Down the years: Shire pushes ahead with plans for Mildura lighting

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

Bombing Rabaul in World War II. 
Picture: Australian War Memorial

Bombing Rabaul in World War II. Picture: Australian War Memorial

100 years ago

OVERSEAS: British airmen dropped 1½ tons of bombs on Dakka, Afghanistan, seriously wounding the Afghan leader. Drastic peace terms have been imposed on Germany, there are 15 parts to it. Germany will lose many colonies, fleet and army, the map of Europe is re-cast and the ex-Emperor William is to be tried. Corporal L.N. Bliss, of the 24th Battalion, is returning home on the Armagh. It left London on April 5. On the same date Private F. Dennett is returning on the Tras-os-Montes. Frank enlisted on the same day with his big brother Cecil in the big Olympia meeting last July, Cecil was KIA at Bullencourt. Mr Winston Churchill stated that 89,000 had enlisted since January 3. Most men returning on troop ships have been serving for three years, subjected to constant physical strain and mental torture. Lantern entertainment for the men has been provided by the YMCA showing slides of home and all singing songs with rich meaning, My Ain Folk, God Send You Back to Me and Mother Machree. Over 22,000 soldiers have been guided by the YMCA over the holy city of Jerusalem and given a flower card as a memento. (12/17.5.1919).

LOCAL: More than 10 years has passed since the Mildura Shire obtained its order to establish an electrical plant. On the motion of DeGaris and Mitting, council is to borrow 6000 pounds to provide baths, street and road lighting. Mr Arthur Miller, formerly of Merbein, visited the district for the purpose of securing a planted block for his son George, who is still badly crippled from being wounded in his leg in France. Eulogies about frocks could fill the social column, the production at many theatres positively bristle with chiffon, dressmakers are working at top speed to supply the demand for “welcome home” parties for soldiers. (17.5.1919)

ITEMS: Returned soldiers are ­employed as organisers in connection with the form­ation of war bonds. Over one million copies of a circular addressed to children of all states were distributed in connection with the State Schools of Vic­toria, where 200,000 pounds was invested in war savings certificates by Victorian school children. The original holdings at Merbein were larger than the ones now being offered to soldier settlers – there are sound reasons as to why the reverse should be the case. (14/17.5.1919) 

75 years ago

LOCAL ITEMS: Arrangements have been made at the Mildura post office for transmission through the intermediary of the ­International Red Cross delegate in Algiers of telegrams of a personal or family nature to persons in Italian territories in Europe. The brief text shall commence with the words “message for” followed by the name and address of the recipient. The post master here said there are several condemmed telephone poles available for sale to the public on tender. It is anticipated that telegraph traffic tomorrow will be exceptionally heavy owing to the observance of Mother’s Day, a large number of visitors for the bowling carnival. All augmented staff of telegraph messengers and phonogram ­attendants will be on duty to handle the ­extra traffic. The Red Cliffs Woodworkers had a successful year but they need more helpers as 6027 articles were produced by the Mildura Red Cliffs Red Cross workers, greater than before, including bedside lockers, dining chairs, 227 folding stools and folding tables. The old wooden main in Deakin Avenue is to be replaced with a 15-inch diameter Hume pipes. (12/15.5.1944)

WAR: The Australian Navy in New Guinea gave aid to our troops towards Hansa Bay hampering enemy positions. Because of the most disastrous late frosts fruit growers in England had to watch crops ruined because of the blackout. So far 108 tons of bombs have been dropped on Rabaul installations. A shipment of alarm clocks has arrived in Australia from the USA. Admiral Cochrane disclosed that naval salvage forces raided an Axis ship off the African coast – the cargo included a thousand medals destined for distribution as soon as the conquest of Egypt was completed. Over 60,000 

American jeeps are scrambling over the battlefields of Europe, according to Detroit figures. King George visited the Home Fleet to take leave of the captains and bade them well and their ships and ships’ company Godspeed before the battle. (15/17.5.1944)

NEWS: Just South of Maree, SA, four soldiers were killed and 27 injured when a goods train crashed into a troop train, that was heading north, 300 soldiers were on board, some carriages were telescoped. Two Aust­ralian war brides followed their husbands to the USA by stowing away on a merchant vessel – immigration has taken them into custody. Already 11,000 army men have already been allocated to the dairy industry. A disclosure that 47 officers from the RAF Dominion and Allied air forces had been shot by Germans after a mass escape from a German prison camp. Relatives and friends of the Red Cliffs Cheer-up Club were sent parcels. The No.1 junior branch of the Australian Natives’ Association was officially born last night in Footscray – opened by the chief president Dr A.E. Haywood. Mr J. Marrows attended. (15/17.5.1944) 

