Peeps in the Past: Tour of district reveals its promising future

Presented by Mildura and District Historical Society.

Compiled by Ann Ziguras & Sue Kelly for Mildura Rural City Council Library.100 years ago

IRRIGATIONIST FATHERS: It was just on 35 years ago that the late Alfred Deakin, the first real exponent of irrigation for arid Australia, induced W.B. and George Chaffey to leave their American domiciles and take up the role of irrigationist fathers in this country. It is a long story of despair and suffering, loss and despondency turning at last into the return of George to California, where he achieved success and fame, and the continued sojourn at Mildura of W.B. under equal conditions of ultimate success. Recent visiting pressmen have been motored to the very fine orchard, garden, grounds and residence of the truest pioneer of a great industry that Australia has ever known. The "Chaffey button" is on sale at Mildura whenever there's a gala stunt there and the people who buy and wear it are truer patriots than those who rush in to buy the "counterfeits" of conquerors or crowned heads, for there would be no Mildura without Chaffey. Conquerors and crowned heads are never pioneers of settlements such as Mildura.

LOCAL TOUR: Merbein is part of the greater Mildura area, about seven miles from Mildura proper. Here there is a big winery and distillery, with a capacity of 300,000 gallons per annum. Merbein West is a new settlement about five miles from Merbein proper. Here a number of returned soldiers have secured blocks and have brought them up to the bearing stage. Another new soldiers' settlement is named Birdwoodton, the first soldier settlers four years ago were installed here. Some 11 miles from Mildura, also on the Victorian side of the river, Red Cliffs forms the nucleus of another soldier settlement. Here the Murray bank on the Victoria side is over 200 feet steep, and composed of splendid red soil containing just enough sand to make it friable. In all directions there stretches away some 30,000 acres of such soil, encumbered only by an occasional pine tree, sandalwood, belar and a few shrubs, easily removed. The site for a pumping plant has been selected, and the visitors were told that if they returned in two years' time they would find the luxurious vines and fruit trees. On Monday the party left Mildura and crossed the Murray by punt at Abbotsford into New South Wales, to Curlwaa, the principal colony to date on the New South Wales side of the river. The guides took the party through Curlwaa for a start, and on to some blue bush country, the Nine Mile, where a soldier settlement on that side has been mapped out. Here an area of 2000 acres extends right back to the Curlwaa settlement boundary and is reckoned equal to anything yet attempted even to Red Cliffs. The Nine Mile settlement will not be confined solely to soldiers. Every third or fourth block will be set aside for civilians.

LOCAL NEWS: A wonderful thing is rain – a healing gracious force driving away worry and discomfort, freshening minds and bodies. But yesterday, as it were, the dust lay heavy or swirled through the air, blinding and choking us, now there is mud to wade through – but who cares, better the cool mud than the hot dust and, if we are pleased, if we feel happier and fresher for the rain, what of the stock in the parched, feedless paddocks? They must revel in the wonder of things – the passing of the drought. Drought spells death – rain spells life. Blessed be the rain. Military Church Parade on Anzac Day (25th April) at 11am. Further particulars later. The Mildura Shire Council celebrated its 30th birthday at the beginning of this month. Mr Semmens, the secretary, has kindly compiled a list of past presidents and councillors, which we hope to print in the next issue. The Sentimental Bloke is shortly coming to Mildura. He does not come in the flesh, he will appear on the picture screen. He's fair dinkum Aussie and his "tart's" a fair dinkum Aussie tart, I tell yeh! 75 years ago

RED CLIFFS: Red Cliffs is celebrating its silver anniversary. On April 13th, 1920, the first clearing gang commenced operations in the Red Cliffs settlement. The first tree to be grubbed was pushed over by Mr Dave Cecil. Clearing operations were supervised by Mr Jim Bailey, as foreman under the general direction of Mr J. Blackburn, at that time SRWSC engineer at Merbein.

EGGS: An official of the Mildura Egg Floor said that egg supplies were getting very short now, and it was most desirable that people should register all children and expectant mothers in order to ensure that they would be able to receive an adequate supply.

WEATHER: Since the advent of cooler weather, heating equipment has been brought into operation for night shows at the Ozone Theatre. The equipment was first used the other night, when the temperature inside the theatre was 74 degrees, compared with the street temperature of 58. A crude oil furnace is used.

WATER: A total of 50 water trucks transported 100,000 gallons of water from Mildura railway station to Nowingi during last month. The water is for stock and costs 15/6 per truck, including freight.50 years ago

WORKING MAN'S CLUB: The longest bar in the world at Mildura Working Man's Club is soon to be made longer. It will go from 285 feet to 310 feet in renovations that will cost the club $90,000. Work began on the renovations several weeks ago and at present the floor is being ripped up and replaced. Workers secretary manager (Mr Norm Deering) said the existing floor and bar were 32 years old.

EUSTON WEIR: Tests to find if Euston Weir will hold back more water are being conducted for the NSW Department of Public Works. The River Murray Commission has asked for a report on the condition of the weir foundations because it wants to raise its full level by three feet. The higher level would increase greatly the mid-Murray storage and assure irrigators from Robinvale to Mildura of better quality and greater quantity of water. At the same time a Mildura engineering firm is welding reinforcements to repair and strengthen the steel sections, which are corroded badly in places.25 years ago

WATER BRAND: Lower Murray Water directors have chosen a logo for use on authority's vehicles, correspondence and stationery. The new logo has a line depicting the authority's wedge of territory along the Murray River from Kerang to Mildura. Lower Murray Water acting secretary Mr Brian Grogan said the waves in the middle of the logo represented the Murray and its tributaries including the Loddon and Murrumbidgee.

INNES MEDAL: Sunraysia Cricket Association board member Bob Blake was pictured with Tom Vadlja at the association's dinner, where Vadlja won the Innes Medal for the competition's best player in 1994-95. It was Vadlja's second Innes Medal win in three seasons.

SKI RACE: Ski enthusiasts lined the backs of the Murray River for the annual Caltex Mildura Ski 100 despite intermittent rain downpours and threatening black sky. More than 230 boats left the Mildura Ski Club from 8.30am, with spectators rugged up and huddled under sheets of plastic to protect them from the rain. First placings for the Jim Mock Ford Dash for Cash was God's Gift and the placegetters of the feature race for the Super Class were: 1st, Revenge; 2nd, God's Gift; 3rd, BP Merc Bullet; 4th, Rampage and 5th, Thundernuts.