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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  • 32832

    Yallourn – was it part of my imagination or did it really exist?
    by Stefan Tomasz YHS 1957

    I am always interested to read the reflections of people who either lived in Yallourn or attended Yallourn High School. I wonder if those of my era can relate to my memories?

    Today there is scant physical evidence that a thriving town of over what, 4000 people? used to nestle in the Latrobe Valley Sure, bits and pieces of the place – such as the bust of Sir John Monash - can be found around the Valley like relics left on a battlefield, but the town itself, the open cut and the mighty State Electricity Commission (job-for-life) – gone. All that remains as sentinel is the old fire tower at the top of Coach Road Hill. Who would ever have thought this would be the last tangible land mark? When I looked on Google Earth recently, apart from the scar of what was the last of the Open Cut, it was hard to imagine there was such a physical place as “Yallourn”.

    Each one of us has our own reality of Yallourn. Much of what I write is personal to my time there – between 1950 and 1964. A great deal of this time I was at school, so my Yallourn, while having a lot in common with other people, may not be so readily recognisable to some. In fact, I am really a ring-in as I actually lived in that free-wheeling suburb of Yallourn – past the rubbish tip, near the swamp and beyond the Prince’s Highway – Herne’s Oak. From where I lived, Yallourn was the houses on Coach Road Hill to the left, the smoke from the Power Station in the middle and the chimney for the Briquette Factory to the right. On a sunny day it was a picture, set against the hills in the middle background and Mount Erica further away. On other days, shrouded in the fogs of May and June and the rain and wind from the West in winter – miserable - is the image that comes to mind. Then there were the hot summer nights with the wind from the East together with the stink of Maryvale and the fine coating of coal dust over everything.

    My Yallourn is seen through the prism of school, childhood, teenage years and young adult.

    Yallourn State School Number 4085 dominated my life from 1952 until 1956. I always find it easy to remember my school years for in 1951 I was in Grade 1, 1952 in Grade 2 and so on. I find it equally easy to remember where those years were spent – Grade 2 in the Army Huts – freezing cold in winter, saunas in summer. Grade 3 in the Presbyterian Hall (we were the first of the Baby-boomers to come through the system and the crowded under-resourced facilities would follow us all the way through the education system. This was no golden era of education as it might be portrayed today.) Grade 4 in the Bristol Wings – prefabricated and brought especially from England to also freeze us in winter and boil us through acres of glass in summer. Well remembered is the pathetic little pot-belly stoves in the corner, which by midafternoon and glowing red, eventually managed to warm the place us just as we were going home. Grade 5 and 6 – we actually got to be in a regular class room – along with 56 other children.

    The school day started with an assembly. In the older primary years this was in the big quadrangle. We all stood in Grade groups, youngest at the front, oldest at the back while our gruff Headmaster, Mr Walton waffled away at us. We chanted the patriot oath, saluted the flag and marched in and out of school to such tunes as Colonel Bogey and Heart of Oak. It was all very strict and martial. In the younger primary years assembly was in the small quadrangle and a quaint old grey-haired woman – Miss Wilson – used to wave a small Australian flag while we all sang “God Save the Queen”.

    What I actually learnt at school is a mystery to me. Not much of it stands out. Actual school work was largely boring and repetitious. With classes of 50 or more the concept of individual attention from the teacher (other than being singled out for a misdeed) was unknown. There were lots of “Hands on Heads!”, “Hands in Front!”, rote learning and copying from the blackboard as teachers practised crowd control as much as teaching. The class was so organised, especially in Grades 5 and 6, so the smart kids tended to sit toward the back and the “dumb” (pardon my non-political correct language for “intellectually challenged children”) kids towards the front. Every two weeks or so, intense efforts went into calculating ones current “average” – a single score derived from all the test scores completed in the last period of time.
    Depending on one’s average, one was moved backward or forward. The plumb spot was in the back right-hand corner, because the backward and forward shifts were zig-zag with the nominally dumbest kids in the front right seats (under the nose of the teacher) and the smartest kids far away from the teacher as possible – and thereby left alone. Some of my classmates were very smart indeed going on to be scientists, engineers, lawyers, teachers and making money out of real estate. One of them, who always finished his work early, used to spend his spare, bored, minutes reading a dictionary. Needless to say, apart from having gained his PhD and being a highly successful Commonwealth public servant, he is a whiz at cryptic crosswords.

    The teachers were another matter - they are well remembered. Miss Collier in Grade 2, loved by us all, Miss Scott of the shapely figure in Grade 3 whose ample breasts I can still remember swaying in front of my nine-year old face, Mr Wilson, dapper little Scotsman who made us do dictation every morning in Grade 4 and in Grade 5 and 6, Mr Bryson – “Sir”, he of the New Guinea campaign, malaria and pipe smoke. If ever there was an individual who was seen as a God by his class, Mr Bryson was it. The greatest of all honours was to be selected by “Sir” in Grade 6 to help look after the school garden on Friday afternoon. Mr. Walton, of course – grumpy and gruff - was the headmaster. He drove green Ford Pilot and whenever you saw his car around town you pretended not to see him. To be ‘sent to the office’ to confront Mr Walton was about as bad as it could get.

