Helen Copeland and the Copeland family.
This was sent to me by Helen Copeland, who lived on "Warrah Station" for 26 years. Helen now lives in Baulkham Hills, Sydney.
The Copeland Family, Warrah Station, 1935 -1967 by Helen Copeland, 2012
In front of "Warrah" homestead in 1946. George and Jean Copeland, Kate, Helen and Campbell on Ponies.
I remember my twenty six years calling “ Warrah” home as the happiest days of my life. What an amazing place to grow up on with my two sisters and brother,
and parents who set the bar high, leading by example, and guiding us through a large range of activities with firmness, kindness and love, but with an expectancy of honest achievement.
Dad, George Copeland, was born in Stawell,Victoria, in 1899, the fourth of eight children, whose father and grandfather were both Methodist Ministers. His father, Leslie, reportedly often spent more time with his “flock” than with
his family, so all he children learnt very early to assist their mother with household chores as well as running the dairy property when the family moved to Gayndah in Queensland in 1914.
George put himself through correspondence bookkeeping, accounting, and woolclassing courses after leaving school, then jackarooed with the Wilsallens at ” Gunnible”, Gunnedah for three years.
In 1924 he joined the Australian Agricultural Company and became the Overseer/Bookkeeper at “Bladensburg” near Winton in western Queensland. He was there for seven and a half years, also bookkeeping on “Corona,”
a nearby Company property.
1935 brought him to “Warrah”, Willow Tree, as Overseer/Bookkeeper, then in 1940 ,he became the Manager, a position he held for twenty seven years
until his retirement in 1967.
He was always a very keen horseman, having ridden as an amateur jockey at Western Queensland Picnic Race meetings in the 1920’s. He diversified his interest to campdrafting
and polo, the latter only for several seasons at Quirindi, until he badly dislocated his left shoulder. He had many successes in campdrafting with Surprise, Bindy, Silver, Arrow, Fortune and Beau, riding Surprise in the first post WW2 Royal Easter Show.
Later in the 1960’s and 70’s,he was the Chief Measuring Steward at the Easter Show, where every horse or pony competing had to be measured before it could face the judges.
The Willow Tree Bushmen’s Carnival was always dear to George’s heart and he was its President for twenty five years, then Patron. Dad also supported the Quirindi Pony Club, the yearly Willow Tree School Athletics Carnival, usually helping
with or running the High Jump, junior cricket, tennis, and the Willow Tree CWA and Red Cross. In these commitments, he was always strongly supported by my mother, Jean, so from an early age, we children learned to respect, help with, understand
and enjoy community activities.
My mother, Jean Mackenzie, was the oldest of three children, whose mother’s great grandfather was William Broughton, later Commissary Broughton, who
arrived in Australiain 1788 with the First Fleet on board the “Charlotte” as a young assistant to Surgeon White. Jean’s father’s grandfather was Dr. Kenneth Mackenzie, one of the first doctors in the Shoalhaven District. Dr. Kenneth
owned the property, “Bundanon”, on the ShoalhavenRiverand built the two storeyed sandstone home , which still stands, for his son, Hugh’s, 21st birthday in 1866. Jean and her sister and brother were all born and lived
The Bundanon estate was sold in 1966, and several years later, was bought by the artist, Arthur Boyd, who later bequeathed the home, outbuildings, and
some acreage around the home to the people ofAustralia. The home can be visited by the public and is used as a base for “Artists in Residence”.
Jean was schooled at home
by governesses until 1923, when she moved to P.L.C., Pymble as a boarder for three years. This followed the tragic drowning of her father and twelve year old sister in the Shoalhaven River in 1922. Jean, her mother and brother left “Bundanon”
in 1927 and moved to Rose Bay in Sydney, from which home Jean attended the Conservatorium of Music for five years, studying piano and singing. Soon after graduation, she took up the position of Music Mistress at the fairly new P.L.C.,Orange, where she
stayed until her marriage to George in 1936. They had met many years before at “Bladensburg”, where Jean had been holidaying with her uncle, the Manager.
at “Warrah” in mid 1936, and in 1938, Kate( Catherine) was born, followed over the next nine years by Helen, Campbell, and Janet.
The Copeland family, "Warrah" 1949. L-R. Snowy the dog, Janet, George, Catherine [Kate], Helen, Campbell, and Jean.
Jean had always enjoyed teaching, so it was no surprise that she wanted to start we children’s schooling at home, with Correspondence lessons from the School at Blackfriars inSydney. At one stage, she was supervising
three pupils at separate tables in our “schoolroom”, off the kitchen in the Warrah homestead, while nursing one small child on her knee! Our lessons were structured, Monday to Friday, but if Dad required “extra hands” for mustering,
bringing stock to the yards, or for small jobs, we would hurry through lessons or work late at them, so as to have a “day in the saddle”.
Days in the saddle often meant carrying a hoe over
our shoulders to cut any Bathhurst Burrs we came across. Dad had a single minded hatred for Bathhurst Burrs, and Prickly and Tiger Pear…this had probably manifested itself with him when he was a teenager and he and his family had to “walk off”
their dairying block at Gayndah, due to Prickly Pear.
Jean always organized local and some not so local Correspondence School infant and primary aged children to take part in the yearly Willow Tree
School Athletics Carnival. It was great fun “training” for our running, skipping and jumping events, and on the day, we would all wear rosettes of red, white, and blue ribbons as our Correspondence School colours. We would even march in the Schools’
March Past next to immaculately fitted out public school pupils, we having our first practices together as a “school” on the Carnival day! Needless to say, some of us did quite well… I remember my most feared “ rivals” in age
races were Doreen Birkett(BlandfordSchool) and Rhonda Schofield( Willow Tree).
