Down the years: Wide acres under vines in Mildura and Merbein

Presented by Mildura and District Historical Society. Compiled by Judi Hyde for Mildura Rural City Council Library Service

100 years ago

 Historical views of the Maples building on Deakin Avenue.

Historical views of the Maples building on Deakin Avenue.

REPORTS: Mr S. Semmens reported that of 12,280 acres planted to vines, there are 8462 in Mildura and 3818 in Merbein. Of these, 4103½ acres planted are eight years old, 756¾ acres between three and four years, 1616¼ acres less than three years. The sweat-box price for currants, subject to pro rata amendment for fruit affected by any alterations of ADFA prices or export realisations, are:  three-crown 38 pounds per ton, two-crown 36 pounds per ton and one-crown 32 pounds per ton. Sultanas four-crown are 52 pounds per ton, three-crown 50 pounds per ton, two-crown 48 pounds per ton and one-crown 44 pounds per ton. Ganger Cornelius has charge of opening up the pipe trench, he has completed the trench from zero to 4299 feet, with the exception of crossing two roads and the railway. During the past month J.F. Krake has put 84½ tons of firewood into the Deakin Avenue yard. The Merbein Ratepayers Association desires the erection of a rubbish tip, also Cr Bennett said that Merbein wanted the park site cleaned up by trimming the pine trees and removing unsightly trees. (19.3.1919)

NEWS: Wilson’s have boots for sale. For men Glace Bals at 16/6 per pair, Marshall Glace Kip or Wallaby Bals, Derby fronts, patent cap at 25 shillings, Split Balmorals 12/6 pr, Split Bluchers 8/11. For women strong Box Hide bals 12/6 pr, Satin Hide Shoes 9/11 pr, Nurse shoes from 7/6 pr, Enamel Court shoes 17/6 to 25/- and White Canvas Boots 15/6 pr, Fashionable high leg Kid or Enamel boots 16/6 to 30 shillings. Girls Button boots 7/11 to 9/11 pr and Childrens Bar shoes 4/11 pr.. Sister Faye Crothers gained her RVTNA certificate and is nursing influenza patients in Melbourne at the Exhibition Building. St Margaret’s choir will present Stainer’s Crucifixion on Good Friday’s night. Hostesses are always anxious to find something novel for functions – “ribbon” sandwiches using ­alternate slices of brown and white bread are a novel idea. What do the Railway Commissioners take we country folk for – Rip Van Winkles or boobs who haven’t cut our eye teeth, or what. Commissioners are running three fast trains to Donald a week and there is the necessity that the third one be sent on to Mildura. (22.3.1919)

WAR: Investigations into the medical hist­ory of members of the AIF who have returned for discharge shows that sickness accounted for more casualties among the troops than wounds received in battle. A total of 72,750 had returned, of these 30,675 were discharged as a result of wounds or injuries and 32,723 as a result of sickness. Out of 30,000 two officers and 22 men had the terrible misfortune to lose their eyesight, 18 officers and 920 men lost the sight of one eye, 1171 men had lost legs, 16 officers and 584 men lost an arm, 20 cases lost both legs, one lost both arms. The 3rd Pioneers sent a model of the reconstructed Chipilly Bridge across the Somme that the Germans blew up. Pte H. Jenner died of wounds in Gloucester, England, while Pte Bert Jenner is dangerously ill with pneumonic influenza in Perth – he has been operated on four times, a rib taken in one operation. (19/22.3.1919)

 75 years ago

LOCALLY: The H.W. Bowring Cup for competition by “a” class schools was won easily by Red Cliffs Central at the combined district schools swimming sports day held at the Red Cliffs Memorial Baths. The Sydney-Mildura Debater’s Cup was won by the Red Cliffs Convent. Two youths who were being escorted to Ballarat by police following their conviction at Mildura on various charges, jumped from the lavatory window as the train left Talbot at 5.30am. Later in the morning they were caught under a tree near Talbot with stolen clothing and surrendered when police threatened to shoot. A member of the RAAF sat in the Working Man’s Club penning a letter to his wife in Launceston telling her how the forces were made welcome at the club and how pleasant it was. It was the airman’s last letter – he was killed the next day. His wife sent a Tasmanian blackwood crib board inscribed: “Mrs R.K. Shelton, Launceston to Mildura Working-Mans Club 1944”, with a letter asking the club to accept the board as a token of thanksgiving for that last letter from her husband. (17/21.3.1944)

NEWS: Airgraph letters from Australia for POWs sent to London, will be sent on from Geneva. General MacArthur flew into Canberra in his Flying Fortress bomber from his headquarters in the south-west Pacific to attend a dinner to mark the second anniversary of his arrival in Australia – his forces have landed on Manus Island covered by artillery fire from Hauwei and Butjo Luo islands that they’d captured the day before. Ten policy holders benefited from a decision by the National Mutual Life Assurance Co to pay the whole of the policy on the holder reaching the age of 95. The Premier, Mr Dunstan, told the people of Inglewood that country people were too modest and lacked aggression, preferring requests instead of demands, inclined to “take it on the chin” instead of retaliating. (21.3.1944)

