Sunday, September 2, 2012

Edna Hazel Palin - A life cut short.

Roy and Hazel Herbert
I have found it difficult to write about the last part of Hazel's life .  How do you write about someone who's life was cut short.  After puzzling over how to conclude Hazel's story, I decided to call my mother, Hazel's eldest daughter (who is now 80 years old) and see what other stories she could remember. I quizzed her on the family activities that they all enjoyed.  She recalled that Hazel loved to dance and when the children were in their teens they all went with Hazel and Roy to the local hall for dances on Friday nights.

On the weekends, a very popular past time for the locals was to go out into the bush, bike riding and picnicking with their families. Roy and Hazel would join their friends on the weekend, with their youngest daughter riding on the front of the bike.  While researching life in Broken Hill, I recently came across a blog (, which has an interesting article on Motorcycle Mania in Broken Hill.  This article talks about the social side of motorcycle riding in Broken Hill:

Roy, Hazel and members of their family - weekend  family picnic
"The family and social side of events was also evident in the number of gymkhanas and picnics held in those times, with the wife or girl friend in the then –popular sidecar (no doubt, handy to help mend a puncture or push through the sand) .Enthusiasts used to make their way to one of the popular picnic Spots of the time to enjoy an afternoon of flag – races, musical chairs, etc."*

My mother remembers the family returning home from the Sunday family picnics and her Mum would cook up a huge pile of pancakes for Sunday night dinner!!!

After the birth of their last child Faye in 1939, Hazel's health began to deteriorate and in the following years she was diagnosed with kidney disease.  There were many trips to doctors, and long stints in hospital.  My mother recalls extended periods of times when she and her sisters were at home with Roy (their father) while Hazel was in Adelaide seeking treatment from specialists.On these visits Hazel would stay with her parents Charles and Eliza Palin who had moved from Broken Hill to Adelaide.

In the mid 1940's the family moved from their home in Brazil Street to a new house in McGowan Street. The children, finished high school and joined the workforce.  They all led busy social lifes, attending dances, playing tennis, swimming and bike riding on the weekends.

With her health failing Hazel found that she needed to rest more often.  However in early 1951, both Hazel and Roy travelled all the way to the south coast of NSW for a rare holiday.  The trip was to meet the parents of their future son-in-law Malcolm Shepherd, Christina and Lionel Carriage, the trip which was over 1000kms, the longest trip they had ever made.  I have shared a wonderful photo taken on this trip of Hazel and Christina on Family Stories: Photographs and Memories.

Photo of Hazel (front left hand side) visiting family.
 Between 1950-1955 all of her children married and grand children were soon on the way.  Hazel and Roy doted on their grand children and enjoyed visiting them when they could. Hazel and Roy travelled to visit their daughter Moreen and her husband Malcolm who were living on Nuntherungie Station about 180 kms from Broken Hill.  This photo (about 1956) was taken in front of their home at Nuntherungie Station.  Hazel is in the front row on the left hand side, behind her her son-in-law Malcolm Shepherd (my father) and third from the left her daughter Moreen holding me. This trip was the last  she made away from her home in Broken Hill, as her illness meant she needed to pay regular visits to the Hospital. She regretted not being able to spend more time with her family and her grandchildren.

In a letter dated 11 September 1957, she writes to her daughter, sharing her concerns about Moreen's sisters, their marriages and her grandchildren.
 " I still can't help feeling scared of a number of things.  Faye was over this afternoon for some of her things.  Poor kid looks really worn out.  I would give the world to be able to help her along."
  She has sent small gifts to Moreen for the children and signs off.

"I must sign off now and get some badly needed rest, so with lots of love to you all, we remain your loving Mum and Dad".  At the end of the letter is a little PPS:
 "Anxiously awaiting your arrival, Love Mother".

Just after this letter was written, Moreen, moved back to her parent's home in Broken Hill with her toddler, Diane (me) and twin babies (Larraine and Nancy) to look after her mother and father.  Hazel, at the age of 47,  passed away on the 30 October 1957 a little over 5 weeks after this letter was written.

* Motor Cycle Mania,, viewed 1/9/12


  1. Those lives cut off early make a difficult tale to tell, but you did her honor with this retelling.

  2. thank you, when writing something like this you realise how many holes there are in the stories of our ancestors, and how memories have been lost. Makes you wish you had been more active earlier in gathering information.