Driffield – Remembering A Farming Community

For many years, on a small rise next to the Strzelecki Highway just out of Morwell, at a locality called Driffield, there has resided what appeared to be an old hay shed. The shed has always caught my attention every time that we’ve driven past, but I’ve never stopped to take a photo for some reason, even though I’ve had a feeling that I should. Then late last year, things changed and the shed had been revitalised by a local community that I’ve written about previously, and it had become something completely new again. What was something that looked quite abandoned, had been transformed into a memorial to the Driffield farming community. By not stopping by earlier, I’d missed out on providing an example of the then and now.

Driffield Victoria

Driffield Victoria

Now many of these memorials or whatever you many wish to call them, look good when they are new, but things begin to fade and deteriorate over time, until they are but a shadow of their former self. Photos fade, dust, rust and deterioration sets in and there’s no longer the resources, and perhaps interest, to maintain what was once a good idea. This is what prompted me to take some photos and write a story about the memorial, so that at least there’s a record of what it was like when newly established. Someone may have done similarly, but I don’t know and, as my writings eventually end up in the National Library of Australia archives, it’ll be a certainty that some record of this memorial will live on.

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

There’s nothing overly dramatic about the memorial, as it’s a fairly simple affair, more or less reflecting its rural setting. It consists of an open shelter housing several pedestals with stories that detail a potted history of Driffield and the people who lived there, and how they saw the changing landscape brought about by the development of the Hazelwood Power Station and open cut coal mine, amongst other things. I guess this is a story that has been repeated throughout Australia since its discovery, not always for the same reasons, but the outcomes nevertheless much the same. Be it gold running out and a thriving settlement or lesser one fading away, or farms giving way to swelling suburbia, the results are always the same.

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

There is also a board reflecting the personal memories of those who lived, worked and went to school and church in Driffield. In a way, this memorial provides so much more information than do the vague and often incomplete memorials that you find scattered about the state and in places such as the High Country, as I noted in my Nov 2015 High Country story. Often such memorials leave you hanging as to what happened in the area and to the people that once made it a thriving township. Perhaps we’ve become a little more conscious of recording our history, as things all too soon become a distant and forgotten memory.

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community - Driffield Victoria

Remembering a Farming Community – Driffield Victoria

I wonder how many other similar communities in the area have grown and then slowly, but inexorably, faded to a shadow of their former self or disappeared altogether?

11 thoughts on “Driffield – Remembering A Farming Community

  1. Taylah

    Hello!

    These photos are incredible and the accounts of locals who used to live in Driffield are very touching; so much so that I have chosen to base my university assignment on Driffield.
    I aim to make my research piece into a very short documentary which touches on what the community was like and the impact it had on the community when it finally came to leaving. I would love to get some voice recordings of those who used to live in Driffield or maybe had ties to the community.
    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing some of your amazing photos? You have done a great job with this piece!

    Kind Regards,
    Taylah

    1. Ray Post author

      Thank you. I don’t have an issue with you using some of the photos, but would appreciate if the photographs were appropriately attributed.

  2. Jan Roseby

    I grew up in Driffield from 1951 – 1956. Born in Morwell. My Dad, Alan Mackinder, was the teacher at the school. Even tho I was a little girl (Janet/Janny Mackinder) I remember seeing my first platypus in the swimming hole at Bond’s farm and eating fresh corn on the cob from their garden. My parents always talked very fondly about playing tennis and cards at Auchterlonies. It was great to read those names on the Driffield memory boards. In 2 weeks I’m going to Gippsland and intend visiting the memorial. Sadly, no school, no school house and no Bond farm.

    1. Ray Post author

      So many places inevitably disappear and little remains of their history, which I think is the sad part. So it was good to see this memorial. I can think of many places in Melbourne where history has disappeared under urban growth and probably nothing public remains to remind us of that history.

  3. Louella Brinsmead

    My name is Louella Brinsmead, I lived on a farm in Driffield from 1950 until my parents sold the farm to the then SEC 1969. Our family lived on that farm for four generations, and on a recent visit I came across the memorial to the community. It bought back such strong and happy memories .Our family was such an active part of the community for so many years that I would have liked to have seen some of our memories included on the memory board.

    Louella Brinsmead

    1. Ray Post author

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there were others that missed out and I suppose the creators gathered what they could at the time. I don’t think there’s any reason why the memorial couldn’t be added to over time. I did contact those responsible when I first posted the story, but never heard back.

    2. Jan Roseby

      Did you go to school in Driffield? My dad was the teacher there from 1951 – 56. Alan Mackinder. I’m going there to visit the memorial this week. Don’t remember much as I was only 5 when we left. My parents had many really good friends in the area. They often talked about the happy days there – a lot of tennis and card games.

  4. Kerry Joseph

    Hello,
    My name is Kerry Joseph and I attended Driffield Primary for two years in the late 60s. Other children there at the time included Judy Gibson, Peter and Sue Vinall, Hugh Vary and his many siblings, Geoffrey Bennett and his sister and Annette and Robert Auchtelonie.
    My sister Annette married a local boy, Graham Bird, who’s family farmed nearby.
    I have a few photos of my classes. We had prevoiusly lived in Sherrin Street, Morwell, but after our time in Driffield by father, Alfred Joseph (who worked in Kelly Bros, Morwell) found work in Bundaberg, Qld. and sadly we left the area for good.
    I have always had fond memories of our time on the farm at Driffield and was terribly saddened to hear what happened to the district, as the farms in the area were beautiful indeed.
    Regards,
    Kerry

    1. Ray Post author

      Hi Kerry

      Nice to hear from you and your background in the area. It’s kind of ironic that the construction of the Hazelwood Power Station partly led to the demise of Driffield and now Hazelwood has followed in its path. Things have almost gone full circle.

    2. Peter Vinall

      Hi Kerry. I seem to remember you had a sister Linda who was in my grade for a year or two. Always wondered where she ended up! All the best, Peter Vinall (Halifax, Canada)

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