Tribute To Rose Giumelli

This selection of Verse has been written over many years by long-time local resident, Rose Giumelli. In 2019 sadly Rose passed away aged 98 years old. She left behind beautiful writings that reflect back on the past, the early days of the Mill, and early bush life.

As a tribute to Rose, we are very privileged to have permission to publish a selection of her writings. This is the first time these have been printed and incorporate her feelings about the bush, the loneliness, the wildlife, the land and the animals that share this area with us. It gives an insight into early life in the forest as new-comers battled the elements and their home sickness. After much hard work, they and their families, emerged successful orchardists and business people we see around the valley today. Please sit back, enjoy, and become absorbed in these writings as they take you back in time. A very special piece of our early history.

Rose Giumelli

O Butterfly

O Butterfly
So beautiful
Away with me
Be dutiful
Come, cast your spell
Some other time
But not just now
This day’s sublime
For “tis” a day
Of joyousness
Mistrust only
Brings restlessness

Robin Redbreast

A robin redbreast sat upon a tree
And sang his joyous song to me
Who lay about and could only see
His breast swelling with such joy
I quite forgot my capacity
And as the sound went on forever
I was transported all over
Forests – and ferns – and patches of clover
Where he had been, and had hovered –
And the sound of it left me sobered
Why? What if I was bed ridden?
I was not so dreadfully smitten
I could not appreciate singing
That went on like the bells ringing
In the Churches Christmas morning.


Always on their way home from school
They would stop down by the bridge
Which crossed the river by the swamp
And go walking among the sedge

Where the spider orchids grew tallest
Gather great bunches and climb up the hill
Where the jarrahs seemed to reach the sky
And listen for the whistle from the mill

Which signified they had to go home
To get there in time to do their chores
Pasture the cow and feed the hens
Or there would be trouble – and more

When I look back over my life
What is it that I remember?
Never anything of an adult
Only the green days of September

When the joy of living was always green –
Golden with blooms opening
To a future full of expectancy
A time when the nectar of life was flowering

Such were our days when we drove to school
At Barton’s Mill on a horse and cart
Toby knew ev’ry inch of the way
If a car approached to the side he’d dart.

We only noticed when it passed
So immersed were we in our books
But once he made a mistake
And emptied us out like three —————

As the cart went over a rock
That brought us abruptly to reality
Made us more mindful in the future
Learned to exercise responsibility

Fortunately it happened going home
When we had no milk to deliver
Or we would have been in trouble
Trying to explain a misdemeanour

Father had built Toby a shelter
Close beside the Barton’s Mill School
At lunch time we gave the horse his chaff
All the kids ….. thought was “cool”.

But to us it was just a chore
To which we never gave a thought
When school was over – one – Johnny Mack
Would have the horse ready to set off.

And ride with us as far as The Creek
Where he would leave us and walk home
We never gave his action a thought
But now – in my old age – I know that.

It was his way of protecting us
From those who thought us responsible
For the Abyssinian War.
As if such a thing were possible

Mem’ries such as these are those
Which warm the cockles of my heart
Gives me courage to go on each day
And in each moment learn the art

Of not complaining no matter how
Difficult may be my wayI
t’s easy enough to say – Smile
But pains a poor bed-fellow each day.



After twenty years of happiness
Her husband then took it into his head
To go into a whole new venture
His ambition was her dread

His dream demanded a tent city
Which made her concerned for his health
For to her happiness was not
A sense of grandeur – or of wealth.

She was a person who found happiness
in the ev’ry day things of life
The flowers of spring – the songs of birds
She found success often brought strife.

She’d seen it happen too often before
Ambition was a driving demon
Which – when it captured a person
Drove out all sense of caution.

The people of The Valley were
Mainly Italians with driving ambitions
The reason they had left their country
Was – specifically – to seek a fortune.

They were successful – if success is judged
Simply by the achieving of wealth.
But the price they paid for their ambition
Was often allied to their loss of health.

Export of fruit was at its premium
When he decided to build a cold room
Where the district could keep its fruit
But it was too small for the boom.

That export fruit demanded
His one cold room was not enough
So with several engineers
He planned one that would hold the stuff.

For export. But manufacturers
had never seen such a room
Meanwhile export fruit piled up
It was the time of the export boom.

