My Mother, (Gwendoline) Mary Ind
Please also see: ‘My Mother is Saved.’
I include this article in truly loving memory and honour of my mother.
(Gwendoline) Mary Ind at age 74.
Gwendoline Mary Ind was born on the 6th October 1908, the younger of two daughters of Allen and May Willcox. (Two other girls died, One was still born and Lillian Maud died at six months, of pneumonia, she was named after Allen's sister, Maud, who was a bright, happy, full of fun character who died at 96 years of age living on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.) Mary's mother's maiden name was Cowan, also a well known old Adelaide farming and grazing family. John Cowan (senior) 1810 – 1879 came from Fermanagh in Ireland and arrived in Adelaide in 1852 on the ship ‘Spaminondas. He was a pastoralist. Allen was one of eight sons of Charles Willcox, who was of Scottish and Cornish descent and was a very successful businessman who established a number of Adelaide businesses and was the first Mayor of Adelaide (before the title became known as Lord Mayor) to be returned for a second term. Among many other undertakings, Willcox and Morphett owned the first horse trams in Adelaide. Allen was one of the first students at Wynham College at Hahndorf, and later obtained a degree in Agriculture at Roseworthy Agricultural College.
Gwendoline Mary Willcox, who always preferred to be called Mary and was known as Mary to all her friends and family, grew up on 'Kilburnie,' her parents 1000 acre (447 hectares) wheat and sheep property between Two Wells and Mallala, north of Adelaide, South Australia. It was purchased for Allen by his father Charles, who was a very successful businessman, and Mayor of Adelaide for two terms. The immaculate homestead with white ‘casted’ walls and red roof, stood in an attractive position beside a sharp bend in the River Light. It consisted of three large bedrooms, a large sitting room and a long kitchen with a servery to the large dining room which opened onto the always polished, red cement verandahs. Steps from one end of the verandah led down to the cellar where cheeses and meat were kept. Water was pumped from an underground cement tank. Gas burners provided light. Meat was obtained by killing a sheep, which was usually done at night, by the light of a lamp held by Jean or Mary, and it was then placed in a calico covering and hung under a pine tree.
There were 20 Clydesdale plus riding horses in use before a McCormack tractor eventually replaced the Clydesdales. Each horse's name was above each manger and their hanes which comprise an iron framework which fitted around the collar and to which other harness was attached, bridles, and blinkers were hung on large iron hooks hanging from long timber rails on the walls above the mangers of the magnificent stone stables which had large flat cobblestone flooring. The yards were all cobblestoned and a gate led into the very attractive garden which had an orangery in the corner nearest the bend in the river. Friends loved visiting and always remembered the attractive garden with arches and the strong smell of orange blossom and other flowers. Everything was kept immaculately. The stables and stone shearing shed and buildings that housed the buggies, implements and harness are still in their very peaceful setting today, but the homestead, which became badly attacked by white ants, has been replaced by a modern house.
A very tall old palm tree still stands where the garden was. A pedestrian swing bridge connected this northern side of the river to the other, reaching across the river from the little orchard adjoining the garden, to the workman's cottage and more stone sheds on the southern side. When the water in the river was running too high to allow vehicles to cross the 'ford,' they left the vehicles on the southern side and walked across the swing bridge to the homestead. The workman’s wife cleaned the main homestead.
Mary and her sister Jeanie, as little girls, travelled to Adelaide with their parents in their hooded, rubber tyred 'Abbott Buggie,’ pulled by a 'perfect pair' (matching pair) of ponies, firstly a chestnut pair, named Hero and Comet, and later a bay pair (brown with black mane and tail), named Polly and Lucy. The girls would sit on little seats up front for the 30 mile (48 Km) trip over dirt and metal roads. They always stayed at the Prince Alfred Hotel which was next to the Adelaide Town Hall, and the horses were put up at the Hill and Co. Stables.
Jeanie was named after their Aunt Jeanie Willcox who married Malcolm Reid a well known businessman of 'Malcolm Reid Furniture', a well known old Adelaide business. One of his race horses won two Melbourne Cups. Jeanie married Lance Walters a biochemist and amateur horticulturalist who was a respected world authority in the brewing industry, and respected in the field of plant pathology. They lived in a large old home in Collinswood with their children William (Bill) and Mary. Bill became a professor of gynaecology, obstetrics and reproductive medicine at Newcastle University, following studies and positions in Adelaide, London’s Hammersmith Hospital and Melbourne’s Monash University. He then became medical director of Sydney’s Royal North Shore Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Jeanie spent her last years in Sydney living at Darling Point, overlooking the harbour, and she died shortly before her 98th birthday.
