Life up here

This is an open space where anyone can share anything about living up here  It’s no accident that Tablelanders talk with such affection about where we live and here you can write about it. It can be a poem about autumn or an old-timer’s recollection about earlier days.    It can be a yarn or an observation about wildlife, a tall story or a tale of a forgotten bit of history  It can be a response to something that someone else has written – anything, really, that reflects life on the Tableland, past and present.

Simply click on the email link below and send your contribution.  We’ll post it for you under your name unless you want to be anonymous, which is OK.

Beaut day in downtown Bogie

I awoke to the sound of birds today, ah, SUNSHINE, after a good frost. I am sitting outside in the sun, listening to some great music (my vintage) coming from the primary school where there is some work going on. The birds are singing and I’m asking myself “how good is this?” I do love this town, or village as it seems to me. The weekend holds the promise of music at the store, a walk up Mt. Spy and a visit to a biodynamic farm in Ruffy. How good can it get? Not much better than this.

Heather Cousland             Written on 5 July, 2012

 Fond Memories

Happened to stumble across your website whilst looking for the Euroa Gazette on line, and was really pleased to see the article by Marilyn Mangione.  I am a ‘Smart’ who grew up in Kelvin View, with links to Kithbrook through my grandparents Philip and Lillian Smart, of Pine Ridge on Creek Junction Rd. Neville Smart, is my uncle (he is still living on the same road on the old family property). My parents are Rodney and Norah Smart. My grandfather Philip was a cousin of the fishing Phil Smart who grew up on Spring Creek Rd.

I remember (and I’m sure many others do also) going to collect the mail from Auntie Ethel, who had a wonderful lollie jar, that always came out for children collecting the mail.

My grandfather told stories of roller skating in the Strathbogie West hall, and one rather snooty lady who skated around looking extremely pleased with herself, only to end up skidding to the floor with her roller skate hooked up in the timber latticework covering the window, with her dress over her head.

My grandmother Lillian created a beautiful romantic farm garden, that seemed to take over more of the home paddock each year. She was very creative and formed lifesize Chinamen and Japanese lady garden sculptures, from old tree stumps, wire, coated in concrete, then painted. My brother Andrew and I loved to tramp around the stone garden paths, moving from one Chinaman to the next, changing their hats as we went. The hats were painted plough wheels, or milk can lids, and the sculptures were all set into the leafy garden, in lovely shady grottos. There was always something new to look at each time we visited.

Lillian also decorated the interior of the house, painting fresco’s of oriental scenes on all the walls. One whole wall was devoted to large gold Chinese writing, with a lovely sage green background, as she said : ”Goodness knows what it says, I could be swearing at you all, for all I know!”

Lillian’s sister Lucy Palmer recalled visiting one day, as Lillian was painting the bedroom ceiling by hand with dashes of white, black and gold paint, only to find Lillian lying at the bottom of the chair perched on top of a table, instead of a ladder, where she had fallen off.

Many people visited to see the garden, and Red Cross garden parties were held there. Special memories. I would love to hear from Marilyn, as I also have many Smart and relatives photos. Have included my email address below,

Regards, Shelley Straw (nee Smart)                                                   Posted 2.6.11

Marilyn Mangione Reflects

This Good Friday just gone (2010), I took my mother to the Springvale Cemetery where her parents are laid to rest, and then onto the Cranbourne Cemetery where my father and his ancestors are all together. Sad stories of children losing their life too young, and a Postman who lost his life delivering mail in QLD during heavy floods. Life is precious and too short.

After our above visit we moved on to the new Casey Aged care centre at Narre Warren where my mother’s sister Dorothea Norma Smart and her husband Laurence Maxwell Harty, only a few months ago were both placed in care, due to onset of the dreaded “Old Timers” disease and stroke. My Aunty Norma as I have always known her is unable to converse, but if you talk with someone else about things that she knows, my Aunt will nod her head or have a giggle. Three times she told us, “I don’t have any more worries”. What a wonderful feeling.

