Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Firstly, I appreciated the comments on the last post and apologise if I've not replied to them but either my computer or some unknown out there in cyber land won't let me right now.  I will return tomorrow and hope it works out better.

Excerpt from "CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 148-150)

"We soon realised that younger children would benefit most from the work of the Group in its early stages, and that it was necessary to assist the older ones to become socially adjusted.  For this purpose I started what I called the Fun Club........a term borrowed from America.

The National Fitness Council gave us some support by lending us some equipment and Miss Henderson of that organisation gave her services for many years to the Fun Club, teaching our young people to play games, dance etc.  (Mum occasionally took my young daughter along to the Fun Club and she enjoyed herself tremendously.  I thought it good that she should learn to mingle with children that were 'different' to her friends and they all made K most welcome and she loved to join in with them.)

I started the Fun Club in my flat at 22 St George's Terrace in Perth but we had to shift to Minbalup as a tenant in the flats complained of the noise.  We had a piano at Minbalup which I played to assist with the activities.  The parents came with their young people and enjoyed conferring with one another.  Supper was supplied and everybody helped by bringing various dishes.  We celebrated birthdays, particularly the 21sts, and discovered some of the boys and girls could play the piano by ear and others could sing.  One young man, whose parents were Welsh, amused himself at home playing classical records on their gramophone and then copied them on the piano, adding his own variations.  We used to encourage him to play the piano until we were ready to commence the evening's programme, and he never played a note our of place.

Another one of the boys had as his father the leader of an orchestra, and he had been taught to play hymns in chords - again with no discords.  One evening he started to play Abide With Me, and one of the girls went to the piano and sang it to his accompaniment, while the parents of both had tears running down their faces.

I formed a small teenage girls choir, but found it difficult to teach them the words to the songs.  They knew things they heard repeatedly on the radio, but we could not get beyond the choruses, and teachers I tried to recruit to help found themselves unable to cope with the various disabilities and problems which arose.

The numbers increased and we moved to other venues and the Social Club, as it is now called, gravitated to the Perth Town Hall.  It is indeed a joy to see these young men and women nicely dressed entering into the fun.

Before I retired from the position of President of the SLCG, we called a meeting at Fremantle with the object of starting a branch there, and the Mayor, Sir Frederick Samson, was good enough to act as Chairman, although at the time his wife was very seriously ill in hospital.

The meeting was well attended and it was agreed that a branch be formed.  Mrs Rhoda Smith, a colleague of mine, who had lost a slow learning daughter in very sad circumstances, was persuaded to become President of the Fremantle branch, and she held that position for many years.  It is gratifying to know that she was decorated with the B.E.M., in 1980 and her name given to special facilities which have been established in the Fremantle area for retarded children.  Rhoda Smith died in 1981.

Mr John Tonkin, Minister for Education in the W.A. Labor Government at the time, was present at the inaugural meeting at Fremantle, and was not in favour of our request for more special classes for slow learners.  He seemed to think that the one class then operating in the metropolitan area was sufficient.  (In later years John Tonkin became the 20th premier of W.A.)

The Soroptimist Club of Fremantle, which I had chartered, decided to work for the Fremantle Slow Learning Group, on the understanding that money raised in Fremantle was to be used in Fremantle. When I started a Fun Club in that area, the Soroptimist Club, mainly led by Miss Glad Locke, agreed to run it and is still doing so.  (N.B. Obviously this was written in the early 1980s).

Meantime the Guidance Branch of the Education Department provided special teachers for "Minbalup" in the various age groups, and also our first bus for transporting the children.

The group is not linked nationally with similar work in other Australian states and receives both Commonwealth and State financial help.

Amongst my photographs are a few showing the early officers at the S.L.C.G. Ball held at Government House ballroom.  Lady Gairdner was unable to attend as she had been marooned up north of the State, and I was invited to accompany the Governor and am shown walking down the ballroom with him and also accepting the bouquet which had of course been intended for the wife of the Governor.  Another photo shows a group of officers and members, and yet another of Mrs Gladys Newton and myself.  (You may have seen one or two of these photos some months ago but I am repeating them as they are so very much part of this story.  The first is of mum and Sir Charles walking down the ballroom together, the second is of mum receiving the bouquet and the third is of mum with Gladys Newton.  I scanned these from the book itself as my copies are with those other photos I just cannot find right now.  These are not as clear as I'd like them to be unfortunately):

The Governor's aide at the time must have been inexperienced as he told us to do all the wrong things which must have been embarrassing to the Governor, and certainly to us.  However, it is a small part of our early history and worthy of record.

I feel it best I keep these 'episodes' short as the story can be quite involved at times.  Mum once again jumps back and forth in time and as she unfortunately seldom uses dates in her writing I am sometimes at a loss to know exactly when certain things took place.  More about the SLCG to come.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


I have explained all about Soroptimism, how it came to Australia and New Zealand and how it developed over thirty one years up to the time mum wrote her memoirs, and its history.  I will now continue with other organisations with which mum was involved and hope you will find some interest in her continuing story.  This new organisation was founded in 1951 when I was 19).  Please, if you do drop in to check out this story, would you take time just to let me know you did as I am not sure if I should continue or not.  I know not everyone wants to bother leaving a comment but just a word or two to say you visited would be welcome.  Thank you.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 145-148)

Formation of the Committee for the Improvement of Mentally Retarded Children: and Slow Learning Children's Group:

Mrs Rischbieth, O.B.E, J.P., President of the Women's Service Guilds, was asked by a member of the community to pay a visit to Claremont Mental Asylum (now known as Graylands Hospital .. see picture below) in order to survey conditions there, as many people felt that special provision was needed urgently for the children placed there, many of whom shared wards with adults.

After Mrs Rischbieth had looked into the matter she felt there was a definite need for some action to be taken.  The Guild then formed a committee called "The Committee for the Improvement of Mentally Retarded Children". of which I was made Convenor, and interested and important people were invited to become members, including Mr J.A.McCall, Dr Wyatt and Dr McCluskie.

After consideration and further investigation it was agreed that the Guilds would call a public meeting to which representation of organisations and parents of retarded children were invited.

The meeting was held at Cecil Building, Sherwood Court, Perth, but unfortunately the only people who attended were representatives of organisations already dedicated and confirmed in the belief that action on behalf of the children was long overdue.  At this time Mrs Rischbieth had retired from the Presidency of the Guilds and her place was taken by Mrs Dorothea Bulford, a woman of great personal charm.  During her period of office she and I were close colleagues and developed a complete understanding.  (Cecil Building, 6 Sherwood Court, Perth):

Mrs Bulford had a great knowledge of the problem connected with mentally retarded children, as, for a short time, she had been in charge of a small group of these children attending a class as the University of Western Australia - a sort of guinea pig group - which could be observed by psychology students through a screen without the knowledge of the children.  No attempt had been made to classify those in the class as to age or type, nor had they been provided with suitable equipment, and the parents of the children were very dissatisfied.

Mr McCall of our Committee, who had been in charge of the Guidance Branch of the Education Department, and later became Director of Child Welfare, received an application from the parents of this group of children for equipment, and he sent them along to the Guilds so that we could endeavour to use them to interest other parents in our efforts to improve the lot of all mentally retarded children.  It was a case of persuading them to find others needing help in order to help themselves.

