Bridport twins celebrate milestone
Colin Lovegrove and his twin sister June Gillespie.

Colin Lovegrove and his twin sister June Gillespie.

By Daisy Baker
June 14, 2017

Well-known Bridport twins June Gillespie and Colin Lovegrove celebrated their 80th birthday on Sunday in the company of more than 100 family and friends.
The twins and their seven siblings were raised in Bridport, where they have resided all their lives. 
Mrs Gillespie said she enjoyed growing up as a twin and has had a close relationship with her brother since they were young.
“We’ve always got on pretty well and our families have always been pretty close,” Mrs Gillespie said.
“It was wonderful growing up together. You don’t see [such close families] very often anymore.”
With 55 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren between them, there is no shortage of company.
Mrs Gillespie said her house is often full of children and grandchildren, especially the grandchildren who enjoy staying with her during school holidays.
“You couldn’t ask for two better families. All our family and all of June’s – It’s just brilliant,” Mr Lovegrove said. 
The twins said they have fond memories of trips to the beach close to their childhood home, where they would collect periwinkles to cook and eat. Mrs Gillespie says they were delicious.
They also enjoyed riding their billycarts down Emma Street, which they said had far less traffic in days gone by.
As a young woman, Mrs Gillespie worked at the Bridport Hotel until she got married.
“I was married at 18 and had seven children. I have 20 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren and there are more to come this year,” she said.
“Her husband and I were like brothers,” Mr Lovegrove said fondly.
Mr Lovegrove said he began his working life working at Oscar Jones’ farm at Ferny Hill.
“After that I worked at Jim Wadley’s mill and then they moved it up to where it is now at Gillespie’s Mill,” he said.
“I also worked as the lands department officer at Barnbougle for 22 years.
“When I first started working there we were renting a house along the Scottsdale Road near where the sale yards were. I used to walk to work (I never had a bike) through the wet paddocks out to work every morning and I was getting five pound ten a week and we were paying two pound a week in rent.”
Congratulations to the twins on 80 eventful years!

Driving tales
Olga Nichols recalls learning to drive her father’s timber truck when she was just 13.

Olga Nichols recalls learning to drive her father’s timber truck when she was just 13.

By Daisy Baker
May 17, 2017

Olga Nichols grew up in Queensland’s Upper Coomera where her father owned a timber truck business. When her cousin who had been driving the timber truck was called to war at the outbreak of World War II, 13-year-old Olga was asked to leave school and take on the job.
“We went out one day and Dad taught me how to drive. I was driving it for a few years, loading the logs onto the truck,” Mrs Nichols says.
“They’d pull them out of the bush and get them into a heap and I’d load them on to the truck and then we’d load them onto the railway truck that’d come out from Brisbane.”
When she turned 16, her father took her down to the police station to get a driver’s license – something a young Mrs Nichols had never heard of.
“I asked Dad what the policeman would expect me to do and he said that I’d probably be expected to drive him around a bit,” she says.
“We went down and the policeman handed me my license. I said ‘don’t you want me to take you for a drive?’ and he said ‘no love, I’ve been watching you drive around for years’,” she laughs.
There was an army camp near her house and Mrs Nichols fondly recalls the many occasions soldiers would jump on the back of her truck as she was driving past.
“The soldiers used to stay at a camp behind Mum’s place and they’d walk down the hill to dances. We used to walk down too,” she says.
“We were at a dance one night and one of the soldiers said to his mates, pointing at me, ‘I’m going to take her home tonight’ and sure enough he did. And he took me home every night after that.”
In January 1946, Olga married Oscar Nichols and moved to Tasmania where he grew up. Oscar was raised in West Pyengana and during the war his family moved to Legerwood.
The newlyweds bought their own farm in Legerwood and Mrs Nichols was the only woman in the area with a driver’s license.
“We’d go down and milk the cows morning and afternoon and I’d feed the calves while Oscar was doing other jobs.
“I had to separate the milk from the cream and put the cream in cream cans for the cream truck. The butter factory was in Legerwood at the time.”
The couple lived on the farm for more than 30 years and Mrs Nichols says between farm life and raising five children, she was always busy.
Mrs Nichols moved to Scottsdale in 1988 and her son Danny took over running the farm at Legerwood. Mrs Nichols now lives in Aminya.

