Remembering life in Ultima, Vic.

Jack Mott

We arrived in Ultima, Victoria early in June 1940, having travelled by horse and cart from Mildura via Balranald, Deniliquin, Echuca, Swan hill and Lake Charm, looking for work and accommodation for our large family. In Ultima we rented a house near the local school.

I started work at Clem Baldwin's garage, Ultima, within a day or two of arriving in the town of about 600 people. I enjoyed serving petrol to customers from a hand operated petrol bowser, repairing punctures, looking after the battery charger, and other garage duties such as cleaning automotive parts and sweeping the garage floor. Opposite the garage in Dillon Street was the butcher shop and next door was hairdresser Bob Gundlach, who usually cut my hair and sold me cigarettes and other 'things' which a boy of my age may need. Bill Crisp, who played the piano at the hotel on some nights, came to the town about once a month, parking his caravan next to the barber shop. On the other side of the butcher shop there was a general store operated by Englishman, Mr Deaville and next to that a clothing and haberdashery store run by the Nind's family.

The Manager at the Bank where it was my job to bank money from the garage was Mr Mehrens. The Post Office, which was the furthest business down the street, had Mr Lindupp as Postmaster in charge of the Morse code telegraph machine and other postal activities. Constable Neary, was the very popular local policeman. One of his, daughters, I believe, later took over the Bendigo Fashion House in Hargreaves Street, Bendigo. The nearest doctor and dentist was 32 Km away in Swan Hill.

Late in 1941 the Swan Hill power station burned down. causing great inconvenience to all of us. Clem Baldwin had an auxiliary diesel operated power supply at the garage for the tools and lights but households had no power at all.

Wartime Identity Cards were issued on15 March 1942 and tea was rationed from 20 March 1942, the day before General Macarthur arrived in Melbourne. He moved to Brisbane in July 1942 to conduct the Pacific theatre of war. Clothes rationing began in May, 1942 and consisted of 112 coupons for each person. Men's suits took 38 coupons, a shirt 15 and socks 4. The Manpower Authority was established in January 1942, under Eddie Ward, although there had been a de-facto control of labour for a year or more under the National Security Regulations. A person was not legally allowed to change employment without the approval of the Authority.