Judith smiled when I asked her if she had ever taken a selfie. She said no, but then smiled, glowing, as we took a snap. While she’s never taken a selfie, Judith has achieved so much in her life. Her experiences from boarding school, through to working as an office clerk, running a farm and becoming a mother and grandmother have shaped a full life.
Judith grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. While many Australians struggled, Judith said her family life was nonetheless happy: “We were never deprived, but my parents knew of bad times so there was never any waste. Judith gleefully remembers when she was seven years old watching a ute travelling to the farm carrying her families first fridge. A fridge is considered an everyday appliance now, but Judith remembers that back then it was an expensive luxury that had the ability to change their life.
Judith eventually had to leave the farm for schooling, and she speaks fondly of her time boarding at Methodist Ladies College. She enjoyed being able to visit her grandparents in the city, as they were allowed to leave the college and visit someone on a prescribed list every second Saturday of the month.
At the end of her time at MLC she completed a twelve-month business course before working as an office clerk for five years but Judith and her ancestors have always been farmers, ever since they travelled to Australia from Scotland in the 1850s. So after her schooling she moved back to the country, where she lived in Numurkah, to build a farm and a family.
Judith met Keith through his sister at a town ball. He was a handsome man a few years older than Judith, and he attended Wesley College. She attended Methodist Ladies College (MLC), but they had never met whilst at boarding school. They soon married and decided to go back to farm life. Keith’s family had a very large property and this was split into four different properties for each of the male siblings of his family. His father died at quite a young age (30), so the brothers in Keith’s family had to “step up and run the farm.”
War took a terrible toll on the lives of many Australians, and Judith lived through World War II, and the Vietnam war. Her husband Keith had tried to enlist but the importance of the farm and the role that he and his brothers had meant he was told not to go.
So Judith and Keith instead focussed on farm and family and eventually had three children; Janet, Peter and Cameron. Judith was always kept busy cooking and caring for her family and all the workers on the farm. She would cook for all the shearers on her farm, which would sometimes be around ten people. It would always be a hot dinner, cooking a roast for everyone. She had a garden and loved growing flowers, but this was always difficult before the availability of irrigation, which Judith mentioned was one of the more life changing moments on the farm.
All of her children also followed in their parents’ footsteps by attending MLC, or Wesley, which Judith believed really helped their development considering they had grown up in the rather isolated town of Numurkah. But Judith said they had an idyllic childhood on the farm. “The boys didn’t have any restrictions”, she said, and is proud that her eldest son still tells her that “every kid should live on a farm.” Judith wishes that her grandchildren had the opportunity to live on a farm. But both of her sons became merchant bankers, with a particular focus on people from the country. “They have a great understanding of people from the country, as they grew up there.” Her daughter, Janet, started as a teacher but moved into desktop publishing: “She was always techy,” she said.
Now Judith has moved into Rathdowne Place, but she still keeps photos of her farm to remember its beauty and the experiences it provided for her and her family.