An historical account of Traralgon, written for the boys and girls of the city.
First published in 1970. Reset on CD Rom 2001
About the author - William J. Cuthill - click here
Chapter 7 Traralgon - The CityIn the year 1936, Traralgon was just one of the country towns in our State of Victoria - a little bigger than Morwell, a great deal larger than Moe, but still a long way behind Sale, the Capital of Gippsland.
But, in December of that year, the Government in Melbourne made an agreement with a New South Wales Company whose name you now all know - The Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited. It was agreed that if the Company built a mill in Gippsland to make paper pulp out of the waste parts of the eucalyptus trees in the forests, particularly around Mount Baw Baw, the Government would make sure that they would be able to obtain enough pulpwood to keep going for at least fifty years. It was talked about in Parliament in Melbourne, and Parliament decided to pass an Act to make the agreement legal.
But, in December of that year, the Government in Melbourne made an agreement with a New South Wales Company whose name you now all know - The Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited. It was agreed that if the Company built a mill in Gippsland to make paper pulp out of the waste parts of the eucalyptus trees in the forests, particularly around Mount Baw Baw, the Government would make sure that they would be able to obtain enough pulpwood to keep going for at least fifty years. It was talked about in Parliament in Melbourne, and Parliament decided to pass an Act to make the agreement legal.
Nobody here in Traralgon seemed to know exactly how far this new paper mill would affect the town, or where it would be built. The Company eventually decided upon a site on the Latrobe River at Maryvale, which is the old name for the Morwell area, just over the border into the Morwell Shire. This was a blow to our citizens, for the rates which would be paid by the mill would be quite a good sum, and they would all be paid to the Shire of Morwell. But, when about 70 out of every 100 workers at the mill decided to live in Traralgon rather than in Morwell or elsewhere, the population of our town started to grow and grow, and this eventually meant more houses, more shops, more schools - and, of course, with all those pay envelopes being spent here each week, more prosperity for all.
Many people in Traralgon left their jobs to take on a job at the Mill, and, for the first time this century, there were more jobs in the town than men to fill them. New faces were to be seen everywhere. Before the Mill was built, few people came and went, and everybody knew everybody else. At school, the same children attended year after year. But when the new families came here, every week there would be new boys and girls starting at our schools.
The most impressive building in the town was completed at this time. St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church was opened by Bishop Ryan of Sale. Mr. John Dwyer, a staunch member of the Church, had left £3,000 in his will, and this enabled the Traralgon Catholics to build in stone from Briagolong, a Church, which would stand on its corner for centuries, the colour of the stonework getting better as the years go by.
The Racing Club had been losing money when it held race meetings upon the new racecourse beyond the Maffra railway line, and it was decided to wind up the Club at this time. The Club owned the racecourse, and it sold it by auction in 1939 to pay its debts. The 60 acres was sold for £940. Everybody was paid, and the racecourse was then used for grazing cattle. When horse racing started to boom again after the War, the new Race Club had high hopes of being able to buy back the course. But the cost proved to be too much, and eventually the Traralgon City Council took over the racecourse for the people of Traralgon and kept it in order.
PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail photograph, for a full page view of a remarkable panoramic photo of Traralgon. The Post Office building is clearly visible in the middle of the photo. The Mechanics Institute and Town Hall complex a little to the right above the Post Office. The Grey St schools in the lower right.
The old Police Station, which had first stood on the corner of Franklin and Seymour Streets, was moved some years later to the land in Kay Street where the Police Station now stands.
But, by 1937, the old wooden building was much in need of repair, and a new Station was built in Seymour Street next door to the Vicarage. Senior Constable F. P. Sloane moved there when the old Police Station was removed from its site in Kay Street over to Livingstone Street where it was used as a private residence. Since then our present Station has been built in Kay Street and the Seymour Street Police Station has become the residence of the Sergeant of Police.
Out at the Paper Mill, a small mill called a pilot mill had started working by December, 1937, producing paper pulp at a rate of 10 tons a day. This mill was more of an experiment to enable the Australian Paper Manufacturers to find out all about this new type of pulp before the big mill was built.
In 1938, another type of greyhound racing was started. Up until now, any coursing had been carried out on the land where the racecourse is today, where pairs of greyhounds chased a hare and were given points for the way in which they chased and turned the hare. But this time many local citizens formed the Traralgon Speed Coursing Company which bought land on Park Lane. Here they built a greyhound racing track, and meetings were held at night under electric light. The hares were let go well ahead of the dogs which raced around the track after they were released from the starting boxes. This new sport in Traralgon drew greyhound racing fans from all over Gippsland, and greyhound racing was very popular every Thursday night until World War II started.
For many years, the young men of Traralgon had been training as soldiers. You will remember how there was at first a Troop of the Victorian Mounted Rifles here some eighty years ago, and how, later on, this became part of the 13th Light Horse Regiment. During the 1930's, military training was being increased, and a unit of foot soldiers, the infantry, was also formed here. These soldiers used to train in an old wooden billiard room behind a shop at the railway end of Franklin Street, where Maryvale Motors are now. This place was most unsuitable, and, at about this time, the Defence Department in Melbourne decided to put up a proper drill hall in Railway Street - a street which changed its name to Queen's Parade after the visit of Her Majesty to Traralgon in 1954.
I have already told you about the big flood of 1934. The Government in Melbourne had been stirred into action by all the damage that it caused, and it set up a Committee to hear what everyone thought to be the best way in which to stop the river flooding again. £46,000 was granted by Parliament in 1939 so that all the snags in the river between Yallourn and Sale could be pulled out. For hundreds of years huge trees had fallen into the river and had been washed down in the floods to become snags, and you all know that red gum takes ages to rot in water. There was also enough money left over to pay for channels to be cut across some small bends to let the water flow away more quickly. As a result, we have never had a really bad flood since that time.
During this year, the new Headquarters for the Gippsland Branch of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria was built. The Commission had been using a two-storied brick building on the corner of Princes Street and Franklin Street. There is now a service station on that corner. The coach-building works of J. W. Mayze & Sons, an old wooden building, had been bought and pulled down, and the fine offices for the Commission were built on the site. Mr. Mayze moved his works over into Mitchell Street, just down the hill from the hotel.
In January, 1939, we had one of the worst bush fires that ever ravaged our district. It burned out Jumbuk, Jeeralang, Koornalla, Callignee, Callignee North and Carrajung. It started west of Jeeralang on a roasting hot day and, with a 60 mile an hour gale behind it, it roared through the gullies and leaped from hilltop to hilltop, burning everything. Many of our hill settlers lost everything, but the people of Traralgon rallied round and helped to replace many of the articles of clothing and furniture that they had lost.