My mother, Joyce Margery Smart, and myself spoke about earlier days in Euroa. My mother describing without hesitation, where they lived in Binney Street, the fifth building down from and including the post office. There were no windows, only skylights. Old Nic (John Charles Nicoll, G Grandfather to myself) as he was affectionately called and my G Grandmother (Louisa Emma Moate) had their bedroom, first room on the left, my grandfather Ernest James Smart and my grandmother Violet Maude Nicoll were two down on the right hand side. The kitchen down the back and the bathroom furthest down. Mum described the pressed metal on the walls of the bathroom, and how it seems to be an unusual thing that has stayed in her memories of that first home. Both my mother and aunt went to the Euroa State School until the family moved to Clyde, where my grandfather ran a dairy farm, and some sheep.

Out the back of the dwelling in Euroa were the stables, where Old Nic had his race horses. My mother and aunt used to sneak into the Jockey’s small house when he was not there. They both said it was a lovely little house and very quaint and was very appealing to them. One of the fears of their life was when the “Dunny Can Man” was coming around on his specified day per week. They were both always frightened he would come when they were in the outhouse. Each one standing guard for the other.

One of the greatest highlights of their life was when Old Nic had a win at the races with one of his horses. Uncle Pat (Roy Clifford Nicoll) would take my mother and aunt out in the car for a drive and they would each get an ice-cream. Things have certainly changed.

My Grandfather Ernest, leased properties at Creighton’s Creek and Sheahan’s Creek at some time in his farming career around the Euroa areas. Before moving to Clyde with his family.

The photos on the walls around my aunt’s room, were all of family. A small painting from a photo of the original home at Kithbrook in Spring Creek Road, Strathbogie where my Grandfather was born. My parents would often drive up to visit Uncle Pat and Aunty Tup at Euroa, with me in tow. I always enjoyed visiting them both, as Aunty Tup always put on a lovely spread with a cuppa. My father many times, would also go fishing with Uncle Phil, who took my Dad to many of his secret fishing spots. My father being a passionate fisherman, and also golfer, winning many trophies as an Amateur.

Sundays my Grandmother would always have people drop in for afternoon tea, my Grandmother always baking and providing a variety of goodies. Mum cannot remember a Sunday where they were not visited or did not go visiting. Violet Maude was good friends with Mrs. Burnside, and they would visit her and Mum and my Aunt would play outside with her children.

Myself I have wonderful memories of visiting my Grandparents when they lived at 14 Coppin Street, East Malvern. All my cousins were there, and all my Aunts and my Uncle Ian who with his wife and my Aunt Beatrice recently moved to Benalla. Again there was that wonderful spread on the table and a cuppa. The old shed out the back which had some old farming relics handing up on the walls. This totally mesmerized me. I personally have a very passionate love of country and farm life, coming from two lines of farmers. Never liking the city, even though it provides me with necessary living requirements.

In writing the above I hope I have not misinterpreted any of my Mother’s memories. It is quite overwhelming how I myself found my small place at Strathbogie after nearly three years of looking in many different areas of Victoria. Seeing my place for the first time, it was as if my “ghosts” had come to rest. Nothing is gained easily in life and we all have our battles. Strathbogie holds strong family ties for me, and there are some truly wonderful people in the area who have helped me get through some very tough times. I would not have made it without them. My deepest gratitude to them. Slowly as time goes by I am meeting more people, as weekends only at Strathbogie do not allow for much of a social “Hi, how are you?” get together.

If anyone wants photos sent as an attachment via email I am quite happy to do so.

Photo of home of Philip and Frances Smart in Wiltshire, England

Photo of Corby home in England

Wedding photo of Ruby Smart to Leslie Moore

Wedding photo of Philip Smart to Ethel

Wedding photo of Mavis Smart to Keith Dunn

Wedding photo of Ivy McGregor (nee Smart) with sisters Joan and Joyce

Photos of Alice, Clara, Sadie, Annie, Rita, Louie, May Thomas, Rita, all friends of Violet Maude (Tot) Smart

Grossman family photo (Emma Maryan Grossman)

John Smart and family (Emma Maryan Grossman)

Have heaps more to go through and name.

