Stories to be told – Grace

In this article, Grace recalls memories of her life growing up in North Queensland, her husband and her family. Her memories include her journey to South East Queensland, and how she came to call Yukana Private home.

The younger years

Grace was born in Maleny in 1935 and was the oldest of two children. Sadly, her younger brother passed away at just 14 years of age after contracting meningitis. She was still quite young when her parents moved the family to a small dairy farm located in Gadgarra on the Atherton Tableland. She recalls it being a small, close knit community with only half a dozen families living there.

It was here she began her schooling, in a class of only 13 students. Grace later moved schools to attend Lake Barrine State School. She recalls riding six miles through rainforest to get to the school and then six miles back home.

Grace in primary school
Grace at Lake Barrine State School (standing far left of photo)

Grace has vivid memories of a time around the end of the war. Each day, on her way to school, she would ride near an army camp which had been built for convalescing soldiers. Every third Wednesday, like clockwork, her horse was reluctant to take her and would buck her off. It turns out that every third Wednesday, the MPs from the camp would ride their motorbikes through the forest, giving her horse a fright. She is still amazed by her horses fantastic memory.

After completing primary school, Grace attended high school at St Gabrielle’s in Charters Towers. Her mode of transport in those days was the rail motor. After finishing her schooling at the end of grade 10 she began attending ‘rule school’ to learn dressmaking.

Grace as a young woman with her father, mother, brother and a family friend
Grace (back right of photo) with her brother, father, mother and young family friend

Every week, she recalls riding her horse to a friend’s place, which was quite a distance from her family’s farm. Here she stayed with her friend and friend’s family overnight. The next morning they would ride their bikes to Yungaburra, a tiny town with just a butcher, baker and post office. From Yungaburra they would board the rail motor to Atherton for ‘rule school’. This is when she met her future husband, Ron, who was working as Clerk of the Court there.

Ron in his role as Clerk of the Court
Ron in his role as Clerk of the Court

Life after school

As it happened, Ron’s dad lived opposite ‘The Hen House’ where Grace lived with six other girls. Being a taxi driver, he would often pick her up on her way to work. Grace recalls, ‘He said to Ron, you ought to get on to that little Gracie over there. She’s a really nice girl.’ So one day, while she was out picking flowers, Ron, who was a bit cheeky, came over to say hello. During the conversation, he asked Grace out. Her initial response was, ‘Don’t be silly!’. But Ron was persistent. After a while she finally relented and agreed to go out with him.

After about a week of dating, Ron proposed to Grace. Once again her initial response was, ‘Don’t be silly!’. But again, after a while, she did agree to marry him. They married in Atherton in 1956.

Grace and Ron on their wedding day
Grace and Ron on their wedding day

Becoming a family

In 1958 Ron and Grace welcomed their first child, Garry. Just after Garry’s birth, Ron was transferred to Brisbane. Here, in 1960 they welcomed their second child Joanne. The first of their two daughters. It wasn’t long before Ron, Grace and their family were moved from Brisbane to Normanton. Over a period of seven years her family were moved from Atherton to Brisbane to Normanton to Beenleigh, then Millmerran and Charleville. Their last stop was Chinchilla. Their second daughter, Lesley, was welcomed in 1964 during their time in Millmerran.

Within a day of arriving at Charleville Ron received notification of a posting to Chinchilla.

Before their move, Ron required back surgery. Grace recalls being fortunate that one of Australia’s top surgeons, Dr Arrioti, happen to be living in Charleville at that time. Straight after the surgery, she flew Ron to her mother’s in Brisbane. After getting Ron settled, her mother flew to Charleville to help Grace pack for their move to Chinchilla. Ron stayed in Brisbane with Grace’s grandfather while neighbours helped to look after them.

After packing up the house, Grace and her mother drove the children back to Brisbane to collect Ron. Grace vividly remembers the journey to Brisbane. She wasn’t a confident driver so she was quite nervous. She recalls it raining the whole way and handing over the driving to her mother when they were close to Brisbane. She felt her mother was a much more experienced driver when it came to the city.

Coming to Yukana

Grace and her family arrived in Chinchilla in 1966. Her role continued to be one of caring for her family. She eventually started working in the local dress shops.

Grace with her husband, Ron, and their three grown children
From right to left: Ron, Joanne, Gary, Lesley and Grace

Ron passed away in 2015 and Grace found herself living on her own. Although Grace had lots of friends in Chinchilla, she and her children agreed it would be nice if she moved to Toowoomba. It meant she would be closer to them. They began looking for somewhere that suited Grace’s requirements and personality.

Yukana Private is where Grace and her family decided to call home for her. They particularly liked the unit she now lives in, with the lovely gardens surrounding it. Her son Gary explains that Grace is an avid gardener, so the unit suits her perfectly.

Soon after moving in she discovered she knows a number of residents who have also moved from Chinchilla. It has helped make her move, and the process of settling in, that little bit easier.

Her family also liked the staff and the atmosphere they create. Son Gary adds that, when they came to check it out, they felt a good vibe from the staff. Not just from some of the staff, but all of those they met.

Grace is looking forward to continuing her adventures; creating more stories yet to be told.

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