John Thomas Page (9/7/1872 – 20/6/1961)
Our grandfather, John Thomas Page, was born in the Bracknell area on 9 July 1872, the second child and son in an eventual family of fourteen children born to Robert and Ellen Page. Of the 14 children, there were 11 boys and three girls. The first child, William was born in 1870, and the youngest, Stanley, in 1892.
Grandfather’s parents were quite short in stature, his mother about five feet and his father around 5ft. 4ins. tall. With grandfather and some of his brothers being 6ft and taller it would seem they had thrown back to earlier forebears, probably to their mother’s family of Goss, some of whom were known to be tall and well built. Grandfather was of slim build, six feet tall, with brown hair and brown eyes and with large and boney feet and hands. He valued honesty and integrity and liked things to run right.
His health was generally good enabling him to work until around 80 years of age at which time his eyesight began to fail due to glaucoma, progressively getting worse until becoming blind. He was also afflicted with asthma, as was his mother, which developed at around 30 years of age but leaving him two years before his death. To get relief he used a chemist prescription powder to which was added hot coals from the fire generating smoke. This he inhaled and was a great help in getting relief. It had a very distinctive smell which I later discovered was probably marijuana.
Heart flutters would sometimes be mentioned with some descendants also experiencing flutters. Medical checks have identified a hereditary heart defect, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and probably the reason for his flutters. He suffered a heart attack in his forties from which he recovered even though the doctor said he would never work again.
In his early years, the family lived on a small mixed farm in the Cluan district. The farm is noted in the 1903 Westbury Assessment Roll, as being of 281 acres with the owner being the late Mrs. M. E Green. It was sandwiched between the Cluan/Bracknell Road and the Cluan Tiers with their southern boundary joining the former Hillier property. The valley contained good fertile soil and was suitable for cropping and the grazing of cattle and sheep. A rainfall of over 40 inches a year was also a help. In the adjoining Tiers range an abundance of wildlife existed, and which included wallabies, possums and rabbits and which were regularly hunted mostly for their skins. It was here that grandfather learned the basics of farming and hunting which would serve him well in his later life’s work.
The family were also active Christians and greatly supported the work of the Primitive Methodist Church in the area, particularly at Bracknell. On Sundays the family would walk across country to Bracknell to attend Sunday School and Church where they learned the values of honesty and consideration for others, which also served them well in later life.
Later after moving to Liffey, grandfather attended the Methodist church there, noting periodically in his diary his attendance, at the “Little Chapel”. It was located at what is still known as Chapel corner near Jones’ Road and the Liffey Baptist Church. Grandfather would remember that one night the building was blown down in a windstorm and on visiting the site, hymn books and papers were strewn about amongst the debris.
Grandfather never had any formal schooling, with him and his eldest brother being educated at home by their mother. In later years he admitted that at the time, schooling was not of much interest and often Will and he would play up on their mother. However, the basics were learned and to practice his reading and writing and to record details of his farming and hunting activities, maintained a diary for much of his life. These entries now give a valuable insight to his life and activities while living in the Liffey.
The next 12 children attended school to varying degrees either at Cluan or at Fernbank on the Osmaston Road. The original Cluan school was located opposite the Cluan Homestead entrance about a quarter of a mile in an easterly direction up the hill in the bush. It was later moved to where in more recent years, the cricket ground was located.
Family members recall that Grandfather was sent out to work at a young age around the age of 10 years, going to live and work at his Uncle Will Prewer’s farm property. He continued to have fond memories of his time there and would remain firm friends with the family all his life. He would recall that he was taken into the family and treated as if he was one of their children.
After growing up and while still a young man, Grandfather went to work on the Northwest Coast of Tasmania digging potatoes and cutting firewood for the mines. Later when the Emu Bay railway line was being built between Burnie and Zeehan he gained employment for several years helping to dig out some of the large cuttings along the line, and including those near Bocco, Speakeasie and between Williamsford and Dundas.
His pay was always received in gold sovereigns and usually received at the end of three month’s work. From his savings and last pay, he left the West Coast with 100 sovereigns which he did not bank but kept at home. After his four daughters had grown up, each received one of these coins and then in the 1950’s the remainder were taken to the Launceston Bank for Savings and cashed in. The value of the sovereigns had by then increased from their original value of £1-0-0 each to £3-15-6 each. As Grandfather by then was blind, Dad (Eric Badcock) went with him to help with the transaction. Sovereigns by that time were not often seen and when the 96 coins were tipped out on the counter the teller’s eyes almost fell out in surprise. Yvonne was later given the sovereign received by Mum.
