The Melders One and All … Still Chugging and In Service

The descendants of the Melder family – Randolph Joseph Churchill Melder & Phyllis Dagmar Bulner, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of their arrival in Australia, in December 1965, with a gathering of the clan at Woodlands Park, Essendon, on Sunday, December 6, 2015.

The first two members of the family (the second and third), Tony & Hilton, arrived in Melbourne, Australia on board the SS Orsova, on September 23, 1965. On arrival they lived with a paternal Aunt, Mrs Tera Phillips, at Thornbury. Both Tony & Hilton who were employed by the Ceylon Government Railway, obtained employment with the Victorian Railways.

MELDER 11Taken at Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, mid July 1965, prior to departing for Australia. Back Row: L to R – Tony, Kevin, Patrick, Derrick, Hilton. Middle Row: L to R – Victor, Mum (Phyllis), Gerard (standing), Dad (Rando) and Sharlie. Front Row: L to R – Trudy, Philomena (Phil) and Geralyn.

They then rented a house at 219, Raleigh Street, Thornbury, in the vicinity of their Aunt’s house. This was in preparation for the arrival of our parents and other members of the family,  who arrived in Melbourne on December 17, 1965, on board the SS Himalaya. (Those who arrived at this time were: Dad, Mum, Kevin, Derrick, Sharlie, Gerard, Philomena, Geralyn  and Trudy).

The family lived at this residence until December 1966, when they moved to new accommodation at 499, Barry Road, Broadmeadows. Meanwhile the elder members of the family were employed in Melbourne and travelled to work and back daily by either train or motor vehicle.

Dad, who had retired from the CGR, in December 1963, as a ‘Special Class Engine Driver’, aged 57 years, after 40 years of service, was now employed by the Victorian State Public Service and like many members of the Burgher community in Melbourne at the time, worked at the Motor Registration Branch. Tony & Hilton, had by then also left the Victorian Railways and were employed by the Victorian Public Service.

Derrick completed a Plumbing & Gas Fitters Course, being awarded the ‘Apprentice of the Year’, at the time. He worked for the Federal Government ‘Department of Housing & Construction’. During his tenure with the said department, he led two teams in successive years to Antarctica, and was responsible for the construction of two power stations and other facilities at Mawson and Davis Stations.

The four younger members of the family, finished their schooling at Upfield High School. The rail terminus on the line was Upfield, affectionately known as “Udukumbura” by the family, for this is what the area looked like in the winter months.

Two other members of the family, Victor & Patrick (who were married), were still in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Patrick, his wife and daughter were the next to arrive in Melbourne. They too lived at Barry’s Road, Broadmeadows, for short time, until they rented suitable accommodation at Thornbury. Finally, the eldest member of the family, Victor, his wife and two children arrived in Melbourne on March 13, 1968, flying into Essendon Airport. Victor too was employed by the CGR as an Engine Driver. He resigned his position, whilst stationed at Galle. They too lived at Barry Road, Broadmeadows, until they rented accommodation at Thornbury.

 Victor was employed by the Victorian State Public Service, beginning his 25-year career at the Fisheries & Wildlife Department, retiring in April 1993 from the Department of Conservation & Environment. During his tenure in the State Public Service, he served at various times at the National Parks Service, Forrest Commission and Environment Protection Authority.

With the passage of time, all members of the family but one, were married and moved to their own accommodation, finally leaving Dad & Mum on their own. They both then moved to live with a daughter, Philomena and family at Alfred Road, Essendon.

Dad passed away in December 1989, aged 83. Mum continued living with Philomena until she sold the property and moved elsewhere. Mum then continued to live with Derrick, the bachelor in the family. It was on the sane street, a few doors up. Mum passed away in December 2008, six months after celebrating her 90th birthday.

MELDER 22Taken at Alfred Road, Essendon, 35 years after the original photo was taken at Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, mid July 1965. Original framed photo being carried by Philomena (front row). Each member of the family is standing as at the original take in 1965, only person missing is Dad, who had since passed away. Back Row: L to R –Tony, Kevin, Patrick, Derrick, Hilton. Middle Row: L to R – Victor, Mum (Phyllis), Gerard (standing)  and Sharlie. Front Row: L to R – Trudy, Philomena (Phil) and Geralyn.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations were well attended (numbering about 30) by the children and grandchildren. One member of the family, Kevin and his daughter Hannah, flew in from Perth  for the day.

MELDER 33The Younger Generation at the Gathering. Back Row: L to R – Felix Melder, Dianne Melder,  Louise Patrick. Eve Vlahiotis, Gerard (Gerry) Melder (hidden). Front Row:  L to R – Tamas Patrick, Richard (Ricky) Melder, Standing: Hannah Melder
MELDER 44Our Parent’s Memorial Plaque at St Dominic’s Catholic Parish Memorial Wall, Camp Road, Broadmeadows

PS: Victor Melder’s love  affair with island Lanka from Melbourne began with his RHYTHM OF THE WHEELS Newsletter centred on the Sri Lankan railways. And from there the growth of his literary and librarian endeavours emulated the proverbial beanstalk. Editor, Thuppahi


SEE “Unique Sri Lanka Library in Melbourne” —


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2 responses to “The Melders One and All … Still Chugging and In Service

  1. Beverly Melder

    Any relation to Joseph and Felix VanMeldert (later, Melder) hailing from Belgium in the later 1800’s?

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