Arthur Barwicks Memoirs.

THE LIFE OF ARTHUR BARWICK
as recorded by him, completed in December, 1986.
(Transcribed by daughter Joy Maunder, edited by grandson David Maunder)

Lucus, Enid, Audrey and Arthur Barwick, in the 'Big Smoke'. 1945.

 

I was born in Scone on Saturday, 7th August, 1915 at "Brancaster" Private Hospital. I was named Arthur Cecil Barwick by my parents, Harold James Barwick, born 2nd May, 1882 and died on 11th December, 1968, and Viola Mercy Blanche Barwick, born on 6th October, 1889 and died on 16th December, 1943. They were married at Thornthwaite on 13th August, 1913.

 

I was the fifth grandson of John and Eliza (nee Newling) Barwick and the seventh grandson of Frederick William and Sarah (nee Ashford) Barwick.

 

I have just recorded the most important event of my life, my birth, without which of course this story could not have been written.

 

The next most important event of my lifetime was the birth of a baby girl in Scone at "Coolambooka" Private Hospital on 11th August, 1915. She was named Audrey Beulah May by her parents Alfred Cyril, born on 15th October, 1887 and died on 29th March, 1962, and May Maria Christina Ashford (nee Peterson) born on 20th May, 1892 and died on 7th August, 1961. They were married at Islington 12th August, 1914. Audrey lived with her parents on the property "Lemon Grove" at Kiernans Creek until she married in 1944. She had two sisters, Esme Barbara, born on 6th November, 1916, and Verna Mabel born on 29th July, 1919 and died on 20th November 1979. She also had a brother, Noel Cyril, born on 6th September, 1925, who still lives on the property.

 

At this stage and for quite a lot of years to come, no one would have dreamed that this birth would have had any significance with my life, but as this story proceeds it will become evident just how important it was. I was told the following story of our births by my mother many years ago. In those days of no telephones, the only means of communication was either by mail or someone riding or driving a sulky to deliver messages.

 

Our grandparents and many others interested in our arrival lived on Sparkes and Kiernans Creeks where a twice weekly mail was delivered on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I was born on a Saturday morning in time for the news to go out to the interested people on Saturday's mail and Audrey conveniently arrived on Wednesday morning early enough for word to be delivered by Wednesday's mail.

 

My parents lived on a 736 acre property which was my home until I married in 1944. Also living there, making up the family, were my sister, Sheila Mary, born January 26th, 1920, and my brother, Lucas Harold, born December 6th,1923.

 

Although I have started to write an account of my life, I feel that it is necessary at this stage to mention the people who have lived, and are living on the nearby properties, as, no doubt, they will come into the story from time to time.

 

This area Warrah Creek was part of the Australian Agricultural Company's station "Warrah", which was released for Closer Settlement in 1912, consisting of some 84 blocks. Six Barwicks came from Sparkes Creek to the Warrah Creek area.

 

They were Ivan, Harold and Leonard who were brothers and Thomas, Charles & Ernest who were cousins to each other and to the three brothers. Ernest had left Sparkes Creek some years earlier and had lived on a property "Ingleside" near Gundy. An uncle of all these, Alfred Barwick, also moved to this area from Kiernan's Creek.

 

Ivan, who was a bachelor, had the most southern block on the western side of the creek. This property was unnamed until his death on 10th January, 1941, when it was left to his brother, George, who then named it "Cedar Vale". It was managed by Victor, George's eldest son, during the war years.

 

After the war, John, George's third son, who married Mavis Sedgwick on 27th January, 1946, settled there, and after Victor left in about 1964, managed the property until his death on 22nd August, 1973. Mavis lived there on her own until she died on 24th August, 1975.

 

Harold, my father, had the next block of 736 acres and lived there until he retired to Satur (Scone) in 1952, selling the property to my brother, Lucas. This property was unnamed during my mother's lifetime. It was later called "Trillowee",and later still changed to "Leumeah Park" by Don McPherson who bought it from Lucas in 1976. "Leumeah Park" changed hands again in 1981 to Mrs Kenny and in 1985 was again sold to Ruth Krahenbuhl and Margaret Horneman who live there now.

 

The uncle previously mentioned, Alfred, went to "Merrieton" and lived there with his wife, known to us as Aunt Betsy (nee Ashford) and his two unmarried daughters, Melba, who died on 26th October, 1945 and Alma, who died on 4th November, 1975. A grandson, Leon Saunders, lived with them from my earliest memory until he married Florence Fitzpatrick about 1928, when he moved to a small property near the Hall where they raised a family of five daughters and a son. Leon was a good shearer and shore in most of the local sheds for many years.

 

"Merrieton" is now owned by a gandson, Barry Barwick. Thomas and his wife, Annie, who had no children, were on 644 acres known as "Strathleigh". This property is now called "Erinskay" and is owned by B.R. & A.M. Charlton. Thomas sold this property to Ernest Brecht about 1950 and it remained in the Brecht family until it was sold in 1978 to Mr Moses. The Brechts moved into this house to live after the big flood in 1956, which went through their previous home "Burnside" on Warrah Creek.

 

Charles had the property "Oakley" on Dry Creek. He and his wife, Rose,who died on 28th April, 1913, had three daughters namely Madge, who married Foster Carter; Lila who married Brian Seymour; and Enid, who married Hector Newman. This property has been split up in latter years.

 

Leonard had the next property on Dry Creek, of 431 acres, which he called "Benvenue" and is now owned by Ronald Barwick and is called "Boolawa". Len sold this property about 1920 to my father when he and his wife Bessie and daughter Betty left the area. This property was sold to Ron in 1926. Ron lived there after he married Bernadette Meredith on 8th February, 1937.

 

On selling "Benvenue" my father purchased an adjoining property of 618 acres then known as "Retreat", from Andrew Hindmarsh. This block has been called "Oakhaven" ever since I moved here early in 1946. Ernest with his wife Susan and sons Alan, Ron and Edgar settled on "Quondah", 1161 acres, opposite "Boolawa", which remained in the family until 1981 when it was bought by Neil Martin who lives there with his wife Gretta.

 

Besides the relatives already mentioned, the other people living on the top end of Warrah Creek at the time of my earliest recollection, early 1920s, were as follows:- At the southern end on the "Warrah Highlands" were Henry Palmer and his wife and five sons:- Cliff, Joe, Mark, Les and Stan. Next was Jethro and his wife and three sons:- Ron, Bill and Jack and three daughters :-Alice, Aileen and Mary.

 

On the southern end of the subdivision on the east side on "Chesney Oaks", 585 acres, were Billy Knee, a bachelor, and Charlie Knee and his wife and two daughters, Aileen and Muriel and one son, Godfrey. Three more sons were born later.

 

On the next property of 597 acres called "Warrah Vale" lived Steve McDonald ,a bachelor, and a rather eccentric one I might add.

 

The next block, already mentioned,"Retreat", was then owned by Andrew Hindmarsh who had two sons, Hunter and Stewart. Mrs Hindmarsh came from east of Scone and told my mother that she named Hunter after the Hunter River, and, having done that, thought she may as well name the second son after Stewart's Brook.

 

On the next property "Glenore" of 436 acres lived Mick Fitzpatrick and his wife and family. He was known then as "Old Mick" because he had a son, Mick, who was of course "Young Mick". I remember another son, Jack, and a daughter, Florence, who married Leon Saunders about 1929, but my memory of the others, some daughters and a son, Billy, is very vague. Bessie, an elder daughter, was Mrs Bill Smith and lived further down the creek. This property is still owned by Fitzpatricks. Terry, "Old Mick's" grandson, lives on it, having married Bonny Hussey, and who are now grandparents themselves, making five generations of Fitzpatricks living in the area during my lifetime. I don't think there is another family in the subdivision with that record.

 

Further down the road on the west side is "Karoola" then owned by Dave Grady and his wife who had a daughter, Betty.

 

The next property was owned by the Gardiner family. The only ones I remember were a son, Harold, and daughter, Min. Another son, George and his wife and family came to the area later and lived at "Karoola". "Mt. Blake" of 934 acres was owned by J.B. Holmes and his wife who had two daughters, Miriam & Lily and two sons, James, who married Alice Palmer, and Lennard, who died quite young. Just below the Dry Creek turn-off was the Carter family, Robert and his wife. The sons I remember were Tom, who married Miriam Holmes; Cecil, who married Lily Holmes; Reg, a bachelor, and Foster, who married Madge Barwick. Daughters I remember were Ena, (Mrs McMaster), Leila (Mrs Dick Graham), Olive (Mrs Hull) and Madge who married Oliver Cook.

 

The Warrah Creek School was next door and will be mentioned later. The first teacher I remember was A.O. Lane.

 

Across the road from the school was the Post Office which was run by the Meredith family who lived on the property of 764 acres. I remember Nancy, who married "Young Mick" Fitzpatrick; Marie who did not marry; Dette, Mrs Ron Barwick; Jack, who was crippled; Jim who married Beryl Kiernan and Bill, unmarried.

 

One property not mentioned is "Towarri", 792 acres, on the top end of Dry Creek, where in those early days Mr and Mrs Dave Martin and their daughter, Doris, lived. They left the area about 1925, when the property was bought by Mr Roy Forrest who was an accomplished pianist and who will be mentioned later. Les Barwick bought "Towarri" in 1929 from Roy Forrest. Les married Dorothy Lang, their children being Barbara, Anthony, Gweneth and Barry. Les and Dot lived there until Barry married Lorraine Edmonds in 1962.

 

Although it is over 60 years ago, I have very vivid memories of things that happened during my pre school years.I spent the time very much on my own as Sheila (my sister) was over four years younger than I, and being in the country there were no close children of my own age to pal up with. I do not remember ever feeling any boredom from this, but the lack of companionship could have contributed to my lack of confidence in mixing with people I did not know well later in life.

 

My earliest recollection of playing was when I was about four. A new shed was being built,and the ends off the timber made good loading for the little wagon I had to pull around with me. I have been told that I had both whooping cough and chicken pox when I was two years old, but I do not remember them.

 

When I was five or six, Walter Barwick, who settled on Little Jacks Creek, built a cow yard for father, and I can still see him sending the chips flying with his mortising axe, when mortising the holes in the posts for the rails to fit in. Through the years I have tried to use a simular axe, but never mastered the art of making a nice neat hole. During the time Walter was working there he gave me a key hole saw, which was the first tool I ever owned and is still in my possession. He took the precaution to cut the point off it so that I was less likely to injure myself with it. Walter naturally had a very sharp adze, which I was warned not to go near with my bare feet. I did get too close to it, and I did cut the side off my foot, but I didn't ever let on to anyone what I had done.

 

It was about this age that I wanted to sow a little patch of wheat in the garden. There being no seed wheat available, Mother took me to Fitzpatricks when she visited and explained my problem to Mr Fitz (Old Mick). Mother had supplied me with a small calico bag complete with tapes near the top to tie the neck. When the kind old man took me to the shed to fill it, he filled it so full the neck could not be tied, so he took it back to Mrs Fitz, who happened to be sewing at the time, and explained our problem to her. She of course sewed it in the approved manner leaving two ears, as was done to all wheat bags in those days. They certainly knew how to make a small boy happy, and I came home very proud of my miniature bag of wheat.

 

The mail in those days came by horse and sulky. John Brown was the first mailman I remember. He had to carry his lunch of course as the trip took most of the day. One day when I went to collect the mail, he was having a drink of tea and I remember him telling me that he had rum in it as well. On one occasion he had a mishap near our place, the sulky finished up upside down and the harness smashed, and he was rather badly bruised and shaken. I do not know whether his horse shied and bolted, or whether the rum may have had some effect on his driving, but I know he was later sitting in our kitchen having his injuries attended to by my mother.

 

While on the subject of horse and sulky, we in those days, had a big powerful sulky mare (part draught horse) called Emma, who could trot pretty fast and keep it up for hours. One Christmas Eve the family (before Luke, my younger brother's time) were due to go to Brechts at "Burnside",11 miles out of Scone that day. The morning was too wet to go, but in clearing about midday, my parents decided to leave.

 

Departing about 1pm with four people in the sulky, and no doubt presents as well as clothes for us all, the trip of over fifty miles ahead was quite an undertaking.

 

The roads were quiet, probably no motor cars at all, and very little horse traffic. Aunty Grace (Mother's sister) lived near Wingen on the opposite side of the railway to the highway, although out of sight of it, and at least a quarter of a mile from it. She heard a fast trotting horse go past and guessed it was us, and on comparing times later proved to be correct. I think we arrived at "Burnside" about 11pm after a meal break in Scone.

 

I have memories of Mother, Sheila as a baby, and me going to Wingen by train to visit Aunty Grace and Uncle Alf. On approaching Wingen in the train, we could see Uncle Alf cutting it a bit fine, racing neck and neck with the train to be there when we arrived. He had to cross the line a bit before, and no doubt got cut off. When going home from that visit a few days later, he took us to the foot of the range at Murrurundi where we were met by my father. He had arrived first and I can still see him sitting in the shade of some trees waiting as we got near.

 

Horses, of course, have minds of their own. I remember seeing Uncle Ern having trouble with his sulky horse, Peter, on the road outside home one time when, after pulling up for a yarn, wanted to go further on. It was only after being persuaded with the help of mother's pot stick from the laundry and by Uncle Ern, while someone else drove, walking alongside Peter and landing him a few well aimed kicks in the stomach that they got under way.

 

The first mechanical toy I ever saw was a wind up motor car that Grandfather Jack had, and which went round and round in a circle. We were not allowed touch it of course, but on a visit were allowed the special treat of watching him wind it two or three times and setting it going for us.

 

In these pre school years there were no telephones and, although the Willow Tree store delivered groceries etc by horse and cart, there was no way of ordering unless they called. So a couple of days before delivery day a boy called for orders. I still remember Arthur Holder calling "order boy" from the side verandah on those days if someone did not notice him arrive.

 

The first camera I ever saw was one Eric Seymour had when he was at home when I was five or six. Daisy, Grandfather Fred's second wife, had one when they were very rare also.

 

I have often been amused by small children getting certain words mixed up or back to front and no doubt I was the same at an early age. One thing I got hold of incorrectly at an early age and still stays in my mind is Stockholm Tar. I knew it was something to be put on animals and to me for many years it was "stock on tar".

 

I wonder sometimes if I missed my vocation and should have been an inventor as I recall causing some amusement with my "ant killer" -a block of wood with a nail driven in the top for a handle. I do recall squatting on the verandah floor dabbing it on ants.

 

Life was not all happy times. I, like all small boys would do some things which roused the ire of my parents. I remember being rather severely reprimanded for some misdemeanour. I do not recall what it was now, but decided to get even with my father for what I thought was an injustice. I waited for him at the top of the steps with a loaded water pistol and let him have it in the face as he approached. This was not appreciated and the punishment I received made me think twice about ever doing it again.

 

The first time I ever heard about meetings was when the Warrah Creek Hall was being planned, probably about 1920. On hearing father saying he was going to a meeting,I asked him what he meant. He said he was going to "ride down the road on his horse to meet a lot of people". This gave me the vision of him going along the road on his horse and coming face to face with a lot more people going in the opposite direction.

 

One of the earliest parties I remember was at home probably 1919, when I recall Les Barwick being given a leather wallet. I presume it was a welcome home party and present from his relations on the occasion of his return from World War 1.

 

During those early days an Indian hawker by the name of Mann Dean travelled the district regularly. He drove three horses pulling a covered wagon which I remember creaking and rattling past our place every few months.

Photo of Marm Deen.

It was often remarked upon how fat his horses were considering they were on the move every day. The days were not very long as he would camp near the hall one night then near Jethro Palmer's the next night and then again at the hall on his return. I remember my father talking to him on the road one day and I think he was told not to call as he never did afterwards.

 

While on the subject of hawkers, my mother told me that in her early days at Sparkes Creek an Indian hawker used to come around on foot carrying his wares, some of which he carried in a basket on his head. She said it was amusing to watch him cross the creek if there was too much water to cross on the stones. He would just walk through boots and all and when he got to the other side, he would put his load down and lie on the ground with his legs in the air to let the water drain out of his boots and off he would go again.

 

We had a holiday about 1922 when we travelled to Newcastle by train and stayed at a guest house called "The Beaches". On our return we left the train at Scone and went by mail coach to Bunnan for four days and stayed with Uncle Arthur and Aunty Alice Barwick who had the General Store there.

 

We as a family attended services at Warrah Creek church very regularly from my earliest recollection and the first Vicar I remember was the Rev. H. Barnes who travelled in a single seater T Model Ford. He stayed at our home overnight occasionally when visiting the area from Quirindi. The church of St. Stephens at Warrah Creek was planned, financed and built by the local Anglicans. I believe that when a meeting was held to plan a church for the area, a number of people of other denominations attended hoping that perhaps they could persuade the Anglicans to combine with them to build a Union Church. This was done at Jack's Creek originally, but was not done here. Most of the Barwicks who settled here were carpenters, as well as shearers and other labouring occupations, and took a leading part in the erection of the church, which was built in 1915. I have been told that before the church was built, services were held in the "Quondah" woolshed and in private homes. Mother told me of an occasion when a service was held in our home, the collection plate, at that time a crockery dinner plate and of course slippery, was being passed around. When it became tilted,the money all slid off and scattered, causing some embarassment.

 

The first organist I recall at St. Stephen's was Mrs Dave Martin accompanied by her husband pn the violin. When the Martins left the district, I think about 1925, Mother became the regular organist and played until her death in 1943. She was organist at St. Stephen's Church, Thornthwaite, prior to her marriage and I have in my possession a Hymn Book presented to her by Canon F.A.Cadell, Rector of Scone, on the occasion of her retirement as Organist at that Church. The book is inscribed by the Canon and dated the 13th August, 1913, the day he married her to my father.

 

When the Martins were leaving the district, the congregation decided to give them a presentation of a silver teapot. When it was being discussed as to who would make the presentation, as none of them were very fluent orators, Tom Barwick, in his typically dry manner, suggested that we sit it on a post and someone say "There yer are".

 

The first motor car I remember locally was a T model Ford owned by Mr J.B. Holmes. Father had a similar Ford about 1917, which I cannot recall, but those early models only had a low tension Magneto and no battery, which meant cranking with a handle. Starting them was difficult. It proved so unreliable that it only lasted about twelve months and we were back travelling by horse and sulky for a few more years.

 

I do recall Father borrowing Mr Holmes' car once to go to Quirindi, when Sheila was quite small, to take her to the doctor. On thinking back now after seeing Father later in life having difficulty in starting various engines, it is not surprising to me that he could not get along with the Ford in those early days. There was a buggy, a four wheeled vehicle pulled by two horses, in our shed as I was growing up, but I do not remember it being used. I was told of a trip to Tamworth in it, when a swingletree broke going out of Warrah Creek on the way which delayed the journey a little.

 

I had a grey pony called Joan from quite an early age. I was given every opportunity to learn to ride but I was a slow learner and not very daring with horses at that age, or any other age for that matter, and by the time I had to start school I was not proficient enough to be sent off that distance on my own.

 

When I began attending the Warrah Creek school early in 1923, I began by walking the distance of about two miles. However, I did not walk much as the Jethro Palmers' school children travelled in a sulky and regularly picked me up. There were four Palmers in the sulky in those days. They could all sit on the seat, then after picking up Stewart Hindmarsh and me, both of us kneeling on the floor, there was quite a load. I travelled this way until about the middle of 1924 when I could ride well enough to set off on my pony.

 

Mr first teacher was Mr A.O. Lane who taught well over thirty pupils atttending the school. I went to this school until the end of 1929 when I left and attended T.A.S.(the Church of England boys' boarding school in Armidale) for a short period. During my time at the local school, there were three teachers: Mr Lane until July 1924, Mr W.T. Beck until March, 1929 and then Mr W. Swan. The names of pupils that come to mind during those seven years include:- Palmer, Barwick, Fitzpatrick, Grady, Gardiner, Martin, Holmes, Carter, Smith, Kingston, Morrison, Swain, Hall, Hull, Graham, Clay, Gore, Saunders, Knee and Campbell. The Campbells came from Warrah for a time, four in a sulky, and one thing which has stuck in my mind was the difference in the way their lunch was packed to mine. My lunch was always neatly packed in grease-proof paper (no Glad-Wrap in those days) to keep it as fresh and attractive as possible. The Campbells' food for the four was all pushed into a biscuit tin, which was not always even fly proof. It had no wrapping and each one grabbed for what they could find. This evidently did not appeal to me as I still remember it very clearly after nearly sixty years.

 

I do not remember Sheila's birth but do remember being at "Burnside", the home of Aunty Lucy Brecht (Mother's sister) the morning after Lucas was born on 6th December, 1923. This home was eleven miles from Scone on the road to Kars Springs and also to both Sparkes and Kiernan's Creeks. I have memories of visiting there many times from earliest memory until Aunty and her daughter, Marie, and son, Ernest, moved to what was Gardiner's property on Warrah Creek in 1929.

 

The first painful mishap I ever had was to break my left arm by falling off my pony near the "Strathleigh" gate when she shied at a piece of paper which was being blown about by the wind. This was on 9th June, 1924, a school holiday, and I was on my way to "Quondah" for the day. Being unable to climb back on the pony, I walked home leading her and put in a very uncomfortable four days before my parents decided to take me to Dr Gray in Quirindi. It was rather painful having the bone in my arm put back in place after that length of time too.

 

Brian Seymour, whose mother was my mother's sister, Emily (died 26th January, 1905), came to live with us, I think in 1924. He had previously lived at "Sunny Hills" (now owned by Terry Fitzpatrick) in the Upper Dartbrook area. He worked for us for a number of years until he bought a property on Millers Creek about 1929.

 

The big change from horse-drawn vehicles to motor transport began in this area in 1924. Uncle Ivan took delivery of a 4 cylinder Chevrolet in March, in which he took our family to the Quirindi Show during the same month. It rained during the day and as it was thought the roads here may have been too wet for the car to negotiate, we stayed the night with Uncle Len and Aunt Bessie at their home about a mile north of the town, where Eddie and Jessie Radcliffe now live.

 

The next car to come was a T model Ford which my father bought within a month or two. This one was much improved on the car he had in 1917. This one had a battery, so had a self-starter as well as battery ignition and was much more reliable. The next car, if I remember correctly, was a similar T Ford purchased by Uncle Ern of "Burnside" late in the same year. These two cars were identical, a dingy rusty brown colour with black mudguards or fenders. All cars at this stage whatever the colour had black mudguards. These Fords had a Planetary gear system which gave only two forward speeds, but these later ones had an optional extra of a two speed differential, called a Ruxtle Axle, which gave them two more gears, second and an extra low. These two cars were named "Lizzy" (ours) and "Betty" (Quondah).

 

A telephone line was erected between Willow Tree and the Warrah Creek Post Office in the early 1920s, when a Public Phone was out there enabling local people to make quicker contact with the outside world.

 

In 1924, the Post Office became a Telephone Exchange as well and on 16th June nine local subscribers were connected. Many more subscribers were connected over the next few years. This Exchange was run by Marie and Dette Meredith for many years. Marie carried on quite a long time after Dette married. Later on, Elizabeth (Jim and Beryl Meredith's daughter), now Gallagher, was telephonist assisted by others from time to time.

 

There was a change of schoolteacher in July, 1924, when Mr W.T. Beck replaced Mr A.O. Lane.

 

Beryl Barwick, second daughter of Fred Barwick of "The Hawthornes", Sparkes Creek, had a while with us helping Mother while Lucas was a baby, having her sixteenth birthday on the 10th March, 1924, while at our place.

 

Early in 1925 I had a holiday in Newcastle again at "The Beaches", this time with Aunty Susan, Edgar and Aunty Alice and her daughter, Olive, of Bunnan. I remember having the toothache while there and having the tooth taken out. I also remember being a little disappointed when one Sunday I suggested we go to the park to hear the Brass Band playing and no-one was interested. Listening to the Band had been one of the things we did when in Newcastle with my parents a few years before and something to this day I still enjoy.

 

Another car came to the Creek about this time. Tom and Annie Barwick of "Strathleigh" bought themselves a six-cylinder Buick. This caused quite a lot of comment as of course it was bigger and more expensive than the Ford and Chevs around. Tom tried to learn to drive but gave it away after having a bit of a mishap, so Annie was the driver until she got too old. Tom was the hand brake expert and saved many a gate getting a nudge when, if Annie thought she could not stop in time, would say "We are going straight through, Thomas", and he would apply the handbrake. It must have been a better brake than some of the later ones I have known!

 

Very few people other than Annie were ever allowed to drive the Buick, because the gears were opposite to a standard gear box and she was quite sure anyone else would start in top gear and then change into reverse. Alan Barwick was about the only exception to this rule.

 

On 31st July, 1925, the Cemetery at Sparkes Creek was consecrated by Dr Stephen, Lord bishop of Newcastle. This is where my Great- Grandparents, James and Mary Barwick, are buried. I remember being there and carrying my mother's camera around, but at the age of nine, I was not using it. There are a few photographs around of the occasion and of the picnic lunch held that day, and it is amusing to see the old cars with their high hoods. I remember seeing the Bishop, who had changed at "The Hawthornes", complete in his robes and carrying his Staff, walking over the paddock and across the creek to the newly fenced in graveyard some three hundred yards away. I also remember Uncle Ern suggesting quietly that someone should offer to carry his Staff for him.

 

It was about this time that I was taken by my parents to John F. Drew, a dentist in Scone. He discovered that my bottom jaw was protruding a little, and some of my bottom teeth were outside the top teeth. He prescribed and made a contrivance out of some hard material, which I wore on my bottom teeth for some months, which I think did some good. However, a year or so later, having toothache, I went to a dentist, Percy Kemp, who visited Willow Tree once a week, and he decided my teeth were too crowded, so removed two perfectly good permanent teeth to make room for the rest. This idea may have been sound, but he took an eye tooth which let my mouth go a little crooked and for the last sixty years my bottom jaw has been gradually moving a little more to one side. So much for dental care in those days.

 

From 1925 onwards, motor cars were becoming more popular and quite a few came to the area. Charles Barwick had a Chevrolet, Dave Grady and "Old Mick" Fitzpatrick had Overlands and J.B. Holmes had a Rugby, which according to him was the "noisiest b.. car on the road". These were all four-cylinder models, Later on "Young Mick" Fitzpatrick and Merediths bought six-cylinder Pontiacs.

 

During 1926 or 1927 I went to Newcastle for a holiday with my Aunty Lu Brecht (Mother's sister) and on this occasion we travelled by bus from Scone and stayed with Mr and Mrs Jim Blanch at Wickham. This bus was a new venture and ran from Newcastle to Tamworth and back again on alternate days. A one way trip that distance was quite a big one in those days of rough, gravel roads which were not made for fast motor traffic and were very hard on tyres. If my memory serves me correctly, the bus was a Faegol, and I do not remember the service operating for very long.

 

My mother had a piano from my earliest recollection and I can still remember hearing Christmas hymns and carols being sung while she played it when some of the local people would gather for the occasion.

I particularly remember Les Barwick, who had quite a good voice, singing "O come All Ye Faithful" and "Our Grandfather's Clock".

 

I was a little interested in the piano when eleven or twelve, so it was arranged for me to take lessons with Marie Meredith. For a few years I went regularly a couple of times a week, across the road from school, to receive tuition. I did learn to play a little, but unfortunately I did not stick to practising as much as I should have and eventually gave it up. I have often regretted it since, and indeed, once or twice later in life I practised for a while but never got past playing one or two simple tunes.

 

June 1926 saw the transfer of "Benvenue" to Ron Barwick and the property I have lived on since the war, then called "Retreat", from Mr A.A. Hindmarsh to my father. This gave him more country than he had before and the two properties he had were now adjoining, making them easier to manage.

 

In those days travelling picture shows came to the Hall every few months. One I remember very well was run by Harry Gordon and his advertising posters said "North, South, East and West, Gordon's pictures are the best". Before each show he would send some literature to the school advertising his next show, accompanied by two complimentary tickets. This caused quite a lot of excitement and we used to have a ballot to determine the lucky pupils on that occasion, and of course we would put the posters on appropriate trees in the area and distribute the other literature as widely as possible. This was in Mr Beck's time but our enthusiasm was dampened considerably after Mr Swan came as teacher in March, 1929, as he would have nothing to do with it at all.

 

In 1927, I passed the Examination which marked the completion of primary school education, in those days called the "Permit to Enrol". Some years previously it had been called the Q.C. (Qualifying Certificate) and later on was the Primary Final. I had only been going to school five years but had got through the six classes by missing third class altogether. I also sat for the High School Entrance Examination but failed. In those days the closest High Schools were Tamworth or Maitland, so would probably would not have been attending another school had I passed. Staying on at the local school two more years, Jack Smith and I put in time doing 7th and 8th class Correspondence School lessons which were in no way supervised nor sent away for correction so really those two years were more or less wasted.

 

During the summer we were usually taken for a swim once a week in the creek in Carters where there were some quite good holes. It was during these visits to the creek as well as going swimming with Brian Seymour, who still lived with us, that I learnt to swim.

 

Mentioning Jack Smith just now reminded me of the close association I had with him during those school years and later when we had adjoining properties for some years. Jack was a good neighbour and quite a funny man, having a dry sense of humour. An incident I remember wa while at school we had all been to a travelling entertainment show at the local hall, when a fellow by the name of Jack Ermakov (or some such name) put on a show of knife and spear throwing. Next day Jack, while wandering aroung the schoolground, found a light wooden pole, seven or eight feet long, and yelling "I am Jack Ermakov" hurled it at the wall of the girls' lavatory. Jack was always a powerful lad and the wall being brittle pine weatherboard, the pole left quite a hole. Jack got into quite a lot of strife naturally, and was made to repair the wall.

 

It was in October, 1927, that I had my first visit to Sydney, something I had wished to do for some years. All from "Quondah", my parents and I went to Sydney on the Brisbane Mail which went through Willow Tree around about daylight. My parents and I boarded it in Scone, having motored to "Burnside" the day before to leave Sheila and Lucas with Aunty Lu (Brecht) while we were away. I do not remember very much of the city as it was then, but recall enjoying a visit to the zoo, and also my first time at the wool sales.

