MEMORIES OF 'McVEIGH'S' "I ALLUS 'AS ONE AT ELEVEN." (By Eileen Finlay in "The Radiator') There was no village. No street. No shops. It was just "McVeigh's." What memories that name must awaken in hundreds of old people's minds! What stories the old place could tell of the old gold-rush days, when it was, from the day it was built till the. day it was burnt down, the half-way house between that long-deserted stretch of mountain between Warburton and Wood's Point. The road is a thing of beauty, as it runs beside the Upper Yarra away beyond Warburton. Sometimes it runs level with the river, then it rises above it, but never leaves it. Occasionally a bend in the road, and one looks down on a sma)l green patch, with a' shack. and a cow or two;, which. -Wi s a restful change to the eye. So the traveller pushes on mile after mile, and at last runs into a beautiful, avenue of .immense English trees-a sweeping bend-and comes in front of a long low verandah across .an old weatherboard building, with two gaunt tree-ferns standing sentinel. He has arrived at "McVeigh's." I believe "McVeigh's" (s not the official name, but it has never been known as anything else since Paddy McVeigh and his wife went there, with the material for their hotel on pack.-horses. It was from this old hotel that the famous advertisement originated: "I allus 'as one at eleven," and was a faithful reproduction of McVeigh's rouseabout. Many nights I have spent under its roof, lying in a. tiny bedrooni with boarded walls listening to the lazy splash of the water as' it tumbled over the huge old water-wheel-enough water to provide lighting for the house-or to the murmur of the river that goes babbling over the stones in the backyard. Yes, closeby in the back yard! Away in the solitude of the bush the mopokes of the night and the morning magpies seemed to have a note all their own and no train noises came to disttlrb' the calmness and utter peace of this most lovely little spot. And, of course, nqe could never leave "McVeigh's" without , having looked into thie vast old sheds at the rear. A wonderful place in which tb play "Robbery Under Arms." The old broken buggies and coaches under blankets of cobwebs mutely told their own sad tale. And at this remote stopping place, too, one met remarkable folk-just people who came and went but full of interest for all that. I have seen the pack-horses leaves on the bridle track for their two or three days' journey over the mountain into parts where only dauntless hikers dare to go, and I see again the tiny parlor with the picture of pressed ferns and the tinny piano. . Sitting before a large log fire in that isolation always seemed to lossen the tongues of all who dropped in for a night's rest. Many and large were the fish yarns we listened to, but many and large the fish really were. Walshe's Creek: slipped into the Upper Yarra just beside the hotel, and, apart from the joys of catching the trout and blackfish, it is a most exquisite spot of murmuring waters and stepping stones and green swards. . ,can remember one sad summer night long ago, when a young woman with a stony face. sat choking with hard, dry sobs under my window most of the night. But she spoke to no one, neither did she answer when we spoke tenderly to her. She hadl arrived in ,a . jinker about midnight, and in the clear moonlight we had noticed a large box on the seat beside her. I know now that the memory of that night will always be for that woman an unexpressible nightmare. We women-had we only known then -perhaps could have helped, but a full month passed before we heard in a casual way, while in Warburton, about a girl who lived far back in the mountains beyond McVeigh's. Her husband wvas away in a hospital. We were told how this lonely girl had driven at jinker ~hrough those mountains in the dead of night-and alone-with her little child dead in a box by her side. A brighter memory is recalled to my mind of another night that supplied what indeed might well have been a colorful picture from a foreign country. It was very dark, and we sat on the little old sunken ver- 1 andah resting after the heat and journey of the day. As the hourst wore on strange-lookifig men began s
to wander in from the bush, and by 10 o'clock there was a group of nearly 40 assembled in that wide open space before the house; which was brightly lit, by a' solitary electric globe that hung from the high post. -They were mostly Italians. It was pay day, and they had come down from the waterworks that were being constructed high above in the mountains.. And throughout that warm and sultry evening the` men danced gracefully one with the other, round and round on the rough roadway to the quaint sounds of steel guitar, banjo and mouth-organ, entirely oblivious of their appreciative audience. Sometimes they sang choruses--mostly selections from Italian opera-while the wine bottles were freely passed 3 round. It was indeed more like a scene from the "pictures" than an ordinary occurrence in the lives of these men set so far back in the Australian bush-and it remained in our minds for a long time. That square beyond the 'door was widened. for "the turn of the cars-as the road ends just there, but I recall the' days when a hurricane lamp swung on that post where the electric light- hung later and Cobb's coaches used to swing up to the door with a screaming of brakes. Truly there was romance in this i highest house on the distant Upper N Yarra.. Looking down from the high road upon the long, low roof of McVeigh's, one used to order what stories it could tell if it could only speak. h It was burnt down on May 23, f 1936, but I hear that the great chimneys are still standing in a jumble of c roof-iron and bricks. Maybe they s are dreaming of the people who came and went throughout the eighty-odd ih years of their lives, and we hope some hospitable house will rise again, and that that beautiful little valley a where the rivers meet will be open u to us once more. Let us all hope it '] will still be "McVeigh's"