Home Community A wonderful life: the Edmonds and Parkinson family

A wonderful life: the Edmonds and Parkinson family

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Four generations came together in Bindoon on 15 March 2021 to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary and 90th birthdays of Pat and Ernie Parkinson.

The venue was Chinkabee Complex, where they have been members from the inception of the bowling club, located only metres from their home at the foot of their property which has been in Pat’s family for nearly 100 years.

Pat is the daughter of Harold and Eva Edmonds who brought the property in 1922. Born in Mount Lawley, Pat boarded at Lake Chittering School, then attended Bindoon Primary School. In 1943 she boarded at Northam High School. After graduating, Pat and her sister Cybil (now 95) managed a home mail run for around 5 years for the area driving a 1935 Chevy ute until she married.

Ernie was born in Midland to Norman and Louise Parkinson, one of four children, with an elder sister and 2 younger brothers. His father worked on the railways and Ernie grew up in Moora.

As an apprentice mechanic he moved to Bindoon in 1949, working at the local garage at the bottom of the farm, where it still stands on Great Northern Highway, studying via correspondence at Moora College.

He met Pat when he started working for her father in 1950. That same year they were engaged and in 1951 married at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. And as they say, the rest is history!

The couple have two daughters, the eldest Jan Slater was born 1953 and sadly passed from cancer in 2006. Younger daughter Maree was born in 1958 and now lives with husband Bruce on a farm in the Wheatbelt.

Ernie and Pat set about expanding their orchard, growing currants, running sheep and planting oranges establishing what is believed to be the first orchard in the Chittering Valley.

The citrus orchard ‘Chinkabee’ was established using dryland farming practices and was their main source of income. With no irrigation, the number of trees per hectare was a lot less than today. After discovering water on the property, it is understood Ernie was the first to irrigate citrus trees in the Valley, a pioneer in this field. This was achieved by shifting temporary pipes manually up and down the orchard prior to the invention of trickle supply. Focusing on a smaller number of trees efficiently increased each plant’s production. The next step was fertilising the trees through the irrigation system — a now common practice that was cutting edge at the time.

Ernie progressed to also master grafting and growing his own root stocks, grading and carting all of the fruit to market. Pat was busy helping in the packing shed and was an active member of the Bindoon Primary School P&C and CWA.

In 1974, Ernie was also one of the community members responsible for getting the SEC power connected to the Bindoon townsite and surrounding farms and orchards.

The adventurous couple love to explore — they have seen most of Australia initially in their beloved VW Combi van and later in a caravan. They have also travelled the world extensively.

Ernie was a Shire Councillor, President of the Bindoon Primary School P&C and member of the Citrus Council. Friend Vee Cheriton explained Pat had been the “best little lead” for the Bowling Club, an active office bearer of the Chinkabee Sport and Recreation Association committee, cooking, cleaning and maintaining the gardens around the complex and is revered by locals for her delectable vanilla slice and apple crumble. She has also been treasurer for a number of local community groups and a volunteer at Bindoon Museum.

Ernie has also been there from the start of the Green’s first ever busy bee to get the club going. They were also both involved with the Bindoon and Districts Agricultural Show and have always supported the committee by free use of their land on show day.
The orchard still operates today and a parcel of the land on the adjoining hill was recently purchased by the Shire with plans for future development of Bindoon townsite and a recreational mountain bike track.

Ernie continues to be a proud member of the local Men’s Shed and looks forward to Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week. After 75 years, Pat is still an active member of the CWA and was recently acknowledged by the State President, being chauffeured to a luncheon in her honour at the Men’s Shed. For Pat and Ernie, they look forward to spending their nineties together in the Chittering Valley, the place they call home.