John Ferris oral history
John, who in his own words, “was born with a bull-whip in my hand”. He grew up in an area known as Pointon’s Pocket. His father was a Bullock Driver and he also became a Bullocky at an early age
Interview with: John Charles Ferris
Date of Interview: 22 May 1987
Interviewer: Amanda Wilson
Transcriber: Felicity Nappa
John Ferris, who in his own words, "was born with a bull-whip in my hand". Mr Ferris grew up in an area known as Pointon’s Pocket, situated between Woodford and Peachester. His father was a Bullock Driver and he also became a Bullocky at an early age.
Born: 1901 at Roma
Educated at Commissioner’s Flat School (Peachester)
Married: 1925 at Red Hill, Brisbane
John Ferris oral history - part one [MP3 74MB]
John Ferris oral history - part two [MP3 46MB]
Images and documents of the Ferris Family in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Bullock Driving at Pointon’s Pocket
AW What I would like to talk to you about today is, I understand you were a bullock driver? When did you first start working around bullocks?
JCF I was with Dad when I was ten years old.
AW So, your father was a bullocky?
JCF Yes, because there was no school to go to and I used to have to go out with him.
AW So, you were ten when you first started going?
JCF And when the school was built in 1912, I started going to school but half the time Dad kept me at home to go with him in bush.
AW Where were you living then?
JCF Up in Stanley River. About six or seven miles west of Peachester.
AW What was the area called then?
JCF It was called Pointon’s, Pointon’s Pocket.
AW Were they a family?
JCF Old man Pointon was the first man there. It’s along story about the “Four Thousand”. There was a creek with scrub on it, and nobody went beyond that scrub, they thought it was all scrub.
AW Where is this, is this at the bottom of the Range?
JCF Yes, at the foot of the Range, on the Woodford side.
AW And the Four Thousand, is that the name of the road that goes through, over the top?
JCF Yes, over the top, it goes through the Four Thousand. Mr. Pointon was a bullocky looking for cedar and he walked into the scrub. He followed the Stanley River until he came to this creek running from the west with scrub on it, so he followed that creek up to see if there was any cedar on it. He found out one place even where the present road crosses.
AW That’s the Peachester/Maleny Road?
JCF Woodford/Beerwah. Where it crosses today, the scrub came in very narrow. The scrub today is called the flash name of the Rain Forest, it was “Scrub” in those days. He walked out onto this grassy patch, beyond the scrub, it was just a big pocket. He could see he liked the scrub growing up on his right, following the river up. And the scrub that he walked out of, went along to the west a bit and circled around going north. So, he got his horse through the scrub and rode round and found out that the grass run up the spurs up onto the top of the Range, and down towards Peachester. So he went back then looking for cedar and when word got around that he’d found this grass pocket, the station went out and had a look at it, under station, and they applied then to select it.
AW Who had the Station then? Can you remember?
JCF McConnell and Wood. They applied to select this grass area, the Closer Lands Settlement had been passed through Parliament. They were refused permission to select.
AW Because they had too much land already?
JCF Yes. So they applied to lease it and the Government sent a Crown Land Ranger. They called him up. He rode round and he estimated it was four thousand acres of grass country, so they granted the station a lease of four thousand acres. That went along all right, of course they used to always refer to it then as the “Four Thousand”. That’s how it got its name.
AW I always thought it was either four thousand feet above sea level or it was a road, it’s the whole area that’s really known as the Four Thousand.
JCF Well, When Pointon found plenty of cedar around there, he applied for licence to cut the cedar, then of course with a licence in those days, if you had it for twelve months, you could cut as much cedar as you liked. But it had to be moved off the area by the time your licence had expired.
AW So, how long would the licence go for?
JCF All depends on what you applied for, it might be six months or twelve months. You had to have it off the area. Any timber that was felled and cut and wasn’t moved off when your licence expired, you forfeited.
AW So, somebody else could take over the lease and go and get it all for nothing.
JCF That’s right. Anyhow, he used to only run a load to Caboolture now and again.
AW This is Pointon?
JCF Pointon, yes. It was nice handy cedar and he’d cut it and pulled it all out and dumped it on the flat, south of this scrub. That is how that flat got the name of Cedar Flat, because he had anything up to one hundred and fifty, to two hundred logs there, by the time his lease expired. He used to cut it and it out and dump it, off the area.
AW So, it was off the four thousand lease?
JCF Off the area.
AW Did McConnell and Wood still have that area leased?
JCF Well, he dumped it on the road.
AW So it was road reserve?
JCF He dumped it there, then the Durunder Station hands started calling it Cedar Flat. There was so much cedar lying about, so, that’s how Cedar Flat got its name. Anyhow, it was always left the name of Pointon’s Pocket, right up to the mid twenties (1920s), when they put a telephone exchange in, at Norm Bleakley’s place.
AW Where’s that?
JCF It’s at the foot of the Range up at Pointon’s pocket. This area the Four Thousand, part of it is in the Caboolture Shire and part in Landsborough. Anyhow, they put an Exchange in there and there was another Pointon’s Pocket Exchange somewhere in Australia, so they had to change the name. They changed it to Cedarton, and that area now, what was Pointon’s Pocket, is now called Cedarton.
AW That’s a community at the present time, isn’t it?
JCF It’s a shame the name was changed, because the old pioneer name has gone. He was the first man in there with blacks running around everywhere.
AW How do you know that story Jack?
JCF Well, we were up there. I was reared amongst them.
AW So, your parents told you and your neighbours? Is Mr. Pointon still alive?
JCF Oh, his descendants.
AW So, there were still Pointon families living in the area?
JCF The old chap had died years ago.
AW Do you remember his first name?
JCF Alf Pointon. He was a great-grandfather. There’s one distant relation of his, who lives up near Mrs Patton in Peachester now. She’s a descendant of the Pointon’s. I don’t know how she comes in, she’d be about a great-great-grand-daughter or something.
AW So, you were living at Pointon’s Pocket when you were ten years old?
JCF It was 1906, I was four years old when we went up there. We landed there on the 4th of May 1906.
AW Can you remember that?
JCF I remember the first day we landed there. I remember it as clear as anything! Then there were only bits and pieces after that for quite a while.
AW So what can you remember?
JCF I remember landing there and the teams never came up with our bits and pieces. It was just on sundown when they got there. Alan Ferris, Dad’s brother, Dad was very sick, had a driver on Dad’s bullock team. They were working down here. They brought our bits and pieces up, the usual thing in those days, mostly packed in kerosene boxes.
AW So, all the family was on a buck board, were they?
JCF No. Mum, Dad and I, rode up.
AW Who did you go up on the horse with, your mother or your father?
JCF I had a horse of my own. Hanging onto a surcingle around it.
AW A surcingle?
JCF A surcingle, I had no saddle. You put bags on the horse and put a surcingle around to keep it there. And I was sitting there hanging on to that.
AW All of five years old?
