Getting ready to leave

In December 1945 Gerald returned home and was discharged from the Airforce. Mum and I arrived in May 1946 and eventually moved into a house in Patterson Road Bentleigh.
Gerald obtained work at the Commonwealth Bank and stuck it out until 1951 when he was unable to re-engage in the RAAF due to his medical history. He was very disappointed by this and made a decision to leave Melbourne, buy a property in the bush and become a farmer. Gerald settled on a property at Darlingford, near Mansfield, in Victorias Mountain Country.
 Dad made a few trips to the bush to check on land and prices. I think he had already decided on the Mansfield Jamieson area and the block at Darling for filled the bill.
Our house at Patterson Road Bentleigh aroud 1950.
A sad trip

His Dad, Jim, accompanied him on some of these trips along with Alma, Paul and Ken. On one trip in June 1951 we were returning home along the Jamieson - Eildon Road when Jim asked Gerald to stop, as he wished to go for a walk. He did not want any company and walked off the road and headed to where he was to be picked up. Gerald drove on, across a small bridge and part of the way up the rise in the road and stopped. I remember seeing Grandad walking through the grass and crossing a small creek and climbing up to the road. He came to the car and spoke with Gerald and got into the car. Grandad made himself comfortable and sighed. Gerald noticed something was wrong, got out a pill and handed it to Ken to place it under Grandads tongue. It was to late, Grandad had died. 

Gerald turned the car around and headed back to Mansfield to place Grandads remains in the hands of an undertaker. Once in Mansfield it took Gerald along time to find someone that would look after his Dads remains. We then went home to Bentleigh.

land at Darlingford, near Mansfield 

The site of Jim Gannans last walk before he died.
Pine Grove
Gerald bought the block of land at Darlingford, near Mansfield in Victoria, and we moved into a house named Pine Grove. Gerald had high hopes of this land, a whole 730 acres. He started by agisting stock for some of our neighbours, planted Oats and Potato’s and cut wood for sale to the Hospital in Mansfield. They were busy times.

With the house came a cow, Sally, a horse, Fred and a dog, Laddie. They were all usefull in their own way. Sally provided milk, Fred provided muscle and was pretty useless and Laddie provided all those wonderful things I came to expect of a dog.

I started schooling by correspondence, with Mum as my teacher. As soon as school work was finnished I was free! So Ken and I spent much time wandering between Pine Grove and the Block about a mile away. This was good fun as we could explore the creek and the bush. This activity was accompanied by a lot of "Don'ts". Don't play in the creek, stay on the track, and don't get lost!
Pine Grove House was big, it had a huge kitchen, a dinning room  and a lounge. It also had an entrance foyer,a long hall way and at least four bedrooms, probably more. Outside in the yard was an Orchard, a Barn, a Chook yard, a place to milk the cow. Also out there was the Dunny!

Alma, Gerald, Paul and Ken. This picture, I believe was taken by Dads brother Bernie.
New things to do

This Pine Grove was great, Ken and I had so much to learn and so much to do. It was better than playing in the backyard or in the park at Bentleigh. Not as many people either.
Of interest was the driveway that ended in a roundabout near the house. The drive was lined, on either side, with Cypress trees. On the Northern side of the house was a double row of rather tall Pine Trees. Like the Cypress, they were great for climbing.
Down the back was a barn full of hay, a couple of sheds and some bits of machinery. Beyond that was the Goulburn River. At this time, winter to late in the Spring, the river was full to the top of its banks. During November to about May the river seemed to empty until we could see all the rocks on the bottom of the river. The river was controlled by the dam at Eildon. This dam holds all the water required by irrigators down around the Shepparton area and was in the process of being enlarged.
The river provided opportunity for fishing and swimming and generally good fun all year round.

The Goulburn River at the back of Pine Grove on what was known as Perkins Flat.
Fiddling while Braken Burned

There was much to do on the block. It had to be cleared, tidied up, fences repaired, new paddocks laid out, fences erected and organize money making ventures.
But first the clearing of the block. A lot of walking around and scratching of the head went on. Advice was  sought from and given freely by neighbours and it seemed that clearing the land was first. That required all the trees that were laying around being cut up for firewood. Piles of unwanted branches, twigs(provided by Ken and I) and stumps were set on fire. Blackberry and braken were set on fire to destroy them and allow new grass to grow. But it only seemed to encourage the stuff to try harder the following year. Most time Gerald went up to the block Alma, Ken and I went with him. Mum boiled the billy and Ken and I had the biggest play ground we had ever seen.

