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. .

  • 32705

    Olga Dunn (Tabaczynski) YHS 1958 - wrote “found some photos of my dad (Mikolay) & his mates who came out from Germany in 1949 together to work in The SEC Yallourn, a year ahead of their families to setup work & accommodation. Mum & I came out in 1950, must have been difficult for a wife to be left to wait for a year & then come out with children on a boat to an unknown country - a real movie maker!

    All the Tabaczynski family worked at the SEC at one time or other. My brother, Peter Tabaczynski(Taba) still works there and lives in Yallourn North with his partner, Judy Renwick. My husband, Barry Dunn, went to Yallourn Tech as well in the early 60's.

    Photo attached

    14/01/2019 - 18:20
  • 32704

    Irene Coates (Prosinskas) YHS 1952 wrote: I was going through the YOGA Newsletters looking to see if any of the Yallourn Tech Boys wrote in or are even connected to YOGA, they were such a great part of our lives once a week going passed the High School to swimming, all the girls had a sore neck peering out the windows to check on the talent, and searching for boyfriends.

    I have just come back from Morwell, only a short trip this time. I thought you might like to know that Vivien Wakefield (Gardner) YHS 1953 has just had a serious op and it was successful; she had 4 strokes and had an op almost immediately on being admitted in Brisbane, and everyone is very pleased with her recovery and she hasn't stopped talking so everyone says, so I told her ay she keep on talking! Amazing girl.

    I missed out on seeing Irene Hunnam (Park) YHS 1952 because she was away up North at the same time, but we keep in touch via email and phone

    14/01/2019 - 18:19
  • 32703

    Iodine Tablets?? Judy Vise (Leech) YHS 1952 - wrote: I thoroughly enjoyed the book it brought back lots of memories. Coincidentally, my neighbour - Daryl George - saw it and attended Yallourn Tech at the same time. His father was a policeman in Yallourn. We were discussing the iodine tablets we used to take at school during the 50's. The Form captain administered them each Friday. Would like to know more information about the reasons and directives of this if anyone knows

    14/01/2019 - 18:19
  • 32702

    Greg Wernert YHS 1956
    Memories are Made of This Fifty years ago, a bunch of ragged (metaphorically speaking) kids late of Grade 6, East Newborough Primary School went on a character building journey to the glittering palace of secondary education, Yallourn High School. From memory, they were Effie Bridges (Carr), Ann Clark, Marilyn Kennedy, Gwenda Leverton, Linda Rendell (Reed), Judith Spackman, Margot Guzzardi (Teasdale), George Dibsdale, Bruce Garrett, Colin Nash, Derek Pym, Jeffrey Stearman, Rodney Thompson.

    When I remember the people behind those names, many of whom were hatched in the shattered warlands of Britain and Europe, and resettled in the prefabricated little boxes of East/North Newborough, I am reminded of the fact that within that group, only three, including myself, had been born in Australia. Such was the cultural mix that I had already spent half of my young life embedded in. Long may I reflect, but more to the point, our new life experience was about to begin on that bright, sunny February day; the inevitable initiation by the solid “big kids” Yallournites. Other newcomers from “old” Newborough, Yallourn North, Hernes Oak and Morwell Bridge - similar bearers of wariness and fears - were not exempted. Thus we endured ducking under the taps or far worse, the immersion of your head (with body attached) into the toilet bowl, or a partial de-bagging. One timorous pre-pubescent lad stood back from these public bastardisations, the same lad of whom I’m proud to say I am still a friend; fifty years of laughing, crying as well as serious ponderings, but, never competing.

    YHS was forever a small school - seldom more than 600 students. One of the warm and fuzzy reminders I have of those years is of a bonding, a feeling of selflessness and interest experienced from the likes of stand-out staff members such as Messrs Pyers, Parsons, Tremain, Collins, Dyall, Gearing, Bodsworth, Robinson, Dooley and Jones, for example, headed by the “boss”, the legendary G.S. Ellis.

