Acknowledgement is made for the enormous research carried out by Jenny Keast for her publication "Valley of Solitude" from which information has been used in this family history.

Bertolo Salagari was born in Grosotto, Valtellina, in the mid 1800’s and he and his brother, Giuseppe, came to Western Australia in 1895. Bertolo left his wife and daughter, Domenica, (Lena) who was born just before he came to Western Australia, in Grosotto.

The brothers found work in the goldfields and traveled to Southern Cross by train. The railway ended at Southern Cross and they walked to Kalgoorlie. Bertolo worked underground at the Sons of Gwalia mine.

In 1902, he sent for his wife, Caterina, and his daughter. In 1903, a son Antony Joseph was born, “at the top end of Hannan Street”‘ and in 1908, another son, Joseph, was born in the Home from Home Hotel at the “bottom end of Hannan Street”.

Shortly after Joseph was born Bertolo and Caterina bought the Cremorne Hotel at Coolgardie. Caterina ran the hotel while Bertolo worked at Tindal’s mine at Coolgardie. A year later, in 1909, they bought an orchard property at Pickering Brook from Mr. Hunter. The original owner, Mr. McKenzie, had named the property “Moss Giel” but from the time the Salagari’s owned it, it has been known as “Salagari’s Paddocks”. The property was resumed by the Water Authority in 1923.

Lena became engaged to Mr. Hunter’s son just as World War 1 began. He enlisted in the Australian Army and was killed during the last battle to be fought on French soil in 1918. She later married Joe Scari who worked at Barton’s Mill and who later bought land at Karragullen

Bertolo cut timber in the forest as well as working the orchard. He had two teams of horses to pull whims, carrying the fallen timber, to Baton’s Mill. He also carted loads of chaff to the mill for Louis Zola, the mill blacksmith. Zola was often “merry” on home made grappa but Joseph says he was an “extra good bloke”. Bertolo also felled timber for Charlie “Sunny” Anderson of the Sunshine Mill at Pickering Brook.

Joseph had a huge kangaroo dog when he was a boy. The dog took care of him and never left his side. If Joseph was in trouble with his mother he would climb to the top of a huge Walnut tree, which grew near the house, and stay there until his father came home in the evening. The dog stood guard at the foot of the tree until he came down.

Joseph can remember the Hewison family at the shop at Pickering Brook. He called their daughter, Alice, “Alice Blue Gown”, and had a soft spot for her when he was growing up. Joseph attended the Barton’s Mill School until he was in trouble with the teachers and asked to leave! He then attended the Carmel School. At the mill school one family, the Browns, supplied thirteen of the pupils. At the age of fourteen Joseph left school and became an apprentice jockey for Tom Tighe at Belmont.

Caterina shopped in Perth once a month, traveling there and back on the Kalamunda Zig Zag Railway. Most of the shopping was ordered from Bairds, where it was packed and sent up by train. One Christmas, Caterina asked if Bairds were giving a discount for regular customers for Christmas. She was rudely told “No, you Italians are doing pretty damn good in this country”. She cancelled further orders and shopped elsewhere from then on.

In 1909, Caterina and Lena attended the Bachelors Ball, held at the Kalamunda Agricultural Hall. Lena wore “pink muslin-de-soie, with trimmings on guirepure lace”. Caterina wore “a neat dress of fawn voile, trimmings of cream insertion”. (The Swan Express”).

In 1923, the Government Water Board put a compulsory purchase order on “Moss Giel” and took the property as water catchment. A spring that feeds the Canning Dam flows through the property on its way to Karragullen and the dam. Caterina and Bertolo moved to Belmont and Bertolo found work at the Darling Range Quarry but developed silicosis. He was sent to the Woorooloo chest hospital and died there.

Joseph married Blanche Celeste Renovere, daughter of French Caladonians, in 1936. He met Blanche at a Catholic Ball at St. Brigid’s, West Perth. She was twenty seven and he twenty eight tears old. As an Apprentice jockey for Tighe, Joseph rode against many of the top jockeys of the day. He rode many winners when he finished his apprenticeship and was top steeplechase jockey, for four years, in the mid 1940’s. He was riding winners for twenty years.

During the Second World War, Joseph joined the Horse Transport and was stationed at Merredin. Following the war, he joined the Postmaster General’s Department, as have all his sons. He still rode at country race meetings, especially at Kalgoorlie. He now lives with his son Marcel Robert, (Vic) at Wanneroo, where he helps with his son’s pacing horses. The family have great hopes for a mare named for Joseph’s wife, Blanche Celeste.

Family Information

Bertolo Salagari married Caterina ? .
Children; Domenica (Lena), born in Italy 1895, Antony Joseph, born Kalgoorlie 1903, Joseph born Kalgoorlie 1908.

Domenica married Joe Scari.

Joseph married Blanche Celeste Renovere 1936.
Children; Marcel Robert (Vic), Joseph George, Peter Antony.

Children of Vic. are Shirley, Robert, Michael, Terry from first marriage.

Married Pat Sherwood,
Children; Craig and Philip.

Joseph George married Helen Lawler,
Children; Sharon and Julie.

Peter Antony married Gloria Taylor,
Children: Cherina, Brett and Jody.

Every endeavour has been made to accurately record the details however if you would like to provide additional images and/or newer information we are pleased to update the details on this site. Please click here to email us at We appreciate your involvement in recording the history of our area.

Reference: Article: Valley of Solitude by Jenny Keast