It was in this year that the people of Traralgon felt that their town was not keeping up with Morwell where sewerage had been installed, whereas Traralgon still put up with the night carts. The gentlemen who had been appointed to run the Waterworks Trust were also made the Sewerage Authority for the purpose of getting the scheme going. It was decided to lay big mains through the back yards in all parts of the town. These mains were to all join up down at the Long Bridge where there was to be a pumping station to pump the sewage up beyond the Maffra railway line. At that spot, there was to be a treatment plant, and the treated sewage was to be run out over the paddocks where it would soak away into the soil. It was thought that the whole job would cost about £52,000.
I will soon be telling you of more and more schools, but the first one which I must mention in this chapter is St. Michael's Convent. The increasing number of children going to the Convent school made it necessary for the Sisters of St. Joseph to have it enlarged to provide three classrooms and a hall, the previous Convent school, which had been rebuilt twenty years before, having become too crowded.
In 1940, big excavating machines arrived and started digging the trenches for the main pipes of the sewers. A factory for making concrete pipes was set up, and most of the older part of the town was finished ready for the connections to be laid from the houses. But the war had started, and, in 1942, the whole scheme had to be put aside until Victory had been won.
When they started to build the paper mill out at Maryvale, there were no empty houses in Traralgon in which the men could live. Traralgon had only about 2,000 people then. The A.P.M. decided to put up their own houses, and bought the land between Kay and Grey Streets for the houses of the manager, chief engineer, and the other head men. The A.P.M. also bought a large piece of land in Cumberland Park, and here houses were built for workmen. This part was really outside the town at this time - really out in the paddocks - and the A.P.M. even had to pay for their own water supply system for the houses, joining it on to the town mains. In later years, the Waterworks Trust took over this system from the A.P.M. The married workmen were placed in the new houses in Cumberland Park, but the A.P.M. built a large hostel for the single men down in Anderson Street across the creek. The Company found that it had to keep this hostel going for the next twenty years before selling it to a new owner who tried to make a success of running it as a motel.
When the pilot mill was being built, it became necessary to take the workers out from Traralgon each day. These men were not all from Traralgon - many lived in Morwell - but there were enough to fill several buses. The first Traralgon bus service had been started a few years before by Mr. William Ikin, who had a garage around the corner in Argyle Street. He had been running several buses since December, 1934, to bring shoppers from Yallourn and Morwell to Traralgon on Friday nights and Saturdays. T his scheme had been helped by the Traralgon traders who gave back to the shopper half the price of his used bus ticket. Mr. Ikin had built the body of his first bus himself, and his later models were not much better. They were terrible buses in which to travel, but by now the war was on, and no better vehicles could be provided. Before Mr. Ikin started his bus service up Grey Street to the mill, the only kind of public transport by road were the hire cars and the mail cars which ran across to Yarram, through Gormandale and through Balook, and out to Tyers. The running of buses out to Maryvale made it necessary for the Traralgon Shire Council to improve the road beyond the turn-off to the Cemetery and Tyers along which there had been no traffic at all before the mill was built.
By September, 1939, the main paper pulp mill had been completed out at Maryvale, and it was starting to make paper pulp. Loads of pulpwood were coming in from all parts of the district by road as well as by rail, and the pulpwood truck was a common sight grinding its way up the Grey Street hill at all hours of the day and night.
You already know how our first chemist, Paul Kleesattel, after starting in the central block of Franklin Street, built his chemist's shop on the corner of Franklin and Seymour Street. In September, 1939, sixty years later, Mr. J. B. Robinson, the chemist, bought the shop from Miss Elsie Kleesattel, thus ending the long association of the Kleesattels with that corner.
The second World War had started in September, 1939. Soon many young men from Traralgon had enlisted in the A.I.F., the Navy, or the R.A.A.F. Familiar faces were missing, but it was not until 1942, when Japan attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour that the war really affected Traralgon, when the militia units into which many Traralgon lads had been drafted were called upon to serve outside the Australian mainland,
The new Methodist Church on the Princes Highway had been completed, and it was opened in November, 1939. The old wooden church was left alongside the new one for use as a Sunday School, and in later years it was moved further back on the block to make room for a new hall. This corner is always of interest, for it was here that Thomas Windsor built his house in the1840's, where it was the accommodation house where travellers along the Gippsland Road stayed overnight, both while Windsor and then Peter Jeremiah Smith were living there, before Duncan Campbell built his Travellers' Rest on the Traralgon Hotel corner in 1858.
In 1940, there were about 350 children going to the Grey Street State School, and it became necessary to enlarge the school. New classrooms were built on the Grey Street side of the school. The old wooden building which had been brought over from Campbell Street some ten years before to be used as a Higher Elementary School was proving rather cramped, and further Higher Elementary School classes were now able to use some of the rooms in the State School,
The paper mill at Maryvale had started off by making paper pulp, and the next step was the building of a huge machine which would turn that pulp into paper. By the end of 1940, this machine was making brown wrapping paper in one wide sheet which was running out of the machine on to a big roller faster than you can run. I know that many of you have seen that machine out at Maryvale when you have been there on school excursions.
In September, 1941, the Rotary Club of Traralgon was formed. Its charter to carry on was presented to it in March, 1942. The first president was Mr. Roland Hill, and the first secretary was Mr. Hugh Linaker, the manager of the Gippsland Branch of the State Electricity Commission. The club, which is made up of men who are chosen because they are leaders in their trades or professions, has started various schemes for the improvement of our town. The best of these was to call together our citizens to form a Hospital Trust which led to the Government in Melbourne building a hospital here far bigger than the men of Rotary had ever imagined in their dreams.
Franklin Street was not a very bright place at night, and the traders decided to join together to take out all the poor lights under the shop verandahs and to replace them with hanging white glass bowls all the way down each side. What an improvement it made! It was called "The White Way", and it did really brighten up the street at night. But it was not used for very long for, as soon as Japan started the war against us, all street lighting had to be blacked out. So, for the next four years, the lights of "The White Way" just hung there, getting dirtier and dirtier and dirtier. On the day that Japan surrendered, "The White Way" was switched on in the middle of the day to celebrate the victory. "The White Way" is not in use today because the wiring is now too old.
A large town without a public hospital is seldom found today. However, for years Traralgon had put up with small private hospitals. The chief standby at this time was the Cumnock Private Hospital in Moore Street, which had been run for years by Sister Donovan, and there was also a smaller private hospital called "Ewington" conducted by Sister Fennell over in Shakespeare Street. Those people who could not afford to pay for treatment in a private hospital had to be sent to the nearest public hospital, the Gippsland Base Hospital, at Sale. The big hospital at Yallourn served the State Electricity Commission area only. The Rotary Club called its public meeting in June, 1942, when it was decided that a Hospital Trust should be formed. In the next four years this trust, which was made up of local citizens with Dr. T. A. McLean, Snr., as president, and Mr. Eric Burgess, of the State Electricity Commission as secretary, collected nearly £50,000 by public donations and grants from the Government. In 1946, the trust bought the ten acres of land on the Highway where it decided to build its public hospital with the money which it had in hand. In the meantime, Sister Donovan had to sell her hospital, and in later years it was run by our three local doctors - McTeigue, McLean and Considine - until the new hospital was ready to be opened.
