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.
I haven’t posted any new articles here for the last two months while I considered whether I would continue writing for this site. I have so many things to write about, and so many great photos to share, that I thought I would continue – at least for this year.
Over the next few days I want to depart from the posts I was writing about our trip to Morocco. Instead, I want to take you back to where it all started. I want to show a few photos of the little country town where I grew up.
Taplan is a small mallee farming community about 32km south east of Loxton and about a 3 hour drive from Adelaide in eastern South Australia. In October of last year my wife, daughter and I returned for a day to attend some special celebrations. the year 2013 marked the centenary of the laying of the railway line from Tailem Bend to Renmark (and at one time to Barmera). This line went through Taplan. In fact, the railway straddled my father’s farm where I grew up. I will write more about the railway and the centenary celebrations in the coming days.
Today, however, I want to focus on another celebration held on the same day. October 2013 marked the 95th anniversary of the beginning of the St John’s Lutheran Church in the district, as well as the 90th anniversary of the church building. Normally fewer than about 10 worshippers attend church there these days. On this special occasion I counted over 120; there was very little spare room, as shown in today’s photos (it filled up after I took the photos). It was just like when I was growing up.
This was the only church in the district and the one I attended with my family as a child. On this occasion my extended family filled two whole pews. I have many fond memories of attending services here, as well as a gratitude towards the faithful Sunday School teachers who laid a solid foundation for my Christian faith. On reflection, the building hasn’t changed very much in 60 years. It’s just as I remember it. That gives me a certain hope: the more some things in society change, the more important it is for foundational things to remain solid. That’s more than I can say for some of the ageing bodies present! ( It was great to cacth up with so many people I grew up with 60+ years ago.)
One startling thing did change from my childhood days. During the service – a very relevant and enjoyable one – the officiating minister didn’t stand up on high in the pulpit (as shown on the extreme left in the photo below). I was always in awe of one so “exulted”. I almost wanted to become a minister myself in those earlier days.
Instead he came and stood near to the people, relating his teaching to every day terms to ordinary people and on their level. I like that.
Just one more observation: the use of cameras. When I was a child the use of a camera in church would have been frowned upon, perhaps even banned with the possible exception of a wedding. On this joyous occasion the cameras were out in force. At least I tried to be discrete and only use the camera on my Smart phone.
More about this event tomorrow.