Liffey – Farming and Snaring
After leaving the West Coast, Grandfather took up Crown land in the Gulf region of the Liffey and started farming. The Crown Purchase consisted of 201 acres, with the Westbury Assessment Roll for 1911 noting a take-up date of 14 Jan 1901 and repayable over 14 years. In 1911 the capital value was given as £606-0-0, with improvements being £275-0-0. The original holding was added to in 1911 with the taking up of an adjoining 257 acres over the creek.
A Mr. Archer commenced to survey the land on Friday, 13 January 1911 with the work being completed early the next week. Grandfather notes receiving the land paper for this property on Thursday, 4 May 1911 and paying the first instalment on the property on 17 June of the same year. The region was at the foot of the Great Western Tiers Mountain range with the 4,257 feet Dry’s Bluff peak towering nearby and dominating the landscape. Adjoining the property was the Liffey River and Bluff Creek which carried water from the plateau above. A small creek ran through the 257 acre block and was known as Uncle John’s Creek, but later officially named Pages Creek and the waterfalls named Pages Falls. With the area having reasonably good soil and a rainfall of about 50 inches a year, these provided the conditions for luxuriant growth, thus the land was covered in huge trees and dense undergrowth which, little by little, on his farm he set about clearing.
At this time, he was still a single man and for accommodation built a two-roomed hut for himself and another shed for storage and the shedding of pigs and cattle for fattening. Both buildings were built out of rough split timber including shingles for the roofs. The hut had a stone fireplace, used for cooking and heating. As he was amongst the first people to live in the region, he had few neighbours and often would go a week without seeing another human being and on one occasion this extended out to two weeks. However, as the region opened up and other people came to live there, his diary entries indicate contact with other people, both family and friends, almost on a daily basis. A number of people would stay overnight or longer with him at the hut.
As the land was cleared of timber and stone, the soil was tilled, and crops planted or laid down to pasture. The crops grown over the years included peas, oats, potatoes, turnips, mangles and grass seed, mostly cocksford. He had a particular liking for Devon cattle which he found were suited to the area and he often purchased well-bred Devon bulls from Uncle B M Badcock’s “Willow Vale” stud at Glenore. When selling cattle, they would be walked the 15 miles to the Oaks Station and loaded onto trucks for transport to the Newstead, Launceston sale yards.
On one occasion when rounding up his cattle in the scrub, Grandfather was charged by one of his bullocks and not able to get out of his way, was caught up on his horns and carried forward as the animal continued to charge on through the scrub. As they smashed their way through the undergrowth his clothes were torn off as they went. Eventually, the beast tossed him from his horns and although almost naked, scratched and bruised, he was otherwise unhurt. He made his way to the nearby house of his sister-in-law, Aunt Honor, to borrow clothes to get home.
To supplement his income, he frequently worked off the farm, taking jobs in road building in the area and working with chaff cutting and with thrashing machine gangs. He would also go hunting and snaring for wallaby, possum and rabbits, mostly for their skins, for which at that time there was a ready market. The best and most valuable skins were to be found higher up the mountain where it was colder and the pelts grew thicker, therefore he frequently made his way several thousand feet up the mountain, mostly during the winter months, and did his snaring there.
To save the long walk home and steep climb up the mountain, he eventually established a camp in a cave in the sandstone layer near Dry’s Bluff. In the cave he had a bed as well as a small store of provisions.
Several stories relating to his time snaring in the mountains have survived. At times the bark or howl of the Tasmanian Tiger, or hyena as Grandfather preferred to call them, could be heard near the cave although being a shy animal were never seen. His dogs were petrified of them and when they were in the vicinity would not stay outside as they were supposed to. Trembling with fear they would come inside to where Grandfather was sleeping and no matter how strong the instruction was to go outside, would not do so.
Grandfather during his lifetime spent a considerable amount of time in the mountains and though he could frequently hear the tigers, never saw a live animal. Once when he and his brother Bert were snaring together, one was caught in a snare but was dead when they found him. Supposedly it measured 7 ft. from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail.
Officially the Tasmanian Tiger is extinct, the last dying in captivity at the Hobart Zoo in the 1930’s, however persistent and creditable reports on their sightings continue to be received. In the 1930’s another of Grandfather’s brothers, Bob Page at Cluan, caught one in a trap and went for help to get him out. However, by the time he returned the tiger had escaped.
