Sunday, August 26, 2018

FF11 James William Herron A Queenslander from the Outback

The Life and Times of a Queenslander
from the Outback

James William Herron  In His Own Words

James William Herron

This is the story of a very ordinary "bloke", in his own words. June 9-10 2002.

Life was hard growing up in the 1920's, very hard.  It was a tough life for families who tried to provide a home for their children.

James William Herron, was no stranger to a hard life.  He lived it.  Apart from emphysema, he had a very sharp mind, and related the story of his life to his nephew, John Herron, in 2002.

A man who had little education, who lived on the land, and who had not many creature comforts.

A man who along with so many others signed on the dotted line to serve his country.

James William Herron, known as Jim died in 2007, and is buried at Bundaberg Cemetery.

Background of known events 2002 - John Herron

The following information gives some background to the rest of the story.

The information may not be entirely accurate as some of the circumstances are hearsay and cannot be verified.

Claude Annersley was the son of Arthur and Ellen (nee Jennings) Annersley.
He was born in Chao Ching – Chunkiang province China in 1883 - apparently near Shanghai. (Possibly, his father was attached to the British Embassy there in a military capacity)

Katie was the youngest daughter of Alfred Charles and Catherine Isa­bell (nee Phillips) Jillet.  Alfred was a grazier of "Broadmeadows", in Victoria and Catherine was the granddaughter of Captain Phillips, an English ship builder and owner.  They were mar­ried in November 1878 in Hobart Town. 

Several years later Alfred and Catherine moved to Western Queensland.  Somewhere between 1878 and 1882, Alfred and Catherine bought a property near Tambo which was known as "Greendale" station. 

"Greendale" remained in the family for decades before it was sold to a large company.  The Jillet family probably owned/managed several other stations around the district – "Chattam" -  “Weathersdane” – “Drensmaine” – “Uanda” _ “Gartmore”.  There is some anecdotal evidence that they were associated with “Tambo” and "Minnie Downs".

Claude Harold Annersley and Katie Isabel Jillet were married at Tambo in 1910 – he was 28 and she was 22).   It is not known how they met, but it was most probably in western Queensland where Claude was probably working for a gra­zier, and Katie was living with her parents at Greendale Station. Katie’s mother died when she was young and she did not get on with her stepmother.  Whether this had an influence on her rebelliousness and rambunctious nature is not known  - maybe she was always going to be a rebel.

After their marriage in 1910, there is reference to Claude and Katie making a misguided attempt at sheep farming on Dunk Island (which they rented for £26 per year). This seems unlikely but I can’t verify it. Claude then joined the A.I.F.  His health suffered in the bad weather in France and he was discharged as medically unfit in 1916.

Claude and Katie then selected a soldier settler's farm around Roma or Injune(probably).  The government gave sol­dier settlers 600 acres (roughly one square mile) and £600 (? Seems an awful lot of money – I’ll get around to sorting it out one day) to construct fences, dig a dam and build a hut.

Unfortunately, the soldier settler's farms were not very economi­cal.  It was generally believed that you needed about three square miles.  The canny ones put in a bit of fencing, dug a dam and built a rough humpy, then took off for the city with what was left of the money.

Their first child, Valerie Isabel, was born on the farm in 1916. In 1921 Claude left Katie while she was pregnant with her second child – taking the five year old daughter with him.

It is believed that Claude moved away and sometime later was employed as Station Manager of "Scarwater", a cattle station near Charters Towers, which was owned by the R.S.L. (Claude could probably have been an early member of the R.S.L.)  Later, Claude apparently moved to New Zealand and eventually left for England (probably). 

It has since been found that he visited Roma in 1948 only staying overnight.  It was possible that he may have been visiting the area prior to returning to England.  His whereabouts thereafter are unknown.

Claude Dalgleish (Dale) was born after Claude had left.  Katie eventually met and took up with Samuel James Herron in 1923.  Dale knew nothing about his natural father.  He has only snippets which were passed down to him from his mother. 

He describes Samuel as ".. a hard working man and who treated me and everyone fairly.” He had a very hard life, starting work at the age of 11 years. He died on the 14th September 1959, aged 59 years.
Samuel James was one of six children of an Irish father – James Samuel Herron – and a Scottish mother.
  The children were Florence, George, Samuel James, Margaret, Grace and William.  His father was a butcher/cook/chef but became a shearer’s cook and took young Sam with him to many of the stations in shearing season.

Katie gave birth to two more children to Samuel - James William (1923) and Wilfred Patrick (1927).  Sam himself was known as “Jim” – just to confuse things.  He was a farmer and grazier, and in 1926 selected a new property called "Hidden Springs" near Gunnewin. It was approximately 13,000 acres but most of the area was mountains and unsuitable for farming.  Samuel bought the property for £600 which was the amount of rates and charges owing on the property.  It was apparently part of the original Mount Hutton station. Life on the property was hard as the Herron family lived in tents and slowly started to build their house.

The hut consisted of two rooms with an ant-bed floor.  The boys bedded down on the lean-to which formed the front part of the house.  Water was drawn from a dam which Sam had dug.  A 100 gallon tank on a sled pulled by a draft horse was used for carrying water to the house. 

The objective was to raise cattle but the country could not support a decent herd of cattle. Stock consisted mainly of about 100 goats which had to be yarded each night because of the dingo menace.  One night Dale forgot to shut the gate and the dingoes killed several of the goats.

Katie was horse mad and spent most of her time with horses. She was exceptional with them and was readily accepted as being superior with horses to most of the men in the area.  She could ride and calm horses that no one could handle.  She owned several race horses and one in particular, Milwaukie, raced for 31 wins from 33 starts – the two losses being when she was unable to ride due to the imminent birth of Wilfred. It is generally accepted that the substitute jockey was paid by an opponent to throw the race so that his horse could beat Milwaukie.  Petal was another of her favourite mares.

But things didn’t improve for the Herrons.  After purchasing the property, they were hit with six years of almost continuous drought – and the depression.  Sam was taking work away from the property to help with finances.  Eventually in 1933 they walked off the property. It was bought by Archie Laycock, a neighbour, for £50 and 25 head of dairy cows.

They moved to Orallo – about half way north west between Roma and Injune. Dale was eventually able to get some formal schooling at Horseshoe Lagoon State School – he was 11 years old. In all, Dale only had about 3 years schooling in his life and Jim had little more.

Just to straighten out the “names” which may have become confusing:
            James Samuel Herron               migrated to Australia – he and his wife had six children.
            Samuel James Herron               took up with Katie Annersley in 1923 (Also called Jim)
            James William Herron               son of Katie & Samuel known as Jim  (brother to Wilf and                                                                         half brother to Dale)
            Katie had two children by Claude Annersley – Valerie Isabel and Claude Dalgleish.

Update to the Background information sourced in 2002

Much has been learnt of the background of the Herron's, Annersley's, and Jillett's since 2002.
So much so that this family had to come to grips with the truth, in a clear case of they were not who they thought they were.

Katie's husband, Claude Annersley was in fact Harold Sedgwick.
This came as quite a shock for a family.  But history cannot be changed, no matter how hard people might try.  Facts are the facts, and researching one's family history will always bring unexpected discoveries.  Some good, some bad. 

Her son and daughter never knew this, and probably best that it was discovered after their deaths.
His story, and the true facts, dovetail into a family trilogy.

Three people were involved,  Claude Annersley, Katie Jillett and Samuel Herron.

The one thing that was very clear, was the fact that while Katie was with Sam for almost 30 years, he obviously was a far better life partner, and father,  than her husband.
So much so that her son Dalgleish Claude Annesley changed his name by Deed Poll to Dale Herron in 1940, as an honour to the father whom he respected.

When John decided that unless his uncle told his story, so much of the family history would be lost.  He collected some photos, and other items and together with the tape recorder, Uncle Jim began his story:
The old homestead: “Yeh, the old man built every stick of that – there’s not a stick of sawn timber in that – everything’s wired(?) and all the timber with the old adze.   The structure on the right at the front: That was built as a bird cage built around a tree stump – sometimes we had birds in it and in the last possum season we had up to 40 odd possums in there – we snared the possums to get the skins and the joeys that was old enough to live – we’d rear them up in there until they were fully grown and let them go.

The house had two rooms.  The kitchen and that was up this end (right hand side)  and that end was more or less the bedroom (on lhs)  and us kids our beds were out here under the lean-to. It was cold in winter but didn’t feel it much there.  And that little tank that was the only water (for drinking).  There was a dam out from the left hand side about a quarter of a mile.  Had one of those tanks on a old forky log slide and used to cart water over to old mother’s garden.  Cart water a couple of times a week and water the garden – job done by all us kids – we all had to help in that.

In that area over here (not sure which side) the old man had a paling fence around the place and out here he had an area there (about 8 metres square) he built that with ten foot palings.  We used to have to shut the goats up in there every night.  When we left there the dingoes had a pad about 15 inches deep from walking around the outside of it.  We had the best part of a hundred goats.