 

My Great-grandfather Fred Barwick had his 80th Birthday on 10th August, 1928, which was celebrated with a party at "Karoona", Sparkes Creek, where he lived with his second wife, Daisy, until late that year or early the next, when they moved to Oxford Road in Scone. At that stage of his life he would have had alive:- three sons, three daughters, ten grandsons, six granddaughters,and four great- grandchildren, and although I cannot be sure, I think they were all present on that day.

 

Three new cars came to the area during this year. Uncle Ivan exchanged his old Chevrolet for a six-cylinder Buick. Father changed from the old T Model Ford to an A Model Ford and Alan Barwick on Dry Creek bought an A Ford also. Our sedan was the first closed car to come to this part of the world and only the second A Ford sedan to be sold this side of Sydney, the other one going to a Mr John Brown at that time "Coal King" of the Newcastle area. We were very proud of our sedan car and it certainly was a great comfort in wet, cold weather compared with the old high hoods and the side curtains which took quite a lot of fitting in place, and then only kept out part of the rain and wind.

 

Late in this year I had my first experience of a camping motor trip, when Uncle Ivan took Father and me on a trip to the coast. We went to Armidale, Kempsey, Hexham and back home via the New England Highway, taking about seven days. Our camp consisted of a a tent fly stretched between the car and a couple of trees or a fence if one was nearby. I do not remember much about the beds, but I know we didn't have camp stretchers. Even allowing for the poor condition of the roads in those days, I have often been amused at the distance we travelled on some days. The first day, for instance, after leaving home mid-morning, we got to Bendemeer the first night, where, owing to it being wet, we stayed at the hotel. The next night was spent somewhere at the foot of the way to Kempsey. We had a night at Old Bar, where there was practically nothing and no-one else around. I recall having a swim in the surf early in the morning in the nude - I know this is done at some beaches nowadays but would have been unheard of in public fifty-seven years ago. We spent two nights in Port Macquarie and one just south of Ravensworth, where night overtook us on the way home. I have often come past that same spot at about eleven or midnight and been amused at the thought that it was then too far to come home after dark.

 

I spent about a month at "Burnside" during the Christmas school holidays, 1928. This was to be the last of many holidays I had spent there because Aunty Lu and her son, Ern, and daughter, Marie, were to move in 1929. During this holiday, I was kindly picked up and taken on at least four Saturdays by Vernon and Stanley Schytrumpf to cricket matches. These were very happy outings which usuallu ended by having ice-cream sodas at Coroneo's Cafe in Scone after the match. I am amused at the thought of sportsmen nowadays refreshing themselves with ice- cream sodas. One must, of course, remember that in 1929 it was not easy to obtain stronger refreshments at night as the hotel bars closed at six p.m. and there were few, if any, licensed clubs. Towns such as Scone and Quirindi had two or three cafes which stayed open until around mid- night for people needing refreshments and late night snacks after being to the local picture show.

 

On 23rd March this year, Edgar and I rode to Sparkes Creek, probably to "Thornthwaite", as Edgar was to play cricket there with the A.B.C. team. I do not recall whether we rode all the way, or if we came home that night, but in those days and many years afterwards, many of us made a lot of trips over the Range through the Cedar Brush, and sometimes at night, so we could quite easily have done so.

 

During the early part of 1929 my parents had the kitchen of the home remodelled and enlarged. The old small skillion roofed kitchen was pulled down and a room about 17 x 12 feet was erected under a proper roof. The building materials including bricks for a big, new chimney were all carted by one of the first motor lorries around. I took numerous loads as it only had one rear axle and single wheels so probably would not carry any more than two tons. A far cry from the monsters which thunder along the highways today. This lorry was owned by Steve Crouch of Jack's Creek.

 

On 24th June, Mother had a party, which for some reason I was never quite sure, she called a Surprise Party, to which eighty four people came. This was to celebrate the completion of her new kitchen, of which the biggest attraction was the tiled surrounds of the new set- in fuel stove. There was nothing like it in the surrounding area then and to my surprise, even though the old home has been completely remodelled over the last few years, the tiles are still there although the old wood stove has gone.

 

I was given a birthday party on 7th August - my fourteenth birthday, which I do not remember much about.

 

During this year a tennis court was built at the school and equipment was supplied for us to use and which we appreciated.

 

As mentioned earlier, Brechts moved from their home in the Scone district to Warrrah Creek, purchasing the property previously owned by Gardiners. They called this place "Burnside", which the name of their old home.

 

I left primary school at the end of this school year, and ws booked in to the Armidale School (Church of England Boys Boarding School) to begin the next year.

 

I would like to record here that in spite of all we have heard of the advantages of the new four-term year, which is to come sometime in the future, it is not new, as most of my schooling so far had been done in four term years.

 

Our family had a holiday in Newcastle before Christmas and my parents and I had a day in Sydney, travelling by rail, shopping to buy the clothes and uniforms, etc I needed to take away to school. Mentioning the school uniform reminded me that it provided me with the first long trousers I had ever owned or worn. Owing to the peculiar custom of the time, boys wore short pants and long socks irrespective of the season or weather conditions until eleven or twelve years of age. Then as they progressd in age and size, they were put into those hideous things called knicker-bockers for two or three years before graduating to long trousers. The knicker-bockers extended to just below the knee with a slit which was fastened together with buttons to make the legs snug fitting under the top of long socks. For me these things were an abomination to wear as I, being long legged, had great difficulty in keeping the leg bottoms tucked into the socks.

 

I was now fourteen years old and was fortunate in being able to grow up in a very happy family to which as added a sister and a brother at about four year intervals. During this period the baby girl, whose birth I recorded earlier, had advanced to the same age. This little girl had also been brought up in a very happy family to which had been added two sisters, Esme and Verna, within four years, and a brother, Noel, ten years after Audrey's birth. I had through the years heard of the three little blonde girls living on Kiernan's Creek and I feel sure Mother told me the story of Audrey's and my births at quite an early age, but I do not recall seeing them until about 1927. We only lived seven miles apart, but the Liverpool Range was between us with no direct road - the shortest route being sixty-nine miles - there was little chance of contact until we could ride. I have no doubt I would have seen the Ashford family at church at "Thornthwaite" or at the nearby cricket ground (where their father, Cyril, would have played as a member of the A.B.C. cricket team) while holidaying at "Burnside". However at that age blondes would not have made the lasting impression on me that one of them was destined to make later in life.

 

My recollection is a bit vague, but I think it was about 1927 that our family went to Kiernan's Creek for my parents to visit their Uncle Sam and Aunt Harriett Ashford at "Sunny Vale" and their daughter, Mabel, who lived with them. The "Lemon Grove" home was just across the creek from there, and what I do remember most of all about the visit was, while having a game of rounders near the house, my father, running after the ball, tripped over a wire in a broken down fence surrounding the home. I recall how upset May, the girls' mother, was over the incident but I do not have much recollection of the girls themselves. Within a day or so of the visit to Kiernan's Creek, I was there again, this time on horseback, having ridden over the hill from Sparkes Creek on an errand for Ern Brecht. He and I had ridden from "Burnside" early in the morning to take cattle for Uncle Henry Ashford from his property "Mt. Kent" to his other property "Hedingly" on the Middlebrook. The errand was to get a Travelling Stock Permit from Cyril Ashford. As I approached "Lemon Grove", I remember seeing the girls and their Aunt Mabel near the "Sunny Vale" house, having a game with old horseshoes.

 

It was on one of the trips to cricket with the Schytrumpfs in 1929 that I remember seeing any of the Ashford sisters individually. On this occasion we were in Muswellbrook and I recall playing catches with Esme, with a small lump of coal we picked up somewhere near where the cars were parked. No doubt Audrey and Verna were there that day, but I cannot picture them.

 

Through the years after purchasing "Elmsford", our family went there for a week or so during school holidays. While there in January, 1930, I rode my horse to Wingen for a short visit to the Wood family. Instead of riding through Scone, the trip can be shortened considerably by going through the scrub from "Yarrandi" to Middlebrook, thence to Dry Creek and onto the New England Highway midway between Parkville and Wingen. On my return, I was accompanied by my cousin, Eric Wood, who, by the way, was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Sydney in 1973. We ran into a terrific storm and downpour near "Yarrandi", and sheltered under the bridge over the Dartbrook for some time. When the storm passed, we proceeded on our journey, but were held up for some time again by a raging torrent in Sandy Gully, which crosses the road at "Oakley", the home of Arthur and Mary Newling. This home will again be mentioned briefly later on. When Grandfather Fred and Daisy moved to Oxford Road, Scone in late 1928 or early 1929, Cyril Ashford bought "Karoona" and occasionally he and his family moved in there for a few weeks. This practice came to an end when, in 1932, Cyril's sister, Dora, and her husband, Bert Pring, and sons Arthur, Harry, Ron and Desmond moved there from Sydney. I remember on occasions hearing that the Ashfords were at "Karoona" and wishing that one of our sojourns at "Elmsford" - the two homes were only half a mile apart - would co-incide, so as to have an opportunity of getting better acquainted, but this did not ever happen.

 

I do recall, however, calling there once or twice for a short time when riding past. Late one very hot afternoon, Ern Brecht and I called for a drink on our return from Redgate Reserve (eleven miles from Scone) where we had taken a mob of cattle from the Warrah Creek area. On another occasion I remember having a look at one of the girl's school lessons (Esme's I think) as she was doing them. The whole of their education was done by correspondence and having worked from Correspondence papers for a couple of years was interested in her work.

 

On 4th February, 1930, I was taken to Armidale, and I remember being most unhappy at being left in a boarding school, not knowing anyone there at all. I have often heard people say that their school days were the happiest of their lives, but this was not so in my case. I look back still and remember them amongst my unhappiest times. I was always of a shy and retiring nature, and it was hard for me to start off a new life away from home. I did not achieve much academically. Latin, for some unknown reason, was my best subject. My performance in most other subjects was mediocre with Algebra being something I never did understand or see the point of. I did not get very far at sport either. Cricket and football (Rugby union) were the two compulsory sports. I did play about three football matches, but hated it, and at cricket, I was only good enough to gain a place in a team on two or three occasions. Having played a little bit of tennis at Primary School, I was much more interested in it than the other sports, but it was not considered important, and the few of us who played were left to our own devices and not given any assistance.

 

I was in the cadets and quite enjoyed the training sessions, and on a few occasions was taken to the Rifle Range where we had target shooting using the well-known Lee Enfield 303 army rifle, a weapon with which I became more familiar later in life. A highlight of my career in the Cadets was to be in a Platoon which marched to the Armidale Railway Station to form a guard of honour for the N.S.W. Governor, Sir Phillip Game, when he arrived by train.

 

We were given Bush Leave on Sunday afternoons which meant we could go anywhere we liked outside the town boundaries either walking or by pushbike (if one owned one or could borow one). Occasionally two or three of us would buy a loaf of bread and some butter when in town on Saturday mornings, so that after making a fire on Sunday leave, we could have hot toast with lashings of butter.

 

I was confirmed sometime during 1930 in the School Chapel by the Bishop of Armidale, Right Reverend John S. Moyes. This reminds me - he had three sons attending T.A.S. while I was there and naturally they were known of as Bish 1, Bish 2 and Bish 3 according to their age. By Easter, 1931, I had become quite friendly with Keith Taylor, whose parents invited me to have the Easter week-end at their home "Terrible Vale" at Kentucky.

 

My parents conveyed me by car to and from Armidale at the beginning and end of most terms. I only travelled by train on a couple of occasions. In those days of rough roads and much slower motor-cars, the two hundred and sixty mile round trip was quite a big day.

 

As incomes were dropping in 1931, (the depression was not far away) it was decided that I would leave school at the end of first term. My formal education, therefore, finished on 14th May that year and I came home to settle down on the property. I think my parents had my health in mind when deciding to send me to Armidale, thinking that a change to the New England climate may be beneficial, and I guess I should be grateful for what they did, but I have always felt the time was wasted for the little benefit I gained. I had always been interest in doing things with my hands, whether it be with timber or tin or small mechanical things, so felt that a technical type of education would have helped me more.

 

The house on "Retreat" had been converted into a shearing shed earlier that year, and the first shearing in it was to begin in August. As there was no wool table, my first job was to build one. The timber provided for this job was from old buildings which had been dismantled at "Elmsford". It was mainly a soft wood, known of locally as yellow- wood and had been originally cut with pit-saws in the Cedar Brush at the head of Sparkes Creek. This old timber was a delight to work with and the wool table is still in use in the shed some fifty-four years later.

 

The first team in the newly converted woolshed comprised of Alan Barwick and Ern Brecht (who shore left-handed) with my father and I doing the shed work. I was, of course, inexperienced, but was interested in wool, which has been my main interest during the whole of my life on the land. Soon after that first shearing was finished, I was offered , and accepted, a job of shed hand for Les Barwick at "Towarri". There I did the pressing, mustering and penning up etc and earned a bit of pocket money for myself for the first time. For many years to come, shed work at shearing time proved to be a very valuable source of income to me.

 

While at "Elmsford" during the school holidays early this year, I met up with the Ashford girls again and rode with them a mile or so as they drove sheep from one property to another. However, my first very real recollection of Audrey began later this year at a party at "Oakley" (previously mentioned).

 

Fred Barwick, his sister, Agnes, and his daughters, Kathleen and Beryl ("The Hawthornes") invited me to have a night with them and took me to the party which consisted of dancing and ping-pong. I recall playing Cyril Ashford ping-pong and being beaten. As I was very inexperienced at dancing at this stage, and lacking confidence, I could not pluck up enough courage to ask his eldest daughter for a dance. I remember being attracted by her smiles and consoling myself that perhaps some day I might be able to dance well enough and have enough confidence to get to know her better.

 

We had quite a lot of January, 1932, at "Elmsford". Like quite a few of the old homes in that area it was built in two sections. The older part of six rooms was built of split slabs with a wooden shingle roof. The newer part, a kitchen, dining room and two or three smaller rooms, was in quite good repair. The old portion was in bad shape and not very weather-proof, so it was decided to pull it down and build just one big room near the kitchen. Uncles Len and George were there with us as builders for the job. I was fortunate that the day we were moving back home again was the day that the A.B.C. cricket team was to play the Warrah Creek team at Warrah Creek. Cyril Ashford was in the team and he and his daughters were riding with us via Sparkes Creek to the Warrah Creek cricket ground and so I, riding home, was able to accompany them.

 

I had been at home for about nine months now and was finding life interesting. I was not a born stockman as some of my relations were. All sheep looked a bit alike to me and I did get criticized occasionally for not being able to pick out certain sheep from a mob.I was in strife sometimes also for not knowing the milking cow's calf if it happened to get through a fence with some others. I was more interested in timber work and construction of fences and yards and had my first experience of fencing when assisting Uncle Len renew the fence between our properties.

 

On 11th and 12th March, 1932, the first Scone Bushmans' Carnival was held and Ern Brecht and I rode to Scone the day before to attend it, staying at "Gertona", the home of our Aunt and Uncle, Gertrude and Alf Barwick, in Oxford Road.

 

I rode to Kiernan's Creek early on the morning of 31st March and joined a party, led by Cyril Ashford, that walked to the top of the Range, then west to the Brush at the head of Warrah Creek, where we had lunch. Afterwards we went back over the top and to Train Rock. I have rather a vague memory of the walk, but know it was worth it. I had the night after-wards at "Lemon Grove", a very pleasant evening with the crowd singing songs. This was the first overnight visit of the many which I was to make in the years to come.

 

In May, I travelled by train to pay a visit to the Wood family, who in the last year or so, had moved from Wingen to Byamee, eight miles west of Tamworth. I returned by car with Ron and Edgar Barwick who had been to Nicholls at Moore Creek.

 

As there were a few jobs I could do on "Elmsford", such as cutting noxious weeds, it was arranged for me to live at "The Hawthornes" on such occasions to save me batching. When I was there in July, there was a very heavy snowfall and, as Everard Ashford was there at the same time, we decided to walk to the top of Tinagroo to see it. Even though I had spent the winter in Armidale in 1930, this was the first time I had seen snow, and although it was a long walk, it was well worth it. I still have photos of it which Everard took.

 

Although I had been driving the A Model Ford for quite a few years, even on the main roads sometimes when well away from towns, the 19th August was a very big day for me. I passed a very simple driving test and was given my Driver's Licence in Quirindi.

 

Father bought a stallion called "Medlow" in July, 1932, from Mr H.R.Carter and we bred a few good saddle horses by him from some of the mares we had. Ern Brecht and I rode to Bunnan staying two nights and bringing back a few mares about this time. I remember two things about the trip:- one was eating oranges we picked at "The Hawthornes" and the other was when we crossed from Sparkes Creek to Kiernan's Creek we caught up with the Ashford sisters riding for the mail.

The tennis courts at "Lemongrove", Keirnans Creek.

1932 - 1942 - The Depression Years

 

I had about a week in Newcastle just after Christmas, travelling in an Essex with Eddie Radcliffe of Quirindi, who took Edgar Barwick and Gordon Elsley also. These three were playing Country Week cricket, and I was fortunate enough to be able to go with them. I had ten pounds to spend on tools while I was there which built up my collection quite a lot, many of which I still have. As this was the bad year of the Depression, I have wondered since how there came to be that much money available for me to spend.

 

Mentioning the depression reminds me that the wool cheque that year for fifty-six bales of wool amounted to four hundred and nineteen pounds ($838.00). Quite a contrast to the bale I sold in 1984 for $1568.00! As a further contrast to present day conditions, it took Clarrie Saunders four trips in his lorry to convey those bales to Willow Tree.

 

It was during this year of 1932 that I learnt to dance by attending dances at the local hall. In those days there were numerous socials held at Warrah Creek and also at Jack's Creek and Willow Tree. Besides the regular annual events, such as the Manchester Unity Ball, the New Year's Eve dance and a big dance after the Easter Monday sports (held across the creek in Meredith's paddock) there were other fund- raising functions for the Tennis Club, Cricket Club etc. I organised and ran quite a big dance night during the late 1930s for the Hospital and Ambulance.

 

It was quite common for a crowd of young people at a cricket or tennis match to decide to have a dance afterwards without any pre-arranging or advertising. The music on these occasions would be supplied voluntarily by those who could play the piano or accordion. There were not many who could play the piano, but one who comes readily to mind was Marie Meredith.

 

For the bigger functions there were dance bands available from Quirindi. One I remember about the time I was learning to dance was "The Versatile Three", consisting of Ray Forrest (piano), Cec Bingham (violin) and Snowy Long (drums). Another was Harrison's Orchestra with the usual piano, drums, violin and Jack Harrison on accordion. Yet another popular Dance Orchestra was Carpenters, with Joan Carpenter on piano, Ron Carpenter on saxaphone and Jim Carpenter playing the drums. Joan is a very talented pianist and still plays at social functions around Quirindi.

 

Before there was a supper room at the local hall, supper was eaten where the crowd sat, around the walls and the following procedure was adopted:- firstly the cups would be brought around in a clothes basket, each person taking one as it went past. Then followed someone with a huge teapot filling the cups, someone else with milk, sugar and others with a seemingly endless supply of sandwiches, scones and cakes. I learnt through the years to be a little wary of lamingtons. As good as country cooks were, there was always an odd failure, which ended up disguised as lamingtons.

 

I was at Les Barwick's for his shearing again this year, during which he entrusted me with his car, an Ajax (Nash), a couple of weeks after I got my licence to go to Willow Tree to meet the train to get a visitor who came to "Towarri".

 

Heather Berman (who later married Fred Goddard) was at Brechts' for a holiday in December, 1932, and on getting to know her quite well, I was invited to the Berman home, "Mongeham", in Lane Cove, in future years.

 

There were some roller skates around and a few of the younger people learnt to skate, mainly on the verandah at home and sometimes in the "Cedar Vale" and "Strathleigh" woolsheds.

 

During April of 1933, Uncle Len, his wife Bessie and daughters Betty and Pamela came to live at "Cedar Vale" after having lived in Quirindi for a few years. Len came to run the property owing to Ivan's ill-health. Betty married Bob Mitchell of Armidale and died many years ago, and Pam is Mrs Calvin Phillips and lives at Narracorte in South Australia.

 

Early in 1933, Father and Uncle Len went to Sparkes Creek to put a lane through "Elmsford". Edgar Barwick was also with them for a week. In those days there were a lot of big mobs of cattle travelling south along the Warrah Creek road, through the Cedar Brush and down Sparkes Creek, and the lane was to keep the cattle confined to the road. As the little property was unattended, the travelling mobs had previously been allowed to wander over quite an area of it.

 

I was not taken on the fencing job as I had to stay at home to milk the cows and cut the firewood. Much of the milk was put through the hand-turned separator to get cream to make butter. This was something which was done on most country properties up until a few years ago and something I did regularly until about 1984. The firewood cutting was a constant and time-consuming job. Each piece, whether large or small, was chopped off with an axe, there being no chainsaws until about 1950, and we didn't have a circular saw until about that time also.

 

Addie, Uncle George's eldest daughter, who, in 1941 married Dick Winnett, came to live with us about this time. She was our home help and stayed for just over three years.

 

I now commenced making a tennis court quite near the creek and about two hundred yards south of the home. It was completed with a nine-foot netting fence right around it in time to play on late in the winter. Amongst those who played were Len, Bessie and Betty Barwick, Ern Brecht, Betty Grady and her cousin, Marie Hart, who lived with the Gradys. Besides playing amongst ourselves, we played some matches against the Warrah Creek club's B Grade team.

 

Mentioning a tennis court reminds me that the first court I ever remember (when I was not much more than a toddler) was at "Merrieton". The most used and longest standing private court was on "Boolawa", but was maintained by the "Quondah" fellows until well after the war. There were other tennis courts in the area for shorter periods, at Merediths, Holmes, "Cedar Vale", Knees and Palmers, who had one for a while on the Warrrah Highlands.

 

According to records, house parties seemed to be the "in thing" during the second half of 1933. On 4th August I was given an eighteenth birthday party, about which I can remember absolutely nothing. On 20th October, quite a number of us attended a Surprise Party at Quondah in honour of Ron's birthday. On 1st November, there was a party at "Cedar Vale", on quite a wet night. The next party was at home on 23rd November, and I remember Audrey and Esme Ashford being there with Ernest, Susan and the rest from "Quandah".

 

For quite a number of years, Ern Brecht shod Cyril Ashford's horses for him. The girls, either two or three of them, would ride the horses to "Burnside" to have the job done. On this occasion, Audrey and Esme visited "Quondah" for a couple of nights to play some tennis during the day and to enable them to be at our party that night, and a Ball in Willow Tree the following night.

 

The parties I mentioned consisted of a little dancing to an accordion or gramaphone, some games and plenty to eat and drink, but I would emphasize that the drinks were soft - no alcohol those days at our parties.

 

During November I accompanied Edgar by car (A Model Ford) to Kiernan's Creek to bring Mabel and Averil Ashford back to Quondah. The day was very wet, and there were not many bridges over the streams. We crossed sixteen streams that day and eight were running high enough for the water to come in under the back doors of the car.

 

All-night dances were common for a while. Instead of finishing at about 2 a.m. some went on until around 4.30. I recall Ern Brecht saying how silly he felt returning home one morning around 5 a.m. in his good clothes and encountering Foster Carter in his working clothes rounding up his cows for milking.

 

I went to Sydney in December, motoring down with Charlie Ashford in his Essex Challenger, and staying at "Mongeham". This was the first time I had been to the city since the completion of the Harbour Bridge, opened 19th March, 1932.

 

By the beginning of 1934, I had been at home for two and a half years, and was finding the life interesting, and learning quite a lot about work on the property, including stock management. Besides building and any sort of construction work, I was interested in engines and anything mechanical, and considered taking a Correspondence Course in Motor Mechanics. However, as there was not much spare cash around, my father thought it an unnecessary expense.

 

Up until now, there would have been only about ten acres of cultivation on the whole property, so in the next year or so, we cleared and ploughed forty or fifty acres of "Retreat" This country was fairly stony, but we made use of it growing oats for grazing. This meant getting a bigger plough and a small seed drill. These were pulled by four or six draught horses. Small by present day standards!

 

I worked at home now, and for some years to come, for food and some of my clothes, with no thought of a weekly wage. My only income in cash was doing casual work for someone else on a daily or weekly basis occasionally. Of course there was no chance of owning my own transport. However, I must say, I could have the family car for a few special occasions.

 

Sheila, my sister, commenced school at the Tamworth Church of England Girls'School (now Calrossy) at the beginning of 1934, and attended there for three years.

 

In March a "Back to Scone" Week was held to celebrate the Centenary of the Scone Hospital. Quite a few Barwicks from this area were there for some of the festivities and Rodeo etc, and for the Ball on 9th where twenty-two debutantes, including Betty, were presented to Sir Phillip and Lady Game. This was the third Rodeo I had been to in Scone and it was at one of these that I lost a suitcase full of clothes and overnight things.

 

Having never seen a sawmill in operation, I was delighted to get an invitation to "Silvermere", the home of Fred Ashford near the foot of Owen's Gap, to see their mill working. Fred and his two eldest sons, Everard and Derek, operated a small steam engine driven outfit where they cut iron-bark and pine. I had a very interesting couple of days watching Everard and Fred at the bench and Derek attending to his old single-cylinder steam engine. I rode to "Silvermere" and back, of course. It must have been summer because I recall us going for a swim in the Dartbrook after a day's work.

 

Although there were some radio receivers in the area, we did not have one until 1934. This I obtained by buying a kit, which was available at a much cheaper cost than a complete one. Eric Wood, who had been dabbling in radio for some years, put it together for me. I built the cabinet for it.

 

Early in June the Ashford sisters, on one of their horse-shoeing trips, stayed overnight at home and Audrey agreed to come back on 19th to go to a Ball with me in Quirindi. This was one of the special occasions I was able to have the family car and one I remember quite vividly. The Balls in those days were rather grand - no liquor or smoking allowed in the hall, and the suppers were "sit-down" in a separate supper-room. What feeds we had!-poultry, salads, trifles, fruit salads etc. Audrey must have enjoyed the Ball because she agreed to another on August 4th.

 

On many occasions, when travelling home, we would have to wait at railway crossings for the gates to be opened. It is hard to believe now that the gates were quite often shut and locked at night, even across the Highway at Willow Tree. The delay occurred while someone walked from the station to open them. At the crossing between Quirindi and Willow Tree (now replaced by an overhead bridge), a building about six feet square was provided to shelter the boy in charge of the gates, and, if he was asleep, a stone tossed on its roof would usually get him out.

 

At those two Balls, Audrey and I discovered we each had a love of the old-time waltz and its music, and for the next forty years, it was our special dance.

 

I was employed at "Daffodil" this year at shearing time, and, although interested in wool, was still very inexperienced. A few days working on the wool-table under Charlie Ashford's supervision did me a lot of good. I learnt much from him and I think I have been more particular in skirting wool ever since.

 

I bought my first motor-car later this year, a T Model Ford from Teddy Sevil on Little Jack's Creek, for fifteen pounds ($30.00). This car was ten years old and badly worn in lots of places, but with care and attention, I used it for years. Later, after converting it to a utility, I did a lot more hard work with it. It was christened "Ricketty Kate" by some of my cousins, but was shortened to "Kate".

 

The family car was changed late in the year from the A Model ford to a 1934 V8 Ford Sedan. This was a big heavy (and tail-heavy) car, but had a remarkable amount of power compared with the earlier four-cylinder models. It also had a remarkable thirst for fuel! Although I now had a car, I still had to rely on borrowing the family car for special occasions, as "Kate" with her old high worn-out hood and no side-curtains was not the thing in which to go out on a frosty winter's night.

 

By 1935, I was into my fourth year at home after leaving school and was taking my place at most jobs on the property. Haymaking comes to mind, being a hot, dry, dusty job. There were no pick-up balers or any other type of baler then. The hay was handled, after raking, with pitch-forks, loaded onto a horse-drawn dray or wagon, then unloaded into the shed or onto a stack, all with forks. Unloading onto an outside stack was not so bad, but working close to the hot roof in a nearly full shed was a very unpleasant and dusty job.

 

There were some jobs on the farm at which I didn't ever become very proficient. One was shearing. I could shear quite well, but very slowly. One other job, much to my father's disgust, was shoeing horses. I tried to learn, but didn't ever get the hang of it. I must admit I was never very enthusiastic about doing it.

 

I have a record of where Edgar Barwick and I went to Newcastle and back by train on 28th January this year. Occasionally on a Sunday during the summers in the mid-1930s a train would be run from Werris Creek to Newcastle and return, called a "Surf Train". Many young people took advantage of being able to spend a day on he beach and in the surf. We enjoyed it, even if only travelling in old crowded "dog-box" carriages, and returned tired and sunburnt.

 

I went to quite a number of Balls in 1935, including some in Murrurundi as well as Quirindi and Willow Tree. As most of the men wore dinner-suits, and a few had "white tie and tails", I had by now been able to set myself up with a Dinner Suit so did not feel out of place at these functions.

 

The first ball of the year was the Rodeo Ball in Scone on 8th March and our party consisted of Audrey, Esme, Verna and Everard Ashford and Edgar Barwick and myself.

 

Later in March, I had a few days in Sydney at Mongeham. On 11th June, the same party as mentioned earlier attended the Anglican Ball in Quirindi. On this occasion Everard brought the girls to Warrah Creek by car. On previous occasions, the girls had ridden over the Range, carrying the evening clothes on horse-back.

 

Heather Berman and her friend, Bess Coleman, were at "Burnside" in July. The reason I mention this is that Edgar became friends with Bess, and consequently he and I were invited to her 21st birthday party in Sydney on 25th October. We attended the party, travelling in Alan's 8 H.P. Ford to Mongeham, where we stayed a few days. We enjoyed the party, but being a couple of boys from the "Bush", were a bit like "fish out of water" amongst the more sophisticated city people.

Edgar on left, and Arthur, in Sydney in October 1935, attending Bess Colemans 21st. They were both way over six feet tall, so despite what Arthur says, these two country lads would have made an impression in the big big city I'm sure?

