These pages about Jack McNamara are split up as follows :
Page 2 : Letters to the Editor including The Water Trough
Page 3 : Essays from Power Points
Page 4 : Essays - the "A Bloke Retires" Series
Page 5 : Other Essays - Fun and Philosophy
Jack's Certificate of Service from the WWII Nominal Roll Site (Size Reduced)
Jack McNamara clearly loved to write. While he espoused many views and opinions which today would be regarded as old-fashioned and even chauvinistic he clearly was a great observer of people and their attitudes to life. While Jack served Australia in the army and marched the Kokoda Trail, he doesn't seem to have written about his experiences there. Maybe this isn't that surprising as many men of his generation never talked about their war experiences.
However, he has left us a lot of written material. Some of this he wrote for the company journal "Power Points" when he worked for the Sydney City Council (SCC). While nominally fictional, they expressed a large amount of Jack's view of the world. Jack was married twice, to Marjorie and then Mona. In all his essays he only ever refers to "the wife" (a common thing of his generation) and so it is hard to get the glimpse into their lives which we might have if he had used their name, however it is known that he was with Marjorie at Wollongong, Dapto and Yagoona. (He and Marjorie adopted their daughter Jean while living at Yagoona). He was also with Mona at Yagoona.
In the form that these essays take, some of them are typed carbon copies with occasional hand notes on the side, others are typed with sufficient quality that they are very clear and probably already edited (the Power Points articles) and others are handwritten. Jack had an unusual flourishing style of handwriting which occasionally is difficult to decipher, especially with some of the hand notes on the carbon copies. Most of these hand notes have been included but a few have been left out because they could not be read. It is felt that this editorial judgement has not affected the meaning of the essays.
The essays on this page are Jack's contribution to family history under his title of A Family Affair
A Family Affair
I am about to jot down a few facts concerning my Grandparents --- their trip from Ireland to Australia. This would be about 1860. What I shall write about my Grand-Pa has been passed on to me orally by my father. What I shall write shall be brief, and to the point. Since I am the eldest in a family of eleven (eight boys and three girls) one deceased, and by virtue of that fact alone, the only one capable of presenting these facts, I feel obliged to do so. As bad as this presentation may read, it will give some inkling to the family that would be otherwise lost, so, in this sense it should prove interesting and I hope better than no record at all. It is true that most young people, and a great number of older people become bored with life and their humdrum existence.
It is true that we like to discover something out of the ordinary about our ancestors so we do a little research into the matter hoping to prove to all and sundry that we are not so mediocre as our neighbours may think.
More often than not, we become frustrated with the attempt and give it up and then blame our Ancestors as being too lazy to record plain family facts. (Indecipherable notation - might be "For on principal only")
You need have no worry about our background my brothers and sisters as I have an ancient Irish map which points out that we are descended from Kings and princes --- Whacko.
J. T. McNamara
A Family Affair
Settling in Germantown
I do not know where my Grandparents disembarked upon reaching Australia, but I know that they eventually settled in a place called Germantown.
As the name implies, many Germans settled and took up land there. I do not think that my Grandparents remained there too long before going to Queanbeyan. The little I know about Germantown was passed on to me by my father . For many years I was not concerned about Germantown, and it was not until I made a tour down south I bothered to enquire. At the time I was camped in a caravan park in Albury when I engaged in a conversation with a chap. "I see you've got a fiddle", he said. He told me that he played the piano accordion and went and brought it. He also got a sugar bag of beer and we had a musical night. I asked him where Germantown was. "There's no Germantown", he said. He then told me that they changed the name to Holbrook. This change of name took place during war one in 1914, he told me. This change of name measured the hatred then of the name "german" and all things savouring of German. I well remember one of the popular slogans during war one which ran "The only good German is a dead one".
Despite all this hatred, my grandpa insisted that they were good farmers and good neighbours. One can easily appreciate the hardship now and the heartbreak, that these people had to endure through the hatred and futility of war.
A Family Affair
Biographies are usually written by world acclaimed writers about prominent men who have in some way or other made their mark upon society. The author is rewarded by the sale of the work and the reader is rewarded by the furtherance of the knowledge of the person in question. The Person in question is, usually, like my Grandpa in another world. Having said this then, I , John Thomas Michael McNamara, with no special ability as a writer, for the benefit of the family, and perhaps for a few other strays who may be interested, am going to attempt to write, to the best of my ability, a brief sketch of a man publicly unheard of
(Indecipherable) and indeed unheralded upon reaching Australia. The man, of course, is my Grandpa who migrated from County Clare Ireland around about the year 1860.
We could say that he commenced his trip as a "loner", but a romance took place on the ship which culminated in marriage. In the first place grandpa was undecided as whether he would sail for America or Australia and the final decision was made upon the toss of a coin. Had the coin not favoured Australia, we would have become God dam yanks - or would we have? If the coin had favoured America he would certainly not have met grandma because she knew where she was going and that was to Australia.
Grandpa didn't care very much where he went as long as he was able to get away from the hardship and spartan way of life then prevailing in Ireland. I am told that the Irish were either migrating to America or to Australia during this period and the ratio was three to one in favour of America. According to my father, my grandparents loved their native land and they knew full well that the rest of their lives would be spent in a foreign and faraway land as strangers in pursuit of a living.
They left their native land, like thousands more, not in a sense of adventure, but through sheer necessity. In our own political jargon, our politicians would label their mission as a domestic or bread and butter issue.
They left their native land with few material possessions but with stout hearts and with plenty of determination to sail into the unknown.
Grandpa's sole possession upon reaching Australia was a black dinted tin trunk with the name "McNamara" scrawled in white paint across it. He insisted that his name was prefaced with "Mac" not "Mc" the way we spell it. Mac means "the son of". The last time I saw this old tin trunk was under the bed of my Uncle's place in Cabramatta. The trip to Australia was a trying one with boredom and sickness. The ship was off course quite a lot and the trip took between four and six months to complete.
A Family Affair
My earliest memories of my grandparents, and naturally my own parents, goes back a long way to when I was a child on our grazing property in Queanbeyan. My father said that he could better remember the events of childhood than the things that happened last week. Now at the age of seventy years I can say that he was right. Since starting this writing exercise, where I have to go back many years, I am pretty sure that I possess a retentive memory. I will digress for a moment to prove the point.
Two incidents I remember well were the smashing of two watches which were the property of strangers. I was curious as to where the ticks were coming from so in order to find out I smashed them. One watch belonged to a person who was staying at the Queanbeyan hotel in a room adjoining ours, the other watch was ticking away in a waist coat which was laying across a dray wheel under some wild cherry --- Kentish cherry trees.