 Old mother used to milk the goats and make cheese and butter for us – not for sale.  The nearest neighbour was about nine mile away.  There was no motor cars in those days – horse and sulky.

Dingoes:   Hidden Springs eastern boundary is the Dingo Proof Fence – so the property is in dingo country and they are everywhere – healthy dogs, diseased dogs, mangy dogs – but in the old days the fence did not exist and they were everywhere.

Dale forgot to shut the gate one night.  Sometimes you wouldn’t be able to find – there’d be some of the goats - a couple of goats strayed off from the mob – generally you’d never see them again.  The dingoes would even get amongst them in the daytime.  It would be nothing to go out in the bush and see 12-15 dingoes in a pack.

We had an old kelpie dog.  She used to sleep under the lean-to. The dingoes would come up during the night and play with her.  The night the gate was left open – you’d know there was a dingo amongst the goats because every goat would be bellowing its head off.  That night – once a goat started – well the old man jumped up and raced over – and of course the dogs took off once they’d seen him.

To go to town and back was an all day affair by buggy or horseback.  The nearest main town was Gunnewin – Injune was only a siding. Now Gunnewin is only a locality – everything other than the hall is gone. It had a store, post office, police station, doctor, hotel/s – the lot. 
Anyhow, one night the old mother was driving the buggy and us boys were in the back absolutely terrified because the old mother  kept warning us not to fall off or the dingoes would eat us as they were hungry. Anyway, as they got closer to the buggy every now and then the old mother would fire the old windchester at them. But they were that cunning as soon as they saw her pick up the rifle and cock it they would melt into the scrub – but still shadow us. Boy were we scared of those dingoes.

One afternoon there was a big storm.  The biggest block of ice I’ve ever seen in a storm – Dale and I and Wilf were all standing in the front door of the place and looking out and this block of ice – oh it would be twice the size of that (an A3 sheet) landed about 3 metres from the front of the house and we raced out after it and picked up pieces that broke up – about the size across both hands. And old mother came home in the middle of the storm – she went over to help an old bloke milk his cows – he was crook – and she come home when the storm come up – rode home through the …  Bombalass(?? Mare’s name maybe ) – a white arab mare – and the mare was all red spots where the hail had drew blood on her.

The old man had built her a chicken coop – for old mother.  Oh it would be about four foot wide and about eight foot – ten foot – long and about three foot high.  In the middle of the storm – had about 16 chooks in it – young roosters – and the storm just picked it up and they’re floating across – I can still see it – feathers going everywhere.  Course they didn’t survive.

I think Valerie and Dale’s father (Claude Annersley) originally came from New Zealand.  I don’t know what Claude Annersley done for a living or anything.

The Jillett’s came out to Australia and took up country around Tambo.  Old mother’s father was the senior partner. They owned Greendale station, maybe Tambo station and Chattam station to my knowledge.
Wilf and my father(Samuel James Herron), and my mother, were never married.

Samuel James was one of six children of an Irish father – James Samuel Herron – and a Scottish mother.  The children were Florence, George, Samuel James, Margaret, Grace and William. 

The grandfather(James Samuel Herron), he came out from England and he was a chef/cook and a butcher by trade. After they came out here they sort of ended up with a bit of a farm outside Roma – before that he was a shearer’s cook.  Used to go out around Winton and everywhere cooking for shearers.  He was a chef and in England they used to make all these fancy sausages, black puddings and all that sort of stuff.  I don’t know what happened just after they came here to Australia but that’s where he ended up. He was married when he came out here – I don’t know too much about them – I only met him and the old grandmother about a half a dozen times – they used to live in Stones Corner in Brisbane.  They lived with their older son George Herron.
He was a lousy bugger that George Herron[1].  I remember it was Wilf’s birthday and old mother said “oh we’ll go around and see your old grandparents” - so she took us around there and this George Herron’s there and old mother said to him “it’s Wilf’s birthday today George”  He said “oh yeh” and mother said “got anything for him”.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out sixpence. He said “wait on I’ll go and get some change”.  He came back and he handed Wilf threepence.

And old mother’s standing there and of course she pulls no punches my old mum. “You lousy bastard. Is that all you’re going to give the boy. What about Jimmy here too.”  “Oh, I think I’ve got a halfpenny”    Old mother snatched the money back off Wilf and threw it back at him.  She said “ stick it up your arse.”
So far as I know dad was born in Roma. (Dad was Samuel James Herron but was called Jim). But he hardly ever went to school because his father was a shearers’ cook and in them days it was nearly always blade shearing (circa 1900) and old Jim Herron he used to take my father with him as an offsider so he only went to school for about six months of his life.  But he was a pretty smart old bugger – there was nothing he couldn’t do. 
Dad had three sisters. Florence was the oldest one – she married Nat Stephenson.
Then Grace who married Bob MacGregor – her son (Noel MacGregor) runs sideshows up and down the coast. And Maggie who married Cronje Stephenson (brother of Nat). There was a younger brother Billy Stephenson who had a wood depot at Moorooka. I think he then worked for Humes Pipes.
                                                                                                                                       Dale and Jim 1927
Norma Stephenson was my cousin on my dad’s side. There was two brothers married two Herron girls.  Con Stephenson married Maggie Herron.  Nat (Ned?)Stephenson was married to Florence Herron.  They were my dad’s sisters.  They came from out around Roma originally.  Norma was Uncle Ned and Florence’s daughter. 

They had two daughters –Norma and Mona.  We had a fixed wheel pushbike and this Norma was about bloody 14 stone then and we were living in Moorooka Brisbane and she come down wanting to learn to ride this pushbike.  And this Chandler, the electrical mob – one of the Chandlers he was manager of this shop in Brisbane.  Our house was here and he lived there and there was a vacant allotment here – and he had a brick fence around his place and Norma learned to ride the pushbike and she run into the bloody fence and bent the forks.  Then when you were riding and if you turned a corner the wheel hit your foot and tipped you off.

Wilf was born in 1927.  I was three years younger than Dale and Wilf was three years younger than me. And Dale was three years younger than Valerie[2].                               

Us three boys were always together.  The only one we didn’t have time with was Valerie.  We heard of her again in 1938 – she came down from up around Charters Towers. She was droving. 

Claude and Katie were never divorced.  They just split up – I don’t know what they split up about.  My old mother never talked about it.  All I could find out – when they split up he took the baby and went up north to Cairns/ Townsville somewhere. Valerie would have been only about three[3].   I don’t know whether he just cleared out with the baby and the old mother didn’t have any money to chase him.

 The first I knew was that Valerie was married with a couple of kids – old mother found out some way and made contact with her and she came down to us at Goomeri – we were farming there at Goomeri when she come down – that was about 1938.  I never ever found out much about Valerie.

Valerie married this bloke – his father had a property up around Penton – Gordon Foster.  They ended up  down the Gold Coast (at Burleigh) and that’s where they were when I got out of the army and went out west.  I never heard of Don and Val again until Dale and Ethel came up to Yeppoon once. Dale said he’d go back through Biggenden and see Norma – Valerie’s oldest girl.  Valerie and Gordon had a cattle property there.  I’ve never been able to find out – but they had five or six children.  According to Dale Valerie died with cancer and Gordon drank himself to death.

When Claude Annersley left – I don’t know whether they were in Roma or Brisbane at that time when the mother and him split up.   She came out there – a lot of those soldier settlement blocks were being opened up then. She came out there – I don’t know whether  she put in for a block or what.  Anyhow she arrived out there somehow and so far as I know when Claude and old mother split up she was already pregnant – she was pregnant when her and my old man met up.  And so when Dale was born they were already living together and that’s all they ever did – they never bothered getting a divorce or married themselves.

I don’t know what she was doing in them days – she could have been living in Roma with old granny Ricketts – an old dark lady who used to have a boarding house in Roma.  Her and my old mother were great friends. Old mother was very independent – very bad tempered woman when she wanted to be.
I don’t know how old mother took up with him.  The old man had been contract fencing ‘round Roma, and Mitchell and Charleville and down as far as Quilpie and that – and this property Hidden Springs come on the market for the rates that were owing on it – about £600[4].  Anyway the old man had saved up enough money and he’d bought it.  He bought the property – it had no stock or anything on it and when he moved out there to build the hut on it I think that is when he met up with old mother.

The old man got goats on Hidden Springs to have a bit of meat for us kids and he struck about six years straight drought. And he could never get enough – he was out working for others for a pound a week most of the time – just paying the rates.  He never had money to buy stock of his own to put on it.  And in the finish the drought broke him – he walked off it for 25 dairy cows and fifty pounds. Sold it to a bloke by the name of Archie Laycock.  And then we moved into Orallo – he rented a dairy farm off of Archie Laycock(??).  Orallo was about half way to Roma from Gunnewin.

