In 1948 Ray Bean went on a 10 week trip around Western and Northern Australia. He was one of a party of people who went on the trip, the others being the novelists John Ewers and Arthur Upfield, Tasmanian naturalist Michael Sharland, a mechanic and cook. Ray was the photographer of the group, although Michael Sharland was also an accomplished photographer. Today I was at the State Library of NSW and was able to take photographs of some of the many hundreds of photographs that Ray Bean took, including many of the ones that he took on the 1948 trip.

The trek was undertaken in two trucks from Kalgoorlie through to Wilunda then onto Port Hedland. From there they followed the coats to Broom and Derby before trekking inland through Fitzroy and then onto Wyndham. The return journey then followed through to Port Headland again and then along the coast to Perth.

Western Australia Trip 1948. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

Western Australia Trip 1948. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

The trek was fast paced and exhausting however it provided material for the novelist, in particular Upfield to use for Walkabout magazine and also for the setting for the Boney novel The Widows of Broome and another part of he trek to the Wolf Creek meteorite crater was used as the setting for another novel, The Will of the Tribe. Ewers also made use of the trek in some of his travel work. Ray used the extensive photographs that he had taken for Walkabout magazine and in fact they comprise large amounts of the photographs in Walkabout magazine for the majority of 1948.

Western Australia Trip 1948. Wolf Creek Crater. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

Western Australia Trip 1948. Wolf Creek Crater. R Bean. Out of Copyright, copy from the State Library of NSW

Upfield wrote about a half caste Aboriginal detective called Boney who was a detective in out-back Australia, it was this character he was researching for when he went on the trek in 1948. In the 1920’s Upfield had unwittingly provided a real life murderer with the perfect way to get rid of a body, through his research for the book The Sands of Windee. In the book he wrote about a murder with no body. He had initially had a lot of difficulty figuring out how the murder had rid himself of the body of his victim so he mentioned this to a colleague, George Ritchie. Ritchie came up with a disposal method; burn the victim’s body with a large animal, sift our all metal fragments and dissolve them in acid and then pound any remaining bone fragments into dust and discard them. However, Upfields problem then was that he couldn’t find the plot hole to enable his detective to unravel the murder. As a result he offered Ritchie £1.00 if he could figure out a plot hole. Ritchie was unable to do so. Gradually the difficulty of finding a plot hole in this type of body disposal got around as Upfield discussed his difficulties with friends and colleagues.


Shortly Snowy Rowles found out about Upfields difficulties. Upfield and Snowy knew each other and Upfield was talking to a number of people about his difficulties with the novel he was currently writing. Before the Sands of Windee came out but after the research was being undertaken Snowy Rowles used the method for body disposal that Upfield and Ritchie had come up with. In 1929 two men, James Ryan and George Lloyd disappear. Snowey Rowles had been the last person to see them. Less than six months later, another man Luis Carron also disappears, again Rowles had been in the vicinity.

Snowy Rowles and James Ryan's car. Rowles was convicted of the murder of James Ryan. He disposed of Ryan's body using methods similar to those of a murderer in Upfield's 1931 novel The Sands of Windee. PhotographerArthur William Upfield. Out of Copyright- held by the National Library of Australia

Snowy Rowles and James Ryan’s car.
Rowles was convicted of the murder of James Ryan. He disposed of Ryan’s body using methods similar to those of a murderer in Upfield’s 1931 novel The Sands of Windee.
Photographer Arthur William Upfield.
Out of Copyright- held by the National Library of Australia

The police had also been very aware of the discussions around Upfields difficulties with the plot for his book, plus they were aware of Rowles activities with the missing men. Detective-Sergeant Manning also recognized Rowles as a John Thomas that was wanted for another crime in Manning where he had escaped gaol for burglary.


As it happened Rowles had followed the body disposal method for Ryan and Lloyd exactly but he had missed a step in the process for Carron, thus leaving metal evidence behind when he disposed of the body. Carron’s wedding ring was distinctive and thus it was able to be used to identify the fact that he was missing and his body had been in the area. It was also possibly to link Rowles to the area and to prove that he know of the Upfield and Ritchie body disposal method. Rowles would found guilty and hanged for the murder of Carron. Not enough evidence was found to confirm that he murdered Ryan and Lloyd so he was not tried for their murders, however, there was little doubt that he had done them.

Jeffrey Carter

Originally posted 28 Aug 2009, the day after Jeffrey Carters funeral.

Jade 1-6 months (398)

Jeffrey Carter 2006

My relationship with my grandfather really developed over the last six years. Our family had gradually lost contact, and while researching my family tree I came across some details suggesting that my grandfather was still alive. Through other family contacts I tracked him down and he was reunited with the majority of us. In the process I found out a lot about my grandfather and what his life had been like up until the day that we saw him again.

Grandpa was born in Manildra in 1924. His family had lived in Manildra for a long time and all his childhood memories are centred around growing up there. One of his most precious memories was of his father bringing home his first truck. Grandpa’s father was so proud of his new green 1928 Chevy truck and always kept it clean and shiny. Grandpa/ Jeffrey was about four at the time and thought he would help his father keep the new truck clean, so on the day it arrived as the rest of the family were celebrating, grandpa went out to clean it. It had been raining the day before so he used the water from the puddles near-by to wash the truck. He cleaned as high as he could reach, all the way around including the chrome and the emu on the front of the truck. Then he went inside as the truck dried. It was a few hours later as the family was saying goodbye to those that came to visit that they went outside to see the truck covered in muddy smears as high as a five year old boy could reach.

Being from a relatively poor family grandpa did not go onto high school. He moved to Sydney where his mother had moved before him and got work. At first he worked in a biscuit factory in Ashfield but during the war lots of workers that were considered to be doing non-essential work were moved onto other jobs. Grandpa was one of these and he was moved onto a condenser factory. As he was quite a pernickety man this didn’t really appeal to grandpa, in his own words “it was to oily”. However even here he saw the opportunity for a bit of a lark.

One of the workers who went by the name of Mick was known for going into the toilets for a nap each day. So one day they ran a copper wire to the toilet seat and attached it to a couple of condensers. Its not known how many volts hit Mick that day but apparently it was the last time he sat down at a toilet before checking around the bowl.

Not long after this grandpa went to war. Aside from a large amount of training he saw fighting in New Britain. It was here that he was injured by a daisy cutter, so called because they flew low and when they exploded they would trim the grass around them with the shrapnel with which they were loaded. The advice from older and wiser soldiers was not to drop when these came near as it was better for them to damage your legs than your face and head. Grandpa adhered to this advice and had reason to be glad. His leg was damaged badly but he lived to tell the tale.

Jeffrey Carter about 18 copy

Jeffrey Carter WW2

On leaving the war it was not long before grandpa married a girl that had written to him for some of the war. He always claimed that the three best things he ever did was as a result of that marriage, his daughters Sharon, Lyn and Narelle.

Unfortunately Jeffrey and Shirley’s marriage didn’t work out and so they separated. Grandpa later married the woman who was probably the love of his life, Mary. Together they travelled and spent many years together. During this time grandpa’s career took him into the corrective services, first as a prison officer and later as a senior facilities manager. Grandpa loved this work as it gave him many opportunities to go to courses to educate himself and to better his own situation. Grandpa thought that education was incredibly important and even if he could not have the formal education that he wanted he didn’t see this as a reason to stop learning. This was a characteristic that he showed throughout his life and his daughter Sharon attributes her love of classical music and history to evenings spent with him, as a young girl when her mother and sisters had gone to bed.


Jeffrey Carter and great grand-daughter

In later years as we got to know him, my grandfather would talk about his memories of his children and what they had been like when they were little. Of my mother he remembered a train trip when they played a game called mouse trap. The idea was to hit the others hand. My mother was very exuberant about the way she played this game and ended up giving my grandfather a blood nose. Auntie **** he remembered as gregarious and chatty never sitting still and always ready to go off and see the neighbours. I think that much of this is still characteristic of Auntie Lyn and like my grandfather I rely on her to keep me up to date with all the goings on in her side of the family. Auntie **** was much younger when my grandfather left, but he still had memories of her that he liked to share. One of his most fond memories was of taking her into a shop and looking around as he heard laughter to see her parading around in one of the wigs. (Names removed of people still alive).

My grandfathers memories of his life are very special to me and I am really glad that we were able share them and others. He was able to see his family grow to include not just his three daughters and seven grandchildren but also five great grandchildren. He loved to go out with me and my family and tell everyone that I was his grand daughter and to introduce them to his great grand children. I am sorry that he didn’t live long enough to hear that his family is growing even more and that another great grandchild is due. He would have been very excited by this news.

Linda Bean nee Pratt

Written on the 17th of November 2010 the day of Linda Bean nee Pratt’s funeral. She died on the 28th of October.
Linda Dorothy (nee Pratt) Bean     28-12-1918

Linda Dorothy (nee Pratt) Bean

I am 92 years old and this is my eulogy;

Linda was born on 28 December 1918 at Ariah Park in NSW. She was the third daughter of Emily and William Pratt.

