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Bobbie’s ties to the outback

Monday, 9th February, 2015

Bobbie’s mother, Ann Garland, trained and worked at the Broken Hill Hospital in the 1920s. Bobbie’s mother, Ann Garland, trained and worked at the Broken Hill Hospital in the 1920s.

UK visitor Bobbie Cheesman from Brighton, England, would be one of her country’s most regular travellers to Broken Hill, having arrived here most years, and occasionally alternate years, for the last three decades.

Mrs Cheesman first visited Australia as a 13-year-old in 1948 when she and her mother sailed from England to visit family, who by then had all relocated from the district to Sydney.

That stay, during a time when commercial air travel was still a rarity, became a nine-month wait for a passage on a return ship to become available.

Bobbie has long ties with the district. Her mother, Ann Garland, was born in Wilcannia in 1897. Her grandparents, who married in the township in 1894 and later had eight children there, owned and operated Garland’s Wilcannia Wool Scour during the paddle steamer years of the 1890s to early 1900s. 

Bobbie’s mother did her nursing training at the original Broken Hill Hospital and worked there as a theatre nurse before meeting an Englishman and moving to his homeland to marry and live.

Her aunt, Dorothy Garland, owned the Tilpa Hotel during the 1960s and her uncle, one-time Wilcannia mail driver and later Broken Hill resident, Stan Garland, was Tilpa’s Royal Hotel licensee during the 1970s.

Further family ties to the district were uncle and aunt John and Mabel Garland, graziers from Capon, Wilcannia, who later retired to Broken Hill.

On one visit to the Garland’s in 1984, accompanied by her son and daughter, Bobbie and family had to relocate to a cousin’s in Broken Hill due to the Darling and Paroo River flood waters coming through the property.

The Barrier Daily Truth last caught up with Bobbie in March 1996, when she was in Broken Hill to attend John and Mabel’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Her visits have coincided with many family events over the years, including weddings, christenings and birthdays.

While loving Broken Hill’s heat and timing her visits to coincide with England’s harsh winter, she does recall her grandmother’s stories of life in the bush in the 1890s, including having to put wet towels under doors during dust storms.

The retired school teacher, now 80, has travelled extensively throughout the world and Australia, mostly solo - her husband, who has visited Broken Hill once, doesn’t like flying - but something about The Silver City keeps bringing her back.

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