At this time we were deeply grieved to learn that Mrs Bulford's second husband had died suddenly and, as State Secretary, the work of the Guilds then fell entirely on my shoulders.

It was decided to call another meeting to which all parents known to us were invited. I chaired this as Convenor because the President could not attend.  Miss Irene Glasson, one of the Guild's officers who had been active in this field in South Australia, assisted me to draw up a suitable agenda including resolutions.  We were convinced that it was essential to form an organisation of parents willing to come out into the open and fight for assistance.  Many of these parents had a guilt complex and some hid their children in back rooms and back gardens and needed sympathy and encouragement.

Speakers were chosen carefully to stress the fact that mental and physical illness were allied, and that there was no more reason to be ashamed of one than the other.  The second meeting, also at Cecil Building, was attended mostly by parents, who passed the resolutions, decided to form an organisation and arranged for a further meeting with that in view.

At this next meeting the Slow Learning Children's Group of W.A, was formed and I was elected as State President, Mrs Hope Rankin of the Guilds and Mr Priest became Vice-Presidents; Mrs Gladys Newton, Hon Secretary; and Mr M. Arthur, Hon Treasurer; the three last mentioned being parents of disabled children.

Our fist need of course, was to raise money, and I suggested that we apply for permission to hold a street appeal.  I told the meeting we had to raise £1,000 (one thousand pounds) and they all laughed as they thought it an impossibility.  However, we asked for and received publicity, we coined the phrase "Look for the Yellow Label", our parents and friends helped to collect and we obtained our £1,000.

Next we gained permission to collect at the Speedway by taking blankets around just inside the ring.  People willingly threw in coins and we received another £100 towards our funds.

One of the parents, Mr Dave McGillivray, obtained a game of chance which we operated at the Royal Show and other country shows for some time until games of chance were forbidden by law and superseded by games of skill.  Ours had been an honest game of chance.  We had twenty horses on a large drum which were wound up to circulate;  We sold twenty bats at a shilling each which were numbered liked the horses, 1 to 20.  The person who had the bat with the number of the winning horse received a prize which they chose from a worthwhile selection.

We used to leave by truck very early in the morning to set up for a Show, and return late at night very weary but gratified that we were adding more to the badly needed funds. It is to the early officers and parents that credit is due for the successful development of the Group as it is today.

The Churches of Christ had vacated their building in Victoria Park and it was for sale at a price which we could afford; the church approved our aims and objects and the purchase was completed.

Improvements and renovations were needed and our parents turned up willingly at weekends to repair and paint.  One essential item required was a properly erected ablution block, the cost of which was to be about £2,000.  We asked for and were granted an interview with the then premier of W.A., Mr A.R.G. Hawke, and the other officers and I waited on him to ask for a grant to cover the cost of the ablution block at the new centre, which we had named "Minbalup" (this is an aboriginal word meaning "Happy Place").  The Premier was most sympathetic and gave us the required grant.
When later, we rented a building in Irwin Street from the Anglican Church for our headquarters, Mr Hawke occasionally called in after hours when I was working late, in order to find out how the organisation was progressing.  He would walk down from Parliament House for recreation.

The Education Department agreed to support the centre and Miss Alice Myers was placed in charge.  Nobody could have been more dedicated than she was, and I an still visualise her with her sleeves rolled up helping to clean windows in readiness for the opening ceremony, which was performed by Sir Charles Gairdner, Governor of Western Australia.

The night before the opening ceremony we were all there putting the final spit and polish to everything.  It was a very hot night and some of the older retarded boys, who were using electric polishers, were feeling the heat.  Somebody suggested going over the road for ice creams and, of course, the boys stopped work immediately.  Somebody had dropped a polisher behind where I was standing cleaning a table, and when I stepped back I fell over it and broke a bone in my right elbow.  The doctor could not do anything until after the weekend so I attended the opening with my right arm in a sling, apologising to Sir Charles for having to greet him with my right hand."

(I well remember mum hurting her arm and it was found that although a small piece of bone had been chipped from her elbow, it was fortunate that there was a small amount of soft tissue still attached so that the fracture did eventually mend.  It was difficult for a time though as mum was right handed but we pulled together at home and managed quite well overall.  It is so true that you can't put a good woman down!!  I have to get my act together as I have photographs of the opening of Minbalup and in one mum is shown with her arm in a sling and I'd love to have shown it on here.  Really, Margaret, you are slipping!!!!

I attended the opening ceremony and was extremely proud that my mother had been initially responsible for getting this organisation up and running.  She spent so many hours working hard for the SLCG and it is now a huge organisation with the well known name the Activ Foundation.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


This ends the story of the Soroptimists, at least for now, but in following episodes I will continue telling of the various organisations with which mum became involved.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 141-145)


Miss Field arrived on a day when we had arranged a luncheon conference between the Business and Professional Women's Club, the University Women and Soroptimists; Mrs Chadwick was in the chair at the luncheon, representing Perth Club.  Miss Field, who had been invited as an honoured guest, to the luncheon, was horrified to find that I had a back seat, and said that a conference of that kind should always be chaired by the leading Soroptimist in the area, namely the Divisional Union President.  I explained that we were unaware of the fact, and that I was quite happy to take back seat.  However, it is something to be borne in mind for the future.

Miss Field also gave support for majority rule, and said we should make the Constitution fit our needs as, of course, it had been drawn up for the other side of the world.

I attended the Hobart Conference and was elected Deputy Chairman of the C.O.C. (Conference of Clubs), and in the normal way would have been elected Chairman.  However, at the Melbourne Conference doubt was expressed as to whether Perth would be able to accept the responsibility, and as this doubt was expressed by some of our own members led by Miss Dival, I was denied the honour and it remained in the Eastern States."  (That would be about right,  Perth was always considered 'small fry' compared with those in the eastern states and, by some, I feel it is even to this day).

"However, it did come to Perth a few years later when Mrs Peg Chadwick became Chairman of C.O.C., the only one so far in Western Australia to have had that honour.   She joined the Fremantle Club, in which area she now resides, and received the wholehearted support of Fremantle Club with Miss Phil McKim and Mrs Sadie Stone as her Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer respectively.  There has never been a better conference dinner than we gave them in Government House Ballroom. nor a better venue for conference than the Y.W.C.A. in Havelock Street, West Perth.  It was an outstandingly successful conference and our colleagues who attended from other States still refer to it with admiration.

When I retired from the Divisional Union Presidency I presented the members with a polished gavel and stand, duly inscribed.  I felt very humble and very proud when I was made an Honorary Member of the Divisional Union in July, 1973, having presided at its inaugural meeting on 14th July, 1953.

With the formation of the new Federation of the South West Pacific, what was the Divisional Union is now known as the Regional Council and I am now an Honorary Member of that august body, and very proud to wear my badge.
We now have fifteen clubs in Western Australia:  Perth, Fremantle, Stirling, Canning District, West Coast, Port Hedland, Morrison, Darling Range, Geraldton, Joondalup, Mandurah, Port Walccott, Rockingham, Carnarvon and Albany."  (Note: there may be more clubs in W.A. as this was written in the early 1980s).

Presidents of Regional Council in Order:-
Foundation President Mrs G.W.Ruston M.B.E., J.P.; Miss R. Hagan; Miss M. Caldow; Mrs M. McGillivray B.A., Dep. Ed.; Mrs T. Townshend; Miss G.R.Locke M.B.E., B.A.; Mrs Myra Talbot; Mrs T.M.Chadwick; Mrs S.M.Stone B.E.M., Miss E. Parker O.B.E., J.P., Mrs Vera Bates; Mrs Doris Crawley; Miss Anne Jensen; Miss Delores Caboche; Dr Cynthia Dixon.