Linda was educated at San Souci Primary School and later at Crown Street Girl’s School.
After leaving school, Linda worked in a variety of jobs including a position as a stock clerk with David Jones.

On 4th April 1942, Linda married Raymond Percy Bean. After the birth of her three children, Linda trained as a nursing sister at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital and also at the Rachel Forster Hospital at Redfern. In 1967, Linda took on post graduate training at the St George District Hospital at Kogarah, where she obtained her Geriatric Nursing Certificate, after which she spent six years in District Nursing.

Lilian, Lyndol, Linda, Percy, Unkown, Tony Bean

Lilian, Lyndol, Linda, Percy, Unkown, Tony Bean

When Linda divorced, she became involved in a series of staff nursing appointments, with the British Motor Company, David Jones production Unit and with Pye Industries where she looked after the health of some 1,000 workers.

In her more senior years, Linda displayed characteristics of paranoia which had the affect of alienating family members, friends and associates. This caused her to become increasingly isolated and withdrawn. She spent her last years in the Presbyterian Aged Care facilities at Paddington and Ashfield.

Linda’s family was not aware until recent years that she was suffering from mental illness including schizophrenia. They felt regret that if they had known earlier about her condition, they may have been prompted to find better health care for her. Lind’s experience shows that there needs to be a better understanding of mental illness in the wider community and how it can affect families and carers. Also there needs to be improved communication between health professionals and close family members when a loved one is suffering from mental illness.

Prior to her battle with mental illness, Linda was very caring towards her family and to those whom she nursed in the wider community. She was artistic and had a great love of art, music and politics. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Why is my eulogy so dry and lacking in warmth and family memories? It is because no one, even me, remembers my life. I have seen very few of my children and their children over the last 30 years. Every now and then one of them comes in to visit me, but they never do so because they want to they do so because they think the should.

I have done some amazing things. The things that are in my eulogy I did do. I worked with all of those people and I used to help so many people but eventually I was the one who needed the help and I never even knew it.

It started with the voices. Whispers at first and gradually growing louder until they were a clamour that I could not ignore. I tried to follow their warnings to make people aware of what the voices told me so that they knew, but nobody listened.

I told my kids which of their children would die young. None of them wanted to hear it and eventually they all just went away and left me. They didn’t want to know. So I never even knew if the voices were right.

Each year I would send packages to my kids. I didn’t bother sending things to the children that were going to die. What was the point of that? But I sent lollies and I knitted things for the other children. I wanted them to have something from me for Christmas. I sent letters too, I tried to tell my children what the voices were saying but I never got an answer and the voices kept on getting louder.

Finally I stopped. I had not heard from my family for years. They never came to see me and they never wrote back. Plus I had other things to do. I was working for the Queen. I never met her all my work was done through the voices. They would tell me what I had to do. It was amazing how they knew where I would be and what I needed to do but they were always able to tell me.

For years I worked for the Queen. I gave her the best years of my life. I worked for her and did everything the voices told me. I never got thanked, why did I never get a thank you? Nothing in mail and I had long ago given up even having a phone.

My life was going on happily. I had all the equipment that I needed for my covert operations all around my house. Things were hidden everywhere. I didn’t notice the smell. I don’t know why people complained. Why did they say my house smelled?

One day the giant teeth broke into my apartment. They took me away to a hospital. There they told me that I had schizophrenia. What is schizophrenia? I have been a nurse for years but I know nothing about this disease. I was a nurse right up until I started working for the Queen but have never heard of this disease.

They tell me it is a disease of the mind. So they drug me and stick me in a small room where they tell me that the voices are all in my head and that everything they say is a lie. I lay here on a bed in a room by myself hardly able to see, unable to get up without help and my memories, and now they tell me those are a lie. So what do I have left? Why did they give me these drugs why do they want me to live my last years in a prison of four walls having been told that years of my life are a lie?

Some of my family come and see me but not many. They don’t want to see me because they are worried that the voices will start telling me which of their children will die again and they don’t want to listen. So every now and then one or other person comes to see me. They used to come every couple of months, then once a year and now it is just now and then.

I have great grandchildren now. I don’t know how many but I have seen at least two. I have been in this room or one like it for year after year. Every now and then they change the room or I have a fall when being helped to a chair that I cannot see and so I go into hospital. I know that my life is a lie that I can only remember some of what my life really was. But I don’t know which part is the lie. How do I tell, how do I know?

