The Koo-Wee-Rup Sun of March 1, 1967 had a full report on the ‘Back-to’ Bayles held 50 years ago. It is transcribed below.
Caption from top photograph: Violet Kimber, travelled all the way from Mildura for the "Back-to Bayles. She is seen with her daughter, Mrs. Dulcie Jukes of Fawkner Caption from second photo: Back to Bayles after 40
years are Mr. and Mrs. F. Secomb of Dandenong (right) with their son Fred of Heathmont and
daughter. Freda (Mrs. Bissett) of Benalla.
Many Re-unions at Bayles ‘Back-to’ Celebrations
Last Saturday, February 25th was a memorable day in the history of Bayles when the first ever ‘Back-to’ was held, with hundreds of people present during the whole of the day. An estimated one thousand people were catered for over the day, which commenced with a roll call at the school and climaxed with a barbecue and dance at night. President of the ‘Back-to’ committee, Ray Fechner, said the day had been a fantastic success. He paid tribute to the hard working committee, headed by secretary, Vic Walker, for their great work in preparing for the day.
At 10.30 a.m., the proceedings were opened by Mr. L. J. Cochrane, M.L.A. who welcomed all the visitors, and his wish of ‘get around and meet your old friends’ was hardly necessary, as on all sides were happy greetings and re-unions. Ray Fechner started off calling the roll, which included many well known district names. A former teacher at the school, Alan Cairns of Loch continued, assisted by the present teacher, Gary Robbins, with 370 names being read out on the roll. Dressed for the part in true school-boy style was a former pupil, Keith Ridgway of Kooweerup, complete with cap, short pants and school bag. Morning tea was served at the school before visitors moved over to the hall, the focal point for the day's events.
Bayles took on a really festive air for the celebrations with coloured bunting erected in the Main Street. Picnic tables and seats were set out in the park, pony, donkey and camel rides proved very popular with the youngsters. Hilarious entertainment was provided with the ‘catch a greasy pig’ contest and pillow fights on a slippery pole. A demonstration by the Bayles Fire Brigade with teams taking part in target practice brought its share of excitement.
A highlight of the day was a dog competition organised by well known dog fanciers, Mr. and Mrs. K. A. Boxshall of Bayles. Sections for pedigree dogs as well as novelty events for the best dustbin fossicker, best ball chaser etc. proved most entertaining and a real delight to the children. Mrs. Boxshall judged the pedigree events and Mr. R. Toogood assisted her with judging the novelty sections. Trophies were awarded to the winners.
WELCOME TO VISITORS
During the afternoon, Mr. Ray Fechner extended a welcome to all and called on a former resident, Cr. P. B. Fechner, who said what a pleasure it was to attend such a wonderful day. He congratulated the ‘Back-to’ committee for their splendid job - an all in effort, calling for the co-operation of each one. He said that he was pleased to see so many elderly people present, including some of the earlier settlers.
MEMORIAL PLAQUE PRESENTED
The Shire President, Cr W. Thwaites, joined in welcoming the visitors, but his special duty was in presenting the Bayles Hall Committee, with a memorial plaque, in memory of the late Daly Ridgway recently deceased, who had been secretary of the hall committee for a period of 34 years. He called for a minutes silence for the late Mr Ridgway who had been Bayles’ main citizen.
PRESENTATION TO FIRE BRIGADE CAPTAIN
As a token of appreciation for his twenty two years service to the Bayles Fire Brigade, as Captain, Sam McKay was presented with a silver tray and set of crystal glasses. Cr Thwaites made mention of the fact that the first Captain of the Brigade, Gordon Potter was present. He was the Captain for one year, and ever since then Sam McKay has held the position. Mr. McKay expressed his appreciation for the gesture.
OLD RESIDENTS PRESENT
The ‘Back-to’ committee felt especially pleased and honoured to welcome some of the districts oldest residents. These included, 95-year-old, George Murdoch of Carnegie, who was the oldest visitor present; an early Yallock settler, Mr. H. J. Boxshall; 90-year-old Harvey Games of Lang Lang; Jim Ridgway of Lang Lang; Fred Secomb of Dandenong; Albert Kuhnell of Ivanhoe and Bumpa Gee of Kooweerup were amongst the older people who joined in the days celebration and had a wealth of stories to tell of the early days at Bayles.
RETURNED AFTER 40 YEARS
Mr and Mrs Fred Secomb of Dandenong who were present with their son, Fred, of Heathmont and daughter Freda (Mrs K. Bissett of Benalla), left Bayles forty years ago in August 1927. Their children attended the Five Mile School, which has since been closed down. Mr Secomb, Snr said he saw the Bayles railway line go through.
FIRST BAKERS SHOP
One of the happiest reunions took place between Albert Kuhnell of Ivanhoe and Bumpa Gee. Mr Kuhnell who left Bayles 42 years ago in 1925 built the first bakers shop in Bayles in 1919, when George Murdoch, ran the local store. Business was brisk in those days as the rail line went through the town to Catani. Bumpa Gee brought the bread across from Garfield before Mr Kuhnell commenced baking, and then worked with him for a short time. Mr Kuhnell sold out to Mrs Owens. His two sons Robert (Rosanna) and William (Heidelberg West) accompanied Mr Kuhnell ‘Back to Bayles’.
Visitor all the way from Mildura, Mrs Harry Harker (nee Violet Kimber) travelled the longest distance to the re-union. Old-timers recalled her husband, the late Harry Harker, a former League footballer with Melbourne and renowned for his stab kicking. He also played in local teams including Nar Nar Goon and Garfield.
BARBECUE AND DANCE
Hundreds stayed on for the monster barbecue at which 250 lbs of chops and sausages were consumed, the barbecues were setup outside the hall. An estimated 600-700 people attended the gala dance held in the hall to climax the day's activities with Ray Fechner as the M.C. The dance band included well known locals Bumpa Gee and Bill Huntingford.
During the evening, a panel of three judges, Mesdames M. Thwaites, K. Burton and E. McKenzie, selected Miss Bayles from the very large crowd of dancers. The choice was Miss Joy Gibbons, with other finalists being Val Ridgway, Norma Tierney and Lynette Barker.
At the 'Back to Bayles' held February 25, 1967.
Photo: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society