Old Jim was like everybody else – everybody killed other peoples stock in them days.  You never killed your own beast in them days.  The only time you ever got a feed was when you used to say – “I’m going to so-and-so’s for dinner tonight – at least I’ll get a feed of my own beef.”  Sometimes you got caught knocking off things – very seldom though.  Generally you had the bush telegraph to let them know when the police were heading their way. It was all horses in those days – no motor cars.  It would take the policeman all day to ride 30 miles – by the time he got there, there would be nothing left.  You just took the evidence away somewhere and hid it in the bush.  They always had trackers – but the trackers would generally be in with the other side. 

I’ve seen the coppers ride – well it was 30 miles from Gunnewin – well from Injune - to the old man’s place – I’ve seen two coppers and a tracker ride out there – get there at bloody one or two o’clock in the afternoon – and nothing to be seen.
And anyhow, the old man said “oh well you fellows might as well stay for dinner before you head back to town.”  Well the old sergeant’d say “Yeh! thanks Jim”. Anyhow, they sat down and the old man said “the wife’s got a bloody kangaroo stew on.” 
So they sat down and they had two helpings these two coppers - and the old tracker he’s got a grin on his face.  So they had two helpings of this kangaroo stew and the sergeant said “that was a bloody good stew Mrs Herron – bloody good stew Kit (everyone calls old mother Kit).

“Oh yeh!” she said. “Bloody goat meat and kangaroo – it’s all meat”.  They said “oh well, we’d better head home now.”  So they’re walking out and this young copper looks up – the old man had forgotten that he’d hung the bloody liver up under the lean-to of that old hut. He’d put it up there for the dogs.  Anyhow, this young copper looks up and he said “that’s liver!”.

 The old man said “Of course it’s bloody liver – haven’t you ever seen a liver before?”  The copper said “yeh! It looks a bit dark”.  It’d been hanging there all night and all day.  The old man says “of course – haven’t you seen bloody goat’s liver before – it’s always dark.”  The old sarge - and this tracker is going like this (holding his mouth closed) trying to stop himself from laughing.  The old sarge says “pretty big for a goat’s liver!”  The old man says “oh, we’ve got pretty big goats out here.” 

So away they went.  They’d eaten the beef for dinner that they were looking for.  They’d ridden out all day – and had midday lunch (one or two o’clock) – and it would be late when they got home.  It was a bit dangerous for them – probably not so much bushrangers – but a lot of cattle duffers.   Especially if they came poking around your place looking for evidence of your killing about ten o’clock at night.  I’ve seen that happen out there too!

The old man would kill – and he’d bought a few beasts just for killing purposes.  And he killed one of his own – he wanted to send the hide away. See he used to make all his own harnesses.  And he’d send the hide away – salt it and roll it up and send it away to be tanned. He’d send it to the tannery – they’d tan it and send him back half the hide and the’d keep the other half as payment.  And he’d killed this beast late – he killed just on dark and threw the hide up over the rail and going to salt it down the next morning.  And anyhow, about ten o’clock that night – this bloke Hedley Wells that was staying at home went outside for a leak and he said to the old man “hey! come out here.  There’s some bastard down there at your yard.”  The yards were about three hundred yards away. 

The old man went out and had a look and Hedley said “I’ll shift these bastards – that’ll be Bethard(??)  (he was a neighbour) and the coppers.”  He said to the old man “grab your rifle.”  So the old man pulled this old 38/40 off the wall – and this Hedley Wells he had a bloody old 303 – he was a roo shooter and everything.  Went out and the old man said “well we’d better fire in the air.”  This Hedley said “there’s a cigarette glow down there and the next time he draws it and it glows I’m shooting straight at the bloody thing.”    The old man fired the old 38 – it was like a cannon going off up there in the mountains –fired it in the air and this Hedley let fly.  Well old mother and us kids had just put in a new plain wire fence – four plain wires. It was steel Neptune wire – you could play a tune on it it was strained that tight. They busted two of them wires – because they had to get through there to their horses to get out onto the road to Gunnewin.

This Bill Armitage used to have a pack horse mail.  He was in Gunnewin in the store getting the mail next morning – of course he’d heard about it – about the coppers being out at Herron's.  And the old sergeant walks into the store at Gunnewin.  Old Bill Armitage was an old pom – he’d been out here since before the first war.  And he said “oi! I believe you went out to Herron’s place last night sergeant.” 

The sergeant said “yeh and it’s the bloody last time we’ll go out there.  Them bastards will shoot you out there.”  And old Bill said “old Jim wouldn’t shoot you.”  “Ah, I don’t know. I was sitting - you know that old iron bark tree alongside the yard?”  Bill said “Yeh!”.  
“Well I was sitting down at the butt of that having a smoke and you can go out there and have a look now.  There’s a bit of timber there that long (two foot) and that wide (a foot) where the bullet hit and tore off the side of that tree and it was about that far (six inches) above my head.”  I never seen them come out there again.  That was the last time they came to the old man’s place.

“Poddy dodging”.  The old man was in on it too!  He and this Hedley Wells and this Hardgreaves (a neighbour) had a mob of poddies – oh, I suppose twenty or thirty – we had them up in a gorge in the foot of the mountains. 

The old man and Wells were giving him a hand – and they got word that the coppers were on the way out.  So this Hedley Wells said to Hardgreaves and the old man “you fellows stay here – I’ll give these blokes the run around – better get those cattle back up into the scrub.”  Anyhow, he goes out and when he sees them coming – see em about half a mile away – he sees the dust – they  set off – go round in a big circle. The bloody tracker knew something was going on. They’re riding along – the tracker says “Hey! lookim boss – horse been here”.  “How long?”  “Oh, one-two hour.”

“Hah! We get em this time.”  So they set off – round and looking on the ground – you know just riding. So they go round in this circle and come back.  And this tracker says “Oh, bigfella mob now boss- look two times”  - twice as many tracks.  “We’re catching up on them now” – so away they go and do another circuit and when they're coming around and there’s more tracks this old sergeant woke up then - he said “the bastards have tricked us again.”

The coppers weren’t too bright. A bloody lot of them couldn’t care less. But they’d get a report and they’d have to go out to make it look good for themselves.  You could hide up there forever in the those foothills of the Carnarvon Ranges – nobody would ever find you.  On that Hidden Springs – three mile up the range there was a big plateau of flat country – about three and a half thousand acres of just flat country – but there was only one way up to it.  The bridle track meant you could ride a horse up to it – and there was only the one way down.  They cleared tracks up there later on – and when motor cars come in they ended up building a four wheel drive track up there for tourists.  In those days you were flat out walking up the bloody track. 

There was a lot of people didn’t even know there was a spring on Hidden Springs.  Well up in the mountains there was a spring and you know that roly-poly grass – there was a gully – oh! the gully would only be twelve or fifteen foot wide where the spring used to run down out of the side of the mountains and this roly-poly grass used to blow over it and the cattle would go in about half a mile down the creek and walk up to where the water hole was – drink and then go out that way.  If you didn’t know you’d ride a bloody horse in and just think “oh yeh it’s grass” but it would be a drop of anything up to twenty feet.  That’s how the old man called it Hidden Springs.  So there was plenty of water up there but you’d have to be a mountain goat to get to it.

 Dale and me and Wilf, it’s a wonder us bloody kids weren’t killed – from the time that photo was taken at about four years.  We used to climb all over that mountain.  That hut – you go about two hundred and fifty – three hundred yards behind that hut and the mountain goes up like that (steep). And we used to get up there and roll stones – oh bloody rocks half the size of that caravan – be a nice round looking rock. We’d get sticks – we’d sit there - might take us a week – go up every day sitting in front of it digging it out.  Always think now if one of them bloody big rocks had let go – we’d a been killed – they’d never found us. We never used to think of that.

The box brownie camera was Dale’s.  Our old man, old “Jim” Herron went to Roma once  from Hidden Springs out at Gunnewin and he come home and he give Dale that camera for a birthday present or a Christmas present or something. 

We never went to school – thirty mile to the nearest school. Didn’t have motor cars – only horses in them days. Ride thirty mile in the morning and back again at night there’d be no time for school. So I never went to school.  I was over ten – about ten and a half years old when I first went to school. So we dug these rocks out and roll them down the side of the mountain – go shooting – snare wallabies.  Dale and I were running about seven hundred wallaby snares every morning there sometimes.  Take the skins out and dry them – old man used to send them down to Fenwicks in Brisbane in them days. It was our main source of income – and food.

We’d bring a couple of fresh wallabies home of a morning – old mother would take the hind quarters and loins off and feed the rest to the dogs. Had three or four dogs and old mother was a cat lover – she generally had half a dozen cats. And she’d boil it up for the chooks. Anything up to a couple of hundred chooks running around wild in the scrub.

We’d snare the wallabies but we were all very good shots. We’d  put a .22 shell end on – we used to  just drive it into the bark of a pine tree.  If you stepped back ten yards – ten long strides – and if you couldn’t hit the end of that 22 shell twice out of three shots there was something wrong – you were having a bad day.  Everyone shot at this level.  At about ten yards we used to put those old time wax matches – stick them in a pine melon and light them with a .22. We never loaded our own shells – the old man used to buy ten or fifteen boxes of cartridges at a time from the store in Roma – I think they were only about sixpence a box. They’d probably be about ten dollars a box now if you could get them.

