From Lon­don to Aussie coun­try

Central and North Burnett Times - - HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE... 50+ -

BORN in Lon­don in 1941, Chris Roberts has trav­elled all over the world and now calls Biggenden home.

An ill­ness in 1946 put Chris in hos­pi­tal for con­sid­er­able time. Through this ill­ness, Chris lost his abil­ity to speak and had elo­cu­tion lessons for three years.

Dur­ing this time his par­ents sep­a­rated but Chris was able to spend time with both of them. In 1949 he went to live with his mother in Meopham, a lit­tle vil­lage in Kent, where he joined the church choir founded by Si­mon De-Meopham in 1100.

He was also a mem­ber of the Angli­can Young Peo­ples As­so­ci­a­tion and joined the bell ringers at age 14.

Chris also joined the army cadets, and in 1956 at the age of 15 left school and went to work for Hen­ley’s Tyre and rub­ber fac­tory. Later that year he de­cided to come to Aus­tralia. His par­ents signed his pa­pers and in Fe­bru­ary 1957 he sailed out to Aus­tralia un­der the Church of Eng­land Coun­cil for Com­mon­wealth Set­tle­ment. He ar­rived in Melbourne on March 25 af­ter sail­ing round South Africa due to the Suez cri­sis.

The 16-year-old went to Bur­ton Hall Train­ing Farm at Tatura and spent 12 months there be­fore he got his first job on an 1100-acre prop­erty be­tween Ber­ri­gan and Fin­ley. Af­ter six months he moved on and worked on dairy farms.

Com­ing to Aus­tralia at such a young age, “I think I was one of the lucky ones,” he said.

“At Bur­ton Hall there was not a hint of bad man­age­ment or mis-treat­ment.

“We got five bob aweek pocket money and that didn’t do you any harm.”

He spoke with a pub­lic school ac­cent be­cause of his elo­cu­tion lessons.

“I prac­tised for three months in front of a mir­ror to per­fect my Aus­tralian ac­cent,” he said.

In 1960 he moved to North Queens­land for the crush­ing and also joined the lo­cal div­ing club.

He was of­fered a job with the MRD as a diver and was paid 53 pounds for four hours’ work a day. At the end of the year he had saved enough to visit his par­ents in Eng­land.

So on Fe­bru­ary 26, 1961, Chris sailed to Eng­land via In­dia, Colombo, Suez, Mar­sai in France and on to Tibury, and then spent most of the year in France, Ger­many, Bel­gium and sight­see­ing around Eng­land.

Later that year he joined the mer­chant navy and sailed for Nor­way on the MV Gla­dys Bowa­ter. Dur­ing the next six months, there were fur­ther trips around the world be­fore he ended up in Hong Kong, where he was paid off, com­ing back to Aus­tralia on a 707.

By the end of 1962 he longed for the bush and got a job on Wai­harunga Sta­tion, 60 miles west of Hugh­en­den.

Around Christ­mas 1963 he went to Townsville and­was in­tro­duced to his fu­ture wife, Lynette, and a courtship fol­lowed.

In March 1964, Chris was lucky to gain em­ploy­ment as a chain­man with John Reynolds & As­so­ciates, who took him un­der his wing and taught him howto use the in­stru­ments.

Lyn and Chris were mar­ried in 1966. In 1968 Chris took on the job with Queens­land Rail­ways on the resur­vey of the Mt Isa line from Ju­lia Creek to Mt Isa.

Over the en­su­ing years, there were fur­ther sur­vey­ing and fore­man jobs in the Clon­curry re­gion be­fore he moved south as fore­man in charge of North Strad­broke Is­land for the Red­land Shire Coun­cil.

Then from 1987 to June 1994 he was fore­man in charge of the Mt Mor­gan Shire Coun­cil and then re­tired on doc­tors’ ad­vice be­cause of his hip.

His re­tire­ment brought Chris and Lyn to Biggenden, where they set­tled into the com­mu­nity close to their five chil­dren and 12 grand­chil­dren.

“We never liked cities. Biggenden suits us fine plus the peo­ple are won­der­ful,” he said.

Chris did stand for coun­cil and spent three years work­ing for the peo­ple of Biggenden.

Photo: Erica Mur­ree

BORN EN­TER­TAINER: Chris Roberts chose Biggenden as his place to re­tire, and en­joys his time teach­ing school­child­ren the gui­tar and en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple.

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