I have recently come across a letter amongst some Audrey had kept all these years, which I wrote to her from Sydney on 31st October arranging a Brush picnic. We usually had a picnic in the Brush each year when a crowd of young people, and not so young, from each side of the Range would meet at the old "Picnic Tree" (actually a big stinging tree) on the southern edge. The billies would be boiled, a big feed would be consumed, and then someone would produce a tennis ball. Sides would be picked and a very rowdy game of "keep the ball away" would be played. Usually sometime during the day, an exploratory ramble through the brush would be had, often led by Derek Ashford, who had quite a good knowledge of the area. He, no doubt, learnt when, in 1929, his parents, Fred and Daisy, his sister, Daphne, and brothers, Everard, Adrian and Raymond, and himself camped there for a while fencing for Fred's Uncle Henry Ashford. I recall riding through the Brush one day, and taking shelter in the Ashford camp during a storm. Raymond remembers the problem they had keeping the opossums from getting their bread.

 

The year finished with a New Year's Eve dance at the Warrah Creek Hall. The Cyril Ashford family came to "Quondah" that day for a big day's tennis, and Audrey and Esme stayed to the dance and walked, from the foot of the Range, home the next day. The three girls and Dette Meredith were practising and preparing to play at the Country Week Tennis Carnival at White City early in January, 1936.

 

I went to Sydney on 8th January, 1936, travelling on a Stock Train. This was something we did in those days as it was a cheap way of travelling. Willow Tree was then a very big stock centre, as practically all the sheep and cattle produced in the district were sent to be sold at Homebush. Three trucks of sheep entitled a person, as a drover to look after them, to a free trip there and return within three days. The journey with the stock was not very comfortable, rattling and jolting along in the dog-box, drover's compartment in the Guardsvan at the end of a long train, but at least it was free.

 

I had previously met and corresponded with (for a little while) a girl from the suburbs, and did see her while I was there this time, but we had little in common and the friendship fell through. I was more interested in finding the tennis players. I did locate them and Ron Barwick who was there too. I enjoyed watching them play and also accompanying them to the zoo and Luna Park in the brief time I was there.

 

This was the first time the sisters had been to Sydney (and, of course, Country Week) so they found plenty to interest them, besides their tennis. It had been a very important part of their lives ever since they could hold a tennis racquet. Audrey was brought up in a sport-loving home - her father played both tennis and cricket. She and Esme used to hit tennis balls to each other with a stick before they had racquets, which may account for their accuracy in later years. Prior to having a court, which their father built in 1929, they marked an ordinary piece of ground to play on, using wire netting for a net. With a court to play on, Audrey became proficient enough to win the B Grade women's singles at a tournament in Scone when only thirteen. She and Esme won the doubles the same day. The next year, the only change in results was Esme taking the singles instead of Audrey. Incidentally, the tournament was not held again. After that, besides much practice at home, Audrey and her sisters played competition in Scone and competed at tournaments at Muswellbrook and Quirindi.

 

In March this year, Edgar and I drove "Kate" to "Lemon Grove" and Cyril Ashford allowed us to take his daughters to the Rodeo ball in his practically new car. Cyril was very proud of his new Ford Sedan and it certainly was an improvement on the old Chevrolet he had before. It moved along so effortlessly compared with the four-cylinder model. One day, when the family were commenting on his getting up to seventy m.p.h. on the way to town, I was amused when I recalled him saying when he had the old one, that twenty-five was plenty fast enough and that cars should be made to blow up if they exceeded that speed.

 

Addie Barwick left our home about April, after being with us for over three years, and we had a Mrs O'Connell come to take her place.

 

Mother had a big operation in Newcastle early in June at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital. As she was to be away for a few weeks, Aunt Evelyn (Father's unmarried sister) came to stay with us also. Mrs O'Connell's stay was really a disaster, as the poor lady could not cook and was dirty herself. The house became filthy after a week or so. This was no wonder when one considers the fact that she used to wash the linoleum on the kitchen floor with the same water that she had already washed the breakfast dishes in. After Mrs O'Connell left, a Miss Connelly came and she was a very distinct contrast to our previous help. Unfortunately, owing to a family crisis at home, she left after only six days. Ivy Palmer came next, in October, and stayed for quite a long time. She has been a friend of the family ever since.

 

During this year (1936), we bought 1187 acres of bull-grass country at the top end of the Warrah Creek valley from Charles Scott, who lived at "Woodlands" on Kiernan's Creek. Mr Scott's middle name was "Ashcroft", so we named the property "Ashcroft". I understand the previous name had been "Cullun Duna", which I was told was the Aboriginal name for Black Snake. This sounds quite appropriate to me as I encountered many black snakes in my wanderings up there in the twenty-one years I owned the place. Red-bellied black snakes are supposed to be usually found near water, but I have come across them right on top of the Range on a summer's day, at least a mile from the nearest water.

 

Soon after buying this property, I built a hut there, using round timber for the frame and corrugated iron for the walls and roof. We split a few rough slabs for the floor. One day while using an adze to shape the timber, it slipped and cut my left leg. As I had ridden to work that day, I had some difficulty in keeping the cut closed to stop the bleeding while I climbed carefully onto my horse and rode home. Ern Brecht took me to Quirindi that night to get Dr Cooper to stitch it for me.

 

There were two weddings in the Brecht family in 1936. Ern married Lucy Lloyd-Owen on 16th May in Sydney, and Marie married Bill Anderson on 8th August at Warrah Creek. Marie had been nursing in Newcastle where she met Bill, and went to Mayfield to live after the wedding. Lucy came from Campsie and was teaching at Murrurundi when Ern met her.

 

Prior to Ern's marriage, I worked at "Burnside" for a few weeks helping him add a room and verandah to the house as part of a "Granny-flat" for his mother to live in. This was quite good experience for me as I was very interested in building, and this was a nice simple job to begin on.

 

Father and I took Mick Fitzpatrick and Jim Meredith to Sydney by car in September to the wool sales. This was the first time I had driven to the city so was very excited about the trip. Most of the wool from around here was sent to Sydney. Although there were some auctions in Newcastle, most growers thought the prices would be better in the bigger centre. However, when the auctions ceased during the war and all wool was appraised, they decided to consign it to Newcastle to save freight. When auctions resumed, they continued to sell there without giving a thought to the fact that they had not trusted Newcastle auctions previously.

 

I had a very enjoyable holiday in December at South West Rocks, camping with Alan Barwick and Ern and Lucy Brecht. This rounded off a very busy year. Alan and I travelled in his "baby" Ford and the Brechts in their A Model Ford.

 

I did not keep a diary, unfortunately, until 1960, so the only record I have of my activities are a few brief notes I made of a few things which I considered important at the time. The two things noted for 1937 were:- taking Audrey to the Scone Rodeo Ball in March when Edgar and I stayed over night at "Gertona", and a trip to Sydney with Uncle Len. My family drove us to Newcastle, and then he and I went from there by rail, on October 24th.

 

Victor Barwick and I had some time at "Ashcroft" camping in the hut I built last year. We erected a subdivision fence through the middle of the property, after felling a number of trees out of which we split posts and battens for the job. We used some steel posts on some of the fence where the country was steeper. We also built a small simple set of sheep yards.

 

Everard and Derek Ashford shore our sheep here that year beginning 30th August. They and I went to a Ball in Willow Tree late that week, and, knowing the Ashford sisters were going by rail to Tamworth that night to a tennis tournament, we went to the station to see them as they went through. On the Sunday of that weekend, Everard, Derek and I went to Tamworth in their Chrysler car to bring the girls home. The girls stayed at our place overnight, and then walked over the Range the next morning after being taken to the foot of the mountain.

 

Over the past few years the New England Highway over the Liverpool Range at Ardglen had been altered and upgraded considerably, and much filling had been used to eliminate the bad bend which is near the top. During the shearing I commented to Derek that the filling looked precarious and could possibly slip away. I still remember the look of amusement on Derek's face when he returned to work after a weekend at home, and he told me the road had fallen in. I would comment here that now, forty-eight years later, we are still driving around that bend where the slip occurred. Admittedly the road has been widened, but the bend is still there.

 

On December 30th, there was a Brush picnic, at which there were twenty-two people from the north side of the Range and twenty-five from the south.

 

I began 1938 by having about a fortnight at South West Rocks again. This time the party consisted of Alan, Edgar, Victor and Cyril Barwick and myself and we travelled in the "Quondah" 1936 Model Ford V8 Utility. We had a big load with all the camp gear and five of us, two having to travel on the back with the gear. This, of course, is illegal nowadays. I remember Uncle Ern looking at the load before we left and telling the drivers, Alan and Edgar, that 40 m.p.h. would be fast enough. This was adhered to for some of the journey, but some of us were amused at the way the speed increased as the day wore on and it was realised that darkness might overtake us before we had the tents pitched.

 

Luke commenced at Tamworth High School at the beginning of the school year, and boarded at the Hostel there.

 

This year, 1938, appears to have been a very busy year, taking in a variety of activities, as well as the usual work on the land. Aunt Evelyn moved into a small new home in Willow Tree and a few of her nephews and brothers fell trees and prepared fence material on "Ashcroft" for a fence around her house. The fence was erected by the same group, who made a good job of it and were feeling quite pleased with ourselves until our aged Uncle Ivan, who could not work then, saw it and commented that it would have been a decent fence had we put barbed wire on the top!

 

All tree felling was done, of course, without the aid of a chain saw. We used an ordinary crosscut saw, and I, having long arms, got sick of using a saw which I considered too short for big trees. I mentioned to two of my uncles, who were experienced in this type of work, that a foot longer would be beneficial. They both scoffed at my idea, saying an extra six inches would be plenty, Still unconvinced, I bought the longer saw (six feet, six inches) which Luke and I enjoyed (if one can enjoy such hard work) using for many years. The saw now hangs in my shed, having been superceded by a chain saw some thirty years ago.

 

During the year, I was a candidate in a "Popular Man" competition being run as a fund-raising campaign for the Anglican Church. There were three other candidates:- Jack Cullen and Tim Gardiner from Quirindi and a Donoghue from the western end of the Parish. Tim Gardiner won it. I came third.

 

I bought another T Model Ford in May from Mr Gurner Firth of Scone. This was a 1926 model, in better condition than the previous one, and was christened "Mabel". I used it for some years, and, after converting it into a utility, was still in use here until 1946. I eventually sold it to Eric Barwick.

 

In November, Victor and our Uncle Len and I did about eleven hundred miles in it on a camping trip, taking in Coonabarabran, Nyngan, Bourke, Moree, Gravesend and Barraba. We had a couple of days at Gravesend with the Ted Barwicks, where Vic was offered a job with the harvesting. He accepted, so did not come home with us. The trip was enjoyable as I had never been in those areas before, and uneventful, apart from a storm we struck just before Byrock. The wind and hail were some of the worst I have seen. The village rubbish tip was carried past us by the wind as we waited wondering when our hood would go. After the storm abated, we drove on into the town to find the church and railway goods shed flattened, numerous fowls getting around with no feathers and the only person we saw, who sold us some petrol, seemed so dazed he hardly knew what he was doing.

 

Skating became popular in Quirindi this year in the old Picture Theatre. This had been the venue for the Balls in town until the Sportsground Pavilion was built. Edgar and I went skating on a few occasions and really enjoyed it, after learning in the confined space of our verandah.

 

While we were away in November my parents bought our first refrigerator, a kerosene burning Electrolux. This was a continuous burning model. There had been a few kerosene refrigerators in the district which were not continuous, but had to be filled and lit each evening, and, after burning for an hour or so, would go out. They then relied on the cold they generated to last until the next evening.

 

Recently, in the middle of a hot summer day, when getting the firm butter out of the electric refrigerator, my mind went back some sixty years when it probably would have been an oily mess on such a day. This set me thinking of the various means our mothers, in the bush, used to keep the butter palatable. Not only butter either - meat, for instance, was mostly corned. In my childhood, the butter was kept in a basin, in a draught, covered with wet rags, which had to be dampened every hour or so. My mother also had a "butter cooler" made of some porous material which absorbed water and was kept wet by standing it in a tray of water. Another method was to cover a biscuit tin with hessian and to hang it in a draught. This was kept wet by having a tin of water above it with a constant drip of water coming out a small hole in the bottom. My wife's mother used to put the butter in a basin in a small spring of clear cool water in the bank of the nearby Kiernan's Creek.

 

The Trafalgar Drip Safe, sometimes known as the Coolgardie Safe, became quite popular during the late 1920s. This was a gauzed-in safe covered with absorbent cloth and kept wet from a container of water on top, with eight small adjustable taps to control the amount of water being let fall onto the cloth. In the 1930s we graduated to an ice chest. In those days there were a number of dairy farms around the area, and a motor lorry, run by Clarrie Saunders and later his brother, Max, went to the Quirindi Butter Factory three times weekly. Ice was brought to us on the return trip, but as the run terminated three miles away, it meant a six-mile trip three times a week plus quite a wait sometimes for our ice. In the very hot weather quite a lot of the ice would be melted by the time we got it. At week-ends, when we went three days without ice, the butter was getting to the oily stage again. Over the past few years Aunty Lu (Brecht) had been baking our bread for us, so about three times weekly we would go to "Burnside" for our bread. Quite often the trip for the ice could be combined with the trip for the bread.

 

I often think of the nice crusty home-made bread and wish I could get some occasionally. While the sliced, plastic wrapped bread is convenient and keeps fresh, it certainly does not taste like bread as we knew it when we were young.

 

Europe was now becoming very unsettled and we read quite a lot in the papers about the doings of the Dictators, Hitler and Mussolini. No-one knew what was going to happen in the future, but we were afraid that war may not be far away, although we fervently hoped that peace would prevail. With this in mind, there was a move to build up the Militia Forces - those units which did some peace-time training and which could be called upom for Home Defence purposes. Cyril Barwick, who at that time worked for Les Barwick on "Towarri", Foster Carter, Dick Winnett and I joined at Quirindi and travelled together to attend night parades and training sessions once a week (or was it fortnighly -I forget now). Occasionally there was a week-end camp. I remember being at both Walhollow and Wallabadah Stations for a couple of nights. Marching and rifle drill were not entirely new to me, as I had done some while in the Cadets at school. We belonged to B company of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, which was made up of troops from New England, Tamworth, Quirindi and Gunnedah.

 

This year (1938) had begun very hot and dry, and continued so dry that the water dried up in Fourmile Creek. This was a serious matter as this was the only stock water supply on "Retreat", on the eastern side of the road. To overcome the problem, we employed Harry Fuller to dig a well in the back paddock. When a supply of water was obtained, the well was equipped with an eight foot Southern Cross windmill, a 3000 gallon tank and a water trough in each of the two main paddocks. This work was carried out by Bill Callaghan, who was then, and for many years afterwards, the plumber in Willow Tree. This water supply proved to be useful during the time I was on the property, as I was able to extend pipelines from there to numerous other smaller paddocks as I fenced them and sowed them to improved pasture.

 

I recall fencing the first of these paddocks during that same hot summer, especially digging the post holes, which, of course, had to be dug by hand as this was before mechanical post hole diggers. However, hard work in the heat did not worry me at that age.

 

The first social engagement I have recorded for 1939 was the Scone Rodeo Ball in March.

 

I had four trips to Sydney during 1939, besides one from Rutherford Army Camp in November. The first was just before Easter, when I took Uncle Ivan to hospital in his 1938 Oldsmobile car. I stayed in Sydney a few days until Uncle began to recover from an operation. I then returned home on Good Friday. Although there was only a small amount of traffic compared with nowadays, it was a very slow trip because there was about a four hour delay at the ferry over the Hawkesbury - this being before there was a traffic bridge across it.

 

In June, a few of us painted the exterior of the Warrah Creek church, and I remember leaving to go to Sydney on a stock train before it was completed.

 

In July I went to Sydney again, this time on a night passenger train, joining Eric Wood, a cousin from Tamworth, who was going to take delivery of a new four ton Maple Leaf (Chevrolet) motor lorry. We drove this back to Tamworth via Port Macquarie where he picked up a load of timber.

 

By this time Hitler was becoming more and more aggressive, and we began to fear that a war was not far away. These fears were proved correct when on 3rd September, Prime Minister Menzies announced that Australia was at war. At this stage, none of us realised just what an impact this was going to have on our lives, nor did we have any idea how long it would be before our lives would return to normal, if, of course, we lived through it.

 

Gloryna Ferris of Bundarra had come to "Quondah" as their home help on 30th October, 1938, and six days later, she and Edgar had become engaged to be married. They were married in Inverell on 28th September, 1939. Victor and I attended the wedding, travelling in "Mabel" via Glen Innes where we camped a night. The night after the wedding we camped near the Ferris home and were kindly invited to have the evening with them. Although I got to know Bob Ferris (Gloryna's father) very well in later years, this was the first time I had met him. He was a fine old man and always a great talker, but I think that night after the excitement of the wedding he really excelled himself.

 

On 4th November, the 33rd Battalion went to Rutherford Army Camp (just north of Maitland) for a month's training, travelling in a special train, which picked us up at Willow Tree to Farley.

 

This was my first experience of a military camp, there being four other Battalions there as well, making over four thousand men packed together on just a few acres of dusty, gritty soil. I did not mind the camp life so much, but some of the conditions were hard to take, two of which stand out in my mind. The first was the crude washing up facilities. This consisted of a small dish of what was originally hot water in which at least thirty men dipped their plates, mugs and cutlery. One does not need much imagination to know what the water was like after thirty sticky, gooey porridge plates and spoons had been though it. Some of us took to rinsing them afterwards under a tap, but this practice was forbidden.

 

The second which stands out in my mind were the toilet facilities. Not a drawing-room topic of conversation, but I think it should be recorded as something some of us have endured. There was no sewerage or septic sanitation, but the crude old pan system. The picture I have in mind is a galvanised iron shed about thirty feet long and eight feet wide, (ten by three metres), with the pans packed in along each side so close together that in a rush period, when all the seats were occupied, there was scarcely elbow-room. There was certainly no privacy, and very little air to breathe either. So much for my first time in an army camp, and when I went home at the end of it, little did I realise that I would have seven months there in 1940.

 

I had another trip to Sydney on 18th November, getting leave from Rutherford to attend Heather Berman's wedding to Fred Goddard.

 

Luke left school in November, as his help was needed at home while I was away for a month. The family car was changed this month when the 1934 Ford was traded in at Firth's garage in Scone for a 1939 Ford V8.

 

Although I was never a horse lover, I had spent quite a lot of time with them during the years since leaving school, both with draught horses and saddle horses. We had increased the farmed area, which I was managing, using until now five horses abreast. This was an unweildy unit, the horses trampling so much of the cultivated ground owing to the width of the team. In January, 1940, I bought a set of tandem chains, which enabled me to work six horses in two rows of three. This made the team narrower by two, and, by using an extra one, made the work a little easier on them all – with less trampling of worked soil.

 

Saddle horses were in constant use then, as there were no Ag motor bikes and no four wheel drive vehicles. We rode horses to work if fencing or doing a job any distance from home. However, the main use of the horse was for sheep and cattle mustering and for droving. Besides taking stock back and forth between the home property and "Elmsford" and "Ashcroft", stock for sale was walked to Scone, or, if being sent to Sydney or Newcastle, walked to the trucking yards in Willow Tree.

 

As on most sheep and cattle properties, dogs played a very important part on our place. We always had six or seven of them. Each person working stock had to have one or two, and there was usually one old one just about worn out and there had to be a young one or two being broken in to take the old one's place. For many years, we had a kangaroo dog (a type of greyhound). His sole job was to catch rabbits or a fox if he happened across one. There were quite a lot of rabbits about, and it was quite a regular thing to take the whole pack of dogs out rabbiting for a few hours. Any that were not caught usually sought safety in a hollow log. On those forays an axe was part of the equipment, to be used to chop a hole in the log to get the rabbit. Occasionally we had to cut two or three holes before the rabbit could be found, but we often had an old, more experienced dog, who, after sniffing along the log, would indicate where it was by biting at the log in the appropriate place.


I went to Port Macquarie for Easter, 1940, with the Wood family from Byamee in, or should I say on, Eric Wood's Maple Leaf lorry. There was only room for three in the cab, and as we took another family as well, making thirteen in the party, there was quite a load of us on the back, as well as camp gear for the mob. The party was rather unwieldy, the camp for so many took a lot of setting up, and the cooking for each meal was quite a task. However, they were a happy lot, and all pulled their weight, so we had a lot of fun.

 

There was not much time for work at home before having to report back at Rutherford camp on 22nd April. We were allowed to have a car there this time, so Cyril, Foster and I travelled in the trusty old Ford, "Mabel". The car was most useful to me as we often went to Marie and Bill Andersons' at Mayfield. I often wonder how Marie put up with me the way she did, for on many occasions, I, and often Cyril too, would drop in for a meal and a hot shower, and at weekends for a night. I used the old car for travelling home on leave as well, and remember driving it to Gosford one weekend. Also I recall Cyril and me going to "Lemon Grove" for a weekend. These were quite long trips for a slow old model car, especially when the roads were nowhere near the standard they are now.

 

Before going to camp this time, I was requested by our C.O. to take a few carpentering tools so that I could do some repair jobs around the few huts that were there for Offices and Stores. I was attached to the Pioneer Section and spent most of my time putting in partitions, building shelves and cupboards, re-swinging doors when the wind blew them off, replacing tap washers and generally being at everyone's beck and call. I did not do any training. After a few weeks of this, I was promoted to Corporal, and was very proud of my "stripes".

 

Within a few days of settling in at Rutherford again, I wrote to Audrey hoping she may feel inclined to write sometimes, as I was feeling lonely, and a letter helps at times. She did reply, but I didn't realise then that there would be hundreds of letters to follow in the next five years.

 

Through corresponding with Audrey, I knew that on 8th August she was taking her sisters and my sister and brother to a dance in Scone. This being a day after my birthday and three days before Audrey's, I thought it would be a chance tocelebrate our birthdays together, if I could be there too. This proved to be the second celebration of this particular birthday, as two of my army mates decided the night before, that we would celebrate it in Maitland. The trip to Scone and back in the old Ford at night seemed a bit much, so I decided I could do it by train, getting to Scone on the Brisbane Mail about 8 p.m. The return journey was on the Glen Innes Mail leavng Scone about 1.30 a.m. The party at the dance was not sure I was coming, but they must have been pleased to see me by the great welcome I received. I had a most enjoyable time, and the train journey was so successful that I arranged with Audrey to meet her again in Scone for a Ball on 19th September. On the first occasion, I had to walk from the Station to the "Olympia", the old picture theatre where the Balls were held, but the second time when Audrey knew I was coming, she met me in the car.

 

To show how times have changed in forty-five years, the Brisbane Mail then stopped at Muswellbrook for twenty minutes to enable passengers to eat at the Refreshment Room. There was a choice of a snack at the counter or a three course sit- down meal in the Dining Room. I usually had the latter, and it is interesting to note that the cost was two shillings and sixpence (twenty-five cents) or two shillings (twenty cents) to a member of the Armed Forces in uniform.

 

The trip to Rutherford in April was supposed to be for three months, but when that time was up, the war situation had worsened. It was decided to keep the Officers and NCOs in for a further three months to train another batch of troops.

 

I bought another car in October, something a little better this time, an A Model Ford Coupe, from Ivor Jensen, whom I had got to know quite well in Camp. This car cost fifty pounds, and was much more comfortable with its wind-up windows.

 

Before going into camp, I had been wondering about enlisting in the R.A.A.F., and tried to get into the Ground Staff as a carpenter. Sometime after going to Rutherford, I was called to report for an interview in Newcastle re this application, but I did not have the necessary qualifications so was knocked back. I was offered a place with the Service Police, but decided to stay with the Army in preference to that.

 

I had been in very close contact with Foster Carter during the whole of this Camp, working together and travelling together. He was promoted to Sergeant when I was made a Corporal. The Camp ending on 9th November, we packed our belongings in my "new" car and headed for home. However, we side-tracked a little, calling at "Lemon Grove" for a night. There was a dance at Owen's Gap that night at Quinn's woolshed, so we all went there.

 

Near the close of a rather hectic year, our family had a week or so at Terrigal just before Christmas. We stayed in a cottage loaned us by the Delanders of Gosford.

 

After having that holiday, I am amazed that I could get away from home so soon, but I have a record of Victor and me having eight days at Harbord in January. There we camped on a quiet little camp ground, which has long since been built on. This trip was planned to co-incide with the Country Week Tennis Carnival in which Audrey and her sisters were again playing. Besides watching some of the tennis, I joined them at night, going to Luna Park and also dancing on the Showboat on two occasions.

 

Although this is supposed to be predominantly a story of my life, Audrey had been a part of it for so many years and I hoped someday the friendship might develop further. So I feel I must here mention more of her tennis career, and mention of her tennis must also include her two sisters. This was the sixth year in succession that they had played at Country Week winning the teams event three times. The first win was in 1937 with Beryl Jarrett (now Mrs Roy Briese) as the fourth member of the team. In 1940 and 1941 they won again with Edna Boland as their other member. Also this year, Audrey and Esme on the Ladies Doubles Championship.

 

When they left White City in 1941, they did not know that this would be the last year they would all be playing together as a Country Week team. Owing to the War, the Country Week Carnival was abandoned just before it was to begin in 1942, and was not resumed until 1947. Edna Boland married Hilton Ashford in 1943, and at that stage they hoped some day to play with four Ashfords in the team. This was not to be as by 1947, Edna had passed away and Audrey had changed her name.

 

Having had over seven months away last year, and having had two holidays since returning from Camp, it was time I got to work again. We needed a machinery shed, in which I took the leading part in building; rabbits were increasing through there being so few men left out of the Services to catch them; we needed a new well on "Elmsford" as the natural water was drying up owing to prolonged dry spells; and I promised Les Barwick I would do some fencing for him on his Millers' Creek property.

 

At one of the first Army Parades for the year in Quirindi, we were assured that we would not be called to Camp until after June, so it looked as if I had some breathing space. However, in a few weeks we were told that the Unit would go back to Camp in March. After much soul-searching, trying to decide where my duty really lay, I applied for exemption and was placed on reserve, owing to my occupation, so the Unit went to Camp without me. Not having to return to Camp was a relief, but when some of my friends and cousins were already in the A.I.F. and were going, or had gone, overseas, I was still not sure I had made the right decision, and that perhaps I was shirking my real duty.

 

I worked at "Towarri" for a week or so in February, helping Walter Barwick build a hayshed for Les. My part of the job was to dig some of the postholes and help upend the big posts. I remember damaging a knee rather badly while there by stepping back carelessly and putting a foot down a hole. Also I did some farming on "Towarri" at the same time.

 

I converted "Mabel" into a utility and had it registered as such during March.

 

Sometime in April, the local Parents and Citizens Association had some working bees at the school tennis court to get it in order for the pupils to play on again. I had been Secretary of the P & C for a number of years, so took a leading part, by supplying some posts, which I got from "Ashcroft". This reminds me of when I told the Ashford sisters that I was secretary of the P & C, Esme said "That she wanted to get it straight as to whether I was a parent or a citizen". That, of course, was a ruder question forty-five years ago than it would be now.

 

On 18th May, a group of us, Victor, Sylvia, Marjorie, Luke, Alan, and Charles Barwick and I met the Ashfords and Vines on the top of "The Warrior" (Mount Towarri) for a picnic. I still have a photograph of Audrey, enlarged from a snap I took that day with a tiny Box Brownie. That was the last time I was on the Warrior, having been there once before.

 

Three days after that we went to "Elmsford" to commence digging for water. I cannot remember who actually helped with the well, but after striking water, I recall Alan Barwick being there to help erect the new windmill and tank. I was there about a month altogether, during which time I went to a Ball in Scone with Audrey and her sisters, and also had some weekends at "Lemon Grove".

 

I left Sparkes Creek on 20th June and on the way to Scone, came across Charlie Ashford (who lived at "Daffodil" a little north of "Elmsford") in an old utility which had stopped , ao I towed him into town on my way.

 

A few days afterwards, I went to Millers' Creek to do the fencing I had promised to do for Les. I took my tent, and camped there for a few weeks, going home at weekends for supplies. Once or twice I played tennis at Jack's Creek on Saturday afternoon as I went past the courts. It was quite usual to camp on the job those times to economise on travelling, especially then with petrol rationing. Shire employees even camped in the bush then, not conveyed to the job and home again daily as is the case now.

 

I had a while trapping rabbits on "Ashcroft" during July, camping in the hut and was there when my father came, quite early one morning, to tell me that Uncle Ivan had died and that his funeral was that afternoon (10th). He had been in hospital for a while previously. He was the eldest of that family, being then seventy-four, while the youngest, Len, had passed away the year before on 1st April, aged fifty.

 

While exploring the Brush on "Ashcroft" during August, I discovered two more cedar trees besides the big one I already knew about. Also this month, I did a week's rabbit trapping there, and I recall getting nine pounds, one shilling and fivepence ($18.14) for the skins, which compared more than favourably with the three pounds twelve shillings ($7.20) per week for fencing just prior to this. While on wages I will comment that later this year I was offered one pound ($2.00) per day, with keep, by Harry Barwick near Gunnedah, to drive his header. Unfortunately, I was too busy to accept the job.

 

Uncle Ivan left his property to Uncle George, and it was named "Cedar Vale". It is still known by that name now.

 

Luke and I did the shearing this year, which was quite a long and painful process, as we were both learning. Luke had not been home from school very long, and had not had much opportunity to learn, but I, on the other hand, had been at home for many shearings, and could shear a bit. I had never been keen enough to do enough to become proficient.

 

In September, Victor and I did the shed work for the shearing at "Strathleigh" as had been the practice for many years, except for last year when I was away.

 

On looking through my records, I found that Mick O'Brien landed along one morning. Mick was a character who actually came from Murrurundi, but rode around the area with most of his worldly possessions with him. He slept where night overtook him. He is a hard man to describe. He knew quite a lot about horses and livestock generally, and could talk quite rationally most of the time, but occasionally went a bit haywire. He had had numerous mishaps with horses, and had broken legs and other injuries. On the morning I just mentioned, He arrived full gallop up the road, wearing his overcoat, although a hot day. His blankets, thrown over his saddle, nearly dragged on the ground, two or three parcels were tied to the girth underneath his horse and he was carrying two home-made stock whips, which he said were the only ones of their kind! This I could easily believe. Also he had two dogs which followed when he came, but were reluctant to leave with him. He would tie them to one end of a whip and would fasten the other end to his saddle, and off he would go towing them forcibly down the road.

