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:

  • 32842

    Henry Winters YHS 1954-58 then Tech Trade Part Time and Night School 1959-62. His form was 1C in Room 10 - an army style portable building west of the main quadrangle. For a fresh-faced, unsophisticated and naive 11Y" year old, Henry thought his form teacher - Shirley Mason (now McCasker) was so absolutely gorgeous - a person with such command and elegance. Some of the students of that year were Peter Bavington, David Sloan, Noel Sonerman, Russell Williams, Terry Comber, Brian Wallace, Sidney Goidois and Jessie Grima ... girls weren't an interest in those days - it was billy carts and bicycles. ln those early days, Henry would cycle up to Yallourn North from Morwell via Tom's Bridge and aim to make a faster overall point to point time each venture on weekends. Transportation to school was via Latrobe Valley Buslines in either a 'federal' bus, a 'white' bus or the 'Reo' semi-trailer. Henry met the La Mode lndustries Reo semi at the bottom of Church Street Morwell after it disgorged the working La Mode girls at the factory. lt entered the La Mode factory at the Collins St (west side) driveway and the school kids waited inside the grounds to start the pick up route to YES. The interesting make up of the rear seat of the semi was a pecking seat order. From the passenger (kerb) side corner sat Tom Griggs, then Henry, then Geoff Wigg, his brother Murray Wigg, then Geoff Pickburn and in the driver side corner was John McCarrick. This pecking order came about as the majority, except Tom Griggs, started with the Reo semi at La Mode. Henry graduated to the rear seat by about third form. Somehow the return home was done in different makes of buses. The old 'white' was the slow coach and had to be nursed by the driver, whereas the 'federal' was a flyer. The girls up front coaxed the drivers to get up a bit of speed and race past the other buses back to Morwell. School dress was the regulation uniform and an annoyance to the Prefects at bus afternoon collection was the school cap. The idea was to order it a size smaller and if possible, wash it so it shrunk and always carry it in one's back pocket. When checked by a Prefect, one could pull out this small unit that sat on the hair like a pimple. The Prefects gave up in disgust after trying a blitz of wearing correct attire. Henry well remembers a classmate who had a long trip to get to school. He was Noel Sonerman whose parents had a small dairy farm 10 acres on the foothills of the Jeeralangs between Boolarra and Yinnar. After getting up with the sparrows and helping with milking, to get to school he rode his bicycle to the Midland Hwy, caught a bus, which brought children into Morwell, to connect with the bus to YES. The school day was a long one for Noel as milking awaited him when he got home. On cold frosty mornings, he filled the handlebars with boiling water with corks in the ends, but the water was cold before he got to the bottom of the hill to meet the bus. The class ratio boys to girls was fairly even in 1C and 2C. After becoming dux in 2C, Henry was 'elevated' to 3A where he joined David (Jimmy) Wallace, Daryl Raggart, Geoff Wigg, Ray Stewart, Tom Griggs and Ron Rawiller, and the topic of conversation on Monday mornings was a complete review and taking off of the expressions and bylines of the previous night's (Sunday) Goon Show. The teachers and senior students Henry remembers involved in the annual production of a Gilbert & Sullivan play were Jean Birt (English teacher) lsobel McLaren, John Tremain, Val Pyers and Tom Dooley. A memorable aspect of YES wintertime activities was the cookery classes output of soup for 6d per enamel mug each day (or was it 3d?). The cookery teacher managed the soup and it was served through a window off the verandah in the south west corner of the quadrangle to the south of the main staff room and main quadrangle. Some other teachers Henry remembers were Mr Cass and Mrs Parsons. They gave him the subject presented in such a way to make it understandable and enjoyable.

    18/02/2019 - 18:35
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  • 32841

    Marie McFaul (Elmar) (YHS 1947) Wrote with the following news and memories, which I'm sure she won't mind sharing with you: "I did enjoy the barbeque at Mr & Mrs Esler's property at Nicholson once again. My friend, Ann Roughead (Griffiths) from Leongatha was able to come with me for the day. We only attended YHS for the Leaving and Matriculation years in 1947 & 1948, but found the Principal, Mr Menadue, and staff and the people of Yallourn just so friendly that we have very happy memories of our time there. I would also like to send best wishes to Bev James; Kath Fitzpatrick (Hayes) of Cowarr; Margaret Reid; Claire Gratton and Gwynneth Griffiths (whereabouts unknown to me). I remember the mixed-breed dog who took up residence in the quadrangle in spite of the daily voice of Mr Menadue booming out to - "get that dog out of here!" I came across a cutting from the paper giving details of 1948 Speech Night at which Mr Mee (English teacher) had organised a play, presented by the Matriculation students. I wonder if the audience enjoyed watching as much as we enjoyed participating. John Barnes and Gwynneth Griffiths really starred. Marion Dawson - Mrs Trigg gave many students a great love for hockey and our sports trips to Sale, Traralgon and Warragul were always an event of the year. We always remember also Fae Lawson playing Rustle of Spring on the piano and our great arguments with Mr Menadue in Geography class over the merits of Yallourn vs Horsham. Leon Melbourne was a great stirrer and kept our spirits up when exams were nigh. Best wishes too to Sonja Ostlund - she was a great house captain. Elsie & Betty were great friends who came from Moe - their surname escapes me. Then there were the Moller twins, Mr & Mrs Jack Vinall, Arthur Webb, Gavin Edmondson, Diana Thomas, Allan Turnbull and so many names come to mind. The school building may be gone but the memories will last forever. Keep up the good work and I hope ex-students continue to support you (YOGA).

