True Life Story of a Country Bumpkin

In a town called Coonamble in Mid Western New South Wales, I was born on the 31st of January 1916 at my Grandmothers home. When I was born I took convulsions, the Mid Wife who attended my Mum took me home to her house where she put me in a tub of very warm water to which some mustard had been added (a mustard bath), must have been the thing to do in those days.

It worked because 80 years on I am here to tell the tale, I was one of five children. All my brothers and my only sister have passed on.

My father always worked on Stations looking after stock, fixing fences and so on. One day when I was about ten months old he was working on a fence that had been washed down by flood waters when a piece of wire struck him in the eye. He lost his eye. I don’t remember him with anything but one eye. Mum told me everything about it and I have a photo that was taken before the accident.
When I was three years old my brother Jack was born, sometime later we moved to another property.
The house on this property that we moved into had never been finished being built.

The fireplace in the lounge room was only a hole in the floor with a tin chimney around it and there were no ceilings at all which turned out to be a good thing, because there was a mice plague. Mice everywhere and there was no cupboards to put the food in, so Father hung two rails, got some pieces of wire and hung the rails from the rafters, put some pieces of tin across the rails making a loft to put our food on to keep it away from the mice. After some time, I don’t know the reason why, but all the mice just disappeared.

One day my brother and I were playing outside and we got some big rollie pollies (big bushes that used to grow on the plains). When dry they used to blow across the paddocks, rolling over and over so we called them rollie pollies, anyhow we took them inside and put them on the fire in the kitchen, well the flames went up the chimney setting fire to the soot that had built up over the years. However there was no damage done because the chimney was built out of tin, but my poor mum got a great fright and I thought it was the end of everything. I suppose I was the ringleader in the drama as I was the older one.

We had to learn to cope with our loss and get on with our lives and after a few months I had another miscarriage. It was a Sunday morning and when I woke up I didn’t feel well. Arthur had a load of wood to get for the wood yard so Joy rang for the Doctor. When he asked her what the trouble was she couldn’t tell him. I got up and went to the phone and fainted a few minutes later. Doctor arrived and sent me to hospital where I stayed for seven to eight days and three pints of blood later I was allowed to go home.

Now both Joy and Beryl have gone away working. Joy to Sydney and Beryl to Queensland where she worked for about twelve months. Then she came home to go back to work at the hospital where she started nursing. About six months later another little girl has arrived also with a club foot, we were so worried, I asked our Doctor to send her to an infant specialist who gave her a good examination and told me he could find nothing wrong with her.

Of cause we had to take her to Camperdown, this time I was staying with my sister in-law at Bankstown. This time we only had to stay for one month. The Doctor said that I knew how to handle things after having had our little boy to look after, but I would have to take her down for checkup’s every three weeks, this was for about three visits, then it was two months and so on until it was six months. When she was twelve months old the splints were taken off and she started walking, then she had to have special boots, odd sizes because her club foot was shorter than the other one and the boots were worn on the wrong feet then it was a caliper, but she was well otherwise. Her name is Jean, but the boys nicknamed her Jackie and it is still Jackie. When she was four years old we moved out of town as there were only three of the family left at home now. Beryl and Joy were married and Dulcie had moved to Sydney to finish her hair dressing training and the other boys had gone off working elsewhere, so we sold our house and went sharefarming. We were living in a tin shed.
It was a good life, but we worked hard. Lloyd was working on another farm, Ron and Jackie went to a bush school. I used to drive them to school and pick them up in the afternoon. We had about seven miles to travel to and from.

In the busy times such as ploughing or sowing we worked twenty-four hours a day. Arthur would drive all night until 9.30am until I got back from taking the kids to school then I would drive all day until 3pm then he would take over again and I would take his tea to him and drive while he ate his meal.

In the slack time he would work for the Boss doing other things such as fencing and so on. We did this for four years, but Arthur wanted a farm of his own so we started buying the Land News Paper looking for farms for sale. We looked at quite a few places then there was one at Rylstone. Mr Marchent was the agent so over we came and it was a terrible place and a terrible road to get there. Just another disappointment, but on our way back into town Mr Marchent took us to look at Blue Stone that is where we bought our farm we paid the deposit and moved in. The arrangements with the chap where we were sharefarming to go back and do one more year, but after some time they told us they were not doing any more share farming, that was a big let down because we needed that extra crop to help pay for our farm.

