- Published: 16 November 2014 16 November 2014
Gordon David Nunn main image in 1953 with his wife June and first two children.
Gordon David Nunn: a short life
Gordon was the second child born to George and Winnie Nunn; his mother affectionately called him "Dumpling" because of his love of that food.
Along with his siblings he grew up in Margaret St, Rockhampton, apart from a time spent in Longreach which is about 700km by road west of Rockhampton
While there Gordon almost drowned in the local swimming pool not being a strong swimmer. He completed his school at Allenstown Primary in Rockhampton which is directly opposite the house.
He entered Queensland Railways as a lad porter and worked his way up to become a station master. For a time he stepped away from the job and, in doing so, lost some benefits of seniority.
In June 1950, he married Norma June Dobbs, the daughter of John Alexis Dobbs Coker and Bella Silver. They had seven children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Daughter Annette died in an electrical accident in 1978 just a couple of months short of her 21st birthday.
The family was at Benaraby near Gladstone until 1962 when Gordon was posted back to Rockhampton where we lived at 2 Flynn St, near the Base Hospital. He was a relieving station master which meant he spent weeks at a time at outlying stations partly because the money was better.
In 1975, he was at Yarwun near Gladstone when a work accident cut short his life aged 50. He was helping out in the shunting process when he made an error of judgment and stepped in between the buffers of two coal wagons and was fatally injured.
- Published: 18 August 2013 18 August 2013
According to Leslie's army record, he took ill in July 1945 and was diagnosed with chronic nephritis on 9 August. He did not respond to treatment and died in Greenslopes Hospital, Brisbane, on 8 October. Les had been stationed in Bouganville from September 1942 until October 1943 with the Australian Signals Training Battalion. While there he contracted German measles and that is possibly where he picked up the infection that took his life. In July 1943, Les was "taken on strength" with the Australian Special Wireless Group and sent to the Northern Territory. He sustained arm injuries a couple times in the course of his service during 1944. In March 1945, what appears to be the first hint of the illness that took his life arose when he was admitted to hospital with a heamatoma to his left testis. That may have been caused by physical exertion but, four months later, Les was back in hospital with severe abdominal pain. It soon became apparent that Les had a severe infection and would be in a battle for survival. He did not improve over the next several weeks and lost his life in October. Les was graded as a group 2 operator signals in October 1943 and was posted to 66 Australian Wireless Section.
Written by Warren Nunn based on Les Deakin's army record. Warren is a first cousin once removed to Les.
- Published: 11 September 2009 11 September 2009
Arnold Nunn recalls (scroll down for photo gallery)
By Warren Nunn
Arnold Nunn has fond memories of his grandfather, Arthur was born at Dinmore at the house of his father, David, beside the Bremer River near Ipswich, Queensland, and was the eighth of 12 children. Arnold's father, George (born 18 Sep 1899, died 22 Feb 1975) was also born at Dinmore. David was married to Rachel Nunn on 22 Feb 1856 in Chevington, Suffolk, England. Rachel was the daughter of Francis Nunn and Mary Hurst (widow: Challis). David and Rachel were third cousins, both great-grand-children of Thomas Nunn and Ann Steed.
Arthur and his wife Helen Rutherford Campbell (born 30 Oct 1875, died 8 August, 1956) moved to Bluff in Central Queensland between 1906 and 1909 where he worked at the Bluff Colliery as a miner. Later - about 1915 - they moved to Rockhampton and eventually lived at 51 Kent Street. They also owned an adjoining block as well. Arthur worked as a gardener for the Rockhampton City Council.
As Arnold remembers life at Kent Street, there was a maze of beds for vegetables and flowers as well as fruit trees. Arthur also had about 50 chooks. Arthur and Ellen sold vegetables and flowers to supplement their income. Arthur was adept at whittling wood and crafted many items which were a treasure to son George and grandson Arnold.