In 1943, it was decided to try to reform the Racing Club, some townspeople thinking that, by holding a race meeting, money might be obtained for patriotic purposes for use in our war effort. Although there were some who thought that the idea was ridiculous, a new club was formed and a strong committee with Mr. Jim Cuddigan as president and hard-working Mr. Reg Collier as secretary held the first meeting on the Traralgon race course by permission of Mr. Ike Cone who then owned the land, and they made a profit of £450. Further meetings were held during the war, and much of the profits was passed on to patriotic efforts and to charities such as the Blind Institute. Since those days the race club has progressed to the stage where it is able to run meetings eleven times a year. It is now one of the strongest country racing clubs in Victoria. Traralgon City council took over the racecourse for the people of Traralgon in October 1964, and it will now be kept and used for all kinds of sport for all time.
Although Edward Hobson had come to Traralgon 100 years before, there had never been a factory of any kind here to make anything to send away to sell in Melbourne. Of course you will want to point out Peterkin's sawmill, the bacon factory, the butter factory and the railway workshops. The paper mill at Maryvale might be thought to be an attempt to build up a local industry, but in 1944, a Melbourne company was persuaded to start a factory here. La Mode Industries Pty. Ltd, were able to use the drill hall when the Volunteer Defence Corps of old soldiers, who were ready to stop any attack by the Japanese on Gippsland, was disbanded, and the company commenced making ladies' brassieres with five girls from Melbourne who, in turn, taught the local girls. Within two years, seventy girls were working at La Mode, and in a town like Traralgon, where there was so little work for girls except in the shops or out at the mill, this new method of using female labour certainly helped to find jobs for so many Traralgon girls who might have had to go to Melbourne to work or to stay here with no chance of finding a job. In the following year, La Mode built its own factory, here in the town, but times changed, and the factory was closed down because it was found to be much cheaper to make goods in Melbourne than in the country. It has now been re-opened by Kayser.
I have told you how the A. P. M. built a large number of houses in Cumberland Park for its workers. In 1945, it was still impossible for people not working out at the mill to find an empty house, and the Victorian Housing Commission took over a large piece of Traralgon Park in Gordon Street. The Commission called for people to give a price for building houses there, and Mr. J. J. Clift from Melbourne was successful in getting the job, Mr. Gavin Blythman, his foreman, came up from Melbourne, and work was started. The Commission built 199 houses in this particular part of the town, the scheme in this area being finished in 1952.
The war finished at the end of 1945, and many of the soldiers, sailors and airmen were given Commission homes on their return home. Traralgon had played its part in winning the war - 405 men and 16 women served in the army, 19 being killed; 111 men and 6 women in the air force, of whom 8 did not return, and 5 men in the navy, one of whom, Ross Berwick, was a member of the crew of H.M.A.S. "Sydney", and was reported "missing" when that ship was lost in the fight with the "Kormoran". Our effort for King and Country was not a bad one for a Shire, which had a population of less than 4,000, but, of course, you must always remember that Australia, with but 7,000,000 people then, had 1,000,000 in the forces. One out of every seven men, women and children was serving his or her country. There was probably no other country in the world with one-seventh of its people in the forces.
When the men were returning home from the war, the Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women was formed, chiefly to help and continue the comradeship for those who could not join the R.S.S.A.I.L.A. because they had not served in any war area. A branch of the legion was formed here in 1946 and, although it did not have as many members as the R.S.L., its members were very active in looking after the interests of servicemen.
You will remember how I told you that a counting of the people, a census, is held every ten years. It is usual to hold it in the year ending in the figure "1", but the war prevented the 1941 census being held until 1946. The total number of persons in the whole of the Traralgon Shire at the 1946 count was 5,396 and, of these, only 700 did not live in Traralgon. Today the city of Traralgon has 14,600 people - quite a gain in twenty-five years.
In 1946, it was decided that the future Civic Centre for Traralgon would be on the Traralgon Creek with Mill street and Argyle Street as the boundaries. Seven acres of land was bought there by the Shire Council, and plans were made for building a modern Town Hall to replace the Town Hall in Hotham Street. In the meantime, the land was to be laid out as a park with lawns sloping gently down to the creek,
At this time Mrs. Black, of Traralgon South, presented to the Traralgon Boy Scouts the old State School ground at Koornalla. The school had been taken away many years before this date, and Mrs. Black had been renting the land from the Education Department. This area is of particular historical interest, for Count Strzelecki's map shows that he crossed the Traralgon Creek in this locality in 1840 after he had been trying to find his way over the Callignee Hills with his horses. There is a monument to Strzelecki outside the Scout Reserve. The scout committee built a hut from tent floorboards bought from Army camps, and regular camps were held at the reserve by the local Scout Troop,
During the years of the war, the banks had to close up branches in some towns where there were really too many banks for the number of people. But none were closed here in Traralgon where we had the National Bank, the Bank of Australasia, the Union Bank and the State Savings Bank. When the war was over, the banks began to open new branches where they were needed. Traralgon was starting lo grow quickly, and in October,1946, the Commercial Bank opened here in a shop next door to the Crown Hotel. Since then all the other banks have come here for, like you, they felt that Traralgon would soon become the chief city of Gippsland. We now have, in addition to the banks I have mentioned, the Bank of New South Wales, the Commonwealth Bank, the Commercial Banking Co, of Sydney, and the English, Scottish and Australian Bank,
Traralgon was 100 years old in 1944. As you remember, Edward Hobson and Hugh Reech arrived here -with their mob of cattle in about June, 1844. All thought of celebrating that event here in Traralgon had to be put off because of the war, and it was not until December, 1946, that our Centenary celebrations were held. Under Councillor H. J. Saunders as president, and Mr. Harold Hanning as organiser, every committee and club in Traralgon joined together in making the celebrations a success. Each was required to send two members to the first meeting. At that meeting committees were formed to handle decorations, entertainments and to welcome home returning former residents.
An Historical Committee was also formed, and that Committee set out to write the first History of Traralgon. That history was the beginning of a much bigger History of which this story, written especially for the girls and boys, is taken. The celebrations lasted for a week, and included the Centenary Show, a floral carpet, an historical exhibition, a race meeting, back-to-school, and a Coronation Ceremony when the Queen of Victory was to be crowned by General Sir Thomas Blamey. He became ill and Councillor George Purvis, from Moe, the founder of Purvis Stores, who was the president of the Shire of Narracan, acted in his stead. The Governor of Victoria, Sir Winston Dugan, came up from Melbourne, and one of his acts while here was to visit the site of our hospital where he turned the first sod to start the work that, in later years, resulted in the building of our hospital which cost £1,500,000.
