Project Description

Gertrude Elizabeth HARBECK (nee Cuthbert known as Gertie) was born in Busselton on 4 November, 1910. She was the fifth child of Thomas Alfred Cuthbert and Agnes Elizabeth Palfrey who had four children in England then three in Australia – Charlie, Florrie, Ted, Jessie, Gertrude, Ruth and Walter.

Her parents were given 160 acres in Busselton. Her father worked on the Nannup rail line, then the wharf when it opened in Busselton. She talks about the early days, schooling and WWI. Her mother ran the Post Office until it went to the Group Settlement in 1920 when it started and their farm was established. Gertie recalls the beginning of Group 28, establishment of the ‘124 School’, and leaving school at 14. Then she worked as a housemaid; for the Williams in their Prince St grocery store, and for Edward & McAllister’s.

Gertie met her husband, John Frederick Carter Harbeck, known as Carter, whose father was an engine driver for the Kauri Timber Company, and they married on 27 Dec 1934 at St Mary’s, Busselton. At that time, Carter was working for Nannup Mills at Willow Springs and they lived with his parents then in a hut at Willow Springs. They had four children, John, Helen, Ron and Rosalie.

After closure of the mill they worked the family farm. Gertie milked cows and Carter went carting wood. He set up a mill on the farm opposite with his brother and had permission to take wood from private land. They exported the timber. When the small mills closed, Carter came into town and worked at the Butter Factory, then for Main Roads.

Their family life was very important in every way and Gertie feels they were very privileged.