I worked in all three of these towns and Muswellbrook was the last permanent Branch I worked at in the bank. I left there in 1985 and moved to Lismore NSW to start with Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited (AGC Ltd).
I had been on Relieving Staff in both NSW and Victoria for over 5 years and was keen to settle down somewhere. The last 2 years of Relief I was relieving Security Clerks, Second Officers and Accountants but went to Muswellbrook as Security Clerk. Discrimination was rife in the Banking Industry in those days – may still well be – and whilst females bore the brunt of a lack of promotion opportunities, single males were also discriminated against. If I was willing to work in Sydney then I would have been given an Accountant status but in the country you had to be married in most cases. Nonetheless I enjoyed the work as Security Clerk. It involved interviewing and writing up loans and also doing all the “legal” paperwork for all loans processed through the branch and attending settlements when property was bought and sold and loans established or settled. It was a couple of years after “amalgamation” of the CBC and National Banks and I could see that banking was no longer going to be a “service” industry. It became very “sales” and “meeting targets” orientated and the fun side of working was slowly draining out. I came to the realization that if I stayed much longer I would become “locked in” to that career and I started to become disillusioned with where I was going in life.
When I moved to Muswellbrook I had no furniture and I rented a 2 bedroom first floor unit. My neighbors were mostly first year teachers. There were no curtains on the windows and I used to eat dinner in a beanbag on the kitchen floor. One of the first housing loans I did was for a bloke by the name of Geoff who worked in one of the many mines in the area. After settlement he was looking for a housemate to help with the mortgage payments and so I moved in with him. I brought myself a waterbed. What was I thinking? They had become a very popular piece of furniture but when you are in your early 20’s, single male and attending and having parties every other night, sleeping on a waterbed was just asking for trouble. It was the only period in my life that I sometimes suffered from seasickness.
Prior to Lotto becoming a national game, each state used to run their own Lotteries and Lotto. It was while I was in Muswellbrook that I won second division in the NSW Lotto. I was so excited when I watched 5 of my 6 numbers come out. I won the princely sum of $520.20. Video Recorders (VCR’s) had just been released and were very popular so I brought one with my winnings. Only trouble was that my black and white TV was not compatible so I had to go out and buy myself a new color TV. This set me back $700 so in effect my winnings became a loss!
Coming back to Muswellbrook after a 35 year absence I thought would bring back a bit of nostelga in me but I really didn’t feel any affinity with the town. I remember happy times there, parties, friends, Friday nights at the RSL Club playing snooker on the big tables. I cant remember his name but had one of my better bosses there. Was groomsman at a co-workers wedding there. The town looked a little sad to me. The bank is still an impressive building and some of the buildings have been given a face lift but many shops are empty and it just had a gloomy feel to it. The mines have now engulfed the whole area and where we once would stagger home from the Prince of Wales Hotel on a Friday or Saturday night, I don’t think I would want to walk home in daylight now. It might be just me but that’s the impression I got on this revisit. The caravan park that I was going to stay the night at had the “full house” sign up so moved on to Aberdeen.
Loved Aberdeen! The town of course has grown with a new housing subdivision on the north side and they have a nice camping area along the “Avenue of Remembrance Trees”. When I worked there it was a Sub-Brach or Branch Agency and was in a shop in the new shopping centre. The Bank is long gone and the current tenant is a coffee shop. We had a couple of nights here and a wander around the historical buildings and sites in town. There is a Second hand shop that is worth stopping at on the northern side of the highway. An Emporium with over 120 leadlight windows inside the main building.
I have fond memories of my time working in Scone. Normally when I was on Relief Staff I would stay in a hotel or motel in the town I was working in. The day I arrived to work in Scone I went across the road to the Golden Fleece Hotel to book in accommodation when a lady (who I didn’t know at the time) walked in and said “you are not staying here, you are staying at my place.” She introduced herself as Beryl, a friend of a friend, and I followed her to her house and that’s where I stayed for the month I was in Scone. Her poor 7 year old son was kicked out of his bedroom to accomadate me. She worked at the local High School in administration. Our mutual friend from Sydney had happened to mention to her that I was coming to Scone and she insisted on me having a “proper” house to stay in! It was good to have home cooked meals instead of pub fare every night. I tried to look for the house where Beryl lived but could not find it. I only had a rough idea of where it was but sometimes the memory can be a bit vague. And it was 40 years ago!
Half an hour out of Scone is the locals playground, Glenbawn Dam. It was a nice drive out to the dam but whilst popular during the school holidays, I have enjoyed other dams more. Good camping if you have a boat and are down on the shoreline but otherwise I wouldn’t bother.