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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 05 (Raw)

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Trish FitzSimons
Bid Campbell
Griffith Film School
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So this is tape 4, camera tape 4, this is still DAT tape 2 and it’s 35.53 on the counter now as I’m doing this ID. 3600 now. So it’s Trish FitzSimons sound recording, Erica Addis camera. We’re interviewing Bid Campbell neé McGlinchy, in her home in Mt Isa, and it’s 2 June 2000. (TC from 05_BC_DV) So we were just talking about education, Bid. When you got to Charters Towers, what was at the boarding school you went to? That must have all been a bit of a shock to your system. Recorded 2 June 2000 Updated 15 December 2009. Timecode refers to tapes 05_BC_DV (No Tape 4) Topics in Bold
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 05
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Elizabeth Campbell
Interview with Elizabeth 'Bid' Cambell. Tape 2 of 3
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 05
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                            Recorded 2 June 2000
                         Updated 15 December 2009.
                Timecode refers to tapes 05_BC_DV (No Tape 4)
                                 Topics in Bold

So this is tape 4, camera tape 4, this is still DAT tape 2 and it’s 35.53 on the
        counter now as I’m doing this ID. 3600 now. So it’s Trish FitzSimons
        sound recording, Erica Addis camera.              We’re interviewing Bid
        Campbell neé McGlinchy, in her home in Mt Isa, and it’s 2 June 2000.

        (TC from 05_BC_DV)

        So we were just talking about education, Bid. When you got to Charters
        Towers, what was at the boarding school you went to? That must have all
        been a bit of a shock to your system.

R       On the Road

        00:01:44:20    It was. A terrible shock. Terrible shock. Because, you know,
        we weren’t used to sitting down, although Mum always tried, it didn’t matter
        where we were, she’d always try to have a hot, you know, dinner. Sunday
        dinner, with a white tablecloth. But when you were on the road, of course
        there was no such thing as a tablecloth, and we’d got out of all that and, you
        know, sitting there with your cup of tea and your spoon in there and, you
        know. Of course, the first thing we did, we … they gave us our tea – we
        wanted tea – and they gave us the tea in the saucer and the cup and I put my
        spoon in the cup and drank naturally. Well, you can just imagine the old
        nuns. They were sitting there, you know, glowering at me, and all the
        children were hanging their heads. Who’s this little bushie from the bush?
        You know. Terrible moment it was. I can still remember that, you know,
        and of course Carrie was trying to say, ‘You should have taken your spoon
        out Biddie. You shouldn’t have your spoon in’. And I learnt. I learnt. But I
        suppose it was a good experience.                 00:02:45:10

I       You probably couldn’t have gone into classes with other children your same
        age if you’d had so little formal education?
R   00:02:53:02    Oh, no. That’s right, you know. We had no education very
    much and I think we got, oh, what was it? Oh, it was something to do with
    the church. Oh, God.

I   So this was a Catholic school?

R   00:03:12:06    No, no. Church of England. St. Gabriel’s But anyway I know
    I   had   to   fill     in   a   slip,    you   know,   all   the   things   that
    One was, I think, was had I ever had, oh it wasn’t called sex or something
    else, and of course I picked everything. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I was absolutely
    and my older sister got it and she went ‘Oh, Biddie,’ she said, ‘you haven’t
    done these things’. I had no idea what they meant or anything. I just thought
    I’d say ‘yes’ to everything.

I   Would you describe yourself as an innocent child or only innocent of city

R   00:03:51:15    Oh, no, no. I don’t think that. No, innocent of city ways but I
    don’t think I was terribly innocent. I mean, you couldn’t live among animals
    to be innocent, could you? No. No, I wasn’t innocent but I think, you know,
    I was innocent of a lot of written things, but as for actual things that were
    happening, no.        No, I wasn’t, no.     My mother was too.      We thought
    differently but, you know, she thought, you know, oh the words you use
    today, she’d be absolutely shocked, you know. And swearing, you never
    swore and you didn’t say naughty words in any way. Of course when my
    boys went to school, that lad that’s in there, Len, he was a bit of a larrikin
    and he came home one day and, of course, he was in love with this girl, you
    know, and he was saying, ‘Oh, she’s like this Mum. Oh, she’s lovely’. Mum
    was living in Charters Towers in that old home there. They’d retired and
    lived there and she pulled me aside and she said, ‘Biddie, you don’t want to
    let Lennie using those words,’ she said, ‘He shouldn’t be using those words’.
    And it was ‘sex’. This girl was very sexy. And now what would she say
    today? I often read a book and think oh poor old Mum. She burnt East Lyn
    on me but I was about, oh I was about twelve or thirteen, I think I was
    reading it. She took it off me, East Lyn.           00:05:11:12
I   East Lyn. I don’t know East Lyn.