So I sit in my room waiting to die. Unsure of what in my life is real and unsure of what is not. The only thing I know for sure is that when I die instead of grieving my family will feel only relief and guilt. They will feel relief that I am dead and that they no longer need to come and see me when they don’t want to. Guilt because they didn’t come and see me much and when they did they scurried away, from the mad woman who didn’t know what was real and what was not, as fast as they could. They will also feel guilt because they think they should have done something earlier or something more once they new. But really what could they have done, they didn’t know what schizophrenia was any more than I did.

So once again we come to my eulogy. It is dry it holds the bare bones that one family member has managed to dig up by asking others. They tried to ask me but all I could remember were the voices. So now that is all I am remembered for. I know I did other things but no one knows enough about them to write more. Even before I die I am dead, the real me does not live in anyone’s memory. There was a real me she was alive and vital but when the voices came she died. That dead me is the only me that anyone now remembers.

Land Titles and Sydney Records

This post was originally made in 2008 on a different blog site. I am not moving the essence, although not quite all the information, from that blog to this one.

I went to the Sydney Records office and looked up convicts, quarter session reports, probate records, colonial minutes and old newspapers. This gave me an insight to all sorts of particulars for the past of some of my ancestors and I now even have descriptions of some of my ancestors.
The convict, William Russell, who was described in barely legible writing as

“5’4″ sallow, fair, with hazel eyes a large raised mole on his left cheek, a woman on his left arm and a man and a woman on his right arm”

had me confused for a while as it was very hard to read the description and so it took me a while to get an idea that he had a couple of tattoo’s. At first I thought maybe he had been convicted with another woman- this was going to mean a lot more research, but happily no, he was probably just a particularly uninspiring person. It always amazes me just how particularly ugly some of my ancestors are- no wonder for years members of our family were though to be Maori- we have a photo of one woman who had the perfect Maori physique, but she wasn’t she was English.

So today, as I had to put the car in for service I thought I would catch the train to the city and go through the Lands Title Office looking for documents regarding land that some of my ancestors had purchase or been granted. This is an incredibly expensive exercise as I found out as a photocopy of any one document is $12.50 regardless of it being one page or twenty pages- all of mine averaged two pages each and one of those was half empty. Anyway suffice to say a number of documents later I came away with a smaller bank balance but extremely happy with a couple of hours to spare.

Right next door to the Lands Title Office is the Hyde Park Convict Barracks- having lived in Sydney most of my adult life but not grown up here I have never visited them so while I was in the area I just popped in to have a look- it was a really lovely experience- maybe not so much for the original inmates. However I got to see all the different phases of the building, including when it was used as the female immigration centre.
It is funny really for a person who has family who have been in Australia for as long as I have my family have missed all the land mark events and places. My kids have second fleet but not first, I have convicts, but they were quite boring and as it now appears ugly and once they got here they did nothing further wrong so they just sort of slip out of the records, my female ancestors came very early on in the female migration scheme so they missed being held at the barracks but they were not on the first ship to come out either so they don’t get studied very much. Then the ones that come here move around so much that they seem to be disconnected from the history of a place, occasionally they show up as a signature on a petition, or a photo, but they didn’t stay long enough to see anything go through- or they died. I guess like most families even now they just observed and let things pass them by only participating when events pretty much came up and knocked on their front door- they seemed to have had enjoyable lives though. I guess as Ray Bean says, no one pays any attention to history when they are too busy living it.

Shirley Guest nee Gransden Eulogy

Shirley clothes line

Many years ago I had another blog and I put a few Family History posts, mostly when family members died. I am now moving those posts across to hear so that they can become part of this blog.

My first memories of my grandmother are of the chicken coop she had out the back of the house in Byron Bay. My sister had a particular talent for getting into the coup and letting out all the chickens. So one Christmas Grandma gave her a necklace with a tiny bell on it. She said it would mean that she could hear Mandy going to the chicken coop so she would be able to stop her from letting out the chickens. I think this is the essence of how I remember my grandmother, always resourceful with a bit of a playful side and as my brother says, she could occasionally be a partner in crime.

Grandma was borne in Billimare, near Cowra. Her father was a share farmer and carter so large parts of her early life were spent moving around rural NSW as her father worked in different areas. Grandma’s early schooling took place at Eugowra, then later as the family settled down and became more stable she went to High School at Orange. Grandma used to describe the drive to school in a trap, travelling on dirty roads and getting very dusty. The trip would vary in length depending on where her parents were living at the time.

After she left school Grandma worked at a bakery in Orange. She always described herself as a bit of a rebel and it was at this time that she decided that she would like to move to Sydney. Unfortunately the war intervened and she ended up staying in Orange longer, however she was unable to continue working in the bakery and so she got another job working as a nurse in the local hospital. She saw this as her contribution to the war effort.

