Great Aunty Dorrie Seddon, nee Waddell, in her own words part 2

Following on from part 1 of Dorrie recollections of her life, here is part 2 of her recollections from April 1982 when she was 80 years old. She was interviewed by her daughter Jean Adams (nee Seddon) and you hear Jean on the tape towards the end. I have indicated speakers in this part of the transcript when they are having a conversation. Italics indicate a small note to indicate who Dorrie is referring to, and (?) means I have tried to transcribe phonetically but am not sure if its correct.

Dorrie Seddon nee Waddell recollections part 2, recorded in 1982


00:00:02 Dorrie

If any of us caught an eel, Mum would let us put it on an enameled plate and put it in the oven to bake, and then we’d pretend we were Indians and have it out under the Bunya tree. Those Bunya trees are still standing. But unfortunately the old home has been burnt down. I pass along that road on my trips to Bundaberg. But the bus goes so fast it’s pretty hard to recognize the different places.


Where my father’s parents lived, which was next door across the lane from us, there is now a motel. And also the first house they had when they went from Victoria to Gympie, there’s “All Nations Motel”. Rather strange, isn’t it, to have a motel on each of your previous homes.


The old school (Two Mile School) is still there. And the Camphor Laurel tree that I planted on Arbor Day is on the right hand side of the gate as you go up to the school. The school itself has changed quite a bit. I think they’re having a celebration next year and Pats hoping to be able to go to that. But I don’t think any of my scholars will be still around – my era.


One day at School,  just to show you what nasty little things kids can be, one of the girls in my class came up and said “None of us are going to speak to Mary Fraser today.” And I said why? And she said
“Oh nothing. But none of us are going to speak to Mary Fraser today.” So poor Mary Fraser wondered whatever on Earth she’d done wrong. Nobody spoke to her. Wasn’t that mean?

And at the back of the school was a paddock, about 5 acres I think, that had been mined previously. Surface diggings and it had been overgrown with a lot of underbrush. Well, the children were allowed to play down there and used to play cops and robbers until it got so exciting that one time the bell rang. Nobody heard it and nobody turned up for school, so that was considered out of bounds after that.


Another time at school, my brother Jack, who was a big fellow, probably the biggest in the school by then, and my cousin Tom, took on the rest of the School at rounders. But they were first in, so of course we couldn’t get them out.


Nowadays when I’m writing a letter, I have to stop and think how to spell things hard. To believe that I used to win spelling bees at school. The family always did well at school.

I wasn’t quite so so bright, but they pressured me. I had to do well. I have to be top of the class.  And sometimes I’d cry and say I can’t beat Mary Fraser and they would say well you’ve got to beat Mary Fraser.

So, well, after we went to high school, Mary Fraser wasn’t hard to beat for some reason or other. She seemed not to develop intellectually. And I used to feel sorry for her.

When we were sitting for the high school exam, Ida said to me “You’ve got to do well at this exam because Vera Arnell, from the Monkland School, is always skiting about her sister Marie, so you’ll have to do as well, if not better than Marie.” So anyhow, Marie and I both did well. Marie and I became great friends, sat next to each other in school, and she later came and visited us in Kin Kin.  And then a few years ago in Brisbane, my cousin Kathleen invited Ida and I to her place for lunch and invited Marie too. It was very nice to see her again. After all those years.


I think I forgot to tell you about the horses. We used to have in Gympie a horse and sulky. And also Dad had a beautiful black hack called Fiddler.  Fiddler. A beautiful horse. He always rode to town to the club and to the bank and so on.

And we had a pony called Bobs. Later on, we had Paddy and I used to ride Paddy. But do you know that I’ve never ever caught or saddled Paddy. Jim always did it for me. Jim was my brother who was a terrible tease as a youngster but quite good later on. And he turned out to be a very good tennis player, a very good cricketer but a terrible tease. And he used to tease Mum quite a bit. And if she’d object or start to complain to him about something he’d done, he’d just pick her up and carry her round.


