WELCOME TO VIRTUAL YALLOURN - winner of Commendation Award Oct 2015 and Oct 2016 (two years in a row) from Royal Historical Society of Victoria - 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 the only way we can revisit our town with our children and grandchildren.
See the many photos and house plans, navigate around our 3D Town, 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 http://www.yallourn.org and please 'Like' our Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/yallournassociation. .
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MOST RECENT ENTRIES:

  • 33053

    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.
    THIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN 50 YEARS AGO… CAN YOU HELP?
    This photo was taken in Yallourn about half a century ago. It is an enlightening piece of local history for the Virtual Yallourn files and it would be nice to put names to the above faces.
    It is known that Mr Roy Norden is in the centre of the photograph; and it is thought, but not definite, that Mr Cleverly, Mr Hyde and Geoff Unwin are in the background. If any readers can help in recognising the other men, shown in photograph, please contact Julie. Thank you.

    1969
    1
    25/10/2019 - 19:12
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  • 33052

    88 YEARS AGO
    THE FUNERAL OF SIR JOHN MONASH

    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.

    14/10/2019 - 10:36
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  • 33051

    TROUBLE AT THE POWER STATION

    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.

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    MAY 30TH 1931 WEEKLY TIMES PAGE:6

    YALLOURN SENSATION

    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.

    FOOTNOTES

    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.

    14/10/2019 - 10:32
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  • 33049

    This photograph was taken by well-known Yallourn identity Mr Cliff Cleverly at the first game of night football played at the Yallourn Oval on Wednesday, July 21st 1971.

    Source: ‘SEC Contact Magazine’ August 8th 1971 Page: 16.

    1971
    20/09/2019 - 16:17
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  • 33050
    Stanger
    Stanger

    Lauris Irene Stanger married Ivan Sidney William Brill 10 July 1954 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Yallourn.
    Lauris and father Thomas Stanger arriving at the Church
    Bridal party includes bridesmaid Betty Mitchell, daughter of Keith and Laura Mitchell, Yallourn.

    1954
    15/09/2019 - 10:07
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  • 5649
    Form 6A

    Back row (Hard to define so back two rows standing): Danny Burns, Ian Wallis (Teacher), Shirley Rendle, Roger Smith?, ? , Charlie Kotiw, (girl)?, ? , Gary Vogel, Ketty Kelava, John Pemberton, (girl)? , ? , ? , ? , ? , ? (teacher?)
    Middle row: Graham Ure, John Gloz, Ann Castell, Choko Lyons, Phillip Davies?, ? , ?
    Front Row (sitting): Greg Evans, ? , ? , Warren Pye, Susan Humphries, ? , Susan Wakefield, ? , ? , ? , ? , ?

    3
    09/09/2019 - 16:18
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  • 33048

    YALLOURN - A SPORTING CENTRE FOR ALL

    INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND TO THE GARDEN TOWN OF YALLOURN
    When the report entitled ‘The Establishment of a Township at Yallourn’ was tabled in 1921, the strong emphasis placed in planning for parks, gardens, tree-lined streets, children’s playgrounds and sports grounds in the ‘scheme of things’ was a significant step in Australian town planning.

    The SEC’s Chief Architect was *Mr A.R. La Gerche (see footnotes); and he based his plans for Yallourn along the lines of other model industrial garden towns such as Letchworth and Welwyn in the UK. As history shows, Sir John Monash backed the concept of a ‘garden town’ with zeal and his support added great weight to Mr La Gerche’s blueprint…

    “Situated on a hillside in full view of an amphitheatre of beautiful hills, residence in Yallourn should be nearly as ideal as possible to make.” Source: Meredith Fletcher in her book ‘Digging People up for Coal’ page 8.

    Sir John Monash deserves enduring praise for his drive (despite frequent trenchant criticism from certain quarters) in bringing the project of Yallourn to fruition. At that time in Australian history, Sir John’s accomplishment, in overseeing the development of such a town, for the workers and their families, was avant-garde…
    “ …an extraordinary chapter in Australian history when a beautifully designed garden city, with a thriving community of about a thousand families…Yallourn was a model town in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, unique in Australia's planning history. But today it exists only in the memories of those who lived there. Built in the 1920s by the State Electricity Commission to house its brown coal miners in ideal conditions…” Source: ‘ABC Radio National’ June 2008.