At the end of the school year, Mum would organize a Break-Up Party for the same Correspondence School children…there
would be games on the front lawn, tennis for those interested, then prize giving and an address by an admired and repected family friend...Mr. McIntyre, Manager of the CBA Bank, WillowTree, for many years, then Mr. Charles Briggs from Wallabadah. Inside our
book prizes ( everyone had a prize) would be the Merit Certificates sent to each child by their Blackfriars’ teachers, and signed by the Headmaster, Mr. Walter Finnegan, and later, Mr. M.H. Kellerman.
After prize giving and the singing of Australian Christmas carols and God Save the King/Queen, we would all settle ourselves on benches at long tressle tables from the shearers’ dining room, on the top lawn for a magnificent afternoon tea!
Oranges cut in half with the flesh scooped out, then filled with different coloured jellies, set in the fridge, and cut into mouth sized wedges, always went down well on the often hot December day! Kate and I
had usually made these jelly delicacies and helped make other simple but tasty morsels, as well as setting the tables. Always a wonderful day …a highlight of the year, and enjoyed by everyone.
"Warrah" 1946. Helen Copeland on BOBBY. George Copeland. Campbell Copeland on MICKEY.
Our lives often revolved around our ponies, much loved and much ridden…Micky, Kate’s first pony,a naughty Shetland; Bobby, my 4th birthday present..a palomino bought from the Maitland Saleyards;
Pym , a 14 hands high chestnut, which, as a foal, had walked with his mother from theNorthern Territory with cattle drovers, bringing young stores from A.A. Company properties to Warrah for fattening. Later came Bright Eyes, Wyn, Archery, Arrow, and Peter
Pan, Janet’s creamy with a propensity to pull hard! We were very lucky to have parents who would take us with our ponies to the local Rodeos, Shows, and Pony Club Gymkhanas and Camps. These were days of great fun, competing in many different classes
and catching up with riding friends, the Haydons, Anrotts, and Widdis’s. Much time was spent before these days grooming and washing ponies, and cleaning saddles and bridles. We children would be up at four a.m. on the day to feed the ponies and generally
Jean, as well as teaching us, was very committed to fundraising with the Willow Tree C.W.A. and Red Cross, and in both associations held executive positions for many years,
working beside the wives, mothers, and daughters of many of the Warrah Subdivision landholders. Many a brawn and trifle were prepared in our kitchen, along with other foods, for luncheons at the Warrah Creek Hall as part of fundraising days, which included
games for children, tennis for adults, or sometimes Horse sports or Gymkhanas. On one occasion at a Talent Quest or Concert at Big Jack’s Creek Hall,Campbellaged about four, and a friend were seen on the stage, peeping under the crinoline skirts of local
young “celebrity” dancers!
Sometimes we were allowed to accompany Ernie Palmer and Phil Carroll either taking a large mob of sheep to the Highlands, or receiving a similar mob coming back
to Warrah from theHighlands, being moved by Jethro and Mark Palmer. The meeting place for “handover” was the Warrah Creek Hall .
Kate recalls building a snowman on top of the large left
gate post leading from Warrah Creek Road into the area around the Warrah Creek Hall. Snow very rarely fell so low on the flats, though every year we could see it from “ Warrah” on the top of Mt.Gregson.
I remember, still with pleasure, looking out for rabbits from our car as we drove slowly along the ridge road between the Warrah Creek crossing near the Hall and the little interdenominational Church on the hill. We attended the Presbyterian Service
which only occurred on the last Sunday of the month that had 5 Sundays!! Mum was the organist on these infrequent days, sometimes with a sleepy little Janet on her knee . Back to the rabbits which were amazing..greys, blacks and piebalds…someone must
have let their pets loose, and multiplication occurred rapidly.
As we children grew to teenagers, Kate spent three years as a boarder at P.L.C., Pymble, from her Intermediate year, then went on to
complete her four years General Nursing training at Royal North Shore Hospital. She worked in the nursing profession for many years, and latterly was a Commonwealth Government Standards Monitor in Aged Care.
I had three years boarding at P.L.C., Pymble, then trained for four years atR.N.S.Hospital. My career also followed the nursing path, with the last twenty years in Aged Care…six very happy years were spent as Supervisor of Elmswood Hostel, Quirindi,
before I moved toSydneyand continued nursing as Charge Sister and Director of Nursing in Aged care facilities.
Campbell had two years at Quirindi High School, before four years at Scots College, where
he became a proficient bagpipe player. He joined the A.A. Company after leaving school, and jackarooed at “Rockhampton Downs” in theNorthern Territory, then “Auvergne Station”, N.T. Several years later, he became Manager of “Newry
Station”, N.T.,and I was employed by the Company as the Nurse/storekeeper/radio wireless operator with him for several months, until struck down with infective hepatitis. Later Cam managed ”Avon Downs”, N.T., before returning to Quirindi
in 1980, a total of nineteen years with the Company.
Janet, after three years atQuirindiHigh Schooland two years at P.L.C., Pymble, graduated fromUniversityofNew Englandwith her Teaching degree, and
taught in westernSydneyHigh Schoolsuntil her retirement in 2004.
Our whole family counts itself lucky to have been associated with the Australian Agricultural Company and especially ” Warrah
Station,” and it gives me not an unconsiderable amount of joy to find Warrah Subdivision settlers and descendants of settlers taking such an interest and pride in preserving the History of this early Australian pastoral and agricultural settlement.
Aerial view of "Warrah" woolshed in 1960.