Annual pilgrimage from Melbourne to Fitzroy

A BIG tree in the middle of the Fitzroy Gardens has special meaning to those living in Manangatang, despite being 410km away.

On the second Saturday of February each year, this area of the park comes to life as past and present Manangatang residents join together for their annual reunion.

This year marks the town's 79th reunion at the Fitzroy Gardens — the first one taking place in the early 1930s.

Long-time Manangatang resident Mary Kindred said from humble beginnings, the reunions had grown and provided an opportunity for old neighbours and friends to join together, share tales and reminisce about the time they spent in the town.

The 94-year-old said the reunion started with three couples, one of which was in Melbourne on their honeymoon.

"They all met up and from there, it has just grown," Ms Kindred said.

"One of the original guys (Norm Golding), was more than 100 years old when he died and he only ever missed one reunion because he was too busy fighting a fire."

Ms Kindred grew up in Manangatang and remained there up until two years ago when she relocated into Swan Hill.

Her parents were married in Manangatang when it was only a new town.

"Manangatang is only seven and a half years older than me," she said.

For more on this story, see Friday's edition of The Guardian (18/01/13).

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