‘I remember the massive grasshopper plague that came like a storm cloud and devastated us and I rushed out and attacked them with a broom!’
Bill Nicholls, Huntley, Spring Hill
I’ve lived at ‘Newhaven’, Huntley, all my life, having moved here as a baby.
I don’t remember my grandfathers but I remember my grandmother Nicholls. She used to live in Millthorpe and we used to visit her of a Sunday afternoon, but I was only very young when she passed away. I remember my grandmother Oldham very well because she moved here after her husband died. She suffered from rheumatism and my mother offered to care for her and she lived with us for twenty years – all my childhood life.
I remember things like before going to school the massive grasshopper plague that came like a storm cloud and devastated us and I rushed out and attacked them with a broom!
We had a car, but for going to Spring Hill and back we quite often used a horse and sulky, and as children we rode a horse to school.
I suppose a big step for me was starting school. I used to drive my mother mad wanting to go to school long before having the other brother and sister going, so that was one of the main events.
I think some of the most important buildings when I was young were the ones that are sadly demolished now. The railway station was wonderful, the goods yards were very active and there was a big Prescott shed there for produce. And now, of course, the police station is still there but closed down, and the two shops have been closed down. But sport was always a wonderful thing there. Tennis courts were available and I used them – played up until this year.
I became a member of the Fire Brigade when it was instigated just after the war. It was started with Harry Ironmonger over at Huntley and it became the Huntley/Spring Hill Fire Brigade, which then transferred to Spring Hill. For many, many years I was a member there until we were rezoned and I had to go to Lucknow Fire Brigade, which I’m still a member of.
I can remember electricity being introduced and spreading into the country in the ’50s. We used to have to persevere with fuel stoves and fuel heating and kerosene lamps. But all that changed. Refrigeration was very difficult – drip trays weren’t the best – everything went mouldy in them, but that didn’t matter – we scraped it off and ate it!
I look back and think how hard my parents worked. My father purchased this property when I was a few months old and he moved out here and it was virgin country. He had to clear it, fence it, put sheds and a house on it and then work it. He worked very hard farming. He grew wheat and oats for hay and grain, and grew potatoes and peas. And it was all done with horse-work which consisted of an eight-horse team. He used to rise early of a morning to stable them for a feed and then he milked the cows – we had a dairy as well – and my mother and father hand-milked about a dozen cows. They used to separate the cream and take it to the Spring Hill railway station by sulky and it was sent the Blayney butter factory. Then after a few years that was abolished and we went into bulk milk and it was picked up from Orange. His day consisted of getting up to stable the horses and then milking cows and then harnessing the horses and doing a full day’s work ploughing and then returning to milk the cows at night.
And my mother, she worked very hard too. She used to do the milking and separate, apart from looking after us three children and her invalid mother.
As children we attended Sunday school up at Mr Ironmonger’s orchard property. Mr Ironmonger was a wonderful Christian person, and a person to look up to in the neighbourhood. He held Sunday school there for local people and monthly church services. His son, Harry, then continued and had Sunday school at Spring Hill when Mr Ironmonger passed on.
This area has been my life and I love it.
Interviewed by Alex Rezko