Interview with: Ruth Madeline (Madge) Glover (nee Ruddy)
Date of Interview: 9 April 1985
Interviewer: Gillian Pechey
Transcriber: Colwyn Boulton
Ruth Madeline (Madge) Ruddy was born in Brisbane in 1915. Madge married Ernest Edward Glover in 1942 in Montville. Madge had known him for about seven years before marrying. They made their home on the top of Mill Hill and had a beautiful orchard where the Department of Agriculture used to hold their field days. Madge passed away 10th August 2006 aged 91 years.
Image: Ruth Laverick with husband Robert and granddaughter Madge Ruddy (later Glover) in a sulky, Montville, 1916.
Images and documents of the Laverick family in the Sunshine Coast Libraries catalogue.
Tape 1/Side 1
GP Tell me about your Grandmother living down there through the weeks on her own or with just her children.
Just with her little girl, yes my Grandmother had a very lonely life. There were a couple of other bachelor men living somewhere in Baroon Pocket, but as you can understand when it was all standing scrub, you didn’t know where they were. So she lived there all alone with her little daughter. It was the law that if you took up a selection you had to spend so many months of the year living on it and had to do so much in improvement. So while she was there she used to burn down trees and did out lantana and all these which she wasn’t used to doing because she had come from the heart of London. But she’d made that her life, with her little daughter and grew all these things. She grew arrowroot and used to grind it for herself.
GP The arrowroot, how was it ground, how was it prepared?
Well, they grew it of course and I understand it’s a bulb. My Grandfather made a little grinder with a little small log and some holes punched in some iron, plain iron, with a little handle. He formed another log with a curve in it, and they used to rind this around and around and it ground the arrowroot which used to fall down into a tub of water. It had to be washed quite a lot to get all the little husks to form on the top. They skimmed that off, till the arrowroot was perfectly white and clear. Then they used to dry it, in more or less semi-shade, because the hot sun was too much for it.
They did the same with their apples, they used to peel them, core them and slice them very thinly, wash them in salt water. The salt water was to keep them nice and white. Then they used to dry those spread out on sheets or pieces of wire netting, whatever, in the semi-shade again. When it was perfectly dry they used to put them into white calico bags, which were really flourbags, because in those days you could but flour in twenty five or fifty pound bags.
This was another way of providing food. They grew potatoes pumpkins. I think maybe a few beans down there, if they were able to get bean seed, but they weren’t easy to get in those days.
GP I can see where you’d get the pumpkin and potato, but the other things, you’d have to buy the seeds for?
You would. Well that was what was very hard, there weren’t many seeds just t that time. Or for her to be able to get, living in Baroon Pocket. It was a very lonely life and the aboriginals used to frequent down there because bunya pines grew there, as well as up on the mountain here. Of course that was a big attraction to them because they love bunya nuts. They used to follow the Obi down, come down from Maleny or from Witta, which was then known as Teutoberg, and they’d follow the creek around. Of course they’d come and see this little cottage in the middle of the scrub and they would run over and my Grandmother’d be terrified to see these wild men more or less. But they used to say, “No hurt, no hurt.” But they wanted tobacco. They used to say “Baccy, Baccy.” They loved tobacco. They’d learnt from the white man I suppose about smoking. My Grandmother didn’t have any tobacco, but she used to make her own bread and she’d give them all some bread and they’d o off perfectly happy with some nice bread.
GP Did she tell you these stories herself?
Yes, all these stories have come from my Grandmother and my mother. My Grandmother lived with us here in this home. She died a few days prior to her hundred and second birthday. Right until she passed away she had all faculties and could still remember everything that had happened in the whole of her life. I only wish, then, that I had been as interested as I am now and taken it in a little more. Because she had some wonderful tales to tell.
GP Perhaps you could write them down as you think of them, as they come into your mind.
Yes I could do that, then you could just add them, couldn’t you?
GP So she didn’t have any trouble at all with the aborigines?
No trouble at all. No trouble at all.
GP Never threatened or………..?
No! They weren’t threatened in any way. She’d hide her little girl of course, she was so frightened. They were evidently very peaceful aborigines. Even when I was a little girl, in the very early 1920s, soon after we came to live in Mill Hill Road, there was a little camp of one aboriginal family. Course they were quiet people, they were civilised. I can even remember the little children’s names and they used to come to play with me.
GP What were their names?
There was Eva and Rosie and little Tilly who was about two. And then there were two grown up boys, named George and Billy. I think there could have been other children but they are the only ones that were there with them. They just lived under the trees and just had what they could have to eat. Whatever they could get. My Mother used to hand out bread and things to them. But the father injured his back and they had to take him away to Brisbane to get something done for it. So my mother got busy and made a dress because the whole family had to go. They couldn’t take the father away because that was how the aborigines – the whole family had to go. My mother made a couple of dresses each for the mother and three little girls. I can still see old Mother Mary sitting up in the old wagon as they went off, so proud because she had a pretty coloured dress on.
GP Before that, did they have any clothes?
I think they had clothes that people gave them, little old clothes. People didn’t have much to give away but people gave them. I suppose the old father and sons very likely did some work, for perhaps the timber getters I would think. Seeing they were down on top of that Mill Hill, they very likely had to work. Very likely that was how the father injured his back. But when it got injured they all went, the whole family. We never saw them again. Oh the aborigines used to have corroborees in Baroon Pocket, and I think also on Mill Hill, in the very early days.
GP Did your Grandmother ever witness any of these?
No, she never saw the corroborees but they could hear them. On a clear night you see, because they make a lot of noise when they hold a corroboree. She could hear them. It was rather frightening in the middle of the night. You know, you could hear them stomping and making their war cries. Yes, it was frightening.
The only times she used to get out was occasionally they would walk to Maleny. They would stay a few days in Maleny then go back home. But for two years she never saw another white women’s face.
Lily Laverick's education
GP Your Mother (that’s the daughter) did she go to school?
She did. They lived at Stafford; my mother was born at Stafford. In 1881, the school just opened and my mother had just a few months schooling before they left. But her brother of course had been educated in England and he taught her quite a bit. Set lessons for her, taught her all he knew, and my Grandmother supervised what she could. And that was all the schooling really that my mother had. Yet she was quite well educated and she wrote a beautiful hand. She said that was all she had to do was practice writing.
They stayed in Baroon Pocket for twelve years, and after moving to Montville in 1898, the school had just been opened in 1896 I think. The first teacher was Miss Palmer who was the famous poetess. After getting her little school together and teaching them, she saw a need for – there were many families in the district who hadn’t had any schooling – so she started night classes for these people to come along. Those who knew nothing, she taught them. My father had been educated in Brisbane, he didn’t come here till about 1897. But he and my mother attended the classes because she had advanced lessons for those who had had some education.
So that was really all the education there was for those people in those days.
GP Do you have any idea what they were taught? They would have learnt to read, I suppose, and to write?
You mean the little children coming to school?
GP No, I was thinking of the adults.
Well the older ones yes, the ones who hadn’t had any schooling they were taught to read and write. I guess they did arithmetic, learnt to add up, which would help them a lot in their lifetime. To be able to read and write and do sum so they could add up what they owed and what they had of their own would be very important. They didn’t have to depend on others. So really the community was very fortunate to have a lady like Miss Emily Palmer. She met her husband in Montville and married him ane she then became Emily Bulcock.
GP Is that the Bulcock’s in Caloundra?
That street in Caloundra, Bulcock Street, is named after the Bulcock family. And the daughter lives down there now, but I don’t know her married name.
Books and newspapers
GP Did they read any books? They wouldn’t have had the Women’s Weekly or anything like that?
Oh there wouldn’t be any magazines. No.
GP What did people read?