    18/02/2019 - 18:35
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  • 32840

    Warren Wilson YHS 1950: I really enjoyed reading Reg Penkethman’s article in the Jan 2013 newsletter, which brought back a lot of memories. Reg was one of my fellow students at YHS during the years 1950-1953. I remember Reg as a good scholar, which is reflected in his interesting article. I also remember some of the boys’ names – Bob Nash, Frank Jewell, John Quinlivan, Anthony Dawson, Murray Wigg, David Munro, Brian O’Connor and Barry Gust to name a few. I do agree with Reg that the YHS girls were the best looking girls anywhere but I will hold off on naming any names. For those who may remember me from YHS, I moved to Melbourne (from Trafalgar) working for the National Bank. I then moved to Darwin (7 years but not with the bank), then to Adelaide (7 years), Hobart (4 years), Hong Kong (17 years) and then back to Adelaide, where I have lived for the past 19 years. Cathy and I travel a lot and we also have 12 grandchildren between us to spread our time. I am still to get to the annual reunion despite Julie George’s efforts over many years to get me to attend. 2014 will be my next opportunity and that sounds like a good year to me!

    18/02/2019 - 18:34
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  • 32839

    (Photo attached)

    Thelma was born in Yallourn to Richard (Syd) and May Sharman, who lived in Yallourn North and who both worked at the SEC.
    Thelma, affectionately known as ‘Sharman’, was the middle of two siblings, older brother Frank and younger sister Janet who both grew up in Yallourn North. Times were tough for the Sharman family in those early years, not only was there the Depression to deal with, but nature also intervened regularly with devastating floods and bushfires, not unlike what many country towns have to deal with today.
    Thelma attended the Brown Coal Mine State School and then Yallourn High School up until Form 5. She was a keen netballer who also tried her hand at football! In the book titled "The Old Brown Coal Mine", Thelma’s photo appears as a member of the Brown Coal Mine single women's football team of 1944/45. They played the married women's team. It is not recorded who won but Thelma said that she caught the ball at a boundary throw in and thought that she could stop to take a kick! The story goes on to say that someone yelled out that the umpire was ‘one eyed’ whereupon he promptly pulled out his glass eye to prove it! The team only played once and so it was back to netball for Thelma.
    A swimming pool cut into a bend on the Latrobe River was very popular and close to the mine. That’s where Thelma learnt to swim and loved every minute of it as she was a strong swimmer.
    Thelma’s first job after leaving school was performing secretarial duties with a Mr Langhorne at the Yallourn Advisory Council, but this only lasted for 2 years. In 1949 she applied and was accepted for nurses training at the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. This was a big move for Thelma, leaving family and friends, however the challenge and excitement was what she was after, so with hugs and kisses all round, off she went to the ‘big smoke’. She recalled that there was a wonderful camaraderie existing in the nurses’ home. She excelled in lectures and derived great satisfaction in caring for sick, dependent children. She easily won the confidence and cooperation of children separated from their families. She was a born carer, not only for children, but also to people from all walks of life. It’s here that because of Jeff’s fastidious and detailed recording of family history, the following transcript exists of Thelma’s early nursing memories:
    “The 6 months adult component of the training spent at the Children’s Hospital added another dimension to my nursing career. I enjoyed the experience very much. I became very aware of how important our observation skills are especially in the nursing of children. Adults could be specific and descriptive in describing their condition, pain, complaints, symptoms, whereas in children’s nursing the nurse's observations were of immense importance and value.”
    Thelma returned to Yallourn and took up a posting at the local Hospital. Significantly she was now nursing with Dr Andrews, the Doctor who had delivered her into the world back in 1930. For experience and to again whet that appetite for adventure, she then took an opportunity to spend all of 1954 at the Winton Hospital, some 180km north west of Longreach in Central West Queensland. Barbara Watt, also from Yallourn, went with her.
    Returning to Yallourn in early 1955, Thelma again took up her post at the Yallourn Hospital and was back with family and friends.
    The Red Cross offered Thelma the opportunity to accompany an elderly patient to England on the SS Himalaya. She arrived in London in December 1955 after 4 weeks at sea. The task of caring for her patient successfully completed, she took up residence in Paddington where a New Zealand friend from Yallourn, Marie O'Sullivan, was living. Also staying was Marie's cousin, Shirley.
    After meeting her future husband, Jeff, through a mutual friend, she was invited by Jeff to accompany him and a group of friends who would be hiring a car to do the “Grand Tour of
    Europe”. However, there were only 2 spare seats left in the car, leaving Thelma the unenviable task of having to choose between her 2 friends for the last seat. She was of course very keen to go, but only if both Marie and Shirley could go too. That was Thelma’s nature, always wanting to please everyone, so she reluctantly told Jeff that she couldn’t choose between her 2 girlfriends. Needless to say, and going against Jeff’s usual strict observance of rules, he relented and told Thelma that all 3 girls were welcome as long as they kept their luggage to a minimum! So with the car overloaded, they all set off commencing on Anzac Day 1957. Sadly, Thelma had to leave the tour in Vienna due to the arrival of a telegram alerting her that her father was terminally ill. She was quickly on a plane back to Melbourne. Her beloved father died 6 weeks later.
    Not long after this, Thelma was chosen to be the face of “Miss Penny Parade”, an honour bestowed for raising money for the Hospital’s Appeal and also for being the best looking nurse in the competition! September 1957 and Jeff was back in Melbourne. It wasn’t long before he was on the country train to Yallourn every second weekend for a couple of years to see Thelma. On 3 January 1959, Thelma and Jeff were married at St John’s in Yallourn and then set up home in Kennedy Street, South Oakleigh. Judy was born in 1960 and Michael a couple of years later.
    After 9 years of being a stay-at-home-mum to rear the two children, Thelma eventually returned to work. The family at this time were living in Greensborough, actually on the rural/urban fringe and reminiscent in a lot of respects to her early life in the country.
    Thelma spent 6 years or so nursing in the Spinal Unit at the Austin Hospital where she dealt daily with the trauma and tragedy of her patients and their families. Following this period in her life, Thelma went on to run the Austin’s Staff Clinic.
    In late 1977 Jeff was offered a one-year work posting with Siemens to Munich in West Germany which included the family. Thelma was obviously thrilled to have the opportunity to take the family overseas for a new adventure, which included touring many European and Scandinavian countries, countless weekend trips around Bavaria and a skiing adventure or two. But all good things must come to an end and it was back to Melbourne for the family, but with more lifelong friendships and great memories.

