Mates back home

By Benalla Ensign

They had the time of their lives growing up in Benalla 55 years ago and on Saturday they returned for a special reunion — many seeing each other for the first time in more than half a century.

Michael Kiraly said he and his mates were just normal kids growing up in regional Victoria.

‘‘Back then if you saw one of us you probably saw all of us, we were always together’’ Mr Kiraly said.

‘‘We were like brothers, if one went to a dance we all went to a dance. If one went for a motorbike ride we’d all go for a motorbike ride. If we got drunk, we got drunk together. We did everything together, we were really good friends.’’

Over time as the group grew older and started to be faced with responsibilities they grew apart, literally.

Michael moved to Castlemaine, a few of his friends relocated — some nearby, some further away.

They all had their own lives and had passed the streets of Benalla on to the next generation.

After meeting up with one of the gang, Des, a few years ago, it struck them just how long it had been since they had all been together and the idea for a reunion was hatched.

So on Saturday evening they travelled from near and far to relive the old days with a meal out at a local Chinese restaurant.

‘‘There will be 13 of us there, with our wives, and a few others,’’ Michael said on Thursday, prior to the reunion.

‘‘And on Sunday my plan is to check out a few of our old stomping grounds.

‘‘I remember there was a pub we went to in Wangaratta. I don’t remember the name but they used to have 6pm closing, but the owner would let us stay later.

‘‘We might go and see if that’s still there. And we’ll have a look through Benalla to see how much it’s changed.’’