Date of Interview: 26 March 1985
Place of Interview: Coolum
Interviewer: Susan Brinnand
Transcriber: Valarie Poole
Agnes came to the Coolum area with her husband in 1926. She worked on a sugar cane farm and had two children. Agnes also talks about the start of the life saving club, World War II and rationing.
SB: When did you come to the Coolum Area?
BONEHAM: In August 26th, in 1926, yes. And we came from the Downs and of course the first glimpse of the ocean from the top of the hill where the tram shelter used to be, sold the place for us. We had no idea how we were going to make a living. To get over goods and chattels, horses and sulky was another matter. When we arrived in Nambour to inspect a property, and when we decided to inspect at Coolum, it meant going by car to Bli Bli, over the river in a little rowing boat and then up the river to the Coolum Wharf, where Dick Mealing – he used to have a make-believe bus with seats – was supposed to meet us. Well…
SB: What did he used to make?
BONEHAM: He had a kind of a bus. It was like a flat-top truck thing with seats on. That was the bus. But he was supposed to meet us but he didn't. We started off dodging showers and always hoping that Dick would turn up. We got to Mrs White’s place - and that was on Salaita Hill – and she toddled, as she always said she did, she always toddled here and toddled there – down to meet us and greet us and take us up for a rest and a cup of tea. And then over to the farm which was bought from Williams. Actually, at that time, I was about eight months pregnant.
SB: Did you come with your parents or did you come with your husband?
BONEHAM: No, with my husband.
SB: So why did you decide to try and come to Coolum?
BONEHAM: Well, actually we weren’t going to come to Coolum specifically. We came up as far as Nambour and it was such a beautiful place. We were going to go right up north really, right up to Cairns, Marlborough, up that way. Well then the whole place sort of sold itself. We stayed there, say for about a week and then we got in with the top salesman, Joe White was one of the salesmen, you might remember, and Mr Thornton. Well then this place was for sale, and as I say, we came out all that way and I just said, "We’ll have it." There was cane on it. It was a cane farm.
So, we returned to pack and Jack took the tent and Bonnie and Boy (horses) across country by tram straight. I travelled by train out to Nambour and came out on the cane train with the furniture. I badly wanted to drive the horses but Mr Glass, he was the Chief Cane Inspector, would not allow it and rightly so. I had no idea that any road could be so terrible. Over the Bull’s Forehead to start with, into Yandina, then the dreadful, dreadful swamp road, it was too. See I wanted to take the horses because I was used to horses and I thought well there’s no road that you couldn’t possibly go over.
SB: So the road from Yandina was through swamp?
BONEHAM: It was absolutely dreadful. There would be pot holes you know like that. You would have to think well I’ll get into this rut and go along. Well in no time flat the rubbers of my little sulky were torn off. And I had a pacer, a lovely pacer, Bonnie. Well, you couldn’t use the sulky because there were no roads.
SB: So you got the cane train from Nambour to Yandina.
BONEHAM: No, not to Yandina, out to Coolum to Yabsley’s Crossing and William’s furniture came there. I don’t suppose it was Dick Mealing’s truck again. I don’t know. And our furniture was taken back up to the house. Well, we were there for twenty years. We lived there for twenty years growing cane, trying to make a living, and we did. We hadthe two children. John went to the local school. Maree went to the Convent in Brisbane, and it was a very happy life. It was a good life for kids, a good clean life for kids; and we had a very very good teacher, a Miss Chapman, who’s now deceased. Well she, I think she set the standard for the kids and the teachers following. The school was originally at the old School of Arts at the foot of the Mountain and then it was built near Mrs White’s place on Salaita Hill, and then that’s when they had the tennis court and after that, the school. But I think that we were lucky that we had the type of kids and the good clean life that they led – up the beach and things like that.
SB: What was at Coolum when you first came here?
BONEHAM: Well there would have been… Now, I'll just tell you how many…Now I’ll tell you right from the Coolum Wharf where the boat came. The boat used to leave Yandina, go down the river, back up to Coolum Wharf, pick up the meat, deliver all the meat and mail and so on; collect the meat and the mail and passengers, and go down to Maroochydore. Back again on the same route. Well, from the wharf up to Salaita Hill, there would have been Hayter's, Mr and Mrs Hayter; Rugless's, they were the dairy farmers; Wintzloff's, there were two of them; Shorts and Milnes, Marsh's and Parker's. That comes right up to the foot of the mountain. So that’s how many were there. That’s why they had the school, because there was nobody on the beach. There was just a few houses over here, we used to call ‘Turk’s Cottages.’ That is now where the chemist and the Hut and that are.
SB: Why were they called ‘Turk’s Cottages’?
BONEHAM: Well I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you about that now, whether a Mr Turk owned them or not. And where Mrs Evans … she sold to Mr Zafir. Who was the man that used to make the cane furniture? There were two boys. A Mr Tilney. Oh he was so terribly terribly mean. He was clever. But do you know on one occasion he went into Nambour and he asked what they’d charge him to bring a truck with a tank on out to Coolum. And Sam Glass said, "Look, if you want to push the truck to Coolum you can have it for nothing." And they did. Up hill and down dale, he and his son. What's that old fellow's name? He used to grow lettuce and weave baskets. It was he that wove the basket.
SB: He pushed the truck?
BONEHAM: He pushed the truck from Nambour out to Coolum.
SB: So on the beach itself there were just a few cottages?
BONEHAM: Well there would be yes. The little shop. There was only Turk’s Cottages, two of them, and then the little corner shop which was a branch of the Yandina– Maroochy Co-operative with Bennett as the Manager. On the back street, there was Bennett’s and then Granny Sheeren who was Mrs Bennett’s mother. Harry Hay used to be over near White’s. Harry and Emma. "She’s old but she’s beautiful," Harry used to say. That’s more than most husbands do say of their wives anyway. He used to get very tiddley and he’d say his Emma was old but she was beautiful. As a matter of fact, she used to be bloody beautiful at times.
But apart from that on the top side, there would have been English’s used to have it there. Mapston’s, Cram’s, and Powell’s. What about the Wrightson’s, old Mrs Krome. I don’t know whether she would have been there or not. I think that came after us. Wrights were boarding here when we came here. But then there was the old boarding house where the hole in the ground is now. Oh well that was there. And that was about it really.
Barrett’s Boarding House
SB: There was the boarding house there?
BONEHAM: Yes, it was a big old boarding house that was built by a fellow by the name of Webster. Then Barretts took it over, leased it from Webster.
SB: What was the name of the boarding house? Did it have a name?
BONEHAM: I think it was Barrett’s Boarding House. It was just Barrett’s Boarding House.
SB: And was that for holiday makers?
BONEHAM: Yes, yes, yes. And if there wasn’t room they used to stick a tent up in the yard. And they were always racing around looking for extra sanitary – you know, digging holes in the ground and what have you.
SB: Extra what?
BONEHAM: Holes in the ground. I remember one time there was a birthday on, and they came down to see if we had any extra. Course we had the 'House of Lords' and the 'House of Commons' at the back at that time. And I used to sort of get extra tins. But this chap came down and he said to me, did I have any extra tins and he said, "Oh yes, and I want some salad servers." And I said, "Well yes, go up and get the tin," and I got the salad servers. And he went out and I said, "Don't you dare leave my place with the sanitary bucket on his shoulder and the salad servers in his hand."(Laughs) But he did of course, yes. Yes. He did.