    One of the most striking aspects of the garden town/model of Yallourn was the provision of outstanding sporting facilities as described in the ‘Sporting Globe’ in July 1933 as printed below. As an historical record of Yallourn, the newspaper extract is significant because it lists the names of some well-known sporting personalities of those times.

    The extract also underlines the rapid progress that had been made in establishing the township and highlights the role that sport played in building community involvement and spirit.

    Within two decades of settlement, Yallourn’s sporting fields became the envy of all and set the bench mark for all country towns.

    Note: Such was the standard of the main oval at Yallourn that a VFL match, between Footscray and St Kilda, took place there in June 1952; and three years later the touring English cricket team, led by Sir Len Hutton, played against a combined Gippsland XI at the same venue.

    ‘The Argus’ article is testimony to A.R. Gerche’s vision and Sir John’s Monash dynamism; and the fact that such a glowing report could be written, just 12 years after the first sod had been turned in the Yallourn Project, is astonishing.

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    JULY 26TH 1933 SPORTING GLOBE PAGE 12

    CONDUCTED ON LAVISH LINES
    Yallourn a Great Sporting Centre
    YALLOURN, vortex of the State's mighty lighting and power system, presents an astounding and gigantic spectacle to the layman. From a placid and out-of-the-way little hamlet Yallourn has in the last eight or nine years, grown to a beautiful residential area that has the appearance of Suburbia, but with picturesque and typically Australian bush surroundings.

    Too stupendous for description by the layman's pen are the Commission’s works - the powerhouse, briquette works and brickworks. From the open cut more than 12 million tons of coal have been extracted since 1924 - merely a nibble from the vast resources.

    Here sport is conducted on almost lavish lines. The happy and sociable community of 3000 inhabitants have shown wonderful enterprise in this direction, making Yallourn a veritable playground for their leisure moments.

    Two excellent sports ovals, tennis courts, bowling greens, swimming pools, cricket, golf, football and rifle clubs, speak volumes for the activities of the sporting fraternity. Behind all these organisations is the popular and highly respected general superintendent, Mr. J. M. Bridge, whose word is law in Yallourn. No man ever had the happiness of a community more at heart and his interest in all sporting affairs has been largely responsible for their success. Mr. Bridge is primarily connected with the Moe and Yallourn Trotting and Racing Club, of which he is president.
    Mr R. D. Dixon, assistant general superintendent, has been quite as active in his interests, and a patron of all sport the town. He is at Bendigo at present.

    LIBERAL FEE
    The annual subscription of 25/- entitles members of the tennis club to play at all hours, on the electrically-lit courts, and includes a free supply of balls.

    This club, with a membership of 120, has three teams entered in the Central Gippsland Association, a competition which embraces eight other towns. H. M. Ashley, club president, is past president of the association. H. Martin was one of the founders of the club, and is an energetic official.

    Mead Cox, president of the Cricket Association, captains the Yallourn team, and also skippered the district team that won the B-grade pennant against Dunmunkle in the finals of Country Cricket Week in 1928.

    In 1931 Yallourn played with Traralgon in the final and drew with Warrnambool. Two old-time stalwarts are Freddie Rusden and Doug Thomson. Doug, played football with St. Kilda in 1918. D.J. Alston, one of the founders of the Association, is a life member, and held the presidency for three years.

    FIRST SECRETARY
    With V. C. Colvin, he originated the scheme for the bowling club, and was its first secretary, a position now occupied by Jock Lawson. With six electrically lit rinks of perfect green, the club is modern in layout and numbers a membership of 80.

    One of the most popular and esteemed sportsmen in Gippsland is W.H. ‘Dad’ Brewer – father of sport in Yallourn. ‘Dad’, one of the foundation members is president, a position he has held since its inception in 1923 —a past president of the football club and football and cricket associations.

    Mr Brewer arrived first arrived in Yallourn shortly after the turning of the first sod in the open cut and his other many sporting connections include vice president of the gun club and member od the Sports Oval Trust.

    Premiers in the Central Gippsland Association in 1931, Yallourn Football Club entered the Gippsland League last season and again secured the premiership, losing only one match throughout the season. S. E. Comber, a prominent player, is the club's capable secretary.

