Peggy’s Kendalls legacy

• Peggy Kendall took on orchid growing as a hobby while running Kendall’s Hotel.

By Daisy Baker
31 October, 2018

PEGGY Kendall says she spent 47 “good years” running Kendall’s Hotel, which she and her husband Merv bought in the mid-1950s.
They transformed it from the rundown Scottsdale Hotel into a venue that drew a roaring tourist trade.
Within the first few years of owning the hotel, the Kendalls built on 12 new rooms, a foyer, a new dining room, loungeroom, kitchen, and function room.
“I was the first one on the North-East coast to have a smorgasbord and we were the first ones on the North-East to have motel units,” she says.
“I could seat three busloads of tourists, which is about 90 people.
“Each year when show time came, the Governor used to come up and open the show and I had the privilege of serving several governors a luncheon at my hotel.”
She juggled running the hotel around raising their three children, David, Judy and Helen.
Running a hotel was not new to Peggy, who had previously worked at the Scamander and St Marys hotels from the age of 16.
While working at the St Marys Hotel she developed an interest in travel and a thirst for adventure.
“In those days, they didn’t have the big tourist buses, it was just five passengers and a driver and they were the tourists,” she says.
“I listened to the stories of the tourists, what they’d done and seen and that really gave me something to look forward to in the future.
“I saved up and decided it was time I go and see the other half of the world.”
She and a friend from Burnie spent some time in Melbourne, and then worked at a nursing home in Adelaide but then Peggy became homesick and very ill.
The doctors sent her home to “good old Tassie”, back to St Marys.
“And that’s where I met by beloved Merv, my husband to be,” she smiles.
“He was an engine driver who drove the train from Launceston to St Marys, a goods train.”
Before long, the pair became great friends.
She says Merv was not just a companion, but also an older brother and father figure all at the same time.
“He was the person to guide me and put me on the right track,” she says.
“He got transferred by the railway to Scottsdale and he left little Peggy behind. I was 16 and really in love.
“So I got transferred to Scottsdale and got a position at Lord’s Hotel and shortly after took a job at the old Scottsdale Hotel, working for Mr and Mrs Steele.”
Before Merv and Peggy bought this and turned it into Kendall’s, they spent several years as milk vendors.
It had always been a dream of Merv’s to run a hotel, so when it came on the market, they looked into it and the rest is history.
Over the years the pair had several pacers, including champion pacer, Star of Broadway.
Peggy also became a keen orchid grower, joining the local orchid club, which she says was one of the best orchid clubs in the state for a small area.
“I won quite a few prizes for my orchids,” she says.
“We held the 13th Tasmanian Orchid Show here in Scottsdale.
“I then went to all the capital cities in Australia, following orchid conferences and orchid shows.”
Peggy still grows orchids today, and the trick, she says pointing at some in a vase in her kitchen, is to grow them in horse manure.

Forever at Holme in Ringarooma

• Edgar Holmes has called Ringarooma home for all of his 85 years.