I horrified my parents on another occasion when I walked up to our neighbour, Granville Ryrie, who later became an MLA, (Member of the Legislative Assembly - the NSW State Parliament Lower House) then Sir Granville and eventually High Commissioner for Australia in London and kicked him in the shin and said as I stared up at him "You ugly big bugger". I am not able to give the acreage of the Queanbeyan property but suffice it to say that Grandpa reared three girls and two boys there. One of the family is still alive in this year 1975. Her name is Mrs Grady and she is nearly 100 years old. This aunt, the last of the McNamara passed away this year 1977 in Queanbeyan at age of 99 years.)
I cannot leave this occasion go by without saying something about this grand old lady who has lived so long in complacent-like manner through many changes which have taken place over the years of her existance. This aunt, the last of her generation, spent most of her life in the Tindry Mountains where her husband was a grazier. The other sister settled in Goulburn. I last visited my Aunt when she was about 90 years old and at that time she was living with her daughter in Captains Flat which is 40 miles from Queanbeyan. Prior to that visit I had not seen her for many years yet when I knocked on the door she opened it and without hesitation said "It's Jack". I enquired about her health, and she said that except for a bit of pain in the legs sometimes, she was OK.
She reads and writes without glasses. I was not there long before she asked me to play a tune on the piano for her. Quite truthfully I said that I could not play the thing, but she would not take no for an answer. When I reached the piano there was no stool there. "Sorry", she said and then rushed into the next room and brought one. She is, like the rest of her generation, a lover of the piano, violin and accordion. These three instruments catered for all the early bush dances in the Australian bush. The violin or better known as the fiddle was played in the inimitable Irish fashion throughout the country school houses and woolsheds. The dances were in fast tempo, rhythmic and social in nature -- Quadrills, square dances, Albert Streets, etc, etc. Fiddle players kept perfect dance time and never faulted in continuity of play. They would go on and on without a stop leaving our modern hill billy on his guitar for dead. My father concentrated on playing the accordion whilst my uncle played the fiddle. My Uncle Tim on mother's side excelled as a gig player on the fiddle. One would nearly have to travel to Ireland now to hear fiddle playing in the old inimitable gig style. I had this style of fiddle playing in mind when I wrote to the promoter of a film on Ned Kelly, the bush ranger. I stated that since a great deal of the fiddle playing was popular then, it would be appropriate to have a scene in which one was featured.. I received a reply in which they said that since they had not thought of it, it was now too late.
It is a pity that the violin, instead of the guitar, didn't take root here in Australia . I'm doing my best to keep the old tradition alive by scraping out a jig every now and then.
This is then, the way it was in early life Australia. These self taught musicians with perfect ear for music, and also creative ability enough to compose, in those now far off days were much sought after. I am talking about pre-TV and pre-wireless days very, very much unlike today where every man must be a specialist in his trade, craft or whatever. These people were thrown on their own resources and enjoyably, they were forced to promote their own entertainment. Like all things simple, it was social, uncomplicated. My centenerian Aunty who has lived right through these simple rural times must have often wondered what it was all about as she must surely, as an intelligent woman, have tried to work out what this madly innovative computer era is all about.
She was born when no one could imagine the vast changes which were to take place (accellerated of course by two great wars). She was to see a man land on the moon. She was born when men could not conceive that Australia could be anything else but a primary producing country ------ the boast and typical thinking of the day was "Australia rides on the sheep's back". This was the continual boast of my Uncle Tim (my mother's step brother). My father's neighbour of a few miles distant, was William Farrer. He spent all his life endeavouring to produce a rust resistant wheat. My father and Farrer were on speaking terms. Bypassers thought him a little queer as they watched him growing and stripping the heads of wheat. They would put their index finger to their ear, twirl it in clock like manner as much as to say "He's mad". He was successful in producing a rust resistant wheat which he called "Federation". There is a monument erected to him in Queanbeyan which reads "I want to think when the end comes, my life has not been wasted ---- Born 1815 ---- Died 1906".
One could say that any nation which has projected itself on to the world scene in importance among other nations, during the lifetime of one living person (my Aunt), has done remarkably well. Looked at in this light, it is not long is it?
A Family Affair
I am certain that if my grandpa of "pen and ink era" could only see me of "ball point era" trying with all the difficulty in the world to type out a story about him he'd laugh his head off. I would have the laugh on him as he would not be able to make head nor tail of our technological era, whereas I would be more at home, if it were possible to slide back in time to the era in which he lived, where life was simple, uncomplicated, less neurotic and perhaps more moral and honest. This then was the way it was, or at least the way I imagined it was, on our grazing property "The Burra" sixteen miles outside Queanbeyan. Incidently, during my visit up that way I noticed an indicator board with "Burra" on it. This district is called the Monaro and is appreciated among wool authorities as being excellent for the production of Merino wool.
The property is by nature undulating, seasonably reliable, with ample annual supply of water. A limestone creek runs through the property. I well remember the day as a youngster, following my father along this creek when we came upon a dead cow lying in the bed of the creek with its four legs pointing heavenwards. It was well bloated through having eaten too much dew laden lucerne. Now I suppose the important question arises as to how Grandpa got along on the land. Did he make a success of his grazing venture? He certainly did. During my visit up this way I was more than pleased to come into possession of a book which referred to Grandpa. The book was entitled "The Early Pioneers of Canberra" and was written by a superintendent of police who strangely happened to be a distant relative of my wife. His name is Schumacher. In the preface of this book we learn that it was the author's father who through the painstaking effort in recording in detail all new comers to Canberra. Many historical and ordinary events were recorded also. The old man took to recording these events after having driven a pitchfork through his foot which had the effect of rendering him a semi invalid. My wife's father "Barney Ryan" referred to Schumacher as an inquisitive old man. Many interestings appear in this book (sic). For example we read where Campbell offers a handsome reward for the capture of two rabbits whom he feared would not be able to survive and fend for themselves in this difficult climate. However the author states that Michael McNamara who came from Ireland settled in Queanbeyan and prospered.
When man reaches financial success in any sphere of activity, he is wont to boast and hearken back to the days when he was less fortunate. We all like to be self made men. It would be natural therefore, for Grandpa to look back to early privation in Ireland and compare it with some sense of pride in becoming a successful grazier, something which was hitherto, a foreign occupation to him. He successfully pioneered on virgin land in a foreign country where contact was occasionally with civilization per horse and sulky (sic). So much then for his personal satisfaction, but he went further inasmuch as he helped, encouraged and created the potential for my father and uncle, who too worked hard and succeeded on the same old property. Grandpa was a stockily built man, forthright of speech and a man of action. When his temper would get the better of his calm, he would express himself adequately in his native (Gaelic) language. He was as tough as nails and was nicknamed Red Michael, because of his fine red beard.
