Project Description

Edward Gordon Vidgin DAWSON (known as Gordon) was born At Mascot Kelmscott on 19 May, 1917. His paternal grandfather went to Augusta with Captain Molloy. His grandmother was Mary Dooley. Her family left Ireland because of the potato famine. His grandparents lived at Newbury, Newtown (now Abbey). His father Edward (Ned) Dawson was born on 23 November, 1870. His mother, Belle Vidgin Cross, was born in New Zealand. His parents married in 1907. Gordon had a sister Bessie and brother Jack.

Gordon’s father and Fred Seymour discovered the Yallingup Caves in 1899. Gordon’s father developed the site and became the guide. He installed the electricity there. Gordon’s mother ran the shop and his father maintained Caves House. Gordon’s father retired in 1937 after 37 years as guide. There is a Commemorative Plaque at the Caves in honour of his father’s achievements.

Gordon’s first childhood memory is of an accident at the age of around five when a coat-hanger used as an arrow pierced his eye. He was taken to St John of God hospital but lost the use of his eye.

Gordon talks about the families living at Yallingup then. Sir Norman Brierley used to fly people to Yallingup. Aubrey House had an air strip. Gordon used to walk to school with John Tonkin, the teacher, and later the Premier of WA. His father’s fishing friends included (later Sir) James Mitchell.

In 1928 Gordon’s father bought 100 acres at Newtown – a farm called Glenview – and worked carting stones and gravel. In 1928 the family moved to Vasse. Gordon attended school in Busselton when he was 13 and the Vasse School closed. He worked on the farm when he left school. He grew potatoes, had some cattle and hand milked cows for butterfat.

Gordon met Ruth (born in Northam) at the Vasse store, and they were married in Busselton on 29 July 1944. They had three daughters – Pauline, Susan and Marion. Gordon subdivided his farm in 1977 because of heart problems. After the subdivision Ruth and Gordon retired to a house near the beach.