Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Post WW2 Soldier Settlement in Australia.

Soldier Settlement schemes in Australia, otherwise known as   Closer Settlement Schemes

 This book is a part of our history.  It is why it has been re-published.  Look for it at any online bookseller.



The original edition of 'On The Block'
was published by Merv McRae, 1987,
with proceeds being donated to Legacy.
It is now out of print.
 Publisher: The Sunnyland Press, Red Cliffs, Victoria.
National Library of Australia,  ISBN 0 7316 01327.

This is the new edition of the book. Some pictures have been reproduced, especially the maps of the estates that were divided for settlement, but the original photographs are no longer available. 

In the words of Merv McRae, the one who put this history together: 
The purpose of this book is to record the early memories of Soldier Settlement, and the good and not so good times we had. With this in view, who better to do it than the people who lived it?

Mortlake Shire has many soldier settlers, this book covers those in the Darlington area. I think the majority of the settlers were in a similar position to myself.

After getting out of the army in 1945-46 we were left to our own devices and were a bit lost. That was when the settlement scheme came into being. It gave us some direction, and we were ready and willing to take up the challenge. I think we would all vote it a resounding success, although you will see by this book it was no pushover. The women worked beside their men, and we felt a bit like pioneers. We were given a living allowance, until we had an income; after all we had to eat. Many of us milked cows to survive, nearly all the trees you see now on the soldier settlement were planted by the settlers, as well as the improved pastures; there was very little improved pasture on the earlier settlements.

These are the areas covered:

Mt. Fyans,
Barnie Bolac,
Terrinallum West Estates
North Station.


These are the people who contributed to this book:

Austin, T.   Badham, Greta.   Badham, R.   Banks, J. & M.   Biggin, B.   Biggin, Marj.   Biggin, Rob.   Blain, Mick.   Blain, Marg. (nee Reichman.)   Brewer, Doris.   Buntine, L. & E.   Burgess, T.   Chambers, J.   Cumming, E. & L.   Creen, Ethel.   Edmunds, J.   Erwin, J.   George, D. (nee Watson)   Gill, Lena.   Gladman, Joyce.   Gleeson, W. & P.   Gleghorn, Mary.   Grant, L. & M.   Gray, B. & J.   Gray, D. & Y.   Gray, R. & P.   Grills, L.& L.   Guthrie, L. M.   Hamilton, A. & J.   Hannah, J.   Harding, Jean.   Harrison, J. & E.   Hebbard, E. & M.   Hill, Iris.   Inglis, Louise (nee McRae)   Jackson, Joanne.   Kennedy, F.   Kidman, J. & J.   Krepp, G. & A.   Lade, D. L. & W. L.   Lade, M.   Lawson, Pauline, (nee Piper)   Lavery, J.   Luckock, Jean.   Lyon, W. P.   Lyon, Molly.   Maconachie, G. R.   Menzies, J.   Monds, A. & M.   Moroney, Iris.   McRae, A. M.   McRae, M. A.   Muir, Freda.   Murray, G. & N.   Price, J.   Proctor, G. & M.   Rogash, Lorna.   Robertson, J.   Ritchie, N.   Schafer, A. & M.   Scott, T. & M.   Sullivan, Bonnie (now Kennedy)   Tonkin, A.   Turner, Elsie, (now Christie)   Walker, A. K. & L. J.   Wentworth, M. & I.   Wentworth, J. And Nance,   Whelan, Gary.   Williams (nee Rogash.)

The Western plains of Victoria are flat and almost featureless.  There are plantations (planted, not natural vegetation)  and the occasional small volcano rising its head from the flat landscape.


Memory is selective; it tends to veil the bad times in a merciful mist, but depicts the good times in exaggerated glowing colours.

How did we cope in those early years
In a bare little hut with a baby son?
With a lot of laughs, and not many tears,
For we were young, and it seemed like fun!
And we shared with neighbours our hopes and fears,
And the many urgent jobs to be done.

We had no road, no phone, no power.
Money was scarce, and water was too.
But we filled kero. tins from each passing shower,
And lived very cheaply on rabbit stew.
And we made the most of each precious hour,
And worked like beavers the long day through.

Then the road went through, and our house was complete.
The mail-man and school-bus came to our gate.
The phone was connected and, that was a treat.
The power was switched on, and wasn’t it great?
We felt like lords in our country seat,
And sheep replaced rabbits upon our estate.

                     Poem by Alison McRae





Maps of the estates as they were divided for closer settlement. I have reproduced them as big as the 'blog' setup allows. There may be researchers interested. The original documents may be available elsewhere, of course.



There was one measure of success that the scheme fulfilled very successfully - it provided a horde of Baby Boomer children with a great childhood.

Plucking chooks at the sawbench.
Typical Soldier Settlement house in background

Enjoying a bonfire.

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