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Murgheboluc Murmers


An unsung hero of Murgheboluc is the mail contractor.

Once, there was a post office in Murgheboluc but in these days of franchises it was unprofitable.   When the lady who ran it for decades retired the post office closed and no-one else was prepared to take on the challenge.   For good measure Australia Post uprooted the letter box, which had stood beside the highway for years like a rusty red sentinel, lest anyone doubt that the post office had gone.   From now on, if you wished to post a letter, you went to town.

The chatty post mistress morphed into a speedy and determined mail delivery contractor, which was more convenient for the locals but created new adventures and turned the mail delivery into a spectator sport.   

For reasons best known to Australia Post’s bureaucrats, Murgheboluc is in the Geelong West postcode, and the contractor comes from the city.   Most of Murgheboluc’s 35 houses are on the Hamilton Hwy, which is a 100 kph zone from one end of town to the other, all six kilometres of it.   The S bend in the Murgheboluc valley in slippery conditions can be treacherous even for those who know it well.

Enter the mail contractor.   Accessing or departing one’s home onto the highway is not for the faint hearted but this is something our mail contractor does 35 times each working day with creditable resolve.

The stretch of the Hamilton Hwy through Murgheboluc is surprisingly hazardous.   Sadly, there have been three fatalities in recent years, the latest being on 17 August.   There have been many lesser accidents including roll overs, vehicles departing the road unwisely and a couple bouncing off the crash barriers.   The Bannockburn SES unit is very familiar with Murgheboluc.

Thus it is that the mail contractor daily faces the formidable challenges of ensuring that the mail must get through.   Ducking into driveways, darting across the road and dodging the B-Doubles, the contractor grimly soldiers on with rain driving in the window and fog concealing the hazards.   He leaps from the car in all weathers to drop mail into inconveniently placed letter boxes, slipping and sliding on the boggy easements.   Even Rusty the dog saves his loudest barks for the mailman like a good dog should.   Yes, the mail gets through and with remarkable reliability.   All hail the mail contractor for his heroic endeavours.

Changing the subject, the following advert appeared in the Melbourne Argus of September 19, 1945:

“SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13.   At Half-past Twelve O'clock.  On the Property, BANNOCKBURN ARMY CAMP.   15 Miles from Geelong, AboutThree Miles from Bannockburn Town-ship, and Adjoining Murgheboluc Railway Siding.   Important and extensive auction sale of 44 buildings for removal, also water tanks, timber, piping, &c by order of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission.  Other particulars Next Saturday. Descriptive Catalogues In Course of Preparation.   NORMAN BELCHER & Co., auctioneer, 101-103 Ryrie St, Geelong.   Phone 1471.”

Readers will be familiar with the name of Old Base Rd which starts just past the Bannockburn Business Estate and terminates at the Gheringhap-Maroona railway line, more or less.   The road name is new having been adopted by the Council around 2004.   Prior to that, it was known as Brislanes Rd North.   

Old Base Rd recalls the existence of a US Army ammunition depot known as the Kane Ordnance Depot, which specialised in anti-aircraft ammunition and was established in mid-1942.   Kane Ordnance Depot was the US Army’s first important ordnance installation in Australia and was operated by the 25th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company (AA), whose original task was to support the US 41st Infantry Division.

Its role rapidly grew, however.   In addition to the storage of ammunition, the base became a staging area for ordnance troops, an important training centre for ordnance soldiers and a repair and restoration facility for battle damaged equipment.   The ordnance troops arriving at the depot often came straight off their ships and arrived without their equipment.   They were usually fed a hearty hot meal and were given a bed before being turned-to for work until redeployed elsewhere.

The site was chosen because of access to the Geelong port and the Gheringhap-Maroona railway line (which is about to celebrate its centenary).   The depot was next to the Murgheboluc railway station and an additional siding was constructed to support a mustard gas depository.   The depot was part of the logistic support for the US Army’s Chemical Warfare Plan for the South West Pacific Area and 431 tons of mustard gas were stored at the site in bulk form.   These were apparently stored in bunkers.

All vestiges of the base had disappeared by 1948 including, hopefully, the mustard gas, and the Murgheboluc railway station has gone the same way as the Murgheboluc Post Office.

Swampdock

Concrete still visible at the Kane Ordinance Depot

 

Remnants of infrastructure at the old Murgheboluc Rail siding.