We are where we come from – New museum exhibition looks at the people who shaped the town

Speakers Maurice Powell, Lee Clark, Tom Fitzgerald and Jim Hurley at the Kyogle Museum.

Susanna Freymark

Stories were shared at the launch of the Kyogle Revisited exhibition at Kyogle Museum on Saturday, June 8.

There were four main speakers – Tom Fitzgerald, Jim Hurley, Maurice Powell and Lee Clark.

They told stories of the past about life in Kyogle.

Tom talked about life as a five years old and the characters around Kyogle then.

“I remember Ollie Reeves who lived in a shed where the IGA is now. It was a big paddock then.

“At 5.30am, Ollie swept the main street every day.”

Tom said his father had a butcher’s shop in town.

He talked about another character called Charlie Scissors.

“I never knew his real name. He wore a Panama hat and sharpened butchers’ knives and scissors,” he said.

Reception at the museum.

Between the 1940s–2000s there wasn’t an empty shop in Kyogle.

“Now there is.”

We used to have five grocery stores, Tom said.

There were five banks, now there’s only a credit union and part-time hours at the Commonwealth Bank.

There were three taxis in the street, now there’s one. And there were three furniture stores, now there’s one. Back then there were six outlets for cars, Tom said. Now there are none. There were two men’s barbers and now there’s none. The only increase was from two women’s hairdressers back then to seven now.

Kyogle used to have three tuckshops, Tom said.

The business landscape has certainly changed.

“My first job was a clerk at Norco,” he said.

“We had 22 cream carriers bringing the cream to the factory.”

Tom said he’d read the Kyogle Examiner newspaper – the paper listed births, deaths, cattle sales, and Friday pig sales.

Tom used to organise the Floral Review where concerts were held for 10 years at the KMI Hall.

The Floral celebration turned into the Dairy Festival which then became the Fairy Mount Festival.

Margaret Rollings and Maurice Powell.

Maurice Powell, 94, was born in Kyogle. His early years were spent on a farm out near Eden Creek.

“Each month we drove the horse (called Bob) and sulky to town. It was a long way. We turned in behind the Commercial Hotel and the stable hand looked after our horses.”

The highlight of the trip to town was the bag of boiled lollies that Shirley’s Emporium put with the grocery order.

When they got fish and chips it was wrapped in newspaper. Maurice’s father read the paper from the chips on Sunday.

Maurice said he rode a horse to Eden Creek School every day.

When Lee Clark stood in front of the audience she told them she was born at Kyogle Hospital.

“I went to Kyogle Primary School,” Lee said.

“I remember raw milk being delivered. We’d put our billies out. Alec Miller delivered bread in a big basket.”

When the family went shopping, Lee’s mother would give them two shillings to buy a pack of broken biscuits.

The highlight of the year was the Kyogle Show.

“You had new clothes, hat and new shoes ( they hurt because they were new),” Lee said.

“What a warm, friendly place Kyogle was and still is.”

Jim Hurley from Brown and Hurley Trucks said his Kyogle roots went back to when his great-grandparents selected The Risk 150 years ago.

Jim’s grandfather carted timber from “all the little sawmills in Kyogle” and then carted steel when the rail line was built from Kyogle to Brisbane.

Jim started Brown & Hurley in 1946.

“Now we have 21 branches and employ 625 people.”

There used to be 32 sawmills in Kyogle.

Jim Hurley spoke about the logging in Kyogle.

“After World War II there was a lot of demand for timber for building in Syndey.

“Logging built the town in the early days.”

Jim ended his talk with wise words – “We are where we come from.”

After the speakers, Kyogle Museum president Norman Foskett invited anyone who wanted to share a story to come up to the mic.

Jeanette Flannagan said her story began in Kyogle where she was born.

“This is where my heart belongs,” she said.

Jeanette Flannagan spoke about growing up on Bundock Street.

“I grew up on Bundock Street. There were 26 kids on our street. We’d go and get milk straight from the cow and the magpies would swoop us.

“On a hot summer’s day, we’d go to the cordial factory and have a creaming soda.

“On Saturday we’d shimmy up Fairy Mount – you’d take an orange with you.”

Jeanette was clearly moved by her memories.

“This surely is one of the most wonderful places to grow up,” she said.

Peter Carlill said his folks came from Casino but he grew up in Kyogle.

“In the 1950s–60s we’d just been through the war – we didn’t have much,” he said.

“We got electricity, we got TV.

“I had a lovely time growing up in Kyogle.”

Peter Carlill remembers getting TV.

Norman said the exhibition focused on the post-war era. An Indigenous exhibition was planned for the future.

See Kyogle Revisited at the Kyogle Museum on Bloore Street, Kyogle.

The audience enjoyed the stories and the memories. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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