In case you wonder who I’m talking about all the time, I’d better tell you our family names. There were ten of us. The eldest was Mag, the next one Ede, them George, Jack,  Ida, then me, then Jim.  Pat. Jess and Jean was the youngest.

Jean, when she was a little thing developed diptheria. Mum tried to save the breathing by painting down her throat with a feather with kerosene on it, then took her into the doctor.  Who said as soon as he saw her “That child’s got diptheria. Take her in at once.” And I had the very unpleasant job of going to the schoolmaster to say Jeans in hospital, with diphtheria, and she’s not expected to live. However, she recovered. And Mum didn’t lose one child out of ten.


George was supposed to be a delicate child and she said she reared him with raw steak juice and cod liver oil. He grew to be a 6 footer.  Very strong and very well in every way. He went to Gatton College so that he could train for the land and he was on a property at Widgee when the war broke out.


Jack had a push bike when he started work at the courthouse, but after the war he got a motorbike. I sometimes rode on the carrier behind him. Not all that comfortable.  

From our front verandah in Gympie, I’ve seen floods and fires and bull fights. If Ferrets (?) bull got into Rodney’s paddock, there would be a long fierce battle till Martin Rodney came on horseback with a big stock whip to separate them.


In 1924, when Pop and I were married, we saw the English-Australia test in Brisbane, a game in Sydney and again in Melbourne. We traveled by ship in those days and it took about five days including a days stop in Sydney. In fact, Jean had her first birthday at sea on the Largs (?) Bay.


Our last trip up, we were on Canouna (?) and returned on the Canberra. The Canouna (?) struck a storm on the return and sank off Wilsons Promontory. The only loss of life was a racehorse.


When cars first appeared on the roads, horses were terrified and took a long time to get used to them. So did some drivers.  A farmer at Romsey, on his first drive alone, called out a loud “Whoa!” at the slip rails, but the car went straight through the slip rails before he remembered the brakes.


Another story.  From Ultima, where Pop was relieving, Tynon’s (?( had a big general store there and everything went on the account and the farmers mostly paid annually. One man came into Pop and asked him to extend his overdraft so he could pay Tynon’s account. Pop said that’s rather a large account. Let me have a look at it. And there, amongst the bags of sugar, flower, tea etc was one T model Ford. I think it was £250 but I can’t remember for certain.


When we moved Kin Kin, we still had Clara Olds (?) to come by the week to sew for us. She was just like a member of the family.


Mary started school at Heathcote and RJ (Dorries son Richard John aka Dick) at Mildura. But I remember Mary buying for Pop, for his Christmas present, a little mechanical bird which she said would be nice to hop about his office. Then she got for his birthday, a packet of cauliflower seeds, but remembered she didn’t like cauliflower so changed it for cabbage. She took RJ to school on the back of her bike till he was big enough to have his own.


A pleasant memory of Horsham was when I bought at the CWA exhibition a white teddy bear and gave it to Robin. Her eyes were like stars and she treasured it for years.


Pat was sent to Maryborough Grammar School for her education. And when she came home from holidays, she seemed to put on more weight each time. Took life very leisurely.  So my elder sister one day said “Pat, you can make us a rhubarb pie for tea tonight.  Here’s a bunch of rhubarb.”  Soon after Pat came alone, and said  “I can’t make a rhubarb pie. We haven’t got a pie dish long enough to take the rhubarb.”


We wore blouses and skirts in those days and I can remember 29 blouses on the line.  And the ironing was always done after tea and with a petrol iron.  I had a petrol iron until I got an electric one at Romsey see when the electricity was turned on there.


I think I mentioned before that Mum was a great gardener. But Dad wasn’t an earthworm.  He was a bookworm. He’d read anything, anything he could lay his hands on.  And he didn’t like cards. He would never play cards but Mum quite enjoyed a game of cards.


When Jean first came home with me, Dad took her in front of him on his horse. And he had a beard. And the first meal time Jean was there, she watched fascinated to see where the food went. I don’t think Dad  had ever had a shave in his life.