Miss Delores Caboche is the 2nd Vice President of the Federation of South West Pacific and should, when she becomes President, bring the honour to this State.  At her request I have just completed the history of Soroptimist international of Western Australia, which shows that, in the thirty one years since Perth Club was chartered we have raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for community service.  We feel sure that our founder Mrs Florence Rutter, would be happy if she could know the results of her efforts in Australia and New Zealand.

The new Federation has asked each State to provide it with a history of its activities to April, 1980.  Miss Hazel Sim most generously gave her services as calligraphist for the cover an the most important first page of the report, and Mrs Vera bates, an excellent artist, painted our wildflower emblem, the kangaroo paw. as a centre piece for the front cover.  Both these friends are Soroptimist members of the West Coast Club.  We are rather proud of our combined efforts for the W.A.history, and understand there have been requests for copies."   

(I do have a copy of mum's history of Soroptimism in W.A. but have not attempted to photocopy the cover as it is dark green and I am not sure if it is possible to print it only using black and white.  My knowledge of computers, scanners and printers is far too sparse for me to even try to do such a thing but I assure you it is a very elegant document.  The sketch of the kangaroo paw mentioned by mum is beautifully done).

I have added some very modern 'logos' of Soroptimism in the South West Pacific which I found interesting.

Friday, March 27, 2015


We had farewelled Mrs Rutter who had reminded the new club that as the only club in this State, they were responsible to extend and start other clubs.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 139-141)

"Fremantle was the obvious choice for the next club, and we decided to work towards a *Fremantle Club when our own Perth Club had been firmly established.

 There being no extension officer at that time, we formed a small committee of Perth Club members to explore the possibility of establishing this club, and Mrs Thelma Townshend, our hairdresser member, sought the help of Mrs D Bull, her hairdresser colleague in Fremantle.  Her particular calling enabled Mrs Bull to suggest suitable business and professional women to form the nucleus of the club in Fremantle, for which we were most grateful.

Dr Hilda Kershaw had asked Dr Dorothea Parker of Fremantle to accept the position of President when the necessary exploratory work had been carried out and the Charter granted, and she had agreed.

We paid visits to Fremantle and gradually gathered the interest of prospective members and, in due course, invited them to have dinner with us and meet the member of our Perth Club,

At last we had sufficient members, the Charter was approved by the British Federation and duly arrived.  The Charter Dinner was held at the Rendezvous Restaurant in Fremantle on 16th April, 1952."  (The previous day mum celebrated her 55th birthday).

"By then I had become President of Perth Club, and had the honour of presenting the Charter to Dr Parker, President of the new Fremantle Club.  I had been able to gather sufficient information to impart to the new club members about matters of procedure and service.

At the time I was also President of the Slow Learning Children's Group of W.A., and it was indeed very gratifying when Fremantle Club decided to work for the S.L.C.G.  They insisted that all money they collected was to be retained in Fremantle and used for S.L.C.G. in their area and, over the years, their record has been fantastic."  (You will learn all about the S.L.C.G. later in mum's story).

"In Perth I had started a Fun Club for the older slow learners which had been very successful, and a similar social club was started in Fremantle in charge of Miss Glad Locke and her Soroptimist colleagues, which has run successfully and been supported by the club for many years.  It is still going to this day."  (That would have been in the early 1980s).

"I retired from Presidency of the Perth Club on 29th April, 1953 and club members prosented me with a case of beautiful Linton Silver Coffee Spoons as a farewell gift.

It was then decided that, having two clubs, we should form an official Divisional Union with two representatives from each club as delegates.  Perth Club selected Miss Jessie Robertson and myself, while Fremantle appointed Miss Glad Locke and Miss Lena Grady; four people for four offices.

We met in my office and, without any idea of what should be done, we spent a most frustrating time trying to work out how to proceed.  We now know that we should have sent the four names to each club and let them nominate for the various offices.  As it was, I was appointed President. Miss Locke as Vice-President, Miss Grady as Hon. Secretary and Miss Robertson as Hon. Treasurer.

 There was still not a specific Extensions Officer, but a small committee was formed to further the establishment of a club at Subiaco.  Miss Robertson played an active part in the formation of this new club as she was well known in the area but it was a long drawn out business, and we had many meetings and many frustrations before we gathered sufficient names to apply for the Charter.  By the time finality had been reached Miss Robertson had gone overseas and Miss Doris Dival took over arrangements for the Charter Dinner.  My two years as President of Divisional Union having been completed, Mrs Thelma Chadwick was elected to the position and she had the honour of presenting the charter to the new Subiaco Club.

Meanwhile I attended the first Conference of Clubs in Adelaide at which Miss Isobel Patterson was elected to be the First Presaident of the Co-ordinating Committee of Australian Clubs.  It was an excellent conference and the social gatherings were delightful.  The agenda, minutes, etc., were recorded, but the first Divisional Meeting Minute Book was not available when I was writing this story.

The Constitution was not easy to understand and, on one occasion when there was a disagreement, we asked the C.O.C. Chairman, Dr Blackwood, for a ruling.  She supported our reading of the particular item but some of our members were not prepared to accept it.  We therefore wrote to England for a decision and were told that the majority should be accepted in such cases, the reply being received by cable."

*Some years ago the Fremantle Soroptomist Club where celebrating a milestone (possibly their 50th birthday in 2002 I feel it would have been) and publicly appealed for any history of their club and Soroptimism in general.  I happened to have a photograph that had belonged to mum of a large group of original Soroptimists which I forwarded to them so they could copy it.  In return I received an invitation for Phil and myself to attend the celebrations.  We were welcomed with open arms and I believe there were a couple of elderly ladies present who had known mum quite well and many had known of her.   I felt quite a VIP for an hour or two as everyone was so generous of their praise of my mother and I bathed in her glory for a short while.

Once again, the names above being back some very precious memories.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


This continues on from the story of the inaugural dinner of the Soroptimist Club of Perth. This of course took place prior to Mrs Rutter's departure from Perth.  Some of this section also  took place prior to her leaving here and the rest of it on her return to Perth before heading for England.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.   (pp 137-139)

"Miss Muriel Wieck, one of our Founder Members of whom I have previously spoken, wrote an article in "Milady" at this time in which she drew attention to the natural artistic skill of native children.  In order to see this for herself, Mrs Rutter visited an aboriginal settlement at Carrolup near Katanning, where the native boys were boarded.

They were in charge of a teacher whose name, I believe, was Mr White.  He used to take them for rambles in the bush and, on their return, asked them to draw from memory something they had seen.

Mrs Rutter was most impressed by their clever drawings and obtained the permission of the Education Department to give special crayons to some of the most gifted boys with which to draw her some pictures which she published later in a book called "Little Black Fingers".  The book gave an account of the boys' activities as well as prints of their drawings, with their names and ages.