Gold! One day Dale and I were coming back out of the gully behind the house when Dale picked up a gold nugget about the size of your thumbnail. We knew what it was and raced down to the old man who was talking with some men at the mustering yards.  The old man said “give us a look at it, boy” and as Dale passed it to him he dropped it.  Do you know we looked for that nugget for weeks and never found it. (possibly it could have been picked up by one of the outsiders). The old man scratched around up where Dale found the nugget but never found a trace of any more.

The Moreton Bay Figs.  Everyone who came to Hidden Springs usually carried guns and as part of the entertainment they used to shoot at the trees.  The trunks of those trees are full of assorted calibre bullets – everything from pea rifles to .303 and Winchester 38/40’s and possibly black powder cartridges.

Horses! The mother always had bloody horses. A couple of race horses. Old mother had one of the best race mares that was ever in that country. A pure arab mare – old Milwaukee.  Started her thirty three times – rode her thirty one times and had thirty one wins.  Paid a bloke to ride the mare twice and got pulled into second.  So thirty one wins and two seconds out of thirty three starts. Round Injune, Roma, Mitchell – all those place round there.   They ended up – when the old man sold out – they sold it to this doctor – can’t think of his name now – but he come from Toowoomba anyhow.  The old man sold every horse – draught horses, saddle horses, race horses for seventy pound a head. And this doctor bloke he bought this old mare and took it to Toowoomba to breed with.  He was a race trainer or owner or something.

The old mother rode with old Lance Skuthorpe[5] in buck-jumping shows for a couple of years. I’m not sure but it was when Violet Skuthorpe was a girl anyhow. Her and the mother were about the same age – and that Violet Skuthorpe she went over to America afterward and represented Australia. 
Old mother was just horse-mad. Even when we were living in Brisbane in Moorooka – just a little backyard she had a bloody horse.  When we were living out at Salisbury – the place we were renting there – twenty five acres – I had three and she had one.

Dale threatened to shoot my pony Gem one day. He borrowed her to go and get the cows or something one day in this paddock – about five hundred acres in it and two trees. Anyhow Gem – he didn’t like her and she didn’t like him  - anyhow he took off after this beast and one of the two trees in the paddock - Gem run him up it. Busted his knee – and he was going to shoot it. I said you don’t know how to handle the mare – doesn’t run me up any bloody tree.

We walked off Hidden Springs in 1933. Moved to Orallo.  The old man leased places there – dairy farms – a bit of wheat growing.  We milked the cows separated the milk from the cream and then take the cream over to the siding and load it onto the train to go to the butter factory in Roma(????).
I did go to school at Orallo[6] for a few months before we moved to Brisbane.  A little school there – there was about ten or eleven of us I think there was. It was a seven mile ride to school every morning and home again in the afternoon. If you left the gate open and your pony got out then you walked that seven mile.

We wasn’t making any money and all the old man’s people were in Brisbane and they were always on him “come down to Brisbane”. His younger brother had a wood depot in Brisbane – “ oh come down to Brisbane – plenty of money here.”  The bloody depression was on then – got down to Brisbane and the old man had to go on bloody relief work – couldn’t get a job anywhere.
Stayed there a couple of years.
My first job in Brisbane – went to work at the Helidon soft drink factory near the Grey Street bridge. Worked there for about a month and there was one week there – the earliest I knocked off was half past nine and the latest I knocked off two nights of the week was half past eleven. And when I got paid I got three pounds. I thought “there’s something wrong here”.  I had to go up about thirty odd stairs to the pay office – and I bowls up and the pay clerk said “what do you want?” 

I said “I want some more bloody money.”  He said “you got your pay.”  I said “well I got some of it. I got three pound.”  He said “yeh, that’s right.”  I said “I worked till half past eleven two nights this week – must be worth more than that.”  He said “no that’s right.”   I said “if that’s all it’s worth if I’ve got to work those hours to get three pounds then righto! I’ll put next week in.” 
“What do you mean you’ll put next week in?”  I said “well I’ll be finished in the the next week. I’m giving you a week’s notice.”  He said “you won’t get a job with any bigger pay than that.”  I said “well I won’t work will I?”  Anyhow, I went to the Yeronga plenisons(??)  ply mill then and I worked there until I went into the army.  Dale worked there for a while too – after he gave up the job on the Story bridge.

Then we went to Goomeri in about 1937.  Mackaways owned a farm and when the old man and mother got the job there doing the dairying on this farm.  They were on wages but they did all the farming – old Joe and Maggie Mackaway just sort of retired and left it all to the old man and the mother.

The Schossows had a farm about four kilometres down the road (Planters Creek Road)

The old man was with Mackaways for about twelve months and then we went out doing contract work – putting in wooden grids and putting in pig stys around Goomeri.  Anything that was going – fencing – clearing for cultivation.  We just lived wherever we were working in a big marquee tent. Dale was doing work for old Fred Schossow most of the time. He’d more or less left home after we left Mackaways anyway.

Dale and the old man and I and old Fred Schossow put a fence up. Old Fred was a tough old bugger. He never used to say much and as far as I know he only used to turn the wireless on and listen to the news at night and then it was put off again. The Schossows had a dairy farm and he used to grow lucerne. And he had nothing to do with the dairy farm. Maggie Schossow and her daughters Dorothy and Ethel used to do all the dairying and keep the farm.  He used to grow this lucerne – cut it up and cart it to Kilkivan on an old four cylinder Chev truck – cart it to Kilkivan and sell it down there.  They couldn’t grow lucerne around Kilkivan – too dry. Didn’t matter if lucerne went up to fifteen-twenty pound a ton in Brisbane he still sold it at five pound a ton. He used to chaff it up and cart it down on this old ’28 four cylinder Chev.  He didn’t believe in tractors – ruins the ground. Did it all with the horses.

That old Fred Schossow – he was a champion with a broad axe. Cut all the timber for the wells.  Dale and him would split the timber and Fred would smooth it off with the broad axe.  Take shaving off six inches wide and 15 inches long with the broadaxe.  I remember him going crook on Dale once. The old man and I were putting this fence up and we weren’t far away. Anyhow we went down to see how they were going with the well one day – old Fred’s down the well and Dale’s winding the windlass pulling the dirt up. Something happened and anyhow a bloody stone must have fell off the bottom of the bucket and hit old Fred on the head – didn’t he abuse Dale – “useless little bastard – if I get up there I’ll belt your arse.”  They used to be always arguing but they always seemed to get on well. (Dale married Ethel Schossow in 1946 after he’d been discharged from the AIF)

Then we went back and leased a dairy farm then at Goomeri on the other side of town. We leased that farm for twelve months.  And then we rented another farm with the option of leasing – but the lease didn’t come off because this bloke wouldn’t allow my dog on the place and you couldn’t use his dogs because you put them onto the cows to hunt the cows off the lucerne or anything and they just tore them to pieces. So we pulled out of there and that’s when we went to Mannembar mill.

Dale bought this Overland Crosley truck – it used to be a Kingaroy shire truck.  He went out ring-barking and then he went to Mannembar mill – then he went to Gympie and joined the Light Horse in 1940.
 He came back on leave and worked back at the mill. But he resigned from the Light Horse and joined the AIF. (The Light Horse was disbanded but that was after Dale left and joined the AIF).

The old man and I and the family we moved to Mannembar[7]. And the old man was working there and I was working there - I was working in the ply mill with Dale and the old man was working in the saw mill – in the timber mill. And him and another fellow, Freddy Glann – Freddy Glann joined the navy and Dale joined the AIF at the same time.  They had their send off party the same night. 

Anyhow, Freddy was in the navy and he came home on leave and he got a telegram saying he had to be back in Sydney at naval headquarters within twenty four hours. And he got this at about eight o’clock at night and the first train he could get out of Goomeri was at seven o’clock in the morning. And he come around to me about nine o’clock at night. I had dad’s old Dodge car. He said “can you run me in to catch the bloody train – otherwise I’ll be on a court martial.”  I said “righto!” and the next morning we left the mill about six o’clock. I run him into Goomeri and he got the train. 
I got back out to the mill – well we used to start work at seven – and I got back out there about half past eight or nine o’clock.  I went down to start work – I started work and the foreman come around and he said “oh, you can knock off.”  I said “what for?”  He said old snow - that was the manager of the mill (Tom Thomsett – a snowy headed old bugger) – said to stand you down.  I said “what for?”  “Oh, you went to town this morning.”   I said “yes, I took Freddy in to catch a train otherwise he’d have been on a bloody court martial for not reporting.  “Well, you can go and see him but he said to stand you down.”
I said “fair enough” and I bowled over to the office – bowled in and said “what’s this bloody caper.”  He said “what do you mean?”  I said “standing a man down.  I took Freddy in to catch a train – he got a telegram last night to be in Sydney within twenty four hours.”  “Oh”, he said, “well you should have come and seen me.”  I said, “you live on top of a bloody hill a mile away. I wasn’t walking up there in the dark to notify you.  I’ve only missed a bloody hour and a half’s work.”  “Ah - you’re stood down until I make a decision – the way you’re carrying on I mightn’t even start you at all .”  I said “Fair enough, you won’t have to because I won’t start.”
The old man was working in the sawmill in the log yard. I just went over and said to the old man “I’m finished.” He said “what for?” and I said “for taking Freddy to town. And they stood me down and when I went and seen old Thomsett he reckoned I was giving him cheek so he said he’d make his mind up. I told him he didn’t have to – I’d make it up for him.”
The old man said “oh, did he?”  He had a steel rope putting it around the log – he just threw it on the ground and went over and said “you sacking Jim?”  Old Thomsett said “no, he’s not sacked – he’s stood down.”  “Well he told me that he’s finished.”  “Yeh, well he told me that he’s finished too.”  The old man said “Well, if he’s finished that makes two of us – I’m finished too.”

