Project Description

Charles Thomas THURKLE (Charlie) was born in Donnybrook on 23 February, 1911. His mother was May (nee Moore). There were six children, five boys and one girl, Dorothy. One boy, Vernon, died of sun stroke.

Aged seven, Charlie and his family left Donnybrook where his father, Albert Edward, had a block and worked orchards. They travelled to Newtown (later called Vasse) to help his Uncle William run the farm because his Grandfather, Thomas Thurkle, Albert and William’s father, had been drowned in a creek while delivering mail.

Charlie describes the house on the farm and Newtown School, surrounded by bush when Charlie attended, where there were around 25 pupils. The children milked cows before school, and played rounders, football and cricket which Charlie enjoyed in preference to schoolwork. He talks about their neighbours and other local families of the time in Quindalup and Marybrook, including Group Settlers and aborigines; the butcher’s shop, Post Office, fodder shed, Newtown Hall where a band supplied music for dances, concrete cricket pitches, the Anthill tennis courts and the Vasse Garage built after World War II by Frank Ryall.

On the farm they grew potatoes, raised pigs and had around 20 cows for milking. Charlie talks about clearing the land, digging and the swamp, marketing the potatoes, fattening calves for sale at the Vasse Saleyards, use of the railway siding and swamp.

Charlie left school at 15 and worked the farm for the rest of his life. He never married, like his Uncle William, and talks about his sister’s family.

Dorothy married Jack Dawson who died of meningitis in his 30s so she and her son, John, born after Jack’s death, lived with Charlie. She remarried – Les Bignell – and had another son, Ron. Les died of a heart attack at 36 so Charlie helped raise his two nephews and talks about their families.

Charlie recalls building a bigger house on the farm in the 1950s, focussing on raising beef cattle after closing the dairy in 1961 and changes to Vasse over time.