50 years ago

COLUMN 9: A 10-week-old Australian terrier has gone AWOL from the Mildura CMF barracks. “Private Bones” is believed to have been stolen – he belongs to Sergeant Williams and was regarded as the company dog. A man with a serious liver complaint was operated on by the best surgeon in the country. At a later check-up when he was asked by the surgeon how he felt, he said he was OK but had a terrible pain in his throat. “Well” said the surgeon, “I operated in a big amphitheatre and had lots of student doctors watching me. I did such a good job that they gave me a standing ovation, so I took your tonsils out as an encore.” An American telephone company has resurrected the following 1860 rules that governed the use of telephone users then. Women who eat onions must stand four feet from the transmitter. No mistake in grammar will be rectified in transmission. Profane swearing on the line will not be tolerated. People are strictly forbidden to use the wires for clothes lines. (12/13.5.1969)

PEOPLE: Shown having a picnic lunch at Apex Park were six nuns from the Order of St Joseph – a nursing and teaching order – five were here from Ouyen and Renmark. The Mildura Base Hospital is seeking nurses, hospitals should not overlook re-employment of married women who were trained nurses as it is becoming increasingly necessary to employ the country’s full labour force, quoted Matron Yapp. When Heather Bruce married Barry Mills she chose to be married in an elegant white pants suit and long adorned veil, her white posy was made from dried field daisies, Mexican daisies and satin looped ribbon. (14/16.5.1969).

FIRM: The business partnership of Grellis and Cramp, Red Cliffs, has operated since 1930 and after 39 years having branches in Werrimull and other Millewa centres they are winding up the business and selling it to Mr Grelis’s daughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs D. McNamara. Mr Cramp took charge of the Werrimull store in 1925, sold it in 1943 and joined the RAAF. Mr Grelis joined the AIF in 1940 and served on many committees. They said: “Time enhances our joys and mellows our sorrows – changes do take place.” (16.5.1969) 

25 years ago

PIONEERS: A big crowd turned out for the opening by the Mildura Shire president Cr Liz Maffei and Rotary Club president Mr K. Smith of the Pioneer Plantation, which overlooks the Murray River, to honour the settlers of the Merbein area. The Olympia Theatre 75 years ago was crowded when a film, taken by Mr Herschell of the Paramount Picture Co, to the order of Mr C.J. De Garis, publicity director of the ADFA. Many Sunraysia residents ­appeared in the industrial and scenic views, it will awaken greater interest in the Sunraysia industry. The Lake Tennis Club grounds on the Ridge were so prettily situated and should one day be one of the beauty spots of the district. (13.5.1994)

ITEMS: Our Lady’s School, Merbein, held a fair where Daisy the cow was the star. The school oval was marked into 500 squares and over 450 people paid $10 a square in the hope that daisy would deposit her cow-pat on their square and they’d win the $1000 City Heart gift voucher. With Daisy was a goat and a sheep who were vying for the second and third places. Gol Gol has finally got filtered water and residents were eager to make the most of the crystal clear water they now have for a connection cost of $200 after years of using rain tanks to get clear water. Crocodile farms in the Northern Terrirory said they use most of the lean meat from culled feral horses – up to $100 per horse – to feed their crocodiles. The Rentons of Coonawarra Close were used to the odd visitor or two dropping in for a visit and a cuppa but their visitor yesterday was a black swan who waddled up their driveway other than migrate south – hospitality was extended to the Renton’s new friend. Coonawarra Close translates to “home or place of the Black Swan”. (12/16.5.1994)

PHOTOGRAPHER: As a boy Damien Parer wanted to become a priest, but he decided to be apprenticed as a photographer, which ultimately cost him his life. As a war cameraman he risked his life to tell Australians of the exploits of their troops in the Second World War. He had to dodge more than enemy bombs and bullets, he had to endure the parsimony of his superiors in the Australian Department of Information, who in a case of the tall poppy syndrome, disparaged his work and denied him recognition. By 1929 he was trudging the streets of Melbourne looking for work so he went back to school, turned to photographing Society, was then sent to New Guinea and “soon realised that he was in a middle of a monumental foul up”, ill-equipped and poorly trained, his Oscar-winning newsreel was Kokoda Front Line, which was a deliberate counter to the propaganda of MacArthur. (16.5.1994). 

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