This old manager said “well how are we going to get on for the rest of the day. We’ve got no one to put in the log yard”.  The old man said “that’s your fucking worry not mine. We’ll be out of your mill house in two hours.”  The mill was supplying housing. We just went and packed up. Went to Brisbane then. Went down to old Ma Parsons in Brisbane – at Margate for a few weeks.
We knew old Wally and George Parsons - they worked at the Mannembar mill.  Dale knew Ma Parsons because he went there on leave from the AIF. She had a boarding house – it wasn’t a boarding house then but old Wally and his son they built this place and she turned it into a boarding house (63 Duffield Road Margate – john). We stayed there a few weeks and old mother rented this house out at Moorooka so we moved out there then.

Dale and George Parsons joined the AIF together.  George originally lived at Kilkivan. George Parsons had been in the army before and got kicked out.  There was a big brawl and they rolled beer kegs down Queen St and everything – one of the big brawls that Brisbane saw in the war.  The army reckoned George was one of the ringleaders – probably was too.

Though he said no – he was well in it.  So they kicked him out of the army – never to be allowed in the army again in Queensland.  Anyway Dale and George had gone through all of the medicals and exams and they were just about to get on the train to go up to Redbank to go into camp – and this bloody officer recognised George. They said to Dale “oh, you’re right Herron you can go but your mate can’t go – he’s been banned.”  Dale said “well if you’re not xxxxx taking him you’re not getting me either.”  So they jumped on a train and went and joined up over the border. That’s how he got the NX number.

The picture of Dale, Katie, Wilf and the dogs.  The dachshund was the champion dog of Australia. Old Mrs Ferguson, I think, used to breed them at Annerley and they had this old dog and anyhow they bought a new dog over in WA – and this fellow had won dog shows all over Australia and they wanted somewhere to get rid of him from the kennels and he asked old mother would she look after him and old mother said “yeh” and he came out and he was just in the yard with my old cattle dog, old Bruce here.  

He had to take his chance – this old woman that owned him she used to cook pies and everything else for him – well old mother said he won’t get any pies at home – he’ll get what he can if he can fight the old cattle dog.
Anyhow, they bought this new dog – paid 250 pounds or something for it from WA and brought it home to Brisbane – anyhow one afternoon her and her husband arrived out home out at Salisbury and said to old mother “can we take old Bardhoff we want to enter him into the dog show tomorrow to see how he goes against our new dog  we know he won’t win but we’ll see just how he goes. Well old mother says “yeh” – he hasn’t had a bath for a week – he hasn’t been brushed or anything.  They said we’ll do him up – we know he won’t win – we just want to enter him. Well they took him in and he ended up with the championship dog – showed their dog up he got second prize. 

They brought him home and the old woman said to the mother – don’t ever give me that dog again. He was a mighty dog – he used to race out to meet you. Anyhow your father was coming up the hill to the house and it was raining and wet and slippery – and he was coming up to the house in the car and this fellow raced out and the old cattle dog bowled him over and he rolled in under the front wheels – your father had to shoot him. And this old fellow – Bruce – I don’t know what happened to him. I think I left him with the mother and father in Brisbane and I think they had to put him down in the finish – I think he was getting too old.  He’d let anyone into the yard and that’s where they’d be two days later – he wouldn’t let them out – he’d let them in and wag the tail and wouldn’t let them out.

Jim, with his gala

The Herrons and friends at Orallo 1933 and the Herron boys at Salisbury 1937

The War Years  - James Herron

I joined the army at twenty (1944) – mum could have signed something I don’t know.
The picture of Jim in uniform was taken at the corner of the house they rented at Salisbury.
 Another picture of Wilf and Jim – only one of the few times they were home together when they were in the army – it was probably the only time I saw Wilf after he joined the army.

Wewak: I spent most of the war around Wewak and in the mountains out from Wewak until the war finished.  I only had about six months of action before the war finished.  I seen enough to satisfy me.

We landed at Wewak about an hour before dark and we just walked over to the tents and we heard a shot. And the bren gunner they had was only a young fellow about nineteen – he’d been on guard duty and he’d borrowed an owen gun.  It was raining and he’d come back to the two man tent and poked the owen gun in and he’d said to this Darky Whitfield from South Australia “here’s your owen gun Darky, thanks.”  Darky said “good!”   Course he thought Darky had hold of it and he’s let it go. Well everytime you bump the stock of an owen gun on the ground it’d let one round go - it went in under his chin and out the top of his head.

The CO said “well we have to have a bren gunner. Anyone volunteer for the bren?”  I said “yeh, it’ll do me.” I was a better shot with a bren gun than I ever was with a rifle.  They were a light machine gun – a mighty weapon. As long as you kept the gas ports clean on them.  They held thirty cartridges but you usually only put 28 into a magazine – with a full magazine they’d sometimes jam.  Well besides the magazine on the gun I used to carry seven mags. And then the number two bren gunner – he had a rifle – but he’d always carry probably another five or six. Between us we’d have probably fifteen magazines. Each mag had twenty eight – so it was a fair bit of fire power.  They spat out 600 rounds a minute on automatic. You just hit a lever and the barrell would fly off – stick another barrell on and pull the lever back and it was ready to go again.
A bren gun will “walk” away from you. You had to keep pulling it into you. The concussion from the empty shells – they were red hot – and the pressure from the gas ports propelled the gun forward. You could sit them on the ground (using the tripod) but they were never really a good weapon over in the desert unless they were on a bren carrier. 

The blast from the shells coming out would stir the sand up and block the gas ports. They were a deadly weapon. At the Bathurst range I got a possible on the 500 yard mound – a possible on the 600 mound and a possible on the 800 mound – with the bren gun. I could never get past a second class shot with the rifle. 

I had a mate from Victoria – Shorty Williams – from the 500 mound you shot ten rounds. If you hit the target with every one you had ten holes in it. Shorty ended up with about twenty five holes in it. He ploughed all the stones up from about ten foot in front of him to the target and the stones were going up through the bloody target.  He wouldn’t hold it in – I tried to tell him “keep pulling it back. It’s walking away from you and going all over the bloody place.” 

“Ah, the bloody thing don’t shoot too well.”  I said “it shoots truer than any other thing.”

Well the old gun I took over up there – I spent two days cleaning it all up and cleaning the gas ports on it.  The barrell was about buggered on it.  Anyhow I had to get a new barrell from battalion headquarters or somewhere I think.  It was a bout a week anyway before we got a new barrell. And when we did someone said – “I wonder how many rounds that old barrell will stand before it chucked it in?”  Anyhow this old Lieut said “well do you want to find out?”.  I said “oh, yeh!”

Anyhow, we lined it up and twenty seven magazines we put through it – and by then she was white hot. She just started to bend. That was one of the problems with them – at night the barrell lit up and the enemy could spot you.  You could also fire single, repetition or automatic.  When you got used to them you could fire one shot at a time with them on automatic.  I carved my initials on a cliff face out at Mt Tambourine one night using tracer bullets.

I think my biggest scare was at bloody Canungra. It had rained like hell for about three days and they were putting this bloody great bivouac on and they run these bren carriers and tanks backwards and forwards through this swamp which was about one hundred yards long. And they’d stirred it up for two days with bren carriers and tanks. And this was mud up to about our waists and we had to go in and the tanks come behind us firing live rounds over our heads. And if you fell arse over head in this mud and were too slow getting up there’d be a tank coming over the top of you. Me mate slipped over and done his ankle. 
I was trying to help him along and this bloody great Matilda tank was gradually creeping up – all you could see was these big tracks coming up on you – getting closer and closer. And we were too close in front of it for the driver to see us. His high beam was over the top of us. I pulled him aside at the last minute and the tank went past about two feet away from us. I think the tank crews thought it was a big joke – some of them forgetting to lift their fire up. As the blokes were coming out of the mud and starting to go up the rise these bloody live rounds were hitting all amongst them.
I was up in Wewak and it was coming on Christmas time and me and a couple of others reckon we’d brew this beer up[8]. We got this twelve gallon copper – we put all these ingredients in it that Wilf said – put it on to boil and everyone come along.
“Oh, you’re making a brew?”  
“Oh, righto!”
And away they’d go and they’d come back and they’d be putting bananas and bloody dried apples and apricots and everything. Some of them knocked a few bottles of whisky and rum off and poured into it.
Anyhow we were going to try it out – like tomorrow night or a couple of night’s time. Anyhow, I went down with bloody malaria – they had to cart me to the hospital with malaria. I was in hospital for about a week and when I came back I said “how did that brew go?”  They said “well some of us are still trying to get over it.”