Shirley as bridesmaid

During the war Grandma met her first husband, Jeffrey Carter. They wrote to each other for a while when he was away and after the war they were married only months after he got back. This suited Grandma well as she had wanted to get out of Orange and Jeffrey was a local boy who had moved to Sydney.


While with Jeffrey, Grandma had three daughters, Sharon, Lyn and Narelle. Unfortunately Grandma and Jeff’s marriage did not work out and Grandma was left with three young daughters to look after on her own, in Granville, with no family support. It was during this time that she met Bill.

Jeff, Shirley, Sharon, Lynette__1455876235_203.158.62.55

Bill and Grandma lived together for many years and were able to share the care of Grandma’s three young girls, the two new babies Rodney and Graeme and Bill’s other children on the occasions that they lived with the rest of the family. Because of the flexibility of Bill’s shift work Grandma was able to take on some cleaning work. This worked well for them as it meant that they could usually share the care of the children. As the children got older and needed less care Grandma got work at Walton’s, a big department type warehouse. Grandma would do the sorting and ship clothes out to the stores.

On going on a holiday to Byron Bay Grandma fell in love with the area, and she and Bill decided to move. They packed up and moved up to Byron Bay where they bought a trucking business that was run from home. By this stage the older children had left home and the last remaining girl, Narelle, was to move out shortly after the family arrived in Byron Bay.

The trucking business was a success for the family and they ran it until Bill started having health problems and became semi retired. At this stage they decided to move to Coraki. The house they bought in Coraki was an old Queenslander type and was the embodiment of a dream for Grandma. She loved the house, especially the veranda and the feeling of familiarity that it gave her as it reminded her of her own grandmothers house that she had visited so frequently as a child.

During these later years Grandma watched her family grow as each of them first got married and then had children. She was very excited as even her grandchildren had children and she got to see her first great grand children. This extended family meant a lot to her and she loved to see all of us.


Grandma was extremely proud of all her children. She was proud of her daughters for their independence and although she felt that they were a great distance away from her she was very proud that they had felt able to build successful lives where they were. She also felt proud of her boys, as both had families and made their own lives both near and far from her.

Over the last couple of years Grandma had some times when she was very sick. To help her manage she had moved to a nursing home and this is where she had spent the last year or so of her life. Although I, and others from a distance tried to keep up with her during this time it was difficult. We called and she was out or people were over or she was off doing something. She seemed to be living life to the fullest and loving it. I am sad that I will not get a chance to talk to her again, but I feel it is a wonderful thing that right up to the last she was enjoying her life.

Grandma’s family was extensive and extremely important to her. She kept up with her family right up until the day of her death as was shown by the letter that her older sister Joan received on the Monday after she had died, wishing her happy birthday. She will be missed.

Optimized-Grandma without Bill


Shirley Guest nee Gransden

In November of 2009 Shirley Guest nee Gransden, my grandmother, passed away. Just a couple of years earlier we had celebrated Shirley’s 80th Birthday. As a part of that celebration I had put together a short photostory with a voice over. Today I am putting it here as it was something she enjoyed at the time.

To see the photo story properly click on this blog post and go to a full page view.

Words from beyond the grave

Over the last few weeks I have sent out a lot of feelers based upon my research into Ray Bean. One of those was based upon a book ‘Back from the Brink’ by Andy MacQueen  The book was one of the few things that came to me after my grandfather died. Ray had received it just before the last time I saw him in 1997. It was signed by Andy and mentioned Ray in it. So when asked if I would like anything I requested the book.

When looking for information about Ray Bean it was obvious that I should have a look at the book ‘Back from the Brink’ and follow up on the information in it. I had read the details once before but had obviously not taken them in very well at the time, probably because my grandfather had just died.

There wasn’t much in the book, just a couple of sentences really.- The first recorded walk of the newly-named forest was undertaken in the October long weekend of 1931 by a mixed group of nine Sydney Bush Walkers under the leadership of Gwen Lawrie. They went in via Victoria Falls, and out via Govetts Leap. For the eighteen-year-old Ray Bean, a novice in the party, the weekend was to be a major event of his life, not so much because of the impact of the forest- which to him was ‘no big deal’, but ‘just another lovely place’- but because it was the occasion on which he discovered what he was looking for: a wonderful group of companions pursuing a wonderful pastime. As for many other walkers, for Bean it was not the forest per-se which was wonderful, but the social context which it provided.

