I dedicate this volume to the memory of my wife Patricia Marlene RICHARDS (1936-2012) who shared with me her love for life.

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A project of such duration is subject to the

input of many people literally being on call to assist when needed. I thank Peggy Richards for her encouragement although she’d wonder at her name being present. To my cousin Bruce Richards for background regarding our grandfather David along with his wide experience with livestock on the road.

Also Charles Schmierer and Peter Wake for their historic “know how” of the Singleton area. With the blessing of Mary Joliffe, the author was
able to bring to life the “Coopers” family home.


Ultimate recognition to Enid Bourke and Edna Morris for their ongoing editing and great patience. I know them as past English teachers so they were entirely capable. And to Jean Newman for her professional final edit.


People like Amanda Coxen of Mossman, who has for years kept this author out of trouble regarding “challenges with computers”.

Mandy has always greeted me with a smile despite my having issues on a regular basis.


My friends, John and Karen White for their valued assistance and support in retrieving images that were taken around Australia forty-six years ago. Also Lloyd Nielsen who offered to provide the maps for this volume.

To them all, many thanks.


Additional background for this volume has been penned by others. Colleen McLaughlin from Springsure, Queensland wrote describing a desperate effort in saving cattle from impending drought by moving them interstate to the Hunter Valley. Pat Shears provided information concerning the “Communist Cave” printing effort during World War II.

Brenda Cooper also wrote a piece concerning my father Bill, droving stock through their property at Dawson’s Hill.


In gathering background, I have interviewed champion axemen, rodeo cowboys, a retired PNG patrol officer, cattlemen, dairymen, daughters of POW’s, cabaret artists, zoologists, tour guides, skippers, even an owner of cargo vessels operating into Bougainville Island post war. Individually, they each related some information that proved to be both important and welcome.


There are too many to name individually on this page, however you will find them each mentioned as they assisted me in creating this history to share with others.


I also thank the many photographers whose fine images tell the story and show the beauty of what this land Australia has to offer. Clem Bourke shared the camera on the “Big Trip” along with his historic shots of Singleton. Many of the photographs are from personal effort and not captioned, while some are of unknown provenance.

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