*This venture was entirely apart from Soroptimism and at great cost to herself.  She exhibited the books in England and the Continent and arranged with the Education Department here that any profit which might accrue from the sale of the books would be sent back to be used for the encouragement and benefit of aboriginal children.  When she arrived home, she spoke at many meetings about her tour and exhibited novelties and treasures she had collected.  As her daughter was then living in Holland "Little Black Fingers" even reached the Dutch Royal Family.
 Miss Margaret Battye died very suddenly in November, 1948, only a very short time after becoming President of Perth Club.  Mrs Masel, First Vice-President, became Acting President for a short period but was unable, for personal reasons, to accept the position of President.  Dr Hilda Kershaw, who was Second Vice-President, then became the President, and retained the position until she want to England with her daughter Kathleen, about eighteen months later.

Margaret Battye had given voluntary legal service to many organisations in the community, including the Women's Service Guilds, and that organisation set up a memorial fund in her memory.  About £300 was collected and it was agreed that a corner of the library at the Women's Univeristy College, when completed, would be set aside for this memorial.  Our own Deva Levy (now Mrs Deva Clark) was Honorary Treasurer of the fund.

Considerable money was needed to complete the Women's University College and, before she died, Margaret asked us, as the Soroptimist club's first service to the community, to raise funds towards the completion of the college.  We had accepted this as our first service effort, and carried it out by running a produce stall at the University Fete each year while the need remained.

Mrs Win Fry, one of the Founder Members, who was the head of W.A.Produce and Hardware Company, and a member of the University Women, obtained the major part of the goods as donations to the stall, while club members gave willing support ins selling and arranging the varied selection of excellent items including a raffle.   In all we raised about £5,000 for the project.

Dr Kershaw was President when Mrs Rutter returned to Perth on 12th January, 1950, on her way back to England, and I remember clearly how very frustrated Hilda and I were as we searched Perth, on Mrs Rutter's instructions. to find a firm from which we could obtain an appropriate President's badge, not having the remotest idea of what was needed, nor much money with which to buy it.

We eventually landed at Sheridans, and they produced us a rather uninspiring badge for £10, which was all we could afford, and a not considerable amount at that time.

Mrs Rutter was happy to be able to present the badge to Dr Kershaw at a dinner held at Arbordale, and it served the purpose for some years, but has now been rejected in favour of a more elaborate jewel.  The original has been framed and hung at headquarters, as it is part of our history, being the first and only Soroptimist badge to he presented by our Founder in Western Australia.

The final function to farewell Mrs Rutter was held at the Palace Hotel on 20th January, 1950.  Whenever we tried to be especially dignified when entertaining Mrs Rutter something always seemed to go wrong.  On this occasion we had fish served with the usual piece of lemon.  Somebody allowed their piece of lemon to slip from their fingers and it landed on Mrs Rutter's place.  The guilty person did not turn a hair, but those of us sitting near were glad our own pieces of lemon were still visible on our plates.

The Founder eventually left for England on 6th February, 1950, and the President and I, together with our two daughters, went to the ship to bid her farewell.  I corresponded with her for years, and passed some of her letters over to the Divisional Union as mementos.   She wrote constantly, and Hilda and I felt guilty when further letter arrived and we had not replied to the previous one.  Mrs Rutter told me she often sat up in bed writing letters when she could not sleep!

 On her departure she reminded us that, as the only club in the State, we also carried the responsibilities of the Divisional Union, and the first of these was the need to extend and start other clubs."

In the next episode I shall continue on with further developments of Soroptimism.  It may not hold a lot of interest to many but if I don't tell mum's story in its entirety then there's not much point in telling it at all.  Bear in mind though that we are only up to page 139 and in total there are 242 pages.

*On www.abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories I have found this reference:  Friday 23 June, 2006.  Recently unearthed in an American University, 30 precious paintings by the aboriginal artists of Carrolup Settlement.  Political activist Robert Eggington is now on a one-man compaign to repatriate rare 'Carrolup" artworks from the United States and some priceless prison artwork being held by the Western Australian government."

I have also found, dated 22 January, 2015:  Curtin University.  Soroptimist Florence Rutter Scholarship - Extended.
This scholarship has been developed by the Soroptimist International of Perth Inc. in conjunction with Curtin University to encourage and support postgraduate female students who have chosen to study postgraduate coursework or research program at Curtin University and work towards benefiting the indigenous communities in Australia....................

Mrs Rutter's good works live on after her.  She was a another wonderful woman who cared.

I have so enjoyed going through these records of the establishment of the Soroptimists, as I knew many of the ladies mentioned and remember them with great fondness.   I actually remember when  mum and I, along with Dr Kershaw and Kathleen, went to Fremantle to farewell Mrs Rutter when she left for England.  It was in 1950 and I had just turned 18 at that time.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 132-136)                  


In the early part of 1949, whilst Mrs Rischbieth and I were busy in the Women's Service Guilds office, an avalanche descended upon us in the person of Mrs Florence Rutter, a Past President of the Greater London Club of Soroptimist International, Federation of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who had come from England at her own expense with the intention of starting Soroptimist Clubs in Australia and New Zealand.
 She explained that Soroptimism is the female counterpart of Rotary, with the same restrictions as to membership, aims and objects.  In 1921, in America, a Rotarian invited  the head of a firm to become a member of the local Rotary Club and discovered later that the firm was run by a woman, Adelaide E. Goddard.  He had to explain that she could not be a member of his club as only males were eligible to be Rotarians and she was very disappointed.
"He then suggested that she start a club for women executives on the same lines as Rotary and promised her some assistance.  The suggestion appealed to her, she had the necessary ability, and the club was formed.  It linked with a similar movement in England and the name "Soroptimist" was adopted.  Mrs Rutter explained the name as meaning, literally, "Sisters at the Top" or "Leading Women".

Mrs Rutter had gathered together a nucleus of business and professional women with the necessary qualifications in the City of Perth and, as she was advised that the Women's Service Guilds was the leading women's organisation fighting for equality at the time, and that was a platform for Soroptimism, she invited Mrs Rischbieth as State President, and myself as State Secretary, to become Founder Members of the Soroptimist Club of Perth which she was forming.

We both felt we were too fully committed to take on anything further, thanked her for the honour but declined to participate.  However, we reckoned without the persistence of our visitor, who absolutely refused to take 'no' for an answer, and we were bulldozed into becoming prospective members of this new club and, in due course, attending the Charter Dinner as two of its forty seven foundation members.

Miss Margaret Battye, B.A., LL.B., (1909-1949) was the first President.  Looking around for an Honorary Secretary, Mrs Rutter appointed Edna Spark, who ran a typewriting office on St George's Terrace.  Edna helped with a quantity of voluntary typing in the beginning, but was unable to attend meetings, so was therefore ineligible to be appointed Hon. Secretary.  Miss Battye then appealed to me to take the position as I was the only trained secretary in the club and as Margaret was not at all well, I felt obliged to assist her.  However, as *I was fully committed at home and with the Guild's work, I stipulated that I would accept it for a limited period only.  In the end I carried it during its most difficult period until the election in 1951.

The Charter Dinner was held at Tintern Lodge, West Perth, on 3rd August, 1949, and Mrs Rutter and Margaret Battye greeted the guests, amongst whom were eminent men and women of the City of Perth and the 47 prospective Soroptimists,

Mrs Rutter looked most dignified in a beautiful lace coatee over a silk skirt, while Margaret Battye was similarly impressive with her legal air and monocle."  (This is a young Margaret Battye minus the monocle):

"It was a very splendid occasion and, while the 47 prospective members stood, Mrs Rutter presented to the incoming President the roll of parchment, tied with appropriate blue and gold ribbon (the Soroptimist colours), the Charter of the Soroptomist Club of Perth, the first club in Western Australia.