R   Yes, well in those days she thought it was too …

I   A bit racey?

R   00:05:17:12      Yes, a bit, yeah a bit racey and a bit too far advanced for my
    tender brain. But I was reading it and, of course, she found it and she burnt
    it. I wasn’t allowed to read those sort of books.

I   So how old were you when you went to this boarding school?

R   I was about eleven.

I   So that’s ’28. So it must have been very difficult for your family to afford to
    agist cattle …

R   Oh, it was, yes.

I   … and send you to boarding school.

R   Land/Banks
    00:05:43:00      Yes, well I think wool rose a little bit and there was a bit of a,
    you know, they got a good wool price. Now and again, see, they’d get a bit
    of a price, it’d rise, and then of course it went back again afterwards. When
    they went back to Macsland it went right back down to bedrock almost
    because Dad went away looking for a job and we were looking after
    Maxland, Carrie and me and Brian went with Dad, I think. And they came
    out to take the property off us, you know, to close. Maxland was too far in
    debt. And, of course, the Agricultural Bank, I think Nicklin brought it in.
    I’m not too sure. One of the Premiers brought in that Agricultural Bank.

I   I’m not sure, I’ll have to check about it.

R   Money Troubles

    00:06:29:20      Yes. One of them. And he, the manager of that came out and
    also the manager of the rural industry, you know, the … he was something to
    do with the, oh it was something to do with the … I just forget what he was.
    I know what he was but I can’t think of the name of it. And he was all for
    you know, close, take it off her and sell it and get something, and this rural
    manager said, ‘No,’ he said. ‘This lady is trying very hard,’ he said, ‘and the
    girls are trying very hard’. We’d been crutching sheep when he came along.
    He said, ‘Those kids are crutching sheep’. You know what crutching sheep
    is, that’s when they get flyblown. And he said, ‘Anyone that can get out there
    and do that sort of thing to try and save their land,’ he said, ‘they deserve
    another chance’. So he gave her a chance. Well, they kicked on from then,
    see. Prices rose after the war, went, you know wool went right through the

I   So when this happened, this was during the Depression?

R   Yes.

I   Dad was away looking for work?

R   Depression/On the Road

    00:07:31:10    Yes. And, you know, at that time in those Depression years,
    they were terrible sad years, you know. I can remember people walking
    there to Maxland. Maxland was only a mile off the road, a mile in from
    Maxland, from the Winton road, they used to come in there for handouts and
    Mum would always try and give them something. She’d try and give them
    some tea, sugar, flour, meat, always tried to give them something. Some of
    the people wouldn’t give them anything. You know, she couldn’t give them
    work but she’d try and give them a little bit of food and they would be young
    doctors and everyone, you know, just young people, university degrees and
    everything, walking in that Depression looking for work.

I   Any women walking like that?

R   00:08:13:00    No, mostly men. Mostly men. Young men. And it was really
    sad. It was an eye-opener. I often tell my kids, you know, and the young
    ones today, you know, the life they lead, they’ve got no idea, you know,
    what Depression can do. I have been guilty of saying it would do us good to
    have one to bring us back to, you know, the real world again because we’re
    getting a bit greedy I think, the young ones today. You know, it’s all give,
    give, give, isn’t it? The government should do this, the government should
    give me this, and it would do them the world of good to get out and see the
    real world for a while.

I   So when you got back to Macsland, was it still a bough shelter? What did
    you find?

R   00:08:55:00         No. Before they went away Mum had, they’d bought an old
    dwelling from ah Selwyn. The old mine was sort of dwindling down and
    they were selling homes and Dad brought it down on the wagon and they
    built it. So that was the home we were reared in after we’d left the bough
    shed and everything like that. So, no, their home was a two-storey house.
    Still dirt floor.

I   So upstairs would have had a wooden floor and downstairs a dirt floor?

