On the Lighter Side.
I was speaking to a elderly lady about her ancestors and life in her younger years when a quick smile came across her face.
She chuckled and her story began.
It was about a couple of young men who lived in a small mining town hidden away from the everchanging life and progress in the coastal rural towns and cities.
Gold silver and copper
The population was lucky to reach 5000 and that was when the gold, silver and copper mines were running at their peak so the little town was booming.
And as expected there was a group of people in the community that ‘had a bit of money compared to most of us’ she said. ‘These people seem to have a ‘stick up their nose’ and didn’t think they should have to do the same type and amount of chores as the rest of us.’
As it would have it, during this same period of time a couple of young keen business minded, entrepreneurs lived there and so took the opportunity to go into business.
Their reasoning was quite simple. The weather was constantly hot; the town store was small and it was owner operated so sometimes service was slow which just added to the uncomfortable heat and dust.
The alternative for the locals was to travel to the main town which was a couple of hours away so for the townsfolk who had the money, buying or having milk supplied to their door daily eliminated the bothersome task of going to get it.
As the young men found that there was a market albeit small, for milk to be delivered they approached the nearest dairy farmer, invested in some small size milk cans and began their deliveries to the ladies of the houses who were only too happy to receive it.
Part of their business was to collect the re-usable empty cans and wash them to be re-filled so every day there was a constant cycle. It was a prosperous little business for the 2 young men.
As the old lady continued with her story she began to chuckle again. I somehow got the feeling that these 2 were closely connected to her but she didn’t say.
Then harder times hit the mining industry so the mines slowed down and workers began to move away. The population lessened, the boys’ sales and customers dropped off to a point where they might even have to shut down the business.
Alternatively they opted for another idea that keep profits up instead of closing down.
Served a new product
Each day the customers were receiving cans of full cream milk but times were becoming tougher, so the customers were served a new product that was on the lighter side. It consisted of 3 parts full cream milk and 1 part water.
Needless to say, this all eventually came out, but the old lady couldn’t remember whether the boy’s departure from town was coincidentally around the same time or they were run out of town.
Sydney Land Priced at a Keg of Rum
It seems after my 5 x G. Grandfather Obediah Ikin arrived in Sydney in 1790 (Sydney was 2 years old) as part of the military therefore a free man, he didn’t waste time in purchasing land when the opportunity arose.
Wow. A property investor!
This land was bought from an officer who unfortuately came into some strife and was going to jail for quite some time so no doubt the land was purchased at a bargain price!!
I asked myself. Land in Sydney was a bargain price?
On the harbour?
With great views?
This is Sydney, Australia. Surely it’d be prime land so therefore attract a high price.
It seems that this purchase was a bit of a hasty decision which was probably because of the circumstances. The land wasn’t very good.
In fact it was poorly and the very rocky ground was useless for farming which was extremely important and a priority at the time.
A lieutenant of the colony who also arrived in 1790 on the 2nd fleet was looking for land so for whatever reason, it was on-sold for a mere keg of rum which had a value of approximately £10.
A couple of years later, the owner John Macarthur named it Pyrmont.
Pyrmont? Did my 5x G. Grandfather Obediah Ikin make a mistake by selling it?
John Macarthur, an astute business man in early Sydney (and the man on the $2 note) went on to become one of Australia’s founding fathers and was prominent with being the first successful farmer of sheep and the wool industry.
Their house (Elizabeth Farm) at Parramatta is now open as a museum for the public.
I ask the question: Did this useless block of land pave the way for John Macarthur?
And what a turn around from a keg of rum. Today land at Pyrmont or anywhere around the harbour would never be classified as worthless.
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