Interesting Stories
A Bush Camp Holiday
By Rose Giumelli

At fourteen with a mind full of Henry Lawson and his stories of the outback I was given the opportunity to spend a week with my father at the Barton’s Mill timber camp. To me that was beyond the black stump and I was delighted.

We had to leave early on the Monday morning to catch the loco going out to fetch the logs. Mama drove us to the mill on the spring cart, our tucker bags full of good food.

“You’ve got to have good, solid tucker to pull a cross-cut” Pa always said.

“I see you’ve got yourself a cook, Peter” Harry Catchpole, the driver said as we mounted.

There wasn’t much space on the loco with five or six “fallers” on it. We clung to the frame of the open cabin to allow the driver space to move as he refuelled the furnace with blocks of wood. It was a wonderful experience for me. The rattle of the jinkers behind us; the tongues of flame leaping out as the furnace was being filled and the long trail of smoke on the morning air made me feel as if I was going on a great adventure.

When we arrived huge tractors with caterpillar wheels were already dragging logs in from the bush. The driver of one tractor waved to me. I recognised him as Mr. Johnson, the father of two friends who went with me to school at Barton’s Mill.

Pa stored the food away and then went into the bush with his axe and cross-cut. I stayed behind to clean up the hut which had twelve month’s egg shells around the fireplace. In those days there were no refrigerators so the food that Mama had cooked might last two days. After that it would be Bushmen’s fare for us: bread, cheese, eggs, bacon, black tea and Pa’s dried sausages.


I knew nothing of the “greeny” movement as I walked along the rutted tracks, but the sight of the devastation left by the tractors made my heart cry out. But when I came to my father dragging a cross-cut after a hard day’s work I did not know which of the two evils was worse. One day he looked beaten like our old horse after a day’s ploughing. Sweat squelched out of his boots and foam dripped from his lips. My face must have shown my concern because he grinned and said “It’s not a job for weaklings”.

I spend my week wandering through the bush picking flowers and visiting Pa and the other cutters of the camp. Each one of them showed his hospitality by giving me the bushman’s drink, cold black tea with loads of sugar in it.

I shall always remember those Bushmen, perfect gentlemen who never said a word out of place. But what touched me most of all was that at our parting they gave me a lottery ticket by way of appreciation.

“It was good to have you popping around to see us, girlie”.

Reference: Article: Rose Giumelli

Images: 1 Pickering Heritage Group
2 The Gate of Dreams

Apple War

Ernie Bechelli tells the story he remembers of an occasion when 108 pupils of the Pickering Brook School were caned by the Headmaster. The whole school had disappeared during one lunchtime and three hours later they were found on Mr. McCorkill’s orchard engaged in a huge apple fight. The apple crop had been completely stripped during the “war”. Mr. McCorkill stood and watched joyfully as the children were caned. Mac Beard also remembers this story as he was one of the “ringleaders” and can still feel the sting of six cuts he got from the cane on the hands and another three across his backside because he was a ringleader. He said the Granny Smith apples were thick on the ground.

Reference: Article: Valleys of Solitude – J. Keast

Army Training At Carinyah

Reference: Image: Helen Ross

Beautiful Timber

Geoff Wallis has happy memories of the family home in Worsley. It had previously been the Mill Manager’s House and was about 35 squares. The main room was about 40 foot long with very high ceilings and the room and ceiling were lined with tongue and groove timber. Each piece was one complete length without a join. This house is still standing at Worsley (1992).

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Case Mill Deal

Tony Brescacin and David Tognella bought the Case Mill in 1941. The Mill badly needed updating and they discovered that it could only support one person. So it was decided to end the partnership. This was done in a very novel way – with a pack of cards.

The first to draw a King put a price on the Mill, the second to draw a King decided if he wanted the mill or the money. Tony drew the first King and Tognella, the second. Tognella took the money. Tony then began updating the mill.

Reference: Article: Valleys of Solitude – J. Keast

Creatures Of Habit

People were creatures of habit in those days. Monday was washing day. The water was boiled up in kerosene tins on an outside fire. If you were lucky, you had a copper. The story goes that one lady always prided herself that she had her whites on the line when the train came through at 7a.m. If for any reason they hadn’t boiled by the time the train whistle blew at Bickley, she would hang the unwashed linen on the line, then when the train passed, the washing would be taken down and returned to the wash. But tradition had been served – the washing was blowing in the wind when the train passed.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Early Canning Mills And Karragullen

At the opening of the line at Karragullen in 1912 my late sister and my wife, who was then Mabel Parker, held the ribbon for the engine to drive through. The engine was a “G” class locomotive was driven by a man named Donovan.