In the 1960’s Stephen Page’s wife, together with her father, Mr. Anderson, saw a tiger while in the bush near Cluan, and then again in the 1980’s Ern Bullock saw a tiger on Barry Page’s farm at Osmaston when he started up a chain saw to start cutting through a log. This tiger passed within a few yards of where he was working, and he was able to have a good look at it as it went by.
Fell off a cliff
Another story comes from the time when Grandfather was snaring on the mountains and would recall that he was making his way back to his camp with a pack of wallaby skins on his back, when in the late afternoon a thick fog came down and he lost his way. Suddenly in the semi dark and gloom he found himself falling, having stepped over the edge of a cliff, but soon stopped as he landed in a tree growing out from the cliff face near the top. With a heavy pack of skins on his back he couldn’t get back to the ledge, therefore had to take them off and leave them behind. After some effort he got back to the ledge and on back tracking found his way back to camp. Next day he returned to the area looking for his skins without success, but believes he found the cliff that he fell off, there was a drop of hundreds of feet and only one tree growing from its face. He had been lucky to survive.
Snakes in the night
The Liffey region was and still is renowned for its snakes, some reaching over 6 ft. in length and as thick as a man’s arm and many stories were related about them. On occasions snakes would find their way into Grandfather’s hut and more than once was awoken as one slithered across his bed and dropped onto the floor. He would also tell of the time when almost bitten. He had set traps to catch some rats in his shed and going there one evening and hearing noises, thought a rat had been caught. In the dark he went groping to get it out but instead was struck at by the firmly held snake. His hand was hit, but the fangs did not penetrate.
In later years, particularly when Grandfather’s brothers called, these and other stories would be related. Many of us grandchildren still recall the gatherings at the time of Grandfather’s birthday in July, of the old uncles, Grandfather and others, sitting in a semicircle around the fire talking about the old times and the adventures they had, and which included many snake stories. Often the yarning would go on into the early hours of the morning. They were very skilled at storytelling and perhaps subject to some exaggeration and by the time us grandchildren reached home, our imaginations were so gripped by the stories, we would conduct a careful search both under and in the bed before climbing in. Not that, being in the middle of winter with a good white frost outside, there would be any snakes about, but yet a bit of caution seemed warranted.
Some stories about ghosts and unusual happenings would also be related. Several of the Page brothers would talk about the sounds of galloping horses and a speeding carriage along the Osmaston Road not far from Cluan, although no one ever mentioned having seen any images of it. Grandfather though said his horse never liked being in the area and was always touchy when passing where the sound was heard.
Another story concerned an old prospector who got lost and trapped in the snow in the mountains when heavy fog came down. His only protection was the clothes he was dressed in and fearing he might freeze to death if he sat down and went to sleep, got a stick and found a suitable tree, and throughout the night walked around the tree, hitting it with the stick until daylight.
Prospectors would sometimes call on Grandfather as they went into the mountains in search of minerals. One of the regular prospectors who called was a Mr. Hankey and on his last visit on coming out of the mountains, told Grandfather he had found what he thought was a large ore body and would take him and show him the place on his next visit. However, this never occurred as Mr. Hankey died soon after. When digging a post hole at the gateway to their home ore was found at the bottom of the hole. Other prospectors and miners
sometimes would pass his hut as they walked to the West Coast. Coal and some gold have also been found in the Liffey but not in commercial quantities. Grandfather in his diary on 19 January 1911, mentions going with his brothers, Will and Bert, to inspect “Wills coal seam up Billy Quinn’s Creek”. Grandfather again mentions the coal seam in his 1924 diary, when in April of that year, Mr. Gatenby and his son Noel came looking for the seam, locating it after a two-day search. It is understood the coal was later mined for a brief period but was found to be of poor quality, leaving a lot of ash after being burned.
It would appear the area has had an interesting geological history for it is believed the area has been covered by the sea on at least two occasions. There is a sandstone layer mid-way up the Western Tiers with seashells also being found in the mountains. In the mud stone, shells and leaf patterns of prehistoric vegetation are also to be seen.
Following on from Grandfather, several of his other brothers went farming and saw milling in the Liffey, including Will, Bert, Charlie, and George. Also an uncle, Billy (William Moore) Goss, a brother of Ellen Page. Contact with his parents and others at Cluan was maintained by a track that they established between the properties over the Cluan Tiers, a distance of about four miles. They would travel between the properties either by foot or on horseback.
