As I said in my Biograph, I was born in May 1949 in Grenfell NSW, I am the 3rd of 8 children and mum and dad lived on a farm at the Uppingham rail siding. We were 5 miles from Greenethorpe and the road to town was along a dirt road.
On the map of NSW Uppingham was shown as a city simply because it was a rail siding. It was a whistle stop for the small Stations and large farms in that area each farm covered the equivalent of a Sydney suburb.
The farm was a 1500 acre mixed farm, with sheep, cattle, horses and some pigs. We grew wheat, oats, clover, and vegetables. We milked our own cows and some of the milk was separated to make cream and butter. We had chooks for eggs and for meat my father kept sheep.
Dad was the chief labourer for the property where our house was. Our house had no electricity, phone, or running water. My mother cooked on a wood stove and we used kerosene lamps for light.
Mum and us kids were the ones who chopped the wood to feed the fire when mum cooked.
We used tank water for drinking and washing but in times of drought when the tanks ran dry then well water was better then nothing.
From our back veranda you could sit and watch wedge tail eagles gliding around the mountains. Sometimes lizards, goannas, and snakes came into our house looking for somewhere to sleep. Because snakes and spiders liked our beds we had to look for them before getting in.
Our dad worked in the vegetable garden with a single furrow plough. A horse pulled the plough in the garden was part draft horse. The old horse was raised as a poddy and he would not tread on a single vegetable when ploughing or scarifying between rows regardless of how hard the going got.
Us kids used to go round the farm on horse back although I preferred horse and cart as my father alway said I was a sissy. Sometimes we had to help with the sheep shearing and milking; I did it even if I was terrified of cows.
Sometimes, when dad was working in one of the far paddocks our mother used to make tea in a billy. So we could take it out to where my father was working. She would wrap the billy in layers of newspaper to keep it hot and put biscuits or cakes in an old tin box. Although it was sometimes over a mile, the tea was still hot when we got there. Then we would share the morning tea with our father.
At other times I watched my father ploughing with a ten-horse team and a Sundercut disc plough. He worked from sunrise to sunset ploughing.
Before I started school, when I was very young, my mother used to take us shopping by horse and sulky and tie us to the seat to stop us from falling off. The trip to town sometimes took up to two hours– and over two hours–to get home as we lived high up in the hills.
The year I started kindergarten, I went by train with my older brother and sister. By the way -our farm had its own siding that was one mile from our house.
Our siding had a stick with a tin flag to signal the train to stop. The train was a freight with a boxcar carriage and pulled by an old steam engine. The trip to town by rail was all down hill and the trip only took a half hour.
We had to walk to the siding every morning at 7.00 am to catch the train rain, snow or shine.
In winter it was dark. Sometimes we got lost going through paddocks. So we missed the train to school. Winter time was the worst with frost on the grass so when you walked the grass snapped and crackled under your feet and the puddles of water had ice up to half an inch thick. With the wind whistling around your ears you shivered on the way to school. In winter, any kids who played up were made to chop wood for the school heaters.
Chopping wood was a hard job as I think the school had one of the bluntest axes in the world. Our teachers never liked sissies so they did most of the wood chopping at school.
I never liked school because all the other kids always picked on me because my clothes were hand – me – downs
Our school had only three rooms. One room was used as a library. In the next room they had kindergarten, first, second and third class; and in the last room fourth, fifth and sixth class. In later years they moved kindergarten into the library. Some kids went to school by car, bikes, or on horse back and horse and sulky as there were stables at our school .I believe that they are still there even today.
The town kids only had to walk over the train lines to get to school
Springtime was the best as we walked to school though fields of flowers that went for miles or wheat up to your arm pits. The scent of wattle was in the air and with cool, mornings and warm days. Spring was a time to run and play. I could sit for hours just smelling the flowers.
When the train broke down we used to get to school late, as there was only one train each way every day. The train home came early sometimes and so we got to go home while the others had to stay to finish classes. Sometimes as early as 2.00 pm, the driver blew the whistle as they went past the school, so we could get our shopping and go to the station to catch the train home.
