My Life at Barton's Mill by Irene White

Born in 1929 and having spent her first ten years of her life living at Barton’s Mill, Irene Jenkins (nee White) has written her “memoirs”. We are very privileged to be able to present these on this web site for everyone to enjoy. Irene is now 80 years old (2009), lives in Victoria and is very active on the computer.

Chapter 1

Having now decided to write my “Memoirs”, in the hope that in the future my descendants will find them of some interest, and with not having had the foresight to keep diaries throughout my life, I must now explore the deep recesses of my mind, and memory, over a period of 75 years. What an awesome task! Where does one begin? All my forebears were English. The histories I have researched are the Gummerson’s of Wigan, Lancashire, my mother’s family, and the Hutchinson’s of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, my father’s family.

My Gummerson family tree dates back to 1709. Having cousins still living in England, and whom I had met twice, I was able to contact them and receive all the relevant data back to my grandfather. I also had a bereavement notice regarding my great grandfather. After lodging messages on the ancestry pages of the Internet, I firstly received lots of Gummerson information from one cousin, twice removed, who had done the family tree back to 1709. I was able to give him information about my grandfather’s immediate family which he did not have. Lots of information has been gained by me from the various genealogy sites on the Internet, also the obtaining of lots of family birth certificates, enabled me to piece together other information of which I had no idea existed.


It was found that my mother Beatrice had a half sister named Louisa, whose mother was the first wife of my grandfather, her maiden name being Louisa Leedham. This was not known to me because my mother had never mentioned her.  They were married in 1889. However Louisa died a few months after her daughter Louisa was born.
After surfing the notice boards on the Internet myself, I was able to contact a relation from America and another in England.  Both of these people were descendants of siblings of my grandfather John Edward Gummerson.  By so doing, I gained a couple more branches of the family tree.  My maternal grandparents were John and Eliza Gummerson of Wigan and they had six children – Beatrice, Edith, Edward, Lily, Agnes and John (dec.) at 10 months of age.  All stayed in England except Beatrice who emigrated to Australia in 1927.
The researching of the Hutchinson family was a little more difficult and only dates back to about 1818. On my father’s side my great, great grandfather Thomas Hutchinson  married Millicent Archer.   They had two sons, Pendock and Francis.   Francis only lived three months and died in 1845.

Pendock Hutchinson, my great grandfather, who married Labia Hood, was born in 1842 so it is assumed that his father Thomas, was born about 1818 –1820. Pendock and Labia had a number of children – Katherine, Thomas, Harry, Clara, Annie and Jane. Katherine emigrated to America leaving a young son back in England.

She is known to have remarried, but nothing further is known about her. Thomas, Harry and Clara emigrated to Australia in the late 1800’s, and Jane emigrate to Australia in 1901 soon after her mother died. Annie stayed home in England and my father William Joseph White was the son of Annie and her husband Thomas White. Harry later returned to England and nothing further is known of him except that he married and had a daughter Caroline and a son who was killed in the 1914-1918 War. It is to be noted that I and my siblings, together with the children of Thomas, Clara and Jane Hutchinson are the first generation of our families to be born in Australia. In the following pages, I will try and provide a profile on the life of my family commencing in Western Australia.. It began with my parents who lived in different districts of Lancashire, England and who were unknown to each other, simultaneously deciding to emigrate to Australia in 1927, to start a new life here in Australia. Living and working conditions in England at that time were somewhat difficult, even though it was some years after the cessation of World War I. Many countries were entering into what was ultimately called “The Great Depression” which, as it subsequently turned out, also flowed on to Australia.

My father, William Joseph White, was the second son of Thomas William White and Annie White (nee Hutchinson). He was born on 9th April, 1897 in St. George, Manchester. William was an Electrical Fitter by trade. In 1914 Germany and England were at War (WWI), so he enlisted in the Army on 3rd June, 1915, serving with the 14th Leicestershire Regiment (Royal Fusiliers). He gave his date of birth as 9th April, 1896. It is assumed that if he had given the right year, he may not have been accepted for service.

He was sent over to France and fought in the trenches. He was ultimately wounded, having been shot in the arm. The bullet passed right though his upper arm, leaving a very noticeable permanent scar.


He was subsequently relegated to the Cook House for a time, cooking for the troops. He also served in the Labour Centre, Yorkshire Regiment. William was eventually demobilized on 6th July, 1919 and was transferred to the Army Reserve. The picture at right shows two rather cheeky looking fellows, cigarettes in their mouths, standing in front of a “Smoking Prohibited” sign.

(I tried to obtain William’s Army Records but the reply from the English Army Records Office stated that during 1941, the then Army Records office was bombed and many records were destroyed. Apparently there are quite a few boxes of charred records in storage, but these are possibly too fragile to do anything about them. After William’s demobilization he then returned to his previous occupation as an electrical fitter with Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Co. in Trafford Park, Manchester, staying there until October 1927.

The following is a copy of a letter sent to his second wife Beatrice from the trenches in France in World War 1. It details a little of the hardships faced by the soldiers in the trenches in France:
Pte. R.K. Jolly, 4th South Lancs. Regt.,
C. Company, 11 Platoon
British Expeditionary Force, France.

My Dear Niece,
You will no doubt think me unkind not writing you in answer to your most welcome letter and parcel.  I fairly enjoyed the contents of parcel.  I received it about 2 weeks after you sent it as I had started on the march to another place and have been doing a lot of marching lately.  I could not settle to write to anyone and got my pack and everything wet through and had to dispose of a lot of my goods; all my writing paper and envelopes was spoiled and I could not get any, where I landed.  It has been cold here, snowing and freezing.
I have been up to the hips in clay and water this week in the trenches; when it  thaws the water runs off the tops but I am alright.
I think we will give the enemy a putting up; there is a big battle on now. It is not so pleasant when they fire the anti aircraft guns at the aeroplanes.   The shots appear to hit the clouds and if you are anywhere near underneath the pieces of the shell when it bursts, if they drop on you they are very dangerous; they don’t stop up in the air.  I dare not mention any military matters.
I have no more to say this time, hoping your mother and father and sisters and brothers are in the best of health and………………”. The last page of this letter was missing.

In July, 1921, William married Doris Booth. Doris was the daughter of a Methodist minister. He was the celebrant at their wedding on 28th July 1921. On 23rd September, 1923, their daughter Lily Earlem White was born. However, Doris died of consumption (Tuberculosis)) on 27th January, 1925, leaving William with a 16 months old daughter. In 1927, he decided that he and his daughter should emigrate to Australia because he had cousins who had previously emigrated to Australia, and who were all living in Western Australia.

My mother, Beatrice May Gummerson, was the first child of John Edward and Eliza Gummerson (nee Rogers), and was the eldest of six children – Edith, Edward, Lily, Agnes and John (John died as an infant of ten months of age).

Beatrice was born on 20th March, 1897 in Wigan, Lancashire, living there until she emigrated to Australia, also in 1927. She left school at the age of twelve, as did many children of that era by going to work in the factories. Manchester was noted for its many cotton mills and factories.

Hence the term “Manchester” was given to products made from cotton, eg. Sheets, etc. This “term” still exists today. She subsequently obtained work in a tailoring factory, earning two shillings and sixpence a week. This factory mainly made men’s suits, and she became very proficient tailor.



