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The Aborigines were the first to inhabit the Hyden area, painted hand marks can still be seen on rocks at the Humps and at Wave Rock.
The Sandalwood cutters were believed to be the first white men in the area from the 1860’s to feed the incense trade in China. The town of Hyden was established after the government opened the land up to farming in the 1920's. The earliest recorded farming in the area was in 1922. The first wheat crop wasn't grown until 1927 and the wheat had to be carted from Hyden to Kondinin.
Many early settlers came by boat from England and Ireland to Australia as Australia was known as “The land of opportunity” One settler reveals of how he was told back in Ireland that “As you are soon to be married you should come to Australia, to the land of sunshine and opportunity! You will be rich in 3 years if you take up farming”
Living as a pioneer woman, in the early days, held many challenges. Early houses were made of corrugated iron for the roof and flat iron on the walls. There were no proper windows or doors. Bags (when spare), were sewn and placed on the floor, until linoleum could be afforded. Life as a pioneer women meant up early - 4am, to feed the working men breakfast, land was cleared with an axe – there were no bulldozers in those days. Following clearing the land, a good day’s work was when 13 acres of crop was sown with the help of horses. Starting early meant missing the heat of the day for the horses.
Water was a problem. At first water was carted from an old well – it was a tedious task of winding up the buckets of water by hand from a well. There were government wells around, but they also did not have a great flow so took some 3-4 hrs to fill 80 gallons. Often people went to these government wells in the evening and slept while waiting for their water to fill. Every time it rained jugs, pots and basins were put out to catch the precious water.
Pioneers made their own furniture from kerosene boxes. Lovely chests of draws and cupboards were created. Kerosene lamps were used for lighting, they were hung to walls with nails.
Foods were not fancy. At times pioneers did not visit food shops for 2 -3 months. Staples were potatoes, flour, tea, sugar, tinned meat and bread. Shooting wildlife supplemented diets. There were no fridges in these days to store food; large safes were made from pieces of wood, flywire, and hessian, something like a Coolgardie safe, which came along at a later date. When a sheep was killed the meat was pickled in two kerosene tins and stored in this big safe. The water dripping from the strips of flannel from the top of the safe, kept the meat in good condition. It was such a treat to have a change from tinned meat. Women cooked on wood stoves.
Washing was done using the least amount of water as possible and with the use of a wash board – a labour saving device in those days. Only dresses and shirts were ironed using a flat iron that was heated up on top of the wood stove.
There were no phones in those days so there was tremendous worry when one needed medical attention. Roads were no better than rough bush tracks some babies were born with the help of others, unless mothers were able to make the rough and bumpy trip to hospital in time.
Women in these days also were the educators of their children. Some families lived too far to commute to school and there were no school buses. So schooling was also part of the household routine.