The year 2010 ended for our society with a very pleasant excursion to the farm of the Love family near English’s Corner. It was an ideal chance to see one of those more remote dairying properties that functioned until milk tankers grew so enormous that they could no longer fit through gates or around turning circles. Consequently dairying became unviable. Jean Beamish (nee Love) and her sister, Ellen, led us through the Budgeree hills to the Grand Ridge Road junction and then down Jenkins Road to the old farmhouse where they grew up. It nestles, a little worse for the weather, on a ridge just above valleys that flow down south towards Jack River. The girls showed us with pride around the old property with its fruit trees, steep inclines and simple working sheds. Farming here is not for the faint-hearted and the Loves worked harder than most to carve out a living. We were full of admiration for their endeavour. The farm now is worked as a beef property by Jean’s brother, Vic. We thank them for their welcome and the opportunity to visit other historical areas nearby, such as Gunyah, Ruyton and Livingston.
Our first meeting for 2011 was held in the new Boolarra Fire Brigade shed. Thanks to the generosity of the CFA committee we were privileged to have a special viewing of the new facilities. Secretary Di Billingsley gave us a short history of the CFA in Boolarra using the photographs they have collected and displayed on the walls of the meeting room. She explained how funds for the renovations were gathered from donations after the fires from local people as well as Australians everywhere. But she paid tribute to the work of the brigade who put in hours of fundraising at local events over many years. We were astounded at the quality of the extensions, obviously the result the good planning and forethought of the group and of the almost space-age equipment.
It was interesting to learn that the Boolarra CFA was started in 1945 after the terrible 1944 fires that began in Yallourn and that its first president was Cr Alan Hall of Budgeree. Alan’s son Bruce Hall, who was past president of the Historical Society, was present at that inaugural meeting. Fire trucks then were often primitive hand-me-downs from larger towns, not a patch on the present glistening giant. And the communication system was probably reliant on the local post office or railway attendant. The original fire shed was a small tin shed squashed among the saleyards, now Railway Park.
The Boolarra CFA is proud of its history and has paid respect to its past committee members by installing large honour boards. At present the Mirboo CFA shares Boolarra’s facilities and is remembered in the same way. The new CFA is a great achievement!
We intend to continue these excursions this year but it is a source of regret that we will not be able to share them with long-time Boolarra residents and BHS members, Diane and Derek James. They are leaving their Fishers Road farm and heading to Ballarat. We wish them a long and happy retirement on the shores of Lake Wendouree.
The Boolarra Historical Museum is open on the 1st Sunday of each month from 2-4 pm, or by appointment with the Secretary, Mengar Hibbins (5169 6216). The Boolarra and District Historical Society meets at the Boolarra Museum on the third Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm. New members are always welcome, and information on our activities can be obtained from Mengar Hibbins (5169 6216), Judy Webster (5169 6351) or Beth Price (5169 6241).