Census takers expect shotgun or cup of tea
BICYCLES will be means of transport for many collectors. Mr. H. B.
Fletcher, Punchbowl, N.S.W., pumps his tyre ready for the job.
MOTOR LAUNCHES will carry collectors to residences unapproachable by land. Mr. Bill Mallinson will
collect on the Hawkesbury River, N.S.W., including Dangar Island (shown in the background).
Experienced collectors' tales of
previous great countings
By BETTY WILKINSON
For next week's census 11,300 collectors will travel by foot, bicycle, motor-bike, horse, horse and sulky, launch, or car to cover the whole Commonwealth, includ- ing islands and lighthouses.
Courage, endurance, intelligence, a sense of humor, and tact - lots of tact - are some of the qualifications they will need.
EXPERIENCES of collectors
in the last census in 1933 varied from an order to leave the premises at gunpoint to a hospitable cup of tea or a
One country, collector had to drink nine cups of tea with enough food for nine meals during one day's work.
In Maranoa Division, Queensland,g a woman farmer rushed into the electoral office speechless with ex-
Mr. R. H. Gillespie, who was in charge of the office, calmed her down and learned she had ordered the census collector off her property that morning with a shotgun.
When she realised her error she came to the office to make amends.
There are still people who com pletely mistrust the census-taking.
In reply to a communication from the Divisional Returning Officer a resident wrote recently saying he was being persecuted by Fascists and would shoot anyone who came near his property.
In such a case the collector is warned and takes his own pre-
Collectors in sparsely populated areas will have to travel great dis- tances to obtain particulars from few dwellings - in one case 880 miles to call on 87 houses, in another 500 miles for only 29 calls.
In one very mountainous region in New South Wales only two fami- lies will be visited on a journey of 53 miles through very rough country.
If an inch of rain falls on the black soil plains out west collectors will have a sticky time, as all traffic
movement will cease.
This happened to Mr. E. J. Grant, of Wakool. N.S.W., in 1933.
"I was travelling on a pedal bike with census papers in a sugar-bag slung on my back," said Mr. Grant.
"Heavy rain fell, and the black
soil clogged up the wheels, so I com- pleted the census carrying the bike instead of the bike carrying me."
Census collecting is no new thing to 68-year-old Mr. Ernest Graham, of Seven Hills, New South Wales.
More than 50 years ago he accom- panied his father census collecting in the Picton district of New South Wales, through wild, rough country along the Cox and Wollondilly Rivers, and Burragorang Valley.
Adolphus Graham owned the general store in Picton, knew the district well.
He used to set out with young
Ernest in a buggy drawn by two horses. They carried saddles and when the country became impass- able for the buggy the horses were
MOTOR CYCLE will be used by some collectors, among them Mr. Clyde Barwick, Hurstville, N.S.W.
taken out, saddled up, and ridden to the lonely homesteads.
"We didn't need to carry much food because we were always re- ceived with lavish hospitality and begged to stay several days," said
Mr. Ernest Graham.
"The families were very isolated, and often had not troubled about schooling, so father had to fill in the papers for them.
"The census in those days was not nearly so strict as now, and there were far fewer questions.
"I think myself we might have trouble in getting answers to some of the questions this time. A lot of people round here certainly don't know where they were born."
Mr. A. W. Evans, who will be one of the collectors in the King's Cross district of Sydney next week, was collector in a similar locality in 1933.
Though some of his experiences were not very pleasant, he always managed to see their funny side.
"When I called at a luxury flat rented by a very wealthy and well known man, the door was answered by his housekeeper, a typical Irish biddy.
"I explained I would leave the papers and collect them in two or three days.
"Next visit she answered the door again.
"As she turned to get the papers I said, 'And how are you keeping?'
"She flew at me like a tigress, shouting, 'Young man, what business is it of yours who's keeping me? For two pins I'd have you put in charge.'
"Some people make the collector's job unnecessarily hard, because they keep putting off filling in their papers. Sometimes I have had to go six times to one place for that
"In my area I had people of all nationalities, and I found Jews usually did their papers beautifully.
"Next best papers were done by people of Scottish origin, who never kept me waiting.
"Worst by far were the Irish, who simply would not fill in their papers, kept me waiting, made me call seve- ral times. Their papers were blotted
Mr. John Guerin, who will be a collector next week in the densely populated Paddington district of Sydney, expects a sharp contrast to his experiences in 1933, when he col- lected in some of the wildest country in New South Wales, along Ophir Creek, near Orange and Bathurst.
The only way he could do his job was to travel on foot up the rugged
HORSE AND SULKY will be transport for Mr. Ernest Graham, Seven Hills. N.S.W., and for collectors in farming areas all over Australia.
river banks, where he found hermits and prospectors living in tents or huts.
It took him two days' hard travelling to see five people.
Mr. Guerin's reception at camps where several prospectors were living together was sometimes rather doubtful, but he soon found if he had a newspaper with him he was "just jake."
The men adored getting news, and did not care how old the paper was.
"There was plenty of kindness," he said. "One farmer even lent me a horse to help me on my way."
In last census, Mr. R. M. Hardie, of Oaklands, New South Wales, had great trouble in delivering papers to one house in his area.
A woman living by herself was so afraid of visitors she surrounded her home with a high netting fence, kept her gate locked, and had two ferocious dogs running loose.
The only way anyone could make her come out was to call loudly, or throw a stone on the roof.
"I had great difficulty in making her appear." sald Mr. Hardie. "Eventually she opened the kitchen window, saw me with my small suit case, containing the papers, called out, 'No, nothing to-day, thanks!' and slammed down the window.
"At last I asked a little boy who ran her messages to go and tell her what I wanted, and only then was I allowed in the place,"
As sub-enumerator at Cobar for the 1921 census, Mr. Samuel Bid- well, of Dulwich Hill, Sydney, who will be a collector next week, was responsible for appointing collectors.
Horseback was the only transport possible for an area of 150 miles by 30, which had to be covered to collect
information from 13 people.
Mr. Bidwell chose for this job a drover, Norman Harris, who knew all the stations and the best camping spots. He was out for 19 days, riding 53 miles through one station
There was no trouble at all with the Cobar census, said Mr. Bidwell, who thinks that goldminers are among the most intelligent people he has known.
"I was headmaster of the Cobar school, and the youngsters there were the smartest I have taught in my life," he said.
Mr. Bidwell is nearly 80 years old, but he has no fear that the walking will be too much for him.
He delivers papers regularly for his church at Dulwich Hill, Sydney, and thinks nothing of calling at 100 houses in a morning.
A number of women wished to be collectors this year, but the Com- monwealth Electoral Office, which conducts the census, does not con- sider it a suitable job for women, as it is arduous, and there is too much risk attached to it.