Stories and photos of my Life in the South West

Subtitle

Cardiff's History on the River

The photo above shows the life style on the South branch of the Collie River, the ladies and the kids are fishing with long bamboo sticks, with a length of line tied to the end, the same length as the bamboo stick. In the background you can see a gentleman standing fishing as well I think, another fellow sitting in the tree. I would bet they  have marron baits also. This is the same conditions Derek and myself fished at Old Danny's little farm.

 In the mid 60's through to the mid 90's I was also addicted to diving every pool that was possible to dive, the full length of the South branch also the full length of the East branch and including the Harris River which ran into the Collie systems from the north, the pools on the Bingham River that ran into the Collie system from the northeast were'nt suitable for diving, but I fished and hunted the full length of it. All this diving was done looking for Marron and Perch.Some day's I had to force myself to leave the snare wire home, which I used to catch the marron and I would take the spear gun and dive to the bottom of the pool, then hold onto one of the logs with my left hand, and  lay there as long as my air would let me, this did not happen every time but I've seen sights like 10-15 big perch, these fish would range from about 1 to 3pound, they would swim up to about 12inches from the end of my spear, you did'nt have to be a good shot. On one occasion my spear went through the head of a big perch and also pierced the body of another big perch two in one.I think of my father and every word of this is the truth. And more to come.

Rivers From the Past

These photo's show a settlement on the South branch of the Collie River, called Cardiff, a coal mining community. The mines were worked with horses in the early days. In the late 50's I remember the pet-meat shops owners son Jimmy coming up to my fathers place and asking me, if I would help him cut up one of the mine horses that had died. While we were there, I couldn't believe the amount of bronze-wing pigeons and parrots, so I used to return with a mate or two, we would walk roughly 14kilometers from Collie, following the railway line all of us were barefooted and armed with (gings or shanghi's or slingshots) or however you remember them.

I apologize for this, but one day there was a go-cart on the side of the road, a plank of wood and 4 wheels with rope on the front so you could steer it, we took it in turns one would sit on the go-cart and the others would push 14kilometers. Boys will be boys, I remember halfway home a truck driver pulled up and asked us if we wanted a ride, he dropped us off at the park in town.

Some of these photo's were given to me by Delys Piavanini (Bucktin) whose mother was a Robb. The family standing at the fence with the mine in the background is were we got the horse for pet meat. The other photo is of the old style car, maybe in the 20's. The photo of the car was given to us by Margaret Graham,who also taught me and my wife in Primary School.

Also in the mid to late 50's, my best mate at the time his Grandparents lived on the edge of the south branch.We would camp out there many weekends over many years, his name was Derek Watts and his Grandparents were Old Danny and Gran Grey. They lived on maybe a 5acre block of land that ran into the river.We would fish for red-fin perch and marron during the day, then in the evening we would set some rabbit traps, after dark we would go up the river to a narrow strip of water with a big log across it and we would fish for cobbler or (catfish).

Later in life I felt a bit guilty because Old Danny and Gran would have been on a pension, we rarely took any food, mind you we shared everything we caught with them. The old farm had many fruit trees and a big swing hanging from a tree limb over the river, I remember times Derek and myself, while it was raining up under a lean to on the bank of the river, we always had cigarettes.

Also walking back home about 2 kilometers closer to Collie was a timber mill, there was an old hermit caretaker who lived in a humpy, we would call in and give him a couple of Marron (or freshwater crayfish) and a couple of perch. His name was Alf, he was a very thin man who talked through his nose and hard to understand.

At times when we camped at old Danny's house, we would sit around a big open wood fire in the lounge, he would tell us stories of the war and that he was an agent or a spy, and I can see old Gran sitting in her chair knitting, she would smile and when Danny wasn't looking she would shake her head, Later in life after I was married and Gran had passed away old Danny was lonely and would come into the local pub on a Saturday night, he told me he liked to watch the young ones dance and listen to the bands, he tells me this one day when we were standing at the bar. He then say's Jim I was never a spy or an agent in the war. I could have told him I knew from Gran shaking her head, but I liked the stories. I will be telling you more on my mate Derek

Cardiff's Past

The photo above shows what you would think are the first houses built in Cardiff and the timber they used would have been straight from the mill, even the (chimney's).The photo above shows Cardiff's first Post Office and when you look at the clothes they are wearing. It makes you think the only thing missing is a gun or a pistol in a holster.

The following photo shows a more modernized Post Office and the little building on the right, would be one of the first phone booth's if not the first.

