Home from the War
Life on the Range – Chapter 7
When peace was declared in 1945 and young men returned to the district the Government saw fit to buy underdeveloped land from graziers who had large farms.
Grieves, Limberts, McBains, Seekers and Fosters were some from whom they purchased sections.
Portable homes were erected in Lucindale where families lived while the men camped in a shed, which had been erected on a site on one of the blocks.
The blocks were all cleared, ploughed and seeded, fences and homes were built then blocks were allotted.
In Avenue, district blocks were allotted to Ross Stevens, George Hansberry, Jim McDowall, Jim Bourne, Arthur Hensel, Clive Baker, Denis Small, Max Ewer, Len Miegel, Ted Maughan, Rex Treloar, Alwin Quast, Hugh Bawden, Alwin Wachtel, Bill Tiller, Harry Lomman, Tim Hughes and George Breaker.
Lands Department ploughing in Limberts 1954.
Clive and Beth Baker – “Lanalea”
Clive and Beth Baker with their three children, Jeffrey aged 6, Douglas 4 and Colin 1 year moved to their War Settlement farm “Lanalea” section 253, 254 and 255 hundred of Townsend in July 1954. Clive and Beth had previously lived on Clive’s parents farm at Two Wells until 1950, then at Willow Creek, via Victor Harbor. They moved to Penola and commenced working with the L.D.E. in 1952.
When they moved to their farm they lived the first 3 months in an Armco shed while their house was being built. The big problem was the lack of access roads. The L.D.E. had dozed a track, now the West Avenue Road, but it ended at their place, leaving 5 miles of scrub between them and the railway line. When leaving the property it was always a decision as to which way they should go as the hills were sandy and the flats wet. To go to Kingston they could go through Mr. Beggs property – (now Wayne Hancocks) and then to the Bowaka Road – or by the new sandy track to Miegel’s corner and then to Avenue. Later the council dozed a track through the scrub to the railway line, but as there was no railway crossing it meant travelling through Mr. Rivett’s property to the 17 mile crossing. On one occasion they found the water much deeper than expected on the flat near the crossing. The water reached the step of the Austin truck.
Schooling was a problem, Jeffrey had commenced schooling at Penola so for the second half of 1954 and 1955 he received correspondence lessons. The West Avenue Road was metalled in the latter part of 1955 and a school bus route to Lucindale was established in 1956. The children rode their bikes to Miegels corner (to meet the bus) weather permitting. Jeff continued at Lucindale until he gained his Intermediate certificate, he then attended Unley High School and Adelaide University graduating in medicine in 1970. Doug did the Area School course at Lucindale to leaving level. Colin attended Lucindale then Naracoorte High School where he matriculated, then to Flinders University where he gained his B.A. and Dip. Ed. Jillian was born at Naracoorte in 1957. Her schooling commenced in 1963, the year the school bus was re-routed, as a railway crossing had been made opposite Arthur Hensel’s and the West Avenue Road metalled to that point. This meant the school bus now passed the gate. Jill attended Lucindale to Year 10 and Naracoorte High School for years 11 and 12. She trained as a registered nurse at the Adelaide Childrens Hospital and did midwifery at Bendigo.
Kevin was born in 1959 at Naracoorte. He attended Lucindale Area School until year 11 then Naracoorte High School for year 12 and then Roseworthy Agricultural College where he gained his Roseworthy Diploma in Agriculture.
The farm has seen many changes. The 580 acres of flat country was initially boundary fenced and divided into 4 paddocks – there are now 18 paddocks. The scrub country of approximately 950 acres has all been cleared and established into 22 paddocks of lucerne based pasture. Carrying capacity has gone from 400 sheep and 6 cows to 5,000 D.S.E.
They purchased section 26 – (which included the home) when Mary and the late Max Smith’s property “The Valley” was auctioned on 25th September, 1985. Kevin married Jacqueline Watson on the 7th December, 1985 and made it their home. Doug who has spent all his life on the home farm, married Rita Quorn-Smith on February 1st, 1986 and will remain to manage the original acres.
Clive and Beth retired to Victor Harbour in June 1981.
Hugh Bawden – “Dunreath”
With the forthcoming Sesqui-Centenary, for South Australia and the BiCentenary which will encompass the whole of Australia, it is now a popular pastime to evaluate what groups of people have been doing over the past few generations and to put down on paper, either in book form or in some paper back type of thing a history of what has been accomplished.
The West Avenue Range group of people will qualify for a special mention in our local archives.
When we refer to the people of West Avenue Range we are referring to a unique group of people who are the product of the successful Soldier Settlement Scheme of South Australia.
This has not just happened, it was brought about by hard work on the part of the people living in the West Avenue Range area and by the expertise of the South Australian Lands Department, the South Australian Agriculture Department, and the Lands Development Executive, which enabled suitable applicants and their families to be placed on blocks of land in the South East of South Australia.
The L.D.E. – or the Lands Department Executive – was the body which undertook the enormous job of developing the land to such a standard that it would support a Soldier Settler and his family in the initial phases of his taking up residence as a potential farmer.
The settler was expected to fence and further develop the land so that it would support him and his family and to enable him to pay for the house, fencing improvements, buildings etc., a rent would be struck in perpetuity.
Most, if not all, applicants eventually worked with gangs of men developing the land for future settlers.
The full and true story of the activities of the Lands Department Executive in the South East of South Australia has not yet been written, I am just scratching the surface.
As this story is about the lives, the activities and origins of the people in the West Avenue Range, it is appropriate that we mention the circumstances by which we came to be living in the area.
1 had been in the R.A.A.F. and had been on operational duty in the South West Pacific, and later in a bomber squadron in England. After discharge from the R.A.A.F. I had been mainly involved with farming activities on the West Coast of South Australia and for a time in the South East of South Australia. I had long ago made up my mind to have a go at the much talked about Soldier Settlement Scheme.
So with my youthful background, and with my ancestors’ pioneering spirit in me (they were pioneers on Yorke Peninsula), I joined the Lands Development Executive at Penola in 1949.
The first job in the L.D.E. was to be put on the rabbit eradication programme on land being developed for a Soldier Settler family to live on. In most cases, if not all, the land was over-run with large numbers of rabbits.
The land then being developed for blocks had been in and around Penola, Mt. Gambier and Naracoorte area and it was with great excitement we greeted the decision to move operations to what was called the Western Division, which was roughly a line West from Millicent-Hatherleigh to the Furner-Lucindale area.
In December 1949, four L.D.E. workers, (one foreman and three tractor drivers), of which I was one, loaded up an old ex-military truck with camping gear and headed for the Mount Hope area and set up camp in the middle of a stringy bark range.
Our three tractors and twin disc ploughs followed.
After setting up camp under very primitive conditions we proceeded to plough land that had been ploughed many years previously.
We wondered why there was no grass growing and why the previous owners had not made more of an effort to do more with the land. We put it down to the tremendous numbers of rabbits – the whole South East seemed to be infested with rabbits!
We had been working a few days at ploughing and soon realised that we were going to have to put up with very dusty conditions. The D4 crawler tracks in 3rd gear would throw up dust and dirt necessitating changing the oil-bath aircleaners every day, not to mention the dust that we would breath in our lungs.
One night we were reflecting on the day’s work and thought how good it would be to get rid of the dust in our throats with a beer. One of the lads thought there was a hotel at Rendelsham, he remembered a tall building there – so I was delegated to jump on my Harley Davidson motor bike and reconnoitre the area, but alas, I returned with the sad news that the tall building was in fact the chickory mill.
We had been ploughing for several weeks when a dear old gentlemen came over to us and explained that we would be wasting our time doing all that work as nothing would grow anyway. He knew people who had tried and failed.
This shook us at first. Had we not access to the finest brains in agriculture in Australia behind us, and had we not done an Agricultural course at Wingfield and had been briefed on pasture, trace elements, superphosphate and the beaut high rainfall in the South East? So we just put the old fellow’s comments down to the backwardness of the South East and kept ploughing on.
