Planning for the expedition started several years ago when a group of ten rellies travelled to Southern Hills Station, Kulin and Narrogin following in the footsteps of Paula and Tom Scotland in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Family historian Don inspired the rellies with tales of Leo and Pete Pustkuchen, and was able to unearth vast amounts of detailed information on their exploits in the Goldfields. Leo was a popular man, but had no children. Pete had followed his brother through the goldfields before settling down and he had two boys in Menzies. Melita, Lorraine and Julia were the daughters of one of these sons.
Stories started to be spread around the family, ideas germinated. The next thing we knew was Don, Barry and Tim packing up the VeggieCruza and in October 2012, they headed off into the Goldfields armed with the research Don had conducted.
They met up with Tim’s friend Don who had worked on crushing plants for many years and was a wealth of knowledge of how the old prospectors extracted their gold.
Using GPS technology and Mines Department maps, they found most of the leases held by Leo and Tom in the early 1900’s. Most of the leases had been swallowed by current open cut mines, showing these old prospectors knew how to find the gold, they just didn’t have the best methods to extract it.
An expedition was plotted. The task was to create a journey for as many cousins as wanted to come along. The journey had to be interesting, both for the family history and to expose city dwellers to life in the outback. Whilst Don, Tim and Barry had developed the Southern Hills expedition a few years before, this one was going to be of a different scale. Numbers could reach thirty, and whilst we all share DNA, not everyone will know each other. Clearly, a plan needed to be hatched.
Don was charged with the story. He had the depth of knowledge that bewildered Barry and Tim. Melita, as a granddaughter of Pete Pustkuchen, and daughter of Eric who also worked the diggings with Pete and Leo collaberated with Don on filling in family history.
Barry and Tim were charged with the logistics of the expedition. The route, the activities, the food and campsites.
Cousins were drawn into joining the fellowship of journeymen and tasks were allocated. Barry and Tim couldn’t do it all, and everyone has their part to play to make it a great bash. There’s the shower crew, the toilet crew, the kitchen crew, the campsite crew, the health and safety crew, the vehicle checks crew, the town planners for campsite layout
Menus were planned – Jenny’s the master of that. Barry became a regular at swap meets and Gumtree as he invested in new tents for $7, shower tents, stretcher beds, and tarpaulins for a pittance. “You want $5 for that 8m square shade cloth – I’ll give you $3”. He was on a mission, a mission to save money. And there couldn’t have been anyone better at it. He even found a brand new BBQ and gas bottle that had been discarded on the verge for council rubbish pickup. All that was needed was the right fitting to join them and we have added a $150 item to our cache of equipment.
Tim was the experienced expeditioner, camper and build of interesting things. The used cooking oil fuelled VeggieCruza is set up with all manner of fancy gadgets to make camping enjoyable. It also pulls a big trailer with aplomb, albeit making everyone hungry who is following.
So the plans are in place. The participants are packing, their tasks set, the supplies are being purchased, the start date is in sight.