Margaret Sheridan remembers life on the farm, now marked for the new hospital site

Margaret Sheridan is a lifelong resident of the Nambucca Valley. She is descended from many Nambucca pioneers including the Gaddes and the McKays. Her father, Archie Woods, was a wounded veteran of WWI who was granted 150 acres at the Round Swamp, then a few miles from Macksville.

Margaret on right with siblings in front of the farmhouse.

Margaret on right with siblings in front of the farmhouse.

The report from the Nambucca and Bellinger Times of February 8, 1918 said that “the site is suitable for a dairy farm and when the timber is cleared and burnt and the land grassed, Archie should find little difficulty in making a do of it.”

Margaret's father Archie Woods in 1916.

Margaret's father Archie Woods in 1916.

Archie was assisted by help from a grateful community in clearing and nine heifers were promised from other farmers to start a herd. Archie was a blacksmith and continued in this trade and as a farrier, in addition to farming.

Mark Tyler, Project Officer of the Mid North Coast Local Health District, Ian Gadsden, Pacifico Safety Manager, Alex Wilson, Project Manager for Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Luis Prieto, Pacifico Construction Manager recently joined Margaret at the site of the new hospital.

However, because the site had already been used as a site for the highway works, few landmarks are left for Margaret to recognise. She recalled Gilletts trees where her father allowed a Mr Gillett to reside out in the open under trees.

Luis Prieto, Ian Gadsden, Margaret Sheridan, Mark Tyler and Alex Wilson at the site for the new hospital, Margaret's childhood home.

Luis Prieto, Ian Gadsden, Margaret Sheridan, Mark Tyler and Alex Wilson at the site for the new hospital, Margaret's childhood home.

Perhaps he recognised a fellow veteran on hard times. These trees have since been cleared. The family home, which was built from a gift of timber, was burnt down in about 1963. Margaret was however able to pinpoint where it once stood and celebrated with a photo near it. Margaret’s route to school was across where the new highway now stands.

“We had no electricity or town water but it never occurred to us to think ourselves as poor,” Margaret said of herself and seven siblings.

Margaret and sister in front of the farmhouse.

Margaret and sister in front of the farmhouse.

When Archie died, the farm passed to Margaret’s brother Cliff, who eventually subdivided.

Cliff’s house was direct in the route of the new highway and when resumed his widow built a new home which can be seen from the bridge.

Margaret was very pleased to visit the site and the management delighted in talking to her about her childhood memories.