Carol Evelyn Byrnes – 17/11/1942 – 8/6/2020
THE world lost an angel on June 8 when Carol Evelyn Byrnes died suddenly.
Born in Melbourne, Carol spent most of her schooling at Foster in South Gippsland where her parents owned a grocery and drapery shop.
Carol had little time for school, leaving at 15 after scoring two out of 100 in maths.
Ironically, her first job was a cashier sending money and dockets via a cylinder on a wire to different departments.
At 17, Carol enrolled in the Bambi Smith Model College where she graduated with a Diploma of Modelling.
The class average was 175 but Carol topped the class with a whopping 290.
However, Carol soon found that modelling was not for her.
By 19, she was married to the love of her life, Arthur, a young wool classer.
With 10 pounds and a second-hand Volkswagen, they began their life together which saw them married for 58 years until Carol’s death.
The newlyweds moved to the coastal town of Woodside in East Gippsland where they bought a small farm.
It was the beginning of a 40-year journey which would see Arthur and Carol run a shearing contract business throughout Gippsland, northern NSW and the Riverina.
Taking her three children and often nephews and nieces, Carol travelled as the shearers’ cook, experiencing many challenges and making many friends along the way.
Looking for a change in lifestyle, the couple bought Barmah Hotel in 1981.
With excellent meals provided through Carol’s culinary skills and great music from local bands, it was a great success.
Aunty Carol to many local Aboriginal families, she maintained many friendships in the Barmah area.
Carol’s ill-health forced the sale of the Barmah Hotel and subsequently the Maloney property ‘Forest View’ at Barmah East was bought.
Soon after, Carol and Arthur bought the Bridge Hotel in Nathalia, where Carol teamed up with local chef Sue Logie to create The Nasturtium Room restaurant.
With Carol as the head waitress and Sue’s expertise, this was a great success.
In 1987, the Bridge Hotel was sold and Carol began her journey as a musician.
Alongside her friends, Bev Brown and Kaye Mackie, Carol was a member of the group ‘We Three’, which performed together in the Murray and Goulburn Valley from July 1996 to September 2009.
More recently, Carol teamed up with her good friend, Nathalia’s Grace Scholyer, and they continued to entertain regularly at many venues in the Echuca and Nathalia areas, including Southern Cross, Bupa Wharparilla and Barwo Homestead, bringing joy and merriment to the ageing population.
Carol was also a committee member of the Echuca-Moama Jazz Club and performed in many shows as part of Echuca-Moama Theatre Company.
She was recently part of the production team at St Mary of the Angels Secondary College where she worked closely with the students and staff.
Well known for her spoon playing and regular renditions of the Collingwood theme song to the MCC members, Carol could bang out a tune anywhere.
From outback pubs on the far side of the Never Never to Bourke Street Mall helping a down-on-his-luck busker, there weren’t many Australian locations that had not heard the rhythmic tapping of Carol’s favourite set of spoons.
Carol also performed with well-known Australian musicians, including jazz legend Ade Monsbourgh and her lifelong friend, folk singer Ted Egan.
Throughout her life, Carol also had a strong interest in basketball, netball and tennis as an administrator, as well as coach and player for Woodside, Picola and Tongala.
She took up golf and bike riding later in her life and, along with Arthur, rode in the Great Victorian Bike Ride.
She always had animals around her, including birds which became a hobby later in life.
Carol was also part-owner of many racehorses - her biggest joy watching her beloved Aglabonyah win three metropolitan races in the 1980s.
She often liked a punt, once having a successful day at the Melbourne Cup with mate Ted where they backed seven winners.
Carol was also a member of Nathalia Probus, U3A, the MCG, Trust for Nature, Birds Australia and many other organisations and charities.
Her greatest loves were her family, music, the environment and the odd whiskey or two.
She touched the lives of many people, reinforced by the outpouring of emotion and memories from people all around Australia.
Whether it was through her music, her commitment to sustainable living, or disdain for undeserved authority, including racism, her joy for life and willingness to stand up for her principles, Carol has left a lasting impression on everyone who met her.
She leaves behind family and friends who will miss her dearly and a legacy they will help to carry on.
A life well lived.
Carol’s family, Arthur, Vanessa, Russell, Fiona, Sharon, Brent, Rusty, Meg, Grace, Laura, Tom and Elsa would sincerely like to thank the Echuca Ambulance paramedics, Echuca hospital emergency department staff and the Nathalia, Picola and Barmah communities, along with everyone who has sent messages, cards and have supported them through this tough time.
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