    In 1981, Thelma and Jeff moved to a new home in Balwyn which was the family home for 32 years.
    Thelma’s final job was the pinnacle of her illustrious nursing career. She was appointed the Deputy Director of Nursing at Cedar Court Private Hospital. A major task she was involved with was the Hospital’s first ever accreditation, a project that she led from start to finish and which was achieved to the exacting specifications demanded.
    In 1987, Jeff was asked to establish an office for Siemens Telecommunications in Wellington, New Zealand. Jeff and Thelma found a beautiful house overlooking the picturesque Wellington Golf Club in Heretaunga. Thelma now had no other option than to turn her hand to another sporting challenge, this time learning to swing a golf club. When not playing golf or socializing with her many great friends, Thelma became proficient at embroidery and anybody that’s visited home can bear witness to how good her talents were with this craft. They returned to Melbourne in 1991 after more than 4 years away.
    Contracting Parkinson’s Disease some 6 years ago was a shock and a setback, but one that she overcame with time. She was challenged but she dealt with it in her own inimitable style. She never dwelled on it and after a while, returned to her happy-go-lucky self. She was always an optimist and always saying she was fine, even when she wasn’t.
    In February 2012, Thelma’s health took a catastrophic turn when she suffered a stroke which limited her speech and movement. Thereafter she needed the type of care that only a residential facility could provide and she was admitted to the Noel Miller Centre in Glen Iris.
    Thelma died on Sunday, 7 April 2013 at the Noel Miller Centre with Jeff at her side. Her funeral was held at the Balwyn Anglican (St. Barnabas) Church on Friday the 12th April 2013. Over 150 people attended the service, a testament to the love felt towards her by so many and to the many lives touched by her beautiful presence.

    18/02/2019 - 18:34
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  • 32838

    (Photo attached)

    Stan was born in 1927 at Morwell to George and Elsie Brown. He was the youngest of 3 (brother Gordon and sister Nola). His father was killed at the Briquette Factory when Stan was only 6. His mother had to take in washing to support her young family, which included filthy briquette factory towels, cleaned at a charge of “tupperance” each. His family were the original occupants of 48 Narracan Avenue in Yallourn and Stan lived there till he was married. His mother remained in the house until she died in 1969.
    Stan went to Yallourn State School, then Yallourn Tech College. He rode his pushbike to school and for two years, he delivered milk/cream in the morning before school. He was also a paperboy. Stan played soccer with the Yallourn Schoolboys Team and one of those games was played at the MCG. As he grew older he went on to play Aussie Rules with the Yallourn Football Club, 167 games, all in the back pocket position. He played in the 1948 Grand Final - the last time Yallourn won the Premiership. At one stage, he had the opportunity to try out for Carlton Football Club, but wasn’t able to continue.
    At the age of 16, he joined the SEC as an apprentice Electrical Fitter and completed his Diploma of Electrical Engineering at night school, in 1954 attaining an appointment as Laboratory Assistant Grade 1B. During the following 17 years, he held a number of engineering positions within the Electrical Laboratory section and was appointed Communications Major Engineer (Engineer Class 4) in 1981, the position he retired from in 1985. During his 42 years at the SEC, he demonstrated a most efficient and conscientious approach to his work and was held in high esteem by both his peers and the personnel he supervised.
    Stan married Patricia Douglas from Morwell Bridge in 1952 and they lived at 7 Tyers Ave, Yallourn until 1960, when they moved to Morwell. They had four children - Doug, Shirley, Barry and Sharon. After Patricia’s death in 1970, he remarried Ivy and helped raise her four children - Ross, Dennis, Rhonda and Shane.
    At Stan’s funeral in March 2013, there were 300 people which was a wonderful tribute and showed the mark he left on the community.

