Down the years: Recollections of shaping Mildura

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

100 years ago

Mildura’s Coffee Palace, later the Grand Hotel, from a coloured postcard about a century ago.

Mildura’s Coffee Palace, later the Grand Hotel, from a coloured postcard about a century ago.

ABOUT MILDURA: With the clearing of the trees and avenues, buildings began to ­appear in the town in early 1888. Mr W. Jones remembers cutting firewood in Eighth Street after the traction engines yanked the trees out – he also grubbed and cleared Tenth Street and a block (Cudmore’s) between Eighth and Ninth streets on Ontario Avenue, also that of Robert Payne. Mr F. Boots also did the same, carting most to the lime kilns (lime was used for most of the early buildings) started by James Davies between the Chaffey Offices and the river. Mr Boots built a family house from saplings and leaves, well daubed with mud in Pine Avenue. On Seventh Street Miss Murray established the Riverside Boarding House later known as the Warren – alongside was Pye’s butcher shop and the National Bank, around the corner the Commercial Bank. Mrs Woodall conducted the Mechanics’ Restaurant in a bark structure near the wharf, the Pioneer Boarding House was erected by Mr W. Smith. The first store, a two-storey brick shop and dwelling, was Henry Williams and Yule, later Mr J. McColl and now R.M. Black and Co. Mr Williams also erected the two-storey Coffee Palace. (19.4.1919)

DISTRICT: Mr A. D. Thomson now has a plan of the proposed extension of Birdwoodton for blocks of 14¾ acres in size. About 300 tons of five-foot firewood at Cowanna Bend has been purchased by the Trust from Mr Perry at 4/- per 80 feet and cartage on to the bank at 2/5 per ton. There is enough wood there for 15 years. The cutters are starting one mile in from the river, many more cutters are needed at 3/6 per 80 feet ton. Mr Mansell said no dairyman can afford to sell milk here at the same price as elsewhere at the land costs 10 times as much as elsewhere and no sane dairyman would buy up a planted block to make it into a dairy farm – the land here costs 10 times more than elsewhere in Australia. St Margaret’s Church committee accepted the bishop’s suggestion that the church should be rebuilt – full details given in item and all plans to be sent to each parishioner. (19.4.1919)

HONOUR ROLL: The honour roll of all locals who enlisted in the Imperial Forces from this district from 1914 is printed in today’s Cultivator in alphabetical order. The Central Committee of the Peace Celebrations said the first day would be Thanks­giving Day, the second day one for rejoicing and the third day Children’s Day – the Commonwealth Government intends to give every child a souvenir medal. Germany is to pay 100 million marks to the Allies for losses incurred and damage done in Paris. A batch of Bolsheviks will be deported from Britain. At the Irymple Methodist Church an honour roll was also unveiled – the 42 young men who enlisted from Irymple are named in the paper. (19.4.1919)

 75 years ago

LOCAL: The 1st Red Cliffs Boy Scout Troop will have a drive for books and magazines for the Australian Comfort Fund. On Anzac Day a gymkhana will be held near the Mildura Bridge to assist Mrs Stubberfield, who lost her young daughter a few days ago. The Red Cliffs Women’s Club and Baby Health Centre celebrated their 20th anniversary – Sister Stewart was farewelled, Sister Bennett is now in charge of the health centre. This year 1581 attended the centre. Making his appearance in Stage Door Canteen at the Ozone, Yehudi Menuhin recently played Ave Maria to the producer Lesser’s wife on his violin over the telephone. (14.4.1944)

WAR: Allied and Australian aircraft in New Guinea had destroyed 3529 enemy aircraft by the end of February, also 150 tons of bombs dropped upon the Rabaul area. In the central and south-west Pacific 26,000 Japanese were killed and Wewak was badly plastered by our air units. Casualties in the RAN to date are 2422 – 1327 deaths, including 467 who died from sickness and accidents, 230 wounded, 532 missing, 333 POWs. The making of camouflage by the Mildura district has ceased due to ample supplies. A young man who was sentenced in his absence to four months’ imprisonment for failing to register for military service was arrested as he and his bride left the church – the police had been trying to track him down for months. (13/19.4.1944)