The rabbits were so bad that whenever we reached the centre of an area being ploughed, many rabbits would be left running about. We used to carry a bucket on the D4’s filled with stones, and became quite experts in the eradication of the pest by throwing a well-aimed rock.
When our Supervisor was granted a block of land, our gang drove over to Penola to attend a farewell in his honour. Among the many visitors were L.D.E. personnel, local graziers and the chairman of the Lands Development Executive, Doctor Allan Callaghan (Sir Allan Callaghan), “The little doctor” as he was affectionately known to us, gave a speech in honour of our departing Supervisor and gave us the history of events that led to the formation of the L.D.E., and we got it straight from the “Horses mouth”, so to speak.
The Little Doctor explained how, during the war he and Land Board members had visited the South East and found that it was backward in all respects of agriculture, and over-run with rabbits. It was owned by persons who held great tracts of land that they could never manage properly.
Something obviously had to be done urgently, so the Lands Development Executive was born.
The Doc got onto his favourite saying that this country would carry 4 sheep to the acre with modern agricultural practices. “If you don’t know how, come and see us and we will show you how”.
In hind-sight we know that his words were true and that eventually many thousands of acres were developed in the South East, and in fact we started a world-wide trend.
After listening to the Little Doctor we arrived back at Mount Hope camp with renewed vigour, and the day came when we·received two brand new tractors, the very first new ones and the only ones for several years. The original tractors we had were all ex-Army and ex-Navy.
We never had much time to think about the good life, the speed with which we were developing the land for Soldier Settlement was all that counted.
We could handle 10 hours a day on the D4, but the 12 hour day was tough and the dust and racket from the D4’s tracks almost drove us in to insensibility as we worked a 6 day week. The men would sometimes become ill .and would have to see the old ex-military Doctor, (Doctor Pavy) at Naracoorte, and one day there were just too many L.D.E. blokes. “You do twice as much as anyone else and then wonder why you are crook,” he said.
There was a well-known supervisor who was appropriately nicknamed because of his huge feet, especially when one of them was placed on the accelerator of a vehicle. He loved to go across country, if it was at all possible, especially if it was to check on one of the gangs, just to see if they were starting on time as their time sheets were suggesting.
Our gang was favoured with an early (6.00 a.m.) morning visit once. Fortunately we were up and busy as he had come in from behind, so to speak, through a stringy bark range.
By 1953 the entire Reedy Creek black flats had been ploughed between the foot of the West Avenue Range and the edge of the Reedy Creek – a strip of land fifteen miles long and varying in width from a mile to a mile and a half.
The stage was set for the sowing down to pasture of this huge area of land.
I had been in charge of a gang of men the previous year and had successfully sown down land in the Biscuit Flat, Comung and Beachport areas. Settlers were already living on blocks in those areas.
I had fifteen men in the seeding gang. Super and seed had to be kept up to the drilling teams, together with grease and fuel for the tractors and food for the drivers. A constant check had to be kept on the seeding mechanism of the drill as vibration would alter the setting.
We made world history for the area of land developed and sown to pasture and in the time we took to do the job.
The politicians were evidently pleased because they continually quoted the figures when they were criticised for not having more blocks developed for settlers to live on.
When finally we came to live on the block allocated to me in March 1954 there were no roads in the area. We had to fit mud chains to our vehicles to get out of the settlement so that we could travel to Kingston or Lucindale. We sometimes had to tow the school bus through bogs and even repair the road with voluntary labour.
The second drainage scheme in the 1950’s enabled better roads to be built. Generally living in the West Avenue Range Soldier Settlement Scheme area has been terrific, but we did have problems with the public servants over rents, drainage rates and council roads.
These problems were resolved. Our children have grown up and done well. The West Avenue Range parents can justifiably be proud of their children. They can claim a Doctor, and Architect, several Diplomas of Agriculture, Sisters in the Nursing profession, Educators, business people and some very civic minded citizens. who are ‘responsibly managing their parents’ land whilst they are living in retirement.
