The Benalla Racing Club Story


I was delighted when given the opportunity to co-write this book with Benalla historian Allitt Robinson, who had compiled a chronological history of the club dating back to its first meeting in 1860. After discussions with the club it was decided to add a series of personality stories on Benalla racing identities, so it became more than a history book. My job was to write these stories, combine them with the history and coordinate design and publishing. The club is delighted with the result (and so am I). It’s a book not just for those who have a connection to racing in Benalla, but for anyone with an interest in the racing industry.










Ute-opia - 15 Deni Ute Muster Years


In March 1999, about 40 community-minded Deniliquin and district residents attended a meeting to discuss ideas for a new town festival.


It was decided the festival should be a celebration of rural lifestyle, with one suggestion that there could be a gathering of utes, perhaps expanding on a Beaut Ute competition which had been held as part of the town's annual agricultural show. The festival should also have a country music concert.


In the ensuing months constant contact was made with the good people at Guiness World Records and it was agreed that part of the first Deni - Play on the Plains Festival, as it was named, would be a world record attempt for the largest gathering of utes. The country music concert would be headlined by Australia's number one country star, Lee Kernaghan.


And so the scene was set for what had become a phenomenon.


The target of 1000 utes set for the inaugural festival was considered a little too optimistic in some quarters, but it was obvious soon after these iconic Aussie vehicles and their passionate owners started rolling into town that it would be smashed.


Thus started an annual event in its 15th year that has grown from a gathering of utes and a few associated activities to one which festival favourite Lee Kernaghan has described as "the ultimate event at which anyone could play". At the record breaking 2010 festival he said: "Every time I come back I see how the festival has grown and how the organisers are continuing to make the festival a safe, exciting experience for everyone. It's a truly world class event."


Yes, the Deni Ute Muster is a world class, and more besides. It's unique, like nothing else on the planet. And with a huge array of activities it has grown from a festival almost exclusively for ute lovers to one now that attracts all age groups - from kids with Mum and Dad, to Grey Nomads in their motorhomes and caravans.


Yet throughout the incredible growth the ute enthusiast has never been forgotten and stll forms the nucleus of arguably the most quintessential rural Aussie weekend on our great nation's annual calendar.


The status our Deni World Record Ute Muster has reached was officially recognised at the Australian Tourism Awards ceremony in February 2013 when it received the Gold Medal in the Festival and Events Category.


This was appropriate acknowledgement, in its 15th year, for a festival that has not only put a country town on the map, but also epitomises the community spirit and mateship on which our nation has been built.




Let's Look at the Sunset


When Rudy Meyer was born more than 80 years ago, it was reasonable to predict an affluent life. He was the son of a relatively 'well to do' Dutch couple, cared for by a nanny and living with his mother and grandparents while his father enjoyed a successful business career in the colony of Dutch East Indies. But things changed. Rudy's mother passed away when he was a young boy, so he was sent to live with his father and step mother, and the nanny he called mummy was expunged from his life.


However, this was but a ripple compared to the tsunami that was to swamp Rudy and so many others following the outbreak of World War II, when he was interned in several Japanese concentration camps. During this time, despite the appalling conditions and beatings, he constantly remembered the parting words of his father who, before being taken away, encouraged his family to look at the sunset each evening and think of the time they would be together again.


With the help of lessons from an astute step mother Rudy survived and the family migrated after the war to Australia. The demons of recent years continued to haunt Rudy, now a teenager, to the point that he attempted suicide. But Rudy Meyer has always been a survivor, and with the help of Ivanhoe Grammar School and its principal Rev. Sydney Buckley he got back on track.


Rudy etched a living off the land, first in shearing sheds and later as a rice farmer in the Coleambally region of southern New South Wales, where both Rudy and wife Dorothy have been pioneers and community stalwarts.


Rudy's interests have stretched from farming, to horses, dogs and Freemasonry, though none has surpassed his love of flying. This passion came to a sad end at Easter 2012 when Rudy plunged to the ground soon after take-off in his home built ultralight. Amazingly, he survived yet again and lives to tell another tale, one of many throughout a colourful life that are captured in 'Let's Look At The Sunset'.




Noteworthy – History of Deniliquin Municipal Band


Music, we're told, is the spice of life. In Deniliquin for nearly 90 years the Municipal Band has added a considerable amount of spice to the town's feast of musical enjoyment, providing an outlet for hundreds of musicians and a source of entertainment for thousands of grateful listeners.


The brass band scene, like all other aspects of life, has undergone constant change throughout the 10 decades of the band's existence. In the halcyon days of the mid 20th century, thousands would gather for contests and displays and there was a battle for limited places in the brass band. Today, the challenge is to find enough players to effectively fill each section.