The tension of finding outside storage
Getting his own store under way
Was too much for his heart to handle
He collapsed on the floor one day.

The planned cold store was built at last
But the one who’d had the vision
Was no longer able to enjoy
The success of his ambition.

Aboriginal Legend

Two Kookaburras nest in a tree
      In the bush outside my window.
In the evening when they come home to roost
     Their laughter often makes me mellow.

And I ponder on the nature of things
    When one is old, the past often is present
Like a screen flickering before you.
     And what it brings is not always pleasant.

Memories can sometimes accuse
     One of actions performed without thought.
Deeds left undone which could have given pleasure
    The mind brings up things not always sought.

Just like an Aboriginal Legend
    Anything said that was not true
Might give offence and plunge a person
    Into apprehensions ever new.

Now that the Kookaburras are silent
    Let me gather my thoughts once more
Live this life moment by moment
    Forget about the further shore.

For we are not our own creation
    There is someone greater than man
For the creatures is only a measure
     Of creation’s great life span.

Little Blue Wren

I had a little Blue Wren
That lost itself in the Bush
And ev’ry time I lamented
Ev’ry body said -“Oh Hush”.

There are blue birds by the thousand
In aviaries around the town.
Why create so much bother
Over one that was a clown

Around me there is laughter
No one thinks of my sorrow
Their thoughts simply affected
With concerns of the morrow.

My Youth And My Schooling Days

My brother nearest in age to me, had been
Affected by poliomyelitisI
In his babyhood. The very reason
Our Mother left Italy in a hurry
“Get this to a warm climate quickly!”
Had been the doctor’s orders. What better place
Than Kurrawung, near Kalgoorlie. Father
Was cutting wood for the pumping station there.
Mother packed her bags – wrapped her child in a shawl –
No questions asked. Going through the Suez
Enzo began to move his toes. Delighted.
Mother massaged his legs. Kurrawung’s hot sand
Did the rest. He was always a fighter.
When he walked – twelve months later they moved south.

South, was a milling place in the Darling
Ranges. Father had a brother there,
Dying of a miner’s complaint. He wanted
Family near him for his dying days.
Men’s Plans God disbands. Work was not to be had,
All he could get was cutting timber –
Mother still under a tent in the middle of winter.
Water ran under our bunks. Possums
Stole our bread. Mother nearly went out of her mind.
When the Mill Manager saw the situation
He moved us to a bark hut at the mill.
It had no floors – no doors – no windows – yet
No place could have been more welcoming.

Barton’s Mill was a haven for Mother
She could draw her breath and settle for a while,
She built a fence around the bark hut
To stop a horse getting inside the house
Made a hessian drop to keep out the wind –
Grew vegetables in the enclosed land,
And sold some to her neighbours for a few pence.
The only drawback to her happiness
Was that Father only came home week-ends.
Uncle Steve had gone back to Italy to die
Against her loneliness she had no defence.
She pestered Father to buy the block of land
Which finally became our family home.

We left the Mill in the middle of March,
On a great dray Father had bought, for now
He was cutting wood for sending to Perth.
There were five in our family now.
Josephine, six months old, sat on Mother’s lap.
Hens squawked as we went over the bumps.
Father yelled at the horse, “Now hurry on,
It’s getting late.” Not a patient man,
Still the sun was a half globe in the west.
When we went indoors we slept on the floor,
The wind whistled under the door
As only the winds of March can do.
I thought I saw a face at the window pane.
Next day the Kookaburras wakened us.

That winter the winds came roaring up the gully.
It rained as it had never rained before –
Or so the locals said. Vapour condensed
On the tin roof, and in the morning dropped on the floor.
Mother was desperate – despite a huge fire.
The two rooms became like a sauna bath.
Father went to the mill where face cuts were
Given away. He put up a ceiling!
We were no longer poor creatures
Soaked to the skin. We were like rabbits –
Safe – and warm – in their burrows.
Then – suddenly – the sun smiled on the land.
Every bush put out flowers
Magpies carolled in the trees to let us know
The world had – eventually – turned around.