Colin and Doris Brown – “Colomay”
I came from Reeves Plains to Lucindale in April 1956 and Doris and the two children joined me in November of the same year. It was December 1959 when we moved to our Soldier Settler farm. The block was allotted to me in July 1959 and was 701 acres in the area known as Biscuit Flat, south west of Avenue Range. The property was all cleared except for 30 acres which I cleared some years later.
We attended Church and the children went to Sunday School from 1960. Doris and I were both Sunday School teachers and I was Church Steward for about 18 years.
Lionel! and Beth both travelled to Lucindale by school bus to attend the Lucindale Area School. After leaving school Lionel became a shearer and Beth trained as a nurse.
The Church in Avenue Range closed in 1977 thus ending our association with Avenue Range.
Arthur and Brenda Hensel – “Talinga”
It is with a certain amount of pride that I look back on the thirty years spent on our property.
When we were advised that there was not enough land available for all who were waiting for Soldier Settlement blocks and that we would have to miss out Arthur visited Harvey Limbert who very kindly made availabe Section 264, Hundred of Townsend – the land that we were allotted later. My father, Oswald Rivett, loved to visit us as in the early 1900’s he would do the mustering for the late Mr. Limbert on this property.
With John who was two years old and another child due and a fortnight’s pay we moved into our new home on September 12th, 1955. Rosalie was born on November 28th, 1955 and some years later Margaret was born on August 10th, 1964.
There were many ups and downs but a very rewarding time to see the progress with more land developed and stock numbers increased. In 1981 we retired to Kingston, John taking over where his father left off. Now there is another generation coming on with Michael John born in 1985.
Jim and Phyll McDowall – “Talbots”
My parents owned land at Geranium in the Mallee until Dad enlisted in the army during the Second World War, when we moved to Adelaide. I finished my education at Sacred Heart College and then joined the Navy.
Early in 1950 I started work at “Fellwood”, home of Mr. and Mrs. Aitchison Grieve and family. After Phyll and I were married in April 1950, we stayed on there as a married couple. It was here we first met Ross Stevens who was also working on “Fellwood”, and also Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Smith and family who always held open house at “Walteela” for Saturday night’s tea and games.
Horses were very popular and Phy!! recalls when we saddled up and rode through the scrub to what is now Miegel’s property. Getting off the horse to open the last gate she found it easier to walk than to remount’
We left Avenue after twelve months and returned to the Lucindale district in 1953. Later that year I was called up by the Lands Department to work on the development of land for soldier settlement. For the next eighteen months we lived in ex-army huts converted to accommodate two families. Eight of the units were placed adjacent to the Lucindale District Council Depot. The one we lived in is now used as the Scout Hall.
The men all left early on Monday mornings, returning on Friday afternoons very tired and dusty. This was a difficult time for the women as most families had small children. The grounds of the L.D.E. huts would be wet and muddy in winter and the houses very hot in summer. “Big” Bill Copping and his “helping hand” Mick would deliver milk from his dairy which was on the block next door to Lindsay and Edie Bates’ home.
When the land was developed and the houses finished I applied for a block receiving my second choice – 1,036 acres, Section 275 Hundred of Townsend. This land had been purchased from Mr. Aitchison Grieve by the Lands Department for 30/- per acre. After having refused a block on Kangaroo Island I was very grateful that I was considered for another block.
When we moved on to the block in November 1955 the house had been completed, a shed built, a windmill erected and part of the boundary fencing done.
We named the property “Talbots” after a Mr. Talbot who drove a bullock team to cart supplies to the men working on the digging of Drain K. He would spend the night near where our front gate now is. Each time he would add a few more rocks to a pile until he had a sizeable cairn. Unfortunately this was knocked down when the road fence was being erected by a team of Italian contractors.
It was our job to subdivide our holdings for which we were paid per mile – this, and milki,ng cows with cream being collected by Penola, Horsham and Naracoorte butter factory trucks, was our main source of income in the early years.
Phyll’s parents gave us a horse which I rode home from Naracoorte, but it was not long before “Smithy” (Keith Smith) talked me into the need for a “bomb”. A 1928 Chev. was purchased in Adelaide, Keith coming with me to help in the decision making. I drove it home and soon had it converted into a work ute.
