When we had the farm we became interested in the history of the area and soon realised that my forebears were instrumental in the upstream country where logging the timber with the bullock teams was the main activity. It must have been a hard life with timber getters using a two-man crosscut saw to fell the giant Tallow woods, Grey and Blue Gums, Brush Box and Red and White Mahogany. They would camp out in the bush and the teams of usually eight bullocks would either drag the timber or the cart on which the timber was placed to Boolambyte to the railway tracks for loading onto the carriages for the thirty kilometre journey to Mayers Point. Prior to 1914 horses would drag the carriages on the light rail tracks Allen Taylor Timbers constructed in 1890. Allen Taylor replaced the horses with steam-driven locomotives in 1914. He also replaced some of the bullock teams with steam-driven log haulers which sped up getting the timber to its destination.
At Mayers Point the logs were sawn into hitches and transported by water to Newcastle and Sydney. Some of the timber was used in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, others used in the Melbourne docks and for purposes of supplying the war effort between 1940 to 1944. Sleepers made from the timbers were also used in the transcontinental Rail line across the Nullabor Plain and for railways in Hong Kong and China.
I knew that my forebears, the Engels of Tea Gardens, a German emigrant family played an active role in this area. They ran supply boats every Sunday and Wednesday from Tea Gardens up the Myall River to Bombah Point. From there the boat steamed through Boolambayte Lake to Violet Hill, Johnson’s Hill, Boo lambaste and Mayers Point before finishing her journey at Bungwahl. These store boats, firstly steam and then diesel, provided their customers, which included the timber getters, saw millers, farmers and fishermen and their families with all the supplies they needed plus their mail and then bought produce from them to take back either to their stores in Tea Gardens or transfer to the Hunter River Steamship Company for transport to the market in Sydney. Without these store boats it would have been very difficult for the people living and working upstream to survive.
Not only did the Engels provide the upper Myall with provisions, mail and passenger transport, the head of the family George Adolf Engel was a visionary and purchased not only some ocean-going vessels that he could then take goods and passengers directly to Newcastle but also realised that there was a growing timber trade and purchased two larger vessels, S.S. Iluka and S.S. Myall River, to transport the logs down the river system.
George Engel was one of a couple of families that settled the Tea Gardens area. An entrepreneur George not only ran the General Store, and the river trade he or one of the children ran many of the other business in the small coastal community. One of these business was the local cinema. My father told us tales when we were children about the days of the two feature films and his uncle running with the reel of film down to the boat where he set off across the harbour towards Nelson Bay where he would meet the person who ran the cinema in Nelson Bay. On meeting they would swap films and head back to their respective cinemas. Interval, Father used to tell us was an indeterminate time but no-one cared.
Consequently when Charli posted her challenge prompt and I not having a creative bone in my body decided that I would write a Bots. My uncle certainly transported the film in this way but whether he did it in bad weather or not I have no idea. I also have no idea how good his English was nor whether he talked to the chap in the other boat. This story is therefore based on true story (bots) but is most definitely fiction.
Are most modern memoirs more accurately described as Bots as many now use dialogue and scene description which can not possibly be remembered? Does it matter as long as the story is true? If it doesn’t matter where do you draw the distinction between fiction and non-fiction?