    18/02/2019 - 18:33
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  • 32837

    Dear Miss Jones It’s been a long time. Remember we exchanged letters back in January 1961 when you wrote after I had left school? You were pleased that a good number of us had passed our matriculation and you wished me the best for the future. At the time I thought it was a kind gesture and looking back on it now I see that you and the other teachers really cared about your charges and wanted us to do well. I had just started working in Melbourne and, rather too formally, replied to you on the crisp company letterhead with a fresh letterhead for each page. It turned out to be a rather bulky package. Well Mary, oh ... you don’t mind if I call you Mary do you? I guess not - not at this stage of our lives. After all it’s been over 50 years. Can you believe that! Can you believe that after all that time some ex-students are writing to this Newsletter questioning whether the school had an ‘academic ethos’. This came as a surprise to me. I always thought the school had a good reputation among high schools in Victoria. How you see your school days is a very personal thing and it’s now topical to debate the quality of individual schools and teachers. The latest ads by the very expensive Canberra Grammar School say rather too grandly: “We’ll help your child find the answers to life”. I wasn’t expecting answers to such monumental questions from YHS but was hoping I would leave school able to face the world outside Yallourn and Morwell. YHS did that for me. You will well remember the pressures the education system was under in the 1950s with the first of the baby boomer and immigrant children coming through. George Ellis repeatedly mentioned the problem of teacher shortages in his annual message in the Pylon and there were hints that YHS may not have been particularly well funded. This doesn’t come as a surprise given that money was required to establish the high schools in Moe in 1952 and Morwell in 1956. Ellis encouraged parents to leave their children at school rather than be drawn away by well-paid but unskilled jobs. I guess he was promoting an academic ethos in the school. Staying on at school did become more interesting. We all remember the joy we got out of the G&S operas and the choirs. The sports program was revitalised as well. But essentially it was the quality of teaching that made the school. I recall your history classes. You taught us to look beyond the obvious and arrive at our own interpretation of events based on the evidence - a good lesson for life indeed. I thought you were very smart in grooming us for the exams including encouraging us for homework to practice writing essay answers to old exam questions. Luckily, one of your practice questions turned up on the history paper to do with the impact of the gold rushes. Chris Warrell also did this in geography. I remember one faux pas I committed in writing off the port of Marseille because of silting (it happens to be France’s leading port in the Mediterranean). Talk about naive! The English paper had an essay question about life in ‘suburbia’. Suburbia!! I’d never come across the word. Fortunately, it was a multiple choice section so I left that one to our more knowing city cousins. Well, Mary, time to sign off and say one last ‘thank you’ for all you did for us. Let’s meet up soon. We have lots of catching up to do. Kind regards...Richard (Dick) Bush YHS 1955

    18/02/2019 - 18:32
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  • 32836

    Murray Wigg – YHS 1951 – “My reason for writing is to balance the suggestion that the quality of the education at YHS was not all it could or should have been.
    Firstly, let us remember we are talking about the 1950-60s when all things were vastly different. I believe the school turned out a great number of good people – academically, socially and morally. YHS produced medical specialists, engineers, scientists, teachers and, in my case, several pharmacist colleagues, who all served the communities they lived in well. With Headmasters like George Ellis, students were taught good citizenship and if they didn’t learn, it was not the teachers’ fault. We also had great sporting results – some going on to higher athletics and VFL football (visit www.virtualyallourn.com – type in Search (top RH tab) the word “football” to read the stories of many such people). Academically, while in any large group of teachers there will be some weak links, there were many excellent teachers, the late Don Lugg teaching Chemistry comes to mind. Finally, my experience was that I enjoyed a productive 6 years at YHS rounding off some of the square corners and fitting the round hole, so that the 6 years stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. While I do not dispute that many may have a different view, I thought I would like to balance the discussion a little.”