We had two children when we moved on to ‘Talbots” -Susanne was born in 1951. She married Gilbert Wood who, with a partner, owns “Lake City
Aviation” at Mt. Gambier. They have four children. Rodney was born in April 1953, educated’ at Lucindale and Naracoorte High and went on to become a school teacher, but after doing an international Scuba Diving course, set his sights on this type of work. In 1982 he left Australia with his wife for Grand Cayman Island in the Carribean, where he is now manager of the Surf Side Water Sports Ltd. -a large diving company. Steven was born in 1956 -the year of the wet. Paddocks were under water and roads impassable in places. Steve has worked on the farm since he left school and has married local girl Julie Wood. They have two daughters, Liana and Jena.
Pauline arrived in November 1960. She has married Graeme Kempe and they live with their two children, Michael and Alice on the Kempe property at Culburra.
As our place was at the end of a school bus run we boarded the teacher drivers for many years -Wally Frank, Laurel Masters (now Schneider), Andrew Dunsmuir, Jeff Barnett, Raelene Kitto and Ken Dunn. We enjoyed their company as we did not have much social life in those days.
In 1966 we put in a swimming pool and in November decided to have a barbecue to open the pool. That day it rained three inches and the pool overflowed.
In 1980 we bought a block of land -Section 186 -from Mrs. Hilda Thomson and built a new home leaving Steven and Julie to continue with the management of ‘Talbots”.
Last year Steven thought he would like to try farming at Esperance in Western Australia as we needed more acreage to make a viable living for both families. However, prices did not meet expectations and ‘Talbots” still remains with the McDowalls.
Len and Elsa Miegel -“Kompiam”
When I was four years old my father sold his farm at Alectown in N.S.W. and purchased a farm at Reeves Plain near Gawler. The journey from N.S.W., in a covered light wagon with three draught horses and a saddle hack, took us six weeks. After service in the Army in World War II, I worked on Brippick station near Frances, and then for Alf Hannaford & Co. as a seed cleaning operator before starting work with the Land Development Executive in 1951. In 1952 while working in the L.D.E. workshop at Biscuit Flat I and my family lived in the original “Comung” homestead -this was later destroyed in a bushfire. Later that year we moved into one of the L.D.E. flats (Tin Pan Alley) at the rear of the present council depot in Lucindale. Lucindale at that time had become the centre of L.D.E. operations extending from Frances, Wrattonbully, to the Hundred of Coles, Spence, Townsend and Conmurra.
I was allocated my soldier settlement block at West Avenue in November 1953 and took up residence on the 3rd July 1954 when the house had been completed. (This block was my third preference in the Land Board Ballot). After an initial good start the L.D.E. reduced the size of my block by 170 acres which were reallocated to two neighbouring blocks. This left me· with a block which proved to be substandard, and in November 1960, 200 acres of virgin land was added to my block in an effort to bring it up to standard. This additional land had to be developed at my own expense.
During the first years on our blocks we had to pay agistment to the L.D.E. for the stock which we carried at the rate of 2½ pence per dry sheep, 31/2 penc_e per wet sheep and 1 shilling and sixpence per cow. In order to supplement our income we milked cows. Initially the L.D.E. only allowed us to run six milkers, however this was increased to 30 by 1961. The cows were milked using a 4 stand Moffat-Virtue milking machine, in a shed constructed of materials salvaged from the old “Beggs” homestead on the western boundary of our block. At the time all of our milk was separated, with the milk being fed to calves and pigs, while the cream was collected in 3-and 5-gallon cans twice weekly by trucks initially from the Penola butter factory, and later by a truck from the Horsham butter factory.
When we moved onto our block we had no electricity, no road, no telephone and no schooling facilities. We had to rely on a Tilley lamp and kerosene lanterns for lighting in the house. In 1955 we purchased a Lister 32 volt generating set. This plant had to be started up every night, or whenever the washing machine or welder were used, and along with its bank of sixteen large two-volt batteries provided our electricity until 1974, when we were finally connected to the ETSA 240 volt grid.
