|Articles on this page with permission from GREG WANE, are taken from the Barwon Heads,Ocean Grove, and Wallington news .||Issn 13290371|
Published by Whistler Publishing
PO. Box 358, Ocean Grove
Editor Greg Wayne
Vera Montgomery - Community Worker
After 27 years in Barwon Heads, popular town identity, Vera Montgomery waved good-bye to her house in Hitchcock Avenue and has moved into a unit at Rice Village at Marshall.
But Vera said she would continue her involvement with many of the auxiliaries and groups in the town. Since arriving in Barwon Heads with her husband Gordon in 1972, she has been a part of almost every committee and auxiliary in the town including Barwon Heads Association, CWA, Holy Family Church, RVIB, Red Cross, RSL, Barwon Heads Community Hall, Hospice and Legacy.
"When we first arrived I was disappointed to learn that the local CWA branch which had been formed in 1950, had closed. I went to Ocean Grove to meetings with other Barwon Heads women for two years," she remembered. "Hilda Watson was responsible for having the branch reopened in Barwon Heads in 1974 and Vera became the first secretary, with Hilda, president and Ena Hobbs, treasurer".
But Vera's first brush with the CWA goes back many years when as a 16-year-old she worked at the Katandra Post Office and General Store, 25 Kilometres north of Shepparton. I used to hear the women talking about this new organisation called the Country Womens Association and they were all lobbying and fighting for positions on the committee and I said then I would never join the CWA!"
Born in Benalla in 1914, she came from a family of five children. Her mother died when she was 7 years-old leaving her father with the responsibility to raise his family. Her first job was at the tiny post office at Katandra where she worked with her younger sister. "The post office and shop was only about as big as two normal house rooms and it used to get as 'hot as hades' in there during summer. We travelled to work by pony and buggy and we would leave the pony in the shade of a big old tree during the day". me night Vera met a young man, Gordon, who impressed her with his dancing ability.
A romance blossomed, but the courtship was interrupted by the Second World War when Gordon joined the army in 1939. But on 14 April 1941, Vera and Gordon we're married.
After his discharge from the army in 1945, the couple moved to Brunswick where Gordon worked in a timber yard. Vera said he didn't enjoy the work, but yearned to run a farm in the bush.
"One day Gordon came home and showed me an advertisement in The Weekly Times for a little farm at Lower Gellibrand. I had never heard of the place, but Gordon went down there by train the next day and after looking over the 340 acres of mostly bush, he put down a £20 deposit. Gordon really loved the bush and he refused to clear the land".
The family moved to Lower Gellibrand in 1948 and began milking 11 cows on the farm.
"It was a tough life down at Gellibrand, we had no electricity and no telephone for years, but we loved the life." It was while at Lower Gellibrand, in the Otway Ranges, that Vera began to realise the benefits of the Country Womens Association and she joined the local branch.
"Gordon always said he would retire at 60 and I always dreamed of living by the sea. One afternoon when we were driving home, after a pig sale in Colac, I was reading the list of houses for sale in the local paper. I saw a house for sale at Barwon Heads.
We bought the house son after an moved in, in August 1972."
Vera's close friend Bonnie Cameron recalls welcoming Gordon and Vera, the day they arrived at their new horn at Barwon Heads. "All Vera wanted was a cup of tea and she couldn't work the electric stove. They had always used a wood stove at Gellibrand". Bonnie laughed
After being involved with the small local community at Lower Gellibrand for 24 years, Vera was keen to make new friends in Barwon Heads. She said the best way she knew was to join the local organisations and immediately signed up with the Red Cross Auxiliary. Since then she has been a president, secretary or treasurer of most groups in Barwon Heads and has made many friends. Her friends became very important to Vera when she suffered her greatest loss when Gordon died in 1985
"It was due to all my friends that I have been able to carry on." she said
Vera is very passionate about the community spirit in Barwon Heads which she says must be maintained. "People must support the community hall," she stressed. "And what get's me really mad is that so many people won't support the community groups."
During a special CWA meeting last month large group of members and friends gathered to honour Vera and present her with a framed photograph of Barwon Heads as a memento of her many years of service to the group and the town.