Freda Bullock and Lindsay Burge at Emu, Victoria, 1974
(If you have good eyes, the small photo to Lindsay's left is of Freda's parents, Annie and Ted on their 60th wedding anniversary - and yes, as far as I know, Annie kept her dark hair naturally!)

My dad, Lindsay. had a rather love/hate relationship with Freda for many years... probably too many years. However, her family were very important in the history of MY family, and this would not be complete without them. I can't think of any of the Bullock's (other than Freda!!) that I didn't like. Annie and Ted (who I called Nana and Pop), I simply loved. They were the only grand-parents I had as a child, and filled that role beautifully. Going to visit them was a constant pleasure, and gave me some of the happiest and most unique memories of my childhood. Some of these memories below :-) I'll put down what I know of the Bullock's first...

Edward Bullock born Bealiba, Victoria 1883, died 9/4/1970
Father Robert, mother Eliza nee Neild

married Dunolly 1907

Annie Sophia Evans born Tarnagulla, Victoria 1881, died 13/7/74
Father Alexander Henry, mother Mary Ann nee Bryson

Children of Annie and Ted, the girls all born Dunnolly, Victoria

Name Born-Died
Evelyn Mary

Alma Yvonne

Edna Laura

Elfrieda Miriam

Edward Jeffrey


1910-12 Oct 1948

22 Nov 1912-20 Oct 2004

17 Sept 1914- Living

1921 Dunnolly- Living


Robert Bullock, born 1 August 1834, 
Hockwold Cum Wilton, Norfolk, England
Father Joseph, mother Sarah nee Whistler

Married 22 March 1866

Eliza Neild born Adelaide, South Australia 
Father Job, mother Ann nee Raymond
Children of Robert and Eliza

Name Born-Died
Hannah Mary
1863- 29 Aug 1868
1869- 12 May 1869
1870- 5 Aug 1876
1883- 9 Apr 1970
(I think there's more born around Bendigo, I need to chase them up)

'Going to Emu' was a joy, In the early days we'd all get in Freda's Morris 10, and travel from Chewton, and later from Castlemaine, to Emu. On the way we'd pass 'the pub with no beer'; the 'hopsitapal' at Maldon; and up the hill through the granite boulders; the big bridge over the Loddon River; through Dunnolly then Bealiba, past the wheat paddocks and around the last long sweeping curve into Emu. We'd slow down for the turn-off near the school at Renie Smith's house; look up the hill to see if Auntie Gwen and Uncle Geoff and the kids were home; past Woodhouse's, then the final run down into the creek-bed and around the corner and in the gate. It was bush. Quite distinctly Australian bush, smelling of eucalyptus oil and filled with the carolling of magpies. Nowhere in my memory is more Australia than there. 

Pop had been a woodcutter all his life, but was retired. He'd still cut the firewood faster than anyone I've seen before or since. He had cut ALL of the timbers and planks to make the house, and told me he'd built it using only his axe and grindstone as building tools. The house had no electricity - which is probably the most significant thing about it. It was geared fully to a life without 'mod-cons', where the only light came from lanterns and candles; heat and cooking from fires; running water only into the bathroom (cold only, straight out of the tank), and a 'cool-safe' and 'meat-safe' instead of a fridge. By today's standards it was totally primitive, but everything worked like clock-work, and the lack of power meant nothing. 

The furniture was brilliant, and being an antiques collecter now, I'd give my eye-teeth for some of the pieces. The clock in the background of this page, the one at Gwen and Geoff's house, was the 'little brother' of my favourite , it struck the quarters and the hours, and the pendulum only stopped once I can remember. We went there one time and it wasn't working, so my brother, aged about 10, pulled it to pieces and fixed it :-) Everyone thought he was extremely clever. There were big brass beds with feather mattresses and pillows, wash-stands with beautiful old ewer and bowl sets, and beautiful old ornaments. There was the big rocking chair in the lounge (did we call it the sitting room? The front- room?) Yes, the front room, even though it was near the back :-) It had a 'miner's couch' and the most gorgeous old dining table and chairs, where we'd eat Christmas lunch, but never use otherwise - except to build card-houses on. The open fire was used in winter at night, and I'd look for pictures in the coals and make toast with a hand-made toasting fork. There were photos of all the family when they were young, and some very old photo's of people I didn't know. The photo frames were just beautiful.