    The school (apart from the front garden) was not an attractive place to my childhood memory – acres of tar, red bricks and cement and not one blade of grass. As little kids we played “cars” on the wall in the big quadrangle. In summer, cricket was played on the lower playground against the back wall of the toilet. In winter, football was end-to-end in the same place. When it was wet, “British Bulldog” in the large shelter shed. Like many primary school playgrounds, the place was a human jungle – with the biggest and toughest kids holding sway over the smaller and the less tough. It was nothing to bribe big Grade 6 kids with some chips to get one kick of the footy! Teddy Taig and Bruce Webster, where are you now? Lunch time was interesting, with three options available – you could either go home for lunch on the twelve o’clock hooter (few working mothers in those days), take your lunch to school or “go down the street”. I usually went down the street for my pie-and-sauce-on-a-plate or fish and chips from the Yallourn Café. Along with hordes of other kids I lined up while Mr Shaw would scoop up what seemed like tons of chips and delicious fish in batter and put them in bags for us to eat.

    After six years at primary school, secondary school loomed for 1957. Boys had a choice – to go to Yallourn Tech to learn a trade or go to High School. The girls had no choice. Late in our last year at primary school those of us deciding to go to High School were sent to do tests to see which Form class we would be placed in. There were three levels – 1A, 1B and 1C. The ones who did best in the tests went into the A class and the rest into B or C. In retrospect it is alarming to think we were put into neat (quite often erroneous) boxes at such a young age – boys, either a trade and destined to work at the Commission, or segregated at secondary school into the academically able and less able. For girls the choices were even more limited. The big thing about High School was you wore a school uniform. This was a real rite of passage. I can remember wearing my school uniform in summer in preparation for the “big” day when we started at High School.

    It was at Yallourn High School our world became a bigger place. No longer did I mix with kids who I had been with in the same class from Grade 1 through to Grade 6, but there were “outsiders” from Newborough, Yallourn North and even some as far away as Morwell Bridge and Morwell itself! Not only that, but there were kids from St Theresa’s who, in those days, were as foreign to we State School kids as someone from the moon.

    I spent seven years of my teenage life at Yallourn High School, and it is fair to say, that like so many people who belong to YOGA this was a defining era of my life. However, this story is for another time.
    ….Stefan Tomasz

    18/02/2019 - 18:29
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  • 32831

    Graham Peters YHS 1970 wrote about:
    “Dogs in Yallourn” (Photo attached)
    At a distance of fifty years, dogs seemed to play a big part in Yallourn life. My earliest memories include frequent dogs. Two small, friendly terriers constantly attended Mrs Ethel Hill, a kindly old lady living at 9 Latrobe Avenue, opposite the High School, as she poked apparently permanent bonfires of autumn leaves with her walking stick.
    We had a regrettably short-lived Border Collie / Kelpie cross beloved by my mother and critically injured when hit by a passing SEC truck. He was dispatched with a bullet from a policeman’s revolver and buried by a kind neighbour, under a pine tree by the Latrobe River.
    Some time later, a stray Corgi appeared at the hospital, eventually being enticed with a cold sausage and brought home by mum. Anyone who has ever owned a deceptively cute Corgi will tell you that they are really German Shepherds with Short Man Syndrome; fiercely determined to prove that they are real cattle dogs with short tempers. All visitors were treated with suspicion.
    Candy acquired a lengthy list of victims including the religious visitor who cleared the short Yallourn style front fence, after she took a nip at their heels. Her opinion of men in overalls was more problematic; obviously some tradesman had kicked her and she bore a grudge. This was no great issue when she bit an SEC painter who unwisely tried to kick her. However, she mistook dad and took a swing on his overalls before realizing her mistake. Dogs can look embarrassed!
    The Corgi was a great success, fiercely protective of her family. Initially doubtful, dad was won over when she swam out to rescue us children on our regular Lakes Entrance holiday (where you could meet everyone from the Latrobe Valley, if you stood at the footbridge long enough). The dog suddenly spotted us, standing on a shallow sandbar in Lake Reeves, ran back and forth before plunging in to ‘rescue’ us. It was only after she reached us that she remembered that she loathed water and could not swim. We had to swim to shore supporting the would-be rescuer who scrabbled desperately leaving all with deep scratches. Dad decided that any dog that would overcome her fears to “rescue” her family was okay.
    She quickly adapted to our family patterns. If caught out by a storm when adventuring, she would wait patiently on the steps of the library or the Heather Grove shop, certain in the knowledge that we would eventually call and collect her. In latter years, she became friendly with Sam, the Holt’s Samoyed from 24 Hazelwood Crescent. Sam was an inveterate womanizer, able to detect a bitch on heat in Hernes Oak, Newborough or further afield. The neighbours would be pressed into action, searching nearby towns for the amorous Sam. It remains a mystery why the ubiquitous “Moe Dog” a small, determined breed of vaguely kelpie origin, does not carry more of Sam’s distinctively white Samoyed genes – maybe the performance did not match the passion!
    In Tanjil Crescent, the McIntosh’s Labrador (Dasher) from 10 Tanjil Crescent was a villain, but chose to move in with the Williams at number 14 (apparently the dog's choice). He had an absolute passion for lemons, which he would carry for long hours for later pleasure. My father, Bob Peters, had lovingly nurtured a Meyer Lemon tree that seemed destined never to fruit. Frequently fertilized and carefully watered, dad even applied some arcane practice of slitting the trunk to promote growth. Eventually it set a single fruit, low on the tree which dad carefully monitored. Just when ready to pick, the Labrador whipped in, stole the lemon (caught in the act) and bolted. Much distress!
    Spike, the Gordon's black Labrador from 28 Tanjil, had "form" having bitten several neighbourhood kids. We all carefully avoided him. We used to feed our corgi in a heavy porcelain (Royal Doulton) children's bowl of the variety which used to be used for feeding babies (could not be tipped over easily and too heavy for baby to overturn). After passing down through three kids, the dog scored it. Spike was an inveterate scrounger and stole the heavy bowl, still filled with dog food. Dad caught up with him as he attempted a get-away. As he cleared the low front fence, the bowl hit the ground and shattered, leaving him with a quandary; the dish or the food. He made off with half the bowl still firmly gripped in his mouth. Joe Gordon claimed that it could not have been Spike but the evidence (a half bowl that he had carried
    triumphantly home) was a bit obvious.