While there, we had a couple of weeks at Noosa. And Jean went fishing with us. Fish were so plentiful then that she could throw a line in and catch a whiting. I don’t think they’re to many whiting there nowadays. Too many people at Noosa are now.

We used to go for picnics. We’d drive from Kin Kin in buckboards or sulkies or whatever, to Catharaba Lake and be met there by a motor boat, which would take us down the river to Noosa. On one occasion, all our luncheon baskets were stowed in next to the engine. And when we were ready for our lunch, all very hungry, unpacked the basket only to find that everything tasted of petrol. That was rather a disappointment.


Jim was a terrible tease. And we had a girl to do the housework called Ollie Fleming. And he and Blanche Palmer gave Ollie a bad time. One night, they decided to play a joke on her and attached a fishing hook on a line to her bedclothes with the line under the door. With the idea that when the light went out, Molly got into bed, they would gently pull and the clothes would be pulled off her. They were tittering and laughing as they pulled the line, only to find a blackened end. Ollie was too smart. She’d burnt the line with a candle.


We enjoyed our tennis with Kin Kin and used to go around to various places for matches. When we went to Cedar Pocket we used to ride, carry our rackets, and very often I’d be coming home in the moonlight. Most enjoyable day.


You may not think this has been very exciting life. Well, it’s been interesting in many ways to me. And I just hope that you all have a good one as I’ve had. War clouds are gathering again now, but I sincerely hope they’ll blow away so that you don’t have to experience another war.


One of the best things about our coming to live in Glen Iris was that we had Richard with us for a year. And then he met Carol. And married her and gave us two more lovely grandchildren. And I was very glad to have Simon staying with me on the night the pop died nearly nine years ago.


I haven’t told you much about the bananas. They grew on steep hillsides and Jim and a helper would cut the bunches and load them onto a truck on a tram line where they were hauled to a depot at the top. Dad then had a horse and sled and would take them down to the packing shed where the next day the men would pack them. Either in hands, but mostly in singles. The small bananas at the end of the bunches weren’t used. They were thrown out to the horses who just loved these hard green bananas. And whatever benefit aas in the bananas, the horses had lovely silky shiny coats.


They were then sent by – to – the railhead and sent off to Melbourne and Sydney. Sometimes they brought good prices, but I’ve known Dad have to send a cheque to pay expenses.

One of the packers at the shed was a Tom McAndrew. In complexion and colouring much the same as Dad. And Jack’s fiancee, Sadie (Sarah Ann McNutt b1900) was staying at the house at the time. And Mum always used to send afternoon tea up to the packers, so this day Sadie took it up. And Jim said “Sadie, I’d like you to meet Uncle Tom.” He was not a relation at all, but Sadie thought well thats Uncle Tom. And Jim had great bit of fun watching Sadie, putting herself out to be very nice to Uncle Tom.

00:21:42 Speaker 1

Mom used to do a good bit of a shopping by mail order to Brisbane to Finnies (?) Alan and Stark and so on. And she’d say to Dad “Give me a cheque for Alan and Stark”. And if he said “How much?” she’d say “Oh, just sign it and I’ll fill it in when I finish making up the order”.  And having seven girls in the family, they were pretty big orders at times.


When it came to business dealings, Jim wasn’t very tough. In fact, he was a bit of a soft touch. And when he retired to Gympie after living on a farm, he was asked for the loan of 1500 pounds by a friend who wanted to go into a little mixed business. Jim lent it, but no agreement was drawn up. He didn’t get his 1500 back. And nor would he make any effort to press for it.

He also had Dad’s saddle, which was a valuable saddle. Dad always had the best in the way of guns or saddles and such like. And somebody wanted to buy this saddle, but it couldn’t pay for it straight away, he said. So Jim let him have the saddle. And that was that. That was the end of that.


