After Peg and I were married we lived on our West Scottsdale farm for eight years.
During this time we only owned one small Bedford utility and this was used fully on farm work. Therefore when Peg wanted to go to Scottsdale, some seven kilometres away, along a narrow steep winding road, she mostly had to walk, althOugh at times she did ride one of our draught horses into town. Then later when the children arrived, she walked and pushed a pram, as we did not have a second car.
With daughter Sue Walden leaving Government House 1985
We built our present home in 1951 on a farm we purchased adjoining the town. We then had our fourth daughter, Jeannie and in 1957 John was born.
They were and are a wonderful family, but with five children, a big house and garden, plus entertaining to do, Peg was kept very busy. In addition, Peg, like others in a country town, found herself on many committees and was expected to take a leading role in some activities. We had many agents and visitors to the property who needed entertaining.
We had no money, or any financial help given to get started in the business of farming, so I was very busy. I was of very little help to Peg with her many chores. Therefore it is obvious to anyone that any progress I have been credited with achieving, has been through Peg's help and the support of the family generally. John, being a boy, and very interested in everything on the properties, was a great little worker and soon learnt to be a practical helper.
Jeannie - Graduation in Japanese studies.
Peg and I are proud of our four daughters who have all excelled academically and in their chosen careers. Suzanne is a librarian, married to Peter Walden who works in Launceston. They have three children, Thomas, Alexander and Anne. Helen is a Qantas sale executive, married to Evan Shield, a forestry consultant, living in Brisbane, with Helen's daughter Sarah Wilkinson. Helen and Evan's son, our lovely little three year old grandson, Robert unfortunately was taken from us. Mary (now Dr. Mary Farquhar) graduated in Chinese Literature and teaches at Griffith University in Brisbane. She has one son, Vishal Michael Ahuja. Jeannie graduated in Japanese and is married to Henk de Graauw, at present living in Tokyo where Henk is Area General Manager for KLM Airlines. They have a little daughter Stephanie Claire. Our grandchildren are a constant source of pride and pleasure.
Daughter, Jeannie de Graauw with our youngest
granddaughter, Stephanie Claire,
in the 700 year old de Graauw christening gown.
John was immediately interested in our farming. As mentioned when he was a little chap about three years old, he used to put my big boots on, and my hat and wait at the back door. He knew I would not go anywhere on the farm without my boots and hat.
I remember we bought some very big three year old bullocks from Hinders Island and were feeding them with hay in the paddock behind the house. John had a little wheel barrow and it was like a scene from 'Dad's Army'. John would run at the bullocks and they would run, they would stop and John would stop, they would advance and John would retreat!
Mary, after receiving her Ph.D. in Chinese Literature.
John had about sixty cattle of his own, and I remember one day he could
not agree with Marg about the book total left on hand. After some discus-
sion he said, '
Oh, you are right Marg - I always count females as two.' If they
did not have a calf they should have done! He was going to become a really
good stockman. I used to buy a mob of cattle for varying amounts. John was
given first choice and he was always able to immediately sort out the best bargains.
He was terrific for a youngster.
John was a great help and inspiration to me even before he commenced school, then later during school holidays and finally when he left school to work on the property, when he was about sixteen years old.
1989 Eldest grandson, Vishal Ahuja.
As mentioned, unfortunately when we were in China in 1976 John was drowned on the adjoining property while duck shooting. He was 18 years 9 months old. It was a great tragedy and Peg and I and his sisters have never really been able to make up for his loss. We are a close family and I think tragedy draws you all the closer together.
When Jean went to Japan in the 1970's after graduating in Japanese studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, she was surprised how pleased the Japanese people were when she addressed them in Japanese. She asked in Japanese at one department store, the way to another major complex. The Japanese girl did not know, but apparently later told her boss that the Australian girl requested information in Japanese, but she did not know. She was told to find the Australian girl and apologise.
With eldest granddaughter, Sarah Wilkinson
after the purchase of Rushy Lagoon in 1986.
We are inclined to think all others should learn English. But then when I was in Los Angeles in 1956, I was asked where I learned English! At another party a lady enquired if all Australians were similar to me. I said, apart from being better-looking they were about the same. The husband said, 'The Australians are a white race. It's only the aborigines who are black!' This happened during my first trip in 1956; the overall knowledge of Australia is greater now.