In1946, Miss Eva West resigned as Shire Secretary, thus bringing to an end the long association between her and her father, Walter West and the Traralgon Shire Council. I have told you how Walter West was first elected a Councillor in 1897, and how he became Shire Secretary in 1907, an office which he held until his death in 1934, when his daughter followed on as Shire Secretary.
The land at the bottom of the Kay Street hill had always been a swamp. In early times, the coaches had quite a job getting through the mud on their way from Morwell along the Old Melbourne Road. After the end of the First World War, the Council put in a drain which ran right from the swamp through the Chinamen's gardens in Traralgon Park to the creek. Because it was dug by men who had been soldiers at the War, some people called it the "Suez Canal".
This land belonged to Mr. J. E. Thomson, who was Clerk of Courts here until 1927, and, when he died, the Council bought the land for use as a park. When the big tunnels were being dug for the sewerage mains, a lot of the clay and soil was carted to this swamp, and it was not long before it was filled in. In 1947, the Traralgon Tennis Club asked the Council if it would let the Club have some of this land for seven years so that it could build some tennis courts there. The Bowling Club was cramped for room down in Deakin Street, and when the Tennis Club built the two new courts over in Kay Street, the Bowling Club was able to take over the old tennis courts and to extend its green right out to Princes Street.
In May, 1948, the Boy Scouts were able to build their first hall. Up until St. James' Hall was burned down in 1937, they had met there. But the generosity of Miss Ellen Newman, who had given the Scouts a large piece of land on the east side of the creek enabled plans to be made for building a hall there. In the meantime, they had held their meetings in various places, including the old shire hall. The Scout Committee had made plans for a Iog cabin like that which had been built for the scouts at Moe, but logs were rather costly, and there was not enough money in hand for that to be done. However, Mr. Duncan Cameron, who was a builder, and his sons who were in the Scouts, helped by many willing hands, brought in an old house from Gormandale, and re-erected it on the land which is now called "Newman" Park", and since that date the scouts have always had a home of their own.
Dr. T. A. McLean passed away in August, 1948. He had come here in 1904 as a young doctor, fresh from Geelong Hospital. He had played football with Geelong and was, of course, a star player with Traralgon. During the years of the First World War, he was the only doctor in the town, Dr. Hagen having joined the A.I.F. He knew the private lives of most of our citizens, and had played a leading part in many committees and clubs. He was also chairman of the local Justices of the Peace. The old white-haired doctor could look back on forty years of service to the town, much of it without any reward other than the thanks of the people he was serving, both as a doctor and also as a townsman.
It was also at this time that the first ice works was opened in the town at the bottom of the hill in Grey Street behind the Butter Factory. Before this date, ice had always to be brought from Morwell.
You already know that the Traralgon Rotary Club was founded in 1941, and how the Rotarians set about doing things for the town.
There was also a similar club called Apex, and it was decided to start an Apex Club here as well. The Apex Club of Bairnsdale set the Traralgon Club going in October, 1948. Young men of Traralgon who were ready to work hard for their town joined in, and the club received its Charter from Apex in March, 1949. Mr. Ian Archibald was the first president and Mr, Jack Mole the first secretary. They were both engineers here with the State Electricity Commission. One of the first jobs taken on by the Apexians was the cleaning of the "White Way". The big globes had not had a good wash since they were put up nearly ten years before.
So many boys wished to join the Traralgon Cub Pack that, in February, 1949, another pack was formed. Mrs. F. A. Tilbury had been running the pack for some time, assisted by her sister, Mrs. C. Johnson. When the second pack was formed, Mrs. Johnson became "Akela" of the new pack, and the two sisters continued the difficult task of conducting both packs. In later years, a third Traralgon Cub Pack was formed with Mrs. James as "Akela" and Mr. Bruce Adams as "Baloo". It first met in Cumberland Park Tennis Club Hall, and is still a very strong pack.
The Recreation Reserve or, as you know it, the Showgrounds, was proving too small for the needs of the town. In 1950, extra land was bought on the south side where you now find all the sideshows on Show Day. The playing area was re-formed, and a bicycle track laid down around it. The old grandstand, which had served for fifty years, had been pulled down, and the Traralgon Football Club built a new stand there, the first of a series of buildings to be erected at the reserve.
The Apex Club realised the need for a further playing field in our town and, in 1951, it took on the job of preparing Apex Park up in Grey Street. It cleared the land of trees and stumps, laid out and fenced the oval, and handed it over to the people of Traralgon ready for the playing of sport.
Nowadays we have taxi and bus services throughout the town, but seventy or more years ago we had "Bait and Livery Stables" where a horse could be hired for riding, a buggy hired for driving, or where you could put up your horse for a feed or for the night. Of course, the hotels also provided a stable and a feed of oats for the horses of travellers lodging for the night. The largest of the livery stables was that of Mr. E. Roberts who sold out to Mr. Peter Dunbar. It was a large wooden building in Hotham Street opposite the Town Hall and, in later years, became Mr, Roland Hill's garage. In 1950, Mr, Hill pulled down the old building after it had been severely damaged in a storm, and erected the first part of the modern Roland Buildings on the site. This new building contained a cafe as well as a garage in its lay-out, with offices upstairs, and was the first of a number of new buildings containing shops and arcades which were erected in Traralgon after the war. Mr. Hill completed his buildings in 1956.
The bricks made from Traralgon clay are renowned for their quality and have been used widely throughout Gippsland. You can see these bricks in the walls of the Court Houses in Traralgon and Warragul. However, for some years a new type of brick made from sand and lime, cooked in a steam box, called an autoclave, had been made at Frankston. In 1950, Traralgon people were asked to put in their money to create a new company the Great Eastern Brick company, to make bricks here. The company set up its works on the south side of the town where silica bricks, as they were called were made by a staff of twenty men. The company now has fifty men engaged in brickmaking. One of the effects of this new type of brick being made here so cheaply was the closing down of the only clay brickworks left in the town. Mr. Reg Wigg was making bricks, and his clay hole and kilns were on the corner of Hickox Street and Bank Street. He sold out to Mr. Schwartz in 1951, and the last bricks were made there in 1958. The other clay holes around the town had been filled in for years, and this clay pit also has now been filled with rubbish from the town and has been made into an excellent cricket ground - the Duncan Cameron Memorial Oval,
In the same year of 1950 the number of boys wishing to join the scouts made it necessary to form a 2nd Traralgon Troop. Normally a scout troop. has 29 scouts in four patrols of seven scouts with a troop leader, but that number was quite insufficient. The 2nd Traralgon Troop shared the hall and all the other facilities owned by the lst Traralgon Troop. But there are now nine troops here, the 3rd Boy Scout Troop, which was formed in 1952 serving the Cumberland Park area and the 4th Troop being attached to St. Michael's Church,
The Governor had turned the first sod on the land set apart for the Traralgon Hospital in 1946, and his successor, Sir Dallas Brookes came up here in September, 1950 to lay the foundation stone of the new building. A large hospital had been planned, and it took six years to build it.
