Project Description

Mary DUNNET (nee Higgins) was born at Lower Margaret River on 17 April 1893 to Edward Thomas Edwin Higgins and Elizabeth Madeline (nee Dawson).

Her maternal grandfather, John Dawson, arrived in the Egyptian in 1830 and went to Augusta with Captain Molloy and other early settlers in 1830. Later he farmed at Newtown near Busselton. Her paternal grandfather, John Higgins, also arrived in the 1830s and went to the Toodyay District as a shepherd and later took up land to farm. From there he went to Nannup and Seaview, Newtown.

The Higgins and Dawson farms were close to one another so Mary’s parents met and were married in Busselton in 1889. When Mary was a girl the Higgins’ home, Bridgefields, was the only house in Margaret River – then known as Upper Margaret River. Her father was the first Post Master and Mail Contractor. Mary took over from her father as Post Mistress.

Mary loved horse riding and won several prizes at the Busselton Show. She also enjoyed dancing, and met her husband – William George Dunnet (Bill) who was born in South Australia – at a dance in Nannup.

After her marriage, she and Bill went to live on Balfour Downs Station in the Pilbara region near the Rabbit Proof Fence. She tells of the hardship of the early settlers in these remote areas. Her nearest white woman neighbour was 86 miles away and the closest town was Nullagine.

Their daughter, Dallas Jean – an only child – was born in Meekatharra on 25 August 1922. Dallas was educated by correspondence till fourth class, then by a Governess, then in Perth at Presbyterian Ladies’ College and left school at 15.

Dallas was 23 when they all left Balfour Downs and went to Nannup for three years where Bill took over the Electric Light and Garage. Then they moved to Augusta where Bill had a stroke. He died in Margaret River Hospital in 1948. Dallas married Frank Rose in 1951. They have two boys Terry and Leslie.