SB: Were there many holiday makers coming to Coolum at that time?
BONEHAM: Well strangely enough there were a lot of tents and people that came year after year. See they used to come out on the tram and then go back on the tram the next Saturday. But at one time we had the Saturday tram which was our transport for goods and we'd go in and out and buy, and then on Sunday - I don't know if it was every Sunday or not - but there used to be a coordinated trip from Brisbane connecting with the tram and then taking them back to Brisbane. That is what I've got the photographs of. When John was only a little fellow, I've got one hanging on to his breeches, you know. The whistle would go at three o'clock. That was warning the people - and then at half- past three everybody would go up. But we used to go up to see if we couldn't sort of see who was taking who home, you know that type of thing, case we'd miss out on something. (Laughs) See who kissed who.
SB: And did you ever feel a bit isolated?
BONEHAM: No, no, it was - look it was beautiful. Now every year, I used to go to the teacher, whoever the current teacher was, and we used to get all the school kiddies and we used to go across the heath right up to Emu Mountain and gather wild flowers. And we had one hundred and seven varieties. We'd take the wadding and put the tiny baby things in. And then we found the jabiru's nest up near Emu Mountain. But we never once got first prize for the wild flowers. Caloundra used to always beat us because they had the Christmas bells and we didn't.
SB: Where would the competition be?
BONEHAM: In Brisbane. And you could send a whole carton of wildflowers to Brisbane for two shillings and seven pence, twenty-seven cents. We used to do that to people who left here including Doreen, you know dark Doreen, always sent it for her. Doreen Maitland was a dark girl who lived here, lovely lovely person. She really was. .Well she used to come and take us with the kids. And we had a place round there on Second Beach where she used to build a fire. We'd catch the fish. We used to take potatoes and butter. She’d catch the fish and put them in the coals – have it all ready – and then when she’d take it out the scales would fall off and their little tummy would be just like a little hard rock. Well then we’d cook the potatoes in the sea water and split them open, put the butter in and away we’d go. That was our picnic. No gas thingummy pops or whatever you call it. All the fol-de-dols you have to have now if you have a barbecue!
No it wasn’t isolated. It really wasn’t. Because once a month, at very least, if not twice a month, there’d be a social. And then we were all busy with our work. But as I say, twice a year was the highlight. To the Matron’s Ball and Ambulance Ball. We used to hire this tram. That used to cost us five pound. Well we’d rope every person in it who even looked as if they could swing a leg, you know. Lorna, you’d remember the MacLellan boys, the youngest was sixty-two or seventy-two, I've forgotten. And away we’d go. We’d have to leave here about half-past five with our good dresses and our beads and bangles and what have you, and shoes. And we used to get into Nambour about half past six and we used to go to Mary Ashby’s, the pub on that side, and there, I think she used to make a cup of tea for us, I'm not sure. Well then we’d put all our glad rags on and go down to the Diggers Hall, down Howard Street, a little bit down Howard Street. And they used to serve supper at ten o’clock and two o’clock. And then we’d trickle back to Mary Ashby’s, get into our clothes and come home on the ordinary tram that would come every Saturday anyway. Seven o’clock in the morning. And trudge over the hills and dales home.
SB: So you’d be up all night?
BONEHAM: Yes! Up all night and dancing all night. Yes, yes.
SB: And would you make your ball dresses?
BONEHAM: Yes, well fortunately for me, like I was no mean dress-maker, but I had a sister too who made. And then, you’d always borrow a few beads and what have you from somebody. It was like going to the show, I’d wear this year’s hat that my sister wore to the Exhibition the year before, that kind of thing. Like everybody knew what everybody had. Even though we might have had little bickerings, there was no great display.
Only when we first came here, there was a lot of "My people come over with William the Conqueror," or something like that. Well at that time, I didn’t know that it would have been the in thing if you would have come over on the First Fleet, the first lot of convicts, or I would have said that’s where I came from. But I didn’t, see. I was a third generation or fourth generation Australian. But there were a lot of hi-di-hos and broken-down toffs, and they hadn’t a bean between them but only their snobbery. But after a couple of years that was broken down because they realised that they couldn’t get by. Even when they’d go down to the hall to dance, they’d want to get in a set on their own. But the local blokes soon worked that out.
SB: Were there many people like that who were sort of aristocracy?
BONEHAM: Well who would there be? I’d better not mention too many names, had I? … They came in a row boat or they’d paddle over or they’d push over. And how many did old Bill take over and when he came? I was a bit vague about William the Conqueror although I was taught that at School. I should have looked it up and boasted. My grandfather could have been a cook or something like that. We were so busy in those days. See with us we had to plant cane by hand and you’d always have to take smokos out and, oh no, it was a busy life.
SB: You did the planting of the cane?
BONEHAM: Oh yes, yes, I helped. I was determined when I got married that I would be able to do everything. Now before I was married I was boarding on a station, and this is one particular thing. The rains cut the owner, Mr Rutledge off, and there was just Mrs Rutledge and myself on the thing. And she said to me, "Could you milk a cow?" And I thought, "Well there’s nothing to it. You just put the cow in the thing, and you twiddled away at these, you know." So we got their five cows up. Well they all wanted to get in the bail and we didn’t know which was the milker, and which wasn’t. So we decided we’d give that away.
And then, as the time drew on the meat ran out, cause they used to kill every Saturday. So the next thing was to kill a chook. Well I knew that you tied its head up, or its heels up, I didn’t know which and we were whacking, but we didn’t put it on anything firm so we whacked, and whacked, and it got right into the ground. So the consequence of that was, that we buried it across the creek as soon as we could, in the garden. And the first thing when Mr Rutledge came home with old Paddy the dog, was to go down and dig it up.
Well there was hell to pay really. He was a funny old chap. He always used to say that his Mother was the Countess of Cherm, and of course I didn’t care if she was the King of England’s wife. It didn’t really matter to me. They were very good to me, they really were very good to me.
SB: So when you came up to Coolum and started work on the sugar farm, what was the work on the farm that you did?
BONEHAM: Well I’d help to plant. Apart from milking Betty and taking the smoko down and I helped to plant during the planting season. The only thing I couldn't do… We used to strip the cane, that’s right. I’d forgotten about that. And there was one lot that we used to call Hairy Mary. You’d have to wear long gloves or stockings or whatever and you used to strip the leaves off. And then Jack would cut them into sections. Well then you’d have a bag sort of round your waist this way, with a nail, that sort of a nail, and fill it up with plants and drop them as you went along. And then Jack would come along and cover it up with a scuffler or plough or whatever. A scuffler I think, with two horses.
SB: What’s that?
BONEHAM: Two horses… Well it was a thing with prongs and it would rake the dirt from the hills. See he’d make the furrow first and you dropped the things in a certain distance away. And believe me, with Jack Boneham they had to be that certain distance – not an inch one way or the other. And then he’d come along with this other scuffler with two prongs and it naturally would fill the dirt in.
But then our mail and everything came to what we called ‘The Heath’. That is halfway across between here and the school. Well to catch – later on – at the bus stage, even catching the tram we had to come over about, it would be easily three-quarters of a mile and it would always be wet, you’d have to take your shoes and of course in those days you wore stockings, and stockings and extra shoes that you’d have in your little dilly bag.
