100th birthday for tiny town

Students from Bayles Regional Primary School led by Jane Coupe performed for the crowd in the public hall for Back to Bayles Centenary. 283411_27 Photos: GARY SISSONS

By Shelby Brooks

One hundred years after Bayles was officially given its name, the township has come together to celebrate its centenary.

Past residents, some who travelled interstate to attend, joined current locals in festivities held on Sunday 19 June, which included horse and carriage rides, live music, historical displays, guided tours and an official ceremony.

The Back to Bayles Centenary, spearheaded by Bayles stalwart Jane Coupe and backed by a special committee, took six months of planning by the dedicated group of volunteers.

“We only get one bite of the cherry – if we’d missed it this year it could never have happened,” Jane said.

“I asked a few key locals if they thought it was a good idea and got positive responses so just got on with it.”

Jane estimated between 400-600 people attended the event, which she credits to the fine weather on the day.

“I’m very pleased with how everything worked out,” Jane said.

Although the train station opened in 1921, it and the other new infrastructure in the town including the general store carried the name Yallock.

When the train line was completed in 1922, the town was given a new name, much to the protest of the locals.

“The people did not like it,” Jane said.

“They did not want another name, they wrote to the Cranbourne Shire and protested.”

In a skit by Bayles Regional Primary School students, attendees of the Back to Bayles Centenary learnt how the name Bayles was derived from Fred Bayles, the first solider killed in WWI from the Victorian Railway Construction Branch.

The microphone was passed through the crowd so attendees could share their recollections and funny stories about their time living in the town.

The school students also performed several musical numbers, including God Save the King, the Australian National Anthem and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

They also performed Bayles’ own song which was written by past headmaster of the school Ron Taylor in 1983.

A cake was cut and Happy Birthday sung by everyone with accompaniment from the students who performed with bells.

A plaque was also unveiled in honour of longtime residents Vic and Valmai Walker, who have now passed on.

Several iconic sites across the small town were open for viewing by attendees, including the primary school, service station, public hall, general store, club rooms and fauna park.

Back to Bayles Centenary committee member Stacey Rouse wanted to thank Jane for her hard work and dedication for the event.

“We are in awe of how much work Jane did,” Stacey said.

“Jane has been the driving force. As a committee we would like to thank her.”

Stacey said the day had gone off without a hitch.

“It was nice to see the older residents who live here and who have come back reconnect,” she said.

“When you live in a country town you know people from when you are in kindergarten together.

“We had people in their 80s come back to the town and catch up with people they have known their entire lives and pick up where they left off.”

As written in the program for the day, Bayles still carries a “unpretentious charm and look of the 1940s“.

“It is not often one discovers a town such as Bayles, giving that feeling of stepping back in time.

“Perhaps after the railway closed in 1959 the town stood still.“