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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 38 (Raw)

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Interviewer Respondent
IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:33:29
Trish FitzSimons
Julie Hill
Griffith Film School
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19 June 2000
Updated 15/01/10. Timecode from tapes 38_BC_SP Topics in Bold
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 38
Pioneers Physical Hardships
Some signs of water damaged but footage generally ok.
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Julie Groves
Interview of Julie Groves. Part 1 of 4.
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 38
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                              19 June 2000
           Updated 15/01/10. Timecode from tapes 38_BC_SP
                             Topics in Bold
                   I = Interviewer R = Respondent

I   So this is tape 38 camera, tape 14 DAT. It’s 19 June 2000 and we’re
    with Julie Groves at her property Haughton Vale near Jundah, and this
    is the Channels of History project.

    So Julie, can you tell me where and when you were born and what your name
    was when you were born?

R   14:01:37:21   I was born in Longreach, 11 June 1955, and I was Julie Hill.

I   And what had taken your family to Longreach?

R   Pioneers
    14:01:51:10   My father’s side of the family, they followed the railway line
    out, um or his mother’s side, rather. My grandfather had come up from
    Victoria as a shearer on a pushbike with his gear with him. On my mother’s
    side, her father had come to Stonehenge. They were early settlers there and
    he had a mail run that went from Longreach out to Warbrecar just west of
    Stonehenge. My grandmother’s family came from here. It was an actual fact
    her father had taken up Haughton Vale as a block and put it together in the
    early 1900s. And my grandmother moved to Longreach after they were

I   So what do you know about your grandmother’s life out here on Horton
    Vale? What was her name and just tell me a little bit about that grandmother.

R   14:02:42:06   Yeah, her name was Mary May Doyle ummm and when they
    first come here, her father, they’d followed the rabbit netting fence along,
    and he put, or put about three blocks together here ummm and Nan … I
    didn’t realise in those days that the women worked so much. She used to
    talk about riding – she was a terrific horsewoman – and mustering and I just
    thought it was for pleasure but it was for work and I’m just sorry that Nan’s
    gone now because the questions I’d love to ask her will never be answered.
    And these days women and the kids work but I just didn’t think that they did
    in those days to sort of set blocks up.

I   So what would be the questions you would ask of your grandmother if you

R   14:03:32:00    Oh just sort of how much they did actually work. It would
    have been a lot harder because these days if the kids go mustering, they’ll
    either go on a motorbike or otherwise if they go on horseback you put them,
    see you put the ponies on a truck ummm because the bottom of the place is
    sort of fifteen mile or something away from the house and … but in those
    days they would have had to ride. Everything would have just taken that
    much longer, and when they come home you didn’t have the comfort of the
    home, they lived in tents. Ah, they just had hurricane lanterns or candles.
    Didn’t have refrigeration. The old meat house is still up there. Just, you
    know, sort of what it was like to be, I suppose, a teenager and grow up under
    those conditions, if they went to … I know she told us if they went to a dance
    in Windorah they’d ride there on a horse, the older children, and then the
    family, oh well Mum and the children, would go in sort of a cart or … it
    depended on the number of children. And they’d go for a week, and just
    what they did to fill in a week in Windorah between sort of race meetings or
    whatever and gymkhanas.        Yeah, all that history’s going.      But, yeah, I
    suppose I just want to know about her life here because I’ve been here and
    mine’s different to hers.

I   So where would her … she would have lived in a tent on this property?

R   Accidents/Fire
    14:04:54:04    Yes, the site of the old homestead is still up there, just the wire
    netting that made up the basis of the meat house is still intact. Ummm
    overhead tank is still on its stand, you can … the homestead was actually
    burnt down. A kerosene refrigerator started the fire and they lost their
    photographs and all their history. Luckily there was nobody home. They did
    have another home in town where her mother had gone to educate the
    younger children at the school in there. Nan only went to Year 3. So sort of
    like the older children, their education was sketchy, whereas the younger
    ones had the advantage of going through, I suppose, in those days to Year 7.

I   So your grandmother, living on this land, her husband … you probably told
    me but I didn’t quite catch, he was fencing on this land?

R   14:05:48:00    No. I’m not sure, that’s another thing, where Nan met her
    husband but he was a mail contractor, I think, in those days. I’m sort of
    sketchy on sort of how far back it was but I know that when they were in
    Longreach he definitely had the mail run, but I think he could have in those
    days. But he was, I suppose, more or less what we call a local because
    Stonehenge is only about 40 miles from Jundah so the people would have,
    even in those days, they still would have mixed in.

I   And if your grandmother was actually living here on Horton Vale with her
    husband, was that what you said?

R   14:06:27:00    No, no. She left when she was married. Ummm, they moved
    to Longreach and I suppose she still worked, like they didn’t have semi-
    trailers to cart the wool. My grandfather had the first semi-trailer that was
    sort of used in the district and before that they just carted wool in little body
    trucks so there’d be, you know, somebody was shearing or down this way
    they’d be shearing and it’d be just men going continuously. And Nan cooked
    for them and then they’d sort of have to provide sort of sandwiches or
    whatever to take with them and keep their tucker boxes well and truly

I   And talking about your grandmother growing up as a child on this property,
    did you say her father was shearing?

R   Pioneers: Life on Road

    14:07:13:00    No, her father had, he was, used to run the rabbit netting fence
    and they had a mob of sheep that … I think it was about 500 sheep and they
    used to drive along, like as he went along the fence, and his wife and
    children would be living out of some sort of a wagon, I’d imagine. I’m sort
    of sketchy. That’s another thing I’d like to know but they followed along
    behind the sheep and then my grandfather’s brother, he actually had a Cobb
    & Co. bus run from Longreach – oh, mail run from Longreach through to
    Windorah and I think my grandfather’s got a photo of him – great-
    grandfather rather – he actually drove the coach for a while so I presume that
    was after he was on the rabbit netting fence, and then he took up a small
    block where the old original homestead block is for Horton Vale, and then
    there was another two blocks that were somehow added on to it, and that
    made a livable area.

I   And what sense did you get from your grandmother of her life here, because
    it couldn’t have been easy, could it? Summer heat in a tent. How did she
    talk about her life?

R   Women/Land
    14:08:29:01    Nan, she engendered a great love of the land ummm in me,
    even though I grew up in town. We’d be going for picnics and we’d be
    looking at flowers and grasses and soils but as far as Nan’s life here, she
    never really told us ummm sort of the hardships, but then that still comes
    across today because the women don’t talk about it, like if you haven’t say
    got power, everybody, or most of us, are in the same boat and there just
    seems to be this sense of you shouldn’t whinge about it, you should just
    tolerate it and I think because everybody was in the same boat, it was all
    those generations ago, that you just seemed to be conditioned to it and
    anybody new that come in, you just had to accept it, I suppose.

I   Is there a sense that if you started to whinge you mightn’t stop?

R   14:09:25:00    Yeah, I would think so. Like, you have to take life as you find
    it ummm and if you concentrate on all the hardships, you’d go round the
    twist out here, I think. But if you just look on the good side, like the
    hardships will never go away but making a big issue of it isn’t going to make
    it easier to live, so I think sort of there’s a tolerance of that and you make the
    best of what you’ve got and enjoy that. It’s very hard sometimes.
I   So growing up in Longreach then, you would hear stories of this area?

R   14:10:04:10    Yeah, because Nan come from a big family, some of her
    ummm family was still down here. Her brother, youngest brother, was
    running this place. Nan still had, all the family shared in it but there was still
    some aunts in Jundah and it was just an extended family. I came down here
    a lot with Nan ummm you’d just come down for a weekend or that when I
    was really young, sort of probably up until about six or seven years old, so I
    suppose it was all familiar to me. Like, when I come down here, it was a
    wrench leaving home. I’d come down after I was married. I’d never left
    home before ummm and I was the oldest of six children so we were a close-
    knit family. But to come down here it was familiar ummm … I went to …
    Windorah was our local town and I knew one person. Everybody knew who
    I was but I was made to feel very welcome even though I’d never been to
    Windorah before, whereas Jundah I always felt comfortable in it. I suppose
    my grandmother had grown up there and relatives, just make it easier for

I   And so how had your grandfather gone … he’d been doing the rabbit fencing
    here on Horton Vale and then you said he bought another property. How has
    your family come to own this property?