Well, I don’t know how soon the newspapers came here. I guess once they were published they’d have a way of getting some newspapers. The ‘Nambour Chronicle’ was first printed in 1903 and of course the ‘The Chronicle’. I’ve often come across apiece of Chronicle with some news in it, fascinating news you know – land for sale. We could buy lots of land today if we could buy it as cheaply as that. They did have books, my Grandmother had books that she’d bought with her. So they did have books.
I don’t know how soon it started, but I know in my school life, (and I started school in about early 1920s, and it was in force then), at the end of the year, at the school picnic, every child was given a book prize. There was no first, second, third. The only way to distinguish it was that those at the top of the class were able to have first pick of the books. That was the only difference. But all the books for each class was of the same value for each class. And that still applies today at the school, they all receive a school prize, the end of the year.
GP When I was at school we used to get them too.
Did you? I think it’s wonderful. Well in, my time of course we all get a book, they were all different. And they were beautiful books, I’ve still got all mine. Oh I kept them. They were good books. We were all good friends, the girls would swap and the boys would swap. We all lent each other our school prizes, so instead of having one book to read, we had twelve books to read which was a wonderful thing. But in those early days, I’m very sad because my mother had two beautiful books – children’s boos they were, but she kept them all her life time and passed them on to me. Every night my father used to read me a story, this is before I started school, out of my mother’s books. But over the years, those books and some others and some very treasured photos disappeared. I would never accuse anyone but I feel that they were taken (they couldn’t just disappear) by someone who thought they would like them. But they were two beautiful books.
GP They were in your house?
They were in my mother’s home, yea. Yes, so there were books in those days. And as I say, when the newspapers came out I don’t know how often people got them, how many came, very likely only perhaps half a dozen papers would come to Montville, and the residents would share them.
GP Going back to your grandmother, how would she cook her food?
She had just an open fireplace, I think it was built out from the kitchen, it was an open fireplace, with iron over the top of it, and so the rain couldn’t get to it. And she put small logs, pieces of wood in there, and she did all her cooking in a camp oven. It was a great big iron, a very thick cast iron vessel with a lid. She made her bread and did everything in that’s. She also had smaller cast iron pots to cook her soups and vegetables and so forth in. They always had a pot boiling with water in it, so there was always hot water if it was needed for making tea. She seemed always to have tea; I suppose my Grandfather brought tea home when he came – and sugar.
GP How did she cut the wood? Did she have to do all that herself?
Well, she had to do most of that herself, because she even chopped down trees. At one time she nearly felled a tree on herself, it just missed her by a few inches. After that she was much more careful, because if she had been killed or badly injured there was no-one to help her little child there. It would have been a real tragedy.
I guess my Grandfather sawed up the logs. There were stacks of logs so they would saw them up with a cross-cut saw. Then they would get wedges and cut the logs – they were very big round logs – into big pieces, flat pieces. They’d o round and round and put the wedges in where the – you know tree has – each year of its life (a growth ring) – well they’d put the wedge in there, and it would split very easily. They’d have those pieces and stack them in heaps. Then when they wanted some extra wood they’d put them on a block and chop them into pieces about three or four inches square with an axe. Always had to have plenty of wood stacked under cover somewhere, to always have dry wood because it rained so much in those days.
She had to go down to the creek to get her water of course. She usually used to build a little fire and boil up her clothes in any old big can that she had, and then rinse them in the Obi and hang them on the fence to dry.
GP She had a fence around the house?
She had a fence right round her home, yes. A fairly big area fenced in.
GP Were there cattle outside the fence?
Well there weren’t any then, but gradually the cattle came. Then of course later on timber cutters came in and they had their bullock wagons – but this is much later when they came ion, to get the pine trees of course.
GP Bunya pines?
Bunya pines. They used to take them out around the edge of Montville, the Maleny side of Montville. They used to shoot them down over the range to the Mooloolah River and then they used to float them out to Mooloolah River I believe, where one of Pettigrew’s Mills were.
But she used to chop her own – well my Grandfather chopped some, but he was only home for a little while. By the time he walked all the way. They were lucky if they got a day and a half a week. It would take a half a day to get from Woombye to here walking through the scrub. See he had to walk and lead his horse with provisions on, some meat and so forth. And then I suppose after he’d had his dinner, a midday dinner on the Sunday, he’d ride back to Woombye because they started work very early; and butchers especially started earlier.
Baroon Pocket isolation
GP With the mat, how did she keep it?
Well it kept very well. She wouldn’t have a roast of course, only what she could cook in the camp oven, which was quite good I believe with their vegetables. They’d cook that nice piece of meat and perhaps make a very big stew in another big cooking vessel. And keeping it hot and so forth would help to keep for a few days, but there was no way keeping it, only hanging it in the trees. But the corn meat, it kept wonderfully well corned and it was covered with this very heavy salt. And you could leave that lying in a big dish somewhere in the cool and it would keep a long time before it was cooked. So they sort of had that as a reserve. But my Grandmother with her little daughter, well they wouldn’t nee a great deal of meat.
GP Did they have a cow?
They didn’t at first, they didn’t have a cow, so that meant they didn’t have any milk or anything like that. And then my Grandfather had the opportunity, when he had a few nice riding horses, so he took one of his horses and exchanged it to a man he knew, for a cow and a calf. And my Mother always said, the joy in that home the day my Grandfather arrived with a cow and a calf. They had fresh milk, cream, butter and my Grandmother used to make her own cheese with that cow. I mean the calf had some milk and they had all the rest. So that meant, from that day on they had milk, cream, butter, and cheese on their table at every meal. And of course the little calf I suppose grew up and it’d very likely be, I should imagine, a female and that would mean they’d have another cow. My Mother always said that was the red letter day.
Another red letter day was when her Father brought home a pony for her, when she was old enough to ride. Then when she learnt to ride, she used to ride from Baroon Pocket right around on the tracks, just tracks through the scrub, but she knew where to go, all the way round to Palmwoods, to get a few extra groceries, a few things for my Grandmother. But I often think what would have happened if she’d had a fall or been injured or been molested on that journey, where she wouldn’t see another person. The horse was a wonderful companion to her. So when Montville School was opened my Grandmother and my Mother were still living in Baroon Pocket, and they came up from Baroon Pocket, walked right up to Montville, when the foundation stone was laid for the Montville State School.
GP How old would your mother have been then?
Well that was in 1896 – she would have been fifteen. They moved up to Montville in 1898, and my Mother was seventeen then. My Father had come here a year before and that was where they met, In Montville, and they were married in 1905.
GP What did they do for a living?
Yes, that was right, well my Father, he worked in Brisbane, but when his Father died he had a step-mother and two step-sisters and a step-brother. But he felt, well maybe if he went out into the world he’d make a way for himself. So, he came up here and obtained work, only from the one man. He worked for this one man all the time, a Mr Smith, on his orchard.
They grew strawberries of course, a strawberry farm and orchard and he gained farming experience like that. He worked for them for quite a while.
And such as my Mother, all the young women they went out picking strawberries or picking beans, to earn a little money; there wasn’t much going. My Grandmother, when she came to live in Montville, she cooked for all the strawberry pickers. She had the position as cook
Tape 1/Side 2
For all these strawberries pickers. And my Grandfather, I don’t think he went back then. He made his own orchard in Montville grew a few things. He was the first farmer to send to one of the fruit merchants at the Brisbane Markets. I don’t know, I think he grew perhaps strawberries himself and the gooseberries were still in plentiful supply and citrus trees.
GP Your Grandparents, how were they treated in their old age?
Yes well my Grandfather, he didn’t live to be a really old man, because he was killed. His horse fell with him, this was in 1912. He was killed and my Grandmother lived on there with her son for a time. But when she got older she came to live with my parents. In most cases a member of the family took the old people in, gave them a home – there were no pensions. Or when the pensions did commence, I think it was only a few shillings. Which wouldn’t have kept anyone.
GP Do you know when they did start?
I just don’t know when the pension started, that’s something you might be able to find out. But all the old people I knew, they didn’t have any pensions, their families kept them.