    the Virtual Yallourn pages, Richard Clarke has mentioned Sandy, the Betts' golden (well sandy coloured) Labrador (possibly retriever) who was a frequent guest in their home. He must have had multiple visiting places. He spent much time in our kitchen under foot or stretched in front of a radiator. Mrs Betts was not impressed, suspecting that mum was feeding him. There were several "discussions". He was probably just sociable and keen to be around people and other dogs.
    Nicky, the Lynch's beagle at 32 Tanjil Crescent was a howler, serenading the full moon mournfully immediately opposite Rod LeLievre's bedroom window.
    Martin Francis had a constant companion in our bushland explorations, a Border Collie / Kelpie cross called Cindy who seemed ever present and watchful.
    Richard Clarke has also mentioned their own shepherd collie cross, Red. He was genteel in comparison. He was very much the boss’s dog, shadowing Richard’s dad at every step.
    Looking back, dogs seemed to be a continuing feature of the Reservoir Hill neighbourhood, sometimes with kids, but often just going about their own business. I suspect that the low front fences were an inducement, for all but the smallest animals, to get out and about. I can recall looking out of a classroom window, when in Form 2 at YHS, to see our corgi, the Holt's Samoyed, Sam and a couple of other dogs, returning home from an adventure, possibly downtown. Given that this was first period, I did wonder what they got up to for the rest of the day.
    Today, I worry if my dog strays as far as the tree out the front of our suburban home, to read her P-Mail. Like our kids, she expects to travel everywhere by car. She would no more dream of venturing into town, than flying. ...Graham Peters

    18/02/2019 - 18:28
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  • 32830