JCF And Dad led the horse. Mum rode another horse on her own. The teams got there, So I went to help Dad and Mum get some stuff off there. I remember it as well as anything. We had our first meal out on the paddock because when the carpenter finished the house, of course, as usual they left all his shavings and saw dust and bits and pieces in the house. So, when we got up there, Dad went and got some bushes and he made a sort of a broom and roughed it out and of course when the team came, Mum got her broom and she swept it out properly. Anyhow, we had our first “boil the billy” out in the paddock. It was just on dark and the scrub would be no further than from here to pine bark or closer than that.
AW About a hundred yards?
JCF Yes, about hundred yards. We were on a log and the scrub was down at the foot. Of course, I had never heard dingoes before. It was just on dark, we’d just finished our tea when dingoes, just down at the foot of the hill, set up choir practice, ‘ah-ooh-ooh’. They were yelling and yelling. I got a fright and I slipped down off the chair and I was making for Mum and Alan said, “look out john, they’ll get you.” So, I joined the dingoes then in their choir practice. I started to howl. Mum said, “come on, you big fool, frightening the kid.”
AW Oh, this was you Uncle Alan?
AW So were you scared of dingoes?
JCF Of course, we didn’t know what they were. There were about twenty or thirty of them, all-howling.
Land Selection: Conditions 1905
AW Where had you come from before you went up to Pointon’s Pocket?
JCF We shifted in here, I don’t know what age I was. I was born at Roma. Dad just landed here, at Glass House, after he went broke out in the West in the big drought that lasted from 1898 to 1902, four years. He came here and his father and two brothers were working down here. He dug in down here and then in 1905, he selected up there and that’s when we moved from here, up there, to Pointon’s Pocket.
AW So, your father and you uncle selected land up at Pointon’s Pocket. Do you remember any of the selection rules, of what you had to do to be able to keep that selection?
JCF Oh well, you had to pay. You bought it a very cheap price. I don’t know whether it was ten bob or a pound an acre they charged. You had twenty years to pay for it. You paid your first year’s rent as a deposit and you had to live on it for five years and then you could go and live where you liked, or you could sell or rent it.
AW After five years, did you have to pay any more money for it?
JCF Yes, the first five years you had to pay yearly rent. They worked it out, so much, it was only a pittance compared with what they pay today.
AW So after five years it was yours, and you didn’t have to pay any more?
JCF It all depends. Supposing he paid a pound an acre for it and there were four hundred and twenty acres in the block that he bought. The total price for it would be four hundred and twenty pounds and that that was spread over twenty years. He had to pay so much a year and he had twenty years to pay for it, you could pay it off sooner. They allowed you to pay it off sooner. And when you bought the place, you had to pay a yearly rent and then you had to do so much improvement every year. Of course, he built the house, that would be a couple of years improvement, building a house. And he fenced it in, that was a bit more. But anyhow, Dad made his freehold in 1909, and Alan never made his freehold until 1925. He selected a plot next to us on the same day.
AW So, he took the full time?
JCF H e took the twenty years. If you didn’t make it freehold, you had to live on it for five years and then at the end of five years, you could rent it, you could sell it, you could do what you liked with it after that. Of course whoever you sold it to, you either had to pay them off, what was owing on it, or else who ever bought it could take the terms over. That’s why they did the selection. We selected in 1905. He had the house built and we were to move up there for Christmas, 1905. But he got a severe sun stroke, he was nine weeks unconscious in Brisbane and the doctors gave him away. They reckoned he had no chance.
AW What had he been doing to get that much sun?
JCF Working out in the sun. Anyhow, hot sunstroke and the doctors, Dr. Alfred he was under, called in two other big gun doctors they had a consultation and they reckoned there was no chance. I can just remember him being in hospital, because Mum was staying down there with my Grandmother.
AW This is in Brisbane?
JCF Yes in Brisbane. It was a private hospital at Eagle Junction. A Matron called Nurse Luck, never called her Matron or Sister, she was always called Nurse Luck. She said to them, “you supply the drugs and I will pull him through”. And she did too. She got him through, well he was that crook and that weak that he couldn’t work, so we couldn’t go up there till May, 1906.
AW So, how we started this, I was talking about bullock teams, so your father was always a bullocky. You’ve grown up with having bullocks around you?
JCF I was born with a bull whip in my hand!
AW How many brothers and sisters did you have?
JCF I had three sisters older than me and a brother younger.
AW Were they all living at Pointon’s Pocket?
JCF Yes. The younger one, he’s six and a half years younger than me, he was born after we went up there.
AW Did your sisters help your father at all with the bullocks?
AW What did they do?
JCF Oh, they never went out in the bush.
AW Why not?
JCF Well, most women never went out in the bush. There were the odd ones that used to. There was a woman over here in the Cove, Mrs Billy Drover, she used to go out with him and help him drive the team. But only very odd people did that.
AW So, they didn’t expect women to go out and help in the bush?
AW But what would the women do instead?
JCF My Mother, the old chap had a bit of a dairy going. Of course it grew up to be a big dairy. Mum and the girls used to do the dairying and that.
AW So they’d milk the cows?
JCF Milk the cows and separate the cream.
AW Did you make your own butter?
JCF Oh yes.
AW Did you ever do that, or was that a woman’s job?
JCF Sometimes, I used to churn the butter for them. But I most of the time was out with the old chap in the bush.
AW So until then you were at home?
JCF Then when I started school, well, half the time I should have been going to school, he kept me home. And when I turned fourteen, he took me away from school altogether.
AW Whereabouts did you go to school?
JCF At Commissioner’s Flat.
AW That was the first school you went to?
JCF Yes, the only one.
AW And when was that?
Driving the team aged fourteen, 1915
JCF I started in 1912 and I finished in June, 1915, I was fourteen, then I went into the bush altogether with him. At the age of fourteen I was driving the team.
AW You father’s team or your own team?
JCF Oh no, Father’s team.
AW Were there many other boys around doing the same thing?
JCF There were others later on, but I was the youngest then.
AW You were very young.
JCF Yes. The old chap used to help me. The days that loaded the wagon with the logs, he used to come out, because I couldn’t do that on my own, at that age. He used to come and do that. Well then the next morning I used to yoke the bullocks and I used to have a job yoking them, because they were big bullocks. I used to have a job getting over their necks to yoke up. But I used to yoke them and then I’d take the load into Woodford and unload it and come back. Some of the old hands there, reckoned the old chap was silly, allowing me to do it, a kid of my age.
JCF Well, there was all the dangers in the world.
AW What of?
JCF You had to brake the wagon going down hill and all that caper.
AW When you say brake the wagon, how would you do that?
JCF Screw the brakes on front and back wheels. They reckoned I’d either end up letting the wagon get away going down hill and kill half the bullocks or myself. But I managed to be awkward enough not to do it.
AW How many bullocks would you have in a team?
JCF About twenty in those days, the old chap used to drive only about twenty.
AW How many tons would the average load you would carry?
JCF It all depends. Of course later on the teams got bigger, up to twenty four bullocks. We used to pull about ten tons then.
