to form and challenging convention, Michael could only buy a
one way ticket to Katoomba the war restrictions were
a challenge to personal relationships too. At the end of his
honeymoon he was desperate to get back to his unit to avoid
being charged with being awol or worse, desertion a capitol
offense in war time. At the last minute Michael managed to buy
a return ticket back to Sydney but only one for himself.
This meant he had to temporarily abandon his bride for a while
longer in Katoomba in order to get back to his base in time.
Their marriage was to last many years until their deaths late
in the twentieth century.
remaining war years were difficult for Michael and Eileen. She
was pregnant when Michael was re-posted and Eileen went back
to her family in Adelaide for the birth of their first daughter
Jennifer Mary. Eileen kept a diary
and excerpts from it are quoted in her memory file. After the
war Michael and his bride settled in Brisbane and Michael resumed
for a short his career in the civil service. His independence
led him to start his own integrated timber, hardware and service
station business in the then outer Brisbane suburb of Stafford.
It was located on the block of land at 80 Webster Road, Stafford.
Initially it was in partnership with his Uncle Pat and Fred
Alback and the business was known as Aldale Timber Company.
The company regularly advertised in the local Courier Mail newspaper
in the 1950's. The National Library of Australia has records
of these adverts available online through their Trove website.
Later Pat bought out the milling business while Michael and
Fred retained the other sections including the timber planning.
Alback was a competitive man. Dad bought a new car in the early
'50s - Fred bought a new Jaguar car. Dad bought the land at
Broadbeach - Fred bought a block down the road. Dad built a
holiday home - Fred built a holiday home. During the construction
of the holiday home the family would go down to the coast with
Dad. Sometimes he would leave us there, with Mum of course,
while he went back to work in Brisbane. One holiday he returned
to pick up the family from the Coast and drive them home to
Herston. During the journey home, Michael said he had a surprise
at home. He had the kids guessing the whole journey home - maybe
for 1 1/2 hours - and noone guessed. Imagine our surprise to
find a newly painted kitchen on arrival. He had painted the
cupboards two tone - mushroom doors with grey trim - it would
have been very fashionable in the 1950's.
Once when on holiday at Broadbeach we, the kids, dared enter
Lenins Hotel garden and take liberty of their facilities. We
were having a wonderful time in their swimming pool until we
were chased out. This would have been in 1957 or '58. It wasn't
the first time such an incident had occurred so we knew what
to expect when the lifeguard approached us and we ran. The adjacent
photo is of the holiday home under construction. Michael invited
friends to help him and this image is of a cricket game in the
sand during a break in the work.
recalls, "I didn't realize there were three in partnership
with Dad, I remember Fred and going out to the Mill on Saturday
mornings and weighing out the nails with Jenny and Anne. Half
way home Dad would stop for a beer and he would buy us a comic
at the news agency." Dad gave instructions to add a few
extra nails to each bag when weighing them out on the old counterbalance
scales - a demonstration of his fairness in business. When I
reached the age (about 4 or 5 years old) to help with the weighting
out I couldn't remember if I was to add a few or take a few
nails off so there may have been a few bags which were a bit
short in weight! Adjacent is a photo of scales similar to what
I used. There is another of Rosie building her canoe
and Michael helping and encouraging her. It is well worth a
Daly family was religiously conservative and even when on holiday
at Broadbeach we had to attend Sunday Mass like all good Catholics.
It was never called "going to Church" but "going
to Mass". The nearest church was the Guardian Angels Church
in Scarborough Street, Southport which was about eight kilometres
away from the holiday cottage. The church is still there in
the middle of the retail district. I recall that many of the
pews in the church had brass plaques on the end of them honouring
the family who donated the pew. I could not understand why,
given the size of our family, we too did not have our own pew
instead of sitting in "somebody else's" pew! We were
that religious that when out in the car, upon passing a Catholic
Church we would have to bless ourselves, which was called "making
the sign of the cross", and say a prayer. In about 1962
Dad's sister Auntie Muriel (1915-2004 ) who had a shop on Thursday
Island married Louis Alexander Rasey (1916-1976). Lou was an
Anglican and a Free Mason and the couple married in a non-Catholic
church. In order to attend the marriage service we had to go
to confession and seek the (Catholic) Church's permission to
attend otherwise we would be committing a sin. Permission was
granted on the basis that we did not participate in the service
and had to stand up for the duration. Dad and Auntie Muriel
were close and in the 1950's he flew to Thursday Island to help
build her shop and home. Dad took hours of home movies of the
experience including the airports of Townsville, Cairns and
Horn Island and life in the Torres Strait.
wonder if two of my sisters "made their confession"
the time some parishioners of a non-Catholic Church in Aberleigh
Road in Herston forced them one Sunday into Sunday School as
they were hanging around outside their church in the early 1960's.
