Project Description

Walter SCHALER was born in Vienna on 4 December, 1926. His father, Wilhelm, was Austrian and his mother Dutch Indonesian. The family moved to Indonesia when Walter was 12 months old and his father worked as a chef in a hotel. He had one brother and one sister who died when she was five.

During WWII Walter, his father and brother were put into a prisoner of war camp in Indonesia where his father and brother died. After the war Walter went to Bandung with his mother. He migrated to Australia, landing in Fremantle in 1952, and his mother returned to Austria.

After an unhappy beginning he obtained a job with Millers Timber Company in Jarrahwood and he met Maria Leseman there who had come from Holland to visit her sister in 1956. They married in April 1957 and travelled to Holland for their honeymoon and to meet Maria’s family, before embarking on a life together in Jarrahwood. Maria was nursing in Nannup for a while. They had four children: Lucy in 1959, Fred in 1960, Ben in 1963 and Frank in 1966.

Two of the children were at school in Jarrahwood and two in Busselton when the Jarrahwood Mill closed and Walter and others were transferred to Nannup Mill. They moved to Busselton where he travelled to Nannup to work each day, until he had a heart bypass operation.

He retired for health reasons. Maria found work in Busselton but was unable to continue nursing as she could not manage the refresher course due to language difficulties. Both Maria and Walter were naturalised.

Walter missed Indonesian food and both missed their family connections overseas.