Evan Charles Mackley was born on August 22nd 1940 to parents Charles and Alva Mackley. Evan was an only child and on reaching school age commenced his primary education at Horsham 298 Primary School.
I understand Evan was a somewhat reluctant student, but graduated to Horsham High School for his secondary education. Two fellow students at primary school with Evan were Judy Fisher (nee Cook) and Betty McKee ( nee Toole), while in secondary school he was in the same class as the late Noel Ferguson. Evan really enjoyed the banter and good humour that emanated from the visits to the restaurant by those fellow ex students.
At age 14, academia became too much for Evan, who suddenly left his classroom and the school, letting down the four tyres of his teachers car as he went. Making his way home from the school he fully expected to be dragged over the coals well and truly, however he heard nothing further from the school and he, never bothered to return. This was to be the beginning of his working life on the farm with his father at Kalkee.
Four years later at age 18, Evan acquired a second hand licence and began a business known as "Wreck A Cycle" selling and trading motor bikes as well as parts and spares, operating this activity while still working the property at Kalkee. This, over time led Evan into collecting and trading coins, then stamps and then again bank notes. He also owned and raced light racing cars. This all led to his involvement with paintings and antiques. The knowledge he gained was comprehensive and keenly sought by others.
Other properties Evan acquired over time was a bush block in the Black Range which he spent much time and energy with a dozer, clearing the land, returning home at night covered in grease and dirt. That land was later sold to the Bell family. Further land was purchased at Kanagulk on the Glenelg river as well as at Morrl Morrl.
In 1961 at a local dance in the Lillimur Hall, Evan met a young lady of 18 years by the name of Barbara Meyer. They courted over a period of some three years and were married in the Presbyterian Church in Kaniva on February 8th 1964. Following their wedding the new couple began life in Baillie Street, Horsham and they welcomed their daughter Lynn on December 15th 1964 and then their son Simon on September 2nd 1967.
About that same time, Evan and Barbara purchased the adjoining cottage and land in Baillie Street. A shop for antiques was opened in Koro Court in Baillie Street in 1969. This Western Highway property was purchased in 1974 and the family moved into the house around Christmas 1975. The properties at Kanagulk and Morrl Morrl were sold to develop this highway frontage property. The house was extended in early 1976.
The Olde Horsham Restaurant was built over the next period and opened for the Wimmera Machinery Field Days in 1978. Antiques were kept and sold from the cottage here up to the time of the gallery being erected some time later. Art and Antique dealers from Melbourne and Adelaide would make a point of calling into the gallery here as they travelled the highway and no doubt there were others from other areas who also called to buy, sell or just to talk with Evan and learn.
Evan had a desire to learn to play the drums. He joined the Horsham Pipe Band and commenced on the kettle drum and progressed to the base drum. I can recall seeing Evan with that big drum, dressed in his kilt on a number of occasions. Learning to play the drums was valuable for Evan, as he became the drummer in a dance band known as "The Emeralds" and played at dances, weddings and functions around the Wimmera and further away.
The Mackleys purchased the adjoining motel in the 1980s, sold it and then purchased it back again and still retain the freehold today. A period away from The Olde Horsham occurred between 1987 and 1992 and again from 2002 to 2010. The family operated their art and antique business in Melbourne for some years prior to their return to this property in 2010. Evan was diagnosed with diabetes in 1970 and in later years this impacted greatly on his health and led to some toe amputations and regular dyalisis.
Evan was a talented artist in his own right, taking up painting while based in High Street, Armadale in 1990. I recall on a number of occasions while dining here, going out to the tram room and talking to Evan as he painted with his bold and imaginative style. He has been quite successful with sales of his paintings over the years.
Evan was a unique character, and what a pity as time goes on we lose these characters, people with imagination and eccentricities, people who are very much their own person, who do things in their own way. I first met Evan at the old cattle selling ring in Horsham, and not knowing him at that time was curious as to why he was buying a fair proportion of the chopper cattle coming through the ring. I soon learned that these cattle were going to one of the family owned properties to improve for eventual resale. Most of these properties were sold to develop this complex where we are at present.
When the restaurant was being built in the 1970s, I was told Evan walked around the corner of the building and discovered John Johansen, who was probably an apprentice at that time, using a spirit level on a window sill. As Evan was wanting the building to appear as he believed a baronial tavern should look, he became somewhat agitated and insisted that he did not want spirit levels and such to be used and if there was some irregularity or suggestion of age around the building, so much the better.
The family and others also tell me that Evan would walk around the building after the workmen had departed and "modify" fittings such as the bar, to give them a look of age and not something that could be seen to have just been installed. His favourite tool for this was a tomahawk and you can see the sculptured appearance of the bar and other timber work around the building if you take the time to look.
The people of Horsham and the Wimmera should always remember Evan and his family for the establishment of the Olde Horsham and the icon it is. Our heart felt sympathy is extended to Barbara, Lynn and Simon in their loss.