AW So, how many logs would that be?
JCF It all depends, might be one. Might be one, might be four or five.
AW In the beginning you would have been pulling bigger trees in the early days, wouldn’t you?
JCF Yes, they were big timber in those days.
AW What sort of timber were they pulling out then?
JCF We were pulling hardwood. Redstringy, bluegum, iron bark, tallowwood, and blackbutt, all hardwood.
AW And were you pulling it off your own property when you first started?
JCF No, he was buying it off other people. He did pull some off his own in the first place, he finished it and then he went on to other people’s properties.
AW When you were still at school in 1912, and you said half the time you at school and half the time you’d be helping your father, what area were you working in then?
JCF Round about Pointon’s Pocket and Cedar Flat.
AW So you were just clearing for your neighbours?
Tree Cutting Techniques
AW And would you cut the trees down?
JCF Help him, yes. Later, when I was about fifteen or sixteen, I was cutting them on my own.
AW And how would you cut the trees?
JCF Chop them down.
AW Just with an axe?
JCF Yes. Chop them down with an axe, or if he’d come out and give me a hand, we’d chop the front-cut in it and we’d saw them down at the back. But if I was on my own, I’d chop them down with an axe.
AW When you say a front-cut, that’s when you cut like a wedge shape?
JCF Which decides where the tree is going to go.
AW Which side you want it to fall on and then you’d start with a cross-cut saw.
JCF Round the back then.
AW How would you use a cross cut saw by yourself?
JCF When we got them down, I used to saw them through in the centre with a cross-cut saw on my own. But I couldn’t saw them down on my own.
AW So you would only use the saw if your father was there?
JCF Yes, I only sawed them down when the old chap was with me.
AW You know, you see old tree stumps that have been cut, where they’ve put the spring boards in, why did they go up so high?
JCF It all depends. It might be bottle butted. Big butted at the bottom or some defect on it, like it might have been hit with a fallen tree when it was young, and be rotten at the butt.
AW So it was easier to cut through, slightly higher up the trunk above the buttresses?
JCF Yes, get it up there and get up into the good timber.
AW And wasn’t there the danger of the tree falling back on you.
AW Why not?
JCF Oh no, we used to get down all right. Of course today they have the chain saws. It’s easy work now, they just saw it down and all and cut the butt off afterwards, that’s only two or three minutes work. In those days, when we had to do it all with the axe and the cross-cut saw, it was hard work. We used to go up on the spring board to get above the faulty part to make it easier work.
AW So, you used a spring board?
AW Weren’t you scared of falling off?
JCF No, you get used to it.
AW Say we had a tree out here and it’s twenty feet in girth and we wanted to cut it down. It had a really big wide base, let’s say it was a box you were cutting down. Would you use a spring board on that?
AW And how would you go about doing it?
JCF I would just chop a notch in it and put the board in and stand on it.
AW And then what, start chopping?
JCF You’d start chopping it, whatever height you wanted to go.
AW And wasn’t it more dangerous using an axe on such a big tree?
JCF I don’t know, we never used to think of that.
AW Did you ever hear of people being killed by falling trees?
JCF Oh yes. Any amount of men have been killed by timber cutting. Limbs falling, they didn’t see them coming, hit them, killed them. We used to call falling limbs Widow Makers.
AW That’s a funny old term, Widow Makers. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
JCF Yes, of course, when you fell a tree, if it was going to fall close to another one, you used to always have a good look to see if there was any Widow Makers hanging up there.
AW Before you started?
JCF Before we went up under it. But those limbs used to fly too. If they fell past another tree, and they’d bend over and the limb breaks, as it comes back it would fly and come back this way. You used to have to dodge them, get behind something.
Training Bullocks and Making Yokes and wheels
AW Did your father teach you how to control the bullocks or did you just pick that up?
JCF You picked it up and of course, they told us the fine points, different points about what to do.
AW What are some of the fine points?
JCF How to handle the bullocks and that?
AW Yes. How would you keep them calm?
JCF Oh, you don’t keep them calm, you want to stir them up a bit.
AW Why’s that?
JCF Get them fighting. You had to control them, you had to let them know that you were boss.
AW Did you have a whip?
JCF Bullocks were dumb, but they weren’t stupid. Some of the bullocks were very intelligent.
AW They’d been castrated, hadn’t they?
JCF Yes, they were very intelligent, some of the bullocks. They were like human beings. Some were very intelligent, others weren’t as intelligent as the leaders.
AW Was there another term used for the leaders of the team?
JCF The leaders were the two that went out in front.
AW And you specially trained them?
JCF Oh yes, you always seemed to be able to pick them. I don’t know why, but you seemed to have a good idea, an opinion of a bullock, whether he would make a leader or not.
AW What would you look for?
JCF A bullock with a very wide forehead. They were good workers but they didn’t seem to have much intelligence about them. The leaders, of course, you had to train them.
AW Just by themselves you would train them like you would train a horse.
JCF No, you’d yoke them up in front. When I was breaking them, trying new leaders; young bullocks in the lead, I’d yoke them up behind the leaders. Then after I unloaded and was heading for home, with an empty wagon, I’d take the old leaders off and put them back in the body of the team and let the young ones walk home.
AW And you started doing this when you were a boy, or was this later on?
JCF Oh, when I started driving myself. Let them walk home a few times like that. Get them used to doing little bits at a time until they started obeying and listening to what I was telling them.
AW You know how the other day, you were telling me it was not uncommon for a person who didn’t know how to handle bullocks to break their bullock’s necks accidentally.
JCF Oh yes.
AW Do you want to tell me a little bit more about that?
JCF If a bullock got pulled around a tree, he wouldn’t break his neck if he was well up in the yoke, but if he was back in the corner and the tip of his horn or his nose even caught the tree and the team pulled through, it would break his neck.
AW So, the other bullocks pulling would break his neck?
JCF Yes. Very few bullockies broke bullock’s necks, because they always watched them. But there were accidents. I broke a bullock’s neck one day.
AW How did you do that?
JCF I was only a kid and it wasn’t my fault. I was only fourteen at the time.
AW Did you have a load on?
JCF No, I was snigging a log and I backed the bullocks back and then turned the leaders right back to go back up on to the hill and the bullock that broke his neck only had one eye, his off side eye was missing. I don’t know how he got his eye knocked out before I took him on. Dad worked it out, that when the slack changed, when the near-side pole pushed over to go with the team, they must have pushed him up against a tree.
AW So, he must have been caught in the wedge sort of thing.
JCF And then, being blind he ran back to see what was doing and of course he got behind a tree and the team pulled and broke his neck. It was terribly simple, very simple.
AW You were telling me the other day a story about a friend of yours that was trying to train a new leader and that he had taken the old leader out and the new one up the front. Do you want to tell me that story, of how he broke his neck?
JCF That was another chap, one of his old leaders was lame, so he put another young bullock in the lead, with the second old bull and he was a cranky thing, and he made a run away.
AW The young one?