 

In December I bought yet another T Ford, a 1927 Model, which was the last of the long line of T Fords. This one cost me fourteen pounds ($28.00) but I used it very little. Luke and Enid used it for a while after they married, then I converted it into a utility also and eventually sold it to Ron Pring.

 

Two days after Christmas, a party of us from around Warrah Creek met the Ashfords and others from the south side of the Range on Big Rock for a picnic. While there Audrey persuaded me to go home with them for the night. On arriving back home the next evening, I learnt that the party from our side had rather a bad trip home due to Alan Barwick becoming ill with ptomaine poisoning on the walk back down the mountain. He was rushed home as quickly as possible and Dr Cooper was sent for.

 

My trip home was uneventful, except the old car I had waiting for me had a flat battery. Knowing this the day before, I had left it on a hill so I could run it down to start it. This reminds me of Audrey telling me about a flat battery they once had and how the resorted to their last resource to start it. Having no other vehicles to take a battery out of and no electricity for a battery charger, their last resource was the bullock team. Her father had bullocks for farming and for pulling logs and posts about, so a couple of them were used to pull the car up a hill, where it could roll down to start.

 

I went to five Balls in Scone during the year, and although petrol was scarce, I managed to save up enough to drive to Scone for some of them. Luke and Sheila went to some of them with me, and also Alan once or twice. Up until them he had shown very little interest in dancing, but seemed to enjoy a trip or two with us.

 

Sheila had quite a lot of bother with toothache, which no-one locally seemed to be able to cure, so Mother, Alan and I took her to Sydney in October to see a specialist.

 

As Audrey and I had been "Going Together" since May, I tried to get over the mountain to see her as often as possible. We were only seven or eight miles apart, but with the Range in between, it was nearly a seventy mile drive around. To drive around regularly was out of the question. As I spent sometime camping in the hut at "Ashcroft" during the year, I would take the opportunity while there to walk over to see her for the evening. This was quite strenuous after a day's work, as it involved about a mile up and the same down each way. The trip in the daylight was fairly easy, but the return at night amongst the rocks and logs hidden in the long bullgrass was somewhat hazardous. If I could time the walk for a moonlight night it was reasonably easy. On a dark night with the light only of an old kerosene lantern, it would have been quite easy to have become lost if I had not known the track so well. I did the night trip back on at least seven occasions during the latter half of the year, the latest I arrived back at the hut being 4 a.m.!

 

Recording my walks in the dark, reminded me of an occasion some six years before when I was at Sparkes Creek for a few days. One night I rode my horse over "Middle Ridge" (the hill between Sparkes and Kiernan's Creeks), to visit "Lemon Grove" for the evening. On my return trip I could see a torchlight coming down the hill towards me. When the light came close, it turned about to be Stan Schytrumpf on horseback, returning to his home on the Dartbrook from seeing Beryl Barwick at "The Hawthornes".

 

Year 1942 was a memorable year as well as a varied one. I began it by doing something I was very keen on, four weeks building. On 6th January, I rode to "Mt. Kent", Cyril Ashford's property on Sparkes Creek, taking my carpentering tools. This property belonged to Cyril's uncle, Henry Ashford until his death on 20th July, 1935. My job was to build a small crutching shed, assisted by either Cyril or Noel. We camped on the job with very little shelter, which did not matter as it was a hot dry time. Of course, I spent the weekends at "Lemon Grove". One Sunday Audrey and I rode home via "Ashcroft" to look at the water there. Being hot and dry, the water supply was dwindling.

 

Before leaving "Mt Kent" on 4th February, I was told that Audrey, her sisters, Noel, their Aunt Mabel, and Sylvia Barwick were going with Jim and Daisy Jennison and son, Lex, to a house at The Entrance on 15th February for a holiday and that I would be welcome to join them.

 

Ever since I let the 33rd Battalion go back to camp without me, my conscience had been troubling me and I knew that it would not be long before I joined them, so I decided to have four days' holiday. The party was travelling on the early morning Brisbane Mail from Scone, so I joined it at Willow Tree to travel with them. I made the most of these four days, taking Audrey to the pictures, dancing and surfing in the daytime. I knew it would be the last time I could do these things as a civilian for some time. How long we did not know - it turned out to be three years and seven months!

 

On returning home, I applied to Captain Phillips, the Commanding Officer of the 33rd Battalion to be admitted back to the Unit, and soon received a reply requesting me to report on 13th March, at Gateshead where they were stationed. In spite of petrol shortage, it so happened that I had to take the car to "Elmsford" two days before this, so was able to see Audrey while in the vicinity.

 

Although not excited at being back in the Army, I felt I was doing my duty, and soon settled in to the routine of doing what I was told and when and where. I was back on the carpentering again, and became friendly with Herb Reeves of Coolatai who was on the same job. We both tried to pass a specialist test which would have given us an extra two shillings per day, but we failed, not having tradesman's qualifications. I was only at Gateshead a few days when the Unit moved to Blackalls on Lake Macquarie, where we stayed for about six weeks, then back to Gateshead until 3rd September.

 

During the time there I was having a little trouble with my eyes, so was sent to the army hospital at Tamworth (now Nazareth House) for testing. Only the Army would know why it could not have been done in Newcastle! Another mystery was, why, after just an eye examination, which found nothing wrong, would I have to go to a convelascent unit at Bathurst!

 

This all seemed so futile to me, that, having been given a return rail ticket before I left Gateshead, I left Tamworth and rejoined my Unit. This caused a panic at the hospital, and, surmising that I had gone A.W.O.L., they issued a Warrant for my arrest, to the local Police at Willow Tree. It so happened that when he received that, I was home on leave, but as I then had an official Leave Pass, he took no action.

 

I enlisted in the A.I.F., as practically all members of the 33rd did, on 9th July, and was transferred on 30th, so could now be sent on active service anywhere in the world.

 

I must have got leave very soon after enlisting, as I proposed to Audrey on 12th July, and was accepted. I remember very vividly being at home on that happy occasion. I think the above-mentioned leave was a few days' sick leave given to recuperate after having the measles. This was a sickness I did not have as a child, but after working out in the bush for a few days in cold damp windy weather with what I thought was a very bad head cold, it was discovered that I was covered in red spots, so was sent off to hospital in the Greta Army Camp for a while, then sent home.

 

On a few occasions when I had a days leave due, I managed to get away after tea the night before and caught a train at Broadmeadow, or Fassifern while we were at Blackalls, round about mid-night and arrived in Willow Tree in the early hours of the morning. Twice I remember walking home from Willow Tree to save disturbing the Warrah Creek telephonists at that unearthly hour to get someone from home to meet me. This made quite a strenuous days' leave with two nights' travelling and sometimes a trip over the mountain (on foot) to see Audrey for an hour or so. Sometimes when I did that, she would come back home with me and then accompany me back to Scone on the train, where she would stay the night at the Jennisons. Next morning, she would go home on the mail lorry, but as it only went to within four miles of "Lemon Grove", she had quite a walk home then. So much for having a few hours together, but it was worth it.

 

I was home for three weeks' leave without pay in August for the shearing.

 

On 3rd September, the 33rd Battalion moved from Gateshead to Loftus, just south of Sutherland, where it joined another Battalion, the 45th from that area, and the 133 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery was formed. This was a big change for us, from Infantry to Artillery. Two weeks later some of us were stationed at North Head, at the Blue Fish Gun Station for training on the 3.7 inch A/A Guns. After a month there we returned to Loftus.

Cyril and Arthur Barwick

Cyril Barwick on left. Next is Arthur. Far right Col Saunders.

 

1942 – 1949 The Army Year and Marriage

 

 

The newly formed Battery was under the Command of Captain D. Randall from Melbourne, so was not conversant with the fact, and did not care, that about half his troops lived in the north of the State and had to spend quite a lot of time travelling when we got home leave which was two days per month. My leave had accumulated to six days. We were due back at midnight on a Sunday. As there were no trains arriving in Sydney from the north between early Sunday morning and early Monday morning, it meant we had to spend the last day of our leave cooling our heels in the city when we were entitled to be at home. Quite a number of us from the north decided to have the extra time at home and arrive back in Camp on Monday, a few hours late, and take the consequences. This was no leave at all for two or three weeks as punishment. The C.O. was a bit worried that he may have taken command of an organised rebellious mob, but we hadn't arranged it, most deciding after they got home to risk the extra time. I am glad to record that Capt. Randall got the message, as next home leave coincided with railway timetables.

 

Having been transferred to the A.I.F., my army number was changed early in December from N19136 to NX106475, the X in the number designating the A.I.F.

 

Audrey had planned for a while to have a week or so in Sydney to be closer to me, so about the middle of December, she and Noel arrived. As Esme and Verna were in the Land Army, picking fruit over the mountain at Tarana, Aud and Noel went to see them for a few days. The fruit picking finished, they all returned together to the city. I had leave and met them on their return and we all stayed overnight at the People's Palace. This place was run by the Salvation Army and was cheap, clean accommodation, of which I took advantage on many occasions. By the way, the cost was three shillings per night, and one shilling and three pence per meal - a total of seventy cents per day. Bear in mind, however that army pay was about sixty cents! To get back to our stay at the Palace, Audrey's and my reputations were nearly shattered next morning. We all rose early as the other three were catching the train home. After seeing them off, Aud and I returned for breakfast and afterwards, when walking out with our luggage, bumped into two acquaintances from this area, who could quite easily have drawn the wrong conclusions.

 

I had a week's home leave over Christmas and Audrey stayed in Sydney and accompanied me home. We bought an engagement ring and became officially engaged on 21st December. This was the memorable part of the year which I mentioned earlier.

 

The Ashford family was a happy close-knit one. The three girls lived at home, working together to help run the home and property and playing their tennis together. The future would have really looked wonderful if it had not been for the war, the army service and the uncertainty of what was ahead.

 

A little while before Christmas our Unit moved to a vacant block in Miranda where we set up camp. How lucky some fellows can be! Bill Jones, whom I got to know very well, lived at Miranda, so could sneak home every night for a while. While at Miranda, we took the guns (we were a mobile Unit) to Wattamolla for a practice shot. Although we had trained on them and learnt their use, we had not heard them fired before. The target was a moving one, a drogue, a long balloon type of thing, towed by a Walrus aircraft, which had a pusher type engine and propellor.

 

The Battery had two sections, each of which had four guns which were set up in a semi-circle, with a Predictor and height-finder supplying data to the four guns. I was a Specialist Instrument Operator working on the Predictor. This was a metal box about two feet each way, mounted on a stand, around which eight men stood operating little hand wheels and watching dials. The Predictor was full of little gears and cogs which, when operated correctly, supplied to the guns, via a seventeen core cable, such information as the direction of the target, its height, its distance and its speed. It could also relay wind speed and direction. I might add that when a target was missed, the Predictor Operators got the blame.

 

My parents expressed a wish to have a holiday at Cronulla while I was nearby. I at once asked Les Manglesdorf, at whose home at Cronulla I had spent a week-end, if he could recommend some accommodation. On his advice, I booked a room at the Westella Guest House, run by the Sattler family, where my parents duly settled in on 5th January. Audrey also went to Cronulla while they were there, and although she stayed in a room let by a Mrs White at Shelley Beach, she got to know the Sattlers, who offered her a job. As I was only getting one day per week leave, and not every night, Aud would have had quite a lot of time to put in on her own. So the job at the Guest House was a good way of filling in time. Her job was that of waitress, something she had never had a go at before but quite enjoyed it, and when some of the tennis-playing guests found out she could play, she had no trouble in filling in her idle hours during the day, as they invited her to join them.

 

We moved fom Miranda on 8th February to Theresa Park in the Camden area and were there until the 25th, leaving Audrey at Cronulla, where Verna joined her for a few days. We were fairly isolated, but I managed to find a small telephone exchange within walking distance, and was able to contact Audrey asking her to stay around until the following week-end, when, by pitching a good tale to our C.O., I managed to get leave to go in and see her. She then returned home the following day.

 

After our time at Theresa Park we moved to a vacant area at Ryde, where the guns and equipment were set up so that we were ready for action if necessary. The reason being that one of the two big "Queen" ocean liners was in the Harbour loading troops for overseas, and we were there to give some protection should enemy aircraft decide to come over.

 

Being a mobile A/A Unit, we were due to go on a few weeks trek to complete our training. On leaving Ryde on 24th March, we moved to Burwood for two nights before setting off over the Blue Mountains on 26th. We were granted a day's leave at Burwood, and I, by pitching another good tale, got off at seven the evening before. I had become quite adept at putting over a good story as to why I should get a little extra time off. This worked provided one approached a different officer each time. I didn't always stick rigidly to the truth, but I always thought of the old adage "All is fair in love and war". This saying might not quite fit the circumstances, but there was a war on, and love was the reason for my wanting extra leave!

 

I got away by 7 pm, and caught the North-West Mail at Central around nine, which arrived at Willow Tree at 5.30 a.m. Being too early to disturb the telephone exchange, and not having had time to phone home the night before, I walked home, arriving at 7.45 a.m. Audrey, of course, was not on the telephone in those days, so I could not contact her unless I went over the mountain. I considered this during the morning, but decided that as the time was so short, I wouldn't go. However, after lunch I hurriedly changed my mind, and was at "Lemon Grove" in one hour and twenty minutes, taking exactly one hour to cross the Range - forty minutes up this side and twenty minutes down the other. I had never done it so quickly before, and had walked ten miles in the early morning! We had a few hours together, and I arrived back at Burwood in time to pack up and move off on the trek, after a rather strenuous thirty-six hours.

 

The trip was an interesting one for me. It covered a lot of N.S.W. which I had not seen, taking in Bathurst, Cowra, West Wyalong, Narrandera, Wagga, Yass, Canberra, Bateman's Bay and back up the coast to Narellan, arriving on 14th April. The training part of the trip was very strenuous, setting up the guns and instruments ready for action each night and packing up ready to move off next morning, each time trying to do it in less time that the last. I was lucky at having been put in charge of an ammunition lorry for the trip, so had a good seat in the cab with the driver while most of the men travelled on the back of the lorries, sitting on their kit-bags. Only one thing marred my trip, and that was the driver who was assigned to my lorry. He had been given his Driver's Licence three weeks before, so was totally inexperienced in handling a heavy vehicle, and, being a young fellow who stayed out all hours of the night in towns where we were given leave, he was half asleep most of the day. All this with the fact that there were a few tons of ammo just behind me kept my nerves on edge.

 

By now, we knew that the time was coming when we would be sent somewhere where we may be of some use, and the time at Narellan was for fitting us out in new clothing. Clothing was scarce and came through in dribs and drabs, so every few days we would go to the Quartermasters Store for another shirt or shorts, or a pair of socks. To keep us occupied while waiting, our C.O. hit on the bright idea of digging an ammunition pit. This was to be a hole in the ground about the size of a room, and as it was quite a rainy time, he also hit on the idea of digging this near a deep gully. He wanted to dig a deep trench from the pit to the gully to drain the water away from the ammo, if any soaked in.

 

The 3.7 ammunition was packed two rounds per metal container nealy four feet long and quite heavy. The pit was duly finished, and three hundred of these containers stacked in it, and all nicely covered with corrugated iron. Some of us who had lived in the bush all our lives, and knew from experience what floods could do, used to mutter to each other about what would happen if the gully flooded. We, being mere gunners, were not supposed to question our officer's decisions so we said nothing. The officers, who in some cases had been bank tellers, had gained a lot of their knowledge from Army Text books, and they were supposed to know more than we did. Soon after this we had about a week of heavy rain. The gully flooded and I will leave it to your imagination to work out what happened. Suffice to say that the next week or so was occupied in retrieving the ammunition from the mud, and cleaning and drying it.

 

This lack of "bush knowledge" on the part of some of our officers showed up a lot more later on when we were dumped in the middle of nowhere and had to build our own gun pits and general camp area of huts and mess-huts etc, from any timber we could find in the surrounding area.

 

About the end of April, we were given nine days final leave so we knew it would not be long before we went somewhere, but, in spite of much speculation and many rumours, we didn't know where. Audrey spent the leave with me at home, and I think she walked home over the mountain the afternoon before I returned to camp.

 

My old carpentering mate, Herb Reeves, left our unit early in May, as he had not been accepted in the A.I.F. on account of his age. I was never sure what his age was as he had put it back a few years to get into the Army in the first place, but he had been a grandfather for a few years.

 

The 133rd Battery left Sydney by special train on 26th May, complete with guns and equipment, including enough motor transport to carry everything. Our destination, of course, was secret. We had no idea where we would finish up, but when we stopped at Tocumwal to change trains, much to our chagrin, we learnt that our C.O., now Major Randall, had his wife waiting for him at the local hotel where he spent the time while we worked unloading and reloading our gear.

 

From Tocumwal we travelled through Victoria on the five foot three inch gauge track, which extended through part of South Australia to Zerwil. Here once again we went through the process of changing trains, onto the three foot six inch track, which went to Alice Springs. It was times such as these that made me realise the stupidity and short-sightedness of those before us in building three different railway gauges in one country. As a point of interest, while on this subject, for many years these three different gauge tracks all met at Port Pirie in South Australia. This has been changed somewhat through the years with the building of a Standard track (N.S.W. gauge) to connect Sydney with Perth, Melbourne and Alice Springs. There was a standard gauge line from Sydney to South Brisbane pre-war.

 

On leaving Zerwil, we spent fifty-four hours on the same train arriving at Alice Springs on 1st June. Next day, with men and equipment loaded on our lorries, and the nine and a half ton guns towed by the four wheel drive Matadors, we headed north. We camped overnight at Barrow Creek, Banka Banka and Elliott, and arrived at Larrimah, where we had about a week, on 5th June. Eventually we arrived at our destination, "Fenton Field", on 14th June. After much hustle and bustle, we had a rough camp set up with the guns and instruments in place. The C.O. was able to report to his superiors that 133 was "ready for action".

 

This airstrip was named after the early flying doctor, Dr Fenton, and was being used by the United States Army Air Force, who were operating Liberator Bombers from there. We were sent there to protect them from the Japanese bombers when they came over that area. There were seven Japanese air raids over this area before the end of 1943, the last being on 12th November, but we stayed there ready for action for another twelve months, moving out on 12th November, 1944. Of the seven raids, the first two were in the daylight, the others being at night when the moon was full. They used the moonlight to help find the target.

 

Our section was credited with having shot down one enemy aircraft. The first day the Japs came over, they were quite low as we had come there unbeknown to them and they were "sitting ducks". However, owing to a fiasco, to which many of those Japanese airmen owed their lives, they flew merrily on, dropping their bombs as they went. The C.O. was most unhappy about it, to put it mildly. The two men who caused the fiasco were a certain Lieutenant, who usually swaggered around with a revolver hanging on his hip, saying "Call me Basher", and me. He was in charge this day and I was on the Predictor to work out the correct fuse setting to be relayed to the guns. He panicked, and in spite of being told by the Aircraft Identification expert that they were the enemy, would not order the guns to engage for fear they were not. It was then too late for me to give a correct fuse setting. Consequently our shots fell short.

 

During our first few months at Fenton, when we were not actually manning the guns and maintaining the equipment, we were fully occupied improving the gun kits and camp generally. Whenever there was building to be done, I was right in it. What was needed in those circumstances was a "bush carpenter" and I filled the bill. I had, before going north, passed the Predictor Operator's Specialist test, giving me the extra two shillings per day, which I failed to get when I went for a Tradesman's test. I made a number of tables for our mess hut and, as tools were scarce, I tried, without having any authority to do so, to keep some in my case so they would be usable when I needed them. One implement in particular got me in some strife, that being an adze. When properly sharp, this is a very useful instrument when using unmilled bush timber. Most of the city fellows, who had never seen one before, could not undestand why I was such a fanatic about not allowing them to dig earth and rocks with it.

 

Mother died on 16th December and, although I had been warned by letter a couple of days before that she was dangerously ill, the news came as a great shock to me. Being so far from home seemed to make it worse.

 

The army gave me seven days' Compassionate leave and arranged for me to fly to Brisbane. On 20th December, I was taken to Batchelor airstrip, where there was a place for me in a U.S. Army Transport, in this case a Douglas "Dakota", or as we knew them, a D.C.3. Leaving quite early in the morning, we reached Archerfield, Brisbane that evening, after having refuelled at Cloncurry and Charleville. Incidentally, when we landed at Cloncurry, it was the first time I had set foot on Queensland soil. As the seating in the plane consisted of unpadded wooden benchs along each side, which we filled to capacity, and the floor in the centre packed with kitbags and other loading, the trip was rather uncomfortable. At least on landing that evening I was well on my way home. People have asked me if I was airsick. After a feed of hot greasy bully beef in a hot mess in the middle of Queensland in summer, and a bumpy ride afterwards, I sure was.

 

Staying overnight in Brisbane, I boarded the Brisbane Mail train to Sydney via Wallangarra the next morning and was in Willow Tree the following morning, having taken forty-eight hours from the Northern Territory, which was very good in 1943. On leaving the train at Willow Tree, I telephoned home saying I had arrived, and within half an hour Father and Sheila met me in the car. When we got home, Luke had already gone to "Lemon Grove" to tell Audrey that I was home. She had made him promise to do this immediately I arrived.

 

This was a sad homecoming for me. So different from what I had hoped for someday, but the pain was eased by having my fiancee with me for the little time I had at home, which included Christmas.

 

After my leave was over, I reported back to Sydney, and started the long trek overland back to Fenton, arriving about a fortnight later, having a night in Melbourne and three in Adelaide on the way. Besides the three day trip on the back of a semi-trailer from Alice Springs to Larrimah, I was on six different trains, including what would be the crudest train ever used for transporting people in this country. This was the one which travelled about three hundred miles from Larrimah to Darwin, called by the troops the "Spirit of Protest". The passenger accommodation was old cattle wagons with the top half of the walls cut away for ventilation - nice and cool in a tropical downpour - and the seating was your own kitbag. The ride was so rough that one character with us that time swore that each carriage had at least one square wheel. The steam locomotive pulling the train was so decrepit that, after three tries at getting up one incline, gave it away. The guard got out his portable telephone, climbed the nearest telephone pole to connect it and reported our dilemma to the nearest station. After some hours waiting, a spare engine arrived to take us on our journey.

 

It was now 1944, and a year which turned out to be long, boring and wasted. The last time the Japanese aircraft paid us a visit was November 12, 1943, but, of course, we were not to know that we would not see them again. We still manned the guns regularly each morning and evening, and on mooonlight nights.

 

The only regular entertainment was the nearby picture show at the Yanks camp, to which we were allowed to go when the moon was not showing, and there was no danger of an air raid. Besides the pictures, an Army Entertainment Unit would come along every few months. On one occasion a really ravishing blonde put on a song and dance act! As there had not been any women in the area and most of the fellows had not seen a female for a year or more, this act went over very well causing much excitement and some wishful thinking among the troops. However, everyone was very deflated when the dance finished and a boisterous flourish of skirts revealed "she" was male, and not even blonde.

 

I put in some of my spare time making trinkets, such as brooches and rings, from perspex and duralumin from crashed aircraft. I had a bare minimum of tools, comprising of two or three small files, including a nail file, a part of a hack-saw blade and a couple of very small drills. Also a few odds and ends of sand paper to smooth the work and anything made of perspex could be finally polished with toothpaste.

 

Some fellows were not interested in doing this sort of thing, fortunately, so I was able to sell some to those who wanted something to send home as a souvenir.

 

This was an economical place to live, there being no way to spend money apart from buying a tin of fruit occasionally from a big "cupboard" they called a "canteen" and two bottles of lolly-water and two bottles of beer a week. With my little bit of extra income, I didn't need to draw any army pay for some months. However, after a while I had some heavy explaining to do as someone from the multitiude down south, who fought the war from behind a desk, sent a query as to why my pay was not being used. The beer then was one shilling and threepence (fifteen cents) a bottle and could be sold to the Americans for seven shillings (seventy cents). This was a good business deal, but as I did not drink beer in those days for quite a long time I did the right thing by my mates and let them have mine. However, when I discovered that they were selling my ration, I decided to stick to my beer and sell it myself.

 

After being in a permanent camp for months, most of us got tired of forever delving into a kitbag for everything we wanted, so whenever there was a spare wooden box available, someone would make a bedside table or cupboard out of it, in which to store a few things. This practice was frowned on by the C.O., who decided one day to land along unexpectedly from his headquarters to make an inspection. Fortunately, word of his impending raid leaked out before he arrived. When he went through the huts, there was not a box in sight. I am still amused when I remember the sight of about sixty men, each with his own particular box of belongings, rushing off into the scrub to hide it. After the inspection, each had to go back and locate it to return it to their hut.

 

Tom Irwin, a mate from Inverell, was the unofficial barber in our troop, doing quite a good job in his spare time keeping our hair looking presentable. He charged one shilling (ten cents) a time, but I paid for my haircut by cutting Tom's in return.

 

Audrey sent me a big home-made fruit cake every few weeks while I was in the Northern Territory, which was a very acceptable addition to the monotonous army food. As some of the cake ingredients were rationed and scarce, it must have been quite a problem to obtain them so regularly.

 

Sergeant Jack Barwick, a cousin who will be mentioned quite often later in this story, was stationed at Fenton for a while before I arrived there until the time we left. He was in charge of a Bofers, a light A/A gun, quite a distance from where I was, so I only saw him occasionally.

 

Earlier in Jack's army career, he had been friendly with Keith Sedgwick from Cremorne, who had introduced Jack to his sister, Mavis. When talking to Jack just before he went home on leave from Fenton, he told me to disregard anything I might hear about he and Mavis while he was home. I heard very little, but their relationship must have advanced a little because they married the next time he had home leave.

 

Audrey and I numbered our letters when I went away so as to be able to keep track of any that may have been delayed as did happen sometimes. During the eighteen months I was in the N.T., I wrote 281 letters to her and had very much the same number in reply.

 

Before going north, we had many lectures from Intelligence Officers telling us the importance of keeping our whereabouts secret. We were warned also not to try any kind of code in our letters to let our people know where we were, saying that any kind of code we could come up with would be crude and easy to decipher. However, in spite of all this I devised a method of letting Audrey know where I was all the time, and was able to tell her when we were about due to go south again. This was the last letter from Fenton. These letters were all passed by censors, so maybe my system was not so crude after all. About the end of October, we were told that our time at Fenton was coming to a close, and we should be home for Christmas, which caused great jubilation. Before leaving we took the guns north to Darwin, taking them across the harbour on landing barges to West Point, where we stayed a few days. We left them there, with no regrets, returning to Fenton for about a fortnight.

 

One night before leaving, the whole battery had a barbeque. I don't know where the bullock came from, but it wasn't buffalo! Even if it was tough and not properly cooked, we were all in the mood to enjoy it, with the thought of being home soon at the front of our minds.

 

We left Fenton on 8th December, travelling the first two hundred miles on the "Spirit of Protest". We then went by lorry to Alice Springs and rail via Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney, arriving about six days before Christmas. Having been able to tell Audrey when leaving, she went to Sydney in plenty of time to be there when I arrived. By this time she had got to know Mavis Sedgwick and was staying there. I knew Jack was on his way only two days behind me, so was able to let Mavis know when he was due.

 

On arriving in Sydney, we were given leave and I was away from the camp about 8 p.m. I immediately rang Sedgwick's and Mr Sedgwick was able to tell me that Audrey and Mavis were at the local picture theatre. He told me which tram to catch and where to alight. Then he phoned the theatre. There a message was flashed across the screen that Audrey was wanted, so by the time I got off the tram at Cremorne she was walking up the street to meet me. What a happy and joyful reunion we had after not having seen each other for nearly a year,and the prospect of having forty-one days together, including Christmas, was wonderful.

 

Even more wonderful were some plans we had made. When we became engaged nearly two years before, we did not plan to marry until the war was over. However, by August, I had changed my mind and suggested that we marry the next time I was home on long leave. Having been able to tell Audrey by code, in October, that we would be home for Christmas, she made her plans. Esme, who was to be bridesmaid and who was in the Land Army at Griffith, was alerted that she might be needed and planned for leave at Christmas. The Rector of Scone was told his services might be required.

 

Before leaving Sydney for home, we bought a ring and booked accommodation for a week's honeymoon beginning 28th December. Audrey and I travelled home to Warrah Creek together where we stayed until Boxing Day. We had Christmas Day at home and all went to a party at "Quondah" that night. My car was on blocks with no tyres, which could only be obtained with a permit, and petrol was still scarce, so I guess we walked over the mountain on Boxing Day.

 

On 27th December, 1944, I travelled from "Lemon Grove" with Audrey's family to Scone. Father, Sheila and Luke, and those of our Uncles, Aunts, cousins and close friends who could find enough petrol to travel, were assembled there.

 

At 7.50 p.m. Audrey and I were married by Canon B.C. Wilson, with Esme and Luke as our bridesmaid and best man. Jim and Daisy Jennison, who were very close frends of Audrey and her family, kindly made their home at our disposal for the reception, which was very happy and informal. After having the night at the Golden Fleece Hotel in Scone, we boarded the early morning Brisbane Mail to Sydney where we had a week at the Hotel Metropole.

 

At this stage, we did not have a home of our own, so after the week in Sydney, where Esme spent a day or so with us on her return from "Lemon Grove" to Griffith, we spent our time either at Warrah Creek or Kiernan's Creek.

 

We were given a Gift Evening at Kars Springs on 13th January where a cheque was presented to us by Mr Charlie Saunders on behalf of the assembled gathering of friends and relations.

 

After a few wonderful weeks of freedom, Audrey returned to Sydney with me and for most of 1945, lived in numerous hotels and rooms as near as possible to my camps. No doubt she had some lonely times waiting and wondering which nights I would get off to be with her.

 

We spent the first night back at the Malvern Private Hotel at Croyden, where Audrey stayed a few weeks until she got a room with a Mrs Brown at Meadowbank. She would have had some company there as there were three other soldiers' wives there also.

 

After leave I had to report to the Army depot at Marrickville from where, although our old unit was disbanded, a few of us were kept together and sent to Wallgrove. We were posted to the Anzac Rifle Range near Liverpool, where I was a guard at the Internment Camp. While there I was one of a few who were sent, as guards, with a contingent of Japanese troops to the Internment Camp at Hay. We travelled by train, our carriages being attached to a regular passenger train. As there was no secrecy as to where we were going, I was able to tell Audrey. She decided to go too and made the necessary connections at Junee to go to Griffith to visit Esme for two nights. On our return we met up again, and, as I was not on duty and Lieut Roy Tilse of Scone was in charge of us, I was able to travel with her most of the way back to Sydney.