R   00:09:28:10         Yes, wooden floor. Yes, mmmm. Yes, that’s how you lived.
    I mean, you didn’t, you had no … and the outside dunny and things like that.
    House of Parliament where all the newspapers were.

I   And what was the place like when you came back to it? Had anybody been
    living there?

R   On the Road

    00:09:47:12         No, and everything was taken. Everything was gone. All the
    china and she had paintings, you know, glass, paintings on glass, she had on
    the walls. They were taken, everything was taken. Somebody had ransacked
    it. Even the linen, everything they could lift, they lifted.

I   Do you remember that?

R   00:10:09:18         Yes, I remember Mum. You know, she was terribly … she
    wasn’t so terribly upset about the linen and stuff. She was more upset about
    her paintings where somebody had given them to her in Winton when she
    first came to Australia. Some lady had painted them in Winton and given
    them to her. She was very upset about that because she said she couldn’t
    replace them. She could replace linen and stuff like that. And how we used
    to get our linen and material to make clothes – Mum used to make all our
    clothes – she used to send a bale of wool down to the woollen mills at
    Ipswich. Well there’s no woollen mills there now, is there?

I   I don’t think so.

R   No. And they’d send back, for the value of the wool they’d send back
    material, see, and the blankets and things like that.

I   So you wouldn’t be getting your exact wool back, you’d just be getting the

R   No. Yes, the equivalent in money, you know, in rugs and blankets and things
    like that. So that’s how they did it.

I   And did your mother at such times ever talk about going back to England?

R   00:11:15:00    Yes, she went back after the war. She went back. Mmmm.
    She went back. But she said it was all changed and all different. See, it was
    only her and her brother, and her brother went to Canada. Her brother Tom
    went to Canada. Well she lost touch with him in the 1900, I think 1900. She
    never heard from him after 1900. She don’t know whether he died or what
    happened, so … and then she came to Australia.

I   Did your mother embrace Australia as her home?

R   Class
    00:11:45:00    Oh, yes. Mmmm. Yes. Australia was her home. Mmmm.
    No, she didn’t enjoy … she went over there and she was over there for
    twelve months, I think, and she was glad to come back. It was all different.
    See she’d lost the Welsh way of talking and everything, you know how the
    Welsh people talk. She said she couldn’t understand them, you know, when
    she’d go to visit some of the relations, because they still talked in the old
    Welsh way. But she stayed twelve months. Dad hated it. He reckoned it
    was too cold. But, yes, she said, you know, she had nothing. They said,
    ‘Why did you leave England?’ She said she had nothing and you know, if
    you were walking along the road and a carriage came along with a lady in it,
    you’d have to stop and bow to them and everything so, you know, she said
    the Australian way was the better way than what she had, her life that she
    would have had. Because it would only have been a life as a servant or
    something like that.

I   Now there would still have been what I would call class distinction

R   Oh, yes. Mmmm.

I   How did you relate to, say, the people on the stations, living on Maxland?

R   Class
    00:12:56:20    Well, I think the people who owned their land weren’t as big a
    snobs as a lot of the station managers. I found during life, people who
    owned their own properties weren’t as snobbish as the, you know, station
    managers and their wives. I don’t know if anyone else noticed that but I’ve
    always noticed that.

I   That’s really interesting. Nobody said that to me before but it’s interesting.
    That snobbery, I mean your family owned land but it was to do with people
    who owned more land feeling better than those who owned less land?

R   00:13:43:00    No, no, I never ever found that, no. No, I’ve never found that.
    The only snobbery I’ve ever encountered is people who were managing
    somebody’s property, and especially their wives, and that was the only
    snobbery I ever came across. The rest of the people were just normal people.

I   But if you’re saying they were snobbish towards you, but your family
    actually was leasing its land, but they might have been snobbish because they
    were from the bigger holdings?

R   00:14:02:18    Well, I think Mum encountered that a bit when she first came
    to Maxland, especially with one family who’d … they were from oh,
    from Sydney I think, you know, the Schofields or something. They were a
    big                  and they … her first wool clip, she was so excited about
    it, and he said, ‘That wouldn’t even pay my shearers’ wages’. Mum never
    ever forgave him. Never ever forgave him.

I   So your Mum was proud of what she was doing with the land?

R   Yes, she was very proud.

I   And how do you think you were brought up to regard the land? Like the land
    of Maxland.

