Kennedy
24 1947 Yallourn Kindergarten.
25 1921 Christmas in the Camps.

1 1923 The Case for a Doctor in Yallourn Dr Hugh Mitchell
2 1928 A Brave Young Mother. Mrs. Stevens
3 1944 Yallourn High School Report. Mr. Lindsay
4 1932 The Guide Hut. Mrs. Graham and others
5 1938 Lynda Adams Visits. Famous Canadian diver.
6 1949 Infant Welfare Centre.
7 1953 Rockmans New Store. Also in Yallourn Newsletter
Note: Stories regarding George Ellis and Prue McGoldrick were published in the Yallourn Newsletter in 2016.
8 1942 Soldier Recognition. Williams family of Yallourn
9 1932 Ideal Town Quest.
10 1928 Opening of Yallourn Hotel.
11 1934 Yallourn Soccer Club. The Wanderers
12 1953 Drama Groups of Yallourn. Jack Alston and others.
13 1932 Christmas at Yallourn.

1 1944 Enid Summerskill visits Yallourn. Visit by a noted UK MP.
2 1945 YHS Examination Results.
3 1939 Death of Allan Hutton. Yallourn Football Club star.
4 1950 Maltese workers arrive at Yallourn. History article highlighting local Maltese families.
5 1954 Walter Lindrum visits Yallourn. Famous billiards player
6 1952 Premier McDonald visits Yallourn.
7 1932 Housewives Meet Sir John Monash.
8 Bill Fleming & the Yallourn Band. Including the memories of Ian Fleming.
9 1928 Gastro-enteritis Outbreak at the BCM. Dr. J.M. Andrew
10 1954 Yallourn Hospital Wins An Award.
11 1941 Wartime Evacuees from Yallourn. World War:2 article.
12 1949 John Shaw Neilson-the Poet. His days at Yallourn & beyond. A famous Australian poet.
13 1932 A Christmas Story.

1 1955 England plays cricket at Yallourn. Dick Sagar & Ken Grant
2 1945 Yallourn High School Sports Day. Richard Bush and YHS
3 1940 Dr Hyman Herman. A quiet hero of Yallourn
4 1952 The sale of the Yallourn Butchery. Contribution by Dianne Stevenson.
5 1934 Yallourn Auxiliary of the RVIB. Mrs. Armstrong & others.
6 1939 Workers saved from a coal bunker.
7 1950 A trotter named Yallourn. PDF with photographs
8 1940 Munitions Training at YTS. Wartime training
9 1932 Pollution of the Latrobe River.
10 1950 A landslide at Yallourn North. Photos from 1950.
11 1928 Yallourn Cricket Club wins a pennant.
12 N/A A Thank You to the Forsyth family. Muffy Forsyth of Thorpdale
13 1953 3TR Hospital Appeal. Christmas story

1 1923 Returned Soldiers’ Sports at Yallourn.
2 1954 Overcrowding at Yallourn High School. Cr. W. Wallace and others
3 1935 The Death of J.P. Campbell. One of Australia’s greatest photographers
4 1933 Grand Final : Yallourn v Maffra. PDF with photographs
5 N/A The Lacey Family of Yallourn. The memories of Veronica Lacey regarding her family and life in Yallourn.
6 1945 Yallourn Womens’ National Emergency Fund. Mrs. R. Hunt, Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Dann and others.
7 1930 Yallourn Gloomchasers Orchestra. Jock Sloan.
8 1940 Charles Burton Boehm. A dynamic resident of Yallourn
9 1933 Yallourn – A Sporting Centre Sports of all sorts.
10 1931 A Sensation at Yallourn Night watchman Peter Wells.
11 1931 The Funeral of Sir John Monash PDF with photographs.
12 1948 A Long Hot Summer at Yallourn An important debate at the Yallourn TAC.
13 N/A Table of Contents 2015-2019 Thank you to all the contributors since 2015.

While hundreds of newspaper extracts were used in researching the above articles, unreserved praise should be given to the following local historians for their dedicated investigations into the early days of Yallourn:
1. Prue McGoldrick. In reading Prue’s book ‘Yallourn Was’ it is evident that she cherished the township and admired its people. Prue’s authoritative research will serve as a lasting record of Yallourn; and a tribute to Prue can be found on this website.
2. Meredith Fletcher. Meredith’s detailed research in her book ‘Digging People Up for Coal’ is essential reading for those interested in the history of the town and battle to save Yallourn from closure.
3. Kath Ringin - ‘The Old Brown Coal Mine.’
4. Joseph Sestokas- ‘Welcome to Little Europe. Displaced Persons and the North Camp.’ This book is an informative study about the hardship experienced by those living in the camps in the early days of settlement.

