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David and Joan Cook
Noondel Grazing Company
Dandaragan 6507 Western Australia

p: (08) 9651 4022 or 9651 4040
e: dandaraganorganicbeef@gmail.com

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Tales of Australian pioneering women usually slip through the cracks of history. It is often difficult to find
photos of these forgotten women, let alone discover any written insight into how they endured the great isolation ad hardship of life in the Australian bush in the 1800s. So it was gift to stumble upon a Western Mail article about Alice Cook (nee Cockman), the first Cook matriarch to carve out her place at Noondel in Dandaragan.
Below are a series of excerpts from the article written in 1940:
"Mrs. Cook spent her first two years in Dandaragan at Glenlark, a property taken up originally by John Cook's' father. Then one day they packed all their belongings into a dray and drove a few miles over to Noondel to begin their real life-work. In her earlier years Mrs. Cook would mend the harness and stuff the collars of the horses. She was a fearless horse-woman, and could handle a pair of bucking and plunging horses in a buggy as well as any man. She gave her husband much help in driving stock when it was necessary to do so.
"The nearest raliway was at Guildford," said Mrs. Cook, "and we had to cart our stores from there by road. My
good man used to kill pigs and salt them down in hogsheads, which were carted to Guildford twice a year, and the proceeds of the sale were used to buy tea, sugar, kerosene and other necessities. It would teach you not to forget anything when making up the list, for if you forgot, you had to do without it for six months."
"If the children got sick I would go over to Yathroo where Mrs. Edward Roberts had a medicine book from which we would try to find the best treatment. Failing that, we had to go to New Norcia and get Father Caull. There was no doctor nearer than Guildford.
There were no festivities except the annual Dandaragan race day, and a cricket match on Boxing Day. We kept our Sundays as free from work as possible.
Mrs. Cook reared seven children and has 24 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
- Sourced from Western Mail, Thursday 18 April 1940.
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