R   Women/Land
    00:14:50:00    Oh, it was just a way of life, I think. It was never meant that
    much. You know, it was just … it was just home, I suppose, like everyone’s
    home. Wouldn’t matter what it was, if it’s yours, you know, you think it’s
    great, don’t you? No, I don’t think there was such a thing as loving the land
    because we … no, I don’t think so.

I   Were your family farmers at all? Was the land ever cultivated?

R   CC Ecosystem

    No, no, no. No, you don’t cultivate any land around this area, no. This is
    just free range. If it rains, well, there’s grass in the paddocks. If there’s no
    rain, well there’s no grass. Because there’s no water, see. You couldn’t
    cultivate. You’ve got to have water, you know.

I   And over your lifetime of knowing Maxland, Bid, has the land changed a
    lot? Has it degraded or improved or …?

R   I think it’s improved. I think there’s more kangaroos and that because
    there’s been more water flowing. I think, you just take it now. If you go
    back many years, when a waterhole dried up, where would the kangaroos
    have to go? They’d have to go to running water, wouldn’t they?

I   And is this because of the artesian water?
R   Yes, the artesian                      more waters made and that’s like when
    my daughter’s place at                     Creek, like when they first went out
    there, there was no water, only the river, and now they’ve got bores
    everywhere and there’s kangaroos everywhere, so naturally, you know,
    you’ve improved it, I think, for the animals. Because they couldn’t go out
    there without water.

I   Just fill me in a bit on your later adolescence and your adult life after you …
    you had that year at Charters Towers, and what ended that?

R   Romance
    Well we went back to Maxland and I just grew up there then, I suppose. I
    went back and I just filled in then until I married. I was married when I was
    17 and then we went out on our own sort of thing. My husband, he went
    working on stations and that and I just sort of tagged along, I think.

I   Where did you meet your husband?

R   At Maxland.

I   So he was one of the workers?

R   00:17:09:12    No, no. He just came there one day and then I got to know
    him in Boulia and                     race meetings and things like that. No,
    he was just working around, working around, and then he just … then we
    went, after I think I had three, four children, I think, and we went on the
    road. He got a droving trip and we saved our money and he bought a
    property. He bought sheep first and he brought them down from Woodside
    about a hundred mile down the river and he agisted them for about six
    months on a paddock. Then he went … his brother                          drew a
    block, or bought a                  and he went onto                       and
    then we went on to Werriana.

I   Now I don’t know these properties. Can you tell me what the town is?

R   Boulia. Boulia.
I   Boulia. So you were all starting to be lots of McGlinchys all around Boulia?

R   Mmmm. Yes. And then we went to Werriana and then we saved our money
    and had a couple of more trips and bought Weetalaba that was the block
    alongside of Strathalbert and then we bought Strathalbert.

I   And as you were buying this land, you were adding on or you were selling
    some land and buying new land?

R   No, no. Just agisting.

I   Oh, right.

R   Just agisting.

I   So Strathalbert was the first place you bought?

R   No, Weetalaba.

I   Weetalaba.

R   Mmmm. Weetalaba. It joined, two blocks together. So that’s where, how we
    ended up there.

I   And did you ever have dreams of any life other than living in the country?

R   00:18:57:05      No, not really. No. I don’t think so. We used to go away for
    holidays but I was always glad to come home. Go down to Brisbane and
    places like that but I was pleased to come home. No, I can’t say that I ever
    pined for anywhere different.

I   So tell me about your married life then, Bid. You and your husband had
    Weetalaba and then Strathalbert?

R   Strathalbert.

I   Properties out from Boulia. What was the work of that property and how did
    you and your husband divide that work?

R   Gender Relations
    Shared. I ran the house and he ran the property. It was a woman’s place
    with the home and the man was the provider, and that was it.

I   It’s interesting that your mother, it wouldn’t seem like your mother would
    have had the woman’s place is the home …

R   Oh, no. She had to take the reins because Dad was a bit easygoing. He was
    too easygoing. So Mum took over.

I   So you think that your Mum mightn’t have minded looking after the house
    but that she needed to do the other?

R   Mum’s Sayings

    Yeah, she had to. When I got married, she told me never to learn … my
    sister used to say, ‘I don’t know who was your mother because she never told
    me never to chop a sheep down or chop wood or anything’. But she did me.
    She told me, she said, ‘Don’t ever learn to chop a sheep down’, you know,
    after they kill it they hang it in the wood shed. But, oh I could chop wood. I
    never ever did.