JCF Yes, the young one did, and he was pulling the old bullock. The old bullock was hanging back trying to hold him and of course the bow was right up behind his ears and the old bullock’s horn caught on the tree and the young fellow pulled and broke the old bullock’s neck. Yes only one bullock broke the other fellow’s neck. It was very simple, very easy to break a bullock’s neck if they got the right hitch on it.
AW What would you do if a bullock broke its neck and it just dropped dead there, would it die instantly?
AW You would just unhitch it and drag it out of the way?
JCF You’d just pull him over the road and keep on going.
AW Wouldn’t it mess up the balance of your bullock team?
JCF You’d have to unyoke his mate and let it go, you’d be a pair short. But of course if he was a good bullock and you hadn’t had time, later on, after you’d finished your day’s work, you’d go back and skin him, sell the hide for a few bob.
AW Would you ever use the meat?
JCF No, never used to do that.
AW Why not?
JCF I wouldn’t bother slaughtering him out there. If he was away out in the bush, you’d just leave him there. If he was anywhere near your residence, you’d go back after you knocked off work and burn him.
AW Did you always place the bullocks in the same order in the team?
AW Why’s that?
JCF You had them mated up.
AW So, they got used to working with each other?
JCF They got used to working with each other and if they were evenly matched, each as strong as the other, that’s what you used to look for, same strength, You didn’t have a very strong bullock with a weak one.
AW How long would it take you to yoke them all up and get all the bows ready for them?
JCF You’d yoke a team up say, twenty bullocks in about twenty minutes.
AW A minute a piece?
JCF Done them up into pairs and put the hook gear on them. You’d open yoking them in about ten minutes if you were in a hurry.
AW But aren’t the yokes really big heavy wooden ones?
JCF No, Not that heavy.
AW What would you make the yokes out of?
JCF A lot of people used to like River Oak, but very few could get that. We used to make them out of Box.
AW Whey did you prefer River Oak?
JCF Well, it was a very tough thing and it wore well. We used to always make our yokes out of Box.
AW What about the bows, all the metal parts and the leather parts for you gear?
JCF The blacksmith would make them, but the driver of the team had to fit them.
AW So, you’d have to make all the leather bits?
JCF You had to make the bow to fit the bullock. If it was too narrow, you had to bulge it out and make it wider, because if it was too narrow it would chaff on his neck and he couldn’t pull. If you had it too wide, it would catch on the points of his shoulder and cripple him.
AW So, the bow, that’s just to keep the bullock in the yoke.
JCF That’s all. He never pulled by that.
AW And where would they pull from, their necks or from their shoulders?
JCF Back of their necks. The yoke used to fit on the back of their necks.
AW So when they’re pulling, it would come across the shoulders. So, the ring the centre of the yoke is called what?
JCF We used to call it at the Start Ring. That was always called the Start.
AW Possibly it was called that, because it was the start of the chain?
JCF You hooked the chain into that and it would go back in and hook into the Start Ring and the next yoke, then hook him up and back into the next one.
AW Tell me Jack, when you were going off to look for a new bullock wagon, you’d go to the local blacksmith’s and wheelright. They’d build it.
AW Would you have to specify any particular timber that you would like it made out of?
JCF No, they always had the timber cut there ready, because they used to keep it for some time to stand and dry out. Have it dry because if they made it out of green timber, the joints would all be wide apart.
AW What would be the best timber to make, say your wheels out of?
JCF They used to make, what they called the nave, that was the centre part that used to Iron Bark. And the spokes were Iron Bark, but the rim round the outside known as the felys, that was always Blue Gum, because it was very tough to split.
AW And then it had a metal bank on the outside?
JCF And then it had a tyre on the outside.
AW You called that the tyre?
JCF Yes, that was the tyre.
AW You were telling me the other day that was what they taxed you on, is it the width or the thickness of your tyre?
JCF Oh yes, the wider the tyre, the less wheel tax you paid.
AW Why’s that? Because it made less dent in the road?
JCF It never cut the road up so. Now, a three inch tyre wagon would make a terrible mark along the road, but a five inch tyre, you’d hardly see it in dry weather.
AW Which were the most expensive wheels to buy?
JCF The tyre that was a bit dearer, because there was more metal in it, was the five inch tyre.
AW What did most bullockies use?
JCF Of course, in the real olden days, before the turn of the century, they were all using only three inch tyres. Then they gradually got up to four inch tyres and when they got up to five inch.
AW What did you first start using when you were first helping your father?
JCF I always had five inch. Old Dad when he was working, always had five inch and of course, I followed on from there.
Payment for bullockies and Halley’s Comet 1910
AW Whom did they pay the tax to, was that to the Local Council?
JCF Yes, Council, they’d send you out a bill for your tax.
AW So, you first of all had to pay to the Caboolture Council?
JCF Well, we were at Woodford, we had to pay to Caboolture, and of course here, at Glass House Mountains, they’d pay at Landsborough. On this drawing here this here, those points up there, they’re the points of the bow that comes around the bullock’s neck and goes up through the yoke. On this drawing here, that ring there is the start ring and that yoke across his neck is what they’re pulled by.
AW I always thought in the old days, when the settlers or when the timber getters and the bullockies first came into the area that the timber getters were one sort of people and the bullockies came along afterwards. Were they all one and the same?
JCF All the same, timber getter or bullocky. It was the one thing.
AW Say you were carting for somebody else, how would you get paid for the timber that you had cut?
JCF They’d pay you so much a hundred super feet.
AW Was that after it was sawn up, or would they just measure the log and work it out.
JCF Measure the log and tally it up.
AW So, when you were working with your father, when you were still at school, you were living at Pointon’s Pocket, which mill did he take his timber to then?
JCF He used to take it into Woodford to A. Fredin.
AW Whey didn’t he take it to Simpson’s?
JCF That was a better road in there and shorter. In the olden days it was an awful road coming down the old original Otto’s Pinch.
AW What about Grigor’s mill, was that still running at Peachester?
JCF No, Grigor’s mill wasn’t, but one of these chaps that’s in there now. One of the chaps that started this present mill, his father had a mill there years ago. Not in that site but down on the river.
AW Down on the Stanley River?
AW Would have been running when you were a boy?
JCF Oh yes, I remember when that was going.
AW Did you ever take timber there?
AW So he mainly dealt with the Woodford mill?
JCF Always went to Woodford.
AW And would you get paid every couple of months?
JCF What you pulled in, in May, they’d take about three weeks, all the bullockies would take about three weeks to make up all their accounts, and we used to get our cheques on or after the twentieth of the month.
AW Wouldn’t you find that hard, when you had a family, to pay for things?
JCF Of course in those days, everybody ran accounts with the butchers and bakers, there were very few bakers in the olden days. Mother used to always bake her own bread. They used to bake their own bread, the women out in the country.
AW You were living up at Pointon’s Pocket and you moved there in 1906.
JCF 4th May, 1906, we moved.
AW Where was the nearest town to you?