It was very sad, one old lady who lived near us when I was a little girl, I didn’t know at the time of course, that she died of cancer of the stomach and they used to have a bed in the kitchen for her, a tiny little kitchen and have the fire going all the time. They were heating flannels in the oven to put on her abdomen to try and ease the pain. The only medicine she had was a pain killing mixture, which I suppose wasn’t very effective at all. And that old lady died living next door to us with her daughter and son-in-law. But here people did (care for the elderly), which is a great pity today. It isn’t a great trial to look after any old people. My Grandmother lived on with my Mother – my Grandfather died before my Grandmother died – and we just loved to help to look after here. With food and that, she was able to care for herself. Until a week before she died she got up, after breakfast she got up, made her bed, wiped up the breakfast dishes, went downstairs and went for a walk. She was 101. I think the way they were cared for and their own independence, helped them to survive longer. But the love, I think the love of their family meant a great deal to old people. As my Father put it always, how much did it cost really to keep, when you were cooking a big meal, how much did it cost for that little bit of food, for an elderly person. It would amount to very little. There weren’t any nursing homes or retirement villages, there were none of those things in those days.
GP When people who were injured, for example men who were injured was there any help for their families?
There was no help for the families, only what they could do themselves and their neighbour’s help. You see if anything went wrong, all the neighbours helped. One pioneering man, a tree fell on him and badly broke his leg. It did mend in years to come but one leg was about, oh I suppose nearly a foot shorter that the other. And that lady had quite a big family to care for. She carried on with the work as best she could. The neighbours all came in, and helped her to plant, to clean things, to harvest.
It was the public – the wonderful brother feeling towards one another I think. And another lady – some of her family still live over at Maleny – she lost her husband, he was drowned in the Obi. A couple of her sons were old enough to help her. But she carried on and paid for her….. See they had to pay for it, there was no social service, no Government, no widow’s pensions, nothing like that. You just had to carry on as best you could. And I know some of those poor women were very ill at times. And then of course there were the odd times, not very often, odd times when a mother died and the father was left with the family. But that didn’t seem to happen very often, it was mostly the men who were taken in early ages. But that public spirit, I don’t know about having Benefits because I don’t think anyone had much money to give Benefits. But they gave it in material things like cake and bread, butter, whatever the people didn’t have the community gave to them. The same with clothing.
Although my Mother was a good sewer she used to have a dressmaker come in for a couple of weeks occasionally to make clothes for herself and for me. But she did a tremendous lot of sewing. She’d get little pieces of material that she had left over; she’d open up big flour bags and bleach them. It was very good calico you see, and she used to make clothes for little girls, things for little boys out of the worn parts of, you know of the best parts of worn out clothing. She used to give these away to all the people in need. I know my parents helped greatly in many ways, the people who you know, had no way of making any money, noway of getting on in life.
About the patchwork quilts she used to make these beautiful patchwork quilts out of just scraps of material that she had left over from tings, or perhaps given to her. She used to cut them into very small rings and she used to join them al together and then form them into a pattern to make bedspread quilts. If she could get a piece of good strong material to back them with, all the better, it made them that much stronger. And then she would put a binding right round the outside. With the design that she used to make, they were magnificent quilts. I understand this patchwork quilting is coming back into fashion now.
Also the beautiful mats she used to make. She used to get a sugar bag or perhaps a corn sack, however big she wanted to make it - and she’d start off by cutting strips off old trousers, about an inch wide or an inch and a half wide. She used to cut one edge – today we would use pinking scissors but then they used to have scissors to make them points.
And she used to stitch them, starting from the centre of it, go round and round to form a pattern again; and these made mats for the floor. They were of course quite thick; because of being put onto a bag. And they overlapped, they weren’t just put on, they all overlapped with just a little wee piece protruding from the one behind it. These were wonderfully warm on the floor. They had them beside their beds. She’d give them away for presents if she didn’t need them to herself. The beauty of it was they all washed beautifully, and dried. They’d dry them and iron them, with Mrs Pott’s irons so they really looked nice.
GP With washing, where did you get the soap from?
Well, I suppose they were able to buy some soap, but she made a lot of soap herself, They used to get – I think it was lard or some fat from the butcher shops anyway – they used to get this fat and they used to render it down and they added caustic soda and boracic acid and borax, all these things went into it to purify it and they’d boil it, I think, it would help to from a jelly. Then she used to put it into a long tin, or whatever she could find and let it set. When it was well set firm, she would take it out and cut it into small pieces and that would be stacked around somewhere where the breeze could get at it, under a house or something. Leave it there for many weeks to help it to dry out and that made it so that it didn’t know just what they put in it, but I know the boiling of it had a lot to do with the making of it.
And for lighting, they didn’t have much in the way of lighting because it was alright if you could get kerosene, but living a way out in the bush you couldn’t get kerosene. She got tins and she filled them with good heavy dripping. She cut a piece of some sort of material that they used to make dungaree trousers out of and she cut fairly wide wicks out of that and pushed it down, right down into the fat with just a piece sticking up, and lit that. It’d burn down as far as the fat and that made the lights. She’d put a few round the room so they’d get enough light at night time. Until later when they could get candles and later still when they were able to get kerosene to put in kerosene lanterns. But she often talked about making these little things with fat.
GP Did the fat disappear or did you use it again, putting another wick in it?
Oh yes I think it would melt away in time. It was very heavy. We don’t see that sort of fat anymore; that dripping it was as hard as a rock. You don’t se it anymore, why I don’t know. This heavy dripping, fat or whatever you like to call it.
It wasn’t fascinating then but it’s fascinating to look back on al these……..And of course there were no doctors, no miracle cures like today. If they cut themselves badly the best thing was to gather a big handful of cobwebs; there were plenty of cobwebs with all the trees growing and spiders by the thousands, easy to get cobwebs, and of course there was no real dust or germs in it what so ever. And pad the cut with that, it would stop the bleeding and seemed to work as an antibiotic, something very likely from the spiders in their webs.
They, I think, always had big bottles of olive oil and castor oil, if you were sick you got a dose of castor oil. And of course they had lots of bicarbonate of soda and borax and every home seemed to have a bottle of painkiller. And this painkiller, whatever it was, it was a patented bottle of stuff from a chemist – wherever there might be a chemist. That was used for toothache, earache, sore throats, bad colds, (it’d be rubbed on the chest), for arthritis or whatever. If you hurt your leg or your arm badly it was rubbed with this painkiller. But how it didn’t kill people is something I’ll never know. And for sore throats they would put two or three drops of kerosene and some sugar. The doctors today throw up their hands in horror, but it did prevent bad illnesses. You see it was only a couple of drops. Later they were able to get eucalyptus. See for the sore eyes and for the bad cuts and all that, they would put this bicarbonate of soda in water, or salt, and bathe it. The doctors will still tell you to go home and bathe it with hot salt water or cold salt water or bicarbonate of soda. And then you have this boracic acid, which if your eyes were very bad you’d make a very light solution with water and bathe your eyes. All these tings they did work. When they could get some camphor they would mix some camphor with some olive oil and make camphorated oil. It was wonderful for bad colds. They used al these remedies.
GP I suppose they grew herbs?
They did, yes. My Grandmother had a herb garden and my Mother had a herb garden. I can still remember my Mother’s herb garden. She grew her own thyme and sage, marjoram, mint, and there’d be different herbs that she had that I can’t remember. There weren’t as many herbs in those days as there are today because science has found many ways of making, you know, getting, crossing different herbs. But she still had all her own herbs. I know if we were having something made savoury, she’d say, “Go out and get me a sprig of sage and marjoram.” She might only use two herbs sometimes or perhaps one. A lot nicer than buying died herbs today. I know they grow lots. I haven’t got any, only parsley and mint is all I grow. But I would like to have few herbs like my Mother had.
GP Tell us about having children in those days? Do you have any memories of talks with your Grandmother or your Mother on that subject?
