McKenzie Family Remember Times Living At Robertstown

Robertstown 100th Brings Back Memories Of Long Trips To School For These Young Boys.

Don & Barry McKenzie were really happy to attend the Robertstown Primary School 100th, to meet up with everyone, to hear some stories and tell some of their own. This is a short story about their experiences going to school.

Homeland Scotland
Lets start at the beginning, from their Scotish roots to how the family came to ended up in this remote location on the other side of the World, to a place near ‘Worlds End’ and then finish off with where the boys are now.

The boys father was Roderick McKenzie (Mack) and he was born in Doune Perthshire Scotland in 1921. He first worked at Clydeside Ship building yards and in 1940’s he went onto join the UK Merchant Navy as a Stoker during WWII.

(Right) Roderick (Mack) McKenzie approximately 1940
(Right) Roderick (Mack) McKenzie approximately 1940

During that period Mack married and they had a son, Roddy in 1944. That marriage failed and due to circumstances Dad won legal custody of his son. This was a very unusual result for the era. Roddy was then cared for and raised by his grandmother (Mack’s Mum).

Escape To Australia
In 1948 while berthed at Station Pier Port Melbourne Mack jumped ship saluted his Captain goodbye from the Wharf and legged it to Spencer Street Railway Station.

Mack caught a train to as far as he could get which happened to be Mildura. He worked as a roustabout on a Thomas Elder Barr Smith Cattle Station. That’s where some cheeky drovers took him home for dinner… their sister Sally served that dinner…. The rest is history.

Australian Family
Donald McKenzie was born on Kangaroo Island in 1954 and the family lived in an Ex Serviceman settlement in ‘Parndana’. 1956 was a big year for the family as they moved to the Mainland and Barry McKenzie was born in Naracoorte.

Beyond Worlds End
Only two years later in 1958 the family moved again, this time to Mount Mary #2 Pumping Station on the Morgan Whyalla Pipeline when their Dad, Mack took on the Superintendent position with the Engineering and Water Supply (E&WS).

Off To School
That station was 35 miles (56 km) from Robertstown Primary School. So in 1960 when Don was six years old it was decided that he would be boarded out to another E&WS family who lived across the street from the school next door to the Eberhards. Unfortunately Don can no longer remember the name of the family he boarded with as he was so young (does anyone remember?).

In 1961 Mack got a transfer along the line to the Geranium Plains Pumping Station #3 which was only 8 miles (12.9km) from Robertstown.

Geranium Plain Pumping Station - State Library B 47008
Geranium Plain Pumping Station – State Library B 47008
(Don said the family used live in the house right in the centre of the photo, and the boys used to swim in the water tower in the foreground)
L-R Don & Barry Mckenzie at Number 3 Pumping Station
L-R Don & Barry Mckenzie at Number 3 Pumping Station

Don tells of his father’s involvement in the community,
“During this time Dad became Secretary of the Bowling Club in 1965 and President of the RSL.”

Mr R McKenzie - Secretary Robertstown Bowling Club on 15th Nov 1965
Mr R McKenzie – Secretary Robertstown Bowling Club on 15th Nov 1965 (from book “Emaus to Worlds End”

Big Brother
Don remembers his big brother,
“Due to immigration restrictions Mack had to wait until Roddy back in Scotland turned 21 before he could emigrate to join us all in Australia, that occurred Roddy finally arrived in 1966. That totally changed the dynamic of our family. It was instant party all round always; from then
on. For Robby, Coming from Glasgow to Worlds End was a huge change.

Long Days To School
Don explained how he and then later brother Barry went to school,
“The Saches Blue Kombi Bus ran right past our pumping station gate and the following year Barry joined me on the School Run. Due to Duplication upgrades of the Morgan Whyalla Pipeline in the following years … the town grew to double its size with Construction Crew / Management & Families filling the school with 114 students.

Robertstown State School 1965 Don
Robertstown State School 1965 Don (from book “Emaus to Worlds End”)

Robertstown State School 1965 Mr Broadbent (teacher).
L-R Back: D mcKenzie, P Lock, M Schuppan, B Heinrich, R Eberhard, D Eberhard, P Heinrich
Middle: Geisler, L Mosey, R Schmidt, K Mosey, , D Redemski, I Mattner, M Liebeknecht
Front: M Ross, P Kotz, W Ross, B Schmidt, C Liebeknecht, C Pfitzner, M Howard, M Bartel.

Robertstown State School 1965 Barry
Robertstown State School 1965 Barry (from book “Emaus to Worlds End”)

Robertstown State School 1965.
Back: V Mosey (Teacher), B McKenzie, K Redemski, M Heinrich, G Ross, G Kotz, M Quinn, G Redemski
Middle: P Schmeiss, N Schmidt, A Eberhard, A Bischard, B Armstrong, Forrest
Front: C White, R Linert, A Mosey, K Schmidt, K Launer, S Lienert, L Redemski, V Voigt, V Sachse.

Don continued,
“In 1967 I started at Eudunda Area School (EAS), so that meant a daily routine of 3 mile (4.8km) push bike ride at 6 am over to the Stan & Nelly Noske Farm where the East Robertstown Bus was housed. That bus dropped Secondary students off at the Robertstown Butchers veranda.

“There a group of us waited for the big yellow Departmental Bus to carry us to Eudunda. Arriving there by 9 am. This was a three hours transit to School.

“At the end of the school day we then departing just after 3 pm to arrive back at Geranium Plains by making it a six hour total commute every school day for four years for both Barry and I.

“At Home we still had to do our chores, have dinner and then sit down for homework until midnight or 1am… And bang! Up and out at 6 to do it all again.”

Life After School
Roddy was accepted into the E&WS in Adelaide as a Draftsman and came home to Robertstown
every week end – always with presents for all of us. He went on to work on the Snowy Hydro project in Cooma – where he raised his own family until his death in 2006.

Don explained about leaving school,
“I left Robertstown in February 1971 to join the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) where I was posted into HQSC Victoria Barracks Melbourne. I still live in Melbourne with my family.

Dad (Mack) passed away in the Eudunda Hospital in 1973 at just 52 years old.

Mum (Sally) In 1974 Mum Sally & Brother Barry had to vacate #3 Pump Station on Geranium Plains and they moved to Adelaide. Sally has since passed away in 2004.

Barry took up an Apprenticeship with the E&WS at Kent Town training facility and became a qualified Fitter and Turner, and still lives in Adelaide.

Eternally Robertstown

Roderick & Selina McKenzie Gravestone in Robertstown Zion Cemetery
Roderick (Mack) & Selina (Sally) McKenzie Gravestone in Robertstown Zion Cemetery

Thanks so much to Don McKenzie for this great story about their family life in the district. The boys love to return to Robertstown and Eudunda as often as they can to ‘Country’.

Would you like to tell your Family story
of local involvement?