The walls of Rushy Hall have spoken

By James Arbuthnott

The stories of the first 150 years of Rushworth Shire Hall have been collected into a book by author and former resident Alan McLean.

Marking the heritage building's birthday, the book recalls events involving people from surrounding farming districts and even prime ministers.

The Walls Have Spoken — the first 150 years of the Shire Hall at Rushworth mentions almost every district family, including one Rushy family with seven generations’ involvement at the hall.

From when a "sneaking reptile" lifted out the newly laid foundation stone and a furious councillor's foul language at a debate in the Council Chamber, the historic town's story is now set in stone.

Mr McLean's photograph collection is sure to take readers back in time — from town balls where dancers kept going until sunrise to the hall's transformation into a cinema, and, as always, footy shenanigans.

“In 1977, football premiership celebrations included the coach and some players clambering up the Youth Club’s climbing apparatus to within touching distance of the ceiling,” Mr McLean said. "The words ‘health and safety’ were rather hard to hear at that height that night.

“In a great number of years ‘radiant debutantes’ have made formal and frocked entry into local society via the hall, partnered by handsome young men with tight collars, buttoned-up suits, and shiny shoes. For the young women, of course, there can only be one debut. Some of their male partners became serial offenders, asked to partner other ‘debs'. In 1990, Rushworth Police closed a debutante ball early, citing ‘too much noise!'

“Public meetings at the hall have addressed hopes to gain a railway service, water supply issues, gold-mining and the need for a powder magazine to store explosives, a proposed brickworks, hospital services, aged care accommodation, public toilets, and plans for a sewerage system.

“With the help of newspapers published at Rushworth and beyond, the Shire Hall walls have told these stories and a great many more, reproduced in the book. Listening and watching for 150 years, the walls have stood the test of time, and passed with honours.”

Copies are available from Kelly's Rushworth Variety store.