Yes, I can remember my Grandmother, I don’t think my Mother did much, but my Grandmother after she moved to Montville – I remember when I was getting a bit older, in my teens, someone would come along and she’d say, “Oh, I helped to bring that little girl into the world, I helped to bring that little boy into the world.” She wasn’t a midwife really but she seemed to have a lot of knowledge of nursing.
There was another lady up here who was a nurse, or midwife and she used to go round. But of course one person couldn’t go everywhere. So my Grandmother used to go and help women who were having babies, helped bring the little ones into the world, helped the mother. They were great believers in those days in staying in bed for a little while land the poor mother would be so thankful to stay in bed, because she would be very likely have three, four or five other little ones running around. And see my Grandmother would move in and look after the children, look after her, well see that everything was alright. Because many mothers lost their lives in those days you know.
GP In childbirth you mean?
Yes, many died in childbirth. Not any that I know of, but I know they did. But with this other lady who was a midwife and with my Grandmother, who must have had a lot of knowledge I suppose coming from England and coming from a big family and she’s one of the older ones of the family – I guess she’d gain a lot of knowledge. So she did help many children into this world.
Health and medical services
There were no doctors then. Later on there were a couple of doctors came to Nambour, in later years. But they had to get from Nambour, came on horseback first of all. Well if you were very ill, the only medicine they’d have they’d bring with them in a bag, carry it on the front of the horse in a bag. They’d have a bit of an idea, they’d get a message. Many times, someone had to go by horseback to Nambour, to tell the doctor that somebody was ill and explain. He’d say “Well what is wrong? What are they like/” And he’d bring his bag of medicine and he’d leave a bottle of - very few tablets and pills in those days, it was all just mixtures. And he‘d bring what he thought. Mixed it up himself, they had their own little dispensary you see in their surgery. I know when I was very ill that’s what the doctor had to do.
GP I wonder what was in those bottles.
Goodness knows, but most times it worked. For people with – oh – pneumonia, pleurisy or any of those, carbuncles and all those sort of things. There was a thing called – you bought it in a tin – it was called Antiphlogistine. You put the tin boiling water – it was a proper container made of lead or something, you know, that was strong. Put it in boiling water till it got very hot, then they got a piece of paper or material and spread this stuff on it while it was hot. You had to have it put on hot, for it to draw the poison out. I can still feel those terrible Antiphlogistine plasters going on me when I had pneumonia and pleurisy. It was the only thing to save a life. You did it to save a life.
GP And it worked?
Oh it worked. I don’t know what it did. Then they’d cover it with a little piece of material and then a flannel to keep the warmth in. You’d do it about twice a day. And also on carbuncles and boils, that wasn’t so bad. But when you had it on the whole of your back and your chest it wasn’t so good. You had to be careful not to burn to too great an extent so sometimes, if it was a bit too hot, my Mother would lift it to let a bit of air into it, till it got bearable. And then of course your skin had to be got back to normal later on with olive oil; you know, massage that in, to get the skin – take any burn out. You wouldn’t blister or try not to blister it because that would defeat the remedy. That was one treatment; they’d say you could get that from your grocer. You see, the Antiphlogistine.
GP In your childhood the grocer was in Palmwoods?
No, Montville, we had a grocer on Montville in my childhood. I would say from when I was born, there was a grocer in Montville, who stocked everything.
As things progressed of course people were ill or injured, they were transported as was possible, mostly in carts or wagons, to Palmwoods and they were placed on the train on a little stretcher or blanket or something in the Guard’s van, and taken to Brisbane to the – it was the General Hospital then. That was really the only place that people could go for medication.
GP What sort of conditions would cause you to have to go that far?
Well, you see, bad illnesses, when people would be in terrible pain, which would be appendicitis perhaps or a bowel complaint or something, or a broken limb. Perhaps even like that old aboriginal man, his badly injured back. I don’t know whether the doctors were in Nambour then and there were not hospitals of course and so all the patients had to go to Brisbane.
GP There was only a hospital at Gympie and at Brisbane for a long while.
Later after the war – that’s the First World War, there was a Soldiers Hospital built at Beerburrum.
GP There was also a Nurse Adams in Nambour who had some sort of place where you could go and stay.
Yes, now she was a maternity nurse mostly. Nurse Adams was a midwife and she acted as a doctor. And then of course when the doctors came, I think she worked with the doctors. IO sort of remember where she lived, but I’ve forgotten now. She had a fairly big house, verandah perhaps, closed in verandah where people could stay, where she could care for them. Yes, yes, I’d forgotten about Nurse Adams.
Then a couple of doctors came to Nambour and one later came to Palmwoods. But they still had the transport difficulties, it took quite a while, even after they got a car, the roads were so bad. But they did have to go to Brisbane mostly for anything serious. And they’d be down there in the hospital perhaps for weeks. There was a lot of tuberculosis, which is TB. There was a lot of that in those days. Where the Princess Alexandra Hospital is now, there was a hospital there called ‘The Diamantina’ and that was where all the TB patients or – there were different types, there was one they called ‘galloping consumption’, and there was a slow moving TB. There were no cures for those things. Then if a little child developed diptheria, if you were fortunate enough to get it ti Brisbane in time you could save it. There were a lot of children’s’ complaints, whooping cough and…….
GP So when you were a child was there any treatment, any vaccine?
No, no vaccine when I was a little child, but I know if there was a diptheria epidemic we were all lined up and our mothers’ had feather. And they dipped it in kerosene – here we go to kerosene again – and would swab our throats with kerosene.Evidently the diptheria couldn’t live where there was a swab of – it didn’t injure anyone greatly because it was only just a swab with a feather, which didn’t carry much. The doctors would be horrified today. But still people did everything they could to try and save their children.
Then of course there was snake-bites and children sometimes ate green peaches and things. A little boy who lived here, ate green peaches and he died. There was noway of treating them. I suppose many people died of snake bite.
Then there were accidents. The little girl across the road, when I was very small, she was badly burnt. Her mother was ironing with a petrol iron. She turned her back for a minute, the little child was in a high chair, and the little girl picked up the petrol, poured it all over the iron and course it exploded. That little girl was very badly burnt. But she lived, it’s remarkable how tough people were in those days. My Father, well he took that little girl to Nambour to a doctor. It took hours you know. He had a T Mode Ford car in those days.
GP When would that be?
That would be in the very early 1920s. And also a man who was bitten by a black snake, he took him to Nambour. By the time they got to Palmwoods he was blind, he couldn’t see. And yet he lived you know. They had no vaccine, there was no way of treating it, only the old fashioned was of cutting it and bleeding it which they don’t do today. Many, many things happened.
Cars and roads
GP The roads were able to be used by cars then, in the 1920s?
Oh yes, if you could call them roads. They were just a clearing and big ruts. It was terrible, they weren’t roads. Today people wouldn’t even go over them. But it was the way of life. The car wasn’t used too often because the roads were too rough. But mu Father when he brought the cat home in about 1918, people thought he was mad. He had to bring it up from Brisbane on the train and then up through Palmwoods and up that terrible range. But it was wonderful really, it saved many people’s lives.
GP So your Father was the ambulance?
He nearly was. He was nearly the ambulance because they used to come for him every time there was an accident or an emergency. He was a very particular man, methodical. He always had the petrol tank filled with petrol, always had his radiator filled with water. If it was wet weather he had the chains on the wheels, because you couldn’t move with out chains. And each day he would try the car to make sure. There wasn’t much to go wrong with the car really.
