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.

Giuseppe – Joe – Scolaro was born at Sant Angelo di Brolo, Sicily, within view of Mount Etna, in 1900. Towards the end of the First World War he joined the army but as Italy had more or less stopped fighting he saw no active service. He transferred to the police force, in which he served for three years. He became a very strong and tough man, although very fair and honest. During both his army life and police service he continued his studies and by the time he decided to leave Italy he could read and write English very well.

In 1922, Italy began another period of political and social instability and Joe decided to emigrate. His first choice was the U.S.A. but the new quota system for immigrants prevented that so he set sail for Australia aboard the Regina Italia. He arrived in Queensland late in 1922. He found work in the sugar cane fields, where he stayed for some five years.

In 1927 he moved to South Australia and worked on the new rail line between Alice Springs and Oodanatta. Joe told his children that this is where he lost all his hair. It was fried off in the sun, the temperature often reached 130 degrees in the “water bag”. Joe’s brother, Peter, had joined him in South Australia and together they moved to Western Australia, at the end of the 1920’s, where they leased land at Wanneroo and grew vegetables. They leased the land together until 1938, when Peter visited Pickering Brook, saw a good property and bought it. He began developing it while still growing vegetables at Wanneroo, traveling to the hills at weekends. A little later Peter and Joe began a partnership on the property.

In 1933 Joe married Anna Ridolfo by proxy. She lived at Ficarra, a small village near Joe’s home in Sicily. They had not known each other but Anna was prepared to make the journey to Australia and arrived on the Esquilino in 1934, two years after her marriage at the age of twenty-six. In 1936, Basil Scolaro arrived and in 1938 the family was joined by another brother, Mick.


Later that year all the brothers came to live at Pickering Brook. Mick and his wife Sara (nee Di Stefano) lived in a small cottage with Basil and in 1939 they were joined by their father, Michele. He left his wife in Italy and never saw her again. He was in his late forties when he arrived and died at the age of sixty-nine without ever going home.

Joe and Anna built a small house of timber and asbestos, lined with limed hessian bags . This was extended by four rooms in 1948. There were no facilities,

Anna did the washing in the creek with a scrubbing board. Joe built a bakers oven and bread was baked once a week. Most social life was within the family although they did have Italian friends nearby – the Sala Tennas and the Armanascos. Anna could speak little English. Anna was a very homely person who did not go out much although the family sometimes went to Perth on the back of the truck when taking vegetables to the army during World War 11 and they were large suppliers of cabbages. Mick was not naturalised when the war began and the authorities wanted to intern him but as he was needed to help grow the vegetables he was released.

The land was very swampy and had to be drained. The box drains were dug by hand and are still in good condition as they were made from green jarrah slabs. The land was cleared using a horse and a tree puller until after World War 11 when Archie Anderson used his steam traction engine. The clearing was done in stages and finally finished in 1952.

Joe took vegetables to market every day until the orchard was established and then he went three times a week. The markets opened very early in the morning and Joe left home at 2.00am, returning when he could. Most food was bought in Perth by Joe, mainly from Rifici’s and meat from a Greek butcher, Bellos.

In 1947 two brothers, Joe and Peter, decided to split the property. Peter retained the eastern side and Joe the western side and at that time they began concentrating on fruit production. The family were all very good workers. Beginning an orchard and hauling huge bags of vegetables required great strength and most men could not do this kind of work today. Michael remembers that his father had hands like tractor seats. Vegetable growing ceased completely in 1961 when Joe and Anna retired. The children had grown up to be hard workers too, they all helped on the property and Michael milked a cow before school.

In 1942, Basil married Rae Penisse and worked with the Pelisses on their orchard in Patterson Road and in 1948 Mick called his wife Sara from Italy. She arrived on the first four engine prop aeroplane to cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to Sydney, via South America. She had chosen this long route so that she could visit relatives in the Argentine.


Mick joined Basil at Penisse’s, in 1948, before buying his own property in Lesmurdie Road which he kept until moving to Maida Vale in the late 1950’s.

When the Scolaro children began school they walked three miles to the Pickering Brook School. In 1943, when Michael and Mary began school, the trucks carting wood from Barton’s Mill Prison sometimes gave them a ride to the school. When the school at Barton’s closed, a canvassed topped truck took the warder’s children to Pickering Brook and picked up all the children living along the main road.

The two Scolaro daughters. Mary and Rosina, loved sewing and when they were old enough to leave school they took sewing lessons in Perth. Michael left Pickering Brook School at fourteen years of age and in 1952 studied for his Junior Exams at the Christian Brothers College, which he passed in 1953. By this time Joe was suffering from Arthritis and Anna was also ill, so Michael made the decision to leave school and take over the orchard. He has no regrets and continued his study, taking a correspondence course in agriculture and also becoming a licensed Real Estate agent.

Joe and Anna retired to Perth in 1961, when Michael married Janette Frisina. Joe died in 1983. Michael and Janette are still running the orchard.

Family Information

Michele Scolaro married Michela Mondello
Chlidren; Guiseppe (Joe), Peitro (Peter), Angelina, Giuseppina, Signorina, Parma, Nunviatta, Basilio, Michele.

Carmello Ridolfo married Rosina Rifici.
Children; Anna, Antonia, Nunciatta, Rosa, Vincenzo, Nunzio, Nattale, Carmello, Caterina.

Anna Ridolfo married Joe Scolaro.
Children; Mary, Michael, Rosina, Charles.

Michael married Janette Frisina.
Children; Annette, Mark, Kathleen.

Annette married Peter Costello.

Scolaros in Australia

Guiseppe arrived Queensland 1923

Peter arrived South Australia 1927, married Anna Feranda in Western Australia.

Basilio arrived Western Australia 1937 married Rae Penisse,

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.

References:             Article:        Valley of Solitude by Jenny Keast

                                  Images:         1 Valley of Solitude by Jenny Keast
                                                        2, 3 Laurel Gava