News

Settlers’ toil acknowledged

By Country News

The Girgarre RSL will be unveiling information panels commemorating and dedicated to the Closer and World War I Soldier settlers on Sunday, February 25.

Closer settlement developed pre-World War I when the Australian Government purchased large rural holdings and converted them to smaller allotments to encourage family farmers to set up a livelihood on the land.

Although the scheme proved to be mainly a failure, the government persisted in opening up the land to World War I soldiers, many of whom on their return from war service were unable to find employment.

A land ‘‘Fit for Heroes’’ was the promise — prosperous farms, contented families and thriving regional development.

More than 12000 took advantage of the scheme in Victoria although only 20 per cent had any farming experience.

Most came from the city and, needing work, turned their pioneering spirit to farming. Some families were able to build a home, but others were less fortunate as the burden of loan repayments and poor crop yields forced many to live in tents, or in homes made of canvas or hessian bags.

Those less suited to the task soon began to relinquish their blocks.

The settlers who succeeded generally had a great capacity for hard work, genuine farming experience and sufficient capital.

The unveiling of the panels will take place in Station St, Girgarre on Sunday, February 25 from 1.30pm followed by complimentary refreshments provided by Girgarre Development Group.

■Inquiries can be made by email to girgarrersl@gmail.com or by phoning RSL secretary John Crilly on 0437 438 077 or Rob Axen on 5854 6429.