George Frederick Rich
|Country of Origin
|Date of Birth
|Year of Arrival in Australia
At some stage, George Rich must have acquired his own horse and he used this mode of transport to visit the friends he had made and to attend the country-dances that were popular at this time. It was not unusual for him to ride twenty six miles to attend a dance, then return home in the morning in time to milk the dairy herd.
In those days, it was a popular pastime for groups of local young horsemen to sometimes embark on long camping journeys of many days through the bush and mountains to a pre-planned destination. I remember my Father telling me of one such group of twenty-six horsemen journeying to a town called ‘Ebor’ on the tablelands. This was over very rugged mountains and wild bush country.
George regularly attended dances at a community hall in a rural area called ‘Utungun’ in the Nambucca District and it was here that he met our Mother ELIZA GLADYS WELSH whom he married in 1933. After their marriage, they began establishing a new life and share-farming one of Eliza’s father’s farms. It was a dairy farm with about sixty milking cows and in these times, there were no ‘milking machines’. Consequently, the whole dairy herd had to be laboriously milked by hand.
After establishing their new life on the farm, George began assisting his family members in England to migrate to Australia. The first to come was his brothers Charles, Frank, and Arthur. His father Arthur and the remaining members of the family followed later.
These were still tough years for my parents as ‘The Great Depression’ was devastating the world economies. Living on the farm at least allowed them to live a life with a degree of subsistence, and to raise their three children, ARTHUR GEORGE, JAMES EDWARD, and JUNE MARGARET.
After his marriage to Eliza George bought his first car, which was a 1927 Oldsmobile converted into a utility. Prior to this, he replaced his horse with a Harley Davidson (10/12) motor bike. He told me he later had a sidecar fitted to the motorbike to try and make it more manageable as he had had so many accidents and falls on the poor roads at the time.
George was never one to pass up an opportunity to earn a little extra money. One of his enterprising ventures was catching and selling snakes. There was a demand for the non-poisonous ‘Carpet Snake’ to be used in warehouses in Sydney for the control of rats and mice. A friend of my Father told me how when he was sometimes travelling with him in the Oldsmobile, my father would suddenly stop the car, jump out, and grab a snake he had seen by the side of the road. He would then ask his friend to get out, lift up the seat, put the snake in toolbox cavity under the seat, and then, continue their journey. To send the snakes to Sydney by train he would put them in a fruit-box marked ‘Fruit-Perishables’ to avoid the high cost of transport by rail. (And probably, the illegal transportation of snakes.) One day the railway Stationmaster observed the box moving and questioned my Father about its contents. I think the Stationmaster may have kindly overlooked the event and consigned the box anyway. The snakes were sent to ‘The Railway Pet Shop’ at Central Station in Sydney which paid our Father ‘one shilling and sixpence per foot’. One snake he caught was fourteen feet long and my Father thought he would receive a small ‘fortune’ for it. However, typical of my Father’s luck, it was found to have a diseased mouth and he was only paid half the going price.
When ‘World War One’ began, George was still on the farm, and he being a farmer, could not enlist for military service. However, he was able to enlist in the local ‘Militia’ service and did so.
It would have been about 1940 that George and his family decided to leave the farm and move to Sydney where he gained employment in companies engaged in the ‘War Effort’. Other members of the family (including his parents) had already left the Nambucca and had taken up residence in Sydney.
At some stage whilst living in the Nambucca District, George was successful in winning a local land ballot. The land was about three hundred acres of almost virgin bush country in the upper reaches of the Nambucca River at a place called ‘Hades Creek’. It was very hilly country with little or no flat land, but with good ‘stands’ of timber. When people won balloted land, they had to spend a minimum of one hundred pounds annually on improvements such as clearing and fencing. Because the land was so hilly, it was inadequate for grazing a suitable number of cattle.
SEE Part Three