Raquel Stevens

If you want to meet a true Daylesford local, then 85 year old, Jack Walker, fits the bill.

Born at Daylesford Hospital, Jack grew up in King Street and fondly remembers spending his childhood exploring the nearby hills and lakes with friends on their bicycles.

From his Millar Street home of over 60 years, Jack reflects on his lifetime love of the Daylesford Brass Band, his concerns about climate change, and Saturday matinees at The Rex Theatre.

Born in 1937, in a Gold Rush town, what is your earliest memory of Daylesford?

I think I was about four years old and remember sitting high up on the banks above Jubilee Lake Road. I’d watch from the mouth of the tunnel, where they were digging for gold.  I remember seeing the horse pulling out buckets from the tunnel. It was quite a site to see.

My grandfather was a mine manager and my dad was a blacksmith.  However, dad did spend some time underground. It was really hard work.

What did you love most about growing up in a small country town?

The freedom.  We would roam around on our bikes, up in the hills or down by the lake. We’d be gone all day long. Rabbiting with ferrets, that was the best.  We’d put a ferret down a burrow and put a net over it. Then we’d wait and watch the rabbit leap out, straight into the net. Good old fashion fun.

How did you come to play in the Daylesford Brass Band?

Daylesford Brass Band Junior Deb, 1947.

I was about 8 years old, my uncle, Lance, was killed over France in 1944, and I was given his cornet. I’ve played it ever since. There is definitely a technique in learning how to play a brass instrument.  It’s all about lips and breathing. It’s called your embouchure.  Quite a skill to perfect.

My daughter Shani, my son-in-law, Ken, and my two grand-daughters, Kathryn and Sarah also play in the band.

What is your favourite piece to play?

One of my favourite band tunes is “The Hallelujah Chorus,” which is one of the band’s favourite Christmas items.

Grandfather to nine, what do you talk about?

I speak to my grandchildren, and they worry a lot about climate change. It scares them, they think the world is going to end tomorrow.  That’s concerning.  I’ve told them, yes, climate change is here, but we have time to make a difference.  It’s going to be ok.

If you won Tattslotto, what would you do?

I would make life as comfortable as possible for my family and donate some money to charity.

Which charity needs help?

Our Anglican Church.  It’s struggling, I’d like to help more.  Old buildings, they’re a money pit, but they’re worth it.

What would be the name of your memoir?

Growing up in a former gold mining town.

If you had more time, what would you do?

I’d love to preserve more of our history in the district.  Like our buildings.  The Rex, our old movie theatre, I spent my childhood going to the Saturday afternoon matinee.  I loved watching cowboy movies.  Gene Autry was my favourite. He was a singer and a cowboy.

Secret spot in Daylesford?

A picnic at Jubilee Lake. I remember going with my family, mum would pack the thermos and we’d have German sausage sandwiches.

Your favourite job?

My first job was at the bank, but then I realised I didn’t want to be at a desk. So, I started working for my parents at the ‘Wombat Flat Bakery.’ It was the first bakery to introduce sliced bread, wrapped in plastic, in 1952.  It was a big deal.

I also loved helping my dad deliver bread on the horse and cart.

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Be respectful of your fellow people.  Provide for your future.

Did life pan out the way you wanted?

I left school at 15, got through school too easily I think, which didn’t give me enough ambition.

Any regrets?

No, no regrets, I’m still here aren’t I?

Chirst Church Concert Series - Daylesford Brass Band

The final concert in the Christ Church Concert Series will feature the Daylesford Community Brass Band with their concert, “Beyond” on Saturday 19 November. The concert will start at 2.30pm at Christ Church Anglican, 54 Central Springs Road, Daylesford. For further information please call Coordinator Frank Page on 0417 010 817. Tickets are $30 and available online at https://www.trybooking.com/events/927788/sessions/3273963/sections/1675050/tickets

Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.