Perhaps too, he was called Red Michael in order to distinguish from Black Michael who too lived up this way. I remember the old man very well --- his black and tan dog "Panter" and his mottled grey arab horse, who would, once the reins were dropped, take you home by the shortest route through the bush. Grandpa in his 90's developed what was called the gravel which I now imagine was prostate trouble, from which I think, claimed his life. It was during this illness that my father sold a place called "Hill Top" which is part of the original property, to travel far and fare worse. I am now referring to the Pilliga scrub venture of which I will have something to say later.
The next time I saw my Grandpa was when we travelled from Pilliga overland to attend his funeral in Queanbeyan. (A long way to drive a T-Model Ford). The old dog Panter went crazy when he saw my father after a long absence. 93 years was registered and put on Grandpa's coffin but my father maintains that he was older. We sought information from the Registrar General in County Clare and in reply it was stated that Births, Marriages and Deaths in and around that period were hard to come by. The Registrar General's name was McNamara.
A Family Affair
I visit The Burra after an absence of fifty six years
Since my wife too, was born in Queanbeyan, we decided to make a trip from Yagoona up this way. During our trip around Queanbeyan and Canberra, we were able to discuss and relive our early childhood. We decided to make the trip to the Burra property and sixteen miles brought us to the property entrance.
We paused here for awhile. About one mile prior to arrival we passed K. T. Flat which was the property of my Uncle Bill. We were unable to see a house from where we were as I gazed along the winding pine tree entrance. I wondered whether the same old place was still there, but I had no intention of gatecrashing the place to find out. I have no pretentions toward poetry but the few lines I shall quote seemed to be literally hanging above the property so all I had to do was to mentally pluck them from the air and scribble them down. This gave me a hint of what inspiration is all about. I quote :
My Visit to Burra 1967
The Burra's the place where my life began
It's on the road out from old Queanbeyan
The Hills are still green -- it's truly amazing
I found it the same -- the sheep are still grazing.
The years that are spent are now 56
Since as a boy I left it at 6
The old house has gone, a new has arisen
But the lay of the land remained in my vision
Memories came back of my uncle and dad
Who worked the old place when I was a lad.
I'm glad I went back to the old place again
Along a sixteen mile track outside Queanbeyan.
After scribbling these few lines, I sent them to the Editor of the Queanbeyan Age which the editor published and sent to me at my home at Yagoona. It was quite a novelty to have these lines published in the very same newspaper that my grandfather used to read. The editor's name whom I remember very well was John Gale. He died reaching nearly one hundred years. (John Gale was the man who penned the poem to Cornelius Grady after he was killed by a train. Refer to Cornelius' page for the poem)
You will remember that I stated earlier on that I couldn't see whether the old house stood because of the obstruction by pine trees, so you would be entitled to ask how I knew that the old house has gone and a new has arisen. The facts are that whilst we were paused at the entrance to The Burra a certain chap who was driving past pulled up and asked if we wanted anything. I then explained to him that I had come back to the scene of my childhood after an absence of 56 years. He explained the changes that had taken place over the years.
He told us that he was a brother of the chap that now owned The Burra and then asked us whether we would like to meet the owners. We agreed to go and meet his brother.
This then accounts for the line in the poetry which states that "the old house has gone and new has arisen"
With the Emphasis on Memory
When we came to the end of the pine-tree lined road, I was able to see that the old small house was replaced by an elaborate new brick one. Fortunately I was able to see two small detached buildings and one of these buildings was the old kitchen. In my mind's eye I could see my father hanging flitches of pork up this old chimney, where it would remain to be smoked and cured for human consumption. These flitches would eventually become as hard as a piece of board --- black and dried out from the hot smoke that escaped via the chimney. Funny how one remembers these seemingly unimportant things, but it would be true to say that the trip would have been worthwhile making in order just to see this old and memorable chimney once again. I imagined that I was going to see a large chimney but I forgot to remember that I measured it with a child's mind. I had never given a thought to its material construction but now I could see that it was roughly but solidly built with irregular shaped stones. I vividly remember the very cold and frosty mornings and gazing into the glowing red log fire and the steaming 5 gallon fountain fighting its continual battle against the winning escaping steam as I sat eating my eggs and bacon and crisp brown mashed fried potatoes which were the leftovers from last evening's meal. I was not able to see the old pise hut with its stringy bark roof. My earliest memories of this old room (was) when I used to peer through the keyhole to watch grandma sitting on a stool contentedly puffing black tobacco through a nicotine stained clay one-penny pipe. This old room I remember had smooth white walls and this material was got from the creek. (Hand note : White mud or lime?)
Memory is a wonderful faculty with depths hard to fathom. It mocks me now to frustration. That old hut was definitely here -- or was it K. T. Flat or Hilltop?
|The house at Hilltop (part of The Burra) with the family on the front verandah|
|A close up (taken from the above photo) of the then McNamara family (from left to right) : Thomas Patric holding John (Jack), Kathleen (standing) and Ellen Agnes (nee Grady) holding Clarence (Carny)|
I know that it stood close to a clump of wild cherry trees under which a dray stood and on its wheel was a waistcoat with watch and chain. I know because I smashed the watch in search of the tick.
These varied and puzzling thoughts raced through my mind as we made our way towards the new owners place. It was not long before we reached the front door. The owner's brother introduced us, my wife and I, and I briefly gave my reasons for the visit. We were invited in and were made welcome over a cup of tea. Naturally the conversation was about my grandpa.
"McNamara, McNamara", the husband said. "I do not recall the name at all", he said.
He then went on to tell me that he was under the impression that Mr Campbell was the original owner of the property. This was a surprise to me. Surely the name McNamara could not be forgotten within the lifetime of one of Grandpa's children, I thought. (I am referring to my Aunt Kate). Pity we did not know about you the wife said. She then went on to tell us that she had been nominated to organise and get together all the early family settlers to attend the centenary of the nearby small church. We would have sent for you she said. So Campbell was the owner I mused.