At the end of the war I was part of the guard that took the war criminals from Wewak down to Lae.  We had 18,000 japs come in through our camp (in Wewak).  There was only 135 men in our camp.  We had no road contact – we were about a two hour barge trip to our HQ.  Well there was 18,000 of them came in there and then we took the war criminals – old General Adashi and some of his crew come in through us so we had to take them down to Lae - and when we got down there we had 145 war criminals we took from Wewak down to Lae. And when we got down there they took us off the Japs and put the provosts over them.  They took us down to another compund where they had Formosans and Koreans and put us over them.

And the next morning two of my mates from Murgon – Keith Goodchild and Bluey Hinton - were detailed to take these 28 Koreans and Formosans down to the wharves. And, anyhow, Bluey Hinton had these 28 men he took down to the wharf come dinner time – when he went to start ‘em up to work again one bloke pulled a knife on him.  Lucky for him there was a Yankee minesweeper tied up at the wharf and these two yanks with tommy guns were standing on the deck on guard and they seen it – and one fellow raced down and lined the tommy gun up on all them – all Bluey had was half a pick handle – that’s all they’d let you take.  So the next morning I was detailed – me and a couple of others.  So I had the bren gun – I lined up with the bren gun slung over the shoulder. And this Lieut said “oh, yeh you can’t take that with you soldier – take that back to your hut.”

I said “do you want me to take these fellows out on a work party?”  He said “yeh!”  I said “well if I go out on a work party this bren goes with me, sir.  I’ve carried this bren since half an hour after I arrived in New Guinea – and I’m carrying it until I leave bloody New Guinea too.”  And these other two blokes backed me up – “yeh! you’re not getting these owen guns off us.”  Anyhow they agreed we could take our weapons.

This Lieut said “the Koreans and Formosans are not prisoners of war – they’re friendly aliens.”  I said “they weren’t friendly aliens when they killed two of my mates two days before the bloody war finished.”  We knew the Korean-Formosans were fighting with the Japs because we’d got two of them.” 

Anyhow we got back from the day’s work just about sundown. And when we got back to the camp this line of blitzes - all lined up outside the quarters. I said to this Keith Hocking “looks like we’re on the move.”  He said “why?”  I said “look at the bloody blitzes lined up outside our huts – they haven’t got them lined up there to shift the Koreans.”  Anyhow the truck pulled up and we put these blokes back in the compound.  And the Lieut said “righto you fellows you’ve got five minutes to get your gear ready and be on those blitzes.”  I said “where we going?”  He said “you’ll find out.”  “Fair enough” I said “anywhere to get out of here.”

Anyhow, the blitzes all took off and took us back and put us over the Japs again and took the provosts back to guard these fellows. So we were only there a couple of days and they shifted all the war criminals across to New Britain and we went over there as guards on them.

I didn’t get out of th army until 1947. When I came back to Australia they said you can go to Wallangarra or Townsville.  Bloody Wallangarra was too cold.  I said to me mate “bugger, we’ll put in for Townsville.” So they sent us out to Round Mountain – to the detention barracks – out near Beaudesert. 
They put us on a truck one afternoon to South Brisbane station and I said to this Keith Goodchild “well we’re not going to bloody Townsville and we’re not going to Wallangarra because they’re taking us out o Moorooka to put us on a New South train.” Anyhow they put us on a train at South Brisbane and as the train started off they handed us our papers. And we had a look - Beaudesert!  Going out to Round Mountain Detention Barracks as “screws”.

We were supposed to have an army vehicle there to meet us at the train. He didn’t get there until two and a half hours later. We got out to the camp about half past two in the morning. And the next morning the orderly sergeant bowls in the hut and he says “com’on you fellas, you’re wanted up at the orderly room. I said “who the bloody hell wants us at the orderly room?”  He says “The CO.”

“Well you go back and tell the bloody CO if he wants to see us at this hour of the morning he comes down here because I’m not getting out of bed for another two hours.”  Anyhow, we hunted him. And he comes back about half past nine – we were up then. “The CO’s waiting for you.” “Yeh! righto!”  Anyhow we walked in and the first thing the CO said was “and what was your first reaction when you were told that you were coming to the Number 1 Detention Barracks.”  I said “the biggest disgrace to a man’s army career that the army could deal out.”

“Why?”  I said “I joined the Cav Commando – if I’d have wanted to be a bloody provost I’d have joined the Provosts. But I joined the commando’s and as far as I’m concerned, sir, those fellows down in the compound can do what they bloody like because I won’t be stopping them.”

“Oh, that’s not the attitude” he said.  “Well that’s my attitude. And it won’t alter.”  And these other two blokes backed me up.  Anyway, one of them came up the next day with a bloody great Condamine cow bell.
So we hung it on the gate of the compound and put a big padlock and chain on the gate. And when we go on guard – a cold bloody winter time too – we go on guard of a night we’d lock the front gate and get in the cells with the boys and light a big fire tin to keep warm.
Cause most of the blokes that were in there – as I told the CO – most of the blokes were our own bloody mates that were with us in New Guinea. Most of them had taken a few days – most didn’t come back to the army on time after leave. I said “do you think we’re going to guard them – no way in the bloody world!”

“Anyway, I want a transfer.”  They buggered us around – they sent us from there to Wacol Detention Barracks.  We were there about a week and I said to the CO “when are we getting transferred out of these bloody boobs.”  “Ohhh” he said “you won’t. They’re going to give you three stripes each – make you sergeants.”  I said “they can stick their three stripes. We either get transferred into some other unit or discharged.”  Three days time we were out of the army. Otherwise I’d have stayed in the army.

When the old grandfather died we were living down at Salisbury at the time – must have been 1937.  I was living at home with old mother – and Dale wasn’t to be heard of otherwise the outcome would have been quite different.

Anyway the old mother and I were living at Salisbury at the time when her father[9] passed away. 

This solicitor came out several times trying to get her to try and get her to appoint him to act on her behalf as he maintained Katie was entitled to get at least a one-fifth share of the estate and he guaranteed her it would be worth upwards of £14000 but she was too proud and threatened him not to make any more contact with the family. How much would that be worth today??

(Note this part of Jim's story is incorrect - her father died in 1921)

Paid 105 pounds for 1928 Essex Super Six one of first motor cars with automatic sparks. 
In 1947 Sam, George Parsons and Jim went out to St George rabbitting. Not enough room to put your hat in the back seat so all sat in the front seat. Blew all of the back tyres between Brisbane and Toowoomba. 

So bought 30 inch x 8 ply truck tyres to put on it in Toowoomba to take the weight.  The picture was taken at Salisbury in Brisbane on the morning we left.

On driver’s side running board had 3 drums of petrol and 3 drums of water on passenger’s side running board.  A tank was stuck between the mudguard and the bonnet and camp ovens and hurricane lamps and everything were on the back on a carry frame.  That old car    .  Never had any trouble with car and had it about three years.  Came down the Toowoomba range with practically no brakes.We pulled up at the top of the range about 6 am and there was a fog so thick that you could hardly see.  The old man said “don’t know about going down in this fog with no brakes.”  I said “oh it’ll be alright – I’ll knock it out of gear and let it go.”  Well George said “let me out – let me out!”  Anyhow we got down alright.

We went rabbitting for eight or nine months until we all went broke.  We trapped the rabbits for a start – did no good on that so started trapping for the skins – and then started trapping for the freezers at Nindigully(??) – that was worse.  Turned it in then and went over to Roma on contract work doing fencing and yard building (Jim and his dad).  Sam was a very hard worker – never stopped even after the doctors told him to give up work and put him on a strict diet. Out in the camp with us he lived on corn meat and damper – the same with the rest of us.

I wanted to go and buy a new truck and I said to the old man “Ahh I’m going to go and stay out in the scrub for twelve months to save up get enough to get a bloody new truck – I’m sick of these old worn out vehicles in the scrub.”  He said “Righto” 

So him and I – sometimes we’d only be 60 – 70 kays out of Roma – and we stayed out for twelve months – then I went to Toowoomba and bought the new Morris truck. 