    G. D. Jones, captain of the golf club last year, and original secretary, is the greatest worker of that body, and laid out the attractive nine-hole course. An additional three holes are at present being included - a rather Herculean task as the ground must be cleared of scrub and ploughed. The sand greens arc claimed to be equal to the famous Bendigo greens.
    A strong Rifle Club is captained by Jim Garvin, a prominent shot at local and metropolitan fixtures.

    DELIGHTFUL POOL
    A delightful swimming pool attracts great numbers on hot days and was recently the venue of some of Australia’s leading swimmers on the occasion of the Yallourn Club's carnival on Jan. 7. A pool of Olympic dimensions is in course of construction in the heart of the town.

    Other identities include Don W. Neil a supporter of bowls and cricket, and incidentally the driving force in the local orchestra - and Dixon Brown, a generous patron whose gifts of trophies to sporting bodies have been an added incentive to the performers in their various spheres.

    Winner of a £200 special prize in The Herald Ideal Town Competition, it is small wonder that Yallourn conducts itself so meritoriously in all it undertakes in the Sporting World.

    FOOTNOTES
    1. The original article was difficult to read in places and my apologies for any errors in transcription (Roger).
    2. Mr La Gerche was the SEC’s Chief Architect from 1919 until 1937. In some texts he is known as Alan but there is evidence to suggest that his name may have been Alfred Romeo (see footnote: 3).
    3. Readers interested in the life and times of A.R. La Gerche may also enjoy reading about an architect who was/is quite an ‘unsung hero’ in the story of Yallourn. Mr William Elliot Gower (1898- 1996) was an adroit architect who played a principal role in the design and construction of the township of Yallourn. His story can be found on a website called ‘Built Heritage.com .au’ …
    “ Working under Alfred Romeo La Gerche (1873-1948), who was Chief Architect to the SEC, “Gower and his colleagues were involved not only in the layout of the township ( Yallourn ) itself but also the design of virtually all of the buildings therein, from individual dwellings through to administrative offices and commercial facilities. Amongst the structures for which Gower can take design credit were a memorial to Sir John Monash……the new township's picture theatre. The last of these projects was widely published at the time and later caught the attention of a young Robin Boyd, who praised it in the pages of his first book, Victorian Modern (1947).”
    4. ‘The Argus’ newspaper article was accompanied by the sketch (as shown above) of some of Yallourn’s sporting personalities as mentioned in the ‘Sporting Globe’ article including… J.M. Bridge, Dixon Brown, G.D Jones, Jim Garvin, H. Martin , Doug Thomson, Mead Cox, Fred Rusden, ‘Dad’ Brewer, S.E. Comber, Don. W. Neil, R.D. Dixon, Jock Lawson and H.M. Ashley.
    5. The newspaper article was published just two years after the death of Sir John Monash; and Sir John’s family would have been most gratified and indeed proud to have read the complimentary words as penned by the unidentified journalist of the ‘Sporting Globe.’
    6. Not a story about the playing fields of Yallourn could be complete without mention of Mr Jock Lawson and his dedicated staff…
    “ The people of Yallourn were chuffed that the Australian Cricket Board had chosen ‘their oval’ as the venue for the tour match; and it is fair to say that Dick and Ken were ‘local heroes’ around town.
    The visit by Len Hutton’s team generated a deal of interest in Yallourn; and, as a consequence, there were several articles regarding the town and the picturesque oval in the local and metropolitan newspapers.
    Yallourn’s Curator of Parks and Gardens, Jock Lawson, received accolades for the outstanding job that he (and his staff) had done in preparing the turf pitch, outfield and surrounds …
    “The English cricketers, visiting pressmen and commentators, Australian and international, had nothing but praise for the Yallourn Oval, which they described as the best country ground they have ever seen on tour.” ‘Morwell Advertiser.’
    In 1970, Jock Lawson was awarded an MBE for his services to the town of Yallourn; and he will always be remembered, by cricket lovers far and wide, for the world-class standards of the pitch and outfield for the match that year.” Source: Virtual Yallourn website article (January 2018).
    7. Most former residents would concur that Yallourn was an exceptional place to live as it appeared that there always ‘some game to play’ or ‘some organization to join’ to enhance the lives of families.
    8. There were ‘sports of all sorts’ and the friendships and fun that emanated from the various sporting clubs of Yallourn are still spoken about with pride today (eg Veronica Lacey’s wonderful recollections of the Yallourn Hockey Club or Lois Gust’s vivid memories of swimming for Yallourn - see this website).
    9. It wasn’t just the major sports (football, cricket, swimming tennis, soccer) that were well organized and patronized. With the rapid growth in the town’s population, after World War: 11, other sports such as badminton, croquet, boxing, hockey, marching (girls), softball, vigaro, water polo and rifle shooting flourished and became popular pastimes for the residents of Yallourn.
    10. For those people interested to read more about the available sports and the celebrities of Yallourn teams/clubs simply click the tab ‘Groups’ at the top of this page. The various articles and photographs related to swimming, athletics, hockey, cricket, vigaro, soccer, football, tennis, badminton, basketball and rifle shooting will further underscore the reason why Yallourn was somewhat of a ‘sporting citadel.’