Andy goes on to quote Ray Bean again-

“we didn’t think much of [the Blue Gum Forest issue] at the time, of course. We didn’t think there would be all this hoopla about the Blue Gum in later years, but that’s how history is made I s’pose, that’s why it’s so vague, because when it happens nobody takes sufficient notice”

I read this and thought that maybe it would be a good idea to see if I could contact Andy MacQueen. It was quite obvious that he had spoken to my grandfather and I thought he may have a bit more information than the small snipets he had put into his book. So I went searching to find Andy. Whilst doing that I also had a careful look over the book that I had. IN the very front under acknowledgements there was a mention of the ‘Participants in the Blue Gum Forest Oral History Project’. Ray Bean was one of the names. So now I knew that there was a recording out there somewhere of Ray’s voice and his views and memories of some parts of his life.

As you do, I did a Google Search on the Blue Gum Oral History Project- nothing. I looked in the NSW State Library records to see what they had- nothing. I was going through the Sydney Bush Walker magazines looking for mentions of my grandfather and suddenly a mention of the project turned up. The project had been deposited with the Blue Mountains Library in Springwood, NSW. So I contacted the library, nothing, they didn’t know of the project. By this time Andy had answered my first email telling me he was in Tasmania and would be back soon. He may be able to help me when he came back. So I was happy to wait.

However, more news came from John, the Local Studies Librarian at the Springwood Library. He had located some transcripts of the project. He didn’t have the tapes but he was going to send me a copy of the transcript for my Grandfather. Then wonder of wonders he located the tapes as well. They have now been indexed and are part of the Libraries Local Studies Collection. They are to be digitised. At the same time Andy arrived back in NSW. He sent me a .wav file of the whole interview plus a scanned copy of the transcript plus the photos he had copied at the time he talked to my grandfather and a diary of one of the walkers that my Grandfather had walked with on one of his larger walks.

I am now trying to search through the family members to see if anyone has the photo album that Andy has copies of a few photos of. Plus of course, any other photos that may be left from my grandfather. I haven’t read the diary yet but have listened to the whole interview, read the transcript and looked at all the other information that Andy has sent me.

It was wonderful to be able to listen to my grandfathers voice again. It was amazing how familiar it still seemed to me. It was also good getting in touch with some of the family members again. So hopefully I will see some of them soon. I sent a photo of my grandfather off to be placed with the transcript and audio files for the Blue Mountains Library and in case Andy should need it again. In the mean time, it may be time to put together a slide show soon and make it available on this blog.

In your own words

I have never heard an ancestor come through so clearly as I have my Grandfather over the last few days. Usually my interest is in long dead ancestors so searching for someone so close is a bit of a novelty.

I avoided my grandfather for many years as there was some estrangement in the last few years of his life. I was totally estranged from my father and my grandfather did not agree with my decision. The end result was that I was estranged from my grandfather as well as my father. This I found both easy and hard. Hard, because I really liked my grandfather and found him quite an interesting person and easy because I was in my early twenties, self absorbed as many people in their early twenties are and caught up with moving to a new city and doing a degree. So our lives diverged and although there was never an intent not to see each other again, that was the result. So the last time I saw my grandfather was when I moved to Queensland and the next time I was in his neck of the woods it was to go to his funeral some six years later.

My memories of my grandfather are a bunch of mixed up stories. Some of which I got wrong and some of which I got right. I remember him telling me about his plate that was hinged in the middle so that he could fold it up when he went bush walking. I remember him telling me about one friend who used to cut the ends of his tooth brushes and belts to make them lighter when he went bush walking and another who had a tea chest with straps for his back pack. Because it was a wooden box he had made square billies so that they could pack into the corners. Equally my grandfather told me of his father who was born on the Russian Steps. I remember my parents laughing at this one and telling me that it was a joke but I didn’t get it and still don’t know why he told me that. It obviously meant something to my parents but nothing to me and still doesn’t. My great grandfather was born in England, and as far as I knew, had never been to Russia.