    18/02/2019 - 18:32
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  • 32835

    Helen Fischer (Hender) YHS 1967
    More Memories of Yallourn...
    Most of the houses in Yallourn had a front fence consisting of wire with a wooden rail on top - this was great for us kids to walk along the fences! In winter, walking to school when it was cold and frosty, the frost would build up on the wooden rails - we used to scrape this off with gloved hands and try to make "snowballs" and throw them at each other. Did anyone else do this??? All the kids would wear gumboots to school and change in to their slippers to go in to the classroom. Long navy raincoats with a hood were also the fashion of the day - but they really kept you dry from top to toe, they were sooo practical! Remember the "bakelite" wireless in every kitchen? Every morning over breakfast (8.00am) would be the kids breakfast show. The announcer would read out the birthday names and tell them where to find their presents. After this, they would play a cartoon of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig etc. In the lounge room you would find a "radiogram", it was a record player one side and radio the other - underneath you could store your "78" records, it was crafted to be a nice piece of furniture. After dinner one would retire to the lounge room to listen to the night programs - I can remember listening to Amos and Andy. Then came "Television" - my photo of our first "telly" ....................... Retro is very fashionable at the moment - all the young 25-30 year olds are buying this type of old furniture. We were there when it was brand new!!!! Remember the chrome and laminate tables with the vinyl and chrome chairs?? Out went all the lovely wooden tables and chairs and every kitchen you went into had the new kitchen settings - ours was green! There is a retro cookbook out which I bought for nostalgic reasons as all the photos in it were things we grew up with including my mum’s Sunbeam mixmaster (which I still have today - my girlfriend’s hubby has just reconditioned it and said it should go for another 50 years!!). This book has photos of all the old style packets of cake mixes, mixed fruit etc that we used to have in our pantry. How could anyone forget Jardine's Milkbar! As you walked in on the right hand side was a wall of biscuit tins. You used to buy biscuits by the bag. The shop assistant would get down the tin of your choice and weigh the biscuits on the scales and you would take them home in a brown paper bag. You could buy broken biscuits really cheap! I was lucky enough to be able to buy my lunch once a week. I would have 2/- to spend. You could buy a 1/- worth of chips or 4 potato cakes for 1/-. Pies and pasties were 1/-. Cream cakes - I loved cream cakes - my favourite being the long donuts with fresh jam and cream were 3d, I also loved the apple turnovers filled with fresh cream. Donald Duck icy poles were 3d so if you had 6d to spend, you could also have 3d of mixed lollies as well (that was usually at the pool in summer). It is a bit sad to think we were in the era when Fanta and Cottees passionfruit drink (later to become Passiona) were launched! I always have great memories of "Guy Fawkes" night. The night used to erupt to the din of crackers. My brothers used to love the penny bungers but I hated their loud noise! I much preferred the tom thumbs. The night after cracker night you would hear about all the letterboxes that were blown up! My dad used to buy all the pretty fireworks - skyrockets, Catherine wheels and all the ones that would explode into colour. I loved the sparklers as you could run around the yard in the dark with them (and pretend you were a fairy - well I was only little!) Remember when Smoky Dawson used to come to town??? He used to put on his western show at Kernot Hall. How good were the SEC picnics - lollies, ice-creams topped off with a visit from Santa and a Christmas present.

    18/02/2019 - 18:31
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  • 32834

    Barbara Elliott (Park) YHS 1950: I would like to add to my thoughts and memories on Sonja Bates (Ostlund), a true friend to so many. We had a close association in my early days when originally I lived in Broadway West, just a block from the Ostlund home. A family who lived next door to them (the Watson’s) moved from Yallourn and gave us their little dog, Terry, a black mixed terrier. When we moved to Boola Crescent up on the hill, dear little Terry would move between our new home and Ostlund’s - three days at our place, four at theirs and fed at both respectively. As Terry got older, he made the hill less times. Sonja and Stan would amuse the children in the area with their fairground set up in their back garden. We had a coconut shie to try and win a prize and all sorts of other things. The Mussared children were always there to try and win a prize of some type, fruit, etc. Sonya and Stan had some mechanised toys from Sweden. We would sit in awe at the man doing acrobats once he was wound up. We had never seen anything like this and we would sit with our mouths . Mr. Ostlund used to cut boys hair in the laundry. If I went over after school to see Sonja, there would be three or four boys sitting on the paved area outside the back door waiting their turn. Once I was of High School age, Sonja would round us local girls up and train us into basketball players. Her patience knew no bounds as we were all so raw. Her patience paid its reward as we slowly developed into reasonable players. We played all over - Moe, Morwell, Newborough, travelling by bus to get there. We even ended up winning as the top team one year. Sonja took us all to Country Week in Melbourne, what an experience! Most of us had not travelled out of our own area and we went by train, stayed overnight and played many games against teams from all over Victoria. Sonja had even organised for us to buy blazers to wear away. She would always call to us on the court with ball directions. The other teams used to get most annoyed at this, but nothing deterred Sonja. I worked a couple of times at the library in a clerical position and of course, worked with my idol, Sonja. Her happy, cheery disposition made her most popular. I also met Sonja and George through the church young people’s group, and was thrilled to catch up with her again. When my mother (Kitty Park) passed away in Melbourne, Sonja was our first friend there with condolences. Two days later, she lost George. What a sad time for her - she was so close to him. Thank you Sonja for so many wonderful memories and a friendship never to be forgotten

    18/02/2019 - 18:31
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  • 32833

