Swan Hill to Tailem Bend

(50 KMs)

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Swan Hill - Tailem Bend

Exploring my family history

The Punt ride – 50km

Keen to explore more of the local area, we cycled out of town on the Victorian side of the Murray with the wind behind us past fields of oats and other crops to the Murray Cruise Liner – a grand name for a punt that takes you across the river into NSW. We hit headwinds on the other side as we headed back into Swan Hill, making for a less enjoyable return journey.

After a very nice lunch at Boo’s café, we changed out of our cycling gear and headed onto Ouyen to see the little town where my grandfather worked at the Post Office as a telegrapher in the 1920s. Ouyen is famous as the birthplace of the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph which started in 1998 when the then-Victorian premier Geoff Kennett claimed that the Mallee Bakery’s vanilla slice was the best he’d eaten. We were in time to get the very last piece of vanilla slice, just before the bakery closed. Having eaten very few vanilla slices, I can’t say how it rates compared to others, but it tasted pretty good.

The town was dead on a Saturday afternoon and many of the shops were empty, so it didn’t appear to be thriving. We stopped at St Joseph’s catholic church, knowing that my grandparents had married there. Unfortunately, the original wooden church built in 1921 had been replaced in 1996. The original post office opened in 1907 and the current post office built in 1922. So it’s possible that my grandfather worked in the current building.

Enjoying our foray into my family history, our next stop was Tutye, where my grandmother lived as a child and later worked in the Tutye post office which opened in 1912 when the railway line from Ouyen to Murrayville was completed. It was now marked by a sign, a train crossing and a silo. We found the turnoff to the cemetery and went in search of my great grandfather’s grave. We didn’t find a gravestone for Edward John Dickinson, however, did find one for a John Batson who died aged 64 in 1919. Maybe a distant relative of Simon’s?

To ensure we could legally cross the border, we stopped at Murrayville to eat our fruit. Information on the local area showed that in the early 1900s there had been three schools in Tutye, reflective of the size of the population in the early years.

Our Airbnb accommodation in Tallem Bend was clean and comfortable. We decided to stretch our legs and walked into town for dinner at a very good Indian at Curry on Bend.