Mrs Atkins’ birthday surprise
Mrs Atkins was overwhelmed to see more than 100 friends and family filling the hall for her birthday celebration.

Mrs Atkins was overwhelmed to see more than 100 friends and family filling the hall for her birthday celebration.

By Daisy Baker
April 26, 2017

Well-respected North-East figure Ida ‘Denny’ Atkins was thrown a surprise 100th birthday party on Saturday afternoon at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall, with more than 100 family members and friends in attendance.
Mrs Atkins says she was overwhelmed walking into the hall fitted out with balloons, streamers, flowers and fairy lights.
“It was such a beautiful setup and coming down the centre [of the hall] and seeing the faces of all those loved ones – I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she says.
Mrs Atkins is the last of 10 siblings who each married and had families, and she says it was wonderful seeing extended relatives she had not seen for some time.
Mrs Atkins moved to Cuckoo Valley with her family when she was 13.
She says when returning from a solo journey to Scottsdale in the buggy one rainy day, Dolly the horse collapsed to the road.
“I thought she was dead and thought ‘what am I going to tell Mum and Dad?’”
“I didn’t know really what I should do but after some time I thought, ‘if I get back in the buggy and pull the reigns up real hard she may get up’.
“To my surprise, Dolly rose back to her feet and we were on our way,” she laughs.
When she was 17, Mrs Atkins’ family moved to Launceston and several years later she commenced her training as a nurse at the LGH.
Around this time, Mrs Atkins met a young man, Bill Atkins, at a Sunday school picnic, which she says was the beginning of a beautiful courtship.
Mrs Atkins smiles, recounting Bill kissing her goodnight on their first date.
She says she later found out they had been spotted, leaving people asking “is Ida Denison being kissed by Bill Atkins on a first date?”.
Pointing to a black and white photograph on the wall of her Aminya home, taken in the couple’s youth, Mrs Atkins recalls the day Bill came from Hobart to visit her when he was in the army.
“He said ‘what if we go for a billy picnic?’. We had pushbikes and we rode to a spot he knew in Evandale,” she smiles.
 “We took each other’s photo – the two pieces were joined many years later by one of [my daughter] Elizabeth’s friends.
“We’re each wearing a jumper I knitted and I’m wearing his army hat.”
The couple married in December 1941, shortly before Bill went to war.
After Bill’s return, Mrs Atkins received a call from the LGH, asking if she would fill in as a sub-matron for three weeks. She continued to work in this position part-time for 22 years.
 “We’ve had a good life. We’ve had our ups and downs but on the whole, it’s been a wonderful journey.”
Mrs Atkins says many special memories were formed in the family shack at Bridport, where she lived for several years in her later life, before moving to Aminya four years ago.
She says she would like to pay a special tribute to the nursing staff at Aminya who make all the residents feel “at home”.
“The staff here are so very kind. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

Life to scale
Mike Leszkoven of Winnaleah with the first model boat he made 50 years ago.

Mike Leszkoven of Winnaleah with the first model boat he made 50 years ago.