After leaving school at thirteen and a half years old, I went cutting firewood and jarrah billets about 6 feet in length. On my way home I used to call at an orchard that was being worked by an old Malay called Sam. One evening he was inside the house lying down on his bed. I said “What’s wrong Sam?” “Oh Arter”, (he always called me that) he said, “My poor Mudder, my poor Fader, me not happy – me very sick”. I didn’t see him for a couple of days and then I noticed the horse in the orchard with it’s blinkers, collar and hames on. I told my Dad and he went over to investigate. There lay old Sam in the orchard, dead near the plough. Dad put the horse in the spring cart and after putting Sam on the back led the horse all the way to the Police Station at Kelmscott. He said he just couldn’t ride with a dead body. I guess he rode home, as it was seven miles and mostrly uphill. I worked this place for a few years after that and was often teased by my friends in Karragullen saying “I killed a Chinaman to get his job.”

During the First World War I was away from Australia for two and a half years and when I returned I continued to work at home. After my marriage I took over the top 10 acres of our property and planted the orchard.

On one occasion I remember I took the night train from Karragullen leaving about 8.30p.m. and when we arrived in Midland the last train had gone. However there were some carriages on the side line which would be the first one in the morning, so I went to sleep in one of the carriages and when I woke in the morning found the compartment full of mosquitoes. I arrived in Perth early in the day of Xmas Eve to discover that I was a father for the first time with the birth of my son. When I went to fetch home my wife and new son I drove the horse and sulky as far as Victoria Park where the tram terminus was situated. I unharnessed the horse and left him in the backyard of a nearby house.

(unable to read these couple of lines)

———————————————— bullocks and hire them out like we do?’ to which he replied, “I’ve got plenty of bullocks working for me but they’ve all got two legs”.

In the early days of Illawarra Orchard they used to keep a big carpet snake in the chaff shed to eat the rats and mice. One day a workman dashed into the shed to get a piece of rope and picked up the snake instead. He issued the ultimatum, “either that snake goes or I do”. The snake had to go.

Another apple grower put on a new man to pick his fruit, after half an hour he went to see how he was going. Said the new picker, “How am I going, Mister?” “you’re going too darn well for me.” Replied the Boss, “You are picking two crops in one, this years and next”. He had his picking bag full of fruit spurs.

A young orchardist was once asked about his crop and he replied, “The darn parrots ate 75% of it – I had four Jonathans on one tree and they ate three of them.”

Once in the early days of Canning Mills a piece of timber came off the back of a saw and went right through the wall of the mill. My Dad had to repair the damage and when he had finished the job he drew a big circle on the wall with a “bullseye” in the centre. It may not be generally known that the most dangerous part of a circular saw is the back as anything catching there can fly in any direction, and many serious accidents have been caused that way.

There is a story told of a man who cut his finger off. The boss said to him, “What did you do a silly thing like that for?” “Oh, I don’t know”. He said, “I just stood like that – good there goes another finger”.

Reference: Article: Arthur Bettenay

Explosion On Train

The fuel used in the locomotives was wood, and this resulted in showers of sparks from the engine, often accompanied by large pieces of red hot charcoal. On one occasion there was an extra number of people on the train, so that most of the male passengers were obliged to travel in an open truck, in the centre of which was placed a large number of bags of bonedust, and in one corner of the truck was stacked some stores purchased by the settlers in Perth and Midland Junction. The last man to catch the train placed his parcels with the others, but his contained about six pounds of blasting powder, and one of the red hot coals fell on it, resulting in a loud explosion, scattering groceries and other goods in all directions, in addition to blowing out the end of the truck. The passengers were saved from serious injury by the tons of bone dust between them and the blasting powder. The owner of the powder was prosecuted by the Government, the Midland Railway Company and the Jarrah Timber Company for carrying explosives on their railways. There was an old gentleman from the Eastern States on the train, and he wanted to know if it was a regular occurrence or merely an accident.