This Campbell was getting under my skin. He was mentioned frequently in the book I have just mentioned "Early Pioneers of Canberra" and now he was the original owner of The Burra. His influence even extended to Circular Quay where he had a wharf. Teamsters used to load goods here for the very difficult trek over Razorback Mountain (South of Sydney on the road that was once the Hume Hwy) en route for Queanbeyan. The first camp on this long trek was made at where Macdonaldtown (an inner suburb of Sydney) railway station stands to-day. Grandpa used to take part in all this and I am told that he could have purchased Brickfield Hill (Anthony Horderns) (about a kilometre away from Central Railway at Eddy Ave towards the modern CBD) for a small keg of OP Rum which dangled from the back of the waggon. This "not knowing" of Mcnamara, as past owner of The Burra had a depressing effect upon me until this person (forgotten his name) said "Wait a second and I'll see if I can find a Land's Dept map". He was soon back with a map which showed the names Tom McNamara and Bill McNamara enclosed in two squares. I lived again. Jocularly I said to the owner "This property should be mine, so I regard you as an interloper."
"Give me the money and I'll gladly hand it back to you", he replied.
Graziers were having a particularly bad time now (sic) as the price of wool has reached an all time low in price on the world market. These new type settlers, unlike those of yesteryear had a keen eye toward the business aspect of farming and to counter the drop in the price of wool they used other revenue producing methods. This chap planted oil seed, others switched to cattle, etc, etc.
We know now in 1974, that wool had recovered in price, so the grazier can go for a short ride on the sheep's back again. We were getting towards the end of our visit and when tea was finished we were invited to take a walk over the place. Since these people knew nothing of the past history of the place, I refrained from asking questions and did a little concentrating. The only things that I could be sure that did not change were the topographical features of the place. Not far distant I could see the same slopes where the kangaroo and hare drives took place. Since the gum and eucalypt live longer than we imagine I knew that the trees in the distance were the trees from which my father and uncle mooned and shot the koala bear and the possum. Possums and koala bears were very numerous. Favourable conditions only existed when the moon shone from high through the branches. With the moon as a bright background these creatures stood out in relief and made easy tagets for the shooter on the ground. There would be a great hue and cry if this went on in 1974 but this was a way and an accepted way of life then. It would be a safe bet to say that one would never find a koala bear up here (sic) now ---- I don't know about the possum or the kangaroo and I saw none. When these things were numerous there were no aeroplanes, cars or wireless. Apart from man their predator, then, these alien noises must have played havoc with our fauna and perhaps flora.
In departing I looked along the limestone creek and this is where I used to follow my father with his gold dish held in readiness for a likely spotwash for a few specks of gold. If he managed to get a few colours he would put them in a small bottle. There was another mineral which he and the bank manager thought could be platinum. My father was a natural geologist and seemed to recognise all things in the earth. He was interested in a crop of marble which rested in the bed of the Murrumbidgee River over the hill from Michelago on my uncle's property. It was not a commercial proposition.
I well remember disturbing kangaroos along this creek and as we came suddenly upon them they would bound away over the hills and out of sight crackling the dead sticks each time they made contact with the ground. Somewhat puzzled I gazed around and wondered (if) the bread was baked, yes, and where was the wooden cask full of brine for the preservation with the bones of the beef. Where was the kangaroo, fox, possum and koala bear skin tanned. I suppose the wild cherry trees died with old age. Our mission was now complete but not before we visited the old church on the way home. The church was solidly built of stone squares and inside was hymn books, musty and old, giving testimony to the age of this century old church. On the way home I remembered Fitzpatrick of Travelogue fame when he would have said "Now we leave behind memories of long ago to reluctantly join once again the city rat race".
A Family Affair
Soon to discover the way of life here was totally different from the way of life at The Burra where drought was unknown and where one was always rewarded for one's work.
As a grazier as was the custom, my father along with the rest of the graziers on the Monaro, wore his black hard hitter hat as was befitting a gentleman and along with others was invited on Sydney Harbour cruises by woolbrokers where he would meet buyers of differing nationality. Graziers then used to refer to the Japanese as little yellow gentlemen. In war two we used to call them little yellow bastards.
The United Kingdom purchased most of our wool but it was the Japanese who were not interested in what other buyers were doing and by virtue of this fact kept the price of wool at a high level, which was in the graziers interest. Excuse the digression.
My mother and father, with a family of six, which eventually grew to eleven, left The Burra to settle on a 2500 acre property in the heart of the Pilliga Scrub with the object of growing wheat. We were eventually to learn that the Pilliga was about as comparable with The Burra as chalk is with cheese.
We should realize that over the past 60 years, in practically every sphere of activity tremendous change has taken place in Australia. The youngest of us can witness the swift movement of events and compare yesteryear with today and frighten the hell out of ourselves if we so desire. Great changes have taken place in the rural sphere and particularly with the growing and harvesting of grain. Of all these changes on the land, woolgrowing, shearing, etc, etc has changed the least. If it were possible for my father to come back again, he would have little difficulty in carrying on with sheep but the wheat situation would trick him. Ploughing, sewing, etc, etc.
My father ploughed and harrowed the land, the earth with horsepower and broadcasted the seed by hand. He carried the seed in a pouch-like bag which was strapped around his waist. The crop of wheat was harvested by the now old fashioned reaper and binder. This machine cut and drew the hay into the machine, automatically tying them into sheaves and throwing them out the back where they would be picked up by pitchfork and stood in stooks. The old binder even by today's technical standards is a clever piece of work. When the sheaves in the stooks were sun dried they would be pitchforked into a dray and then taken to a haystack. Care had to be taken in building the haystack and since it had to remain in the field for a long period it had to be waterproof. Good haystackbuilders were always in demand and were not easy to get. We used to cut and bag our own chaff. Our method of cutting chaff was old fashioned enough. Father used to feed the sheaves into a machine which was cut when my brother and myself drove a horse round in circles. This was the procedure followed by farmers 60 years ago.
An old chap with horses and wagon used to periodically buy bags of chaff from us and pay in gold sovereigns. Our property was called "Cartref" but how it got that name I do not know. We were situated about 14 miles from Pilliga in and off the wide main sandy treacherous road which led about 50 miles distant to Coonamble. I will qualify treacherous road by stating that rarely did we ever get to Pilliga and back without becoming bogged in our Maxwell car and then later our T-Model Ford.
Our Maxwell bogged in this loose sand on this wide road and was completely burned. My mother's brother Jack, who worked (for) Harris, Jones and Devilin (Devlin ?) later to become Goldsborough Mort, as a stock and station agent, suggested this venture into what was for the most part unknown and perhaps untried. In a word we went far and fared worse. This venture failed not because of inexperience but through drought conditions. Our first year venture into wheat was a success so this was the only bright spot in the whole sojourn.
