parents, Luigi and Clelia Rigo, migrated to Australia, respectively in
about 1924 and 1933. Rina was only ten years old when she went there and
her brother Arduino, was 12. Their third brother Bertillo remained behind
in Italy, but joined them for several years much later on, before
returning definitively to Italy. Their home town, Malunga, was a tiny village, high up on the
steep slopes of the spectacular, steep mountain Pasubio, north of Vicenza,
also in the Veneto region.
They come from an extremely attractive mountainous area, which has now become a popular tourist attraction, famous for its dolomitic peaks and for a long series of tunnels dug out by hand by the Italian soldiers, during the First World War, high up above the snow line. Malunga had fallen under Austrian rule and Clelia remembered the day when the Austrian border near her home was torn down, after the Austrians had been defeated. At Pasubio there is another war memorial, with the bones of soldiers killed there, that were collected from all over the slopes. A certain ... Revrenna is listed there.
must have been quite hard in Malunga, as the very few areas of level,
arable land were situated on distant slopes that were separated by deep
valleys, which had to be climbed each morning by the farmers. For
transporting the products home however, they had stretched, probably with
enormous difficulty, long steel cables from the fields right across the
valley to Malunga, on which trolleys of hay, timber and vegetables, went
whizzing through the air. A
sad tale is told of a small girl who pushed off the trolley with all its
load, but didn't let go in time and was carried off and fell to her death.
of their mountainous origins, it is understandable that the Rigo family
chose to settle in Myrtleford, an attractive location facing the similarly
spectacular Mount Buffalo. The Myrtleford, Happy Valley, Bright and Mount
Buffalo area, has likewise become a well-known tourist resort in
father, Pietro Pianalto, was a carpenter and his surname translates as
"High plain", which is oddly appropriate for the location of his
abode. His work bench can be seen in a photo taken in 1980, but it has
since disappeared from the house.
also cultivated silk worms to make an extra penny. Pietro was an
extraordinarily handsome man, distinguished and took great care in his
appearance. He was also known for his goodness, always willing to help his
neighbours in need. His wife was said to have a very good sense of humour,
which was probably transmitted to her grand-daughter Rina.
A young Luigi Rigo Luigi in his later years
Luigi Rigo, born in 1886, was from the Verona area and was also musically talented, playing the clarinet, trumpet and the guitar. During the First World War he was a sergeant in the army, as an Alpine in the 6th Brigade, from which he was honourably discharged on the 15th August 1919 at the end of the Great War. (See Certificate) He participated in campaigns lasting through 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918, suffering also a term of prisoner of war with the Austrians.
On his voyage to
Australia, he kept up the morale of his fellow travellers with his music
and an encouraging "Mai paura!", meaning "Never fear!"
In fact this became his nickname and Rina was "The daughter of Mai
Paura" and sometimes even, "Mai Pauretta" (Little Never
Fear). His sounding of the Reveille on the trumpet one night, caused quite
a stir, as it was interpreted by the passengers as an "Abandon Ship".
trade Luigi was a stone mason and also soon found his way to Myrtleford,
after that his family joined him in Australia (see ship's
ticket), living in different places
there, one being at Panlook (the name of a local Chinese family) and
another being in an isolated place in the bush, German Creek, which was
full of kangaroos and lyre birds. Here Rina learned to shoot a rifle and
went to school on horseback. Clelia harvested hops on the Panlook farm and
worked at tying tobacco after it was harvested. One of Luigi's many fine
works was the stone fireplace at the Mount Hotham hotel.
family moved to Melbourne, where Rina went to the Good Shepherd Convent in
Abbotsford. After having left school, she got a job in a parachute
factory, but with the outbreak of war, she lost the job, because of her
alien Italian origin, being considered unreliable in such a delicate war
oriented job. Her friend, Fanny Borsari, nee Cester, managed to get
another job on the pretence that she was Spanish, rather than Italian. Fanny
was an excellent opera singer, who was always called to sing at every
party and had to invent Spanish words for her songs, in order to keep
everybody fooled on her origins.
the outbreak of war, the Rigo family returned to Myrtleford, where Rina's
path was destined to cross Dino's.
came from a large family: Angela, Ida, Savina, Zefferino, Sebastiano,
Rina, all of whom migrated to Australia and ended up in Myrtleford, except
Rina who went to live in France. Angela married Beppi Piazza and formed a
family that was to play an important part in the development of Myrtleford.
and Luigi retired in a home at the entrance of Myrtleford, which was built
on the site of the very first white settlement in the valley and behind
the house can be seen the remnants of the original stockyards.
this house Clelia offered hospitality to the Italian migrants, providing a
place to meet and play cards and reminisce over Italy. Clelia rounded off
her income by selling the odd bottle of beer. She began the tradition that
grew and developed into the realisation of the "Savoy Club",
built on the grounds next door, which became the official focal meeting
place of all the Italians of the area.
and Luigi Rigo are buried side by side in the Pioneer's Cemetery in
Clelia's sister Savina came to Myrtleford at a much later date, after that many of her numerous sons had migrated there. Peter Revrenna was the first to come in 19..., followed by Eugenio (Poncho), Sebastiano (Seb), Marco and Mariuccia, where they all settled down and formed their own families. Mariano, Rina and Franca remained in their town Villaverla, close to Vicenza. Savina spent several years in Australia, but afterwards preferred to return to her little home town in Italy, where she lived until passing away at a grand old age.
Revrenna brothers are both a hard working and fun loving family and
quickly win the simpathy and respect of everyone they meet. Always invited
to every party, they improvise games and funny costumes and are a delight
to both children and adults alike.
married Jenny McHarg, the daughter of an Australian lawyer from Albury and
was a kindergarden teacher, who also had a big way with children. Forever
seeking adventure, Peter is quick to take up every invitation to go
dancing, skiing, hunting, exploring, gold-panning, prospecting, or just to
have a quiet beer at the local pub. His recent big passion has become opal
mining and he has staked out many claims in the Australian desert of
Lightening Ridge, which he visits on digging trips at every opportunity.
Peter down his opal mine at Lightening Ridge
rather unusual couple inspired the following limericks:
A miner by name of Peter,
- o -
A poor lady called Jenny,