By Gisela Horner
A boy from Bella Vista Farm
In 1953, Bruce Jones came as a newborn to Bella Vista Farm, the eldest of 3 siblings – Ken, Eleanor and Gwen.
The previous year, Bruce’s grandmother Ellen Jones, signed the lease for a 1000-acre farm at Bella Vista. They came with 100 dairy cattle and farmed for nearly three decades. Albert and Ellen, Bruce’s grandparents, had eight children.
Along with Bruce’s parents, William and Joan, his uncle Charlie and aunts Kathleen and Daisy lived and worked on the farm. The rest of the family married and moved elsewhere. Flora, a niece, did the books for Bella Vista Farm.
William and Joan lived upstairs on the western side of the big house, but they had to be careful where they walked as the floors were full of white ants. Once Bruce Jones was born, they were glad to set up home in the shop, believed to be the original Seven Hills Post Office. They lifted the ceiling to accommodate the fireplace they built.
Ellen and Charlie operated the farm as Ellen Jones & Son, employing Bruce’s parents. Bruce’s mother would sit Bruce in his pram in the cowshed while she hand-fed the cattle, 19 at a time. When older, Bruce helped to feed the cows, but never did the milking.
The family was self-sufficient, growing vegetables and raising poultry for consumption. Any excess went to market. There were big family lunches on Sundays in the kitchen next to the house. Bruce recalls the difficulty he had catching a 28lb turkey for Christmas dinner! Daisy plucked and cleaned the bird and Ellen dressed and cooked it for over three hours in the fuel stove. The family was well fed that day.
Every 6 months Bruce’s job was to clean the stove. A very messy and time-consuming job! The stove never went cold so Bruce would wait until it cooled enough to scoop all the soot out. Then it had to be polished with a lead-based polish, an absolute no-no today! He also remembers feeding the birds in his father’s large aviary, built adjacent to their living quarters. There were flocks of budgies, parrots, finches, doves, quails and canaries.
Bruce attended Kellyville Primary School and then went to Castle Hill High in its foundation year of 1963 until he was 16. As he was always interested in farm machinery and engines, he started work at 18 with an auto/electrical business in Parramatta, doing an apprenticeship at TAFE. This became his life’s work and passion.
Bruce left Bella Vista Farm in his 20’s and moved into a caravan park at Vineyard, finally buying his house in the late 90’s in Richmond. On Ellen’s death in 1978, the 99-year lease expired and the Jones family were given the notice to quit. By 1979 they had sold all their farm machinery and stock at a large clearing sale. Bruce’s parents William and Joan retired to Taree and ran a hobby farm until 2007. William died in 2008 and Joan still lives in Taree, aged 98.
Bruce Jones loves restoring old cars and is currently rebuilding the original engine of his 1981 Valiant Regal. He belongs to an historic car group, ensuring members keep their cars in peak condition and their registrations up to date. Bruce Jones likes reading and taking walks with Lucy his Border Collie Cross Mastif. “I feel very lucky to share my passion with like-minded people”, he said.
Bella Vista Farm will open on Sunday, March 6 from 0900-1400. Free parking. All welcome. Plenty of attractions. Cnr Norwest Boulevard and Elizabeth Macarthur Drive, Bella Vista. For further details write to us at [email protected]