A delightful visitor to Murchison Heritage Centre recently, was a sprightly 92 year old who had journeyed to Camp 13 Murchison during World War 2 to entertain the Australian Army personnel who were guarding the Prisoners of War held there.
Lillian was part of an entertainment troupe called “Russian Group” – a concert party that was long established, providing concerts of song and dance routines across Melbourne. During the War the group travelled extensively throughout Victoria to Military Camps to raise morale of the men and women of the Australian forces. Lillian remembers coming to Murchison and performing on the stage of the Garrison Recreation Hut.
The stage of the Garrison Recreation Hut Camp 13 where Lillian performed
Lillian, a sprightly 92 year old
That same building was relocated into the township of Murchison after the War and so we were able to show Lillian photos of the stage where she would have performed tap dancing and singing to the troops. Lillian also performed at one of the Tatura Internment Camps.
Accompanied by her daughter Lynn, Lillian enjoyed a visit to Tatura Museum as well on her trip down memory lane at the Murchison Heritage Centre.
Judging by Lillian’s agility and health in her nineties, tap dancing and stage performance must be good for longevity!
This is an interesting advertisement from The Murchison Advertiser dated 10th July 1942.
“AIR OBSERVERS POST MURCHISON
PERSONS willing to act as air-spotters at Murchison are requested to get in touch with the chief air-observer, J. G. Kenny or E. Hammond, hon. Secretary.”
During World War 2, the Volunteer Air Observers Corps (VAOC) was formed in 1941 and recruited volunteers who were engaged in spotting aircraft overhead and relaying the information to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). 2,800 Observation Posts were established across Australia staffed by volunteers who were required to report any aircraft seen or heard and reached a strength of 24,000 staff. Training courses equipped the volunteers to recognise all types of aircraft, markings, friend or foe, estimate speed and direction of flight and if an aircraft was in any difficulties.
In Murchison, the observation post was set up at the Fire Station, then located in the Riverbank Gardens close to the bridge as there was a telephone available that volunteers could use to relay their observations to the RAAF. Binoculars were issued and as soon as an aircraft was heard overhead, the staff on duty would scan the skies and identify the aeroplane and details, then report their observations. Apparently there was a reasonable volume of air traffic over the town at this time, mainly flying to and from Tocumwal, where there was a very busy aircraft training base; at one point 7000 Americans were based there.
The Murchison Observation Post was staffed night and day by locals, both men and women. The VAOC was disbanded in 1946 as the war drew to a close.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison Historical Society
During the winter months, the usual open time on a Saturday morning will be in recess. We still welcome visitors by arrangement. Please ring 0475 018 743 if you would like to organise a time to visit the Heritage Centre. For group enquiries or to make a booking, please ring Janet on 5826 2363.
Regular opening on Saturday morning will resume mid September.
Kay Ball, President
The first step in the upgrade of Meteorite Park saw all the school children from Murchison Primary School planting over 300 native shrubs, ground covers and grasses on the first and second of June.
Primary School children busy planting out
This was a joint initiative of the Murchison Primary School, Kindergarten, Historical Society and City of Greater Shepparton.
The local school children planted out over the two days, each class group attending in relays. Provision of the plants was made possible by the One Tree Per Child project, an initiative of Olivia Newton-John and John Dee. Their web-site has good information (www.onetreeperchild.com). The programme is aimed at understanding and encouraging volunteering in our local communities as well as providing the many benefits of planting trees and shrubs.
The program is accessed via Local Councils and overseen by Council Staff. Local volunteers also gave their time, labour and use of equipment for several days beforehand to prepare the site.
Teachers, parents, grandparents and Historical Society members entered into the busy activity assisting children to plant out, place weed-mats and guards around each plant and hammer in stakes. The children were amazingly enthusiastic and did a great job. The tree guards were brightly decorated by each child from the Pre-school as well as the Primary School children.
More improvements to Meteorite Park are planned over the next two years so it will be looking good when we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the fall of our famous Murchison Meteorite in 2019!