By Daisy Baker
April 12, 2017

Fifty years ago, as a professional fisherman in Northern Queensland, Mike Leszkoven was looking for a pastime during cyclone season.
Having maintained his own fishing boats for years, Mr Leszkoven had an extensive knowledge of different vessels’ specifications and he decided to use this knowledge to build to-scale boat models.
The first model he built, he says, took around three weeks to make.
“The first one I made was using fibreglass and that took a few weeks because I had to make a mould for it first. That one had a radio control,” he says.
Pulling the top off the model, he shows me the furnishings inside the model, including hot plates and a sink.
The hobby quickly took off and he has made 19 more scale models in recent decades.
“When you’ve seen a lot of boats, you have a good idea of what they look like so a lot of them I made out of my head.
“I made single-slope, catamaran, trimaran, power boats and a tugboat.”
Mr Leszkoven says once he moved to Winnaleah with his wife in 2002, he began using timber sourced from local mills.
“French Pine used to have beautiful timber, oaks and all that which was really easy to work with – I’d use a bandsaw and a cut-off saw,” he says.
Mr Leszkoven’s model making was not confined to boats and he also made a to-scale lighthouse and windmill.
He laughs, telling me he used a rotisserie he bought from Allgoods to make the light spin in the lighthouse model.
The last model Mr Leszkoven made was a to-scale replica of Philadelphia from Australian mini-series All the Rivers Run.
“I made it exactly the same, except it didn’t have a motor – it was the same down to the measurement, I forget now but 30:1 or 50:1,” he says.
“I used to count their steps as they walked beside the boat and worked out how long it was and reduced it, to make it look the same.”
One of Mr Leszkoven’s neighbours approached him last year, asking what he planned to do with his boats and when he said he wasn’t sure, she asked if he would like to donate some boats to be sold to raise money for a Tomahawk community car.

From Kamona to Council
Ivan Whelan reflecting on nearly nine decades living in the North-East.

Ivan Whelan reflecting on nearly nine decades living in the North-East.

By Daisy Baker
April 5, 2017

In the weeks before his 91st birthday, Ivan Whelan has been reflecting on some of his memories of his years spent in the North-East.
Looking down the driveway of his Scottsdale home of more than sixty years, Mr Whelan recounts moving to Kamona with his family at age five.
Their family home was next to the Kamona railway station and he says it was a “fair-sized house”, lined with finely corrugated iron, with no electricity or running water.
“Although our lives were basic, even throughout the worst of the Depression we were never hungry. We milked cow, grew potatoes, sometimes raised a pig and ate rabbits often,” he says.
“We obtained our groceries by train. We would hang a flag at the station, the train would ease, giving a few short whistles and then the guard would lean out and grab the order from our outstretched hands.
“The order would be dropped into the Legerwood store and the goods would be returned to us on the returning journey.”
Mr Whelan says from their family home, he and his older brothers Eric and Ray walked three miles to school, along a cobblestone road.
When their shoes needed repairing, they would walk barefoot and Mr Whelan recalls walking to school one day, very upset, without shoes.
“My brother Ray gave me his shoes to wear and at the time,” he says fondly.  “I’m sure I didn’t realise the sacrifice he made and was probably ungrateful.”
Mr Whelan left school several months before his fourteenth birthday and by the time he was twenty, he had worked in a flax mill, laboured on several farms and temporarily worked on the railway.
In his later life, Mr Whelan worked for the Scottsdale Council as a loader driver and grave digger at the Bridport and Ellesmere Cemeteries.
He says one of his favourite memories is the morning his wife Jean was in labour with their first child and they had to make a quick decision to borrow a truck from the butter factory across the road from their house because their family car was in a “sorry state”.
“On wrenching the door open, the keys were in fact in the ignition, which was not unusual in those days, even overnight,” he remembers.
“When I returned the truck, I told one of the workers what I’d done and it was water off a duck’s back – “no worries mate” was the reply.”
Mr Whelan says that when their fourth child was born, they still had no reliable transport and he had to intercept Trevor Horwood as he was loading up his van for the daily bread delivery, to take Jean to hospital.
“When I told him my situation he didn’t hesitate to help out. I jumped into his vehicle and took off to the hospital.”
“The bread was late that day,” he laughs.
Mr Whelan says after retiring for the second time at 76, he’s had more time to reflect on his life.
“My family have always been a little amazed about some of the stories I have told them over the years,” he says.
“I am actually quite surprised about how much I can remember – it all seems to come back to you when you have time to sit back and reflect.”

