Dulcie Waugh will forever be remembered in Mildura and the Mallee as a kind, generous, dedicated hard-working and loving woman, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, who, along with generations of her family, played a significant role in the development and upkeep of the region’s vineyards.

Dulcie passed away on June 8, she would have been 98 in August.

Born on August 11, 1923, to Margaret Jean and Walter James Edward Hoyle, Dulcie grew up in Mildura and attended Red Cliffs East Primary School and then Mildura High School, while her father took up a vineyard on Nursery Ridge Road, in Red Cliffs.

Rollerskating romance

She first met her husband, Harry Waugh, at the rollerskating rink in Mildura in 1939 and entered into a challenging romance, mainly revolving around the sending and receipt of letters as Harry joined the army just months after they met.

In 1940, her father Walter also enlisted, leaving Dulcie and mother Margaret to tend to the vineyard.

Around this time, when she was 16, Dulcie was thrown from her horse and dragged, injuring her right shoulder and leg. These injuries plagued her for the rest of her life.

This didn’t stop Dulcie from working though, and she left school to become a bookkeeper with the baker in Red Cliffs, while still assisting her family on the vineyard.

She then worked with Dr Barker as a receptionist, helper and book-keeper until marrying Harry in 1943, at St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Mildura.

Harry was finally discharged from army duties in 1947 and Dulcie and her husband took up a Soldier Settlement vineyard in Robinvale that year, the first of its kind.

It was there they raised sons Gary and Greg, and eventually also daughter Raylee, and continued to work on their vineyard and provide their produce to the public.

Meals mixed with tears

During the 1950s, the family also provided full-board to many displaced persons from WW2 who worked as harvest labourers on the vineyard and Dulcie’s meals often brought tears to the eyes of the men who had faced the challenges of war for the last decade.

Dulcie’s mother passed away in 1950 and her father remarried a few years later.

Pat, Billie and John were then born over the following decade and Dulcie, through time, grew particularly close to John, especially after the passing of their father in 1987.

Dulcie undertook many roles in the community during her time in Robinvale − she was a mothers club member for 25 years and she was part of the founding committees for the RSL Ladies Auxilliary, Villers Brettonneux Association and the Euston Historical Society, while also helping Uniting Church Minister, Alison Grant develop Meals on Wheels in Robinvale.

Dulcie became an avid gardener and also grew to love exploring the bush.

“She was a wonderful mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She had the ability to love each of us and even as our families grew she was still able to love everyone,” said daughter Raylee.

“She delighted in hearing about her family’s achievements and their school, work, sporting, and artistic successes were proudly conveyed to Dulcie and she relished them.
“She was also a great cook and her repertoire was vast. From cakes, biscuits and hedgehog slice to soups, stews and roasts … her meals were always the yummiest.”

For the love of roses
“Some of my first memories are of our garden on the fruit block at Robinvale. I hated gardens when I was young, but as I grew older, I started to love it and mum and I would have lengthy discussions about our gardens,” son Greg recalls.

“She knew all the plants by their botanical name and what family they belonged to. At one stage we had over 100 rose bushes and I can remember the large number of prizes she would win at the local flower show.
“She also loved the bush, where it was like she was in a different world and was a different person at one with the environment.
“On one occasion she was talking with some local Indigenous women doing the artwork, they said they were having trouble locating their bush material − seeds, bark etc − from the native trees and to their amazement, mum told them she knew where they grew and would take them out to pick some up.
“We say goodbye to a great lady, a pioneer, love you mum and may you now be at rest, with Dad, the love of your life.”