Cheers Marilyn Mangione

Fond memories: Dayle Tame

Before children

The hammock between the oak tree & liquid amber. Summer Saturday afternoons lazing in the hammock reading the Age from cover to cover, not feeling at all guilty after a working week

Trying to get a garden bed to flourish underneath but it never would – eventually surrendering it to lawn

Grand old fashioned double daffodils & purple grape hyacinths popping up under the tree signaling Spring was fast approaching

Waking up my young nieces & nephew early one morning to see a koala mum & baby sitting on the lowest branch

Reenie & Howard staying with Canadian friends sitting under the tree. They heard koalas grunting saying they didn’t know we had monkies in Australia

Peter & Kaye bringing baby Lizzy over & swinging in the hammock. Christmas with the Willey’s under the oak tree when it was too hot to be inside

Wondering if our fortunes lay underneath the soil in truffles

Raking the sticks which fell & spreading the autumn leaves on the vegie garden

Small children
Alastair’s 5th birthday party with baby Stephanie in her pram. The party finished & we went inside to clean up & recuperate. Suddenly remembering that the baby was still outside under the oak tree, long overdue for a nappy change & drink. Happy as can be looking up at the leaves blowing.

A very hot summer. Alastair a little boy & Steph a crawling baby. 2 buckets, 1 tub, 1 hose & 2 very content cool children. One relaxed mum who managed to get a whole book read

Setting up the pots of paint & paper for Alalstair & Steph in the shade to do their painting

Children having tea parties on a rug under the tree

Co-hosting with the Andersons & Reenie & Howard two couples from Alabama – having beautiful champage & nibbles under the tree before our meal. We were to be paid for being hosts & wined & dined them with Australia’s best fare – but we never got paid!!

Our post Christening lunch with our families & the Crawlies

Laurence’s 8oth birthday celebration with the Jorgoes & Willeys

The hollowed out east side of the oak tree – the perfect hiding place during a game, the place where metal sand pit toys were stored for winter, the haven Miss Dotty & Chickadee selected to lay their first eggs

Rebuilding the back of our house with Reenie & Howard living here during summer. Evenings spent eating out under the Oak Tree & playing chasie & hide & seek

Making the sandpit under the tree for sun protection & view of children from the kitchen window

Birthday parties under the tree with water bombs & the sprinkler on the trampoline

Raking the sticks which fell & spreading the autumn leaves on the vegie garden

Big children, extended family & friends

More birthday parties under the tree without the water bombs & sprinkler

Clinking glasses & cheers for another “Happy Hour” with many friends & family members

A very round Fiona sipping on an ice cold gin & tonic days before Johnno’s arrival

Another memorable get together with Fiona one summer afternoon – nice glass of wine & some cheese & biscuits – very civilized – until the screeching Cockie in the Oak Tree got the better of Eric &  received lead poisoning. The Cockie plummeted through the branches & landed slap bang on Fiona’s wine glass & splattering bright red dots onto the cheese platter

Vanessa & Patrick busting to get to Strathbogie from Sydney to have a bbq under the Oak Tree. This is where they announced their engagement to us

Many bbqs with Laurence & Lyla, Jorgos, Willeys, Andersons, Llwellyns, Tolhursts, Manuells, Townsends, Jon & Rosie, Barb & Bino, Dunnachies, Jane & Ric, Reenie & Howard, Hamiltons, Lovrenovich’s & many offspring

Steph’s final year of primary school – all students & teachers cycled out for a bbq & ice-creams under the tree

A neighborhood Christmas party

A big party the night of Eric’s election as Councillor Tame

A bigger party the night his term on Council ended

Girly lunches extending well into the afternoon

Eric inviting new neighbors Barb & Bino over for a cuppa but not being here when they were. I wasn’t aware of the invitation & didn’t offer them a cuppa & they went home perplexed – they remember this & won’t let me forget it

Raking the sticks which fell & spreading the autumn leaves on the vegie garden


I was really sad to hear about your beautiful tree.  If only it could share its memories of all the years we sat under it, having drinks, Christmas lunches – just enjoying being together. I am sure that Laurie , Graham, Peter and Kaye will also be very sad.
I can’t begin to imagine the farm without this fabulous old beauty. It would be like losing the lemon tree, a family member for generations,

What will you plant to look at from your windows?

Have a toast to the tree tonight, we will be with you in spirit,

Lots of love  from The Willeys.

Yes I remember the first time Bino and I sat under the old oak tree, I will never forget it. Eric had invited us over for afternoon tea and to meet Dayle for the first time, we were new to the area. When we arrived Eric wasn’t there, it was a hot day and Dayle was already sitting in the shade of the oak tree,

I’m not sure Dayle even knew we were coming, we sat with her for about an hour wondering where Eric was and when we would get our afternoon tea, Eric never arrived and we finally went home very thirsty. Dayle and I have been good friends since, god knows why, I really needed that drink……..Barb.

Dear Dayle and EricSo sad to lose your majestic oak, the backdrop to so many relaxing,delicious spreads, a shady canopy under which much laughter and conversationwas had. You will miss its beautiful energy and its framing of the longviews of your property. Can you save some of the wood to make into somethingspecial to hand down to the kids?Lots of loveJane, Savvy and Nova

 “Honey there’s an Echidna in the Bed”!!

Our weekender consists of a typical farm shed converted into a rustic living arrangement and includes two bunk rooms for our many visitors escaping the rat race.

On the long weekend in March, we were expecting our good friends Dee and Geoff to arrive and stay the night. When I attempted to open the door to the bunk room and show them their quarters, I was met with a firm resistance coming from the other side. In the split second that I took to survey the room, it left me gasping.

I could only open the door a couple of inches, but enough to see the bedside table askew and the drawers opened, I saw blankets strewn on the floor and the ghastly discolouration of the concrete floor. Something was definitely in there but what!!!

My heart pounded not really knowing whether I had a joe blake or something not so lethal. On pushing the door further in, my eyes bulged when I saw a grey blanket on the floor with a round spiky thing burrowing into it. As brave as I thought I was, I yelled for my husband who came running quicker than Hussan Bolt along with our Labrador dog (who was later found cowering under the trailer!).

Hubby Robin boldly pushed the bunk room door in enough to get inside and there laying amidst the mess and mayhem was a huge echidna quite at home on the floor tucked up in our blanket. I now know what echidna pooh looks like!

We carefully removed our wildlife guest, using the blanket as a hammock and took Eddie the Echidna down to the dry creek bed where he found soft sand to try to bury himself into. We left him alone to reacquaint himself with his natural environment and after a few hours, we returned to see that he had disappeared. We all felt very satisfied at having had such a great and personal encounter with this Aussie icon.

The next day, we found George the resident Koala had come back to visit us and we were so thrilled. He is a big plump old keeper of the gum trees and his roars send us into delights. However, this time, we were wondering if he was in on a secret! Because as we headed down the driveway to go back to Melbourne, lo and behold, there was Eddie the Echnida making his way back up the drive towards the bunk rooms and George the Koala was in the tree next to him!!!

I think our resident wildlife might just like this unofficial Merton BnB!

Julianne Crawley

Merton Road

The Courtship

Attired in his blue- black satin garb,
He stands resplendent within his bower
Hoping no doubt to seduce one of his lady loves,
While holding aloft a sky-blue flower.
Violet-blue eyes watching with intensity,
He renders his seductive whirring sound,
Then struts and shakes and bows and scrapes
And tosses his blue treasures ‘round.

When suddenly a curious female appears,
Attracted by his provocative mating display.
Will she succumb to his desire
Or with feminine whim, his ardent passion delay?
Even as he attempts to entice her on
He realizes she’s playing hard to get,
For she is not about to give right in.
It seems he will need to perform much better yet!

So he drops his wings and spreads them out
And performs a kind of shimmy shake,
Then struts and prances all about,
Like some lecherous womanizing rake.
Ah! it seems at last success is his
For she begins to whirr and steps inside his bower.
So he offers her, his treasures blue,
As if on her, his worldly goods he would endower.

