Secrets to a long life

Story contributed by Gladys Bond. Written by Tarla Kramer from interviews by John Mannion.

accompanying this story:
Tips for Cooking on an old wood stove

Mrs Gladys Bond has many memories of when things were quite different in Quorn; she turned 100 in July 2009 and was still living in her own home in Park Terrace.

They would be given a sheep to live on once a month, before there were fridges. “First we’d have nice fresh meat for three days and then we used to salt it and that would have to last us for a fortnight. My husband used to put something to make it nice and red, saltpetre, and you’d boil it and let it cool off and put it in this bag in the cooler that we made. The meat was beautiful.”

To store the salt meat they had a little meat house outside which was built with pine wood all around and a roof on it and the breeze could come in. They would hang the meat in big white bags to keep it from the flies.

“We used to have the milkman calling, I’d put a billy out at the gate, hang it up on a nail on the gate and the money would be in it and he’d just leave the milk and away he’d go.” There were a couple of milkmen, people who had dairies in the area.

“We had our own chooks, we used to have our own eggs, I used to love the fresh eggs for the sponge cakes and the stuff I made.

“I used to make a lot of scones and a lot of sponge cakes. Everybody would come here and ask me if I’d make them a sponge cake and decorate it for afternoon tea for them or pr’aps for a party. Sometimes I’d make as many as four or five sponge cakes and take them to the party.” But if there was a dance, and you had to take a plate to the dance, she used to mostly cook scones and muffins.

“I got lots of prizes for my sponge cakes. I’d enter my cakes and I got a few first prizes at the show and I’d nearly always come second.” Mrs Bond says she got her cooking skills out of her head, but concedes that her mother was a very good cook.

Artist Hans Heysen made many trips to the Flinders Ranges from 1926. Heysen Range is named after him.

“I cooked bread for Hans Heysen too when I was up on Aroona Valley. I used to cook bread for him and my son would have been about six years old and he used to ride five miles there and five miles back, and he used to take the bread down to Mr Hans Heysen.

Mr Heysen said, ‘you couldn’t buy better bread in Adelaide’ than what I made. I was a pretty important lady in my day I can tell you,” says Mrs Bond with a laugh, “he never gave me a nice painting though, so I was very disappointed.”

Aroona Hut, built in the 1920s by shepherd Eddie Pumpa, as his base. Gladys and Les Bond lived there for a time.

In 1938 the Bonds moved to Quorn when Les was working for the Railways. When the whistle blew at midday he’d come home for lunch. “I always had a hot lunch for him. He got the best.” This would be after a breakfast of chops or leftover meat and eggs, or cereal with milk or porridge.

In 1957 the Railways shut up shop and moved to Stirling North, so Les went rabbit buying. His employer was Angus’s in Adelaide. Later on that closed down and the rabbits faded out and then he worked here in Quorn on the highway.

During Les’s rabbit days he had one big chiller based in Craddock, and later at Blinman. He would be away three or four weeks, and then come home for a weekend or a few days then it was back to work again. He had people from all over the place trapping for him and he would go around collecting all the rabbits and bringing them back to the chiller.

“Angus’s used to make camp pie out of them. It had a nice kind of a fatty stuff all around it, oh it was lovely, I used to lap it up. I used to have it with lettuce salad and red beet and all that. It was lovely on a hot day when you like something cool.”

“My son said to me, he said, ‘Mum, you know you like the camp pie so much,’ he said, ‘all the maggoty rabbits goes into camp pie,’ and I said, ‘That’s the end of it, I’m not eating it anymore,’ and I haven’t eaten camp pie from that day to this.”

She still lives in her old cottage with its fifty-year-old wood stove, which has a water tap at knee height next to it. These days “I just cook myself a saucepan full of rice. I love rice, I should have been a Chinaman. I just put it in the saucepan and first I put some water on and let it boil with the rice, then I put sugar and milk, it’s just beautiful, I love creamy rice.”

And her secret for a long life? It could be salt: “I love salt, I could eat salt on everything, apple, orange, not on banana though. I’m well preserved, well pickled.”

Gladys Bond in her kitchen, with the old Metters wood stove.

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