I once showed this photo to an old bushy, his comments were if the little building had have been at the back of the house it might have been used for a different reason, then he said "I know it wasn't used for that purpose, because we never used to have a window in them."
This photo shows again the basic style of house they built. You can see the gaps in the upright boards behind the gentleman. You can also see to his right, where they have lined the wall with hessian, to prevent the cold wind or rain coming through the cracks. Their only drinking water would have been, what they run off the roof into the wine kegs.

They would have also had a well at the back of the house to see them through the summer as the next photo will show you.
The beginning of farming in Cardiff, the two photo's above shows the Clydesdale horses and their farm and the little strips of crop. I amagine to feed their own horses and whatever stock they had, more so than commercial. Maybe they supplied the mine horses, I don't know. But one thing I do know they were hard working families and relied on no one.This photo shows the sheaves of hay. They are tied by stems of the crop not string or baler twine.

More On Cardiff

The photo above was take in 1925 and you can see the houses are a little more modernised.

The photo below shows the men at the rifle-range.
The above photo shows you another day fishing on the South-Branch. It shows you what this river once looked like.The photo above shows some of the Robb family and how the women went to town to do their shopping. Horse and sulky, the horses name was Rocket, which was maybe a joke. Judging by the look of him he wouldn't travel faster than walking pace.  

Sorry for the confusion but I named the gentleman shaking hands with the kangaroo wrong.

The following story is the right one thanks to Ray Scarce who descends from the gentleman in the photo. W.Robb was a photographer and it's more than likely that he took the photo.

The photo below shows Mr Robert (Bob) Devon shaking hands with his pet kangaroo Joe and the army uniform he is wearing is from the South African War. The photo is about 1900. 

 The next sequence of photo's shows some more of the History of Cardiff again thanks to Ray Scarce.

  The above photo shows Robert Devon with his pet kangaroo Joe, also a photo of Robert and his brother John (Jack) along with their medals.

  My grandfather James Devon (Jnr) left Cardiff and went to the Goldfields in 1905 and married Ida Rowe in 1912.  They returned to Cardiff in 1913 with my mother who was a baby and James became a Coal Miner.  In 1925 they left Cardiff and went to South Australia to live.   The Rowe family moved from Kalgoorlie to Collie/Cardiff about 1913.   Some of the Rowe’s still live in the south west.

  The house my grandfather built is still in Cardiff and was relocated from near the old oval to approx opposite the hall.  When we last saw it, it was a B&B and labelled Miners Cottage.

 

 The 2nd photo is a group photo of miners at the Cardiff Mine, my family members are in the photo. Ray Scarce.

 I think this is the Mines Rovers football team after winning the WA Country Championship about 1913

Robert Devon 3rd from the left front row.

 The photo above shows the Cardiff rail-head.

 

The above photo was taken at Diggers Rest about 8 miles out from Cardiff.  It was the resting place whilst hunting kangaroo (about 1918-1919)

 

On the top of the cave are Arthur Rowe and Ted Daniels

Left to right – Jim Mundy, Arnie Rowe, Phil Rowe in uniform and Ray Scarce's grandfather James Devon (Jnr.)

 

The two photo's below were given to me by David Hunter. The first one shows his father Alec Hunter on the right of photo sitting on his horse named Rat-tailed Tommy and three mates sitting on their horses another way of hunting kangaroo's. Also it was their transport too and from work.

 

 The photo below shows Alec Hunter sitting in the middle with his dog Royal, the other gentlemen are unknown. There was talk among the old bushmen, that the only thing that Royal could not do was talk.

                                  GIBRALTER ROCK     or    DIGGERS REST

 There's been a bit of confusion on the naming of this rock.  I believe it was named Diggers Rest and was named by the early settlers of Cardiff prior to the second World War as the photo of Ray Scarce's grandfather James Devon shows, 1918-19 and maybe then it was changed to Gibralter Rock by the returning soldiers from World War 2, who  fought in the defending of Rock of Gibralter.  Which had a network of tunnels of 32 kilometers. 

Cardiff's Past Contd

The photo above shows another old style house which belonged to the Allens.

I  showed this photo to an old bushman, his first words were "do you know why they left that stump in front of the house". The first thing that came to my mind was. This old fella was pulling my leg or (bull-shitting to me). So I said  maybe it was left there for when he'd been out with the boy's drinking and rather than wake the wife, he could climb on it and get through the bedroom window. My second guess was that his wife wouldn't dig it out.

Then he told me a lot of the old bushmen would cut a line with a cross-cut saw, about 4 or 5 inches deep across the top of the stump, then they could turn the saw upside down and place it in the cut and it acted as a vice, so they could sharpen the saw.

