02 August, 2012

The Bush Brothers

The linked article, beautifully written by my good friend Peter Austin, has stimulated me to record my personal association with the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd. Whilst I am familiar with the Marra and have driven past the Church many times, I was not aware of its connection with the Brotherhood nor was I aware of my old Dalgety client and friend Jim Marr's association with the Church.

Since my days at Nyngan in the mid-1960's-it was our first marital home-I have loved the Marra country which I have always regarded as some of the best sheep grazing country in Australia. I tried unsuccessfully, to get a scale holding there for Clyde. We had a flirtation with "Womboin" and purchased "Merrimba" and "Oxley" north of Warren, but as good as they are, they are not "Marra Creek country".

When in 1960 as a 19 year old Dalgety sent me to Bourke Office, I continued with my attention to spiritual matters by worshipping at The Holy Innocents Anglican Church. I had been well grounded in such things at Canberra Grammar School which like the Bathurst Diocese was of the "High Church" variety, so well described in Peter's article. Bourke was in the hands of the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd and the Priest-in-charge was a truly delightful man in the person of Brother Timothy-The Reverend Dr.Barry Marshall. After Second World War service in the RAAF, Bro Timothy studied for the Ministry at Melbourne University (Trinity College), St. John's College Morpeth and Oxford University. He went to Bourke in 1956 where he was greatly loved and returned to Trinity College , Melbourne as Chaplain in 1961.

 It was at his Church farewell in Bouke in early 1961, that I met a vibrant young school leaver, one Gail Dugan, the daughter of one of the local Church's true stalwarts-Nellie Dugan. Mrs Dugan approved of me, because I went to church and this enhanced my clumsy advances towards her young daughter. To make a long story short, nearly six years later (1966) Gail became my wife; now of 46 years standing.Gail and her mother had great affection for Bro Timothy and Gail recalls him helping her prepare for debates at Bourke Intermediate High School before she went away to Marsden Girl's School at Bathurst for her final two years of secondary schooling. Whilst at Bourke he had a very serious car accident and for some time his life was threatened. However, he appeared to make a good recovery.

At Melbourne University Bro Timothy came in contact with my sister Helen, then a post-graduate chemistry student at Melbourne University. He officiated at her wedding in Trinity Chapel in 1962. I gave her away and Gail, who by then had commenced her nursing studies at Royal North Shore Hospital, came down to Melbourne from Sydney to attend the wedding with me.

When Gail and I were married in 1966 Bro Timothy officiated at our Sydney wedding at the Mowbray Memorial Chapel, Chatswood and was the Master of Ceremonies at the reception.

In 1969 Bro Timothy was appointed Principal of Pusey House, Oxford. (UK). We visited him there in early 1970. Later that year he fell from a chair whilst changing a light bulb, suffered severe brain damage and died. A terrible loss of a truly delightful man in the prime of his life.

Pusey (1800/1882)  was one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement which established what has become the High Church (Anglo-Catholic if you like) faction of the Anglican Church. Thus it was appropriate that a brilliant person of Bro Timothy's ecclesiastical persuasion, should become Principal of the House at Oxford which bears his name.

On a lighter note, Jim Marr who features in the linked article, in 1965 told me a  humorous story about former Australian Governor General and famous soldier, Field Marshall Sir William Slim. Slim made an official visit to Canberra Grammar School when I was in my last year there and spoke to the senior boys. I have never been in the company of a man with such tremendous presence. You could literally have heard a pin drop whilst he was speaking to us. As he left the School Library where his talk took place, he tapped the clerical collar of the Headmaster Canon (later Bishop) Garnsey and apologised for preaching us a sermon and suggested he should have been wearing one of those collars. (David Garnsey was a friend of Bro Timothy's and a fellow High Churchman).

But back to Jim Marr's, Slim story. According to Jim's information Slim had a most elaborate tattoo on his body, in the form of a full fox hunt! The horsemen coming up his chest, the hounds going over his shoulder and down his back and the fox disappearing into the obvious orifice! An English cousin of mine who was also a very senior British Army officer and knew Slim well, assured me that it isn't true.

My other favourite Slim story, which I think Jim Marr also told me and I am assured is true, is that one hot summer's day Slim's entourage was travelling out of Canberra somewhere and Slim in full military uniform suggested they stop at the pub they were passing and have a drink. As they entered the bar one of the locals, who had been there for some time, looked up at the the newcomers, saw this apparition in its shiny bright uniform coming through the door and exclaimed loudly "Jesus Christ"! With which Slim replied "No, Slim, Governor General".
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