    Memories of a pervasive psychic atmosphere that it was all temporary anyway, that humankind’s relentless dictates that we need to destroy what’s good for the general economic dictate of what’s supposed to be good held true then, fifty years ago, as it does today.

    The hot, late October of 1959; clammy palms writing, sweaty brains headaching. White heat felt by anxious 1956ers. Exams, the results of which will determine the old Intermediate Certificate. The victors will move on from year 10 (Form 4) to year 11. Classes will be smaller in’ 60 - hooray! Because of the heat, the exams are brought forward to early in the day. From midafternoon we are free to stream down Latrobe Ave to the swimming pool - the summer meeting place where all-important decisions about social events are decided - for a cooling off. Bravely, some of the staff similarly escape their stifling, stuffy staff room to ostensibly mark grimy, sticky exam papers. What’s more appropriate is a friendly water fight in the pool, staff vs students; a kind of metaphorical love in.

    Yallourn was built on its own grave; the pretty little town tumbling down the side of a hill to the solid red brick town square portrayed an ironic sense of permanence. Built on its own grave because beneath the neat brick/timber houses, the green playing fields, the stout public buildings, the illusion of solidity was the motivation for the town’s destruction. For beneath that urbanity was the 25-50 million year old fossil remains, the dark chocolate brown detritus of fossilised primordia that was to have its grimy locked up energy released to fuel the post-war economic miracle of unbridled growth, and as part of the Faustian contract, the festering of environmental pollution. I remember those days when the infamous easterly blew the gaseous sulphurous stench from the Maryvale paper mills, mixed with the coal dust from the local chimneys. You walked with your head down with a subservient dignity to maintain eyes free from dust infestation.

    The late fifties: an era of great vigour, a pulsating kaleidoscope of ephemera and potent influences. Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, the hernia inducing “Twist” courtesy of Chubby Checker, infantile television (has it changed?), Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Mad Magazine, Johnny O’Keefe, Mary McCarthy’s The Group, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Grace Metalius’ Peyton Place, the Yallourn theatre, the Yallourn library, the swimming pool, Kernot Hall, Colindale café (one of its many metamorphoses - I had my first cappuccino
    here in 1957). Above all else, was the dominant force guiding my growing up, Yallourn High School. My strongest memory of what was good.

    We formed a “group”— Bruce, Diane, Janina, Lynn, “Midge”, Richard, Sheila - a coming together of adolescents with similar unspoken desires. As teenagers, we were unaware of the intuitive forces at play. Former “members” will recollect, I’m sure. Some of that group still talk 50 years on. Kind, talented, passionate people, concerned with what is good. Personally, I am immensely grateful to the “group”. During a teenage period of identity crisis, this bunch provided a non–judgmental centre of focus for my reason for being, a sense of loyalty and belonging that stays with me.

    My first experience of love, separate from that for my family that is, was felt in those streets paved with irony. The quiet, windless spring night, the boy and girl holding hands, strolling up the hill to the vicinity of Hazelwood Crescent, the orange sodium lights of the town twinkling away below, like sequins in black velvet. Yes, a class member who arrived ex-Melbourne in 1958. But now its 1960, the focus on two supposedly - well one anyway - responsible 17 year olds. The embrace, our thumping hearts pounding away, competing with the ever gently pervasive throbbing of the non-sentient power stations huddled around the river below; the reason for our existence - so D.H. Lawrence. Then it was all over. We rejoined the “Group” and not long after, I joined the work force, the patriarchal SECV, fighting my own demons in the bowels of ABCD & E power stations. Though she has gone her own way, the woman still talks, 50 years on.

    From 1961 (Mad magazine palindromically labelled 1961 as the “upside down year”), I was no longer part of YHS, though my heart felt differently. By 1963 most of the Group had relocated to Melbourne and its centres of further education to be popped out later as teachers, nurses and academics. I felt the cuckoo of necessity pushing me from the nest of conformity so that I could move away from a feeling of nothingness to at least a sense of mediocrity. My deliverance had begun. The town began to exude a feeling of distance, of loneliness, a loss of direction: a vapidity. The centre of gravity was beginning to oscillate between Moe and Morwell. The Spring Street suits were openly numbering the years remaining. The unimaginable of phenomena, empty houses, began to be noticed. The earth was trembling. The gravediggers were polishing their huge shovels. Where was the national trust? A wanton, careless bleak destruction had begun as an antonym to the careful planning and construction of the 1920s. There appeared to be little public lament. The town is gone. What remains consists of a pervasive ghost, that when you put out your hand, you can almost touch the memory and palpably feel the slippery softness in some ethereal way. Reason subsumed by un-reason. Memories are always stronger when the physical evidence for the stimulus is absent. It becomes a purely platonic exercise, a yearning to use imagination to expand our memories. Therein lies the reason for the strength of YOGA: to give substance to a collection of memories that inevitably distorts the truth in order to enlarge one’s personal comfort zone. My lasting, almost cloying recollection of those years is of an era where people seemed to matter more than economic reason. A benign “big brother” - the SECV - was watching over you. All was well within its confines. Or was that an illusion as well?

    14/01/2019 - 18:18
  • 32701


    Doug Farley YHS 1953 - wrote - “When I started school at Yallourn High in 1953, I had no idea that my great, great grandfather, William Robert Farley, originally owned all of our school site. In fact, he was the squatter on the old Merton Rush Run which was approx 24,000 acres and its borders were the LaTrobe River, the Narracan River, the Morwell River and the Wilderness Creek towards Yinnar and therefore took in all of Yallourn. So when I started at Yallourn it was exactly 101 years since he acquired the run.

    William Robert Farley was a convict and his crime was sheep stealing. He was tried at Dorchester Dorset, England on 12th March 1830. He sailed to Australia on the convict ship "Burrell” from the Port of Plymouth, leaving 27th July 1830 and arriving in Sydney on the 19th December 1830. The Burrell was the last convict ship to arrive in 1830. Soon after arrival, he was ‘disposed of’ to Public Works on the Sydney Benevolent Asslyn which was built as a poor house for the destitute. The 1837 muster indicates that he was in the District of Cook NSW perhaps involved in building the Blue Mountains Road.

    From Sydney in 1839, he went to Portland Bay Victoria with Surveyor Charles Tyers and the famous Australian explorer Edmund Kennedy. Mr CJ Tyers was appointed by Governor Gipps to survey and lay out the township of Portland and also establish the border between NSW and South Australia...but before this, we believe that in 1836, William travelled with Sir Thomas Mitchell on his historic journey to Australia Felix. Historic records indicate that those convicts that travelled with Mitchell to Portland were then selected to go with Tyers, due to their experience.

    On the 13 September 1842, Gippsland was proclaimed a district and Charles Tyers was then appointed Commissioner for Crown Lands for Gippsland. At the time, William Farley was still a convict labourer and no doubt assigned to Tyers on a permanent basis. In his “ticket-of-leave”, Tyers requested William Farley’s transfer to Gippsland as a Border Policeman. Thus William was one of the first civilian policemen in Victoria. Tyers arrived at Port Albert on the 13th January 1844...but firstly they had set out for the Port via an overland route, but their first 3 attempts were frustrated and they eventually went by Sea. William Farley was with Tyers when he attempted these journeys, including the first Tyers journey in Gippsland. William Farley spent many years working with Tyers on various “projects” whilst generally still in the convict service. He did major road works for many years cutting trees and building bridges, etc...then amazingly in 1843, William travelled with George Augustus Robinson on his search for the Isolated Tribes of Sth-Eastern Australia. During this journey, he cut the first wheeled track from Westernport to Port Albert.

    He remained a Border Policeman until 1846. He received his Conditional Pardon on the 13th January 1847, and then in October 1847, he was appointed by Governor LaTrobe to establish the Gippsland Track (old Gippsland Road) and was paid 150 pounds for his services.

    In 1853 he married Mary Ann Maxella. Little is known about Mary or who her family was. We do know that she was about 16 when she married William on the 6th January 1852 at Bruthern Creek via Woodside. Also from the children’s birth records, they indicate that she was born in the East Indies (South East Asia). She bore 10 children, which is amazing in itself, taking into account the likelihood that there were very few other women around to assist both in childbirth or on-going family support.

    Their first son, James, was born at the homestead on the 21st October 1852. James was my Great grandfather and he was the first white child born in the “LaTrobe” Valley region of Moe, Newborough, Yallourn and Morwell.

    In December 1852, Tyers wrote to LaTrobe to recommend the offer of William Farley to build a bridge over the Moe swamp section of the Gippsland Road, with the approaches being logged and corduroyed:

    William planned to build the bridge 6 metres wide for 150 pounds and would guarantee it to stand up in the worst floods and he promised: "I also agree that it shall be tested
    by the first flood of the next winter before I demand payment. When it could not resist, will forfeit the whole amount".

    C.C.L. Tyers stated in a memo to LaTrobe, dated 30 October 1847, that: "I should observe that with the exception of Farley, know of no man in this District competent to the performance of such duties".

    The Merton Rush licence was taken up by William Farley from 1853. Initially the run was held by a Henry Scott between 1846 and 1853. William Farley held the licence to 1859, when he handed it onto Westrop William Waller and George Haxell. During the period, he had taken up his pre-emptive right of 160 acres around the homestead block and this being the first private landholding in Shire of Narracan. He planned to purchase the pre-emptive right in 14th September 1853 and secured it 1859. Henry Scott had established a small Inn called the Eagle Inn.

    When William and Mary Farley took over the run, the improvements consisted of a slab hut residence, men's huts, stockyards, and cultivated paddock. The Eagle Inn was continued and run by the Farleys and the homestead and Inn was situated approximately 300 yards from the bridge over the Narracan Creek on the Old Sale Road, on the South side. It can be found just on top of the ridge/high ground. He remained with Mary and his family on this freehold section until at least 1863 when it appears they sold and moved to Rosedale with the children.

    William Farley used to “escort” people across the Moe swamp where they used to stay at his Inn. The area between the two river crossings, the LaTrobe and Narracan. was commonly called "Farley's New Cut". The road over the crossing was made from gum and wattle samplings laid on top of one another and was called a "a corduroy road”. In recent times the old "Corduroy" Road was unearthed and samplings were laid up 20 high. This was due to continual traffic forcing them further into the soft ground and mud.

    Merton Rush was subdivided in the 1870’s and the “Merton Rush homestead area for the eastern section was eventually established on the Morwell River on the site of Driffield. The subdivision was done after William Farley left Merton Rush. It was William’s wild cattle that led to the legend of the Haunted Hills. Early settlers said that the cattle went wild because the hills were haunted.

    In 2002, the City of LaTrobe named one of its Wards ‘Farley Ward” which covers the Moe area and ‘Merton Ward” being all of the Newborough area to the edge of the open cut.

    I hope you all find this story interesting, and it gives you an idea what I do with my spare time. I’m a bit sorry I didn’t know all about this when at Yallourn High, and it has always been a surprise that the Farley Family owned our school.

    William Robert Farley c1813 to 1875, and Mary Ann Farley (nee Maxella) c1836 to 1904 (Photo attached)

    14/01/2019 - 18:18
  • 32698

    Arthur Hugh Bland I’ll try to be brief for, at 78, I am inclined to ramble, especially about the old days. My deep interests are not always entertaining to others. To begin at the beginning is always a good place….so Strzelecki Road is the place to start. My Aunts, Eunice Herbert and Muriel Herbert had a house there – I think number 3 from the corner. It was right at the top of the town and backed onto the bush. The neighbours were Mr & Mrs Law on the left, and Mr & Mrs Rainbow on the right. Mrs Rainbow just passed away recently at the age of 101. They had an only daughter, Sylvia, whom my brother and I both doted on. We spent many holidays there and grew up with the town. What a wonderful solid place Yallourn was to us kids from Yarram. My Aunt Eunice was with the town almost from the beginning. Her title of ‘Head of the Main Office typing pool’ fitted her very well. She was the most organised lady with a heart of gold, but a very stern exterior. She spent her entire working life in Yallourn and was the last house to leave Edge Hill Road. She very nearly went with it. The house went to Brandy Creek and Miss E Herbert bought a unit in Moe, where she spent her last days lost without her girls and staff. Auntie Muriel came to Yallourn a little later and rose to co-manage the haberdashery at the Company store. She later married a widower, Harry Benjamin, and they produced a son against all odds, named Ross. Harry built a house at Torres Track, when it was just that. All bits and pieces from the Reclaimed Depot; all short lengths of timber and plaster that would fit in a lunch bag or the boot of his car. The house still stands at Torres Street, Newborough, but has been substantially modified and strengthened. Harry died and that brave and vibrant lady married her childhood friend at 82 & 86 and went to Geelong, where she died after a happy two years. Now me! At age 14 (1942) I failed my Intermediate Certificate by History & French – either one was mandatory. So the family decided the best thing was to come to the Aunt’s – do the Intermediate Technical course in the day and attend the High School twice a week, and nights with Miss Hummerston. This I did. The Tech was just what every boy needed to me. Solid Geometry and Tech Drawing took me all year to master, but the ultimate upshot was Inter Tech Cert at the highest standard and passed History as well! My class at the Tech was illuminated by the genius of Bill (Herky) Collins, who deserves a page to himself. What a wheeler and dealer he was, even at 14. Other lads were Arthur Pearce, Bill Shankland (who walked around the parapet of the Tech School 3 storeys high), Ian Price, Ian Somerville Akers, Walker, McMillan, William Hitchcock, H Martin, Brown, Duxbury, Hattam, Maxfield, Summerton, McAllister, F Dunlop and so many others which lie dormant in memory waiting for a stimulus. The girls are a much harder list as I was a late developer, but topping the list would be Audrey Wiggins and I hope this does not embarrass her. I also hope she can remember me. Her sister, Jeanette, with dark velvet hair, so different to Audrey’s red hair. I met Vernon at bowls in Traralgon once or twice and heard of his family – good and bad. My wife’s Aunt and her usband – Rev Oliver and Nan Harris – were Methodist incumbents at Yallourn just before my time. Rev Brown was the preacher in my year. I was in Yallourn when the bushfires licked at the back gate of Strzelecki Road. Grandma, who with Grandpa Herbert was retired to live with the Aunts, had me dressed in both my suits and wallabies were hopping down the street. What a day! My Uncle Claude (Bill) Herbert was a foreman with Yallourn Bus Lines, just after the war. He had a withered leg and a wicked punch in both hands. He drove the Friday night bus to Morwell and took no cheek from anyone. My brother, Ian Bland, worked for A V Jennings after the war, when all those houses were built. He boarded at the Eastern Camp, as the Aunts were a bit severe on him. I fondly remember Hazel Benson, who worked in Haberdashery and also Miss Kath Kane (a large and mothering lady who understood my homesickness). I still get sad when I hear Currawongs plonking in the evening…the bloke in the library at the Store where I spent a lot of time and bought nothing.- The Aunts symbolise Yallourn to me - kindly, caring, generous, dependable. So, all in all, we loved Yallourn and mourned its passing as our youth went with it

    14/01/2019 - 18:15
  • 32697

    Alex McAllister (YHS 1935) came all the way over from WA for the reunion last March at Woorabinda.

    He wrote: "I tried to catch your eye at the reunion but every time I looked, you were completely surrounded and appeared extremely involved. I was the only male of my year there, but I did meet with Myrtle O'Neill (Hattam) and her sister Jean Fox (Hattam), Eileen Mitchell (Kerr), Marg Ebsworth who was in the year below and Enid Mills, who was in the year above.

    On the Tuesday following the reunion, my wife Prue, myself and Eileen Mitchell drove down to Mornington and visited Martin Hardie - he and Rex Bowman are the only two males I know of who were in the class. The photograph of the two thorns and the rose on the settee was taken at Martin's...the 'now & then'. After we returned home, we took off in the caravan for 2 weeks and now we are getting ready to head off for Broome, where we spend the 2 1/2 month Perth winter. Once again thanks for all your work in organising the reunion and maybe we will meet at the next one.

    14/01/2019 - 18:14
  • 32696

    Yvonne Spencer (Spratling) YHS 1942 - I was born in the Morwell Hospital as the Yallourn Hospital had not been built. I was also in the Sale Hospital with Scarlet Fever when there was an epidemic. We lived in The Angles and later in Fairfield Ave. My father worked with the SEC, my two older sisters Beryl & Coral Spratling also went to YHS. We were good friends of Albert & Mona Law. I remember swimming in the Latrobe River and visiting friends in the Haunted Hills. I was too small to remember their names. I remember Dr Anderson and the lovely town. I remember on Sundays going to the park with the family and we played and paddled in the little pool while listening to the band that played there. It was so long ago - but I have great delight in reading your newsletters.
    (Photo attached)

    14/01/2019 - 18:13
  • 32695

    Valda (Toots) Krueger (YHS 1956) and husband, Hasso, had sold their house in Dandenong and with their 4WD and caravan went up north NSW to buy - but finally realised that family and friends were more important than position and now live back in Melbourne...they'll still be heading off north for the winters. Valda previously wrote some memories about the house swimming sports at school and just how good they were in Mawson (that's only Valda's opinion folks), especially with Lois Gust on their team. Valda goes on to say "one carnival at the old pool - it was freezing cold. After we came out of the water, Mr & Mrs Melbourne were giving us a cup of hot bonox or vegemite - I can't remember which. I couldn't believe anything that tasted so bad could feel so good! I also remember Mr Webster, he was the Band Master with the Yallourn town band. He started a Marching Girls Troupe in approx 1958. We used to practice in the hall at the back of the old swimming pool. I was the leader and I used Mr Webster's baton. It was rather long for me and one practice, I remember it came apart. The rod went one way, the crown went another and all the majorettes??? went every which way. Including Mr Webster, no-one got hurt, but no-one trusted me again either. We had a good life when we were growing up in Yallourn

    14/01/2019 - 18:12
  • 32694

    Steve Gray YHS 1970 - Dear YOGA Members, I have received a few copies of the newsletters now and delight in some of the stories, especially when I can relate to the places, events and 'things' people remember. One of the stories recently mentioned the fruit trees in back yards. This sent my memory bank into overload and the further mention of 'sore tummies' really clinched it! As a youngster (8 - 10yrs I guess) when the demise of Yallourn was announced, it meant little to me, but I watched with interest as various people popped up in the news - Mrs Smith seemed to stand out for some reason…..and then later on, a few houses started to be moved out, amidst various placard-bearing protesters. For myself and friends (Alan Barnard and Geoff Castell), it was a great time, new fruit trees were being spotted as the vacant blocks opened up the viewing into other yards (remember there were often gaps in fences and from the height of a 26" bike you can see a lot over fences anyway…) As lads, we watched many a house being jacked up and off we would go on our bikes to check out more interesting bits and pieces. We soon figured out people had been told to watch out for anyone wanting to vandalise empty houses etc, (for us this was not the aim, the fruit on the trees was our goal!) As the grass in vacant houses grew longer we could zip up the driveway on our bikes and scurry up a plum tree in double quick time, the bikes lying in the long grass were well hidden. Then we would gorge ourselves on the fruit. It was great fun. The sore tummies did not stop us and over time, we figured out the trees which had been well maintained, were the easiest to climb and score fruit from. One day we spent a good 20 minutes motionless as an elderly neighbour to one of the houses came looking, he had been in his backyard and saw us go in. The silence was amazing! Three 'likely lads' peering down on a bald patch and not giggling was very interesting. Of course the gentleman in question checked the view through every window of the house, and checked the shed before heading off scratching his 'shiny noggin'. We made our entry and exit strategies with greater stealth after that, simply because waiting to eat fruit was excruciating! I have many fond memories of Yallourn and this is but one!

    14/01/2019 - 18:11