Ultima

Fox Hunting




Before we begin, a few words to calm the Greenies and the Animal Welfare Brigade - foxes are not Australian native animals - they are classed as vermin and, in fact, the Government has a hefty price on fox scalps!

Foxes were imported from England soon after the arrival of the First Fleet so the well-to-do folk could pursue their pleasures of riding to hounds ie fox hunting.

Foxes are a great concern to sheep farmers as they can do so much damage to stock and cause devasting losses.





The Boy and the Little Plane




THE BOY & THE PLANE

Stories of one’s childhood are often told amongst family members and not publicly, Great Australian stories in itself is a story of many people and places but it just so happens that one of those places and the people features more than most in Great Australian Stories, that place being the small Mallee town of Ultima. Situated twenty miles South West of Swan Hill on the Sea Lake road, it is where I spent four years of my childhood between the years of 1962-1966, and I have fond memories of that time.





The Short Life of an Ultima Boy




I never knew my uncle Athol. Born in 1919, he grew up in Ultima in the Mallee region of Victoria. My grandfather Bob Leary, his wife Emily and sons Ivan and Athol lived in Dillon Street opposite Cuttle's Store where Bob worked.





MY FATHER...JOHN THOMAS ENGLISH




My father was born on May 25th, 1860, at Ballarat in Victoria. His father was Richard English, one of a family of six born in Durham, England. His mother was Rebecca Colclough, one of eleven - who came from Kilkenny, Ireland. I assume that the two were unknown to one another until they chose to emigrate to Australia on "The Champion of the Seas" in December 1856. Rebecca's sister Matilda - of 16 years - accompanied her. I have no copy of their marriage certificate but assume that it would have been in 1869.





Education in 1920-30's




In 1925, my brother Lewis Jilbert, aged five, was boarded with our Grandmother, Mrs T.J. Stevens, at 176 Mont Albert Road, Canterbury, a suburb of Melbourne. Lewis attended Chatham Public School. In 1926 I also attended the Chatham Public School. There were about 25 children in each class. In September 1927, the infectious disease Whooping Cough, struck many suburban schools; Lewis and I were very ill. Our mother came to help Grandma nurse us, bringing our younger sister, Ivy, with her, later Ivy also developed Whooping Cough.





Travels in the Mallee




My father, Ivan Leary, was born at the Ouyen Hospital in 1913 and grew up in Ultima. He would often tell me stories of his life in the Mallee.

On weekends, for amusement, he and his school friends would hitch rides on the wheat trains from town to town. Or they would walk twenty miles into Swan Hill and back, hopefully to be offered a lift from a passing dray.





Music, Memories




The piano on which my mother gave lessons went to my sister's lounge room in Adelaide. She inherited it after our Mother died. It was fully maintained and restored to original condition - it was a "Cable" upright orchestral piano (it had the extra octave applicable to Grand Pianos). 





Place to Spend One's Youth




My memories of life in Ultima are generally good; I would say totally fulfilled, being involved in every sport and other activities that came along.





Mrs Bausch and the Emu Eggs




Mrs Bausch used to walk down the street to the shops most days and on one of those trips she found what she called, "Emu Eggs". They were very large eggs, and because Horace the Emu strolled around; "they must be Emu eggs".

So... the Emu belonged to Mrs James.

So... the eggs must belong to her!!

So Mrs Bausch presented herself at Mrs James' door with the eggs in hand, and proceeded to explain that the Emu eggs must be hers!! Of course Mrs James knew immediately that the eggs were TURKEY EGGS, but was prepared to let the matter rest there for the moment. 





Early Pioneers




John O'Brien was born at Pannoobamawm (about 40 miles north of Bendigo) in 1874, on a farm selected by his father, Michael, in 1873. He went to school at Tennyson, and as his father was then blind, the boys took it in turn to go to school. At the age of 14, he became a contractor employing men, constructing outlet channels from the Waranga Basin; he did some contracting in the Minyip area, and later in the southern Mallee. About this time - about 1890 - the dog fence was opened and settlement of the northern Mallee was opened up.