1913 - 1995 (82 years)
Set As Default Person
||Mary Catherine Weatherburn |
||30 Apr 1913
||Tolga, QLD, Australia 
||26 Nov 1995
||Sandgate, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 
- MY CHILDHOOD YEARS
By Mary Dorward nee Weatherburn
I was born on April 30, 1913, in Tolga, after Mum and Dad had left Newcastle, (Adamstown), and was the third child of five. We were a very spread-out family. My brother William (Will) was the eldest, with a two and a half year gap to my sister Edith (Edie), five and a half years to me, eight years to Les (Joe) and another eight to Alan. The Gardener side of the family (Mum's side) we know about from their family history. Joseph (Joe), my Dad, had been born in Newcastle, and his father had worked in the mines there, as he, Joe, did later. My grandparents, John and Catherine, came out on the "La Hogue" in October 1878 from Durham, England, with two children, and had another six, among them my Dad. Neither Mum or Dad talked much about their past, which was a pity, so much of our family background is very sketchy.
Mum and dad were married in Newcastle. I don't know how they had met, or anything about their earlier lives. After will and Edie were born, Dad decided to leave the mines and go north, without any experience of doing anything else. Possible the Government had advertised for people to go north and open up the area, with the enticement of free land, if so, it worked. They arrived in the far north with five pounds in their pockets, bought a horse, and got a grant of three blocks of land on the Tablelands at Peeramon.
Others were up there as well, and they all helped each other clear their land and use the timber to build rough huts to live in. The logs were split lengthways, and laid flat side in, with some gaps filled with clay or mud. A drape was hung across the middle of the room, separating the sleeping and eating areas, with just the dirt floor, and it was pretty drafty. The floor would be swept clear and sprinkled with water and tea leaves, and would soon pack down as hard as concrete. The darkies (Natives) used to come and stand around the edge of the clearing every evening, staring at us, and it made Mum very nervous. They never did us any harm, but she wouldn't light a lamp at night if Dad was away, in case they'd creep closer and stare in.
Mum's brother Jesse Gardener, also came up from Newcastle and got a farm going, and later on my Uncles Ted, Will and Jim all came up north to live. (Another uncle, Harry, went to the U.S.A., and started a whole new branch of the family there.) Uncle Ted went to Yungaburra, and eventually Mum's parents came to live with us too. (They're buried in the old section of the Mareeba cemetery; the graves aren't marked anymore because years ago a fire destroyed all the wooden markers and railings.) As the land was cleared, they sold the excess timber to the mill to buy cattle and supplies, and eventually built a reasonable dairy herd.
Again, I don't know why Dad decided to sell up the farm, but he heard that the lease on the Peeramon Hotel was up for grabs, so he decided to take that up - no experience, but lots of determination. It was while they were there that Leslie was born (Over at Atherton Hospital) - he was always called Joe when he was young.
Peeramon wasn't much of a place even then, all cattle and timber, with just a station, the pub, a couple of stores and houses, etc. and a big hall on one side of the pub. On the other side (the right) was a blacksmiths where they fixed all the buggies.
Bartle Frere was the highest point on the Tablelands, and Dad decided to be the first expedition to climb it, along with a few mates and his brother-in-law, Jesse Gardener. The others where Charlie Civry, Dave Imrie and a darkie guide, Mosie.
Mum was always very anaemic, and she started to get ill not long after that. The Doctor recommended a change of climate, so Dad uprooted us all, and back south we went to Dora Creek, NSW, where Dad bought an orchard. It was a nice place, and the end of the orchard was right on the edge of Lake Eraring, which was part of the big Lake Macquarie system.
Dad used to have a boat for fishing, and we had a little canoe. No-one worried about sharks or anything - as long as you didn't see one you forgot about them. Our canoes were just made of bits of wood then, and Edie and me and another girl all went out into the lake in ours. Edie and the other girl decided to swim back to the bank, leaving me to get back as best I could. The canoe (which wasn't much more than just a raft), started to sink, and they said later that they couldn't hear me yelling! The station masters' daughter at Dora Creek came running for dear life to get me though, so I was saved. We weren’t game to tell Dad then, but later on word got around and he heard about it than, and boy was I in trouble.
I was about nine or ten when we came to Dora Creek, and had been going to school in Peeramon before that. They had a little school with one room at Dora Creek. I think Will had been to Thornborough College while we were up north, and Edie had gone to the Peeramon State School; she never did go to High School, but helped out on various orchards. They had a big hole in the backyard for the toilet, with the seat built over it, which petrified me and most of the others. We used to have big desks with inkwells, and used chalk slates as well.
School used to be good fun at times; take the cream of the milk and make butter, feed the chooks and pigs. Edie’s job was to milk the cow (whichever of the two was in milk), because I couldn't try as I might.
