Georgina, Audrey, Betty Walch.
Good Morning, Mum was born Georgina Audrey Vallance on 15th August 1926 at Palmerston North NZ, she lived with her parents Hilda & Hugh Valance and her siblings in Levin NZ where her parents owned a Hotel.
Mum attended Levin public primary school. Mums school was only one of a few schools in NZ at the time that had abolished segregation. She enjoyed her time at school but to the disgust of her very Scottish grandparents they were appalled to hear the children were calling mum Georgie or George and that just was not right. So, her Grandmother a very stubborn Scott went to the Registry office and had Betty officially placed on the birth certificate and from that day on she was known as Betty. Mum and her Grandfather had a very close relationship as mum’s father passed away when she was 8, so I guess he took over the father role in her life. Her Grandfather was a very well-respected man in town especially with the Maori and Chinese communities this gave mum quite a diverse education in cultures and for most of her life she kept in contact with all the Chinese and Maori families that she grew up with.
During mum’s teenage years you would find her helping out at the hotel and as this was during war time the hotel was set up as a convalescent home for the American marines who had returned from the fighting in the pacific, often with malaria, wounded or shell shocked. The Americans had a Base just out of town and mum would often have to call upon the MP's to help her go find a soldier who had wandered off from the hotel and return them to their care. Her and her Grandfather developed a good rapport with the American MP's and you would find them out the back of the hotel sneaking fuel to them or other little luxuries that were not afforded the civilians during the war. Mum said she learnt to drive in an American Jeep (maybe that's why she often wondered to the other side of the road,)
In 1946 just after the war mum sailed to Australia to begin a new adventure and lived with her Aunt and Uncle in Parkdale. Her Uncle was a jockey and horse trainer so horse racing became a big part of her life in Australia. Mum worked in the fashion industry as a machinist in flinders lane, Melbourne for wholesalers up until 1950. One of the designers from the company ventured out on her own and mum went to work for her. The Designers would make their samples to fit mum so she would get to keep the clothes and was always very well dressed and up with the fashions of the day. I spoke to one of mum's friends Dos Carmichael this week and she said they had so much fun working there and she has such fond memories of mum and those years working together. Lots of laughter, fun and silly little pranks. Mum would take many trips back to NZ on a Sea Plane and would always tell us what an experience that was to land a plane on the water. What a brave woman she was always up for a challenge.
In 1953 mum returned back to NZ to help out at the Hotel until they sold in 1955. After the sale of the Hotel mum returned back to Australian and that was when she met Dad through his brothers and the horse racing community. Mum and Dad were married in September 1956 at Mordialloc and settled back on the family farm at Patchewollock in the Mallee, where she ran the Baring telephone exchange until it went into town (maybe that's why she always loved a chat on the phone). Mum was welcomed into the Grigg/Walch family and Patchewollock community with open arms. Living in the outback of Victoria must have been quite daunting for a young city woman and especially one who has come from a country that has NO SNAKES.
I remember a story dad often told us of the day he took mum to the Ouyen Races. Dressed in all her finery, off they went in the Ute when dad runs over a snake. He looks back but can't see the snake, next minute the snake flings itself out the side of the Ute, so dad stops to kill it. Once the deed is done he yells to mum "that was a big one Bette" and gets no reply. He turns around to see mum in all her finery running flat out up the road. Dad would laugh and say "she probably could have won the first race at Ouyen that day she was going so fast". This was only one of mums many encounters with snakes over the years, I often think what an amazing woman, to have the strength to deal with such challenging ordeals, but that was mum, she just did it, from bringing up her children, to cooking for all the shearers to driving the trucks during cropping, drought and dust storms she certainly learnt to adapt in the Mallee.
Mum had the love of a good husband and family around her, there wouldn't be a week that didn't go bye that you wouldn't find mum and her sister-in law Una doing each other's hair, or many a trip to her other sister in law Rita's for a morning tea. Or out at the golf course on a Saturday morning in the kitchen cooking up a storm for the hungry golfers. And if they weren't there you would certainly find them all getting together on a Friday afternoon in the lady’s lounge at the Patche, pub.
In 1973 the family went for a holiday to Wangaratta. Mum and dad made the decision to sell up and we moved to Wangaratta in 74. Mum and dad joined the community at St. Michaels church and she went onto join the lady’s auxiliary and was always found out in the kitchen laughing and having a great old time with the other ladies, she also enjoyed doing meals on wheels, and if she wasn't busy with all that she was taking us to whatever sport event we were in that weekend. Mum had a great love for family and friends and you would often find her at night time typing up a letter to send off, or on the phone for a catch up with the Patche family or family in New Zealand.
In the 1980's Mum and Dad decided to travel so they flew off on a two-month journey of Europe, the British Isles and America. After their Europe tour they had a love of travel and would often go on little trips around Australia that kept them busy for many years. Mum adored Dad and when he became ill and went into care mum would religiously go and sit with him twice a day every day until his passing. She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother and there was never a time that she wouldn't be there for you, if you called. So, when mum became ill we were privileged to return that love and care. Mum was a gracious and caring lady with an abundance of love; she has given all of us such wonderful memories that we will forever cherish. Now she is with Dad once again, rest in peace our beautiful mum.