A useful source of information about my family is an album of photographs that came to me from my parents-in-law Peter Young (1920 – 1988) and Marjorie (1920 – 2003).

A few years before he died Peter spent an afternoon going through the photos with me, explaining where they were taken and naming the people in them. I wrote this information on the backs of them, and I’m very glad that I did, for without this it would be very difficult now to work out who was who. Even so there are gaps. I can’t identify all the people in every photograph.

The photos below are of Peter’s cousins, who lived at Carwarp, near Mildura. He called them the Mallee kids.

Peter’s mother Elizabeth Young nee Cross (1900 – 1949) was one of ten children. One of her older brothers, George Murray Cross (1890 – 1962) served in World War I, was wounded in France and returned home in 1917. In 1918 he married Elsie Agnes Brown (1889 – 1959).

When they married George and Elsie Cross moved first to Ouyen then to Ginquam West, close to Mildura. Not long afterwards, they took up a wheat and sheep farm at Carwarp, about 30 kilometres south.

The Mallee dry and harsh, tough to farm, and many Soldier Settlers couldn’t make a go of it. George Cross, however, ran his farm there until near to his death in 1962 when his son Alex  took it over.

One of George’s grand daughters remembers the farm was

640 acres & dry land cropping. Wheat & sheep as l recall. He apparently said that if it were irrigated, he could grow anything. It’s now a winery !

Some of the frustration of Soldiers Settlers can be detected from a letter George Cross wrote to the Soldiers’ Settlement Board in 1923: “My wife and family left here on the 10 January last as I did not consider that the camp we were living in was fit for any woman to live in. I have since pulled it down and there is no possibility of their return until such time as someone at your end comes out of their trance and gets the job done.” His wife and children rejoined George Cross at the end of the year.

The Cross’s farm was 640 acres, 1 square mile (just under 260 hectares), the size of the average Soldiers Settler farm. It was new country, not previously cultivated.

In 1929 George Cross gave evidence to a committee looking at the size of viable farms (see below).

In 1935 an inspector of George Cross’s wheat and sheep farm noted “ the eldest boy assists with all the farm work”. Jim Cross was then 16 years old. “The Limits of Hope”, a history by Marilyn Lake of post-WW1 Soldier Settlement, notes that the work of grown-up children often contributed significantly to a farm’s success.

George and Elsie Cross had five children:

  • James Murray (Jim) 1919 -2007 born Ouyen
  • Alex Watson (Alex) 1921 – 2005 born Mildura
  • Caroline Elsie (Carol known as Elsie when young) 1923 – 2017
  • Frederick George (Fred) 1924 – 2003
  • Beryl Lillian (Beryl) 1934 – 2006

The following photos are from the collection of my father-in-law

cross jim and alec 1923

Jim 3 years 10 months, Alex 2 years; 1923

Mallee kids wood carting

Jim & Alex carting wood Christmas 1924

Elsie and Fred Christmas 1924

Elsie and Fred Christmas 1924

cross fred 10 months 1925

Fred Cross age 10 months in 1925

“This was taken at a Birthday party last August. I put a mark near Jim & Alex. I am in the shade of the tree with Fred in my arms & Elsie is along side of me.” Caption presumably by George Cross. Fred was born September 1924 and looks about 2 in the photo so I think the photo dates from August 1926. Jim would have been 7, Alex 5 and Elsie 3.

mallee kids 1

The Mallee kids: Jim Elsie, Fred and Alex Cross

mallee kids 2 dam

“This was taken from the lower end of the dam looking towards the house.”

mallee kids 5 dam and tank

“This is rather a good view, only the top of the mill is cut off. Better luck next time”

mallee kids 4 building

“Do you recognise this building?” I am not sure why FJ or Ann Jane Cross should recognise the building – was it moved from Homebush to Carwarp?

mallee kids 3 tank and mill

“This is a good view of the mill & tank. The three boys up the ladder. Alex at the top.”

cross george murray pioneer 1929 06 21 pg 8

“HOME MAINTENANCE” AREA FOR FARMERS (1929, June 21). Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA : 1913 – 1942), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109383159

Sources and further reading

  • For the Empire. Welcome to Corporal George Cross (1917, November 7). Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ and Miners’ Journal (Vic. : 1900; 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151687264
  • Wedding Bells. Cross – Brown (1918, July 17). Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ and Miners’ Journal (Vic. : 1900; 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151682981
  • “HOME MAINTENANCE” AREA FOR FARMERS (1929, June 21). Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA : 1913 – 1942), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109383159
  • Public Record Office Victoria
    • File of G. M. Cross, DSL 217. Cross to CSB, 22 March 1923. VPRS 749, item 69, quoted in Marilyn Lake, The Limits of Hope: Soldier Settlement in Victoria 1915–38 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1987) p. 155.
    • VPRS 5357, P0, unit 2667 : Land Selection And Correspondence Files 01695/198.6 GEORGE MURRAY CROSS THOMAS LANIGAN WILLIAM LEAMON CARWARP WEST 1 1A 695–2–0
    • VPRS 5714, P0, unit 2409 : Land Selection Files, Section 12 Closer Settlement Act 1938 [including obsolete and top numbered Closer Settlement and WW1 Discharged Soldier Settlement files] C11768 GEORGE M CROSS CARWARP WEST 1 1A 695–2–0
    • Will and probate VPRS 28/ P4  unit 2858,  item 595/791 and VPRS 7591/ P3  unit 477,  item 595/791 George Murray CROSS Date of grant: 23 May 1963; Date of death: 12 Aug 1962; Occupation: Farmer; Residence: Carwarp
  • Marilyn Lake, The Limits of Hope: Soldier Settlement in Victoria 1915–38 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1987) pp.155, 164