R   14:11:34:12    No. No, great-grandfather … there was ummm, well rabbit
    fences around much like the dingo … have you heard of the dingo barrier
    fence? Well they had sort of in the early 1900s, I don’t know how long they
    were there, but he would have been there in the early 1900s and followed …
    I don’t even know what his beat was, but they more or less would have had a
    beat and they had to go along those fences and check for rabbit holes, etc.
    and that’s sort of what he was doing before he came to Horton Vale. Like,
    he had his 500 sheep so that gave him a start ummm stockwise. I presume
    that they would have had to have purchased more but ummm and as far as
    buying it, I don’t know. I think he sort of, whether he purchased it or
    actually took it up, yeah, there’s sort of just a lot of things, questions, that are
    coming up that I would love to find the answers to.
I   So growing up in Longreach, who were the characters, who were the people
    that you would hear about out here? Was there much talk about pioneers or
    who were the names that you grew up hearing, or was it more just like a
    sense of family history?

R   Braided Channels

    14:12:54:00    It was, yeah, a family history, and everybody in those days,
    like I’m only finding out now, people that you called ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunt’
    were never actually related to but because, I suppose in those days as a
    courtesy you couldn’t actually call an adult by, or like a child, couldn’t by
    their first name, so … and you were close to them so you couldn’t call them
    ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ so that ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’, well that’s just how I can explain
    it. The Aunt and Uncle came into being. You could still use their first name
    but it sort of had something in front of it so you weren’t being, to me,
    disrespectful for those people. But, yes, so I’m not sure where the family
    part began and ended but those people, to me, yeah they were just all an
    extended family so you just … I think I was lucky I experienced that
    extended family situation.

I   So it was almost like all the families out here were interconnected and you
    were part of them from the beginning?

R   Braided Channels

    Yes. Ummm sort of, like to try and track down, I suppose you didn’t have
    the transport so the people stayed here and then the families inter-married
    and, yeah, you were just related to that many people in the districts and
    somebody new that came in and settled and that made it sort of bring fresh
    blood in sort of thing, but yeah, it’d be a sense of family to me.

I   And did you grow up … people like the Duracks and the Costellos, the very
    first settlers out here, did you grow up hearing of that history?

R   14:14:35:20    No. I suppose it was when I first come down here and I read
    ummm Mary Durack’s book Kings in Grass Castles. If I had have read that
    before I come here, I don’t think I would have got as involved but because
    my husband’s family, like their property joined, oh I think part of it joined
    Thylungra, but I was familiar with the properties and the places they were
    talking about and if I didn’t know, I could sort of ask, and I really enjoyed
    that section of the book and there was still a Costello family. Descendants
    are still here. And, yeah, it just made history come alive but once they got up
    into the Kimberleys where I haven’t been and like I know I got a map out
    and looked at where the places were but it wasn’t as meaningful as the stuff
    that I actually knew about it.

I   How about Alice Duncan Kemp’s work? Did you ever read it or have you
    ever read her books?

R   14:15:36:06    No, I haven’t read it but I know of her through my husband
    when he sort of, like people his age and older that worked out west and they
    sort of, yeah, talk about Miss Kemp and they talk about the family. And,
    yeah, I think now I’d appreciate reading sort of something like that but, for
    me, I get more out of it if I can, like a book like that historical book, if you
    can relate to the places that they’re talking about and it really, it brings it
    alive and it just makes it a wonderful thing to read, because I am interested in
    that type of work. There are several books here ummm that … there’s one A
    Well Borer’s Daughter and an old lady, she wrote it, and it just tells about
    the early life and they shifted from, like they used to dig the wells by hand
    and that but her mother, everything got packed on the wagon and had its own
    particular spot and they had a cage under the wagon and the chickens were
    kept there. But it just, you know, sort of, it was probably something that she
    put down in words and you can just sort of really relate to it and, yeah,
    definitely books like that bring things history – alive.

I   I don’t know a lot of this history but I know this battle, is it called Battle …?

R   Battle Hole.

I   Battle Hole, here near Jundah, like there was, as I understand it, a very tough
    frontier between white and black here going back more than a hundred years.
    Did you grow up knowing much of that kind of history, like the Aboriginal
    resistance to white occupation and skirmishes back and forth? Was that ever
    part of …?