Fortunately religious bigotry is on the decline. It was vigorously
discussed by the family at the time.
decision to purchase a plot of land in Herston, a suburb of
Brisbane, was truly indicative of the closeknit Daly clan. His
mother and four of his siblings would all eventfully live in
the area close to the family home "Tumba" at 33 Scott
Road. He was also very close to his own children and indulged
in them. In the late 1940's he bought an 8mm movie camera and
took many hours of footage of the family. Please contact
me if you wish me to send you a copy of the footage which
has been digitised (it is about an 8 gig movie in windows format).
The five children born to Michael and Eileen during their first
seven years of marriage were all girls and the couple, more
especially Michael, were keen to have a boy. Michael was not
present for the birth of their sixth child, a boy. Perhaps he
had given up hope of a boy as he was from a family of four girls
and two boys and Eileen from a family of four girls. Boys weren't
in the majority in either family. It was a Saturday afternoon
in late May 1952 when the boy was delivered. The nurses phoned
Michael who was at home minding the other children. Upon the
news of a boy baby, according to Eileen, Michael was down to
the hospital in a flash. This is the story of the start of my
life. Their track record improved after I was born and two boys
followed me and then a girl - the last child they were to have.
of the outdoors persuaded Michael
to purchase an enormous tent in late 1950's, after he
sold the Broadbeach properties. He would take the children camping
Kingaroy, Bunya Mountains, Texas on the border with NSW, Kerry
in the Gold Coast hinterland and many other places. There was
one such holiday to his home town of Gympie and Tin Can Bay
on the coast. The mozzies were so thick and they even managed
to get into the tent through the insect netting. We all ended
up with bite welts and we went to the pharmacy the following
morning for an anti-itch compound. I remember Michael's face
that morning was covered with red blisters and the pharmacist
who expressed his astonishment when he entered the shop. Usually
the family used Calamine Lotion for the stings and a repellent
called "Kokoda". A bottle of each was kept in the
kitchen at home in the "top" medicine cabinet which
was near the ceiling, well out of reach of young hands. The
adjacent image is sourced from Wikipedia. The repellent is named
after the infamous Kokoda Trail in PNG during WW2.
to say, our camping holiday to Tin Can Bay was cut short by
the mosquitoes and we thankfully headed back home to Herston.
Later when the family was living in South Australia we would
travel to the Coorong, Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsular exploring
those parts of Australia in the camper trailer he built to travel
to Adelaide - see below. Michael would take us camping nearly
every holiday. Eileen and the older girls would stay at home
though. I guess that this gave them a break. His favourite breakfast
dish on such trips was what he called his goulash. This was
a combination of bacon, tomato and onion fried in a pan over
the camp fire. As an extra special treat he'd mix an omelet
into his goulash. It was and is delicious. Us kids were
fortunate to have such a great dad. It is still a family favourite
to this day. Another favourite snack he had was to slice the
crust off a freshly baked high top loaf of bread which he would
then use for a sandwich of pickled onion he had prepared himself.
The pickled onion recipe: one white onion sliced and rings separated,
placed in a saucer, liberally salt and peppered, then liberally
covered with a copious amount of vinegar.
holidays taught us a lot about Australia. On one journey around
1960 to the Lamington National Park in southern Queensland we
were driving along a section of road that was under repair.
Not a worker in sight but there was lots of signage and warnings
to take care. This was along the road to Kerry. At the beginning
of the section of roadworks was a sign advising that "MEN
AT WORK" but there was not a soul around. A wag had hand
painted the letters H and E to the AT word on the sign so that
it read "MEN HATE WORK".
Michael was a high achiever. At the same time as he was establishing
his milling business, he also expanded his enterprises to hardware,
fuel and garage. All this while also designing and constructing
style home and in Surfers Paradise (Broadbeach) a holiday
home and 2 units! During this time he and Eileen had nine
The hard work took its toll. Michael grew weary and sought new
direction, particularly after a falling out with his timber
mill business partner over a long period of time. He sold his
business interests and became a property developer in the late
1950s. Initially he offered to buy out his partner Fred
Alback and made an offer. I understand from my sisters that
Fred said he was affronted by this offer and said that he'd
buy Michael out for the same amount. As Michael considered that
his offer was fair he subsequently decided to accept Fred's
counter offer without further negotiation - ie he sold his share
of the business to Fred for the same amount which he had offered
Fred to buy his share. After the mill / hardware sale, Michael's
first project was to design and construct eight
units in Parkhurst Street behind his home in Herston. The
construction proved a challenge: first concrete supplies were
monopolized for several months by large construction projects
in the city and Michael's floor pours were delayed. Later there
was a credit squeeze caused by the government when it raised
interest rates too much too quickly. Eventually the units were
completed in about 1961. An early tenant, an American woman,
would throw pennies into the pool from her balcony for the Daly
kids to retrieve and keep for pocket money. It was a great game
for nine year olds. A tame kookaburra adopted her and when she
went back home the kookaburra then adopted the Daly family and
would tap it's beak on the kitchen window for some meat.
was skillful both mentally and physically and very creative.
He was generous with his time and advice. My wife and I are
grateful for his assistance in fitting out our shop in Canberra
in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in early 1977 and
how he created a means to overcome the newly implemented health
regulation regarding sealing the floor skirting. So impressed
was the local health department that they sent out a special
team to inspect and photograph the floor. During my visit to
a milk factory factory in North Queensland 37 years later I
was surprised to see that the same techniques developed by Michael
were still being used in their building! Michael said at the
time of fitting out the shop that it was the 23rd kitchen he
had constructed in his lifetime. I think he miscounted - there
Relocation to Adelaide
the Daly family moved
to Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia.
Eileen now would be nearer to her own family and Michael continued
developing property and renovating homes. Michael drove to Adelaide
in the middle of 1963 to purchase a home for the family. He
returned to Brisbane in August with Eileen's sister Phillis
was known as Auntie Nin or Auntie Phil).
It was organised that the four older girls travel to Adelaide
together by train - a 2,500 kilometre, four day journey via
Sydney and Melbourne. Tickets were booked through a friend at
the Railways Department and passed to the family. The day arrived
for their departure and the whole family assembled at Roma Street
rail station to see the girls off. Us younger ones were checking
the foldaway beds and wash basins when someone commented that
there was someone else's luggage in the cabin. Michael and Eileen
spoke with the conductor who checked their tickets. They discovered
the train the girls were scheduled to travel on had departed
three days earlier.
had misread the tickets which were clipped together with the
last leg of the journey from Melbourne to Adelaide on top on
the pile. With much fuss alternative travel was arranged but
only for Jenny, Rosie and Annie. Margie had to travel by car
to Adelaide as another booking could not be secured for her.
the months leading up to the move Michael designed and built
a camper trailer similar to the ones on the road today. He called
it Dyna which was short for dynamite as it expanded. This remember
was in 1963. It was designed for 4 persons but we actually had
Margie, Mike and Lizzy and the parents. Greg and Anthony went
to Adelaide in about October 1963 and they stayed with Auntie
Kay and Uncle Jack Pianto in their Toorak Gardens home in Grant
Avenue, pending the arrival of the remainder of the family.
After months of planning and organisation the big day for the
family's departure to Adelaide arrived. The car and trailer
were packed chookers - including the roof rack. Our close neighbours,
the Dooley family, came over to farewell well us. There were
kisses and hugs all round. I saw Mary Dooley who was my age
shedding a tear and in my innocence I asked her why she was
crying. Mary emotionally responded that she would never see
us again. How accurate and perceptive she was.