Life did not just centre around work for the Pages liked to enjoy themselves as well. A particular love of the family was playing cricket. Grandfather in his 1906 diary in the month of December mentions three matches –
(Wed) 5 DEC 1906 – I went to the Cluan tea, there was a lot of people there. Us Page family played the Upper Liffey cricket team – we made 80 runs and the Liffey made 51 runs.
(Mon) 10 DEC 1906 – Us family played a game of cricket with Whitemore – we got 170 runs and Whitemore got 151 runs. Alfred was top score, 51 runs and George 30 runs.
(Sat) 29 DEC 1906 – Us Page brothers played the Liffey a game of cricket. We made something over 100 runs for the loss of four wickets, the Liffey made about 40 runs for the loss of six wickets – we had a good game – there was also a picnic chopping match.
Their father Robert was the captain, with all the boys playing, although Stanley only occasionally due to his poor health. The three girls were also involved, they keeping the scores. A number of the Page brothers played in “A Grade” competitions and even those who did not were top-class players. They often played teams from throughout Northern Tasmania and were frequent winners.
Grandfather was particularly known for his bowling skills. One of the teams they often played against was that headed by Dr Cole of Deloraine, the local medical practitioner in the town. As cricketers, they became quite renown and were generally known as the “Page Eleven”. At one time they were offered sponsorship to tour in England, but with families to care for and farms to be looked after, they did not take up the offer.
Another incident that would sometimes be spoken of concerned the death of his brother, Stanley. Grandfather and his brother Bert were working together in a paddock when in front of them a heart-like object fluttered up from the ground. They immediately knew that Stanley, their brother, who lived at Cluan had died. Without delay, they packed up their tools and set out to walk to their parent’s home at Cluan via the connecting track over the Tiers. Along this track, they met two of their sisters who were coming to bring them the news. At the same time another brother, Charles, was in his dairy on his farm on the Northwest Coast, milking his cows when suddenly the image of Stanley’s face was to be seen looking down at him from the roof above. He too instantly knew that Stanley had died and on completion of milking, immediately set out for the family home at Cluan.
Another interest of Grandfather was fishing, and he remained a keen fisherman until his last years. Numerous records of going fishing are to be found in his diaries. The 1911 diary contains the following entries –
(Sat) 11 NOV 1911 – I caught four fish this afternoon
(Tues) 21 NOV 1911 – It has been a rather nice sought of day. Alf and Ted Pearn came up for a day’s fishing. Me and Will and little Willie went with them. I caught 16 – altogether we caught 69 between 5 of us.
(Fri) 24 NOV 1911 – I caught 7 fish at dinner time
(Mon) 4 DEC 1911 – I caught 4 fish this afternoon
Aunty Sheila recalls that when Grandfather was travelling with them on the Northwest Coast and on stopping at the Dasher River near Barrington, he commented that he had caught many good fish from that river. When living at Bracknell and almost blind, he would make his way to the river, several hundred yards away to do a spot of fishing and often would bring several fish home and always seemed very pleased with the outing.
Snaring was a wintertime activity with the skins obtained providing good income. When the snaring season was open it was almost a daily activity, with numerous records of making and setting snares and going around them to gather up the caught animals. Sometimes the snare lines would be set well up the mountains with him staying up there overnight or longer before coming home. Conditions there, being winter, were often far from pleasant, with snow, sleet, rain and fogs frequently being encountered. Not only would he go snaring but would also hunt with his gun and dogs.
The snares would be set along animal tracks with several different types of snares being used. The standard snare was attached to a nearby spar or tree with the noose placed at head height, while the “springer” was attached to a bent over spar and when the noose was engaged would release the trigger and the spar would spring up holding the animal firmly and making escape impossible. The catch would be killed and skinned with the pelts only being saved, and on reaching home would be pegged out to dry, ready for sale.
Some of the sales recorded were –
(Thur) 2 AUG 1906 – I took the skins home today. I sent – 10 dozen (120) wallaby, 18 rat skins,
7 black opossums, 41 grey opossums, 8 ringtails, 7 tiger cats, 8 tame cats, 1 kangaroo, 3 platypuses
(Tue) 7 AUG 1906 – Ollie took my skins to the station tonight –
(Fri) 17 AUG 1906 – I fixed the wallaby skins up this morning and took them out tonight.