The bathroom was only used once a week for a bath, with about two inches of water in it. The tank water didn't stretch far. Everyone had a 'top and tail' wash each day using a big enamel bowl. We'd wash our hair once a week in the same bowl sitting on a wooden crate out in the yard. The bathroom was wall-papered in newspaper! I remember being fascinated with the 1930's and 40's articles and adverts from as soon as I could read, and looking at the old pictures before. 

Everything about that house was OLD. When it rained we'd stop the drips with bowls and buckets; the hallway from the back door to the kitchen was the worst, and us kids would be on bucket emptying duty until it stopped. I've only just wondered - what did they do at night? Did they stay awake to empty the buckets? Freda's bedroom was at the front of the house, and it was the only room I never slept in, it had the most gorgeous art-deco plaster figurines, that would be worth a fortune now. There was a verandah at the front, and 'sleep-out' at the back, three other bedrooms and the kitchen. The kitchen was very much Nana's domain. Joey the white canary lived there for many years on the table or the dresser. Nana turned out bread and butter puddings and baked custards in the slow combustion oven that make my mouth water thinking of them. We'd wash the dishes in a big red plastic bowl, and take the water outside and throw it in the yard when we'd finished. The meat and vege scraps all went out for the magpies - or up the road for Gwen and Jeff's chooks.

The yard... The bit we loved the most was the foot-bridge over the creek. It was made from a huge log cut in half lengthways, and had a chain running along one side to hold for 'safety'. The creek had steep banks we'd climb down, usually leading down to a slow-running trickle, but it flooded in heavy rain. The absolute most exciting moment was when my 'cousin' (actually Freda's nephew) got 'ants in his pants' in the creek bed, and was bitten all over his nether regions - poor kid! He had to lay down quietly in the front room afterwards, and struggled not to cry, while others struggled not to laugh! (not mentioning any names of course ;-)

There was a tiny dam out the back, where the magpies lived, and I could always find lots of 'sticks and bark' for the fires there. The shed had the dunny attached to it, which Pop cleaned once a week with phenyle. We'd use squares of newspaper for toilet paper. My brother and I played mammoth cricket matches, and a 'six' was over the road and into the bush near the creek - and caused great difficulty fielding the ball! There are probably still lost tennis balls in there. I rode a bike for the very first time on the road outside the house. It was Freda's old bike from when she was a girl!

Pop would sit on his handmade bench, another log cut in half lengthways, out near the back door, to have a smoke. He'd shave off Havelock tobacco for his pipe with his axe from the block it came in, and tell us stories. I remember the time he told us about taking Annie up into the hills and 'making love to her' and asked her to marry him. It was so romantic... but he got in trouble from Freda for telling us! I STILL haven't worked out what he meant precisely by 'making love to her'. Surely not?? ;-)  Pop carved little spinning tops for us kids from wooden cotton reels, and taught us how to spin them, and made shadow puppets on the walls by lantern light to keep us amused. I've shown them to my kids as well... some things just go on and on.

I also remember very clearly being out in the yard at night with dad, watching 'Telstar' go far overhead, our first satellite. The stars were so bright there you felt like you could reach out and touch them. 

For some reason, it feels like it was summer every time we were there.. although I'm sure it was not. (Well it wasn't was it, I've talked about having a fire!) The bush rang deafeningly with crickets, and the air was blue with eucalyptus oil. It was staggeringly hot and dusty. I remember a huge dust storm, when blocked up all the doors and windows, and stayed inside for ours until it passed. We had a eucalyptus branch tied to the verandah post for a Christmas tree, with hand-made paper chains, milk bottle tops and a tiny bit of tinsel for decorations. 

The year that electricity came to Emu, there was a dance in the hall up the road to celebrate. Being the oldest resident in the area, Nana was asked to 'cut the ribbon' to symbolise the opening. She was offered electricity on in the house for free to honour her, but said no - it was too dangerous and would likely burn the house down. I am so glad she said no. It sums up the life of an extraordinary couple, pioneers of this country still, just barely blending with the modern world, and giving a solid link with the past to all who knew them. I was honoured to have them in my life. They've given me a love of all things old and beautiful that I've continued all my life.

As of mid 2008, Freda was hanging on to life, but I cannot say "alive and well" as she has advanced dementia, and lives in a nursing home in Ballarat, Victoria. I ceased contact with her in 1998 because I came to the decision she had simply done too much harm, and I will not have people who harm me or mine in my life any more. I'm happy that she cannot remember her resentments, and I hope she is at peace.


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