References: Article: Cala Munnda A Home in the Forest

Image: 1 West Australian Newspapers


Ernie Bechelli, along with other catholic children in the area, attended the Bushies School at Mary’s Mount, Gooseberry Hill, held each August School Holidays.

The children were sure they would be starved by the Nuns and smuggled extra supplies into the school. Ernie can still remember the terrible smell in the dormitories of the home made sausages and cheese as they ripened under the mattresses.

Reference: Article: Valleys of Solitude – J. Keast

Fancy Dress Updated August 2019

Alec Niven of Pickering Brook took this photograph of a happy social event in the early thirties. Today it makes a nostalgic reminder of some of the pioneer residents who helped to settle the district. In those days the Pickering Brook Sports Club met under a big tree and celebrations were aided by a keg kept cool by wet hessian bags! Pickering Brook’s Soccer Team is believed to have been the first to form in the hills. In this picture from the past, there’s a bit of fancy dress employed by some of the merry-makers.

References: Image: 1 Pickering Brook Heritage Group

George Richmond

About this time I remember meeting an old man who told Dad and Uncle Syd that you could learn a lot from bush animals and birds. He had a bullock team, and at this time (1920) was hauling big long logs out of the bush for piles to be used on the building of a jetty up on our North West coast. They were about 50 feet long, whole trees, and were partly carried and partly dragged by a whim hauled by about 20 bullocks. This old bullocky was then about 70, and was named George Richmond. He was contracting for Syd to haul these piles to Karragullen Station for railing to Fremantle. He was what we now could call an identity. He did not know how old he was, or when he was born. He had never learnt to read or write, but could draw his name like picture on a large scale. One day he spelled his bullocks outside our place and had a cup of tea under a tree. He told Mum and Dad that if you ate the apple pips and cores like the birds do, that you would never get cancer. How right he was we will never know, but he certainly never got it and he died in 1935 a very old man estimated to be about 90. Over the years we learned such a lot from”Tichy” as he was known. Many old people had known him from the early milling days at Jarrahdale and Canning Mills, and agreed that he was born before 1850. He was white, of English parents, but had grown up among natives as a child. He could talk their language and could live in the bush like a native. He once showed some of us school children a place at what is known as Mill Stone Rock, where when he was a lad, a huge piece of granite had been quarried. He showed us the stump of a tree which he said they had felled and fashioned into a sledge on which the granite was hauled by bullocks all the way to South Perth for a flour mill. Uncle Syd knew him very well, and used to get him to talk about the early times and his youth. He told Dad that the well on our orchard had been used in early times as a watering place while overlanding cattle from York to Perth.

Just imagine what that man must have seen and knew,but was unable to record it or even realise what knowledge he really had. Figures and letters meant nothing to him as we know them, but Uncle used to say that given a price per cubic foot or per load which was 50 cubic feet of timber in the round, he would produce a match box of short blackboy rushes from his pocket, and in seconds could tell you what you owed him for his work. All logs were paid for in the round, and contract work based on length and girth, yet without a rule or calculator he would arrive at its volume and price almost instantly, yet could not explain how he did it. Even the timekeeper at Barton’s Mill used to say he was more accurate than he was, because so much was done on estimate. He used to talk to his bullocks, where most drivers used to shout and swear something vile. Tichy could bring a log into the mill and go out again without anyone hearing him. Others could be heard for a mile away. He told us once that his first job in the timber industry was as a lad riding on the front of the loco on the Jarrahdale timber line, sprinkling sand onto the rails to give the engine traction on a wet or cold morning. Once at Canning Mills when a child was very ill Tichy walked all the way down to Cannington to fetch a Doctor who came up by horse-back and saved the child’s life. That was Olive Armstrong who became Mrs. Clem Hanbury and consequently reared 8 children. So much for Tichy Richmond and memories.

Photo used with permission of the City of Armadale Birtwistle Local Studies Library

It was not uncommon in those times to meet people who could neither read nor write, especially people who had been born and grew up in the bush in small places where there were no schools. There was not the demand for such educated people, but in those pioneering times so much work had to be done by hand that practical people were more in demand. Being able to use an axe or shovel, and ability to handle and shoe horses were looked upon as skills, where there was little or no place for a man of letters or scholastic ability. As we children grew older we were constantly told to make sure we learnt all we were able so that we did not end up like Mr. So and So who could not read or write. There were some of the woodcarters who could not write out their consignment cards to put on their truck loads of firewood loaded at Karragullen for railing to a brickyard or wood yard in Perth. They would often ask a child to fill it in saying that they had left their spectacles at home. How humiliated they must have felt, but we thought it was wonderful being asked to do such an important task.

