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Gold Coast centenarian reflects on his time in the bush

Gold Coast centenarian reflects on his time in the bush

When Bolton Clarke Galleon Gardens resident Bob set sail for Australia with his family in 1928, he shared the ship with one of Australia’s most recognisable icons – the last arches for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Now 101, it’s a memory he still recalls with pride.

Born on 22nd August 1922, Bob only spent a fraction of his life in his home country of England before he and his family made their way to Australia.

“My mum, dad, sister and I hopped on the SS Moreton Bay and set sail for Australia from England in 1928,” he said.

“That ship was carrying the last few arches for the Sydney Harbour Bridge strangely enough.

“My dad was taken off the ship because of an illness so mum and us two kids made our way to Brisbane and then took a train up to Ayr.”

Bob, his sister and mother spent the next three months settling into their new life in country Queensland while they waited for their father to arrive with their sponsor, Mr Young, who owned a cane farm at Rita Island.

“I went to school and was the only bloke with shoes - nobody wore shoes and there were only 15 of us in the school, two of which were my sister and me.

“After I left school, I went out on a cattle station building fences - it was a family-run contracting business, a father and two sons on the upper reaches of the Burdekin River.

“The first weekend came around and I thought ‘oh good we will have a day off’ but no - it was the same thing every day for six months straight!

“I can remember a lot about it because I feel like that experience formed me – I learnt a lot about people.

“They were staunch bushmen. I learnt more in those six months that has helped me through life than I did listening and socialising elsewhere.”

Bob would go on to stay in the Rita Island area before falling in love with an old school friend Shirley.

“We were just mates in school and never varied from that but ended up together and got married when I was 23.

“We had three kids, Larry, Clyde and Christine and now have 16 great grandchildren.

“Shirley died in 1992 and when I turned 74 a couple of years later, I decided to go back to England for the first time.  

“I had never had a grandfather, uncle or cousin because we were here, and the other family members were in England. Growing up I wasn’t interested in corresponding or anything like that.

“When I went to England, I took a bus around and had a look to see if there was anywhere that I wanted to see again, and after the tour I backpacked for six months on my own.”

As for living to over 100, Bob believes it has just come with his genes, with his sister in Nambour recently turning 103. He offers his advice for the rest of us.

“You stand your ground - my father used to tell me that, because we used to get a lot of abuse being from England.

“Sometimes you lose a lot and sometimes you win a lot but if you stand your ground, other people will usually shuffle off.

“And always treat your life as if it’s yours and not anybody else’s.”

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