When we were at Romsey, we saw our first snow, or at least I did, and the children. Seddie was quite used to snow at Stanley. But one day after school, he got the children and myself and took us out to Kerry, a few miles out from Romsey. They had been a slight fall of snow. But it snowed while we were out there and the children had a great time making snowballs, but wasn’t long before they were crying with the cold hands trying to warm them up near the car. And as we went back, there were no marks on the road. It  was just a sheet of white because it had snowed after we’d — covered the road.


We had our lighting in those days was by kerosene lamps. And we had one in the hall of Ruby Glass. I don’t know what happened to it. I think it would probably be worth a bit today.

Mum didn’t value old things at all.  She liked to be first with anything new.

She often wished to talk to us about England. She came from Kent. But she never went back there and I don’t think she really hankered after it after very much. She was more of a Queenslander than we were, she thought Queensland was a wonderful place.

When she and dad and four elder children came to Victoria for a few years, they lived in Ballarat and St Arnaud. The woman in the house next to her at St. Arnard asked where she might come from and she said from Charters Towers in Queensland.  And she said “But those children didn’t come from Queensland”. And mum said “Yes, they did. They were all born in Charters Towers.”  And she said, “Oh no, there are only Blacks up there.”


About a mile past our place, were the Flay strawberry gardens. And that was a place where people used to go for drive in their smart turnouts on a Sunday afternoon. It was very nicely set out. You went over a rustic bridge to the gardens and then they had a sort of maze of bamboo with tracks through the bamboo.  But you could either have afternoon tea on the lawns, or strawberries and cream.

And old Mr Charlie Flay bred the Giant Phenomenal strawberry which was the commercial strawberry for years. I don’t know whether its since been superseded.


About the time when the first war broke out, the mines in Gympie were gradually being worked out and closing, one after another.  And people leaving to go to Briston(?) or elsewhere. Uncle Malcolm was the manager of the two North Columbia and I think that was one of the last mines in Gympie to close.

Major Reid who lived further out than we did was the manager of the Scottish Mine. That was a very famous mine. They said that if the crushes at the Scottish stopped work during the night, people would wake up.  They were so used to hearing them going all the time.

Major Reid used to drive in a horse and sulky. And sometimes he stopped to give Ida and I a lift to school. However, his horses were so frisky that quite often we couldn’t get into the trap, so he had to go off without us.


I don’t know who taught George and Jack to swim. Jim was a good deal younger.  They decided it was time he learned to swim. Well, they taught him by a very old fashioned method. They threw him in. When Jim got out, you could hear him howling from a creek right across the flat till he got home. It was rather cruel, but evidently it worked.


Ida and I always had white dresses for Sunday school. I think there was a terrible lot of washing and ironing in those days. On one occasion, we had blue dresses. And as near as possible, we were dressed alike, which we didn’t like very much. One Sunday, on our way to Sunday School, a policeman rode by, and when he saw us, he started singing two little girls in blue, which annoyed us very much. So we asked, please don’t dress us alike anymore.

00:31:44 Jean:  Have you said everything you can think of now?

Dorrie: Just about everything that could be of interest, except perhaps about Pop holing-in-one at Horsham one Saturday afternoon. He was thrilled to bits. But found it rather expensive as he had to shout for everybody in the bar at the clubhouse. When he got home, I was so excited too and Miss Julian was doing the office. So she and I toasted him with a Sherry.

00:32:27 Jean: Well I’m sure Ben will be interested in that news, Pop was a good sport I gather.

Dorrie: Oh he loved it

Jean: What sports did he play?

Dorrie: He played, he played cricket tennis and golf. He wouldn’t take on bowls. He said he wasn’t old enough for bowls.

Jean: I think he Captained the cricket team in Romseym didn’t he? I seem to remember he was captain of the cricket team?

Dorrie: No.  No, he wasn’t captain. He wasn’t one of the leading players either. But he got in the team. But at golf in Romsey,  he won the championship once. The reigning champion was the policeman and it caused quite a bit of excitement when Pop banished him from the Honors board.