Arthur Hensel, Bruce McLaren and I constructed the first road from the corner of Keith Smith’s block to Clive Bakers, by first ploughing the “road” with a majestic plough, and then grading it using the old manually operated council grader towed behind an Allis Chalmers tractor. During the winter time the track to Lucindale was often impassable and the only way to get there was to cross the drain and then drive through the scrub to Noorla and then to Crower. The road was gravelled in 1955, however in the wet year of 1956 it often become impassable, and, at one stage, the parents of children on the West Avenue school bus held working bees to keep the road passable.
Prior to getting the school bus in 1956, we gave Darryl correspondence lessons at home, and then later he and Pam Quast (Pope), attended the school at Mount Bruce. Pam and Darryl boarded with Eileen and Tim Hughes, and each day they, along with Paul and Denise Hughes, travelled in a horse and sulky to the Mt. Bruce woolshed corner, where they caught the school bus to Mt. Bruce.
It was during this period that Mrs. Eileen Hughes conducted a regular Sunday School for the children at West Avenue. In association with the Sunday School a Christmas Tree evening was held at Small’s woolshed each December.
The manual telephone exchange was opened at Biscuit Flat in 1959, however, in order to get the telephone connected, we had to construct our own lines. Together with Bakers, Smalls and Ewers we purchased the necessary materials (the poles came from the old narrow guage railway line to Kingston) and constructed 8 km of line from Bakers to the junction with the old Robe road. We had to maintain this party line ourselves until Telecom installed underground cables and the automatic exchange in 1976.
On the 18th March, 1961 a bushfire burnt out all of the flat part of our block, in addition to parts of neighbouring properties and 3,000 acres of crown land (since allocated and developed) to the west of our block. In addition to losing all of our pasture, the fire also destroyed 8 miles of fencing and 39 sheep. Following the fire numerous people throughout the district generously took all of our stock on free agistment until the fences were repaired and the pastures had recovered. Further help came from the Kingston, Lucindale and Greenways R.S.L. Clubs who organized working bees to repair and replace fencing, not forgetting the help offered by many individuals including an anonymous substantial donation of lucerne seed and oats.
During this fire the peat on the Reedy Creek waterway was set alight and continued to burn for 18 months. The fire burnt two feet down to the clay subsoil in places, and the smoke with its peculiar odour, could be smelled as far away as Nhill in Victoria. The areas of peat which were burnt out still remain barren despite many efforts to re-establish pastures.
On 9th February 1973 we experienced our second fire. This time an electrical fault in the 32/240 volt inverter is believed to have started the fire which destroyed our home. Once again the response from the district people to help us was overwhelming. A fund was set up in the Lucindale district and about $3,000 was raised. There were many donations of bedding, clothing, food.
In 1978 Darryl returned from Papua New Guinea where he had been working as an Agricultural advisor for 7½ years, and purchased a half share in the farm. I then decided to purchase a house and retire in Gawler, leaving Darryl to run the farm.
Dennis and Audrey Small – “Gum Brae”
Dennis and Audrey Small, with their children Darryl, Terry and Rosslyn, left Geranium in 1952 and went to live in the L.D.E. flats in Penola while the men cleared the land in the Biscuit Flat and Mt. Bruce areas. They shifted to their Soldier Settlement block on the West Avenue road, after they were allotted in May 1954, and lived in the shed for three months while the house of the Housing Trust type was being built.
The roads were very bad -almost non-existant. Deep sand covered the hills and the flats turned into thick soup when wet. In wet weather they often had to drive on a track through Parker’s (now Smart’s) property and along Graetz’s road to go to Lucindale. The road out to Reedy Creek and Kingston was among the reeds on a very boggy black flat.
The first year was spent in sub-fencing and improving pastures. They milked cows for a few years for a cash income, after which they turned to sheep and beef cattle. They now have only sheep and grow a few cash crops such as lupins, rape, sunflowers and barley.
