When the Sunday that the minister came to the Hamlet, I decided not to miss this service, since Florence had been distressed that we missed the last one, and when he arrived late Saturday afternoon, he brought with him a letter address to me, and it was from England.
When I opened the letter, I was surprised to see that it was a telegram. “Dear Edwin stop Pa and Beatrice ill stop I am sending Martha on the next ship to South Australia stop travelling with family friends stop ship arrives in Ceduna on or about August 18th stop, love Ma”, I sat down hard on the ground forgetting that I was standing outside the Produce store in the hamlet, and Archie came rushing up to me, to help me up.
“What is it? what is wrong?” Archie asked me anxiously and I handed him the telegram, which he ready quickly, “goodness me, that is just three days away, and this is dated July 24th” Archie said to me, “I know, just as well you moved out of the homestead, now Martha will have to stay in your old room, and I had better get into town quickly in case the ship had already arrived” I said.
“How about you leave after church tomorrow, and you can take Reverend Forrest with you, and I will follow his horse and buggy into town, so he has a more comfortable and shorter journey” Archie suggested, and I shook my head no. “I need you here to keep an eye on everything, we have to keep the sheep close to the farm till the lambs are a bit bigger, so we don’t lose any from foxes like last year” I said to my brother.
The next morning, with the motor vehicle fuelled up, I took Florence and the 4 boys into the Hamlet for the Sunday service, and Archie would take them back in the buggy after lunch, while I continue into Ceduna, hopefully arriving before dark.
Parking the motor vehicle outside the community hall, we walked up to the school which today is the local church, and Archie, Daniel and Charlie joined us, as we turned onto the side street leading to the school. As usual there were the familiar buggies belonging to the D’Angelo, Barrington and Frankston families, but today there was an additional buggy that we didn’t recognise.
When the O’Grady family joined us for the last part of the walk from their home, through the school playground, I asked Shamus if he knew who the other buggy belongs too, as it was certainly not Reverend Forrest’s buggy, and he said he had no idea.
When we entered the school, we saw our neighbours all gathered around in small groups chatting, and we saw a new family already seated in some of the chairs, just as Reverend Forrest asked everyone to take a seat. “Good morning, it is joyful to see our whole community with us today, and I would like to welcome our new members of the community, Mr Thomas & Mrs Sarah Grantly and their three children, who have taken the lower half of the old Applegate farm” Reverend Forrest announced.
When the service concluded 45 minutes later, with everyone invited to attend our monthly picnic in the community hall, I approached Reverend Forrest. “I am sorry, but I must dash, that telegram you brought with you yesterday, was news from home. My Pa and youngest sister – Beatrice are ill, and they sent our oldest sister – Martha, here to South Australia. The telegram was delayed, and the ship will be arriving any day now, so I am driving into Ceduna right away, in case the ship has already arrived” I explained to the minister.
“Oh, I am sorry to hear that, travel safely and thank you for coming today, I do understand that you have a farm to run, so don’t concern yourself to much about missing the occasional service” Reverend Forrest said, and I said goodbye to him, before giving my wife a kiss and waving to my brothers, cousins and step sons, before dashing out the door.
Florence had given me a list of additional supplies to buy, now that we will have an extra person to feed, and I had decided to buy some additional farm supplies while at it.
I arrived in Ceduna an hour before dark, and I went to the harbour, where it was empty, so I presumed that it had not arrived yet, so I headed to the better hotel in town to check in for a few nights, while waiting for the ship to arrive.
“Do you know when the ship is due from Plymouth?” I asked the desk clerk, as I signed my name in the register, “It has been and gone sir, arrived two days ago, and left just after noon today” the clerk replied, which shocked me a little. “Do you have a Miss Martha Cameron staying with you?” I asked, and the clerk looked the register to see who I was, “Your sister, sir?” he asked me, “Yes, my sister, now is she staying here?” I asked again.
“No sir, but I believe she is dining in the hotel restaurant tonight with some other people” the clerk said pointing in the right direction, and I dropped my small bag on the ground and walked into the restaurant, when it was fairly crowded with dining guests.
“Edwin, you came” I heard an excited voice say, moments before spotting Martha, now a beautiful young woman racing towards me, and into my arms, which made me chuckle. “Calm down sister, it is good to see you too, but please not in front of everyone” I scorned her, as she grabbed my hand and dragged me in the direction that she came from.
“Dr and Mrs Phelps, this is my big brother Edwin Cameron, a farming pioneer in this region” Martha announced to the two guests seated at a table set for three. Dr Phelps stood up and shook my hand, “I have heard a great many good things from your parent’s young man, you are brave to start a new life in such a new country with unknow dangers ahead of you” the doctor said to me, and I moved around to say hello to his wife.