Dawn’s heart sings
Just days before her 90th birthday, Dawn Kershaw stands in her vegetable garden.

Just days before her 90th birthday, Dawn Kershaw stands in her vegetable garden.

By Daisy Baker
March 22, 2017

Dawn Kershaw says she cannot believe she has made it to 90, but is quick to point out that she’s not there just yet, with several days until the milestone.
From her light-filled Northborne home, Mrs Kershaw recounts her many years spent singing, farming and travelling.
She spent several of her childhood years in Derby with her family, while her father was the foreman in charge of rebuilding the Briseis Dam, which had been washed away in the 1929 floods.
“There were 100 men working in Derby then and I lived in a shack with my mum and dad, with my older sister and uncle living in neighbouring properties,” Mrs Kershaw says.
Pointing to a photograph of her mother outside, boiling the washing in a kerosene tin over the fire, Mrs Kershaw says that while there was no water or power, it was an exciting place to live.
“I loved it up there, it was very exciting.”
“See this,” she says, pointing to several small figures in a photograph, “that’s me standing next to my dad on top of the completed dam wall in 1936.”
Mrs Kershaw spent the remainder of her childhood in Launceston and Burnie, before she moved to Sydney with her family due to ill health.
“That’s where I spent my teenage years and it was a wonderful place,” she says.
“I was playing tennis, riding horses and going to dances in between looking after Mum after she had a severe heart attack.
“I was also learning how to grow vegetables from Dad. I still love growing my vegetables,” she says, pointing out the window to flourishing rows of corn, carrots, silver beet and tomatoes.
Mrs Kershaw met her husband of 65 years, Doug, through the church youth group in Sydney.
“Finally, Doug and I got a little bit more serious after being good friends for years and we got married in 1951 and we’ve been very happy ever since,” she says.
Shortly after marrying, the couple decided to move back to Tasmania and bought a farm at Tulendeena, with a “terrible old house” and started a dairy farm with 300 cattle.
“We enjoyed our little community at Tulendeena – it was a marvellous group of people. When it came to harvest time in the old days, we all pitched in to help each other,” Mrs Kershaw says.
“We had some good neighbours and when the chips were down, they’d pitch in and help. You can’t beat these small towns.
“We had forty years up there and raised five kids – Tulendeena was their playground.”
She says with the steep and dangerous terrain of the property and the unpredictability of farming life, there were many mishaps and she took two first aid courses and a home nursing class to try and keep up.
Before retiring to Bridport, the Kershaws were asked by the Department of Agriculture if they would trial a variety of dung beetles imported from France to target the cow dung on their property.
Four years later, the Department found there was a concentrated population of beetles on the Kershaws’ farm and soon busloads of farmers came to the property to see and collect beetles
Once retired, the couple toured Australia twice, collecting different varieties of dung beetles with the CSIRO to send back to Tasmania, and these years, Mrs Kershaw says, “were just wonderful”.
She says her favourite memory is singing in choirs with Doug, which began when they were teenagers in Sydney and continued when they moved to Tasmania.
“Music is a wonderful recreation. Doug is an excellent tenor, he sings beautifully,” she says.
“I’m a contralto and I don’t have much of a voice, but Doug’s voice is beautiful.”
Saddened, Mrs Kershaw says her husband had to move into Aminya last October due to a decline in his health, but she says she’s grateful he can be so well cared for close by, where she can visit him daily.
Looking out over the rolling paddocks surrounding her Northbourne home, she says, “well that’s 90 years of life and it’s been hard at times but wonderful”.