Jean: I remember Pop telling me about playing in Melbourne for Country Week and he was out for a duck. Do you remember that occasion?

Dorrie: Yes, I remember that. He said it was a long way walking out, but it was a great deal further walking back with the crowd, booing and clapping him.  Making him feel very uncomfortable.

Jean: It was about lunchtime I think, wasn’t it at the MCG? He told me all the factory workers had come across at lunchtime to watch.

Dorrie: Yes, well I’ve forgotten about that, but one new year, he hadn’t had the car long. And he was taking several others to Melbourne to see the Test match. He moved over too far to let someone pass on the road down, and went over an embankment. The car turned right over. But nobody was really hurt. The car ended up on its wheels and an Air Force chap pulled up to see if they were all right. And he said “Is the car alright?” and Pop said as far as he knew he thought it was. And then he said “Well, what we do is send a chip straight up again, so you get in there and drive it.”  So he drove it off to town, but had to leave it there to have something fixed and I came home by train.

00:35:21 Jean: That car, by the way, was the Dodge, and it had a soft top. So you can imagine how strong the timber supports across the top would be for it to roll right over and not smash on the top.

Dorrie: Of course there wasn’t much speed.  Pop wasn’t a very fast driver.

00:35:46 Jean: Well, now getting back to some of your early memories. And I think you told me Ede was the first one in the family to be married. She wasn’t the eldest though, was she?

Dorrie: No, she was the 2nd. And it was wartime. The war hadn’t been going very long. So it was fairly quiet wedding. But we had a dance that night.

Jean: Who was next to be married?

Dorrie: The next one was Mag. And she also had a very quiet wedding.

Jean: Did either of them wear what we call bridal gowns?

Dorrie:  No, they were both married in traveling dresses which were made by Mrs. Crawford, who was a very good dressmaker in Gympie. They were heavily braided dresses. I think Ede’s was green and Mags  was grey.

Jean: Full length or ankle length?

Dorrie: Ah yes, they were fairly long. This Mrs. Crawford, by the way, won the first Golden Casket, so she gave up dressmaking.

Jean:  When you were married, we’ve seen photos of yours and obviously the latest fashion ankle length.

Dorrie: Yes, ankle length

Jean: And no waist?

Dorrie: Ankle length with a waist about on the hip line.

Jean: What material?

Dorrie: Double Georgette very finely pleated. There were 25 yards of pleating in the skirt.

Jean: Did you have that made or did you buy it?

Dorrie: No that was bought at Finnies and just altered a little.

Jean: Have you mentioned about your mother using the mail order houses?

Dorrie: Yes. Yes.


Jean:  I like the sound of your at least I like the story of your going to Cedar Pocket and on horseback to play tennis and coming home in the moonlight. Tell us a little more about that. Did you provide afternoon tea or the home team? And how many went from home and were you all on horses and so on?

Dorrie: Yes, we were all on horseback.  And there would be eight of us. They home side always provided lunch and afternoon tea.

Jean: It was a days outing

Dorrie: Yes , it was a days outing and it was a very friendly atmosphere. It was more of a picnic really than a competition. We rode over the range, which is called Gentle Annie. I don’t know whether that’s the official name, but was Gentle Annie to us.

Jean: Did you go on tracks or just through the bush?

Dorrie: No, no. It was proper track. Uh. Proper really, but just a country road. To the other matches, we went by car.  And they were more serious affairs. But still the same arrangements stood — the home team provided the lunch and afternoon tea.

Jean: Who provided the car?

Dorrie: All members.

Jean: Did your family have a car?

Dorrie: No, no. Dad didn’t have a car. My brother-in-law (probably Mag’s husband, George Martin)  had one and it was a Willys night (?). But he’d been so used to driving horses that he found it a little bit hard to get used to.

Jean: What year would that be when he had the Willy’s night?

Dorrie:  Ah, I can’t remember that.

