As a part of the Taplan Railway Centenary celebrations in 2013 there was special mention made of the new murals painted on the telephone exchange building. This small structure, shown in today’s series of photos taken on the day, replaced the old manual telephone exchange in the nearby post office many years ago. This building also doubles as a mail centre, the letters being sorted regularly into a handful of post office boxes in the side of it.
When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s I would walk past this spot twice every day on my way to and from school a few hundred metres away. Behind this modern structure is the old post office where I would stop every day on my way home to collect the mail from a window, behind which the post master sat. His job every day would be to sort the few dozen letters addressed to residents in the area. He also manned the manual telephone exchange, connecting incoming calls to the number being called.
The phones in the homes of the district were typical of many used throughout rural Australia of that era. A bulky wooden cabinet hung on the wall in our dining room, with a large mouthpiece and a cord attached to an earpiece. When there was an incoming call, the phone would ring loudly and to answer one picked up the ear piece from its cradle and spoke into the mouthpiece. The person manning the exchange then connected the caller. To make a call one would pick up the earpiece and turn a handle, alerting the person in the exchange that you wanted to make a call, which they then connected for you. My parents would be astounded by the modern mobile phone and the many things one can do on one.
In the photos below I have show the new murals from different angles. One photo shows the artist and the Mayor of Loxton Waikerie who declared the murals open. The paintings, based on local scenes and local farming equipment down through the years, show typical scenarios of life in the Taplan region.
After all of the speeches the visitors to the Taplan Railway Centenary celebrations moved down the main street to near the old Post Office. Here a special memorial plaque and historic monument had been set up as well as some signs.
The signs in the photo above show (from the left):
- the Railway Crossing warning sign for the road crossing
- the W sign indicating to the train driver to blow the train’s whistle as he approached the crossing
- the Taplan station sign.
All of these have been relocated from their original positions so that they can be near the displays and memorial. The official unveiling and opening was performed by Mayor Leon Stasinowsky (below) on the 20th October 2013.
Over recent days I have been writing about the Taplan Railway Centenary celebrations held last October. Before the speakers came to give their presentation, the gentleman shown above entertained the gathered crowd with a few appropriate songs he had written about the locale. He is a current resident of the town and well known for his songs.
After the official welcome each of the founding families had a representative come to the microphone to give a short presentation about their place in the history of the Taplan district, south east of Loxton in South Australia. The first settlers came in the late 1800s, but it was not until the water pipeline and the railway line were built in 1913 that the town really flourished. I went to the local school in the 1950s. It is no longer open.
All of the people doing a presentation related events in their family history, each one presenting it like a diary entry written by their ancestor. It was very effective way of presenting history. One of the presenters was my great nephew Lochie who told about the struggles of my father (his great grandfather) and his grandfather (my brother). Lochie’s father now farms the family land and he is quickly learning the ropes too. His hands-on approach, even as a teenager, is already proving invaluable in the daily running of the property.
His great grandfather would be utterly amazed at the scale of farming being undertaken today, and the vast array and size of machinery now utilised in this district.
Last October my wife and I attended the Taplan Centenary celebrations. Taplan is a small farming community south east of Loxton and close to the Victorian border in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. I grew up on my father’s wheat and sheep farm near the town and attended the local primary school from 1954 to 1960. Last October marked 100 years since the establishment of the railway line from Tailem Bend to Renmark.
At the same time reticulated water reached the town from the River Murray at Loxton. These two factors alone gave a struggling community an amazing boost. Now longer was it required to cart water from the river – some 30km away – but goods such as wheat, wool and animals could be easily transported to market. Many other items such as mail could now be delivered daily by train, along with many other necessities.
During the formal part of the proceedings the large crowd were kept relatively comfortable in the hot conditions under a marquee erected just outside the Country Fire Service (CFS) shed in the main street. Before the speeches and presentations, visitors and locals were able to inspect the vast array of memorabilia and photographic displays inside the shed. All major families of the district were represented in this interesting display.
I will show more photos tomorrow.
Following on from what I wrote yesterday I would like to share more photos taken on the occasion of the Taplan Railway Centenary Celebrations held in October 2013. As I said yesterday, a special church service was held in the morning. After the service we all gathered under the shade of the eucalyptus trees in the grounds of the church for a good old, no holds barred, traditional country style church lunch.
The trees planted many years ago were very much appreciated. The temperature was around the 30C mark and we were just coming out of a coolish winter and weren’t yet ready for our usual summer heat. Another problem was actually eating the food set out so invitingly on the long trestle table (see below). True to form, the locals came out in force – not the local people, mind you. I’m talking about the local bush flies. Sticky little insects, they are, and very, very persistent. Open your mouth a mere millimetre and they will get it. All good protein, I’m told, though I somewhat question that wisdom.
Despite the handicap of having to be very cautious while eating, the lunch was most appreciated and very filling, quite the usual delicious food served up on these occasions. I have a sneaking suspicion that some folk try to outdo everyone else in the food preparation stakes. I don’t mind; it’s all good.
As a little aside, I’m worried about my niece’s husband Peter as shown in the photo above. Not content with the sumptuous food dished up on the table, he has to go scrabbling about in the cool boxes below the table. No accounting for taste, is there?
The folk who came for these celebrations came from all over, some travelling long distances. It was great to get together with many people I had grown up with, attending the local school and also the Sunday School in the Lutheran Church there. My family were well represented at the event. The photo above shows (from left) my wife Corinne, my sister in law Jean and one of my brothers Laurie.
It was also good to see many of the next generation present at these celebrations. In the photo above (from left) are my nephew Mark, my daughter Rose, and my nieces Judy and Barb. It was great getting them all together, even if it was only for a few hours. Such occasions are now rare, unfortunately.
The photo above features another of my brothers, John, formerly a long-term farmer in the district. He bought the family farm from my father when he retired. My nephew now works the farm which is just a few hundred metres from where this photo was taken.