THE COVER FAMILY.
By Neil Barwick.
Noel Cover (born in 1892) was a World War 1 veteran and a trooper with a Light Horse regiment and was among the first group to go to the Middle East. After being discharged from the Army, he
took up Farm 46, named “Caloola”, which hadn’t been taken up initially. Farm 46 was 1 of 84 Farms in the 1912 Australian Agriculture Company’s Warrah subdivision totalling 45,600 acres.
After the death of William Cover in 1953, and Noel in 1954, sister Besse Potts sold “Caloola” to William Daly in 1954. “Caloola” was sold again in 1990 to Don Keighran, again in 1993 to Tom Lipscombe, and then to Richard
Stinson in 2000.
Noel Cover and his sisters, Una, Mona and Alma (Besse) were reared on Glen Moan Station on Yarramanbah Creek. (A few years ago, the remains of the stone chimney were still
standing on the site of the Cover cottage). Their father, William was a boundary rider and stockman on the Station. In 1911 when Una was 17, Mona was 11 and Besse was 8 years old, a boundary rider and itinerant worker from Merriwa, called Lawrence Lawless
paid Mrs Cover and her family a visit. William was away mustering. Mr Lawless had been friends with the Cover family for some time However this day Lawless told Lucy Cover he wanted more than just friendship with her; she told Lawless ‘never
in a thousand years’ and to leave and don’t come back. Lawless had a rifle with him and shot Lucy in the face resulting in her completely losing one eye. Then she asked Una to go for help; Lawless followed Una outside and
shot her dead. He then set fire to the cottage and rode off leaving all to perish. Mona and Besse were able to drag their Mother from the burning cottage and help her to a neighbour’s house to safety. Soon after, a neighbour found Lawless
in his camp with a bullet wound to his chest, however he survived. Lawless was arrested and tried for murder in Sydney on 13th October, 1911. The jury returned a verdict of guilty after one hour and Mr Acting Justice Ferguson sentenced
Lawless to death.
William Cover helped run “Caloola” after leaving Glen Moan Station and also worked as a stockman and advisor for the Morrissey family on “Rathcown” on Big
Jacks Creek. He continued until he was unable to mount and ride his horse any longer. William smoked a pipe and in his late years had developed parkinson’s disease.
Noel Cover was a tremendously
talented ‘bush worker’. He could make anything out of natural bush timber and bush resources. He did a lot of fencing and yard building, built timber hay and machinery sheds and did stockwork for local landholders.
Noel Cover and Col Saunders were building stock-yards for Gavin Cobcroft on his property, “Parraweena” and they were camped on the side of a slope. Noel owned a Model A Ford ute which was parked above their
camp. Noel and Col came into camp for a cuppa. While drinking their tea, they looked out to see the Model A roll past on its way down the hill. Noel looked up and said, “Its only old Lizzie going past!” The ute ran over
the top of an old fence further down the hill, then just before it plunged into the gully at the bottom of the slope, one front wheel hit a rock which turned the steering away from the gully ahead, and then rolled to a stop sideways to the gully no damage
done! Noel walked nonchalantly down the hill and drove it back to camp, this time applying the handbrake!
Noel always had a racehorse or two in training; one good one in particular called Hot Jim. It
is said that Noel always gave Hot Jim a good big slug of whisky before every race. It is not recorded whether this had the required result or not! He also trained racehorses for Sam Saunders of “Fairfield”(Farm 55) up Big Jacks Creek.
Sam had a champion called Dixie which was unbeaten and another good one called Jazzaway. Sam Saunders had built one of the first shearing sheds in the area and a lot of local graziers, including William Cover took their sheep to “Fairfield”
to be shorn. He also had a horse team pulling a wagon which Noel Cover drove to cart the wool to Willow Tree railhead.
My uncle, Ron Barwick recalls Noel’s great sense of humour. Ron said, “My
father (Ernest), brothers (Alan & Edgar) and I were fencing one time when Noel happened along. My father made a comment about the appearance of some unimproved adjoining land.” Noel cast his eyes over the country in question, and said,
“Yes, it’s just the same as when Captain Cook first saw it!”
Noel suffered a stroke about 18 months before his death which crippled one of his arms and ended his working life.
My mother, Gloryne was good friends with Besse while she lived at “Caloola”. She thinks that Besse was a nursing sister at Maitland, and she came back to “Caloola” to look after her Mum & Dad in their
elderly years until they both deceased. Whenever local neighbours and friends and families had medical crises, the call was, ring ‘Pottsy’ for help and advice.
She rode a bay horse, and during
dry times would ride up the hill and lop tree branches to feed the livestock. She would ride back with heaps of branches draped over the horse. She would say, “I look like a bloody haystack coming back”!
Besse retired to the Central Coast; Noel, William and Lucy Cover are all buried in Willow Tree cemetery.