Jean: You haven’t mentioned anything about the political aspect of your family’s life. Were your family very politically minded? And how do you think they voted? Or was Election Day important to them?

Dorrie: Uh, well, uh, Mum, mum and dad were liberals. Mum was very politically minded. And Harry Walker was the member for Cooroora, but he’d been in so long that it wasn’t a great event really – voting for Harry Walker – because you knew he was going to get in anyway. But they always wore blue rosettes and they were always taken to the polling booths

Mom said she used to believe in Labour when they were badly treated. And she believed in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. But she said they’d got that but they just kept on wanting more and she saw no point in voting for Labour anymore.


Dad always paid his men a little over the award. I suppose that was wrong because it made it awkward for other people. But he didn’t think the wage was quite enough.


Our neighbors Mr & Mrs Vasey used to come and play solo whist. I suppose that’s the game we called solo today, and I often used to have to take a message to say “Wwould you come and have a game of Solo Whist this evening?” And one time,  when I took that message, Mr. Vasey was approaching me with a carving knife in his hand and I was terrified.  But he wanted me to stand against the door and measure me with the carving knife across my head just to see how tall I was growing.

Jean: I remember you telling me about another time when you were very frightened about having to visit someone, tell about that.

Dorrie: Yes I was invited to a birthday party at the Burchill’s, and I worried all the time as to whether I could open the gate. Was I relieved when I got there they thought there was no gate. The house was right out from an open paddock and Mrs Burchill had her garden under the house.  It was a big house and high and underneath was all garden.

Jean: What sort of plants would grow under a house?

Dorrie: Ferns, some begonias and all sorts of things she had there. Of course, some of them would get a fair amount of sun, you see, because they were high.


When we were at Nhill, we used to go out, drive out my car to Harding Swamp. Richard will remember this. Pop went out hoping to catch rabbits to shoot them. And while he stalked rabbits, I’d have to slowly drive the car around the swamp. But he didn’t have a great lot of success with the rabbit because the birds always gave the show away.

Jean: I didn’t know that you could drive at all.

Dorrie: Oh I could drive a bit and I…. But I didn’t have a license although I was getting close to it. Dorian Williams was teaching me. And we drove out to Winnon on one day. I drove, she sat beside me. But the next week she had to go into hospital and that was the end of the driving lessons. Then we went to Horsham. And I didn’t have anymore. Although Richard urged me a bit. But I don’t I’m…  I don’t think I’m a natural driver.

Jean: I can remember you’re telling me once – I think it was at Horsham – He wanted to go to a hospital meeting or to golf or somewhere like that. And it was raining and you asked Pop to run you up and he said “Oh no he couldn’t because the car would get wet.”

Dorrie: Yes, that’s true, that’s true. Well, at Horsham, life was pretty good there in many ways. When I wanted to go to golf, Mrs.Russell would call for me. And if I wasn’t quite ready, she’d get my sticks down, put them in the car.

And we were just opposite the theater. When they concert came, we just had to walk out the back gate to go to the theater. And they had a very good local company who put on musicals. I had some good singers and they really did some very good shows there.

Jean: You didn’t tell me what your mothers and fathers full names were, and if you can remember it, when were they born?

Dorrie: Oh, I just can’t remember that off the cuff Jean. Dad was George Waddell. And Mum was Mary Alice Whittington, before she was married.

Jean: Well, I think you will all agree with me that Gran has made a tremendous effort in compiling this tape. And I think her four children and their children will appreciate it and be very glad that it was done. And I think you will all agree with me that we are very grateful to Gran for making this tremendous effort, and it has been a very big effort. She’s done it over 2 weeks and it has taken quite a toll preparing it all and we’re very grateful indeed that she has done it for us.

Dorrie: Well. I don’t…. I’m not sure whether you’ll find this talk interesting. But it’ll be too late in a year or so to ask me all these questions. I was persuaded to do it and I hope it’s been worthwhile.

God bless you all.

{Ends with a small except of classical ballet music}

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s