By Daisy Baker
17 October, 2018

WHEN Ringarooma dairy farmer Edgar Holmes started working on the family farm, he used a pair of draught horses and a pair of bullocks, but things began to change when they bought their first tractor in the 1960s.
He has lived on the family farm for all of his 85 years, except for three months in 1952 when he was in national service abroad.
He says the advent of pickup balers meant what was once done with a pitchfork could be done from the seat of a tractor.
“With the invention of spades, I suppose, and cultivation, it’s changed. It’s magnificent to what it used to be,” he says.
Mr Holmes went to Scottsdale High School in 1945 but he laughs saying that when the time came that he could leave high school, he couldn’t leave quick enough.
“I always wanted to be a farmer,” he says smiling.
“I came home to the farm in 1947 and have been here ever since.
“I only wish that sometime in the past when I was younger that I had taken photos so that I could show people what the place used to look like.
“You wouldn’t recognise the place if I transported it back to what it was in 1955 – there were big trees everywhere.”
He says it’s not just the farm that has changed markedly over this time.
“It’s sad to see Ringarooma now, compared to what it used to be,” he says.
“We used to have a grocery shop, a butcher shop, a drapery, a garage and a hotel.”
Mr Holmes was the director of the butter factory for several years and he says when this and the timber mills closed in the 1950s, people had to seek employment in other towns.
The closure of Ringarooma’s bank also drove more people to Scottsdale on a regular basis, he says, and before long the grocery store in his hometown closed due to lack of support.
“Now that the hotel’s closed, there’s no meeting place for the older people of the town to meet up for a chat.”
Despite this, Mr Holmes loves the peace of mind and sense of community throughout the town.
“At the moment the school and the young people about the place do a wonderful job, and the school is a real credit to the place.”
Mr Holmes was a keen sportsman back in the day, playing football from the age of 16 right through to 43, and also played cricket and golf.
When asked what he’d like to see in Ringarooma in the future, he says he would like to see the town get another football team but is not hopeful of this happening.
These days Mr Holmes spends most of his time tending to a flourishing garden which he and his wife built up over the years, with veggie patches, trees and flowers.
“It’s been a wonderful life,” he says. “It’s been a magnificent area to live in.”

Lois looks back on life
  • Lois Jensen reflects on 80 years in Bridport.

• Lois Jensen reflects on 80 years in Bridport.

By Daisy Baker
19 September, 2018

WHEN Lois Jensen moved to Bridport with her family from West Scottsdale as a child, it was a town of gravel roads, shacks and far fewer residents.
More than 80 years on, Lois is still a proud Bridport resident.
She says her light-filled Richard Street home would have then been covered in tea tree scrub.
“As I remember, if you came up the hill to the cemetery, that would’ve been the finish of the road,” she says.
“You wouldn’t have gone up to Port Hills and Walter Street. You wouldn’t have been there.
“Bentley Street was there, and you could get out to Granite Point but that was a sandy road.”
Bridport Primary School in those days was one classroom, taught by Mr Best.
“I’d been living on the farm until I was six and I wasn’t used to sitting down and learning so I found that a big change in lifestyle when we moved here,” she says.
The struggles and anxieties of the war years were felt in Bridport too, where trenches were dug around the primary school which the students would practise getting into when planes flew over.  
“We as kids just thought this was funny and didn’t see the seriousness of it… It was a worrying time for the adults but we as children didn’t realise how serious it was,” she says.
“The men on a Saturday afternoon, the ones that hadn’t gone away in the army, dressed up and they would march around the streets of Bridport with their rifles.
“And everyone’s gate had a painted number of how many people you could billet if it was necessary for the army to come down.”
It was a time when families used coupons for clothing, butter, sugar and other necessities, and sent their meat order to Scottsdale which would be returned later that day on the bus.
When she was growing up, Lois says they didn’t have electric light or a town water service. 
“One thing I do remember is having to have some teeth out as a child and the dentist came to our house and took them out in the front room,” she laughs.
“A friend of mine had her tooth taken out just up the street in the front garden.
“That was modern dentistry at Bridport!”
Lois left school at 13 after attaining her Merit certificate.
She says she felt well-equipped despite spending only a few years in education.
“There were no school excursions or sports days and instead we had tests every Friday and regular homework – we got down to business.”
Lois laughs remembering the concerts held in the Bridport Hall every holiday season, where the local policeman would always get up on stage, like clockwork, and sing “On the Road to Mandalay”.
After leaving school, Lois took on more domestic duties and learned dressmaking and piano.
With a love of music, Lois continued to play and teach music for many decades, finishing just 16 years ago.
She says had it not been for the social conventions of the time, she would have liked to pursue a career as a journalist.
Lois has remained passionate about writing, however, and has written many short stories and poems, some of which she reads to close family.

Jim’s royal ride
  • Jim Bennett remembers collecting letters for the Queen.

• Jim Bennett remembers collecting letters for the Queen.

