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Welcome home. A newly painted façade lends a touch of elegance to the Victoria Hotel, Dimboola’s one and only pub. Upstairs rooms are decorated in flamingo pink and baby blue, and French doors open onto the verandah. The pub’s longest-staying guest was a man named Mo, whose four-decade residency ended last year.
Old friends (from left) Tony Pocock, Tommy Hawke, Greg Proud, Glenn Lewis and Rod Clerke gather for Sunday breakfast at the Dimboola Cafe. The group, mostly from Melbourne, is in town to remember their mate, fisherman Peter Barnby, who died two years earlier. His ashes were scattered at Adams Waterhole – a favourite angling spot when the river flows.
Backyard express. Train driver Brant Ellis prefers rail memorabilia to gnomes in his Dimboola yard. The Overland – Australia’s longest continuously serving inter-capital city passenger train – rolls through Dimboola every second day, heading towards Adelaide or Melbourne.
Pub grub. The Victoria Hotel is the town’s main meeting place and has the only restaurant this side of Horsham, 30 km to the south-east. Publican Damian Cahill serves up meals you can barely jump over: Indian-style lamb, Thai-style kangaroo stir-fry and wicked sticky date pudding.
On the railroads. Located halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, Dimboola’s a train town and more than 55 of its residents, including Kerrie and Trevor Clarke, pictured with their children, Kynan, Tehya and Seamus, and Peter Soulsby, Robert Kegal, David Brown and Wayne Elliott work for Pacific National, one of Australia’s largest rail freight businesses.
Green thumb. Jan Ballard, 69, is Dimboola’s “wheelbarrow lady”. She frequently spends 20 unpaid hours a week maintaining the town’s public gardens. “There have been lots of challenges,” she says. “Some of the brats around town thought it would be fun to pull [the plants] all out. But I just kept putting them back in. The locals are all happy and I love doing it. It’s good fun.”
In character. Julie Nooteboom (left) played bride Maureen McAdam, and Meaghan Feldman flower girl Astrid McAdam at the 2008 performance of Dimboola. The play’s performed annually in town to raise funds for sporting clubs. The pair, pictured here at Dimboola Memorial Secondary College, where both work as teachers, swapped roles for the first time this year. “We just decided we wanted a change,” says Julie, whose husband, Ron, plays Astrid’s father, Horrie McAdam.
History makers. Former editor of the Dimboola Banner Joe Barry (from left), with Dale Conway, Raymond King and Evelyn King from the Dimboola and District Historical Society, shows off the society’s impressive collection of hot metal presses, which he keeps in good working order.
Signs of the times. First there was Dimboola the play (pictured). Then there was Dimboola the movie, starring Bruce Spence as Morrie McAdam and Max Gillies as the English journalist who describes the town as “normal, dead normal”. DVDs and T-shirts are on sale across town.
Optimistic oarsmen. In defiance of the parched Wimmera River, Dimboola Rowing Club president Mick Salter (left) and vice-president John Nichols are planning the club’s annual regatta, its 122nd, postponed for the past three years. One of Dimboola’s 88 clubs, the rowers was formed in 1882 and is among Victoria’s oldest. It has more than $100,000 worth of boats and 60 members, who gather on Fridays at the riverside bar to talk and toast to the river in full flow.
Family ties. Anne Bothe (right) savours time spent with her 95-year-old French-born mother, Marguerite Mouglalis, at aged-care facility Allambi. Anne worked in Sydney before meeting her husband and moving to his hometown, Dimboola. Marguerite followed a few years later, and she and Anne have lunch together every Sunday. “I could swap it but I wouldn’t,” Anne says.
Art imitating life… or vice versa? Norelle Huf from Hopetoun, north of Dimboola, is absorbed in the 72nd performance of Dimboola in Dimboola.
Julie Nooteboom (left) and Bronwyn Ingram, actors in the 72nd performance of Dimboola in Dimboola.
The audience enjoys a three-course meal during the play, as if they were guests at an authentic country wedding.
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