Topic: Bits and Pieces from Memory Lane by Walter Matthews

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Memories of Flemington district by Walter Matthews

  • When my father took over Pukeora it consisted of two main paddocks; the ram paddock of about 100 acres, and the rest, which was covered in scrub. As it was developed, in fits and starts depending on the economy, it was necessary to grow grain to feed the working horses. This practice depleted the fertility of the soil, which took years to recover.

The Flemington Station dip was on Pukeora in a paddock (still called the Dip pad) next to the Purimu Stream. It was built (the swim through) of 12" by 2" tongue and grooved kauri and the draining stage was tongue and grooved heart matai. A hand-operated pump lifted water from the Purimu.

From my father's Diary - March 2nd 1910. Stock bought at Flemington:

  • 637 4yr Ewes @ 11/1d
  • 454 Ewe Lambs @ 6/6d
  • 35 3yr Lincoln Stud Ewes @ 14/3d
  • 59 4yr Stud Ewes @ 12/-
  • 1 Jersey Cow, 3yrs old. 6 pounds 5d
  • 1 Dray 12 pounds 10d
  • 1 Pony Mare 5 pounds

My father and the Stratford Brothers were the first settlers in the district to use superphosphate, about 1924. This move had a dramatic effect on production, turning breeding country into finishing country. Concurrently, the advent of the stock truck, each carrying 100 fat lambs, saw convoys leaving Roto Hiwi every summer.

One of my earaliest memories was of draught horses pulling vehicles up the Roto Hiwi hill in wet weather. Grand stalwarts that would tackle any job. Clyde and Giner; a noble pair that were a legend in the district. Vivid memories alos of the temperamental engines which drove the shearing plants, each with its own particular exhaust rhythm. They seemed to have a perverse habit ot stopping when the boss was out mustering. A deathly hush at the woolshed when returning from a muster was dreaded.

The cars also had their own habits, some good (plodding through mud) some bad (unreliable vacuum pumps). The Model-Ts wer succeeded by Buicks, Dodges, Studebakers, Overlands and Chryslers.

The great depression of the 1930's was a testing time for all, and brought out the best in people. Co-operation was the name of the game, and pooling of resources was a means of survival. Stringent economies, and self-sufficiency enabled people to weather the difficult period. There were no mortgagee sales in the Flemington District. The disastrous 1930 earthquake added material insult to economic injury.

The completion of the road link, with the building of Dalby's Bridge and the twin bridges at Purimu, saw the start of the Rural Mail Services, which were a boon to settlers. One Cadillac tourer had a large canvas trunk on the back to carry parcels and farm goods, as the inside was frequently occupied by passengers. Peter Jones, the mailman for many years, was extremely obliging, and would buy and deliver anything from a reel of cotton to postage stamps. Before he married, his very blonde fiancee was a regular passenger.

Back in the day when settlers took turns to ride to Wanstead for the mail, the service was nothing if not irregular. The temptations of Wanstead resulted in some very large deliveries, and even a paper-chase-like trail along the track.

 

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Bits and Pieces from Memory Lane by Walter Matthews


First Names:Walter
Last Name:Matthews
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License
Bits and Pieces from Memory Lane by Walter Matthews by Ngai Deckard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License