Most of the boys and girls reading this story went to kindergarten before they started school, but, if they had been very young before the year 1950, they would have had to wait until they were nearly six years of age before they could attend any school. However, in November, 1950, the first kindergarten here was started in the Presbyterian Sunday School Hall in Kay Street, and since then, of course, many other similar kindergartens have been opened for our small children.
More children were attending school here, and the Grey Street State School was not able to hold them all. The Education Department built the first separate school up in Stockdale Road, and it was opened in 1951 with Mr. A. Womersley as head teacher. It was intended to be only for children in grades I to 4 who would came from the Housing Commission area and the A.P.M. houses. The older children still had to go to the Grey Street school, but 193 small children attended Stockdale Road school in its first year.
This transfer of the smaller children to Stockdale Road fitted in quite well with the raising of the Higher Elementary School to a High School in the same year. There were now 2l7 boys and girls going to the High School in the Grey Street School where Mr. H. E. L. Jones, its first principal, carried on under difficult conditions while steps were being taken towards finding a piece of land on which a separate High School could be built.
In October, 1951, the Bank of Australasia and the Union Bank joined together under the name of the Australia & New Zealand Bank. You will remember how the Bank of Australasia opened here first in 1876, while the Union Bank did not open its branch here until 1906. With the merger of the two banks, both branches kept open here for some time until the Union Bank premises were taken over by the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society, which altered them and built two shops on Franklin Street which are now occupied by Dunn's Heating, and O.P.S.M., while the Colonial Mutual Society has its offices in the part which used to be the residence of the bank manager.
Up until this time, there had been no school in all Gippsland for training retarded or spastic children. The citizens of Traralgon formed a committee which decided that it was time that something was done for these boys and girls. A special school was started for them in the Presbyterian Sunday School Hall in 1952 where, at first, five children were helped to become good citizens. This school grew and grew until, in 1957, a special building, "Cooinda Hill" was built. The school now has 50 children in attendance, some from as far away as Moe and Mirboo North.
In August, 1952, South Eastern Milk Products took over the Traralgon Butter Factory. By this move, the company intended to change the factory into a depot for bottling milk for Traralgon. The day of the sale of milk in billies was going, and bottled milk would soon be the rule. This meant that, instead of picking up cream in cans from the farmers, the company began collecting milk in big tankers. I told you earlier how the opening of the railway to Melbourne in 1879 enabled factories to be built to make butter which could be sent to Melbourne on the train for sale. And now, after 80 years, the making of butter at the Traralgon Butter Factory was soon to cease. There was now to be no skim milk on the farms to be fed to the pigs, and you will notice how this change of the butter factory into a milk bottling depot must have affected the kind of goods which the farmer could now sell. In August, 1963, South Eastern Milk Products opened a large new factory on the Glengarry Road, and it then closed down the milk depot in the town. The old butter factory has now become a cordial factory.
You may remember how the Salvation Army met in Traralgon from 1888 to 1910, when the local corps was disbanded. Early in 1953, it was decided to re-open the corps, and an old army hut was erected in Roosevelt Street where 2nd Lieut. Doreen Johnston was the officer- in-charge of the new corps.
In the early 1920s, the Mechanics' Institute started showing moving pictures in its hall each Saturday night. Of course, there had been the odd travelling show here before then showing some special film like "The Great Train Robbery", but the Mechanics' Institute provided a show regularly each week. When the Town Hall was built next door in 1925, the picture show moved there, and the profits really paid off the Town Hall. Sometimes these picture shows were packed, especially in later years when films like "The Overlanders" were shown.
It was not long before private showmen who could raise enough money to build their own theatre stepped in, and Lawrence Brothers built the Valley Theatre in Grey Street. The comfort of the new theatre with its carpeted foyer was quite a change from the draughts and discomforts of the Town Hall, and although both theatres continued in opposition for some time, the competition proved too great. Traralgon was not large enough for two picture theatres and the Town Hall Pictures eventually closed down in August, 1953. Mr. Ted Conchie, our Boer War veteran, who is so well known to all of you, had been the manager of the Town Hall Pictures for over twenty years, and was forced to retire.
In this same year, another industry came to Traralgon. For many years it had been known that quite good limestone could be found, in the ranges at the back of Tyers, and the A.P.M. had a limestone quarry there. Some engineers thought that this limestone might be burned in a kiln with local brown coal and changed into cement. Many local people put their money into the new company called the Gippsland Cement and Lime Company. A cement works was built on the south side of the town, and the first cement was made by the staff of 50 in December, 1953. The limestone in the Tyers area cost a lot of money to get out, and the company found it cheaper to get its material from a bed of limestone in the Merriman's Creek area to the south of Rosedale. The cement works has grown larger over the years, and 125 men now work there.
There are many citizens in that part of the town who are not at all happy about the works being so close to the town, having regard to the dust that is made when the cement is being crushed, and the continued noise of the machinery, but our Councillors at the time who gave their permission for the factory to be built there might not have had any idea how the works, which brought so much work for the men of the town, would have turned out to be so unpopular with those people who have their homes near the factory.
On 3rd March, 1954, Her Majesty the Queen visited Traralgon on her first visit to Australia. This was probably the most important day in our history, and, on that day, there were more people here in Traralgon than ever before. Her Majesty could not stop to meet her subjects at every small town, and as Traralgon was one of the more important towns in Gippsland, people gathered here from all parts of the Shires of Rosedale, Traralgon, Morwell and Mirboo to greet her. The President of our Shire, Councillor Clem Little met and welcomed Her Majesty on behalf of all her loyal subjects here in Traralgon. The R.A.A.F. had flown the Queen up to Sale from the city, and she then travelled back to Melbourne by train. Our welcome to her took place at the railway station.
Another new school was opened in Kosciusko Street in March, 1954, to provide a school for the younger children who lived in the western part of the town. The school started off with 177 scholars in six classrooms, but that part of the town has grown so fast that there are now 480 children there in 12 classrooms.