I   And what did you make of that? What do you think your mother was saying
    to you then?

R   Don’t do it because once you start doing it you keep doing it. So that’s what
    she used to. They usually just killed a sheep, put it in the wood shed and
    Mum would have to chop it all up and chop it down, which she could do. Oh
    no, she was very capable. Very capable woman.

I   And you would have grown up very capable as well?

R   00:21:00:14    Oh yes. Mmmm. No such thing as this running and getting
    counselled every time something went wrong. We never had time for that.
    So yeah, if something went wrong you just had to just put up with it.

I   So what would be the kind of problems that you remember solving?
R   Accident
    Ahhhh.     Well, I suppose one was the tragedy when I lost my little
    granddaughter, poisoned. Three-year-old. I suppose that was the worst
    moment that I can remember.

I   Unmarked bottle?

R   No, it was strychnine. Up in a tree and she climbed up, got it. But we
    couldn’t save her. That’s about the only tragedy I’d say that, you know, we
    had, really, out of all the years we lived in the bush. Because we were always
    Mum always taught us to be very, very careful of snakes and things like that.
    Like, I often look back now and think, you know, Mum would yell ‘snake’
    and we’d go for our lives up to the horse rails and up the horse rails and sit
    up there until the ‘all clear’ sign came. And I suppose, in a way, she had to
    do that.

I   So would your Mum be down there killing the snake?

R   Yes. She’d see the kids, you know, we could get bit, see. Well, you
    wouldn’t be able to get to a doctor because it was too far. You only had
    horse transport so Boulia was, I suppose it was about 15 mile or 16 mile. By
    the time you got in there well it was too late so, you know, we always were
    very careful with things like that.

I   So did you become a snake killer?

R   No, no, no. I’m always terrified, have been all my life, I’ve been terrified.
    And, you know, my daughter always tells me now she’s terrified too. She
    says, ‘You did that to me’ and I suppose I did too because I am terrified of
    snakes. Probably, you know, because Mum always was so careful, see.

I   And did you actually see snakes a lot?

R   Oh, yes. Mmmm. Mmmm yes you’d see snakes all right, yes. But there is
    deadly snakes around the Boulia district.

I   Taipans?
R   00:23:14:12      Well, I don’t know whether there are taipans but they are very
    deadly. They’re a black snake and that, they’re deadly. So no, we were
    always very careful.     That’s the only tragedy that we couldn’t overcome.
    And that was just something that happened so you when you face life, and
    then as somebody once said, ‘What happened to you when you got sick?’ and
    I said, ‘You either died or got better’. You know, you had two options,
    didn’t you? There was no such thing as screaming and yelling. Then, of
    course, in later years, you know, people out in the west they got the Flying
    Doctor which was the big boom, but before that there wasn’t much.

I   Could you tell me one of the stories of the worst medical emergency that you
    dealt with when your kids were little?

R   No, I don’t think there was any. No.

I   So you became a bit of a bush nurse, did you?

R   Oh yes, you had to. Yes. Oh yes, if they got sick or anything, like colds or
    anything like that, yes, I could just put them to bed and looked after them and
    that was it, see. I mean, in that line, yes. But I think the old castor oil was
    the biggest cure we had. Now they say you can’t use castor oil but I think
    that was the main thing, you know, if they were sick in the stomach or
    something you gave them a dose of castor oil.

I   That just cleans your system out.

R   Yes, yes. And sulphur, and syrup and sulphur. Old syrup and sulphur. You
    know, we used to take that.

I   And Bid, if as a child there wasn’t really any difference between what girls
    could do and what boys could do, how was that for you as a mother? It’s
    interesting that your Mum said, ‘Don’t learn to chop wood and don’t learn to
    cut a beast down’. Did you bring up your daughters differently in any way
    than your son?

R   Well I suppose you do bring your daughters up differently because they … I
    was in the position where I never had much to do with them, really. See,
    they’d go away to school and they’d come home at Christmas time and then
    they’d come home during the year, about July for about a month, and that
    was all you’d see of them until they were almost grown up. So you sort of
    didn’t … so you spoilt them a bit, I think, you know, you didn’t say, ‘Well
    that’s your job, you do this’ like we had to. We had to take our week in the
    kitchen to cook and all that sort of thing. I didn’t do that. But they grew up
    all right, I think.

