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Online Catalogue last updated 2nd of November 2021

When the Whistle Blew: A History of the Town of Sunshine 1920-1950

cover photo

The City of Sunshine grew out of the town of Sunshine, which gained its name from the H.V. McKay Sunshine Harvester Works. This enterprise, once considered the largest manufacturing plant in the southern hemisphere, dominated the life of the town and its inhabitants.

The Harvester Works exerted an influence far beyond the settlement on its doorstep. Agricultural implements, carried the name of Sunshine throughout Australia and the world. McKay's experts turned Australia from merely an importer into an exporter of manufactured goods and a competitor in world markets. The important wage-determining Harvester Judgement, grew out of employer-employee relations at the works.

When the Whistle Blew sketches the history of Sunshine from the time when the only whistle to be heard was that of the wind over the basalt plains, to a more detailed look at the period of the twenties, depression and war when whistles of industry, particularly McKay's Works, regulated the workaday life of the community. This is followed by a glance at the post-war influx of migrants which brought multicultural diversity with fresh vigour and promise to the newly-proclaimed City of Sunshine.

Surprisingly perhaps, the author finds beauty in the growing industrial suburb and notes the delicate balance between nature and industry in the area that is the home of the rare Sunshine orchid.

This account has been gathered from the personal recollections, oral history tapes and historical records. While forfeiting none of its historical accuracy this social history brings Sunshine and the period it covers to life.

Older citizens will enjoy the recollections it evokes; children and newcomers will become aware of the origins of their great city. All will gain a deeper appreciation of the City of Sunshine which, despite its imperfections, has never lacked character and life.

The Author

Prue McGoldrick was born in Sunshine into a working class family of seven children who were part of the third generation of the Hyett clan living in the town during the 1920s.

Educated in Melbourne, she worked in a laboratory and a drawing office prior to marriage and move to Yallourn. Her 28 years there, with her engineer husband, were spent rearing three sons and a daughter. She became actively involved in community affairs and part-time teaching. Work as a journalist with the Latrobe Valley Express and the Bairnsdale Advertiser followed.

A former student of the Gippspland Institute of Advanced Education, Prue McGoldrick is now a memeber of the Council of the GIAE and also a Board member of the Centre of Gippsland Studies.

Code No. 002360, $24.00

This item is listed under the following subjects:

H.V. McKay  
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