Posted by: jkirkby8712 | July 13, 2011

Tuesday, 12th July 2011 – a bit of local history up in flames.

Just down the road from Sunbury, is the small. Township of Diggers Rest  –  in the C18th gold rush days, it was the first major overnight stopping place for the gold diggers heading out from Melbourne to seek their ‘fortunes’ on the goldfields of places further north such as Castlemaine or Bendigo [Castlemaine, was as far as we can gather the first destination  of my original ancestor here in Australia, for the gold diggings in 1854]. Anyway, with Sunbury so close to the town , there are only a few retailers in the town, mostly it is residential and farming these days. A few years ago, the historic Diggers Rest Hotel, located on the old highway, burnt down, and that left only four businesses operating in the town. Well, that number has been further reduced, although I only really discovered the fact yesterday.

The General store and post office went up in flames  a few days ago. Residents in Diggers Rest have been left devastated after one of the town’s few remaining retailers was extensively damaged by fire. Police believe the blaze, which occurred about 4.45am, was deliberately lit. Owner Barry Richards said he came in to organise the home delivery of newspapers to find the shop on fire. He said “There’s not much left in town now.” “There’s a fish and chip shop, another milk bar and a licensed grocer and there was us,” Mr Richards said.  He is hoping to set up a temporary post office with the help of Australia Post by next week. No one was injured in the fire.

The building was 127 years old and served as both  general store and post office for the town. It always concerns me when a post office is destroyed in a fire,  because apart from the building and normal building contents, you can never really know the extent of loss as far as postal articles are concerned this morning. Certainly, in the early days of settlement, without the type of communication we have today,  the loss of some mail could be life devastating for some people – that letter that had been coming for twelve months, that never reaches it’s destination, and so many other unknown circumstances.

The blaze, which occurred on the Old Calder Highway about 4.40am, destroyed four rooms and about 40 per cent of the weatherboard building. It took 40 minutes for more than 40 firefighters from Diggers Rest, Toolern Vale, Sunbury and Caroline Springs to bring the blaze under control.  Fire investigators were at the scene at first light sifting through the debris to determine the cause of the fire. A fire spokesman said afterwards that “The entire building was damaged by smoke and heat but the fire’s only encroached on four rooms”.  “Being of weatherboard and timber construction it (the fire) ran pretty quick, so by the time we got here (4.44am) it was pretty sizeable.  “We were hampered by access to the building being such an old building – getting in through the roof and that sort of thing.’‘ It was hard to estimate a damage bill from the blaze, but said there had been a “complete loss of stock and post’‘.   Another slice of local history lost to the area!

Tonight saw the second of two nights in a row on air at the radio station. Last night’s late 3 hour shift, I thoroughly enjoyed presenting as usual, even if I heard from nobody throughout the evening. It is a show that I hope to develop further over the months ahead, and particularly beyond my retirement later this year. Mean while tonight was ‘Showtime’, and following last Friday night’s visit to the theatre, I devoted a major part of this program to music from the soundtrack of ‘Love Never Ends’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Wanted to give my listeners a taste of a wonderful night’s entertainment.  Jayne, our loyal listener from Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, rang in during the show – she is one that most of us can always count on tuning in, when she is well enough to do so. Living on her own these days, she regards 3NRG as her family now, and often makes the trip by train to Sunbury to join in any functions that might be happening with respect to the station.

In the Tour de France, after a rest day on Monday, and following some of the disastrous incidents of Sunday’s stage, today [tonight] was a tough but relatively incident free Stage 10.  A total of 178 riders took to the start of Stage 10 after Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) tested positive for a  banned substance and Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack) did not start due to illness.  Today’s route took the riders 161kms from Aurillac to Carmaux.  Four categorized climbs—two cat-3’s and two cat-4’s—awaited the riders in addition to the intermediate sprint. Stage 10 concluded as German rider Andre Greipel completed a stunning sprint to the finish to defeat Mark Cavendish, Jose Joaquin Rojas, and Thor Hushovd for the stage victor.  The overall situation after Stage 10, saw  the first five positions unchanged – 1. Thomas Voeckler [France]; 2, Luis Leon Sanchez [Spain], and 3. Cadel Evans [Australia] with the two Schleck brothers from Luxembourg in 4th & 5th spot. I made no attempt to watch any of the event beyond about 11pm – would like to, but one needs sleep! And there is little value in my taping each night’s stage, because I would never be able to find time to keep up with each day by trying to watch the tape. So we depend on a few highlights next evening, and do get to enjoy some of the scenery in the first hour or two of the coverage each night.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: