In the Archives: Benalla Ensign

By Benalla Ensign


A three-car collision took place at Benalla last Sunday afternoon in front of the main showgrounds gate in Bridge St, resulting in all three vehicles being damaged.

A car driven by Graham Pickering of 18 Henry St, Benalla, is believed to have stopped and was signalling to make a turn in the break in the traffic island outside of the showgrounds when a utility from behind, driven by John Taylor of Coburg, struck it.

A third car, driven by Michael Dornom, of 12 Oak Ave, Benalla, came from behind and it struck Taylor's utility.

Mrs Taylor, who was seated beside her husband, was the only one injured, and was admitted to Benalla Hospital with slight head injuries.

Paul Arndt, of 4 Edward St, Benalla, had a lucky escape in a separate incident, when a car he was driving rolled over at the intersection of the Tatong-Molyullah Rd, 10 miles east of Benalla, at 10 o'clock on Saturday night.

He stepped out of the extensively damaged vehicle without a scratch.

Also in the Ensign this week in 1969:

* Benalla Primary schools competed in a Basketball tournament in Wangaratta - Pictured above are (Back) Rhonda Gawley, Marion Jones, Louise McKenzie, Anne Stevenson (Front) Debbie Bush, Joanne Ferguson, Vicky Dale, Robyn Thomas and Prue McKechnie.

A town mourns its loss. Violet Town residents (l-r) Jack Knowles, Vic Ramage, Harry Hill, Norm Campbell and John Crocker have a beer in memory of that local icon, the Ellen Frances Hotel. The five stalwart patrons of the Ellen Frances notched up more than 200 years of drinking between them at the waterhole until it was burnt to the ground


For the residents of the small rural community of Violet Town, and for all those who have visited the township during the years, the morning of August 16, 1993, was one that they would rather forget, or wish never happened.

On this day the focal point of the town, the Ellen Frances Hotel was demolished by a catastrophic fire. All that remains today is the shell of the exterior walls, surrounding the charred remains of what was, to many residents, "Violet Town". This "eyesore" shored up poles and props in the midst of town, stands today to remind residents of what was once the meeting place of many.

First built in 1873 on the present site by the Underwood family it was known as the Railway Hotel. It was bricked up in 1886 using local bricks. The hotel remained in the Underwood family until it was sold to Ellen Frances Murphy in 1933. Upon her death it was renamed the Ellen Frances in 1955. It was to remain in the Murphy family until it was again sold in 1989. So for 116 years there were only two families involved in the ownership, a record for a hotel in Victoria.

Local resident Norm Campbell sums up the feelings for the hotel in the township when he speaks of his reason for packing up his belongings and moving to Violet Town from Melbourne some six years ago. The first and main reason for the move was because of the Ellen Frances, and secondly, because of the people and the atmosphere of the town.

Also in This Ensign this week in 1994:

*Benalla Cycling Club’s Ashley Baines and Baden Cooke took out Junior Time Trial winner and King of the Mountain Club Champion respectively at the recent Benalla Cycling Club Championships.

*Benalla jockey Geoff Bamford and Benalla trainer Wayne Nicols recorded a running double for Benalla, winning both the NEDRA leading riders and trainers award.  

St Joseph's Primary School student Nicole Barrow recently published her very first book, Riding Mates. Students Jorja Berry, 6, Hannah McIntosh, 5, and Tahlia Pallpratt, 5, eagerly wait for Nicole to autograph their copies.


With an interest in horses and a passion for writing, St Joseph’s student Nicole Barrow has combined her two hobbies and published her first book.

At just 11 years old, the Year 5 student said she loved horses and had always wanted to write a book about them. Taking her two years to complete, Nicole said Riding Mates was about three girls who loved horses, and all wanted to compete in a rodeo – but tragedy strikes – will the girls still be able to compete?

Fielding questions from her schoolmates about what the book was about: Nicole was not giving away the story’s ending, saying if people wanted to find out what happened, they would have to read the 12-chapter novel.

Riding Mates was a family affair with Nicole’s older sister Meaghan doing the illustrations for the book.

Parents Richard and Karen also helped in the proof reading.

"Nicole has a very good imagination," Karen said.

"Nicole is very committed and dedicated and she worked very hard (to publish the book)."

Once Nicole completed the book, the family sought a local publisher who also helped design the front cover.

Autographing and selling copies of Riding Mates to her classmates last week, Nicole said she was proud and excited at being a young author.

"Sometimes when I was writing, I’d laugh at bits of the book," Nicole, who has also started work on a second novel, said.

St Joseph’s Primary School librarian Rachel Heywood had nothing but praise for the budding novelist.

"I think to have one of our students to be such a keen writer is great and it might inspire other kids to prove it can be done," Ms Heywood said.

Also in The Ensign this week in 2009:

*A good Samaritan gifted a Benalla teen with several months worth of pocket money after the teen's family home was broken into and her savings taken.

*Benalla’s Mary Beaton retired from her role as personal carer at Cooinda Village after 20 years.

*Five clubs from Benalla & District Football League were told to transfer to other leagues or risk folding, after a review from the Victorian Country Football League found the BDFL nonviable beyond the year.