the removalist truck transporting our belongings from Brisbane
to Adelaide was involved in an accident around the Armidale
region. The truck rolled off the road and most of the furniture
was badly damaged. The removalist took months to tell Eileen
and Michael about it and after many calls and visits to their
warehouse in Adelaide the damaged furniture was delivered. It
was not insured. They gave the removalist ten pounds for the
insurance in Brisbane when the furniture was picked up but the
company didn't issue the policy. Michael spent months repairing
what he could and going to the auctions buying furniture. I
think that this may have been the beginning of the children's
appreciation of antique pieces. Michael had to cut down the
period dining cedar table to fit through the doors. It was a
quality tradesman job he completed.
in 1963 was spent at the Nicholases - our cousins and Aunty
Ann and Uncle Bill. Ann was Eileen's sister. It was an eye opener
for the Daly kids and a new experience of Adelaide culture so
different to our life in Brisbane. Adelaide seemed to be more
reserved and cautious of appearances whereas Brisbane'ites were
much more relaxed.
Adelaide Michael was unsettled. He felt that he was unaccepted
by the Adelaide community which was considered conservative
and intolerant of new comers. He also had difficulty expanding
his property development when the local council refused planning
permission for a property he purchased in Hill Street, North
Adelaide shortly after the move interstate. Michael spent 3
years renovating the property (bedsitter flats and a cottage
on an adjoining plot). After he sold this property in the mid-1970's
the council gave development permission to the new buyer! In
late 1970 Michael decided upon a further challenge to become
a primary producer near the small town of Parkes about 150 miles
west of Sydney. He still loved the fires and explosions of his
youth. He called his piece of Australia "Wolabler"
after the mountain at the back of the 5000 acre property. A
photo of the farm cottage as it is nowadays is below. This is
about 40 years on. There are two stories which I recall with
humour and illustrate Michael's personality and philosophy.
Adjacent photo shows the location of the property in Hill Street
and is sourced from Google Maps.
But firstly, Greg (aka "Dozer") his son, recalls a
couple of incidents too. Below, "Dozer" has provided
a photo of himself at the property with a bulldozer (not the
D4) which was taken in March 2013.
suppose the most interesting events that happened to me while
I was working with Dad in 1972 was when I chopped off Dad's
thumb and the second was the great bullock saga.
I suppose you have heard of these but my recollection is as
follows. I was working on the D4 bulldozer clearing scrub above
the horse paddock dam which is the little one up the hill behind
the shed. Having cleared the low scrub and trees I started to
form a long contour bank at a slight slope across the face of
the paddock and leading into the dam. This would divert the
water runoff. When building the contour bank you drop the bulldozer
blade, run forward two meters, then lift the blade, drop the
dirt you have scooped up and then reverse at an angle to a position
for your next scoop.
when reversing the dozer at that angle twists the tracks , and
as the track was worn it came off its rollers. I called Dad
who said let's make a start at getting the track off for repair.
it was getting late and the light was fading and we were pretty
tired from a long day. I said maybe we should knock off and
start fresh tomorrow. As you know Dad was like a bull at a gate
and would have none of that.
we got some old railway sleepers and started to place them under
the dozer blade in a box fashion. Once the first layer was on
we then pushed forward the blade on the sleepers which raised
the tracks we then placed more sleepers under the tracks then
raised the blade we then put further sleepers under the blade
etc etc until the tracks were raided high enough to slide out
the dislocated track.
this time the dozer was maybe one meter off the ground and it
was almost pitch dark. I was in the dozer when Dad bent down
to place one more row of sleepers under the blade. Suddenly
the whole dozer slipped off the sleepers and the blade came
down onto the back of Dad's right hand, across the knuckles.
His right thumb was on top of the end of a sleeper and was chopped
off instantaneously and the rest of the hand was pressed into
the dirt - the sleeper taking the impact of the blade. Otherwise
he would have lost his right hand. Dad yelled to get out and
come down and look for his thumb!
my shock I did so although as the leading edge of the blade
is at least 1 inch wide the thumb had been pulverised. I suppose
Dad thought they might be able to sew it back on! It was absolutely
pitch black by now anyway and of course we did not have any
torches. I grabbed Dad and jumped into the ute and headed for
Laurie Hoffman's place (next door). Terry Hoffman (was a great
bloke, tragically killed within the year when he drove home
pissed and ran into the back of a semi) got his car out and
bundled Dad and me into his car and drove to Parkes Hospital
where Dad had surgery. They put him on morphine which he said
was the best stuff he had ever had; had great dreams he said.