    Alec Bacon YTS 1945-1952 ...
    I have had a very fortunate life for a Tanjil South boy who rode a 28” Malvern Star bike 10 miles per day to Moe and back to catch the Yallourn bus when I was only 11…then to catch the Erica bus for two years before being picked up at the door by the Hill End bus.
    George Bates and I shared the Senior Athletics Championship at Yallourn Tech in 1950. Stan Ostlund was well known to me at the time as were Ian Collins, Fred Marr, Colin Harvey, Bruce King, Irving Stevens, Jack Wilson, Brian Sullivan, Peter Spurrier, Trevor Whitmore, Teddy Beulke and several others. I graduated in Civil Engineering with Russell Coster in 1955. We were the first ever to do so from Yallourn Tech. After my ‘natio’ training and a year at the Melbourne Tech to complete subjects unavailable to me at Yallourn, I joined the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (SMHEA) in 1954, specializing in construction materials and the investigation, design, construction and instrumentation of earth and rockfill dam embankments. This led to construction supervision on the Prek Thnot Dam, a United Nations Project in Cambodia (1969-70) and on the Ord River Dam in the Kimberley region of Western Australia (1971). Construction Management experience on the Shoalhaven Scheme led to assignments for the (newly formed) Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) on World Bank jobs overseas. So for a little boy off a farm at Tanjil South, I have been very fortunate to have been involved in such exciting projects and on some special overseas tours such as to most countries in South America. My wife, Nella and I have published “Remembering John”, a tribute to her late brother John Francis Leckey, who was a well known and highly respected Funeral Director in the Latrobe Valley for many years. We have placed a copy of “Remembering John” in the Old Brown Coal Mine Museum at Yallourn North. Julie George has told me that “if it wasn’t for Nella’s brother, John’s collection of Yallourn house plans, we wouldn’t have a website”. For the record, John Leckey’s connections with the Museum go back to 2000 when he contributed to the cost of display panels prior to the public opening in 2002, which Nella and I attended. A plaque recognizes his contributions.

    (Photo attached)