A male pianist had been engaged to play appropriate music during the evening and was obviously accustomed to smoking concerts rather than formal occasions.  To our horror, after Mrs Rutter had presented the Charter and we were all trying to look very important, the pianist played "The Old Grey Mare, She Ain't What She Used To Be", followed by "Why Was She Born So Beautiful".  The expression on our Founder's face defies description.  We had all been trying to live up to her demands that Soroptimists must be dignified at all times, but that episode broke the ice and we all became normal human beings and the occasion less formal.

Coming from so many different spheres of activity, few of us had met before.  I remember with pleasure having Eileen and Norma Monger on my right hand, Dolly Dale-Cullen on my left, and Muriel Wieck (1903-1980) opposite, all previously strangers but with whom I spent very many pleasant occasions later at club meetings.

At that time it took a long time for surface mail to get to and from England.  Advice had been received by cable that the Charter had been granted and was being sent on its way by ship.  Unfortunately the ship was delayed and did not arrive until after the Charter Dinner so, not to be outdone, Mrs Rutter presented Margaret with a beautiful roll of blank parchment.  Few people were aware of the difficulty and the secret was very well kept.

Having given us precise instructions as to procedure etc., Mrs Rutter continued on her way around Australia and New Zealand, and succeeded in starting seven new clubs in all.  She was a wonderful woman, a corsettiere saleswoman by profession, and how she sold Soroptimism!  She gave herself entirely to the project without cost to the British Federation, of which she was a member, and of which we became a part."

I know that in that wonderful place called 'somewhere' I have some photos that I would have love to have shown in this series but, search as I may, they remain undiscovered. 

* Once again the sequence of events doesn't run true.  Here mum says she is still fully committed at home.  I did not leave home until my marriage in July, 1953 and although for some reason I don't recall exactly when dad and mum separated I think it would have been in early 1954.  Therefore in 1951 we were all three still living together in North Perth.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

PERCY ROCKLIFF (his last letter to his daughter in WA)

Although I do have this letter in my possession it is not suitable to photograph so I have scanned it from my mother's book "Clock of Time" (she had typed it out to be readable).  Unfortunately it does not bear a date but as P.R. died in the latter part of 1958 I would imagine he wrote this letter several months prior to his demise.  This is probably a little out of chronological order but so is much of mum's story as she switches back and forth over the years.  I can imagine grandfather siting a his desk writing this letter to his daughter (my mum).  Bear in mind PR was born in 1869 and mum in 1897:

I do remember mum saying at one time P.R., when writing, had said he was paying 19/6d in the pound tax and was of course quite dissatisfied with the government of that time.  As you can see from the above letter he is certainly losing a lot of his hard earned money to the government coffers.

I was fascinated when he told mum (his daughter) never to return to the old country and when P.R.'s widow Mary (his second wife),  journeyed to Australia in the 1960s she told Phil to same thing.  She said "remember it as it was, and don't think about going back".   We never did (couldn't afford it anyway) but there have been no regrets on Phil's part although, of course, I would loved to have seen the places where my folks had once lived (both my adopted folks and my birth father were born in London).

P.R., in his letter, called mum "Gertie" so this must have been his name for her when she was young.  It was a name she disliked because when at kindergarten the children found it difficult to say and would actually call her "Dirty".  In her later years she was known as Win or Gwin (a combination of Gertrude Winifred).  I always rather liked the name Gwin as it was somewhat different and it suited her very well.  If I remember correctly, I think dad still called her Gert.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 131-132)

"At last I felt I had had enough and asked them to find somebody else to run the Show.  They pleaded with me to continue to manage it and offered me extra money to do so.  I carried on for another two years and the money earned was put away towards Peg's twenty-first birthday party and her wedding.

Looking back at the Show I remember one evening when there was an open air programme which continued until late.  It turned very wet and cold and people pushed their way into the kiosk after closing time and begged us to give them a hot drink and something to eat.  We had nothing ready to serve but they looked so miserable that I mixed together odds and ends we had left over in saucepans, added some tomato sauce, heated it and served it on toast together with tea or coffee.  Everybody said it was wonderful and asked me what was in it.  I said it was a special secret receipt of mine and my helpers called it "Rusty's Special".  I could not have told anybody what it really contained but it was wholesome, much appreciated, and added to the night's takings.

While running the Show we still had to keep the home fires burning.  I had Harry and Peg at home and, before leaving for the Show, I would pack the fridge with meat pies, casseroles, cold meat and sweets sufficient to carry them over until I could get home for an evening to replenish stocks.

At that time the Show was only open for one week with two or three night programmes, so we shared duty sleeping at the kiosk and preparing the breakfast.  Eventually the old kiosk was demolished and replaced with a smaller and more modern one.  It ass probably easier to run although apparently not so successful financially as the original building.

By the time the new building was in operation I was no longer State Secretary as, **my husband having gone, it was necessary for me to earn a full salary, and I had obtained the position of Confidential Secretary to the General Manager and Secretary of Boucher's Industries in Scarborough Beach Road, Osborne Park.

Now, thanks to a legacy from Mrs Rischbieth, the headquarters at 7 Harvest Terrace, West Perth, belongs entirely to the Guilds.  It has been let profitably, and the rental pays for a delightful suite in the new Wesley Chambers, as well as the State Secretary's salary, so that running the Show kiosk is a thing of the past.  The central position of the new Guild headquarters at the Wesley Centre makes travelling easier and even I, at ***83, am able to attend "Unalla" Guild once a month by taxi at the same time as I visit the bank and carry out necessary shopping.

Some of the present members of "Unalla" Guild were previously members of the Night Guild for business women. which is no longer operating but of which I used to be a member.

I was very devoted to Mrs Rischbieth and, **after Harry had gone and Peg was married, I often spent weekends with her at her home *"Unalla" in Peppermint Grove.  Her death as a great blow and, as far as those of us who knew and loved her are concerned, nobody has taken her place.

I have in my possession two personal letters from Mrs Rischbieth which are included in these memoirs."

*Just for the heck of it I put "Unalla, Peppermint Grove, into Google and found the house that was once the home of the Rischbieths is now for sale and this is the picture shown by the real estate agent.  It was built ca 1903 and sits on one acre of land (4,360SQM).  It has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, a tennis court, water fountain, glass house and circular driveway.   The asking price?  Offers from $15,000,000!!  I wonder what Mrs R. would think about that price?

** Mum in her book does not elaborate about "my husband having gone" and "after Harry had gone".  It was mum's idea that they separate and I feel dad had no choice but to agree.   I somehow feel (as with the adoption) that she didn't want to broadcast it for all and sundry to read about in her book.  I felt very sorry for dad as by then he was about 70 years of age and had to set about finding somewhere to live.  It also put a stop to me seeing dad for a number of years which saddened me a lot but that is another story in itself.

***Mum was 83 in 1980 (the same age that I am now)

Thursday, March 19, 2015


My Precious was so camera shy that when I turned my digital camera on Precious would either run outside if the door was available or slip under my bed.  I couldn't hear a sound and there was no real movement but that cat could hear something and for some reason it terrified her when she got older.

