Stick Shed memories video
In this video, veteran local farmers recollect the construction of the Murtoa Stick Shed and the experience of delivering grain during the early years of its operation.
As well, two current GrainCorp employees recount their experiences of working in the Shed during the 1980s.
[Vision of shed]
I've known the shed all of my life, and when it was first built, it was a fantastic place. It was a credit to the builders of those days because we were still gripped with the Depression here, and there was plenty of people around working and wanting work, and it didn't take them long to put the shed up. It was all manual labour.
[Black-and-white photo of poles and flat-top truck]
I can remember them bringing the poles up from the Dandenongs on the flat-top trucks. All the employees had hand saws, and these sticks, or the poles, went up and the shed was built.
[Construction of shed]
I left school in the 1944 drought, and then I drove a team of horses.
[Team of four horses]
We did all the farm work with the horses and the old Bulldog tractor.
[Six horses pulling loaded wagon]
And you'd have your six horses in the wagon and... It was a pretty slow process. One load in the morning and one load in the afternoon. And you pulled into the hopper here.
You'd have a quiet horse on the right-hand side, and they'd put a gangplank out the back, and you'd wheel the bags of wheat off the wagon, and tip them in the hopper and then they went up the top here.
[Men load bags of wheat onto truck]
Me brother was carting the wheat in a '29 Chev truck, 32 bags of wheat on it. So, they had to weigh down at the flour mill. There was no weighbridge here then when it first started, and then they'd come up to here and tip the bags, and they climbed up to have a look at the... where the wheat had fallen in. They walked out and they said, 'It just looked like a horse had come in there, and did its job and walked out.' There was only a little patch of wheat there.
[Grains of wheat fall onto man's palm]
You couldn't get rid of the weevil. You could smell the gas that they'd put on there. Whichever way the wind was blowing, it was a terrible smell. I wouldn't have liked to be working in it.
[Black-and-white photo inside shed]
I started here in 1980. First year I got here, the shed was full, of course. There was about 90... 90,000 tonne in here. And to work in here was hot, humid and dusty.
[Interior of shed]
I think there was about 20 of us working on permanent them days. We'd all get a broom each and say, 'Righto, go sweep the shed.' And you'd go, 'OK, where's me mate?' You couldn't see him. There's 20 blokes in here sweeping, 'cause all the dust and stuff. You'd lose him. But anyway, it was just part and parcel of the day's work.
[Stream of wheat tipping downwards]
My first year here was the harvest of '87-'88, and my first couple of years, the Stick Shed was still operational. So, it was a bit of an eye-opener, and labour-intensive as a kid coming from the school, you know, working in this environment with dust and trucks. Just to hear the humming noise of the conveyors, you know, whether it be feeding the shed or out-loading the shed. The cross conveyor that fed across every seven bays, you had a bit of an art to tracking.
So the belt would skewiff one way, so you'd get a hammer and just tap the idlers, as they're called, the rollers. Tap them in a different direction, the belt would skewiff over and you'd hear the old du-du-du-du, all the humming noises, 'cause the grain would be fairly quiet, and the dray loads would make a clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk noise. So you'd hear this clunk-clunk-clunk, du-du-du-du, yeah, just different sort of sounds. It's still quite enjoyable coming in here. Like, people walk in the door and go, 'Whoa,' you know.
And even I still walk in and say, 'Oh,' you know, it still jumps at you as an open space with timber poles.