OVERSEAS: Britain’s oldest nurse, Mrs R. Strong, who served under Florence Nightingale in 1867, celebrated her 100th birthday. A pupil at the pioneer school at St Thomas’s Hospital by the “lady with the lamp”, Mrs Strong was sent to reorganise nursing at the Mercy Military Hospital and was later matron at the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow. Seized by Customs officers in Sweden from the Germans were 25,000 large-scale maps that were consigned from a firm in Germany to military authorities in Oslo. The Germans during their occupation of Tarnopol killed 20,000, two-thirds of the population. Since the start of the North African campaign, 2500 planes were destroyed on the ground by fragmentation bombs. A 60-year-old naval stewardess, Margaret Cangley, who survived the loss of three ships she has been on doing war service, was among 456 Mercy Service heroes to be awarded. (14/17.4.1944)

50 years ago

ITEMS: Boobyalla hedges here are taking a beating from swarms of grasshoppers. A local nurseryman, Mr A. Kelly, said to spray arsenate of lead on the foliage of plants – the hoppers also like dahlia flowers and golden privet hedge. A large box of ladies’ hats was given to the Kathleen Kelly Kindergarten and young David Hunt was having fun with them. Walking along Deakin Avenue near Fifteenth Street, Kay Lambert’s eye caught sight of the glorious display of the Sturt’s desert peas the shire council planted some years ago. Books are appreciated by many, an attendant carrying an invalid on a stretcher paused in front of a bookshop and at the sight of the bright new books in their decorative dust covers a sick girl’s face glowed with a radiant smile. It was noticed by a passer-by, who was moved to reflect that those who are fit are too busy to read but time hangs heavily for the sick.(14/16.4.1969)

CLUBS: The eight top little athletes of Sunraysia, from the championships held on Sunday, won cups they will have to give back next year as they are perpetual trophies. None of the winners will keep their cups as they will be out of their present age group by then. Individual cups were not presented so here is a great opportunity for some district club, businessman or organisation to overcome what many think is a great wrong. Nursery Ridge came back from the brink of defeat to win the Red Cliffs Cricket Association A Grade grand final. The Red Cliffs Rotary Club, in its quest for unwanted household items, among many items of furnishings and furniture was given a horse harness minus the horse, toilet, hot water cylinder and a front door and an old butcher’s bicycle. (14/16.4.1969) 

25 years ago

SERVICE: A mini-reunion of the 460 Squadron (RAAF) Association South Australian and Victorian divisions and Sunraysia residents who served in Bomber Command in Britain in World War II will be held in Mildura. No. 460 Squadron, based in Breighton and Binbrook and initially equipped with Wellington aircraft, was converted to four-engined Lancasters in 1942. Sunraysia Vietnam veterans are disappointed with the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, who refused to seek a memorial service to commemorate the 500 Australians who died in Vietnam. The RACV will provide free transport for RSL members from any sub-branch in Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong to join the in the RACV Shrine of Remembrance celebration and service. April 27  was declared International Guide Dog Day around the world to celebrate guide dogs’ recognition. (14.6.1994)

SETTLERS: About 200 trees were planted  by the Merbein Probus and Rotary clubs and families at the Merbein Pioneer Plant­ation lookout to recognise early Merbein settlers. Heritage Week will be celebrated in fine style at the Old Mildura Homestead with a traditional camp oven damper and lunch, minstrels, stalls, patchwork demonstrations, vintage cars and pancakes. (14/16.4.1994)

MEN: Member for Mildura Mr C. Bildstein is seen congratulating eight locals who are pictured receiving their National Umpire VIBBA badges – a 90 per cent pass and an 80 per cent pass was required for the two sections. Former Merbein musician Blair Bildstein is in town for a gig at the Grand Hotel after a six-month contract at the Darwin Casino, then he’s heading back to the music scene in the Northern Territory. Merbein distance runner Steve Guy has taken out the prestigious Australian Veterans’ Marathon Championship – a total of 650 athletes challenged the gruelling 42km course. He won in 2.35 hours. Gol Gol truck driver Graeme Hanstock said the busy Calder Highway intersection at Hattah was a death trap that needs to be altered. (15/16.4.1994)

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