Bernie and Elsie Howard.

Interviewed by Geoff Barwick.


Bernie and Elsie are regulars at the bowling club. Bernie just likes having a drink with his mate Trevor Green and others, while Elsie is always keen to help out with a function, or trying to organise a game of cards or some fundraising activity.

Bernie Howard turns 85 this year. Elsie, or Cubby to her friends, is 84. Bernie was born in Quirindi at Florence Cottage, maternity hospital. Bernie's father was Raphie Howard. Bernie had 8 other siblings. His eldest sister was Marie, who died at 24 years of age from polio. Then Bernie was next, followed by Clair, Ken, who died of luekemia in 1960, Les, Veronica, Francis, Phonsie and Rita.

Bernie attended Willow Tree public school. He remembers his first headmaster as being Jim Jordan. Then it was Stan Bates. There were only 2 classrooms in those days, and about 60 kids taught by 2 teachers.

Bernie remembers one day when his dad Raphie called into school and took Bernie out for the day. Bernie was just 9 years old. Raphie had bogged a truck in Chilcotts Creek. Raphie had walked all the way back to town, got Bernie and another truck, and they both went back, and with 9 year old Bernie driving the other truck, they pulled the bogged truck out of the creek.

Another funny story was when Bernie was at 12 years of age, occasionally doing the mail run for Raphie in the mail truck. Bernie was caught by the local policeman, Authur Allan and was given a stern talking to for driving under age.

At 14 years of age, Bernie started work on 'Rathcown', now 'Talawanta' taking Phil Mitchel's job, as Phil Mitchel was called up to go to war. Phil Mitchel lived near the Merriwa road at the time, in a small A.A.Co. cottage on land now owned by Neil Barwick and family, 'Yarrabah'. Interestingly, Bernie and Raphie a few years later helped move that cottage to near the 'Yarrabah' homestead where it became Yarrabah's woolshed.

When Bernie was 15, he got a special car licence, so he could legally do the mail run. The war meant that workers were hard to come by. Bernie had a special high seat made up, sitting him higher, so he could see better.

Taken about 1956 in front of Willow Tree Inn before curbing was done. L-R, Raphie Howards 1948 Chev. Frank Hancocks 'mainline'. Ken Sevils peugeot. Ken Howards Chev. Bernie Howards mercury.

Bernie drove school buses for many years. He remembers when he'd pull up at Bingham's store, sometimes the bus wouldn't start again. Bernie wondered why this would happen, but then once he caught Milton Carter pumping the accelerator, which would flood the carby. This was so the kids could stay at the store for longer. Bernie wouldn't tell me what he did to Milton.

Another time, Bernie was driving the bus when Ian Tourle was mucking up really bad. Bernie made him get off and walk home. But Tourlie snuck onto a rack at the back of the bus and rode along, unbeknowns to Bernie. Bernie says the roads were gravel back then, and doesn't know how he managed to breath with it being so dusty.



Cubby grew up on a property at Millers Creek. It is now owned by Bo Ward, and is called 'Raplock', but when Cubby's father owned it, it was called 'Berella'. Cubby's father was Bob Holt, and they bought the farm in 1932. Cubby attended Big Jacks Creek public school, and usually rode to school on horseback.

Cubby about to head off to school at Jacks Creek, from her home at Millers Creek. A ride of a good 4 or 5 kilometres

Cubby has fond memories of Jacks Creek school. She remembers well the Chads, Barwicks, Kennys and Dellars. The headmaster when she attended was a Mr Bud Rose.

Cubby, as a young girl on the farm at Millers Creek, with some chooks.

Write a new comment: (Click here)
Characters left: 160
DONE Sending...

Helen Copeland | Reply 08.03.2013 17:18

That is such an interesting story...the Howards were/are an amazing family.

Judith Anderson nee Wilcox | Reply 12.02.2013 19:45

Hello this is Judy Anderson nee Wilcox from Willow Tree
what a great story as I remember all the people mentioned.
God Bless Bernie and Cubby Howard

See all comments

| Reply

Latest comments

25.09 | 09:36

Absolutely delighted to come across a part of my direct ancestors history about which I knew very little and shall endeavour to find out more
Thank you Prof. A.

23.09 | 22:23

Very interesting Kelaher family history. Impressive number of trained nursing sisters. Jack lent the Copelands a cream horse, Playboy, in 1950's, ridden by Kate

09.09 | 17:58

Wonderfully informative. Thank goodness for Jane and John Atchison's work

06.09 | 14:33

I am Jack Kelaher and I am proud of my pop, dad and ancestors.

You liked this page