The Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless reports and stories on local issues. Here is the story of Harold Wiles' life. Harold has talked his parents into taking a dairy on shares at Kameruka.
THE manager asked whether we could plough. He pointed out a 10-acre paddock and said 10 shillings per acre was the estate fixed price. Of course we had to supply plough and horses.
In less than a week I was in the field with a No 3 Ritchie Mouldboard. Instead of letting the horses pull the plough, I tried to shove it into the ground. I found out that this was not the correct way to go about the work, so I went to a neighbour and had a demonstration.
I got into the way of overcoming my obstacle. I completed the 10 acres in 10 days. When the manager came along and inspected it he remarked he had never seen such crooked ploughing in all his experience. He smiled and said, "You will learn as you get older". Sure enough his words came true. After the maize was sown into this paddock it turned out to be a record.
After four years on the estate it was a better place to look at than work on. There was no hope of saving a few quid. I always thought people crawled first, but on this estate some used to run and crawl to the manager, and they specialised in carrying tales to the boss, some of a paltry nature. He could almost tell how many matches you struck in a day.
The dairy men received one and a half pence per gallon of milk supplied. In the summer for a few months the average earnings would be around £70 and in the winter months it got down to the average of £6. For five months we had to find plant, cart, cans, buckets, horses and farming implements. The estate would advance sufficient money through these slack periods to meet our store accounts etc, and then it would be deducted off our cheques through the summer. We were more or less prisoners on the estate.
Nearly every share dairyman added a drop of water to the milk. After four years on the estate I gained a lot of farming knowledge through my own enterprise and energy. On the Monaro the large estate of Maharatta, Bombala, was resumed by the government for closer settlement. My father was successful in getting in the ballot and winning a good block of land. That meant the time had arrived to quit the Kameruka Estate.