There was just the ignition and a crank handle in the front and a couple of gears and a brake and I suppose a foot pedal. And that was all that was there. He always had his car ready to jump into an emergency. Because time was very precious and it took so long to get anywhere. They always went just as they were too, the men, they went always just as they were clothed, their old farm – they were clean, people were very clean even though it was the bush. They always had their bath at night under a drop of water running down out of a kerosene tin was the shower. I mean if it wasn’t urgent then they’d get dressed but otherwise they’d for just as they were in their work clothes. I feel that many lives were saved that way. When the ambulance came to Nambour – well we couldn’t get through to Maleny anyway, other than a track across here, and down through Baroon Pocket by horse – and the ambulance was formed in Nambour. Think how long it took – it had to come from Nambour, up that terrible range and then when they got here it was all mud, so all the men had to be waiting at different spots to push the ambulance through the mud, both ways.
GP So that all had to be organised?
That all had to be organised.
Tape 2/Side 1
GP Did they have telephones?
Only very few telephones. There was a telephone exchange at Montville or in the Post Office, where somebody had to man it, twenty four hours of the day. They had a young lad come in at night to do it. This is in my lifetime, when I was very small. We didn’t have a phone when we were in Western Road, but we had a phone when we came to Mill Hill Road. We got a phone then, well that was the very early 1920s. So people went to one another’s place to get messages through.
GP So you had the Post Office then?
We had a Post Office at the Store. It was a big general store that stocked everything, from pins up to feed for cattle. One little section of it was made into a Post Office, where everyone had to go to collect their mail.
GP There was no delivery?
No delivery, but the school children coming home from school used to pick up mail for different people. One little boy who lived in our road used to bring all the mail, for different people and he was paid sixpence a week to deliver the mail, and perhaps some bread. And he saved that up and that money he made delivering this mail paid for his secondary education at the Brisbane Boys College. But of course if you wanted to post mail you had to go tot the Post Office. The mail used to be brought up from Palmwoods by the Royal Mail, a coach driven by Mr Callaghan.
GP A coach?
A coach with horses, was brought up. He used to arrive about one o’clock each day. The children at school used to sit along the edge of the bank and look down on the wagon. Later on when motor vehicles became more used, he got a motor vehicle, but it was still a coach, and he took people to the train also.
GP And he carried food?
I don’t know that he brought much food, he may have brought some, perhaps brought the bread for all I know, but there were other people who brought food on the wagons. Because by the time he brought the mail land he had two or three passengers, he had a load.
GP So in those days you had an occasional mail, you had no radio, you had a telephone. Did you feel isolated from the world?
We didn’t feel isolated at all. I think it would be because we were a community. See we were a community and we all had our neighbours and our friends. Everyone was your friend. If you were in trouble they were there to help you or you were there to help them. Then of course all our relations and friends used to come from the city to spend their holidays with us. So there was hardly a week that we didn’t have someone else in our homes. No we weren’t isolated, we didn’t feel isolated. Course it was very hard to get anywhere for medical attention or anything like that.
GP Did you ever go away on holidays anywhere else?
My Mother and I did. We used to often have a holiday. Sometimes we’d go to Kingaroy, Stanthorpe, and Dalby at one time, which I hated. And then of course, when the roads got a little better, we used to have a couple of weeks a year at Maroochydore. My Father used to drive us down. We’d have to start early in the morning and generally friends from Baroon Pocket would go also. They’d walk up that hill and take things. But to get there when we got down to the Maroochydore Road, there was a couple of miles there the called – I think the ‘Sapling Strip’ - it was so muddy that it was layered with trees so that you could get through. My Father used to take a grubber and a shovel and some sacks. Because you could lay sacks down in the wheel tracks and the car seemed to pick up and be able to go through. So we went to Maroochydore usually for a fortnight’s holiday sometime during the year.
GP Where did you stay?
Oh we’d rent a little house. They were funny little houses – wood stoves. So we used to have to take a bag of wood with us.
GP No gas?
No gas, no electricity. Just a kerosene lamp and a wood stove. And take all your own bedding, everything, blankets and all your own plates and cups and saucers and cutlery. Today of course it’s all supplied more or less. Occasionally there was a guesthouse at Maroochydore, it was run by Mrs Phillips. She was a friend of my Mother’s. Sometimes we used to stay there a couple of weeks.
GP Was that exciting?
Oh, it was very exciting. And going for a swim – you should have seen the bathing suits, they were right up to the neck you know, halfway down to your knees.
GP And you had a pair?
Yes I had a pair of those. And we always wore a hat. Oh you wouldn’t think of going out for a swim without a hat on.
GP Did people think the sun was bad for you?
They thought the sun was bad for you, but as I grew up – my Mother didn’t wear a heat, my Grandmother didn’t wear a hat and I didn’t – only when we went out somewhere special. And my Grandmother had a beautiful skin, my Mother had a beautiful skin. And I still don’t worry about a hat. I think if your have the type of skin that the sun affects, then it’s bad for you. But if your skin isn’t affected by the sun, then I don’t think the sun hurts.
Montville to Palmwoods
GP So this trip to Maroochydore or to Palmwoods, can you describe that trip?
Going to Palmwoods? When my Father was going with his fruit to Palmwoods? Other fruit growers also did the same thing as my Father. He had to get up very early in the morning so that the horses were fed and harnessed up, ready to leave almost just at daylight, because it took a long time to go to Palmwoods and back. When we got to the top of the Range that was when we started to get frightened, because it was terribly steep and terribly rough, and very narrow. But there were a few places where you could pass another vehicle, but very seldom you would meet any one because all the people would be going down in the morning and everyone would be coming back in the afternoon because it took that full time to go. We used to have to, my Father used to have to put a log on to drag on the ground to help to form a brake, in case the brake didn’t hold it, or in case the horses took fright. And they’d help to hold them back.
GP Was the surface of the road muddy?
Well in the wet weather, which it nearly always was in those days, it was very muddy. And then if it was dry you see it was stony and the horsed used to slip on the stones or the wagon used to roll a bit on the stones. There was one spot called the ‘slip rails’ and there was only just enough room for one wagon to go and if by any chance they had slipped or anything, it would go over the side and drop down hundreds of feet. I only know of one wagon that that happened to in my lifetime. Then when you got down a bit further, there were these steep big sharp curves and I used to hear people say “when the horses go round the curve you can’t see them when you’re sitting in the wagon,” it’s so steep.
When you got to the bottom of the range of course you took the log off, you just left it there because you could get another log next time you were going down, or sometimes pick it up and put it on the wagon to bring up. And then it was quite a pleasant trip, still sandy soil down there, not so much mud, sandy. Still rough, very rough roads right to Palmwoods. Then they’d unload the fruit and then put on some more timber to make cases to bring home.
GP Did you ride all the time or did you have to get out and walk?
There were times when we had to get out. There were times when my father would say, “I think you’d better get out and walk for a while because it might be too dangerous.” Especially on the Range, he’d say, “I think you’d better get out for a while an walk.” And I can’t remember whether there was one bridge but all the other places, there were no bridges and the horses just went down the bank and through the water and up the other side. They wouldn’t go in flood time I suppose. Even in flood time it doesn’t take long for the water to go down sufficiently to go through.
GP Were they big horses?
Oh they were big horses. They were great big beautiful, beautiful draught horses. They were beautiful horses. Quiet. Well you made pets of the really; It paid to make pets of them. And of course they had to also work on the farm, all ploughing or anything like that was done with horses.
GP When did you stop using them? When did you get cars or machines, do you remember?
Yes machines. Well I guess about in the 1920s, there were very few horses used, only for ploughing and things like that, but they got trucks then. Later on you see people used to send their fruit with a carrier; he had his wagon and horses. Then later of course, he invested in a truck. They were strong trucks, they had to be. There wasn’t much to go wrong with them like there is today because they only had a brake and a clutch and steering wheel sort of thing.
They used to come with these big trucks and take the fruit to Palmwoods.
When we were going to Brisbane sometimes for a couple of weeks, we had to be up before daylight to be ready to go. When my Father used to take us, that was easier but then there were times when we went on the coach. And we’d go down and sometimes we’d miss the train, because it took longer to get there than we’d hoped. So then we had to stay in Palmwoods all day, to wait for the evening train, to go down. But we didn’t like going on the evening train. Because it meant that we got into Brisbane after dark and although there were a few street lights, it was terribly dark trying to find your way where you wanted to go.
