Rosemary Chegwidden

Rosemary's Story


My father was Philip Kratochvill who was born in Romania March 1st, 1904.  My mother was born Barbara Knipp in Hungary August 1905.  They both had migrated to America in the 1920’s.  Barbara and Philip met in New York and were married in 1928.  They then migrated to Australia and first settled in Marrinup near Dwellingup. WA.  This is where myself and my two brothers were born. Eldest brother John was born at the Dwellingup Hospital 1930. Frank in Pinjarra hospital 1932, and myself Pinjarra 1933.


Dad was a blacksmith and was employed at the Millar’s Marrinup sawmill.  We lived in a mill house during the time he worked there.  


Kratochvill Farmhouse and Shed Marrinup C1930 S

We did not have power but only kerosene lamps and a wood stove.  The Sparrow family were one of our neighbours.  During the depression about 1937, the mill closed and Dad bought a small farm (later known as Freeman’s).  I was about five years old.  The farm was cleared and had a house which was built of wood and Iron.  Dad grew vegetables besides having cow’s chooks and pigs.  I learnt to milk cows at a very young age.  Dad had a truck and we took vegies to the surrounding towns.  Dwellingup was three miles away, Banksidale 17 miles, and PinJarra 17 miles to which he travelled to sell his goods there.  Dad also sent vegetables to the Perth markets.  As we got more cows we sent cream to Watsonia’s in Spearwood by train.  Skim milk was fed to the pigs which were sold at market and some being used for our consumption.  When we slaughtered them had had to be scolded in an old bathtub to remove the bristles.


In Marrinup there was a school and Post Office but groceries had to be bought from Dwellingup or other towns.  Bread and papers came from Dwellingup by train.  Dad bought his petrol by the drum from Ridley’s garage in Dwellingup.


Mrs Barbara Kratochvill And Son Frank At The Farm In Marrinup C1943

In 1930 Dad’s brother Nick and his wife Anna migrated to Australia and came to live with us for some time.  They later moved to Kenwick where nick and Joe worked for Packers vegetable company.


When I started school at about six years of age, my brother John would double dink me on his bike a mile to school until I got my own bike. Our teacher was Mr. Robinson was the only teacher at the school with his wife teaching the girls sewing.  Most of the towns people were fettlers on the railway line and it was their children who kept the school open.  I did all my schooling at Marrinup, including year 8 by correspondence.  My brothers stayed on the farm when they finished school.  We used to deliver fresh milk to the families in Marrinup, including the school teacher before school each day.  We used a can mounted on the carrier of our bikes and would ladle out what each customer wanted into their containers.


The Kratochvill Family
Back/middle rows: Phillip and Joe Kratochvill. ??? Anna ? Nick and Barbara Kratochvill. Front: Rosemary ? Frank and John Kratochvill.


Wednesday was picture night in Banksiadale which we travelled to sometimes in our truck.  At half time we would go across the road for snacks.  One night the power went off and the store where we got our snacks from was on fire which we all watched burn down.  Pictures were sometimes also held on Saturday nights in Dwellingup Hall where we also held dances. I attended Bushies school at the Convent in Pinjarra with my brothers which was held in the May school holidays.


I played hockey for a team in Banksidale and would go by train to Marrinup for training after school once a week.  Dad would pick me up after training in his truck after delivering his vegetables to the people in Banksidale.  On week end we would play our hockey before the football match and if we went to other grounds to play, Dad would pick up some of the football players and they would travel with us on the back of the truck to the games.  The truck had high sides and we used old car seats and cushions to sit on. If we came back via Ravenswood we would we would have a stop for refreshments for the team.


 In 1943 a prisoner of war camp was established at Marrinup which was built on the Northwest corner boundary of our farm.  There were about 200 German and 1300 Italian prisoners housed in Masonite huts.  They wore faded pink uniforms.  The Italian prisoners were sent out to work on the wheat belt properties.


The German prisoners lived permanently at the camp and went out each day to cut firewood with a guard to supervise them.  The wood was cut into six foot lengths and bought by trucks to be loaded on open rail wagons and sent to Perth wood yards. The commander arranged with Dad to supply fresh milk to the camp.  He had obtained some more milking cows and built a new milking shed with a milking machine.  We still had to get the milking done before school.  Can remember the frost on the ground in winter.


The year I tuned 13, 1946, the prison camp closed so Dad decided to buy some vacant land in Albany, five miles along the Denmark road.  The camp was sold in 1946 so we moved to Albany.


The Continuing Story


Rosemary, at the age of 13 moved with her family to the farm in Albany.  She was required to work on the farm with her two brothers tending to the market garden and herding the cattle and sheep they had acquired.  It was long hours and strenuous work with little or no pay.  In those days, it was expected that the boys would take over the farm so Rosemary decided in 1950 to move to town and become independent.  Her father was granted a 200-acre block of crown land at the west end of the main farm which he put in Rosemary’s name which she sold in 2016.


