Chocolate on the Cheek

At the suggestion of people in Wagga we called into the Junee & District Historical Society based in the Broadway Hotel to see if they had anything more on Wantabadgery and Melba.

After chatting with the volunteers, a file on Wantabadgery was produced and found a wonderful Melba Moment.

While waiting for the train to Albury with Ethel Macdonald, Melba met two young pre-schoolers, one of whom had been eating chocolate. As always Melba chatted to the children and gave each a kiss. No-one told Melba she had chocolate on her cheek.

Junee Railway Station courtyard 2016.
The courtyard area at the Junee Railway Station which is on the right. the two-storey Railways Refreshment Room is in the centre which is where Melba and George waited for the Albury train.

Another Junee member Shirley Hart kindly found a lot of information about Wantabadgery Station, the Macdonald family and Captain Moonlight and his gang for me.

At Cootamundra I met the wonderful Betti Punnett of the Cootamundra Local History Society Inc. who took me through their museum at the historic railway station and then on to the shire library to go through their archive for any images I wanted.

She told me Cootamaundra loves parades which might explain why Melba walked almost the length of the town to her hotel. Was she re-enacting the parade given to our Governor-General Lord Northcote just three years earlier? Whatever it somehow did seem most appropriate.

From Cootamundra is was back on the train back through Junee and out west to Forbes via Parkes for her next concert.

Of all the railway stations, Forbes was just a small simple country station surrounded by nothing but wide open plains. After the formal welcome, the local photographer was quickly on the job and captured a wonderful photo of Melba a car just before taken for a drive and then to her hotel.

A second photo outside the hotel appears to have been taken the same day with Melba on the hotel balcony.

The wonderful volunteers at the Forbes Family History Group – Peter, Ros, Jill and Bernie opened their vast collections to me and left me quietly in the corner finding all the local newspaper reports about the day Melba arrived in town. They also happily found any information I wanted.

The Forbes Museum gave a great overview of the town’s past but did have an image credited as Melba which it wasn’t so I hope my note has led them to change their captioning on their online and mounted images.

Our next stop is Orange back in the Great Divide where snow was forecast.

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nellie melba museum

A journalist and historian, for many years I have studied Dame Nellie Melba and written articles, books, and given talks about her. I established the first website int he world dedicated to Melba and still maintain it today as a virtual museum.

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