They step and bow and whirr and prance,
Then scuttle off right out of sight,
Amidst the shelter of the shrubbery dense
Where all is dark and cool and quite…

Helen Dunnachie

Echidnas everywhere!
By Angus Martin

Driving from Euroa to Boho South on a recent morning I saw no fewer than five echidnas, and many people have remarked on how common they seem to be this summer.  Echidnas have turned up inside houses; one even managed to find its way into the library at Euroa Secondary College.  Although it’s always a pleasure to see them – and it reminds you how lucky we are to have such wildlife around us – I fear that it isn’t actually an echidna good-news story.  The likelihood is that it’s yet another consequence of the relentless heat and drought that we’re struggling through; it doesn’t mean that there are more echidnas than usual.  It’s just that they’re more conspicuous as a result of being forced to maintain abnormally high levels of activity as they search for sources of food and moisture.

Although they’re commonly called “spiny anteaters”, echidnas eat much more than just ants.  Even when they are taking ants, they favour larvae, pupae and winged reproductives, presumably because they are more digestible and nutritious than the much more numerous worker ants.  A major part of their diet is termites, but they also include a variety of other soil-dwelling insects, notably beetle grubs, as well as caterpillars and earthworms.  It’s been calculated that a well-fed echidna can maintain a positive water-balance from the moisture in its food alone, but if it’s on low rations it needs to drink water as well.  Powder-dry topsoil means fewer worms and insects, and low humidity and no rain mean no dew and no surface water (a friend on the Mornington Peninsula tells me that an echidna has been drinking regularly from his fishpond).  There can be little doubt that the extremely dry conditions have drastically reduced the abundance of echidnas’ usual prey, and are forcing them to spend much more time foraging than they normally would.

Extreme heat also creates difficulties for them.  Unlike most mammals, their body temperature is not tightly regulated, but fluctuates seasonally as well as with time of day and with the animal’s activity.  In winter alpine echidnas hibernate, allowing their body temperature to drop as low as 4°C.  Even in temperate conditions body temperature tends to fall while the animals are inactive (typically overnight) and rise during the daytime activity period.  The preferred body temperature seems to lie at about 32°C; hence in hot weather echidnas favour early morning and late afternoon – or even nocturnal – foraging, and take refuge from the heat of the day.  A study of radio-tagged echidnas recorded instances of them entering water or retreating into shade when their body temperature reached 34°C (they can’t sweat).  But in severe drought conditions they may have to keep foraging regardless, adding heat stress to the food and water deficits that they’re already battling with.

So echidnas are caught between a rock and a hard place this summer: the shortages of food and water are driving them to be active while the heat is telling them to rest up in the shade.  An extra hazard for them is the fact that road verges tend to be moister than average because of the extra run-off from the sealed surface, making them more attractive as foraging areas.  I commend the people I’ve seen stopping and gently shepherding echidnas off roads – great idea, but please make sure you don’t end up endangering yourself as well.

Memories of growing up and living in Strathbogie
As recalled by Elva Watkins

Mrs. Watkins (nee Hobbs) grew up at Strathbogie with her brother Clem and lived here most of her life. She now resides in Euroa. Here are some recollections  of her life:

“My mother died when I was 10 and Clem was 8. Dad’s sister came to live with us,  helping to raise us and we all worked hard to cope with the farm chores.
We milked cows before & after school. The cream truck called twice a week and took the cream to the Strathbogie factory until it was destroyed by fire. Then it went to Euroa factory.
We firstly rode horses to school with our teacher who was boarding at our place. Later we rode a bike and dinked one another. Our school, Strathbogie West, had about 28 pupils. It was on the Spring Creek Road near the Kithbrook Post Office. The mail was sorted there, then on to the school for the children to take home.

Three Methodist Ministers boarded at our house over the years. We helped dad plant potatoes and helped with the digging and sorting. We also helped to cut ferns & wattles. Clem used to bring in the wood after school & I cleaned the lamp glasses & filled them with kerosene. We also had a few chooks & took the surplus eggs, packed in a box in chaff, also a few rabbits and fox skins, to the grocers to pay for our groceries & things we had to buy for the farm. These things provided our living.
Only a small area of the farm was cleared. It was hard work cutting ferns & wattles etc. Dad did pay a man to help—there was no money coming in for this work. In time we had some sheep which we drove to a neighbours shed at shearing time.

We had a coolgardie safe to keep things cool and would set a jelly in a bucket down the well. We grew most of our fruit & vegies which was a lot of work with watering & weeding etc.
One thing I always remember was ‘melon night’ (for jam making). Dad would cut the melon into slices, we kids took out the seeds and spread them far & wide, and Auntie cut the melon into cubes.
In the summer we rode bikes to tennis, carrying our afternoon tea and racquets. After tennis it was ride home & milk the cows again.

Winter was off to football. Bogie played on several different grounds, often wrapping hessian around gum trees for a dressing shed. The away matches we traveled on the back of Alex Crosbie’s truck-plenty of fumes & rough roads but we all enjoyed it. Home to milk then to the occasional dance, either at West Hall, North orStrathbogie—Steen’s music or Rowarth’s. (Dick’s father & mother).
Most of our groceries were phoned to Euroa and came up on the mail bus. Bread came from John Groom’s bakery which he delivered approximately once a week per horse & buggy.
When I was 20 I got a job at the Euroa Hospital during the War. We worked 6 days a week for  £1-17-6.

I met Stan (my husband to be) and after 4 years I went back home. Stan & I married on 5th June, 1948 and lived in a mill house on the Spring Creek Road—not far from the present Recreation Ground. Stan worked in the bush falling trees for the timber mill. We were there 15 years and had 2 children—Glennon aged 8 & Clayton aged 4½ – when Stan was severely injured while working and died 8 days later.

I couldn’t sell the house at that time so had it moved to Euroa where it still is. I lived in that house for 53 years. We had a flat built behind my house where my dad and Auntie lived. I helped my auntie to nurse my father (after he lost both legs), for 6½ years as well as raising my two sons and also did work away from home.

Glennon was killed in a car accident with 3 other boys when he was 23. Clayton has his own home but isn’t married. I sold my house 4 months ago and moved into a unit. I am very involved with the bowling club in Euroa and enjoy playing against other clubs throughout the Goulburn Valley.
It was a pleasure meeting Mrs. Watkins and  I thank her for sharing this insight into her life which I found to be very informative and also very moving. For a person who has experienced much sadness and hardship I admire her positive spirit that keeps her living an active and social life.

If there are any other past or present senior members of our community with some stories to tell I would be very happy to hear from you and share some of your memories with our readers.

Dayle Tame

Are you hefted yet?
By Sim Ayres

I wonder if any one has heard of the old Scottish word “hefted”. It is now used mainly in association with sheep, a hefted sheep or flock of sheep is one that has become established and accustomed to pasturage. It has grown into its particular place over many generations. In the open wilds and fells of Scotland where fences and walls are not always viable the flock will develop its own sense of country, they will wander over a large area but stick within there own hereditary place. They know the sheltered valleys to hide from the northern blizzards, they know the natural salt licks and where the lush new shoots will appear first in spring. They would know the weather patterns the winds and gales the rise and fall of the seasons. A hefted sheep will take in a mental map of country with its mothers milk. Zoologists say that it takes at least three generations to erase these memories. A hefted flock will never willingly leave its land. Take them where they cannot wander home and they are lost.

Back in 1835 Anne Calyle, wife of historian Thomas Carlyle wrote after moving house “I am wonderfully hefted here; the people are extravagantly kind to me”. There was a time when we were all indelibly connected to location we each knew a place whether rural or urban intimately and instinctively, its landscape bred in the bone.

So much nonsense is spoken and written about the countryside, but the urge to be hefted may be the most intense but least noticed features of modern life. we travel faster, more widely, move more often, and settle for shorter periods than ever before, yet at the same time we seem to crave a place to stay and return to ever more intensely.

This is what social dislocation really means: dis-location to move from somewhere you know to somewhere you do not, but carrying always the internal desire to be hefted.
Certainly people grow into landscapes ,and landscapes grow into the bone. If sheep carry a  memory of place, so must every human, no matter how far we travel from our hefts. Place marks us all and leaves its traces.

However this process is continuous and every day many people find themselves deepened and dignified by there sense of place. Even as I write this I am aware of the subtle sense of this country claiming me, maybe my wandering has finished and a hefting to this place is in process. I know for my children who are born to this land that they are a part and parcel of it.

Plagiarized from an article by Ben McIntyre with added meanderings and thoughts.