Yet it was men and women like these who opened up the bush, and made the first tracks through this vast country so that others could follow in safety and in much greater comfort in the years that followed. From the tracks developed narrow roads, followed by straight and surveyed roads which in time were broadened and graded, to be eventually bitumised and metalled. How many traveling these highways today in fast cars and buses even think of those who blazed the tracks less than 100 years ago. they certainly were a wonderful breed of people who left us with a great heritage.

FOOTNOTE: Sometime during his living at Canning Mills, George “Tichy” Richmond became the local Postmaster and delivered the mail on horseback.

Reference: Article: James “Pal”Smailes

Image: Birtwistle Local Studies Library

Gold Discovery

When John Wallis was developing the orchard at “Orangedale” he would periodically pack up and go off for 3 or 4 days. When he returned he would go to Perth and sell the gold he had discovered. This would help to tide the family over. In later years when he had to give up work after he had an accident at Millar’s Railway, the memories of John’s sojourns intrigued his son, Levi. “Where did the gold come from?” He traveled around and eventually discovered it. He refused to disclose the site believing it would lead to crime and trouble. Since then it has been found but after making enquiries about the hassles involved for accessing mining equipment and the Conservation Act of the area , it would not be viable so like Levi Wallis, it was decided to leave it there.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Jelly Making

Water was drawn from a well in a large bucket for washing etc. Quite often a jelly was prepared in a dish which was placed in the bucket and lowered into the well, just above the water. The coolness would then set the jelly. However many a jelly was lost when someone needing water, would dip the bucket into the water and haul it up not realizing the jelly was there.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Missing Dentures

Dad had purchased an old Fiat car. On this particular morning Dad drove us to the Station. We heard the train whistle at Bickley Station when Mum let out a yell – Oh dear! she had forgotten to put her false teeth in – Dad set off down the road in his old car to return home for them. The train came in and Mum told the guard of her plight. Courtesy was the order of the day and the driver very kindly waited until Dad came chugging up the hill with the missing dentures.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

One Unfortunate Man

One unfortunate man, his identity unknown, at the Bickley Railway Station, placed a plug of gelignite in his mouth and blew off his head. The Coroners report said that “death was thought to be due to an explosion”.

Reference: Article: Anon.

Queen In A Sulky

joyce Colgan (Nee Wallis) remembers, as a very young girl, there was a function at Barton’s Mill. Together with her Mum, they had gone by train to Pickering Brook and were then walking on their way to Bartons. Mr. Halley, the minister came along with his beautiful black horse in a sulky. There were bells on the harness and when he insisted that Joyce and her Mum ride with him, She felt like she was a Queen

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Railway Service

Sometimes in the stone fruit seasons an extra train would run to collect the fruit and take it down to the markets. The Railway Staff were very lenient to locals. If Levi Wallis was not coming home for the weekend, his wife would pack his supplies, bread, cakes, clean socks, etc., into his bag. Would take it up to the station and the Guard would deliver it to him at Pickering Brook.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Ross Herbert Remembers

As a child of 7 or 8 (1947/8) I came into contact with Tommy Roads when he was working for an ex-merchant seaman, Frank Ryan, who was establishing an orchard adjacent to the far end of the old Wilson and Johns nursery orchard in Carmel. Frank’s property was only just over the hill from the old Mason property in Carmel where I lived. I remember Tommy looking just as he does in photo #32 in the Road’s Family history page on this website.

Many a late evening was spent in the company of both Tommy and Frank in the tin shed which served as Frank’s house. With the rain teeming down on the corrugated roof the three of us would enjoy a bowl of vermicelli and milk sprinkled with sugar for dessert after a meal of stew on toast. Days would be spent planting peas or potatoes or new fruit trees and the diesel engined pumps supplying water from the dam to the orchard needed constant attention with the belts occasionally breaking and requiring mending. Days were long and hard but it was enjoyable.

