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Fire and floods in May 1974

Murchison Bakery caught fire around 4 a.m. on Saturday 4 May. Virtually all of the premises except the oven was destroyed, and a great setback for new owners George and Mrs Downard, having taken over from Caspar Boerkamp. Concerns were held for old timber stores nearby, a grocery operated by O’Mahoneys and a shop owned by Vin Hare. Murchison Fire Brigade saved the day.

Flood levels of 37 feet (11.3 metres) were recorded in the Goulburn at Murchison. All roads into Rushworth were cut, and Chinamen’s Bridge camping ground at Nagambie was submerged. Mooroopna shops were flooded and Shepparton completely marooned.

Flooding caused road hazards, with two deaths near Murchison East. Ken Bowman of Stanhope ran his motor-bike into the rear of a front-end loader driven by John Moylan of Rushworth, and was hospitalised with a broken arm and cuts. Many district tractors sat bogged in paddocks.

McMillan’s old building, adjacent to the Caledonian Hotel at Murchison, was demolished to create a car-park for the pub. It was the third historic building to fall in a few months, and each had its history summarised in the Chronicle.


Three men faced Rushworth Court on duck killing charges near the Little Wallenjoe swamp, well out of season. The men told the inspector they found the ducks in a trap, and had wrung their necks to humanely destroy them. Inspector plucked the ducks, and found bullet holes! Magistrate lightened their wallets by $15.

Band AGM was poorly attended and the band’s future was in doubt due to lack of players, though Bert Hawking remained the enthusiastic bandmaster.


Elizabeth Hart was the lady for tickets to the Murchison Mothers’ Club smorgasboard Dinner Dance. $9 a double, with music by The Tonants.

Grade 6 at Rushworth drew pictures of each other, to create a “rogues gallery”. Grade 4 student Sherry (Nurse?) took wrigglers and pupae to school in a jar “and they rose to the surface to breathe”.


Mrs Hutchinson, 88, of Murchison, died at Mooroopna after fracturing a hip in a fall. In a section of the former Hepples’ Store at Stanhope, Val Lupton opened her drapery shop.

Iddles Footwear of Rochester opened a shop in opposition to Dick O’Donnell in Rushworth. (This was in the building now the General Store Rushworth, operated by Jasmin Le Deux.)

Dick advertised 390 pairs of “fashion shoes at pre-war (1938) prices”! This most impressive pitch in 1974 included “men’s leather and suede shoes for $2”. All leather shoes for women were also $2. (Check! $2. Imagine, two shoe shops in Rushworth!)

Whitehead’s Drapery Store had a mannequin parade, a term you don’t hear these days. Models were Pat Cleary, Ann Anderson, Margaret Richards, Heather Hawking, Norma Hamilton, June Whitehead and Miss Lynette Perry. The compere was Mrs Nina Clyde; ticket secretary Miss Lucy Munsey, on behalf of the CWA. One week’s holiday for six at a beach house at Rye was the raffle. (My mother won it, though I have absolutely no recollection. As one of five children, I was excluded, though I had left home at that time!)

Advertising his carpentry and painting business at Colbinabbin was Barry Duke.

Former Rushworth lad Malcolm Potter kicked five goals and was named in best players for Carlton Reserves.


Girgarre were on fire in the footy, beating Nagambie 15-17 to 14-11, with mentions to Ross McDonald, Colin Scripps, S. Scripps and K. Hewitt.

Murchison fielded an Under-13 team in a winning game against Euroa. The enthusiastic reporter named M. Dwyer, N. Tonizzo, G. Watson, G. Guilfoyle, J. Burls, B. Seymour, S. Bell, P. Hicks, K. Hicks and D. Hicks as best, being more than half the team! Murchison Seniors were badly beaten by Tallygaroopna.

Colbo‘s 15-16 proved too much for Elmore’s 9.15, thanks to three goals from Buster Hammond and Dave Pinniger. Nine players named best were John McEvoy (father of Ben), Albiston, Slimmons, McCubbery, Gerry Brown, Paul Tuohey, Brian Ellis, Pinniger and McCormack. On the bench were Glens, McTaggart and Rathjen.

Ken Wilson was dominant in John Brown’s Seconds team as 5-12 was better than Elmore’s 1-5. Bryon McIntosh booted three majors, with singles to Brown and Gerrard Stewart.

The following week it was Colbo 19-20 to Heathcote’s 10-14, Pinniger with five goals, McEvoy named as best.

Rushworth’s 13-9 was no match for Tooborac’s 21-12. Roger Barnes put six through the tall timber but the best players could not be read as a paragraph in the paper was completely blurred!

Against Mount Pleasant, Rushworth notched the first win of the season, 25-19 to 15-16. Starring was Herbie Barlow (father of Michael) while Bob Hurley kicked four goals, after coming on to replace Alec Horne in the third quarter. (Alec must have been near death, to go off injured! Former teacher Bob is battling ill health these days, retired at Queenscliff.) Barney Nihill was shown as best for Mounts, as Frank Tuohey and Terry Frawley each booted three goals.


Rushworth’s three teams had wins over Tooborac, with mentions to usual suspects Pauline Wootton, Kerryn Beck, Julie Pearce, Leayne Hawking, Karen Oliveiri, Bev Draper, Margaret Potter and Gwen Kealy. C-grade named five as best: Debbie Cruz, Denise Jones, Louise Poulson, Dianne Allen and Isabel McLean.

The following week, against Mounts, C-grade drew their match and Vicki Durstan was added to the best players. The Mountain girls beat Rushworth comfortably in A-grade and B-grade.


Rushworth Ladies had a team in C-grade pennant. A match at Echuca “in pouring rain and mud” was won 3/2 over Murchison. (Why would both teams drive to Echuca?) Jean Jessup, daughter-in-law Nan, Florence Perry, Shirley Raglus and Alice Brown brought home the bacon. (It’s a figure of speech.)