In June 1917 Maud Mabel Wilkes married the Cape Hawke Regatta Champion Rower Albert George Chapman.1 They commenced married life in the house his father George had built on the island in the Wallamba River at the end of Chapman Road. Maud was a practical young woman, used to hard work, tended her own bee hives, could strike a plant to grow from a squashed cutting, estimate the weight of a heifer going to market within a few pounds, string a fishing net, had a drivers’ licence, could fix a tractor engine, was a devout CWA member and had an artistic nature. She was so much of an asset to her husband Albert that his whole married life he referred to her as ‘mate’.
Without so much as a lesson she played the piano and violin and could be encouraged to sing on occasion in a small band where she played on a regular basis at the Darawank Dance Hall which was the hub of the entertainment in the early years2, ladies would wear their finest dance frocks made of taffeta, net and lace and many a grandchild remembers going to sleep on the floor behind the piano.
Maud reared 4 boys and 3 girls on the dairy farm but the lack of fresh drinking water for the cattle, pigs and chickens was a problem.3 In the dry spells Chapman rowed a big boat down to Jimmy Hardy’s and three parts filled it with fresh water to be pumped into the cattle trough with an old Douglas pump.
Albert built his own windmill on the 40 acres at “Cutting Point” which worked perfectly in light winds but was not reliable in strong winds. This required an expert, so consultation was sought from a young man named Dolph Ohma who had set up an engineering workshop from home. No engineering job ever beat Ohma and once a set of gears was installed the windmill worked like clockwork.
In desperation Maud sought Parliamentary help in asking the Government for 1400 feet of galvanised pipe to carry water from the windmill on the mainland under the river to Chapman’s Island. By return mail came the news that the subject pipe was already on the steamer preparing to leave for Cape Hawke Harbour. That pipe lasted for 32 years.
In later years Albert and Maud donated a 5 acre plot of ground to Great Lakes Council for a garbage dump along Chapmans Road. After the appropriate settling time the Great Lakes Mayor Chadban dedicated this park to Maud and Albert by naming it Chapman’s Park in 2005.4
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 NSW BDM, Marriage Index for Albert G Chapman and Maud M Wilkes, No. 5444/1917.
2 Government Gazette of the State of NSW, 15 November 1935 [Issue No. 194], 4423.
3 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 6 April 1950, 3.
4 No quality underground water written story from Great Lakes Museum; The History of Tuncurry compiled by Elva Carmichael for Great Lakes Historical Society; Great Lakes Council dedication ceremony 21 September 2005.