 

While at the Anzac Range, I, after feeling "off colour" for a few days, reported on sick parade one morning and was sent to the Army Hospital at Liverpool for a week.

 

Soon after leaving hospital, I was sent back to Wallgrove and while there was taken to the big Army Depot at the Showground where I underwent quite a big medical examination. There my "flat feet" (collapsed arches) were discovered and I was classified as B2 with an "unfit marching" tag attached.

 

The next move was to French's Forest on 28th March where I had about sixteen weeks. One of my old mates from the N.T., Bombadier Jack Cox was still with me, and as his home was at Penshurst, was keen on getting away from camp every night possible. The first thing he did on arriving at a new camp was to find the nearest bus route and learn about bus and train timetables to enable him to get home as quickly as possible in the evening and back by parade time next morning. He passed all this information on to me knowing that I wanted to get away too. There were then very few buses to the French's Forest area, but one in the early morning suited us, provided we could do a "mad mile" on foot in six or seven minutes from Roseville station to the nearest point on the bus route. To do this I had to leave Meadowbank about 4.40 a.m. each time I went "home". As there were ten or twelve of us in this mad rush each morning, the peace and quiet of the local residents must have been disturbed as we all wore heavy steel-plated army boots.

 

While at French's Forest, we were taken, on the back of motor lorries, to the wharves where we worked unloading army supplies from railway trucks or road transports into the wharf sheds. We handled hundreds of tons of rice, flour and sugar packed in drums, as well as frozen butter, ammunition and cement. The work was made hard by the fact that we would quite often sit around for hours waiting for a train to come in, and then, about the time we should have been going back to camp, we would be told "no leave" until the stuff was unloaded. I remember one evening ten of us unloading and stacking four hundred and sixteen bags of cement in twenty minutes in our rush to get back to camp. It was quite a task getting cleaned up under a cold shower when covered in cement dust. Some days we were taken to the city markets where the army had a depot, to collect fruit and vegetables as they came in, to be sent to camps throughout the state. This was quite a good job as it was amazing how many fruit cases had a loose board on top and a piece or two of fruit would accidentally fall out! Especially if it were a case of Muscatelles consigned to, where it could only be going, an Officers Mess. After being at French's Forest a few weeks, Audrey managed to find a room with a Mrs Cox whose house adjoined the camp boundary. This was great for me as I could slip "home" in a few minutes and in fact, when on guard at night, I spent the time in between shifts there also.

 

Working on the wharves was the first time I had seen wharfies in action, if you could call it that! It amazed us

 

how slowly they could move, but we discovered a way to liven them up even if it was in the wrong direction. If, when handling ammunition, we dropped a case of it alongside a wharfie, he would move allright. They were getting danger money for working near it, and panicked if we handled it a bit roughly, saying "be careful boys, that stuff is dangerous". The more they panicked, the more we threw it around.

 

By about the end of August I had twelve days' home leave accumulated, so Audrey and I had that time at home, and when I returned to French's Forest she remained at home. While staying with Mrs Cox, Audrey put in quite a lot of her time helping her make artificial jewellry, earrings and brooches, out of Barbola. This was a pliable, waxy substance, which after being shaped, was dried in the sun and painted. This was readily saleable owing to the shortage of other jewellry.

 

I was moved from French's Forest to Liverpool on 19th July and told I would not be there very long. Here at Liverpool was the only Officer I came across in my army career who insisted on us polishing the soles of our boots. This to me seemed childish, but his inspection of the boots when on parade each morning was even more so. He would walk behind each rank of troops, telling us to "play horses and hold up each foot" while he checked for polish.

 

On July 30th Audrey went home to "Lemon Grove" and I was sent with a contingent, consisting of no-one I knew, to Queensland, arriving at Camp Cable, the 5th Reinforcement Depot at Logan Village, south of Brisbane. The trip from Sydney to Brisbane by rail was quite good as there were regular troop trains with army sleepers. These consisted of old passenger cars with all seating removed and in their place three tiers of single wire mattresses along each side. The lower ones were used for seating in the daytime, and at night there was sufficient accommodation for everyone to lie down.

 

Audrey promised to join me in Queensland if I thought I would be there long enough for it to be worth her while, and if I could find her somewhere to live. Being at a reinforcement depot where each week a certain number of troops were sent further away made it difficult to predict how long I might be there. There being no telephone at Kiernan's Creek, I had to rely on telegrams for a quicker contact than letter, but they still had to be delivered by mail. The small two-storey weatherboard hotel at Logan Village could not tell me if they would have a vacancy in the near future. I have never been in such a state of indecision as I was for those two weeks. Besides needing accommodation for Audrey, I had to decide if it would be worth her while coming, and if so, when to send for her. Also, in case I could not be in Brisbane to meet her, I had to have a room booked for her there. This all had to be decided and arranged in time to let her know the plans, and to get to Brisbane. However, after writing her eleven letters in two weeks and sending her numerous telegrams, I had a room for her at the Theatre Royal Hotel in Brisbane, one at the Logan Village pub and was even on the Roma Street railway station when she arrived on 15th. This was also the day the War ended, so the whole city was in a joyful turmoil. People were so mad with excitement that evening that Audrey often wondered just what would have happened to her, arriving after dark in a strange city, had I not been there to meet her. The next morning we went out to Logan Village on the little old Rail Motor which was the transport to that area.

 

My job at the camp was that of wood cutter at the Sergeants' Mess and also doing a bit of washing up if necessary. Having this job enabled me to be sure I could have time off and get back late, as I was in the Sergeants' cook's good books. I cooked the Sergeants' breakfasts on a couple of occasions when he wanted to sleep in after a heavy night out. He would cover for me if there were any questions asked.

 

Just before leaving Camp Cable I was surprised one evening to overhear a complete stranger relating a story of an incident I had also witnessed at Rutherford in 1940. This story concerned a cook who did not shower or wash as often as those who ate the meals he prepared thought he should. It was decided to ensure he had one good bath, and to make a ceremony of the proceedings, the Battalion Band was engaged to dispense appropriate music. To the strains of a good march tune, the cook was forcibly marched to the nearest horse water-trough and while the Band played "Now shall we gather at the river", he was thoroughly immersed therein.

 

Audrey had a little over a fortnight at the Logan Village Hotel before I moved to Ipswich on 4th September. She moved to Ipswich also and lived in rented room where I was able to join her most nights. The war being over, our life in army camps became more relaxed and night leave was more plentiful, As there was now no danger of being sent further away, we enjoyed those few weeks together in Queensland.

 

I was now at the Kit Stores where thousands of kit bags of surplus clothes and equipment were stored for troops when they were sent further north and overseas. Our job there was to locate , and consign south, those kitbags belonging to each contingent of troops as they returned to Australia.

 

Soon after settling in at Ipswich, Audrey, being proficient at sewing, and interested in it, advertised in the local paper. As she did not have a Sewing Machine, she sewed for people in their own homes. This brought in enough response as to enable her to fill in a lot of her spare time and also to make a little extra money to help meet the expense of living in a rented room. I recently found a small shopping list on the back of a letter Audrey received while at Ipswich. To show how things have changed in forty years, the cost of six bread rolls, a jar of peanut butter, three apples, three oranges and three bananas was three shillings and threepence (thirty four cents). On the other hand, my army pay and Audrey's allowance we were receiving from the army combined to give us $9.10 per week.

 

At home over the past few months, two very important events were being planned. Firstly, Luke, who had been engaged to Enid Frost since 7th June, 1944, was planning to marry late in the year, and secondly negotiations were taking place with Charlie Ashford to purchase the property "Daffodil" on Sparkes Creek. This was to provide a home for Luke and Enid, and also there was a second older house on the property which could be pulled down to provide immediate material to build Audrey and me a temporary place in which to live when we eventually needed it.

 

Luke and Enid became acquainted in April, 1942, when Mrs Frost, Enid and her brother, Ron, came from Warrell Creek on the North Coast to live in the Fitzpatricks' old house. After Darwin was bombed by the Japanese on 19th February, 1942, and were becoming increasingly cheeky, some families moved from coastal areas for safety reasons. Dulcie Wharton, Mother's niece, and her young children moved from Newcastle to our home about that time for the same reason.

 

Near the end of September, word came through that my discharge from the army was being speeded up, owing to my occupation, and on 29th I left Ipswich. After three days at Yerongpilly, I was sent to Sydney, arriving on 3rd October. Audrey left Queensland at the same time, but as I was travelling on a troop train, we could not travel together. Demobilization procedure at the Showground took a few days and on 10th October, 1945, I walked out of the army area a free man once again, and what a wonderful feeling it was!

 

Audrey had a few days at "Lemon Grove" after we parted in Brisbane, and then joined me in Sydney for a day or so to do some shopping. Most things we wanted were scarce. Even a dinner set which we particularly needed and ordered took about a month before it could be supplied.

 

Leaving Sydney two or three days after my discharge we went home. Our problem was, of course, that here we were at last ready and anxious to settle down to a normal married life together, and we didn't have a home. I went to the old home with Father, Sheila and Luke, while Audrey spent most of the next few weeks with her people. Our plans were to build a shed as a temporary home in which to live, and would serve as my workshop when we vacated it.

 

Within a month, I had, with Luke's help, fallen a tree, split some piers and had the foundations in for the building. On 19th November, we went to "Daffodil" to pull down three rooms of the older bulding, thus getting sufficient material for my project quickly. I engaged Max Saunders of Jack's Creek to transport the materials from Sparkes Creek, and by the New Year, I had, with help from Alan Barwick, built a small home where we lived for the next two years.

 

During the time of building, some other activities went on, some of which interrupted the job for a while. On 27th November, a welcome home party was held at the local hall for (Sgt) Jack Barwick, who was discharged ten days after me, (Sgt) Foster Carter, Jim Meredith, who served in the R.A.A.F.,and myself. Audrey rode over the mountain to be with me for the occasion.

 

A clearance sale was held at "Daffodil", to which we rode over the Range to save petrol. On 8th December, Luke and Enid were married at Warrell Creek. Having saved sufficient petrol ration tickets, Father, Sheila, Audrey, Verna and I travelled in the family car to the wedding, staying the weekend at a hotel in Macksville. I attended the wedding as Luke's Best Man, with Lois Benzie as Enid's Bridesmaid.

 

There was another wedding in the family within a short time when Father and Amy Davidson were married at Willow Tree on 12th January, 1946, by the Vicar of Quirindi, Canon F.de P. St.John. Amy came from Gosford and had been with Rowntrees store in Willow Tree for a few years. She had been friendly with the family all the while I was away.

 

Luke and Enid returned to Warrah Creek after their honeymoon, and they and Audrey and I stayed with Sheila in the old home until Father and Amy returned from theirs towards the end of the month.

 

Very early in February, Audrey, Noel, Louise Goodworth, and I travelled to The Entrance in our A Ford for a fortnight's holiday. Verna and Ted Bennett joined us there also. This trip was taken the morning after attending a Kitchen Tea at Kars Springs for Everard Ashford and Olive Schytrumpf. While at The Entrance, Audrey and I had a day in Sydney, where we bought a reconditioned Singer Sewing Machine from Thompson Bros for $47.00. We also bought $125.20 worth of furniture from Symonds Furnishings. These items were a bed, a day bed, a wardrobe, six chairs and six pillows. These, with the table I had already been using at "Ashcroft" were sufficient to fill the little place I had built for us. Young people of today would probably be horrified at the idea of living in our "little shed". Our home was about six by nine metres overall. It had one main room to live in, and a verandah, which was half enclosed with a single wall of fibro cement sheets for a bedroom. Also there was a skillion which had a fuel stove in one end, serving as a kitchen, and the other end was big enough for the car. We did have a small fuel heating stove in the main room which made it bearable to live in during the winter, but the bedroom with its single wall was abominably cold. The heating stove was a very simple one and it had quite a history. It belonged to my Uncle Arthur at Bunnan, and it had been in his first house when it burned down in 1929.

 

We could not obtain a bathtub until May the next year, so bathed in a big round galvanised iron washing tub, which had to be carried inside, and out again, each time we used it. This had one advantage in the winter, as it could be placed near the stove for warmth. The bathtub was bought with the ten pounds which Tom and Annie Barwick gave us for a wedding present. This was installed in our proper home when built, and is still in use.

 

When the purchase of "Daffodil" was finalised, Luke and Enid settled in there, and some business changes took place in the family. "Retreat" was transferred to me, and was thereafter known as "Oakhaven". Together, Father, Luke and myself, now owned about four thousand two hundred acres (1750 hectares), and it was decided to run the whole area as one. So the partnership of H.J. Barwick & Sons was formed, and operated until 30th June, 1952.

 

Our operations consisted of grazing sheep and cattle, the sheep being the predominant money earner. Merino sheep were run on "Ashcroft" and all the Sparkes Creek country, and Crossbred breeding ewes were run on "Oakhaven" and the old home property. We had quite a number of cows, which produced vealers for market, and we bought and fattened steers when the seasons permitted.

 

We continued to cultivate about sixty acres, growing oats mainly for grazing, but harvesting a little bit some years to store as a fodder reserve. We used an old ground- drive header I bought just after I came home. Just a small area was sown to lucerne, from which we made hay, also for use in drought times. Farming had changed since I did it before the war. The horses had been superceded by a steel-wheeled Fordson tractor which was bought near Scone. Luke and Victor drove the tractor home from Scone along the Highway (after removing the grips) which must have been a tedious journey at seven or eight miles per hour.

 

One of our first jobs on settling in to our new home was to fence in and dig up a small area for a vegetable garden. As it was very near the creek, I rigged up an old windmill pump in such a way that it could be operated by hand to enable us to water the things we grew. I improved on this in a year or so by setting up an old windmill to pump out of the creek. This mill had been in use since before I could remember, and had been damaged and replaced when it blew down some years previously. According to a plumber, from whom I bought some fittings to install this water supply, the mill would not work the way I was setting it up. He said I had too much pipe below the pump. However, undaunted, I went ahead as planned, and I am pleased to record that it pumped water for some years that way.

 

Now that there were more young people around again, Alan Barwick got the "Quondah" tennis court going again, and most weekends we met there with Cyril, Jack and Mavis and Ron and Dette Barwick for a few sets. I was not in the same class as most of the others but we had some very enjoyable times.

 

As the rabbits had really over-run the country during the war, I spent most of the five months during the winter trapping them. This was strenuous as I was using eighty traps, and after setting them each afternoon, I would go round them just after dark and again at daylight. I was trapping for their carcasses, which meant cleaning them after each time round the traps, and hanging them on a hessian covered pole for Godfrey Knee to pick up and deliver to the freezing works in Willow Tree. I caught about five thousand rabbits that winter, thinning the population considerably.

 

The income from rabbiting helped us too, as I received up to five pounds ($10.00) for some night's catches. This enabled us to buy a few extra items we needed but could not afford on the five pounds per week which I was getting from the Partnership at that stage. One of the things we bought which made so much difference to our lives in our little humpy, was a kerosene burning Electrolux refrigerator. As with a lot of other goods, refrigerators were scarce and, although it was ordered before the summer, it was about April the following year before it arrived. Audrey went around the traps with me at night sometimes, and after being out for two or three hours on a cold, frosty night, we would huddle around our little heating stove, while we fried some eggs on it for an extra snack before retiring.

 

Soon after settling in our new "home", I built a small fowl house with a couple of nests in it. We then bought a few hens from Leon and Florrie Saunders. I still remember the look of delight on Audrey's face the first day she found some eggs in the nests.

 

During the first weekend in August,1946, we went to a tennis tournament in Barraba, Noel taking Verna, Sis, Audrey and me. This was a great occasion for Audrey and Verna especially, as it was the first time for some years that they had been to a tournament where they could meet up with some of their friends of the pre-war years.

 

Shearing began at "Daffodil" on 12th August, with Jack Barwick and Claude Saunders doing the shearing. Audrey and I and Jack and Mavis moved to Sparkes Creek and lived in the old "Elmsford" house for the occasion.

 

When the shearing was finished, Luke and I built a saw- mill on "Ashcroft" in preparation for cutting some of the timber I would require when I commenced building a new house. For years I had been interested in timber, and was keen on having a go at milling some, but not having had any previous experience, we had a lot to learn. However, after much trial and error and a lot of hard work, we became proficient enough to cut some reasonably straight and usable timber.

 

Some years later this little saw-mill was moved to "Oakhaven" and equipped with a bigger saw (forty-two inch). Luke and I milled many logs, mainly white and yellow box, into fence posts, fence battens, gate battens and stockyard posts, and rails of all sizes. We also cut quite an amount of building material for sheds and general repairs. This was a job I really enjoyed, and the saving over buying sawn timber made it really worthwhile.

 

Having completed the plans of the house I intended building, and having calculated the material I would require, I went to Rowntrees in Quirindi to order it. As the sale of building materials was still controlled, a permit from the Shire Council was required before it could be released. Councils had no control over buildings in rural areas in those days, so when I approached the Shire Clerk (Mr C. Eley) of the Warrah Shire Council, I was told he could not give me one. However, on explaining my predicament, he agreed to write me an unofficial document which he hoped would help me. This was sent to the appropriate authority, but was returned because it did not have a number on it. This obstacle was easily overcome. I just thought of a number and wrote it in. Having been tangled up in army red tape for years, I was not in the mood to let a simple thing like a number delay the procuring of my building materials any further. As it was, there was a wait of some months before it started to arrive in dribs and drabs.

 

We decided to have a few days' holiday before Christmas, 1946, so we packed the tent and camp gear into our A model Ford Coupe and joined Alan and Jack and Mavis who were camping at Bonville.

 

Campbell Sharpe came to work for us on 1st January,1947, which was a very opportune time to get help as it was really a full time job for the three of us to run the properties. Sheila helped with the mustering and droving. Besides this, I wanted to get on with building our new home, which was to take up quite a lot of my time. We did not want to live in our temporary home for too many years, especially as we were hoping for a family before too long.

 

Campbell came to us under a two year scheme whereby the Government assisted with the wages of an ex-serviceman seeking experience on the land. The Government paid seventy- five per cent of the wages for the first six months, and then decreased the amount each six month period as the employee gained knowledge and proficiency. Campbell lived with Father and Amy most of the time and occasionally at "Daffodil" if Luke needed assistance.

 

Audrey and I moved to "Elmsford" in January taking Jack and Mavis with us to finish pulling down the remaining portion of the old house. One of the biggest jobs in pulling down the old house was taking the nails out of the timber, especially the lining boards and weather boards after they were taken off the walls. Audrey and Mavis did a lot of this. Besides this timber from the old house, more was needed which we planned to cut on "Ashcroft". In April we had a concentrated effort to obtain it. Luke, Campbell and I put in a few weeks' very hard work there felling yellow box trees by hand with a crosscut saw, then snigging them to the saw-mill with horses and then milling them. We cut about eighty logs.

 

Most of the materials ordered last year had arrived by May, including two two-thousand gallon tanks from Driscolls in Quirindi. It is interesting to note that these were made and delivered by Ed Driscoll and his father, Albert, for thirty-one pounds ten shillings ($63.00). Alby gave me some helpful advice later on when I was installing the septic tank and the hot water system.

 

At last I was about ready to do what I had been planning for years - to build us a home. I had drawn a number of plans while in the N.T. and sent them to Audrey for her comments and suggestions for improvements. Finally we had settled on what we thought would suit us best. Having never built any more than a room or two before, this was a big project. But I was full of enthusiasm and not afraid of hard work and long hours.

 

There being no such labour savers as post-hole diggers, the holes for the foundations had to be dug by hand. Also there was no electricity for power tools such as drills, planes or saws, so all this was much slower than it would be today.

 

Once I had the foundations in and the framework cut, I employed Jack Barwick (by now living on "Cedar Vale") to help erect the walls and roof. Campbell was also available at times to help with the more difficult parts.

 

About the same time as I got the building started, Audrey, to our great delight, discovered she was pregnant. This gave me the added incentive to get the house finished so as to have more space and comfortable surroundings.

 

Uncle Ernest Barwick passed away at his home, "Quondah", on 9th April, 1947.

 

One day during May when Audrey and I were in Quirindi she saw, at Knight and Cannings, a lounge suite she liked so much she felt we must buy. However, as our home was only just started, we had nowhere to store it until we had a room completed. Alan Barwick and his mother, hearing of our problem, offered me a room in which to store it temporarily.

 

We decided to shear all the Sparkes Creek sheep at "Oakhaven" this year, which meant that Luke spent most of the time droving over the mountain and back again. However, this seemed to be more convenient than a team of us moving to "Elmsford" as we had done the previous year.

 

Once the shearing was finished I was able to devote full time to the building, working on it from daylight until dark in an effort to beat the "Stork" in February.

 

November 8th was a very happy day for the Ashford family when Noel (Audrey's brother) and Louisa Goodworth were married in St. Luke's Church, Scone. Louisa, fondly known to all as "Sis", is the second daughter of the late Teddy Goodworth of Kars Springs, and Mrs Gladys Goodworth, now residing in Scone. The happy couple were attended by Wanda, Louisa's eldest sister (now Mrs Reg Nowland), and Noel's sister, Verna, and Ron Pring (Noel's cousin) and myself. After a honeymoon in the Blue Mountains, they returned to Kiernan's Creek where they have lived ever since, at "Sunny Vale", which was the home of Noel's grandparents.

 

By December, our home had advanced far enough to need a bricklayer to build the chimneys and fireplaces. I employed Eric Holt of Quirindi to do this, and it is interesting to note that, after several days work putting an open fireplace in the loungeroom, bricking in a stove in the kitchem and bulding a brick copper in the laundry, I paid him twenty-one pounds ten shillings ($43.00).

 

When the New Year of 1948 came in, I was still working furiously on the house. Although a long way from completion, I had two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and verandahs finished by the end of January. This was going to give us considerably more space than we had been living in over the past two years.

 

Audrey was booked in at Brancaster Private Hospital, Scone, for her confinement. She moved to Scone to be nearer the doctors and hospital and stayed at Mrs Carter's boarding house in Kelly Street for a little while.

 

Our daughter was born on Monday, 16th February, 1948, and how delighted we were. I had been very apprehensive about the birth as there had been problems beforehand, and the thought that two young couples close to us had lost babies before this was not very reassuring. They were Jack and Mavis Barwick in May,1946, and Luke and Enid in August,1947. We did not fully realise our good fortune then either, in that we did not know this was the only pregnancy Audrey would have.

 

During Audrey's stay on hospital, which was a fortnight, I put some floor coverings in the finished rooms and moved our furniture into the kitchen and one bedroom. I made a loungeroom out of the other bedroom by putting our new lounge suite in it. So by the time Audrey and the baby came home we were quite comfortable. Also over the past few months I had made a cot out of some Yellow Wood, the baby's grandfather, Cyril Ashford, had given me. Our baby was christened Joycelyn Viola at St Luke's Church on 8th March by Rev. S.V. Satchell, Rector of Scone.

 

I recently came across a letter written by Audrey to me before we were married (5/9/1943) telling me those names were what she wanted to call our daughter if and when we had one. According to an old bank pass book, the cost of Joy's birth was:- twelve pounds three shillings for the hospital expenses and ten pounds for the doctor, a total of $44.30 in today's currency.

 

Bringing Audrey and Joy home in March to a new home, even if not quite complete, was the fulfilment of a dream I had over five years before when we became engaged, during which time we had been apart for a year at one stage and had lived in many places under difficult circumstances.

 

I continued to work on the house as much as possible, and we feared at the beginning that the noise of carpentering would be a disruption to our baby's sleep. However we soon discovered that occasionally when put down for her daily sleep she would not settle. As soon as I began hammering she quietened and went to sleep!

 

Sometime in April, Alan Barwick planned to take his mother and Uncle Arthur and Aunt Alice (then living in Scone, having moved from Bunnan) to Moree for a holiday, and suggested we accompany them. This we did and stayed at a Hotel not far from the Artesian Baths, where we spent some time enjoying the hot water.

 

As our partnership becoming a little more financial, it was decided that I could buy a new car. There were still restrictions on the sale of new cars, so I had to get a "Permit to Acquire a New Vehicle", which I received on 10th June. I soon after took delivery of a new twelve h.p. Vauxhall Wyvern sedan from Wilson's Garage in Quirindi at a cost of about six hundred pounds ($1200.00). This was my first new car and I was very proud of it. There was then not a very wide choice, only a Ford and a Morris of comparable size and a little cheaper then the Vauxhall. The Vauxhall, however, had three things which the others did not. They were:- an overhead valve motor, hydraulic brakes and independent front suspension, which to my mind, made it a better car and better value.

 

Petrol was still rationed, and I still have in my possession the Motor Spirit Consumer's Licence given me for the Vauxhall, allowing me to purchase fourteen gallons of petrol per month. This licence was last used in January, 1950, when rationing finished.

 

The only place to keep my new car was the skillion on the old shed where we had lived. So during the winter, Luke helped me cut some timber for a double garage and by employing Jack to build it while we cut material, I soon had shelter for it and the T Model Ford utility (Mabel) I still had for a work vehicle.

 

I distinctly remember it was winter when we did this, and a very cold one it must have been, because, on driving the Ford to "Ashcroft" early one morning to do the sawing, I stalled the motor at a gate. When Luke went to use the crank handle to get it started, there was ice on it. (The T Fords had their crank handle swinging in front ready for use.)

 

In October, Luke arranged to buy an ex-Army Chevrolet Blitzwagon in Sydney, and took Ken Newling with him to take delivery of it and help drive it home. This proved to be a very useful vehicle in Luke's hilly country where he had much fencing and timber work to do. The only four-wheel drives available then were used Army trucks and jeeps. A little later Luke bought an old one ton T Model Ford from Eric Seymour. This had a two speed differential giving it four forward gears, and was quite a handy old machine. It was later brought here when I used it unregistered on the property for a few years.

 

Campbell Sharpe, who left in November after being with us for nearly two years, was evidently determined to settle on the land. After one or two ventures into property, finally settled on "Stirling Vale" in the Merriwa area, where he has been since 1957. There he built his own home, married Shirley Rooke and raised a family of two sons and a daughter.

 

I completed the house during the latter part of 1948, it having dragged on a little when we had room to be comfortable. Also I had to start pulling my weight in running the properties which I had not done over the past twelve months.

 

In 1949, I was nominated as a Parochial Councillor by the Rev. Canon F. de P. St. John, Vicar of the Parish of Quirindi and went to my first meeting of the Quirindi Anglican Parish Council on 2nd February, 1949. I was a Parochial Councillor until mid-1952 when, on my father's retirement, I became Vicar's Warden of St. Stephen's, Warrah Creek, until it closed in 1973.

 

During the early part of 1949, I spent a while at "Daffodil" assisting Luke with some alterations he was doing to the house. Besides helping with the main structure, I built the kitchen cupboards.

 

In March we bought Joy a "Dinkie" (a small pedal tricycle), which she rode until she became too big for it. This cost less than three dollars, and is still here, having been used by my grandchildren as well.

 

In August, we went to a Tennis Tournament at Collarenabri, taking Esme and Verna with us. They stayed at a hotel in town, while Audrey, Joy and I were billeted out of town with Mr and Mrs Henry Morse. We detoured a little on the way home, going to Walgett for a night and then back through Coonamble.

 

I did a little more building later in the year, helping build a big garage at "Lemon Grove".

 

In December, Ern Brecht and I went to Sydney to bring home a three ton Ford V8 Blitzwagon, which our partnership decided to buy. We used this vehicle for quite a number of years, carting timber from "Ashcroft", carrying wool to the rail at Willow Tree and general farm work. Being four-wheel drive, it took a lot of stopping in mud and on steep hills. In those days, a four-wheel drive vehicle was not common.

Alan Barwick, Audrey and Arthur.
Ron Barwick and Dette, and Cyril, Verna and Noel Ashford.

Arthur and Luke logging on "Ashcroft"

 

1950 – 1970 Life on the farm "Oakhaven"

 

 

We commenced 1950 by having a holiday at Shoal Bay, accompanying Ern and Lucy Brecht and their children, Janet and Ken. We had cottages there, if they could be called such they being hovels by today's standards, but we had quite an enjoyable time.

 

On returning from holiday, Victor Barwick helped me mill a bit of timber from which I built a small sheepyard and loading ramp, which was the first one anywhere near and is still in use.

 

I had been hoping to install a hard water supply for the garden, and as a first step, brought home a steel tank stand from Tamworth.

 

On 1st April, the Partnership took delivery of a new Fordson Major tractor from Bousteads, the Ford dealers in Quirindi. Also in April, we had a visit from my old Army mate of 1942, Herb Reeves of Coolatai.

 

Sheila, my sister, was married on 10th April, 1950, to Jack Goodworth at St. Stephen's Church, Warrah Creek. A small reception was held at "Trillowee", the old home. Jack and Sheila then lived at "Glenburnie", Kars Springs for most of their married life.

 

The boundary fence between "Trillowee" and "Cedar Vale" was due for renewal, so a day was arranged with Jack and Victor to commence operations. On meeting for the job, we were amused that amongst the tools and equipment we had brought with us, were nine shovels - for three of us!

 

Electricity was connected to us in November, 1950, by the Quirindi Municipal Council, and what a wondeful boon this was. It is hard to imagine what it was like without the use of so many appliances that we now take for granted, as well as lighting. I had two pump-up pressure lamps which were far better than the old wick type kerosene lamps, but these were poor compared to what we are now accustomed.

 

Father had been driving the 1939 Ford V8 until November, 1950, when he changed it for a Ford Pilot. This had a V8 engine also, but was made in England and was old-fashioned looking, more like a 1936 American model in appearance.

 

I had a motor trip to Sydney in January, 1951, with Audrey's father and Noel, who also took her Uncle Fred and Derek Ashford to see a cricket Test Match. As Noel had not, up until then, driven to Sydney and I had some knowledge of the suburbs, I was taken as a co-driver, and to direct them to where Esme lived in Lytton Street, Cammeray.

 

In February, a water-boring plant operated by Mr Hayes was in this area. We had two bores put down, one at "Trillowee" and one at "Oakhaven". This has been our garden supply ever since, by using an electric pump to pump water into an elevated tank mounted on the stand I purchased the year before.

