Two intrepid women
SUMMER HOLIDAY READING
PIONEERING women were a familiar scene in early Australian history, writes Rob Wilson who has released a booklet about two sisters who visited his uncle’s family in Boort after trekking the Nullabor.
Rob said Nina Ramsay nee Melotte and her younger sister Louise, did something quite remarkable; driving a car across the Nullabor in 1925 and again in 1927, when no roads existed, driving from Minninup, Capel near Bunbury in West Australia, to Broken Hill and then down to their home town Boort and then return journey by car to Capel.
Rob has researched the travels of the intrepid pair and collected photographs from the era.
He says Nina was the eldest child of Mauritian immigrant Jean Valmont Melotte and Julia Shore. Melotte was a blacksmith who arrived in Melbourne, seeking gold, in 1852, and barely able to speak any English.
Melotte arrived at Boort in 1878 to set up his blacksmithing business after getting married in Heathcote and working in the diggings there, with several children being born in Heathcote.
Nina married the Boort school teacher Jeremiah Murnane on December 19 1888, and had children Adrian Roy Murnane, Michael Murnane. Nina and Jeremiah Murnane were later appointed teachers at Framlingham school, near Warrnambool before Jeremiah received a job offer to move to West Australia, to Capel, just south of Bunbury.
“The crux of this story is a servant love story that reaps an unexpected reward and gives Nina the means to accomplish some extraordinary things,” said Rob who also drew on family history of the visit to complete a booklet that was partially completed for a family reunion in 2002.
Rob records that his uncle Val Stocks remembered the day well, that the Melotte ladies arrived in Boort in 1925 and visited Marie and Percy Stocks at their farm on the Kerang Rd.
Val was an apprenticed mechanic in Boort, having disappointed his father, Percy Stocks, who had wanted him to be a farmer like he was.
Val later moved to Geelong and “would in years to come, be an annual visitor with his cousin Alan Stubblety, to the Boort Show in October, and drive up in one of his restored veteran cars”, Rob writes.
Rob's book was launched in December 2021.