Whether they were the ‘Good Old Days’ or not, they were certainly hard years for the working man in Australia during the late 1920’s -1930’s, as they went through the Great Depression with little employment. Mallacoota was affected too, and with virtually no work Dad and Mum decided to go back to her family home at Nethercote for a while.
I remember them telling us how the Pambula Butter Factory couldn’t always buy the cream so to prevent the farmers (and no doubt some of those poor folk would be desperate enough) from submitting it again, the Factory would return the cream to them coloured (probably cochineal). There was no way anyone could use the ‘bright red stuff’ even for making butter, so it was a tremendous loss to them, when every bit of food counted. Later, Dad was able to obtain employment with the CRB (Country Roads Board) and they came back over the border to live, temporarily in one of the Road Board Cottages at Genoa. Incidentally, those poplars were planted that year. The CRB provided them and Allan Peisley told me the Genoa School children planted them.
When Dad asked for Christmas Day ‘off’ so he could spend it with his young wife and baby, the ultimatum was “Take the day off and you have lost your job!” It was incidents like these that helped him decide to support, for the rest of his life, the Political Party which he felt helped the working man most. I guess, it was from such happenings that unions were born!
Seasonal fishing was good in those days but with little transport to the Melbourne Market. The fish were picked up at Gipsy Point, taken to Orbost, re-iced at the Orbost Railway Station and then went by train to Melbourne. Somehow they stayed ‘fresh’. It wasn’t until Jim Luckins established a truck run and built the Freezing Works, that things improved for the fishermen. The Freezer meant ice for household use, too. So we purchased ice boxes. Many of us will remember when ammonia sometimes leaked out and you couldn’t get near the Freezer. We could get our wireless batteries charged there so we invested in Howards and STC’s but listening to the radio was always limited so as not to ‘run the battery flat”. News came into our homes then, along with The Australian Amateur Hour’, ‘Dad and Dave’ and ‘Major somebody or other’ who insisted everyone get out of bed in the morning to “Inhale, Exhale, Touch your toes, etc “. Dad thought it necessary for Mione and I to participate in this Physical Training Session, but we weren’t so enthusiastic, especially on cold winter mornings.
The Freezer had a little ‘railway’ line down to the Government wharf which carried a trolley for the fishermen’s heavy wooden boxes. Despite warnings not to get on it, we kids would laboriously struggle to push it up to the Freezer veranda, just for a glorious thirty seconds ride back down to the wharf. It was bliss! We would give ourselves a few minutes breather then do it all over again. Ti-trees grew almost impenetrable around the Inlet and were great for playing ‘Hide and Seek.’ You would often find nests that the local hens had decided to build.
When the school moved over to the township in 1936 Mione and I would often go with our neighbours, the Bruce boys in their rowing boat. There was a little outcrop of rocks out from the foreshore road and they would often pretend they were stuck on them, scaring the living daylights out of us. But mostly we walked to school around Shady Gully.