    CHILDHOOD REFLECTIONS – 10 Years in YALLOURN from 1932 to 1942
    by Graham Beanland YTS 1942 Our move to Yallourn in 1932, soon after I was born, followed dad’s appointment as Principal of Yallourn Tech, when the school consisted of three small timber cottages in Narracan Avenue and had only three other full time teaching staff. The family lived initially in Ridgeway West, moving in 1934 to live at 29 Latrobe Avenue on the corner of Reservoir Road. My only memory of Ridgeway West was time spent in a pale blue fish-shaped rocking horse on the back veranda. Another early recollection of life in Yallourn was the nightly routine of Mum tucking me in for the night and saying as she did “see you when the whistle blows”. We had moved to Latrobe Avenue when, at age 4½, I commenced at Yallourn Primary School, where teachers in the lower grades included Miss Shorten, Win Tinkler and Honour Gloss. Mr Edmondson, one of the most effective teachers I have experienced, taught both grades 5 and 6 in the High School building. He managed very well without any of the teaching aids now regarded as essential.
    At about age six I had my tonsils removed by Doctor Andrew at the Yallourn Hospital, a common procedure in those days. Chloroform was the anaesthetic of choice, inhaled from a pad placed over the patient’s nose and trivial conversation was used by the doctor to encourage inhalation! I remember being told that I could have as much ice cream as I could eat after the operation. What he didn’t tell me was that I wouldn’t feel like ice cream or anything else much for quite a few days - doubtful whether the pain was worth the reward offered. I also remember when recuperating at home that I could look out of my bedroom window and see the swing dad had built in our yard, hanging from the large wattle trees that I loved to climb. There was also the slanting rail on the post-and-wire fence between our back yard and Newman’s, from which I managed to slip and break my right arm when quite young. Empire Day and Guy Fawkes Day were both occasions to celebrate in our back yard with a variety of fireworks - Catherine wheels, skyrockets, crackers.
    Practical gardening sessions conducted at the SEC Nursery by head nurseryman, Mr Lawson, were a regular feature of the Grade six program. This school activity was years ahead of latterday gardening educators with their respective radio and TV programs and was highly effective as the classes created an interest in gardening. We learnt about soils, pruning, how to strike cuttings and propagate seeds...also the series of ‘Readers’, a new one each year and the ‘School Paper’ came at regular intervals.
    A severe epidemic of infantile paralysis (polio) reached Yallourn in 1937 causing the school year to be cut short and the 1938 start to be deferred until March. A further tragedy affected Yallourn on 13 January 1939, later known as ‘Black Friday’; much of Gippsland was ravaged by disastrous bush fires when temperatures reached 118°F (48°C). As a member of the Yallourn Civic Association, Dad assisted in providing practical assistance to a number of needy communities. I was only seven years old at the time and recall travelling with dad as far afield as Noojee and Walhalla delivering household essentials such as pots & pans, blankets etc to families who had lost everything in the fires.
    In 1938 the SEC found a larger house for our expanding family (John was born in 1935 and David in 1938) at 26 Hillside, a solid brick house vacated when the McMahons moved to Melbourne. The effect of WWII was starting to be felt in the community as I neared the end of primary schooling - students were raising funds for the war effort and I received a very large coloured Education Department Certificate, complete with a gold embossed Department of Education seal, dated July 1941 and headed ‘Young Workers’ Patriotic Guild’ to show that, as a student of Yallourn School 4085, I raised £1 for “War Relief objectives”. The full effect of wartime restrictions – food, petrol and clothing rationing, blackout (curtains, outside lights and car headlamps) and gas producers for cars – was felt and many mothers and children left Yallourn for safer places.
    We built a rather large air raid shelter in the back yard as many others did at the time – its floor level was about three to four feet below ground level and excavated soil was thrown over the shelter for added protection. It was about 12 feet long by 4 feet wide, had seats and was fitted with a hand operated drainage pump. In 1942 I left Yallourn briefly to live with my Grandfather
    in Ballarat commencing in Form 1 at the Technical School but moved back to Yallourn to complete the year at Yallourn Tech. Staff at the time included Messrs Cain, Ford, Hansen, Hewitt, Jones, Lawson, Lundy, Robertson and Tyrell. An Army Camp on the Yallourn sports grounds with anti-aircraft guns and searchlights was further evidence that we were at war. The Terrill and Johnson families both lived in Hillside, quite close to us and I spent lots of happy hours playing with Neil Terrill and Brian Johnson exploring the bush above our homes and in the railway cutting nearby, which was a good source of tadpoles for the fishpond at 26 Hillside. Home remedies in common use in these years were a hot salt gargle for sore throats, inhalation of steam from Friar’s Balsam mixed in boiling water (with a towel over ones head) for head colds and acriflavine for the inevitable grazes, cuts and scratches. If we were considered to be below par a tonic was prescribed and Saunders malt extract, taken in large quantities from a desert spoon, was the more palatable alternative to a honey and sulphur mixture. Hot poultices were used to extract infected splinters and other foreign bodies.
    Annual Sunday School Picnics were a very big event for the Yallourn Methodist Sunday School, travelling as we did by furniture van, to picnic spots on the Latrobe and other Gippsland Rivers at Narracan, Yinnar South, and Mirboo North etc for races, sandwiches, raspberry vinegar and lots of fun! The furniture vans had a row of seating down each side and windows as a concession to the role of carrying passengers, most of whom had an uncomfortable and unsafe ride standing between the seats.
    Church activities included a boy’s club and youth choir, however, my time playing soccer with the Methodist Church’s junior team came to a sudden end when I stayed out, or was kept out, very late one night by an over-enthusiastic new coach discussing experiences from his career playing soccer in England. His long and detailed discussion of soccer strategy and game plans was mostly wasted on us juniors and certainly not appreciated by our parents. It was well after dark when distraught parents finally found us and I arrived home to Mum’s tears and a not-tobe-forgotten talking to.
    I was quite often sent to the shops in the centre of the town to buy a loaf of bread - quarter or a half loaf for six pence or a shilling respectively. Located in the town centre shops was a newsagent, hairdresser, post office, general store, chemist (Miss Rose), dentist, doctor, a branch of the State Savings bank, an old fashioned grocery store and an ultra modern Civic Theatre where we often spent Saturday afternoons watching a variety of thrillers, Movietone newsreels, trailers, shorts, cartoons (of the Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Felix variety) and cowboyand-Indians type films, all for sixpence. Attending my first full-length feature film at night, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (or was it Fantasia?) was a rather special event. ….Graham Beanland

    18/02/2019 - 18:27
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  • 32829

    Linda Apakian (Hamilton) YHS 1961 wrote:
    Wagging it in the ‘60’s

    This story involves myself and Wendy Parker (now Surman) while at Yallourn High School from 1961–1964.

    Every Wednesday afternoon was ‘Sports Day’ which, of course, all students had to attend, and Wendy and I did – occasionally – well, very occasionally!

    I actually liked sport but didn’t like the second-hand sports tunic I had to wear, I desperately wanted a brand new one with those great pleats, instead of the old, faded, circular style skirt that I had. God knows who had jumped, bounced around and sweated in it before it got to me, maybe even multiple bodies had been in it!...and Wendy – well she just didn’t want to play at all - we were well matched. As soon as the bulk of them had pushed off to the ovals (in their lovely uniforms) we did a bit of a high jump ourselves over the fence and headed off on our very own hike – over the Old Coach Road to Newborough North. Sometimes we’d go and visit an aunt of Wendy’s who lived right on the edge of the Open Cut. I loved it there, lovely tall pine trees at the back of the house where Wendy and I would lie and ponder our future or as far as the weekend anyway. Amazingly, I thought, her aunt never questioned us or, more importantly, told Wendy’s mum. Eventually we would start off on our trek home. Sometimes we would opt for the short cut and hang around until the ‘tech’ boys were out of school and get on the bus with them – very exciting stuff for us, but I don’t think they were impressed at all….or we would take the scenic route over the Old Coach Road and would always stop and climb the lookout, look out and climb back down. We had to be careful of cars in case someone might recognize us or just dob us in for being students AWOL; so every time we heard a car coming, we both did a rugby-style dive into the bushes.