In 1934, at 10 years of age, Arnold took ill because of an infected tooth. The Nunns were living at Longreach at the time. Arnold recalls vividly the pain of the infection. He had terrific headaches and hallucinated seeing long corridors and snakes. When the tooth was finally pulled, he experienced immediate relief. George and Winnie decided to send Arnold to stay with his grandparents in Rockhampton and that was a thrilling experience for the young man who had suffered greatly from his illness.
Arnold attended nearby Leichhardt Ward State School and experienced the richness that comes from learning from a grandfather who loved to fish and garden and a grandmother who loved to dote on a grandson. Arthur used to enjoy a cigar but Ellen was not so keen about her husband’s habit.
Arthur would send Arnold down to the shop to buy a cigar, get the fishing gear ready and the old man and the young boy would walk down to the Fitzroy River. But there was always a protest from Ellen about the cigar. “Arthur, you’re not sending that boy down to the shop to buy a cigar?,” Ellen would say. “No,” said Arthur. Ellen’s stern rebuff was: ”Don’t lie to me!”
Arthur spoke of life at Nunns' Paddock at Dinmore, when family members would float along in canoes on the Bremer River. Both Arthur and Helen played the piano accordion and Arthur's favourite tune was Cruisin Down the River.
Arnold starting his working life at Rickett’s Bakery where he stayed for two years before moving on to Pearce’s Bikeshop in East Street in 1940. He then turned his hand to carpentry and took a job at Mutter’s Joinery Works in Larnach Street, which was run by Mr A.T. (Bert) Nunn. Bert was no relation that we know of but there was a resemblance between his daughter, Leslie, and Helen. So much so that on one occasion when Helen walked past the joinery, Bert mistook her for Leslie. Bert, who had been left the business by his employer, wanted Arnold to take over the factory but Arnold had other plans and he took his young bride, Daphne Franklin, to New Guinea in 1949.
- Published: 12 September 2009 12 September 2009
Nev Deakin on his Nunn grandparents, his mother’s siblings and fishing on Rockhampton's Fitzroy River.
It was a time of upheaval for the Deakin family and for Arthur and Helen too. They were all living in flats at 121 Kent Street after Arthur and Helen had moved back from Brisbane after having lived for a time with Chrissie and Eli Peters at Wooloowin in Brisbane.
Nev recalls that when Arthur and Helen—who was known as Ellen—first moved to Bluff between 1906 and 1909, Ellen sold vegetables at a stall. As well as the vegetables, Ellen also brought others in to sell. Arthur worked at the Bluff Colliery, six days a week.
When the family moved to Rockhampton, probably around 1915, Ellen managed a boarding house in George Street, called the Tower House.
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The family later settled at 51 Kent Street. Arthur worked as a gardener for the Rockhampton City Council. Nev says Arthur used to cut grass with a scythe in a most proficient manner. Arthur loved to fish and took many of his grandsons with him when he went out on the Fitzroy River.
No doubt he picked up these skills as a boy living on the banks of the Bremer River when the family lived at Dinmore, on land where the Australian Meat Holdings processing plant is now situated. Ellen did not care too much for fish and was loath to cook “the smelly things”.
He was particularly fond of his grandfather Arthur. Nev says that in 1937 a fire at two businesses in East St, Rockhampton, provided his grandfather with materials for building a punt.
Williams Hardware Store and Fostar’s shoe store got burnt out and they opened it up for people to come in. They pulled all the shelving—1 1/2 to 2 inch pine. He bought a heap of this shelving and decided to build a punt out of it. Then we’d go fishing on the river. He built the punt and showed us how to do it and we helped him with the corking. We went up the river with the tide and soon as the tide turned, we'd start back. He could row all day. We used to tie the boat up near the old St John's Hospital (Tannachy Rocks). It used to be tied up with a chain and a lock. One day we went down and it was gone.
The relatively short walk to the river sometimes included a stop at the hotel where Arthur would buy a bottle of cold lager and a cigar.
