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Walter Ernest Wearne Reminiscences

Walter Ernest Wearne Reminiscences are a delightful insight into the humour and good nature of this important man of the past.

Walter Ernest Wearne Reminiscences-Deputy Premier and Minister for Lands. 1867-1931

Walter Ernest Wearne Reminiscences are a delightful insight into the humour and good nature of this important man of the past.

First published in 1930, they remained hidden in history until recently located and are reproduced for the enjoyment of all.


The journalist with the Tingha Advocate and North – Western Journal had written:

Inverell and Bingara – School Days and Early Life

‘During an interesting chat with the Hon. W. E. Wearne, M.L.A., on Saturday whilst the popular member for the Barwon was travelling from Inverell to Bukkulla to officially open the football carnival, a “Times” representative had the pleasure of hearing some of Mr. Wearne’s interesting reminiscences of his early days in Inverell and Bingara and also of his political career.’

Playing the Gallant

When at school at Bingara some 50 years ago, said Mr. Wearne, our teacher, a Mr. Taylor, devised a unique system of teaching the boys to be gallant and to respect the ladies.

Whenever a girl deserved the cane, the teacher used to produce a very formidable looking birch and call upon volunteers from “the ranks of Tuscany” to take the thrashing on behalf of the fair lady in question.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not, it all depended on the lady!

Being an ardent admirer of the fair sex and of one vivacious young lady in particular, who was excelled in being brought before the beak on some harmless escapade, Mr. Wearne took many a thrashing.

Danger ahead

At Inverell, said Mr. Wearne, we had a very stern headmaster known as “Old Mac” who unerringly meted out discipline per medium of “five footer” upon his many delinquents.

Whenever “Old Mac” ran his fingers through his somewhat bristly hair it meant “take care, danger ahead!”

Several years later when he, Mr. Wearne, then Minister for Lands, visited Inverell and was accorded a civic reception, he noticed amongst the large audience the time – worn face of “Old Mac” who in his excitement ran his fingers through his hair which was then almost non – existent.

That action caused a sharp pang of apprehension to the honourable member, who in returning thanks, made special reference to his sterile old headmaster much to that worthy gentleman’s delight.

An old landmark

Many of the younger generation on crossing the Ross Hill Bridge into town have often wondered who owned the old defunct flour mill facing Campbell Street on the banks of the Macintyre, and at what time it was converting the golden grain into flour.

This mill portion of which is now being utilised as a machinery depot was owned by the Ross Estate, and Mr. Wearne’s father, the late Mr. J. T. Wearne, was the miller in charge.

Mr. Wearne came to Inverell as a boy in 1877. Later in 1880 he went to Bingara with his late father, where the Wearne’s built their own mill, and later took up mixed farming and grazing pursuits in that district.

The mill at Bingara ceased to function many years ago. Mr. Wearne finished his schooling at the age of eleven.

In parliament

Mr. Wearne entered Parliament in 1917 as a member for Namoi, having the elections successfully opposed Mr. George Black, the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Holman was then Premier.

Mr. Wearne was chosen to stand for the electorate by the people of the district who offered to pay all expenses in connection with the campaign. Mr. Wearne agreed to stand for election and went to Narrabri where the other delegates had been appointed.

Upon entering Parliament Mr. Wearne formed the first country council in Parliament, a council compromised of all country members on the anti – labour side to the number of 24. (This later was said to be the first “Country Party” – Editor)

The object of this council, which was formed in 1917, was to assist the Government in any way and to further the interests of the country, irrespective of politics. At the next election, the Progressive Party was formed, and Mr. Wearne became the Leader.

In 1922 Labour came into office and was kept there by one vote, that of the speaker (Sir Daniel Levy) who belonged to the anti – labour forces. The Speaker interviewed Mr. Wearne as the Leader of the Country Party and said that if an amicable arrangement was entered into between the two parties (the Progressive Party and the Nationalists) by a majority of one.

 Sir Daniel Levy resigned the Speakership and Sir George Fuller, Leader of the Nationalists, came into office. Labour elected another Speaker from their own party but, being in the minority, was defeated. Sir George Fuller and Mr. Wearne formed a coalition party which was returned with a large majority, and which held office for three years and two months (1922 to 1925)


Source – Tingha Advocate and North – Western Journal (NSW: 1916 – 1932) Friday 16 May 1930, page 4

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