R   History
    14:17:17:06    No, it was … I never knew about that till, I suppose, I’d lived
    here for a long time because sort of everybody lived together. We sort of
    grew up, there was no difference between black or white and I don’t know
    whether it was because in those days everybody had to live together or what
    it was but I think, you know, sort of to me if that had have been kept alive
    ummm the amount of tolerance, like it could have affected it, whereas to me
    it doesn’t matter the colour of your skin, you’re a person, and the skin
    doesn’t affect you and I think if we dwell on things like that and keep going,
    harking back to them, ummm it’s not going to let us all live harmoniously
    together these days and go forward together, which is the only way we can
    go. We can’t live in the past. Ummm that happened before my family, or a
    lot of the families were, well I don’t even know if there’s any descendants
    now, ummm so we can’t be held responsible just as the Aboriginal people
    can’t be held responsible for the things that their ancestors done, so yeah.

I   So you think that histories of conflict are best forgotten to stop them creating
    distrust in the present?

R   14:18:42:16    Yeah, Trish, I would say so. Ummm because there were
    horrible things, atrocities, happened on both sides. It wasn’t just the white, it
    wasn’t just the Aboriginals. Ummm and I think if people keep harking back
    to it, we just can’t go forward. Like, by all means document your history
    ummm and that’s part of history and we have to learn from that and go
    forward, and to me sort of people are living together no matter their race, and
    that’s the way it should be. There shouldn’t be any difference ummm, or
    perceived difference, or people treated differently, because that just creates
    disunity in our little communities. But, yes, I just look on, it doesn’t matter
    who you are, you’re sort of welcome to come in and have a cuppa and, yeah,
    I don’t care, you know, sort of I’ll look at the person and not the colour of
    their skin.
I   Fair enough. Tell me how it was that you came to be living out here Julie. I
    guess I’m interested in where you and Ian met or whether you’d come to
    work out here.

R   Romance/Braided Channels

    14:19:56:02      Ummm I met my husband when he went to the Pastoral
    College in Longreach. Ummm I was only, I suppose, about 16 when I met
    him, 15 or 16, and they sort of went up there for two years, the courses ran
    there, and yeah like, they sort of have a group of, there was only, you know
    sort of males there at that stage, and they’d sort of have a group of six, I
    think it was, that they’d sort of work together in that group like a more or
    less a class in school, and I suppose I got friendly with the group that he was
    with. Ummm and they come from different walks of life and it was never
    actually a girlfriend/boyfriend thing on my part at that stage. We were just
    all friends. And then after he left the college, I suppose, he’d sort of send a
    card and a letter and one thing led to another and he was working, or sort of
    worked west of Windorah, and then at Cordillo Downs just over the
    Queensland/South Australian border in the top corner there, but to me the
    letters were, they could make a relationship really rosy and we, you’d sort of
    only see each other … I never had a car ummm, wouldn’t have been game to
    drive down there in those days anyway, and he would sort of come to
    Longreach and, to me, to build something on it sort of for the future, you
    couldn’t do it by letters. There were no telephones out there so you’d only
    ring up the few times he’d get to Windorah, so I was very fortunate, he’d
    come up ummm, tried many jobs working around Longreach, like bridge on
    the railway, parks and gardens for the council, did work, casual work on
    properties around town, sort of two or three months, so yeah like the
    commitment was there on our part and we worked with it but I would never
    have got married, you know, though I know people do and did a lot in the old
    days just sort of through letters and things.       To me it was a lasting
    partnership and we had to put the ground work in and, yeah, so we were sort
    of comfortable together and ummm we were both working. Then he got a
    job at the stock and station agents in Longreach – that’s where I worked –
    and his father, through fate, ended up buying, there’s sort of two places
    where my family had originated from ummm yeah, and I suppose, we never
    expected to go on the land ummm and that he sort of just, it wasn’t
    something that was part of the family. You know, once you get married you
    come back sort of thing. But, yeah, so once we got married I think we
    worked for about six months in Longreach and then we came to Coniston
    just next door to here. Windorah’s its local town.