In summer the heat in the train was scorching. At times, the out side temperatures would get up to 120F in the shade. Then, when you walked up the hill from the siding to the house, you could hardly breathe with the heat and the smell of smoke, heat, and dust. As well there was always the danger of grass fires. When climbing steep grades the train divers had to stoke up the fire and then sometimes spark started bushfires.
The farmers along the line kept a lookout for fires because if one started they where hard to stop. When the wheat was dry and ready to harvest only one spark was needed and then a whole crop could go up in smoke.
When the train stopped at the town the drivers sometimes had a drink at the pub. One day while they were having a drink some high school kids were playing in the train engine and started it going out of town. But the kids could not stop it although after three or four miles it ran out of steam. The passengers never knew that they had been for a joy ride or the possible danger they were in because the drivers caught the train just as it started rolling back down into town.
The trip home by train sometimes was very slow taking up to three hours. When the wheat harvesting was on, sometimes the train was overloaded with the extra wheat the old steam engine had a hard time pulling up the hills. The train sometimes taking two or three goes at some of the gradients with its wheels spinning madly and steam and thick black smoke belching everywhere the train worked hard.
When I was five or six, my younger sister had bad convulsions so my mother said we needed a doctor. My father was away working. Because we had no phone, my brother and I had to harness a horse and sulky and drive for help although our nearest neighbour’s house that was over three miles away. To get help, our neighbours phoned the hospital then drove to my house. When they saw how sick my sister was, they drove like mad to get my her to hospital that was over an hour away by car. My sister was tough and was running around as usual, the next day, even though she was in pain.
Another time my sister got viral meningitis, the next day, as our school train pulled into town we were shocked when met by an angry mob. The train was ordered to go back out of town. While the train was going out of town a shot was fired and school kids started crying but in time the police came and they explained that viral meningitis is not contagious.
Our family used to have big bonfires, on cracker night, in the old days. For weeks, before cracker night, us kids used to collect small trees and bushes. Then we used to place them around a tree trunk as a centre pole, and build up the small stuff around the bottom. Our mum used to cook for a week before bonfire night: tarts, cakes and other goodies. It was a feast on the night. There were sometimes, crowds of people who came from towns and farms -sometimes from hundreds of miles away. They came by car, train, horse, sulkies, or drays and slept in sheds, cars or under the stars.
Sometimes before city kids come to visit we would dig deep holes to make booby traps along bush walking tracks. Some had never been on a farm before so the kids were in for a big surprise.
Just on dark, two or three gallons of petrol and a match -the bonfire was on and it went all night.
Later, in the early morning, us kids went up and played in the hills. We played hide and seek chasing and losing the city kids in the bush until well after sunrise. The others used to tease me ‘cause I was rather small for my age, so I was usually ‘it’ and dad used to laugh too.
One weekend a new school teacher, from the city, came to our farm and asked could we take her up the mountains and into the bush to have a look around. She was wearing a new dress with high heel shoes and stockings, ready to go bush walking.
While we were leading her up the front way the other kids went up the mountain the back way and booby trapped the bush. They stayed there, running around and made scary noises and wild animal sounds the teacher was scared.
We all acted scared so she started to panic. “Wild dogs,” we said to her. We were walking along the path looking for wild dogs with her behind us.
We split in to two groups and walked on opposite sides of the path. Then, guess who fell down a hidden hole in the middle? Well, you never know where dogs dig holes.
Then, as we walked across an old wooden bridge with our new lady teacher, she fell through some loosened boards. She was lucky as there was no water in the creek – only mud where the two legged dogs had been digging under the bridge. When we had a look, the dogs had taken the nails out of the boards on the bridge so someone would fall through.
When she got back to the farm she was mad and said, “You have done this to me just to be nasty.” We all looked innocent and shuffled our feet. We said, “We never.”
Then the next day, when we went to school, she was waiting for us and we all got the cane. “Six of the best, for fidgeting in class,” she said….
Seven miles from town was a boy’s home called Iandra. The homestead was a well known landmark as it was built early this century by a man named Green. It looked like an old English castle with ninety nine rooms and a tower from which you could see towns over twenty miles away.
Now the homestead is falling down and has been condemned but who knows someone may save it. Even the stables were better then some of the houses that people live. The staff quarters would make many city houses look like poor shacks.
