Insight into a lively town

As told by Lindsay Rapsey

Our family has been in the district since about 1870, originally at French’s Forest and then Bonegilla, starting with dairying but later changing to beef.

When the Hume Weir was being constructed about 2,000 people lived a couple of hundred yards down the road from our farm, at Mitta Junction, which was the village south of the Murray River which housed workers doing the weir on the Victorian side.

About 500 horses were yoked up each day for the work and our family had the contract to supply 1200 tons of chaff to feed them in conjunction with Manns of Wodonga. We had one thrasher going up to Kiewa, one up to Mitta and the other one going up the Murray.

We also cut and pressed hay. We had a mower and a hay rake, a tractor and balers and we did contract baling to help pay off the farm. My father and his brother were the first to bring a twine tie baler to the area. They were also the first to buy a chisel plough (from Bob Crosby) and were told by the well-to-do farmers they were silly boys for wasting their money on a plough.

Mitta Junction was a pretty lively town even though it was in Bonegilla – the people formed a Progress Association which ran from about 1948 to 1956. They started the Fire Brigade, kept the Hall Committee going; the paddock opposite my house was the cricket pitch for Mitta Junction and between the cricket pitch and the corner of Rapseys Road and the Hume Weir Road was an 18-hole golf course. The United Football team in the Ovens and Murray Football League played there and they were all workers on the weir. They won the premiership I think 4 years in a row prior to the War. When the war started, that devastated everyone. I think the Ovens and Murray shut down for about 4 years.

The town of Ebden was also a thriving metropolis, it had a branch railway line to Mitta Junction where all the supplies for the construction of the Hume Weir came, including all the gravel used to build the weir which came from No. 2 mine at Chiltern.