Family and friends across the Riverina have paid tribute to former Junee station mistress Norma Ellen Woodland (nee Bynon), who passed away in Griffith last week aged 90.
Although calling many regions home throughout her life, her eldest son Peter remembers that Mrs Woodland had a special affinity with Junee.
She moved to Old Junee soon after marrying in 1957, and proceeded to have all five of her children in the town, before relocating to Wollongong when railway work became scarce in 1972.
“Mum loved Junee, we all had a great life there,” said Peter Woodland, who now resides in Griffith.
“I remember they were very hesitant to leave for Wollongong, but they had to move for Dad’s work.
“She was able to come back to the Riverina for the last 15 years of her life, which was very important to her. She loved life in the Riverina.”
The granddaughter of Paddle Streamer Wagga captain Thomas Bynon Sr, Mrs Woodland became known for her quick wit and strong work ethic.
Born in Narrandera hospital on 20 November 1928, though her birth certificate incorrectly labels the date 10 days later.
Her father, Thomas Bynon Jr, was said to have celebrated the birth a little too hard, forgetting to register her birth until 30 November.
She started school at Narrandera Public, leaving during high school to take up an apprenticeship at Ainsworth’s Hairdressers – a business that endures on East St more than 70 years later.
In 1948, she met a young railway shunter from Morundah named Alf Woodland at a dance at Corobomilla Hall.
Norma and Alf formed a partnership spanning 60 years, raising five children across nine towns and cities.
“I honestly don’t remember her having a negative word when it came to her family and upbringing,” said son youngest Michael Woodland.
They worked together at the railway station in Junee – Mrs Woodland as station mistress, and Mr Woodland as shunter.
During this time, their young sons Peter and Paul were often called to help on the track.
“There was a day when one of them pulled the wrong lever. Peter says it was Paul. Paul categorically states it was Peter,” Michael said
“Anyway, the result was that the next train was set to literally head off the tracks.”
“Mum was seen running towards the approaching train screaming and waiving her arms frantically for the driver to stop.”
The couple won the lottery in the early 1960s, moving the family to ‘big’ Junee. Mrs Woodland promptly left her role as station mistress to focus on her family.
More fortune fell in 1969, when at age 41, Mrs Woodland gave birth to her fifth child Michael.
“Mum would always say that I was a blessing in disguise and kept her and Dad young,” Michael said.
In the 1980s, when Mrs Woodland was diagnosed with breast cancer, luck turned her face towards her once more. Within a few years, she was fully recovered.
Remembered as a wonderful cook, a passionate Canterbury Bulldogs supporter, and a keen tennis player and fan, she spent the last years of her life living near her sons Peter and Paul.
In the final 15 years of her life, her husband passed, as did her daughter Helen in 2011.
Spent her remaining two years living under the dedicated care of staff at the Pioneer Lodge.
In the final weeks of her life, she was cared for by doctors and nurses at St Vincent’s Hospital, Griffith.
Laid to rest on December 14, at Griffith cemetery, Norma Woodland is survived by her children, Peter, Paul, Sue, and Michael, her 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.