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1936 - 1954
Information supplied by Joan Middenway and Helen Weir (nee Brimbecom)
Joan Middenway visited the Mungerie Visitor Information Centre at Mungerie in early 2011 and recalled her memories of staying as a child with her uncle and auntie, Les and Myra Brimbecom and their four children Joyce, Margaret, Helen and Philip on what was then the dairy farm ‘Mungerie’. As a result she contacted her cousin Helen and they provided the following information.
In 1936 Joan and Helen’s grandparents John and Martha Brimbecom bought the ‘Mungerie’ property from the Wright family. The main attraction was the constant supply of water from Caddies Creek and a fresh “well” near the house. The land had been used to graze sheep and contained poultry sheds for egg production, a kitchen garden and an orchard of citrus and stone fruit trees.
The ‘Mungerie’ Dairy was managed by John’s son Les, while John and Martha continued to live at their Balgowlah ‘Hill Farm’ Dairy, purchased in 1915, until John’s death in 1937. John’s daughter Ethel (Joan’s mother) had married Arthur Vining and he became manager of the Balgowlah depot.
It took time to construct the buildings necessary for a dairy farm. These included a feed shed, cattle holding yards, a building for the cow bales, milking machines, cooling and refrigeration rooms, a farm machinery shed and workman’s cottage. Once the buildings were completed the dairy herd of 200 cows was transported from ‘Hill Farm”. In time this herd produced approximately 500 gallons of milk. Other animals added to the farm were three horses: a draught horse “Blossom”, a temperamental pony “Taffy” and an ex racehorse; a dog, several chickens in pens and 10-20 pigs in large pens.
The old home was similar to what we see today. The front path and pavers with their interesting edging are the same but the garden is different. There were lots of Roses, Delphiniums, Lilac trees and a giant Holly bush. The hallway gave access to four bedrooms and a rear lounge/dining room with a well used fireplace. There was a wide, large verandah where the café area is today, with an outside door off one end leading to the bathroom. A large latticed fernery, covered with a very pretty Alamanda creeper, was accessed off the side verandah.
The kitchen was where the public restroom is today and contained a fuel stove, sink, several cupboards and a central table. Between the kitchen and the bathroom was a passageway with one door opening to the bathroom, with toilet, wash basin, bath and a chip heater. The second door, an outside door, led to a separate brick building used as a cool room. This was covered with a Wisteria creeper and nearby was a peach tree with delicious white fruit. The laundry was at the rear of the house and beyond this was the well. The covering on the well was considered dangerous and was replaced by a concrete slab. Many long hours were spent hand pumping fresh water from the well to the house tank for the house supply.
At the rear and to the side of the house was a tall wooden structure holding a large water tank for rainwater. The creek water was used for the garden and for water troughs for the stock. Nearby was a separate garage. The house had a white picket fence around the front with post and rail at the back. This was covered with Wisteria and a Kapok vine which was supposed to keep snakes away. Perhaps it worked as Joan never saw a snake at ‘Mungerie’.
Beside Caddies Creek was an abandoned timber hut and Chinese market gardens which Joan and her cousin Helen found very interesting even though they had been warned not to go near there. The hut contained two rooms with Chinese wall hangings, odd pieces of furniture and large wicker baskets.
Across Caddies Creek was the ‘Hill Paddock’ and beyond that another smaller creek which was the back boundary. In 1940 the neighbouring properties were bought from from Blanche Whatmore and Aubrey Brien, so that the frontage of ‘Mungerie’ Dairy on Windsor Road was from the White Hart Picnic Ground to Commercial Road, a total of 430 acres. Other locals remembered included the Peterson, Pearce, Turton, Williams and Allsop families.
During the Second World War life was very hard and manpower difficult to find but the cows still had to be milked. The milk was transported daily from Rouse Hill to Balgowlah using a Bedford truck fitted with a charcoal burner, the gas from the burner replaced petrol. The large feed shed, visible from Windsor Road had painted on the roof in large letters ‘Fresh Raw Milk for Manly’. There was little traffic on the Windsor Road apart from troop transports and air force vehicles going to the Richmond airbase.
The ‘Mungerie’ Dairy was bought by the Scharkie brothers: Robert, Neil and Ian in 1954 and the name changed to ‘Mungerie Farm Holdings’. The Brimbecom family knew the Scharkie family from Manly. Charles Scharkie (father of Robert, Neil and Ian) was the Mayor of Manly at the time.
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