It reminded me of when I worked in the bush, in the mid 60's. An old faller showed me how to sharpen your axe. He chopped a groove in the side of a big tree, the first couple of blows hit the same spot that were straight in. The next two blows were about two inches higher on a down angle, which left a hole. Then using the back of the axe, he hit the hole as hard as he could and it wedged itself in there as tight as any vice. Then he got his file and dragged it across the flat face of the axe.
The photo above shows what I think is one of the earliest houses in Cardiff. The above two photo's show the Engine House.

The photo below shows the Gantry and the line of Skips which were lowered down into the mine and the miners would fill these by hand with a shovel.

I can still see  my Father, sitting at the table and wrapping cotton around the joints in his fingers. The splits were that bad, the cotton would all but disappear. I think he used to put Vaseline on the cotton, which helped to prevent the cracks opening up even more. To think this was done before going to work.

Life-Style on the River

This photo shows you the people of Cardiff having a picnic on the river, if you look close at the waters edge you can see four gentlemen lining up for a race. Maybe in the early 1920's.

The next photo shows you the Robb family and it looks like their going marroning, you can see the scoop-net on the running board of the old vehicle.
The above photo shows the Robb, Allen and Biggins family socializing with a picnic in the bush. Maybe their on the edge of the river.This photo shows you Ern Biggins and Will Robb, maybe they've camped there for the weekend in their little two-man tent. Typical bushies you can see the big double barrel shot-gun leaning on the tree. By the length of it, it would have kicked like a mule or like the old bushman used to say it will kill both ends. Also two bottles of plonk. Maybe it was after these old bushies had drank their plonk and they were laying there listening to the different frog calls coming from the river. They reckon by the call of one frog it was telling them how much their plonk cost.  !! plonktwobobabottle!!.This photo shows you cooked marron and I imagine the families that socialised on the river along the South-branch would have sat down many times to a feed like this and they would  not have called the king their uncle. While putting this down I can smellum unna!

Pit-Horse Races

The photo above shows Snowy Ingram on his mount in the Annual Pit-Horse races, another way of socializing. The horse is wearing a miners cap. Also the next photo shows you race day. They were big powerful work horses. It would have been a sight to see. The miners rode these bareback. There's many stories told of the big horses that worked underground.The next photo shows you one of the work horses coming out of the tunnel. There were many friendships bonded between the work horse and the miners that handled them. Sometimes it was said a particular horse should not be underground, but a lot of the old miners said, it was the fella handling the horse.

Another gentleman I've got too know, Arthur Green was telling me. In 1945 his first job as a 15yr old was a stable boy and he handled these big work horses.  On his first day Arthur was kicked and I believe it took quite a while to get over it. He was telling me of a particular horse, which I think stood out amongst the others. He said he was one of the biggest and most powerful horses he'd ever seen. His name was Bounce or Bouncer.

He was killed underground and to bring him back to the surface they had to dis-member him so they could fit him into 2 or 3 skips. Arthur said it was a sight he'll never forget. Many horses were killed underground. He remembered burning three horses in a short space of time. The main cause was they would break a leg on the railway lines or points.

He told me one story of a horse,  when they knocked off from underground and  were walking up the tunnel. There was a set of double doors, I think he was the only horse that done this. He would put his head on the door and push it open, then he'd walk through just enough to allow the other horses to walk through while he held the door with his rump or back-side.

More Stories of Cardiff

The next photo you are going to see is of an Aboriginal couple who are deceased and they are all but forgotten, no one knows their names. I've been told they did odd-jobs for the McNish family of Cardiff. I hope this does not offend any Aboriginals.What a wonderful photo and it shows you the dress style of the early settlers, maybe 100years ago. Another old gentleman that lived at Cardiff and loved to tell stories of the past was Bill Corker, who has recently passed away and just maybe one of Bills stories can solve the mystery of the Aboriginals name.

There was a saying in Cardiff among some of the old settlers when they had traveled up from Bunbury and through Collie. They had to drive over Hamilton Hill. They would say  "I just drove over Hamilton".(joke) Bill said "there was an old aboriginal gentleman named Hamilton".

As you can see this is a black and white photo from the past and if your wondering what this would have looked like with the modern camera, check the next photo out. The artist is our sister in-law Trish Wardrope and I believe she's nailed it.

Cardiff - McAlinden

The photo above shows the bush school of McAlinden. It's said they had trouble getting the numbers of pupils to justify the school. Roy Smith was one of these pupils. The next few photo's will show his family and their style of living in the past. The lady standing is Roy's mother Jessie. The two ladies sitting are Mrs Jackson on the left and Mrs Harley on the right, the three Harley children in front, Doreen, Bill & Reg with Roy standing in front of his mother.

