Writers like Steele Rudd and Norman Lindsay have made much of the humorous side of Australian rural life in the late nineteenth century. A counterpoint to this humour was the hardship and tragedy endured and overcome by the Australians of that era. I offer as an example the narrative of the day my Grandfather was born.
My Great Grandparents, James and Sarah Jane Worth had a selection at Willina just north of Coolongolook. The requirements of a land selection or conditional purchase were usually that certain ‘improvements’ such as fencing and clearing be undertaken on the land. The Worths had three children, a two-year old boy and two older girls with another child due in late September 1895. With Sarah Jane in labour and the local midwife in attendance, James took the three children with him to where he was felling trees to clear part of the selection. Not wishing the children to get in the way of the falling trees he directed them to a standing tree out of the way and told them to sit under the tree and not to move.
As they sat there a branch fell from the Angophora tree and killed the two year old Walter.1 Later that day his brother and my grandfather, James Edward Worth, was born.2 Not unexpectedly, Sarah Jane would not stay on the selection and the family subsequently moved into Coolongolook and opened a grog shanty.3 Since then none of the family have ever camped under an Angophora tree.
Author: Garry Worth
Myall Coast Historical Society
1 NSW BDM, death index for Walter J Worth, No. 14311/1895.
2 NSW BDM, birth index for James E Worth, No. 36940/1895.
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 28 May 1898, 8.