Election day in Rushworth many years ago

Early Rushworth Band

 by E F Geyle.

No 2. 24th February 1928.

Our First big engagement outside the town, being at Murchison, was the opening of the present bridge over the Goulburn River, which was one of Murchison’s memorial days of its history at that time. The river was crossed from side to side by a large platform called a punt, with a fence on each side to save any accidents. It was pulled from side to side by ropes and proved a great contrivance for crossing the river both to and fro. If my memory carries me right the contractor who built the bridge was a man by the name Denton. It was well built of the best timber procurable as it was in abundance in those times. It had stood its test all these years and still is and ornament to the river having stood many heavy floods in the past. It was classed as one of the best bridges on the Goulburn River. Now comes the opening which was performed by some members of parliament and the members of the Waranga Shire council. The nearest railway being Seymour the Parliamentary members had to be bought along by road. It was a great day.  We were not the only band then. The only Brass band within fifty miles all around was the Mooroopna brass band. A very fair band it was too, under Bandmaster H Ward. At one time a great circus cornet player, he had settled there at that time and had formed a band of local players, so there was plenty of music, and everything turned out a very great success. The bridge was opened for traffic, which opened up both sides of a wealthy farming district. Another big function that we were call on to play for was at home as an election for Parliament was approaching Rushworth always had a couple of good fighting sides, as it has today. One side was called Free traders and the other Stonewallers, which are now called Nationalists and Labor. The town was very much divided as it always is. The Stonewallers being a little alerter and quicker on the mark secured the music part of the programme. If not taking up too much i would like to describe this great even, one of the greatest in Rushworth’s history in that particular day. I first will deal with the decorations, which were carried out by both sides, the top of the town being the Free traders and the bottom the Stonewallers.

Flag poles were erected from the Shire Hall to Darby’s Hotel on the top end and from Brice’s Hotel to Roberts, store on the bottom end, with rope drawn across the street to each pole carrying rows of flags of all nations. Also all business houses had fancy decorations of evergreens and flag, which was a great sight, everybody being out in their best, and nothing left home. But the greatest event of the day was the roasting of young bullocks at each end of the town where the inner man could be supplied with as much as he could eat and drink free of charge to both sides, so there was no hungry or thirsty people about. If you didn’t; like the flavour of the bottom end bullock you could walk along to the top and sample for yourself. As a rule you would always find a good many on both sides so the walk up and down was only walking exercise, as one would say to fill them up again. Several members of parliament on the Stonewallers side had been invite up to speak and in the middle of the day a great banquet dinner had been prepared at Wootton’s Hotel and in the evening the Shire hall was engaged for  the speakers to give their views. Of course the Free traders had to fill in the evening so they built a great bonfire of charred barrels opposite Darby’s Hotel, which lit up the whole country side, and it was a great sight to one and all who saw it. As kiddies we found it one of our hardest days’s playing, and was glad when our engagement was finished. As time rolled on most of our bandsmen were getting older and had to leave school, which was a great blow to the band, and it gradually dwindled down and had no recruits coming on. Mr Hobday then tried to get a Brass Band going, but at that time nobody seemed anxious and it fell through, and he was moved to another town. What was left of the old band was about eight or nine who played fifes and two drummers so we carried on as best we could under my brother as leader for five years longer, giving all our services to anything to help along anything held in the town A move was then made to call a meeting to see if a Brass band could be formed in the town, which proved to be a success. The first meeting called was in the month of February 1882 which will be able to deal with later on.

To be continued.

Extracts from the Rushworth Chronicle

Compiled by George Gemmill

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