Mary and Jeanie attended Paddy's Bridge School (later re-named Korunye School when the railway went through in 1921 and is now a private home,) about two miles (3Km) away at Korunye. North of Adelaide, The ten or twelve students were made up of the Willcox girls, Pratt's, Wasley's and Jenkin's children. Mary and Jeanie would drive themselves in their rubber tyred sulky, drawn by their pony, Polly, and on arrival one of the young boys would help unharness the pony and let it loose in the paddock. At three o'clock he would catch Polly, reharness her, and the girls would head for home.
Jeanie later attended Miss Dow's 'Uthamurra Girls School' at Glenelg, and Mary attended 'Riverside Anglican Boarding School' which was at 1-3 Robe Terrace, Medindie, facing the North Adelaide parklands. One day when the class members were required to write an essay, Mary sat looking out of the window, wondering what on earth she was going to write about. She was looking at a large old gum tree across the road in a paddock, in the parklands, and she started thinking of how that tree would have seen so much of life and all the activities around it over the years, so she wrote an essay about the tree and the aborigines it would have seen living around it, and later the sheep which white men brought from England. This essay won her top marks, and a copy of it is in this book. Mary would have liked to study law, but despite the pleading to do so from her school principal, she was drawn back to 'Kilburnie' by her love for country life and her horses. Some of Mary’s friends attended ‘Creveen’, another exclusive girls school.
Mary would often ride her horse along six miles (10 Km) of road across flat, almost treeless country into Two Wells for a ginger beer and an ice-cream at Wright's General Store near Randall's two storey grocery store. (Edith Cowan, May's sister, who married Rupert Wright, cared for their daughter Kathleen and continued running the business after Rupert was killed at the age of 25 when he lit a match near the gas storage in the back shed.) Mary would then visit the bakery to say hello to the baker and enjoy the aroma of fresh baking, then along to Rowe Bros blacksmith shop, where she was intrigued by the furnace, the machines and the loud hammering into shape of horse shoes and other metal objects. After saying hello to the blacksmith, and maybe Mr Kington at the garage, Mr Johnson the butcher and Mr. Hanrahan the saddler, this pretty, blonde girl would ride her horse past Murrell's two story hotel, which used to be owned by the Cowan family, and then home again along the long dirt roads across the flat country to the 'Kilburnie' homestead in its peaceful setting hidden behind the gum trees on the bend in the River Light.
Life at Kilburnie was happy. Four of Mary's friends, Mollie Fotheringham, Ellie Rutherford, Betty Bonython and Joan Smeaton would head off on the 40 mile (64.5 km) journey from Adelaide to 'Kilburnie' for a weekend stay, with Joan Smeaton driving her tiny MG car, and the other three riding their bicycles. They each rested by taking turns at driving the car while the other three rode. They used to refer to themselves as 'the four hags'. (Mollie married a Shutts and lived in Kuala Lumpur where he was an engineer, Ellie married Clive McFarlane and lived on their sheep station, 'Pleasant Park' at Penola. Betty married Keith Wilson, a well known Adelaide lawyer and politician who was later knighted, and Joan married a McGregor of the well known Adelaide wool family).
Yabbies in the river were caught with meat tied to the end of a stick. Mary bred pigeons which she would send with Mr Horan, the man who called around in his horse drawn van to all the properties each week, to buy vegetables and any produce which was surplus to their own requirements, to be sold in Adelaide. For eggs he paid 4.5 pence (fourpence halfpenny = 3.5c) per dozen. She was so proud of being able to make some money and to be so enterprising. All her life she remembered her father's advice to always make sure she had some money in her pocket. Mary, as our dear mother, also enjoyed selling flowers from the garden at Balmoral which included a large patch of Palmer violets. She also carefully and conscientiously built up a large share portfolio.
The first family car was a Rover which had two big brass headlamps, two brass side lights near the windscreen and a hood which folded down over the windscreen and was held down by two large straps tied to the mudguards. The spare wheel and large hand brake lever were on the side with a large rubber squeeze bulb horn.