Historical information

Mr Harry Mason was born in Stanley, Victoria, on the 23rd of July 1925, attending the primary school in Stanley and high school in Beechworth on the mail truck.

His family initially moved to the area during the initial Gold Rush period. He moved to Beechworth in 1960. For seven years after school, he worked in the local orchard full time before becoming the local gravedigger, responsible for digging the graves of Beechworth residents and Asylum for 23 years.

This oral history recording was part of a project conducted by Jennifer Williams in the year 2000 to capture the everyday life and struggles in Beechworth during the twentieth century. This project involved recording seventy oral histories on cassette tapes of local Beechworth residents which were then published in a book titled: Listen to what they say: voices of twentieth-century Beechworth.

These cassette tapes were digitised in July 2021 with funds made available by the Friends of the Burke.


Mr Harry Mason's account of his life in Beechworth and the local area during the 20th century is historically and socially significant to the cultural heritage of the region. He details important historical events and hardships in the region's history that had a lasting local, regional and national impact, including Australia during war time, economic struggles, and women's societal roles in a rural area. Mr Mason also discusses agricultural and gravedigging practices of the time as well as what it was like growing up in rural Australia. This first-hand account is imperative to our understanding of life during the last century.

This oral history account is socially and historically significant as it is a part of a broader collection of interviews conducted by Jennifer Williams which were published in the book 'Listen to what they say: voices of twentieth-century Beechworth.' While the township of Beechworth is known for its history as a gold rush town, these accounts provide a unique insight into the day-to-day life of the town's residents during the 20th century, many of which will have now been lost if they had not been preserved.

Physical description

This is a digital copy of a recording that was originally captured on a cassette tape. The cassette tape is black with a horizontal white strip and is currently stored in a clear flat plastic rectangular container. It holds up 40 minutes of recordings on each side.

Inscriptions & markings

Mr Harry Madon /