Families flocked together

As told by Dot Lawry in 2007:

I lived at 94 Mitchell Street. It was the area where, when the New Australians came to the area, they bought land to build their shanties, and sheds, and worked and did whatever they could. They bought timber from Dunstan’s timber yards and grew their vegetables.

My husband Gordon and I had a cow and they would come to get milk and water from us because there was no reticulated water. Gordon and I didn’t have water properly laid on – it would run across the ground into our place.

When they got their own vegetables growing, they would bring us vegetables as a way of paying for the water and our kindness to them. It was a good life.

From 1949 Gordon and I worked for the Wodonga Poultry Suppliers. We would wash the feathers we got from there, Gordon would dry them in a machine which he built, and the New Australians would get feathers to make their continental quilts and eiderdowns and pillows.

A group of women would come and sit near our back door and strip the feathers from the quills. They’d do some for one family and the next for another family, but everyone would work on it. They would make a quilt for one family and then another until everyone had a quilt.

What did we do with the left-over quills? We’d dig a hole and bury them. They weren’t allowed to go to the tip. Eventually the quills rotted into manure and they’d dig it up and take home for their gardens.

The offal from the poultry and processed animals went to a piggery. Some of it would be buried in an old swamp down the end of Athol Street where the Racecourse is now. There was a dam or swamp there near where Cox’s are.

We made our own continental quilts for our family. I didn’t strip the feathers for our quilts; I used to get the fine duck down. I did it the easy way. Anything that had feathers on we processed at the Wodonga Poultry Suppliers.