In July 1914 the people of the small rural settlement of Tyrendarra, Victoria, situated between Port Fairy and Portland in the state’s south west, were proud of their new hall. Referred to as the Mechanic’s Institute, and located beside the area’s well-known footy oval and showground, the building was officially opened with some ceremony on 16 July 1914. As Europe slid towards war the rains came down at Tyrendarra and the hall was packed, many unable to even get inside where the Heywood Minstrels made the crowd roar with laughter while Mrs Pighetti performed on the hall’s spanking new piano. Later everyone enjoyed the fine supper provided by the Tyrendarra ladies, who decided to make this opening supper ‘something to be remembered’.
Just five years later, on 30 July 1919 there was something else to be remembered in the hall – the ‘fallen soldiers’ of Tyrendarra; six ‘Blokes that ain’t returning’. Tyrendarra’s remembering took the form of enlarged photographs of each soldier. The Anglican minister from Portland, Reverend Stilwell, who conducted the unveiling ceremony, thought it was a ‘grand thing’ that they were commemorating these men in this way. It was a sad occasion, said the minister, for the assembled relatives and friends of the dead, but it was also a glad one when they acknowledged that these men had given their lives ‘to protect us all’.
The soldier dead of Tyrendarra still gaze down from the walls of the hall. Added to the display are three honour boards – one from the local state school, which is no more; one from another unnamed state school; and a board that is Tyrendarra’s own World War I memorial. And what might be remembered most in this small rural community is the significant impact that war had on them all, an impact that caused them to rename their hall. It is today called the ‘Tyrendarra Soldiers War Memorial Hall’, honouring both those who served and those who served and died in two world wars.
‘Narrawong East … from our own correspondent’, Portland Guardian, 17 July 1914, p. 3.
‘Tyrendarra Soldiers Memorial’, Portland Guardian, 30 July 1919, p. 2.