At one stage, during her teenage years, she started to learn shorthand and typing at a night school, but did not continue on with it. However, she did win a prize during this course and received a copy of Mrs Beeton’s “famous” Cookery Book. Beatrice, had a lovely singing voice and in her teens and/or early twenties took part in a number of operettas. In 1927 Beatrice decided to emigrate to Australia, joining a cousin, Phyllis Hall, who had arrived in Australia a couple of years earlier.


For the purpose of these memoirs, William Joseph White will, subsequently, be referred to as “my father” and Beatrice May White (nee Gummerson) will be referred to as “my mother”.

As stated above, my father, William, and his daughter Lily, and my mother Beatrice, sailed from England in November, 1927, aboard the S.S. “Esperance Bay, a journey which, at that time, took six weeks. Romance blossomed aboard ship. However, Beatrice and William were both destined for different States of Australia, my father for Perth, Western Australia, and my mother for Adelaide, South Australia.


On disembarking at Adelaide my mother was met by her cousin Phyllis Hall, who had emigrated from England a couple of years earlier. Phyllis was living at the Y.W.C.A. Girl’s Hostel opposite the Colonel Light Gardens in Adelaide, and my mother joined her there, at the same Hostel. She was immediately given work as a tailoress at the same men’s clothing factory as her cousin, also a tailoress. Not a lot is known of my mother’s stay in Adelaide, except that she liked living in Adelaide, and indeed Australia. I do know that she did not have a great respect for the mosquitoes, nor did they for her. Because of her sensitive English complexion they thought she was “fair game”.

My father and Lily disembarked at Perth, Western Australia. As stated before, he had various relatives living in Perth, and also around the Bunbury and Boyup Brook areas in the south west of Western Australia. I think my father may have stayed with a cousin in East Perth on first arriving in Australia. He was sponsored by his Aunt Jane in Boyup Brook. As far as can be recalled, he found it difficult to gain work on his arrival (especially in his own trade, as an Electrical Fitter). There was a scarcity of any sort of job , because, as earlier stated, 1927/28 was leading up to the World Great Depression.

I do know that he bought some weighing scales (which I have to this day) in order to sell fruit, and also that he bought a horse and cart and did window cleaning.

In early 1929 he was able to obtain permanent labouring work in a timber mill at Barton’s Mill which is in the Darling Ranges, about 50 kilometres north east of Perth. Barton’s Mill was named after the owner of the timber mill, a Mr. Barton, and to this day the district is still called Barton’s Mill. This mill was situated in a Jarrah forest (jarrah being a Western Australian hardwood, very popular with the building and furniture industries). The whole population of this area was made up of workers from the mill,

together with their families. There were about twenty families in all, as well as a number of single male workers. Married workers were housed in small basic four roomed, weather-board houses, fully fenced, whereas the single men were housed in small shacks nearer to the mill itself.


As there was a house available for a married worker, my father wrote to my mother asking her to join him in Western Australia. This she did, and they were married on 2nd March, 1929, in St. George’s Cathedral in Perth.

Having been selected for this position, it was the commencement of a ten year period of steady work for my father at the timber mill. His job, to say the least, was not the most inspiring, but because of his, aforementioned, inability to easily gain employment in his trade, it was a necessity.

This job consisted of my father, continuously throughout each day, having to sweep under all the sawyers’ benches. The saw-dust was then put into his wheel-barrow, and he had to cart it to an ever heightening pile where the contents of the wheel barrow were disgorged; this sawdust was ultimately set alight. (To me, as a child, each pile of sawdust seemed so vast, appearing to go up into the heavens, but on thinking back, it was possibly only a few feet high, but I can remember thinking “how could my father make a pile that high just from continually tipping his load?” “How could he climb that high with his barrow?”. In my mind I can still see him walking up the sides of the pile and emptying its contents. As one pile of saw-dust lay burning and smoldering for some days, another pile would be commenced. Then, it in turn, would be lit. There were continuous, smoldering piles of burning sawdust, which created a lot of smoke, and there was always a smell of burning ash pervading the camp.

This endless, tedious process continued for seven years. Then my father was promoted to the position of sawyer, another monotonous, but less soul destroying task. He gained an advantage from this position, in that he received a higher wage, and was finally under cover all the time, instead of being out in the weather day after day. Being the man he was, he, also viewed this position as being a more productive one.

Late in 1938, the employees were told that operations were to be scaled down and the Mill would be closed during 1939. They were also given the opportunity to leave earlier if they could find employment elsewhere’

My mother had a friend in Victoria. Her husband contacted various engineering firms in Victoria to see if there was any positions available in Victoria for an electrical fitter. He had two references from Metro Vickers in England and these were duly sent over to Victoria. My father was lucky in that this friend was able to secure him a job in Victoria in his own trade, without having to have an interview. Therefore our family set sail for Victoria in May 1939, on the s.s. “Westralia”. (This will be documented in further chapters)


Chapter 2


On Sunday 15th December 1929, I made my entrance into the world at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, a suburb of Perth and two years later on 30th November 1931, my brother William was born at the same hospital, this being the major hospital in Perth at the time. On 28th June, 1938, also at the King Edward Memorial Hospital, my sister Gladys was born.

Many memories come to mind from time to time, but to put them in any sequence would be an impossible task. Maybe I have missed out on some

Firstly to describe a little of life in Barton’s Mill, (which was named “the camp” by its inhabitants), as I remember it. There was one long row of timber  houses with the school situated right in the middle of the row.

At the front of these houses there was a cleared area which served as a road.   Our house was the first house on this “road with no name”  as one entered Barton’s Mill from Perth. Each of these weather board houses were virtually the same, having been put up by the mill owner for the workers. Most of these houses were built above the ground and had three or four steps leading up to a verandah.


Our house, initially, was a four roomed dwelling and had a passageway right down the middle, the front and back door facing each other. There were two rooms on either side. On going up the steps and through into the front door, the lounge was on the right hand side and the main bedroom opposite, on the left. Behind the lounge room was the kitchen and behind the main bedroom was the second bedroom. It was very basic indeed. The floors were covered with linoleum. To make the lounge room and the kitchen a little larger, the right hand passage walls had been omitted, therefore we walked straight into the lounge room, then through a door to the kitchen and, likewise, the right hand passage wall had been omitted. As my parents were extremely poor at that time; each room had the most basic requirements in the way of furniture. The only furniture in the lounge room was two large wooden lounge chairs which my father had made from timber from the mill. Timber was freely available. These chairs were never upholstered, but my mother made a couple of loose cushions to sit on. An open wood fire in this room provided the heating for the winter. There was also a sideboard with three drawers and three cupboards underneath the drawers.

The kitchen was fitted with a wood stove for cooking. Food was stored in an old fashioned kitchen dresser similar to the one pictured at left. This dresser, together with a table and chairs was all the furniture in the kitchen, except a small built in pot and pan cupboard under the sink A mantelpiece over the stove served as a shelf for handy everyday equipment such as the kitchen scales, teapot, etc. I cannot remember whether the kitchen actually had an enamel sink or whether the dishes were washed in an enamel bowl. Hot water was gained in the old primitive way by boiling it on the stove in a large kettle. The photo of the dresser was obtained from a reprint of the Original Catalogue for Foy & Gibson Pty. Ltd., 1923 edition.

The bedrooms also had basic furniture, but I remember my parents having a bedroom setting of a double bed, wardrobe and dressing table for their room. I cannot remember what piece of furniture held the clothes of Lily, Bill and myself. We all slept in the same room. I do know that there was a large piece of wood nailed to the wall with lots of hooks on it to hold coats, etc.
My father made ginger beer and also tried his hand at making hop beer. He used to store the bottles of these products in our bedroom, underneath this rack of coats. One batch of the hop beer started to explode, bottle after bottle, and all the coats were saturated and covered with a yeasty froth. He didn’t find this at all hilarious. I remember, we did. He never made hop beer again, and decided to concentrate only on the ginger beer.