By Daisy Baker
08 August, 2018

JIM Bennett has many memories of his 84 years in the North-East, growing up in Scottsdale and his adult life in Bridport, but there’s one Saturday in 1953 that he will never forget.
Mr Bennett was set to play football against Launceston that day at the Scottsdale Recreation Ground but missed the game after being nominated to pick up letters from North-East schools for the Queen, commemorating her coronation.
The young track rider was driven to Gladstone in a bus, and then the next morning he then rode his fixed-wheel bike more than 120 kilometres, picking up mail from Pioneer, Herrick, Winnaleah, Derby, Branxholm, Ringarooma, Legerwood and Kamona.
“It was a very long ride, it took me seven hours or so to do it,” Mr Bennett says.
“I was only a track rider, so I’d never ridden on the road before.
“I used to ride in carnivals at different towns but that was sprints.”
At each town, a young Mr Bennett collected a bundle of letters and put them in his backpack, which he was to hand to Wilfred A Rose when he returned to Scottsdale.
“I got over to the football ground at a quarter to three, it was half-time,” he says.
“I handed over the letters for him to take to the Council chambers and I raced home. I was exhausted.
“There were no gears on the bike, it was just an ordinary old fixed-wheel – your legs were your brakes and you had only your legs to get you along.”
He laughs, saying Gladstone to Scottsdale would be long journey for him today in a motorcar.
Mr Bennett went on to be a successful baker and pastry chef, with his own bakery in Bridport, which was situated where the hardware is now.
He did his trade in Scottsdale under Laurie Clark, learning how to make bread, sausage rolls, pies, pasties, small cakes, and cream horns.
He says it took him a good six months to learn the art of making and folding a good curly pasty, which Mr Bennett says he then taught to Max Hall.
After finishing his trade, Mr Bennett worked throughout the North-East, in George Town, King Island, and Victoria.
One of his specialties is curried scallop pies, which he says he still makes every few weeks.

Neil of the North-East
  • Branxholm’s Neil Auton.

• Branxholm’s Neil Auton.

By Daisy Baker
18 July, 2018

NEIL Auton has called the North-East home for more than 90 years and still lives in Branxholm in a house not too far from where he was raised.
He says growing up in a family of eight children during the Depression and the second world war, things were tough.
“Everybody was poor but we didn’t know it, we were just growing up you see,” he says.
“We always had food to eat and a bed to sleep in.
“We came out of the Depression and things just started to improve, then the war started in 1939 so then there was six years of war.”
Mr Auton joined the army after the war ended, as part of the British Commonwealth Occupational Forces in Japan.
“Here I was, a boy from the bush who’d never been past Launceston and went to the other side of the world for two years,” he laughs.
“It was marvellous, you see because there was no war, it was peace time.
“I did a transport course in Australia and away I went – working over there as a truck driver.”
He returned to Branxholm before his 21st birthday, and started working in forestry, falling trees with axes and planting pines in winter time.
Several years later, he turned his hand to tin mining.
He’s a self-described mining buff and has found several water races and tunnels in the years that followed.
After carting timber for almost 18 years, Mr Auton bought a school bus and drove high school children from Derby to Scottsdale for 29 years.
When he wasn’t working, Mr Auton loved to dance.
He says he won several waltzing competitions and fondly remembers teaching a group of 30 or so local children to dance before a local debutant ball, alongside Jenny Brown.
“For three months I went down on a Tuesday night and I didn’t think they’d get it but then a week before the ball they came together and never made a mistake,” he laughs
It’s through dancing that he met his partner Judy and he says they frequented local dances and balls.
These days, Mr Auton is an avid reader and enjoys gardening, particularly growing dahlias.
Several years ago, he won first place at the Branxholm flower show for an arrangement of his dahlias.
Mr Auton has four children, 13 grandchildren, and at last count, 27 great grandchildren.
“I’m lucky to have my family all around me and to have been such a big part of their lives.”