However, through all the stories I sometimes found it difficult to tell when he was telling me the truth and when he was not, something that I have found a difficult thing with many of the Bean family. So it was with delight that I read about Grandpa and his hinged plate and the wooden back pack and some of the other things that he had mentioned while searching for information about him recently

Ray Bean had a tin plate hinged in the middle for easy packing. ―Mouldy Harrison visited from camp-fire to camp-fire while meals were being prepared, always with a spoon in his hand. He was a hungry-gutted lad but oh so-polite! Who could refuse him a sample of what was in their billy? This ploy no doubt lessened the amount of food he had to carry, but in the interests of further lightness he cut the handle off his toothbrush and unnecessary dangling inches off his belt and bootlaces. We really watched the ounces in those days! REFLECTIONS by Paddy [From The Sydney Bushwalker 21st Anniversary Supplement 1948]

Uncopyable was Taro’s unique, neatly varnished wooden pack which stood upright on the ground like a dresser, with shelves and cupboards neatly packed with calico tent, his nest of soldered square billies, and his easily prepared food ready to hand as soon as he sat down. Special glass-walled compartments housed his compass and watch, which could be referred to without unpacking. REFLECTIONS by Paddy [From The Sydney Bushwalker 21st Anniversary Supplement 1948]

Equally over recent months it has been my delight to hear my grandfathers words coming through from sources other than my memories. I have been going back over the Sydney Bush Walkers Magazines. Those who are doing the job of scanning and converting all of these magazines into searchable text are doing an amazing job. It has massively helped me be able to search for my Grandfather and see articles that he has written and small snipets about his life. Congratulations at his first marriage and the birth of his children, mention of his singing and later that of his children, comments about his quirky sense of humour. But mostly his own words and his creativity.

For example, on a cold wet evening over Easter Ray Bean went out for a bush walk that didn’t quite go to plan. He later wrote an article on this walk and here are some of his descriptions;

“At Little Hartley stood another sign and on that sign was “Six Miles to Cox River” but it didn’t say what type of miles they were. They were the longest, coldest, wettest and most miserable miles in existence. When about five of those miles lay behind us we began to go down into a valley, and when my teeth ceased emulating a castanet’s band I told Bill that the line of trees in the valley was the Cox and he said “I know”, but how he knew puzzles me because he had never been there before. Neither had I. …”

“At this juncture I heard a slight disturbance behind me and looking around saw Bill pivotting at terrific speed on the wet clay, he created a grand finale by throwing his feet in the air, making a forced landing, to lie prone upon the ground with the rain falling on his upturned face.”

“When the profanity had cleared the atmosphere and warmed it a little we saw along the bank of the river (where the road crosses) some large camp fires, but we knew they did not belong to our party because that’s where they said they would be. We found than a mile down river, a mile that took us an hour to cover owing to nettle forests and rabbit warrens as big and as deep as a well. At long last we arrived in camp and ate and ate, just pausing long enough to tell the rest of the party what we thought of the trip.” [Sydney Bush Walker Magazine August 1935]

Usually when researching an ancestor it is extremely rare to hear them speak in their own words. To date, I have not come across one ancestor who was considerate enough to keep a diary or to write copious letters. I have few who have even been convicts and none with lengthy trials that were quoted word for word in the News Papers of the day. So there has always been a paucity of words that I could rely on to tell the stories about my ancestors. Thank you Ray for being considerate enough to write things so that one day I could find them.

More Poetry featuring Ray Bean

With thanks, yet again to the Sydney Bush Walkers. This from 1935

“The Club”

There is a Club that’s known to me
Of peripatetic people who
The open air and freedom woo
By mountain top and tumbling sea.

Each girds his loins in shorts and shirt
– Though others chuckle and deride –
And bursts upon the country side
Away from city’s dust and dirt.

A motlier crew I’ve never seen
When they’re all gathered in a mass;
‘Tis hard to say who’s man or lass –
They’re long and short and fat and lean.

There’s Bean, a youth of reedy girth,
A lad of misdirected humour,
Who – now list to local rumour –
Sneers at every scrounger’s worth

By writing verses long and awful
‘Bout that hairy Whiddon bird,
The lout with appetite absurd,
Who snares his neighbour’s food till full,

A being as you will surely find
The scroungers’ king – a walking void –
Most hungry, large, and un-annoyed,
And eating things of every kind.

And then there’s the Berts, so large and well known,
The “Der” of that ilk for his laughter’s renowned,
For the rafters do ring and the echoes rebound,
While struggles the “Her” with the President’s Bone.

Now in come the youngsters with Wiff to the fore.
“You are old Father William” the youngsters assert,
“You must have hiked first with Burke, Oxley, or Sturt,
But how is it still you’re young as of yore”?

And Wiff just smiles and answers them then:
“Its Era that does it with fresh air and sun,
With football and surf and plenty of fun,
And I’m wiry and strong as the youngest of men”.

There’s a red headed blonde – a hard headed Scot,
A youth with never a minute to spare,
Who never is known to curse or to swear,
But swore just once – taboos forgot.

The Aunt a mighty girl is she
Who dresses all in gray, alack!
From head to toe and front to back.
Oh Lord! why doesn’t she wear khaki?