I started at Broadmeadows High School in January, and we left Dora Creek the following year, so I only had a bit of high school (with about 3 months illness with anaemia in the middle), and was only fourteen. We had boys' school next door to us, and we weren't supposed to have anything to do with them, but we all used to peek through the fence and chat! There was a Home nearby, too, and we did our domestic science training for them, cooking meals and scrubbing and polishing floors. We had to learn how to prepare a meal and present it properly, complete with serviettes, finger bowls, etc. At home, all the serving dishes were placed on the dresser, and Mum was served first (by the eldest daughter), then the older children down to the younger, and Dad did the carving standing at the dresser.
We were at Dora Creek for a few years. There was a lot of fishing there and some other orchards, but no farming as such. One of my favourite things about living on an orchard was the quinces - they were terrible if not ripe, but lovely when they were! Not too far from us was a Salvation Army business - Sanitarium, where they made Weet-Bix and so on, and we used to get all the scraps and slops for the pigs. Dad used to make bacon from our pigs in our smokehouse, and smoke fish, and we kept all our cold stuff in buckets in the well. We'd` even set jellies and make ice-cream, it was so cold down deep. In the winter, of course, they'd set just outside in the open! We had two cows, and made our own butter, etc. as well.
My Sunday school teacher at Dora Creek took a special liking to me, because I was a tiny little frail looking thing, and she used to look after me. It was she who told me about "growing up" and becoming a woman - Mum didn't talk about things like that. Kids weren't told anything about reproduction, of course, just the bare minimum about their bodies - the rest you learnt as you went along! I was very fond of the Sunday school teacher, and when Mum and Dad talked about going back north, she wanted to keep me there and look after me, but it wasn't allowed of course.
Dad didn't make much money from the orchard, Mum's health didn't improve, and we were gradually going broke, so he decided to go back up north and try his luck again there. He wrote to the agents (Joseph Pease) and found that there was a lease available at the Mareeba Hotel, and took that, as he'd had some prior experience with the Peeramon Pub.
When they took over the Hotel at Mareeba, Les went off to Thornborough College in Charters Towers, and later so did Alan. He started at the Mareeba State School, and we older ones helped in the Hotel; Will was in the bar, Edie did the rooms and I was dining room. Grandma and Grandpa Gardener came up from Newcastle then, and stayed with us at the Hotel, keeping chooks and raising a vegetable garden.
It was funny when Mum was having Alan - none of us knew that Mum was pregnant, only Dad. They were in the habit of going for a walk each evening and one evening Dad came home alone, and next day announced that we had a baby brother! It stunned everybody, including the town gossip, who used to pride himself on always being the first to know what was going on in town. Mum never looked pregnant with the boys, only with Edie and me, and just looked as though she was putting on a bit of weight. She was always anaemic, as I've said, and the doctor told her to eat raw minced liver. She couldn't stomach it after the first mouthful, although she tried time and time again.
At the Hotel we were always busy. At the beginning, Mum did all the cooking, but had to give it away through ill-health, and we got a girl in to do the cooking and another to do the laundry.
Lights were hurricane lamps, and candles in the bedrooms. Lamps were on each table in the dining room, and on the dresser. I did the cooking for a couple of years before I got married, and it was nothing to have to cook for two hundred, especially when football games were on! Peeling the vegetables and cooking was an enormous task, and I don't know how I coped. It took me ages after I married to learn to cook just for two!
Occasionally I would manage the bar while Mum and Dad would go out to the pictures. Mr Seary was the policeman who was sometimes very crotchety, and you had to be on your toes and close on time if he was in a bad mood! There'd only be one lamp hanging in the bar late at night, and I'd have to keep watch and warn the men in the bar if he was coming. He was very handy to have around though if some of the customers started getting a bit hard to handle. Sometimes they were very late nights, but in those days there was never much trouble, and we had a lot of boarders staying in the hotel who'd come if I'd ever need help.
Dad and some of the boys that we knew decided to play a prank on Grandpa, and pulled one of Grand-dads cabbage plants up, replacing it with a full grown one. He was stunned and terribly excited, thinking it must have been the fertilizer he'd used! They never did let on to him, either. He had to have it cooked separately, and told everyone he knew about his prize.
There were other pranks too; one night I'd been to the pictures and when I came home and went to my room on the ground floor behind the bar, something warm and hairy dragged across my legs. I let out an almighty scream, and everybody came running. It was a baby goat someone had stuck in my room, and it’s a wonder we didn't both have a heart attack!
