A BUSHRANGER PLAYED TRUANT AND SCOURED OUR BUSHLAND
Stan Wenban, a craggy, articulate man of the bush, is the grand old character of Manildra town.
And at 91 he’s obstinate about one thing – he’s a bushranger – and “I’ve been one all my life”. He’s scoured the bush and highways from Manildra to Muswellbrook. He began in the footsteps of Ned Kelly, he’ll tell you, back in the early 1900s while he was still at school. Read the rest of this entry »
The great survivors of Manildra town are two families who’ve been operating successfully since the early part of the century.
One, a motor garage, the other a stock and station agency, have survived droughts, depression and the threats of close provincial cities for almost 80 years.
Allan Tom began repairing bicycles, along with his brother, James in 1914.
They worked from an old wooden slab hut converted into an office and shop, almost in the same spot where Allan Tom’s garage now stands.
From bicycles they progressed to cars.
Allan bought his first automobile – a second hand Model T Ford – for £150 in 1919 from E.C. Cameron in Orange.
He used this as a hire car and brought people regularly to Orange each Thursday to attend stock sales.
He charged $1 a passenger. The car held four people.
“We began servicing our own cars and eventually the business grew”.
Allan took over the business himself on the death of his brother in 1937.
Mr and Mrs Ian Giffin, of Manildra, operate Ian’s grandfather’s original stock and station agency that opened its doors soon after the turn of the century.
Richard Frogley began trading in Manildra first as a grocer and later established a stock, station and commission agency, R. Frogley and Co.
It trades in the same name today.
Over the years there were several changes in the structure of the business until Richard Frogley was joined by his son-in-law Geoffrey Giffin.
Following Mr Frogley’s death in 1950, Geoffrey Giffin bought the business and with the help of his wife, Jean and son, Ian they traded together until Geoffrey died in 1963.
Ian Giffin and his mother continued trading until Mrs Giffin retired in 1974.
The business is now operated by Ian and his wife Bernadette.
Today the business is primarily a commission agency.
Until the drought hit the district the Giffins also ran a nursery in conjunction with the agency.
Bibliography: Central Western Daily 1982, ‘Businesses survive a century’, Manildra Public School Centenary supplement, 21 October, p.13
Saturday morning they’d assemble, a “Show Day” it would resemble,
When from all around the district they would make their way to town.
Their local town they’d shop in, most to the pub would drop in,
And in a friendly get together, a few glasses they would down.
I can see them in their places, all those old familiar faces,
As I slip back through the ages and those happy days recall.
There’s “old Bill” has pipe aglowing, his philosophy aflowing,
And Benny in some back room and “Tomsie” in his stall.
Athol, Tom and Walter, their routine would seldom alter,
For they’d slowly sip their “sevens” while to each other they’d confide.
And if someone whose thirst was hearty, should somehow join the party,
You’d see him sneak around the corner and down a schooner on the side.
And some would get quite vocal, down there at the local,
And all the town would hear them when Mick and Billy did “hold forth”.
Though some would try to “shush” them, there was no way you could “hush” them,
And I’m sure they’d hear them down at Toogong when the wind blew from the north.
Our limited resources, we would try to build up on the horses,
So we’d slip around the corner for a bob each way S.P.
And if we got a winner, we might be late for dinner,
But if we got a couple, we might be late for tea.
There was Ike and Snow and Breezy, throughout the day they’d take it easy,
But in the evening session to town they’d really go.
Then with movements most gymnastic, they would “trip the light fantastic”
And treat the other drinkers to a really good floor show.
Others would be singing, the rafters would be ringing,
They thought they were “Carusos” with voices oh so high.
While some with voices rusty, would try to imitate Slim Dusty,
Though some were rather pleasant, some were enough to make you cry.
When not dancing and not singing, their arms they would be swinging,
And acting like contestants in Sharman’s travelling show.
There were winners, there were losers, there were cuts and there were bruises,
But they didn’t seem to worry, they just loved to have a go.
There was young “Whopper” (and his Poppa), they set upon the copper,
When he came in to remove them and they refused to go.
It was lively while it lasted, “cop that you provost bastard”,
Was Whopper heard to mutter as they tumbled to and fro.
“Porridge” loved to box them, but he struck a snag in Moxham,
When he took him to the trucking yards his fighting skills to show.
He could handle him he reckoned, but he once again ran second,
But that was in the good old days some thirty years ago.
There were no clubs for us on Sunday, but we didn’t wait ‘till Monday,
For there was bound to be a session where you could get your fill.
And we had our ways of knowing, we knew the beer would be flowing,
When “Mostie” came from Gregra and the “tykes” came from the hill.
To the dances now they’re going with their cans and bottles showing,
Not planted in some doorway as they were in days of yore.
And to drink them now you’re able, whilst seated at a table,
As they watch the graceful couples gliding ’round the floor.
It’s hard for me to write about a man I hardly knew,
After all when I first met him he was nearly eighty-two.
But if you have the time to stop a while and listen to my tale,
I want to give you my impression of a most outstanding male.
Was the conversation football or the latest Kruschev fuss,
Was it cricket, was it tennis or the new South Sydney bus,
Was it parliament or Council or the local paper news
Where ever men gathered you would hear him air his views.
The village of Manildra was his interest all his life
And in this he was assisted by his ever loving wife,
To the Club, and Pub, and dances and to meetings he would roam
But his greatest single interest was for happiness at home.
His Irish brogue and Irish wit in our hearts remembered long
Whether raised in friendly argument or lifted up in song.
“I remember” “I remember” he would start his ditty so,
And ere the story finished from our eyes the tears would flow.
He would reminisce on days gone by and things we’ve never seen,
On saddle horse and drovers and on hitching up the team.
Or maybe ‘twas the Blacksmith shop or the days of bread and water,
But then he’d say I’m going home. “My teeth are under water”.
He’d share a stout with Tommy, for St. Patrick he’d be gay,
But he’d return the shout for certain when it came to Orange-Man’s day,
With Ferguson and Kinsela and his old mate Benny Hall,
He’d mix with all and sundry, he knew and loved them all.
But it came to pass, as he knew it would, the fate of all mere man,
He was called to take an active part in a much much greater plan,
Twas a moment he’d prepared for, he knew the reward was high,
And no doubt he’s found his resting place way up in the clear blue sky.
The funeral left the little church, our hearts with sadness filled,
The chatter of the children, for a moment it was stilled,
A tribute to this fine man, the many people there,
With grief upon their faces and a stillness in the air.
At Meranburn they laid him down, never more to roam,
A pretty spot up on the hill that overlooked his home,
And from this spot his soul has gone to its eternal rest
And we say, “God bless old Mick Kelly”, for he was of the best.