"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

"Matlock, Bendoc, Wedlock"

Ken Morrison

Introduction by Ian Hastings
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"Matlock, Bendoc, Wedlock" was a common expression in the FCV based on the belief that, for a single Forester or Forest Overseer, one way of avoiding a posting to either of these very remote locations was to get married before such a posting might be seriously considered.

To manage the widely dispersed forested areas across Victoria the Commission had a number of remote offices and depots that lacked access to such services as shopping and medical centres, schools and reliable electric power and telephone communications that would, these days, be expected as normal. Two very remote locations which, for many years, lacked such services were Bendoc, near the small NSW town of Delegate, a 2-3 hour drive on windy, mainly gravel, roads north of Orbost in far East Gippsland, and Matlock in the Great Dividing Range north of Noojee and near Woods Point. The experience of working and living at these remote locations was challenging and interesting to say the least. We are sure that the Foresters and Overseers who, during their careers with the Commission, were posted to either of these remote locations, either before wedlock or wedded, will have many interesting recollections they would like to share on these pages.

Contrary to the commonly-held belief, Ken Morrison, with a young family, was posted to Bendoc in the 1950s. In his article "Bendoc Sub-District in the 1950s: Recollections and Reflections", Ken writes: "To say the living conditions were harsh was an understatement" and, during a visit to Bendoc in 1960 by the then Chief of Operations, Arch Shillinglaw, and Divisional Forester Charlie Elsey: "it was with pride that to hear Mr Shillinglaw say in my presence to the then District Forester and Divisional Forester .... 'You know we must remember to ensure the tour of duty at Bendoc does not exceed two years.' .... Ken Morrison was at Bendoc nearly five years on the day of that statement."

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Tom and Ken Morrison at the VSF, 1949
Source: FCRPA