In the archives | State Ballooning championships marred by wild weather

By Benalla Ensign


The old Benalla Fire Station which was demolished so Nunn St could be extended to Fawckner Dve

Fifty years ago the Benalla Ensign used to cease publication during the Christmas period. Because of this we have no 50-year-old article to share this week.

So in lieu of one, we are publishing this article taken from Back to Benalla 1960 - a souvenir booklet that tells the rich history of Benalla since the town's official formation.

From 1824 to 1960 is a long time, and since those far-off days Benalla - or Benalta as it was called then - has grown and developed until it is not only a thriving centre, but one of the most important provincial towns in Victoria.

The name of our popular town changed from its original Benalta to Benalla, it is understood, because a careless government official, in those far-off days, omitted to cross a t. This is generally taken as authentic.

A settlement was formed on the Broken River at the "crossing place" near the railway bridge, and here, about 1844, Richard Clarke built the Black Swan Hotel, now known as Black Swan Mansions.

In that year a post office was built on the site of the present Drill Hall.

In 1847 mounted troopers came to the Broken River Station, which name had replaced "the crossing place", and the first police station was a slab building not far from the Black Swan.

There was no gaol and prisoners were chained to a log while waiting for trial.

The same year a court of petty sessions was established.

The town was laid out by Mr Webb, a surveyor from Tasmania, and by 1848 the official name had become Benalla.

In 1849 an electoral roll was compiled, but at an election that year, it is recorded, nobody bothered to vote.

By 1851 there were several stores, and a school known as a "common-school" was opened.

The school stands where the current Benalla West school stands and the teacher lived, slept and taught in one room.

In 1856 the Commercial and Liverpool Arms Hotels were built.

In 1861 the Royal Hotel was built by Mr Hoskin. That same year Benalla officially was gazetted as a town.

In 1868 a bridge was built over the Broken River, to the right of an existing bridge.

In 1869 Benalla was proclaimed a shire and in 1873 the railway line reached Benalla.

In 1882 the post office was completed and Benalla East School opened.

In 1887 the first Rose Garden was designed.

A volunteer fire brigade was formed in 1882. It was eventually demolished to extend Nunn St through to Fawckner Dve.

1900 saw the formation of Convent FCJ.

In 1908 the first motor car drove into Benalla.

In 1922 Benalla had its first electric lights installed and by 1945 Lombard Weir had been completed storing more than 150,000,000 gallons of water.

An RAAF training school was opened in 1940 - It would become an immigration holding centre in 1949.

Benalla Football club, formed in 1876, won its first Premiership in 1953.

In 1954 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visited Benalla.

And so we find ourselves passing in to 1960, and what comes after? We leave the future to you.

How well do you know fire?


The final heats of the State Ballooning Championships held in Benalla during the weekend of November 20 were disrupted by the storms that hit town on the Saturday night.

Four balloonists from around the state took to the skies on Saturday morning in perfect weather conditions.

However, in contrast, Sunday's planned flights were called off as was the naming of the winner of the championships delayed because of Saturday night's wild storm.

There was further bad news for the balloonists in the storm.

The B.A.R.C hut that the Ballooning Club had spent the past three years renovating in their spare time, was seriously damaged by a tree that fell across it at the height of the storm.

Also in The Ensign this week in 1994:

● The new Delatite Shire held its first meeting last night in Benalla.

● Benalla Post Office celebrated its 150th birthday.

● Sue and Andrew Hanson welcomed their fifth child, Chloe Elizabeth, into the world.

Window to Window returns


Geoff Bath

Geoff and Lyn Bath recently collected a gold medal for their Goorambath 2006 shiraz at the 2009 Dookie Wine Show, as well as the trophy for best wine in the shiraz class.

The regional Dookie Win Show received about 80 entries from the Perricoota, Upper Goulburn, Goulburn, King Valley, Dookie, Glenrowan, Milawa and Strathbogie Wine Regions.

Mr Bath said it was the vineyard’s second gold medal, with their first from the Victorian Wine Show in 2002.

“We’ve won various medals over the years,” Mr Bath said.

“And have been awarded either a gold, silver or bronze with every shiraz we’ve ever made.

“But its pretty hard to crack a gold – consistently, anyway.

“Its good for us; we’re a pretty small winery,” he said.

“And winning a gold helps to sell wine.”

Mr Bath has been involved in the wine industry his entire working life, teaching viticulture in Mildura in the 1970s, before taking up a senior viticulture lecturer position at Dookie. He currently works part-time for Benalla TAFE.

The judges described the 2006 Goorambath Shiraz as clean, with deep plum and ruby colour with a good berry nose with some black cherry and raspberry characters.

The Baths are now selling their vineyard due to the lath reasons.

Gerard and Ann Mahoney of Nooramunga Wines took out the silver medal for the shiraz and best sparkling wine of the show.

The couple planted their Goorambat vineyard as a retirement project about 13 years ago, and this was their second medal for a shiraz, with their first awarded in 2007.

“The local climate is most suited to shiraz,” Mr Mahoney said.

“It’s hot and dry, producing a full-bodied shiraz.

Mr Mahoney said that their grapes were harvested in 2005 and taken to Cope-Williams at Romsey, who made ‘the one’.

“They represent the leading sparkling winemakers in Victoria,” he said.

“And the shiraz is a popular win, good for summer drinking.”

Also in The Ensign this week in 2009:

● Country music star, Adam Brand, performed at BPACC.

● Benalla Rotary Club celebrated its platinum anniversary.

● Cayrn Lummas and Justin Crawford welcomed the new arrival of Kiara Jayne Crawford.