This blog provides information, stories, links and events relating to and promoting the history of the Wimmera district.
Any additional information, via Comments, is welcomed.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The R.F.C. family

It is not that often that we get excited about donated books published to commemorate business/organisational histories. Usually we receive multiple copies of expensive looking hard-bound books full of facts and figures.
 This is an exception – “Just like family : a history of Victoria's Rural Finance Corporation” by Adam McNicol and Andrew Chapman, is a coffee-table book in the tradition of Andrew’s other titles (Woolsheds, Working dogs, & The long paddock).
It is the history of the Rural Finance Corporation, how the organisation - that began life as the Soldier Settlement Commission - grew to become a billion-dollar backer of Victorian agriculture, while fostering family-like ties between its staff and clients.
Adam has endeavoured to make the book personable with stories from farming families in different regions across Victoria.
Abandoned truck, Chinkapook (A.Chapman)
The Rural Finance’s history ended last year, when Bendigo Bank purchased the assets/business of the Corporation & essentially the Government, terminating its role as the ‘farmers’ financier’.
The Soldier Settlement Commission began in 1945 to oversee the WW2 Soldier Settlement Scheme (the WW1 scheme had been administered by the Lands Department and culminated with the majority of farmers walking off the land and ultimately a Royal Commission). The Rural Finance Commission was tasked with learning from the previous scheme and not repeating the same mistakes.
There are emotive stories from families coupled with photographs, like the Tucker family from the Mooramong Soldier Settler Estate, near Skipton. Like many families their life on the farm began in the single-room hut/garage, prior to the soldier-settler-style house being erected.
The temporary 30' x 15' housing (A. Chapman)
There is a section on particular schemes, like Robinvale's irrigation blocks, and the Heytesbury Project – the clearing of about 100,000 acres of forest in the Otways for dairy farming.
Henry Bolte at the official opening of the Heytesbury Settlement, 1959 (RFC)
 The book details Rural Finance's role through fires, droughts, floods & governments.
A Mallee farm in the 1982-83 drought (RFC)
The facts and figures and charts have been kept to a minimum, which is a feat when you're talking about finance, replaced by carefully chosen photographs, so well done Adam & Andrew.

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