The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Stories of women’s influence
Adonation to genealogical researchers has prompted a deeper dive into the lives of postsettlement-era migrant women in the Wimmera.
Wimmera-born author Jack Walter has donated his latest book, a historical expose of his great-grandmother’s life in the Wimmera, to the Wimmera Genealogy Association.
Mr Walter, also a Second World War serviceman who grew up at Noradjuha and Horsham, has perhaps seen more than most during his 96 years of life.
After witnessing the city-destroying effects of the United States-led atomic bombing of Hiroshima during his time as part of the British Occupational Force in Japan, he went on to lend on-the-ground assistance during the post-war clean-up of Borneo.
His new book, ‘A Tribute to our pioneering mothers’, donated to the Wimmera Association for Genealogy and Horsham Library, was the latest in his line of genealogy-related studies into the lives of the Wimmera’s early western pioneers.
The genealogy association’s president Tony Ward said Mr Walter’s latest book offered a detailed understanding of what was often an untold aspect of historical research — the societal role of women in civilisational advancement.
“‘Pioneering mothers’ was written about the women in his family, which is great, because sometimes stories of mothers within history can be missed. Everyone knows what the men did, but less often we read about the vital role women played in early Wimmera society,” Mr Ward said.
“The Walter family’s story was perhaps fairly common to the stories of other families at the time.
“What mothers had to put up with back then, I don’t think their grandchildren would put up with that anymore and nor should they have to.”
Mr Ward said Mr Walter contacted the association about his search for land-title information — research he was keen to use in his latest reporting.
However, Mr Ward said it was the tale of Mr Walter’s early life that captured his attention.
“What blew me away about Jack was that quickly after he joined the Royal Australian Air Force, the Second World War ended so he decided to
volunteer as part of the occupationary force in Japan,” he said. “He was in Japan six months after the disaster at Hiroshima, helping people re-establish their lives.
“I don’t think there would be too many people that could lay claim to seeing that post-crisis situation inperson.
“Jack was born at Natimuk Bush Nursing Hospital before he attended Noradjuha State School and later, Horsham High School.
“Jack’s written work deserves the publicity, as does his family’s story, because it is a representative story of so many families who made the Wimmera their home, generations ago.”
Mr Ward said the study of genealogy often led researchers down a ‘fascinating rabbit hole’. He invited people to consider the study, as well as the association, as a way for them to explore their family’s past.
“Shows on television have been delving into the family history of well-known people for a while now and these stories have been fascinating to watch. But everyone’s family history is interesting. When you look back through the troves of information available, it can be truly amazing what you can find,” he said.
Jack Walter’s book ‘A Tribute to our pioneering mothers’ is available publicly at Horsham Library.