63 wallabies, 3 kangaroos, 7 tiger cats, 3 opossums. I took them out on old Topsey.
(Tues) 16 OCT – Claude Lansdell bought 6 wallaby skins at 1/3 each.
(Wed) 16 AUG 1911 – I took my skins to the Oaks station and a few for Will. I sent 123 wallaby skins, 30 grey brush opossums, 11 black brush opossums, 3 tiger cats, 1 domestic cat, 1 native cat, 7 kangaroos, 49 ringtails.
A love of music was an interest throughout Grandfather’s life. He regularly played his button accordion, mouth organ and tin whistle, self-teaching himself. He also liked to sing. All four girls were encouraged to learn music, particularly to play the organ, with one being found at both the Liffey and Bracknell homes. Rhoda was taught to play the organ by Lizzie Harris, a cousin who lived at Bracknell, and in turn taught her sisters.
Grandfather also involved himself in wood carving, with a surviving item being a walking stick on which is carved the words “J.P. June 2 1900 – The Vale X”.
When John and Rose decided to marry, a residence became necessary and action was commenced to build a house on their Liffey farm. Plans were drawn by a Launceston architect, a site chosen, and quotes obtained. The quote of £205-0-0 from Mr. E. Jordan of Westbury was accepted. As part of the building John agreed to supply much of the framing timber from his property and milled at his brother Will’s sawmill. He also agreed to the carting of materials from the Oaks Railway Station.
Jordan commenced building on 11 October 1915 and was finished by 2 December 1915. John on 15 December records shifting his bed into the new house during the afternoon.
Rose Alice Rebecca Clark/Goodyer/McGiveron/Page (22/5/1882 – 8/12/1951)
Our Grandmother Rose who married John Page at Launceston on 22 December 1915, was born at Launceston on 22 May 1882, her father John Clark(e) and mother Louisa Goodyer. Her birth was registered by Sarah McGiveron, Louisa’s mother. Even though Louisa and John were not married, Louisa and Rose were recorded as Clark(e).
When grandma was two years of age Louisa contracted typhoid and died. Rose was taken into her grandmother Sarah McGiveron’s home, where she was known as McGiveron, but after several years was moved to the home of her great grandparent’s, John and Susannah Goodyer, at Ravenswood. There she was known as Goodyer.
Grandma would recall her move, travelling from the McGiveron home at Distillery Creek to Ravenswood by horse and trap. It is likely the move was due to the workload and space requirements at the McGiveron home, as there was a large family to take care of and with Sarah still bearing children, the last of the 13 children being Lillian, born 21 November 1889.
Rose shared the Goodyer home with her great grandparents, John and Susannah, her Aunt Jane and her daughter, Hilda, also Aunt Clara and three Carter cousins, Jim, Len and Grace. The Carter children went to live with their grandparents, John and Susannah after the death of their mother. The house in the main was kept by Aunt Jane Goodyer as Susannah was frequently away in her capacity as a mid-wife in the area. Susannah continued in this work till over 80 years of age.
Accommodation at the Goodyer home was stretched and family stories report that females resided in the house and males lived in tents outside.
Grandma used to relate that a man came at times for several years and picked her up for outings. She understood this man was her father, however, she does not remember seeing him after 6 or 7 years of age.
In recent research some information on John has been located – he later married Jane Milbourne on 7 December 1886 in Launceston and moved to Devonport and Ulverstone and later to Queenstown. He worked as a carpenter. They had a family of 9 children although Grandma did not appear to be aware of them, even though they were half-sisters and brothers. Their connection has been confirmed via DNA.
Immediately on leaving school Grandma went to work as a weaver for the Hogarth family at their Waverly Woollen Mills and remained there till her marriage in December 1915. Her Aunt Clara also worked at the mill.
Rose was 5 feet 2½ inches tall, with fair hair and skin, and blue eyes. She had a quiet and gentle nature with her children remembering she had great patience. Also, she had a strong Christian faith and regularly read her Bible. She was baptised at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Launceston but prior to marriage mostly attended the Baptist Church, either at Elphin Road or Newstead.