Tommy would use his skills as a timber cutter to select appropriate trees to fell for splitting into fence posts or simply to supply firewood. Felled trees were often split into billets using a log-splitter gun. Dry lump gunpowder was loaded into a tapered steel tube which was then hammered into the end of a log, and a short length of fuse sufficient to provide 30 seconds to run and shelter behind a tree was then lit and the explosion was eagerly anticipated. After a firing, despite placing a heavy piece of timber against the end of the log splitter, finding it again was sometimes difficult. It was not unusual for it to travel many metres away from the log and was often buried in the earth.

I was even allowed to use the petrol powered portable circular saw at times (under supervision) to cut dead felled trees into “foot” blocks for firewood. It was exciting to participate in such work at such a young age and I often reflect that if children were allowed to do such things today the adults would probably face prosecution for endangering the life of children.

Tommy and Frank both enjoyed a tipple of claret which Tommy obtained in 5 gallon barrels. I suspect the claret was made by one of the Italian families in Pickering Brook. It was not unknown for Tommy to occasionally let me sample the claret in a vegemite glass – heavily diluted with rainwater from the tank of course.

My mother, Gwen Herbert (nee Mason), knew the Roads family well and she was a particular friend of Myrtle since they were both born in the same year. Gwen’s father Ernie would have known Tommy well since they were both in the timber industry together. Gwen and Myrtle firm friends and they lived about 1.5 km apart. The bush track between the Mason property in Carmel and where Myrtle lived in Pickering Brook was well used I suspect. Both would have attended dances held in Carilla Hall.

Reference: Article: Ross Herbert

Shopping On The Orchard

Shopping on the orchard was easier than it is today. At Pickering Brook, Mac Beard regularly delivered bread, meat, groceries and mail throughout the district. He would leave early in the morning and return very late in the afternoon. Other areas were serviced by Andy Hope, who worked for Nestor’s, who would deliver meat, Mr. Portwine the bread, and Doug Perry who worked for Jim Watson, delivered groceries. All these tradesmen came regularly down the road and the good were put on the kitchen table. Mr. Jimmy Crabbe and Reg Jenner also delivered groceries in the district. There was an old man called Mr. Forrester, who used to hawk haberdashery around the district. He rode a big black bike with two big cases attached to it, and would come down the road with them.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

Image: 1 Kalamunda Library
2 Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society

Snakes Alive

Imagine a narrow bush track with scrub meeting – early morning moisture glistening on spider webs and sundew flowers _ Pet magpies to follow you all the way to school _ silvery grey sand snakes and lazy lizards. All kinds of small birds were plentiful before kookaburras took their toll of such creatures. On the way home there was time to look for special orchids, plants, snake trails etc. So it was a surprise to find a different shaped small black snake. It was caught and placed in a paper bag to show Dad but to his horror and shock to one small girl, it was a deadly copper head.

Reference: Article: Anon

Ted Davey'S New House
By Gordon Freegard

This story was told many years ago and may contain errors but it was a good laugh anyway. Ted Davey once owned the property that is immediately past the Pickering Brook Heritage Group site. At this time the property only had frontage to Forrest Road (at the back), but none along Pickering Brook Road. McCorkill Road (which now turns onto Pickering Brook Road before the school) was originally surveyed to cut behind the school and between Ted’s property and Pickering Brook Road.

As Ted wished to build a new house which was to contain the local “tuckshop” store and the manual telephone exchange, he wanted to position it with frontage to Pickering Brook Road. This meant building it right across the unmade but surveyed McCorkill Road. So he set about endeavouring to convince Government Authorities to change the direction of McCorkill to what it is today. The vacant land could then be divided between the school, public space and a portion sold to Ted to complete his plan for the new house site and also square off his existing property.

But the Government Departments had other ideas. Some three or four years went by with communication flying back and forward offering various reasons not to sell any part to Ted. Finally it was pointed out that “as he did not own any adjoining land outright”; they could not sell to him. Not to be outdone, Ted delved deeply and discovered a very small triangle of land near the junction of Pickering Brook Road and the unmade McCorkill Road, which was on a separate title and had been left off some of the maps. It was owned by an old gentleman whom Ted promptly contacted and purchased the said lot.

Armed with this new purchased title Ted again started negotiations with the various Government Authorities. They again used many stalling tactics which frustrated Ted no end.

