Stroll down memory lane

April 20, 2020

The Bingara Advocate received a very special “Letter to the Editor” in last week’s paper, received from Rick & Greg Nelson.  It brings to life the rich history Bingara boasts with stories about those who lived it.  How wonderful that these stories have been passed down for us to remember and enjoy.

Dear Gwydir News,

Our mother Betty Nelson passed away in September 2019 at the grand age of 96.

Her father, Brice Thomas, was Clerk of Petty Sessions and Crown Land Agent at Bingara Court House from 1926 to 1937.

Her mother Mabel was a stalwart of the early days of Bingara Golf Club.

When Mabel and Brice and children Len, Betty and Doris and grandfather Pa Pearce arrived in November 1926 they lived in Finch Street, opposite the Anglican Church, and then later in Heber Street.

At first there was no domestic electricity supply, so a fuel stove and kero lamps provided heat and light.

Pa Pearce, a mariner on clipper ships, commented: “Worse things happen at sea!”

Brice’s job as a one man-plus-typist government service centre meant the family knew everyone for miles around.

Brice was mining registrar too and Betty remembered her father taking her down the gold mine at All Nations Hill.

A teetotaller himself, Brice was also responsible for liquor licences and bankrupts.

Betty was well aware that her father’s government job and £350 per year salary protected the family from the Great Depression.

Her mother Mabel said years later that she kept a block splitter and broom beside the back door. These were for the use of the men “on the wallaby”, who would arrive and ask “Anything need doin’, Missus?”

She’d give them a shilling for sweeping dust from one side of the yard to the other and two bob to split wood.

Betty started at Bingara Public School in 1928, harvested oranges from street trees, saw The Roxy open and Kingsford Smith land the Southern Cross in a paddock, swam at the Four Mile, danced in woolsheds at Pallal and Keera and much more besides.

She and her family had a wonderful time in Bingara and the town, its people and the surrounding countryside were in Betty’s thoughts until quite literally her last day.

In 1937 Brice went to Gloucester courthouse and in 1940 to Sydney.

Len joined the RAAF as a radio operator and Betty went into the Army, becoming an anti-aircraft gunner and then a driver.

She revisited Bingara several times, most recently in February 2018 in her 95th year.

The Bingara Advocate and later The Gwydir News brought joy to Betty each week in her later years. Her family wish you every success for the future.

Kind regards,
Rick & Greg Nelson