The next photo shows Roy and the style of life he was brought up to. His horse, the dog and a pet kangaroo. Later in life he was known as (Cowboy) Smith.
The photo above shows a young Roy getting the hay in.The photo above shows Roy on another horse called Waitress and check out the style of fencing in the background. I think their face-cuts or first cuts off a log in the mill.

The photo above shows Roy when he was 14 with his mate Allan Cooper 1933. The next photo shows what was written on the back of that photo.

This photo shows Roy and Elaine Thomson on Taff and Jimmy. I sent this photo to Elaine who now lives in New Zealand and she said it took her back to the past. The house in the background was built by Roy's parents, who before this house was built lived in a slab hut. They named their house and farm Berrimal. When Roy's parents sold, the new owners renamed it Cootamundra and Roy took the name Berrimal to the house he built.This photo shows Roy, his wife,  cousin Margaret Smith on the left and Curtis Hales on the right at the new Berrimal homestead. These photo's were given to me by Roy's daughter Jenny Roberts.

I had a bit to do with Roy in the 70's through a neighbor of his Peter Wooding. Who had organized a couple of kangaroo shoots or drives on his property also other neighbors. They were out of control and had to be culled. I remember shooting 50 something during the day. I also remember in the 80's when Roy was getting on in life. He was managing a farm and I used to go out there hunting pigs, rabbits and dog meat.

They were good times he liked to talk about the past, also we would get a feed of whatever was in the dams. I remember my last session with Roy, sitting at his kitchen table. It must have been about 35 degrees and we devoured a big water-melon he'd taken out of the fridge. It was a good style of life.
The photo above is Berrimal today. Check out the clothes-line. It's a way of life that should not be forgotten. I'll remember Roy each time I pick a mandarine, because I transplanted his mandarine tree into my garden in 2010 and it's as healthy as you can get.

Bush Hermit

I was told 2 or 3 different versions of this. His name was Fieffer and he lived in an old bush camp. Some of the old bushman or farmers reckoned he was a roo or two short of a mob in the top paddock. He was a sight he had a big moustache like handlebars which had turned white with age.  They say he roamed and you were never too sure where you would bump into him. Also he was a bit scary because many times he would be carrying a 303.

It was said one farmer was riding home on his horse through the bush and he noticed Fieffer laying on a log, looking at him down the barrel of that 303. He quickly give the horse a dig in the ribs as you would. They say he didn't like anybody in his area also the pool on the river he reckoned was his.

One old bushman said he heard Fieffer coming through the bush singing as he was heading to his pool (We will rejoice by the river, We will rejoice by the river)  with my 303 and you can bet he had that pool to himself.

Another time Fieffer asked an old bushman what time it was. He said 3 o'clock, Fieffer said I mean of the year, he told him the month and the date and he said I'm going to have to visit old Charlie again, his apples are ripe. They say he used to walk to an old bush store once a fortnight for supplies.  One of the farms he used to pass, the farmers wife felt sorry for him and as he was returning home with his goods, she would be standing at the gate with a cake or some scones.

 Fieffer didn't turn up this particular fortnight and the old dear was concerned. A few more days passed and it worried her, she asked a few different people in the area if they had seen Fieffer and they hadn't. So this morning she said to her husband, I want you to go out and put the day in looking for him and while your out there, you might pick up the tracks of the milking goat it had gone missing a few day's earlier. So after he's been walking all day and there's no sign of Fieffer. But he walks onto the milking goat tangled in wire it was not long dead, so he cut the tail off and put it in his pocket.

When he got back home and walks into the kitchen, the old dear was sitting at the table peeling potatoes. She looked up and said what's the news love, he said it isn't good and puts his hand in his pocket, pulls out the goats tail and threw it on the table and said that's all I could find of Fieffer (his moustache). They say she fainted.

Another old bushie told me he had actually found Fieffer and he was standing outside the kitchen door and when the old dear came around Fieffer poked his head around the door and said " were you concerned for me dearie" and she fainted again. Like I've said some of these old fellas would not let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

Another incident with Fieffer, he'd walked in to get his fortnightly supplies and check for mail. When he got to the little bush store there was a couple of old bushies and they say different ones used to tease Fieffer especially if he didn't have his 303. I don't know what they said to him, but Fieffer said ( doin bit zaina fru docta hun) and I don't think you want to know what that means.