Alma, Paul and Ken watching over Geralds effort to burn some braken. This picture was taken near the end of September 1951. Christine arrived on the 19th of the next month.
The Animals

It was, for us, not usual to have a horse, cow, chooks, dog and cat around the house. We had been to the Allans Farm about a mile away and seen how they worked their animals. They had cows, sheep, a shearing shed, a dairy and a barn, not to mention a nasty Jersey Bull. The Allans ran the local postal service and sometimes we would go there to collect our mail, pick up all sorts of parcels and sometimes, milk. I began to imagine what our place would look like in a couple of years time.
Dad taught Ken and I how to milk a cow, but mostly Mum or Dad did it. We mostly got to feed the chooks, play with the dog and "do as you're bloody well told"!
Around the 19th of October 1951, Mum disappeared and Dad said she would be back soon with a surprise. Mum came home with something that made a horrible noise and it was called Christine. It was known as a "sister", what ever that was! This sister was good, she kept Mum and Dad out of our(Paul and Kens) hair for a while. We learned a couple of new phrase's: "keep quiet" and the "baby's asleep".
Life could not stop just because a baby had arrived. Ken and I got more chores and Gerald started going up to the block again. Everyone got into the swing of things and Dad got lots of exercise, at night, walking Christine up and down the hallway trying to get her to sleep.

Sally, the cow.
Working the Block

Despite the arrival of Christine, much work was required to improve the farm and feed the family. Gerry started by agisting sheep and cattle and cutting firewood for sale in and around Mansfield and at one stage was contracted to  provide "Sleepers"  for the State Electricity Commission (SEC). The SEC was building a power line from Mansfield to Jamieson and a power Station at Jamieson.
Some machinery was acquired: a circular saw, drag saw and a very heavy chainsaw. Next came a grey Ferguson tractor, plough and tiller and a strange looking thing called a tree puller. The tree puller was in fact a winch with a long handle. It was made of steel, had a drum held in a triangular frame. Around the drum was a long lenght of cable and there was a shorter piece that could be attached to the back of the pullers frame. It was a fairly simple piece of machinery desinged to pull trees out of the ground and on the odd occasion to pull the truck out of a bog.
Eventually the old Blitz truck was replaced by a new Thames. It got stuck as often as the Blitz. 

The Blitz A bit of Trivia. The Ford Blitzkrieg was made by Ford America and sold to the Germans who used it in the invasion of Poland etc during WWII
Help on the Block

Help was available from almost anwhere. Advice from neighbours on what you were doing wrong and conflicting ideas on what to do and how to do it. But mostly the thing to do was clear the land. This was achieved in a couple of interesting ways. The standing dead trees were cut down for firewood and either used by us or sold on in Mansfield and Jamieson. Other trees that needed felling were cut and split as fence posts, or used for building a bridge over our creek. Other trees were cut as sleepers for the State Electricity Commision for use on the power lines being built between Mansfield and Jamieson. Dad got his assistance from many places. The best group I remember were his brothers, Tony,Ted aand Bernie. They came up and help Gerald clear this particular two acre area so that  Oats could be sown.
This intrepid band of brothers came together and got to work.  Trees were cut down and dismembered and moved and slowly the patch was beginning to take shape. Late in the afternoon there were only four trees to come down. Four live trees of reasonable size and one big dead one. The brothers four concluded the the tree puller was the way to go. After much discussion the tree puller was hooked up to the old dead tree and one of the younger ones was used as the anchor. Cables were tightened, muscles tensed, handles pulled and eventually the tree came down. Unfortunately it was the anchor tree. I remember watching the action far into the night. The area, lit up by vehicle lights, was slowly filling up with tree tops. All the smaller trees were now on the ground.  It was realy too dark to continue so every one went home for dinner and a well earned brew.  On my last visit to the area in 2006 the big dead tree was still standing and the two acres was still fairly clear.

Gerald, Ted, Bernie and Tony with the saw bench
Working the Block

The block at Darlingford lasted until 1954, when the State Government compulsorily acquired the land for the new Eildon Dam that was officially opened in 1955. The family then moved to Jamieson, where Gerald took on various jobs with the Country Roads Board and finally with the Forests Commission. Both Christine and Judith were born in Mansfield in 1951 and 1956, respectively.

More to follow!!

#1 daughter 18.03.2011 21:59

Dad, is that a picture of the house we went to look at when the lake was empty?

Paul 19.03.2011 00:31

Yes. The place looks a bit sad now.
Love, Dadxx

Jess 18.03.2011 13:16

keep it up UP!!! Xxx

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Latest comments

02.07 | 08:09

Thanks for the reply - I found Gannan image on 14 Squadron archives whilst looking for John Hunter who was from Albury. I just wanted to advise - Cheers

02.07 | 07:56

Continuing, I have no information as to his time at 70 OTU other than he was on course No 13 and Passed. His name is Gerald Gannan who passed away in 1994.

02.07 | 07:49

G'day Chris. Sorry it took so long to answer. I have that pic somewhere. Just cannot find moment. It was among Dads Photos of 14 Sqn RAF. 70 OTU
Mar to May 42.

23.06 | 09:23

Hi Chris from Albury & District Historical Society - saw the image of the B26 in this post - can you advise where you found it as I'm doing some work on 70 OTU