Our whole family has travelled quite a lot. Peg and I have had about a dozen trips overseas, visiting many countries. We have always not only enjoyed ourselves, but also absorbed a lot of extra knowledge and met many interesting people. Our daughters have also travelled extensively; at one period Suzanne was in London, Helen in North America, Mary in China and Jeannie in Japan.
Our youngest grandson - Robbie Shield, 1987
Robbie is no longer with us.
It is probably just as well that I never belonged to any political party! I do think a large part of Australia's future lies in our part of the world and therefore it is very desirable to not only understand the people's culture, but also to be able to speak their language.
A few years ago, Mary had to look after the Vice-President of the
Art Society of China. He came to Tasmania and was hosted by civic
leaders in Hobart, and was then pleased to visit our property and relax.
The Chinese are not really used to our sense of humour. When we were
entering a bull paddock containing sixty-five bulls, he asked me if it
was dangerous. I replied,
Yes it is today, usually I send my wife in
front and I am quite safe. He was not really impressed. Apparently
this is what the bad land lords in the old days were supposed to do in
China. Mary quickly came to the rescue telling him itwas one of Dad's
jokes, so then he laughed heartily.
John, Boxing Day 1975
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip made their first official visit to Tasmania in 1954. Peg and I were in Hobart and stood in the rain and watched the Royal couple going into the State Banquet. Peg men- tioned half in fun that it would have been nice to have had an invitation. We arrived back in Scottsdale, after being away some ten days and found an official invitation in the mail to attend the State Banquet! I rang through to Hobart and apologised and we were told we could attend the Royal Ball that evening as we had missed out on the State Banquet.
Three of our grandchildren, the Walden family - 1988.
Thomas, Anne and Alexander.
Another time we would have thought it impossible to get suitable clothes together and get back to Hobart and arrive at the Royal Ball before the official party. However, Peg bought a completely new outfit on our way through Launceston in less than twenty minutes! (Peg says this is a gross exaggeration!) One's first impression of anything is usually correct; if you have too much time you get confused looking at one display after another. I guess a number of my lady readers will not agree with me - they just love to shop! I find if I am buying cattle and valuing each pen, my first impression is generally correct. The more you keep looking and comparing the more confused you often become. However, it is essential to make a careful calculation.
We arrived in time for the Royal Ball after an extremely quick trip and really enjoyed ourselves.
I suggested to the Government that we should celebrate the Queen's visit with planting of additional trees along our highways. The Premier, Sir Robert Cosgrove agreed and made free trees available to the various municipal councils and this planting was carried out. The following is the Premier's letter.
Letter from Premier of Tasmania
I was reminded of the Queen's visit in very unusual circum-
stances when we visited Leningrad in 1979. We were on a Royal
Viking cruise of the Baltic and were spending four days in Leningrad.
During a sight-seeing trip on the outskirts of Leningrad the bus tour
guide came and asked each person individually where they came from.
He was not content to hear from New York or Australia. He wanted
to know the actual suburb etc. He commented intelligently to every
person on their location. When he came to Peg and me, he again
expressed an interest in the actual State and even what part of the State
we were from. One of his comments to us was,
The Queen visited
you in Tasmania on her first official tour in 1954. His knowledge and
interest in every part of the world was remarkable.
Another interesting little item from Leningrad that amused me was when some hundreds of us were boarding the ship and soldiers were in attendance. The only person they asked to open her bags was Peg! I teasingly remarked on the way they could pick a potential terrorist out of a crowd of people! He was a very nice young soldier and I suppose thought he should check someone!
Leningrad is a very wonderful city and. we really enjoyed our visit. They had a shocking time during the siege in the Second World War, one million of the four million population starved to death, but they would not surrender.
I remember when we were looking through some of the great
museums of Leningrad, an American remarked on the waste of gold
as parts of the beautiful old palaces and statues were painted in gold
leaf. A Canadian replied,
You don't waste your gold. You store it
up in Fort Knox and no-one can see it or enjoy it. Our American
friend smilingly said,
I'll have to pay that one. It is true that we all
handle our wealth differently. The U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. have two
entirely different financial systems, so therefore handle their precious
gold in an entirely different manner. I think the Canadian had a point.