He said to the fella running the little bush store "I vont mine mail". They reckon there was a small hole in the roof which was iron tin and not being galvanized or coated like today, the little drip of water was rusty and it had fell on Fieffer's mail, leaving an orange stain. When he passed it to Fieffer, they say he screamed and jumped backwards at the same time saying (oon look vot day dun, day viped dare arse corse I am Yerman, yerman yerman  )as he ran off into the distance.

 

Old Formation

This photo  is of the earliest formation in our forest, if you take notice the rails are made of wood and they lasted because the soil they are on is of poor quality, very little grows there. Which stopped the fires over the last hundred plus years taking away our History, for in the background you can see the forest has reclaimed it.

The photo on top was given to me by the Cain family, their mother once lived in a small Timbermill settlement called Treesville, approximately 40 kilometers NE of Collie. Where the old train is taking these logs to, on top of the logs you can see an old bushman and his kangaroo dog and the rails are made of steel.      Back in the fifties this area was one of our main spotlighting loops, I remember the mobs of wild horses (brumbies) that used to feed where the settlement once stood, and the wild dogs roamed (dingoes), also wild pigs. Which in later years I became obsessed with. It was no doubt in the thousands that I killed and many more thousands that the other hunters would have destroyed. And if it wasn't for these hunters and their PIGDOGS they would be in plague proportion.

I will prove this with the help of my fathers memory, and photo's starting from 1911 of PIG HUNTERS.  You don't have to be too smart to work out that they would be in plague proportion  ONE HUNDRED YEARS of pig hunters and their dogs. I haven't finished with this story in particular , like a bad dog will sometimes turn and bite, I will now turn on the Authorities and the White Collar ( freedom of speech). I think of my father and this is the truth.

Bucks Mill

The house in the photo belonged to the Buckingham brothers, who the Bucks Mill was named after. They moved from here and built a new house down the road a few hundred yards. Then it was rented by the Carrolls. I was given this photo by George and Glenys Stewart, who's family also lived at Bucks in the early days. I will show photo's that tell some of the history of Bucks through the photo's from George a bit later.

I remember showing this photo to Gundy Carroll, we were sitting on the lounge at his place. I was also showing him other photo's. When he looked at the photo above, he said where did you get this photo in a startled voice. Then he said "this was my house, I lived there as a little fella." he was talking 80 odd years ago.  So he'd spun me out as much as it had spun him out. He pointed to the little white window above the ladies head and said "I used to sleep in that room."

His wife Glenys was sitting at the end of the lounge. She hops up, walks around the back of the lounge and she's looking over our shoulder at the photo. It seemed they had a friendly agreement not to agree with each other. She said "what room did you sleep in" Gundy touched the little white window, she said "no you didn't it was the other one to the right", he said "woman don't you tell me where I used to sleep in my own house". He said " do you know why I know it was that room", she say's "why". He said " when I was a little fella, I thought I could put my hand out the window, and touch Polly as she was taking the Jarrah  logs to the mill". If you look at the feet of the people standing, you can see the railway line.

The next photo shows you some of the Carroll family. Gundy standing between his fathers legs, I think Jim Carroll sitting, who was the father of my good friend Bobby.

Some of the girls of the modern world should take notice of what  Gundy's sister is wearing for a dress. It's a hessian spud bag with  holes cut at the bottom for her arms and head to go through. Also the following photo shows Gundy's father with his mother holding a broad-axe, which was used to cut a rail-way sleeper by hand.

 The photo below shows the Cabbage Tree Hotel in the background and I believe the photo was taken to show off the new bridge. Which would have give the people from Bucks and Muja access to this area of the forest.

They say at times when the bushmen from the different areas gathered at the bush pub there was a few fights and with the amount of drink I feel some of them would mishandle the truth. I was told there was two  bushmen that had been going to the pub too often. I think they married sisters. As they were returning home this particular night in a horse and sulky like you can see in the photo.

They were approaching the bridge from the other side and could hear a voice wailing from under the bridge, apparently one of the sisters had had enough. It was night time,  she had a big black coat on and wails in the night "I am the Devil, I am the Devil" as she staggers out from under the bridge and looks up at the horse and sulky. One of them said "I know you are, I married your sister."The photo below shows the old bridge as it is today, the gentleman  is Gundy Carroll  who is the little boy standing between his fathers legs two photo's back. Apparently when he was maybe 8 or 9 his father would sit him at the end of the bar in the Cabbage Tree Hotel and he would sing for the old bushmen. He told me they would fill him up with soda drink and sometimes slip him a penny.

The photo below shows Gundy and an old friend Cliff Fleay, who grew up together at Bucks. As they were looking at the old mill workers in the photo on the right that  Cliff is holding, they named a couple. One of them said "that old man died in the mill" and I could tell by the look on their faces it was bringing back old memories from when they were boys. 

