An Oral History

The area around Natya is part of the Eastern Mallee and consists of gently rolling sandhills, loam flats, with occasional outcroppings of limestone. The larger vegetation was principally Dumosa Mallee, but there was a lot of Hop Bush as well, and a few Mallee Pines.

Behold the Moon

The three grades that occupied the one classroom were Two, Three and Four. We each had one section of the long blackboard at the front of the room. A fourth section, on the left, was permanently set aside for the story of Hiawatha - which, I was to learn later, turned out to be the song lyrics to Johnny Preston's Running Bear.

Convent School Music Lessons

Speaker: Emmie Blackhurst
Date: 1997, talking about 1930s
Topic: School Music Lessons

I went to the Sacred Heart Convent School in Bunbury. Well the nuns were so lovely really to be with: they were very strict. I learnt music under Mother Xavier. She always sat at the piano with a ruler in her hand and if you played the slightest wrong note, you’d get a whack across the knuckles for that.

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.


The day was just Election Day - within the same old walls,
Wherein I sat in school day years - again I heard the calls.
The bird notes seemed to be the same - 'een silence seemed to speak;
The murmuring stream, still murmured low, a-lazing down the creek.

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.

School at Gowan Farm

My father, James E. Conway came to the Mallee about the beginning of the 1900's and bought a block of land 7 miles north of Ultima, a place called "Gowan" in later years called "Gowanford." 

The farm had to be cleared of Mallee trees before being able to sow the wheat and oats. The oats were cut for horse feed. The chaff cutter had a horse powered machine. Water for the stock had to be carted from Swan Hill in tanks with wagon and horses.