Sunraysia landscape inspires prize-winning poet

100 years ago

Poet Mark O’Connor was inspired by Mungo National Park during his visit to Sunraysia in 1992. Picture: Carmel Zaccone

Poet Mark O’Connor was inspired by Mungo National Park during his visit to Sunraysia in 1992. Picture: Carmel Zaccone

OVER THREE YEARS OF SERVICE: The first Mildura boy to enlist (so far as we can learn) when the great war broke out, was Leslie Mansell, son of Mr and Mrs R. Mansell, Irymple. Les was in Melbourne with a friend when war was declared and immediately offered himself for active service. He was accepted and left with the first batch for Egypt. He landed on Gallipoli, on the 25th April and left its shores on the last day of the evacuation, having the honor of being longer in the Peninsula than any other man in his regiment. Subequently he went to France, where he has been ever since, never yet receiving furlough in England. In upwards of over three years of service he has had only seven days’ leave and has never been wounded.Writing to his mother on the 27th June (after more than 1000 days of service) Les said that he was in the best of spirits, having just received a mail from home, together with some photos. The latter gave him “unbounded pleasure”. He almost cried, to see the pictures of home – especially one showing his dear father and mother seated in a gig. He intended to hang on to the photo for many a day. The months and the years had come and gone, yet the war still continued, with its hardships and unnatural living. He was heartily sick of the diet and the discomforts. Sick, too, of the sight of the wounded and dying and dead. Les had met many old acquaintances “out for a rest”, including Sam Wightman and Private H. A. Maclean. He learned that Will Skelton was a wireless operator (or training to be one). In one of his walks he visited a great canal on which the French were concentrating when the war broke out. It was very wide and 60 to 70 feet deep in places. He was told that in the early days of the war – when it was dry – a big body of Germans encamped in the bed of it and one night a French woman unscrewed the locks and sent down a great volume of water, which drowned many of the Huns. The French authorities decorated the woman. Les had heard that the movement for the relief of the first contingent had fallen through. Evidently the people at home had no idea what three years of warfare was like. He did not wish to see another year of it but expected he would have to go on till something happened to him. Personally, having volunteered for service, he must put up with the consequences. A manly letter is concluded with many noble expressions of filial love. (15.09.1917)

75 years ago

WAAAF ENLISTMENTS: The WAAAF urgently requires the services of pay clerks in the finance branch of the RAAF. Applicants must be alert, intelligent and preferably have experience in accounts and general office work. Applicants from Mildura are requested to interview WAAAF recruiting officers at the Urban Water Trust Office today to receive full information. (10.9.1942)

NEW GUINEA NEWS: Bitter fighting continues with casualties reported heavy on both sides in the Owen Stanley Range. Along the tangled tracks in the jungle-choked ravines and along terrible saw-tooth ridges of slate and limestone several thousand men are probably waging the bloodiest battle of the New Guinea war. Allied bombers and fighters have given heroic and close co-operation, hedge-hopping along the mountain trail with machine-guns blazing, or attacking supply dumps and troop concentrations. (12.9.1942)

COMBINED TEAM TO PLAY RAAF: The Mildura and district football team to play the RAAF at No 1 Oval next Saturday will be as follows: G Ball, R Pike, N Hogan, J Walsh and D Clelland, Merbein; W Lovet, B Baker, A Roberson and W Landis, Red Cliffs; M Pike, R Penny, W Brown, S Nichols, C Forest, W Sloan, C Cumming, C Pongraz, W Gregory, K Curtis, A East, D Dunahan, L Beasey and E Lowe, Mildura. Imperial sweaters will be worn. Proceeds of the match will go to the Base Hospital Gala fund. (16.9.1942)

50 years ago

ROBINVALE SOLDIER SETTLERS: The 20th anniversary of the opening of the Robinvale Soldier Settlement was celebrated at Euston last week. Twenty-one of the original 29 settlers attended the dinner. Mr Milton Whiting, MLA for Mildura, himself an original settler in the district, said that 24 of the original 29 settlers were still working their fruit properties in the area. (11.9.1967)

WENTWORTH CHEAP ELECTRICITY: The Murray River County Council announced new cheap electricity tariffs for its supply area yesterday. Deputy County Clerk (Nr R.D. White) said that householders in urban areas will enjoy reductions of up to 25 per cent of their accounts. He said rural consumers would also enjoy reductions in their household accounts while accounts for electricity used for farm production will be reduced. (13.9.1967)

ALL STARS’ RECORD: Mildura’s Swinging Jazz All Stars band has cut a record. The group has produced a seven-inch disc of four numbers recorded at a concert in May. The numbers represent the “big band” sound and the Dixieland melody of “Holmes Houndogs”, a band within the All Stars. Proceeds from the 200 records, at $1.25 each, will help pay for Mildura District Band’s trip to Tanunda, South Australia, for the Australian Band Championships next month. (16.9.967) 

25 years ago

NSW EDUCATION WEEK 1992: Education Week will break new ground this year by adopting the theme of the Sydney 2000 Olympic bid, “Share the Spirit”. Local events include an open day at Pooncarie Primary School tomorrow, an open day at Dareton on Wednesday and open days at Euston and Wentworth schools on Thursday. The “Coomy Shuffle” is a fund-raising activity at Coomealla High School on Wednesday, and an in-service will be held at Sandor’s Motel, Mildura, on Wednesday for parents, teachers and community representatives in the new school council initiative. (14.9.1992)

ENVIRONMENTAL POET: Prize-winning poet, Mark O’Connor, believes Sunraysia provides a wealth of inspiration for his work. Mr O’Connor is in Mildura this week at the invitation of Australian Fellowship of Australian Writers Mildura branch president, Mrs Mary Chandler. Mr O’Connor, who is known throughout Australia for his perceptive poems about the environment, said he particularly likes Lake Mungo. He has a fascination of arid areas like this. “It is delicate, yet tough, special and spiky.” (15.9.1992)

CHEMICALS: The dried fruit processing industry is working on a two-year time frame to eradicate the use of methyl bromide fumigation. Mildura Co-op dried fruit manager Mr Barrie McMillan announced the time frame at a workshop at the CSIRO research centre recently. CSIRO horticulture division principal research scientist Mr Peter Clingeleffer said the new technologies focused on the use of modified atmosphere carbon dioxide fumigation. (16.9.1992)

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