The day before, we had loaded our belongings into two furniture trucks for the journey North. The procedure had, however, taken much longer than anticipated. The trucks bivouacked over night at the company’s yard, but we ventured forth and stayed overnight at “Benson Lodge”, our home away from home in Benalla. Ray and Liz Gallagher had become friends - we had stayed with them quite a few times whilst searching for the perfect new home in Benalla.
Why Benalla, you may well ask? Well, the horrendous traffic down on the Mornington Peninsula had finally taken its toll. We just had to move to a more traffic civilized area. Benalla ticked all the boxes! Excellent medical services, a vibrant community, and the essential rail connection to Melbourne.
Benalla was not a foreign town to me by any means, for I have often visited it over my lifetime. As well as having a third cousin living here, so does my adopted sister of some sixty-five to seventy years, Jill Ross, nee Hartridge and her brother John. My family and the Hartridge’s have had family connections for nearly a century and now we have cemented that relationship once again!
My first action after coming to town was to transfer my Lions Membership from the Lions club of Mount Eliza to the Benalla club. I had been a Lion for twenty-four years at that time, in six clubs and two Lions Districts, as well as being the two thousand and eleven/twelve District Governor of District V2. This I did and promptly found myself as the club secretary, a position I held for two years. I also joined the Benalla Sub-Branch of the RSL and Rose City Probus.
My hobbies include coin collecting. I have a complete collection of Australian decimal coins, up to 2021, as well as a few unusual non circulated ones. I also have quite a few “spares”, so if any coin collector wants to make up a collection, just give me a call.
My other passions are my classic cars. My 1997 Mercedes Benz 320 started off as the PM John Howard’s chauffeur driven vehicle, purchased when PM Kevin Rudd sold off the Australian government’s prestige car fleet in 2009. I also have a 2000 Jaguar XJ8, which I drive on long trips. I belong to two Car Clubs, the Grampians Vintage and Veteran Car Club, based in Ararat/Stawell and the Northern Peninsula Classic Car Club.
Both my wife Cheryle and I have now ventured into the world of the Benalla U3A.
My life has become quite active in my new-found home!