Now Aunt was away with the crowd on “O’Hares”
And at night time the talk to language had turned.
Both rudeness and swearing were generally spurned
And the Aunt held the floor ‘gainst Jack Bolton’s ‘jeers.

When up spake the Scot with voice mild and meek
And recited at length – Aunt’s face quite a study! –
Regarding that Stockman all sunburnt and bloody
Who swam with his steed through a ruddy big creek.

There are deeds that are sung ’bout Kowmung and Cox
That stand out as epics and are told in great awe,
Of trails that were trod which one never saw
And many were lost by bush, creek, or rocks.

There’s a story of some who yelled themselves hoarse
When Tarro was lost with the girls off Clear Hill,
And they yodelled and called and searched with a will
While Harold perfected the strangest of “Morse”.

There are tales of the coast and Kanangra Walls,
Of sunlit waves and of tumbling seas,
Of the whistling wind and forests of trees,
And rock-strewn paths where the lyre bird calls.

Now fame on its scroll has the ‘Rangutangs writ,
And Hippos and Jaguars and others who’ve reigned,
With Bargers and Foxpaws all closely arraigned,
Being well known for talking, their scrounging, or wit.

They all have their day and pass like the mist
‘Neath sun’s rising beams – for new members live
And they on the wane have but memories to give,
But their tales of the past will always persist.

Be this as it may, our Club’s just as fine
As back in the days of its youth, for just
When the elders are stooped and starting to rust
The youngsters are eagerly toeing the line.

They’re long, they’re short, they’re fat and they’re lean
And their clothing would oft make a mendicant weep,
But they’re Bushwalkers all with traditions to keep
And their spirit is young as it always has been.

The Colo Gorge

In January 1934 Ray Bean and a bunch of other bush walkers including Rene Brown, Iris Rockstro (Roxy), Winifred Duncombe, Ninian Melville, Ben Fuller, and Wallace Melville. The party was lead by Nian Melville and organised by ‘Dunc’ Winifred Duncombe. Ray was there for the fun and had bought along his camera to record the trip.

The trip was particularly difficult and the preparations for food were not fantastic. This was not helped by Ray Bean breaking 2 1/2 dozen of the eggs they had plus the loss of some bacon due to the heat. The trip took 10 days and the group made their food last by catching and eating eels as they went further along on the trip.

There were also a couple of minor accidents and some general confusion over exactly where they were. They came out of the trip on the last day and found someone who was willing to feed them. So despite shoes that were falling apart and restrictions of food they made it to the end of their walk.

In the February edition of the Sydney Bushwalker, released just days after they returned “Barney” had this poem, describing the hardships all of the walkers had been through.

“The Colo Gorge”
(Tune: It Ain’t Gonner Rain No Mo’.)
1. This is the yarn of Dunc and her friends who thought they were all very tough,
When they left one day in spirit so gay to tackle the Colo rough.
They were loaded with food and cameras galore, which filled their old packs to the brim,
But their hearts were light though they looked such a sight, and they all were in very good trim.

2. They went for two weeks with the object in view of ambling along at their leisure,
With never a though in the time so short, of anything else but their pleasure.
But the vines lay thick in the vally bed, with their armour of bramble and thorn,
And so in dismay they made their way, all bloody and scratched and torn.

3. There was Ninian in front and he hacked a path from dawn to the close of each day,
With Dunc at the back to flatten the track and form the permanent way.
While Auntie and Roxy and the rest of the gang came trundling along behind,
All doing their best to survive the test and Ray to preserve his mind.

4. The days flew past and the miles cralwed by, the party getting thinner and thinner,
And the day came at when they hat to fast and go without any dinner.
They were down to some aspros, some tea and some rice, & it was hours since they’d last fed,
When Dunc caught an eel and they made a good meal off the bones & the skin and the head.

5. At last quite exhausted they broke from the scrub like seven grey ghosts from the west,
After ninety miles odd, and they thanked their God that at last they’d be able to rest.
Their boots were worn from right off their feet and their clothes were hanging in tatters,
But they’ve all stood it well, and they’re back now from hell, which really is all that matters.

6. Now Dunc she has made ten new holes in her belt & Roxy’s just fading away,
While Auntie doesn’t care how hard you may swear, so long as she can eat all day.
The others are most of them pale & thin, and their health won’t allow them to laugh
But poor Ray Bean can hardly be seen- he’s minus two stone and a half.
Sydney Bush Walkers Magazine No. 17 Feb 1934
(Accessed 13th Feb 2016)