I met Bev Duffin at last year’s Brown Hill Community Festival. She has been a resident of Brown Hill for 45 years. We have known each other for over 30 years and we spoke about her late husband Barry and her business on Daylesford Road, right where the Ballarat bypass now crosses. Bev, Barry and their two sons, Rowan and Darren, moved into the business in May 1973.
Bev and Barry came to Ballarat in 1958 after they were married. Barry worked on the railways as a fitter. Ten years later they started their service station life at King and Eureka Street, Ballarat East (now known as Rizzo's Pizza).
They then bought the Brown Hill BP from Mick Kennedy, developing the freehold with the addition of a workshop and cool room. Barry established a motor mechanic business. Other shop alterations lead to a thriving business. According to Bev, “We sold ice-creams, fireworks and groceries, as well as all the goodies of a mixed business. Over the years we also ran a dry-cleaning agency and sold ammunition. Brian Marks and his son, Russell (a gold medal Olympian), were regular customers. There was full driveway service seven days a week, and we opened every day except for Christmas Day.”
Some of Bev’s vivid memories include: customers young and old lining up for scoop ice-creams during the warmer months, selling and delivering dusty bags of briquettes and bottles of gas, Big M, Coca-Cola, Yoyos and Paul Hogan on cigarette posters, milk in bottles and cartons, the five-cent refund on soft drink bottles, super and standard (regular) petrol, which both had lead, organising Easter-egg raffles, and the introduction of the microwave.
The property was sold to VicRoads in 1979 and then leased for about 10 years to Bob and Heather Green.
Barry and Bev moved on to run the Yarrowee Coffee Lounge in Little Bridge Street for a couple of years, then Barry had the opportunity to work for Ernie Auchetel on Melbourne Road (a servo and car yard). The servo was sold to BP and Bev and Barry then ran the site for 14 years.
Bev is coming up to one of those important birthdays this year. She still loves gardening and being organised by her mate Joey, a RSPCA rescue dog. Bev has been a follower of the Bulldogs most of her life and a member since 2005, and has been lucky enough to see them win the premiership in 2016.
Brian Green, Brown Hill Lions Club and Newsletter Committee
This story was first published in Edition 12 of the Brown Hill Community Newsletter.