Freda Bullock and Lindsay Burge at Emu,
(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
Edward Bullock born Bealiba, Victoria 1883,
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
Children of Annie and Ted, the girls all
born Dunnolly, Victoria
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
(I think there's more born around Bendigo, I
need to chase them up)
|1863- 29 Aug 1868
1869- 12 May 1869
1870- 5 Aug 1876
1883- 9 Apr 1970
'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.
to Lindsay and Evelyn Burge
to Burge-McLean Main Index Page