My grandparents moved all his family from Horsham (Victoria) to Boggabri (New South Wales) in about 1906 or 7, bought a farm and grew wheat. Later on, my Dad, Uncle Charlie and Aunty Alice’s husband Bill Fraser, also bought properties in the area. I was born in North Sydney in 1920, but that was an accident, because my mother was visiting her married sister at the time.
My first six or seven years were on the farm. Dad grew ‘Waratah’ wheat, but in the end, the rust beat him, my Mum didn’t like farm life and eventually he sold up and we all moved into West Tamworth.
I remember going with Dad, hunting for rabbits, either trapping or shooting and there were plenty of them around. He’d get five shillings per pound of skins, usually six to a pound in Summer and eight to a pound with their Winter skins. Of course, after shooting them, he’d bring them back for us to eat, but he’d never eat them himself because coming from the Wimmera, where he said they were all diseased, he just couldn’t bring himself to eat them. He’d also trap or shoot foxes and their skins were worth ten shillings each. Crows heads were worth nine pence each and eagles were worth two shillings and six pence each. One day we came across an eagle and its nest very high up in a huge gum tree, so Dad shot the eagle and then chopped the tree down so he could get the bird. It was enormous, but I can’t remember if there were any eggs in the nest.
The property was on the Blairmore Road , west of Boggabri. Dad grew lots of kurrajong trees along the roadside because the foliage could be cut down for cattle and horses to graze on in drought time. When I went along there in the 1980’s, all the trees had been cut down.
During the Second World War, I joined the Merchant Navy, then the Royal Australian Navy and ended up a Chief Petty Officer, Radio Telegraphist. My two sisters (Kathleen and Dorothy) both married American air force officers and went to the USA to live. They both had very curly red hair and I suppose I would have too if I didn’t have it cut all the time. Now of course I don’t have much to cut. They got the red hair from both the Studd and McGowan sides of the family.