Finally the builder arrived to build Ted’s new house. He asked Ted where he wanted the house built. Ted was very frustrated and annoyed by now, so he said, “Bugger it, put it there,” and directed the man to the site right across the unformed McCorkill Road. So, the house was built.

Over the next couple of years Ted had some very confused surveyors who were checking the pegs on McCorkill Road, and they knocked on his door. “Excuse me sir, but your house appears to be right across our road.” to which Ted’s response was, “Don’t worry about that, come in and have a cup of tea”.


Obviously it as not long before “the muck hit the fan” and all hell broke loose. Eventually the Authorities allowed Ted’s house to remain. They surveyed a new boundary which actually is one metre away from the house but follows its shape. Negotiations were finalised and all was put to rest.

This house which contained the “Tuckshop” Store and Telephone Exchange is still there today, at 265 Pickering Brook Road. It has a very unusual boundary and the leach drain, septic tanks, power meter and water supply meter are not on the same property but are on adjoining land.

Reference: Article: Gordon Freegard

Image: 1 Gordon Freegard

Tennis Matches

When his family was growing up and needed a social life, Fred Wallis, with forethought and his love of sport decided to turn the square playground into a tennis court. So he pulled out three huge pear trees and with a great deal of hard work, leveled it, then planted more grass. Pipe clay from the well was used to mark the lines – a wire netting net and various shapes and sizes of racquet – the games were on.’

In no time at all the word got around. People walked, rode horses from all around Karragullen, Carilla, Kalamunda and Bickley. However one court was not enough so out came some more trees and another court was built. Once a social group from Boans (A Big Departmental Store in Perth) hired a train and came up for the day. The train parked at the Walliston Siding and the happy holiday makers played tennis, explored the orchard and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Trestle tables would be put up under the trees and a copper to boil the water for tea. So many a happy day was spent.

Sometimes the fun went into the evening, when after perhaps a pot of stew, home made bread and lots of jam and cream, there would be a sing song round the piano.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston


One of the hazards of the motor trip to the hills was the sheer physical difficulty of getting up the hill from the plains below. Whether by Kalamunda Road or the later Welshpool Road, the way was rough, narrow and steep. Many of the cars around the time were “T” Model Fords, the poor man’s Rolls Royce in the early part of the century. The trouble with this splendidly simple conveyance was that the carburetor relied on gravity feed. That is to say, the carburetor had to be lower than the petrol tank so that the petrol could run into it.


Henry Ford placed the petrol tank beneath the driver’s seat, a design feature that took no account of the Kalamunda Hill. When driving up this hill in a “T” Model there inevitably came a time on the steepest pinch when the carburettor was actually higher than the petrol tank. One does not have to be an Issac Newton to deduce the consequences. The carburettor starved, the “T” Model stalled, and the driver found himself stuck in the middle of the road with his foot hard on the brake and a dead engine. The way out of this predicament, in those traffic-less days, was simple. Roll gently backwards and turn till facing down hill. The carburettor now being below the level of the tank, the petrol flowed again. After chocking a wheel with a nearby stone, a quick turn of the starter handle brought the engine back to life, and the driver was able to proceed easily, if a trifle erratically, into Kalamunda in reverse. Man’s ingenuity permitted railway locomotives to enter Kalamunda in forward gear, but not yet the “T” Model Ford. This not-uncommon sight may have caused a stiff neck or two, but it added to the challenge of motoring and served to sharpen the appetite for the picnic that lay ahead.

References: Article: Cala Munnda A Home in the Forest

Image: 1 Cala Munnda A Home in the Forest

"The Old Bush School 1920-1930" By James "Pal" Smailes

There’s a place called Karragullen, in the Upper Darling Range,
That has felt the hand of progress, in this modern world of change,
There are mighty tarmac highways, where once the horse was king,
And the present farms and orchards have replaced the axe’s ring
Where the sleeper hewer laboured, with his now forgotten trade,
And the whine of steam and saw-mill, no longer fills the glades.

The trucks and buses service, have replaced the daily train,
Which struggled up the zig-zag, a schedule to maintain,
Electric light and telephone, are now accepted ways,
Where kerosene-wick lanterns, showed the path of by-gone days.
A modern hall and school rooms, planned by those we hope are wise,
Have replaced the old School building, near “The Tavern of the Rise.”