She obtained work at the local maternity hospital as a domestic and then as a nurse’s aid.  The matron there encouraged her to apply for a traineeship in nursing which she did from 1952-1955 at Collie and Kalgoorlie hospitals.  She then obtained her midwifery certificate at the Victoria Women Hospital, had a short holiday in Tasmania and returned to work at Mt. Barker hospital for a short time and then onto Albany maternity hospital until 1958. 


Rosemary then purchased a Mini Minor and together with a friend in Elma McGilvray and went on a working holiday around Australia.  They travelled to Perth, the South West, then onto Kalgoorlie, Carnarvon, Broome, Kununurra, and onto Darwin. They then moved south to Tennant Creek where Rosemary met her future husband in Stan Chegwidden.


She then moved on over to Brisbane where she met up with Stan to announce their engagement, with the wedding date being set for January 1960.  She then travelled through Queensland, N.S.W. Victoria, South Australia then onto WA. To prepare for her wedding.


Married Life


Stan and Rosemary (nee Kratochvill) were married in Albany, WA, on January 2nd, 1960 in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church  with the celebrant being  Monsignor  Cunningham  Their best man was Rosemary’s Brother John Kratochvill and Bridesmaid was Elma McGilvray.  Their honeymoon was at South Yunderup.


Stand and Rosemary travelled to Tenant Creek two weeks later where Stan had the job of running a mining Plant.  The years from the 1960’s into the 70’s had their ups and downs.  


Rosemary had her first born daughter Teresa Mary (b 1960) in the rather primitive Tennant Creek hospital but having midwifery qualifications she coped really well.  In 1960 Rosemary was hostess to the Governor General, Sir William and lady Slim who were visiting Tennant Creek.


In 1961, shortly after their Son John was born Stan was asked to move to Mt. Wells for work, which meant leaving Rosemary with two young children.  There were only single men’s quarters available and the Manager house had not been completed.  In that time a Cyclone hit Tennant Creek which caused a lot of damage but nobody was hurt. Christmas time saw them move to Mt. Wells into their new house but unfortunately it was not fully completed so had to put up with many difficulties such as an outside toilet which was made of two cross timbers, and piece of Masonite with a round hole cut in it and a bucket underneath.  The shower was a tarpaulin tied to trees with a garden hose supplying the water.  Fortunately, meals were supplied by the men’s mess. 


Stan was due to take his biannual leave in January so to reach their destination they had to drive over a swollen river in a big four wheel drive truck to Berrundie rail station, through Pine Creek, then onto Katherine to catch a plane to Tennant Creek, pick up their car, drive to Alice Springs, then a train to Port Augusta and  onto WA.  All this travel with two young children. Rosemary was the only qualified medical person in the area so she attended many injured people, one being a severely burnt young prospector when a petrol welding machine exploded.  She was able to tend to him until the Ambulance arrived from Darwin.  A young mother had her arm nearly ripped off in a traffic accident so Rosemary spent several hours putting the bones back in place and securing her so she could be sent by ambulance to Darwin.  An elderly prospector swallowed a large lump of carrot which had lodged in his intestines which had to be removed surgically.  One of Stan’s employees had a heart attack and fell against the door in his room.  On trying to get him out he sustained head injuries and so Rosemary had to administer first aid then off to Hospital. 1965 a sick boy with a hole in his heart became ill and died before the ambulance arrived.  The ambulance attendees didn’t want to take him because he had died, but Stan said they weren’t Dr’s and couldn’t make that decision so they agreed to transport him.  1966 there was another heart attack victim.  The Royal flying Doctor instructed them to give him a few sips of whisky while waiting for the ambulance, which they did so, it being out of Stans Black label bottle, and so the patient was quite chirpy by the time he was picked up, and survived to tell the tale.


Mount Wells Home

Rosemary was kept busy on rearing her young family, to feed clothe and educate them as Stan was away on government business quite often.  In 1964 she travelled to Albany for the birth of their 3rd child, Margaret Rose.


In 1965 their fourth child Phillip Stanley was born in Darwin Hospital


In 1967 they moved to Berrimah, near Darwin, where they had purchased a 6 acre block which contained a three bedroom cottage.  The children were able to attend the Berrimah school and Stan came home from Mt. Wells when possible.


Brian Francis, their 5th child was born in Darwin in 1967.


In 1972 they moved to Geraldton where their 6th child, William James born in 1975.  They spent 30 years in this town.


In 2005/6 they retired to Pinjarra, the town where Rosemary was born.



Murray Districts Historical Society • Old Schoolmaster's House, Henry Street • Edenvale Precinct • Pinjarra Western Australia