I   So from what age did your children go off to school then?

R   00:36:02:08      Well Terry the youngest, and Lyn, Terry went when he was
    six and Lyn went when she was six. But Bill and the older ones, they were a
    bit older.

I   And they went off to Brisbane?

R   They went off to Charters Towers, to All Souls. Yeah, no, they went fairly

I   So All Souls, is that a Catholic …?

R   No, Church of England.

I   Church of England. Some people have told me, Bid, that there was very
    great division between Catholic and Protestant.

R   Well, I don’t think so. They used to all compete against each other at the
    sports, at the sports thing, you know, every September I think used to be the
    great sports carnival with all the schools. No, I don’t think there was a
    terrible lot of …

I   So a Catholic marrying an Anglican wasn’t …?

R   Oh, that used to be in the older days. Oh yes, I think that was, yes. That was
    in the olden days, yes. I think there was a bit but I don’t think they’re like
    that now. They’re more lenient now. See my brother married a Catholic.
    Ben, that’s Nina’s husband. So he’s a Catholic and I don’t think Nina was
    but she might have changed now.          Her children go to the Catholic
    No, I don’t think so. I think that people have got more broad-minded about
    it. I’m just reading that Angela’s Ashes there and it’s all hatred of the poor
    old Methodists, like they …

I   Presbyterians?

R   Presbyterians and Methodists. They just hate them, don’t they?

I   I went to see that film with two Irish Catholic friends and I’m of Presbyterian
    Irish background so we laughed about it.

R   00:27:46:05      Yes, they laugh about it now, don’t they. You know, it’s not
    like it used to … what was the movie like?

I   I loved it. Yeah, I think it …

R   I’m reading the book. I rather like the book because, you know, he’s sort of
    telling it as it really happened eh and how they lived.

I   Could you, the kind of poverty, say, in Angela’s Ashes, could you relate to at

R   Yes, because I know what it is to have nothing, to have no money, yes.

I   Do you know what it is to be hungry?

R   Food
    No, I don’t think we were ever hungry. No, I was never hungry. No. No,
    we always seemed to have plenty of food but, because Mum always grew a
    good garden. Then we’ve always had meat, we’ve always had milk, so you
    know, there was, the only thing you had to more or less buy was flour and

I   Speaking of gardening, what did you grow at Maxland?

R   Garden
    Well in the winter months she used to grow all the vegetables, see, all the
    carrots and turnips and all those things, cabbages and lettuce and everything
    like that, and in the summer months she’d grow the cucumbers and water
         melons and pumpkins and things like that, see, and you always seemed to
         have plenty of food in that line. She always had a good garden and I did the
         same at Strathalbert. We always had a good garden, though we never had
         fruit or anything like that.

I        Not even an orange tree?


R        No, no. No, there was bad water at Maxland, you couldn’t grow orange
         trees, but I can remember the first pear I ever tasted. I think, oh God, it’s
         manna from heaven. I didn’t think anything like this existed. You know, we
         never ever saw fruit because it had to come such a long way. It’d come out
         by train and then it had to come on a coach from Winton out and by the time
         it got out there it’d be fouled.

I        So how old do you think you were when you first tasted fruit?

R        00:29:40:08     I was about six year old, I think. Mmmm.

I        Maybe when you went into Boulia for that year?

R        No, it was at Maxland. It was at Maxland, I can remember this beautiful
         fruit. I was oh gee.

I        It sounds like if you were sending your kids away to boarding school, you
         had pretty good years for wool in the forties and fifties.

R        Oh, yes. Well see, they fixed the price on it, didn’t they? They fixed the
         price and that sort of stayed after the war years. No, it was a different ball
         game altogether.

I        The Korean War, I think, meant that Australian wool was in great demand.

R        Yes. Mmmm. Well, it’s like the, you know, in Europe and that, you know,
         Merino was sort of your wool status symbol, wasn’t it? It sort of opened up
         the world a bit, wool. It’s not so good now, I don’t think. My niece is on a
         property over there near Winton and she said that wool’s not very good.
I   In your married life, then, at Strathalbert, where would you run across
    Aboriginal people, Bid?

R   We used to employ them. We employed them. They were very good people.

I   Men or women?