There was no bathroom. The means by which we had to have a “bath” was by using a metal tub. One could sit down in it with the knees up to the chin. This was easy for us children, but it must have been quite a trial for my parents to have a bath standing up, if that is what they did. We were never allowed in the kitchen whilst our parents were bathing. Also, we did not have a bath every day like we shower today. It was a “bath” on Saturday or Sunday and a “wash” each other day. We had our baths in the kitchen in front of the stove, which was quite warm especially in the winter time. This tin tube had lots of other uses such as washing the clothes, sitting the butter cooler in to wet it thoroughly, even dunking deceased chickens to wet the feathers for easy plucking and cleaning ready for cooking.

My father, being a rather industrious person, decided that if he could get some free wood from the mill he would put an extension on to the house. Permission was granted and low and behold, we had another small room complete with a dirt floor. I don’t remember that a wooden floor was ever put down because the earth became so compacted with continual usage that it was not necessary. I suppose today, this room would be classed as a “lean to”. However it did have a closing door to keep out the elements.
This room was multipurpose. We now had a “bathroom!” Such luxury!! On thinking back I am not sure that it was such a luxury as we still only used the rather small tin tub that we had previously used in the warmth of the kitchen. In the winter time, it was extremely cold whilst having a bath, thus making one begin to hate this “weekly” ritual. However with the advent of this extra room, I guess there was more privacy for my parents when having their baths.

This room also  housed a rather large Coolgardie safe (also built by my father). The “Coolgardie” safe was  named after the little mining town  of Coolgardie in Western Australia where gold  was discovered in 1888.  It was invented in the late 1890’s because the weather was so hot.  It was usually placed on a verandah, and where there was a breeze.   This unit was used in those early days as we, today, would use a refrigerator.

It consisted of a square  structure with a door at the front.   The walls and door of this piece of furniture were made of hessian which was nailed onto the framework of the structure.   There was a shelf in  this safe,   and underneath the bottom shelf was a tin tray.  This tray on the base of the safe was filled with water into which the  overhanging hessian was placed, resulting in the  hessian walls always being wet.   This was, of course, providing that the water was topped up all the time.   As the drafts went through this hessian, a cooling effect would be produced.    Because this Coolgardie safe stood on an earthen floor my father built legs on it,  and he had the legs  standing in jam tins full of water so that ants and other creepy, crawly creatures could not climb up its legs and either eat, or taint, the contents of the safe.

Another cooling receptacle we had at that time, was a white porous container with a round bottom, and also a round lid which gave it a ball like appearance. This was called a “butter cooler”. It was placed in cold water until it was saturated and then put in the coolest spot available. Because it was only a small container, it could only accommodate butter or cheese. This had a similar cooling effect as the Coolgardie safe, but was nowhere near as effective. Neither the Coolgardie safe nor the butter cooler were very successful for setting jellies, except in the winter time


Being in the “bush” our outhouse (today called a toilet) was a really crudely built timber shed with a bench seat across the back. This seat had a hole in the middle to sit on. This building was called a “dunny” This was the Australian slang name for this outhouse. Underneath the hole in the seat was what was called a “dunny can”. These “dunny cans” were collected each week by the driver of a specially fitted “dunny cart”. They “dunny cans” were carried on the shoulder of the collector and then placed in the cart. It was open to conjecture what would happen if the “dunny man” tripped over. We never did see that happen The old “wooden dunny”, over the years, has become an Australian icon. Our “dunny” in Bartons Mill was not so luxurious as the photo on the right. (Internet picture) As the song “Red back under the toilet seat” infers, it probably was a good place for those red striped arachnids to hide.

Beside our house was this beautiful large gum tree, which provided a lot of shade. My father saw the potential of the shade of this lovely old tree and built a wooden seat under it, see photo at left. It became a favourite place to sit and play.

Opposite our house , through a small area of bush, was the home of the Manager and his wife – the Thompson’s. Because they were quite close to our house, and because Mrs. Thompson and my mother became friends, we visited their house quite often. Their status meant that their house was a little more luxurious than ours. The feature that is most etched in my mind, is that their house was a split level home with a highly polished staircase of about four stairs leading up to an open lounge room. Below the stairs was a rather ornate box in which they kept the wood for their fires. Also at the side of this box the fire pokers were kept. The kitchen was to the left of the bottom of this staircase.


The timber mill was the predominant feature of Barton’s Mill. Apart from the row of houses, there were a few other houses dotted around the outskirts of the mill itself. Each day. from time the whistle blew quite early in the morning to when the whistle stopped at night, there was a hive of activity at the mill. The logs were brought in and stacked ready to be taken into the mill itself . The machinery would start and then the sawing of the wood would continue throughout the day, only stopping for a break at lunch time. Other employees stacked the cut timber ready for transport to Pert hand beyond by steam train. I cannot remember much about the transport from the actual forest to the timber yard, but I do remember that the timber was transported from the Mill by a steam train. Below is a photo of the timber train on the Zig Zag railway at Kalamunda.

Chapter 3

There were not many public facilities in Barton’s Mill. However, there was a small Post Office which was managed by the wife of one of the mill worker’s, a Mrs. Catchpole. Here, one could buy Newspapers, as they would come from Perth by passenger rail to Pickering Brook, and then would be transported on the timber train to Barton’s Mill.

There was also a Public Hall which served as a community meeting place, dance hall, church, etc. etc. Most of the people from the mill attended the Sunday church services, in a lot of cases possibly because this was the socially acceptable thing to do, and also possibly because there was little else to do at weekends. All the church services at the public hall were Protestant, with preachers from varying denominations coming from Kalamunda and Carmel to preach. At the time of my christening there was a Church of England Minister in attendance, therefore I was christened Church of England. At the time of the christening of brother Bill and sister Gladys , a Methodist minister was in attendance, therefore they were christened Methodist. Lily had been christened in England.

Below are photos of the Church and Sunday school groups outside the Public Hall at Baton’s Mill.


Back Row:

2. Mrs WEEDEN?

Middle Row:

8. Mrs WHYTE?
10. Mr. WHYTE?

Front Row:





Back Row:


Middle Row;


Front Row:

