40 solid years of local service

June 13, 2018

Current Kyabram SES controller Mick Berry with past controllers Brian Freemantle and Al Barrett cut the birthday cake.

IT’S a far cry from training in the backyard of the deputy controller’s home some 40 years ago.

From humble beginnings in Tongala to their current headquarters on Kuhle Rd, the Kyabram SES has always been there for locals.

It’s best described as a chequered career with a whole lot of moving around the district, but thanks to some dedicated members the SES weathered every storm.

The Kyabram unit actually began in Tongala after ratepayers were concerned about past and future flooding in the Deakin Shire — and so the Deakin State Emergency Service Unit was formed.

It was a classic case of the cart before the horse, they had the members and the equipment — but no base to train or store anything.

They started in a backyard until the local scouts helped out, offering up a building for storage and an outside space to train.

The second move was to the Kyvalley School, but still the equipment was stored at member’s houses.

Move number three was to a room at the shire offices for two years before move number four took the SES team to a house on the corner of Watson St and Finlay Rd in Tongala. The shire then commenced the construction of a new headquarters in Tongala in 1992 with the assistance of a VESEP grant.

That was around the same time as the shire amalgamation, meaning our Deakin Shire SES then became the Tongala SES.

They were settled, and it lasted all of nine years before move number five took them to where they are now on Kuhle Rd, Kyabram.

The Shire Council sold the Tongala building to McColl’s Transport in 2002 to enable them to expand their business, due to the high number of Kyabram members; the decision was made to move the headquarters.

But history has a habit of repeating itself and the unit equipment was again housed at the deputy controller’s home where the training was also conducted.

During the following 18 months the now Campaspe Shire provided a large block of land and erected the new 25mx10m headquarters with the funds from the sale of the Tongala property.

Over the years the Unit has performed various tasks including road accident rescue, land and marine search, flood boat rescue and flood operations within the north west and north east regions as well as liaising with local CFA for lighting, assisting with the Good Friday Appeal and participating in the Anzac Day march which is still done today.

Through the hard work and dedication of the members they have a modern comfortable headquarters that will be the envy of many where they can now settle down and look forward to permanent stability.

To celebrate this, an afternoon tea was held on April 29.

The function was attended by VicSES chief executive Stephen Griffin, acting deputy chief officer Mark Cattell, north west operations manager Mal Ross, Campaspe councillors Vicki Neele and John Zobec as well as past and present members.

The Kyabram SES would like to thank all those who attended to make the event a success and for the ongoing support from local community groups throughout the years.

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