School !! A terrifying experience
For a child who never knew the language’
Nor knew how to manage herself with strangers.
Like a wild creature of the bush –
The first days she hid beneath the desk,
And never moved. When school was
Out she grabbed her bike to go
But two big boys – just for devilment –
Barred her way. She knew then how
t felt to die. Out of pity an older girl
Drove the boys away. She never forgot
That gracious gesture.
Her insecurity sought the girl always
The following year her brother joined her

Father was a gregarious fellow
Who enjoyed a drink, a laugh and a yarn.
We joined in many district activities.
For us children the great event of the year
Was the Christmas Tree organised by a Committee.
I remember well one year –
My brother Vincent had a habit
Of blinking his eyes when nervous.
His present from our first Christmas Tree
Was a toy soldier which blinked its eyes
Whenever it was stood on its feet.
Nest day when we were comparing toys
The rubber soldier could not be found.
But months later when the grain bin
Was emptied – there was the rubber soldier.
Swiftly Vincent threw it in the open fire outside.

Clearing the land was not an easy task.
Burning the timber that lay on the ground
Was the better part – It was like tinder.
Father lit great fires when he came from work.
I Loved to see the sparks rising to the sky
At night. But the roots out of the ground
Was a serious business. There were
More underground than met the eye.
To be able to plough all had to be
Removed. A tedious business requiring
Hour of toil. Mother worked as hard as any man.
I remember seeing her – day after day – bowing drains
All the good land had to be drained.

When we were young our greatest thrill
Was to see the loco go past our place.
We could hear it coming up Gungins Gully.
We’d be there beside the railway waving madly.
Levi Wallace, the guard, always waved back.
Contact with the outside world made our day.
But the greatest thrill was to catch the train
For Perth. We had to drive four miles
On a horse and cart to get to the
Station by seven thirty in the morning.
But it was worth it. Going down the
Zig – Zag we could see the city –
So exciting to a country child.
Once in Perth we were given a treat
At Boan’s Cafeteria. We felt
Like millionaires out for the day.
We came home late at night full of sugar buns.
Mother had a way of stretching her coins
We were always loaded with “bargains”.
On days when loneliness became her bogey,
She’d cut, and seam and make our clothes.

Then, suddenly our lives were turned around
Father was injured by a falling tree.
He had to think of something else to do.
Mick Flanagan, who had helped us before,
Suggested a milk, and fruit and vegetable round.
Succesful !! We were transferred to the Mill School,
Where Vincent and I ended our school days.
So many happy memories are still in my mind:
Going to school on a horse and cart,
Wrapped in Father’s Italian Police Cape
When it rained. Toby, the horse knew
Every rut. No need to drive. Our noses
Always in a book. Soon we were
At Johnny’s Tree, just above our place.

I grew into a dreamer _ nose always in a book.
Never once thought of what I wanted to do.
In forty-one I married a man who knew.
Always successful in what he undertook.
The fifties were good for those on the land.
He went into Business and made more money
Then was necessary for either of us
We started to go out with a certain crowd
Who never knew when they needed to stop
He took it in his stride – But I collapsed
That was not what I wanted for my life
For me life had to have meaning
I searched, and searched until I found meaning.

The thought of God gave me stability.
But in my mind I had life all planned out.
Follow the rules and as certain as the dawn
God would follow mine. But, alas,
Life cannot be manipulated
Even by the best intentions in the world
Failure was the medicine that
Made me question all my assumptions.
When, broken by the death of my husband
Who had cherished – and over protected me.
Harrowed by family squabbles over property.
The mind nothing but an instrument of pain,
The sense of Self was lost. There was only God.

He stooped to his creature in gentle insistence
“You’re not to engage upon a marathon of success
By yourself you can do nothing worthwhile.
Determination is but the work of ego.
Humility – the one element missing,
Could be the open sesame to life,
Lose yourself in Me – I know what I’m doing”.
And so it was. But there is no “knowing”.
Only a “being with”, in darkest silence.
Faith, Hope and Love. Love’s the binding
That makes us aware of others needs.
No longer a critic. Just understanding
That it’s the same Spirit that courses
Through our veins
You are flesh of my flesh
Blood of my blood.

Once It Was Like This

Few people who come to the Hills
Know the forests primitive beauty
Development has taken its toll
The world now thinks of it as a booty.