6. WILLIAM WHITE Jnr. (in lap)



For some of those years, the Church services were run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They had a church and the big Sanitarium health food factory at Carmel which I can remember visiting with my family on occasions, possibly at the invitation of the pastors, although no specific details of these visits come to mind. The Seventh Day Adventist Church is still active in Carmel as there is a large College still there.
There was only one practicing family of the Catholic faith in the Camp and their children went to boarding school in Perth. I think their youngest daughter started her schooling for the first couple of years at the Barton’s Mill State School, but then she went to the same boarding school, I presume in Perth. With their children being away all year in Perth, when they did come home on holidays, they seemed to be a little remote from the rest of the children having had a different upbringing. All their little friends were inPerthand its suburbs. I can remember wondering what it would be like to be away from home and was glad that we three children were still home with Mum and Dad.
When the Public Hall became a Dance Hall on the Saturday nights, life for the children was great fun. The grownups danced, and we children did all the things that children do at country dances, deriving much fun from sliding on the sawdust spread over the floor, etc. My father did not dance, but my mother was a “swinger”, especially at doing the Alberts which everyone seemed to like as there was always much frivolity during this dance. Afterwards there were the “grand” suppers which usually seem to accompany these country dances, and still do to this day. Of course, the ladies most probably tried to outdo each other with their culinary mastery”. I am not sure whether they dressed up in ball gowns, but I can remember my mother having one salmon pink dance frock with white soft fur around the bottom which she wore on occasions. I think this was probably a frock which she brought from England. She eventually cut it up and made me a party dress.
Once a circus came to Barton’s Mill and it was held beside the Public Hall. Also there was always a Christmas Eve celebration put on by the Mill owners with presents being handed to all the children, much to the our delight. This was also held in the Public Hall.
Another enjoyable past-time for my parents and a few of their closer friends was the regular Card nights held alternately, at their homes. The predominant game they played was “Bridge”. It was always nice to go to one of the other homes, as we children could stay up longer, but when it was at our house, we were all sent to bed early, after being allowed to have an early “supper”, no doubt as a bribe to get us to go to bed.
At this juncture, I should note the names of the families who resided in Barton’s Mill, and whose male members worked at the mill. White (my family) French, Flannagan, McCaskell, Miss Bowman (school teacher) Weedon, Wallis, Ferguson, King, Anderson, Berry, Hall, Thompson (Manager of the Mill), Gibbs, (2 families) Brown (2 families) Andrews (lived in the single quarters) Whyte, Catchpole (the post mistress and her husband who worked at the Mill), also a few more single men whose names I can’t recall. Some of these names will be noted in further chapters.
The lack of a general store as such, was another inconvenience, A grocer, Mr. Griffiths, came out from Kalamunda, 14 miles away from Barton’s Mill. He would have groceries and green groceries, bread, etc. and possibly a few other necessary items. Usually we my parents bought Mills and Wares Arrowroot biscuits, but every now and the then they treated us to a packet of chocolate biscuits. The grocer always left a small bag of hard sugary sweets. I think bread could be bought from the post office store if we ran out, but it was rather stale.
Evidently my mother was fed up of having stale bread each week, so she decided to make her own. She made enquiries about yeast and found out that compressed yeast was the best option available at that time, but it was a baker’s monopoly, so my father had to use his best persuasive powers to get the grocer to find a source, which he did, delivering it with the groceries each fortnight. My mother became very adept at bread making. It was always fun at bread making time because she let Bill and I roll out pieces of dough for ourselves, and when they were cooked we had our own little buns. She taught us how to plait the pieces of dough. Possibly by the time we had rolled and rolled the dough, it might not have been very hygienic. She also cooked most of her own biscuits, cakes, jam tarts, scones etc.
Green groceries were another perishable commodity so my father grew some of his own, as did other members of the camp.

Whilst on the subject of cooking, my mother made our own butter. To do this, she had to save the cream from a few milkings. (see further paragraph re dairy herd). The procedure was to beat and beat the cream with an beater, adding a little salt, until all the liquid had come out of the cream, and it turned into butter. When I was old enough, I used to like the job of patting it with butter pats, thus getting it to the final stage of every last bit of liquid being extracted. She did try to make cheese, but only tried once as it was not a success. Also she used to scald (not letting it boil) the milk and a thick cream would form on top. This scalded cream was especially nice with puddings and scones. Another one of mum’s cooking failures was a fruit cake that she had made which was not a success, and I accompanied her to the cow yard where she threw it over the fence. (see following paragraphs re cows).

Fresh milk was not available. We only had powdered milk. Only Mrs. Anderson had a milking cow which supplied her and possibly a neighbour or two. She also had a bull called “Bevan” who put the fear of God into the residents of the “camp” as he was allowed to wander around the camp area at will. “He would not hurt anyone” said she when tackled abut his roving habits. Sometimes he would park himself outside our cow yard eyeing off our cows However, one day, he turned on her all but goring her to death. The quick action of one of the men managed to divert the bull’s attention, thus enabling her to be rushed to Perth Hospital. She recovered but Bevan disappeared after that, no doubt being sold to some other unsuspecting person, or more likely to the abattoir. “Bevan” terror in the camp ceased.

This lady having a cow gave my father an idea. He was on such a low wage when he first started working at the Mill. (As stated earlier, he had the job of sawdust sweeper which was the lowliest job in the mill, taking sawdust out to a pile in the yard), so he decided to buy himself a cow. Firstly he put up a cow yard, mostly from thin logs. He knew nothing about cows at all, having been brought up in the large industrial city of Manchester, England, but went ahead and bought “Maud”. She was a very feisty cow, and was getting the better of dad whilst learning to milk her. She was literally “kicking the bucket” of milk over each time he milked her. He said “I’ll fix her”. He put a chock in her feed stall which he moved across, thus locking her head in, and then he put a leg rope on the back leg of the side where he sat to milk and tied it backwards to the fence. One night he inadvertently forgot to take off the leg rope, so there was poor “Maud” with her leg strung all night and her head in the chock. Next morning, he was mortified that he had forgotten her, but it probably taught her a lesson regarding her behaviour, as she was very docile after that.

After having Maud for some time, he had another idea. If he could get a bull, then he could breed from Maud, and if they were bull calves, he could kill them for fresh meat. This he did. (I don’t remember the bull’s name). He had a yard of his own and we children were under strict orders not to go near the yard. Even without the yard being a “No No”, his fierce countenance and his huge bulk was enough to scare us anyway. A little time later, he thought that if he bought some more cows – he could start a milk round and supply milk to the people at the mill. Along came “Girlie” a very skinny jersey cow, but cheap, which he fattened up, then Daisy, Effie, and a couple more which gave him a small herd of cattle. Having a number of cows, he got some timber from the mill and made a much larger and more substantial fence.


He milked the cows by hand every night and morning, and then each morning before work, he delivered the milk to the various families by carrying a large pail of milk (with a lid on it), to each household, then ladling it out into individual containers left by the residents at their front doors, To do this he used a one pint ladling measure. The residents had fresh milk every day, and Dad went on to make a little extra money.

After school, it was Bill’s and my job to go and round up the cows from the bush. They were all fitted with bells, so they could be heard from afar. However they did not wander far away. Once we had herded them together they were easy to shoo home, as they knew where “home” was. Also my father killed some of the male calves, and sold some of the veal to neighbours. I don’t know whether there were any health regulations about killing your own cattle at that time, but I guess we were far removed from the bureaucratic “powers that be” of the State of W.A. and any rules that they have might have had in place.

My father had so much tenacity, he would have a go at anything. When I think back to that time in my life, my father worked very hard for his family.
Of course we also had fowls, as did many of the neighbours. As you can see, we were fairly self sufficient. The fowls provided us with eggs, and also chicken dinners. Ticks were very prevalent in the area, and the fowls became victims. This necessitated them being treated quite often by rubbing (I think) kerosene over them .
One funny incident I vividly remember, which certainly was not funny at the time. I had been sent to the Post Office to buy some stamps and decided to go back through the school yard on the way home, thus passing behind the properties. Mrs. French had her “chook” yard outside the back fence of her property next door to us,. She let the hens run free during the day and penned them up at night as dingos prowled round the camp after dark. Her rooster was very territorial and he must have been in a bad mood that day, as he thought me good fodder for a bit of fun. He chased me all the way home, being on my heels all the time; I was terrified, and it ran into our kitchen after me. My mother tried to chase him out and he flew up on to the hot stove and burnt his feet. Served him right, I thought. I had lost the stamps by that time. However my mother went to look for them and found them outside our side gate.