It would be remiss not to express a very special ‘Thank You’ to Julie George for her drive and enthusiasm for this project. Julie’s on-going dedication to the Virtual Yallourn website has been recognised by many people; and, in 2015 and 2016, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria presented Julie with Commendation Awards for the website’s contribution to the preservation of local history. It was a well-deserved honour and something of which Julie and the committee can be proud.

All readers would concur in thanking Julie for her dedication in administering and maintaining the thousands of postings on this website.
(Note: At the time of writing, the Virtual Yallourn website consists of 495 pages).

While the series ‘From the Newspapers’ has ‘run its course’, there are still many former residents of Yallourn who warrant enduring gratitude; and it seems only right and proper that their contribution to the township should be recognised. Julie is determined to post as much of Yallourn’s history ( as is possible) on the website. Consequently, other articles about the personalities and events of Yallourn will be researched and published from time to time.

It is hoped that the articles, were successful in…
• Unearthing many of the forgotten events of Yallourn’s rich history, and
• Recognising those people who gave their time and energy in making Yallourn such a harmonious community.

In conclusion, it is difficult to define, in a few words, what made Yallourn such a ‘pleasant place’ for so many people but the following quotation of Anthony D’Angelo (an American author), hits the ‘nail on the head’ about the collective spirit of the people of Yallourn…

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”

Thank you and best wishes to all.
Roger Spaull

IMAGES OF YALLOURN - 1948 - Lady Baden Powell Visits Yallourn - Scouts, Brownies, Guides

Submitted by Julie George on Tue, 10/12/2019 - 17:10

Caption: YALLOURN SCOUTS: Lady Baden Powell visited Yallourn on February 13th and inspected local scouts (top left), cubs (lower left )…

Source: ‘Weekly Times’ Wednesday 25 February 1948, page 5

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1948 - Ice for Yallourn

Submitted by Julie George on Thu, 21/11/2019 - 15:23

The sales of electric refrigerators took off some time in the 1950’s; and it is documented that 67% of Melbourne homes had electric refrigerators by 1955. Up until that period, people depended upon ice chests to keep their food fresh and edible.
The following extract reports on a lively debate that arose at the Yallourn Town Advisory Council meeting, in February 1948 regarding a shortage of ice for household ice chests.
It was a vital issue for the town; and the YTAC was under extreme pressure, from local residents, to find a solution to the problem. During the meeting, Cr. Edmondson presented a petition, signed by 160 residents, imploring the authorities to guarantee that an adequate supply of ice for the people of Yallourn that year. The comments of Councillors Edmondson, Fewster and Field make interesting reading.

Furthermore, the remarks made by of Mr Shaw, who seems to have been the owner/manager the Morwell Ice Works, provide some insight into the difficulties that the company had experienced in coping with the heavy demand for ice during that long hot summer some 71 years ago.



THAT the provision of adequate ice supplies for the needs of house holders is a live issue at Yallourn, was evident from the correspondence, petition and nominal roll of unsatisfied customers before the Yallourn Advisory Council on 20th February.
The Yallourn Branch of the A.L.P. submitted a further suggestion that the S.E.C. make fuller use of existing ice making plant at the butchery by working shifts and retailing and delivering through the General Store.

Mr. W.T. Price submitted representatives for improvements and the S.E.C. indicated that the plant at the butchery was too small and overhead costs prevented any extension. It expressed its willingness to set aside a site for an ice-making and chilling plant, if somebody would be prepared to construct and operate it.

Cr. Edmondson also presented a petition carrying 160 signatures asking for council's co-operation in securing adequate supplies of ice. Cr. Fewster made a case for the utilisation to capacity of the existing plant at the butchery. He believed it could produce seven tons weekly if not used for chilling. Alternatively, the S.E.C. might make the plant available to the Morwell distributor.
Mr. W.N. Shaw, of the Morwell Ice Works, appeared before the council to explain the position as to the production and delivery of ice to Yallourn. Mr. Shaw said that when he purchased the ice manufacturing plant at Morwell in late 1946, he was quite aware that its capacity was inadequate for the market offering. He had accordingly lost no time in preparing plans, as a first step, for the duplication of the existing plant, which was capable, if driven to its full capacity, of producing 35 tons weekly.