Finances have always been a struggle for Deniliquin Municipal Band, but just like the magical performances it continues to conjure up at a plethora of local events, it always found a way to generate the money for various activities, whether in Deniliquin or further afield.


The Municipal Band has become an institution in Deniliquin. It comprises individuals with amazing passion who, through their love of music and the manner in which they fuse together, provide the sounds in which the rest of us indulge.


The band's journey from 1926 to 2012 is captured by Garry Baker in 'Noteworthy – History of Deniliquin Municipal Band'.




we did our bit

We Did Our Bit

A collection of short stories featuring people from Deniliquin and district who have played a part in Australia's military history


'We Did Our Bit' provides fascinating accounts of local citizens who have made their contribution to ensuring we are all able to live in a free and democratic country.


This book contains some amazing stories. Like Kingsley 'Pat' Murphy, who escaped from a Prisoner of War camp in Crete by walking out in broad daylight, before pirating a cargo boat and sailing to safety, despite being bombed by both the British and the Germans.


Edgar Pickles was flying a Lancaster bomber towards his target at Hamburg, Germany when his plane was hit be enemy fire. Miraculously, he made it back to base in England.


Jack Moores landed on the beahes of Normandy on D-Day, Kevan Brown was aboard HMAS Quickmatch during the battle of Okinawa and Frank Raymond was serving on the HMAS Shropshire in Tokyo Bay when the World War II surrender was signed.


George Wilson was among more than 500 in his battalion who took on the infamous Kokoda Trail...and one of only 27 to survive.


Meanwhile, the WAAAFs and the WRANS, like Doreen Moore and Sylvia Baker, played their role to protect Australia's shores, while Max Gunn played his part by keeping planes in the air at the No. 7 Service Flying Training School, which was established during World War II at Deniliquin.


Unfortunately, Australia's contribution to fighting for freedom did not end when peace was declared in August 1945.


That's why Brian Fisher served his country in Malaysia and Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s, and David McGee was aboard Australian ships during the Gulf War of the 1990s.


In more recent times, Scott McMillan has been part of peacekeeping and enforcement operations, especially in East Timor, as part of Australia's committment to maintaining stability in our region.


Each of the individuals in this book - serving from World War II to modern day - has 'done their bit' for the freedom we all enjoy.



a rough ride

A Rough Ride - George Hare's Story


George Rogers Hare was born in the northern Victorian town of Kerang on December 11, 1922. he was only eight months old when his mosther passed away.


George recalls what he terms his 'agistment' a young boy, he was sent to various family members to be looked after. At the age of seven, George wnt to live with Jess and Reuben Redfearn at Longreach, on the Edward River near Moulamein. It was supposed to be for several months, but he stayed for eight years.


At Longreach George learned about horses, dogs and life on the land, including the tough work ethic that was required to succeed. These lessons never deserted him.


He went to war and was bombed while crossing the harbour at Darwin - but swears he's no war hero - before being declared medically unfit after contracting hydadits disease. This was his first experience with serious illness, but it was not as debilitating as the migrane headaches with shich he was struck for 37 years.


While trying to tame a wild mare at Ensay George met, and later married, Eleanor Commins, who he describes as "a wife and mother without peer".


Less than a decade into their marriage tragedy struck when their beloved first daughter, Kathryn, was killed when she fell from her horse. It was just one in a string of tragic accidents with which George has had to cope, the toughest being the loss of his dear wife Ellie.


Despite all the emotional and physical pain he has battles, George's life has been an amazing journey. He has influenced many peole, not the least the Hare children and grandchildren who look up with admiration at what their father and grandfather has achieved.


It's often against the odds; too often a rough ride. But throughout it all, George Rogers Hare has stayed in the saddle with a firm grip on the reins.



oma's story

Oma's Story


Jean Burkinshaw was born in the tiny Victorian town of Homebush early in the 20th Century.


As a baby, she travelled by horse and cart on a long journey to the Riverina, in southern New South Wales, where her family has bought farming land.


During her formative years Jean enjoyed the life of a farm girl, but as she grew older there developed a strong desire to see more of the big, wide world.


Jean 'escaped' the Melbourne, married her cousin Les Linton and they raised their son and daughter.
She enjoyed the city life, but was drawn back to the country to keep closer contact with children and grandchildren, and has spent her latter years in Finley NSW.


Following Les's death, Jean became reacquainted with an old friend, Fred Walsh. They were married and spent many happy twilight years together.


This book tells Jean's story from Homebush, to Lockhart, to Melbourne and Finley. It's the story of a strong-willed woman and those with whom she has shared nearly a century.