I went to the race ball one year, and was having a lovely time in the company of a young man I liked. (Alan Dangaard) We'd had a couple of dances and I went into supper with him. Bill was there, and let on to Dad, and next thing I knew I was summoned home in disgrace. This young chap was a catholic, which just wasn't on in those days, and boy wasn't I cross! I suppose he thought he was doing the right thing, but I wiped Bill cold for a while.
Mum and Dad favoured Bill, and he wanted to marry me, but I wasn't all that keen. He was thirty two, ten years older than me, and a friend of Dad's to boot. He'd come and help me behind the bar when Mum and dad went to the pictures. Not long before he came to Mareeba he'd been engaged, evidently, but his girl caught him fooling around with someone else and broke it off, and he was quite broken hearted. He had a dodge car, which was quite flashy in those days. Mum and Dad were getting older and wanted to leave the hotel, and wanted us all off their hands, I suppose, so the next thing I knew I was engaged; you just did as you were told then. Will by this time had a farm in Mareeba; Edie was married to Reg Smith, and Les and Alan were just about grown up.
I was duly married, and later had Pam and Val, followed much later by Ken. I used to go down to the butchers to get a small roast in the mornings, and then learned to go late in the afternoon, because you could have the pick of the leftover meat for almost nothing. They had to slaughter every day because there was no refrigeration to keep the meat, of course, so they only had a certain amount available, and used to give away what wasn't sold. Sixpence a pound for rump steak, a set of brains was twopence and bred was sixpence, delivered to the door.
Not long after, War was declared. Les left Lawson’s Timber Mill in Mareeba where he was apprenticed, and joined up, which just left Alan at home, and he later started work at Winkworths in Cairns. Will was exempt because he was working in an essential industry. The night the war was announced, we were waiting for Mum and Dad to return home from holiday, but they weren't allowed to travel on the railway line at night.
Mum and Dad sold their Hotel lease during the war and went down to Cairns to stay with Will and Ruth, who'd sold their farm. Will was working at Cairns Timber Ltd. During the early part or 1940, Bill and I went to Bundaberg for a holiday, where we were to stay with some friends. We left late Friday, and arrived on the Saturday, and on Sunday around 10am some policeman came around and told us that Dad had died the day before. Apparently he'd had a stroke the night we left, and he died the next morning.
Mum bought a house in Aumuller Street, Bungalow, close to Will and Ruth, and stayed there till her death. They later sold up and went back to Mareeba, and Will then worked in the bacon factory. He did all sorts of things, stoking the fires which burnt the rubbish and offal - very hard work which must have eventually caused his heart to collapse.
Our neighbour, Mrs Craig, who was like a second mother to me, packed everything up, and Mr Craig and Bill dug a big pit and built an air raid shelter with kitchen and storeroom, filled with preserved and tinned food. There was a tiny toilet, and enough room to sleep. Mr Craig was a railway man and he used some of the old railway sleepers, so it was very strong, and covered with timber and cement ceiling. The whole thing was set into the side of a hill, and was very solid and secure. It was never used, thank goodness, though we kept the perishables up to date.
After Dad died, Mum used to go out and help at Thornborough College in Charters Towers while Alan was there - he would have been about thirteen. There was an old couple there who had given all their land over to the Old People’s Home in return for them paying the rates, etc., for their house. After the old lady’s' husband died, Mum stayed with her as the old lady wanted her company, and offered to let her stay rent free. I went up with the girls and stayed with her occasionally. The old lady gave me a glass rolling pin, which she'd had all her married life, and I had it for years too.
Printed July 1990 
||Roy~Royes | Weatherburn
||11 Jan 2016 |
b. 12 Jun 1884, Lambton, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
d. 20 Jul 1940, Cairns, QLD, Australia (Age 56 years)
b. 21 Jun 1886, Adamstown, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
d. 9 Dec 1957, Cairns, QLD, Australia (Age 71 years)
||27 Feb 1907
||Adamstown, Newcastle, NSW, Australia 
||Bertha and Joe Weatherburn|
||Royal Hotel, Mareeba, burnt down in July 2000|
||Royal Hotel, Mareeba, Christmas 1934|
Joe and Bertha Weatherburn ran the Royal Hotel, Mareeba, in early 1930s.
The photo is thought to have been taken around Christmas 1934. From the post that starts at H in sign:
Catherine Weatherburn, Bertha (Gardener) and Joe Weatherburn, Mary Gardener, Ruth (Royes) Weatherburn, Les Weatherburn, Mary (Weatherburn) Dorward
||Weatherburn reunion 1996 Brisbane|
||Family Group | Family Chart
- [S218] Correspondence re: Royes-Australia Stan Eldridge.
- [S122] Lynda Eldridge, Eldridge family.
- [S242] Glenda Pollard, Correspondent Glenda Pollard.
- [S307] Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1949 (Ancestry.com).