He had placed orders for requisite, machinery and equipment with Melbourne firms, but, despite continuous pressure on the manufacturers, he was unable to obtain much of the essential equipment. Towards the middle of last year, he purchased materials, ex-disposals, to fabricate the brine tank and had exhausted every avenue for obtaining material for completing the job.

Although he had not been able to get increased production during the recent hot spell, he believed it would not be long before the duplicated plant would come into full production. Although he had a waiting list of 108 names, he considers that, when the final items of equipment came to hand, he could adequately cover Yallourn's full requirements.

During the recent hot spells, by working round the clock, he had brought 60 tons of ice from Melbourne to help out, but the availability of sufficient petrol was a limiting factor to continuing this auxiliary service.

Cr. Fewster suggested the possibility of inducing the S.E.C. to hire its plant to a distributor or to get somebody to use it to manufacture ice for sale to Mr. Shaw. Cr. Field drew attention to the fact that the primary object of the plant at the butchery was for chilling meat. Perhaps the Yallourn Co-operative Society might be interested in the Commission's proposal to make a site available for an ice-works and cool store.

It was agreed that the S.E.C. be asked if, in its opinion, a greater supply of ice could be obtained by utilising the plant at the butchery to its fullest capacity for the manufacture and delivery of ice.

1. For younger readers, iceboxes or chests were constructed of wood (often mahogany) and the inside of the chest was lined with a metal lamina (such as tin or zinc). An insulating material (perhaps charcoal) was packed between the outer and inner ‘skins’ to restrict heat loss from the chest.
2. In those days, the ‘ice man’ delivered large ice blocks to the homes of Yallourn residents. The ice was placed in the top compartment of the ice chest and the cool air would circulate through the lower area of the chest where the perishable foods were stored. As the ice melted, a pipe, fitted at the rear of the chest, would carry the water to a container (usually on the floor) beneath the chest. This container of water would be emptied at regular intervals.
3. Depending on circumstances, a block of ice would last one to three days in the warmer months; so the financial benefits for the supplier of ice in the peak of summer were significant.
4. It is known that the Yallourn abattoirs had large refrigeration chambers on site to ensure that the meat was kept cool overnight before being delivered to the butcher shop. The slaughter-yard was situated on the outskirts of Yallourn (along the road leading from Yallourn Hospital to Hernes Oak).
5. Note: In 2018, former YHS student Dianne Stevenson (Goulding), provided some enlightening information and photographs for this website regarding the Yallourn butcher shop and the slaughter yards. Dianne’s informative article can be found on this website.
6. It wasn’t just the iceman who did ‘his rounds’ at Yallourn each week. In a story for this website, Jean Fox (Hattam) referred to the butcher, baker, milkman and grocer making home deliveries to the homes of the township in earlier times..
“…the butcher, grocer (Nick Carter from Purvis Stores Moe) and baker (Mr Claxton from Yallourn North Bakery with his slow old horse) called from back door to back door through your yards to take orders. Even the night man went from loo to loo. The milk as delivered from hand cans into your milk billy each day…” Source: ‘Virtual Yallourn’ May 2015.
7. Younger readers may not appreciate that Yallourn was, in essence, a ‘company town’ and did not have an elected town council. The history of the formation of the Yallourn Town Advisory Council is well documented; and the YTAC came into being as the result of debate and concerted resident action. From the earliest days of the township, there were numerous attempts to change the system of governance of Yallourn…
“They (the residents) had no civic body to speak for them in negotiations with the Commission…residents were disenfranchised… So, they were both voiceless and voteless’’ Source: Prue McGoldrick ‘Yallourn Was’. Page :113.
8. As a consequence of lengthy community agitation and campaigning, by the residents, the Yallourn Town Advisory Council was established, under the auspices of the SECV, in September 1947.
9. The first members of the Yallourn Town Advisory Council were: E.G. Chisholm, John Field, R. Hamilton, R. Edmondson, A.E. Fewster and J. Collins. Mr T. Forristal was the independent chairman of the YTAC and Mr D. Langhorne was the nominated secretary…
“RATEPAYERS REPRESENTATIVES ELECTED …Following the poll on Saturday when fifteen candidates presented themselves for selections as ratepayers' representatives on the newly-created Yallourn Advisory. Council, the following were elected for the periods specified: EDMONDSON. R. S. J., school teacher. FEWSTER. A. W. E.. engineer. HAMILTON. Rex. lessee, Yallourn Picture Theatre. Mr Edmondson, who topped the poll was elected for three years, Mr Fewster for two and Mr Hamilton for one.” Source: ‘Morwell Advertiser’ December 18th 1947.
10. In the period 1947-79, other members of YTAC included (in alphabetical order): L. D’Alterio, P. Ashmead, J. Breen, N. Byrne, A. Cross, F. Daddo, G. Evans, W. Graham, F. Harries, P. Harry, W. Hebb, T. Jensen, R. Larsen, A. Lynch, B. Milne, P. Moncur, P. O’Sullivan, J. Robertson, A. Shepley, J. Slade, N. Smith, M. Sparrow, N. Thompson. J. Vines and W. Wallace.
11. According to one reliable source, Mrs Norma Smith was the only woman to serve on the YTAC. Norma was a member from 1974 until 1979.
12. The last Yallourn Town Advisory Council was held on November 29th 1979.By that time, ice chests were a ‘thing of the past’ and ‘ultra-modern’ electrical refrigerators and other labour saving ‘white goods’ had become the norm in most Australian homes.