And in that twelve months I think we had about four loaves of baker’s bread.  No butter because it was a waste of time getting – you used to get everything out on the mail truck cause in those days they didn’t have freezers, iceboxes and things and once your butter or anything started to get a bit soft the mailman just threw it out. You were paying for stuff and not getting it.  So sometimes you’d get a bit of butter from the stations when you went in to get your meat and bread they’d give you a bit of milk or butter.  Sometimes you’d get a bit of mutton fat to take the place of butter. But ohh, it was a good life.

  The picture of Mother and the truck was taken in Roma out on the Bungeworgarai Creek – we often used to have a party in Roma out on the creek – everybody would go out and you’d get a keg of beer and take out and generally have the keg of beer sitting on the back of my truck. 

Mother was not a beer drinker – she would never drink beer – she’d have a rum now and then.  The other woman is probably the daughter of the Roma Hotel publican.

We were in Roma in 1950. 

  A Marriage to Emily Jackson

I met Emily in Roma and in March 1951. Emily and I left Roma. And then we went over to make a fortune in sapphire-ing. And there was no bloody fortune in it either. Those fortunes take a lot of finding!  

Jack Duggan was a mate of mine.  He was a shearer really but him and Wilf went from Roma across to Rubyvale to the gemfields to make a fortune – and they didn’t make a fortune.  That is a picture of a shaft they had at Rubyvale.  I went over afterwards and then we moved from there to the Willows.
The photo of the mining area Jim can’t place.  In 1951 Wilf and I and Jack Duggan were out in the gem fields for about eight or nine months.  We were at Rubyvale for about a week and then out to the Willows.  About seven or eight months at the Willows.  Went broke again. Had to go back then and go up to Alpha and go fencing to pay the store in Rubyvale. (Jim had previously said that he’d woken up one morning and decided that he owed the store 150 pounds so it was time he gave it away).

Wilf came back to Roma and I went up to Alpha – I went fencing again. Always had to fall back on that old fencing!  Never made much money out of it but could always get a living.  When we were sapphire-ing we lived on our savings – always get an odd stone – get it cut and sell it. But when the savings were gone we were broke and that was it.

When Emily, Jack Duggan and I arrived in Alpha I had a quarter of a tank of petrol left on the truck and we went through all our pockets and between the three of us we found ninepence – enough for two phone calls. So I went up – and Em and Jack put the tent up on the bank of the Alpha Creek and I went up to the town and checked up at the pubs and that for work and a dark bloke give me an address of one place - “The Grove” – he said I know Harry wants work done.

So I didn’t know where these places were or anything as I’d never been to Alpha before in my life. Anyhow I rang up and I got his daughter – he was only six mile out of town. She said “yes, dad wants fencing done – it’s all been washed down in the big 50’s floods – but he’s out at present and he won’t be back until seven o’clock. Can you ring back?” 

And I looked – a phone call was about fourpence then – and I had enough for one more call.  I said “righto!”  So I went back up that night and rang up and he said “yes, can you come out early in the morning.”  I said “yes, can you ok it for me to get petrol because I’m just about out of petrol.”  He says “yeh, go to Trudgeons garage and get what you want.” 

“And come out early in the morning – what time will you be here?”

I said “five o’clock!” 
“Ohhh, I didn’t mean bloody midnight.” 
“Well what time do you want me then?” 
“Ohhh, about seven. I won’t be out of bed before then.”

“Fair enough.” So I went out and had a look at the job. I said to this mate Jack Duggan – he said  “what do you think?”  I said “yeh! seven shillings a post.”
“Ahhh, you’re mad ya bugger, he’ll never pay that.”
“Well, if he doesn’t want to pay it we can come down. We can’t go up.”
I said “is it all like this, Harry?”  He said “yeh!”
I said “fair enough!  There’s a lot of posts leaning that we’ll have to straighten up and some of them we’ll have to pull out and re-put in because they’re washed over too far – if you just straighten them up they’re that far off the line.”  I said “anything that we got to dig down around more than six inches I want paying for.” He said “how much a post?”
I said “oh well, to re-new any that are rotted off or broken or anything – cut, cart, do the whole job – seven shillings a post.”
He said “ohhh, how will I know which ones you’ve dug round.”  I said “well, if you want to bring a piece of steel and if you can’t push it down alongside the post for six inches then you’ll know that it hasn’t been dug around.  Because if we’ve dug round it to straighten it up  it’ll be soft – you can poke it down.”  He said “aww, fair enough.”  I said “Otherwise, you take my word.”
He said “fair enough.”  So rang the storekeeper and bloody fruiterer in Alpha and went round the next morning and got a drum of petrol and grocery order and everything. We went out and set up camp and started work the next morning.  That was on the Tuesday we started work. Saturday night we went into Alpha with eighty pound each in our pocket. Alpha then was about the same size that it is now. It was a good town in them days too.
It was work! On the job before it got daylight in the morning and when it got too dark to see you’d knock off work and go back to camp.
Jack Duggan – I originally met him in Roma but years ago his mother used to have the Post Office in Wyandra – down the other side of Charleville.  He was a shearer – shearing around Roma way.

George Parsons – was a painter by trade. He worked for me and the old man out around Roma ring-barking and fencing and all that. And when he left us he was telling me that he went back to Brisbane. When he got out of the army he put in for a course as a painter. He started the apprenticeship but never finished it. So when he went back to Brisbane he finished his apprenticeship as a painter.  Then he went out painting stations out in the Territory.  He went back to Kilkivan – he was born around Kilcoy – or brought up around there. He went back to do a fortnight’s painting in Kilkivan – he rented this house.

He was there for a while and the bloke that owned the house said something to him about wanting to buy the place. He said to him “how much do you want for it?”  And the owner said “too much for you George, you wouldn’t have enough – I want twenty seven thousand for it.”
George said to his wife “Mary go down the bank and draw twenty five thousand pounds out.”  She went down and drew out the money and brought it back and he handed it to this bloke.  He got the money from painting all these big stations out in the Territory. There was big money in painting stations in those days.

I knew two pommy blokes when I left Roma. These pommy blokes had never painted a thing in their life. And the old painter who was painting the pub I was looking after – running the bar for the old woman who owned it – the Australian Hotel – it’s burnt down now. Anyhow, she decided to get this pub painted.  This painter came up from Toowoomba somewhere and he put these two young pommies on who were doing a bit of roustabout-ing in the sheds. Anyhow, this old painter put them on as brush hands and taught them everything. He was a master sign-writer – taught them everything he knew – showed them how to mix paint and everything. They went out painting stations – that was back in 1950 and they were getting one hundred pounds to paint a house roof – they’d do it on a Saturday and Sunday.  That’s how George got his money because when he left me he didn’t have enough money to buy a packet of cigarettes.

Old mother never got any money from her family.  They disowned[10] her when she married Annersley because he was a working class man. She wouldn’t have anything to do with them even when she was with Em and I out at Alpha.  We were going over to Mitchell and Em’s eldest daughter was working as a housemaid on Chatham Station and we’d made arrangements to pick her up and take her over to Mitchell as we went through. Anyhow, got to Chatham Station about half past eight or nine o’clock at night and we pulled into the station to pick Sadie up and this Jack Jillett – he was managing it then – he was the old mother’s nephew. And when I pulled up at the station she said “now don’t you tell any bugger who I am here.”  I said “look mother, you should have been in there – it’s your bloody property really.”

“Well, I’ll never speak to you again if you tell them who I am.”  Anyhow this Jack Jillett said “would you like a cup of tea?”
”Yeh, that’s be nice.”
“Well come into the quarters and I’ll get Sadie to make a cup of tea and bring round to you.”

Well he went away and I said to mother “why don’t you tell him who you are.” 
She wouldn’t let them know who she was. She refused to leave the truck or go around to the kitchen while I had a cup of tea with the boss (Jack Jillett) and yarned about business in general.

How she come to drift away from them – her mother died and her father married again.  This is what she told me.  My old mother was a tomboy – she’d sooner be out mustering, cutting calves or riding buckjumpers than doing housework.  And this new wife of her father’s – this stepmother – reckoned it was unladylike and they didn’t agree. Her father was Alfred Jillett – the senior partner.

Anyhow, the old mother ended up marrying Annersley then and she cleared out.  She never got in touch with them. We were in Brisbane when her father[11] died – and I think the public trustees or somebody got onto her anyhow and if she’d like to put in a claim they probably be able to get her at least seventeen thousand pounds out of her old man’s will. And the old man was working on bloody relief in them days – back in the 30’s – about ’37 or something.

She never ever claimed it – she was a tough woman. She never got a penny out of all those stations.  I think she only ever had one sister (Eileen) – she was married to a bank manager or something in Sydney. I think Chatham station is the only one still in the family – I don’t think Greendale or Tambo are. When I left Winton in the ‘70’s Jack Jillett was still managing Chatham station.  They were big stations – I think Chatham Station used to shear about 80,000 sheep.  Some of the big properties in them days were up to a couple of hundred mile across.

I actually never lived in Alpha – used to just go to town for a couple of days whenever a job finished. I stayed on the properties - fencing, yard building – the last job I done at Alpha I put a cattle dip in – thirty mile out of Alpha and then I went up to Longreach dam-sinking.

