The Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless reports and stories on local issues. Here is the continuing story of Harold Wiles' childhood on the Monaro.
I HAVE already said my father was a Yorkshire man. After he served his time in the British navy and the Sudan War he came to this country and selected the most inferior land it would be possible to acquire. He named the place Burrenduck which means bog a duck.
He built the house over a marshy spring. How I can remember the frogs that would bump the flooring boards under the house. That was a sure sign of rain or snow. The land was so inferior it would not grow tails on bush rats.
The result was he had to go away from home to work. Wages there were £1 per week and keep for adults, but you had to go from sunrise Monday to sunset Saturday. No overtime in those days, and raise your hat to the boss, as well as address him as sir.
When I was approaching my thirteenth year, my father informed me I was old enough to be weaned and got me a job on a dairy farm, working for Mr and Mrs Yeadon.
Of course there was no pay attached to it. The arrangements were I was to get my clothes and food, to milk in the mornings and evenings, and attend school though the day - what was left of it! The milking yard was a mile distant from the house and three of us had to milk 70 cows.
I used to lie in bed at night and ask myself, how long will I stick this out. When I did attend school I used to doze off at my desk. Then the teacher would come along and pull my ear. That accounts for them being a bit longer than nature intended them to be.
After six months' solid toil I received not even a handkerchief, so I plucked up sufficient courage to ask for a pair of boots. Mrs Yeadon said, if you get up early in the morning there will be a pair of the table for you.
The rising time was four o'clock every morning. I was thrilled at the thought of getting this prize and was wondering if they would be patent leather. I heard the old clock strike three, so up I got. Sure enough the parcel was on the table. I carried it into the room and lit my tallow candle. Imagine how I felt when I found they were a pair of old elastic sides as hard as a dry cow hide.