The research and writing of this article were completed by Roger Spaull and presented and posted by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in November 2019.

The above extract from the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, to enhance the story for the purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.

IMAGES OF YALLOURN - 1969 - A CLEVER INVENTION - Max Gray, Roy Norden, Mr Cleverly, Mr Hyde, Geoff Unwin

Submitted by Julie George on Thu, 24/10/2019 - 10:47

If you would like to read more about this clever idea go to: The April edition of the 1969 ‘Contact’ magazine. This can be found on this website by simply clicking on the tab above "Magazines" and scrolling to the April 1969 copy or by typing the word ‘Contact’ in the Search field (above) and then scrolling down through the various editions of the magazine.

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1931 - The Funeral of Sir John Monash

Submitted by Julie George on Tue, 08/10/2019 - 15:32


Source: ‘Western Mail’ (Perth) October 22nd 1931; page: 22.

The people of Yallourn held the name of Sir John Monash in highest regard. The archives show that because of his vision and determination, as the first full-time Chairman of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the town of Yallourn grew, from the most humble beginnings, to become one of the finest ‘garden towns’ in Australian history.

It was not just the people of Yallourn who revered John Monash…
“ …In the 1920s Monash was broadly accepted, not just in Victoria, as the greatest living Australian. The soldiers had to have a representative hero who was a volunteer; he was acceptable to the community as a seemingly unpretentious outsider, not really part of the Establishment. His commanding intellect was sensed as well as his basic honesty and decency. He was one tall poppy who was never cut down.” Source: ABD Volume: 10 1986 (Geoffrey Serle)

John Monash (born 1865) was indeed a durable ‘tall poppy’ and furthermore, it was once written that…
“…John Monash was arguably the greatest ever Australian. Engineer, lawyer, soldier and even pianist of concert standard, Monash was a true leader. As an engineer, he revolutionised construction in Australia by the introduction of reinforced concrete technology. He also revolutionised the generation of electricity. As a soldier, he is considered by many to have been the greatest commander of WWI, whose innovative tactics and careful planning shortened the war and saved thousands of lives” Rolfe Hartley. March 2013.

Bearing in mind Mr Hartley’s quotation, it is little wonder that more than 300,000 people attended Sir John Monash’s funeral and it was claimed to have been the biggest funeral in Australia’s history. It was an extraordinary and fitting farewell to one of Australia’s ‘greatest sons.’

‘Morwell Advertiser’ February 7th 1946; page 5.
Countless Yallourn residents mourned the passing of Sir John; and although it is not precisely known how many people travelled from Yallourn to Melbourne to be part of the funeral throng, the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ (October 16th 1931) reported that …
“Several car loads of Returned Soldiers and also members of the Electricity Commission staff journeyed to Melbourne on Sunday to attend the funeral of the late Sir John Monash.”

While other articles posted on the Virtual Yallourn website deal with the life and achievements of Sir John Monash, this newspaper extract, from 1931, deals specifically with his funeral.

After a short illness, Sir John Monash died on the 8th October 1931; and the following newspaper article tells of the State Funeral held in his honour in Melbourne on October 11th.

To read the full story, click on the 'title' above and then click the pdf link below the photos.

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1931 - Trouble at the Power Station - Police - Snr Constable Collier

Submitted by Julie George on Fri, 20/09/2019 - 15:17


In the early days of Yallourn, life was demanding and hardly idyllic for the workers on the project; and it is documented that the camps were not without ‘trouble and strife.’ Numerous newspaper reports, of that early period of local history, provide some insight into the ‘comings and goings’ that kept the Yallourn constabulary ‘ever watchful’ and always busy.
The following extract was unearthed in the ‘Weekly Times’; and reported on an attack of a nightwatchman, Peter Wells, in Yallourn in 1931. Fortunately, and thanks to the prompt action of SECV staff, Mr Wells escaped from the ordeal relatively unscathed; and, as the report shows, the trespasser was ‘chased down’ and ultimately arrested.
The footnotes attempt to provide some details of: (i) The subsequent hearing at the Morwell Court of Petty Sessions and (ii) Snr Constable Collier, a police officer of some repute in the district.




