Reflecting on eight decades in the North-East
  • Ringarooma resident Faye Bennett, holding a photo of her in 1968 at a knitting competition in Brisbane.

• Ringarooma resident Faye Bennett, holding a photo of her in 1968 at a knitting competition in Brisbane.

By Daisy Baker
13 June, 2018

RINGAROOMA’S Faye Bennett is well-known for her community involvement throughout the North-East, the region she has called home for more than 80 years.
She grew up on a farm in East Minstone Road, as the eldest of eight children, milking cows and polishing floors.
After leaving school at 15, Mrs Bennett got a job at Galloways where she worked for several years.
In later years, she worked on the hops, potato harvester, picking carrots, and also waitressed at the Ringarooma Hotel.
She did all of this between raising her five children.
Mrs Bennett says she used to take her eldest daughter into the paddock with her when she was picking up carrots.
Amidst all of this, she managed to find time to be part of the Ringarooma CWA, and was an avid knitter.
This year marks 50 years since Mrs Bennett went on an all-expenses paid trip to Brisbane for a national knitting competition after winning a knit-off with the local CWA.
“I could knit at one stitch per second,” she says.
At the Brisbane competition, the women were assessed on the speed of their knitting as they made clothes for a doll.
While she didn’t take out first place, she says it’s an experience she won’t forget.
“My mother knitted and crocheted a lot as well and she was always making things,” she says pointing to a crocheted blanket behind me her mother made.
“But it was my father who taught me to knit. He taught me on two six-inch nails when I was about six.”
In her youth, Mrs Bennett was also very active in sporting clubs in the North-East, playing netball, indoor cricket, tennis and football.
“I was captain of the netball team and we won two or three premierships,” she says.
“I was only telling someone the other day that I used to play wing for the West Scottsdale Football side and they didn’t believe me!” she laughs.
Mrs Bennett stopped working when she reached 80, although she is still a very busy woman, attending social gatherings and keeping up with her 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Pat awarded Life Membership
  • Bowls Tasmania life member Pat Bennett.

• Bowls Tasmania life member Pat Bennett.

By Daisy Baker
06 June, 2018

SCOTTSDALE’S Pat Bennett was recently awarded a Life Membership of Bowls Tasmania, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to bowls.
Mrs Bennett started playing bowls almost 30 years ago when she was living in Ringarooma.
She said some people in the town invited her to come along and try it out, and she’s never looked back.
Since then, she has filled various administration roles for the Bowls North, Bowls Tasmania, and the Scottsdale Bowls Club, where she is currently serving as secretary
“When I started playing, I had no inkling that I’d be doing any of these roles and you don’t play bowls to do these jobs but if no one does them, you don’t have a club,” Mrs Bennett said.
Despite all her hard work over the years, Mrs Bennett said she was surprised to be awarded.
“To say I was astonished and amazed was an understatement,” Mrs Bennett said.
“You don’t do these things to be honoured – and it certainly is an honour.
“When I look at the other people who have received life memberships, I wasn’t even in the frame of mind to think I was worthy.”
She said she was humbled to be able to contribute to the sport.
For Mrs Bennett, the true highlights since 1989 have been the friendships she has made.
“The highlights really are the interactions with the players, the playing and the friendships you make on the green.”
Mrs Bennett plans to step down as secretary at the Scottsdale Bowls Club’s annual meeting this week.
Scottsdale Bowls Club president Merv Chilcott said she will be hard to replace.
“It’s hard to really put into words what an asset she’s been and everything she’s done over the years,” Mr Chilcott said.
“She’s been a tremendous asset, a backbone of the club for many years.
“She’s been the guiding force of the club, the go-to person for anything that’s happening.”
Mrs Bennett said she looks forward to continuing to play bowls with the Scottsdale club for several more years.
She will be officially presented with her life membership later in the year.

Norma’s big heart for local wildlife

• Much-loved Bridport wildlife carer Norma Baker with one of the young wombats she’s caring for, Silver Streak.

By Daisy Baker
11 April, 2018

WELL-KNOWN Bridport wildlife carer Norma Baker says she has always loved animals but she got serious about caring for them around age 10, when she brought an injured piglet with a grim future home from a farm visit.
Ms Baker now cares for everything from wombats and wallabies, through to the Eastern Grey kangaroo, possums and occasionally penguins and platypus.
As several young wombats scamper across the loungeroom, she laughs, saying her house is a bit like Noah’s Ark and all the animals get along.
She says she became known to the local community as a wildlife carer through word-of-mouth, after moving back from South Australia in 2000, where she had cared for native birds for national parks.
She is currently caring for six wombats, two baby sugar gliders and one Bennett’s wallaby who has a broken leg, as well as twenty or so older animals living in her yard.
Ms Baker says she is almost at her record number of wombats (eight) which is unusual given this is the ‘quiet season’.
“They’ve all come as little babies, some of them don’t have any fur when I get them so all they know is me and my place,” she says.
“I also get lots of visitors, particularly from overseas.
“If they go into the Pavilion for tourist information, they often comment on the amount of roadkill and the volunteers there sometimes ring and ask if they can come up to see the animals.”
Ms Baker keeps the television running all day so the animals grow up used to a variety of voices and noises.
She says once they are weaned, the animals go outside and she is the only person they have contact with.
This process, she says, is vital before she can release them back into the wild.
“As they get older, they have to learn that not all people are nice,” she says sadly.
“I need them to react normally because one day they might see someone leaning on a stick and go up to them, and that stick will probably be a gun.”
All of the animals Ms Baker currently cares for, except the sugar gliders, were rescued from roadkill.
“The whole aim of what I do is to make it one instead of two lives being lost.
“If you see something native dead on the side of the road, please check if it’s a female and has a pouch – there could well be a baby in it and the baby will stay there until mum virtually disintegrates around her.
“All you need to do is put a pillowcase and tie in your car and if you find a little one, you can put in the pillowcase and phone the nearest vet.”
Ms Baker is a true town treasure whose heart knows no limits.