Now with installments that needed to be paid and fuel and seed to be bought things were tough and there was only two paddocks fit to farm. We worked hard digging out seedlings clearing more ground and gathering rocks it kept us busy, then Arthur had to find work elsewhere to keep some money coming in and when he got home from his job at the carbon quarry he would do some burning off. We were in debt everywhere.

We also bought some sheep and when they started lambing they started dying. They were full of worms so we had to drench them and dip them so after having them shawn we sold them at a loss, nothing seemed to go right.

In all this time we are still taking Jackie to Sydney to the Doctor and when she was eleven they operated on her foot. She was in Camperdown for three to four weeks then she came home in plaster and on crutches. She missed two months school. Mr Staff was the headmaster of the Primary school in Kandos and when Jackie went back he was very good to her, he worked with her until she caught up that two months and she went into high school just after she turned twelve, that girl owes a lot to Mr Staff and she knows it.

Then the war broke out in Vietnam and Lloyd joined the Army and he went to Vietnam for twelve months, but thank God he came home to us.

When Ron was eighteen he was in a car smash. One night when he and two mates were coming home from Rylstone and a Landrover smashed into them. Ron was thrown out and dragged along the road, all his back was skinned, his clothes were torn to ribbons, his leg was badly broken and his eye was lacerated, so he was sent to Bathurst where he was for five months. His leg did not knit so he had to have a bone graft. When he was home and well enough he went to work at the cement works at Kandos. Then it was a real taxi run for me morning and afternoon taking the men to work and Jackie to catch the bus then picking them all up each afternoon. Ron has only ten percent sight in his eye.
One Christmas the other boys came home they were working at Whyndam Meat Works and around Australia so Ron gave up his job at Kandos and went with them, and we are still not paying any installments off the farm and were fed up trying to so we rang the man we bought it off (Mr B we will call him) asking him to come to see us as we wanted out, but we almost had to beg him to take the place back. He was so good to us he could have kicked us off the place years before if he wasn’t that sort of person. Anyhow Mr B took the farm back and gave us $2000.00 and that is how we were able to buy the house I am in now. We gave the big sum of $2,750.00 for it, so after being farmers for seven years we shifted into town to live and we still owe money everywhere.

Digital copy of article at:  


Galagher Stories that need to be told

PORT MACQUARIE "The Port". It has nothing to do with Governor Lachlan Macquarie or the convict settlement now retirement location on the mid North Coast. But it may have!
Family lore has it that these fertile river flats and isolated hideaway in the most inaccessible corner of God's earth, were first taken up by a Spanish sea captain, of the Spanish Main - CAPTAIN CARLOS who called it "Port Macquarie".

The full article is available here.


THE Baker family of Glen Alice

This article by Scurrah and Palmer in 1969 is an interesting snippet of Rylstone District History. 

The "One of the family" would have been William A. Baker who died in 1973, aged 93 years, and is buried in the Glen Alice Cemetery.


     The Baker family, well known in the district for many years, had an original area of over 1,000 acres situated to the north of the village of Glen Alice.

      One of the family still lives in the Valley. He resides at the cottage which is used as the Glen Alice post office and telephone exchange.

     Despite Mr. Baker’s eighty-four years, he is a mine of information and clearly recalls personalities and incidents relating to the settlers who lived there when he was a child.
Ref; Tour of Rylstone - Capertee Valley - compiled by Scurrah & Palmer


Rylstone Shire Council - Minutes of meeting on 13th January 1927

Shire of Rylstone
Minutes of meeting of the Rylstone Shire Council held in the Council Chambers
on January 13, 1927 at 4:20 PM

PRESENT - Councillors Underwood, Crewdson, Simpkins,  Jennings, Jamieson  and MacPherson.


The Chairman reported on behalf of the Committee

That Cr Jamieson’s offer to continue the supervision of St John’s Wart eradication be accepted and that Cr Jamieson be thanked for his services in that respect.

That the  Standard Portland Cement Co Ltd, Charbon town should be approved, and plans sealed subject to the matters set out in the Engineer’s report being satisfactorily carried out.

That subdivision of Lot 1 section 10 Rodgers Street Kandos be approved.

That the minimum size of allotment of land on which a dwelling may be erected to those parts of the Shire to which the Building  Ordnance apples be fixed at 8700 square feet.

That Miss Ferguson and Mrs Babidge be given seven days to make a firebreak on their land in Louee Street, Rylstone and in default the Council carry out the work and charge the cost to them.

That Barbers shop licence applications be grnted t H E Clifford, D Charles, Dempster & Robinson and R E O’Brien.

That Building applications be granted in satisfaction of applications for permits, number, 1926 - 128 Daudry, 129 BIRCH, 130 Simpson, 1927 - 1 Hollingsworth, 2 Hayes, 2 Couper, 4 Somerfield.

That Electricity consumers agreements be altered, excess services to commence from 35 feet inside the building line in lieu of 20 feet at present. That the alteration be retrospective to the commencement of the undertakings. That access services be charged a rate of 9d per yard run.

That the agreement with the Main Rods Board for Read Hill work be signed and sealed with the Council’s common seal.

That application be made for 1926 Main Roads Board contribution of £ for £, also the 1927 £ for £ contribution.


Rylstone Shire Community Heritage Study - existing studies

Rylstone Shire Community Heritage Study
The Report April 2003 by Christo Aitken & Associates


3.1 Introduction

This section discusses the existing studies that provided some supporting material for the heritage study. The studies completed for Rylstone Shire are few. There is an urgent need for considerably more planning work to occur in order to guide the future direction of the Shire. For instance there are many good examples elsewhere in NSW of development control plans that could be readily adapted to suit the needs of the towns and villages if funds and resources permitted. Rylstone Shire is more fortunate than other areas in NSW where the pressures of development and consequent pressures of time have sometimes resulted in less than appropriate decisions, loss of character and lost opportunities. Rylstone does not yet have this pressure and therefore has the time and precedent to learn from, apply and prepare itself for the future.

3.2 Aspects of Significance of Rylstone Shire

Rylstone is a relatively large local government area which became a municipality in 1906. The shire has been shaped by a number of significant forces which are outlined in this study. Rylstone shire retains evidence of many of the themes which have been significant in its history, including early pastoral settlement, mining and quarrying of coal and limestone for a major cement industry, and the growth of towns and villages as service centres throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. There has been little change in many aspects of the shire since its settlement.

Pastoralism has been a significant theme in Rylstone shire since the 1820s, with early graziers such as Richard Fitzgerald, Edward Cox, John Thompson and the Suttor family among others, establishing large pastoral properties. The descendants of many of these early pioneering families still live in the Rylstone area, and until recent years, some of these properties remained in original family ownership. Associated with these with these large pastoral holdings were many fine homesteads with their related working buildings, many of which remain intact and in use, and thus retain their significance to the region.

Unlike many other areas in the NSW Central West, Rylstone did not directly experience a gold rush in the mid 19th century (although the busy goldfields at Sofala and Hill End were close to the shire’s present boundaries). Significant deposits of limestone and coal, however, allowed for the later development of a cement industry in the early 20th century, which continues to be an important aspect of the shire’s economy today.

The town of Rylstone, established 1842 as a service centre for the surrounding pastoral properties, retains important aspects of a mid 19th century Australian village which is in many ways unchanged today. It incudes a number of significant vernacular buildings dating from the 19th century, and constructed from the local rubble stone which gives the town a unique and cohesive architectural character.

Kandos, by comparison, was established in 1913 as a service centre for the cement works which is integral to the town. Kandos has a predominate Interwar architectural character, and is set dramatically against the backdrop of the stark and imposing Cumber melon Mountain.

Rylstone and Kandos are the major urban centres in Rylstone Shire: each is significant in its own right, having retained its original character as a result of relative isolation until recent years. Compared to other towns in the Central West, both towns can still be considered to be isolated; the major road south to Bathurst has only been sealed in the last five years, while the major road north to Muswellbrook remains unsealed today.

Rylstone Shire has considerable natural significance, with approximately 80% of its total area covered in native vegetation. Both the Wollemi and Goulburn River National Parks extend into the shire. The Wollemi National Park covers almost half a million hectares and is the largest intact wilderness area in southeastern Australia. It now has World Heritage status. A large number of Aboriginal sites are known to exist in Rylstone Shire.

The national parks increasingly provide a major opportunity for cultural tourism within the shire. Other growing economic opportunities within Rylstone in recent years include the growth of the wine and olive industries.

By the considered preservation of the significant historic, natural and cultural aspects of the shire, Rylstone can accommodate future growth while reinforcing its unique history and character to the benefit of the local community and visitors to the area.