We arrived in Coonamble in 1914 on our way to Pilliga. Uncle Jack met us at Coonamble and provided us with a horse and buggy where we all climbed aboard. It was raining in Coonamble, and Coonamble black boggy plains were a threat on the way to Pilliga. Some knowall plotted a short-cut for us to follow over these muddy plains. This short-cut with a high spirited horse proved a nightmare trip while it lasted. A horse, unlike a bullock, will not steadily pull itself out of a difficult situation, it will plunge and jerk itself out, or bust. Our journey was a series of plunges and jerks. This short-cut was preceeded by many more short-cuts as we plied between here and there over the years. A wrong turn in these parts could cause great inconvenience. No one had road directories then and everyone seemed to delight in showing you short-cuts which were twice as long as the longest way round. Our arrival in Pilliga coincided with the year our soldiers were landing in Gallipoli and overseas to fight the Germans. My father single-handed and frustrated fought a battle for economic survival against the cruel and relentless forces of nature (. It) was a far more difficult battle than the Australian soldiers against the German soldiers. Our soldiers won their war and in between battles they hid in trenches and occasionally declared truces. There is no place to hide in a drought and droughts have no truces or trenches. The countless number of men who have bravely fought and who have been beaten by drought in bushland Australia are no less patriotic than our soldiers. They fought on the food front, wore no uniforms and won no medals of merit. We were fortunate inasmuch we always had plenty of bore water which was pumped from a well by a windmill. The water ran into troughs where animals would drink. We had a few cattle and 1100 sheep and in drought we would lop edible trees to feed the stock. My brother Carnie and myself assisted in skinning dead cattle and we poisoned and skinned thousands of rabbits.
The rabbits were that numerous that one was able to see every colour and multi-colour rabbit in creation and they were dying by the thousands from starvation. Despite the hardy reputation of the rabbit the goat left him literally for dead. The goat will survive in drought when all other animals will starve to death. Someone should farm goats for export meat. Like most Australians we never ate them and regarded them as the poor relations of the animal world. By way of diversion, I remember making a joke about the survival of the goat in the Pilliga in which I said to a chap that I intended to farm goats in the Pilliga. According to this joke, I was going to offer shares in 100 dozen lots. A bystander came to me later and offered 100 dozen then hoping to get in on the ground floor. Since the drain on manpower for the war was fairly exhaustive we were constantly beset with difficulty in securing suitable labour or in fact any kind of labour. Despite the fact that we did not have militiary constription and unlike any war before and since then, great moral pressure was put upon all elligible men to enlist. Our women would send white feathers to those who did not enlist. During this difficulty in securing labour, two young Englishmen arrived on our property. We knew these two men as Peter and Joe. They wanted a job for two reasons, one for survival and one to dodge conscription should it become law. During the referendum on this issue Billy Hughes was Prime Minister at that time and he and Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne waged a war of words. Mannix was anti-conscription. The issue was defeated.
My father gave these two men a job and they proved as useless as two men could be. We made camping provision for them in a shed and when I went to call them for breakfast the following morning I was unable to find them. When I called their name they answered from the top of a shed. They were hiding from spiders. These two chaps had a great aptitude for doing the wrong thing. We had a clump of Quandong, native peach trees and when my father gave them an axe to do some ringbarking these were the first trees they ringbarked. Needless to say that was the end of our quandong pie making. At the back of our house a half mile distant was a quagmire where two native companions would arrive from the east and two from the west each evening. They would perform some very entertaining dances. These chaps shot one of them and that was the last we saw of these birds. They shot our carpet snake. We had a Dane working for us who was a very strong man. When we were building our windmill, the hub part of the revolving wheel slipped and fell from the platform and this man grabbed it and brought it back
The galaghs were a menace to wheatgrowers and my brother and myself used to trap them by the hundreds. We devised a simple method of trapping them.
We made a large frame over which we stretched some netting. We propped this contraption up at one end with a stick, put some wheat under it and hid behind a tree some distance away. When they came down from the trees to feed we would pull the stick away and trap as many as 50 at a time. This is no doubt a cruel trick to pull on a galagh. We used to leave two galaghs alongside this Dane's tent each evening which he used to cook. We also poisoned galaghs and this Dane ate two of these by mistake which made him pretty crook. (This spelling of galagh has been deliberately used. First, it's what Jack used and second it was the way the word was spelled at the time Jack wrote this)
A very cunning old bloke by the name of Frank who lived on our property could see the possibility of making a few bob out of what we caught so he kindly took them away and disposed of them. I mentioned awhile back about a chap who used to come to our place to buy chaff and I have just remembered his name. It was Pearson. I remember him as a kindly man and each time he would visit he would give me a half sovereign. You'll never be able to spend it out here he used to say to me and since I probably thought I would remain here for the rest of my life I believed him. Don't tell your mother he would say as he relieved me of the sovereign. (Half sovereign?)
I was a very stupid kid and this stupidity still sticks with me.
When my Uncle Jack was on final leave in war one, he visited us and gave my brother Carnie and myself one shilling. Have half each he said. I tried to chop it in half with an axe. One of my greatest disappointments in the Pilliga was when I learned that there was no Santa Claus. We had a chap working for us who had a vile temper but he was a very capable man. He tried to get our ginger dog to bring in some cattle and because the dog would not, he got off his horse, grabbed the dog by the front legs and smashed its hind legs against a tree breaking one leg in two pieces. The dog seemed to know what it was all about as it did what it was told after that. Later on in years this man won a star bouquet (Star Bowkett : A ballot system of winning the right to purchase land) parcel of land and was discovered in a bunk dead with a rifle beside him. We had a mixed kettle of fish working for us. Besides staff problems we had our domestic troubles. Our nearest doctor was forty miles away so this meant that Mum had to doctor and nurse as well as housewife. She prescribed the queerest medicines and top of the list was Epsom Salts and Castor Oil from a beautiful green bottle. I suppose you could say that we were the average family. I remember following the poison cart trail with Carnie where phosphorous bait was laid. "What about eating some", Carnie said. "No it'll kill you", I replied. After eating some Carnie said that it tastes like matches. He had trouble for years with earache after that. Brother Bill had a swig of scrubs ammonia and it did him no good. I was playing birds and flew off a gatepost onto a glass jagged bottle. Mum and Dad were in Pilliga and my Uncle Con stemmed the flow of blood by placing my foot in a dish of flour. Sometime later my foot started to swell and I was taken to Heads Hotel in Pilliga to await the doctor. It was later discovered I had a piece of grass (glass?) in my foot.
(The following text has a large X through it crossing it out. The words "he was christined Keith" are crossed out and the notation "correction to be made here" is handwritten above it. There was a baby Keith born in 1915)
Mum was already in bed at this hotel awaiting confinement. When the baby was born he was christined Keith. Maggie Head, the redhaired barmaid was of great assistance at this time for Mum in the two-storey weatherboard hotel. Our brother Keith turned out to be a cranky little bloke and Mum used to give Carnie and myself the job of looking after him. We had a large box with a rope attached to it and we used to drag Keith out into the desert in it and when we got far enough away from shade we would (End of X'd text) tip him out of the box onto the hot sand. This used to make him hopping mad before he managed to race towards shade as quickly as his small legs would carry him. He was always crying "Jickle the car" which meant, get in the car. So we christined him "Jickle the car". Despite the size of Pilliga it had two hotels. In 1969 my wife and myself visited Pilliga and she said that it was the best holiday she had ever had.
During this holiday I learned that Heads Hotel had been destroyed by fire. In its place now stands a modern hotel and this is where we stayed the night. Before settling in for the night, I had a few beers and sitting at the next table was a couple of rough looking customers, a black gin and a child. I'll have a beer, I said to the barmaid. "Say give us a bloody beer", this rough looking customer said. The boss told me to park the car where I could see it during the night or it might be gone in the morning. This new owner was surprised to learn from me that the one-time owner Joe Head, whose two-storey weatherboard pub stood on this same sight was thrown from his horse one Sunday morning onto an ant hill. He was dead when found.
I made some enquiries as to where we lived along the main road but to no avail. Not only did they not know but worse still they had never ever heard of us. The same thing happened when I visited The Burra. This shows how quickly we are all forgotten and proves the futility of tomstones. Since no one was able to help me, I decided to rediscover the place myself, so after breakfast we packed up and made our way along the once familiar old sandy road. I pulled up about 10 miles distant and said to my wife, after making allowances for the ravages of time I thought that this was the place. Two miles further on however, it was a totally different story. This is it, I said with conviction as I got out of the car and walked over to the gate.
Nothing had seemed to have changed at all but I knew that this could not be true. Yet the bend in the road which was just inside the gate was there but the old man red kangaroo, which when looking back 60 years has always been there as an integral part of that bend was not there. Now the road seemed like a cup without a handle. I did not go in to see whether the old place was there. I saw enough of the scenes of my childhood. In a sense, it was a sad occasion as I was not able to share the experiences with Carnie. We used to collect letters, bread and a host of other things from a large box which stood besides this gate. We used to kick the bread all the way home along this dusty road and then wonder why Dad gave us a boot up the behind for our trouble. Now I was satisfied that I had once again discovered the two properties of my childhood which didn't seem to concern anyone else a scrap. The moral of the story could well be, go forward not backward.
Strange indeed, after the lapse of so many years, that I should read about Maggie Head the redhaired barmaid who looked after Mum when she gave birth. Her married name was Moylan, late of Imperial Ave, Bondi.
So far I have given a pretty poor account of experiences in Pilliga and perhaps this is because the place is so uninspiring. I think that what I have already said will give you a fair idea of the place.
Until now I have deliberately had nothing to say about our little government subsidised school and the lack of educational opportunities. I think that volumes could be written about lack of educational opportunity in these far flung places. Since this should be explained at length I have decided to fictionalize a story about the difficulties in education which I will entitle "Bloody Homework".
The background to this story is our property and the description of bush life, the sawmill, the blacks waterhole, is true, and is the way of life in the Pilliga. (sic) The characters in the story are fiction and what they do and where they go is fiction. I think that I am, by virtue of the cuckoo teachers we had to suffer over the years, qualified to say something at length about education. (Hand note above "Way back bush")
Over the four years we had as many teachers and each was replaced by a sillier one. One used to sleep in school, one was some kind of an addict, one used to talk all day about nothing and one used to have us singing ditties.
DITTY WHEN IT RAINED
The rain is falling very fast
We can't get out to play
We are a happy little school
Though 'tis a rainy day
(Hand written note alongside the ditty)
We used to sing this ditty when it rained which unfortunately was rare.
I hope that I have not exaggerated the antics of Joe too much in "Bloody Homework" with his two sons in the lengths that he is prepared to go to in order to conceal from them his lack of learning. I know of people who have done equally as silly things as Joe, just through silly pride.
Before commencing "Bloody Homework" I will state finally that I remember the little home in Pilliga and the early hopes of success which we left behind as we passed our gate onto the broad sandy road which led to Coonamble. We were headed for Cowra. Those were the days when there was no petrol pumps and when petrol was called benzine. It was sold two to a case in 4 gallon tins. Cars were fueled along the road and farmers collected the tins, cut them open and built fowlhouses with them. Dad set up a stock and station agency in Cowra and used his T-Model Ford to taxi stock buyers around. Maggie was born in Cowra. We left Cowra for Orange where Tim and Tom were born. Bill stayed in Forbes, married and reared a family. The rest of the McNamaras settled in Sydney and some of them lived happily ever after.
A Family Affair
Joe Smith was born on his father's property on a 2500 acre property in the heart of the Pilliga scrub and commenced work for his father on the sawmill at the age of eight years. His job at 30 years was dull and unexciting, that is until he met Emma at the Sleeper Cutter's Ball which was held in the Oddfellows Hall at Pilliga.
It was without any doubt, love at first sight. Joe had his eyes glued to her all night and finished up taking her home when the dance was finished.
All kinds of queer noises, squeaks and hoots could be heard scurrying through the scrub as he deliberately slowly walked her home. Emma of proud Arunta tribe lived with her parents in one of the propped up tin sheds which had miraculously stood up for over 50 years beside the bore water drinking hole. This same drinking hole was also known as the blacks bath. "Many's the bath I've had in it", Emma said as they stood in hypnotic state gazing into the muddy water.
Much water has flown down the bore water drain since that memorable night and now we find Joe with eight years of marriage up his sleeve and two kids to boot.
Despite the fact that Joe had no formal education, he managed to teach himself to read and write well enough to qualify in a practical enough manner as manager of his father's sawmill. Emma won a couple of prizes at the Pilliga Show for making melon and lemon jam but outside this she was a dead loss.
Joe had developed his own system of mathematics and became expert at it. He was able to tell at a glance just how many boards could be milled from any log.
People would say "How do you do it?" By way of reply and in defence-like manner he would say "How does the man with no schooling accurately count sheep as they fly past him in irregular numbers?", and again "how does the true bushman know where to look for water?"