 

In February, we had the first of our caravan holidays. During the next few years we had quite a number of these. On this occasion, Edgar, Gloryne and their three sons, Neil, Roger and Timothy, joined us in hiring two "Carapark" caravans at Mayfield and we headed south. We towed a small four berth van, which was really too heavy for our twelve horsepower car, but we got to Bateman's Bay and back with only one holdup. This was when we crossed the Clyde River by ferry when the tide was low. To make the long steep climb up the bank, we needed a push by some of the people around to enable our little car to get under way. On our return from Bateman's Bay, we had about a week at Gerroa and a day or so at Kemp's Camp at Gymea Bay before returning the caravans to Mayfield.

Roger, Tim and Joy on the ferry.

 

 Our first experience of caravanning appealed to us, so while at Gymea, on seeing advertised a small caravan, more in keeping with the size of our car, I bought it privately from a Mr Binge.

 

Sometime this year, the partnership bought our first chain saw which was also the first one in this part of the district. The saw was a Lanskay, English made and big, heavy and cumbersome. It did not have an automatic clutch but had two hand operated levers, one each for vertical and horizontal operations.

Galvanised piping being still scarce, Luke learned that there was some available in Kempsey. So he, Eric Barwick and Hilton Vine drove the Ford Blitzwagon there for a load. This was quite a trek in 1951 when the Oxley Highway was not as good as now.

 

Our partnership sold the crossbred woolclip in March, realising a top price of 279 3/4 pence per pound, which was then a State record and stood for a number of years. The total proceeds for the thirty-one bales was five thousand seven hundred and seventy-six pounds three shillings and sixpence ($11552.37). This was quite a contrast to the wool returns I mentioned in 1932!

 

We went to Parkes in August to a tennis tournament, taking our new little caravan. Esme was there with a group from Slazengers where she then worked.

 

 Having driven the little yellow Vauxhall Wyvern for three and a half years, we decided to change for something a little bigger, a six-cylinder Vauxhall Velox.

 

Also this month, November, I had a trip to Sydney to assist Esme who had just recently bought a home at 151 Ernest Street, Crows Nest. She planned to convert the house into three flats, as well as her own quarters, for renting. My job was a little carpentering and plumbing, fitting up the kitchenettes.

 

We commenced 1952 by having a caravan holiday in January at Narrabeen in company with Edgar and Gloryne and family. At Easter we motored to Sydney and, after picking up Esme, went to Lithgow where she and Audrey played in a Tennis Tournament. I went on to Bathurst to the car races and camped on the top of Mt. Panorama.

 

Father, having reached the age of seventy, had been thinking of retiring, and with this object in mind, he and Amy bought an old house at Satur on the outskirts of Scone. This house needed renovations before being lived in, but as we had not done any repairs and as his retirement became more urgent, they bought another home nearby. Plans were then made for Father and Amy to move to Satur, and Luke to purchase "Trillowee" and for him and his family to move there. In doing this, the partnership was dissolved, with father withdrawing from the properties completely, and Luke and I each to manage our country separately. This was our first experience of running our property ourselves, and in spite of there being some advantages of being in a partnership, Audrey and I were delighted at the opportunity of being on our own.

 

We commenced 1953 with a caravan holiday to Bulli. As we now had a more powerful car, which could comfortably tow a bigger van, on our way through Sydney we traded the small one in on a larger four-berth "Luxury" caravan. This gave more comfort, especialy for anyone as tall as I am. We used this van for numerous trips and holidays in the ensuing years.

 

I went to the Sydney Royal Show in April, and there met up with Herb Reeves, whom I had not seen since he visited us three years before. While at the Show, I bought a few items of equipment which I needed, including a hayrake, an air compressor and a sheep jetting plant. I also saw an electric motor for a sewing machine, one of which I later bought for Audrey from Eddie Driscoll, who was the local agent. 

 

Having realised the need of a more useful farm vehicle and a more reliable second vehicle than the worn out T Ford we had been using, and having consolidated our finances during our first year on our own, we decided we could afford a new LandRover. This we took delivery of in July, 1953, for nine hundred and seventy-five pounds ($1950.00). It proved to be a most useful machine over the next ten years. Incidentally, this was the vehicle in which Joy learnt to drive many years before being old enough to get a licence.

 

We had a caravan trip to Queensland in August, having a night at Redland Bay and a few days at Burleigh Heads. On our way home we spent a night at Glen Innes where it snowed. Not having a heater in the car, our trip that day through the snow was a big contrast to the few warm, sunny days we had just experienced in Queensland.

 

Although the electricity had been connected for three years, we were still using a kerosene burning refrigerator. In November we replaced it with an electric "Crossley", which ,by the way, is still in operation.

 

In response to a request from my father-in-law to assist in building two new rooms and verandahs on his old home, I packed my tools in the LandRover and Audrey, Joy and I went to "Lemon Grove" for a few weeks. We took the caravan in which to live, while working on the project. We had a very happy time. I enjoyed the carpentering with Noel, his father and Ron Pring, and Audrey was able to have a nice long time with her parents who naturally loved having their grand- daughter with them as well.

 

We had been playing tennis at "Quondah" and the Warrah Creek club, but as the standard of tennis was not as good as Audrey had played before the war, she joined the Quirindi District Tennis Club in 1953 in search of better competition. This enabled her to play in district teams against such places as Tamworth, Gunnedah and Aberdeen as well as the Quirindi competitions and Club Championships. She distinguished herself in the latter by winning the Ladies Singles Championship eight times in the following ten years, as well as the Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles five times each in the same perod. Also she won the Murrurundi Club Singles in 1955 and 1956 and the Ladies Doubles in 1956. This performance was made more remarkable by the fact that she won fifteen of these titles after her fortieth birthday.

 

Our last business transaction for 1953 was to buy a new Vauxhall Velox from Wilson's Garage in Quirindi for $2272.00. As Wilsons would not accept a trade-in, I took the 1951 model to Sydney early in February, 1954, and sold it by auction for about six hundred and fifty pounds ($1300.00).

 

When taking over the running of "Oakhaven" and "Ashcroft" in 1952, the former was stocked with crossbred ewes, while the latter ran merino wethers. Also on "Oakhaven" was a small unregistered Shropshire Stud, which supplied us with rams for crossbred lamb breeding. At that time, the Shropshire cross appeared to be more suitable than some breeds for our particular country.

 

In an effort to simplify mustering on "Ashcroft" and in an endeavour to make the place a little more productive, I fenced off a smaller paddock of about one hundred and fifty acres about the middle of the property. This involved quite a lot of hard work, doing it entirely on my own with the help of the new LandRover to carry tools and materials into awkward places. I split the fence posts near the job. About the hardest day's work I ever did (and the biggest day splitting posts) was the day I fell sufficient trees, cutting off enough logs to finish the day with forty-nine new posts.

 

Joy commenced school on 25th May, 1954, but my memory is not clear on how she travelled the three miles each way at first. I think we conveyed her by car for a while, but I remember her riding a bicycle when quite young, as I recall getting an S.O.S. to go and fetch her on a couple of occaasions when she had fallen off on the gravel road and skinned her knees. Reg Dowling, her first teacher, used to cook chops for his pupils on a shovel over the open fire during the winter months.

 

On 25th June, 1954, I bought a Rolex Tudor Oyster watch. It was quite expensive, costing twenty-five guineas ($52.50), but was well worth it as I still wear it.

 

Later in the year, a one day car trial was run. It started from Quirindi, took in the western part of the district and finished back in Quirindi. Taking Victor Barwick and Bill Bingham, I entered the event and won it. This was most gratifying as it was the only trial I have ever been in, and also the prize of a box of cutlery has been very useful.

 

Not having had a holiday the previous year, we decided to have a month off. So early in January, 1955, we hitched the caravan to the LandRover and headed for Melbourne. We broke our journey at Crows Nest, then Canberra for a couple of days. We camped at the Hume Weir and Wagga Wagga on the way. On arriving at Melbourne, we stayed at a caravan park at Springvale and from there we explored the city. We returned to Sydney via the Princes Highway, stopping overnight at Cann River, Lakes Entrance, Merimbula, where we spent a few days, and Narooma. This was the only time we used the LandRover on a long trip. Being four-wheel drive, there was no danger of being held up on bad roads, but only having a fifteen horse-power engine, it was slow on the open roads and the seating was not very comfortable.

 

During the year I did two building jobs. One was the construction of a sheep weather-shed for Ron Barwick on "Quondah". This shed, which is on the hill about the centre of the property, is supported by posts which Ron, Maurice Seymour and I cut on "Ashcroft" and transported to the site on my Blitzwagon.

 

The other shed I built was a small one at "Lemon Grove" to accommodate the thirty-two volt Lister lighting plant that Cyril and Noel had installed to supply power to their respective homes.

 

Although I had erected some new fencing on "Ashcroft" last year, there was still some more to be done. The old worn-out and burnt out western boundary needed replacing. This was between my country and what had once been part of Miller's Creek Station, and now belonged to Reg Sevil. I did some of this on my own, and then when the line got into steeper country and the going got tougher, I employed Brian Seymour to help me. To save travelling and thus make the job a little easier, we sometimes took two days' food and camped the night in the hut. As we got further up the mountain, if the weather was dry and warm, we slept overnight on our stetchers under the stars, right at the end of the fenceline.

 

On 18th June, I became involved in the moving of Jim and Beryl Meredith's house from "Beaumont" to where it is now. It being a wet time, the transporter carrying the house became bogged on leaving the Warrah Creek road. This was before tractors had become so big and powerful, so Luke and I took down our Blitzwagons. We hooked these in tandem onto one towing hook on the "White" lorry, and Foster Carter and Bill Meredith hitched their tractors onto the other hook. At a given signal, with all engines roaring, the five clutches were engaged and the house was moved to its planned site.

 

We had now been in our new home for seven years, but were still using an old wooden kitchen table. On 23rd June I purchased from Clarks' in Scone a kitchen setting of a chrome and formica extension table and four chrome chairs at a cost of sixty-seven pounds ($134.00).

 

As I mentioned earlier, "Oakhaven" was stocked with crossbred ewes, but as the country at this stage was incapable of producing good crossbred lambs, and as I was more interested in fine wool production, I had at the back of my mind thoughts of switching to merinos.

 

After Godfrey Knee's death and "Chesney Oaks" was bought by Jack Smith, their merino sheep were advertised to be sold at the clearance sale. As these sheep were what I wanted and so near to home, this was the opportunity I had been looking for to begin the change back to merinos. Having emptied a paddock to receive them, and taking my dog to help bring them home, I attended the sale determined to buy the ewes and lambs. This I did, getting 148 ewes for four pounds per head, with 160 lambs at foot. As soon as I had bought them, I walked them home. So by nightfall I had the paddock stocked with the nucleus of my future woolgrowing flock of sheep.

 

Needing merino rams to ensure next year's crop of lambs, Col Logan, who was then the Stock and Station Agent in Willow Tree, and I went to "Tuwinga", Bundella, where I bought four rams from Mr J.H. Traill.

 

Later that month (January, 1956) we had a holiday at Bolton Point on Lake Macquarie, where we had the caravan parked near some cottages which the Brechts and Winnetts had rented for their holiday.

 

February 18, 1956 is a date I will always remember as this was the day of the biggest flood in Warrah Creek in living memory. This was the result of a cloud-burst at the head of Captain's Creek and half of the head of Warrah Creek. The result was a wall of water racing down the centre of the valley, totally disregarding the normal creek bed. After the water subsided, there was only one fence crossing in miles left across the creek and many sections of fence were flattened or missing along the flats. There were also some stock losses, Ern Brecht losing quite a number of sheep. Fortunately, the water did not reach the floor of our home, but the laundry floor on a lower level and the workshop floor were left with inches of silt on them. It all happened so quickly that there was no time to rescue anything, except the dogs, who were swimming, and losing a battle with the current until I caught them and put them on the verandah. We had three electric motors, including the one on the washing machine totally submerged.

 

Numerous people have asked why we stayed at the house during the flood. The reason was, of course, was that by the time we knew what was happening, there was no way we could have crossed in the torrent of water running between us and the higher ground on the road. The car, standing on ground level in the garage, naturally had a lot of water through it, and although I thought very little got in the engine, it always sounded a little rattley afterwards. So in August, we traded it on a new Holden. This was our first Holden, and was one of the first of a "new look" model, which caused quite a lot of interest wherever we went for a while.

 

Occasionally I had a small amount of wheat or oats to harvest, and, needing a header, I bought an old eight foot Sunshine Header at a clearance sale for sixty dollars. This old machine was originally a ground-drive to be pulled by horses, but had been converted to P.T.O. drive by the fitting of a "Fortesque Drive". This apparatus had been designed specifically for this purpose.

 

Colour photography was still comparatively new, so just before Christmas, I bought a "Paxette" colour slide camera which I used continuously for about twenty-five years, taking hundreds of slides.

 

Having enjoyed our caravan trip south two years before, we decided to go further afield in 1957. So early in January we hooked the caravan onto the new Holden and set out for Adelaide. On arriving in Sydney we had a night at North Ryde before travelling the Hume Highway to Albury. As the Hume Weir had appealed to us on our previous visit, we again had two or three days there before going on through Echuca and Bendigo to Ballarat. There we spent some time in the gardens and on Lake Wendouree. From there we went on through Horsham, Bordertown and Tailem Bend to Adelaide, where we spent a few days in a caravan park at Semaphore. We had quite a good look at the city and suburbs and while there called on my cousin, Veronica, and her husband, Percy Harrison.

 

On leaving Adelaide, we went to Mt. Gambier, where we had a full day looking at the lakes, including the Blue Lake, which is a "must" if travelling in that area. After Mt. Gambier we stayed overnight at Port Fairy, and then on through Warrnambool, Colac, Geelong and Melbourne to Warragul. Having enjoyed our previous trip back to Sydney via the Princes Highway, we decided to do it again, this time stopping at Lakes Entrance, Eden, Narooma and Bulli.

 

I had done quite a lot of work trying to improve "Ashcroft", but I was beginning to wonder if the small return I was getting from the property was really worth the effort. Apart from quite a loss of sheep annually, a significant percentage took to the Darling Pea each year. These had to be kept on "Oakhaven" after each mustering in an endeavour to keep them alive and bring them back to normal. Pea was very prevalent on "Ashcroft" and unless one has had some experience with "pea-struck" sheep, it is difficult to understand the problem. Pea is always green, so naturally appeals to sheep when all else is dry. Once they have a taste of it they become addicted. This affects their brain or nervous system and they wander around with their heads in the air, stumbling into obstructions or over banks. Very badly affected sheep will starve to death when removed from pea and put onto other good green feed. With these problems in mind and having an offer to buy the place, I sold it in February, 1957, to Darrell Goodworth. This was a decision I have never regretted, although I did miss having access to the useful timber there.

 

The Warrah Creek school closed suddenly on 20th March, 1957, after being in use since 1914. As no provision had been made for the pupils to get to Willow Tree, the families from this area took it in turns to convey the children to Old Warrah to catch the school bus from Jack's Creek. We did this until early 1958 when, after Ron Barwick and I had presented our case for a a bus to the Education Department in Sydney, our application was granted. This service to Willow Tree via Borambil was originally run by John and Pearl Coombs and is still in operation.

 

Father and Amy bought "Mt. View", the small property at Willow Tree in the corner between the New England Highway and the Quirindi road, and moved there, from Satur, in May, 1958. 

 

We began 1959 with a holiday at Blue Lagoon near The Entrance. This was a privately owned caravan park and a very nice, shady spot. Staying near us was a family with whom we became friendly, Pat and Lorna Portass and their twin daughters, Sonia and Sandra.

 

To aid my sheep breeding programme, Audrey and I went to "Tuwinga", Bundella again in February and purchased a very good ram. When Jim Traill learnt that I was not trying to breed rams, but wanting to improve my woolcutting flock, he let me have a hundred guinea ram for seventy-five. NOTE:- a guinea was one pound one shilling, or $2.10, and was used by all studs, whether sheep, cattle or horses, when buying or selling their animals.

 

The ram I bought really boosted the wool quality of my sheep, and doing as Mr Traill advised, I joined him with about one hundred ewes each time, making seventy or eighty lambs each drop. I soon had quite a number of his progeny. This ram lived for nearly eight years after I bought him and in that time sired eight hundred and seventy-eight lambs. One particular year, when seasonal conditions were very favourable, sixteen ewes had twenty-four of his lambs in one forty-eight hour period.

 

Later this year, we traded in the three year old Holden on a 1959 model. Also about the same time I bought a Kreisler Stereophonic Radiogram and some good records. These are old fashioned now compared with the sound systems which are currectly available.

 

Joy, our daughter, commenced High School in Quirindi on 3rd February, 1960, after having to repeat sixth class at Primary School in 1959 on account of her young age.

 

On 6th February, 1960, I had my first game of bowls. This was at Murrurundi on a "mug's day" organised by the newly formed Wilow Tree Bowling Club for members who had never played before. 

 

As Mrs Frost (Enid's mother) had passed away early in the weekend, Audrey and I, Jack and Victor left at 5 a.m. on Monday 9th May for the funeral at Macksville.

 

Over the past year or so, I had experimented a little in pasture improvement, sowing a few small areas with various grasses and clover seed. It did not take long to learn that to get the best results a fertiliser was necessary. This country is sulphur deficient, and we found that a top- dressing of Gypsum gave quite spectacular results. Aerial top dressing was becoming popular, so this seemed to be the answer to improving hilly country.

 

Consequently, a group of us around here decided that what we needed was a local airstrip, and the most suitable piece of ground we could find was on "Oakhaven", where there is still a strip. Luke, Jack and Victor from "Cedar Vale", Jack Smith and I, together with others interested in top- dressing, cleared the proposed strip of stones, levelled it and then ordered our Gypsum. In due course, aircraft from Airfarm Associates of Tamworth arrived to spread it. The first plane to land on our new strip, which was quite an exciting occasion for us, was a "Ceres", piloted by Nigel Hanel. The "Ceres" were converted Wirraways which were used by the R.A.A.F. in the very early war years. They were totally inadequate as a war plane, but they did a good job spreading fertiliser, carrying a ton per load, However, their radial engine was a "fuel guzzler".

 

Nigel was here on many occasions and seemed to have the edge on many of the pilots when it came to accurate flying, although he always appeared very casual. I recall him sitting, waiting for his engine to warm up sufficiently to take off with a full load, rolling and lighting a cigarette! This appeared to be contrary to general safety.

 

The airstrip has been used every year since then and much of the surrounding country has been top-dressed by a variety of aircraft. Besides the Ceres, there have been Fletchers, Cessnas, Piper Pawners, Airtruks, Tiger Moths and an EP9. The latter, on account of its unusual shape, was referred to by the pilot as the "pregnant tadpole". Of the many pilots who have operated from the "Oakhaven" strip two were well known in this region; Col Pay of Scone and PeterNorvill of Murrurundi. Two other pilots I will mention, the first being Tim O'Neil who, just after being here in 1961, fouled a power line at Medlow Bath and survived. Three things could have killed him-he could have been electrocuted or his aricraft could have caught fire. Instead, the power line fused onto the plane and held it dangling over a cliff. Had he scrambled out of the wrong side of the machine, he could have fallen some hundreds of feet to his death.

 

The other pilot I wish to mention was instructed that the country to be supered included the airstrip and to

commence inside the bounday fence some fifty yards away. He must have become disorientated as he dropped his first load on the opposite side of the fence. Later in the day I noticed that his safety helmet was inscribed "Bonedome", which after his earlier performance, seemed appropriate.

 

During June, I did another small building job, helping Noel and Cyril Ashford build a grain shed at "Lemon Grove".

 

On 28th November, 1960, Joy was confirmed at St. Alban's Quirindi by Bishop J.S. Moyes who had confirmed me some thirty years previously.

 

We commenced 1961 with another caravan holiady. This trip took us through Katoomba, Bathurst and Cowra to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Parking the caravan at Leeton, we toured the area taking in Griffith and Yanco. Before leaving Leeton we inspected the cannery, where, besides canning the fruit, they also made the cans. This process intrigued me more than the canning, as there were literally thousands of cans chasing each other around on conveyors, being shaped and soldered and having their bottoms put in, all about three hundred per minute.

 

From Leeton, we travelled to Tumut through Narrandera and Wagga Wagga. From Tumut the road climbed the Talbingo Mountain (five and a half miles in low gear!) then on through Kiandra and Adaminaby to Cooma. We detoured off the highway to see the Yarrangobilly Caves, which involved a three mile low gear climb back again. Parking the caravan at Cooma for two nights, we spent the day driving to the top of Mt. Koscuisko, where it was bitterly cold. Next stop was Canberra for three nights, where we saw both War Memorials, Parliament House and the Cotter River and dam.

 

I had never been to the Barrington Tops, so was delighted when Audrey's father asked us to join his party to go there at Easter, with Ray Ashford of Moonan, who knew the area well, to lead us. This was a one day trip with fifteen of us travelling in two LandRovers and a Willey's Jeep. This was long before the road from Scone to Gloucester via Moonan Brook and Polblue was constructed, so with Carey's Peak as our destination, we had to go the longer way to Tubrabucca and then a slow, tortuous twenty miles along the top past Mt. Barrington. By the time we had arrived, as is quite usual at Carey's Peak, the fog had rolled in, spoiling the view. In spite of the rough, dusty track, I was fascinated by the area, and vowed to spend more time there in the future.

 

On my birthday, 7th August, Audrey's mother passed away in the Scone Hospital.

 

When I read my diary of some twenty-five years ago, I wonder now how I kept up the pace and did all the things mentioned. This year was typical of any around that time. Besides the usual sheep work and farming, activities included wool-rolling and classing at "Quondah" and "Yarrabah" sheds, and saw-milling whenever Luke or I needed timber. (We did not make a practice of sawing for other people but of course relaxed this rule under certain circumstances). There appears to have been three or four family trips to Sydney as well as taking Father on two occasions.

 

My sheep breeding programme was beginning to bring results, as proved by the fact that our wool topped the Elder Smith's October catalogue, bringing seventy-eight pence per pound (converted- one hundred and forty-three cents per kg).

 

At Christmas we made plans to have a week at Barrington Tops in January, 1962. Accordingly on 3rd a party consisting of Verna, Jim Curley, Anthony, Audrey, Joy and I set off in two LandRovers. Audrey was driving her father's and I was towing a trailer loaded with camp gear. There had been rain on the Tops before we arrived. Consequently the tracks were greasy and boggy. One particular pinch was too slippery for my Landrover to climb with the trailer. This meant unhooking the trailer, driving the Rover to the top and then pulling the trailer up with a long rope attached to the vehicle.

 

We eventually arrived at the Little Murray, where we pitched a comfortable camp consisting of two big tents with a tarpaulin stretched between, to provide more sheltered space. Having a large well set-up camp proved to be a wise move as it rained every day except one. Ray Ashford and his family visited us one wet day, and another time he and Adrian Ashford came along with food and supplies. On the only fine day, our last there, we went to Tubrabucca where we met up with Adrian, Betty, Andrew, Derek and Ray Ashford and Ray's mate, Ernie Caslick and son. From there we went to see the Gummi Falls, a spectacular waterfall of over sixty metres.

 

On 4th February, a service of Holy Communion, conducted by Rev. John Fincher, was held at "Oakhaven" on the bank of Warrah Creek. This was followed by a picnic lunch, and was attended by sixty-five people.

 

I attended Synod in Armidale during February, It is interesting to note that two nights' accommodation at a motel,consisting of dinner, bed and breakfast cost $10.60.

 

At about 8 pm March 29th, 1962, a telephone call came from Charles Scott of "Woodlands", Kiernan's Creek, informing us of Audrey's father's death, which had occurred suddenly at his home. We, naturally, were there within about three hours. The funeral was two days later, and the day after, just before leaving for home, word arrived that Aunt Mabel, Cyril's sister, had also passed away.

 

The first time I drove the LandRover to the top of the Range was 4th April, 1962. This was the occasion of a visit to the Cedar Brush by the Quirindi High School Botany classes and I had volunteered to convey their lunches and equipment over the section they had to walk from the bus.

 

A party of us went to Mount Helen on 24th April, this being the only time I have been there.

 

I bought a new Remington "Bantam" chain saw in June to replace the old Lankey I had used for years. Also this month I did quite extensive repairs and additions to the woolshed. The repairs were necessary as one section was beginning to disintegrate. As our wool production was increasing due to pasture improvement, additions were also required.

 

June also saw the purchase of a new Holden E.K. Model sedan. This was the first car we had that was equipped with a heater, which was quite an advancement in motoring comfort. However, the tap controlling the hot water was accessible only by lifting the bonnet. This car was delivered here by Mr Don McRae of Browning Motors, who picked Joy up in Willow Tree and allowed her (at fourteen) to drive it some of the way home. She had been driving the LandRover around here for years. 

 

In December, 1962, Father and Amy moved to a house they purchased in Guernsey Street, Scone, after selling "Mt. View" where they had been living since 1957. I naturally was once again involved in packing, loading and unloading their furniture and belongings, this being their third move in just over ten years.

 

We commenced 1963 by having a caravan holiday at Narooma. There was quite a big party, as camping near us were Jim and Daisy Jennison and Daisy's sister, Enid, and her husband Jim Spindler, and their three children. Also Jim Curley and Verna joined us for a few days. After nine days at Narooma we headed for home having a night at Cronulla, whereI visited an army mate, Bill Jones who lived at Miranda. We also spent a few days at a caravan park at Lane Cove, as Joy was playing tennis at White City. She played in the Under 15 singles, being beaten in the first round, and also the doubles with Robyn Eather of Boggabri, being beaten 4-6,7-5, 4-6. Next day, Audrey and I went to the Cricket Ground to watch the finish of a Test Match against England.

 

Having arranged to buy a Shropshire stud ram from Mr Webb at Woorinyan near Culcairn, I left home on February 18 and picked up Noel and Anthony Ashford at Scone. Before having lunch at Liverpool, we had a look at a block of land at Kenthurst on which Verna and Jim then planned to build a home. Proceeding down the Hume Highway, we camped overnight at Yass. After picking up the ram the next day, we headed home a different way, through Wagga, Cowra and Bylong.

 

Verna was the second of the three little blonde girls to marry, when on May 10, 1963, she and Jim Curley were married at St. Andrew's, Wahroonga. Afterwards, a small and very happy party was held at Esme's home at Crows Nest.

 

After having the LandRover for ten years, I traded it in on June 14 for a new International Scout from Hannafords. After being allowed one hundred and seventy-seven pounds for the Rover, the changeover cost was one thousand and seventy- eight pounds ($2156). This was a four cylinder four wheel drive vehicle, and was about the only four wheel drive utility type truck available in the early 1960s.

 

Another Church service was held on the bank of Warrah Creek on September 29, again conducted by Rev. John Fincher and was attended by about seventy people. A picnic lunch followed and afterwards games were played.

 

We sold thirty-two bales of wool, grown entirely on "Oakhaven", in October and my records show that this was around a fifty percent increase in the annual average production prior to the pasture improvement programme which commenced in 1960. The top line was knocked down at one hundred pence per pound, but the buyer later rejected the purchase. However, four weeks later, the same buyer paid one hundred and six pence for it.

 

On the strength of a bigger wool cheque than we had been used to, I purchased a Sunbeam Sheep Shower in readiness to dip the sheep the following year. This was something which was sorely needed as there had never been any kind of sheep dip on either of the properties.

 

Foster Carter went to the Orange Field Days in November and brought home two six foot by four foot steel trailer chassis, one being for me. I later built a wooden body on this using the packing cases in which the sheep shower came. This trailer is still in use, and has made at least one hundred trips to Scone carrying twelve or thirteen lambs each time, besides many other uses.

 

In November, I took Father and Amy to Sydney in their Morris "Elite" car, a small ten horsepower model. It was most uncomfortable for long trips for tall people.

 

Jim and Verna Curley, having sold their land at Kenthurst, bought a home at Glenhaven, which they called "Ashley". As they wanted about an acre of their property fenced with a tall secure fence, Noel's family and ours went there early in January, 1964, taking the necessary tools to construct a fence.

 

When the fencing was finished, Audrey and I went for a short three day tour, staying at motels in Orange and Goulburn. I had previously had a night or so in a motel, but they were only then becoming popular and numerous, and this was the first time we had stayed together in one.

 

On January 21, 1964, Joy had an eye operation in the Tamworth Hospital, it being done by Dr C.H. Baker.

 

March 5 saw me again assisting the High School by taking lunches and equipment to the Cedar Brush for the Science and Botany classes. On this occasion I had the Scout, and also on this occasion, after delivering the equipment to the top, I had to return to pick up some of the heavier pupils who found the climb too much for them.

 

As it was now nineteen years since I left the Northern Territory, when my Army service there finished, I felt a strong desire to return and have a look at the place under civilian conditions. So after packing the Scout with camp gear, Victor Barwick and I set out on May 27, 1964, on a thirty-two day trip. Our route was to Coonabarabran, Nyngan, Bourke, Charleville, Barcaldine, Winton, and Cloncurry, where I had first set foot in Queensland twenty years before. After five days' travelling, we arrived at Mt. Isa, where we had a rest day. We had a look at nearby Lake Moondarah, which is man-made and serves as water supply and pleasure resort for the town. From Mt. Isa we proceeded west on the Barkley Highway then north to Darwin. After spending five days there seeing the sights, and attending church on a Sunday night, we headed south. Incidentally, while at church I met Bishop Kerle, who was visiting from Sydney, and who I, as a member of Synod the next September, helped elect as the future Bishop of Armidale.

 

On our journey south, we made a few detours to see points of interest, including Humpty Doo where the rice growing project failed, Berry Springs, which was an Army rest camp during the war, Fenton Field, the airstrip I helped guard for nineteen months, and Mataranka homestead where tourists are catered for and where there is a thermal swimming pool. Also from Pine Creek, we turned towards Arnhem Land, going as far as Death Adder Creek and having a day at Jim Jim, which was just beginning as a tourist camp.

 

My visit to Fenton brought back memories, as I found the gun emplacements I helped build, also remains of huts, a small bridge, and even three posts of a five post tank stand I had helped construct were still standing.