    Both my parents worked and came home long after I did, but Wendy’s mum was at home so she would have to wait at our place until it was ‘safe’ to go home. Ah, yes it was all meticulously planned. But one day it all came horribly unstuck.

    On one particular Wednesday which is burned into my memory, and Wendy’s too I discovered when we met for a reunion, we leapt over the fence, took the scenic route at a leisurely pace, arrived home relaxed and untroubled, nothing unusual here.

    However, the following Tuesday there was a letter in both our mail boxes from THE SCHOOL. Oh my God! I ran around to Wendy’s place and luckily her mum hadn’t opened it so Wendy had steamed it open (as you do) to find it was from the Headmaster Mr Coulson, who we all, of course, feared and loathed (poor man). In that letter, it pointed out to our parents how on suchand-such a day, we had been absent from sport and on that day, there had been a pair of newly bought shoes stolen from a fellow student.

    Well, of course, we knew nothing about the shoes, purely because we weren’t even there! But the general gist of the letter was that we might be the culprits. I had steamed my letter open too (as you do) before mum and dad got home. There was nothing either of us could do but sit and wait for the torture to begin. We were both interrogated and suitably, but unfairly we both thought, punished, and promised to go to Sports Day every day for the term of our natural school days. We both left at the end of that year so Wendy was happy and I didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of being second-hand rose for much longer .

    I don’t think we missed out on the ‘sporty’ part of the curriculum at all – I mean we jumped the fence, climbed the lookout, hiked a good few miles up a steep hill, down the other side, plus quite a few difficult dives into the flora on a fairly regular basis. I bet we were fitter than the lot who shuffled down to the oval (in their lovely uniforms), stood around staring into space hoping a soft ball would fall into their hands. I also think the planning and discipline required to set ourselves that dodgy goal, oops I mean ‘challenge’ each week prepared us better for the jungle out there.

    Another positive is that now as a TAFE teacher, I can also pick when one of the ‘kiddies’ is lying through their horrible little teeth a mile away

    18/02/2019 - 18:26
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  • 32828

    Lesla Saraghi (Fankhauser) YHS 1952 wrote after attending the last reunion: I am very glad I went. It was so interesting meeting fellow students from over 50 years ago, the years roll off when you are amongst your peer group. Everyone seems to have aged well and their memories are still intact. People recognised me and that was the biggest pleasure.

    My mother, Marj Fankhauser is 94 this year and she loved the afternoon - everyone made a fuss of her which my sister, Val and I loved. It was quite palpable the bond there is between Yallournites, I felt the bonding as soon as I walked in.

    (Photo attached)

    Val, Lesla & Marjorie Fankhauser

    18/02/2019 - 18:26
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  • 32827

    Helen Fischer (Hender) YHS 1967 wrote an article: Jottings of Yallourn

    Wasn’t everyone who lived in Yallourn part of Scouts, Guides, Cubs or Brownies? We used to wear our uniforms to school, as Brownies was straight after at 4.00pm. Our Brown Owl was Joy Long (who lived up the road from us) and Mrs MacRae was Tawny. I will never forget some of the jamborees we went to - must have been a Saturday afternoon. Walked there with next door neighbour Cub, Chris Beaver. The Scouts built a flying fox which was fun. Everyone played catch with an old paint tin lid as a frisbee (before frisbees were invented). I got hit on the forehead (big lump) then simultaneously bitten on each foot by large bullants – OUCH!! Then about 6 of us went down to explore the old air raid shelters. I lost my shoe under some wood and we could not find it so they all left me there in the semi dark while they went to get a torch. We ate sausages in bread and a huge bonfire was lit where we all sat around and sang songs and naturally Yallourn being a safe place, we all walked home in the dark by ourselves.

    Mrs Turner lived over the back fence from the Tilson’s. Her father used to live with her and always had a pocket full of jubes which he used to share with us so naturally he was called the “jujube man”. Mrs Turner gave us flavoured ice blocks in the small, square wafer cones.

    My brothers, especially Ross, were right into building billy carts using ball bearings as wheels. I thought it was weird when I saw other kids carts with normal wheels as I used to love the noise of the steel ball bearing wheels used to make on the concrete paths - you could hear them coming a mile away. I used to accompany him to collect beer bottles from the neighbours for pocket money (funny I never used to see any of it).

    Taddying at the old brick works was a good pastime, but disappointing when the taddies turned into frogs and jumped away.

    Mrs Fitzgerald used to perm mum’s hair – had some perming solution left over and they talked me into using it – me thinking I would have Shirley Temple curls – WRONG. I went to school the next day and Jenny Watkinson just pointed at my head and laughed so much – I thought I was beautiful (that’s what my mum told me). Needless to say, I had this vile perm for my sister Lorraine’s 21st birthday party which was held at the Yallourn RSL hall.