Ron’s journey from goldmine to tin mine

• Ron Hayes reflects on decades of life in Derby.

By Daisy Baker
07 March, 2018

LOOKING out the window of his Derby home, 83-year-old Ron Hayes watches mountain bikers zip by on the trails.
“I’ve seen Derby go down twice in my life, you know – mining towns are up and down like that,” Mr Hayes says.
“They mostly just die but [the mountain bike trails] have resurrected Derby.
“Now we’ve got these bike riders here, and some of the locals are against it but Derby will never die now.”
Ron has lived in Derby since 1953 when his family bought a farm in the town and prior to that, he lived on the family farm at Telita.
He was born in St Marys but in 1946 his mother wanted to relocate the family to Telita so Ron and his brother weren’t forced to follow in their father’s footsteps and work in the coalmine.
Mr Hayes recalls going to school in Derby with his brother and sister, and a particular highlight was a trip to Hobart when he was 14 to see the first motorcar before it was publicly unveiled.
As a young man, Mr Hayes played football for Derby with his brother, playing in two premierships.
He was also a keen golfer and former captain of the Scottsdale Golf Club.
Mr Hayes is one of few surviving founding members of the Moorina Golf Club, who bought and built the course in 1961.
He fondly recalls playing golf on some of Australia’s best courses: “I’ve played golf everywhere in Australia. I was part of the Australian Hotels Association and that’s how I came to play in every capital city, on the best courses.”
He says his biggest sporting thrill, however, came from the trots when he won a race in Melbourne while driving the horse.
“My mate Lindsay Rattray got me into horses,” he says.
“The first horse I bought cost 375 pound and that was in 1959. He was a very kind horse.
“I set a world record with him in Scottsdale – it was the first day I ever drove a horse and we won two races.”
Mr Hayes gave this horse to a seven-year-old girl and he says he was surprised when this girl – now 70 – visited him in hospital just two weeks ago.
“She landed up at the hospital a fortnight ago when I was having my new hip put in.
“I didn’t recognise her at first but she had a photo of him to give to me,” he says, pointing to a black and white photo on a nearby cabinet.
In 1968, Mr Hayes took over the pub in Derby, where he worked for 27 years.
He says this was an enjoyable time but in 1995, he decided it was time for a change.
“I bought the Briseis mine – where they’ve built the mountain bike tracks, I mined all that. So I was involved in tin mining too.”
As a young boy, Mr Hayes was taught ‘you’ve got to speculate to accumulate’, which he maintains is a ‘blood true saying’ that has guided him through life.
“When I bought the mine, one bloke told me I was mad for selling a goldmine [the pub] to buy a tin mine,” he remembers, shaking his head.
“But it paid off in the end.”
Mr Hayes continued working on his quarry until the end of last year, when he retired in December.
He currently lives on the same ground that the Krushka brothers, who founded Derby, built their first home.
“I really have had a great life.”

Mary remembers a lifetime of fun
  • Much-loved Bridport resident Mary Coote on the balcony of her Bridport home.

• Much-loved Bridport resident Mary Coote on the balcony of her Bridport home.

By Daisy Baker,
28 February, 2018

In her 82 years of life, much-loved Bridport resident Mary Coote has tried her hand at many professions and hobbies.
She moved to Bridport with her husband Kevin in 1985 when he left the army.
They bought a farm overlooking the Bridport airstrip, which Mrs Coote says had a ‘glorious view’.
She spent her first year working at Roberts selling houses, before working at the North Eastern Advertiser for three years.
Mrs Coote says these two positions helped her to settle into the community.
“While I was working in real estate I got to know the district and then working at the Advertiser I got to know the people of Scottsdale,” Mrs Coote says.
“Later I worked in the Bridport surgery for 23 years and while I was there I got to know virtually everyone in Bridport.
“It’s such a lovely community.”
During her years at the Advertiser, Mrs Coote says she got to know all facets of the job.
“I was there during the transition into computers and that was a really interesting time,” she says.
Beyond Mrs Coote’s working life, she’s also been an active member of the North-East community for decades, including teaching line dancing, playing in the Scottsdale ukulele group, serving as a Justice of the Peace and playing music with New Horizons day centre group.
“I used to take my organ to New Horizons every Monday and I’d teach them songs,” she remembers.
“There was one year and I taught them Christmas songs and I printed t-shirts for them and they performed at their Christmas celebration.
“That was really nice because usually they would just sing along to the carols while they sat in the audience, but that year they were the show.”
Mrs Coote’s creativity didn’t stop with printing t-shirts – she also taught calligraphy and hand-wrote the books for Gaye’s funerals, a tradition she says has now been replaced with computer-generated designs.
She says she’s not talented but adaptable.
Mrs Coote is now the full-time carer for Kevin who has Parkinson’s Disease but she says they make an effort to get out and support local events when they can.
She says it is her ‘wacky sense of humour’ that has kept her going over the years.
“If I was going to give a child one gift, it would be a sense of humour because that can really help you make light of difficult times.”