He wasn’t allowed to drink (at home) and he had minerstitus (correct term is Pneumoconiosis) and he wasn’t supposed to smoke. He’d drink his bottle of lager and puff his cigar all day. He’d bring the fish home but Ellen wouldn’t cook them. ‘Don't bring that stinking fish in here’, she'd say. We’d sell all the catfish to the Chinaman for a shilling each. They used to have a fish called the golden king; they were a beautiful fish. But I talk about to fellows today about golden king (perhaps it was a golden perch) but they don’t know what I’m talking about. They weren’t a big fish and they had this golden fleck through their scales. We used to go right up the river to the Six Mile or the Twelve Mile depending on how the tide was running. We’d catch all sorts of fish up there; we’d get a barramundi now and then. I remember as a kid loving old granddad Nunn, he was such a gentle old fellow and always ready to teach you to tie your hooks on properly.
Arthur grew vegetables on the adjoining block of land which he also owned and was “always in the vegetable garden”. Nev added:
There was a garage which housed Aunt Chrissie’s car and there was a chook pen. He was a bloke that could do anything; he made us a cricket bat out of silky oak, one time—it was beautiful and it used to stand up to a hard ball too.
On his grandmother, Ellen, Nev describes her as a very stern woman.
I always thought she must have had a very hard life. We weren’t allowed upstairs, of course, we were allowed up the back steps on to the landing, weren’t allowed inside the house. She always seemed to me to have a chip on her shoulder with him (Arthur). At the front of the house they had this orange tree growing near the steps; it always seemed to have oranges on it. We tried to grab an orange but should would appear and say: ‘Don't you touch those oranges, you kids’. We were really frightened of her, she was a real dragon.
But his mother’s eldest sister Chrissie was a delightful person:
I always remember about the car she had; you know, nobody had cars in those days but Chrissie had one. She was a real character, particularly after she moved to Brisbane. She had that little shop where she used to sell sandwiches. I was there one day (I was a young fellow) and I walked past the bedroom door and she was sitting on the edge of the bed putting on her stockings and she was pulling the stockings up her legs; and I just walked past and happened to glance in and thought ‘fancy Auntie Chrissie doing that’ and she said: ‘Not a bad leg, hey’. I thought; ‘boy, Auntie Chrissie’.
Of his mother’s younger Jessie:
Auntie Jessie was a nice person; she was a bit ‘religious’ as I always thought. Dave (her husband David Collins) was a quiet old bloke. She was one of those people you wouldn’t get too familiar with but she had a sense of humour, she was nice.
Another aunt, Emily, held a special place in Nev’s heart and he described her as a soulmate.
She used to love tennis and I used to love tennis and they used to come a stay at our place sometimes. We went a saw her in Townsville some years ago. We walked in on her one day and she got such a surprise; she was just the same old Emily. We used to sit and play cards. They used to say; 'poor old Emily, she'll never make old bones'; and she lived the longest of them all.
Emily’s son Rex Newsome always provided extra entertainment on their visits to Townsville.
I remember Rex with the hose the day the milkman came. He had this hose rigged up under one of the steps; this milkman was always giving him a bit of a razz. Rex said: ‘I’ll let him go up the steps and when he comes down, I’ll get him’. When he got him, the milkman chased him.
And then there was his uncle George, Arthur and Ellen’s son:
George was a great fellow, he was like his father. I respected him because he worked in the railway all those years amongst those blokes and he was never like them; he wasn't a swearer or didn’t run people down; didn’t drink or smoke, and conscientious. When I first went out firing (stoking the fire on a steam train), I went out with George (he would have been the train’s driver) and he taught me the tricks of the trade. He was so genuine. The other blokes would be trying to lose time, but never George, he was always concerned about running to time. He maintained the standard he set himself.
Nev passed away aged 90 in November 2015.
- Published: 11 September 2009 11 September 2009
Emily Myrtle Nunn (1905-1996) married Albert Newsome and they had one child. They moved to Townsville.
Their son Rex has written extensively about growing up in North Queensland and about their rail trips to Rockhampton. Rex was an extraordinary individual who was initially refused formal education because of his cerebral palsy but overcame that to earn a doctorate and become a University of Queensland psychology lecturer.
1. Leslie Rex NEWSOME, b. 3 Dec 1932, Townsville, Queensland, Australia , d. 16 Sep 2013, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia