[Family home of Neville Laurence Heneker (dad) who was born here on 19 April 1929. This corrugated iron building at Elder Terrace, Hawker, South Australia, held 6 children and 2 adults. (photographed by Vicki Lovell (nee Heneker) on 12 September 2015. Hawker South Australia]
On the weekend of September 12-13th 2015, I made a trip to the far north of South Australia with my brother from Western Australia and his children. We met up at Port Augusta, me flying up from Adelaide, and they driving over from Coolgardie, Western Australia. We made our way to Hawker, 106 km from Port Augusta, on a good road, in my brothers 4WD. My father, Neville Laurence Heneker was born in Hawker in 1929, so it seemed a good place to start our journey. Although I had been this way in the past, many times with my darling dad whilst he was still alive, it was many years ago. I always remember my dad’s yarns, about his boyhood adventures with mates, many of them young Aboriginal boys. Back then, when you lived in this remote area, there didn’t seem to be a stigma, as there was in the city of being friends with whoever came along. Finding dad’s old house, all shut up, but still looking how I remember was sentimental and amazing at the same time. A long corrugated iron building, with hardly any windows, and with very little viewing opportunity was disappointing. I talked to someone in the local hotel, a few doors down, who said that the people who lived next door were away, and they I believe were the owners. Becoming rather brave, or criminal by trespassing, I opened their gate and knocked on their door. No answer. So I took the opportunity to look through a very old, very dirty paned glass window, into a very dark building. Mainly it seemed filled with bits of wood, a very old wheelchair and other bits and pieces scattered all over. Standing back out on the street, and looking through gaps in the front door, I could just make out the length of the building, with what seemed to be flimsy bits of partition acting as semi-walls. There seemed to be one long corridor running down the right hand side, which was formed by where the partitioning ended. Was the house always like this?? Apparently the building had been used for some years as a “gem” shop. A very old sign could be seen on the side of the house, very faded, announcing it’s use as a gem shop. So it was hard to tell if the interior of the building had been pulled down and reorganised to make it into a shop of sorts. It still seemed unbelievable that a family of 6 children and 2 adults could have lived comfortably in this very hot place. No air conditioning back then! The house was built on a road which faced the main highway that continued on further north to Beltana and beyond. In fact, I wondered if in those early years it may have been the main road. Close by and basically at the end of the town was the old historic railway station. Sadly this has now been made into a resturant, which is a shame as visitors can no longer look further at this building.
[A side view of the house with it’s very dirty window and locked but rickety side door.]
Other side of the house, note the very tiny window up high
[Interesting detail? Ventilation?]
[Below – A back door taken from over a back fence on the Telephone Exchange property. ]
We spent a few hours here, trying to view through the house. I wish I had asked my dad more about how they lived when he was alive. I remember many stories he told me about the things he got up to as a boy, but never much about the house and how they lived. I think from dad’s stories that he spent more time out camping in the bush with his mates, than at home. It was almost certainly cooler outside, even on the hottest day, than inside this place that was really no more than a shed. I remember dad pointing it out to me on our trips further north, in the summer holidays, when we went camping up at Parachilna Gorge, (where we later scattered dad’s ashes).
Hawker is a lovely town. Of course there are now some newer homes, but basically it retains the older stone houses of the times, with many residents planting out large native gardens. It is a quiet a peaceful place, especially away from the service station, which caters mainly to the many tourists who now spend their time driving up through the north, in their very large 4 WD’s. I remember dad driving us up there in an old Vauxhall with a water bag on the front. Now people have their caravans, filled with electric refrigerators, radio’s mobile phones, basically home away from home. I sometimes wonder though how much of the outback experience they really gain. My grandfather when he came with us, would have a rock as a pillow and lay out on the sandy soil, stating it was “too hot” to sleep inside the tent. Even our tent was basic, just a large inverted v shape, with no door to zip us in. Those were the days, especially when pa told of us the stories of the lonely graves where men died after falling off their horses, or being bitten by a brown snake. On this 2015 weekend trip we, on the other hand, spent the night in a pleasant motel, with modern bathroom and comfy beds. However it did have a lovely view from the window of Wilpena Pound, late that day, and early the next morning the pound still gave off the blue misty appearance, which was always to be seen. This comes from the vapour rising from the eucalyptus trees. Next morning, we were on our way again, to Parachilna, Parachilna Gorge and then Beltana. The further north we headed the hotter it became. After a very cold Adelaide winter, with hardly any sun, and with spring starting on the 1st September, we were lucky to have a warm weekend, 29 C in Adelaide, (almost unheard of at that time of the year) and by the time we were heading towards Beltana it was well over 30 C. With dust and wirly winds, reminding us we were heading towards the uninhabited north. How did our Kentish ancestors cope with this weather, after coming from lush green and cold England? Quite well it seems.!!
Link to town map of Hawker Town map of Hawker, South Australia