I   So you say you two weren’t expecting to end up on the land. Why was that?
    What was Ian’s expectations for his future when you and he were getting

R   14:23:08:12    Ummm I suppose we never really talked about it ummm and
    that he was … he never liked living in town and I sort of really admired him
    for what he gave up, like I know what he means now. He used to say that
    there were people everywhere, like you could never get away because our
    children experienced it when they went to boarding school, like trying to be
    alone, and I know that I’ve got to the stage now that if I go somewhere where
    there’s a lot of people, like to a city or something, you just get sick of having
    people there all the time, which I couldn’t understand at first. So, yeah, I
    really admire him for that. But as far as his expectations, he was just sort of
    going to … we were still sort of trying to find a niche that he fitted into
    because, I suppose, he worked at the agents for about six months and found
    that really hard at first because he’s a very shy person and having to sort of
    actually speak, but he was still working with stock. So, yeah, he was sort of
    settling, gradually settling in, but the land was his great love so …

I   Had he grown up … had his family been pastoralists? You said his father
    had bought two neighbouring properties that had once been in your family
    but had Ian grown up with his father and mother as pastoralists?

R   Pioneers
    14:24:34:00    Yeah, his grandparents were also pioneers. Ummm they’d
    come up on the train, or his grandmother had come on the train, to Quilpie
    and then she put her worldly goods on a wagon, ummm horse and cart
    wagon, and went out – that was just after they were married – and come out
    to a block called Bodalla just between Quilpie and Windorah, and they had to
    start from scratch as in the boundary fence and then build a home and all the
    things that go to make up a property, do all the fencing and waters. And then
    they sort of went on to develop another two properties from scratch so, yeah,
    his family on his mother’s side, they had a cane farm at Mackay, and that
    was another case of pioneering. Her father had – he was a Scotchman – he’d
    come out from Scotland and had actually developed a cane farm from scratch
    so I suppose on both sides that pioneering spirit was there, ah and Ian’s
    father, they owned ummm he and a brother, and after his mother was
    married, after they were married, his mother come out there and they were on
    a property about fifty mile away from here, so it’s not sort of that far out of
    Ian’s home stamping ground either, so we were lucky like that.

I   So it wasn’t as if Ian’s family had had one property in the family for three or
    four generations and he was the son to next take it on. It wasn’t that kind of

R   14:26:14:10    No, there was never any expectation like that at all. He just
    had no expectation of even owning a property to go on the land ummm but
    when we sort of came here to these two places, they were sort of very run
    down but nobody had sort of been living here and there was sort of cattle had
    trampled all the fences and that, so yeah we sort of had a lot of rebuilding
    and stuff to do and sort of still waiting on the house part but, yeah, the
    property generates the income so the property has to be producing the money
    and that, and just as long as you’re sort of comfortable and you’ve got a roof
    over your head that doesn’t leak, ummm yeah, sort of your turn will come
    one day.

I   So how did it actually happen that you two were here? Like did Ian’s Dad
    after a time give it to you two? How, Ian’s Dad having bought this property,
    and when you say ‘bought’, is it freehold, bought outright, or bought for long
    lease or …?
R   14:27:19:18    No. There’s only leasehold ummm and that but, yeah, you
    sort of pay the, I suppose, the owner for the lease and improvements or
    whatever ummm and then we were, we come down in ’78 ummm and that
    and we moved up here in ’86 but all the … oh well, sort of like there were
    two brothers at home at Clifton, well then they all worked together to sort of
    get these places on their feet ummm and that, and then sort of we had the
    option of buying Coniston or, like they sort of had everything valued and that
    and then Horton Vale was a lot smaller block and that and we took it for the
    part of, oh well Ian took it as his sort of share of the family partnership and
    then we sort of purchased the stock, ah the cattle come with it, and then we
    sort of started from there. But yeah, it was sort of very hard ummm because
    you had, even though I’d worked in a stock and station office, just sort of the
    book work and everything. In those days there was no … DPI like run a lot
    of workshops and that today and you didn’t have any of that so you were
    more or less flying by the seat of your pants and sort of the guidance, to a
    certain extent, of his parents. Ummm so yeah.

I   I haven’t actually asked you, Julie, but had you had any education in a
    particular job? What was your background before you met Ian or you started
    work straight from school?