SB: Can we go back to the cane? You said you stripped the cane?
BONEHAM: Stripped the leaves off.
SB: Jack would cut it?
BONEHAM: Yes, and he’d cut the top, top and tail it and then you’d strip whatever leaves was on so that the shoots would come through. But later on they didn’t do that, did they? They just fed it in through a cane planter that fertilised and then put the water with the … I suppose it was to kill the beetle. And you’d have to have it. You’d have to have it. You’d stand on the back and you had to feed it. I don't know what it was…
SB: Did you burn the cane?
BONEHAM: Yes, but one time you had to get permission to burn the cane. We always burnt it just before dusk or after dusk when it would be a bit damp. Never in the middle of the day, unless you did it unintentionally, which very often happened. And if that happened all the farmers around would down tools, not down tools, up tools and go and help the fellow who burnt the cane. Even though they suspected it wasn’t an accident. They still would do it, and this was of no cost to the farmer.
SB: Would it have to be cut straight away?
BONEHAM: Well it would. If it was burnt and left it deteriorates. The men would bring their own lunch and their own knife. There would be no charge or anything like that.
SB: And how would the cane be transported down to the mill?
BONEHAM: You'd have to load it on your own trucks. We had our own portable line. You'd have to put the portable line down and have the truck on that. And then it would have to be taken, in our case, taken up what we used to call Ross's Hill with the horse. And then when you got there you had to knock the king-pin out of the truck. But the horse knew more than I did. She would know where to turn round and then you had to put a sprag, sprag the truck so it wouldn't run away.
SB: What's a sprag?
BONEHAM: A sprag in the wheel. You know how the wheel's like that well you put a sprag so it couldn't move. The sprags would be there. And then Jack would come up and lever it down, still with the sprag, ease it down to a certain point, that was Ross's pig sty. And then he'd take the sprag out and then it would gallop right down to the gantry. That is where the tram came to, and it would be all hooked up. Well then later, like last thing at night, Jack would have to go down and jack it down again to make sure, see if it was shaking; sometimes it overturned and it would have to be reloaded. The truck would go over, turn… hitch the thing, pull it that way a bit, then bring the horse around and this way. Kids in the country soon learn, well they have got to learn otherwise they're not the help that they should be. But I think burnt cane was a shilling less for the farmer, and a shilling more for the cutter. I know it was less for the farmer, because the c.c.s., that's the sugar content, was less. But you had to prove that it was either stony or dirty. The cane inspector would have to approve whether it got burnt or not. But I think now they just burn it automatically.
SB: Did you ever have any trouble with the sugar mill, with prices and that sort of thing?
BONEHAM: Not really. I think all that happened before we came. Because the first year we came, we got the crop off. And then the next year we discovered we were in the number 2 pool, we and a whole lot others in the number 2 pool. Because I think, it was privately owned. There were four people. Well it ended disastrously for most of those. I know one fellow, I think one fellow was goaled, one fellow committed suicide, I know that. Well then after that it was a co-operative. But the number 2 pool was only, say they needn't have taken our cane. Well at that time four of the farmers including my husband, decided - the farm by this time was, you know, we paid a fair bit for it at that time. We had to go up north. No, I think we still owed a little bit on the farm. Because now, if you cut say a thousand pounds worth of cane it would be seventy per cent for the owner and thirty per cent for the person from whom you bought it (the farm). Well in those days you had to pay a total amount, whatever it was, I've forgotten. So for four years Jack just went up north and cut cane. Actually we…
SB: And you were left here on your own?
BONEHAM: The first year yes, and the second year no, because I had a new baby. And we went out and worked to keep the farm instead of the farm keeping us. But even that didn't worry us. It really didn't worry us because a lot of people lost their farms. The Agricultural Bank foreclosed on a lot of the farms. Then later on we acquired another little farm through the same thing. That was Jack Smith. Cause he wouldn't work, Jack didn't like work. And if we didn't buy it, somebody else would have bought it. We didn't want to buy it but then we allowed the older people to stay there as long as they lived in the little house. And that house is this house, is part of this house which would be at least, the main part of it is over one hundred years old. I must tell you about that. It was on a farm adjoining ours. Well Mrs Abbott, who was Mrs Smith then, she bought it in Gympie for five pounds. It was in the gold rush days and then she paid five pound to have it brought down by bullock dray, and then ten pound to have it erected. Ten pound. And the boards are about a foot wide. Well then when we came back here, it was during the war anyway I think, a long time ago. Well then we shifted the house over by German wagon and put it up. The floor there is the same, and the floor in the long room is the same but then the others is new.
SB: So when you came and you started sugar farming, how did you learn about growing sugar cane?
BONEHAM: Oh but my husband knew. He knew. As a younger person he worked in the sugar, and he knew. And he got the name of being a very practical sugar grower. So much so that Des [Beck], he was determined that when we came back here, Jack would plant some cane for him because he said he'd always heard about Jack's cane cutting. Old Mrs Story, (that could be another whole volume, couldn't it, Mrs Story) she used to say that Jack cutting cane was like poetry. He just went day after day. Occasionally taking his pipe out of his belt and having a puff of his pipe. But hour after hour he would just cut the same. And the same with planting. He was a perfectionist really.
END OF SIDE A TAPE 1
BONEHAM: I can't think of the man's name, but he bought the brick house that used to be at the crossroads, south Coolum. I've forgotten the man's name. It used to be Yabsley's farm. Poor old Mr Yabsley used to go after his cow, drop a match and there'd be a fire that everybody in Coolum would have to put out. Oh I used to threaten to strangle him. You'd have to bring the food out to the people belting the fires out.
SB: Were bushfires a problem there?
BONEHAM: Grass fires were. Year after year, nearly every year there would be a fire, a fisherman over at Point Arkwright, because there was nothing at Port Arkwright. And the alarm would be given and all the men would have to go and belt it out. See there was an old Mrs Story over there. She was on her own. And then her son built a little place and she used to say, "Don’t back-fire." Course the people used to say, "No, we won’t back- fire." Well these McLellans that I mentioned earlier, on one occasion I said, "Come on Archie, we’ll back-fire." "No," he said, "Mrs Story said." I said, "Mrs Story be buggered. We’ll back-fire. It’s the only way to save a place." Of course, we were just intent on saving Lelly's house and her own house…
SB: How would the alarm be given, when fire was getting away?
BONEHAM: Well, we’d see the smoke and then it would get around. Someone would ring a bell. And then Alma Ealing lived below us. She’d bash something and we’d hear and away you’d go. You’d have to catch the horse, and have the horse ready to take the food over at night time. And of course, the oldest hen on the property would be killed and stewed. Actually those times, you could kill and eat a hen as old as yourself, couldn’t you? Because they were free-range hens. We would never kill a second-year layer hen, never. It would be the old one. We had one old hen we called Katie because she used to – I don’t know if she ever laid an egg, but if a hen was setting, she used to just pick it and pick it until it got off and then she’d sit on it and bring the chickens out.
SB: Was your husband away when you had your first child?
SB: Oh, he was there?