Because we had no electricity, our lighting was by kerosene lamps with glass bowls similar to this type at left. These did not give out a very big radius of light so we had to have a few of them which were carried from room to room as required. Herewith, a descriptive note: “These lamps were a wick type of lamp. They had a small glass bowl which served as a kerosene tank and a wick usually made of cotton. This wick is dipped in the fuel tank of kerosene and the top part extends out the top of the fuel tank and usually has a wick adjustment mechanism which could be turned up if a little more light was required. When the top part of the wick is lit, the kerosene which has been absorbed in the wick, burns and produces a yellowy flame. As the kerosene is burnt, capillary action inside the wick draws more kerosene up from the fuel tank to be burnt. If the wick is turned up too high the lamp will produce smoke (Unburned carbon soot).which blackens the glass funnel.” . The kerosene lamps we had were not quite as glamorous as those above, as ours weren’t made of coloured glass. This photo courtesy Sue Jenkins.

Later on we had lamps with a mantle. These were a pressurized lamps fuelled by a substance like Shellite, which gave out much brighter light, but every so often if they were bumped, the mantles would break; this then caused the mantle to burn and smoke and it would have to be replaced.

Another inconvenience experienced by families at the camp was that we had no clothes washing facilities such as washing troughs. Therefore the trusty old metal bath became a washing trough. To scrub the clothes clean a scrubbing board was used. The clothes were soaped and then rubbed up and down on the rippled glass centre. Some of these boards had rippled metal centres and some had rippled wooden centres. It, was, at least, better than beating clothes on stones as is still done in some countries in the world.

When shoes needed repairing, my father put on his “cobbler hat” and mended our shoes, a job that he kept up all through our schooling and up until, and during, the 1950’s. He had a cobbler’s “last” (as shown) that he mounted on a block of wood. He would then put the shoes on the last and cut out the shoe leather. It was then nailed onto the sole of the shoe with small tacks. Quite often after he had finished, the points of the tacks could be felt underfoot. He would then have to put them on the last again and belt the points down with extra forceful hammering. As will be seen, there are three sizes, one for large feet, medium feet, and a little one for children’s feet.

Also, because of the lack of electricity, my mother had only the old fashioned flat irons. A number of these were usually obtained as they were put on the wood stove to get hot. When one iron cooled, usually in a very short time, it had to be put back on the hot stove to reheat, and another one used, which was rather tedious. In later years, these flat irons made very good door stops.

As mentioned earlier, my father tried selling fruit and vegetables at one stage when he first arrived in Australia in 1927, and bought a set of scales with weights. He did not keep on with this work, but kept the scales which were very handy for my mother. I still have them to this day, and have utilised them many times when making jam and preserves.

Chapter 4


As stated earlier, I cannot put any chronological sequence to events in my life in Western Australia, but at this point I would like to reserve a few paragraphs and photos to depict the forest in which we lived, and its related flora and fauna. Notably, the predominant trees were the Jarrah trees. They have a reddish brown to grey trunk, with fibrous bark, the leaves growing to about 5 inches long with clusters of nectar-rich flowers coloured creamy white. These trees can grow up to from 35 to 100 feet high.

Below are the blackboys which do not flower regularly every year, but always do so after a fire. These look like they could have survived over the years from the Jurassic era.

The Black boys are a unique group of plants found only in Australia belonging to the scientific genus Xanthorrhoea. Even small fires blacken their trunks and produce the long spike like flower, which in the eyes of the early settlers, resembled native warriors or “Blackboys” when seen from a distance. They are also called grass trees. The scientific name is derived from the Greek words xanthos (yellow) and rheo (flowing) and describes the yellowish gum commonly found in the plants. This was used extensively by the Aborigines to attach heads to their spears, and by the early white settlers as a substitute lacquer and varnish. Some blackboys are less than half a metre tall, while others have been recorded as being six metres tall. The flowering spike contains hundreds of individual flowers which also vary greatly in length. As the flowers die small thorn like fruits protrude from the spike. Blackboys are found in all States of Australia, with seven species being found in Western Australia.

The Western Australian grass-tree is confined to the South West corner of the State and is closely related to, and often confused with the blackboys.

There are several major differences to distinguish them; the trunk of the grass tree is usually taller, more slender, unbranched and not as conspicuously blackened as the blackboy; many drumstick shaped flowering heads are produced rather than the usual single spear; the base of the leaves of grass trees are covered with short silky hairs giving them a silvery green appearance and thus feel much softer. The grass trees are commonly 2-4 metres tall with some growing taller than ten metres.

Banksias are over many parts of Australia and some varieties were seen in the forest.  They are very colourful and can grow to varying heights.  There are coastal varieties also.   The banksias are named after the famous British Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain James Cook when he discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770.   Interesting Note:  (Our daughter Sue was presented with the “Sir Joseph Banks Medal for Excellence” by the James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, when she completed her degree in Botany. She then completed  her Honours Degree.  She has also gained a PhD.) Cook landed at what is now named Botany Bay and a large number of plant specimens, were collected.   All were completely new to science at that time.  The name Banksia is used for both the scientific and common names for this plant group.  Although commonly called a flower, each banksia is actually made up of several hundred individual densely packed true flowers which is called a spike.

The size and shape of the spike varies from small flattened balls 4 cms. in diameter to the giant candle shaped Bull Banksia which can grow up to 40 cms. in length. As the flowers die a large woody cone or “fruit” develops, holding the seeds for later release. In some species a fire is needed to split the cones so the seeds can be dispersed. Except for one species which extends intoNew Guinea, Banksias are entirely Australian, and most of them are inWestern Australia. A lot of the Australian species of flora need fire to propagate them.

There are twelve species of the kangaroo paw, so named because each flower is shaped like a kangaroo paw complete with soft bristly fur, The red and green kangaroo paw (at left) is Western Australia’s floral emblem. There is also a black kangaroo paw, and similar smaller plants called a cat’s paw.

The species of flowers and orchids on the forest floor were many with different sized plants and colours, there for the picking as in those years the emphasis of saving every species from extinction was not in force.

In that era and area that we lived, the total population was probably only about 100 plus, so the small amount of wild flowers picked would not have had any great impact. Even at that tender age, I derived great joy at being in such a beautiful habitat. As we were completely surrounded by bush, my mother used to let me outside our property to pick these wild flowers, always keeping her eye on where I was. She would dutifully put them in vases.


At left is a carpet of everlasting flowers. These are named because of their ability to retain natural colour and apparent freshness for exceptionally long periods; the everlastings are easy to recognise by their crisp papery texture. They are sometimes called “sunrays” or “paper daisies” and are extremely popular for dried flower arrangements. There are many species of similar appearance, but lacking the dry papery feel of the everlastings. These are closely related and are found in the coastal or forest areas of the South West.

Everlastings come in a variety of colours, and most of them grow in the dry semi-desert interior completely transforming the dusty barren soils into lush carpets of colour after heavy autumn or winter rains. In their natural state, however, the everlastings are short lived, the harsh sun and hot desert winds quickly reducing their glory to a mass of dry litter.


I have been fortunate enough to see a carpet of pink everlastings on one of the walks with my parents. Over the last sixty five years of my life in Victoria I have talked about them and wondered exactly where they were growing. I had remembered my parents saying that the place in which they were growing was something like “The Darkening”, but I realise that that could not have been right, so that has been as teaser over the years. When my daughter Sue worked for twelve months in Western Australia some years ago, she brought home a large bunch of pink everlastings for me.