The photo below shows one of the early trains with a load of Jarrah for the  Bucks mill. They say it's Mrs Buckingham on the side of the train. 

The photo above shows a famous little train called Polly, she also worked the railway lines at Bucks. The Buckingham Brothers brought her out from England in 1880. Today she is on display in front of the Collie Tourist Bureau.( Visitors Centre).

There was one story that she was converted to a snigging machine, which the photo below shows you. But there was also another story there were two Polly's and the photo below is the second Polly. You could see how they could be mistaken for each other. I showed the photo above to an old bushman Ted Mills, he could not believe what he was looking at. He said "where did you get this photo". I said "I got it from Jennifer Tilbrook" (nee Magill). She said her Uncle Fred was on the left and her Uncle Arthur was on the right. But she did not know who the man was in the middle. Ted said "his name was Scotty Barber and he was quite old when I was young", Teds 96. He said "do you know what that man done" and he told me he drove Polly from Kelmscott to the Bucks Mill, roughly 200klms for the Buckingham Brothers.

Another thing the photo shows you is they're going fishing for the Red-fin Perch. You can see the bamboo poles and they will have minnows or gilgies in the tin buckets. I don't think there were too many rods and reels in them days.

The next photo shows you Scotty Barber and his team of horses that he used to snig the big Jarrah logs to the Bucks Mill, by whim-wheel. Ted told me, when they passed his place, they would put him up onto the back of one of the horse's and he would get a ride to the mill, like you can see in the photo.Scotty Barber also had a team of bullocks, that he used to snig the logs from the forest to the Bucks Mill by whim-wheel as the next photo shows. The gentleman working the bullocks worked for Scotty he was a Shepherdson.This is Polly today, her final resting place.   

The Duckboards

This was the early access road from the east side of Collie to the Treesville settlement.You can see by all the slabs of timber bedded in the dry mud, that many people became bogged, myself included in the late 50's. My father told me they were called the Duckboards. I have often wondered how the name originated, I thought the old bushman might have jokingly said they were put there for the "ducks" to walk across the Treesville Flats.

I am 63years old now and I believe that I know now how the name originated. I was sitting in front of the computer, my brother in law Peter who served in Vietnam was sitting in the kitchen, I said to him to come and have a look at a photo I was looking at. Peter said wait a minute I'm looking at footage of the second World War on television, I could not believe my ears, I heard the word Duckboards mentioned and Peter told me that the soldiers were laying down planks of wood in mud and water to get to the wounded soldiers. Many of the soldiers would have survived their wounds but they drowned in the water and mud. I know that some of the bushmen from Treesville were returned soldiers, so maybe that's where the name Duckboard originated from. These photo's are also of Treesville Mill.

Socialising In The Bush

The above photo shows the last boarding house at Muja, a bush settlement roughly 20-30kms SE of Collie. The little girl in the photo today is 86yrs old, her name is Bonnie Corti, her little brother Billy and their Gran, who ran the boarding house. Billy became a champion bike rider, but was tragically killed at a young age.

Bonnie told me that she remembered when they came to Muja, there was a storm and they had to sleep under corrugated iron, she also told me she used to live in another bush mill settlement called Lyalls Mill. Where the locals there, would turn up at her house and watch, I think her Grandfather boxing with a big pet male Kangaroo, with the gloves on.

She told me all the people in the settlement, would travel in the open box carriages on the train (photo above) to socialize at another settlement on the south branch river, about 15-20kms away, the mining town called Cardiff. I remember saying to Bonnie I think this photo will spin you out, she said I don't know what you mean, and I can see the excited look on her face when I showed her the photo.( Maybe Bonnie is one of the little ones on the train) These photo's were given to me by Anne Sloan,who also lived at Lyalls Mill. 

Prospecting

Prospecting is another hobby and for anyone out there who's interested, visit the Prospectors Pick and he will point you in the right direction. You may start off with a second hand detector  and if you get results I"ll bet you'll finish up with a new one.   

I'm just starting to get interested in it myself and there's no better way to entertain the grand-kids than by putting in the day looking around some of the old bush settlements that are scattered through-out the Jarrah forests and if you find something it's a bonus, it's just being out there. Especially in the winter when it's safe to light a fire and the kids can have their own sausage sizzle.

I'm a bit lucky knowing the bush like I do, due to my addiction of pig-hunting and again thanks to my father. I remember times walking along the old railway formations and my father would point out the signs of the old bushmen and I've said before, the railway lines were made of timber.

I know there's hundreds of bush camps undiscovered and who knows what's laying there waiting for you. I remember picking up this bottle (below) one day that had engravings as you can see on the bottle there are two men standing, the one on the right has got a sickle in his left hand and there's a sheath of hay under it. There was also a carpenters stool and I think a bucket with a shovel in it also the name Rowlands  1880 protruding from the bottle. Another thing it's before they had the technology to put a thread on glass, so all the bottles had a blob top and they capped it with a cork.

A bottle collector in about 1971-2 offered me $40's. At the time I think that was a week's wages in the Shire         

I finished up giving it away to my good mate, who'd gone into collecting antique bottles, Bobby Carroll.  No doubt it was in the hundreds that he'd found over the years. Bobby changed his style and went for clay bottles also a glass bottle that had a marble lodged in the base of the neck.

 The photo below shows some of his collection.

 I remember driving along an old abandoned railway formation and while I was still travelling I could see the sun reflecting off a glass bottle about 100yrds from where we were. I wasn't going to stop, then I said to the fella I was with I think that might have been an old bottle. He convinced me to stop and go back and I think it was this bottle that made me stop at many old bush camps that were unknown. I came onto many of them while running through the bush  trying to catch up to the dogs, with pigs in the distance.

I remember one time while running passed a circle of rocks, which was an old bushmans fireplace. There was a bottle laying among the rocks, which protected it from many bushfires over the last hundred or more years. It was a Rosella Tomato sauce bottle and the engravings showed a rosella parrot sitting on a limb protruding from the bottle. Another bottle I found the engravings showed a horse rearing up on it's hind legs with a man on it's back and what looked like a crocodile laying on the ground. Another one I'd found had Chinese writing. These last couple of bottles I gave to another friend who liked to collect antique bottles, Don Fraser.

 

Gold Country

The photo above shows a variety of things that were found with a detector in gold country. At the top of the photo you can see the heel plates of a stockman from the early days, you can see the little spur used to keep control of the horse. The longer object on the left is a handle from one of the old coaches also a make-shift hook that one of the old-timers used for whatever, underneath the hook you can see the old style safety-pin underneath that is a tag from a racing pigeon, which no doubt didn't make it home. Next to that are small pieces of gold. The next photo's will show you a close-up of some of the other items.

 The photo above shows a four pence which I didn't know they produced, check the date out. Also the one below which is a three-pence.The one above as you can see it's the head of a man (maybe) again the date I'm not too sure but it's 18 something and it is currency. Below is a close-up of the safety pin.
The one above I forget it's name I'll have to catch up with a friend of mine who let me take these photo's. I'm also not allowed to say which country he's from. It's some type of rock and they say it's quite stunning when it's polished up. The next photo shows you from a different angle and as you can see it's a distinct cross.The photo above is the most intriguing of them all. As you can see it's a brass button and the old prospectors would put their small pieces of gold inside it because it was counter-sunk, then hold it over a flame and the little nuggets would become one. They say the Chinese would do this as well, then sew the button back onto their jackets, so they could smuggle it back into China. Also you would think it was a way of hiding their gold, while carrying it around with them, because there were a lot of bad fellas.

Lost in Time

The photo above shows two old bushies sharing a big bottle. No doubt they were mates and their names will never be known, they're lost to the past. Judging by their clothes it may have been in the days of the depression or around the time of the first or second world war. They were looking for work. A lot of times they would do whatever was going for food alone or shelter or a roof over their head. A lot of the returned soldiers made their way into the back-blocks or bush country, maybe to get away from society for awhile and try to come to terms with the demons in their head from what they'd gone through. You hear stories saying they were shell-shocked.

I was told by a few old fellas that their parents told them to stay away from the humpies and huts where some of the returned soldiers chose to live or maybe forced to live, because they had nowhere else to go. Another old mate of mine who I've told a few stories on, big Lofty. He said he used to go up to their camps and talk to them at times. He said they hadn't seen one of them for awhile and when he went up to check, he was laying there dead.

So it's nice to know the return soldier today is credited for what they done. 

Left from his Right

I remember one time talking to an old friend who I'd known pretty much all my life and he had a little hobby farm about 6 or 7 ks out of town. I knocked around with his sons later in life. I  went to Primary School with his son Brian and many weekends I camped out there as a young fella. Also Brian used to stay at my place on some weekends. I remember when I used to stay out there on the weekend. Brian had a horse called Red, we used to double up on him. I'd be on the back with a sugar bag over my shoulder with maybe 15-20 rabbit traps in it and being kids we couldn't get too where we were going quick enough. Brian would let the horse have his head and I can still feel those rabbit traps biting into my back. 