Memories of a bullocky
Rusty Richards recounts fond memories of a bullock league display in 1995

Rusty Richards recounts fond memories of a bullock league display in 1995

By Daisy Baker,
February 22, 2017

Thumbing through photographs of a bullock league display at Legerwood in 1995, Rusty Richards recalls the thousands of spectators who came to watch a team of bullocks pull a fully-loaded log truck.
“Bullock drivers came from all around the state and the mainland to take part in the event,” he says.
Pointing to a pair of young red bullocks he had just started training before the display, he says bullock driving is by far his favourite working memory, which he began on his parents’ tree-surrounded farm at Musselroe Bay when he was young.
“See how my fingers are all bowed – that’s from handling them for so many years and the bows and chains around their neck.”
He says he would love to see another bullock display but it would be unlikely given there are only three remaining bullock teams in the state and none in the North-East.
Mr Richards says as a young man he spent many nights at dances at the Goulds Country hall and the Ringarooma hall, and it was at one of these dances in 1961 that he met his wife Mary.
Throughout his 90-years spent living and working in the North-East, Mr Richards says there have been many changes in the district, notably in the forestry industry where the use of machinery has replaced the cross-cut saws that Rusty and his two brothers once used.
There was no electricity on his parents’ farm, where he and his 11 siblings grew up, until the mid-1980s when a generator was installed.
Mr Richards laughs, remembering days of kerosene lamps on the farm and the 100-kilometre-long journey his mother used to make to St Helens to deliver butter and cream on a horse and cart.
“She used to cart the cream once a week and she used to leave at 2AM so she could get to St Helens to get the cream to Launceston,” he says.
“In winter time, when she was on the way back from delivering the cream or butter, there was a river she had to cross and if it was too swollen she’d just camp on the river bank until it went down far enough for her to cross and get home.”
Bullock driving was one of the many skills he learned working on his parents’ farm, which he continued until he was 80 when he sold his bullocks.
For many years, he used a team of bullocks to get hydro poles from forests around the North-East, camping in the bush wherever he was working.
“Getting hydro poles was the best job I ever had and I did that right up until I was 80,” Mr Richards says.
“A bloke used to come and help me a bit as I got older and slower and I’d get a load of thirty a week.
“We’d cut thirty on the weekends and bark them, ready for me to pull out the next week.”
He says his bullocks became like children and he has fond memories of the years working with them.
“I’d like to have these little fellas again,” he says, turning back to a photo of his red bullocks at the display in Legerwood.

Dying trade lives on in Springfield
Local blacksmith Bill Cain.

Local blacksmith Bill Cain.

By Daisy Baker
February 8, 2017

Springfield blacksmith and farrier Bill Cain walked into a blacksmith’s shop in his Victorian hometown looking for work when he was 14 and has not looked back since.
Mr Cain celebrated his 80th birthday last week and is one of few remaining blacksmiths in Tasmania.
“It’s a great trade but there are few of us left here that do it properly, I mean I make all my own tools and shoes,” he says.
“Blacksmithing has never been given the recognition it should have, we’re true craftsmen. Henry Ford would never have built a car without blacksmiths.”
A highlight of his career, Mr Cain says, was when he was learning the trade and got to make and fit shoes for a famous pacing horse in Melbourne.
“Another highlight would be saving horses lives and giving them a new start,” he says.
“I was born to be with horses. Horses never leave you on your own, they’re a great mate.”
Mr Cain began working for himself in Melbourne and continued to do so when he and his wife Margaret moved to Springfield 22 years ago.
“I guess I’m a bit of a workaholic really and I’m not religious but if I was, my religion would be blacksmithing,” he says, more serious than joking.
Walking through his workshops, he points out collections of handmade tools and a fireplace tool set he has recently completed.
“I always try and do something different and there are no two pieces I make that are the same,” he says.
“I can’t draw or sketch but I can see things in my head and I just know how to make them.”
Mr Cain is currently teaching blacksmithing to a father and son who live on a neighbouring property, and another man from Longford, with the hope the trade won’t die out completely.
He says it will be a sad day when he can no longer light the fire in his workshop and it is hard to imagine his life without blacksmithing.
“I’m one of the lucky ones – I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”