BONEHAM: Yes, he was there. Not with the second one though. Maree would have been, June till the end of whatever the season was up north. And then the next year we went up with him. Well it was that, or lose our farm see. A lot I could mention, about four people, who lost their farms because there was no income, no income. And there was no such thing as work – what do you call it if you haven’t got work now?
SB: Unemployment benefits?
BONEHAM: No, there was nothing of that. No, nothing of that at all. It was for somebody, because we used to have to pay into some scheme, I don’t know what we called it now. Relief. Because a whole lot of them used to just chip along the – I don’t think that they ever did any constructive work – but they’d chip along the footpaths. Course we didn’t have footpaths either did we? I don’t know what they did. But anyhow they got Relief, and they got winter something, blankets and shoes; and then Christmas whatever. Because some of them tried to evade that including Mrs White. One pound for Christmas and one pound for winter.
Life on a cane farm
SB: And did you have your children in hospital?
BONEHAM: Yes in the hospital.
SB: And how would you get from here to the hospital.
BONEHAM: Well look the first episode was when the bridge was washed away. You know the Maroochy River bridge, so we had to go down to the wharf, this Coolum wharf. I had to go up to Eumundi. Why I had to go to Eumundi, I don’t know. And then down to Brisbane to the hospital.
SB: You had to go to Brisbane?
BONEHAM: Although the bridge wasn’t down. I don’t know why I did that. Because coming home, when John was a baby, that was the day that Barretts arrived with all their things including the cockatoo. And Jossie Barrett – that’s another family – later they had the boarding house. But Jossie Barrett was about thirteen or fourteen and at that time there used to be a branch of the Maroochy River Shop on the Nambour side of the bridge. Well people would get out and of course, all the men would make for the cane, because they’d all been drinking beer and they had to get rid of it somehow or other. And Jossie went over to the shop with the others. They evidently didn’t blow a whistle and he saw the tram starting. Well he raced and got on one of these trams. It was like a toast rack. It had a roof over it but no sides or anything like that, just seats. We were watching in case he fell into the river. So it couldn’t have been. It must have been when Maree was born. It must have been I think because I went to Brisbane and stayed in Brisbane. That’s right. She was supposed to arrive in March. Course Jack had to go. They had to go. That was the first year they decided, these four men decided, that they wouldn’t lose their farms, that they would go up north and cut cane.
SB: So did you ever feel afraid being left alone about to have a baby in that situation?
BONEHAM: Well actually, my father stayed with me and I think I seem to always have had somebody. I was, actually, I was terrified, really was terrified. I was terrified when I first went there when they would stay back to burn the cane. And even with that because, oh I don’t know we had that funny old fellow that used to race around naked. I don’t know what his name was, the fellow Andreassen. I was nervous. And even until when we came here, I had never been in a house later than ten o’clock. If Jack went to a meeting, and Farmers’ meeting was the only one he’d go to, he’d be home by ten o’clock. And I had never stayed a night on my own until I came back here, and I never thought that I could. I couldn’t imagine staying on my own. I wouldn’t like to get a fright. I mean to say. If anyone tried to give me a fright, they’d probably get a fright too.
SB: Did you have electricity?
BONEHAM: Oh no. But we had a gloria system installed. Because Jack had a thing about – that’s before he went away. And I had a wireless. I think we had the first wireless with two batteries. I had the horses and the sulky. And then later on it was the slide, when the sulky gave up the ghost when the tyres came off. And he installed a gloria system, with a hanging lamp with a great big globe. I’ve got it out the back now with a pot plant in it. And a little gloria stove, like those little metho stoves you get. It was a lovely soft light. But it was petrol, and we used to get the petrol in a tin. And pump it into the – we must have had another container or something. I know it had the stirrup pump on it anyway. But that was the light, and then we had other lights as well. And of course snakes, you know, carpet snakes.
SB: Oh they were a problem were they?
BONEHAM: Yes. Down at the fowl yard. Jack would hear the hens squawking. Course, we had passion vines all around the run, and he’d hear the hens squawking. And I used to have to hold the lantern. And Jack would go down with the cane knife. And of course, I’d hold the lantern and I’d see this striped thing and I’d turn away (laughs) And he’d say, "Can’t you hold the lantern!" "I’m holding the lantern!" And then I’d go again. "Can’t you hold the bloody lantern!" "Yes, I can hold the bloody lantern!" And we used to have a ding-dong go-in. Eventually he used to hook the snake down. Well I was expected to stand there and watch that. And of course, I’d go lantern and all and let him deal with the snake. I thought, "Well it’s no concern of mine. It’s not my quarrel, it’s yours." But other than that, it really was a good life. It really was a good life.
BONEHAM: And I was lucky having a good neighbour. I thought she was as old as Methusalah. I wonder how old Mrs White was when we came there? I thought she was so old, that I would never be so old. I really loved her, I really did. She was the kindest person. Even though she listened in to all the conversations. ‘Cause she had the Central Coolum Exchange. And it was say four dongs for over here and three for there or visa versa. Well if you were there, she’d say, and she’d be listening in (Laughs) Old Mr Short rang Mrs Yabsley up and of course Mrs White got on the phone. And he said, "Mrs Yabsley, I can’t hear you for Mrs White listening in" (Laughs)
She put the phone down and she said, "Oh the silly old fellow." You know, she was listening. But then she wouldn’t be malicious about it. She was so kind. She really was kind. She wouldn’t say, like, another one would say, "I’ll get Mrs Boneham to do this." She would do it. She had a lot to put up with too. She had a nice family. [stop] Old Mr Wintzloff had it after. And we would make a fire. And even then we were conscious that the fire had to be put out. And they’d play games. That would be Saturday afternoon. Saturday afternoon was devoted to the kids. There would be no work Saturday afternoon.
SB: You mentioned something about your husband going to farmers’ meetings?
BONEHAM: Well they had to go to discuss – you know what farmers do. Farmers are the hardest people in the world to get together.
SB: So was it the Farmers’ Association that he was in?
BONEHAM: Canegrowers’ Association. They’d have it in the hall. And perhaps they’d discuss the allotment, see because they’d have tonnage. They’d have to be with other
farmers. You’d have to send say eight trucks this week or whatever and the farmers would have to agree among themselves. If ever there was such a thing as farmers agreeing.
SB: Didn’t they ever agree?
BONEHAM: No. They never agreed. No they never agreed. They were always afraid that
Billy down the road would get more than they did. But on the whole they were pretty good they really were, pretty good. They’d turn out if anybody – as if your troubles was everybody’s trouble. ‘Cause I know when I had that gall-bladder attack. I didn’t even know that I had a gall bladder. To me I just had a stomach, and a heart and a lung and that’s it. Well everybody was concerned.
SB: I wanted to ask you was there any Church life in Coolum?
BONEHAM: No. I’m a Catholic. The first mass that was ever held here was held over in our house on the farm, and there were six people. Mrs Hayter, that I mentioned, my brother and his wife, Jack and myself, and the teacher. Well old Father Wright used to come out on one of those little cars that had a back seat, a dickie seat or whatever you call it. Well you’d have to push him up the hill almost. I think he couldn’t get up the hill to our place. Well he’d stay the night and he’d say Mass and then off he’d go, you know, full belt down the hill and away he’d go. Well then once a year we used to get I don’t know whose flat-top thing, and we’d go into Yandina to Mass. But then after that, the Church of England was served much better than we were. There was a Mr. … Very nice chap. He had two boys and a girl. The boy married the girl Sneesby. Who was that? They used to have a service in the School of Arts - that's going back to the early days
SB: Did you ever have any Evangelic groups coming around?