Terry and I headed for the nearest pub for well earned beers.
other story was when Dad had delusions of becoming a cattle
king. To this end he purchased three scrawny bullocks. These
losers had not only lost their testicles but had drawn the short
straw by being selected by Dad. Dad had no affinity with animals
which I'd borne out by a long list of deceased animals in his
care. Well the first bullock got into the shed and licked up
a can of arsenic, although it is sweet tasting is also a bit
fatal. The second bullock had the good sense to see how things
were and took off for the bush, to be seen no more ( probably
had diverted the kitchen waste water onto a nectarine tree and
as such this tree had the biggest and most prolific crop of
nectarines in its history. Well one day we set off for Parkes
to do the weekly shopping. A few hours later, about dusk, we
returned and pulled up in front of the cottage. Disembarking
we gathered the shopping and moved to the front door. It was
a bit dark now. Suddenly we heard this noise coming from behind
the front door, Dad said Stop! Stay here. And as he went slowly
towards the door, a soft shuffling noise could be heard, he
opened the door very slowly and went into the cottage, the noise
was from his back bedroom and then suddenly stopped. He went
to the bedroom door and carefully opened it. Of course the rest
of us were close behind him. As the door opened an explosion
of brown Bullock burst out of his bedroom and smashing its way
out the front door, literally like a Bull in a China shop, destroying
anything in its way. Well Dad's bedroom was covers in an enormous
amount of Bull Shit, the manure was everywhere and on top of
everything - bed, carpet, furnishings; as well it was of a particular
runny and pungent type as we discovered later the bullock had
demolished every single nectarine on the tree out front. As
we all collapsed in relieved and hysterical laughter we could
only thank our lucky stars that it was Dad's bedroom not ours!
Needless to say the bullock was off to market a very short time
"Dozer" gave me a copy of Michael's birthday diary
in which he recorded his accident on 1 November 1972 as "Lost
left thumb at Wolabler at 7.30pm. He was 55 years old.
you "Dozer" for sharing these stories and the diary.
Note the neat stylized handwriting.
summer in Parkes Michael had been clearing some scrub and after
raking it up with the D4 bulldozer set it alight. The fire got
away into the grass of a paddock which he had recently fenced.
The flames were leaping at a strainer post which he had spent
some time cutting and preparing. I recall him telling me that
at the time all he could think of was to save that post and
therefore wee'd upon it to put out the flames!
another occasion Michael was working under the bonnet of his
old Commer van cleaning the carburetor. Typically he had a "roll
your own" cigarette between his lips. The petrol fumes
ignited and flames were coming out of the engine bay. Quick
thinking saved the day. Michael grabbed the fire extinguisher.
It didn't work. He grabbed the axe and chopped the top off the
extinguisher. Pouring the contents on the flames put it out.
Michael when recalling the story later was quite nonplused and
didn't appear at all concerned for the van or the shed it was
1973 he spent Guy Fawkes night over at the neighbours. They
had a big bonfire and were letting off their fireworks. Michael
had a few detonators in the ute's glove box (which he used for
priming explosives under stumps). He decided to put a few into
the fire. I can't precisely remember, but I think he may have
also used half a stick of gelly as well. Michael was perhaps
exploring the Big bang theory - he was keen on astronomy! The
neighbour's wife was horrified or petrified. I'll say no more.
property at Parkes was to be his last major project he would
undertake and after many heart problems he died in early 1988
in Adelaide. He is buried in a family plot with his first child
who died in infancy and his wife
who died a few years later. It is ironic that he rests in Adelaide,
a city in which he did not find favour.
Michael loved his family and was loyal to them in his own special
way, encouraging in his children the principle of social justice.
He was highly intelligent and had an extensive array of interests
including religion, philosophy, politics, history and all of
the sciences. He was ahead of his time and worked towards protecting
and sustaining the environment.
I wish to thank Megan for reminding me of the stories about
about missing the train to Adelaide, smoking under the car bonnet,
weeing on the strainer post and the camping staple goulash menu.
Thank you to Greg for his contribution.
is acknowledged and is used for research and study purposes
to the extent permitted by law and may not distributed nor commercially
exploited without written permission