The Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless reports and stories on local issues. Here is the story of Harold Wiles' childhood. At 13 he ran away to Candelo and is working on dairy farm there.
I ATE in the kitchen. I always got the rough cut off the meat and the burnt end of the rice pudding but I did not mind as there was plenty of it. At that time hens were dropping eggs like hailstones and I always had three for breakfast. I ate that many that I often felt like cackling.
I found they were all college educated people and what I term second class society toffs who made bad use of their education. I got my pay every 31 days, with sixpence deducted off for the bit of soap I washed my clothes with.
When I informed my boss that people got their quid on the Monaro every 28 days he remarked, "The months are a bit longer down here". So there were 36 days in the year I gave voluntary labour.
I was told one afternoon I had to take some pigs to Merimbula port to be shipped by boat to Sydney. They were loaded in wagonette the night before starting off with a net over the top. I was off on the journey at three o'clock in the morning, 19 miles to Merimbula.
Going through the bush five miles from Wolumla I heard a rooster crow, so I pulled up, thinking I might get a cup of tea off some cocky. The rooster crowed again and I found him perched on the axle of the wagonette.
I was that disappointed I said, "You're a rooster now but will soon be a feather-duster," so I wrung his neck. There is one place between Wolumla and Merimbula I named it Cock Craw Hill, and that name still stands.
During the 18 months I was employed on that farm I was always sent by my mother a few shillings, as I never went anywhere to spend any money. My father always said, "It's at the mouth of the bag you want to be careful with the sugar, not when you are getting down near the bottom". I realised that college educated people had no better chance of getting a front seat in heaven than the uneducated had.
I could see I was not going to gain any experience on this place of slavery, so I made up my mind to strike out further afield. I gave my boss a week's notice while he was having his breakfast in bed.