JIMBOOMBA sibings Garry Begley and Carole Caswell were recently invited to Canberra for the unveiling of Australia’s first National Boer War Memorial, since their grandfather Joseph Hinds was the first local to enlist in that combat (1899-1902).
For Garry and Carole, who attended the Canberra event with Garry’s wife Gail, the occasion revived memories of their ancestors and the years they farmed in the Jimboomba region.
“Joe Hinds came back quite disillusioned about war, which is not to be unexpected,” Carole tells me at the old farm off the Mount Lindesay Highway at North Maclean.
Despite her grandfather being an expert horseman who was considered for the Queen’s Guard, “he couldn’t get home fast enough back to Jimboomba,” she adds.
I can see why – my first glimpse of the property lifts my spirits on a grey day, with panoramic views to Flinders Peak.
Garry, a former teacher at Jimboomba State School, didn’t know his grandfather because he was born three years after Joseph Hinds died.
“Mum spoke of him as being a very proud, hardworking person who was a good family man. To keep financing the farm during the early Depression he went out west digging fence holes by hand.
“He also was obviously very community-minded, being a councillor representing Jimboomba. He used to ride once a month to Mundoolun to get a lift to Tamborine and back to attend council meetings.
“He joined the Fifth Queensland Imperial Bushmen Contingent, a group of soldiers selected for having good horse riding skills.”
After a year of service, Joseph arrived back in Brisbane on April 30, 1902.
“He didn’t speak about the war until a few years before his death,” Garry says.
“He and another fellow were forward scouts because they were the best horsemen. Their job was to ride as quickly as they could to attract the enemy fire from the Boers in the hills. The gunfire flash would then enable the English to use mortars and cannons to hit the enemy.”
Garry and Carole walk me across to their parents’ old house and talk about the land they’ve known all their lives.
According to Garry, their great great-grandparents were the second settlers to arrive at Jimboomba in the 1860’s.
“Our family were cattle and dairy farmers and the properties they had were based around the Hinds Road and Duncan Road area.
“The dairy closed down about 40 years ago and then we switched to beef cattle, and we used to do a little bit of turf along the way.
“My mother Pearl worked very hard to build it up. She was a great businesswoman, a great organiser. Then it got a bit too much so I moved back here in 1980 and got some land and worked at the school.”
According to Carole, a driving force behind the Scenic Rim’s Rural Lifestyle Options disability services, the passion for land ownership goes way back.
“Old Granny Hinds, that’s mother’s grandmother, always said ‘get a piece of land boys, get a piece of land’.
“My late husband Jeff was a country man. He had the milk-carrying business here, and he wanted to get back to country life after we’d lived at Annerley.
“So Garry and Gail and me and Jeff, we did the whole living-in-a-shed-and-building-a-house thing, which was character building, my husband said,” Carole says, laughing.
A long-term Rotarian, Garry says he feels proud to have been invited to the official opening of the National Boer War Memorial on Anzac Avenue, Canberra.
“It was very special to meet the Governor-General and also to speak to Keith Payne, the oldest surviving VC recipient.
“Overall, it’s been a very rewarding experience. It has made me more aware and proud of my heritage.
“Jimboomba means a lot to me. I taught at the Jimboomba State School for 37 years until my recent retirement. My mother is 96 and is the oldest surviving student, and my three children also went to the school.
“I feel that we have inherited Joseph’s community-minded beliefs.”