R   Race Relations/Female Labour: Lardy and Moonlight

    The women and men, yes. I had an old lady, Dolly, she was a washer, she
    used to do the washing for me and she lived in a little hut there and she used
    to do the washing. She never used to do any housework and that. She used
    to do the washing and she was very good with the children. They were full
    blood, full blood Aboriginals, they weren’t half-castes. And then there was
    another couple we had there, Lardy and Moonlight, they’d been sent to the
    island and they didn’t want to live in the island.

I   This was Palm Island?

R   00:31:28:12    Palm Island.      And they wanted to come back and the
    policeman came out and saw my husband and he said, ‘Oh well,’ he said, ‘if
    you can let them live out here,’ he said, ‘I’ll get them back’. So we said yes,
    they could live here, but Lardy used to wash for me now and again and old
    Moonlight used to, sometimes he’d go riding with them and that, but he was
    too old.

I   You provided food but not wages? Was that how it went?

R   Aboriginal Wages

    Yes. Well, they weren’t on wages then, they were sort of retired. They were
    on a … I don’t know how they got on. They just used to go into the office in
    Boulia, the police station, they used to get their clothes and their food
    vouchers, and that’s how they lived, like that. And we used to give them
    food too, and they used to get their clothes.

I   So what sort of food would you …?
R   Aboringal Women/White Kids

    The same as we ate. Yes, exactly. No, they were very good and the kids
    used to love them. My children used to love them. Used to go walkabout
    with them and catching grubs and all sorts of things.

I   I know in some families it sounds like Aboriginal and white kids played
    together very closely but in other areas there was taboos about that. Because
    you hadn’t grown up with Aboriginal people …?

R   No, no, no. No, we never found … I never found that. I thought they were
    very good people, the old, old Aboriginals. Very good. I couldn’t say
    anything against them. Decent people.

I   If they were full-blooded Aboriginal people, was this their traditional land?

R   Well I don’t know what’s their traditional land today.        I think they …
    wherever there’s mining found or something seems to be their traditional

I   But I’m talking about Lardy and Moonlight. Would they have corroborees
    and ceremonies and things sometimes?

R   In Boulia? No, I think old Moonlight came from around Selwyn area so I
    don’t think that was his land and I think Lardy came from up there too, but
    they’d more or less been down round the Boulia area. I don’t know why they
    went down there. He was King of the Burke. He used to wear a thing
    around his chest, you know, this thing. ‘I’m King of the Burke.’ And he
    used to parade around and say he was the king.

I   So their children lived on your property as well?

R   00:33:58:04    No, had no children, no. They were all grown up. They were

I   The other woman, I’ve forgotten her name, not Lardy and Moonlight, the
    other woman that washed with you.
R   Dolly.

I   Dolly.

R   Aboringal Women/White Kids

    Yeah. No, she stayed there for about two years and then she went. I don’t
    know where Dolly went. She went into Boulia I think, went away
    somewhere. I’ve never heard of Dolly after that but I know she didn’t like
    you to touch the children. They didn’t like you to smack them or anything.
    She’d get most upset about that.

I   You’re saying that if you smacked an Aboriginal child …

R   No, my children.

I   Oh, your kids would get very upset if an Aboriginal person smacked them?

R   No, they’d get upset, the Aboriginal ladies, if I smacked my kids.

I   Oh, I see, if you smacked your kids.

R   Yes.

I   Right. And how would they let you know that they were upset?

R   Aboringal Women/White Kids

    Oh, the lips would come out here like this. Really angry. Once Terry, the
    youngest son, was swearing. They were down at the horse yards breaking
    horses and men and they were swearing, see, and he came up swearing and
    I’d warned him the day before. I said, ‘Don’t let me hear you using those
    words’. Anyway the next day he did the same so I grabbed him and took
    him upstairs and said, ‘I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap’ and as I
    was passing Dolly, she was washing, and she’s got a lather of, you know,
    soap suds             . I said, ‘Have you got any soap, Dolly?’ She said,
    ‘No, no soap’. She wouldn’t give me any. ‘Poor little boy,’ she was saying
    as I was dragging him upstairs. ‘Poor little boy.’ It stopped him swearing.
    He don’t even swear today. So I stopped that. No. There was no such
    swearing or anything like that in my day. Men swore when they were
    working but you never, that was nothing to do with me.

I   I think that it was around the late sixties when Aboriginal people stopped
    being employed because that was when the wages had to be paid. How did
    that work out round your family?