Removed in nineteen twenty, from the Illawarra gate,
‘Twas built with house provided, and re-opened on that date,
The site was then most central, in a district vast and wide,
Yet forty children walked to school, no buses then to ride,
Miss Bettenay in infants taught, Headmistress Mrs Pine,
But with her cane and stern command, all forty “toed the line.”

The shrill of voices filled the yard, the cricket bat and ball
The girls would play at “rounders”, and “Blackie” was for all.
There was a swing and see-saw, to help with trials and joys,
At sewing class the girls were taught, and tin-work for the boys,
The children planted gardens out, and trees on Arbor Day,
To mark the year when each left school, those pines “that sigh today.”

The Laveracks and Prices, the Thompsetts from the east,
The Smailes’ and the Simpsons, the Winters not the least,
The Harbors and the Stintons, the Hudsons and the rest,
All came to school with Steffans, and the Abbots from the west,
Then from the south came Lillymans with Prossers further yet,
The Hanburys and the Hiscoes, and the Stanleys don’t forget.

Then there were the Saunders, the Lantzkes and the Mahers,
The Fergusons and Coopers, and the Bettenays from afar,
But with the years the names have changed, though some remain today
Remembering yet those early times, but most have moved away
The building of the Canning Dam, with catchment far and wide,
Wrote death to many orchards, and spelt doom to men of pride.

Then as the years rolled slowly by, the teachers came and went,
We had our Mr Johnston next, then Brookhouse old and bent,
That poor old man had no control, the children rang the bells,
In three short months resign he must, then came a cute Miss Wells,
Within two days she gained command, by use of bluff and cane
There’s many a man alive today, no doubt recalls the pain.

The twenty’s closed with a few at school, new names replaced the old,
Depression times then hard and tough, brought migrants to the fold,
With newer orchards coming up, the district slowly grew
Till came the war with labour short, and comforts scarce and few
But with the peace the progress came, prosperity the prize,
The Old Bush School has seen it all, near “The Tavern on the “Rise.”

Typical House

It was one of the original ones in the area. There were four rooms with galvanized iron on the outside. The main bedroom and the living room had a patterned ceiling. In the living room there were tongue and groove jarrah halfway up the wall and then wall paper to the ceiling. There was a fireplace in the living room and a Metters wood stove in the kitchen.

The bathroom had brick corners, then 18 inch thick stone walls, cement rendered inside and a rough cement floor. The ceiling was tongue and groove jarrah. There were no windows, only iron louvres. There was no shower or basin only a cement bath. Water was pulled up from the well, heated in the copper and then carried to the bath. The bath water was emptied on to the garden.

Reference: Article: Memories of Walliston

What I Can Remember Of Early Canning Mills And Karragullen
By Arthur Bettenay

I came to Canning Mills with my Mother in 1895. My father was already there. He was the Mill carpenter.

The mill was driven by steam engines. The main breaking down bench was a vertical saw which could cut through a log up to six feet in diameter. The logs were brought to the Mill from the bush landing by steam locomotives on special log trucks. There were four locos on the job, named after four directors in London. Namely Noyes, Morgan, Mayo and Coates. Later on there were two more locos, the Nerada and the Karri. The last named was fitted with a steam brake. The others all had hand brakes.

Bullock teams were mainly used to pull the logs to the bush landings, then the locos pulled them to the mill owned by Millar Karri & Jarrah Company.

My Dad was carrying a piece of timber on his shoulder one day when somebody passed him and said, “Where are you working Joe?’ Dad replied, “Millars carrying Jarrah.”

The store was also owned by Millars. I remember being there one day when my Dad rode up to the door on horseback. Mr. Bloxidge, who was behind the counter, called out, “Come in Joe”. He did – he rode the horse through the door up to the counter, made his purchase and then rode out again.

I can remember my early days at school which only lasted six weeks when we shifted out to the orchard and farm, where I still live. It is said of me that one day a question was asked of which I could not answer and I replied “Oh give me a chance. I’ve only been here a week.”

Another time a chap applied to the mill boss, a Mr. Ryan, for a job. He was refused and when he saw his pleadings were in vain, he said, “You know Mr. Ryan, the little bit I’d do wouldn’t have made much difference.”

All timber from the mill was taken via the Zig Zag line to Midland Junction. An accident occurred on this line when the bridge over the Helena River was weakened by heavy rain near Bushmead Station. The engine went through the bridge and both the driver and fireman were killed.

