Kath is my children’s great great grandmother.
from the Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA), Thursday 20 October 1932, Page 5
A LINK WITH THE PAST
A Colonist of 89 Years
One of the oldest living colonists of Australia is Mrs. Katherine Millard, of “Berrie Dell” Casterton, Victoria. In conversation with Mrs. Millard she said:- “I am 96 years of age, and came to Australia 89 years ago in the ship “Clara.” I am a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jorn Fox, who kept an hotel at Port Fairy, Ararat, Ballarat, and lastly at Hamilton. I am a grand-daughter of Charles James Fox, Westminster, England, statesman, who was M.P. in 1768, Lord of the Admiralty in 1770-72, Junior Lord of the Treasury, 1773 and Secretary of State, 1782, and Foreign Secretary in 1806. The first few years of my childhood were spent in Ireland, where my father kept an hotel at Cloncurry, Ichnar, and lastly at Locknay, County of Armar.[sic] My happiest recollections of the old land are of the large weaving mills owned by my grand-parents on my mother’s side (Adde’s.) Here bonnie girls sat in rows of twenty and thirty in a row, spinning and weaving, and singing as they wove. I remember quite well witnessing the battle between Locknay and Ichnar. It was not as serious as people had anticipated, but it was a battle all the same, and the women relatives of the combatants were clasping hands and embracing each other within a fortnight of the conflict.
The voyage out on the “Clara” was a very happy one, many were the concerts and dances held on board. The love story of the bo’s’n of the ship is one of tragic horror, which none of us could forget. The memory of it will always be with me. On board was a beautiful singer, who made the voyage happy with her lovely voice. Upon reaching Portland Bay the bos’n asked for the hand of the singer in marriage, and was bluntly refused by the girl’s parents. Unbeknown to anyone he bored a large hole in the bottom of the boat which was to convey her and her parents to shore, for there was no pier that the vessels could come up to in those days. He was to row this boat himself. The hole was securely filled with a large cork. When the boat was on its way to shore, and still in deep water, with the girl singer and her parents and several other passengers on board, the bos’n again asked for the hand of the singer. He was again refused. He then in his vvrath stepped forward and drew the bung from the bottom of the small boat, the water entered, and in sight of everyone all this small boat load of people, including the bos’n himself, were drowned. It was a terrible thing, but the parents should have said they would see later when they were settled, or when their girlie was older, and by that time this mad love would have cooled somewhat. I remember the feelings of dread my parents had upon anticipating the life ahead of us in Australia: but when they saw the beauties of Portland Bay, and later, of Port Fairy, all fears were dispersed.
We came by bullock waggon from Portland to Port Fairy. Port Fairy was being colonized, and potato growing was mainly carried on. Oh! the beautiful potatoes grown in that district, and at Tower Hill. My father used to grow potatoes and cart them by bullock waggon to Ballarat. He arrived in Ararat with a waggon load of potatoes on the day of the Stockade rising in 1852. He sold all the potatoes that same day in Ararat for £20 a ton. He was very successful in farming, and later kept an hotel at Port Fairy, then at Ballarat, Ararat, and lastly at Hamilton till the time of his death. I can tell many stories of the early days, one being of the discovery of a rich gold mine, in which I took a very small part. From the place where I was living I watched a solitary figure climb up a steep hill in the bush. He went alone, and used to return at night-fall. I watched this for two weeks. I then sent word into the nearest police station and asked for a convoy to be sent out, as I feared that no person would climb alone for so great a time for nothing. There were many entitled to gold if it were there, and the feeling was that the finding of gold should be publicly shared. The convoy came out and just below the surface of the ground where the solitary figure had been probing was found the lovely yellow gold, rich and plenty. I enjoy very good health, and walk a mile day. I could not do without this. It is wonderful to see the large towns now on country that I remember being all dense timber. My eyesight is still quite good, and I still enjoy life, and music especially. I was always a lover of music, and always joined in all dancing and singing whenever it was to be had.”
Mrs. Millard has many relatives in Australia. Mrs. A. Tuffnell, of “Luton.” Dunrobin, is a daughter, and Mrs. Clode, of “”Berrie Dal.” is also a daughter. James Fox, the ex-cross country rider, now of “Mon Sol,” Mount Schiank is a nephew; and Mrs. R. Mayne, of Mentone, near Melbourne, is a niece. Mr. R. Fox, of the Public Health Department of South Africa, is a nephew.