Attracted by cries for help and moans near the Yallourn main office on the night of May 26, three members of the Commission staff, Messrs. H. Ashley, C. Mitchell and C. Muir, found a watchman, P. Wells, lying on the ground while another man brandished a large knife above him. They immediately challenged the intruder, who is alleged to have replied that he was "just having a bit of a fight with his mate."

Wells bore scalp and neck wounds, and was in a state of collapse. His assailant suddenly took to his heels, with Messrs Mitchell and Muir in pursuit. The man tore through a two-stranded barb-wire fence, completely uprooting a post.

Chase to River

The chase led through the bush and close to the Latrobe River, where the fugitive was overthrown and held. It is alleged that while Wells was on duty in his box, a man, brandishing a knife, demanded to be allowed to pass through to the Power House.
The intruder then entered the box, dismantled the telephone, and attacked the night watchman. The police have detained a man who recently arrived at Yallourn.


1. The incident at Yallourn received wide coverage in city papers such as the ‘The Age’ and ‘The Argus’ while a country newspaper paper the ‘Riverine Herald’ led with the headline: ‘Alleged Assailant Arrested’.

2. As for the subsequent court case, the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ (June 5th 1931) provided a most comprehensive report on the matters before the Police Magistrate; and several newspapers mentioned the accused man’s name. One press report stated that he was a member of a gang from the Fitzroy- Collingwood area.

3. It is believed that Mr Peter Wells was 69 years of age when the incident took place. Reports on his condition varied depending upon the newspaper one read. . One local weekly paper said that Mr Wells was lying on the footpath, semi-conscious and suffering from blood loss. Whatever was the truth of the matter, Mr Wells was in a parlous state and he was taken, by ambulance, to the Yallourn Hospital for further treatment…
“Watchman Wells, a South African veteran, was treated for scalp and other wounds at Yallourn Hospital.” Source: ‘Morwell Advertiser’ May 29th 1931 Page: 3.

4. For younger readers the term ‘South African veteran’ may mean that Peter Wells served in the Boer War (1899-1902). Using the AWM archives, twenty-three soldiers with the family name ‘Wells’ were listed but more information was inaccessible about the above Peter Wells.

5. It is unproven but possible that Mr Charles Muir was the same ‘C. Muir’ who was an active member of the Yallourn Glee and Madrigal Society and featured in various musical productions in the town. No further information could be gathered regarding Charles Mitchell or Mr H. Ashley who assisted Mr Wells that night.

6. The arrested man was charged on the information of Constable James Ryan; and he presented before Police Magistrate Mr Downs at the Morwell Court of Petty Sessions on June 2nd.

7. During the hearing, the accused man’s prior convictions were listed and taken into account by Mr Downs in reaching his verdict. The accused man received fines for trespass, damaging property of the SECV and for the charge of unlawful assault he was imprisoned …
“A third charge of being a rogue and a vagabond and being on an enclosed area without lawful excuse…..(he) was given six months imprisonment with hard labour.” Traralgon Record June 4th 1931.

8. One of Yallourn’s best-known police officers of that era, Snr Constable W.M. Collier, was stationed at Yallourn for 12 years. Mr Collier was the police prosecutor in the above hearing and presented the case against the defendant.

9. Senior-Constable Collier was praised for his brave actions in rescuing the Brock family (and others) during the unprecedented flooding in the area in December 1934.

10. Snr Constable Collier was held in high regard throughout Yallourn and district. He later gained promotion to the rank of 1st Class Sergeant and transferred to Russell Street, Melbourne, in June 1939. In one newspaper report he was described as…
“He (Mr Collier) was stationed in an industrial centre where a lot of tact and ability was required, and in this respect Sergeant Collier had distinguished himself, and he ventured to say that he was esteemed and respected by men he had prosecuted, as well as by all other sections of the community, because in doing his duty he had been straight and fair and never took an unfair advantage of anyone. Source: ‘Morwell Advertiser’ July 6th 1939

The research and writing of this article were completed by Roger Spaull and presented and posted by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in September 2019.

The above extract from the ‘Weekly Times’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the story for the purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.