GP And you just travelled with your Mother mainly. Your Father stayed at home?
Yes mostly my dad stayed at home. He went to Brisbane sometimes, but he went alone, you see. He’d go down on business or something like that. There were times when we all went together, but mostly my Mother and I’d go down for a little holiday. And dad’d be home looking after things here and if he went my Mother would be at home with me.
GP You had animals too?
Yes there were a few cows to milk. Horses and chooks. Everybody had their own fowls. You know you provided a lot of your food in that way: eggs and milk and cream and butter.
GP Do you remember a holiday you all had together?
I can remember a holiday we all had together when we toured to Sydney in 1930. We went by car.
GP Your own car?
In our own little car. From Montville to Sydney And it was a wonderful experience because it was just as primitive in New South Wales as it was in Queensland. More so, I think, because a lot of the rivers in New South Wales didn’t have bridges across them. So you went across on ferries; barges I suppose they’d call them. And you had to wait at the side of the bank. Big wide rivers these were; the Clarence River and the Hawkesbury River, we went across on barges. It was wonderful experience because we camped at night time, with our little tent and so forth. Then we’d stop off to see all the important places. We went right to Sydney. We landed in the middle of Sydney at five o’clock in the afternoon, right in the main street. (LAUGHS) My poor Father – the policeman just said, “I think you’d better get over to the side and wait till all the traffic’s gone’” We didn’t know where we were. We were fortunate we met some nice people and they took us to a place called Brighton-le-Sands, to camp. We camped at Brighton-le-Sands. We used to leave out things there all day, while we went touring around and when I went back to Sydney – I think it was 1966 I went back – and Brighton –le-Sands is a great big city. I couldn’t believe it – that was where we camped when we went to Sydney; right on the edge of the Bay, Botany Bay. That was our big holiday together.
GP Do you remember any incidents when the community did, sort of came together to help somebody?
Yes, when people were in very bad financial positions. People would give a little money if they could, would help them with their work. It was mostly giving of food and perhaps clothing for the children and helping them with their work; outside work or housework if they were ill, if the mother was ill. Then in 1924 the CWA was formed in Montville and it was the first branch in this area and they did a lot towards helping people too. People needing medical attention, they’d have them sent to Brisbane and they would pay the expenses if the people couldn’t.
GP Did they raise money?
They raised money yes, they raised a little bit of money. They would have a big ball you see. Big ball, I’d say, if they made five or eight pounds it was a real success. But see that went a long way towards sending people to Brisbane. Or they would go in and help them.
In the community the men would help too. They’d go out and help on the roads, help to make a road a bit wider or brush the lantana along the sides of the road. Take a grubber and let the water out of the wheel tracks.
GP So you didn’t wait for the Council to come?
Oh no, no. There was a Council, but you know it was only just a few men in the Council. But they did have a man up here, I can remember in the 1920s there was a man, and he had a cart and horse. You’d see him with a pick and shovel going along the road in Montville. He’d perhaps fill up a gutter and dig out the sides of the road so the water could get away and pick up big branches that had blown off the trees onto the road, just things like that. This was just one little man on his own, so he couldn’t do much.
GP So the roadwork apart from there, you looked after yourselves?
More or less looked after yourself for many many years.
GP Were there ever working bees?
There were lots of working bees. The first little road in Montville, when they made a bit of a road and part of that road down the Range, quite a lot of that was done with working bees. But all the men would turn up for a working bee, and worked really hard. They didn’t sort of have smokos every half hour, they’d work all day long. They were wanting to improve the district. The community effort was wonderful and they’d, as I say, have a big dance occasionally. Wouldn’t cost very much, but I supposes sixpence or a shilling or two shillings was a lot of money in those days to attend a dance.
Then of course when there were fires, a bush fire in the very dry season – although it rained here a terrible lot, we had dry seasons – there were a lot of houses burnt down but never in a bushfire. There was never a home lost on a bushfire. The community was wonderful.
GP They stopped the fire around the house.
Yes they stopped the fire. But al they had t work with – they didn’t even have hoses or pumps or any thing like that. And not much water, unless you went to the creek. And they used to go out with their brush hooks, chip hoes, see to make breaks and the women would got off, those who were able to and they’d get green branches off the trees to hit the flames with and wet sacks. The wet sack was a wonderful ting. Women used to often save their own homes by beating back the flames. The trouble is today it’s all left to an organization to do everything. In those days the community did everything. It was wonderful; I’ve seen some terrible fires when I was a little girl. And as I say not one house was ever burnt down with a bushfire, lots of houses were burnt down, but they were only from carelessness or something. More so when the electricity came; I think, when people left their irons on and things like that.
GP Do you remember any big fires in Montville?
Yes, very big fires. They would start, well say they’d start out near Montville somewhere and they would come right round the Range, right round wither way. And go right round the Range and what you had to do was try and stop them. You couldn’t do much on the Range because the fires loved racing up hills, so what you had to do was try and have a break at the top to stop it. Fires have burnt for two and three weeks, almost out of control. I’ve seen farms burnt out.
GP I haven’t seen any in these recent times.
No, it’s just wonderful now. When the Bushfire Brigade was introduced – Rural Bushfire Brigade – it was introduces; then they had fire wardens. Those wardens were given the power to stop people from lighting fires. Then they had people wanting to light a fire on their property, had to obtain a permit from a fire warden. And he would know id the conditions were alright. That there wasn’t any wind or if it was too dry, he wouldn’t allow it. He had the power. That solved the problem in Montville. Very seldom do we have a very bad fire, you’ll see one start up but it’s prevented in no time. But that is what solved the problems. Before that, everybody would just light a fire. Picnickers would come and they’d light a fire out in the bush to boil the billy and of course away they’d go and a wind would get up. And it’d get away you see. I think that is what has solved the bushfires.
GP So going back to the community thing, of people coming together when needs dictated; the men went out and made roads and things. What sort of role did the women play on that kind of day?
They played a very important role. While the men were out doing that, the women would be home working on the farm. Mostly picking, picking fruit or doing some chipping. Many jobs, of course everything was manual work in those days. And picking beans, well they’d be picking them all day.
GP Did they do those things together or were they mostly on their own at home?
Mostly on their own at home, yes. Of course in the first beginning of Montville, just a few people grew things and the people worked for those people. But then gradually everyone got their own properties.
GP So the picture I get is that’s men would sometimes work together but the women tended to be a home, and a bit isolated perhaps?
Yes, but then the women used to get together. To start off with, they’d have a big day for cricket, and all the men would play cricket, from young boys to older men. They’d all play cricket out on the village green. It would be arranged you see. Of course all the women would go along too, and they’d all bake the day before and take along a real feast. And they’d all get together you see and chat.
GP Did they ever play?
They didn’t play; see women didn’t play a great deal of sport in those days. Perhaps they did in big cities, play tennis. But there wasn’t the sport that there is today. A lot of people had tennis courts, their own tennis courts, so those who didn’t have tennis courts, they went to play at their neighbour’s tennis courts.
GP This in the ‘20s, would we be talking about or the ‘30s?
This’d be in the 1900s, before. In the 1930s the women did play quite a bit of sport. And then there was football and cricket. By 1920s there was a lot more sport and the women got out more then. It was only in the real pioneering days; and then the men only had a game of cricket – I don’t know how often – occasionally, only amongst themselves. It was just to get together. And then they’d have a big dance, dance all night and go home, change their clothes into work clothes and go out to work. So they had plenty of stamina in those days.
