On a beautiful autumn day in 2013, I came again to Fairbridge Farm at Molong, This was a visit arranged by Neil my son, for me.
I came out with the very first party in 1938, I had a positive experience with the place and have no regrets. What did I expect, that I cannot tell you, but what unfolded before me as I entered the gates, was a shock.
The gates are locked these days, but Derek our esteemed President, had arranged for our entry courtesy of the caretaker Kim. The place is run down and unloved in the true sense. The Principals two storey house is still impressive with its unusual architecture, but it stands lonely and forgotten, a relic from the past. The building itself seems ok, but the grounds are neglected and sad.
The Ruth Woods Memorial Chapel is gone, leaving only the brick stairs. The Nuffield Hall also run down but again impressive with its architecture and its tower. The Hall was a donation from Lord Nuffield, the Chairman of Morris UK.
I could not explore much, due to my mobility, and in any event entry to all the buildings is not possible due to OH&S. Large trees still line the roadways, Oaks, Cyprus, and Chinese Elm. The Boss used to bring these home from Molong for the children to plant. What a memorial in itself.
I learnt much here at this place, Milking, making butter, castrating sheep and slaughtering them, plus working with horses. A tough life indeed. I remember the choirs singing and the plays. I had a bad experience at McGills farm,which Woods then put on the black list.
My son, also Neil is aware that others did not have the same positive experience, but I can only tell my story as it was.
My son Neil remarked that he could feel some of the past. Lonely scared kids. But I remember when my legs were swift and running through the village with an easy smile on my face. I had freedom with my very own grey pony, which I rode into Molong, hitching her up outside the Cinema.
I left Fairbridge unannounced one day, and headed for Sydney, I wanted to visit my elder brother, who had been shot in New Guinea. The guard kicked me off the train at Blainey, with little compassion. My younger brother Ronald also was at Fairbridge and stayed longer. I regret and feel guilty for leaving my brother there. Ronald has no fondness for the place and has indeed been bitter in his life. His life has been less successful than mine.
My dear son Neil comments the following.
To me there is a sad poignancy in the state of the buildings, the Autumn colours and Dad’s own age and failing body. I have now a clearer picture of the images of my Dad as a teenager and like a dream where you are flying ,the picture I keep is one of Dad running freely. The whole concept of Fairbridge seems to offend modern sensibilities, but child neglect and abuse is rampant in our suburbs, people looking back at us now will have plenty to criticise about our times.