The day’s work done
Tim Linton was guest speaker at the Murchison Historical Society Meeting in April relating the journey over 20 years restoring the well-known and historic hotel by the bridge in Murchison. Now known as Thornebridge the building has a new identity and is open to provide accommodation.
Built by Henry Thorne, the hotel was completed in 1868 and originally known as Thorne’s Bridge Hotel and Store. It was next purchased by E. J. Gregory in 1895 who was a prominent citizen and very involved in the civic affairs of Murchison. The Hotel was held in high regard by tourists, commercial travellers and locals and the entries in the visitor’s book during the ownership of the Gregory family reflect many distinguished guests stayed at the hotel and many came from overseas. It was known as the “Mecca of the Valley” with its setting by the river, having four acres of outstanding gardens and a reputation for fine dining.
The hotel stayed in the hands of the Gregory family until 1940 when the Isherwood family took over. Known locally as Gregory’s Hotel the building is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register due to its “architectural significance as a representative example of a substantial two-storeyed brick country hotel with stables of the 1860s with cast iron decorative panels to the return verandah.” The large London Plane tree at the front of the hotel, planted in 1916 is also noted on the Heritage register for its large size, form and branch structure and is the 4th biggest in the State.
GREGORY’S HOTEL 2013
A much neglected, derelict building for many years, the hotel is now cared for and in good order, and Tim and partner Clare have done a mighty job restoring the building from the foundations to the roof top and have fitted out the rooms beautifully with period furniture and fittings.
Anyone staying there is sure to appreciate the quality of the restoration and the atmosphere of stepping back in time to the grand old days of yesteryear. You can book accommodation there now @ Airbnb and they are on facebook @Thornebridge.
John Ball, Anne Finlay, Kay Ball, Warwick Finlay, photograph taken by Marg Lock
The enthusiasm and effective work of the members of the Murchison and District Historical Society was acknowledged with an Award at the Biennial Greater Shepparton Cultural Heritage Awards held in April.
The Award recognised the development of the Heritage Centre in Murchison providing .. “contributions to cultural heritage conservation, research, education, promotion, interpretation, training and awareness raising within the Municipality.”
The second stage of the development of the Heritage Centre, opened in 2014, has been a success in regard to the way the building now provides a much improved experience for the visitor and also for the volunteers giving their time and expertise to meet the aims of the Society.
Visitor numbers have increased over the last three years from approximately 400 in 2014 to 600 in 2015 and last year numbered over 800. Our Heritage Centre is more visible and has a welcoming ‘shop-front’ entrance, is suitable for all abilities and has an excellent function/meeting room and kitchen.
The Awards are organised by the Greater Shepparton Heritage Advisory Committee each two years and there are 8 categories that recognise contributions to heritage in the municipality. We received a very nice certificate as well as a beautiful box of local products that we are still drooling over and thinking about how best to enjoy!
It was a real thrill to receive this Award and is an encouragement to continue our work in preserving our important and unique local heritage.
On the first Saturday in April with traffic controlled by our local constabulary, some lovely old vehicles had right of way to cross the Murchison Bridge. The public were lined up along the roadway, cheering, clapping and waving them on to celebrate the significant milestone of 80 years of the bridge carrying traffic across the waters of the Goulburn at Murchison. It was a lovely sight to see these early vintage cars driving proudly across the bridge and along the main street to the Heritage Centre to join in a morning tea party.
Construction of the bridge started in 1935 and was officially opening on the 31st of March 1937. The Governor of Victoria at the time, Lord Huntingfield, travelled to Murchison by train to officially cut the ribbon and announce the bridge formally open to traffic. Many different events took place over the preceding week in a combined “Back To Murchison” and festivities to mark this historic occasion of the completion of this substantial bridge replacing the deteriorating wooden bridge opened in 1871.
The bridge has served as an important crossing place for 80 years, providing access for traffic travelling through central Victoria both local and further distant, many en-route to interstate destinations.
Rare 1925 Paige, 1928 Ford and Helen and Gordon Newton with their faithful Morris outside the Murchison Heritage Centre.