I can remember when I was quite small, we used to have a travelling picture show come to the hall. I can remember one time this man, he had this film. “The Iron Horse”, it was a story of a train in America. So he had to show it at Palmwoods first then he had to come up that terrible old Range to Montville. The picture started at twelve midnight. You all assembled there at midnight to se this “Iron Horse” movie because he only had it for that night or something, and so to show it in two places he had to (LAUGHS) and oh the hall was packed, all the people with their little children. We were all made to have a sleep, you see, before hand so you wouldn’t go to sleep when the movie was on. And of course it broke down every ten minutes or so, quarter of an hour and he’d have to join it; it’d go black. He’d have to fix it all up. And he’d show a bit of light of some kind so you could see where you were, because there was not electricity to switch on. And of course everybody could have a little chat then about the film. “Oh wasn’t that terrible. See the Indians with the tomahawks..
Tape 2/Side 2
GP So it was a Western?
Yes it was a kind of a Western but it was about this train you know. The “Iron Horse” was a train. Yes, we used to have travelling picture shows come occasionally.
GP Do you remember any other circuses or any other show that you all went to?
No. I think a circus used to come to Nambour occasionally. But the roads weren’t good enough for families to travel from up here for that. Perhaps some of the younger people would ride down on their horses. Of course that was another ting when there was a dance or a picnic, you’d see all the horsed tied up along the fences in the shade. People had ridden there and they’d tied their horses up; they couldn’t let them all go. When it was time to go home they’d just go and climb on and away they’d go. Same with the school children going to school, they used to rides their horses. As many as three, and I’ve even seen four children on one horse.
Montville State School
GP We haven’t yet talked about your schooling, do you want to talk about that?
About when I went to school? Yes, well we were living in Mill Hill Road then, offcourse, when I went to school, I did ride a horse to school a few times, occasionally, but most times my Father drove me to school land picked me up.
GP Was this usual?
No it wasn’t. Well l was a very delicates child, I wasn’t terribly well. So I couldn’t walk, I wasn’t well enough to walk all that distance because I had this bad lung complaint so I couldn’t walk very far. And I mustn’t get overheated or get wet, so he used to take me most times. But of course he was very kind hearted and he picked up all the children along the way, who didn’t have horses. And school life was really lovely. We had a much bigger roll call in those days, then they have today, at Montville, because the people who lived here were all families, and had children. Whereas today it’s really a place for retirement. There are still quite a number. Well we had three teachers. We had one little room for the school and three teachers had to teach their classes in this one room.
GP You must have been packed in.
We were packed in, in long desks.
GP How many to a desk?
Oh there must have been about – I don’t want to exaggerate, I suppose s eight to a desk. I suppose about eight to ten to a desk. You had a little ink well in front of you. All in one desk with a long stool to sit on. No backs on the stools, which was rather hard. In those days as I’ve said, we had a lot of rain and the doors and windows had to be kept closed and it was so dark, we couldn’t see what we were doing really.
GP Were you let out in the yard a lot to play?
We were allowed out to play, yes. It was very cold under the school because it was all open if it was fine weather we were better outside because we could get under the trees or in the sunshine. The children all played together, the boys and girls all played together. We were all very good friends. We had cubby houses under the terrible hedge with thorns on it, I can remember those. And we had a little roughly made basketball court, just down from the school, where we could play a little bit of basketball. But what is now the playground at school was the horse paddock; that’s where the children kept their horses. So the boys used to play a little bit of cricket or football, in front of the school where it is now, that roadway up to the lookout. I don’t think it could have been school property but it was just a lovely big green
So that’s where the children played mostly.
GP The school was in the same place?
The same place, only that it was so small. We had fenced in flower garden with a plain fence, lovely little beds, and we were allotted – I suppose a bed for about three or four children – and we used to be able to grow whatever flowers we liked in those beds. Of course we only had a tank at the school, so we couldn’t spare the water, so we used to all take a billy can of water to school with us each day to water our plants.
GP What, carrying it about a mile or so?
Wherever we lived. That didn’t have to be all the time, because a lot of the time it was raining. After rain it didn’t need any watering for a while and then you were allowed to take a little drop of water our of the tanks to water it, until the tanks started to get a bit low with water, then you’d have to start bringing it yourself again. We were very proud of those little gardens, our mothers would give us plants or seed.
GP Do you remember being bored in school at all?
We didn’t have much time to be bored. Course we didn’t have any entertainment like the children………But we did have one half of one day, I suppose it would be a Friday, we had singing. We’d sing for a couple of hours. I still remember a lot of singing.
Then, of course, we had a lot more reading, we had a lot more poetry. We used to have to learn big verses of poetry and all say it round the class. That passed a lot of time. I don’t think we were bored, we didn’t know any different I suppose. We were pleased to be at school to have the company. We had a lot more lessons than they have today, we had to learn things. We learnt them in classes. We’d learnt tables and spelling.
GP By chanting them out loud?
Yes, yes, over and over. We’d have a session of tables.
GP Did the whole school – no, you wouldn’t have all done the same tables?
No, no. And if it was fine weather we could go out on the front verandah and do tables or whatever. When we were all in there together we just had to do arithmetic and perhaps writing. We had copy books in those days and mapping books and everything. And so we were given that job to do. But it was so dark we could hardly see. No, I don’t ever remember us being bored in school. We had a wee library where we could get a book to take home, they were all covered with brown paper. You had to take great care of them. Then once every three months we were issued with a School Paper and that was a very big joy.
GP Stories and pictures?
Yes, pictures and stories. I think it was every three months we got these School Papers and each child got one of those to take home. We’d have to bring them back to school to read the stories out loud and so forth.
GP Did you have a reading book?
Yes. We had very good reading books. Every six months I think, because each six months we went up to a higher class. There were half yearly classes. So it was good because – a little kiddie would turn mostly six, because five was very young to go to school when they had to walk so far. So if you turned six before June, you could start school in the middle of the year, because there’d be that class, because the ones who were in that class at the beginning of the year, would be going up to second class or year two or whatever it would be. Yes you went up every six months.
GP Did anybody ever stay behind?
Yes, yes if you didn’t pass your exams you stayed behind to repeat.
GP What were the exams?
They were very strict, their exams.
GP You had to sit up?
Oh yes you didn’t loll around you know. Oh and the cane came out, you know. I think it might have been just a bit too strict because I think the kiddies really feared the schoolmaster. Which for the timid people it wasn’t good because they were so frightened they couldn’t do the lessons. Very strict discipline. I believe in discipline, but I think it was a little too strict in those days. I can’t remember whether we had a school ball or not – we used to have balls, but I don’t think they were school balls. Then we had our big picnic at the break-up at the end of the year.
GP The girls and boys, did they mix very much?
Yes they did. They were allowed to mix. Well they all lived near one another, they all went to school together, and so they all mixed, even in school. Like a boy might come top of the class and girl second, there might be another girl third and then a boy fourth, so on like that, you’d sit like that.
GP Well I get the feeling that cricket was for boys and something else was for the girls.
Yes, the basketball was for the girls and the cricket was for the boys. Then later on there was a little rough tennis court built, I don’t remember whether I played there or whether it came after I left. It was when our boys were going to school, that the horse paddock was made into a beautiful playing area. And they got a good tennis court and a good cricket pitch and a good football ground, where other schools can come and compete. So that was a very, very good improvement. And the school of courses was made much bigger.
And the school bell – they’d ring the bell, I can’t remember what time, but half an hour before school was to go in of a morning they’d ring the bell and it could be heard all over the area. And we’d know – (not so much for me but the other kiddies) would say, “That’s first bell.” They knew by how many times it was rung, which bell it was. And they’d say “We’re running a bit late, we’d better hurry.” And then a quarter of an hour after, it’d be second bell and they’d be nearly to school. Because they had to get to school, have a drink and so forth. And then the last bell was to get into assembly line and salute the flag and sing “God Save the King”.
GP Every morning?
Every morning, yes, every morning. And you marched into school.
GP Did you have music to march to? Did you have a piano?
No, we didn’t have any music. But one of the school masters had a flute and he used to play the flute.
GP So that’s what you sang to?