Like the true Australian bushman that he was and identically true to the breed, he was highly sceptical of the city joker and was ever ready to bring him down a peg or two. As manager of the mill then, Joe was a success --- furthermore he was financially secure and the future posed no problems at all. Despite all the security and contentment of the place, he would reluctantly have to leave the place because of his children. He knew full well that he would miss the monotonous and hot dry climate --- the vast stretches of golden hot sand which reflected the sun's intense heat which sent all living things scurrying either up or under shady trees. This was the same heat that brought life to motherless chickens from beneath old sheds and death from (sic) small birds as they fell from exhaustion from trees and telephone wires. Despite these hard and trying conditions, Joe loved every inch of the Pilliga -- the whole environment - the people - the blinding dust storms that sprang into action without warning - the crows ever ready to take the eyes from sick and weakened sheep - the dingo that stole their lambs - the bushfires that wrought havoc, death and destruction all round only to bring in its wake renewed and more abundant life. Life were (sic) always on the friendliest terms in Pilliga. Joe loved every feature of wild life in Pilliga. The dingo - fox - kangaroo - goanna, lizard, possum, snakes, porcupine (now today more properly known as the echidna), tree marsupials, teeming bird life, ants, flies, mosquitoes and myriads of unknown and unnamed insects. It would be hard to part with this full blooded and natural way of life for the city's anaemic and artificial way of life where man had invaded and spoiled the animal and feathered creatures' world.
Man had made some incursion into Pilliga's wildlife but the difficult clime plus a thousand other difficult factors had acted as a deterrent against his invasion which left the place more or less in its virgin state. Thanks to the educational medium of wireless and later TV, Joe was able to keep abreast with current topics. He was familiar with all the discussions on pollution, the enviroment, ecology, conservation and all the other things the experts went on prattling about. All these experts were going to fix everything up but Joe thought it a bit putting the slip rails up after the goannas had got out. Joe and Emma were now ready to leave everything behind in order to move closer to civilization where they would be able to give the kids the benefit of an education He would give his kids the opportunity of an education that he and his wife had missed out on. No one was better able than Joe (through his lack of it) to appreciate the value of an ordinary formal education. Education in far flung places such as The Pilliga was difficult to achieve. Because of this residents found it more convenient, and easy to forget. (sic) Joe wasn't like that. He wondered if his children would appreciate the sacrifice that he and Emma were about to make on their behalf. He felt a little guilty in dwelling upon these unworthy like thoughts, but being realistic, he was well aware of the too numerous cases where children repaid their parents with gratitude. These were their thoughts as they left their beloved Pilliga.
A Family Affair
A Job on the Waterboard
This is a single typed page sitting in the middle of Bloody Homework. It does appear to be part of Bloody Homework although the page is titled A Job on the Waterboard.
The two years away from Pilliga and working on the waterboard were the lonliest in his life. He missed his dear old mother and her Quandong pie. He spent the first twelve months in Sydney learning to dodge cars in order to get to work in one piece. Everyone in Sydney drove to work like bats out of hell and when they got there held stop work meetings and then went on strike for no reason at all. As a trench digger he was unable to engage in converstion with his so called mates as they only talked about beer, sex, dogs and strikes. If he attempted to discuss anything outside these subjects they would drop their picks and stare at him as though he had just arrived from another planet. No initiative was required for the job. Any billy goat could do it.
His muscles were bursting the seams of his shirts and his brain was beginning to atrophy. "Look at these great plates of meat", he would say as he held his abnormally hands up (sic) for Emma to see. "Look how twisted and gnarled they are", he'd whinge.
On occasions such as this, Emma would console him by patting him on the back saying, "Never mind dear, I'll make you a nice cup of tea". These few kind words mixed with a kiss never failed to console Joe. It had a tonic effect upon him.
His greatest single worry at present, among the many other worries, was the incessant worries his children were causing him by demanding his assistance in their homework.
He found himself running out of excuses in accordance of the issue.
Above everything else in this world, he could not afford to let his two sons know that he was incapable of assisting them in their most elementary homework.
When it came to sawmill mathematics he was able to leave them for dead, but when he climbed out of bed at 2AM last Sunday morning to secretly glance at their homework, he was unable to make head nor tail of it at all. He was not therefore prepared to put himself into the position where his children would be able to assess ability of a seven year old. (sic) If he did that, his kids would place him in their mother's category. It was only last week that his kids made a huge joke of their mother when they gave the .....
A Family Affair
..... poor unfortunate thing the figure of twelve and asked her to divide it by three. When she got three different answers after three attempts they nearly giggled themselves to death. He would have attacked his blasted kids over this but for the fact it would directly involve him in bloody homework. Little did his kids realise that they were inadvertantly driving their parents away from them. In order to avoid becoming involved in bloody homework, Joe had feigned a migrane head over the past two weeks. He grew tired of keeping up the pretence, so when he drew his miserable, inadequate and highly inflated wage from the Water Board, he slipped into the Pig Sty Inn, gulped down in slob-like fashion six schooners and tore off home. It was a very cold night so he and Emma slipped under the blankets for a bit of a yarn and a muck up. He confessed to Emma that the headache was not true and that he had just invented it because of bloody homework.
"I knew that dear", Emma said and then added "I can read you like a book"
"Funny expression for one that could not read at all to make", Joe thought.
"You gonna help me with me homework", delicate little Jimmy cried out in an unusually loud voice. "Your father is too tired and needs a rest", Emma cried out in his defence. "Thanks dear", Joe said in a whisper. "All the other kids get help from their fathers with their homework", came a louder cry from Tommy. This was proving too much for Joe and as he sprang out of bed to deal with the little b------s, Emma grabbed him by the pyjama coat and ripped it straight down the back as she jerked him back into bed.
"If I go out there I will give you bloody homework", he warned.
This shut the little b???? up. They each were becoming fed up with everything. "Why should they be having the time of their lives while we sit up night after night watching Homicide?", Emma complained. Emma was turning nasty and started to do her block --- they come home every day with the tail out of their pants, the soles off their boots and a book of raffle tickets to sell. Joe agreed that the going was tough.
"I've been thinking", Joe said. "What about?" said Emma. "Well it's this. If I could do something to make myself unpopular with the kids they might no longer plague me with their homework". "A jolly good idea", Emma agreed. The following day presented the opportunity for putting his unpopularity plan into operation.
Joe took a sickie from work and planted himself behind a tree which little sick Jimmy had to pass on his way home from school. At the precise moment he slipped from behind the tree and gave little Jimmy a terrific boot up the behind.
Young Jimmy was completely taken aback and shocked as he turned and came face to face with his father. "What did you do that for Dad", sick Jimmy cried.