Darryl and Terry had to do their schooling by Correspondence for the first two years and then were taken daily to the Avenue School for the last term the school was in operation. In 1956 a school bus came out their road to take children to the Lucindale Area School. Darryl had to return to Correspondence after a year or two for health reasons, but Terry and Rosslyn completed their education at Lucindale. After leaving school, Terry worked for several years on a farm at Willowie as money was scarce and the family could not afford to have two boys at home. Rosslyn went to Kalamerino Station on the Birdsville Track as a governess. Terry married Maxine Fiebig of Murray Town and worked as a married man at Fellwood and for D.J. Barratfuntil a house was built for him on “Gum Brae”. He and Darryl now work the farm.
The family had various sporting interests, playing for Avenue, Lucindale, Naracoorte and Robe at various times.
When Dennis died suddenly of a heart attack in 1970, it was decided that the time for Terry to come home was ripe. Since then they have purchased more land -some 250 acres of Powell’s Swamp and 400 acres of high ground. They also built a four-stand shearing shed a few years ago.
Rosslyn married a farmer, Peter Hurst, from Lake Hawdon. They now live at Reedy Creek and have four daughters. Terry and Maxine have one son and two daughters -the grandchildren attending the Kingston and Lucindale Area Schools.
Ross Stevens -“Cooinda”
I came to Avenue Range as a rural trainee in August, 1949, to work for the late Aitchison Grieve at his property “Fellwood” where I stayed for five years, until I was granted a soldier settlers block adjoining “Fellwood”, and owned by the late Harvey Limbert.
In 1958, I married Marcia Wilton and our two children, Wendy, born in 1959 and Tony in 1961, began their schooling in Lucindale.
During this period, because of the influx of soldier settlers the school bus appeared (thanks largely to Len Miegel) and the roads, which at that stage were horror stretches, began to improve. Today the area is crisscrossed with many roads, both sealed and open surfaced.
I count myself extremely lucky to have been an Avenue-ite because of the great community spirit which has always existed perhaps because the Store/Post Office has provided a central meeting place.
A.H. and E.S. Wachtel “Kalimna Park”
Alwin Wachtel and his family arrived on their property on the West Avenue road on February 10th, 1952 after living at Biscuit Flat for two years. When he and his wife were first married they lived at Mannum and then came to the South East to work for the Department of Lands. Their block was allotted to them by the Department under the Soldier Settlement Scheme.
One particular difficulty was not being able to get out in the winter before the road was built. It was necessary to put chains on the tyres and these had to be removed when they reached the bitumen, and then replaced on the return journey – rather messy in good clothes! Consequently they only went shopping once a fortnight, taking turns with their neighbour and doing each others’ shopping.
Bread came from Apsley, being brought by the cream truck on its way from Horsham, Victoria, to pick up cream on the West Avenue road. They milked up to ten cows, which was their only income (apart from payment for fencing by the Lands Department) until their sheep were producing enough to live on a few years later.
Their family consisted of three children when they arrived at “Kalimna Park” -Sue, Wendy and Terry. Julie was born at Millicent some years later. As there was no road, hence no school bus, Mrs. Wachtel had to supervise Sue’s correspondence lessons.
All the children were educated at the Lucindale Area School to Intermediate level. Suzanne did her nursing training at Millicent until her marriage. Wendy worked in Millicent and Mt. Gambier and Terry has worked on the farm since he left school. Julie was employed by Dalgetys in Lucindale for 5 years.
The Wachtel’s former neighbour, the late Mrs. Tiller, was the founder of the West Avenue Combined Ladies Guild which this year celebrated its 29th birthday. Mrs. Tiller thought this a good way for the women on the West Avenue road to get to know one another, and they have been able to support various charities and Church projects with donations, and also enjoyed Christian fellowship – an important part of their lives.
Another difficulty in the early years in this area was a lack of communication. To make a phone call they had to travel to Conmurra Station and later the E. & W.S. Camp at Greenways. Initially, when the phone was connected they had a party line connected to the manual exchange at Biscuit Flat. Breakers, Hughes, Lommans, Tillers and Wachtels were on the 22 line, and Millards were added to it when they were allotted their farm later.
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