Part 1 Childhood Memoirs

My birth certificate states that I was born in Gosford on 5th Feb 1918, the third in the family of Philip Touet Aubin & Alice Maud Aubin, nee Bromley. A sister and a brother preceded me by six and four years respectively. A brother and a sister came along six and eight years after me. My first memories are of our little unpainted weatherboard house on our farm at Matcham seven miles from Gosford a 13.5 acre citrus orchard and market garden, being one third of Portion 17, Parish of Kincumber, County of Northumberland, Certificate of title V01.3407 Fo1.122. The balance of Portion 17 was owned and occupied by my Uncle John Aubin and his family. The 40 acre Portion was originally selected as a conditional purchase in 1890 by my Grandfather William John Aubin who came from Jersey in the Channel Islands as a telegraphist in 1873.

Although we were poor and life was a constant struggle in those days it did not seem to matter as all our neighbouring friends and relations were in the same situation. We were fortunate to be able to keep a cow, a pig and poultry and to be able to grow our own fruit and vegetables. Plenty of good firewood was available for our fuel stove cooking and warming. There was an interesting little permanent creek which had its source on our place and which eventually flowed into Erina Creek. Our nearest neighbours, the John Aubins lived about half a kilometre away and together with our Cousins we made up one big happy family. Oddly our neighbours on one side were the Ducks and on the other side the Cranes.

Lots of relations lived and farmed within two kilometres and my Bromley Grandparents lived at Erina about five kilometres away, at the junction of the Terrigal & Entrance roads. Their farm eventually became the Gosford Drive-in Theatre. My Grandfather Aubin was acting Postmaster at Gosford and he would sometimes walk the seven miles from there to the farm at week ends.


In 1919 the Prince of Wales was visitin Australia. A local holiday was declared but th Postmaster and the telegram boy were require to remain on duty while the rest of the staff went up to the railway station to greet the Prince as the Royal train came through. During the afternoon a telegram came for the Prince and much to the delight of the telegram boy he was required to meet the train and hand the message to the Prince’s Secretary.

Our white half draught mare named Poll was the nucleus of the farming activities. She was required to pull the mouldboard plough to turn over the soil, followed by the diamond harrow to break down the ploughed ground ready for planting. These simple implements including a wooden barrel fitted with a hand rocker pump for spraying the orchard trees were transported around the farm on a home made sledge drawn by Polly.

As a pre-schooler I would often go with my dad up the hill to the cultivation areas. loved the smell of the freshly turned soil as I followed along in the ploughed furrow. The magpies and kookaburras also joined in searching for grubs and worms. There were several stumps in the cultivation to be removed. Dad would bore holes in them with an auger, place in a stick of gelignite with a detonator and fuse attached and light the fuse. We would run and hide behind a tree and wait for the explosion. Wood was then piled on the shattered stump and a fire lit. Sometimes thes stump holes burned for days.

We had a small chipped area with a shade stick to tell us when it was noon and time to go home for lunch. Knock-off time of an evening was sunset. Knowing the time in those days was problem in the country. We had an eight day clock on the mantle piece and Dad had a pocket watch which was not taken to work. The watch was set at the railway station or post office on the odd occasions we went to town, then the clock would be corrected when we got home or when a visitor came from town.

One such visitor was Mr Thorn the Griffiths Bros tea traveller. He came in a sulky and took orders for tea and jelly crystals. The orders were delivered on his next trip, the tea in a big tin about one cubic foot. These tins were then used for storing things away from mice which were always a problem.

For lighting we had a couple of kerosene lamps with wicks, a few candles and a hurricane lantern. A four gallon tin of kerosene with a small pump stood on the back verandah. The boxes of candles came with the regular grocery order. The hurricane lantern was used for outdoors at night and was particularly important for finding your way to the outhouse which was about a hundred metres away and it could be an eerie experience for us kids with the sounds of owls, curlews and barking foxes coming from the adjacent bush. One always went accompanied on such occasions, with strict instructions to watch out for redback spiders. Some nights the bush would be sparkling with swarms of fireflies which my dad said were mosquitoes looking for us with lanterns. One of my brothers tricks was to blow out the candle and try to jump into bed before the room was dark.

One day in 1921 there was a total eclipse of the sun at about 3.30pm. My brother and sister were sent home from school at lunch time, each with a piece of smoked glass through which to observe this phenomenon. Our chooks went to roost for about an hour that afternoon. We often spent our Saturdays gathering wild blackberries, cape gooseberries and raspberries from the adjoining bushland. Mother would make lots of lovely pies and jams from them. The jam was stored in beer bottles which were cut off at the shoulders by placing a red hot wire around them and then plunging them into cold water. When the jars were filled they were capped off by pasting brown paper over the top. Afler autumn rains our paddocks were usually covered with mushrooms which made a welcome change to our diet. Our chooks provided plenty of eggs and for special occasions like Christmas we would kill and dress our own poultry.

About one night per month, when there was no moon and tides were very low, dad walked over the hill down to the rocks at Wamberal and Terrigal with a lantern made form a stoneware ink jar with a flannel wick, a shiny tin reflector and wire handle and a spear made from a broom handle with prongs filed from fencing wire. He always managed to spear lots of lovely fish which stayed over in the rock pools on the dark nights waiting for the incoming tide. Sometimes he even managed to bag a lobster or two. As there was no refrigeration they had to used up quickly and shared with the neighbours and relations who in turn would reciprocate. We kept one pig which I became very fond of as I had no playmates when brother and sister went off to school. By arrangement, one day a neighbour arrived with a big knife and an oilstone. My mother took me off for a walk in the orchard and when we got back the pig was no more but half his dressed carcass was hanging in our open fireplace being smoked from the log fire which bumed constantly during the cold weather. The other half was taken by the neighbour for his trouble. When the warmer weather came the open fireplace was cleaned up and whitewashed.