ITEMS: Thousands of women rushed a sale of alarm clocks in Chicago, three women fainted, several shop assistants were trampled underfoot and four showcases were shattered before police were able to restore order as 2500 women attempted to buy 1500 plastic alarm clocks, the first to be sold in two years. A few brave men joined the queue prior to opening but were pushed aside. General Sir Thomas Blamey announced that units of Australia’s famous 7th Division and attached units would be accorded a march of honour in the capital cities of the respective states soon. Some from their return from the Middle East where they had established an outstanding reputation which they have since excelled in the New Guinea campaigns of 1943-44. The utterly selfish behaviour of elite officers and wealthy Polish women who were given refuge in Teheran feature in a story cabled from Moscow. Conditions in Holland are rapidly becoming worse – Germans are ­arresting around 700 people per month- the number of razzias to locate members of the underground army have greatly increased. (21.3.1944) 

 50 years ago

SHEDS: Almost 33,000 people were living in dwellings classed as sheds, huts or tents at the June 1966 census. This was a marked ­decrease from 1961 when over 60,000 people were residents in the same type of dwellings – in 1966 87,980 people were sharing a private house. (18.3.1969)

LOCAL NEWS: Forty children are expected to use the Mildura South Kindergarten when the project is finished. A tale from the duck season was a fisheries and wildlife inspector out to make sure no one had jumped the gun found a man wading in the billabong, a bag over his back three hours before the designated start. When asked what he had the man replied “Tree gigglers und vun black dock”. What did the inspector find? Three kookaburras and a black crane! Mr C. Proudfoot, working on Mr A. Cott­rell’s block 1 at Paringi found a triplicate of rockmelons – all three were joined together growing from the one stem in the 17 acres of rockmelons – a first in the 30 years of melon growing. (18/21.3.1969)

PIONEER: Mr J.W. Washington, one of Mildura’s pioneer businessmen, passed away, he was 89. He had maintained a keen interest in the affairs of Mildura from a small concern in 1910 when he came from the Dunolly district in response to an advert by a businessman wanting to sell a small drapery shop in Deakin Avenue. He bought the business, later buying adjoining shops, which were in Madden Avenue under the name of Maples. He then established a modern emporium on the Deakin Avenue site and operated the business on his own until early 1920s when he formed a private company, Washington’s, which included his family members. In 1937 the business was sold to Maples and the land premises retained by the company. In the same year Crouch Washington was formed and were appointed authorised Ford dealers for Sunraysia. In 1939 Mr Crouch relinquished his interest and it became Washington Motors with Mr Washington as governing director. He left Mildura in 1937 to reside in Melbourne, spending three months of every year in Mildura a regular at the May Bowling Carnival – one of his regular team mates was Mr Jack Opray, his son-in-law. (21.3.1969) 

 25 years ago

ITEMS: The 17th of March is the one day when a bakery can sell green bread and not be subject to the wrath of health officials. Yes, it’s St Patrick’s Day and Anne Nash at the San Mateo Hot Bread Bakery has ovens full of hot green bread that one can put good old tomato sauce on. When six people appeared before a visiting magistrate at the Mildura Courts he said Mildura’s drug problem has reached epidemic proportions – and leaves two inner suburbs of Melbourne for dead. He felt it was time drug offenders were jailed instead of being fined or given bonds – one man received a $4000 fine. 

The Wentworth and Buronga police stations were re-opened and are welcomed as a “big step for community-based policing” in the district. (17/18.3.1994)

PEOPLE: Lord Wedgwood visited Mildura as part of a world tour, usually only for major metropolitan centres, to promote the Wedgwood company’s latest range of fine china and ceramic products. He is the 12th-generation descendant of Gilbert Wedgewood, born in 1588, who started the family company tradition, and he will sign any pieces bought on the day. The pieces include a spill vase with a strictly limited edition of 2000 pieces available. The Lady Templeton sugar box set, including teapot and a small replica of the 1789 Portland Vase in a traditional sage green jasper are new. A Meringur grower, Mr Des Gray, who said his wheat must have been put up as a candidate by the Werrimull silo operator, was chosen out of 70 samples and has taken out the regional award in the Australian Standard White wheat quality competition. The all-female Mildura members of the Variety Bash crew driving a gawdy EH Holden are Julie Mangan, navigator, Debbie Hedwards, mechanic, and team captain Vikki Lake. Also with the team is Val Hedwards, Swan Hill. (19.3.1994).

TUNNEL: Britain and France, on the eve of the opening of their underwater umbilical chord, have started throwing dreadful insults at each other. A French book said the British are the most noxious of the human race, English food is terrible, the brutal drunken people has succeeded in imposing on the world the myth of the gentleman and the language is a series of bestial grunts. The bile of the Gauls points out where the real perfidy lies is that the problem with the increasingly neurotic French lies not with the ordinary people but with its political class – this is a technocratic mafia of dealers in political hallucinogenics who keep the population drugged with illusions about themselves and about foreigners and by pretending the rest of the world is against them, built on a lie when General de 

Gaulle proclaimed the liberation of Paris “by the real French”. Chanteclair said: “As long as we don’t get physical it’s good to keep our old battles between nations going.”(19.3.1994) 

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