BONEHAM: Of course you would. I’ll never forget. John and I, by this time John was about eight or nine, and we were going to make our fortune so we bought a hundred baby roosters, little chickens. And Jack put up the netting-wire for us. And I didn’t know that they had to be segregated, you know. But of course, they’ve got to go in layers because they sort of trample each other to death. And I was in there, shuffling along with this wet food and I have no idea what make he was or anything. But he came and was going to play a record. And I said to him, "Look, I’m busy, I’m just busy." ‘Cause it was in the afternoon.
"You must never be busy to listen to God’s word."
I said, "Well look, if I listen to Him will He listen to me, and help me with these bloody chickens." And he was going to play a record. I said, "If you play that record, I’ll throw you and the record over the fence." Well I didn’t see anything of him for a long time. I don’t know who they were but they used to play records. But he could see that I was battling with these chickens.
Anyhow, we didn’t make our fortune. But the time came when – I don’t know how many we reared – when they came to the crowing time. And a brother of mine that was in the Navy, he decided that he would leave the Navy because it was a real, you know, work- house. And he come up and cut cane. Well these roosters used to start in the Sunday morning crowing. Well every broom and boot and block and thing that he could lay his hands on, he had thrown in over the fence. So I suppose we dispensed these roosters amongst the neighbours. I don’t know what happened. We didn’t make our fortune anyway.
SB: The Boarding House was up this way, was it?
BONEHAM: Yes, where the hole in the ground is now.
SB: Oh right! What sort of social life did they have?
BONEHAM: Well, whoever was there. Dancing seemed to be … and then we used to have an annual concert. And there would be dancing and surprise parties. They were great for surprise parties. You’d be asked to go to a surprise party, but we were all going to meet at so and so. Well you’d go over there and there wouldn’t be a person there, and you’d go home and you’d hear the piano going hell for leather at my place. See they’d cheat you. They’d say meet over at White’s or somewhere, and they’d all go to my place, or we’d all go to someone else’s place.
But the music when we first came here, I suppose that it shouldn’t have fascinated me but I hadn’t sort of been around that much anyway, and where I came from they were pretty – conservative I suppose you could call it – you know, bits of craw-thumpers. And I didn’t go to dances until I was about seventeen because my mother didn’t believe in it. Until I went out teaching, I was seventeen in the September, and then I went out in the next year, with all the instructions what to do and what not to do. Of course, I broke every one of them I suppose. But they played the accordion and the ‘Kerosenola.’ Well the ‘Kerosenola’ is a kerosene tin with a big stick, and then banjo strings. I don’t know whether there were two or three – about three strings. And they played that and truly it was perfect time, and perfect music. It really was. But I couldn’t get over it.
And I couldn’t get over people going to a dance even though it was wet weather. Because on the Downs where I came from, well if it rained you just didn’t go out, because if you went by sulky the wheels would all clog up. You just didn’t go out. But here the rain didn’t seem to make any difference. They had a little dressing room. You’d all doll up in the little dressing room and they’d come from near and far. Some would come down in a boat. And I don’t know whether they’d walk from the wharf or someone would meet them, or what happened.
Then of course, there was tennis. We had tennis courts, and work, and then dancing, and then work, plenty of work. (Laughs). Yes, but oh, I didn’t regret anything. I didn’t have to do it I suppose, if I stuck me heels in, but I was determined you know, well you had to really. You had to work sort of.
SB: When the holiday-makers came up and they camped, how would they get water and food?
BONEHAM: Oh we had the most beautiful water from Pop Morgan’s Spring, over here, but in very early days. From the windmill, you know, the windmill was up opposite where the shelter shed was. There was a big windmill there. And we got water from there. Then Pop’s came afterwards, beautiful water, the spring, down there beside Perry Keene's. Perry Keene’s Guest House, it was watered by gravitation from the spring up on the hill. And then we’d fish. We’d go fishing up to the first oak, second oaks, third oaks, and then the buoy. That was about four mile up. We’d ride up. I used to go up with Doreen the dark girl.
SB: Can you tell me about the Lifesaving Club? When did it start?
BONEHAM: Well, first of all we used to get men up from Brisbane. I think it used to cost
us ten pounds or something. We used to … each of us would have them for dinner one night. I don’t know what we did in the meantime. I’ve forgotten about that. Well then after the first fatality, (Would that have been the Grey fellow that disappeared down here? Oh no, I think that's later) I’d say easily half a century ago. Pop was one of the first, and old Mr Jobe. He died the other day at ninety-two. He was the Secretary. I don’t know whether he was the very first Secretary. I don’t think he was. Because one time they were having a bit of a wrangle and Sid Short wanted Nellie Morgan to be secretary. And she wanted me to go with her to the meetings. I said, "No, I couldn’t do that." Because Sid Short was causing a lot of trouble at that time. So I don’t know who was the Secretary, I really don’t know.
The first little club house wasn’t as big as this room, and the first ladies’ dressing room was over there, and then the toilet was down there. Well that must have been a lot washed away. I’d say it was forty feet washed away in fifty years, easily that. Because when we planted the trees, we left as much carriage-way that way as this way. So I’d say forty feet, forty feet easily has gone. We had the shelter shed that came later and they had an outdoor toilet thing for the men. Where the dickens did that all go to? Down in the water I suppose. It must have. And then the shower was this side. I know they had a shower down the hill but that was later. But they had this outdoor shower over there. I know that.
SB: How would they raise money for the lifesaving?
BONEHAM: Dances, with the Progress Association.
SB: There was a Coolum Progress Association then?
BONEHAM: Yes, oh for years.
SB: Who ran that at the beginning?
BONEHAM: I wonder who began it? When Bennett was here, when old Mr Wilkinson. I don’t know whether we called it the Progress Association because he was responsible for getting these trees and he was also responsible for Perry Park up there. It was for sale for rates and it was thirty-two pounds and he bought it and gave it to the people of Coolum. Well then old Mr Good, an old chap that used to live in one of Dick’s cottages, he used to walk up there every day. And he came in one day and he said, "You know what, Missus, they’ve got a ‘FOR SALE’ notice on Point Perry."
And here they were – ‘FOR SALE’ notice right up to the Point. That’s in Dave Low’s time. So of course we got busy. I raced down to Theo Chapman's on the corner, and we got a deputation and contacted the ‘Courier-Mail’ and of course Dave said someone wanted it to build a motel. But they would have sold that. And I think it was Ivy Sack that wrote this little poem about the Big House on the front and then you go around and all the little houses on the back. That would have been a tragedy wouldn’t it, if that had gone ahead. But that was the kind of underhand kind of business. Well of course, it is still pretty rampant, I suppose.
But, I don’t know, the money … for our concerts we had every year. We used to have socials, mostly at our place over there.
SB: What do you mean by a social? Is it a party?
BONEHAM: Yes, dancing and singing. We had such a very wide hall that we could put a table, that big table I suppose it was, for Bobs. You know, the Bobs thing. But it was a shilling for the men.
SB: What is the Bobs thing?
