Witnessing the introduction of electricity and hot water in the early 1940s, arriving to towns in a Bedford truck to judge belle of balls and a strong sporting background have been among many big occasions for Yarrawonga’s Doris Head who turns 100-years-of-age this Sunday, June 4.
And what a day it will be for the spritely lady who is Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort’s number one member.
“I am a very lucky lady to have lived through these years and pray for my family and extended family in the future. I’ve cherished all the friendships over all these years,” Doris told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
How do you feel about almost being 100 Doris? “Nothing’s changed. I’m still active and interested in everything,” the mother of two children, six grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren said.
“I’ve seen enormous change from horse and gig days, born during the first World War, seen World War 2 - it was tough in those days and I was a plane spotter - made my own butter and cooked over an open fire. We had a coolgardie safe then ice for an ice chest - our first fridge.”
Born in Sydney, Doris was raised by an aunt in Howlong where the young girl attended school and played tennis and basketball, and danced in Howlong, Burrumbuttock and Brocklesby.
After leaving school, Doris became a shearers’ cook for the Viles family and later married Ern Maxwell, a farmer.
First mode of transport was a motor bike with side car in 1937. With their two children, Lesley and Doug, aged five and three years, Doris and Ern moved to Yarrawonga in December 1941 via car.
“I could not believe all the water when we drove across the bridge from NSW to Victoria,” Doris recalled. “It was always such a dry area out at Brocklesby/Howlong way.
“We rented a little house in Russell Street. It was lovely to have running water and not have to fill a furphy for water, and also to have lights from a switch, not a laden lantern for our light; an organ stove was a delight especially as I loved cooking and this also gave us hot water.
“We bought a house in Telford Street which had a big backyard because my husband, being a farmer, decided that he’d do transporting with trucks.
“When we moved from Brocklesby, I thought I might miss my tennis, basketball and dancing but soon found the tennis club and became president and secretary of various community and sporting clubs. Dancing was wonderful in the town hall.”
With dancing partners, Doris won many competitions in Yarrawonga, Howlong and Brocklesby.
For six years, Doris trained debutantes for St Cuthbert’s Church of England and judged Belle of Balls, arriving via truck to out of town places such as Corowa. She was also a judge for Miss Victoria and Miss Australia.
“The ‘Blue Ribbon Ball’ was a huge success when Heather Menzies, daughter of Prime Minister Robert Menzies, received the debs,” Doris said.
In 1943 Doris joined the Yarrawonga Lawn Tennis Club. She and Ern joined the Yarrawonga and Border Golf Club in 1947, playing golf and bowls for many years. Doris was awarded life membership of the club in 1992 and was made a life member of St Cuthbert’s Women’s Auxiliary after 45 years of service.
Meals on Wheels, with convenor David Skewes in 1962, was another community activity that Doris gave freely of her time.
Sadly, in 1976, Ern passed away. Eventually, Doris met another wonderful and caring man in Keith Head whom she married in 1984. Keith was the last Yarrawonga Shire President before the much expanded Moira Shire.
A thoughtful hostess, Doris hosted dignitaries at her home, always the elegant hostess.
Daughter Lesley has made numerous trips over many years from Melbourne to see her Mum, for whom she was full of praise.
Lesley and her brother Doug, who unfortunately has passed away, were very appreciative of their mother giving up a wages job to send them to boarding school - Lesley to Melbourne and Doug to Wangaratta.
“Mum’s always been an outstanding and caring mother,” Lesley said.
“Reaching 100 is a wonderful achievement and she has been so actively involved in so many things she’s loved.”