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Queen's visit a special memory

Nathalia woman Cheryl Parker remembers Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Shepparton on March 5, 1954.

JENNA BISHOP March 5, 2014 4:55am

Nathalia's Cheryl Parker saw Queen Elizabeth II during the monarch's Shepparton visit 60 years ago today.


 

Cheryl Parker remembers the crowds, noise and celebrations surrounding Queen Elizabeth II during her Shepparton visit like it was yesterday.

The Nathalia resident was lucky enough to be among the crowd as a six-year-old, watching as the Queen addressed residents at Deakin Reserve.

Today marks the 60th anniversary since the Queen visited Shepparton on March 5, 1954, as part of her whirlwind two-month tour across Australia.

She visited Shepparton, Benalla, Echuca, Rochester, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Maryborough on a rail day tour across northern Victoria.

When Jane and Laurie Bau announced they were driving to Shepparton from Nathalia to see the Queen at the Shepparton Showgrounds, their granddaughter Cheryl was eagerly hoping she would get to tag along.

‘‘I got very excited because they said they would take me,’’ she said.

‘‘I remember getting all dressed up in a special dress which my mother made for me. I had to have a ribbon in my hair, because ladies had to wear hats or something in their hair back then.’’

As the eldest of six children, Mrs Parker said it was not often she was given new clothing, nor was it usual to go for a drive to Shepparton.

As her parents did not own a car, travelling to Shepparton was always a special occasion, and the Queen’s visit did not disappoint.

‘‘It was huge. There were people lining the streets and there were people walking along the side of the road. We had to park a long, long way away and walk, there were that many people,’’ Mrs Parker said. ‘‘We all had little Australian flags they handed out to wave when the Queen went past.’’

Mrs Parker watched the official speeches as the Queen sat on a dais in the middle of the oval.

She remembers the Queen wearing a pink pillbox hat and dress — an outfit which almost matched her own new pink dress.

‘‘Everyone was very excited, all these ladies were dressed up to the nines and all the gentlemen were in hats,’’ she said.

Mrs Parker said the Queen was the equivalent of a popular celebrity during her school years.

She said the visit was one of the region’s biggest events of the year.

‘‘At school, we’d always sing God Save the Queen on Monday mornings. (Her visit) was really big at the time, we talked about her and saw pictures at school,’’ she said.

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