BONEHAM: The Bobs. I should have a set of that. It was about that long and they’ve got little holes and you have a cue and you try to shoot the things into the hole. You see some of them would play that and they’d dance in the big dining room we had. And the girls would bring food and the boys would pay a shilling. Well with the socials we used to send this money down to my sister. Well she would buy the material for the costumes for the concert. It usen’t to cost anyone anything because nobody had any money. Then we’d make it. We’d have a practice over there and it was one room with a sewing machine. And the ones that weren’t practicing had to do the sewing.
We had some lovely concerts really. I’ve got some photos. Do you remember Jean Haywood? Well Jean she would have been about thirteen or fourteen, I suppose and I was the old Grandmother. At one time I used to have very long hair. And Maree, that's my daughter, cut it off. I'm getting ahead of myself. That's later. Jean anyhow, was taking the family photographs. There was a little fellow used to work for Barretts. I don’t know what his name was. He used to have a whole lot of warts. He was the French photographer. He was marvellous really. At the end of it all, all the cantankerousness. I had evidently eaten a William pear and it had disagreed with me and they had to stop the photography. Well then I sent one of the kids to see if the rain had stopped, see we’d just gone in there to get out of the rain. But there was a photo taken of Jean and myself. And someone said. "Who’s this old biddy? The old biddy!" (Laughs) "And who’s this other one?" Well one was Jean about fourteen or fifteen. She was Aunty Emily whose husband had died. "My poor dear husband had died." And then the other Aunts would say, "Yes, he drank himself to death," and all this kind of business. See all those little skits, I don’t know where we got them from.
Well then later on we had George Dann who was Queensland’s leading journalist, not journalist, playwright. He did quite a few good ones; a Modern Cinderella. That was very good. We took it up to Eumundi, we took it to the River and then we took it up to Eumundi. Some of the boys went up and took our curtains and things up and the little girl Dean was quite a good ballet dancer. Both of them were. There were two girls. She was to do the Cinderella part. Beryl Doyle was the Fairy Godmother, and I was the grandmother. I think two or three of the boys with beautiful bosoms, they were the ugly sisters. But anyhow, when it came to put this part on about going to the ball, the Fairy Godmother came in to Cinderella and she said, "I used to dance once." And she said, between sobs, she didn’t believe it. She said, "No you get ready, and I’ll show you." Well then what we were supposed to do - Tom had brought up his wireless thing or gramophone or whatever the dickens it was. And he was to play the part that Terry, (this is his daughter, she was about sixteen,) was to dance. Well of course, we just put the lights out and then Terry came out in all her finery. She’s a dear little thing. Well we couldn’t find Tommy. So someone set the thing going and it was the wrong music. Well she wasn’t old enough to go on dancing, irrespective of the music, because they wouldn’t have known any difference anyway. But she went off the thing crying. And as quick as a flash we put the light back on and Beryl Doyle came and she said, "Well that’s just a glimpse of what I used to do as the Fairy Godmother." (Laughs)
After it all cooled down, Glad Dean, (God help them. They are both dead now), Glad was going to kill Tommy. She said, "I’II get him." So they were running around the School of Arts up at Eumundi, and of course Tommy was underneath, full as a boot. (Laughs) And Glad exhausted herself running around. Well actually, that all made up part of the life. She could laugh about it afterwards and so could Tommy. (What was the other girl Dean's name? There were two of them.). But we used to look forward to it. We had a portable stage, we used to have to built it up. We worked hard, and we made the curtains.
SB: And you did it once a year?
BONEHAM: Once a year. We started off going to have a kiddies concert and I used to have the boys in the morning and the girls in the afternoon practising. Because they had to go past my place to go to the school on Salaita Hill, not where it is now.
And not very long ago when this house next door, before it was sold, a chappie came around and he said to me, "Are you Mrs Boneham?" I said "Yes, I’m Mrs Boneham." He said, "Do you remember me?" And I said, "No, Should I? You're not wanted for anything are you?" He said, "No." He said, "Do you remember telling boys coming away from school, that if they didn't go behind the tree on the way over, they could hang on until they got home?" And I said, "No." And he said, "By joves, we went behind the trees." And I remember then that they say, "Me after you." You know, they'd be running down through the little turnstile to the toilet, and there’d be a dribble from the door to the … (Laughs heartily) And I said to him, "Well you must remember something nice I did." He said, "Well that's one thing I remember. You telling us to get behind a tree or else."
Well then it got that we'd have a few grownups and then we got all the grownups. And old Mrs Warren she used to be in the house on the other side of the hole. Well that later became a hall. And look she was a marvellous old woman. Her two boys George and Jimmy, they used to always do an act, but we never knew what it was until the night. And whatever they did, she used to make the costumes. She was the most unassuming little person. But I believe in the early days, she and her husband were sort of travelling musicians or whatever you'd like to call them.
END OF TAPE 1
BONEHAM: I remember on one occasion it had to be a rooster. Whatever it was about I wouldn't know. But you know that rooster was one of the nicest Wyandottes I've ever seen. You could imagine the Warrens, of course, they were real comics, weren't they?
The only fancy-dress ball that I remember with just grownups was the time old Billy Burton led us up the mountain singing 'Advance Australia Fair.' And then we came home and we must have boiled the billy and changed into fancy dress. I had a whole house full of people, and Babe took a curtain. See one time you'd have make-believe wardrobes across the corner. Well she took this cretonne curtain and made a dress for me. And I had lace that my mother used to make, frilly lace, so we starched this and put this on the end of my pants. And Jimmy Warren was dressed up in Mrs. White's nightdress and he had a bottle and he followed me in the Grand Lodge around crying, he wanted the dolly, you know my dolly, and he would tell Mum I wouldn't give him his dolly. Before Warren’s, before they converted that place into a hall, or was it always a hall? In the early days there was just the School of Arts. And then I think Hilda made an attempt to have a bit of a hall up at her place. The little travelling picture show man came there.
SB: What was that - the travelling picture show?
BONEHAM: Well they used to go around with their own generator and they used to go around the schools. (Mr. Gilbert) I do know about the little travelling plays too because I remember, oh, early on, "East Lyn'. You know little Willie got diphtheria. Yes. A travelling thing. But the first picture show down here was Hil and Theo Chapman, they started it.
SB: Was it silent movies?
BONEHAM: No, No. No. It wasn't silent. Not down the hall wasn't silent. No, it wasn't but it used to break down and they'd want their money back. The lights would go on and we'd all have a real old gossip. Everybody went, kids and all. Kids would be laid out on the seats.
SB: Did they used to run the first picture theatre with a generator?
BONEHAM: Yes, a little one. And they got that from the Darra. I forget the name of the picture show. Well it has been renovated and they are still using it down there. After Hill left us and sold out, there was a chap used to come from outside of Kingaroy, this side of Kingaroy, used to run the pictures there, as well as the pictures down here. It used to cost us two shillings or something like that. But you'd be there up to anything like twelve o'clock at night by the time it broke down, but then you'd catch up, you know, on all the new babies and the latest gossip and so on and so forth.
SB: And travelling plays, did they come through very much?
BONEHAM: Just occasionally.
Travelling salesmen and mail orders
SB: Were there any travelling salesmen in the area?
BONEHAM: Only the tea fellow. And you'd get your great big tin of tea. Edwards, yes. And I think Cribb and Foote's traveller used to come, or is that somewhere else I'm thinking about? I think Cribb and Foote used to come with a catalogue and you'd go through all the laces and you know the dimities, and the what-have-you and what-have- you. And then you'd get it.
SB: How would you order what you wanted?
BONEHAM: You'd give him the order then and there. He'd take the order. And then you got the goods and then you sent the money. Do you know that we used to ... what's the place in Brisbane where we used to get all our tanks, material for tanks and things like that. I suppose it is still there, up Wharf Street or somewhere. Well we used to just send a signed cheque and order. When we built the tanks we got everything for the tanks all sent up, and then you'd just send the signed cheque and they'd fill it in with the invoice. You'd get the invoice. Because I know that in those days we never had accounts. Well then during the war we discovered if you didn't have an account, you didn't have a credit rating. So I said to my husband, "If ever I get a chance I'II get an overdraft from the bank and I'll never pay it off." Because we couldn't get a credit, rating. They said, "Oh have you got an account here?" Wherever this particular place, we would have left hundreds of pounds over the years there. But I can't think of the name of it anyway. But I never did have a credit rating and I never did get an overdraft. Never wanted it thank God.
World War II
SB: During the war was there any precautions taken?
BONEHAM: Oh every precaution. A place up here was the V.D.C., that was the Alarm. And they had a system of shares, ploughshares that would be sounded up on Ross's Hill. Then they'd sound it. We had two alerts. They were false but it was the first American war ships that came through. And they had been on alert in Brisbane but we knew they were strange ships. But even on the farm we couldn't have light. We had to have all the windows blackened out. And you couldn't go with a lantern. And the cars had to be blacked half way, I think. And they had trenches. You couldn't go on the beach. Barbed wire on the beach, all barbed wire. They had the continual Army stations as well as the V.D.C. here, camped around. Because I know that John would have been by this time thirteen, and he and Bobby Ross they used to come over. And I'll tell you what they used to gather. They used to go over by the second beach. They'd skip over there and they used to get things that were washed up. Oh, and they had caps and what have you and this, that, and something else. Anyway along came the military and collected them because they were sort of evidence. That was after the nurse's ship was blown up. My brother was with me that night and he was a First World War fellow and we were sitting out, we were very high, and we were sitting out on the verandah. And he said, "That's a bomb, a time bomb, just off Caloundra." And it was. Next morning it was all over the place. But John used to say, you know, he'd be talking to the soldiers, and oh yes, Mum had plenty of eggs and Mum had plenty of passionfruit, and Mum had plenty of bananas. And they'd land home with these boys and of course you'd send them with a basket of this, that and something. Well then when they'd bring the basket back it would be about lunch time. But I think most of the people around adopted a tent. In Yandina when you'd go in there would be a tent say with ten boys. Well you'd have cakes and books and things for them. Actually they didn't cause any trouble of any of the boys, I don't think.
SB: Tell me about the boat that was bombed. The ship.
BONEHAM: "The Centaur"
SB: You said it was off Caloundra.
BONEHAM: Yes, off Caloundra. A Red Cross ship.
SB: And the Japanese bombed it?
BONEHAM: Yes. Oh yes, the Japanese were... One sister she started Selangor Hospital, you know opposite St. Joe's. What was her name? Her brother's a doctor…
SB: I never realized the Japanese were so close.
BONEHAM: Oh yes, because they entered Sydney Harbour.
SB: Oh I knew that, but I didn't know up here.
BONEHAM: Yes, and at Townsville, my word they did. And on the west coast they went right down as far as Broome and Derby and those places. Well that was never published. I suppose that was a good thing in a way, you know. What commentator was banned? Well he is the author of this book. No, well then he used to send his replies to a boat in Perth and then back over. He was there when the bombing started. Jack Campbell, he was the head of Taxation at that time. And Edie White , she was a local person, she was the Matron at Katherine, or she could've been the Matron at Darwin … it had been disputed. I don't know which is right and which is wrong, and then anyhow, she wrote a book… and then this particular book is a reference to Edie White's book. But he was just saying about the hundreds that were never accounted for, hundreds. Because even on the wharf they took refuge underneath the piers. Well they were blown to smithereens. They had no idea.
A Chinese store manager in Darwin, he financed people to get out. And he said never once, like he didn't expect any return, but he was never let down. Years after people had paid him back. But at the end of this book that I'm quoting, "Our Pearl Harbour," they came by every means to Alice Springs, even a sanitary cart. Because this particular man followed them up to see how they'd get on the train. That was the Ghan at that time. And he came to the lavatory cart had overturned, and he said, "What are you doing, stocktaking?" But he said if it ever happened again it would be the same thing only they wouldn't be going in sanitary carts they would be flying out, the heads. The only people who stayed were the dark people. They were waiting for orders. But all the heads just cleared like dingos.
SB: Were Japanese ships or submarines sighted off Coolum Beach?
BONEHAM: Well actually it was such a big expanse of water that it was a likely place for a landing. And do you know that years before, I couldn't tell you how many years, say three or four, there was a fellow staying up at the Post Office. They had a bit of a boarding house. And there was a fellow by the name of Campbell. He was staying there. Well at that time, the weekends, you know I'd gather the kids. We used to roam the place. And we always saw this man and he had, you know the old-fashioned photographer thing, tripod thing. Course it wasn't - probably it was a surveyor's thing. But we used to always, not always, but very very often see this Mr Campbell and he was always asking questions. I remember he cut a bit of peat up the other side of Emu Mountain. (This side of Emu Mountain we've got a little cluster of scribbly gums that I hope they never destroy because they're real rare.) He cut this turf and he brought it back and burnt it just like the turf in Ireland. I think that was all a cover up because Hilda Sneesby, she used to be in the Post Office, and Hilda didn't divulge very much. She had to account for every plane that flew over. She had to ring through to say that such and such a plane, such and such a make and all that kind of thing. But she said to me one day about this Mr Campbell. She said he gets a terrible lot of mail and he never posts any mail – you know, natural country curiosity - he used to always go away and post it somewhere else. Well when the war broke out he disappeared. He was nowhere to be seen. So I'd say he was a spy of some sort. Because he was in the most out of the way places, you know. And he'd say he was going to take a photo, because one time you did have the tripod thing and you had the cloth over your head. (The beach between Caloundra and Mooloolaba was the beach for landing).
See any part of this, if they wanted to land, any part of this would do. Course we used to have tanks. You know the tanks that come. It was a real event. I remember one time they had a walk here.
SB: A route march?
BONEHAM: Oh something. They had to walk here and then they've got to be picked up or the other way about. But Jack, of course, was talking to one of the boys. We had this big V8 and he said he'd give us a race in the duck or whatever you call it. We used to call her Gertie, if Gertie had a full stomach she could do anything. And he said, "Perhaps we could remedy that." And of course I caught on but Jack nearly had a fit. And of course, they used to give us petrol.
Jack asked them home for tea. There was about a dozen of them. I said, "Unless the bus - see the Sunday bus used to go in and bring us bread - brings bread we can't have them home." Anyhow the bus did bring bread. So we took all these boys home, about twelve of them. And one of them cut the wood and lit the fire. And of course with the cow we had plenty of cream and plenty of fruit. And then there was a very good singer and player amongst them and they made a very nice speech and they were only young, bits of kids. The Old Man. The Old Man they called him. They said, "Oh we have to see what the Old Man says." He was about twenty-two. And they washed up and off they went and left a tin of petrol.
