All tagged Lives Well Lived
It turns out you don’t need to be old to be an Old Bastard. We’d been told that John Wheelock has been the president of Carnarvon’s Old Bastards since its inception in 1982. A quick google revealed that the Australasian Order of the Old Bastards is an Australia-wide organisation, far less organised than the Rotary Club or the Lions, but just as effective where fund-raising is concerned…
Now in his 80s, Mick has spent a huge part of his life living in the beach shack his father built back in 1959, just north of Carnarvon. In fact he still spends a large part of each year there - having arrived in January he has no plans of heading back south until August. When I visit Mick, his mate Faye is there for a few weeks too.
I first met Ray and Merle when I was photographing their granddaughter Jamee-Lee’s wedding about five years ago, and remember thinking that I’d love to do a portrait shoot . I discovered that they lived in Carnarvon and filed that thought away for another day. This week I caught up with them at their home…
John McCloy originally came to Carnarvon as a teacher for the School of the Air. These days, in retirement, he can be found volunteering at the recently opened Museum down by the One Mile Jetty in Carnarvon’s Heritage Precinct.
It seems the whole of Carnarvon knows Dr Harry Sneddon. For many years he was the town’s vet treating creatures great and small. A quietly spoken, gentle man - a gentleman in its truest sense - it’s not hard to imagine him tenderly handling someone’s fur child at his practice in town, or horse whispering out on a cattle station. More recently he’s owned and operated the general store just out of the town centre to keep himself busy in his retirement.
Neighbours to Robin and Robert, Margaret Scally lives in Goodlands, on the northern edge of the Wheatbelt in Western Australia with her two sons. It’s not the easiest place to find but we spotted their ‘mailboxes’ next to the road sign bearing their name. Standing at her back door with views across to ‘the hills’, Mt Singleton and Mt Gibson, Margaret told us of her earliest memory - aged around five, being given the last rites by the priest when she had “the black measles”.
Now 77, Robin’s life has not always been easy but it’s been full of love. Emerging from the school principal’s office after getting “the cuts” for wolf-whistling at her, Robin first saw his “Princess”, Kaye as she walked across the schoolyard. “You know when you’ve seen an angel” he told me. Knowing he’d got a keeper, Robin asked her father if he could marry her six times before he gained approval…
Lesley McNee was our local contact in Koorda. Thanks to Les I got to spend a morning with the CWA ladies, and she also invited us to camp out on her farm, next to the beautiful old homestead…
By chance I was in Koorda on a special day - the local branch of the CWA was celebrating a birthday. Since its inception 88 years ago, it’s had over five hundred members though currently, with a reduced population throughout Wheatbelt, the members number just 14…
If ever there’s a man who seizes the day it’s Mick, and his wife Judy seems more than happy to be going along for the ride…
“You’ve got to meet Ann and Three” we were told. “They’re living their life differently.” School teacher Ann and retired firefighter Three realising life was short, made the decision to sell up, buy a caravan and head off on an adventure around Australia. They left Bunbury, had a night in Narrogin and then drove to Mukinbudin, a tiny Wheatbelt town, three and a half hours drive from Perth. That was nine months ago. They’re still in Mukinbudin.
Wilma Geraghty, 89, and her son Peter own the Mukinbudin BP. She still works five and a half days a week because “What else would I do?” As well as working in the office this diminutive lady whose skin belies her years told me “I pump fuel, do the gas cylinders but I gave up carrying the 20 litre drums quite some time ago though…I’m the dog’s body! I do everything and anything but I’m the master of none.”
Small plane enthusiast, Richard Spark retired from farming and moved from Bonnie Rock to Mukinbudin 25 years ago. Since then, and now aged 82, he has owned and operated the town’s mechanics business. He was the founder of the Mukinbudin congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses which also still keeps him busy.
When Veronica called Katrina to check she was home and there was no reply, she presumed her friend was having a sleep. We tried phoning again a little while later and discovered that Katrina, the oldest of the three friends at 91, was in her garden planting dozens of seedlings she’d been given and showing no sign of needing a nana nap.
Judith is the quietest of the three friends in Bruce Rock. She grew up in Narambeen just down the road. A gentle soul with sadness etched in her face but ready to smile and stay busy. It would seem her story is unknown to the Bruce Rock locals despite the close community.
Veronica was the first person I met in Bruce Rock when I took refuge in the craft shop from the torrential downpour. Veronica was behind the counter, crocheting a blanket and up for a chat. I was struck by her energy and how active she is in the community - volunteering in the craft shop, helping out on the local newspaper, and a self-appointed chauffeur for her friends who can no longer drive, she also crochets blankets and makes greetings cards which her son sells in his shop in Alice Springs.
Annie and her artist daughter Michelle were two of the first people we met when we came to do a recce in Lake Grace prior to our week long North of Us project almost a decade ago. They spent the day showing us around, and helped us find the perfect spot to set up camp. If you know of any lovely Oldies between Lake Grace and Bruce Rock (via Corrigin) we’ll be in the area for the next week or so and would love some suggestions :-)
When I was asking around about who I should be trying to photograph in Lake Grace, Neil and Elsie’s name came up again and again. Jim has lived in Lake Grace all his life - his family were amongst the first to start farming here. Elsie, a retired nurse grew up down the road in a little town called Newdegate.
Jim, a retired farmer, was born and raised in Lake Grace. He described himself as deaf, with one bung eye and the other doesn’t work at all. Walking slowly now with his frame, he’s still living at home at 88. We arrived at his farm to find him sitting in his ute, door open, old sheepdog beside him on the passenger seat, Radio National playing full blast, and pleased to discover he had visitors.