 

After a night at Katherine Gorge we hastened on to Alice Springs. After spending a couple of days there taking two or three short trips, we went to Palm Valley. The numerous sandy crossings of the Finke River were definitely for four wheel drive vehicles only. From there back to the Alice, and then on to Ayer's Rock, whre we had one day. After Victor had climbed the Rock, we went out the the Olgas.

 

On leaving the Rock, we did not waste much time over the eighteen hundred miles (2900 kms) home. However the trip through Port Augusta, Broken Hill and Cobar took six days. This may seem a long time over that distance, but the first half of the road to Port Augusta was rough, sandy and in some places unformed.

 

The wool sales this year were on October 8, when our wool at ninety-five and a half pence per pound was Elder Smith's top price for the day.

 

This was Joy's final year at High School and after doing her Leaving Certificate Exam, gained five A passes and Honours in French, which was one the three top passes for Quirindi High that year.

 

We commenced 1965 by attending the annual New Year's Day party at "Cedar Vale", a happy get-together of local inhabitants which we enjoyed for many years.

 

The next day, we had a surprise visit from Noel, Sis, Anthony, JennyMay and Esme, when they arrived from the south by LandRover, coming via Sparkes Creek and the Cedar Brush. Although Luke had driven his Blitzwagon over the Range from Warrah Creek to Sparkes Creek, I think this was the first time a motor vehicle had traversed the mountain in this direction. The visit was a surprise because they had been unable to contact us - this was prior to the installation of a telephone service on Kiernan's Creek.

 

In the middle of January we drove to Melbourne to see the Federation Cup, the women's international tennis tournament. We left Sydney on 15th after lunch and stayed overnight at Goulburn. The next day was a long, hot journey and it was after dark when we eventually located our motel in St. Kilda. As the first day there was so hot and we were weary from the previous day's travel, we spent it in the comfort of our motel room watching the tennis on the coin-operated T.V. It was common practice in motels in the early days to have coin-operated television, making quite expensive viewing. After our stay in Melbourne, we returned to Sydney via Bairnsdale and the Omeo Highway to Tallangatta, then through Corryong, Thredbo and Jindabyne to Cooma.

 

As 1965 was a drought year, I was trying to get some relief with irrigation, but as the water in the creek got lower, I was prevented from pumping by the restrictions imposed by the conditions of my Licence. This made me think of digging for underground water. With this in mind, I asked Val Seymour to divine a spot for me to dig. On the same day as she was here (April 10), I armed myself with a pick and shovel and began digging on the spot. I dug there on my own until finding a trace of water at about nine feet. After that I set up a windlass, and with the assistance of Ern and Ken Brecht,and the use of a pump when the water increased, I obtained five thousand gallons per hour at nineteen feet. This was very useful to me, and I have pumped many acre feet of water out of it throughout the years, and have grown much useful feed in drought time.

 

On the night of May 28, our daughter, Joy, with nine other girls, made her debut at the Anglican Ball in Quirindi, when they were presented to Mr Irvine, the United States Vice-Consul in Australia.

 

I went to Newcastle on August 25, taking Ron and Mavis Barwick to Aunty Lu Brecht's funeral service at Waratah and thence to the Beresfield Crematorium. This was a sad break with the past for me as she had been very close as far back as I could remember.

 

The only time I ever drove the Scout to Sydney was 2nd September, 1965, when Audrey, Joy and I went to "Ashley", taking a Shropshire ewe to give to Jim and Verna. This ewe had twins soon afterwards, of which they were very proud.

 

Joy decided to buy a car, and on September 8th took delivery of a new Vauxhall Viva. This was a small, neat, four cylinder, two door car costing nine hundred and forty pounds. 

 

I bought a "Roseberry" four H.P. engine at George Dellar's clearance sale on November 26th, and, after setting it up at the new well, used it for about twenty years to drive the irrigation pump. This was one of the older type which used petrol only for starting, and once hot, ran quite happily on power kerosene. Most of the earlier tractors operated this way, but since the change to diesel engines, there has been so little demand for power kero that only one Oil Company has been supplying it.

 

Joy, having completed her schooling at the end of 1964, spent all of 1965 at home with us. She and Audrey really concentrated on tennis during the year, playing in the Quirindi Winter competition, night competition in the summer, and, as well as the Club Championships, matches in Tamworth, Gunnedah and Aberdeen. In October, Audrey played in the annual tournament at Werris Creek, winning the Open Doubles with Harry Coggan of Tamworth over many more fancied Newcastle opponents. This win, after turning fifty years of age, was a very creditable performance.

 

During this year at home, Joy was a big help to me and was kept busy. Being a drought year, while I was busy irrigating, she was able to do much of the stock feeding by taking oats and hay out to them in the Scout.

 

Oakhaven was being top-dressed annually at this stage of my pasture improvement programme, so on January 16, 1966, fifteen tons of sulphur fortified superphosphate was spread by Col Paye and Nigel Hanel, both of whom were expert airmen.

 

Joy had recently had an interview with Mr Gordon Clout of the accountancy firm of Gelling and Clout, and it was arranged she would start work in her first job on February 14th (the day Australia converted to decimal currency).

 

Yet another church service was held near the creek on May 25th, 1966. These were quite popular and well attended.

 

We bought our second electric refrigerator, a Westinghouse in June. This refrigerator is still in use over twenty years later.

 

July 1,1966 saw the beginning of our partnership, when Audrey and I commenced trading as A.C. & A.B.M. Barwick.

 

Television had been around for a few years, but we didn't have one installed until November, when we bought a black and white set for $330.

 

After wishing for years that I had a welder, I finally bought one late in November. I chose a 200 amp Lincoln, which has been very satisfactory. I have made dozens of gates, and many small items of equipment, as well as doing many repair jobs. Learning to weld was a challenge I really enjoyed. 

 

Aunty Susan, Father's sister, passed away on March 24, 1967, at the age of ninety-two. I stayed in her home on many occasions as far back as I can remember.

 

A new toilet building being needed at the lodge room in Murrurundi, I volunteered to construct it. Sometime during April, after Luke and I had cut the timber from logs procured from Ron Symonds' "Old Warrah" property, I completed the job. Soon afterwards I did another small building project, that of erecting a shed over my pump engine at the irrigation well.

 

Having had the previous Holden car for five years, I traded it in on July 1st for a HR Holden, at a cost of fourteen hundred dollars. This new car, on trading it some twelve years later, had proved to be the best car I ever owned.

 

On September 30, Audrey and I took Alice Holmes to Nambucca Heads, where we attended the wedding of Ken Brecht and Julie Shields.

 

Wool sales this year were October 3rd, and we topped Elders catalogue for the day with seventy-four and three quarter cents per pound for six bales.

 

Audrey's Uncle Fred Ashford had a very good breed of black and tan sheep dog, so in October, we went to Moonan to bring back two pups. For many years my working dogs were of this breed.

 

We had for a while been thinking of remodelling the kitchen, so in November, we commenced by pulling down the old brick chimney and removing the the wood stove. This was a messy job, as the grit from the bricks and mortar seemed to penetrate everywhere. However we eventually cleaned it all up and, after renewing the wall where the fireplace had been, building some new cupboards and installing an electric stove the room had more space. New floor coverings and a repaint improved the look as well.

 

The only time I ever served on the jury at a Court case was in Quirindi on January 30, 1968. I had been called up a number of times before, and occasionally since, but at all other times had either been challenged or not required.

 

In February I went to Barrington Tops in the Scout, picking up Anthony Ashford in Scone and Ray Ashford at Moonan. We had an enjoyable four days there and having Ray with us to show us around, I saw more of the area then than before or on later visits. In April, Audrey, Joy and I met Noel's family and Esme in Sccne and proceeded to Barrington Tops via the new road (now the main road to Gloucester) from Moonan Brook.

 

In July 1968, I completed another small building job. Allan Jeffkins supplied some timber which I cut, and then erected a shed to house the motor roller at the Quirindi District Tennis Club.

 

The tractor which I had been using was the Fordson purchased by the old partnership in 1950. This machine was just about worn out, so needing something a bit more reliable, I bought a reconditioned Fordson Major Mark 1 diesel for a sum of one thousand dollars from Cornish's, Quirindi. This had been a most reliable tractor and is still in use.

 

My father passed away on December 11, 1968, at the age of eighty-six years, after having lived five days short of twenty-five years after the death of my mother. He had very little sight for many years, having contracted glaucoma over twenty years prior to his death. From then onwards his sight slowly deteriorated. He was buried in the Scone cemetery, at Amy's wish, as Scone was where she was to live afterwards, but as my mother was buried at Willow Tree, I always feel a little sad when I think of them being laid to rest so far apart. This in spite of the fact that my commonsense tells me that where one's earthly remains are, is not relevent.

 

Joy decided to get a new car, so on December 14, she took delivery of a new four cylinder Holden Torana to replace the little Vauxhall she had been driving.

 

Having belonged to the Willow Tree Bowling Club since it was formed, I decided to play during 1968, which I quite enjoyed but did not become very proficient. However, the game just seemed a bit too slow for me and I realised that I preferred to go to tennis with Audrey and Joy to watch them play. The bowls I used when playing were previously Audrey's father's and were kindly given to me by his family.

 

Having been pleased with the job we did in remodelling the kitchen, we redecorated the lounge room late in 1968. This involved new paint on the ceiling and walls and a new carpet to replace the feltex which had been in use since we furnished the room twenty years before. When all this was completed, we bought a new lounge suite from Clarks in Scone, which was delivered by Granville Budden.

 

The first important family event of 1969, was the party we gave at the Warrah Creek hall on February 15 to celebrate Joy's 21st birthday. This was a very happy occasion attended by all her aunts and uncles, many of her cousins, school and tennis friends, totalling about eighty people. The Willow Tree C.W.A. members put on a delightful meal for the gathering, while Mrs Joan Carpenter played appropriate music for the occasion, which included dancing.

 

A week after the party, Joy went home for the weekend to Gunnedah with John Maunder. My diary entry for this date contains my first mention of John. Little did we think then that he would later become the father of our grandchildren!

 

The Barrington Tops had appealed to us whenever we had been there (even in the wet!), so on March 9, Audrey, Joy and I met Noel's family in Scone and went there once again for the day. This time John was with us as well, and the area must have appealed to him too as he has been there many times since.

 

Audrey and I, being Roger Barwick's godparents, were delighted to be able to attend his wedding to Ann Upperton on March 15, 1969. The ceremony was at St. Alban's Quirindi, and the reception was held in a marquee at the home of Ann's parents, Tom and Hilda Upperton, "Rackham". This was a happy occasion which even a downpour, resulting in two or three inches of water flowing through the marquee, could not mar.

 

Joy, having planned to join her friends, Beryl Driscoll, Del Martin and Margaret Smith, in Darwin for a holiday, left Quirindi on a Pioneer coach at 9 pm on May 6, 1969. She intended to return via Alice Springs, and, as there was not a connection from there to Port Augusta, I was glad of an excuse to take a trip there and bring her home. Audrey, though not very enthusiastic about such a trip, made a snap decision to go with me, pleasing me greatly.

 

Our trip commenced on May 8, and after staying in motels at Nyngan, Broken Hill and Port Augusta, we camped two nights on the track. We arrived in Alice Springs in six days and stayed in a cabin in the Heavitree Caravan Park for four nights. Joy arrived by coach from Darwin, and after a day showing her some of the close tourist attractions, we left next morning for Ayer's Rock. There we stayed in a motel for two nights, spending the day looking at and climbing the Rock, and also visiting Mt. Olga during the afternoon. As I have always suffered from a fear of heights, my climbing the Rock was only made possible by the installation of safety chains on the steepest part of the climb, which were not there on my previous visit five years earlier. Leaving Ayer's Rock on 19th May, we arrived home in five days, after camping two nights and staying in motels in Peterborough and Cobar. This trip of four thousand two hundred and nineteen miles was done in the HR Holden which performed perfectly with its load of three people and luggage and camping gear.

 

Having recently re-decorated the lounge room, and deciding it was a pity to expose it to the wood and soot from the open fire, we had an oil heater installed prior to winter.

 

Man landed on the moon on July 21, 1969. This of course, was a colossal achievement, but what struck me as being miraculous, was the fact that we could watch it all on television in the comfort of our lounge-rooms.

 

At a small party here, consisting of Luke, Enid and Rhodney, and Jack and Mavis, on July 26, Joy and John's engagement was announced.

 

I built a small extension in the woolshed to give us more space in which to store wool bales during the coming shearing. This proved to be a wise move, as after eight years of top-dressing the property, the wool clip increased from three to five tons per year.

 

After using Gypsum as a fertiliser for three or four years, I had switched to sulphur-fortified superphosphate, which at that stage, was the cheapest way of applying sulphur which was what this country needed most. 

 

Audrey was still playing a lot of good tennis in 1969. Besides playing in the Quirindi competition and matches in the surrounding towns, she and Joy won the doubles in the Quirindi District Tennis Club Championships by beating Jennifer Squire and Venn Porter. In 1968 they had won the same event with a win over Yvonne Shaw and Venn Porter.

 

I had a five day stay in the Quirindi Hospital during October, after a cow, which I was trying to break in for a milker, ripped my right leg. She rushed at me catching me unawares and stuck her very sharp horn into the inside of my thigh lifting me off the ground. When she dropped me, I had a gash necessitating twenty stitches.

 

With our Silver Wedding Anniversary coming on December 27, Joy and John told Audrey and me they were taking us to dinner at the Quirindi Motel. This they did, but we had no idea what else had been planned until we arrived at the motel. To our great surprise and delight, when we walked inside, there waiting for us were all of our immediate families, including Amy, Esme, Verna and Jim, Noel, Sis, Anthony and JennyMay, Luke, Enid, Rhodney and Julie and Sheila, Jack, Ruth and Elizabeth. It was truly a surprise party and what a wonderful night it was for us.

 

Since beginning my change over to merino sheep, my breeding programme had gone very well as proved by the fact that on a few occasions at the wool sales my wool had gained the top price in Elder Smith's catalogue. Except for one "Mirani" ram purchased from Nivisons of Walcha at the Armidale ram sales in 1965, I had used only Tuwinga rams. However, not being very happy with the last purchase from Tuwinga, I went to the Armidale sales in February, 1970. There I bought a ram from Cox Bros of "Bocoble", Mudgee, for $250.00. Even allowing for price rises, this was by far the most expensive ram I had bought, but from his performance in numbers and quality of sheep he produced, he was a good investment. I continued the practice I had adopted some years earlier of running two separate mobs of ewes, one lot joined to lamb in the autumn and the other lot for spring lambing. Thus I was making double use of the ram, and this particular one sired more than six hundred lambs in four years.

 

With Joy and John's marriage approaching, Joy was given a pre-wedding gift evening in the Warrah Creek hall by the local residents. She received a great array of lovely gifts.

 

Then on March 14th, 1970, they were married in St. Alban's Anglican Church, Quirindi, by Rev. John Fincher. The reception was held in the Parish Hall, where about one hundred and forty of their family and friends gathered to celebrate the joyous occasion.

 

Timothy Barwick, who had served a time in the Vietnam War, was given a welcome home at the Willow Tree Bowling Club on May 8th. Tim, still a young man, unfortunately passed away in 1983. He was Gloryne and Edgar's third son. Edgar himself died at the age of forty-eight on July 8, 1957.

 

As the bore supplying the hard water to the gardens had only quite a small flow, and the method of pumping was by a centrifugal pump, which pumped more than the bore could supply, it was necessary to switch the pump on and off regularly to prevent it running dry. This being quite a nuisance to do manually, John devised an automatic switch controlled by the depth of water in the bore. This he did in May, 1970, and is still in operation. The only thing done to it in all that time was to install a new float in the bore.

 

Also early in May, Jack and Mavis left on a six week camping trip to Darwin, during which time I fed their dogs and kept a general eye on "Cedar Vale".

 

June 13 was the occasion of a dinner party in Quirindi in honour of Rhodney's twenty-first birthday. John, Joy, Audrey and I attended, after which the young people went to Tamworth for further celebrations.

 

 

1970-1986 The Seventies and Eighties.

 

 

I had a very painful day or so in September when I suffered another kidney stone attack. Audrey rushed me to Quirindi where I had an injection for the pain, but by then the stone had moved so I didn't stay in hospital.

 

John, having a car of course, Joy decided she didn't need hers, so she sold it to her mother. This was Audrey's first car of her own, and it proved most useful too.

 

I had never been to Western Australia, so Audrey and I decided to go to Perth. With the recent completion of the standard guage track between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, and in the west between Kalgoorlie and Perth, it was now possible to travel on the new Indian-Pacific train between Sydney and Perth without changing trains. This is how we travelled after leaving the car in Sydney. The journey then took fifty-four hours, and was most enjoyable. On arriving in Perth, we stayed at the Forrest House Motel. Whilst in the west we had a six day Pioneer coach trip to Albany and back, via Manjimup, Augusta, Busselton and Bunbury. To me, the highlight of the trip was the day we spent driving through the Karri forests around Pemberton.

 

We also had an enjoyable boat trip to Rottnest Island, the home of those quaint little animals, the quokka.

 

Beryl Driscoll, Margaret Smith and Del Martin were living in Perth, having gone there after leaving Darwin the year before. We also were able to spend time with them.

 

The rail trip home from the west was just as enjoyable as the trip over, and, on arriving at Central Station in Sydney, Esme and Verna were there to meet us with our car.

 

There seems to have been very few years gone by that I have not done a little bit of carpentering of some kind, and this year was no exception. I extended the hayshed by putting a skillion on one side. This was necessary as I had made more lucerne hay then I had fed out over the past two or three summers, and the original part of the shed was full.

 

Audrey and I and John and Joy attended Robyn Driscoll's wedding on April 17, 1971, when she married Larry Parkes. Robyn is Freda and Eddie's second daughter and was the first of the three girls to marry.

 

The telephone service switched to automatic on April 21. At this stage it was only automatic to the Quirindi Exchange, but at least we now had a twenty-four hour service.

 

Joy and John moved into their new home in Russell Street, Quirindi, on May 20, 1971.

 

Our first social event in 1972, was to attend Anthony's wedding in Rockhampton, when he married Gayle Fixter on January 15th. Leaving home on 12th, Audrey and I, taking Esme and Verna with us, met Noel's family in Willow Tree and proceeded to Toowoomba for the night. Next day we travelled to Bundaberg, and on booking in at a motel, learnt that Joy and John were there also. The third day's travelling brought us to Rockhampton, where we spent two nights, along with some of Anthony's army friends, and Ray and Esther Ashford from Moonan. We all had a very enjoyable time. After a very happy, though hot, weekend, we headed for home, staying overnight at Maryborough, Caloundra and Ballina.

 

Having returned through the Gold Coast from the wedding, we all felt we would like to return for a holiday. On May 6th Audrey and I and Noel's family went via Tenterfield and Lismore to Surfers Paradise. There we had two adjoining flats and in the week saw quite a lot of the area.

 

I was very pleased with our wool sale on September 20, 1971, when it again topped the Elders' catalogue at two hundred cents per kilogram for the AAA line, beating the Super AAA by two cents a kilo. This was one of those inexplicable things which have happened occasionally at wool auctions.

 

My old school friend and neighbour for a number of years, Jack Smith, passed away at his home on August 5th. This was a shock to me, and a loss, as he was an obliging, co-operative and trustworthy neighbour. When he died, Jack left some property to his son, Philip, but it could not yet be transferred as he was too young. Claire, his mother, asked me to stand surety for him until he came of age, to which request I gladly complied.

We attended our second wedding for the year, when we went to Ashford to see Rhodney and Judi Nichols married on September 30th. This was a joyous occasion as Rhodney had spent most of his childhood days only half a mile away and we had watched him grow up.

 

Audrey and I often referred to 1973 as the year of the weddings. We were invited to, and attended, six during that year. The first was when Wendy Bingham married Werner Krex in Murrurundi on 24th February. Wendy is the second daughter of Bill and Thelma Bingham who had the store at Old Warrah from 1944 to 1974.

 

On April 21st, we saw Esme marry Neville Dawson at North Sydney. After the ceremony a small party assembled at Esme's home to celebrate the occasion. In the party were a few of hers and Neville's friends, Verna & Jim Curley, all of Noel's family and John & Joy and us.

 

The next day, Audrey and I headed by car to Port Pirie as we were to catch the Trans Australian express to Perth on 25th. After loading the car, along with two others, on a flat top, we left at 4.45 pm. However, owing to someone's error, the cars were loaded on a wagon which had a fifty m.p.h. speed limit, which was normal had it been hooked on a freight train. In this case, as it was hitched to an express, the cars had to be off-loaded and re-loaded at Port Augusta to a more suitable wagon. This caused some delay and as only those of us involved in the change knew what was wrong, Audrey gained quite a lot of amusement listening to the other passengers speculating as to the hold-up. After all, the delay did not really matter for, after crossing the Nullarbor, and one thousand and fifyt-two miles and twenty- five hours later, we arrived at Kalgoorlie three quarters of an hour early. There, owing to the station master being liverish, we waited outside the station until the correct time of arrival. Arriving in Perth, the car was unloaded by a big fork-lift at Kewdale Freight Centre, where I picked it up and drove to Forrest House where we again stayed.

 

The reason for this visit to Perth was to be present at Beryl Driscoll's marriage to Mervyn Pearce on April 28th. This being only a week after Esme's wedding we decided to travel by train some of the way to save time. We enjoyed the wedding to the full, along with the others from N.S.W., Keith and Norma Secombe and John Pollock.

 

After five nights in Perth, we left on May 2 to drive home, this being something I had wanted to do for years. We did not head east, but went south to Mt. Barker where we called on Alan and Joyce Bridge (Gloryne's sister) who are on a property in the Perrilup area. We had a most enjoyable visit, looking over their country and talking with them.

 

Bidding the Bridges farewell, we travelled through the Stirling Ranges to Jerramungup and Esperance to Norseman. Next day we continued east through Eucla and across the Nullarbor again to Ceduna and Port Augusta. From here we were in familiar country, travelling to Broken Hill for a night and then home via Nyngan.

 

The next wedding was that of Julie (Luke and Enid's daughter) and Malcolm Jones in Quirindi on June 2nd, with the reception in the Quirindi Bowling Club.

 

On July 20th, Audrey took delivery of a new Toyota Corona Sedan, trading in her five year old Holden Torana. The changeover only cost nine hundred and seventeen dollars after being allowed one thousabd dollars on the Torana.

 

Audrey played her last tennis match on August 12th, the day after her fifty-eighth birthday, It was against West Tamworth in Quirindi, and she played with Joy.

 

Jack Barwick passed away on August 22nd. This was a severe blow to me, as he and Mavis had lived a big proportion of their married lives on "Cedar Vale" less than a mile away. We had been very close all those years, working together quite often, playing tennis together, attending church and parochial council meetings together. He had been to a doctor with chest pains a few days before but on being sent home, was helping me with the wool at shearing time when he became worse. I took him home and Mavis rushed him to hospital, but he only survived three or four hours after leaving the shed.

 

The next wedding on our list for 1973 was that of Janelle Maunder when she married Philip White at Gunnedah on September 9th. Janelle, of course, is John's sister.

 

The last service I have recorded at St. Stephen's Church Warrah Creek was on November 4th. The cessation of services there was a big break in the past for me as I had been attending regularly since before I can recall, and had been a Warden for many years. I felt for a while as if I was a Church Warden without a church, but after attending St. Oswald's, Willow Tree, regularly for some time, I was elected warden there.

 

Audrey and I attended our sixth wedding for the year when Stuart Mitchell married Lesley Moran on November 24th at Quirind. Stuart was the son of our very close friends, Carl and Margaret Mitchell of Braefield.

 

1974 began with another death which hit me quite hard, the passing of my cousin, Ern Brecht, on January 8th. I had been closely associated with him since my earliest days, beginning when he lived in the Scone district, and continuing when he moved to Warrah Creek in 1929.

 

On a brighter note, our first grandchild was born on April 17th. What a great joy it was to us to have a grandson. He was christened David John on June 2nd by Rev. John Fincher in St. Alban's, Quirindi, in the presence of two great-grandmothers (Maunder and Launders), four grandparents, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

 

Noel and Sis became grandparents on June 10th when Anthony and Gayle had a daughter, who was christened Jacqueline Sue on August 4th.

 

Having mentioned one night that I would like to see the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, Joy and John said they would too. So after John had arranged accommodation for us at Hawker, we all, including six month old David, set off in the HR Holden on October 13th. After a night at Cobar and Broken Hill, we arrived at Hawker where we stayed three full days. From there we toured most of the southern part of the Ranges. As there had been rain quite recently, there was little dust, and the country was green and spectacular. The numerous streams were running strongly with clear fresh water.

 

After leaving Hawker, we proceeded to Port Augusta for a day during which we visited Whyalla. We also had an inspection of the Sir Thomas Playford Power Station which burns brown coal mined at Leigh Creek. We then travelled through the Barossa Valley where we had a look through Seppelts Winery. Next stop was Mildura for a day of sight- seeing which included a trip on a Paddle Steamer on the flooded Murray River. I recall that the cruise was normally of two hours duration, one hour to the turn-around point and one hour back. On this occasion the first leg took forty minutes and the return, paddling furiously against the current, twice as long. On the following day, we travelled to West Wyalong through Balranald and Hay, where there was more water in the Murrumbidgee, and overflowing from it, than I had ever seen anywhere inland before. 

 

Within a day or so of arriving home, I lost another cousin when Brian Seymour passed away. After living with us in the 1920s, he moved to Gunnedah for many years, but had lived back in this area again for some time.

 

On February 5th, 1975, I went to the Armidale wool sales where I bought my second Bocoble ram. The first one having produced the type of sheep I wanted, I was anxious to carry on with that breed.

 

When Audrey and I moved in here to live, there were three or four old fruit trees left from an orchard the Hindmarshs had. These formed a nucleus for an orchard for us, and around them I planted some young trees. These produced a nice lot of fruit for many years. Because we appreciated the fruit for both eating and bottling, I started another orchard near the irrigation well. There I planted all peaches, seedlings which had germinated under our existing trees. Most came true to the parent tree, but two were crossed, making quite a variety.

 

On August 24th, the death of another person quite close to us occurred, when Mavis Barwick passed away. As she was living on her own, no one knew until Luke found her later that morning. He was working in the nearby stockyards and realised that he had not seen her around.

 

For the first time I exhibited wool at the Quirindi Spring Show on September 13 and 14th. Showing six fleeces, I won five first ribbons, one of those being Champion Fleece of the Show. I came home very elated as this was proof that my sheep breeding was successful.

 

I had a night on Barrington Tops on November 8th, accompanied by Joy, John and David, Graeme and Heather Collins and Ann and Roger Barwick and families.

 

The only wedding for 1975 was at Scone on October 25, when my niece Ruth Goodworth married Robert Towse.

 

We had our first colour television set installed on February 10th, 1976, replacing the old black and white receiver which had been in use for nearly ten years.

 

At the end of March I had a sojurn of seventeen days in Gloucester House at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney for an operation.

 

In July, after Bill Greer had approached me for the offer of "Oakhaven" should I think of selling it, I came to a big decision. After Luke sold "Trillowee", I had given the idea a little thought, but not seriously, until Greer's offer. I was beginning to slow down, and the idea of having less work to do appealed to me, although I had some misgivings at the thought of selling. After discussing it with Audrey, we decided to offer the portion on the east side of the road to Greers at one hundred dollars per acre. They inspected and decided to purchase if the authorities consented to a subdivision. Permission being granted, a contract was signed on September 29th.

 

Luke and family left "Trillowee" the day after, thus severing my connection with the home of my childhood days. 

 

1977 began very happily for us when Joy gave us our second grandchild, our only grand-daughter, on January 7th. She was christened Christine Joy on February 20th by Rev. John Fincher.

 

Although I had been to the Burning Mountain at Wingen a few times in my younger days when visiting my Aunty Grace Wood who lived quite near it, I had not been there for over forty years. We made a special trip there in April.

 

The sale of "Oakhaven" had been progressing slowly, and so by May 12th, I received word from the Bank Manager at Willow Tree that it had been finalised and settlement had taken place. As the completion of the transfer came closer, I began the disposal of surplus stock, and by the end of June, I had sold nine hundred and thirty seven sheep, and ninety nine head of cattle. Most of the sheep were good quality merinos, bred here on the property, of mixed ages, but they only averaged six dollars fifty cents per head.

 

In November, I had two nights on Barrington Tops with Joy, John and David, and we were joined by Peter Hatfield and Linda Forbes, who married in 1978.

 

At the beginning of April, 1978, the Maunder family went to New Zealand for three weeks. Audrey and I seized the opportunity to take a three week holiday ourselves. We spent a week at Katoomba, and then travelled leisurely through Victoria.

 

Ken Brecht and family, having sold "Strathleigh" and having had a clearance sale, left for Caloundra on Septemeber 9th. We missed them as we had seen quite a lot of them through the years. Ken had given me assistance many times with difficult jobs.

 

On September 29th, Audrey took delivery of a new car, this time a Holden Torana with a six cylinder engine of 2850 cc capacity, the most powerful car we had ever bought. The cost price was six thousand five hundred and twenty dollars, and, with a trade in price of two thousand six hundred dollars for the old Corona, it was a cheap car compared with today's prices.

 

Jenny-May Ashford and David Rendell were married on October 14th at St. Luke's Church, Scone.

 

In May, 1979, I took delivery of a new Subaru station wagon from Kevin George Motors, Tamworth. This was a small four wheel drive vehicle, powered by a 1600 c.c. four cylinder horizontally opposed engine, costing six thousand seven hundred dollars. As part of the deal, I traded in the 1967 model Holden which had done one hundred and thirteen thousand miles, for seven hundred dollars. The old Holden HR model had been a most reliable and comfortable car, and was extremely dust proof. This car had been in every mainland state, and to places as far apart as Perth, Rockhampton, Alice Springs and the Flinders Ranges and had travelled over quite alot of Victoria and N.S.W.