My daughter did manage to take a lovely photo of Precious when she (kakka) got her new camera I think for her ..th birthday but that was nearly 10 years ago and since then I think I've jagged about 2 pictures of Precious, this being one of the better ones I managed to sneak one day and yes, she was beautiful and we still miss her like crazy.

On the other hand we now have a cat that seems to enjoy being photographed and even poses for me:

You can take her from any angle:

or when she's having a drink which she only does from a tap (or even out of a glass or cup) if at all possible (she avoids her water bowl in favour of a tap every time):

or having a nap on the windowsill in my work room:

or being energetic and exploring my cupboards:

and then, last week, after she'd been to the vet and was wearing a collar to stop her licking her wounds she hopped up on my desk looking for sympathy which she got of course.   We think it was a cat fight that gave her two nasty wounds on her front legs plus a couple of minor ones in other places.  The vet treated the two main wounds, gave her both a pain and an antibiotic injections and gave Phil some pain killing medicine (which she didn't seem to need after day 2) and some antibiotic tablets which we won't talk about.  Had to crush a quarter tablet each time and mix it in her wet food and hope she'd eat it all.  She did most times and the fact that the wounds have healed, she is eating and drinking and playing and sleeping normally tells us she is 100% OK.  Yes, I know there are ways of giving a cat a tablet and years ago I was a past master at it but I think now Phil and I are just to old without the strength to do it.  

We now do not let her out at first light and she is learning to wait until one of us is up and about and we can check the back yard and be available if anything untoward should occur.  It is very seldom that we see other cats in our back garden but occasionally they use our front garden as a thoroughfare from one house to another.  Maybe it was one of them that Candy took a dislike to, but I think it more likely a cat got her cornered as she usually runs from trouble rather than go looking for.

Candy has not taken the place of Precious as she is so totally different so we can still miss Precious and yet love Candy at the same time.  She is faithful, gentle and lots of fun.  She is fearless of most things and sounds, and is gradually taking over and becoming the ruler in our home, but then that is natural 'cos, after all, she is a cat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 128-129)


These were raised annually at the Perth Royal Agricultural Show where the Guilds operated a very large refreshments kiosk.

My first impression of the kiosk was that of an enormous shed with iron roof and walls and a cement floor.  The latter was convenient as it could be hosed down each night.  There were shutters front and back which lifted to enable long counters to be utilised for the sale of snack food, cool drinks etc.

One side of the kiosk was furnished with sinks, large wood stoves, cupboards for food storage pie warmers etc.  A long partition divided these from the restaurant itself, which was covered with very long trestle tables and forms.  On busy Show days hundreds of meals were served there.

Prior to the opening of the Show stacks of plates, cups and saucers, cutlery, saucepans etc had to be carefully washed, having been stored in cupboards from the previous year, and willing members of the Guilds turned p with aprons ready for the fray.  It was a happy time and there was a daily roster of helpers.  When the kiosk was in operation washers-up were employed to ensure a regular supply of clean china and utensils.  It was the duty of the washers-up to throw out any cups or plates which became chipped or cracked, as the Health Inspector always made regular checks to be sure there was no risk to the health of customers.
 Ordering food was a tremendous task, and I can visualise now the huge boilers of steak and kidney cooking, and sausages being boiled before being put into the oven to brown, to prevent splitting.

Trays full of fresh pastry were always ready to go with the meat or fruit.  Some of the large wholesalers from whom we dealt, generously donated cooked hams, corned beef, fruit cake etc., which they sent along with the ordered goods.  Cooked pies and pasties were ordered each day and, towards the end of my service with the Guilds, Peters sent along their men to keep the pie warmers full, and ensure that a plentiful supply of their goods was on hand.  This made our task easier and more efficient.

When I first became State Secretary I had no idea that I would be expected to organise the Show Kiosk but, probably due to experience in our shop at Swanbourne, it did not prove too difficult and, as I got on very well with Guild members, I received the fullest co-operation.

We mostly employed cooks, but there were times when they let us down and we had to take over and do the job.  I remember one such occasion!  We decided to have our own meat pies baked in the kiosk over night, and one man cook spent the day mixing up hug mounds of pasty ready for a second man to bake into pies that night, starting at 5 p.m.  We were doing well and our home made pies were a great draw card but one evening the night cook did not turn up, so about six of us had to start rolling out the dough and cooking the pies.  We managed to cook about sixty dozen pies and how our arms ached with all the rolling!
 Some of our stalwarts who lived nearby went home to sleep, but two or three of us who were sleeping in the kiosk on camp beds and tried to get a few hours rest before it was time to get breakfast ready for the stockmen who were looking after the animals.

 We received milk from the cows and gave meals in return, we also sold tickets in advance to other workers.  The men came in, presented a ticket and received a good hot breakfast.  Their time was limited so we were kept busy with the frying pan cooking bacon, eggs, sausages etc., while other prepared porridge and made toast.  When they were all served we managed to snatch a quick breakfast, put away our camp beds and start off once again with preparation for the long day's work.  Mrs Doris Walker (now Mrs Flood) and I worked very happily together.

We suspected that some of the workers were purloining food to take home and, looking around after our night's hard work baking pies, you can imagine our fury when we found some of our precious pies hidden away apparently to be taken home.  The person who hid them no doubt received quite a shock to find them gone.  That was our last attempt to serve home made pies, and we were glad to buy from the manufacturers for the remainder of that and future Shows.

At night, when the rush was over, we made jellies and custard in buckets; set milk for cream, and made plans for the next day, so that it was often 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. before we finished

Mr Eric Kastner, the husband of one of our members brought us in a bottle of port and told us to have a little when we went to bed to help us to sleep.  We had not been sleeping well, probably being overtired, and we therefore decided to try it and, whether it did the job or not or whether sheer exhaustion was the reason, we did manage to have a few hours sleep.  We were worried about the bottle as the Guilds are strictly teetotal.  The first morning it was carefully hidden but the second day somebody put it on a nearby window ledge, meaning to shift it later.  Towards evening we noticed hte bottle still on the window ledge in full view, but nobody had mentioned seeing it,  They perhaps thought it was vinegar.
 One very hot Show day Mrs Rischbieth came into the kiosk and was in a state of collapse.  We sat her down and sent somebody to make her a cup of tea to which they added a little brandy.  (We always had some on hand for medicinal purposes).  Mrs Rischbieth was strictly T.T. and would have been horrified but nobody told her.  She said it was a lovely cup of tea and it certainly revived her.

Each night a gang of men was employed in the grounds picking up rubbish and generally cleaning up for the nxt day.  Some of them came into the kiosk when we were working late and we gave them a cup of tea or coffee and some sandwiches or whatever we had left over.  One of them was a little sawn off fellow about 4'6" high, and he said he wouldn't mind marrying me as I was a good girl!  As you can imagine, the story was spread about by my colleagues and did not lose in the telling, so I was congratulated on having received a proposal from one of the customers!  It created a great deal of fun!

After a while we turned the kiosk into a cafeteria which proved much quicker as well as better for us and the customers, the latter being able to select their own food.