I remember heading into town early one Monday morning to go too school. Brian liked to ride my push-bike because he didn't have one. So I'm on the horse and he's on my bike. There was a big hill that ran down to my place and the road was bitumen. He said "I'll race you to your place"and he took off on the bike. I took the horse onto the gravel foot-path and let him have his head. When you do that the horse will hit top speed. We had about 4-500 yards to cover. About 100yards short of my place there was a big wooden fence and a white caravan behind it. The horse shied and went right angles and I kept going. I had gravel rash real bad both knees and elbows. The only thing good about it I had a couple of days off school. 

I remember later in life talking to Brians father whose name was Don Fraser and I've told a couple of yarns on him. One in particular was when he electrocuted me. This day he was talking about the old settlements in our forests. Don knew of my addiction to the bush and pig-hunting. He said "do you ever have much to do with Willowdale". Which was a little bush settlement about 60-70ks out and it was one of my favourite areas for pigs. I also hunted the roos through  that country for the pet-meat shop in the 60's.

Don told me he was coming back from the city in a small truck and he'd taken the back way through the bush and not being too sure of the road, when he came to Willowdale, there was a couple of houses he could see that were along side of the gravel road. He said there were a half a dozen kids and when he pulled up they scattered. Don was an old bushy himself and  had his own way of describing things. He said "Jock, they were like when you shoot a rabbit on a warren  the rest scamper down the holes." He said those kids all disappeared up under the house and there wasn't much clearance. He said "I walked over and it took a bit of coaching to get the oldest one out". Don said he must have been 11 or 12.

There was a fork in the road where they were standing. Don said "I'm going to Collie and I don't know which road to take". He said the young fella lifted up one arm and was pointing with two fingers, then with his other hand he pulled down one of the fingers and said "you don't go that one". Apparently he didn't know his left from his right.  

Two-up

 The photo above is Ray Scarces great grandfather James Devon holding the kip in a two-up game with Robert Devon on his left.  All the boys in uniform are Collie/Cardiff enlistments for the South African War.  The photo is about 1900

 

Robert (Bob) served in South Africa with the 4th Western Australian Mounted Infantry prior to the Australian Army being formed.

Two-up is still played today in Collie on two occasions. The Collie to Donnybrook and return push-bike race also Anzac Day.

In the sixties there was an illegal two-up ring run by locals in the bush on the out-skirts of Collie. My oldest brother Tom was known to go there once or twice and he introduced me to it when I was roughly 17. There was a lot of money change hands.

One little fella, who was known to the locals as Champagne Charlie  was a regular and a big better. They used to say the wad of money he had in his pocket would choke a bull. He was also known to have a wager on the local football team. I think it was because he liked all the boy's talking about him. What he used to do was, if he had 200 pound on the local team, he'd go around the oval and put 200 on the opposition. 200 pound was a lot of money in those day's and maybe a months pay and that's what made everyone talk about Champagne Charlie. I don't know what his real name was and I don't think too many people did. It was said he struck gold up in the gold fields and brought Champagne for the town.

One of the stories I've told in the past was when I worked with a policeman while he was on long service leave on the back-waters of a water catchment. I was talking to him this day and the subject got onto the illegal two-up school. I said to Bill there's some big better's at the ring and there was no bigger better  than Champagne Charlie.

Bill said "we knew where the ring was and it was run every Sunday". He said "every so often we had to go out and raid the two-up ring and the reason was every so often a woman would go to the police station and complain that her husband had gambled away his pay". Bill said "it used to make us laugh, when we drove through the bush-track, to raid the two-up, we could see all the fellas running through the bush trying to escape". He told me they even knew who'd had a big win the previous week or two and they would try and get him, knowing he could afford the fine.

He's laughing as he tells me, all their cars were parked there. We could have got their number plates and booked the lot. But we knew they were all decent fellas and having a bit of fun.  

Then he tells me a story about Champagne Charlie. The police station was in the main street in them days. Bill said him and the sergeant were walking down the steps, heading out to raid the two-up, when Champagne Charlie walks in front of them heading up to the wine-saloon. The sergeant said "it's your lucky day today Champagne, we're heading out to raid the two-up." Bill said he never turned his head and instantly said "I'd think about that if I was you, Fagen is out there and he's betting his heart out." Bill said it stopped us in our tracks, we turned and walked back into the police station.

Come Monday when Fagen turns up for work, the sergeant's into him. He said you cost us on Sunday, we were going out to raid the two-up and Champagne told us you were out there betting your heart out. Fagen said "I was down the coast fishing all weekend". 

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