But Oh! The wonder of the bushland,
Beauty’s a treasure to be shared
With those who come after us.
Look after it – or be dared.

Once, when you walked in the forest
After the rains, especially in spring,
The bush would change its rainment,
As if to the world it wanted to sing.

“Look! This is what I’m really like
Most of the year I have to survive
The harshness of winter – the summer’s heat,
But in spring I come alive.

So come with me into the Bush
And I’ll show you its wondrous treasures
Let’s first go searching for orchids
As we did when we were youngsters

The donkey orchid flowered the longest,
Generally from July to October.
Mainly under the she-oak trees
We learned where to search as we got older.

Whereas the large spider orchids preferred
A soggier soil near a creek
A flower that filled our eyes with wonder.
The bunches we took home kept for a week.

There was a grand variety of flowers
From July to January,
Then the heat dried out the land
And we had to wait till February.

Before the red gums began to flower.
That was when the Cockatoos came
And perched at the top of the tallest gums
Flashing their red tails. Always the same.

The last part of summer was hot and dry.
Nothing could withstand the heat
Only the everlastings on the hill
Still stood there – straight and neat.

When the rains came they all fell apart,
While the rest of the bush sighed with relief.
It would take months to soak the earth.
But then rejuvenation would be swift.

And a new cycle would begin once more
The Scented Honey Bush would be the first
To bloom. The yellow eyed flame pea next.
For now the whole land had ——— its thirst.

The Newcomer

Often she worked in the fields
She would dream of the land she’d left
The high mountain country – and her town
And she would feel as if bereft.

And a sadness would come on her
That engulfed her in a loneliness
Which seemed to blot out anything good.
She was aware only of the lands’ harshness.

All she wanted to do was lie down
And forget her sorrows in some glade.
But dreaming never altered the fact
This was the choice she once had made.

To follow her man into the new land
Where she knew neither the country –
Nor the language of the people.
How she that day -bitterly!

Nor could she alleviate her pain
In any way – seriously.
For she had young ones to consider.
How could they understand her misery?

And so she sang at her picking
Of pea pods from bushes around.
And the wind from the gully
Picked up the melancholy sound.

And carried it away among the hills
Where the Kookaburras laughed in reply,
As if to answer to her song –
“This is no place in which to sigh”.

For this, she thought, was their meaning
This – strangely – gave her new courage.
“Even the birds are laughing at me
As here, in the bush, they forage”.


I hear them in the night,
Just at the change of light
Their laughter brings me joy
As I set myself to employ

My energy to thinking
What I should do for the ev’ning
At my age there’s nothing
Much worth considering.

They circle the estate.
Their laughter heard quite late,
From East-west and North
Their Ha! Ha! Ha! comes forth.

As if trying to diverge –
The nesting place of the bird –
From anyone considering
Bird nest pillaging

What I don’t understand
Is why – on the other hand –
Just as daylight is gleaming
I’m awakened from my dreaming.

By the raucous laughter
Of the Kookaburra,
Surely that gives away
The nest’s secret – any day.

It seems robbing the nest
The Kooka makes a jest
For each spring new fledglings
Try out their little wings.

When We Were Young

When we were young we were never allowed
To play with our cousins who lived nearby.
Even as a young child I thought it strange,
But hadn’t the courage to ask why.

In a new place – without friends
And never sent to the local school
But to the Mill school further away
We could only follow the rule.

Father who worked cutting timber
Was told by the Mill Manager
Their school had a very good teacher
That suited Mother because then we’d never

Have to mix the “that woman’s” children
Often I used to wonder why
But I never dared ask the reason
The silence regarding “her” made me shy.

Years passed. We were total strangers
Even though there was only a fence
Dividing us. And we could see
Them playing. To me it didn’t make sense.

There weren’t any other children about us.
All our neighbours were English settlers –
Older – and formal in their ways
Yet Mother got on with them better.

She had a facility for language
Their afternoon tea was a ceremony
For entertaining in those days,
The one thing that sticks in my memory

Was the day when my brother committed a sin -?
According to my Mothers law of behaviour.
For he demolished all the cakes
That you were supposed to savour.

Even in old age he still remembers
The dressing down he got at home
But for me those years are full of wonder
At driving through the bush on our own.