R   Race Relations/Aboriginal Wages

    00:36:04:20     Well, we just paid the wages. I mean, you paid it into the
    police station if you had one, see. You just paid them. It went into their
    whatever they had, some scheme they had, and they used to keep them in
    clothes and things like that. But you must remember, though, a lot of these
    stations had about three hundred Aboriginals on it and they were employing
    about fifteen and feeding the rest so I mean they weren’t really slave labour,
    and this is where half the city people have got the idea that they were, you
    know, it was slave labour. They forgot the fact that they were keeping the
    rest of them. They were feeding them and they were getting meat and
    everything like that. No, have you read that book, Not What I Expected?

I   I don’t think I have. What’s that one?

R   Well get it and read it.

I   I’d love, yeah. Not What I Expected?

R   Not What I Expected by Edna Quiltie.

I   Edna Quiltie. No, I’ll get it.

R   Edna Quiltie.

I   I’ll get a pen and write that down.

R   I’ll write it down for you so you get it and read it.

I   Good on you, Bid. I’d love to do that.

R   It’ll give you a good insight into …
I   What area is it from?

R   It’s the Kimberleys.

I   Right.

R   Out in the Kimberleys. The Kimberleys area, but the same thing applies
    round here. See all these Aborigines you see here in the towns now, they’re
    all off stations. It’s not what I … Not What I Expected, Edna Quiltie.

I   And what is it in this book that you think is particularly …?

R   It’s very interesting about the Aborigines.

I   Right.

R   Very interesting. And what happened to them.

I   And so, Bid, clearly your family and you are now interested in history.
    You’ve written your own history.

R   Yes, well who’s teaching history today in schools?                       from a
    uni. What are they teaching …?

I   Less and less is being taught.

R   Yes. Half the children don’t even know who Captain Cook is. So all our
    history’s being lost.

I   And if you were to describe why it’s important to learn history, how would
    you describe that or define that?

R   Well I think it’s very important.

I   I do too.

R   00:38:51:22    Yes, because I mean, now who’s to say how Australia started
    if we don’t learn it, if we’re not taught it? Like, you just talk to any average
    student today and ask them what history is, about history. They know
    nothing about history. I’m not, I don’t say, you know, overseas history or
    Europe or something like that, but I do think they should be teaching
    Australian history.

I   And when you were a child and a young woman, what was the history that
    you knew and who were some of the characters from your local area that you
    would hear about a lot?

R   Mmmm. I can’t say that I knew of that many.

I   There wasn’t lots of talk, because probably the explorers would have gone
    through your district, or …?

R   Well see, they’d be all, would have been there and gone, wouldn’t they, by
    the time, you know, I could remember. Like …

I   I guess I wondered just how much history … well, you weren’t at school
    very much but just as people were kind of talking in the area or how much
    history of the area you grew up with.

R   00:40:04:15    No, there wouldn’t be that much. See, they used to, explorers
    had more or less all been there and gone, hadn’t they? Like, they went up
    that river, they went up the what’s-a-name river …

I   Georgina.

R   Explorers
    Up the Georgina, and they also went up the Burke and Wills, see. Burke and
    Wills went through Strathalbert, both those rivers. And there was, I suppose,
    just above Kennedy. He’s another man that sort of ventured out from round
    there and he was, took up properties all around above Boulia. He was
    Kennedy. He was more or less an explorer and he took his family. I think
    some of his family graves are above Strathalbert, see, where they died. And
    that was another booklet that’s worth reading too.

I   Would you have heard much about the early history of settlement in Boulia
    and the time when white people were settling for the first time? Was there
    much discussion about that?
R   Well, no. Well, it’s different. You never saw very many people because
    nobody moved around very much because the only way they got around, like
    you saw the mail, and it was a horse and buggy in the early days, and you
    wouldn’t, you know, they’d just more or less give you your mail.

I   You wouldn’t get a newspaper very often and you didn’t have radio and …?

R   00:41:39:20     Oh no, no, no, no. We didn’t have any of those things. I think
    the only newspaper we had in our day was the old Bulletin, the old
    Townsville Bulletin. It more or less covered everything, you know, all the
    news around, and you got that once a month. But as kids we weren’t
    privileged to look at anything like that, or listen to adults’ conversation
    either, for that matter.

I   And books?      Did you grow up with books or was that something you
    developed as an adult?                            00:42:03:10