Payne Family of ‘Waverley’

Payne Family of ‘Waverley’

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It was the perfect epitaph! Sydney Morning Herald, January 8-9, 2022:

PAYNE, F.T. (Tom)

Played his last chukka on 29/12/2021 then rode Zulu off into the sunset.

Survived by Aud, Steve, Suse and Bear and families.

This could have been a very long tribute. I’ve tried to capture some past reminisces without having known all the protagonists. I already prepared an accolade to one family member Helen Archibald based on an excellent article written by journalist Caitlin Andrews then with the ‘Scone Advocate’.

Featured Image:

Tom Payne with Scone Race Club Committee Hilton Cope and the author at the final race meeting at White Park Race Course in October 1993. The photograph was taken at the foot of the old Judge’s Tower; now demolished. This is Tom in typical pose. Do you notice the hat? Racing wasn’t highest on his personal list of ‘essential ceremonials’ but he greatly enjoyed it just the same. Polo was his favourite pageant followed by Bushman’s Carnivals and Rodeos. Tom’s famous ‘Tower’ was only about 200 metres behind the Race Club Judge’s Tower; if you can imagine it? See below!

Tom’s brief foray into thoroughbred racing was promulgated by his good friend ‘Bim’ Thompson from Widden; also a transient migratory visitor to Terrigal to whence Tom and Audrey eventually retired. The filly they raced together was called ‘Waltz’ being by Minor Portion out of Lady Pirouette; I think? She won a few country races; always fun but not then very lucrative.

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Royal Hub-capping

Helen Archibald

Patriarch Stephen Payne was a local legend. He filled many community roles usually achieving high office. I managed to find his portrait which used to adorn the old Scone Shire Council Chambers. He had been Scone Shire President for many years. I found the portrait sequestered away but ‘searchable’ in the Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society’s Archives. I had a copy made and gave it to his daughter Helen Archibald (see on the website). Her father was responsible for starting the Isis River School and was the president of the shire council, the PP Board and the rodeo to name a few.

There is little doubt that one of the great country characters I’ve met during my life in Scone is Tom Payne. His is a Type ‘A’ Personality writ proudly in spades in big bold black type. Come to think of it Tom would have ‘made his mark’ anywhere on the globe! Certainly you’d have heard him. Tom is a very passionate man. Family came first although he could be authoritarian and ‘aggressively convivial’. Draw your own conclusion! It was in Polo Tom made his biggest, some might say ‘loudest’ impact. I believe he filled every executive position in the Scone Polo Club whether appointed or not. It was no accident the family chose to celebrate Tom’s 90th birthday at the Isis River Grounds which he loved. Sarah and I were greatly honoured to be invited. Tom was a more than useful player and I believe attained a 4-goal rating at his peak. His strength was in his team play. He was certainly an accomplished all round horseman. It was a set of skills then essential to survival on the land.

‘Tom’s Tower’ was THE totem at the Scone Bushman’s Carnival and Rodeo extravaganza every year. His tower was situated in the middle of White Park for all to see. Tom was long term President of the Carnival and presided like the ultimate potentate at the top of his tower. The Payne hospitality was legendary. In this domain and at this event Tom excelled. You need a ‘ticket’ to access the eyrie. If you were fortunate enough to have access the hospitality was lavish. It was mainly aimed at ‘fluid intake’. It can be very dehydrating to be confined in a hot tower all day. The ‘fluid’ supplied also had a stimulating and rapidly available source of energy; if you get my drift? To stay too long was a health hazard; but indubitably worth the risk!

I wish I could remember the details of a flying visit to an Australia versus France Rugby Test Match at the SCG? We booked a small aircraft from Scone. It seated nine. Bill Rose was responsible for the menu. We started early with champagne for breakfast followed by G & T’s for matins at about the Hawkesbury River. A few nerve steadying ales landed us safely at Mascot via Mona Vale. From there it is all a bit blurred? I recall Australia won. French Captain Jean Paul Rives ran onto the field with his arm in a sling. It was a most noble gesture; but not enough. I do recall Tom loudly regaling the ‘Rugby League Lot’ from the Members Stand when the Australian full back (Paul Mclean?) kicked a magnificent penalty goal from the sideline. Anyone in Randwick or Paddington would have heard it!

I also recall Tom’s personal welcome when I was elected to membership of a Gentleman’s Club in Sydney where Tom had been a long term member. I clearly recall the beginning of the party; but not the end!

Tom could be very caring, compassionate and kind. A great example was his mentoring of my good friend the late Ken McConville. Ken had been assigned to the one-teacher Isis River School at ‘Waverley’; promoted, promulgated, instigated, supported and maintained by the Payne family. It was Ken’s first posting after graduating at Teacher’s Training College. He aspired to obtain his Bachelor of Arts (BA) which would enhance his career prospects and promotion. Ken was able to achieve these goals with significant support from Tom and family. It was no accident that Ken’s next posting was to the Armidale School (TAS); Tom’s own Alma Mater. Ken was instrumental with Bill Rose in ‘reigniting’ the Scone Rugby Club in 1967.

It would be churlish of me not to mention faithful and supportive spouse Audrey; always there and always ready, willing and able. Now over 90 I’ve just visited both at their home at Erina. It was a most poignant meeting. Tom presented me with a magnificent old leather-bound catalogue for my safe keeping as custodian. I responded as best I could with my ‘Memoir’. It was a grossly unfair and unbalanced exchange.