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Aussie Pioneers - 23. AP Chapter 23

The next day, after saying farewell to the minister and their friends, who had stayed in the guest cottage, Augustus, his brother Julius, Archie and I were standing near the front of the hamlet, discussing the location for the new house, and we agreed on Julius building his house next door to the O’Grady house, and Archie suggested that we build a second cottage, next to the guest cottage, as a new residence for our cousins, Daniel and Charlie, so as to make way for when our Ma, Pa and Beatrice arrive, and I agreed that this would be a good plan of action.

Over the next seven weeks, work on building the two new buildings took place, making the hamlet that little bit bigger, and during that time, we no longer needed to travel to town for supplies, as Mr Galassos was making regular trips out to the hamlet, and arrived on the last Saturday of each month.

When the new buildings were completed, Archie and I went straight back to work on the farm, to catch up on the work that had been put off over the past 1 ½ months. We had another batch on new lambs to check on, with 160 in total, and this year we have a big number of ewe lambs than ram lambs, compared to last year’s drop, and we are now keeping a closer eye on the mobs, to reduce the number of losses from fox attacks.

Since the cottage is now completed, our cousins, Daniel and Charlie have moved into their new home, and Martha and Simeon moved into the big house with Archie, with Martha taking care of feeding her brothers and cousins.

This left the homestead now a little emptier, with just my family remaining, and the boys were pleased to finally to have a bedroom each, and I have my study back, plus I think Florence was pleased to not have to feed so many people.

On October 28th, when Mr Galassos arrived with his supplies wagon, he brought with him the mail for everyone, and amongst them was another telegram. When I was told of it, I was reluctant to open it, because it may bring bad news of Pa’s health, and once the supplies had been sorted, Archie and I rode out of the hamlet, a little way, before stopping to read the telegram, which Archie volunteered to read.

“Dearest children stop Pa is well again stop we have sold the house and most of our furniture stop travelling to Ceduna stop leaving tomorrow stop hope to arrive before Christmas stop much love Ma and Pa”. I was very pleased that Pa was well again, and we were both looking forward to seeing our parents and little sister after nearly two years. Martha was thrilled to hear the news and was now busily planning for their arrival.

After work, my siblings and I sat down in the dining room of the big house to discuss the preparations for their arrival, unsure what furniture that they would be bringing with them, and after a lot of discussions, we agreed that it would probably only be the heirlooms that would be kept.

With that decided, we needed to build a large bed for Ma and Pa, as well as a bed for Beatrice, plus we needed some more chairs for the sitting room, and more storage cupboards for clothing and other belongings, and with Julius being a carpenter, we commissioned him to build all the furniture that we needed, for the new arrivals.

With the ship leaving Plymouth on the 25th of October, as it had taken three days for the telegram to reach us, we estimated that the ship would arrive in Ceduna on or around the 15th of December, so when not busy working on the farm, the family was working on getting the house and grounds around it in good order, with Martha and Florence planting some roses, that Mrs Phelps had provided.

I also found a little bit of time to make a small extension to the side, near the back of the produce store, as there was a need for more storage space for everything that was coming from the farm, to be sold or swapped with our neighbours.

In the early morning on the 13th of December, Archie set off for town with two horses and the large wagon, and after lunch the next day, I set off in the motor vehicle, so we would arrive in Ceduna at around the same time, but due to a flat tyre, I was delayed, and arrived just before sunset.

Archie was waiting for me in the local hotel, and he informed me that he had the wagon and horses settled at the local stables. Archie had booked us a room to share for 2 nights, and rooms for Beatrice and our parents for one night for the day that they arrive.

For the next three days, Archie and I kept busy by ordering new supplies for the farm, had the horses checked by the visiting veterinarian, and watched the fishing boats go out and come back in with more fish supplies. All the vegetables, milk, butter and cheese that I had brought with me, as well as the 18 ram lambs that Archie has brought with him, had been sold, for a good price, and we decided to bank most of the money, as we only needed a small amount of money to pay for supplies, when Mr Galassos comes.

We bought some extra flour, salt, tea and sugar, to take home with us, to stock up the supplies at the store, which Martha had taken over running. With the store now having full wall and door at the front, and she had the store open from 8am till 12 noon, and 2pm till 4pm each day.

Archie also suggested that we buy a few other items to assist our neighbours, so we bought some brooms, water pails, and other kitchen and household items, that may be needed. I also had the time to have the tyre puncture repaired, in case I get another one, on the journey home.

Mid-morning on the 18th of December, the ship finally arrived in Ceduna from England, and we were pleased to see Ma, Pa and Beatrice, as they came down the gangway. “My word, my two boys have grown, so much in two years” Pa said to us as he shook our hands, before Ma and Beatrice pulled us into a group hug. Half an hour later with the luggage and small amount of furniture loaded onto the wagon, we headed over to the hotel, so we could have an early lunch.

“You said in your letters that it takes two days for a horse and wagon to get to your farm, how about in your car?” Ma asked us, “About 5 ½ hours, on hot days, we need to stop and let the radiator cool down, as the radiator was not designed for Australian hot weather conditions” Archie replied.