JCF Woodford, ten miles away.
AW So, what did Woodford have?
JCF In the real early days when we went up there, they had two blacksmith shops and two hotels, of course you couldn’t miss them and there wasn’t even a bank when we first went up there. Later on there was a bank opened up there, the E.S. & A. Bank. They had a butter factory, they started a butter factory after we went up around there and people started dairying.
AW And you can remember that?
JCF Oh yes, I can remember that. A lot of the people started dairying then. Before that, the odd dairy people that were there, they used to send their cream in to a Depot in Woodford and they’d pick it up and take it down to Caboolture. But then finally they built a factory in Woodford many years ago.
AW So, where were you living in 1910?
JCF Pointon’s Pocket.
AW Can you remember Halley’s Comet?
JCF Oh yes.
AW Where were you when that happened?
JCF Well I was in Brisbane when that happened. I went down to have my eyes fixed and I was down there for a few months. I saw it down there. Mother saw it here.
AW What was it like seeing it in Brisbane?
JCF Just like a great big star, long tail that sort of swerved around.
AW Did you see it at all from up here in the country or you only ever saw it when you were in Brisbane?
JCF No, I was down there. I saw it down there.
AW So, was there a lot of excitement?
Death of King Edward VII
JCF Everybody used to get out in the morning and had a look at it. They pulled me out about three o’clock one morning to have a look at it. That was the year that old King Edward VII died.
AW Can you remember that?
JCF Oh yes.
AW Do you want to tell me a little bit about that?
JCF There was a chap boarding at the same place where we were and he used to work in the bank. He went to work and came home about ten o’clock. The bank should have been opened, but they had word through to say that the King had died.
AW So, they shut the bank?
JCF Oh yes, everything was closed down. They were going to hold a Memorial Service out at Exhibition Ground and he asked, if he could take me to it. So he took me to the Memorial Service. All the trams were draped with black and heliotrope, purple ribbons, and the few shops that were there, were closed. I was staying with my Grandmother.
AW Did people have arm bands on?
JCF Yes, some of them, not all but a lot of them had arm bands.
AW So people were genuinely grieved the King had died?
JCF Yes, my word. It was a terrible thing.
AW So, you were nine years old?
JCF I was nine years old when that happened in 1910. We went out in the tram and then we walked home around Gregory Terrace. He took me out for the afternoon.
AW This is the bank clerk?
AW You were also telling me the other day that your father, as a bullocky, pulled a lot of the timber out, from around the Woodford district, that was used for the street blocking.
JCF No, they pulled that from down here, from Glass House Mountains. When he first came down from the West.
AW When was that, after the big drought in 1902?
JCF 1902, yes. My Grandfather and his two other sons, Frank and Walter, were working here. When Dad came into the business, he came here too.
AW This is at Glass House Mountains?
JCF Yes, Glass House Mountains. He bought a team and went in with them. They were sending the timber down to Brisbane and I don’t know what mill it was, might have been Campbell’s or someone else. They used to cut the timber into the size of a brick and when they street block them, they used to stand the brick on its end. Of course when they had it all laid and that, they tarred it. They made good money out of it.
AW Did they do all the streets in Brisbane like that?
JCF Well, I don’t know. They did all the principal streets in those days, like George Street, Adelaide Street, Queen Street, Elizabeth Street and Eagle Street. They’d done all those main streets plus the little outside ones, what would have been the suburbs in those days.
AW You were also telling when you were down in the hospital for your eyes, in Brisbane, how you remember when they were building City Hall.
JCF Oh no, that was later on.
AW How much later on?
JCF They started building the City Hall in 1925. Part of it is built on a lagoon.
AW A lagoon?
JCF Yes, in the convict days, that was the water supply for Brisbane, where the City Hall is. And that’s where Oxley, when he sailed up the Brisbane River, first came ashore; he anchored on the quay, what is now the North Quay and he came ashore looking for water, and that’s where they found it.
AW There was a spring there?
JCF It was a big lagoon and a creek.
AW So King George Square would have been a big lagoon?
JCF No, not King George Square.
AW But that’s where the City Hall is.
JCF City Hall is, but the creek ran across the corner of King George Square, across Adelaide Street, over where Wallace Bishop’s is now, on the corner of Albert and Adelaide Street. Then it ran down along Adelaide Street, not on Adelaide Street, along Adelaide Street and turned and went down Creek Street.
AW And that’s why they call it Creek Street?
JCF Yes, and it went down there into the river.
AW You were also telling me there were old cattle yards there.
JCF No, horse yards. There were always horse sale yards where Wallace Bishop’s is today.
AW How late in time was that? When did they get rid of all the sale yards?
JCF Later on, as Brisbane grew. When they had those sale yards there, Brisbane was only a little country town.
AW Whey they started building the City Hall in 1925, were the sale yards still there?
JCF Oh no, they had gone years before.
AW So, you can remember it from a boy, when you first started coming to Brisbane.
JCF I remember when Dad; I don’t know how I came to get there but, Dad and I went down to Brisbane for some reason or another, and they took me with them. I don’t remember going down there, but I do remember Dad going in to the horse sale yards there, on that corner. I can still see the creek.
AW That’s a long time ago.
JCF It would be before 1905, because we went up there, to Pointon’s Pocket in 1906. It was somewhere in the beginning of 1905. I do remember just that bit. And then in 1925 when they started to build the City Hall, they built where the lagoon was – they drove batches of pylons, iron bark piles, drove them down into the ground and they sealed them over with cement.
AW So the City Hall wouldn’t sink?
JCF One corner of the City Hall is standing on piles.
AW I wonder if they know that now?
JCF I pulled piles for that, just when we first got married in 1925, from over Woodford, with the team. A chap there, by the name of Higgins, had the contract and of course he got the bullockies to pull the piles in.
AW And where would you take them to?
JCF To Wood ford.
AW and they’d be loaded at the railway there?
JCF The old railway was through to Woodord in 1908. Of course we’d pull them into the railway yards, then they’d load them on the trucks and send them down.
AW Did you ever cut sleepers or bridge girders for the Railway Department?
JCF No, I stripped palings and posts and rails and that.
AW How did that pay?
JCF You could make money in it. Of course in the real olden days, Brisbane was all posts and rails and paling fences. All the allotments. Of course they finally done away with it all. That’s all scrapped now.
AW It’s all metal.
JCF Yes, but I pulled piles for the City Hall.
AW Did you every supply any wood or any timber for any bridges in the Landsborough Shire or in the area?
JCF No, not in Lansborough Shire, I never supplied any bridge timber in there.
AW So, you were a bullocky from when you were fourteen. That would have been in 1913?
JCF No. 1915.
AW So when did you stop?
JCF In about 1933.
The Great Depression
AW You stopped using the bullocks right in the middle of the Depression?
AW What did you do then?
JCF Well, the bullocks went out of fashion. I always say, “they went out of fashion”. That’s when timber wasn’t worth pulling, nothing like that.
AW Was there no money in timber?
