Fond memories of an idyllic childhood in Katamatite
I’d like to tell you all a tale, although you’ll think I’m batty
Of what a lovely time we had whilst growing up in Katty.
It was back in 1946 when my twin and I saw light,
Our parents took us to their home in Beek St. Katamatite.
Now how the town had got its name, is the subject of a story.
But it doesn’t matter how it did, we loved it for its glory.
It’s special in a little town with just 200 souls,
Because we had Kilgour’s Store, we didn’t need a Coles.
For ‘Killies’ met the district’s needs for food and clothes and fuel,
The farmers picked their groceries up, whilst dropping kids at school.
With rolling fertile plains abound, they grew great wool and wheat
And carted it to the railway, through Katty’s wide main street.
Then irrigation water came which changed the farming scene
From 1950 onwards many dairy cows were seen.
The farmers all were hard at work with machinery at hand
To sow and reap and cart the primary products of our land.
And when the work was carried out, the farmers took a rest,
They played their sport with much aplomb and often were the best.
With football, cricket, tennis too they played and lost and won.
Badminton, netball, rifle shots were added to the fun.
We didn’t have all mod cons but life wasn’t really hard,
Although the outside toilet, was at the end of the backyard.
So whilst we paid a visit, it was our Father’s strong desire,
That we chopped some wood and carried it up for the stove and the open fire.
For education, Katty had a school (2069)
We learned to read and write and play and had to toe the line.
And when our primary days were through we hopped upon a bus
We headed for Numurkah High without a lot of fuss.
With Sunday as the day of rest, ’twas off to Sunday school
With Chas and Nev and others too, who taught the Golden Rule.
School holidays were much adored under Katty’s red hot sun,
We’d fish and swim and ride our bikes and rabbiting was fun.
On Mondays, sheep were sent by train, which belched out steam and grunted
Occasionally, we had the chance to drive it while it shunted.
And on those long hot summer days we didn’t mind the heat
When Ronnie Barnes or Pat O’Kane said ‘‘help me cart some wheat’’.
In May and in September, on school breaks we didn’t fool,
We were busy helping ‘Harry Kil’ deliver drums of fuel.
With shearing on in earnest we could drove big mobs of sheep
Or pick up in a shearing shed and press the wool to keep.
Our evenings were so busy too, with youth clubs or a dance,
Or you could learn to play guitar at the local Methodist manse
One could also learn the banjo, at Robbie’s close at hand,
And so it was we all appeared in the Katamatite string band.
The best thing about Katty, was the free and easy life,
The open space, the freshest air, no need to be in strife.
A street you could play cricket in, or kick the footy about
As we waited for the school bus to take us in and out.
It was sad when I left Katty, to pursue a boyhood dream,
To announce upon the radio and be on the TV screen.
But what I learned in Katty, set me straight for all my life.
I never miss the chance to show the town off to my wife.
I finished up in politics, as Shepparton’s local member
And travelled off to London, an occasion to remember.
When the Queen asked me ‘‘Where are you from?’’ I said with much delight.
‘‘I live in the City of Shepparton, but I come from Katamatite’’.
How good it was to have the chance to live in that great town,
To be so safe and comfortable and never being down.
I feel for all those city folk from places loud and ratty
Who’ve missed the opportunity, of growing up in Katty.
Big weekend: Strawberry Fields Festival attendees relaxing on the Murray River during last year’s event.