R   Women/Work/Land
    14:28:56:12    Yeah, I went straight from school. Ummm I worked for, it
    was called Primary, or Queensland Primary Producers, ummm and it was a
    stock and station agent. Ummm I enjoyed the work. I suppose it was the
    love that my grandmother had engendered, I suppose, to me. She’d given me
    that love of the land. Ummm and through her I’d sort of been on a horse
    since before I could, oh before I could walk probably, and I went through
    pony club in Longreach and that, so I was always interested in horses and we
    sort of went on, a friend of mine that we worked with, to actually run the
    pony club in town. I think we were only about … we weren’t old enough to
    be office bearers. One of my aunts come in and sort of, she was sort of more
    or less the senior person, but we’d been going riding with ten or fifteen
    children of a weekend, just around Longreach, so that love of the land was
    always there and the love of horses. Ummm and I suppose I’d worked, the
    next place I worked at was a stock and station agent again with Australian
    Estates. But I just loved the work and you’re, I suppose, mixing with people
    that you could relate to, so I think I was very lucky in sort of the childhood
    and youth that I had ummm before my marriage. I … yeah, I just really
    enjoyed it and I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

I   And tell me the physical conditions of your life when you and Ian were first
    living, I don’t know whether it was on this property, but in terms of things
    like power, telephone.

R   Physical Hardships/Gender Relations: Division of Labour

    14:30:41:00    Ummm Coniston, which is just next door, we come down here
    and I had a kerosene refrigerator, kerosene deep freeze, a 32-volt lighting
    plant that didn’t work very often, ummm which it was only for lighting.
    There was sort of an old Mixmaster there which was, I suppose, the same as
    what my mother used on a 240-volt, but I could never get it to work on 32 so
    everything was done from scratch, like if you wanted to mince the meat, you
    had your old hand mincer. To make a cake or stuff like that, you didn’t use a
    mixer, you just used the old wooden spoon trick. I’d never done a lot of
    cooking before I was married ummm, like in those days I suppose not many
    of my age group did, so I sort of found it really hard to sort of be cooking for
    sort of for about five or six of us ummm and some of the offerings I offered
    up, one brother-in-law was highly insulted at my first attempt at pastry and I
    never tried to make pastry again for about 15 years. But their mother was a
    beautiful cook and I was sort of still learning. My husband, I must admit, he
    could cook a lot better than what I could and that they’d be cooking out in
    the camps and that. So I just found it really hard. Ummm coping with no
    telephone, we didn’t have radios in that day. If I wanted to contact my
    family, I’d have to drive about 14 miles to the property next door, which
    we’d go there twice a week. Our mail was left up there. We never even had
    a mail man that come in. We’d sort of have to, one of us would have to drive
    over and get the mail and, I suppose, yeah, I never … I’d been surrounded by
    people and a close family ummm all that time and I found it hard because,
    with Ian and his brothers working, it was considered to be the woman’s place
    in the home and I would have loved to have got out on and about the place
    and actually helped out there. But, yeah, I was there to cook and clean and
    that was the place that women seemed to take in those days. There weren’t

I   So what date are we talking? Is this late seventies?

R   Women/Work: Correspondence

    14:33:11:14   Yeah, late seventies, early eighties. I suppose, during the dry
    time in ’82, I suppose, I helped out a bit on the place but it wasn’t till we
    came up here that, you know, sort of there was … there wasn’t a lot of
    money. There wasn’t any money, and there was just Ian and I and the kids
    and a sheep yard that we didn’t have enough dogs or vehicles to patch up the
    holes in. Ummm so, yeah, we were sort of just starting from scratch and the
    kids and I would work and I’d be teaching in amongst it, so you’d sort of
    drop the school to go and help out. But then I was lucky, too, that Ian had
    come through correspondence. He understood the papers and with the oldest
    two, ummm they were virtually the same papers he’d worked on so if I went
    out with the kids and we gave him a hand, then he’d come in the house and
    he’d actually, he’d teach maths and social studies. But these days nobody
    can sort of understand the papers to actually come in and take over from us
    because they just keep changing the way that they teach things and it just
    makes it really hard ummm for somebody to help. 14:34:25:20