Ship name / Flight number: RMS Otranta
Arrival date: 09/07/1950
Des March (1934 -)
Des was a country lad (and still is a country lad at heart)being born and brought up in rural Dorset. He can still
weave a tale of life in the fields, in country lanes and of catching dinner (maybe without the permission of the local squire)
recalling those post war days when life was still feeling the effects of the recent conflict.
Like many a young man, to him Australia sounded like an adventurous place and a better life. So it was that on
4 th May 1950 the P&O liner RMS Otranta left Tilbury for Australia with a group of Little Brothers including Des
By 9th July he was on the train to Singleton where arrangements had been made for him to catch the milk
lorry out to Glendon Brook. He had lunch at Lusty’s café – a mixed grill which cost him 5/6d (55 cents). His transport
was to be a pick-up at the “Cali” Hotel and when offered a drink he was unsure, as a country
boy at the age of sixteen, what to ask for. He remembered a relation in the ‘old country’
drinking ‘Port and Lemon’ so, much to the amusement of the assembled locals, that is what
He was to work for George Woods who had a dairy at the top end of the ‘Brook. At that time
well over half of the distance was still a gravel road. The tar ended at Brunners Hill (that is the
hill that runs down to Glendon Brook Bridge these days). Like most of the Little Brothers who have made
Singleton ‘home’ he soon settled into life in the community and when Mr Woods died in 1953, Des became
share farmer for Mrs Woods.
He was milking about sixty cows, but the severe drought that hit the area in the early sixties forced so many
bush dairies to find survival impossible. For a while he worked at the Army Camp before going back to dairy
work, first at Lower Belford and then back at the Brook.
With the rise of the mining industry Des left the farming he had known virtually all his life and
in 1974 took a job in the mines. There he worked for the next twenty years before retiring
at the age of 60. Des and his wife Maureen became more involved in community activities
with his contribution to the running of the Glendon Brook Hall well remembered by all. On
the death of the late Kevin Jones in 2009, Des became the un-official, un-elected BUT
universally accepted Lord Mayor of Glendon Brook. These days Des and Maureen live in
town and if he’s sitting on his verandah opposite Burdekin Park a yarn can usually be expected.
Thanks to The Singleton History Society Newsletter (September 2020) for permission to use their article.
Author of this article is Michael Akrill.
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