 

About the middle of the year, I decided to remodel and upgrade the laundry. Country laundries, or wash houses as they were called in earlier years, were often crude and left a lot to be desired when it came to comfort and convenience. Many were not attached to the house, but were quite an open air affair under a skillion roof built onto the nearest shed. The facilities in most cases consisted of a bench on which rested two or three round galvanised iron tubs. The clothes were washed in these by scrubbing them by hand on a washboard. A washboard had a rippled surface made of wood, iron or glass, any of which being hard on the knuckles and on the clothes, too. Cold water for the tubs was carried in a bucket from a nearby tank. Hot water was also conveyed in buckets from a twelve gallon copper, set up outside, in which water was heated over a wood fire. Some people had large oval cast iron boilers hung over an open fire instead of a copper. One neighbour, Annie Barwick of "Strathleigh", heated her washing water in a four gallon kerosene tin made into a bucket, which was perched on bricks over an open fire. Besides heating water, these things were used to boil sheets, towels, etc as in those days, boiling was a must to ensure the clothes were clean.

 

Our original laundry, however, was somewhat better than those I have described here, as it had water taps over stainless steel tubs and was attached to the home. However, it was designed for coolness in summer, and being bigger than necessary with wide doorways and no doors, Audrey put in many unpleasantly cold winter days there. The remodelling included pulling out the old bricked-in copper, which was not now used, reducing the size of the room, swinging a door and adding a cupboard to provide more storage space.

 

After selling the major portion of "Oakhaven" in 1977, and reducing the area to seventy-five acres, I retained about eighty of our best merino ewes, and a few Shropshires, and also eight cows. I continued to run the property as I had been doing, but on a miniature scale. Shearing was then quite a simple affair and was done by Malcolm Chad as a week-end job for the first two years.

 

Verna passed away on November 20th, 1979, in hospital. This was a sad loss to Jim and her family as she was a lovely person.

 

We spent the last weekend of the year, and saw 1980 come in, at Ponderosa Park near Hanging Rock, where we camped with the Maunder, Roger Barwick and Graeme Collins families.

 

On February 23, 1980, Bill Greer gave us a Golden Labrador bitch, who was immediately christened "Goldie". This name was prompted by a TV advertisement often seen about that time showing some children being looked after by a Labrador called "Goldie".

 

We had a beautiful shady ornamental pine tree at the front of the house, one I had planted after coming to live here. On March 17, after leaving the Subaru in its shade while getting ready to go to town, I heard a crunch. On investigating, I discovered a limb had smashed the tail gate of my nearly new station wagon. The tree had started to rot and was unsafe. We then had to cut it down.

 

The "Barwick book" of descendants of James and Mary who came to Sydney on the "Alfred" in January, 1840, was made available to us early in the year. This book had been painstakingly compiled by Syd Barwick of "Bickwar Park" Scone over a number of years.

 

As I was now a small farmer and John was interested also, we attended a Small Farms Field Day at Mudgee in July which proved to be very interesting.

 

In September I travelled to Victoria with Barry and Tony Barwick to attend Border Leicester Week. We stayed at Barham, Boost, Bendigo, Echuca and Jerilderie and attended quite a lot of sales and visited numerous studs.

 

On October 11, we attended Julie Driscoll's wedding at St. Alban's Church, Quirindi, where she became Mrs Chris Newton. Julie is the third daughter of our friends Ed and Freda Driscoll.

 

During this year (1980) I made a red cedar case for my Grand Lodge Regalia. This gave me a lot of satisfaction as I enjoyed working with the cedar and I designed it to be more convenient than a suitcase.

 

Anthony and Gayle were now living at "Lemon Grove" and having pulled down the older portion, were building an addition onto the part I had helped build in 1953. As Anthony was doing this with the help of his father-in-law, Charles Fixter, and I was as keen as ever to do some carpentering, I decided to start 1981 by giving them some assistance. 

 

I was elected to the Quirindi Show Committee on March 30, and at the same time was appointed Chief Wool Steward.

 

Barney Greer knew I was interested in cedar, so he brought me some odds and ends of cedar he had obtained from the old Roman Catholic Church in Willow Tree. This timber was very old, being part of an altar which had been replaced and which had been given to Willow Tree by the church at Glen Innes many years before. I made two small occasional tables from this, one of which I gave Barney in appreciation.

 

Being Chief Wool Steward at the Quirindi Show in September made me feel obliged to exhibit wool, and although now only being a hobby farmer with few sheep, I gained two firsts, two seconds, and Champion with the four fleeces I entered.

 

Later in the year, October, I took the Champion fleece to the Murrurundi Anglican Parish Flower and Wool Show, and there it gained a first, Champion and Grand Champion. 

 

Needing a new merino ram to keep my small sheep breeding programme going, I went to the Armidale Ram Sales on January 11, 1982. Taking the trailer behind the Subaru to bring it home, I purchased one from the West Mihi Stud for one hundred and eighty dollars.

 

As 1982 marked one hundred years of education in Willow Tree, big celebrations were planned for March 27. As these celebrations were to include the whole of the Willow Tree District, I was one of the representatives from Warrah Creek on the committee which met frequently to organise the function. One big job was to prepare a mailing list so that as many ex-pupils as possible would receive an invitation to attend. A procession was planned, so some of us from Warrah Creek, including John and June Swain, Ron and Phillip Smith, Terry Fitzpatrick and Barry Barwick decided to enter a float. Barry provided his motor lorry and on the front of it, completely covering the cab, we constructed a replica of the old Warrah Creek school. On the day of the procession, we dressed in costumes depicting dress of the last century and rode on the lorry. I was wearing a suitable grey beard as well. The celebrations were a wonderful success with the procession moving from the wheat silo area to the school along the New England Highway, which was closed to through traffic for about half and hour.

 

After Easter, I concentrated on building Joy's kitchen cupboards as well as other cupboards throughout the house. In all there were nineteen cupboard doors to be made and swung in the kitchen alone. The house, though not completed, was far enough advanced for them to move into on July 25th.

 

On August 21, I left in the Subaru on a trip to the Outback, in company with Roger and Ann Barwick and their children, Mark and Leonie. We camped at Bourke, Tibooburra, west of Cameron's Corner and then near the famous "Dig Tree" at Cooper's Creek, the scene of the tragedy which occurred during Burke and Wills expedition. After leaving that area, and Innamincka, we travelled the Strezlecki Track, and on through Leigh Creek to Wilpena for a day or so. Leaving Wilpena, we went to Arkaroola in the northern part of the Flinders Ranges for a night. From there eastward entering New South Wales at Hawker Gate and on through Milparinka to White Cliffs. After two dry, dusty nights there, we proceeded to Nyngan via Wilcannia and Cobar and then home.

 

On arising on the morning of October 11 after the wildest windy night since 1929, I looked towards the workshop and noticed the roof ridge had a terrible sag. On investigating I discovered half the roof was missing. Some of it was in the creek, and some, still intact, was upside down on the other side of the nearby fence.

 

During the latter part of 1982 drought conditions prevailed and so there was no stock feed when 1983 began. I was irrigating and cutting green summer crop for the cattle.

 

Barney Greer's death on July 7,1983, was quite a blow to me. I had known him for over forty years, but not very well until they bought "Oakhaven". From then on we became close friends and had a happy working relationship. I kept an eye on their water supplies, and they helped me on many occasions with my cattle.

 

I resigned as Chief Wool Steward for the Quirindi Show in July as I felt my eyesight had deteriorated sufficiently as to prevent me from taking charge of the wool exhibits.

 

As the Warrah Creek church had been closed for some time, and as there had been an offer to purchase the building, I was involved in disposing of the furniture. The pews were sold, some locally and some going to Tamworth.

 

While cleaning up the church, I looked more closely at an old table which had been in the vestry for as long as I could remember. On lifting some linoleum covering the top, I discovered two beautiful cedar boards, about a foot wide. I immediately took charge of the table, and without emphasising the fact that it was cedar, offered at the next Parochial Council meeting to buy it.

 

For years, I had admired Grandfather clocks, but as they cost too much for me to buy, I dreamed of building one, and in my dreams it was to be cedar. Besides the table from the church, I had a cedar table which Aunty Lu Brecht had given me years ago, so now I had sufficient timber to make a clock case. This I began on July 10. I put in many hours on this project but it was a labour of love. I purchased an Urgos German Clock movement, and after installing it, the whole thing was completed mid October.

 

Amy, my stepmother, had lived in Scone on her own ever since my father's death in 1968. Her memory had been progressively deteriorating over the past three or four years, and had got to the stage where we knew she could not look after herself properly. After a sojurn in hospital in Scone in late 1983, we moved her to the Peel Nursing Home in Tamworth where she stayed until her death on August 27, 1985.

 

The ram I bought in 1982 died rather prematurely, leaving me without a merino sire. I travelled to Armidale in January, 1984, and brought home a ram from Shalimar Park stud, paying one hundred and fifty dollars for him.

 

We had another trip to Barrington Tops at the end of March when, in company with the Maunders and Ann and Roger Barwick, we spent the night at Carey's Peak. Next day we proceeded down "The Corker" to Barrington House and camped on the Allyn River. Going down the mountain was a slow, rugged trip, bad enough at the best of times, but it had been badly washed out recently. As we went down we met a party of hikers going up. As progress was so slow, they caught us up later in the day as they were going down again. Roger's Toyota and John's Subaru both had low range as well as four wheel drive, but my little old Subaru was four wheel drive only and was really battling on the tough parts of the track. We came home from the camp via Dungog and Gloucester and, after lunch on the Dilgry River, up the mountain and via Pheasant's Creek Road and Sergeant's Gap. We all had an interesting and enjoyable weekend.

 

The Maunder family went to Shoal Bay for a week during the May school holidays and Audrey and I joined them for three days.

 

In my younger days when I had "Ashcroft" I always enjoyed a walk around the top of the range where I could see down the Sparkes and Kiernan's Creek valleys as well as Warrah Creek. However, after selling the property in 1957 I had rarely been on the top since. On June 10th, the Maunders were going with us to "Lemon Grove" for the day. John and David decided they would walk from the Cedar Brush around the top to the track leading down to Kiernan's Creek. Joy was to take them to the Brush in their Subaru, and against my better judgment, I decided to walk too. I made it for the last time, and very glad I am that I did go then, in spite of the battle I had with my legs. I wondered once if I would ever get to the bottom of the mountain.

 

After that walk I did not think I would tackle any part of the Liverpool Range again. However, with my spirit still willing, but the legs a bit weak, I accompanied John and David again on a walk from the Brush, this time eastward onto the "Peak" on September 1st.

 

I have in my possession a clock which belonged to my Grandfather Fred, which is about one hundred years old. This clock was in use in my old home, and continued to go for a few years after I brought it here to "Oakhaven". However, it stopped some years ago and was put away in a cupboard. On hearing of a clockmaker at Yerbury's in Tamworth who was interested in old time-pieces, I took it to him. He soon had it repaired, and after I had cleaned and stained the wooden case, it is now quite a prized possession. The figures on the face were practically unreadable, so after cleaning it all off, Patricia Greer did a colossal job in repainting them.

 

Ever since our property sale in 1977, my small flock of sheep pastured on the reduced area of thirty-one hectares had been producing four bales of wool annually. However, by running a few more sheep, the clip increased to five bales, which was sold on November 6th. I intended to travel to Newcastle for the sale, as was my usual practice, but as it was raining that morning, I decided it was wiser to stay at home. I regretted my decision that evening when Peter Green of Elders phoned to say my top bale had realised 1120 cents per kilo. It would have been most exciting to see the wool sold for that amount as my previous highest price was for the top bale the year before and that brought 452 cents per kilogram. The gross proceeds for the bale was one thousand five hundred and sixty eight dollars. How things have changed since the sale I recorded earlier of the fifty-six bales in 1932 bringing just a little over half that figure!

 

As the year drew to a close, Audrey and I reached our fortieth Wedding Anniversary on December 27th. Joy and John gave us a party at their home on 28th to celebrate the occasion. This was a very happy Dinner Party with all our nearest and dearest around us - including Luke and Enid, Sheila and Elizabeth, Noel and Sis, Esme, Jenny-May, David and Matthew, Anthony, Gayle, Jacqueline and Katherine. Also last, but certainly not least, our old friends, Freda and Eddie Driscoll. That night seemed such a short time since our Silver Wedding surprise party.

 

Barry Barwick took me to Dubbo with him when he attended the annual Border Leicester Show and sales on February 7, 1985. This trip was enjoyable and interesting as I met up with a few stud breeders whom I had met in Victoria in 1980.

 

On February 22, Audrey and I and the Maunders went to Barrington and spent two nights at the Junction Hole. This is a lovely spot to camp, but we struck rather a wet weekend. It was not the first time we had been to Barrington Tops in the wet, but it did make things a little unpleasant.

 

March 1 marked the arrival of the new owners of "Leumeah Park", Ruth Krahanbuhl and Margaret Horniman, although I did not meet them for a few weeks. Mrs Kenny, the previous owner, had been trying to sell for some time.

 

On April 27, 1985, Audrey and I went to Newcastle to Bill and Thelma Bingham's 50th Wedding Anniversary Party, which was held at their son, Murray's, home. This was a lovely party attended by some from this area and Tamworth, as well as their family and friends from nearby.

 

Audrey's funeral at Quirindi on May 20th, was attended by about two hundred people. The Reverend Bob Witten conducted the service in St. Alban's Anglican Church and at the graveside. I know Audrey would have approved of our choice of pall-bearers, who were Anthony and David Rendell, two nephews, Bill Greer and Allan Jeffkins. Bill, we had got to know so well since selling our country to him. Allan was a tennis associate for many years.

 

I will always remember one tribute paid to her within two or three days of her death, by Selwyn Brown, a chemist of Quirindi, when he said he had always admired Audrey for the way she could mix and be at ease in any company. I feel this attitude was due largely to mixing with people from all walks of life during her long tennis career, as she certainly did not gain it from her schooling, having never spent a day in a school-room.

 

On the second weekend in July I accepted an invitation from Dianne and Malcolm Chad to visit them and attend a performance of the Melbourne Philamonic Orchestra which was in Scone at the time. It was invitations such as that from the Chad family, who have shown me many kindnesses which have helped me very much during the time of my grief.

 

On August 7, Joy gave me a small party to celebrate my 70th birthday, inviting Luke and Enid to join us. Enid, who does China Painting, gave me a plate with my name and age on it, and, as well, the names of our parents, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren inscribed thereon. This plate is amongst my treasured possessions.

 

Having told Luke that he could have my old International Scout, he came and took it away on a trailer on November 16, 1985. It was over twenty two years old, and although still going well enough to be driven onto the trailer, needed a lot to be done to it to pass for registration. 

 

On December 6, I attended a dinner party Julie gave her parents, Luke and Enid, to celebrate their fortieth Wedding Anniversary. This party of about fifteen relatives and friends was held in the home Julie had recently bought in Calala. 

 

As the Subaru I had been driving for over six years had done over 132,000 kilometres, and as new cars were becoming dearer by the month, I decided quite suddenly to buy a new one. This I took delivery of on December 19, at Kevin George Motors, Tamworth, paying twelve thousand seven hunderd dollars, three thousand dollars being allowed on the old one as a trade-in. The new Subaru had a slightly bigger body, a five speed gear box, four wheel drive with low range, and was powered by a four cylinder horizontally opposed engine. This has been the usual engine, except the size has been increased to eighteen hundred cc.

 

On February 10,1986, I joined Barry and Tony Barwick in a trip to the Dubbo Border Leicester Show and Sales.

 

I was lucky enough to be taken for a trip to Queensland in March by David and Sadie Munn. Leaving on 15th, we joined up with Maurice and Val Seymour travelling with Wallace Barwick. The two cars then proceeded to Goodiwindi for the night. The next day we travelled to the Bunya Mountains, a delightful spot where we had three nights. From Bunya we went to Hervey Bay for two nights, where we filled in a day with a trip to Fraser Island. This included a drive across the island, and some distance along the beach in a four-wheel drive bus. The three day trip home included a stop at the Big Pineapple, a visit to the ginger factory at Buderim, an overnight stop at Dickie Beach at Caloundra and a night at Mermaid Beach, with a few hours whiled away at Jupiter's Casino.

 

On April 15, taking Ron Barwick with me, I drove to Kars Springs to pick up a merino ram which Trevor Pike gave me. This ram was a descendant of a Bocoble ram which I gave Noel Ashford, when I sold the property in 1977.

 

Lucy Brecht passed away on June 29 at St Andrews' Nursing Home in Tamworth where she had been since early 1984. Her death meant that Ern's estate could now be finalised, thus releasing me of my duty as Executor and Trustee of it.

 

I had watched on television, with great enjoyment, the world famous ice-skaters, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, so when they were in Sydney and Howards' Bus Service made a special trip for the occasion, I went too. I thoroughly enjoyed the skating, and the whole weekend, which included an overnight stay at King's Cross, a morning Harbour Cruise and a while at the City Markets.

 

Having a desire to see the Northern Territory again after twenty two years, I booked to go on a safari coach tour with Keatings of Gunnedah, leaving August 23. Maurice and Val Seymour also went on this twenty one day trip, which covered just over ten thousand kilometres. The itinerary was: Broken Hill first night, with a look at the mine area and a visit to the Flying Doctor Base before proceeding to Pt. Augusta for the second night.

 

Next stop was Coober Pedy where there was an inspection of an underground dwelling, and a talk on opals at night. Then we spent two nights at Ayer's Rock. Some climbed the Rock, and some who intended to didn't. I did neither, having been on top in 1969. Three nights at Alice Springs was next, where we saw some of the close tourist attractions, including Panorama Guth, which is a must. As we were there on the weekend of the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, which is a big charity fund-raising function, we observed some of those activities. We then proceeded through Tennant Creek and on to Katherine for two nights where we had a boat trip on the spectacular Katherine Gorge.

 

Darwin was the next stop where we went to the Casino one night and saw the city attractions the next day. The second day was spent on a six hundred kilometre trip to Kakadu and back, which included a visit to Jabaru and a boat trip on Yellow Waters where, besides the beautiful scenery, we sighted some crocodiles.

 

Leaving Darwin after three nights, we travelled to Mataranka for a night. In the middle of a very cold winter I have often commented that I would like to spend a few days at Mataranka with its beautiful thermal swimming pool. We were now on the way home and, after an overnight stay at Tennant Creek again, went on to Mt Isa for two nights. We spent the day seeing the city, being shown over the mine area and going to Lake Moondarra. On the way south, we had a night at Longreach, where we visited the Stockman's Hall of Fame, and a night at Roma. After delivering the northern passengers back in Tamworth, the coach dropped Maurice, Val and me in Quirindi about seven pm.

 

One evening early in October, when speaking to John (son-in-law) by phone, he told me they were planning to go to New Zealand on April 11th the next year, and asked me to go with them. After telling Joy the next morning that I would like to go, she rang back about midday to tell me John had booked a seat on the plane to accompany them. So after a very sudden decision it appeared that I was going to have my second aeroplane trip after forty three years. I was a little apprehensive about flying again, but thought a flight in a jumbo jet would be much different from the trip in the old DC3 all those years ago. The trip was to be for a fortnight, touring both islands in a six-berth campervan.

 

Having decided to go to New Zealand, I had to procure a passport, to enable me to get back into Australia on my return. To obtain this, a Birth Certificate was necessary, and on producing the one I had, was told it had insufficient details to be acceptable. This certificate had been quite good enough to enable me to enlist in the Army to serve my country some forty-odd years before. Such is the red tape one encounters in this country. However I duly procured a more suitable one.

 

Ron Barwick, reached his 80th birthday on October 20th, so his daughter, Sue, gave him a luncheon party on 26th, to which I was delighted to receive an invitation. At the party were about ten elderly cousins and friends, and I, at 71, being one of the junior members of the gathering, had the privilege of proposing a toast to him. During the afternoon, a further fifty or sixty of his friends and relations turned up to wish him well. Ron is now the only person living on Warrah Creek who was here at my earliest recollection, and during that time, we have always been very close. Having lost his wife, Dette, on February 10th, 1985, only about three months before Audrey's death, Ron and I have had even more in common, and have visited each other frequently. We have spent many hours talking and reminiscing, and happily filling in times, which otherwise would have been lonely.

 

I attended the funeral of the late Daisy Ashford at Scone, and thence to Thornthwaite Cemetery on December 18, 1986, she having passed away on the 15th. I have, of course, attended funerals of many elderly relatives over the past fifty years, but as Aunty Daisy was the only person I have known who had reached the age of one hundred years, I make special mention of her. Daisy Ashford (born Daisy Alice Barwick on June 4, 1886) was the wife of Audrey's Uncle Fred Ashford, who reached the age of eighty-nine. Daisy's passing marked the end of an era, as she was the last of a generation of ninety-nine grandchildren (born 1851 to 1892) of James and Mary Barwick who came to Australia from Kent in England in 1840. She was about 90th of the generation, of which eighty four reached adulthood. Of these, some fifty-nine reached seventy years of age, around thirty-two attained eighty or over, and seven lived until over ninety. I remember Aunty Daisy as a kind, gracious lady, having known her since spending a night or two in her home, "Silvermere" at the foot of Owen's Gap over fifty years before.

 

When I commenced writing this about the middle of 1985, I imagined I would be finished by Christmas. However, with Christmas 1986 only a few days away, another year has passed. I have now recorded my life right up to date, and am finished apart from a few random jottings of some of the changes over the years.

 

During the first half of my life, there were four things that made a great impact on the quality of life in this rural community. Firstly, the change from horse to motor transport in the mid 1920s, then later in that decade, the telephone was made available. The next big step ahead was the introduction of kerosene burning refrigerators in about 1937. The fourth big improvement to our way of life was in 1950 when the Quirindi Municipal Council extended their electricity supply to Warrah Creek.

 

The most popular cars of the 1920s were Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet and Overland, which later was superceded by the Whippet. The early T model Ford, with its planetary gearbox, had two forward speeds controlled by a foot pedal, which, when fully depressed, engaged low gear and when released, put the car in top gear. Holding the pedal firmly in low on a long steep climb was quite tiring on the left leg.

 

Chevrolet and Overland had what later became the standard three speed gearbox, but a Dodge had low gear where reverse is now, and a Buick's bottom gear was where the top is normally.

 

Gear levers remained on the floor until around 1950. As front seats became wide enough to accommodate three people, the gear change was moved to the steering column to make more leg room for the middle passenger.

 

Automatic gearboxes were fitted to many cars from around 1960 and later when bucket seats became popular, doing away with the middle seat, many gear shifts, both automatic and manual, were moved back to the floor. Prior to around 1932, accelerators were placed between the clutch and brake pedals, except the Model T Ford, which had a hand throttle placed just under the steering wheel.

 

To keep up with the increased power and speed of motor cars, braking systems progressed from the two wheel (rear) brakes of those early days to four wheel brakes about 1928. These were mechanical brakes operated by rods (which tended to rattle) to each wheel. Apart from a few exceptions, this type of brake was used until a year or so after the war, when hydraulic brakes gradually became universal. Travelling speeds continued to increase so, to improve stopping power, disc brakes were installed on the front wheels around the mid 1970s. As these required more pedal pressure to operate, power assistance followed very quickly.

 

While we often hear criticism of our roads, they have improved considerably in the fifty-four years that I have been licensed to drive. The first length of tar sealed road within what was then the Warrah Shire, and for many miles in any direction, was between Murrurundi and Blandford. There were seven gates between "Oakhaven" and Willow Tree. I also recall a gate a short distance north of the Sugarloaf on the highway to Tamworth.

 

With the improvement of roads and motor transport, the need and use of passenger trains diminished dramatically. In my younger days, there was a separate daily passenger service between Sydney and Tamworth, Moree, Glen Innes and Brisbane (except Sundays). Also around the mid 1930s the Northern Tablelands Express to Armidale was introduced, making five trains each way per day passing through, and picking up passengers at Willow Tree. These trains served us for many years yntil some time after the War, when railway patronage gradually decreased.

 

The first stationary engines (petrol or kerosene) were comparatively large for their power output, and, being heavy and water-cooled, were suitable only for fixed installations, such as for driving shearing machinery, milking machines, pumps and circular saws. There were just a few small air- cooled engines before the War, but it wasn't until a few years later that a variety of small reliable models became available. It was then that the small two stroke engines were improved to the extent that they were adapted for use in such things as chain saws, lawnmowers and general mobile jobs around the farms. Before rural electricity extensions, there was available a household washing machine powered by a small petrol motor.

 

The first stationary engine I ever had to drive a small circular saw and wood planer, was a T model Ford engine. To make it more economical to run on a light job, I converted it into a single cylinder engine by removing three pistons. While converting this old engine, I was quite apprehensive as to whether it would function this way. I am glad to record that, after replacing the inlet valve belonging to the cylinder next to the one I used, it chugged away quite happily.

 

When I started school writing was done for the first year or so with a pencil, before graduating to a pen and ink. Pens consisted of a steel nib which had to be dipped in ink every four or five words. The ink was contained in ink wells resting in holes in the desks at school, and usually in small bottles at home. The contents could easily be spilt from both these making quite a mess. Fountain pens which could be filled with ink were available, but the early ones were not very satisfactory and were too expensive for the average person to own. It was not until after the end of World War 2 that the early models of the present day ball point pen were introduced.

 

I think that the first radio set in this area would have been installed by Bob Carter about 1928, and a few more followed during the next five or six years. These were all battery operated and the early models could only pick up a worth while signal at night.

 

On seeing the hundreds of packets of biscuits in grocery shops today, I often think of my young days when biscuits were not sealed in packets as now, but sold in tins containing one and a half to two kilograms. If one wanted a smaller quantity the shop assistant weighed them into a brown paper bag. An Arnott's biscuit tin, on which fifteen cents deposit was paid, measured about 15x16x24 centimetres. One advantage of buying biscuits protected by the tin was that there were fewer broken ones.

 

There were no self-service supermarkets until after the War, when the first shops of this type were called "cash andcarry".

 

I have no intention of trying to record the changes of dress during my lifetime. However, I will mention that after graduating from shorts, then to knicker-bockers and finally to long trousers during my teenage years (as already mentioned), I did not again wear shorts until around 1935 (when I was twenty). Shorts were not then in vogue, but I made shorts to wear to work in the bush by cutting the legs off some trousers which were badly worn at the knees. It was quite some years before we would venture to town in anything but long trousers.

 

Women were too modest to appear in shorts, and the only time they dressed in anything other than skirts was when they donned jodphurs, the approved horse-riding trousers. One item of trivia regarding women's dress - until just a few years ago, it was the custom for women to wear hats to church and they would not dream of entering a church bare-headed.

 

What I have written in the last few pages are changes which I thought may be of general interest. As a sheep breeder and woolgrower most of my life, there comes to mind three changes pertaining to this industry which I feel may also be worth recording. They are:- some of the changes in sheep drenches to control internal parasites, the introduction of wide shearing combs and the price of shearing now as compared with around fifty-five years ago.

 

In this area, worms in sheep were practically unheard of until the early 1930s, and when our fat ewes began to die from a sudden infestation of worms, we were at first mystified as to the cause of their deaths. One of the very few drenches on the market at that time I remember was a product called Weavers, which was an arsenical mixture. We had recommended to us two home made remedies, of which we were given the recipes. One of these was Bluestone and mustard, which we tried with very poor results, and the other was arsenic and epsom salts.

 

The method of administering these was very different from today, when we use an automatic gun fed from a back- pack. The drencher then used was a small, tapered metal container about fifteen centimetres long and four centimetres diameter at the large end, which was enclosed. When dipped in a bucket of mixture, the drencher filled to a hole a couple of centimetres up the side, thus measuring the correct dose. When filled to the correct level, a thumb was placed over the hole, to prevent spillage, while tipping the drench, via the small end down the sheep's throat. This meant that the user had his hand wet with a quite dangerous mixture the whole time he was using it. We often hear of things being slow but sure. This certainly was slow but not very sure.

 

During the years since then there have been many drenches on the market, and many of them, before the development of broad spectrum drenches, were effective only against one or two types of worm. One which comes to mind, and which was used quite effectively for a number of years, was Phenothiazine. The disadvantage of this product was that it was green in colour, and it left a dark stain if spilt on the wool. If a mob of sheep was jammed together after drenching even the traces of it on their mouths would rub off and stain any sheep they touched. This stain would remain in the wool until shorn, and most certainly would not be accepted by the wool trade nowadays.

 

The introduction of wide shearing combs caused quite a lot of controversy among shearers, and some die-hard unionists fought against their general use. One shearer when interviewed on television, claimed that the extra strain of pushing the wide comb had caused his arm to swell. Eventually the thought of being able to shear more sheep per day got the better of them, and wide combs were accepted. The lowest award rate for shearing sheep that I remember was in 1932 or 1933 and was one pound seven shillings and threepence (two dollars seventy four).

 

In writing my life history, or memoirs, I have tried to record things and events which I hope will be of some interest in years to come to at least a few people. I especially hope it will be interesting to my much-loved grandchildren David and Christine.

 

When writing of my own life I had, of course, to include most of Audrey's as well, having spent over half my life happily married to her.

 

I have also tried to depict what life was like in this small community from my earliest recollection, and to portray some of the changes which have taken place here and in the wider world.

Cousins: Back L to R Lila Seymour (Barwick), Victor Barwick, Ron Barwick, Arthur Barwick, (brother) Luke Barwick, Madge Carter (Barwick). Front Sheila Goodworth (Barwick) Olive Logan (Barwick), Addie Winnett (Barwick)

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peter frost | Reply 11.07.2020 15:17

.
an amazing life story. good to read about my uncle and aunt, Luke and Enid as well. Found article when searching the 'FROST' side of my family. Peter Frost.

Helen Copeland | Reply 06.04.2020 08:38

Hope all Subdivision friends and followers and their families are well and surviving lockdown..my best wishes to all. Extended Copeland family all OK.

Suzanne Nagel | Reply 30.01.2020 08:18

wow thanks for this

Brian Mitchell | Reply 02.12.2019 12:38

What an amazing life story. I stumbled across Arthur's story during researching my (Mitchell) family history in and around the Moonan/Scone areas.

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27.12 | 18:19

Just a quick point re Mary Gallagher (Pearson). While Mary did die in Armidale the date was 26 September 1886 (NSW BDM 12817/1886)

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27.12 | 18:13

Just a quick point re Mary Gallagher (Pearson). While Mary did die in Armidale the date was 26 September 1886 (NSW BDM 12817/1886)

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18.12 | 17:53

Thank you so much Geoff, love the photos our 4 sons will have a great time going through all of them. Wonderful memories.

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18.12 | 15:00

That was quick Heather. Well done. I've tagged you in a few things. Hope you enjoy it.

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