SB: Did you have ration books?
BONEHAM: Oh yes!
SB: How did they work?
BONEHAM: Well the ration book was for clothing, tea, sugar. Was it meat too? I suppose it was too. I can't remember the meat business. I don't think it was meat. Anyhow we would have killed (one of the neighbours calves.) No but, sugar, and tea, and petrol. We got eight gallons of petrol a month. And clothes, so many, they'd clip them out. And of course, with our car, the big old greedy thing's about eight miles to the gallon... so we got a bit of petrol on the cheap.
SB: And where was the ration book issued?
BONEHAM: I suppose they were posted to us. We didn't have to go for them anyway. I know we didn't have to go to the police station or anything like that. Oh it might have been the Post Office. But oh dear, your ration book it was like a passport. You just looked after it.
SB: And did you use your ration book right through the war years?
BONEHAM: Yes, and then the petrol, they kept the petrol rationing on until old Paddy Moran at the Speedy Garage in Brisbane, he said, "There's plenty of petrol and they can come here and get all the petrol they like and I'II defy anybody to take me to court." It was he that broke the drought. It was just a big deal.
SB: So it went on after the war?
BONEHAM: Course it went on after the war!
SB: How long after?
BONEHAM: Oh well I'd say twelve months, easily twelve months. But we used to get a bit here and there. Someone wouldn't be using theirs. But eight gallons - that meant that we could go to Nambour once a week. Because by this time Maree was nursing.
Towards the end of the war, Maree was nursing. She started in Nambour and we used to go in. But you couldn't go twice a week unless you had a couple of coupons specially. I think if anyone had a carrying business, but it was just private. Another thing too, some official came around, had a look at our cars and we were allotted a certain amount of people, five people we had to take in the car. And you couldn't take ports, you had to pack your clothes in sacks, and we had to go – there was a petrol depot out at Haywood’s - out at that way; and we had to go up over the Range when you go to Toowoomba, and we had to end up at Bell. You had to make Bell the first day and report to police stations along the way. I think we had to take two more adults. I've forgotten who it would have been.
SB: Did you have to get permission to go on a long journey?
BONEHAM: Well you wouldn't have the petrol.
SB: But this journey you were talking about?
BONEHAM: Oh yes, the petrol, well there was a depot at Haywood’s and then there would have been another depot somewhere else, along the way. But you couldn't take ports, you know you had to put your clothes and things in a bag. That was all mapped out for us. That was an order. Well then they evacuated a lot of the older people, evacuated them. They wanted to evacuate some of the school kids. Of course we brought Maree home from the convent, I don't know why. Well I think they were evacuating the kids out to Charleville and we brought her home in the September. I don't know how long that lasted. I suppose while the war lasted.
SB: Were there trenches under your house and things like that?
BONEHAM: Oh no, no. We just had our blackouts. There were trenches all along the beach. You couldn't walk on the beach. And of course, we were told to build air-raid shelters.
John had gone down to bring up the trucks. Say he would have been fourteen. And I could hear this little woman saying, coming over the hill, down one hill and up the other and I thought she was saying, she was saying, "The Japs are coming." She was a little English woman. And I was cutting Jack's hair you know, out on the thing. And I could hear this screaming and I said, "Jack, do something because John is in trouble with the horse." It was a real flighty sort of a horse and if anything had gone wrong with the harness, he would have had to scramble up and go and fix it up.
Anyhow this poor little woman was coming down with a baby on her hip and then dragging another one, with about three dogs, and she was screaming, "The Japs are coming." And this is just when we'd come home and she had a little full-flared white skirt on. Our house was there and Mrs Whatever-her-name-was, she was coming down and coming up the hill and then she would have had to go home. Anyhow Maree ran up and then the dogs started fighting. Our "Bluey" was fighting these other two dogs. (Laughs) So whatever this little woman's name is I can't think of it, she told Maree to get under the fence. Whatever difference that would have made I don't know. Maree wanted to get in the cane. And Dad said, "Don't you dare go in the cane." Because the cane was pretty close to the house. But anyhow we got the binoculars out and it had gone.
It was one of the first, the first alarm that came through. And it was the American plane, the grey, different to ours. But anyhow, I said to Jack, "Don't you dare laugh at this poor little thing." So I called her down. I said, "Come on down, I’ll make you a cup of tea." And of course Jack was sitting there and he was a very kind person. And she said, "Wipe that grin off your face." (Laughs) He didn't even know he had a grin on his face. I think she thought she was a bit foolish. And I said, "No, you did the right thing." She did the right thing. She just wanted to be with somebody, you know. The first alarm. Course, we had lots of those, alarms.
SB: So there was a lot of fear?
BONEHAM: Oh, there was a lot of fear, yes. But not actual fear, inconvenience. You know I was saying about different ones going to the war, see Mack Grosse, I didn't think Mack should go. ‘Cause Mack never had a life did he. And I said, "Look, why go to the war?" When war came to Australia, it was a different thing. Mack of course, came back minus a leg. It was a real tragedy.
SB: Was there much push for people to join up?
BONEHAM: Yes, oh yes. You know the white feathers were being sent here there and everywhere. Actually, in our community so much so, that someone said the war will still be on when John's old enough. Well it must have been the last year of the war because he went in and he tried to enlist. Well he had that very bad accident, all those bones were broken. He was bringing the cane trucks up and Morgans had this stupid old horse and it backed back. They had tipped a truck up to put it onto their line, off our side, and the horse backed back and fell and John's foot was caught on the flange. Pop Morgan came over to me and I was just milking Betty. And he said, "You'll have to go into the hospital. John's had a bit of an accident." Well I just grabbed what I could and I had to walk down to Yabsley's and the ambulance picked us up there. Well he was in the hospital almost till Christmas time, trying to save the rest of his foot.
Well of course, he had no chance of joining the Army. He was so unhappy about it. I don't think that he was ever taunted or anything, I think he just felt he was out of it. But he went to Brisbane and worked with the Army. You know, I think that he just felt that he was out of it. But I don't think anyone ever said anything. I don't even know any of them that stayed at home. There was a few did didn't they? Well they wouldn't have John, because he tried the Army and the Air Force. They wouldn't have him at all.
SB: And was there any anti-war feeling?
BONEHAM: No, I don't think so. You mean against the Japs? SB: No, I mean about the men going off to fight in Europe.
BONEHAM: Oh, to fight in Europe, there was a little bit yes. But not when it came to Australia, everybody knew what it meant. Of course, with the First World War, it was just "She'll be over by Christmas." Because I know my two brothers, one was eighteen and one was seventeen, see there were twelve in our family. The youngest one, he was brought back from Perth but then he eventually went. Well he had frost bite. And he said if it only needed one more man to win the war, he wouldn't go, that was the Second World War. But the older brother, he seemed to be a soldier. He joined up the second time, but I think he might have had a cushy job, I'm not sure. I don't think he did any fighting anyway. Although he did. He was gassed in the First World War. He used to take these terrible turns, you know. But, not when it came to Australia, I think they were like a lot of the Yanks. They woke up when Pearl Harbour was bombed. They couldn’t get in it quick enough.