Old mother came over (to Alpha) to see Emily and me and she stayed with Emily out on the job.  She was going to go home – go back over to Roma - back to the old man the next week. We went to town one day and  - we only went in in the morning and we were going back out – seventy five mile out that night – and come about seven o’clock that night I just rounded the men up and I had the truck parked out in front of one of the pubs - the top pub in Alpha – there was only the fence between the two pubs – and the men were all down at the bottom – and I said to them “… well you fellows wait – stop here – now – mum’s up the street so I’ll go up and get her and I’ll pull up here and we’ll head off.

They said “righto!”.  Anyhow I jumped the fence at the back of the pubs and I was just walking through the hallway of the pub and she was out on the footpath talking to another girl – and I heard her say “Oh well I’d better go now Jim’ll have the men ready to go out. I’ll see you next time I come in.”
And she was laughing and I seen her fall.  And I raced out and I got somebody to run down to the bottom pub and get Emily and I picked her up and put her in the car and jumped in and raced her up to the hospital – carried her in and put her in the bed and the doctor said “..oh we’ll look after her if you want a cup of tea or anything – go back down.” 

I said “..righto! we’ll go down and have a cup of tea before we go out. And if you want me and it’s urgent then ring the taxi.” 
Anyhow we drove down from the hospital and got into the main street – and the taxi’s coming down the street and he jammed the brakes on and pulled up and Em and I jumped out of the bloody truck – I left it in the middle of the street – jumped into the taxi – but old mother was gone by the time we got back up the hospital[12].

Emily and I met at Roma. We were together about twenty years – she passed away on 10th March in 1970.  I had to send away and get a death certificate for Emily and prior to that I had to send away and get her previous husband’s death certificate before we could get married – at the registry office or court house in Winton.

First went to Winton in 1957. We were out there for 13 years. Well in them days at a weekend it would be nothing to have five or six hundred people in town.  All drovers.  The shearers.  The droughts have just about buggered all the sheep properties.  There used to be sheds out there in the olden days with a hundred shearers.

(The first man to enlist in WW11 was a station hand, John Archer. He was QX1. )

At Winton did a bit of everything – a bit of contract work dam sinking and then thirteen years windmill experting with the Winton Shire Council.  I went back in about 1996 but only two or three people knew me. But I didn’t remember them because they were only kids when I left there.  I left Winton in 1972.   Dam sinking was done using tractors dozers and scoops.

I was assembling some windmills[13] but mostly the job was just maintaining the bores and wells and water facilities for the drovers – on the stock routes. I put up a few windmills for the stations.  The station generally got them out with carriers and then I’d go out and put them up. Maintaining the bores was pretty hard. Replacing the casing and pulling the pumps up. 

The Winton shire was the fourth biggest shire in Queensland – nearly 350 mile across it one way. We had 67 mills and 51-52 bores. The rest were just dams with mills and pumps on. Some of those bores had twenty nine lengths (each twenty feet) of four inch casing down them. And if you couldn’t catch the foot valve with your rod – your turned the rod and screw it onto the foot valve – you pulled it up and that let all the water go out as you pulled it up. The pump was down the bottom of the casing.  And if you couldn’t catch the foot valve or get it to free up then you had to pull them up full of water. 

That was 29 lengths of 20 foot four inch casings full of water – some like the Corfield bore had five inch – so they held a few gallons of water. And I had to pull all them with an old ‘46 Chev ute. Had to have double and treble pulleys to get them up.

The worst part was putting the bloody things back. Pull them up in the morning and lay them out on the flat and by the time you’d had dinner (lunch) and starting to put them back they’d be red hot from sitting out in the sun.

The big mills had twenty seven or twenty nine foot wheels.  The one at Corfield had twenty nine and the smaller ones like Middleton was twenty one feet.  The bigger wheels took heavier winds to turn them than the smaller wheels. Some of the deep wells only had seventeen foot wheels on them.  The one at Middleton used to be a flowing bore and the water went back in it.  And they dug a well and it had a twelve inch artesian pump and they put the pump down the bottom. I altered this later on and brought it up to the top. The water was only four or five degrees off boiling.
When the pump was working - well the water come up in the well and the pump was under ten foot of water. And when it stopped pumping the water would go back and you could get down there – but the bloody four foot concrete piping down the well was hot. I’ve seen the bloody offsider and I – five minutes would pull you up. Race down – undo a few bolts and back up the top. And the other fellow would go down – it’d bloody kill you.
 Even at the finish we got a little misting machine and an old fire hose and we’d start it up and blow fresh air down – the well was thirty five foot deep  In the finish I brought railway line – welded it together and put big concrete blocks four foot in the ground and about two foot above the ground and sat the pumps up on there.

It was a funny place that Corfield. They used to have a big race meeting. Anyhow, when the races were due, on the day of the race this old fellow in Winton was always running dice games.  And him and big Col Holt, the senior constable, would pack up tables and everything and they’d go out to Corfield about dinner time (lunch) and set up lights and tables for the dice game that night. The coppers would came back into town and then go out about dark that night. And the coppers would generally take about half a dozen dog chains.
Anyhow somebody said “what do you fellows take dog chains out for?”  Well the copper said, “if anyone plays up out there and makes a nuisance of them bloody selves we’re not bringing them in thirty miles to Winton to lock them up.” What they used to do was chain them up to the fence for a couple of hours till they sobered up a bit.

It appears that they built the pub on the wrong side of the railway line – so the road crosses the railway line continues on past the pub for a couple of hundred metres and then re-crosses the railway. The town consists of the pub and one house.

They were going to bitumen the mainstreet at one stage. The council sent this crew out and this mate of ours, Ducko Fraser – a dark bloke, he was driving a truck on the council - a gravel truck – and anyhow they were working on the main street and the train pulls in and this girl sets off the train  - a real good sort – and this Ducko’s driving along looking at her and he hits the corner of the pub and nearly tore the pub down.
Anyhow, they got a big dance on in Corfield that night (there’s another little place down the road called Oleo) and Ducko is going to get onto this good sort  – it didn’t make any difference to Ducko he was going to get onto this good sort. Anyhow, he’s drinking away and sidling up to her and says how about coming outside – so she goes outside with him. Turns out she was a man – didn’t he get ribbed about that.

Spent some time on the railways. On the Rocky to Yeppoon line – we relaid heavy track on it for about three months. Didn’t do any railway out west – kept away from it out there – too bloody hot.  Worked on the roads too. Graders. Bitumen to the other side of Emerald – patches through the towns. Once you got a mile or two each side of the town you’d be back on the corrugated dirt road.

I was around Longreach and Jundah and Windorah and those places for about three years dam sinking and fencing.  Had to go into the scrub and cut the posts, bore the holes for the wire.  Did a lot of split rail fencing – used a morticing axe to cut the holes.  Just kept chopping at the holes – took about 15 mins to cut each post if you were good at it.  Generally used old iron bark, box or gum.

With general fencing if it was good going you might get in sixty or seventy posts a day.  Did the hole with a crow bar and shovel – two feet – cut the posts, cart them in , put them on the fence line – then you dig the holes put the posts up then go along with a brace and bit and bore the holes in then run the wire in.  Around Winton and Longreach[14] there was never much timber there to cut down – it was all plains country in the first place.  You got scrub in patches – patches of Gidyea – that’s where we had to cut the fence posts.  In the olden days you had to carry them with horse and cart but in my day you had trucks. 

It was a hard life – you worked seven days a week. Go out in the scrub and probably have two and three months.  You took everything with you – and what you didn’t take with you - if you wanted fresh stuff there was generally a mail truck came out to the stations about once a week.  You could get anything you wanted – go into the station and ring up and the shops in town would put it on the mail truck and send it out to you.
And you just didn’t get sick – and if you did then you generally had someone around with a motor car to run you into the doctor if you had a doctor. In the seven years I was around Alpha we only had a doctor for about six months.  The matron used to be the doctor as well as run the hospital.

When old mother died, Sam and Dale set off from Dalby and got up around Injune but the rivers and creeks had all broken their banks.  Dad came up by train but he didn’t get up until two or three days after the funeral. And Wilf just made it. Wilf was cane cutting around Bundaberg – I had to get in touch with the police in Bundaberg to get Wilf.

He was out at Burnett Heads somewhere – the copper said I’ll get the message to him but I’ll have to row a boat to get to where Wilf is – I know him.  Anyhow, Wilf set off in his car – got up to Miriamvale somewhere and they changed the road around this hill – the old road used to go straight on and they cut a new road around the hill. 

He didn’t know – belting along in the middle of the night in the rain and he just went straight on into a big tree.  Broke his toe(??) – he had a Dodge utility.  He got 25 pound for the engine out of it.  But he was lucky – he only got a couple of scratches.  He climbed back onto the highway and was lucky a semi-trailer came along and picked him up.  Took him to Rockhampton and then he got the train out to Alpha. They had to hold the funeral up for an hour and a half to allow him to get to it.

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