    The research and writing was undertaken by Roger Spaull; and the posting and presentation of photographs and of this article were completed by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in August 2019.

    The above extract from the ‘Sporting Globe’ 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.

    03/09/2019 - 17:53
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  • 33047

    1978 - THE THIRD YOGA REUNION

    This photograph was taken at the third gathering of the Yallourn High School ‘Old Girls’ (as it was then known) which was held on March 4th 1978. It was published in the ‘Contact’ Magazine (March edition-1978). On that occasion, the reunion was held at the Latrobe Valley Visitors’ Centre in Morwell.

    Those pictured above are:
    Back Row: Winnie Watkinson, Nita Spittall, Joan Harris, George Bates, Val Kerr, Tess Whitehead, Nell Hewitt, Maidi Smith
    Front Row: Sonja Bates, Nola Trethowan, Charles Trethowan, Lucy Crowe

    The full story of the 1978 Reunion can be found by:
    1. Typing the word ‘Contact’ into the Search box at the top right-hand corner of the screen.
    2. Hit ‘Apply.’
    3. Scroll down to the March edition of 1978 ‘Contact’ (page: 3)
    Note: This website has an extensive selection of photos of Yallourn Reunions from 1978 -2019.

    The name of the ‘Yallourn Old Girls’ Association (aka YOGA) has ‘morphed’ but the aim of bringing friends together has remained central to the organization and an important event on the calendar.

    Despite the ‘march of time’ and the changes in the association, the love for the town of Yallourn has been ‘a constant’ and the reunions are eagerly awaited and always well supported.

    The thousands of photographs, mementos, articles and comments posted on the Virtual Yallourn website and the Yallourn Association Facebook page reflect the sense of community and fellowship of Yallourn’s former families, residents and friends.

    Arguably, there are very few towns (if any) in Australia that have garnered so much positive comment and veneration; and the fact that the town no longer physically exists speaks volumes about what a remarkable community it was in the lives of so many people. Somehow, the township has endured in the hearts and the memories of its residents.

    The next reunion will be held on Saturday, 29 February 2020 – Woorabinda School Camp.

    For further information about the Yallourn Association, membership, reunions and ‘staying in touch’ with friends from Yallourn, contact Julie.

    1978
    28/08/2019 - 12:41
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  • 33046
    Save Yallourn

    The final Save Yallourn Committee was the President, Joe Dell, Treasury, Honor Crane, and Secretary, Ted Hopkins. The two boxes of the entire information of Save Yallourn Committee was provided to me. As such, the boxes were placed in a shed of Greville Street 48-54 accommodation and offset printing places. A terrible problem occurred when the shed and boxes were fire burned (1979?). Just a selection of items were still available for the SLV and my residence.
    ....Ted Hopkins 2019

    09/08/2019 - 16:53
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  • 11456

    The final Save Yallourn Committee was the President, Joe Dell, Treasury, Honor Crane, and Secretary, Ted Hopkins. The two boxes of the entire information of Save The Committee was provided to me. As such, the boxes were placed in a shed of Greville Street 48-54 accommodation and offset printing places. Of terrible problem the shed and boxes were fire burned (1979?). Just a selection of items were still available for the SLV and my 2 residence.
    ...Ted Hopkins 2019

    09/08/2019 - 16:49
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