It is uncertain how Rose and John met, although Aunt Ada Pattison, a sister to Grandfather, always claimed credit for their marriage. It is said that Ada was a good friend of Susannah Goodyer, therefore it is possible their introduction may have occurred as a result. Another possibility was via another sister to Grandfather, Mildred, who had married Len Carter. Len had grown up in the same household with Grandma, but on leaving school he had gone to work at Lockhart’s bacon factory at Cluan which was near the Page family home. There he met Mildred Page with the two eventually marrying. This also provided a further opportunity for our grandparents to meet and get to know each other. It is not known how long their courtship lasted but with over a two-hour bike ride between his Upper Liffey home and Launceston, there would have been little incentive for a long courtship. Grandfather would make the journey about once a fortnight and when in Launceston stayed with his sister, Mabel, Mrs Cecil Wright.
After marriage and throughout their lives regular contact was maintained between our grandparents and the Len and Millie Cater family, both by correspondence and visits by family members to the Carter home at Pine Street, Caulfield, Melbourne.
John and Rose were married in Launceston on Wednesday, 22 December 1915 and on that day moved to their new home on the farm at Upper Liffey, which was over 30 miles from Launceston. Grandfather’s diary provides an insight into activities at the time and the setting up of their home.
Life for grandfather in the months prior to marriage had been very busy with the building of their home and getting in crops at the farm. This necessitated frequent trips to Launceston, a lot of organising house materials and delivery to the building site. With no telephone, this needed a lot of travelling by bicycle, horse and cart or walking. Wedding plans would have also been needed to be completed, furniture purchased and delivered and Grandma’s possessions to be moved. The diary gives some details-
(Mon) 12 DEC 1915 – I paid McClymont £51-0-0, furniture and other goods of one sort or another. And I paid W Hart £10-10-6. And I paid H Fitse £1-0-0 on a suit.
(Sat) 18 DEC 1915 – It has been a fine day. I went to town and stayed at Mabel’s tonight.
(Sun) 19 DEC 1915 – It has been a hot day. I came from town today. I see Mr. Dell about going to town on Wednesday next.
(Wed) 22 DEC 1915 – It has been very warm today, but come onto rain about 5 o’clock – we very near got wet coming home. We were married today – the motor broke down with us and we finished up with another motor. Got a bag of sugar off Mr. Pearn.
Now we can only wonder what thoughts were going through the mind of Grandma as they drove to her new home at Upper Liffey and contemplated on her change of life and future. Not only was she moving away from family and friends, but was also leaving behind the familiar and comfortable surroundings of urban life in exchange for a harsh and almost pioneering life with few facilities and services. It must have been a real challenge but having a strong and resourceful nature and much faith, she was about to set to work with Grandfather to build a future together.
Family and friends soon started calling easing any isolated feelings. In Grandfather’s diary he recorded on Monday, 27 December 1915 – “There were five motor loads of people come from town for a picnic along the creek. And there was a big fall party up and Rose and I went with them. Bob, Estelle (Page), Dave and Daisy (Page) was up. Will Prewer and all his girls and young Bradmore and Ebey Templeton was up”.
Over the years frequent visitors are noted as coming as well as they visiting people in turn.
Development of the area around their home was made, a garden and orchard was established between the house and road, a pig paddock was made to the east of the house, cows were run nearby and milked to provide milk, cream and butter, a one-horse stable was built near the house to the northwest, and to the west, a cart shed, later used as a garage.
Nearby a school was established around 1916 but was closed by 1928 due to falling student numbers. The building was relocated to Bishopsbourne in 1933.
John and Rose produced five children, four girls and one boy, with the son Robert being still born. They were-
- Joyce Albena b. 12 October 1916 – Single
- Rhoda Ellen b. 23 September 1918
- m. Vivian Richardson
- Children:- Hazel, Stan, Max, Raynor and Alan
- Elma May b. 22 March 1920
- m. Eric Badcock
- Children:- Yvonne, Ivan, Keith, David and Janine
- Robert William – Still born
- Sheila Ruth – b. 6 May 1923
- m. Claude Winwood
- Children:- Margaret, Gwen, Jennifer, Dennis and Maxine
A feature of the area is huge wind storms, the wind being funnelled through the gulf between the mountains. These strong winds at times brought down trees killing cattle sheltering beneath.
On one occasion, Aunt Nellie Page (wife of Uncle Bert Page) with children, was driving her horse and cart along the road when a tree came crashing down landing on the horse, killing it. As the tree fell, Aunt Nellie and children jumped from the cart just in time to avoid a possible similar fate.