I have already told you how the Traralgon Waterworks Trust was formed into a Sewerage Authority for the purpose of putting sewers throughout the town, and how the scheme had to be stopped during the War. After the war, the Government in Melbourne began to think of building a huge gasworks at Morwell to make gas out of brown coal and to pump it down a pipe all the way to Melbourne. A gas works uses a lot of water, and the first task was to find somewhere to send all this filthy water. It could not go back into the Latrobe River again, and the engineers thought that the best plan would be to run it down to the sea in a pipe. The A.P.M. also had a lot of dirty water which it was pumping out into huge ponds near the works at Maryvale from where it might soak away. Some of the water, which was not too dirty was going back into the river, and it was intended to put this waste water from the A.P.M. into the pipe as well. In 1954, it was decided to form the Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board with its head office here in Traralgon. A big pipe was to be laid down the valley of the Latrobe River to take the waste water from the Morwell gas making plant and the A.P.M, at Maryvale down to Dutson where it could be used to irrigate and to fertilize land which was of very poor quality. This new scheme called for more pipes, and the Hume Pipe Company built a works here to make concrete pipes for the job.
When the new houses were built in the north-east corner of Morwell, it was decided to put the sewage from this area into the big pipe, rather than to extend the treatment works which were serving the older area of the town. In Traralgon, houses and shops were connected to the sewerage mains, and, in 1956, the sewerage scheme commenced operating. Sewage was pumped up the hill and treated and discharged on to the sewerage farm just over the railway line that goes to Maffra. After about two years of operation, it was becoming necessary to find more land for treating the sewage, but when it was found that there was still room in the big pipe, it was decided to put all the sewage from Traralgon into it. Thus the use of the sewerage farm at Traralgon ceased. By 1964, most of our town had been sewered. The Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board built a new two storey building for its headquarters at the eastern end of Seymour Street in 1956.
The Traralgon Gas Works, which had been built in 1889, chiefly to light the streets of the town with gas in place of the kerosene lamps, were still losing money - almost £10,000 a year. The Council owned the Gas Works and so had to make up this loss by collecting heavier rates from the townspeople. So the Council was really glad when, in 1954, the Government in Melboume decided to buy the Gas Works as a going concern for nearly £50,000. In April, 1957, Traralgon became the first country town to be supplied with gas direct from the Morwell Gas Works. It cost £35,000 to put in the pipe from Morwell here, but it also made it possible to close down the Gas Works on the corner of Breed and Kay Streets. The gasometer and buildings have now all gone, and their site has been used for the enclosure around the town baths, known now as the Hubert Osborne Memorial Park.
The Boy Scouts had at last built their new hall in Newman Park across the creek. Although the original idea had been to erect a log cabin, that idea was abandoned, and a fine brick hall was built instead. It was opened on 23rd October, 1954, by Mrs. McNairn, the sister of Miss Ellen Newman, who had given the land to the Scouts. Mrs. McNairn is the only living child of Samuel Newman, a carrier who came here in the late sixties and who later married Miss Patience Liddiard, the daughter of another pioneer family.
Mr. Cecil Stammers built the first part of his Supermarket in Seymour Street during1954, and the front portion was opened in January, 1955. There had never been a shopping arcade in Traralgon before, but now there are several. The second part of Mr, Stammers' Supermarket was not opened until 1958.
The Traralgon Agricultural Society had built a large wooden Exhibition Hall in the Show Grounds in 1889, and it was now getting into bad repair. The old Grandstand had been pulled down in 1951 by the Apex Club, and, in 1955, the Exhibition Hall was also demolished by Apex. The Grandstand and the Exhibition Hall had both been built during the first few years that the Traralgon Show was held. The few people living here in those days had certainly built well with but little money.
There had been a croquet green next door to the Bowling club and, in1955 the Club bought this land. The new club house was built there, and it was opened in 1958.
Up until this time, all mothers who wished to go to an Infant Welfare Centre with their babies had to go to the centre in Kay Street. The A.P.M. houses in Cumberland Park were really still well out of the town, and the Shire Council agreed, in 1955, to open a second centre in the Cumberland Park Hall,
The number of pupils attending the Traralgon High School had caused serious overcrowding at Grey Street School. At long last, the Education Department in Melbourne had bought a large block of land on the corner of the Gormandale Road and the Switch Back Road, where a High School of 16 rooms, a large theatre, a gymnasium, and other rooms was built. It was opened at the beginning of the second term in 1955 with 470 pupils under Mr. H. E. L. Jones as Principal. When built, it was probably the most modern High School in our State, for it cost about £185,000. Since then it has become necessary to add a further eight rooms to the School, and there are now 900 Pupils there with 46 teachers, and Mr. Jones retired as principal in 1967.
The Housing Commission had used up all its land in the area of Gordon Street, and the Commission was about to build on a new estate. This was on Liddiard Road on the other side of the town and the first houses were erected there at the end of 1955.
The Hume Pipe Company had won the contract for supplying the big pipes for the 26 mile sewerage pipe line down to Dutson, and in 1955 it built its factory on the highway beyond the railway line where it made the pipes. After the pipe line had been laid, the factory was closed down, for there was no great need in Gippsland for such huge concrete pipes.
In 1954, a boys' club was started by Lieut. Johnson of the Salvation Army. She arranged with one of our policemen to instruct the boys in physical training and boxing. The first meetings were held in the Salvation Army Hall, and the boys really rushed the classes. Soon the hall became too small and the job too large for Miss Johnson. A public meeting was called during 1956, and a committee of citizens formed to help the Traralgon police under Sergeant R. F. Brown to run the club as the Police Boys and Girls Club. In its best years the club had 750 girls and boys taking part in its activities,
For some years past, there had been a movement here in Victoria for what we call "Town Planning". The idea was to get the experts together to draw up a plan for each town in our State to decide which parts were to be used for factories and which part for houses, and where future roads should be laid down. A plan was prepared for Traralgon as a guide for the citizens of the future. This plan even showed where the Princes Highway would come down Kay Street and run on down Mitchell Street to keep all the heavy traffic out of Franklin Street. The completed plan was put on show in the Traralgon Town Hall in February, 1956, so that people who did not agree with the Town planners could register their objections. That plan has now been settled, and the Traralgon City Council requires that all future buildings must be in accord with the plan. You are not permitted to put up a shop or a factory in parts set apart for houses unless the council gives you special permission.
Up until this time, those parents who desired that their sons should receive their secondary education in a church school had to send them to either Sale or Melbourne. However, the Roman Catholics were the first to act, although many of their boys had been students of St. Patrick's College at Sale. The Marist Fathers with Father Davis as principal founded St, Paul's College at the beginning of 1956 with boys in the first classes. The college had been built at the western end of Grey Street on land donated by Mr. S. P. Stoddart, and it consisted of a brick school with a residence next door for the teaching fathers with plenty of grounds where the boys could play sport.
