Kyabram Free Press

Milking the most out of life

- By Rohan Aldous

Seventy-two years ago David Morris was shovelling sand to form the foundation­s of Tongala’s milk factory.

He then worked for 20 years as a dairy technologi­st at the same site, before ending his career with the business as the factory’s production manager.

Early next year he will turn 90 years of age and is showing few signs of slowing down, still heavily involved in community activities and with his son-in-law’s farming enterprise.

David, and his wife of 64 years, Lorraine, both worked at the milk product factory and were among the many saddened recently by its closing.

They went from working behind closed doors to become a daily part of many people’s lives in the dairy farming town, when they took over the Tongala “paper shop”, or newsagency, in the 1970s.

A year before David arrived at the site of the Tongala milk factory he had been working at the general post office in the heart of Melbourne as a telegram boy.

That required jumping on a bicycle and delivering telegrams to businesses and residentia­l customers throughout the city’s suburbs.

“There were about 30 of us delivering the telegrams, it was a seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day operation.

“We would deliver to the docks, and inner suburbs like Fitzroy and Collingwoo­d. All alone, occasional­ly at night, on a bike,” David said.

The most sought-after part of the telegram delivery role was going to the races, where an extra two bob (20 cents) was a significan­t attraction.

David’s face features on a pamphlet produced when he was working at the building on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Sts promoting the telegram boy role.

“They handed out what must have been thousands of them at the Melbourne show,” he said.

“You had to be under 18 years old to qualify as a telegram boy, so once I turned 18 they sent me upstairs to learn morse code.

“That wasn’t for me, so I came back home to Tongala. That’s where I started as a navvy (another word for labourer) with Bobby Dawson as my boss,” David said.

Six years after the factory was built he was selected by the Swiss management of the Tongala factory to attend the School of Dairy Technology at Werribee.

Both David and Lorraine were born in Tongala and haven’t wandered too far away, living in the area for the last 40 years.

“Once we sold the newsagency to Tony and Rhonda Mckenzie I worked for a long time as a bus driver for Hec Mcconnell.

“I still have my semi-trailer licence,” David said.

The couple has three daughters: Sally, Rosalie and Jenny.

Sally’s partner is Graeme Warren, a butcher at Rushworth, while Jenny is currently renovating a home, calling in her father’s semi-profession­al woodworkin­g skills on a more than regular basis.

Rosalie is married to David Mulcahy, who called on his fatherin-law’s dairy expertise in the initial stages of building his own dairy factory.

“I was 68 years old when David asked me to help with the dairy factory. It was opened in 2000,” David (Morris) said.

He spent 18 months testing DNA in thousands of cows, working to discover the difference­s between the milk products we now have on our supermarke­t shelves.

David and Lorraine, six and a half decades after they were married, are still finishing each other’s sentences.

Family portraits which adorn the walls of their Cassia Court home are among the collectabl­es from the lengthy union, along with a batch of the world’s first personalis­ed stamps.

The couple posed for the stamp portrait at the 1999 Australian World

Stamp Expo.

The 45-cent stamps sit among his extensive collection, which also includes the first Australian Kangaroo series stamps from 1913.

“I collected them when I was a child, during the 1940s, but Dad was born in 1890 so I think these were originally his stamps,” David saidm.

David’s community involvemen­t extended beyond the milk factory and the newsagency, his only real brush with the law landing him with some “community service”.

“My brother and I played up a bit and as a result were spent six weeks shovelling sand at the site of the Tongala swimming pool, when it was first being built,” he said.

David started the Men’s Shed in Kyabram 10 years ago and was the first president of the Apex club in Tongala. “When I was 40 they kicked me out, so I spent 30 years in Lions, in various portfolios. Half of those were with Tongala and the other half with Kyabram,” he said.

But David’s passion for the dairy industry remains, looking back sadly on the many farms that have fallen foul of the increased costs of running a property.

He said the cost of water, $13 to $15 a megalitre back in his day, had forced dairy farmers off the land.

“They now pay $400 a megalitre for water,” he said.

One thing is for certain, David and Lorraine’s smiling faces will continue to remind those who know them of good times from their life-long love affair with the area.

And story time will continue to be an amazing part of life for their five grandchild­ren and six great-grandchild­ren.

 ?? ?? For details contact Margaret Sullivan on (03) 5853 1362.
Roll up:
The Kyabram Croquet Club will be hosting a free afternoon next month.
For details contact Margaret Sullivan on (03) 5853 1362. Roll up: The Kyabram Croquet Club will be hosting a free afternoon next month.
 ?? ?? Sticking together: David and Lorraine Morris have more than memories to show for 64 years of marriage, including the world’s first personalis­ed stamps, which they bought at the world stamp expo in 1999.
Sticking together: David and Lorraine Morris have more than memories to show for 64 years of marriage, including the world’s first personalis­ed stamps, which they bought at the world stamp expo in 1999.

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