Echuca - Moama Family History Group, Inc.
Post Office Box 707, Echuca, Victoria, 3564, Australia.
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Members Family History'sPhilbrick Family - Rosamond Beale(1052)
I am one of those eccentric genealogists searching for lost or distant family. Should the following stories ring a bell with the descendants of the sheep station in Western Australia I would love to hear from them.
My mother's cousin Basil PHILBRICK came out to Australia in 1911 from the U.K. He subsequently stayed in the Otways with his WEBSTER cousins for a time, before going on to Western Australia for a few years presumably to stay with more of the family before returning to the United Kingdom. Different members of our family remained in contact with Basil until he passed away, and then with his son, but none of them have bothered to track down the family Basil stayed with in Western Australia although the stones have survived and some of the photo's.
Basil named his son James Stewart, the Stewart being after the family he stayed with in Western Australia. Stewart could have been a first name or the surname of the family. These are the stories told by Basil and written by Basil's son. It must have been 1913/14 and Basil was working on the Western Australian sheep station from which the only way to visit civilization (Perth) was a T model Ford or a motor cycle and sidecar of dubious origins, neither of which could cover the 200 miles of tracks and rough roads in much under two days.
The Aeroplane Story
The boss, one of whose names was Stewart must have been tolerably well off because he purchased an aeroplane, which was either a Bristol or an S.E. and had it shipped from England to the sheep station partly dismantled, along with a bloke who was to help assemble the plane and show them how to fly it.
The bloke in question discharged the first part of his commission well enough, but was only left with one day for flying tuition, before he had to depart on his homeward journey. The instructor taught Basil and the boss what he could in the time allowed, and then it was Basil's task to drive the Instructor back to Perth.
When Basil returned from Perth the plane was still where it had been left and the boss was standing near by, awaiting only his co-pilot, ready for his first flight. Basil remembered that the next twenty minutes were the most terrifying of his life, and ended with them undercarriage of the aeroplane snagging a tree as they tried to land. Neither of them was much hurt in body, maybe more in pride, but the plane was seriously damaged enough not to be used again to his knowledge.
The Chinese Laundry Man
The personnel of the sheep station were much put out when the Chinese laundry man left without notice, and even more so, but for a different reason when the Chinaman was discovered a day or two later, drowned in the well which was their only source of water.
Basil was given the job of transporting the body to Perth for the necessary post mortem/inquest and opted to use the motor cycle and sidecar which was very slow but at least had the advantage of ventilation - quite important when transporting a three day dead Chinaman during the warmth of the Western Australian summer.
Although a coffin was available it was not possible to balance it on the sidecar, so the corpus delecti was seated in the side car, with clothing etc., so as not to arouse the curiosity of any other road users. The journey was completed without major hitches, but Basil rated it as an extremely unpleasant two days for reasons which I am sure you can imagine.
We believe Basil joined the Australian forces and went off to the war before returning to the U.K.
Echuca / Moama Family History Group - Last Modified : 19 Jul 2000