The end of the Show each year found us completely exhausted, and one of the hardest jobs was clearing up and putting everything away ready for the next year.  Any stocks of food over were sold cheaply to helpers on the last day or taken up to headquarters.  There was never a great deal over and most of us couldn't bear the sight of it. "

This is quite a long story about the Show so I will continue it in Part 2.  I must keep the continuity going as mum 'wrote it' even though it does jump from one year to another quite often.  Hopefully you can still follow it OK.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Please do bear in mind if you are following mum's story that she tends to write about one subject at a time, i.e. the shop or the Guilds and so on.   In doing this she does not write in chronological order so at times you will find people missing and they will pop up again in anther chapter.  Sorry if this is confusing but it was obviously the best way for mum to write her memoirs.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston. (pp126-128)

"Sub-committees were appointed in each State to celebrate this event, and limited funds were made available for this purpose.

Dr Robertson was Chairman of the W.A. Committee, and Mrs B.M. Rischbieth, together with a number of well-known people, were appointed to serve on that body and arrange a suitable programme.

As State Secretary of the Women's Service Guilds I was invited to a meeting at which details were presented of the proposed programme for Western Australia.  No mention at all was made of the important part played by women in the early years in social welfare generally. or in the various voluntary agencies which had been established to cover the needs of the community.  Mrs Rischbieth drew attention to this omission, and insisted that no history could be complete without the inclusion of a record of this vital part of the State's development.  After discussion it was agreed that a grant of £100 would be made from the State's allocation to cover the welfare services, and Miss Ethel Cannon, Social Worker, proposed that the money should be used to provide the first directory of social agencies in Western Australia.  She drew attention to the fact that all other States had such directories, and there was a definite need for one in this State.  The suggestion was approved and, to my astonishment,  Miss Cannon nominated me to be responsible for producing it.  Mrs Rischbieth supported the nomination, and I was officially asked to undertake the task.

It was a mammoth undertaking.  A condition of the grant was that the book must obtain a brief history of Western Australian social welfare as an introduction, and a small amount of the money was to be set aside for an exhibition of welfare agencies, including their activities, to be held in the Perth Town Hall.

The challenge was accepted, and it required a very tight budget to cover postage, publicity, printing, cartage etc., for the whole programme.  I was responsible for the directory, and Mr Ben Richter of the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association played a prominent part in organising the exhibition, and we worked together very happily in a voluntary capacity.

Questionnaires were sent to each organisation seeking its history, as well as details of its particular branch of social welfare.  We had to ascertain the order in which agencies were formed for the historical section of the book, and the services performed by each organisation for the directory section.

As a guide we obtained copies of directories from other States and used the New South Wales edition as our pattern.
 It was difficult and tedious work collating and assessing the information received, but when we had finally gathered as much as possible for both history and directory an Mr Malcolm Uren agreed to write us a brief editorial we invited quotes and we were obliged to accept the cheapest (£65) to keep within our cost structure.  The result was a modest book with a soft grey cover which met all the requirements.

The early history clearly indicated the activities of the women in laying the foundations of social welfare and, most important, the services being carried out by all the known welfare bodies in 1951.

The consensus was that it had been a hard task but a worthwhile effort to show what had been done in social welfare in Western Australia up to 1951.  A copy of the directory is in the Archives, together with a further three editions produced by me in later years during my period of Honorary Secretary of the *Council of Social Services.

The exhibition in the Town Hall was also a great success, and created considerable interest in all age groups.  Fitting everybody into the space available was like a jigsaw puzzle, but everybody co-operated and assisted by following Mr Richter's plans as far as possible so that the result was gratifying.

It was incredible that we had done it all with £100 but, once again, it was voluntary work that had made it possible and a success."

*You will read about mum's role with the Council of Social Services later in her story.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I don't feel I need to introduce further episodes of mum's work with the Guilds unless there is reason to do so.

Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston (pp 121-126)


This Conference was held in Perth on 22nd October, 1951.  This was also the Commemoration Year of the Australian Commonweath - 1901 to 1951 - so our conference became a landmark in the history of A.F.W.V.

Delegates and members travelled from the Eastern States by seas, rail or air for about a week, an indication of the vastness of this continent

The theme of the Conference was :-


As State Secretary I was involved in considerable preparation and organisation at our headquarters in Cecil Building, Sherwood Court in Perth.

There were many notable speakers including Dame Florence Cardell-Oliver, M.L.A., and Senator Dorothy Tangney, while messages were received from the International Alliance of Women, the League of Women Voters of America, the Women's Commission at the United Nations, the British Commonwealth League, as well as leaders of many women's organisations in Australia.

In her Presidental Address Mrs Amy Wheaton said:-

"The Australian Federation of Women Voters has here tonight as honoured guests, distinguished representatives of Business and Professional Women; University Graduates, and *Soroptimists; a sign of future co-operation which has already been expressed in the signing of a common Declaration of Equality".

The "West Australian" reported the signing of the Declaration, and also showed a very good photograph of the four of us.

After the conference Mrs Rischbieth wrote thanking me for my help, and asking me to take a week's holiday and rest away from the work  Her letter has been very much treasured."

I have scanned the two pages of the book that contain the Declaration and also Bessie's letter of thanks to mum.   I think the words of the Declaration are easy to read, especially if you make it larger but I will type out the words of the letter as I am delighted that mum's work was appreciated so much.

"To the State Secretary                                                                                     27.7.1950
Women's Service Guilds
Cecil Buildings, Perth

Dear Mrs Ruston

It is the wish of officers and members that you have a week's holiday and rest right away from Guild duties in order to recuperate after the strenuous work of Conference in which you have been engaged.

We deeply appreciate all your efforts to make the Conference the success it has proved to be and we wish you a peaceful few days away from the work.

With our very best wishes
Yours sincerely
Bessie M. Rischbieth
State President"

*Further along in mum' story you will read about Soroptimism coming to Perth.              

Saturday, March 14, 2015


There was a lot of damage in our northern areas....infrastructure damaged at Carnarvon as well as many of their crops damaged (bananas in particular) so Cyclone Olwyn did make herself felt and of course in other towns there were roofs damaged and some flooding too.

We had been warned it would continue down the coast and eventually arrive over Perth as a rain bearing depression (a low).  Cyclones are notorious for being difficult and all the wonderful rain we were anticipating just didn't arrive.   The skies looked quite threatening and promising but didn't produce what we had hoped for.  (I took these two photos from our back garden this afternoon.  1) looking towards the north-west and 2) to the south-west):

We did get about 4-5mm overnight and a few drops (only drops though) during the day so all our hopes were dashed.

I am hoping as the low moves towards Albany that people will be spared any damage to their homes etc., but that they will get some much wanted rain that missed us almost completely.


Continuing with mum's story of her life with the Women's Service Guilds.

Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston (pp 121-123)


One of the world's remarkable women, born in Ireland in 1860, came to Australia in 1884 and married a station owner named John Bates.  Her only son was born in 1886.  She returned to England in 1894 leaving her son in a boarding school here.

After spending about five years as a Fleet Street journalist she came back to Australia to investigate charges made in a London paper that Western Australian aborigines were being cruelly treated by white settlers.  She carried out eight years of intensive research on behalf of the Western Australian Government, and, inevitably, came into contact with some of our leading women.  Her travels took her to Port Hedland, Roebourne, Beagle Bay Mission (where she lived in a Trappist Monastery), meeting the various tribes and becoming their trusted friend.  She sought to preserve their ancient way of life, their rituals and folklore, fearing that the arrival of white men would mean that their race would disappear.

She studied the Bibbulmun tribe of Perth and the south-west on a two year camping tour.  She loved the nomadic life and wandered around pitching her tent anywhere, often on the edge of the desert.  She went along the Great Australian Bight to Eucla, after selling her pastoral property for money with which to provide the aboriginal people with sugar, flour and tea.

