The Duncan Family
Alec Duncan came from Moonie Ponds to the Millewa in 1927
in a T-Model Ford truck onto which he had built a body to
hold a lot of things from whelan the wrecker in Melbourne.
With this load he made the long, lonely trip to his allocated
land 3 miles south of Meringur. Shortly afterwards he obtained
timber from the "Melbourne Timber & Trading Company"
in Werrimul. And by the end of 1927 had built a house on
He and Mary Burke of Essendon were married that December,
and spent their honeymoon working on the farm. What a culture
shock that must have been, going from the suburbs to a new
Two children, Bill and Mary were born while they were on
that farm, then in 1937 they moved to Karween were the family
has lived ever since. The farm had been Black Bill O'Connell's
dairy farm ('black' because he had black hair, contrasting
with the red haired Bill O'Connell).Alec and Mary lived
in a tin shack with the two children while the house moved
board by board by Vic Dunn of Yarrara from "Whites"
to its present position.
Some of the land was cleared, but Alec and some Italian
workers cleared the rest with axes and a Ma. The dead trees
were later burnt, with Mary helping to stoke up the fires
when she could. As each paddock was cleared it was sown
to wheat or oats.
Sometimes the years were good; others were droughts and
it was a big struggle to keep going. Barbara was born during
these hard times. Later as the grain prices improved and
there were more good years than bad, Mary announced she
was pregnant again. "But we cant be having a baby"
said Pop - "Its not a drought!"
Meanwhile, Bill was growing up, helping his Dad when he
was able. He went to school at pine tank, and then Meringur
when the schools were consolidated, lastly to board at St.
Patricks College, Ballarat for two years. He never lost
interest in the farm and went back to work with his father
as soon as he finished his schooling.
Mary, Alec, Barb and Chris went to live in Mildura when
in 1958 Bill married Norah Sheahan who taught at the Meringur
and Werrimul schools. Alec kept coming out to work on the
farm for many years. Bill who had been keen on fowls for
a long time built up a thriving laying hen business. He
built the shed, and later a motorised feeding cart that
was driven along the rows of caged birds, putting out crushed
feed on two levels.Bill transported the eggs to the egg
floor in Mildura.
Bill and Norah had four children:- Russel,Lucy(dec),Tony
and Jacinta. In 1978 Bill bought Friday O'Connell's farm
at Morkalla, this had been owned by Friday's father, Red
Bill O'Connell, causing old Mrs O'Connell to say, "Now
you have both the O'Connell's farms".
Bill managed cows and sheep and grew various grains, he
has planted wheat, oats and barley but being an innovative
farmer, he has also tried canola, field peas, vetch, triticale
and sunflowers. He was also innovative with his methods
of farming, being one of the first to sow with an air- seeder,
he has and always will keep up with the latest ways of doing
things including doing the farm bookwork on the computer.
Bill may have seen a few years go by, but he is a modern
farmer. He also finds time for many community activities,
he is at present (2002) the President of the Meringur Plantation
and Pioneer Forest Committee and in a pretty much hands