Yarding the horse in a coral Dad made.
At lunch time feeding it with chaff.
Dashing off to the Blacksmith – a friend
Who gave us each a shilling and a half.

We were regular clients to the tuckshop
As the horse ambled back home
We would indulge in our treats
If Mother had known, would have frowned.

At weekends when we’d finished our chores
We’d take the dog and roam the bush.
The great trees reaching the sky –
Sighing – gave the world an enchanted hush.

We’d come home with bunches of flowers.
Because of the dog we were never lost.
All we had to say was “Home”.
And it would take us to our gate post.


Pain we refuse ev’ry time
Often it comes in the night
Like a thief robbing us of sleep
We accuse it of deadly blight –

Titillate it with pills
Poultices that often burn.
But it seldom understands
We don’t want it to return


Red Tailed Cockatoos

Without any specific intention,`
Early one morning I went walking.
Out in the bush where all was serene,
When all of a sudden such squawking.

Arose, even the crows flew away.
A flock of red tailed cockatoos
Had landed on the tree-top above me,
Such a great cacophony of noise.

No other sounds could be heard.
The cockatoos were now masters
Of the tree tops all around
For the gum trees that was disaster

Ev’ry gumnut was taken off
All the tree tops in the area.
The jostling and sqwarking indicated
The redtails had never been merrier.

Their art was done with such precision
A master craftsman could not have done
A better job of opening a nut
And picking out the seeds – one by one.

When all the gum trees had been exployed
The redtails had a little fun
The flashing red of their tails
Magnificent in the setting sun.

I pondered on the glory of the world
As I walked slowly home
But never appreciated the gift given
Until much later when I was alone.

Now, when melancholy grips me,
I bring to mind treasured favours,
The redtailed cockatoos is one

That, for me’s a natural saviour

Welcome Swallow

When we were young, in the ev’nings
We had to pasture the cows in the clover
See that they never got to the orchard.
A tedious job except for the welcome swallow.

That twisted and turned all over the land
In their hundreds catching insects rising
From the clover in the summer heat.
We loved to watch them turning and twisting

Some of the swallows never left
In the winter to go North again.
But built their nests in the eves of the shed,
Where they were protected from the rain.

We were not allowed to go near their nests.
Swallows were treated with great respect –
According to our parent’s tradition.
If we did not – would show neglect

For the reverence they had for swallows,
Which stopped but briefly in the mountains
On their journey further south.
But in Australia swallows used as a fountain

A bath filled with water for the cows,
We loved to watch how in order
They performed their aquaorobics.
Then flew into the air dripping water.

The Goshawk

When I was young and lived in the bush
Each ev’ning I had to take milk to a neighbour
Along a path through the forest,
About ten minutes walk away.

Ordinarily I was not afraid of the dark
But walking through that particular forest
Where a bird shrieked at me as I went –
Often at night I could not rest.

For at the time I never knew it was a bird.
Sounded like some weird creature,
Never dared tell my parents of it –
But in my nightmares it would feature.

But now that I know it was a goshawk
I laugh at myself for being an owl –
Afraid of a bird with great yellow eyes –
Which was nothing more than a fowl.

Who Walked The Dog?

This morning I took the dog for a walk
That was my intentions
But in fact, it was he, took me
To places I would not mention.

To the family, for they would
Criticize my idiocy
An old woman with —————-
There’s no end to stupidity.

We went right round the back paddock
Nothing very much to see,
But for a dog incarcerated
For most of the day it would be

Freedom – independence – both
It was as if he’d never been
Among bushes and trees before.
Ev’ry bird that landed seemed

Something he could easily grab
He leaped; and then stood confounded
But only momentarily –
For soon something else sounded.

In his ears; and he was off
Ev’ry bush and cranny he explored
Such excitement was just too much
And for a moment he was floored

Panting. But then was gone again:
The alpacas attempting to incite,
But they were much wiser than him
Dis-interest brought no delight.

But my condition said “Enough”
Time for both of us to return
If he was shrewd he could have been free
But for more excitement was what he yearned.

The dog next door was a great play fellow,
But neighbours do not always welcome
Stray dogs. And so it was, he had
To be restrained – and go free – seldom.

References: Article: Rose Giumelli

                     Photos: Internet