The Saleyards Made Wodonga
Film by Karlie Hawking and Dirk Spennemann, featuring Jim Parker, Patricia Corooran, and Phyllis Hallawell at Wodonga.
Project Director: Malcolm McKinnon.
Project Coordinator: Karlie Hawking.
Project Assistance at Wodonga Saleyards: Robyn Calder
Produced in partnership with Wodonga Historical Society.
Archival video reproduced with kind permission of Film World Pty Ltd. Archival still images reproduced with kind permission of Wodonga Historical Society, Phyllis Hallawell, and City of Wodonga.
This video was created as part of the Murray Arts “Stories of the Upper Murray” project, with assistance from the Commonwealth Government’s Regional Arts Fund, Regional Arts Victoria, National Museum of Australia, City of Wodonga, Shire of Towong, and Museums Australia (Victoria).
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Murray Collections Network, and the artists.
"A yard through which passed so much stock was a big business and in a town in the heart of such a valuable pastoral industry it was wise for the civic leaders to provide the best possible conditions." The Border Morning Mail, October 20, 1935
People travelling through Wodonga and along the Hume Highway between 1935 and 1980 couldn’t avoid the Municipal Saleyards on both sides of Elgin Street.
Built in 1935, the saleyards catered for cattle, sheep, horses, and pigs and were the site of the second largest one-day sale of cattle in Australia.
[AUCTIONEER CALLING] -It was big business. It was huge business in Wodonga. It was probably one of the biggest industries in Wodonga then. It's hard to believe that where it was situated now is the entrance to Target. So it's been a big change, hasn't it, over the years?
JIM PARKER: You'd walk cattle in. You'd be going along and there might be a gate open. And there'd be cattle go in there, and we'd in after them on the horse, get them out.
You'd get into the town, and an old cow might walk into a yard, a garden. You're in trying to get her out, and the woman would come out with a broom, and after you. She wouldn't worry about the bloody cow.
-There is some of them got into the main street. You used to have the Police, and everyone out chasing them. There's people on horses that cause quite a commotion. I don't think it ever caused an accident though.
-Oh, no. I don't think so.
-I don't think so, no.
-You'd get in the race and the auctioneer would be selling, and you would walk along the race or get in near the race. And when the auctioneer started selling, he's have the booking clerk and a couple of fellas in the yards, and they'd take bids. But if you winked at that, you weren't buying, you winked or you put your finger up, you could have some cattle knocked down to you. The race would be full and they'd be going from pen to pen. And as this pen was finished, you'd be down to the next pen.
The luncheon room, it was all catered, they looked after the people who worked.
-We'd get there about 9 o'clock and set the tables. We had a tables of nineteens and there was three girls that had a table each. They weren't young ladies they were middle-aged and over ladies. We're very hectic, and you only got an hour to feed the blighters, you know.
They'd race in and sit in the same places. And you knew what they ate, and so you just took the soup and had the main course. We'll start seasoned lamb, roast beef with steak and kidney, cold meat and salad. Sweets were plum pudding, a beautiful, large plum pudding.
-They had their plum pudding in the summer as well.
-Yes. Had plum pudding all year 'round.
-In winter weather, a lot of cow manure all over the seats and the table cloths, you know, from the men's clothes. It was fantastic.
JIM PARKER: Sometimes it would be a record sale. There was one special sale that McNamara had. It was the second largest yarding of stalled cattle in Australia. It was second at 7,000 head of cattle in the yard at that day.
I went out to the Wodonga Pub, and that's where they might have a few snorts and that, and have a bit of a shindig, or whatever. But otherwise, no, there was rarely time.
-I used to work for one of the stock agents as a secretary. If we were looking for the auctioneers or the stockmen after the sale to get figures or something, we always went to Carriers Hotel because they'll go straight through after the sale.
-There's a lot gone. A lot of faces gone. A lot of good people gone.
-They were good days. Everybody knew everybody.
-Fantastic, it was. Best 10 years of my life.
JIM PARKER: The Sale Yard of Wodonga made the town.