Valda Hansen

Dad was a butcher and we lived in town, quite a distance away from the butchers, in a house that still stands. I didn’t really know the farm kids very well. They’d come to school in a horse and sulky and hang out with each other, then after school I’d go home and they’d go home and we wouldn’t see each other again until the next day.

There wasn’t much money or food around. A lot of our meat was rabbits, kangaroo and parrots. We’d set a box up for the parrots, put a stick under the front of it so that it’s tilted, then when the birds come in to eat the food that we’d put in the trap, you’d pull the string and the box would fall down on top of the parrot. It worked really well. Parrot pie, it was really beautiful. They’ve got a lot of meat on them. And you had to, or go hungry. 

We lived in the river. We’d have races and quite a few other games. Friday nights there were swimming races organised by the town. I was never in any of them but they were quite popular, just down at the main pool. We’d also go lots at the weekend with the family. We’d bombard the other kids and the boys used to ride their bikes off the jetty into the river. We’d come back up out of the river with green stuff all over us. And today they’d say don’t swim in it because it’ll kill you. But it didn’t kill us. And I had blisters all over me from sunburn. Leeches? Oh they were alright. There’d always be a friend there when you got out to help you get them off and throw them back in the water.

During the war we joined the Red Cross here and we used to knit squares and balaclavas for the soldiers in the trenches using khaki wool. The senior ladies in the Red Cross used to sew them all together and send them away. We thought we were smart! I can still remember those who came home from the concentration camps. I will never forget it. Thin, terrible. I also remember the day that the war finished, and the big party that happened. We were allowed out that night, the first night we had ever been allowed out at night on our own. The parties were at the Town Hall and the Masonic Hall. People were drinking and dancing and having a good time. There were no decorations though as there wasn’t enough time to put them up. We thought it was just great, although we didn’t know a lot about the war.