When we were young sometimes we played in the castle as it was only an hour away by horse…
In 1958, they put a better road passed our farm and then a school bus started running. They started a motor rail service that lasted for five or six years. Passenger trains have now stopped running so they pulled our siding down. Now everyone travels by car, bus, or truck these days. Today, the farm is owned by a Pit street farmer who runs the farm from an office in town.
The old house is still standing, but after years of neglect, it is starting to fall down. The sulkies, carts, and old ploughs are only rusting away or in antique shops and museums.
We lived there until 1960 when we moved into Greenethorpe. I attended Primary School in Greenethorpe and High school in Young.
In 1965 I left school I went to Sydney and after TAFE and University training, I commenced work in the Electronic Control Industry. I had several jobs.
Retiring in 1991, I Looked after my father until he died. After my father’s death I Came to live in Darlinghurst in 1998, the same year in which I met my husband Andrew.
Andrew and I became engaged in 1999 and made our life long commitment to each other, on September 21st at the Way Side Chapel in Potts Point. After being very sure of our future together we were married, on 31st May 2003,in the Ecumenical Catholic Church of Australia, during a Nuptial Mass.
I ordered one of the deluxe versions of the Marriage Certificate, it hangs on our wall. We continue to live in Darlinghurst
As you will have noticed, from the Index, this site features my various Medical Conditions. I began to experience what we called Grand Mal seizures in 1954, these persist and have never been Controlled. They are perhaps my second most life threatening disability.
Somewhere in the 1970’s a mass was suspected in the base of my brain, but which was undetectable until the advent of the MRI machine. Subsequently this was shown to be a Prolactinoma on the posterior pituitary Gland. In the meantime I had begun to lose my eyesight, due to the mass.
This was seated right beneath the Optic Chiasm where the Optic nerves cross over. The Chiasm became squashed – resulting in gradual loss of sight. In 1998 I could still get around without a Mobility aid. In 1999 I was classified as being Legally Blind. I have some small vision in my left eye. My right eye does not work at all. I use a roller ball tipped cane for mobility.
In 1997 I developed type 2 diabetes which is now Insulin Controlled with use of tablets. With the Epilepsy this is the second life threatening illness. Since low blood sugar may result in seizures even for those without epilepsy.
I continued to live a positive life doing as much computer maintenance, typing, carpentry, craft and enjoying the respite days when I have someone to accompany me out on outings and muck up with. I love being with people. Laughing and making them laugh stimulates me and makes me happy.
In May 2001 I had the Prolactinoma removed in a surgical procedure known as Transphenoidal Surgery – see my pages on Pituitary Surgery; unfortunately the Tumour re-grew and even after Stereotactic Radiosurgery, in December 2001, is still alive and well, though still in remission.
In September 2007 I received a Corneal Transplant, for my right eye, during surgery at Sydney Eye Hospital; the transplant has been successful, so far and I have since regained enough eyesight in that eye to manage without my cane.
During 2006 and 2007 I gradually lost the use of my legs due to the discovery that I have very advanced Osteo-arthritis in both hips, and in the right one both Ball and Socket joints have no cartilage left; as the result of this the Pain Clinic at St. Vincent’s hospital told me not to place any weight on my legs in case I drive the head of my femur straight up through the Socket and into my torso -killing me.
Andrew’s mum died in February 2007 and by September probate was through and Andrew bought a motorised wheelchair for me from Northcott. – More about this with my Medical Pages.
Currently we await news that our future home is ready for us and soon we expect to relocate in South Maroubra.
We relocated to our current home in the July of 2008, we have a three bedroomed ground floor unit, with ramp and accessible rooms.
The doorways had to be widened and doors removed but we are here and it continues to be a challenge to get everything to which those with disability are entitled.
Randwick City Council Access Committee
As in the city of South Sydney, before its amalgamation with Sydney Council, both Andrew and I served on the Access committee keeping track of issues of access, enabling these to be amended. We manage to achieve this by identifying the issues, such as the lack of kerb ramps and then photograph the locations and log them with the city engineers office.
Shortly we are to do a walk about Cooee beach on behalf of a Tourist walk project – all the streets require checking for access.