In the early years at Liffey, the horse and cart were often used for transport in the local area with this mode of travel continuing until the purchase of their 1938 Ford utility. When moving by horse and cart benches would be placed in the cart for seating. Protection in cold and wet weather was provided by wearing heavy warm clothing, with a “bluey” coat sometimes being worn to shed rain and keep out the cold.
The ute was driven by several of the daughters; Grandfather never learning to drive.
During the time that Grandfather farmed at Liffey he cleared most of the 201 acre block but only around five acres of the 257 acre block he wanting that the bush be retained. Fencing on the 201 acres was mostly attended by piling up logs to create fenced off areas.
Aunty Sheila would recall that the cattle during winter months would go bush into the mountains and would remain there until spring time when they would make their way home bringing their calves with them. Should the river be carrying a strong flow of water, the cows would enter the river and stop so as to break the flow of the current to allow the calves to safely cross on the down stream side. There was an under the road crossing near the house which allowed the cattle to move freely between one section of the farm to the other.
Move to Bracknell
By 1928 the Gulf Liffey school had closed due to insufficient numbers and to continue education for the children, a move became necessary. Bracknell was the logical choice and Grandfather was able to purchase the Mayfield house and land from his Prewer cousins. The property was on the corner of Jane and Amelia Streets and had been previously owned by William Page, John’s grandfather. The house had around two acres of attached land, with a further block of around six acres opposite.
Rose and the four girls moved to the Bracknell home with John continuing to farm at Liffey but visiting on weekends. Joyce and Rhoda on finishing school regularly went to live at Liffey, keeping house and assisting with farming. Later on with Grandma becoming ill and Elma and Rhoda marrying in 1941 and moving away, Joyce mostly lived at Bracknell with Sheila often living at Liffey.
Farming activities varied. At Bracknell, cows were hand milked and the calves reared for sale. They also had pigs and chooks and maintained a large garden. The milk would be separated, converted to butter and sold. At Liffey the running of cattle continued, crops sown, timber cut and sold and animal skins gathered for sale. With rabbits reaching plague proportions at Liffey, hundreds were killed often by poisoning and then skun, with the skins being sold. A furrow would be ploughed and apples laid out to encourage their gathering and after several feeds, poison was added.
Page Butter wrap
With Grandfather and Grandma having a policy of not permitting their children to take on outside employment, farm activities were mostly attended. All had other interests – Joyce is particularly remembered for caring for her parents in their later lives and had a great interest in local people and their activities, family history and nature. Frequently she would go bush, hiking to nearby localities, often taking her nephews and nieces with her and on other occasions taking them to Launceston by bus visting the Cateract Gorge, Museum, taking a tram ride and window shopping.
Rhoda is remembered for having a calm nature and for being a good assistance on the farm. She had a love of music and was taught to play the organ and in turn teaching her sisters. Like her father she was afficated by asthma as were her children Hazel and Ray, with Ray dying during an attack.
Elma mostly lived at Bracknell and had many social contacts and became skilled with cooking and food preserving, knitting and embroidery work. She played hockey with the Bracknell team and learned to play the organ serving in later life as a church organist and on passing her music exams, taught music mostly to the younger age group.
Sheila did much work at the Bracknell and Liffey properties and also learned to play the organ. She also assisted in caring for her parents in their end years. After the departure of her sisters Rhoda and Elma she became the vehicle driver. Both Sheila and Elma kept scap books, usually cuttings from newspapers featuring local people and events. Elma had a particular interest in the Royal family.
In later life Grandma had a cancer develop on her forhead near an eye, it commencing after bumping her head on a kettle. It eventually took her eye and she suffered much pain before her death. She was buried in the Bracknell General cemetery, also grandfather 10 years later.
The Liffey farm was sold in the mid 1940s with grandfather moving to Bracknell fulltime. Here he assisted with the farm work, cut fire wood, maintained a large garden and orchard. He was particularly known for his grafting skills attending his own trees and those of friends.
All the family were involved with Church activities at both the Methodist and Baptist Churches.
Some prized possessions have survived including
- The Goodyer Family Bible received from Rose’s great grandparents (John and Susannah Goodyer)
- An 1864 book “History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion” given by the Rev. Thomas Mell in 1872 in gratitude for assistance provided by William and Sarah Page, John’s grandparents
- John’s carved walking stick bearing an inscription “J.P. June 2 1900 – The Vale X”
- John’s cattle branding iron displaying “J P” and his cooking pot and flat iron.
Written by Ivan Badcock – Updated – 28 January 2022