Ever since the railway was opened from Oakleigh to Sale in 1877, the trains had taken about four hours to reach Traralgon. After the war, railway engines were altered to burn oil instead of coal, and it was possible to get up speed quicker. The trains leaving Traralgon would steam at full speed up the cutting on the way to Melbourne instead of crawling as before. But so many trainloads of briquettes were being sent from Yallourn to Melbourne each day that the Gippsland railway line was extremely busy, and the Government decided to put in another line so that trains could run each way at the same time, and also to electrify the line all the way to Traralgon. This would make it the longest electric railway line in Australia. It cost £8,000,000 to do this, and the first electric locomotive pulled its train into Traralgon in March, 1956. We are really fortunate in having electric trains all the way to Melbourne. Our railways had only started to use the big diesel locomotives, and it has now been found that it is cheaper by far to change from steam engines to diesel locomotives rather than to put in all the wires and other gear to drive the trains by electricity. So our electric railway line to Melbourne will probably be the last long line of its kind in Victoria.
Although Sir Winston Dugan, the Governor of Victoria, had turned the first sod on the site for the Traralgon Hospital when he came here at the time of the Centenary Celebrations, and the foundation stone was laid by his successor, Sir Dallas Brooks, in September, 1950, it was not until 1956 that our new hospital was completed and ready to take patients. It had been built at a cost of £1,500,000, which is a great deal of money for the Government to spend here, but our hospital is intended to receive most of the sick people from the Latrobe Valley, especially when the Yallourn Hospital has to be pulled down. You all know that that hospital is built on the brown coal bed, and in a few years time the open cut will need the land on which the hospital now stands. So our hospital is designed to provide for the people of Yallourn and Morwell as well. In July, 1956, the Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Slim, officially opened the new hospital which has beds for 208 patients. With the opening of this hospital the smaller private hospitals, such as "Cumnock" in Moore Street, closed their doors, although, of course, we now have other places such as "Dalkeith" and a small private hospital caring for elderly people.
The Maryvale mill was still getting bigger. A second paper machine had been installed, and it started turning out paper during 1956.
Franklin Street was changing. In 1957, the A.N.Z. Bank on the corner of Hotham Street was pulled down. In1890, when it was built, it was one of the outstanding buildings in the town, but we must progress. A fine new building has been erected by the Bank on the same corner.
In 1957, a new police station was built. as well. The office in the station in Seymour Street had become too small, and additional offices had been built in the front garden. The growth of Traralgon can be gauged by the size of the police force. In 1936, there were a senior constable and two men here, but, by 1957 there were a sergeant, a senior constable and six constables. The land on which the old police station had stood in Kay street had been proposed as a site for extensive new Government offices to house all the Government Departments in the town - Lands Department, Agriculture Department, Country Roads Board, Transport Regulation Board, and others. But it was decided eventually that the land would be used for a new police station and that the station in Seymour Street would be used solely as a residence for the sergeant.
You will remember how the Shire Council bought the land down at the Long Bridge with the view to make it the site for the future Civic Centre. In 1957, it was able to buy the saleyards right in the centre of the town. It cost us £12,750, but you will agree with me that the Council was indeed fortunate in securing this much better place for the Town Hall.
In 1957, our second shopping arcade, the National Mutual Arcade, was built. The front part was built first, and then, in 1961, the garden section was extended to join up with the arcade from Seymour Street. This made it a throughway between Hotham Street and Seymour Street.
I must now take you back to the days when the Latrobe was a good river in which to swim. The water was quite warm out at Tyers, for it had been used in the Power House at Yallourn to change the hot steam back into water as it came out of the turbines. But the water in the river was rather dirty with briquette dust, and some of the boys in the town preferred to swim in a big hole in the creek just below the Cordial Factory Bridge in Shakespeare Street, or in other holes further downstream. In about 1930, the Shire Council built some dressing sheds down at the hole in Campbell's Traralgon Park, where the camping park is today. As this hole was downstream from the main town drain, a shower was really necessary after a swim in that part of the creek. The Shire Council now thought that the time had come for a town baths to be built, and, in 1934, the first baths were opened on that triangle of land where Princes Street joins Hotham Street near the railway yards. The pool was not large, and it was of untiled concrete, but there was a steady flow of fresh water from a fountain feeding the pool. There was no chlorination plant here then. This small pool was very popular, but, when the town started to grow, it was decided, in 1957, to build a new pool of Olympic size. It was fortunate for the Traralgon people that the council had bought all the swamp at the foot of the Kay Street hill. It had been owned by Mr. J. E. Thomson, the Clerk of Courts, for many years, and was just a mass of rushes. It was thought that to put in a pool of the correct size would cost about £40,000. The Government paid its share, the citizens gave their part, and the council borrowed the rest. The final payment was made in 1968. But you know how well that money has been spent on the beautiful tiled chlorinated swimming pool in its setting of green lawns.
At this stage maybe we should retrace our steps and mention Traralgon's better water supply. Ever since 1908, the town had been using the water brought from the Tyers River by our first water scheme. Then, of course, we had the water tower added in 1928, and Hilltop Reservoir in 1933. The Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board had decided on bigger things, and a new 18 inch water main was laid out to Tyers to a pumping station on the Tyers River quite a long way below the place from where the water was coming here by gravity. Water was pumped into the new main for a start until the huge 60in. pipeline from the Moondarra Reservoir to Morwell was finished. Then our new 18in. pipe was connected to the 60in. one, and, since the summer of 1956, we have been using the water from the Moondarra Reservoir here in the town.
The Roman Catholic boys were receiving their secondary education at St. Paul's and this was soon followed by the erection of a college for the girls. In 1958, the Brigidine Nuns, who had taken over St, Michael's School from the Sisters of St, Joseph, established Kildare College with 72 students in a new brick school in Seymour Street, next door to St. Michael's Primary School. This school soon proved to be too small, and it became necessary to build a new two-storey college in Kosciusko street. This school was opened in1962, and St, Michael's was able to take over the empty school rooms in Seymour Street,
By now you have all realised how Traralgon grew up from a place where the mobs of cattle on the way to the Melbourne market camped overnight to a town where cattle sales were held each week. And you also remember how the sale yards were dotted here and there in the town until finally we had just the two yards, McLean & Hill, where the Civic Centre is today, and Thos. Standing & Co,, in Breed Street at the top of Hotham Street. For years and years there had been suggestions made that the Council should build its own saleyards and close down the private yards. But this never happened here. The local auctioneers decided to build combined yards themselves, and the new yards up on the Princes Highway beyond the Maffra railway line were opened in July, 1958. This meant that the sites of the other two yards in the town were no longer required, one having already been bought by the Council for the Civic Centre, and the other by the Government as a site for Government offices.
