There was still one thing left to do. Edith lives a few kilometres out of town so Denise and I visited her in the house she has lived most of her life. Vineyards once surrounded the house but now the area has been subdivided into residential lots. The inside probably hasn’t changed much in fifty years. The walls were covered with family photos but most prized of all was Edward’s Diary of his experiences in WWI. I was allowed to borrow it for one night only as copies are in short supply.
Edith played for us on the piano and then asked if I would like to play. I must admit that although I have had lessons on and off throughout my life I have never had the determination to keep practising and so I declined the offer hastily. It seems this family is very musical. Edward would play the violin with his daughter Edith accompanying him on the piano. Edith asked hopefully if I also played the violin but I hadn’t inherited this trait from the family either.
On our way back I had to stop and look at the Old Mildura Base Hospital where I was born. It has been empty for a number of years but I was pleased to note that it is being redeveloped as 63 self contained apartments, keeping its Art Deco exterior intact. I remember my mother being very proud of the hospital, her doctor and the town of Mildura. The hospital was once surrounded by vineyards but urban development has crept up to it on all sides.
Built in 1934 it heralded a new era of health care for the surrounding area. A local told me its design was based on a paddle steamer but the Heritage Alliance Report says that “the continuous balconies and steel pipe railings evoked the ocean liner, a common association in the work of progressively oriented architects of the period.”
Denise begged us to stay one more day so she could show us around Mildura. The locals are very proud of their town and rightly so. I learnt how to tell the difference between grapes grown for wine, dried fruit and table by the type of trellis they grow on. Denise drove us through rough tracks to a camping spot by the Murray River. Prosperous houses could be seen on the NSW side but our river bank was blissfully peaceful and remote.
It was not a place to be caught in heavy rain as Denise could testify. Her caravan was trapped in there for weeks until the muddy track dried sufficiently for them to tow it out.
It was time to go home and sort out all the material I had on Ted and his early life. We said goodbye and headed the thousand kilometres east back to our home on the coast.