Whilst looking on the Internet for Barton’s Mill, I found listed a “forest walk” called “Barton’s Mill – Little Darkin Walk”. I feel that I can be sure that that might have been what they were saying. Walk description: Location:36 kms East South East of Perth Length: 16.5 field kms. (65% off track. Difficulty: Medium. Amount of uphill walking 300 m. The Little Darkin River flows through this area. Fires raged through this area in January 2005 and 28,000 hectares of forest was destroyed. It could take years before the forest recovers.

It was in the late 1930’s before we left Barton’s Mill, that another fire in the forest was burning. We lived in the first house as one entered Barton’s Mill from Pickering Brook, and I can remember that it was such a hot day that my mother was feeling the extreme heat and lay down on the linoleum floor to get cool. We could see the trees blazing quite close to the camp. From what I remember, the fire extended from Pickering Brook to Barton’s Mill, but I am not sure what the full extent of it was. Tall tree trunks were burning for a few days and the rest of the forest was blackened. No one was evacuated that I remember, but I suppose that the Manager of the Mill was apprehensive, also the residents.

The fauna in the forest consisted of the usual reptile population such as snakes and goannas, of which we had to be on the alert, and other small creatures such as rabbits.

On one of our family walks in the forest we came across a group of horses. My father told us that they were “brumbies” and that they roamed the bush. They have a social structure within each group. They also can be fleet of foot and travel quite long distances, and always move as one mob.

Dingos were very prevalent in the bush around Barton’s Mill. Dingos are wild dogs that inhabit the dry plains and forests of Australia. It is thought that their origins may have been the descendants of domesticated dogs brought to Australia over 3,500 years ago. They are a medium sized dog. Most dingos have short yellowish-tan fur, but it can vary from black to cream coloured. It has large ears, sharp eyes and a keen sense of smell. These dogs do not bark but sometimes howl. They are nocturnal (most active at night).


There was a litter of dingo pups found amongst the stacked timber at the Mill, and my father decided to bring one home as a pet. He reared it for quite some time, but as it became older, it eventually went back to its own habitat and kind in the bush. We never saw them around the camp during the day, but they always came nearer the houses at night time. The residents who had fowls had to make sure that they locked them up securely at night.

Most seen, were the kangaroos. They were always seen as we walked through the forest. One kangaroo, in particular, comes to mind. Our next door neighbour Pete French, aged about 26 was responsible for checking that the motorised pump at the small dam up a track not far from our house, where all our water came from, was kept in good order. Each day at 4 p.m. he would go past our house to the dam. He had befriended a kangaroo, and every day it would sit outside our house waiting for him, and would follow him there and back. This dam had a red clay base and the water was always a rusty colour. We had a wooden barrel below the tap and my father would wrap the tap in a bundle of material, which, after a few days would become a very dark red; this material then had to be washed and changed.


Eventually after much frustration and many complaints about the quality of the water, another spot was sought. Eventually a spot was found where the clay was coloured white,. A new dam was excavated, therefore giving a cleaner supply of water. I remember them as the “red” dam and the “white dam”. Barton’s Mill was only a couple of miles from the Mundaring Weir but I gather it was not feasible to put in a pipeline from there to the Mill, as they probably thought it would be a transient operation, which it turned out to be. (more information about Mundaring Weir in a later paragraph).
The beauty of the forest, as shown above, took on a different perspective at night. On lying in bed looking out our bedroom window, especially on the moonlit and starry nights, the silhouettes of the gum trees could be seen, waving in the breeze. A stormy night with thunder and lightening would be even scarier. The shapes of the trees then took on the appearance of fiendish entities. Of course there was always the bed clothes to hide under. This childlike, night meandering of my mind, was made even more mysterious by the continuous howling between the various dingo packs. The dingos would start their long haunting cries after dark, and they could be heard at intervals during the night until dawn.
On reflection, I feel privileged to have lived in such a lovely forest environment, which in those days was free of many restrictions that we have today. I guess that, because of the smaller population in Australia than we have today, logging and the picking of flowers was not so much of an issue. Trees were abundant then and the logging at that time cold not be compared with the logging of today throughout Australia and the world. Great expanses of forests throughout the world, today, are desecrated to an enormous extent, especially to foster trade in wood chips with Japan, just to be made into paper, which, in turn, is sold back to us. It is to be hoped that with much care and reafforestation, future generations of children will be able to enjoy what I enjoyed as a child in Barton’s Mill.

As shown by the photo on the previous page, Mac and I visited Western Australia in 1988 but did not visit any of the relations there as I had lost touch with them. However, about nine years ago, I found the address of one of the cousins and contacted her because I had intentions of trying to do a family tree. She was able to put me on to her mother, and I was then able to meet most of these relations in the year 2000.

It is worth noting here, that after the Timber Mill finally closed down, the Fremantle Gaol took over the site and built a lower security complex for some of the better behaved prisoners that were in the Fremantle Gaol. Whilst I was there in 1988, I contacted the Chief of the Barton’s Mill Gaol complex and explained that I had lived there from 1929 to 1939 and wondered whether there was a chance that I could visit the surrounding area.

He gave his permission, and provided us with one of the guards, who took us, by car, around the bush area. I couldn’t really get my bearings as I think the old homes had been pulled down and others built for the prison employees. The old well near Mrs. Anderson’s place was still there and was covered with cement. There were blocks of concrete also there where the single men’s quarters had been. Also, he showed us the site of the “red” dam, which was really red soil, and then he showed us the site of the “white dam”. He just drove around the area of the prison compounds, at a distance. When we were outside the perimeter of the prison complex, we had a little wander in the bush, then went to Mundaring Weir on the way back to Perth.

It was quite nostalgic!

Chapter 5

In Chapter 4, I mentioned Mundaring Weir so thought I would relate some information regarding the same. In 1896 the Western Australian Government decided to construct the Mundaring Weir and the pipeline which would connect the water from the Helena River to the mining towns of Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.


The dam was complete in 1900 and the laying of pipes began in 1902. The man behind the project was Charles Yelverton O’Connor. He was Engineer-in-chief. We were told that he committed suicide because the water had not reached the Kalgoorlie by the estimated time, their estimations being a little out. It was also said that he had a lot of pressures with his very responsible his job. The pipeline was finished in 1903, and still carries water to Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.

Travelling toPerthwas another inconvenience for most people at the Mill because of the lack of Public transport which was virtually “Nil” at that time. Only two people at the Mill had motor cars. The Manager also would have had one, but that would not have been for public use. Mrs. Hall was available for anyone who wished to go to Perth when she, herself, was travelling down, and she would also oblige in an emergency, on a paying basis. Peter French also owned a car and I think he would sometimes take passengers with him to Perth. We always thought we were grand when we were travelling by car


However, that was after my father sold his motorcycle. When I was about three year of age, he bought a second-hand Harley Davids on motor cycle and side-car. For a few years it was his pride and joy. I have memories of those rides in the side car and we were able to visit relations in Perth and its suburbs.

My mother said that it was riding in the open side car that gave me all my freckles!!!!!! She did put a hat on us children. Mum made these hats herself, a pink one for Lily and a yellow one for me but, although they covered the head well, the brims were only very small, as was the fashion of the day.