    Shortly after his death, I began assisting Nella in locating and distributing items belonging to his Estate. I found a drawing cabinet, containing copies of drawings and plans relating to Yallourn. I contacted Mr David Roberts of the Yallourn & District Historical Society and together we selected items which would be useful to them. These drawings comprised Yallourn house plans, resettlement plans, office building & modification drawings and hotel, school, fire station and shopping centre buildings. These records were entered as the property of the Museum on 10.12.2007 and registered as Item no 1547. Copies of letters from Mr Roberts, for the Society, have been included in “Remembering John” as pages 211 and 213. We will leave a copy of “I Can Remember – My Story” there also as it contains 50 pages of my recollections of ‘Growing up in Gippsland’, (including three pages entirely devoted to Yallourn Tech). It also contains photos of staff and senior students taken in 1952 and other photos of sporting teams. I will endeavour to name all the people in a footnote; it will be hard not to repeat anecdotes however. SO HERE GOES! You want to know about travelling on the bus, the trouble we got into at school, some of the goings on both in and out of class, at the tuck shop and down the street. I will try and take you on an extension to ‘My Story’. [I still have copies available for $30!] In 1945 and 1946, I rode my bike to Moe and left it in the front garden of a private house. ‘The cattle truck’ from Trafalgar generally picked us up. This was an articulated vehicle of two
    sections pulled by a ‘prime mover.’ I had never seen a similar one either before or since. So we got to know some ‘Traf’ kids, Ken Davey I remember was one, Vic Jeans was another. The Leipers got on near the cemetery..then there was Dicky Burgess and Joy McCulloch from across the highway. (Sometimes I was early and could go down to Traf and come back to Moe.) There were other Moe buses and one morning, two of these were racing to see which one could get around the intersection at Gunn’s Gully first. Actually it was before Gunn’s Gully was built. Let’s say Rutter’s corner where their garage (the one in the half-round army hut) was in the intersection between the road to Newborough and the one to Herne’s Oak. Drivers, what were you thinking! Well the inside bus turned over on top of a tree stump which came through the side causing severe injuries to Pauline Briese (John’s sister) and another girl. I have a particular memory of the Erica bus which I caught at the intersection of the Tanjil South and Walhalla roads after leaving my bike through the fence in the old gravel pit, near what was the first Tanjil South tennis court. (My mother and father had played there.) Well, this weekend Maurice Tucker had asked me to go and stay with his family at Knott’s Siding, the other side of Erica. Sometime on the Saturday, they took me to see Tyers Junction, where the east and west branch of the Tyers River then met in prime grazing country. To our astonishment, the bus (which was the long, skinny one that looked like a sausage) had careered off the driver’s side of the road into thick bush…and what had he been thinking about? Well it wasn’t our driver; some vandals stole it in the night and took it for a one-way drive! Pat (Mick) Phelan had a new bus to take us to school on Monday.
    Another Erica bus story was that in 1947 we went around by Beck’s Bridge for a pick-up. We stopped at the corner of Yallourn Road in Newborough and picked up a young English girl who was living in one of the first housing commission places built there. No, not you Peggy! I think her name was Elizabeth. There was a kangaroo on the opposite corner at the time, truly. So then for the Hill End bus….after getting up at 6.30am and doing the chores around the house, we often arrived at the Tech by 8.30am, before some of our Yallourn classmates were even out of bed! What about the driver, Bob Hitchens and our mates from Fumina South; they probably got up at 5.30am! We played ‘bat tennis’ on the quadrangle every chance we had. We marked out a doubles court and made wooden bats about 9” square with our own ‘fashioned’ handle. The ‘net’ was a wooden plank set about 18” high on ‘feet’ at each end. The trick was to make bats as thick, and therefore as heavy, as possible (but they had to be small enough to fit into our locker). We loved Bat Tennis. We had steel lockers for our lunch, books and clothes. They were kept under cover in a locker shed….no wet bags of books out in the rain. Our woodwork teacher, Mr Hansen, a wily old fox, made us ‘scoop it out of the middle’ when planing and use ‘long, light strokes’ when sawing. It works. At PE on the school training area, I can remember Brian Gregory throwing a cricket ball some enormous distance, through the window of an outbuilding, thought to be well out of range. Unfortunately it wasn’t! I was a reluctant member of the School Magazine Committee in 1950. I thought Frank Hughes was coming up the stairs so I rolled up a ‘map of the world’ and waited at the door. As he came in I struck. Sorry Mr Rowe. Our maths teacher, Buddy Dowell, was a good sport. He knew we all had our minds elsewhere at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November 1949, so he went out to his office for a few moments and came back to the blackboard where he chalked up, in complete silence:- Hiraji 1st Fresh Boy 2nd & Red Fury 3rd. Our sports master, Jack Taylor, was an even better bloke. He was a very good footballer; a fearless centre-half-back for Yallourn who could start attacks with long, clearing kicks to his forwards. One day, he came into Room 6 with a football and stab-passed it down the corridor, never more than two feet high. We watched as the ball hit the door, opened it and then went inside as the door closed behind the ball. That was a good one was it not? Yes it was! One day, our teachers played the students at cricket on oval no 4. Norm Abbott bowled to Mr Taylor who deliberately hit the ball very high, straight up in the air. Norm waited and waited in the middle of the pitch for the ball to come down before his safe hands held a great catch. Our sports master was out for a golden duck. Great jubilation!
    Then one afternoon he took us on a cross-country walk, out to the Morwell River and back. Our English teacher, Judy Sinclair came along for the walk. They made a lovely couple and seemed oblivious to us overtaking them on the way home! I understand that Mr Taylor transferred to Geelong and eventually became the Head Master of a Private School. He deserved that. Then there was Joey Hunt, our deputy sports master. He took Phys Ed I think and was responsible for what I thought was an absurd question on our mid-year exam paper - ‘where should you keep your intestines’, he asked? How the hell did I know, so I wrote, facetiously, ‘in a cardboard box’. The correct answer was ‘in their correct position’. Honestly! Then there were the bare-knuckle fights that were allowed to run their course in the courtyard with all the school watching. The teachers would only intervene when they thought a fight had gone far enough. Unbelievable I thought! I can remember Lorna Hale and Tess Whitehouse in the office; only two girls. Then there was the innocent, fresh-faced young high school girl who came on a school excursion to visit our chemistry lab, with green ink spilt all over her hand. She shyly asked me if I knew of any chemical in the lab which may help her remove it. Unfortunately I didn’t. I started to write in green ink after that and also did so in my exams. I was very fond of green ink. Don’t ever leave a plug in a chemistry room sink after the water goes off; it might come back on overnight! What a mess! Mid-year exam results were read out to the whole class, in alphabetical order. I didn’t think this was a good idea as some students did very badly in new subjects, such as Inorganic Chemistry and Electrical Engineering. I know I did. I remember Claude Jones, our science teacher, saying ‘is your writing legible George?’ Every other student and teacher in the school called me Roger. I can remember trying to complete an English exam in the room above the chemistry lab with a battery of jack-hammers digging up Railway Avenue outside our window. It was a traumatic event making it virtually impossible to think. Dealing with ‘coal dust’ was a real problem in Tech Drawing. At times you would have to blow the dust off the paper otherwise your finished work would smudge. Some teachers changed their shirt at lunch time. There can’t be all that much difference between coal dust and asbestos!