    I used to ride my 2-wheeler bike all over town after school. Used to ride up near the Kindergarten where we used to have a lovely teacher, Mrs McLaren. One night, my chain came off and a lovely gentleman walking home from work fixed it for me. When I got home, I told mum and she was horrified that I was riding my bike so far from home.

    Every Saturday afternoon we would go to the matinee (mostly winter). The Sandilands family moved in to the corner of Southway and the Angles (opposite Bradbury’s), their father used to run the theatre at that time. I was friends with Anne and Gaye who showed me all around the theatre, projectionist room etc. They were a great family. Anne & Gaye both built cubbies in their backyard, both had little fire grates in them where they actually lit fires. They had an old pot and we used to cut up potatoes and cook chips over these little fires - chips never tasted so good!

    The Byrnes used to live in the Angles before they moved to Jeeralang Crescent. I remember one Sunday after Sunday School, Robyn brought her new kittens next door to Richard Tilson’s to show us. I held one and it pooed all over my good red velvet dress. I was not popular with my mother when I went home.

    My brother Ross used to do tap dancing with Mrs Huddy. Trixie Spicer used to play the piano. I have a photo of a concert at the St John’s Church hall with the boys dancing as soldiers. Ross tap-danced at my Aunty’s 21st birthday in Werribee and also danced on the Happy Hammond
    Show Channel 9. It was very exciting as I got to meet Happy Hammond, Ron Blasket and Gerry Gee at the end of the show. Sadly no photos or mementos left of this.

    I used to love listening to my mother with stories about all the mischief my older brothers and sister used to get up to when they were kids. (They were 8, 10 and 12 years older than me). There is a park near Strzelecki Rd that had a concrete thing on one of the banks. Mum said the boys used to slide down it and wear the backside out of their shorts I found this hard to believe as how could you wear out your pants. Well when we moved to Moe in November 1965 I was able to finish out Grade 5 at Yallourn. I used to go to Kerry Setches’ place with her after school and my brother would pick me up when he finished work. We just happened to be at that park one night and I told her the story. I said I didn’t believe it and slid down it – needless to say the back of my nylon undies just disappeared. I had a bare bum. We just looked at each other and laughed, then I panicked having to go home with the bum out of my undies.

    The Goss family in Southway were one of the first families to get a TV. We used to go over and watch some shows, I think it was the Jackie Gleeson show which adults loved but made our eyes glaze over and we ended up going off and playing. I remember when we got our first TV, still have a photo of it in the lounge at 36 Railway Avenue.

    We used to play in the park all the time in Railway Avenue, plus the one over the road where the big trees were (later to become the Ambulance Station). We used to play over the road in the huge pine/cypress trees trying to make cubbies but getting stabbed by the pointy branches. We used to sit under the bridge when a steam train came along, it blew grey smoke all around us like a thick fog. Don’t know whether this was poisonous or not but we enjoyed it.

    18/02/2019 - 18:25
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  • 32826

    Graham Peters YHS 1970 wrote:

    The Gully (between two hills)

    Childhood in 1960’s Yallourn was a privilege. We lived on the fringe of the town, hard under the reservoir in Hazelwood Crescent, but with open fields and bush on our doorstep. My earliest friend, Rodney LeLievre, lived in the next street; a beautiful and kind little girl, Kim Boyd, across the road; indulgent parents and older sisters at home. There was not a lot of money around, but abundant love in a safe and caring community.

    It was an era without television (well not in our house; Rodney’s family had a TV on which we would watch Bugs Bunny and the Flintstones each afternoon, stretched on our tummies on the carpet before the grey flickering screen). Between TV shows, we would explore the neighbourhood or play in a backyard dirt pit.

    I was four years younger than my sister, Bronwyn and almost eight younger than Michelle. Being a little boy with two big sisters had very definite advantages. By the time that I arrived, my sisters were sufficiently grown to indulge me without competing. They would even sometimes take me to a Saturday Matinee at the Yallourn Picture Theatre. Cartoons and ancient Batman adventures (I guess from the 1940’s) were the introduction to the weekly “Flick”; often a Western, or high seas adventure. Errol Flynn, cutlass in hand or between teeth, seemed to feature more often than children would expect.

    Michelle had a fondness (and still does) for dodgy cinema, ideally rollicking adventures, which would feed her imagination. She had been deeply irritated on receiving a cowgirl outfit (with skirt) one Christmas when she had specifically demanded cowboy pants (“chaps”) with leather fringing. Apparently, one could not draw a cap-gun revolver satisfactorily from a skirt – only a double holster over leather chaps would satisfy.

    Toy guns featured heavily in childhood games, ideally with caps which if not required for the game at hand could be let off satisfyingly by grinding a finger nail across the cap, burning the flesh nearby if not executed precisely. A packet of six rolls of caps could be bought from Oliver’s Sport Store for threepence, carefully saved in pennies. I recall outrage on realising inflation had lifted this to sixpence (five cents) by the time decimal currency arrived in 1966. Extra “bang” could be gained by doubling, or tripling the cap under the toy revolver’s hammer. I was especially pleased when Santa Claus, visiting the 99 Field Construction Squadron Christmas Party in 1963, provided a toy gun with real revolving magazine – everything that a five year old boy could want and much envied by my almost thirteen year old tomboy sister.