On one of our trips to Perth, he got too close to a tram and his leg was caught between the step of the tram and his motorcycle, and he sustained quite a large laceration  on his thigh, but had no lasting effects.  However, he decided that was too risky to continue to take us all in the side car, so he sold the motor cycle, which again, left us without independent transport.

The next phase of my family’s transport to Perth was by train.  This was very exciting for us children as we got to ride in the actual loco of the timber train with the driver and the fire stoker.  After clamouring up into the engine, my mother and the youngest member of the family Bill, were given the main seat in the cabin, the other seats were block of wood in front opposite  the furnace.   We children watched with fascination as the stoker periodically stoked up the furnace with either coal or wood.  I think it was coal.  The heat which emanated from the furnace during this operation was incredible.   This furnace would need to be very hot to produce the steam.    Also, water tanks were located in various areas en route so that the train could fill up with water. The old archive photo at left, shows the Kalamunda Railway station with a water storage tank at the end of the station.

The 28 mile journey from Pickering Brook to Perth seemed to take an interminable time. Possibly this was because, when one is small, all things, even time, seems to be exaggerated. It was hazardous to put ones head out of the window, because of getting a face full of smoke, soot or grit in the eyes. The black soot on the face, I thought was funny.

I would sit in the passenger train and watch the opposite passengers rocking from side to side and wonder why they did so, not realising at the time that it was because of the movement of train, and I probably was doing the same, although I did not think I was.


To get to Perth from Barton’s Mill, all means of transport had to negotiate the Darling Ranges. Therefore, what is known as the Kalamunda Zig Zag Railway was built for the trains. This meant that the train had to go backwards and forwards on a number of low gradients to enable it to negotiate itself over the top of the ranges. Naturally when the train was over the top from Barton’s Mill, it could gather speed down the other side of the ranges into Perth. Of course, on the homeward journey, the same process had to be followed, and when over the ranges, the faster trip was back down to Kalamunda, then on to Pickering Brook. However, the boredom of the homeward journey was far outweighed by the pleasure of being met by Peter French or Mrs. Hall in their cars. They were willing to drive the seven miles to pick up residents of the camp who travelled on the late steam passenger train from Perth to Pickering Brook. I think they charged a small fee for this convenience. The bottom two archival photos show the Zig Zag railway with a train going up the gradient, and on the other, a train descending the gradient.

Whilst on the subject of steam trains I should mention that on visits to a cousin of my father’s in Perth, he would take  us children to the end of the street in East Perth and we would walk onto the foot bridge that spanned the railway yards.  It was great to see the steam trains going under the bridge with their smoke billowing out behind them.  
The picture below was taken from the Internet, with the following commentary attached.  “East Perth has been lauded as one of Australia’s best examples of an urban redevelopment project”.  Since 1992, 145 hectares of former industrial land has been remediated, 2,300 new residents have moved in and 1,100 new homes and apartments have been created on the site of East Perth’s former Gasworks, scrap yards, empty warehouses and  “railway yards.”


The steam train era is a time to look back upon with pride, pleasure and gratefulness that I had the privilege of being brought up in Barton’s Mill. Because of my experience of having traveled in the locos and also the passenger steam trains, it is easy to see why many people derive great pleasure in restoring these trains to their former glory. There is one of these restored steam trains at Maldon in Victoria which is used to take tourists. Passengers would board the train at Maldon, travel along the line for a few miles, and then go back to Maldon. In the last two or thee years, railway line has been re-laid right through to Castlemaine, making the day trip much more exciting.

Chapter 6

I commenced school in 1935 having turned five in December 1934. Being in a small community, and with all the children attending the one school, and also by socialising after school hours with the various ongoing activities at the camp, it was not a daunting prospect, but something to look forward to. Our elder half-sister Lily was in grade 4 in 1935. Brother Bill commenced school, aged 5 in 1937.
The school, like many schools at that time, was a composite school with only one room and only the one teacher, Miss Bowman. To me she looked a very old lady with her hair in a bun, and who wore glasses. No doubt she was not that old. We children knew she had a small cane hidden in her drawer; these canes were widely used in those days. Mostly the children were all well behaved, but very occasionally it was used. I myself must have been naughty as I was on the receiving end one day. She was a great teacher and taught the children well. Also She was greatly liked by all the parents. She would set all the grades their individual tasks, and when reading time came, she would take each individual class out under the gum trees, so as not to disturb the rest of the children who quietly and diligently did their allotted assignments.
The Western Australian readers were lovely hard backed, green covered books, with gum leaves embossed on the front covers. When learning to write, we had “copy books” with the upper and lower case alphabet in beautiful scripted writing which we were expected to emulate. I had no hope of doing that as is seen by my handwriting today. The first year at school was not called Prep. It consisted of 1st infants, 2nd infants and 3rd infants. During 1935, both Lily and I were given a school report as shown. These were the only two reports that seem to have been kept and I wonder whether in successive years, no yearly reports were circulated.

Miss Bowman decided to put on a little theatrical show to present to the parents at the camp. It was called “The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. This was held in the Public Hall. One of the mothers made the paper mache pigs heads and the clothes for the event.
The “wolf” was played by Walter White. At the right can be seen the front of the Public Hall. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the complete hall. I think the pole that can be seen near the hall, could have been a flag pole.’
Also the fence seen in the right hand photo is one of the front fences of the houses. The school was more or less opposite the Public Hall.

Drinking water for the children at the school was from a rainwater tank. More often than not one got a glass of water with “wrigglers” (mosquito lavae). All of the children used to go home for their lunch
Life must have been quite boring for the housewives at the camp. However, my mother seemed to keep herself busy. Mrs. Thompson had a Wertheim treadle sewing machine, and when she decided to buy another machine, she gave my mother her old one. She made all our clothes; she even made a suit for my father. Also she was interested in knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and these hobbies as well as looking after the family took up all her time. She taught me all of these crafts in Western Australia. She would draw little flower patterns onto some rag and teach me the “lazy daisy” stitch and the chain loop petal stitch, cross stitch, etc. etc. Also I knitted a hot water bottle for my grandmother in England, I also learned to use a crochet needle and crotcheted around small round pieces of material.

Rag dolls were plentiful , courtesy of Uncle Toby, as the oats came in calico bags. On one side of the bag a doll in coloured clothes was drawn and the back of the bags was just plain white. My mother would sew them together and fill them with rags or cotton wool. Rags were plentiful as they were kept for all manner of chores such as dusters, floor cloths, dish mops, etc. etc. Bill had a small teddy which he carried around everywhere he went.