Bushmead was the first station on the line between Midland and Kalamunda and it was here that workers used to wait, sometimes for hours, for the train to take them home. A person, after waiting for a long time, drew a cob web on the wall of the station shed and it was known by this name for many years – “Cob-Web”.

The story is also told of a worker who used to come down home on the log train, or rake as it was called and his house was about three hundred yards from the trains destination, so they used to slow down for him to jump off. This time the driver forgot but he got off just the same. He was just picking himself up when some wag came along and asked, “Where did you get off, Jim?” He replied, “All along here !”

I think Canning Mills closed down about 1904 but there were two or three smaller mills operating between Pickering Brook and a loco was stilled housed at the engine sheds of Canning Mills from where a fair quantity of firewood was railed to Midland every week. I did many a trip from Canning Mills to Barton’s, via Pickering Brook. By this time the line had been taken over by the W. A. Railway to Pickering Brook and later it was extended to Canning Mills about 1910. From here in 1912 a line was built to a new terminal which was named Karragullen. The name was chosen by Mrs. Daisy Bates and as far as I can recollect it was the native name for the Darling Ranges.

It was a great day for Karragullen. All the world and his wife were there, including a lot of V.I.P.’s who I can remember included the Ho. Archibald Sanderson M.L.C. who I think resided at Kalamunda. Dad used to like to put events in verse and did so on this occasion. I am sorry I cannot remember it all and it will require some explaining as we go along.


Kalamundas brays are bony
The Pickering Brook is dry (There is no brook at Pickering)
You see the school at Heidelburg (now Carmel) as you go whizzing by
The waters good at Canning Mills (the Hotel was there)
Don’t think your leg I’m pulling
But though you may forget all this
Remember Karragullen

There’s fearsome wild fowl in the Swan (Swan Electorate)
We once put A. G. Gull in (He was M.L.A.)
But he got out as time went on
Remember Karragullen

All I can remember of the next verse is that _

Everything was Topsy Turvey (Phil Turvey was first Labor Member)

The last verse went:

I stop because I’m out of time
Not out of facts and figures
I could go on until my face was black as any Niggers
But rhymes are getting rather scarce
So now my noose I’ll draw in,
But don’t forget the chorus line
Remember Karragullen

Before the first World War my Dad and I used to work an orchard adjacent to Illawarra at Karragullen. An elderly Scotsman named James Paul used to live in the house and we went over several times a week. One day we found a letter waiting for us asking us not to draw water from the house tank for the horses and saying that he would water the pot plants and ferns with his washing water. My Dad replied as follows: “Dear Jimmy Paul, I got your letter. Old Rab himself could write no better. The ferns can have your washing water. If that don’t make them grow it oughter. But except for watering the ferns, I drink my horses at the burns. Thanks for the pen.”

It was at this same orchard some time later another man and his son were working there. They had a spray barrel on a cart pulled by a horse. Just as they had the barrel full of spray, the horse took fright and bolted turning the whole spray outfit over. All the scale died on the trees that could fathers language, said his son.

On another farm close to here, was a pommy fresh from England. He used to put a bell on his horse so he could find him easier but someone told him that it would make his horse deaf, so he stuffed the bell with paper,

On another occasion a new workman at Illawarra Orchard tried to put the collar on over the horses head with the result that the horse bolted down the paddock.

One day the lady of the house went to visit her sister-in-law and left hubby home to cook the tea. When he saw his wife coming home on foot, of course, he called out,”Where’s the cream of tartar?” She called back, “Olive’s got a son.” They both kept on calling out their own questions and answers until they came face to face and sorted things out.

A family from England wrote to their folk at home and complained that the kangaroos came over the fences and ate the grass and vegetables. However they liked Australia because they could have big fires in the cold weather, and could always throw a couple of blackboys on and the fire would burn merrily. In reply their folk said that they should get police protection against kangaroos, but they thought it was very cruel to treat the poor little blackboys so badly. The Blackboy is the Australia Native Grass Tree.

An old chap known as “Boxer” died on a property about six miles from Canning Mills. My Dad made a coffin in the carpenter’s shop and a Padre from Midland and Dad went out on the log train and buried him under a tree. This property was resumed many years ago as it was on the reserve for the water supply to Canning Dam.

Reference: Article: A. L. Bettenay