“Mrs Phelps, it is a pleasure to meet you” I said holding her hand gently and briefly, “Please join us, no doubt you are famished” the Doctor said to me, and before I knew it a waiter arrived with a spare chair and table settings for me, returning a few moments later with a menu.
“Just a steak and vegetables will do fine for me please waiter” I said to him, ignoring the menu, and he poured some water into my glass, which I drank half of it right away. “I do apologise for being not suitably dressed for dinner, I only received the telegram late yesterday afternoon, and I left home as soon as the church service was over” I explained.
“My goodness, you have a church out where you are?” Mrs Phelps asked, “Well actually it is our school building, and the Methodist Minister, Reverend Forrest comes on the second Sunday of each month to hold a service for us, which is very kind of him, considering it is a two-day horse and buggy journey from here” I said.
“My word, that is very nice of him, but if it is Sunday evening now, how is it that you arrived here after leaving the service?” Dr Phelps asked, which made me chuckle.
“That is easy, I invested in a motor car a few months ago, and it is only a 5-hour journey, if I don’t have to stop to let the car cool down, which it does during the summer months” I answered. “So, tell us some more about your little community, you have a house and a school what else do you have up your way” Mrs Phelps asked.
“Well, my brothers and I have the biggest farm in that region, a total of 20,750 acres, of which we have the western half all fenced off and we have ten medium and three large paddocks, and sheep yards built so far. We have a total of five other farms in the region, three of them border along our southern side.
On our south east corner of the property, we have a community hamlet established, which was only meant to be just a school and a blacksmith workshop, but now we have a community hall, a guest cottage for the minister, when he visits, a produce store, with all of the vegetables, milk, cheese, butter and eggs coming from our farm.
We also have stables and yards for the community horses when they are in the hamlet, and two houses, one is occupied by one of the near farm families, and the other is for Ma, Pa and my sisters when they come, but currently my brother Archie, and cousins Daniel and Charlie live in there.
“With Martha unexpectantly arriving, we will have her stay in Archie’s old room at the homestead, I am sure my wife Florence will be pleased to have another woman in the house, as she has three sons of her own who live with us also” I said.
“How many children attend the school that you have there?” Mrs Phelps asked me, “Well we had a new family just move in this past week, so now it will make it 7 from our family, including Martha, plus 12 other children, and there is only one child under school age in the community, with have one mother who is a qualified primary teacher, and another mother who assists her most mornings” I answered.
“Well that is quite a community you have out there” the doctor stated, “Yes sir, now with Martha included, that makes it… 34 people that live in our community with only seven living in the hamlet” I replied. “Well young Edwin, how would you like to have a visiting doctor come to your community, say once a month, to do check-ups for everyone?” the doctor asked me.
“We are mostly very poor people out our way Doctor, even with our produce, we don’t always get money, instead it is more of a trading system, with things that can be swapped in exchange for food, I have half a barn full of stuff I am not sure what to do with it” I replied, “Ok let’s say, in exchange for accommodating us and feeding us dinner for two nights, in exchange for seeing any members of your community and providing whatever medicines that they require?” the doctor said to me.
“Well I think that is a very good trade and I will accept, I am sure Mrs O’Grady can feed you breakfast and lunch, and we will feed you dinners out at the homestead, which is half a mile north of Yumbarra Hamlet” I responded. “Yumbarra eh, that sounds like a nice name for a little community” Mrs Phelps replied, and I nodded my head and smiled in agreement.
During dinner, I learnt that Martha was staying with the Dr and Mrs Phelps in the new home in Ceduna, where the doctor has established a practice.I let Martha know that I had some shopping to do, before I collect her at 10am tomorrow, before we set off back to Yumbarra, and I gave the Doctor directions on where to go to get to Yumbarra, which is fairly straight forward, as the track is now well used, and easy to follow.
Martha chatted for the whole journey home, stopping only when we had stopped to have a meal break at around noon, and to give the car a short rest. She informed me of everything and everyone that our family knew back home, and she became a bit upset when she mentioned Pa and Beatrice getting ill.
I reassured her, that she would be so busy assisting Florence with running the house, that she won’t have time to worry about other things, especially when they are so far away. When we arrived at the hamlet, school had just finished, and some of the ladies had come into the village to collect some supplies from the store, of which I was now providing some basics for the store, so that all the families didn’t need to travel into town as often.
I had brought an extra amount of flour, salt, tea, sugar, plus some oranges and apples from town, to be shared with the community, and knowing that I was due to arrive this afternoon, they were waiting for my arrival for those extra supplies, and I saw our horse and buggy parked out the side of the store, with some crates of fresh produce from our gardens.
“Hello brother and little sister” Archie said as he came out of the store, and he helped Martha out of the motor vehicle and gave her a hug in welcome. “It is so good to see you again Archie, and my have you grown since I last saw you” Martha said in reply.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved