THE FISHER FAMILY 2012
DESIGNED BY MILES NOEL • COVER PHOTOGRAPHY BY JANET PATERSON
Family Tree 2012
Lib Alderman Ruth
Joe Jane Dowty
1992 Frances Louise Brown
1) Rashid Boukhliq
1992 2) Paul Webb 2000
1990 John Bev McCartney
1990 Chris 1959
1961 Iain Paterson Helen
Malcolm Harry Agnes Smith
2001 Michelle Doyle
1) Rosalie Ball
Eve Kim Owen
2) Annie Andrew
Janet Paterson Leonard Fisher
Ada Jane Barnes William Walker Fisher
Ada Jane & William Fisher
Jane and William were married on September 23rd 1893 in Middlesex. William was a Commercial and Shipping Clerk.
Leonardâ€™s sister Doris and her husband Rob.
Watercolour of a Turk by William Fisher (Leonardâ€™s Father).
Leonard went to WW1 in 1918 at the age of 18. He arrived in Australia in 1923 and worked at Carnamah as a farmhand. Unfortunately no photos of Kathleen could be found.
LeonarD, DORIS & KATHLEEN
Agnes & John Paterson John was Professor of Agriculture. He and Agnes met when Agnes attended one of Johnâ€™s lectures at Edinburgh University.
They married on July 30th, 1901 in Scotland.
children The Patersons moved from England to Perth in 1912 when John accepted a position as UWAâ€™s professor of agriculture. The house they lived in is still there, (pictured right) at 28 Keane St, Peppermint Grove. Janet was the only girl among seven children. Left: Agnes (holding Dan) Jack, Malcom, Harry, Janet, Doug, William and John 1909. Below L-R: Malcolm, William, Janet, Jack and Harry.
L-R: William,Malcolm,Agnes,Doug,John, Dan, Jack.
Janet Paterson The West : OBITUARIES WITH PATRICK CORNISH, 2002
Care beyond duty’s call Janet Howie Fisher (nee Paterson) Born: St Alban’s England December 28th 1906 Died: Perth, December 29th 2001 SANDSTONE taught nurse Janet Paterson things she never learnt at Presbyterian Ladies College. The hospital in the goldmining town 500kms north-east of Perth had no doctor when she was posted there in 1934. She had barely unpacked when called to the gold-crushing battery where a drunken brawl had ended up in a shooting. Sitting on the back of the truck that took the alcoholically comatose victim to hospital in Wiluna 200kms away on a bumpy road, Nurse Paterson had time to reflect on the challenges that had arisen since arriving as a six-year-old child from England. The only daughter among seven children of Scottish couple Agnes and John Paterson, who was the University of WA’s first professor of agriculture, she was a good athlete at PLC and became sports mistress at PLC Melbourne. In an age when few women pursued careers, she then switched to nursing, training at Fremantle Hospital and gaining midwifery qualifications from Crown Street in Sydney. The people of Sandstone-which had a population of several thousand in the 1930s,when gold was one of the few boom industries amid the depression-were delighted to have a double-certificated nurse. In May 1935 she married Len Fisher, a local prospector who at various times owned The Lady Mary and The Apples mines. As happened with most entrepreneurial miners, their fortunes rose and fell but they were never wealthy. After Sandstone hospital closed in the 1940’s Mrs Fisher maintained a nursing post for mining and pastoralist families in the district that was kept buoyant by goldmining long after World War II. Without the advantage of telephone advice provided by the Royal Flying Doctor in later years, she counselled, drew teeth, sutured and prescribed. Her son-inlaw John Hyde says her memories include delivering a premature baby by the headlights of a utility on the road to Mt Magnet, and performing minor surgery on a horse. She could certainly tell plenty of outback tales during a 1938 visit to her parents, who had resettled in Scotland after her father’s retirement from UWA four years previously. Janet and Len took their first two daughters for a stay of four months.
Mrs Fisherâ€™s life changed drastically again when her husband died unexpectedly in 1958. A widow at 50, and with her youngest child only 9, she returned to Perth with limited funds. Though with little interest in material things herself, she set her main priority as ensuring that her children received a good education. Most of them had become used to long train trips to and from boarding school in Perth, so at least the matter of transport had become simpler. The Lucy Creeth nursing home in Mosman Park was her chance to earn a living, but it turned out to be much more than a job. She nursed there until the age of 70 and her professional and personal commitment to the caring profession endured in a way that would have delighted her teachers in Fremantle in the 1920s. Long after ceasing formal employment, she continued to take on short holidays a young patient with muscular dystrophy, who needed constant nursing. Janet Fisher, who died a day after her 95th birthday, is remembered by all as a strong and determined person who rose to challenges without complaint. After a comfortable early life in Britain, Perth and Melbourne, she adapted superbly to the smaller community of Sandstone. She is survived by her daughters Jane Paterson, Helen Hyde, Roslyn Noel, and sons Christopher and William, 17 grandchildren and 18 great grand children; and by her two younger brothers Douglas and Daniel.
Janet & Leonard Fisher Len and Janet met in Sandstone and were married in Meekatharra in 1935. Left: Back in England in 1938, Below: Their wedding day, Bottom left: At Janeâ€™s wedding.
Sandstone Len started prospecting and mining in the Sandstone area in 1930. Janet went to Sandstone in 1934 as the Matron of the hospital. When they were first married they lived in a tent and a bower shed at the Six-Mile. Life in Sandstone from 1940-1950 by Jane Paterson During its time, Sandstone swelled from 8000 people during the gold rush period (1900s) to just over a hundred people in 1940. All that remained were a few dwellings scattered around including the Courthouse (half of which was used as the primary school), the post office, a hotel and a general store with petrol bowsers. We lived in a corrugated iron home with a front veranda, situated on the northern edge of the town. Apart from two or three spindly mulga trees, shade and greenery was supplied by a large pepper tree, and a small patch of lawn. Like most people we had a vegetable garden, because there was only one train a week (which later became the mail truck), and chooks of course. Bread was home baked and the milk came out of tins. I was about six when the kerosene fridge arrived to supplement the hessian safe, cooled with water dripping from wet flannels. There were always cases of oranges and apples, but before Christmas a case of delicious stone fruit would arrive. One year, it had to wait six days before being turned into fruit salad on Christmas Day. The hessian safe kept it perfectly. Christmas dinner was eaten with friends. For some years it was a hot roast chicken cooked on the wood stove and eaten under a corrugated iron roof as the temperature climbed to at least 45 degrees Celsius. Continues next page...
Above: First baby Jane, L-R: Ros, William and Chris having a picnic at the â€˜Gumsâ€™, Jane en route to England in 1938, Baby Chris.
The war shaped our lives (rather than our minds) because of rationing and fuel shortage. People didn’t drive long distances. Some of the station families had steam driven vehicles fueled by charcoal burners in order to cover up to sixty miles to get stores and mail. Our father worked long hours (frequently 18 hours a day) because his mine, the Lady Mary, had to pump water 24 hours a day and his partner had been called up to the army. Once a year the Battery was opened and we had the excitement of watching the stone being crushed and holding heavy gold bars, to say nothing of playing with tiny amount of mercury.
LIFE in SANDSTONE
Jane, visitor, Ros, Chris.
My father’s absence must have made our mother’s life difficult, but we were not aware of it (at least I wasn’t); she had more to do and she was anxious about the whereabouts of her brother who was a prisoner of war in Singapore. The women of the town spent many Saturdays in the hall, sewing and knitting for the soldiers and cooking cakes that were sewn into tins to send to the troops.
Outside their house: Chris, Len, Ros, Helen, Janet, George (Crampton) with baby William and Uncle Malcom (visiting from Perth). We could always run home for lunch in summer, our bare feet moving swiftly from one patch of shade to the next. Mother would cover the food with a tablecloth and spray copious quantities of fly spray before we sat down to give us some respite from the flies. She would put the butter in a dish of ice blocks and before the meal was over both ice blocks and butter would be liquid. The town water was pumped from an old mine a couple of miles out of town into four tanks high up near the railway. The water was mineral hard and everyone had rain tanks, which amazingly always had water in them, even though rain was a rare occurrence. In summer we had to run the bath early in the morning because the exposed pipes made the water so hot. Vegetable variety shrank in summer. Apart from potatoes and harvested onions & pumpkin, the garden offered silver beet. Many a battle was fought over having to eat the latter.
Below: Rhubarb(the utility) with Uncle Malcolm, Janet, Chris and Len - morning tea with the Billy boiled.
When the wives of the station people came in for the weekends, they usually came down to our house to meet and mother provided the afternoon tea. The men met at the pub. We children played outside. The stations were living at subsistence level until the Korean war pushed the price of wool (for uniforms) sky-high and suddenly they were comfortably off. I remember the dances up at the hall. Mrs David playing the music for the polkas, pride of erin and the maxina: the suppers and the bonfire outside for the young men who didnâ€™t dance. If we werenâ€™t allowed to be there, we could listen to the music from our bedroom.
Above: Helen Jane and Chris, Left: Len.
Helen, Chris,Ros, Jane about 1948.
the lady mary mine
Len (centre) and Uncle Harry (right) at the Lady Mary mine.
By Jane Paterson The Lady Mary was the first mine. It was sunk below the water level and needed to be pumped and worked twenty four hours a day. Tom Parkinson (with his back to the picture left) was Len Fisher’s partner. When World War 2 broke out, Tom was called up, which meant the burden of keeping the mine going fell to Len and that meant he worked very long hours. The troublesome pumps became more difficult to run during the war, when parts and fuel were scarce. Australia incarcerated Italians then and one became part of the mine’s workforce. The battery, where the ore was crushed, opened once a year. It was an exciting time going out to hear the stamping on the rocks and see the water falling across the table, which was spread with mercury to catch the gold. We were lucky enough to hold the gold bars and feel how heavy they were. The Lady Mary produced some spectacular quartz that had obvious globules of gold. Once or twice there were dunny buckets filled with it and brought home to be stored until the battery people came. There were tanks of cyanide water outside which had something to do with extracting gold. It killed crows and we knew not to go near there. The Michels, from Boolygoo station, used to bring eggs into town and on the way home would call at the mine and swap some for the beautiful vegetables the Italian mine workers grew.
APPLES MINE By Ros Noel Len Fisher bought the lease of the Apples gold mine in 1949. Shortly after his purchase, Len struck a rich vein of gold which became one of the biggest finds in the history of the mine. The mine produced enough wherewithal to educate the family and enable us to have a generator for electricity at home.
Len and his miners. He purchased the Apples mine from Mr Mac (left) and Fred Jardine.
Legend has it that the name ‘Apples’ came when the previous owners went to register the lease and had to give a name, to which they responded ‘Oh, She’ll be Apples’ meaning all would go well. One of my favourite memories of the Apples was of an owl that lived in the exhaust pipe of the engine which was used to pump water from the mine. The exhaust was high off the ground and about five inches in diameter. Each time the engine was started the owl would be pushed out and land in a dazed heap on the ground. It never seemed to learn from this experience, and when all was quiet again would go back to sleeping in the pipe. Chris and I often went down the mine. This could be done by walking down various winzes (side shafts connected by sloping tunnels to the main shaft). Before gelignite was detonated below ground we were always given plenty of time to be well out of the area. We also had some small experience in ‘dollying’ up specimens of the ore and panning off to see if it contained gold and should therefore be put on the pile to go for later crushing at the State Battery.
