Posted in Stories

Edward Preston – Travelling and Learning – Part 2

Young Eddie Preston
Young Eddie Preston

The wandering life of Ted and his family continued, finally arriving in Bonalbo in northern New South Wales where his father met up with Ted’s Uncle Jack Preston.  The family stayed with Jack Preston for some time, but as always Ted’s father eventually decided that the family needed to move on, oblivious to the nomadic life he was subjecting them all too. From Bonalbo the family moved to Grafton.  For the two weeks that they were in Grafton Ted and his father  undertook necessary repairs to the sulky, whilst a blacksmith worked on damage to a wheel.  Ted and his father also did a few “odd jobs” for the locals for a little cash.

The family then moved on to Dorrigo, travelling via the Ebor Road which at that time led though some very rough and beautiful terrain.  After arriving in Dorrigo it was decided to for about a month to spell the horses, which were a little worn out by that time.  Ted and his father  feed them on grasses growing alongside the roads or in a paddock if one of the locals let them.  During this time Ted was going house to house selling haberdashery for a Sydney company to raise a little more money.

By Christmas of 1942 the family had arrived in Maitland where they pitched their tent at the back of the police station for about another month.  Early in 1943 the family made their way to Bathurst staying there for about 12 months.  During that period of time Ted worked for the Stevens Wood Yard, delivering wood around town on a horse and cart.  He earned about 30 shillings a week and his keep and really enjoyed the work.   Ted took pride and joy in  buying his first horse whilst at Bathurst, which he believed cost him around 30 shillings (or what was a full weeks wage).  He clearly remembers that the poor, old horse had no name but was a nice looking chestnut colour with four white feet.  The whole family then all moved on to Crookwell.

By the time ted was 16 years old he was living in Dalgetty and working in a garage training to be a mechanic.  This is the work that Ted really enjoyed and he threw himself into the hands-on learning with full enthusiasms and commitment.  The business was owned by a Mr Laurie Leck and he was once again paid 30 shillings a week.  Unfortunately Mr Leck was also charging 25 shillings a week in board and keep, so Ted was infact only making enough to buy cigarettes and the few odd necessities.  Ted stayed at the garage for about a year when a relative of Mr Leck’s was employed, making his presence unnecessary so Ted once again joined the family who were in Bombala, for a short time.

Ted slipped seamlessly into the nomadic lifestyle of his family once more and when they moved to Cooma Ted found work as a  gardener for the Minister of the local Church of England Church.  When his work for the Minister put completed the man was so impressed with Ted’s work that he helped Ted find more gardening work with a local Solicitor.  This work set Ted up with basic gardening skills that have lasted him his whole life enabling him to produce beautiful flower gardens and very productive vegetable patches over the years.


Ted Preston with friend Bruce Condon
Ted Preston with friend Bruce Condon


During this time Ted turned 18 years old and found himself called up for National Service in 1944.  He presented for his physical examination which was carried out by a Doctor Wing, but the doctor wouldn’t pass Ted as fit because he only weighed in at 4 1/2 stone!  Ted’s father got him a job working for his Uncle Walter Preston who growing vegetables for the Army, and he stayed there for about 6 or 7 months.  After Ted left his Uncles place he worked on Morrice Station at the Snowy River near Dalgetty doing stock work for about another 6 or 7 months.

Around this time Ted was playing cricket with the neighbours one evening and was accidentally hit in the head with the cricket ball. The injury split his skin deeply and required surgery and stitching.  Unfortunately a small piece of bone was left floating which resulted in a further operation for it to be removed.  The two surgeries left Ted with a very visible scar on his forehead which has lasted to this day.  After recovering from the head injury Ted did some farm work around the Tumut area.

Ted got his first motor bike from his father and it was  a 1928 Harley Davidson.  His dad has told him there was an old bike that needed new piston rings and that if he could pull it down and fix it, he could have it.  Using the skills he’d learned in his time at the mechanics shop Ted rebuilt the bike and his dad fixed the timing for him.  Around January of 1946 when he was working at Wagga Wagga at another mechanic shop and he rode the motorcycle to and from work.  One day his boss at the time, Eric Condon, said ” Can I have a loan of the motorbike”.  Ted said yes without hesitation because he trusted the man completely.  However, the boss rode off on the old Harley Davidson and he came back on a late model Valaset bike.  Ted’s boss hadn’t even asked if he could sell the Harley to buy something else, but Ted was actually quite pleased, as the Valaset was a much more modern bike!  Ted had the Valaset for a couple of years and then unfortunately he traded it in on a BSA (Bastard Stops Anywhere!!).  Whilst working in Wagga Wagga Ted had learned how to do spray painting, work which paid him much better.  He was getting about 3 pounds and 10 shillings a week. Ted worked at this place for about 4 years, at which time the boss’s nephew started work there and Ted decided to move on, due to a mutual dislike of each other.


Edward Preston
Ted On His Bike



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