Chapter 7

When I was about 6 – 7 years old  I contracted scarlet fever which necessitated a one month stay at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Subiaco, an experience that I certainly did not like.  No visitors were allowed, even parents.The various wards were separated by long outdoor covered corridors so that nurses and doctors could go from ward to ward.   At night, bats found their way into the ward, and their flying around lent  an eerie feeling  in the glow of the nurse’s dimmed night desk  light.
The medicine was given in a little medicine glass each day.  It was very bitter and was followed by a little medicine glass of water.  One young lad hid in a large linen basket, but he could not hoodwink the nurses.  They were used to his wily tricks  to avoid his medicine.   A few tears were shed on a couple of occasions as the days went by as I wondered whether I really was going home.  I did received a parcel from my parents whilst there of a pair of slippers and toothbrush and toothpaste.  When I was able to get out of bed, the nurses let me help them carry boiled eggs into the patients, however on one occasion I dropped the egg and egg cup off the plate, and thought I would get into trouble, but the nurse said “never mind, go and get another one.”
A girl about my age was in the next bed.   We played a little game of “Have you got an aunt so and so.”   We went through a lot of names and got to Auntie Annie.  We both said yes to that and then swapped details of where they lived, etc. and lo and behold, we both came up with the same address.  This girl  was actually Aunt Annie’s niece. However, the connection for me was that Annie was my mother’s bridesmaid, and my godmother, and we were brought up to call her Auntie Annie.  She was from England also. This gave us a thrill, and a little piece of common ground, when we found that we were “related”, all be it a pseudo relationship.
The month passed and my parents came to collect me.  Before I left the hospital I was subjected to a bath in Phenyl, which was a disgusting smelling substance, in general, use as a disinfectant.  Our mother used to wash our hair each week, putting a few drops of Phenyl into the water to discourage any lice or, hopefully, to kill any nits that might be present.  Such were the old remedies!!
February 19th, 1937, brought deep sorrow, especially to my father as his daughter Lily passed away in the Perth Hospital whilst undergoing an operation for a twisted bowel.
She had been playing in the forest at the back of our house;  she was standing on a log, from which  she was going to jump off forwards, but her foot slipped backwards and she landed on her stomach.  She is buried in the Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth, in the Anglican section.  I do not remember a lot about Lily as I was six years younger than her and she had her older friends.   I do remember walking behind the hearse at her funeral.

On 28th June, 1938 Gladys was born. I used to take her for a walk in the pram. The prams were rather large, made of cane and had large wheels. This was an advantage when we were living at the camp as there were no made roads, only bush tracks, and it was easy to wheel the pram over the rough terrain.

Whilst my mother was in Perth for about a fortnight after the birth of Gladys, my father had to take over the reins and do all the cooking, etc.  I think his army cooking training came to the fore.   I can remember his stews were the usual meat and veggies.  However, into the stew went the celery tops, carrot tops, onion tops, etc.  They tasted great.


Also in 1938, my parents decided that I should learn to play the piano so they went to Perth to see what pianos were available. They decided on a piano, which was new to Australia called a mini-piano. It was the most beautiful piano, and I was lucky to find a photo of it on the Internet. It had a logo on it which was a Crown and the words “As used by Princess Ingrid of Sweden”. Mrs. Whyte was a qualified music teacher, so she was engaged to teach me, and so an hour’s nightly practice had begun. Bill was to learn when he became a little older, I think after we arrived in Melbourne, and in due course Gladys was to learn.

Also in 1938 also, my father, after having saved some extra money due to his milk round, decided to buy a car from the young fellow next door, who was updating his car to a newer model, He knew that this car had only had the one owner and it had been well looked after. It was a 1929 Chevrolet. We had jumped up in status! My father had never driven before, therefore he had to go and have lessons. I think the lessons were in Kelmscott. This, again, gave our family some independence, as we were able to have more frequent trips to Perth, and we children thought it was great having the back seat all to ourselves. Gladys always was nursed in the car by my mother. Again, no beauracratic rules to abide by, but highly dangerous. On one trip to Kelmscott my father nearly lost control of the car on the corrugations in the road. That was fairly scary, but it did serve to make him aware of the dangers of the many dirt roads that went through the forest in those days. Even the inner suburbs were very sparsely populated in those early days.


Life was going along fairly well for my family until late in 1938; as stated earlier in these memoirs, employees of the Timber Mill were given notice that the Mill was going to close in 1939, which meant that each family was on notice and would have to look for other employment. In all fairness to the employees, they were given months of notice, and were told that anyone who could get employment earlier, was welcome do so. We werethe first family to leave Barton’s Mill. As earlier stated, he secured a job on written references only, and a personal reference from this friend who worked at the then Ordnance Factory in Footscray, near Melbourne in Victoria. My father was relieved about his new position as it was in the electrial fitting field in which he had worked in England. He did not want to stay until the final closure and then have to look for work.


He set about selling the cows; the fowls were easy to get rid of, as we had chicken for meals for a couple of months, including my pet red hen. I was extremely upset that she had to join the table menu. I used to carry her around all the time, however, she had to go but I did not want to eat any of her. My parents respected my sadness and didn’t force me to eat her. I can still remember her!!
My father then sold his car, as it would have cost him more than he could afford, to have it transported over to Victoria. Also he did not feel that he would be competent enough to drive in a large city, only having had his licence for a matter of eighteen months and had only traveled on bush roads. Another factor had to be taken into consideration regarding finances, and as they had the new piano, it was thought to be more of a priority than the car. Hence the piano was shipped to Melbourne, arriving some weeks after we disembarked. Also my hospital bill from the scarlet fever episode was not fully paid for as it was being paid in very small installments. The furniture from Barton’s Mill which was not of much value was sold through my father’s cousin in Perth, and from what I remember it sold for only $10.00.

I can still remember a rather traumatic incident as we were leaving Bartons Mill for the last time bound for Perth. I had this large celluloid doll at 16” high. My first “real” doll, from Santa. Its head, legs and arms were all held together with elastic inside the middle of its body. As I was carrying it, the elastic broke, and legs, arms and head went everywhere. I was then given an ultimatum – I either carry the doll or it would be left behind. Being nine years old, and not wanting to be seen with a decapitated torso, plus its other accessories, I elected not to carry it, and it was duly left behind, entombed in the drawer of the sideboard which was to be sold. I have often wondered about its fate. Possibly cremated in someone’s stove as celluloid was highly inflammable. I had lost my two most treasured possessions, my red “chook” and my doll. Bill was able to bring his teddy with him and he had this for a number of years, and maybe still has it. Our small sister Gladys was only eleven months old when we left so she was blissfully unaware of the ensuing change from living in the beautiful forest of Barton’s Mill to moving to a capital city.
We stayed at the home of my father’s cousin in East Perth, and then on the following day in early May 1939 we boarded the S.S. Westralia which, incidentally, after World War 11 was declared, was refurbished as a Troop ship (see photo and description of ship below). I only remember snippets of this voyage to Melbourne. It was quite a rough trip, the Great Australian Bight living up to its reputation as being very rough. Sea sickness took its toll on all of our family, including Gladys. I remember sitting at the dining tables, and also the cabins, etc. but am not clear on exactly what entertainment was on board. We children, were put to bed very early, so I don’t know much about evening entertainment.

One incident on the ship that I remember very well, was that one of the passengers (a married man with a family who sat on our dinner table,) always called me “carrots” because of my red hair. I had never been called that before in Western Australia. I became very irritated by him saying that, so I cheekily began to call him “carrots”. He then told my father that I was giving him cheek. I thought him a horrible man. My parents then sat me at the other end of the table to him.
After one week on the high seas, we arrived at Port Melbourne, and so began the next phase of our lives. We had previously booked accommodation, through our Victorian friends, at the Salvation Army Hostel at the corner of Bourke and King Streets in the city of Melbourne

Irene White married James McInnes Jenkins (Mac) on 2nd March 1957 at the Methodist Church, Dandenong, Victoria. Beatrice White in the white hat next to William White. Irene’s sister Gladys is on the left and on the right is Irene’s friend of 70 years

William passed away on 14th August 1957 aged 60, from asbestosis.

Beatrice passed away on20th November 1988 aged 91.’After having Alzheimer’s disease for ten years.

Mac and Irene Jenkins (nee White) had four children:

Stephen born 1958 in Dandenong, Victoria
Suzanne born 1960 in Dandenong, Victoria
Craig born 1963 in Dandenong, Victoria
Brett born 1966 in Bendigo, Victoria