A rare photo of the pack together in 1976.
L-R: Jane, Helen, Vin Atkinson, Janet, William, Ros, Alice Atkinson at Williamâ€™s wedding in 1971.
Jane & Iain Paterson They met at UWA and wed on January 18th, 1957 at Cottesloe. Iain was a school teacher and his posts sent them to live in many different country towns.
L-R: Kathleen Oâ€™Connor, Chris, Jane, Iain, Helen and Roger Hatten.
Iain, Chris, John and Jane.
CHRIS, JOHN, ALISON, JANET & ROBBIE
John, Alison and Chris.
L-R: Alison, Chris, Janet with Susie (dog) and John.
L-R: Janet, Robbie, John, Chris and Alison in 1994.
The family with granny Janet Fisher.
Chris and Bev’s wedding 1990.
John and Louise‘s wedding 1990.
Robbie and Dawn’s wedding 1995.
Alison and Bill’s wedding 1992.
Janet and Paul on the Bibbulmun track 2011.
FRASER & CHARLOTTE
RUTH & RUSTY FRANCIS
BILL, ANGUS & DOUG 19
John & Helen Hyde
Honeymoon in Sydney.
Wedding day, 14th January 1960.
KATE, ROS, HARRY & DEB
Harryâ€™s version of horse riding.
Deb about to swim to Rotto.
Ros being inspired.
Kate with Anna and James.
Ros and John Mitchell’s wedding, 2001.
Deb and Phil Dowson wedding, 1991 (Helen’s wedding dress).
Harry and Jane Dowty’s wedding, 1997.
Kate’s wedding, 1984 - recognise the dress?
Mural by Ros
MATTHEW & EMILY RUTH & JOE
Painting of Joe by Ros.
Above L-R: Tom, James, Joe Dowson and Anna. Middle: Tom, painting of Anna by Ros, James and Libby’s wedding day, 2011.
TOM, ANNA & JAMES 23
Chris & Annie Fisher
Left: keeping cool in their Mosman Park backyard.
Rhubarb was adopted by Chris. Tim and Steve.
Fortescue Bridge in the Pilbara was one of Chrisâ€™ projects as an engineer.
JANE TIM 25
Clockwise from left: Tim and Pam, Jane and Martin Jones wedding, 1998, Stephen and Michelle Doyle wedding,1995.
Deborah, Steve, Andrew and Michelle.
ANDREW & DEBORAH 27
Ros & David Noel Clockwise from top left: Rare photo of David with no beard, wedding day 1979, Ros teaching at Mt Lawley High School and David with young Miles and Benedict in Shenton Park backyard.
BENEDICT & MILES
Holiday at Bremer Bay.
Ros has done many extraordinary things. In 1969 she embarked on a 6 month, 20 000 km adventure from London to Cape town (bottom right). Her talents for hockey elevated her to Australian capton, and then WA sports person of the year in 1973 (top right).
Bendict and Miles appear to have inherited their mother’s taste for adventure. In 2008 they spent a month cycling around Iceland (1200km), and in 2011 they climbed Mt Kinabalu (4095m), in Borneo. Below: Miles’ painting ‘La Puerta’ from his 2007 exhibition ‘Vistas De Sentimientos’. Right: ‘Pathway from fresh to salt’, 2010, inspired by the Bremer Bay estuary.
Growing up in Lynwood. Right: Bill served in the Vietnam war for 12 months and one day from 1969-70.
William & Joan Fisher
Bill and Joan were married on 26th of February 1971 at St Martins church in Kensington. Here they are pictured at the council gardens in Subiaco.
KIM, KIRRILLY & MELANIE
In 1987 Kim became a pilot, before he gained his driverâ€™s license.
Paul and Melanieâ€™s wedding, 2008.
Kim and Kirrillyâ€™s wedding, 2011.
Poppy & EVE
TAJ & MILLie OLIVER & KATE