    (Photo attached)

    Us Civil boys did Geology with Mr Seymour at night school. He arranged a magnificent excursion searching for, and finding, many fine fossil specimens in the right bank of the Mitchell River at Bairnsdale, just upstream of the town. Mr Rowe, our modeling teacher, told us about his hobby of making animated cartoons (ie just like you might have made at home by flicking the pages of a book to create a scene moving before your eyes). I thought it was amazing that anyone could have such patience. Bert Rasmussen was our Civil Engineering teacher. He took a group of us to Melbourne one day in his ‘Vanguard’ to see some construction projects and then to his favourite Chinese restaurant. We learned to design earth dams and roadworks with balanced ‘cut and fill’ I remember. I thought it was great. Then there was Gordon Veitch, who taught us maths. He was a whiz at figures, and fast! You could call a calculation, say [(436 x 79 - 375/5) x 865/5], and he would give you the correct answer as soon as you finished! Unbelievable!
    Alec & Joan fishing
    Alec with B&F Cup
    Some afternoons when boarding our Hill End bus at the Tech, I found a seat waiting for me alongside a shy but friendly Moe girl (with very clean hands). Ben Cooley sold pies and pasties for a shilling each from a canteen across Latrobe Ave. They were great in winter; much better than soggy tomato sandwiches made the night before! My sister, Joan, reminds me that in 1953 on special days she used to go down the street at lunch time to buy a pie and watermelon, ‘a lick and a wash’ for 6 pence. I often ate quickly before running down over the road and the railway line to play ‘kick to kick.’ Later, after I left school, the SEC built an oval there I understand. Sometimes footy and cricket were both played in the same general area - not a good idea, but there was nowhere else big enough to play close to the school. In those days we walked down Latrobe Avenue, past the High School and the Bowling Club, past the swimming pool to the ovals. We swam in the ‘pool’ sometimes, inside the fenced-off part that is, but the diving tower was outside the fence in the ‘cumbungee’ lake. Brian Sullivan was a good swimmer who could dive off the tower and swim under water through a hole in the fence and come up in the pool after at least a minute. Mickey Bridle could stay under for longer. Our athletic carnivals were held on ovals 2 and 3. Ted Beulke, George Bates and I were keen rivals on the sporting field. I won my share of the 100 yards sprints but I found longer distances a challenge. The scissors style generally restricted us to about 5' 3" in the high jump. There was no head first, ‘flip-flop’ style in those days. I enjoyed the inter-tech state sports days at the old Glenferrie oval at Hawthorn and all the Gippsland sports days at Warragul, Traralgon and Sale, captaining the senior footy team. As captain of the Moe Stars, I won the H C Buelke Medal for the best & fairest player in the Latrobe Valley Churches football comp in 1951, but was too shy to speak at the presentation. Many of the YHS and YTS boys played in this competition. They were great days when we played on cow paddocks and in rain, hail and even snow. Our grand final win at Morwell in 1949 was a great thrill. The Moe stars beat Traralgon 9-7 to 0-1, and I kicked 4-4 that day. So I’ll leave it at that for now. When I finally master this website and get some lists of other people who were at the Tech around my time, I will have a go at catching up with some of them; if they remember me. The magazine of the Yallourn Technical School ceased during WW2. It was resurrected as “Current Call” in 1950 by an Editorial Committee comprised of:- G Ferguson, R Donchi, A Robinson, A Bacon, F Hughes, G Bates, R Stevenson, R Mullane, C MacQueen, M Chamberlain, C Harvey, J Crawford and B King. The following lists of staff and senior students are taken from photographs in “Current Call’ 1950, 1951 and 1952, its 1st, 2nd and 3rd years of publication. Staff changes and diplomas presented are taken from the text. Staff in 1951: G Waterson, V Stackpool, J O’Hara, R Castleton, G Lynch, J Hunt, J Christie, K McTier, R Dowell, F Rowe, A Ford, K Nunweek, C Read, L Peel, J Taylor, G Fountain, J Rochford, C Jones, P McDairmid, G Jenkins, G Veitch, A Marshall, Miss P White (a newlywed?), W Baker (Principal), L Iverson (Headmaster), Miss L Hale, D Smith, A Robertson, R Beel, A Morrison and H Rasmussen . Staff changes in 1952 were: Departures Mr W Baker (Principal), Mr L Iverson (Head Master), F Rowe, C Read and R Beel. Arrivals T Seymour, W Armstrong, Mrs M Land, R Broughton, F Goddard, I Scott, W Johnson, H Surman, B Clark, F Cooke and A Franzi. Diploma Students in 1952: L Culph, R Coster, R Mullane, R Kelett, I Stevens, A Donaldson, H Kohler, R Singer, G Maddern, F Hughes, P Spurrier, C Harvey, D Chambers, R Donchi, K Hudson, G Edmondson, A Bacon, J Jones, B King, J Reilly, B Scott, A Bliss, G Holding, R Christensen, S Green, P Turner, A McQueen, D Michelmore, A Smith and A Scott. Diplomas for 1951 were presented to G Bates, V Greer, C Chapman and R Harvey for Electrical Engineering and to T Davey, R Stevenson and R McLeod for Mechanical Engineering. Diplomas for 1950 were presented to N Lobley, K Marrett, K Kesper, J McKean, J Beatty and W Drylie for Electrical Engineering and to M Gray, J McKean, J Manicola, G Smith J Savige and W Drylie for Mechanical Engineering. Diplomas for 1949 were presented to L Beulke for Electrical Engineering and to L Baker, C
    Laird, L Kite, W Smith and G Brown for Mechanical Engineering.

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