REMINISCING Arnold Horne had a career spanning 36 years as a dairy farmer on his family's property, located half way between Takura and Dundowran.
REMINISCING Arnold Horne had a career spanning 36 years as a dairy farmer on his family's property, located half way between Takura and Dundowran. Jodie Callcott

The Story Of: Arnold and Beatrice Horne - a life on the land

IT'S 8am and Arnold Horne prepares his horse for the two-mile journey to school.

Galloping along the dusty track through the forest, Arnold arrives with plenty of time to spare before school starts at 9am.

He puts his horse in the school's paddock and sharpens his slate pencil on the concrete outside.

When school's finished, the nine-year-old watches his classmates either walk or ride their bicycles home, feeling annoyed as he tries to catch his horse in the paddock.

These were different times.

Arnold grew up on his family's dairy farm half-way between Takura and Dundowran.

On Saturdays while his mother and eldest sister shopped for the week in Maryborough, Arnold learnt to play piano.

"In those days we were very isolated," he reminisced.

"Saturday morning, we would go to Maryborough and buy all the stores we needed for the week, and I would be with the music teacher having my lessons.

"It's strange, Maryborough's almost the same.

"But the big thing, and people just can't imagine, when the workers used to knock off at Walkers Foundry and Shipyard and come down Kent St on their bicycles, it was just such a fantastic sight to see so many men on bikes.

"It would fill the block up from Adelaide St to Bazaar St."

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As the youngest of six children, Arnold can remember going to the picture theatre with his mum and eldest sister choosing the the cheap seats at a cost of 2/- 11p (about 29c).

"That's going back more than 70 years," he said.

"That was just after the war.

"It was a strange youth for me because not only were we way out in the bush with no one around, but it was a frugal time.

"People used to have ration tickets to buy butter and all the rest of the things, and certainly fuel.

"You had to make your own enjoyment, we didn't have television obviously and radio was only used for news broadcasts and special events."

From ages 15-17, Arnold swapped his horse for a bicycle ride to the station where he caught the worker's train to Maryborough to attend high school.

"I used to ride my bicycle every morning to Walligan Siding and catch the train there in the morning," he said.

"I would leave home at 6.30am, and I wouldn't leave Maryborough until after 5pm when everyone knocked off work, and I used to get home at 6.30pm."

 

Arnold and Beatrice Horne were made Matron and Worthy Patron of the Hervey Bay Order of the Eastern Star chapter.
Arnold and Beatrice Horne were made Matron and Worthy Patron of the Hervey Bay Order of the Eastern Star chapter. Contributed

It was during this time Arnold met his wife of 59 years, Beatrice.

"She was an excellent dancer. I thought she was elegant. She was tall and slim and the opposite to me, I was a bit pudgy," he laughed.

"Saturday night was a traditional night out.

"Mum, dad and I used to go down to the pictures at Central Theatre, next door to the Beach House (Hotel), and I would walk from there to Pialba to the dance at Memorial Hall.

"And there was no road then, it was just a dirt track with a foot bridge over Tuan Creek.

"Then as soon as the pictures finished, mum and dad would drive up to the dance and stand at the door waiting for me."

After high school Arnold and his eldest brother stayed on the family farm, running dairy cattle and growing sugar cane and pineapples.

"It was a joint family enterprise until my dad had a nasty accident in the dairy and had to have brain surgery and was never quite the same," he said.

"The dairying started off with my mother milking for the family and sending off our surplus cream to the butter factory in Maryborough.

"When they started the pasteurised milk, we started on that, and by the time we were finished we had the biggest milk quota in Maryborough."

He married his sweetheart Beatrice on his 22nd birthday on April 17, 1959.

They lived in a house opposite Dundowran Hall which they called Carrefour, French for "crossroads".

Arnold and Beatrice had four children, Kristine, Peter, Stephen and Helen.

"We lived in that house until 1982, when we built on the farm," he said.

"My parents were getting older and I did a lot travelling to and from the farm and I was never home.

"You couldn't imagine just how much B has done in our lifetime.

"I was full time on the farm, so I had never done a thing in the house.

"B used to look after the children, do all their sewing, cooking, she was a fantastic crafts-person, I don't know how she had the time.

"I hadn't ironed a shirt until four years ago."

 

Arnold Horne on his tractor at the family farm.
Arnold Horne on his tractor at the family farm. Contributed

In May 1986, The Bob Hawke government primary industries minister John Kerin introduced the Dairy Produce Bill, which abolished the large subsidy dairy farmers received from the government.

The fallout from the dairy reconstruction, as Arnold calls it, ended his 36-year career as a dairy farmer.

"We ended it on May 1, 1991," he said.

"It was very emotional the day I walked into the butter factory to tell them I was finishing dairying.

"I had two sons and I asked them if they wanted to take over, and I would have assisted them, but they had the brains to decide it wasn't the best outlook for their future.

"For 36 years I was working seven days a week and I was a bit embarrassed when we sold our quota, I was still relatively young, I was in my early 50s.

"We still had cattle to look after, but basically, we were free agents and that's when we had the opportunity to travel overseas.

"We had a bit of a windfall where we could go on three overseas trips.

"Not that we intended to, we intended to travel Australia, although we had done a lot of travelling with Masonic orders.

"At that time, B was very interested in the Order of the Eastern Star - which is a lady's offshoot of the Masonic Lodge.

"And they had trips over to USA and a Masonic trip over to Scotland and Europe."

Devastatingly Beatrice was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2005.

"We came to Hervey Bay in 2011," Arnold said.

"When B was diagnosed, the housing on the farm wasn't really suitable.

"I always had a bit of a problem, that if we went to a retirement centre in town after spending 70 years in the bush, it would be like an ants' nest, but it was beautiful and a gradual change."



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