In 1953 , I lived with Charlie and Barbara Kearns and their young children for a period of time so that I could travel to Hamilton High by bus from their gate on the highway between Glenthompson and Dunkeld in the Western Districts of Victoria , Australia . Over the intervening years I have thought it was their property and that it was a World War II soldier settler block , but I was wrong .
After viewing a virtual photography exhibition about WW1 soldier settlers put together by a friend , I mentioned my tenuous connection with WW2 soldier settlers . My friend expressed interest in learning more , so I embarked on a research journey .
From a cousin , I learned that the Kearns family had moved to a farm in the Shelford area west of Geelong . She had seen a newspaper article which featured a famus shearer with the name of Kearns with a strong resemblance to Charlie Kearns as she remembered him .
Then I found Trevor Kearns on Facebook . I sent him a message and , almost instantly , he replied saying Charlie and Barbara Kearns were his parents , that he remembered my name and had visited my parents in Canberra . Then we had a video chat lasting 30 minutes .
I now know that Charlie Kearns could not initially get a soldier settlers block as he had not worked / lived on the land for the required 5 years . After applying for about 100 soldier settler blocks , including on King Island when he got desperate , he eventually was allocated several hundred acres at Shelford .
I also learned that Trevor had been keen on photography after being given a Brownie camera by his parents when he was very young , just as I was by my parents .
- Brian Rope
St Margaret ’ s News 7 June 2021