If she heard of natives assembling anywhere she went by horse and buggy or on foot.  All the tribes knew her, calling her Kabbarli (grandmother) and trusting her with the secrets of their most sacred rituals, and allowing her to witness ceremonies which were forbidden to their own women.  They put sacred totems in her keeping.  Many of them were cannibals and all administered their own justice with a spear or with death.

In her book "The Passing of the Aborigines" she said "there was no loneliness, one lived with trees, the rocks, the hills and the valleys, the verdure and the strange living things within and about them."  Her notes, written laboriously in the confines of her tent are in the Australian National Archives.

She died near Adelaide on 19th March, 1951, having been a Justice of the Peace in South Australia.  She was awarded the C.B.E., having been full of courage and an enigma to her own people, but a loving Kabbarli in the hearts of the aborigines.

A memorial fund was raised by the Women's Service Guilds to commemorate her work.  The amount collected was £250, and it was invested to provide two prizes annually for aboriginal students, boy and girl.

In 1953 a new vessel for the North West Coast as named s.s. 'KABBARLI" in honour of Daisy Bates.

I helped to arrange the following plaque and was present when it was placed on the ship:-


Details of her life have been recorded in the book *"REFLECTIONS" honouring 150 women who made notable contributions to Western Australia during its first 150 years of development since the arrival of the first white people from the United Kingdom.

The Memorial Fund is now in the hands of the aboriginal people, and the plague from the "Kabbarli" has been lodged in the Archives."

This is Mrs Daisy May Bates taken in Adelaide by Moore's Studio in 1936.  It is held in the State Library of South Australia.  (If you should want to learn more about Mrs Bates....it is quite an unusual story of a most unusual woman....you will find the information on the internet.  I found it at abd.anu.edu.au/biography/bates-daisy-may-83)

My mother's name also appears in "Reflections".

Friday, March 13, 2015


Right now there is a category 3 cyclone moving down our west coast.  It has caused rather a lot of damage, unroofing houses, felling tree etc., in some northern towns but no injuries.  This is Cyclone Olwyn as shown on the Bureau of Meteorology website one minute ago.  You can just see Perth at the bottom of the picture.

It is heading straight down the coast and is expected to be over Perth (possibly the eastern suburbs) sometime tomorrow.   By then it is predicted to have eased to a rain bearing depression but we are told to move outdoor furniture to a safe place, check gutters etc. 

We have had no rain in Perth for 5 weeks now so any rain is always welcomed but we could do with it arriving in a more peaceful manner.

I feel now so pleased that our Council installed underground power for us last year as we at least will not have to worry about power lines or power poles coming down.  We could, of course, still be without power at some time during the weekend but at least will be somewhat cooler in the high 20s rather than the 30C day's we've been experiencing of late.

Hopefully all will be well and there will not be too much, if any, damage in the metro or surrounding areas.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Another small section of mum's story of the Guilds.  I am not entirely sure how this ties in with her work at the Guilds or whether she is just reminiscing about an incident that happened.

Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (page 121)


A Mr Pickering called on Mrs Rischbieth and endeavoured to interest her in a find of tin at Greenbushes and, as usual, I became involved to the extent of typing some correspondence on the matter.

My knowledge of minerals had only been gained from the press since I had arrived in Western Australia, and I was surprised to learn that one of the best deposits of tin had been found in Cornwall, England.

Mr Pickering assured us that the discovery at Greenbushes was of the greatest importance, particularly as it was thought to be over a large area.  Since that time *Greenbushes Tin NL has been established but I have been unable to discover whether or not Mr Pickering was connected with it.

Recently we have all become interested in Greenbuhses Tin NL because it is that company which has discovered what is said to be the world's biggest deposit of tantalum.

The ore body is just outside the town of Greenbushes and is said to have had a value in the ground of around $2 billion.  Tantalite has properties that make it almost irreplaceable for a range of high tehcnological applications including capicitors used in computers, telecommunications and automotive electronics.

Whether of not Mrs Rischbieth took shares in the mining of tin at Greenbushes I have no idea, but iI had no knowledge of sharebroking at that time and certainly no money with which ti make an investment.  How little we know of the importance of the mine at Greenbushes!

It was just another small event in an exciting career, and even to be connected in any way with such a stupendous discovery gave me a thrill."

I knew nothing at all about Greenbushes until I was reading mum's story so checked it out and this is a little of what I discovered: 

"An open pit tin-tantalum-lithium mine is located in the south-west of Western Australia.  The mine has been one of the most intensely studied in Western Australia.  The deposit contains half the world's known reserves of tantalum and is the largest lithium resource in the world.  Tin production ceased at Green bushes in 2007.  Fossicking is not allowed at the mine.

The deposit was discovered by government geologist E.T. Hardman in 1881.  The Bunbury Tin Mining Company was formed to mine the alluvial cassiterite.  Production levvels waxed and waned over the years based on tin prices.  In the early years mining involved screening, sluicing and dredging by small groups of miners.  After 1908, lower profits and yields saw a gradual consolidation of leases.  From this time till 1944, tin mining was sporadic, and conducted with hydraulaic sluices with small scale deep mining.  After the Second World War, the Tin and Strategic Mineral Company Pty Ltd started large scale mining using modern methods.  Due to low prices the company ceased in 1956, and mining was taken over by Greenbushes Tin NL in 1964.  Initially this was by dredges, then from 1972 open pit mining for tin and tantalum.  Commercial spodumene production for lithium started in 1983, but the company ran into difficulties and was purchased by Gwalia Consolidated in 1990, who expanded the mining operation."

I am not sure I learned a lot from that but obviously at some stages it has been of great importance.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I am not quite sure to handle mum's story from now on as she writes about so many different topics.  I am not even sure how much interest it may hold for anyone.  I will split it into smaller episodes and wait and see how it goes.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston (pp120-121)


Mrs Rischbieth was Vice-President of this association and asked me, as a special favour, to become its Honorary Secretary, assuring me that the duties would be light but of great importance to the countries concerned.

"Rischie" worked so hard herself that it was almost impossible to refuse to help her when she made a particular appeal, so almost before I had agreed I could myself involved in this association, which had been formed to promote friendly relations as well as the fostering of trade and entertainment of visitors from India and Pakistan.

During March 1951 we had a visit from I.N.S. 'RAJPUT" and Mrs Rischbieth. in her usual generous manner. entertained officers and men at her beautiful home "Unalla" in Peppermint Grove.  It was a glorious evening and young women from the Y.W.C.A., Girls' Friendly Society, Guild members and friends welcomed the guests and mingled with them in the gardens."  (Indian sailors from the "Rajput", 1st March, 1951.)

"Mrs Rischbieth's grand piano was drawn up to the open window and there was an outstanding musical programme arranged by Edgar Nottage, as well as plentiful supply of refreshments specially selected to cater for Australian taste and that of our visitors.

It was my responsibility to arrange for a suitable illuminated address to be prepared for presentation to the ship, and this was beautifully carried out for us, without cost, by the Art Department of Boans Limited.  It was presented at an 'AT HOME' on board "RAJPUT" on Friday, 2nd March, 1951 to which I was invited."

I feel it is better if I do keep these episodes short and just cover one subject at a time when it is relevant to do so.