    My older sisters would happily take me along with the neighbourhood gang (the word had a very different meaning then) on adventures, deep into the bush between the two hills (which seemed strangely smaller when I looked at it as an adult). Games of Cowboys and Indians, some long forgotten Space Ranger (was it Buck Rogers?) or exploring the mysterious swamp were frequent pursuits.

    There were hidden tracks across the treacherous mire, backwashed from the water treatment plant’s sand filters. The kids from each hill had their own pathways across corduroyed mats of tea-tree, zigzagging invisibly beneath the thick brown mud. A foot misplaced risked sinking into the glutinous slime. Michelle, ever adventurous, would stretch her gumbooted foot deep into the quicksand, letting the mud engulf it, only to withdraw it with a satisfying “glop!”. Occasionally she would misjudge, the slime overtopping the boot and almost swallowing child (and boot). There would then be furtive washing, undertaken at the outside tap in the Wilson’s front yard at 26 Hazelwood, lest parents discover her misdemeanours. If queries were raised over wetted socks, we would feign ignorance.

    It was only in the late sixties, long after Michelle’s adventures, when a survey team, investigating the swamp, preparatory to raising the height of the small dam above Westbrook Road, alerted Dad (then Chief Surveyor – Yallourn) to the remarkable depth of the mud (about fourteen feet of accumulated reservoir silt washings). The unfortunate survey assistant, charged with measuring the depth with a lengthy rod, did not know the intricate paths through the swamp
    (we did ask Dad why he had not asked us kids to show him). As a result, the hapless chap fell in so many times that the only trousers that were unmuddied were his pyjama pants. We revelled in the thought of a grown man coming to work in his pyjamas; I’m not sure that he was as happy or really did have to wear his PJs to work..

    For a moment, it appeared that we would be banned from further swamp adventures. The extraordinary insouciance of children, “Didn’t you know about that?” carried the day. We, the younger children of families whose older kids had survived the perils of the swamp without major injury, could argue that it had clearly been perfectly safe for our older brothers and sisters and hence must be fine for us. Parents seemed to give in to this irrefutable argument, but we were careful thereafter.

    The increase in the height of the dam wall was the cause of further worry for our parents. The excavations involved heavy machinery, incredibly appealing for small boys who climbed under, over and around each machine left parked on the slope below Tanjil Place. Kevin Newey figured out how to operate the starter on a bulldozer, resulting in terrified kids bolting in a dozen directions. I guess that an adult noticed, eventually…

    We had happily carved out a “torture track” on the steep slope below Tanjil Crescent, We excavated bumps, banked curves and hollows through which we would launch our billy-carts before baling out as the empty cart rocketed over the side of the dam excavation. The expenditure of energy, to recover the crashed cart, was more than offset by the adrenaline rush of avoided danger.

    On most occasions, we would successfully exit the cart, but each of us had at least one terrifying ride, bouncing down the steep sided clay excavation before landing near the swamp. It was a frightening, but oddly satisfying, initiation. Someone had the bright idea to wear a crash helmet, salvaged from the local rubbish tip, although this provided scant protection for limbs or body. I wonder now, how we survived as shorts and school shoes cannot have protected us. Scraped elbows and knees were passed off as normal to barely suspecting parents.

    During one adventure, I baled out successfully but placed my hand on a broken beer bottle, slitting a deep flap of skin from my palm.. The wound bled profusely and we retreated to Bill Hopper’s home, hoping that his mother would be able to patch me up. I was unimpressed, washing my hand under the Hopper’s outside tap, to find that Bill’s mum could not bear the sight of blood. Forty years, later, I still have an impressive scar on my right hand.

    We had been happily pursuing this daredevil activity for some years, building ever more exciting bumps, excavating deeper holes and making ever more adventurous leaps down the clay embankment, when Rodney’s father, Norm LeLievre, happened upon us. A thoughtful discussion alerted my parents to our activities. Whilst they had the wisdom not to ban it, we knew our luck might be running out.

    18/02/2019 - 18:23
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  • 32825

    Alex McAlister YHS 1935, sent in this poem:

    Eye have a spelling chequer
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marques four my revue
    Miss steaks I kin knot sea

    I strike a quay and type a word
    And weight four it to say
    Whether I am write oar wrong
    It shows me strait a weigh

    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    Its rare lea ever wrong

    Eye have run this poem threw it
    I am shore your pleased two no
    Its letter perfect awl the weigh
    My chequer tolled me sew

    18/02/2019 - 18:21
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  • 32824

    Irene Coates (Prosinskas) YHS 1952 wrote: "John Lewis wrote about the cooking room being out of bounds for the boys" -- it was a great place, Monday mornings was cooking lunch and Monday afternoons was for baking; Miss Cronin was a very serious teacher and stood no nonsense; we had to wear our white aprons or there would be trouble. She used to get so impatient if you asked a cooking instruction "again", I think she sent me to make the teachers morning tea just to get me out of her hair! It was great having the lunch we cooked, sitting down with jugs of water on the table. The baking afternoons were great too, I remember making pasties, they were so tasty that I had 2 on the way home on that rumble train of a bus to Morwell."