“So, what is the plan, do we leave right away?” Pa asked, “No, I will leave shortly with the horses and wagon, while you all stay overnight in the hotel, and get some rest, before Archie will take you in the motor vehicle tomorrow morning, and you will see me along the way” I replied.

Just before 1pm, I said goodbye to my family, and set off towards the stables to collect the horse and wagon, which had been left there once it was loaded up, and I set off towards home, intending to travel through part of the night, to make up for the late departure.

In the end I continued till 11pm and set up camp on the side of the road, after unhitching the horses, I gave them some grain and water, before having a snack and laying down in my swag, under the wagon. At day break, I was up again, gave the horses some more grain and water, before heating up the billy for some tea, and I ate some bread that Florence had made for the trip.

Setting off just before 6am, it was almost 11am when I heard the motor vehicle approaching from behind, so I guessed that they must have left town at around 9am, as I stopped the horses, and unhitched them, and made a quick fire to boil the billy for some tea.

“Good morning all, the billy is on for tea” I said, when the motor vehicle came to a stop beside the wagon. “You must have travelled late into the night, to have got this far, brother” Archie said to me, after assisting our mother and sister out of the vehicle. “That is indeed correct, and I started at 6am this morning, so I can get home before dark today” I responded.

Ma and Beatrice produced a picnic basket, that had some cold meats, a potato salad, fresh bread and some lemonade, and we sat in the shade between the vehicle and the wagon, to enjoy a light lunch together. Pa elected to travel with me in the wagon, for the remainder of the journey, which would take another 6 hours to complete, while the motor car would arrive home in just over two hours time.

“It is so far away from everything, and the countryside is so big an open, are you sure it is safe to live this far out of town?” Ma asked me, and Archie and I chuckled at our mothers concerns. “We have lived out here for two years Ma, as long as you keep away from snakes and spiders, you will be fine” Archie responded.

“Spiders! Oh Ma! I don’t want to be near any spiders” Beatrice said in shock, as Archie and I smiled broadly, while Ma and Pa scorned us both. “It is ok sister, you will be fine, you have a beautiful big and modern house to live in, and there are plenty of neighbours around you, including our cousins” I said to Beatrice.

“You have not told us much about where we will be living, will it be with your family, and is there enough room?” Pa asked. “No and yes, at the front of the farm, we have a small hamlet, that includes a large house for our family, which Martha, Simeon and Archie are living in, nearby in a cottage, is where our cousins Daniel and Charlie live, but they eat at the big house.

There are three other cottages in the hamlet, the O’Grady’s and O’Donnell families live in two of them, the other one, is a guest cottage for our visiting doctor, church minister, and grocery supplier, when they stay overnight. The hamlet also has a supplies store, that Martha runs, plus the hamlet has a school, community hall, stables and blacksmith workshop, so there is always plenty of people around” I explained.

“What about you and your family, where do you live?” Ma asked me, “We live at the main homestead, which is a good half a mile north of the hamlet. We have stables, a large vegetable garden, fruit orchard, plus dairy cows and goats, that produce most of the food needed by our family and our little community.

There is a total of six other farms, that surround us, and they use the hamlet for all their needs, with the school for the children, and our monthly church services, part of the community hall is used for doctor visits, and for community group gatherings, and we have a blacksmith and a carpenter in the community” I explained.

“Well that is more than I ever expected, I thought that you would have fairly basic living quarters, and maybe a barn and sheep yards” Dad replied, “We do have those Pa, located near the homestead, Edwin and I do most of the farm work, and we have a part time farm hand, the oldest son of one of the local families, and Florence, Edwin’s wife and her children help out with all the chores Archie said.

“She had been wonderful, firstly as our housekeeper, and now as my wife, we are very happy together” I said to my parents. “We look forward to meeting her, my dear” Ma said to us. Once the early picnic lunch was over, Archie set off again, with just Ma and Beatrice onboard, while Pa and I continued our journey on the wagon, and I told Pa all about the farm and the hamlet, as we slowly made our way towards home.

When we passed the boundary gate in the south east corner of the farm, Pa was surprised at the size of the hamlet, as we approached the gate at the south end, and headed towards the main house at the north end, where we could see Ma and Beatrice talking to Martha, Simeon, Daniel and Charlie.

“Welcome to your new home” I announced, as we came to a stop outside the main house. “You made good time, brother” Archie said to me, as he, Simeon and our cousins began to unload the wagon, while Pa followed Ma and our sisters into the house.

Now with our whole family together once more, it was decided that we would have a community lunch on Christmas day, to be held in the community hall, as there is now a total of 20 adults and 24 children in the community, and by Christmas morning, Ma, Pa and Beatrice had settled into their new home, and Pa was helping Archie and I on the farm, but he let me make all the decisions, since it is my farm.

Copyright Preston Wigglesworth January 2019 All Rights Are Reserved

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Chapter Comments

Amazing chapter. I’m so glad that Edwin, Archie, Simeon, & Martha have their parents and sister Beatrice there with them now. They’re one big happy family again, now that they have everyone in Australia with them along with Florence and her 3 sons. The community Christmas party sounds like a great idea as it gives everyone a chance to get together with each other in the hamlet. 

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