JCF Nobody wanted it. All the building had stopped. There were only just very, very few buildings that went on during the Depression.
AW So, what on earth did you do, because you were just a young married man with a family?
JCF We had top get on the best way we could. I chipped bananas for a shilling an hour.
AW Where was that?
JCF Up at Yandina, up on the Range, Cooloolabin they called it. I chipped bananas for a shilling an hour and was blooming pleased to get it. I’ve always told young people how I chipped bananas in the Depression, I wasn’t the only one, and they laughed, they said, “Fancy chipping for a shilling an hour.” You blooming pleased to get it, because there were no hand outs in those days.
AW What about Sustenance money, didn’t they have that?
JCF No, that Sustenance money started after the Depression. When the Government brought in Relief Work, they paid you the award rate of wage, but they paid according to family. Now, a single man, they never got work, I think it was about seven and six a week, ration ticket they got from the police station. And that’s what they had to live on.
AW What time span are we talking about? Is this the late 1930s?
JCF The Depression started when the bottom fell out of timber getting, in the middle of 1927. And then dairying collapsed in 1928.
AW Why was that?
JCF Oh well, no sales for it. No overseas sales, nothing like that. No money, the banks drew up all the money.
AW So, it was really the Depression that was in Europe and in America, that caused Australia to go into a depression in the first place.
JCF Yes, a married man with no family only got a day’s work a week on the road, if he had to go onto Relief as they called it. And then according to your family, your wife and the number of children, you might get a day and a half a week.
AW What would you do, work on the roads?
JCF Some of them would work on the roads, you didn’t lie around the beaches in those days, you worked. And the gang, some of them were tough. Now, we were chipping bananas for a shilling an hour and that went along for quite a long time. There were quite a number of settlers up there and quite a number of banana blocks, and one bloke said that he could get any amount of men to work for ninepence an hour and he dropped his to ninepence an hour and they all dropped to ninepence an hour.
AW So the wages went down?
JCF And that meant that we were working forty-eight hours a week for thirty-six shillings. So I went onto Relief then.
AW How many children did you have by this stage?
JCF Four. I got three days a week at fourteen shillings a day.
AW How long did that last for?
JCF I think it was about the end of 1934, when it started to pick up a little bit. Of course, it gradually went on. It was just starting to get going when the War broke out.
AW Was it a shock to go from having money and having food, to having nothing?
JCF My word it was!
AW Do you think everybody in Australia was in shock generally?
JCF They were all the same. They were all shocked.
AW How did people cope?
JCF Of course the trouble was, a lot of people who ran accounts got caught. They thought it was only for a couple of months and it would right again, but of course they never steadied it. They found themselves with a damn big debt to pay as well as trying to live. When you were on Relief, if you missed a day’s work, you had to explain why you missed it. I was a way up on Cooloolabin, but I had to go in every Saturday morning into Nambour to get my pay.
AW That’s a long way.
JCF They didn’t bring it to us, we had to go there.
AW That’s a long way on your day off.
JCF No, of course, when you were working on Relief, when you were working on Saturday, we only worked three days. I only worked three days, but Saturday was pay day.
AW Did you have your own farm then?
AW You were just renting?
JCF Yes, we had our own house, but no farm.
AW You would have had your own house cow and grew vegetables to live by?
JCF We did have a house cow, but it was a struggle. There were two chaps, so we were told, in Nambour, they were always late at the Depot to go out on work. They were cautioned several times, but finally the Ganger went without them. They never got paid, that was their fault, they should have been there on time. They were strict in those days.
AW So you said the Depression started picking up around 1934.
JCF Slightly improved towards the end of 1934.
AW How did you know things were improving?
JCF You’d start to sell more stuff. Some of the mills started up again. There was a mill in Yandina, which was closed down all through the Depression. Well, at the end of 1934 a chap bought that mill and he started it up and he managed to get orders enough to keep going. Of course he was only paying a very, very small wage, but it was work, pleased to get it. Of course then it gradually picked up and got better and, it just got nicely going when the War broke out. They had plenty of money then, my word! No money before, but plenty of money when the War broke out!
AW Do you feel the Government was holding out on you a bit?
JCF They put the thumb screws on, as we used to say, pulled all the money out. You couldn’t get a loan or nothing.
AW Was this during the Depression or was this after the War?
JCF It was all World wide. It wasn’t only Australia. It was all over the world. The banks pulled all the money out.
AW Did you notice at all in the newspapers, or international media, that the economy of America or Britain was getting better and Australia’s got better in turn?
JCF Yes, oh yes! They gradually livened up right throughout the World.
AW So, was this basically because Australia’s primary production exports; there was no call for them, so that’s why we went into the Depression?
JCF That’s right. And it was a funny thing here in Australia. There was over production and there was starvation, because people didn’t have the money to buy. Of course the farmers couldn’t sell. They were in as bad a way as anybody else.
AW Do you think the Government at the time handled the situation correctly?
JCF I suppose they’d done the best they could; if they couldn’t get the money, they couldn’t do anything about it. I don’t know who was really to blame for the Depression but, by golly we had it. And it was tough too!
AW Do you think we will see another depression in the future?
JCF Oh, we could.
AW Do you see any similar signs?
JCF It’s heading that way now with all these mini budgets. They’re cutting back on everything.
AW Did they do that in the old days, had lots of little mini budgets?
JCF I don’t think they ever had any budget much to cut back on.
AW We’ve jumped ahead of ourselves here. Let’s go back to the twenties. So you were still working with the bullock team and you had your own bullock team by that stage; when did you meet your wife?
JCF Oh well, when we were way up there in the bush, on the Stanley River, Mum went away to have a new baby and there was nowhere to leave us so, the two sisters ahead of me and myself, I was the youngest, were bought down here.
AW To Glass House Mountains?
JCF To Mrs. Burgess’.
AW So you actually stayed here with Mary when you were a child?
JCF Yes, they brought us down here and we stayed here for a fortnight or whatever it was. Mary’s mother looked after us.
AW So you were five and Mary was four, when you first met?
AW And did you see each other regularly through your life?
AW When did you meet up again?
JCF I think we met once at a dance at Beerwah, then not until 1923.
Meeting Mary and getting married
AW Can you remember that night you met Mary again at Beerwah?
JCF Of course, she, her mother and father were all up there. I’d met them all. I rode eleven miles down for a dance, then I never saw her again ‘till I came down here in 1923.
AW Did you dance much with Mary that night?
JCF I think I might have had a dance.
AW So you were twenty two when you saw her again?
AW It was in 1923.
JCF No, it was much earlier than that. I just forget what year it was.
AW So how come you ended up meeting each other and thinking, right, let’s get married?
JCF The night of the dance was somewhere around 1918 – 1919 when I saw her there at Beerwah. Then we never saw each other again ‘till I came down in 1923.
AW So, you moved down to Glass House Mountains then?
JCF No, I worked my team here for a while, then I sold the team and went back over Woodford way. And she was working around here, then she went to Brisbane working down there. I used to go down there now and again.
AW So, whereabouts were you married?
JCF We were married in Brisbane.
AW What was the name of the church?
JCF The Methodist Church, Upper Clifton Terrace on Red Hill.
AW And when was that?
JCF 19th February, 1925.
AW So whereabouts did you have your first home together?
JCF I was living at a place called Cedar Flat. That’s only about a mile, Woodford side of Pointon’s Pocket. We had our first home there. And the timber cut out and I moved the team up to Yandina.
AW So, when World War Two broke out, whereabouts were you then? Were you still in Yandina?
JCF No, we had gone over and I took over a farm of Dad’s at Toogoolawah. But I didn’t have it long, there was nothing much in it.
AW So Mary went to Brisbane during the War?
JCF She moved down to Brisbane. There was a little shop down there that dumped on us. We backed a person to go into it and they made a mess of things and walked out and left it. So Mary went down there and looked after that and she did a good job and pulled it together. But the trouble was, she was only in there about a month when the blooming War broke out and of course they put the squeeze on everything then.
AW So then you couldn’t really make money out of small businesses?
JCF No, but she made a living out of it. Then after the War things started to pick up.
AW Mary was telling me the other day when I was talking to her, that during the War, they advised people that had children in the city, to send the children off to the country.
JCF Oh yes.
AW So, your children came up here with Mary’s mother.
JCF She sent them up here.
AW Up to Bankfoot House?
AW Mary also told me that you were working for Sallaways up in Maleny for a while.
JCF Oh yes, that was before the War.
AW What were you doing up there?
JCF Driving a Tractor, snigging timber.
AW Whereabouts from?
JCF All round the place. Did a lot out, of what they called Snake Creek, way out past Witta. Worked a lot down Conondale.
AW Down towards the Obi?
JCF No, on top of the Range, but out, as you go down through the Obi, out on the left, way around there where the Range is.
AW Oh, I know, there’s Witta and there’s Curramore at the back of Witta, so it’s sort of more back of Curramore and down a bit.
JCF That’s right. And we were working down in Conondale, we were working all round the place. I spent four years up there.
AW When did tractors come into the picture? When did they replace bullocks?
JCF Well, in the Depression. The first one, that chap that bought the mill in Yandina, in 1934, he bought a new Holt tractor. I got the job of driving it. That was the first job I had after the depression.
AW Driving a tractor?
JCF Driving that and snigging timber. Hauling timber.
AW How was that compared to using bullocks?
JCF Oh, it was much easier. Terribly easier on the man. I worked on there and then I went from there to Sallaway’s. I got a much better wage at Sallaway’s, so I left him and went over to Sallaway’s.
AW So that was when they started clear felling with bulldozers?
JCF Of course, when they first came out they had no blade on them, those dozers, but later on, during the War, they got blades on them and used them as dozers for making roads.
Maleny – early settlers, dances
AW So, within this Blackhall Range area here, where we are now, Glass House Mountains up to the plateau and up to Maleny, when was most of it cleared? Was that when the first selectors came in the late 1800s?
JCF Up Maleny?
AW Yes and all round here too, was it cleared in the early days by hand with bullocks or was it when the bulldozers and tractors came?
JCF It was all hand cleared.
AW So that’s when most of the clearing happened?
JCF Yes, they fell all the scrub by hand, cleaned it all up.
AW It didn’t accelerate at all when the machinery came on the scene?
JCF Most of the clearing was done when the machinery came about. Of course there’s been a lot cleared around here with dozers since they came into it. But the main part of it was all cleared by hand and Maleny was all cleared by hand. The scrub was felled by hand.
AW Did you ever go to Maleny when you were a young boy?
JCF Oh, we used to ride up there occasionally to a dance, that’s all.
AW Can you remember much about the town?
JCF Yes, it was only a very little place.
AW Was there a bridge across the Obi there?
JCF Oh yes, a very small one.
AW I was told that the bullock drivers used to have to take their teams down a cutting and down across the creek and then back up. They weren’t allowed to use the bridge. In the early days, they used to have cross through the water. And the same way out this side of Maleny now.
AW Walker’s Bridge?
JCF Walker’s Bridge. There was no bridge there in the early days, of course the old Walker’s Bridge is gone now. It used to come straight down like that and now you come around here.
AW You come round that big corner?
AW So the road went straight down into that valley, then across?
JCF When you come into those cuttings there and turn that way to go towards Maleny, the old road went straight down.
AW Instead of going round the fuel depot where it goes now?
JCF It went straight down across the creek and straight up the road there and come round the western side of where the new school is now. Yes. When you’re coming out of Maleny and you come across the Obi, you come up past the hotel. Instead of swinging around here to the left, down near S.E.QE.B., you used to go straight up onto the top of the hill, where the new high school is and turn and come down.
AW So the main road into Maleny used to round the back to the south western side of the new school?
AW So you would have had to have gone, down the gully and then round the face of that hill, round the back of it and then back down into Maleny.
JCF Yes. When you’re going from Landsborough, instead of turning right and going where the road goes now, you went straight down through the creek and up the hill and turned on top of the hill and come back down to the hotel.
AW Did Maleny have any bakers when you first went up there?
JCF Yes, they had a baker up there, Andrew McLean, he was the baker there for years.
AW And do you remember the Co-Op, the Butter Factory, when they had that little shed down in Maple Street in Maleny?
JCF I don’t remember that.
AW Before they built the big factory around in Coral Street, in 1912?
JCF I only remember the big factory over on the creek. I don’t remember any small one. I do remember the main street being nothing only a blooming bog hole.
AW How thick would the mud be?
JCF Up to a couple of feet down. Wagons were coming down through it in the wet weather.
AW I suppose it used to rain all the time up there?
JCF It used to rain up there! It used to rain for nine months of the year.
AW Why did people go and live up there?
JCF Well, they had to live somewhere and they selected it cheap and they were making a living out of it.
AW So it was the timber getters, the bullockies that went in there after the cedar first of all.
JCF They were the first in there.
AW And what, they selected land there and stayed on, some of them?
JCF A lot of them selected land there and there was a big crowd that came up from the Northern Rivers in N.S.W. and selected up there.
AW Can you remember any of their names?
JCF Bryces and Websters and McCarthys. Mr McCarthy, I think came from the Northern Rivers in the first place.
AW He was the first man to live up there, wasn’t he?
JCF Well, McCarthy’s place was the first place to be surveyed, but I don’t know who was the first up there. There was a Mrs Jane Dunlop, I think she would be about one of the first. She had a place there, she dummied a place for Pettigrew. Pettigrew took up a selection up there.
AW And he, under selectors rule, had to live there?
JCF Yes, he took it up in her name, what they called a “Dummy Selection”, and she and her daughter and sons went up there. You know where there’s a pine tree, just above where Wilde is, Peachester Road, well she lived round about there. She dummied that I think. She went up there in 1882.
AW This is from your reading or is it from people telling you about this?
JCF Oh no, it’s history, it’s in the Obi Waters book.
AW Did you ever know Mrs. Dunlop?
JCF No, I didn’t know the old people. All the early settlers up there selected there about 1881-1882, all in the 1880s. There was nothing there, only scrub.
AW You reckon it was just boggy and wet.
JCF It could rain up there! But that was before my time. I remember in the 1915-17-18’s and that, it was a terrible bog hole.
AW Did many people live up there then?
JCF Oh yes, we were well settled in then.
AW Did they have a big School of Arts Hall up there?
JCF The School of Arts was built then, we used to dance and that.
AW So you’d ride from Pointon’s Pocket over the Four Thousand?
JCF Yes, up to Maleny.
AW And would you stay there for the night?
JCF No, when the dance was over, we’d ride home and start work.
AW In the dark?
AW That would be a long ride in those days, over to your place.
JCF It wasn’t a long ride in those days, it would be a long ride now. Anybody doing it now would think it was a long ride, but we never worried. We’d leave home just before dark and get up there in time for the dance to start at eight o’clock. And we’d leave the dance in time then to get home by daylight.
AW So you could do your work?
JCF Yes, start work.
AW And you wouldn’t sleep?
JCF Oh no. No sleep in those days, just change your clothes and into it. No trouble at all.
AW Sounds like fun.
JCF That was the only fun we had. We didn’t have dances every week either.
AW So, where else would there be dances?
JCF Occasionally there’d be one at Peachester and now and again over at Commissioner’s Flats School and another one down at Stanmore, but you didn’t have them every week. Might only have one a month.
AW And everybody would go?
JCF Yes, everybody would turn up, that was the only thing to go to.
AW I’ve heard that they were really good events, that all the women would bring baskets of food and you’d have a big supper.
JCF Yes. Most of the dances, you paid to go in and they bought food up there and then there were picnics; they used to arrange to have a day out together and the district used to stand still that day, everybody goes to picnic, because there was nothing else to go to.
AW So, everybody worked so hard and then when you had these social events, you all played really hard as well?
JCF Oh yes! Too right! Of course they used to have a school picnic two or three times a year. They used to generally have an Arbor Day picnic up there where we were.
AW At Commissioner’s Flat?
JCF And then when school broke up, we only had a week, in my days. Mid-winter holidays. When school broke up, the last day of school, they’d have a picnic. Everybody would come, nobody worked that day, because there was nothing else to go to. They’d all come, all the young people and all the families would come.
AW Is there any sort of food that you can remember especially as being a real treat?
JCF We used to have only ordinary sandwiches and you know, meat.
AW Did you have any favourite food?
JCF Well, you had a lot of favourite food but you very seldom got it.
AW What was your favourite food?
JCF Well, we used to think it marvellous when we had a bit of ham. It was wonderful. We used to only get that at Christmas time.
AW So it was a real treat to have a ham sandwich?
JCF My word! It was for everybody, because they couldn’t afford it. And now Christmases don’t seem anything because all year, we are getting the food we used to get at Christmas time. See, at Christmas time, the parents used to struggle and put on a bit extra, have ham and one thing or another like that. We kids would be carting bottles, washing them and cleaning them.
AW What would you gather the bottles for?
JCF Oh, Mother would make a great big boiler full of ginger beer or a boiler full of hop beer. You couldn’t buy the stuff in those days, when we were little kids.
AW So you’d make it all yourselves.
JCF Mother used to make it all herself. Not only her but all the other women used to make hop beer and ginger beer.
AW Was the hop beer alcoholic?
JCF No, it wasn’t alcoholic, but you could taste the hops in it. She never put enough in to make it alcoholic. We’d have them there, and “they’d be right for it”, we used to call it, and you’d hear the “pop”.
AW You’d hear the tops popping off?
JCF Blooming bottles would blow the cork.
AW What would you do then?
JCF Go and clean the mess up. Mary’s family had the same, their mother used to make all the things we did.
AW So generally, every family would start getting ready for Christmas. Did you have Santa Claus in those days?
JCF He used to find his way in occasionally.
AW Did you talk about Santa Claus in those days?
JCF Oh yes.
AW And did you have the Easter Bunny?
JCF No, he never found his way up there. (Pointon’s Pocket)
AW Did you have the Tooth Fairy when your teeth fell out when you were a kid?
JCF Our teeth went bad, no dentists, nothing. Oh yes, they used to have a Tooth Fairy.
AW So, those traditions havn’t changed much?
JCF No, Other people used to make this ginger beer and hop beer. The mothers used to do it or else the kids would have nothing at Christmas time. You couldn’t buy a bottle of soft drink in those days.
AW So you had to make it all at home?
JCF The hotels used to serve some, but that’s all.
AW So, if you were doing everything at home, it seems to me that you would have to buy a lot of food, a lot of provisions. Where would you buy it all from?
JCF We used to get most of it from Woodford, they had a couple of little stores in there.
AW How would you buy the flour?
JCF Well, we first went up there, there was no way of getting anything out only going for it, so Dad used to send down a three months order. Sent it down to Brisbane at Alfred Shaw, and they’d send it up to Beerwah and the old man would go down on the buckboard. By that time, he’d managed to buy a couple of horses and a buckboard and he used to go down in the buggy and bring the stuff up every three months.
AW How much flour would you have in a three months order?
JCF You could only buy 150 pound bags, in those days. We used to get 150 pounds of flour, that would last us three months. A couple of bags of sugar and different other things. Of course we could get a lot of things locally up there, heaps of farmers around there were only too pleased for you to come and buy.
AW What about your seeds for growing corn and vegetables, where would you get your seeds from?
JCF Stores in Woodford used to get that up. Of course, after we got settled up there a while, and there were others that came round and started dairying. Well, then they started a cream run, so, then we used to get a lot of stuff out from Woodford, because we could get it out with the cream run. But until the cream carts started, the first three or four years we were up there, we used to have to go for everything.
AW Can you remember the portion number of your father’s selection?
JCF Yes. Portion Number 238. Parish of Durundur. And his brothers Allen selected Number 237, adjoining him, the same day.
AW So, you would have been in what Shire?
JCF Allen was in Landsborough Shire when they divided it up and we were in Caboolture.
AW I just wanted to ask that for the records so people would know when we talk about Cedarton, that, that’s the old Pointon’s Pocket.
JCF When they selected up there it was all Caboolture Divisional Board, right up around Kin Kin, somewhere up Kenilworth and Eumundi. In 1912 they divided it up and Kilcoy, Caboolture, Landsborough and Maroochy were all divided up. And Allen’s when they divided it up, they drew the line down and Allen’s block, Number 237, was in Landsborough and Dad’s was in Caboolture. Of course Allen’s outlet was up onto the Four Thousand Road to come down through Peachester.
AW And how did you get to our place?
JCF We could go up from Beerwah to our place or in from Woodford. But Allen, in 1912 I think it was, he bought a big lump of Dad’s place so as to give him an outlet onto Commissioner’s Flat.