Yes. He used to play the flute and we’d sing. It was a great honour to be the child chosen to ring the bell. That was a big privilege to be the one – you might have it for two weeks or if you were very good, you might get it for a whole month. That was a big honour. That school bell was a wonderful asset to the school, it was brought by the Dixon family from Buderim. They had big cane fields at Buderim and they had this bell to call the Kanakas in from cane cutting. When they left Buderim they brought it with them to Flaxton and Mr Dixon gave it to the Montville School. That was how it came there and only recently it was relocated in a beautiful new tower.
It was used to call people in cases of distress. There might have been a big accident, you know that help was needed, they’d ring the school bell. And during the war, it was to be the contact if there was a chance of an air raid, which there was, a chance of an air raid or enemy landings. That bell would be rung, but it would be rung constantly, you know continually, so everyone would take notice. One day every week, I think it was Tuesday but I can’t be sure of that, at eleven o’clock that bell was rung, every week, so that they could make sure, that everyone could hear it. Everyone knew that it wasn’t calling them in, it was just testing it to make sure. So it played an important part in Montville too, that school bell.
Tape 2/Side B
Montville community organisations
GP There must have been somebody or some group of people in the community who organised these sorts of things. Can you remember who the leading characters were?
There were quite a few. Well there was a Fruitgrowers Organisation formed very early and the Chairman and the Secretary of that had quite a lot of responsibility regarding those sort of things: the Headmaster at the School.
GP Did you have any Shire Councillors?
Yes we had some Shire Councillors in Montville. Two or three from time to time. As time went by of course there was more, quite a few. Later on they had quite a lot to do. Yes, I’d forgotten about that. There must have been a Council very early on, because when I was very small I can remember a couple of men living out Western Road who were Councillors. And that would have been when they started to get a bit of work done or assistance for Montville I should imagine. It took a long time to get much done, but offcourse it all had to be done with the horses and drays. Didn’t have the machinery like today. They can come and mow the sides of the roads, fill up the holes in the roads that can de none in a few hours can’t it. But men used to mow down along side – there wasn’t much grass growing on the side of the road because it was lantana each side. The main thing was to chop down the lantana. Where there was grass the men used to take scythes along and scythe the grass down. That was how they kept the village green nice, was with their scythes. Because you can cut a very big sweep with a scythe.
But it was a very wonderful area for community service, and it still is. It’s a wonderful area for community – people working together.
GP Do you remember elections? Were you very aware in say the ‘20s and ‘30s of the roll of the Council in Montville?
By the ‘30s I’d say yes.
GP Would they have built that road up from Palmwoods?
That was built by the Main Roads Department. Well it was open in 1929. So that’d be just after it was finished.
GP What sort of a road was it then?
Well it was built and bitumened there and then before it was used. You could go down the road before it was bitumened almost as soon as it was built.
GP They would have trucks by ‘29?
Well by ’29 they had trucks and tings, but they didn’t have the bulldozers and end loaders and all that sort of thing. They did have trucks, but it was mostly done with horses and scoops and men working, blasting out the sides of the roads. I think it’s nearly seven miles long, so that was a tremendous task. It took seven years I know to build, seven years. So when we knew we were going to get a road it wasn’t much good getting too excited. But the other road served everybody well.
GP It was in a different place then?
Yes, it runs down sort of straight…..
GP Oh that one through Montville now called Razorback?
Yes, that was the one down there. That was the old road. That’s where we used to go down, when we were so frightened.
GP You had your schooling, so when did you finish school?
I finished school up here when I was fourteen and then I went to Brisbane for six years, to a little private secondary school, for six years. And then I came back home. I didn’t think I’d come back to the country, but I decided I would. I’ve never left it since, I love it so much. And I had met my husband while I was away at school and I used to come home. He was living here then and I knew him for about seven years before we got married. I was married up here and of course it was wartime then. We make our home down the top of Mill Hill there. We had a beautiful orchard, it really was a beautiful orchard. The Department of Agriculture used to hold their field days there. And we used to employ a little labour, when we could get it.
Of course during the war we had Land Army girls and that was a wonderful organisation. They were lovely girls. There was the Women’s Army and the Women’s RAAF’s, and all that and this was the Land Army. They were trained in farming work before they were sent out to the different farms, and you paid them their wages. And they had their uniforms, work clothes and going out clothes. They were wonderful, they used to work wonderfully well.
GP I’d just like to go back – when you left school you were fourteen so that’s about 1925, no 1930
GP So during the ‘30s you were away in Brisbane?
No, I was away for a few years. But I was backwards and forwards. I was only at school you see and I used to come home for holidays.
GP Do you remember anything at all about the Depression?
The Depression was then, right then was the Depression.
GP How did it effect Montville?
It affected Montville very much because being a fruit growing area – people could do without fruit. You know what I mean, people would buy bread and butter and milk. They bought fruit too if they could afford it, but there was a terrific slump in fruit. Yes, there was a big slump in fruit, you’d send fruit away, you mightn’t even get enough back to pay your expenses. It was a terrific task for the auctioneers or the people in the market, to try and sell the fruit. Well you gave a lot of fruit away to those who couldn’t afford to buy it.
Of course it was terrible for the people in the cities, there was no work; and they’d come out into the country looking for some work. We all used to try and find a little bit of work for them to do. Paying them with money you couldn’t really afford. So the easiest way for everyone was to give them their food and a small wage. So that meant they got their food and the small wage they were getting, they used to send it home to their wife and children, for them to nut a little bit of food. But when those men used to go home, if they had the opportunity to go, they couldn’t afford really to go, but sometimes they had the chance, they’d take a lot of fruit. We’d all give them lots of fruit and that would help a lot.
The Depression was really bad. It really did affect the fruit growing areas. You couldn’t afford really the wages, so you could only grow what you could manage to grow yourself. But we did give people work to help to keep their families.
GP What did you expect to do? Did you expect to have a job?
Well that’s another thing. I was thinking of going out as a governess, out into the country. That was what I aiming for, to be qualified as a governess; but my mother got ill and my father got ill and so I stayed home. I’m very glad I did because I didn’t really want to be away but I wanted to be independent if I could. I didn’t have to be and my father, he really only sent me away to have a better education. To meet people was the main thing, meet young people. It was wonderful, it was the best education of all, the meeting of other people.
GP What did you learn? What did you do in Brisbane?
I learnt music and art. Oh well of course I did all the secondary school subjects like Latin, French and algebra. I didn’t do physics. I did a bit of Chemistry, but I didn’t do Physics, it’s just a more or less a finishing education.
GP Did you want to go on or did you want to come home?
No I wanted to come home. Yes, I decided I wanted to come home, but I had that background that if I wanted to go out as a governess, I had all the qualifications to go.
GP Were you unusual in Montville in that you had that secondary education?
Yes, not many had it, a few. A few had it, a few went away.
See there weren’t many positions for girls in those days really. You could go school teaching or you could go nursing. Mostly house duties. You could go as a maid. Then at the Guest Houses, they supplied a lot of work for the young girls; cooking and doing the laundry and waiting on tables, looking after the guest rooms. So the Guest Houses up here were really great for those who didn’t go nursing. I didn’t have to go to work, so it wasn’t – my father was well enough off for me to be able to stay at home. But I did help at home.
GP What would you have done?
Oh I helped my mother and I helped look after my grandmother. Well we always had people working for us, so there were a lot of meals to prepare and lots of cooking to do, so I had plenty to do in that way.
GP Did you ever do outside work?
Not much, not a lot. I didn’t really help outside at all. After I was married, I used to do a little bit of packing or something, but I didn’t have to. It was just that you like to – I enjoyed going over to the shed with my husband and with the Land Army girls too. I only helped a little bit, as I felt I’d like to. It’s lovely, outside work is wonderful. Yes, I was very fortunate that I didn’t have to, because my mother had to work terribly hard when they started out because
things were very hard in those days,