Another of Traralgon's colorful personages passed away in 1958. Ambrose Michael Ryan had been a worthy citizen of the town. His life had been associated with the hotel business. His father, Daniel Ryan, was the licensee of the Commercial Hotel in Argyle Street for thirty years, and Amby took it over in 1915. Four years later, he took over the Club Hotel for seven years, and in 1934 he became the licensee of the Traralgon Hotel which he held until his death. He played football with Traralgon Club from 1900 until 1921, and was captain for some years,
Over the years, the practice has grown up of supplying blood to injured people who might otherwise have died through loss of blood. Bottled blood is kept at hospitals ready for such emergencies, and we have our own blood bank here in Traralgon. The bank was started here in January, 1958, when twelve people gave one pint of blood each to the bank,
In about 1888, the Parers of the Grand Junction Hotel had brought the first "safety bicycle" to Traralgon, and the young gentlemen and ladies soon joined the fashionable Cycling Club for outings. But modern cycling had turned to road racing, and Traralgon had its Cycle Club which ran its road races, a favoured circuit being a race out through the mill to Morwell and home along the highway. The Shire Council helped to put in a proper cycle racing track around the oval on the Recreation Reserve, and it was opened for use in March, 1958.
Mr. William Maxwell Bruce had been for many years a Traralgon member of the law firm of Serjeant, Bruce and Frost-Samuels. His wife was a descendant of the McMillans who were early settlers at Hazelwood. After the death of Mr. Bruce and his wife, their residence "Dalkeith" was changed into a home for the elderly citizens of Traralgon and named "The Grace Bruce McMillan Memorial Home". It was opened in March, 1958. It was at this time, too, that the old Shire Hall was handed over to the elderly citizens for a club room in the town.
I have told you how the first kindergarten was started in the Presbyterian Sunday School hall in 1950. In April, 1958, another kindergarten was started up in Pax Hill where children from the Housing Commission area could attend.
The Traralgon Shire officers moved into their new offices in Kay Street in November, 1959, and the new Civic Building was first used in December, 1959.
For many years, the nearest Technical School to Traralgon was at Yallourn. Boys leaving the sixth grade at school had either to go into the Higher Elementary School, or later, the High School, or to catch the bus down to Yallourn. For girls there was no technical education at all. And those apprentices who had to attend the senior technical school as part of their training for their trades all had to attend the classes at Yallourn. However, the Traralgon Technical School was opened in the Traralgon Police Boys and Girls Clubrooms in Roseneath Street in February, 1960, with 88 boys in the first classes, and with Mr. T. E. Clement as the first principal. Of course, the students doubled in number in the next year, and trebled in 1962. The Education Department built a new Technical School at the western end of Grey Street, and it was opened in August, 1961. he Technical School now provides tuition for both day and evening classes.
You will not have forgotten how, thirty, years ago, old Dr. McLean felt that there was no need for a mental hospital here in Traralgon - a fence around the town would have been sufficient. But the efforts then taken by Traralgon Chamber of Commerce were now producing results. In 1938, the Government in Melbourne started inspecting sites. All the big towns in Gippsland became interested, but the final decision was made between Traralgon and Sale, Traralgon being selected in 1944. It was thought that land on the north side of the town would be best, but, because these sites were too close to the paper pulp mill, it was eventually decided to put the hospital on the south side of the town further away from the fumes from the pulp works. But nothing was done, and at one stage it was almost decided to put the hospital at Warragul because the Traralgon site would be affected by dust from the new S.E.C. works at Hazelwood. At this time, 1952, there were 292 Gippsland people in hospitals scattered elsewhere in Victoria. Work on building the hospital did not commence until 1960, and it was not until November, 1963, that the hospital was opened with beds for 84 patients. The hospital now has 172 beds and a staff of 80. A hospital as large as this will really create another industry in the town and provide jobs for many of our citizens, and this was the reason why, so many years ago, our Chamber of Commerce set the ball rolling and started the idea. Of course there is no need for me to tell you from where the Hospital, Hobson Park, received its name.
PHOTO: Click on the image, for a full page aerial view of Traralgon in 1965. Towards the upper left you can see the showgrounds arena, and the black line of the creek meandering through the town. The newly built hospital is visible in the middle upper right, adjacent to the railway line bisecting the town.
I have taken you through the different forms of Local Government that we have had here in Traralgon. From the arrival of Edward Hobson in 1844 up until 1869, the settlers and others were under the control of the Crown Lands Commissioner, Mr. C. J. Tyers, and later the Central Road Board in Melbourne which looked after the few roads and bridges. In 1869, you will remember that the Rosedale Road Board was appointed. and its territory stretched west as far as the Morwell River. Then, in 1871, the Road Board District was turned into the Shire of Rosedale. This was the state of affairs until 1880, when the part from Flinn's Creek to the Morwell River and from the Latrobe to the Strzelecki Ranges was cut off to become the Shire of Traralgon. Later on, the Morwell area was taken away to form the Shire of Morwell and, in 1885, the Traralgon Shire was divided into Ridings. The town area contained all of the shops and most of the houses. In 1961, the Councillors decided that it was time that Traralgon stepped up a little, and that the town area should be a Borough.
Sale had started off as a Borough in 1863. I told you earlier that a Borough must not contain more than nine square miles, and it was quite easy to get all of the built up areas within the Borough boundaries. On 31st May, 1961, our town was proclaimed a Borough with Councillor J. Maskrey as the first Mayor.
In April, 1961, another primary school was opened, this time at East Traralgon. There was a real need for a school here, for the Housing Commission had built a large number of houses to the east of Liddiard Road, and the children had been causing serious overcrowding at the Grey Street School. Liddiard Road school started off with 235 pupils, most of them coming from Grey Street, and there are now 650 children at the school.
The creation of Traralgon as a Borough in 1961 was just a step on its way to becoming a City. Sale had been a City for years, and Moe had taken that step on 6th March, 1963. Sale was created a Borough over 100 years ago, and many years later became a Town and then, in later years, a City. However, the Traralgon Borough Councillors decided to step straight from a Borough to a City. On 2nd April, 1964, Her Majesty the Queen's representative, Sir Rohan Delacombe, the Governor of our State of Victoria, proclaimed the City of Traralgon here at the Civic Centre in the presence of all the school children and their parents.
It took my mind back to that day in July, 1881, when all the children at the Traralgon State School were present at the old Shire Hall when Councillor Henry Breed laid the foundation stone of that building, which has now been removed to make way for the new highway down Kay Street.
And now boys and girls, I have come to the end of my story. I hope that you will have read it right through to the end. Of course, there are many other happenings about which I might have written, and I may have made a few mistakes, but, in writing it, I have had to make the tale of "The River of Little Fish" a story which will be of real use to you in your classes at school.
Some day, in years to come, one of you may feel like re-writing my story to bring it up to date for your grandchildren so that they, too, may know all about our City where they, also, learn its history at school. It is my sincere hope that you do so, and that you will find as much pleasure as I have had in putting all the bits and pieces together in this, your very own history.
End of Chapter 7