    18/02/2019 - 18:19
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  • 32823

    Charles Adams - YTS 1944 wrote: To the team that put the newsletter together, my most sincere thanks and congratulations on a very stimulating edition. Your work is much appreciated (I get out a newsletter myself for the RRVV, so I’m qualified to comment). It gets better and better but there is a dearth of content from the productive end of town, the fellas that got the real work done, those from the Tech. This is from one of them.
    The exact date is not something that I can give you but it was the first school day of 1944, the day the bush fire got everyone excited and had the cut smoldering for a few days. Having been thru the ’39 fire at Vesper via Noojee I wondered what all the fuss was about.
    Due to my family moving from Trafalgar back to Vesper, I had to be boarded to go to Tech, and had the extremely good fortune to spend a year with Dr Andrew’s family, with Judith Margaret and David. Having boarded once before for the winter of ’36 when I was just 5 because I could not, or would not, walk the 7km home by dark, it was no trauma for me. Perhaps it was for the Andrews since I was moved to board at Trafalgar for the next two years. Then followed a year with the Harvey family of Ralph, Col and Jan at Coach Rd, Next were several years with the Myer family in Strzelecki Rd. Maybe all the writing home makes me more prone to writing now. Mind you, Archie Robertson, with the gash in his head from the bullet of a German airman while engaged in a dog fight over France in WW1, contributed to my eventual mastery of the basics of written communication. It still took two attempts at Matric English but I succeeded in passing as the final subject of my diploma.
    Other masters were Principal Beanland who was before my time, but have since had contact with his son on RRVV business. Wiseman, the head; Tyrell the Chem teacher; Ford for metalwork and metallurgy - hey those fellas covered a lot of ground. The wood work teacher whose name eludes me was memorialized for “light long strokes”. There was also the sole female teacher Miss Sinclair, but I don’t recall her subject, but who created quite a stir by her very presence in an ‘all boys’ school. There was also a very capable young master who drove down from Melbourne in his smart new Singer Tourer each week, when new cars were very rare and a real mark of success.
    During school vacations, working on the potato farm at Vesper, the Yallourn power station was just a smudge of smoke on the distance 60km away.
    At the end of 7 years at Yallourn Tech, plus an extra year to get Matric, I finally got Elec and Mech Diplomas and knowing no better, went to the SEC as a cadet engineer. A couple of years around the metropolitan area then 6 months in the North East left me with a need for a broader view of life in electrical design. I tried Nilsen Cromie in Cromwell St Collingwood mostly drafting for a year, before moving to GMH for 12 years of Diesel engine application engineering.
    The highlight of those years was October to December 1962 in the US. I was met at Idlewild (now Kennedy) airport by a chauffeur in a Cadillac to take me to the Park Sheraton in 6th Av. One day I walked from the Pro Castro group at one end of the UN building thru the police keeping them apart to the Anti Castro group at the other end of the building during the height of the missile crisis. I saw a good deal of NYC, Detroit, Chicago and had a couple of weeks at Speedway Indianapolis IN with a Belgian, a Frenchman, a San Salvadorian and an Iranian all doing the same course at Allison Division on planetary transmissions. Back in NYC, I walked up Broadway on a bright sunny December day with the temperature reading 22degrees F, kind of chilly. On the way home I had one wonderful day walking and cable caring around SFO before following the longest line of red tail lights on the freeway in the bus to the airport, and that long ride home in the 707 via Honolulu, Fiji and Sydney to be met by my family in a Holden with a GMH chauffeur.
    I guess when I got home I was considered an “expert”. Later one of the men that I met at the annual division Christmas “do” asked if I would be interested in a job at a new startup company, the Kenworth Truck Company, who were planning to set up a factory to build the truck in Australia. I took up his offer and spent 26 years, mostly in the office of the new factory, built in Bayswater, there progressing from the only engineer to Chief Engineer. This included two years sabbatical in Bellevue (Seattle suburb) right next to Redmond of Microsoft note and just up the “pike” from Boeing. My wife and I took the opportunity to thoroughly explore the Pacific North West, Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands in particular Lopez Is, the Columbia River, the Cascades with magnificent Mt Rainier, though we never got anywhere near its 14410 ft, 48 square km glazier covered summit, as well as adjacent British Columbia and down the Oregon
    Coast. I frequently see our product on our roads.
    Retired in 1994, as best I can remember, and now live in a comfortable retirement village in Burwood East, still keeping in email contact from fellow Yallourn Tech alumni, Jack Crawford, Bob Stevenson and Ralph Harvey.
    Yallourn Tech is of course part progenitor of Monash Uni and this week I attended a very impressive Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony at BMW Edge at Federations Square, not, I hasten to explain, as distinguished. “Knowledge is Power” and “We continue to learn”.
    Clearly the most momentous event of my life of work, after Yallourn Tech, was the development and universal adoption of the PC. One of my main avocations now is membership of Melbourne PC User Group whose several monthly meetings provide great stimulation and many friendships….and with the PC, I am able to make this legible and then refine it to make it coherent, to a degree. Also it allows me to do the same in retirement village residents’ battles to get a fair deal from the owners of the properties given we are trapped by an iniquitous and anti competitive “Deferred Management Fee”. Thanks again to Archie Robertson.
    Please pass on my kind regards to Sonja Bates, George was another class mate. Thanks again and keep up the good work .... Charles

    18/02/2019 - 18:18
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