Local Identities

Frederick William Howson of Bunbury & Australind

By Tony Howson, 2009

The first settlers on the block ‘with a house across the river’ (ref. Staples, ‘They Made Their Destiny’) were Thomas Forrester Bedingfeld and his wife, who came to the Colony on the Simon Taylor in 1842. Mr Bedingfeld had some training in medicine and became ‘Doctor’ for the settlers when Dr Ferguson left the District. He probably planted the olive tree which grew to such large proportions and was cut down when the subdivision for Kingston was cleared. The property then was named ‘Ditchingham’ in memory of their home town in England. One hundred years later the Howsons called it ‘Riverlands’.

The Bedingfelds left Australind in 1850 and probably leased the property. However, to get a title to the property at a later time William James Piggott declared that his father, James Piggott, took possession in about 1859; Thomas Marriott supported him but stated he thought it was 1854. Perhaps he went there as a tenant in 1850. The Piggotts remained there, having got ‘possessory title’ to it.

However, by 1938, the property by then being ‘Lot 1, part 906, 5634 and 5636 a total of approximately 969 acres’ was in the possession of EC Clifton and in June of that year was purchased by Campbell Keith Pascoe, who only held it for a few years. It was still mostly bush with a small amount of clearing and development in the east and on the western boundary around the old house where the old olive tree was quite a landmark. In February of 1945, Frederick William Howson of Bunbury purchased the block. Fred Howson had arrived in Bunbury as a teenager after a hard life, as so many had in the Depression years. He had been in an orphanage, and a relative in Bunbury who had a butchering business took him in and taught him the trade. Later he had his own business in Victoria Street, Bunbury, but always loved farming, and as soon as he could, he bought a farm, the 969 acres at Australind. He set it up in his spare time and built a small abattoir there for his business. Then he put a manager on until his son Tony was old enough to take over for him, but went out to the farm whenever he could. Later he bought a dairy farm in Wellesley Road, on the flats and milked there for six months and when it was too wet there in winter, the herd was moved to the sand at Australind. This is how many farmers on the Brunswick and Benger flats managed their dairies.

Fred was a Grand Master of his Lodge and a generous supporter of the Anglican Church, so he had a very busy life. With a family of three needing schooling, they always lived in Bunbury but worked the farm on the weekends and in any spare time available.

When the By-Pass plans were drawn up, they cut the property in two and it was obvious it would be difficult to farm as they had always done. So a subdivision was considered. The Harvey Shire was looking for a sports ground at the time, so that area which they thought suitable, just over 60 hectares, was cut off. The eastern block, cut off by the road had to have a new title, as did the remainder. It was at this time that Fred Howson died and the family had to take over the property.

The river flats which supported their stock and dairy cows for nearly fifty years, were given as foreshore reserves and form a backdrop for what is now the suburb of Kingston. This area was surveyed by Fred’s son Tony so they could get the new title for the family – the original ‘old’ title of so long ago had gone to the middle of the Brunswick River.