Songs, poems, yarns

Benalla Ensign - - News - By Si­mon Rup­pert

Co­me­dian poet Col Mil­li­gan will MC and per­form at the 2018 Aussie Bush En­ter­tain­ment Muster in Be­nalla this week­end (Oc­to­ber 12 to 14).

The event will pri­mar­ily be at the Be­nalla Bowls Club, how­ever, the An­zac Trib­ute at 1 pm on Satur­day will be at the ‘‘Weary Dun­lop’’ statue in the Botan­i­cal Gar­dens.

This year’s theme will be songs, sto­ries and poems from the sea cho­sen for the spe­cial Sun­day morn­ing seg­ment.

The muster is an an­nual Aus­traliana event con­ducted by the Vic­to­rian Bush Po­ets and Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion.

Sec­re­tary Jan Lewis said there would be four fea­tured per­form­ers this year.

‘‘Ian Zierk is a ver­sa­tile solo gui­tarist and singer from Point Lons­dale who per­forms as South­ern Light,’’ Ms Lewis said.

‘‘We will also have Jill Mee­han, Jeff Mifsu and Col Mil­li­gan per­form­ing.’’

Doors open at 8 am Satur­day and Sun­day for walk-up per­for- mances of song, rhyming po­etry and yarns from 8.30 am.

Satur­day ses­sions in­clude; a Novice Po­etry Com­pe­ti­tion, Mans­field Bush Po­ets, more walkups on the af­ter­noon, and the Vic­to­rian Song/Mu­sic Cham­pi­onships.

As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Jill Mee­han said, ‘‘Sun­day is sim­i­lar, with the high­light be­ing a 90-minute song, sto­ries, and poems from the sea, for which some per­form­ers will be in very colour­ful cos­tumes’’.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit

●A street in Be­nalla is of­ten trav­elled, yet few know how it re­ceived the name, It’s Waller Street — after Cap­tain Hec­tor Waller, of Royal Aus­tralian Navy fame. Hec­tor Waller, born Be­nalla, April 4, at the turn of the cen­tury, no more, Made a ca­reer in the Royal Aus­tralian Navy — dis­tin­guish­ing him­self in war. Cap­tained the De­stroyer HMAS Stu­art in the Mediter­ranean, from thirty-nine to forty-one, Lead­ing the Aus­tralian De­stroyer force, fight­ing against Ital­ians and the Hun. When Ja­pan was threat­en­ing the South West Pa­cific and our na­tive land, The De­stroyer Force sailed home­wards to give the Dutch and Yanks a hand. Cap­tain Waller was re­warded, given com­mand of the Light Cruiser HMAS Perth, He sailed to join the Amer­i­can, Bri­tish, Dutch and Aus­tralian Indies Fleet, to our north. With the Ja­panese rapidly ad­vanc­ing over land and sea the Al­lies feared de­feat, The Dutch Ad­mi­ral, Karel Dooman, gave des­per­ate or­ders to his multi­na­tion fleet. Perth, and the Amer­i­can Heavy Cruiser Hous­ton, you will pa­trol the Sunda Strait, I can spare just one Dutch De­stroyer, the Evert­sen, alas she will take up sta­tion late. With lack of air­craft, the Al­lies in­tel­li­gence was poor, and the marvel of radar was in its early day, The Perth and Hous­ton Cap­tains were un­aware a large Ja­panese in­va­sion task force was on its way. On the night of twenty-eight Fe­bru­ary, nine­teen forty-two, they clashed with a su­pe­rior Ja­panese fleet, Hous­ton was al­ready lame, with two of her eight main guns out of or­der — and that fore­bode de­feat. Though shells from both the Perth and Hous­ton struck their much larger op­po­nents, The sheer weight of num­bers and Jap De­stroy­ers fir­ing tor­pe­does seized the mo­ment. With both Al­lied cruis­ers ablaze and set­tling in the wa­ter, then came the dreaded or­der ‘‘Aban­don ship’’. As lifeboats were holed, or un­able to be launched, sur­vivors leapt into the murky wa­ters, where ran a rip. The Ja­panese res­cued their men, two Jap ships and three trans­ports had sunk be­neath the wa­ter, Then be­gan tak­ing on sailors from the Perth and Hous­ton who sur­vived the bat­tle and the slaugh­ter. Just over three-hun­dred of the Perth’s crew of six-hun­dred and eighty-six were saved — but alas not Cap­tain Waller. The sur­vivors spent three and a half years as pris­on­ers of the Ja­panese, en­dur­ing star­va­tion and squalor. So should you walk or drive down Waller Street, on the western side of Be­nalla, Spare a thought for whom the street was named in mem­ory, a true blue Aussie fella. The man who as a boy dreamed of en­list­ing in the Royal Aus­tralian Navy to sail afar, An Aus­tralian war hero, Cap­tain Hec­tor Mac­Don­ald Laws Waller — DSO and Bar.

Mu­sic to our ears: Ian Zierk is one of the per­form­ers at this year’s Aussie Bush Muster.

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