"Never mind what I did it for", his father said in a well rehearsed tone of voice. "Don't stand there, get home and do your bloody homework". Poor sick little Jimmy was utterly confused by this sudden attack upon his person and was crying when he arrived home and said to his mother "Dad gave me a kick for nothing at all, Mum".
Sick little Jimmy's mother knew what was going on when she said in a cold and stern voice "Don't come to me with all your troubles, get over there and do your bloody homework". The two boys were becoming concerned with the way their parents were going on lately. "Do you think that they are going a bit silly or something", sick little Jimmy enquired of Tommy. "You can search me", Tom said with a shrug of his shoulders. They each had an idea that bloody homework had something to do with it but didn't know why it should have. Since Joe and Emma arrived in the street all the neighbourhood were talking about bloody homework proved too much when (sic) a ginger headed kid from up the street called out from in front of the house in a loud voice "Comin out for a game of cricket when you finish your bloody homework". Emma told Joe about it and Joe soon put a stop to it. Up to the time that Joe and Emma left the Pilliga they used to attend Mass by driving the horse and sulky 16 miles when it was on at Heads Hotel.
Somehow or other they had drifted away from the church since Joe came to Sydney and got on the Water Board. Joe recalled the time when the priest, one Sunday morning whilst sitting on a log outside the church, stressed the importance of prayer. "You'll soon drop going to Mass if you give up praying", he said. This gave Emma a bright idea and with a sudden burst of enthusiasm she said to Joe "Do you think that we would get anywhere if we prayed for a solution to the bloody homework problem?". "It's worth a go", was Joe's reply. When they made up their minds about anything, neither of them did things by half, so when they started to pray no one in the house got any sleep for a fortnight.
It was just after this fortnight that an urgent telegram arrived. "Read it to me", Emma said to the Telegraph boy. Joe's mother, like Emma never went to school so the poor old soul worded the telegram as best she could. It read "Come home now, tree fell on Dad and skittled him, kids old enough now to go to Coonamble Boarding School." Emma knew by instinct that this news would be a hell of a shock for Joe, because he always got on well with his old man. She was not going to tell him on an empty stomach so she grabbed a couple of quid out of the jam tin and tore down to the shop to get some stewing steak. When Joe was full of stew and vegetables she broke the sad news which knocked him rotten. She gave him a Monopole cigar, lit it and gave him a pat on the back. As she patted him she reminded him that all was not lost as it meant the end of bloody homework. "Funny way that our prayer got answered wasn't it Joe?" "Yes Emma wasn't it", Joe groaned. (Hand note above "Poor old Dad")
A Family Affair
Between Pages 22 and 23 of the typed manuscript sit three small sheets of paper in Jack's handwriting. Sheet 1's content appears to be unrelated to sheets 2 and 3.
|Sheet 1||Sheet 2||Sheet 3|
(Sheet 1) This looks to be a rewrite of Jack's initial introduction to A Family Affair. It was definitely written after the typed pages as the opening talks about two siblings deceased versus the one deceased in the typed pages. It appears to be an attempt to rewrite the whole thing in a more flowing form.
I am about to write down a few things concerning my grandparents & in particular my Grandfather as I remember him as a very small boy ----- the trip from County Clare, Ireland to Australia.
This would be around the year 1860. What I am about to write would, I know, stand correction. This must be so since I am relying on memory of long ago & what has been passed on to me orally (also a long time ago) by my father. Since I am the eldest in a family of eleven -- eight boys & three girls, with two brothers deceased and by virtue of this age factor alone, I am perhaps best qualified to present some kind of a background to the family.
As bad as this presentation may read, it will give some inkling of our background that would otherwise be lost. In this sense then it should prove interesting and, I hope, better than no record at all. It is true that most of us get bored at certain periods with life. It is then that we burst out "By God I wished I could write a book on my life" -- my mother -- my grandparents etc, etc
We all like to discover something out of the ordinary (poor vain creatures) about our ancestors, so some of us do a little research into the matter hoping to prove to all and sundry that we are not so mediocre as our neighbours may think. More often than not, we become frustrated with the hopeless attempt & give it up. We then (indecipherable) our poor ancestors for not taking some interest in posterity and thereby making our job easy. You need not worry about our background, my Brothers & Sisters, as I have an ancient Irish map which points out that we are descended from Irish Princes & Kings. Whacko - you beaut!
(Sheets 2 and 3) - Is this a first draft of "Bloody Homework" or an attempt rewrite it which was never finished? Jack did insert a flourish symbol (a large S on its side) at the end of of the document thereby tending to show it was at an end which leads to the thought that this was a draft while he was developing the idea.
The people - the blinding dust storms that sprang into action without warning - the crow ever ready to pluck the shrivelled eyes from the sick & dying sheep - the dingoes that killed and ate their lambs - the bush fires that wrought havoc, death & destruction only to bring in its wake renewec & abundant life. Life & death were on the friendliest terms in the Pilliga. Joe loved every feature of wild life in the Pilliga. The Dingo - Fox - Kangaroo - Goanna - Lizard. Snake possum porcupine (now today more properly known as the echidna) - tree & ground marsupials, teeming bird life - and the myriad of insects. It would be to part with this full-blooded & natural way of life for the industrial anaemic and artificial way of life where men had invaded & destroyed the animal & feathered creatures' world. Man had made some incursion into the Pilliga's wild life but the difficult clime plus a thousand other different factors had acted as a deterrant against his invasion, so the place remains more or less in its virgin state.
Thanks to the educational medium TV (?) wireless & newspaper, Joe was able to keep abreast with current topics. He was familiar with all the discussion on pollution, the environment, ecology, conservation and all the other things the long haired & the girl friends prattled on & on about. Many of these crack pots had a ready solution for all this.
A bit like putting the slip rails up after the horse had bolted, Joe thought.
Joe & Emma with heavy laden hearts were now ready to leave everything behind in order to move closer to civilization where they would be able to give the kids the benefit of an education. He would give his kids the opportunity of an education that he and his wife had missed.
No one was better able than Joe (through the lack of it) to appreciate the value of an ordinary formal education. Education in far flung places such as the Pilliga was difficult to achieve. Because of this residents found it more convenient & easier to forget. Joe wasn't like that.
He wondered whether his children would appreciate the sacrifices that he & Emma were about to make on their behalf.
He felt a little guilty in dwelling upon these unworthy-like thoughts but being realistic, he was well aware of the too numerous cases where children had repaid their parents with ingratitude. These were their thoughts as they departed from their beloved Pilliga.
Updated : 11 Jul 2011