There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from Old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.
It was a classic of cosmic proportion. Well might Banjo Paterson have penned something akin to his epic 1st stanza of “The Man From Snowy River”. Banjo himself would have played polo 120+ years ago against a few of the forebears of those present including MC Anto White and Scone Polo President Duncan Macintyre?
The celebration kicked off at the Scone Polo Club where a memorial plaque was unveiled at the Flagpole. This was an invitation event for family and close friends. Anto White directed operations in his own inimical style. Arthur ‘Joe’ Bragg, John Gilder and Bear Payne delivered homilies laced with humour and fondest reminiscences. A clear pathway of the classic trifecta of ‘Waverley’, ‘Terrigal’ and Polo was soon established.
Adjournment to the ‘Linga Longa’ was a popular sequel to meet up with the main ‘congregation’. Orations were provided by Bill Howey, John Binnie, Katrina ‘Treen’ Payne, Millie Plumptre, Ken MacCallum, Susie Fearon/Payne, Angus Payne and Steve Payne. The latter stole the show with a compassionate masterpiece of construction worthy of publication ‘in his own (w)rite’; as John Lennon might have written? The hospitality at the legendary Gundy Hostelry was predictably munificent. Thank you Brenda ‘Brazie’ Ogilvie and the Payne Family!
FT’s Tribute Unabridged by Steve Payne 5/05/2022
I pay my respects to our Elder Aunty Helen Archibald
Frank Thomas Payne
Some knew him as Tom or uncle Tom
For some it was Frank
And for some it was Mr. Payne.
Last week I had a dream
In it, I was strangely wearing this Scone Polo Club beret I have on
Dad and I roamed dream-like through time and space
Foster, Terrigal, Isismede and Waverley
And up over the range to Wombramurra and beyond
Sometimes like Wedgetails on the updraft
Sometimes fossicking in musty dusty cupboards.
And he said to me
So, you’re gathering to Farewell me
What will you remember now I’m gone?
Moldy old polo boots in the cupboard?
That I got really skinny and bony?
And my pajamas were too big for me?
A packet of pads on the sideboard?
And my bloody hearing aids giving me the shits?
And I got so frustrated about what I couldn’t do or say or be?
And I was worrying about your mother?
And I begged you to get me out of the nursing home
as the light was ebbing away from me
And I said to you
Ah Steve, it’s time to get the shotgun out.
Is that what you will remember?
And he took me on a journey
Through 95 years of photos and trophies and memories
As a young boy with my mother
With the family in the garden at Waverley
Dad and Mum, Betty, Judith, Jim and Helen
at the Royal Easter show and the Australia Club
as a young man
then later the Devon Judge
Here I am
Meeting Snow at NEGS
Aaah Snow…… she finally said yes
And here we are at our wedding
and packing for our honeymoon.
She stuck with me all the way
Hearing the news of your birth
in the shearing shed drafting yards.
Then came Suse and Bear
and all your children and their children
and at their weddings
Losing my brother, my nephew
and then the grandson who was most like me
all before their time
Here I am helping you,
a 16-year-old falling into unconsciousness,
out of the shower and to Royal North Shore hospital
I’m in the stables at Isismede
with Plume and Detour and Lysistrata
I’m on the rail of the Wombramurra cattle yards with Bernie Ninness
I’m at Glenbawn dam and Foster waterskiing
And in a put-put boat full of kids and whirling hooks and sinkers
I’m the embarrassing parent
running up and down the sideline at TAS
yelling instructions and encouragement
and abuse at the umpire
Here’s me with a group of young fellas
who I took under my wing over the years
all good men
At Terrigal, the family have coming for Xmas
Rum and milk for breakfast with JK and Wally
With the gang at the polo ground,
A few late afternoon grogs at the bar
A pool party at Waverley
Those were the days
We worked hard and payed hard
and suddenly he went quiet and almost whispered
You know it’s tough
when you can’t look after yourself any more
And you end up in bed
completely dependent on the good people around you
With a sheepish grin, he said
You lot always tried to put me to bed before I was ready
and then we landed
on top of the Waverley Pinnacle
We saw Kenny McConville
And a mob of Isis River kids
Cutting hockey sticks from fallen branches
Then Stein and Merton in 1914
droving a mob of cattle over the Crawney pass
to their new property
And further back
We saw their father FT
Arriving at Wombramurra in 1886
And way, way back
We could just hear the distant sound of singing
To the steady beat of clapsticks. 1
And out of the blue he said
Will you still love me now I’m gone?
In the silence that followed as I considered his question
I heard the screech of Cockatoos
in the She Oaks and Red gums along the Isis
the crackle of the Bushman’s Carnival loudspeaker on Tom’s Tower
and then I started remembering..
I was in dust and flies and sounds of milling steers for camp draft, steer ride and bulldogging
Holding on to the back of the land rover,
riding boots skidding on the icy grass of the killing paddock
the hot breath of dogs and horses in the frosty morning mustering of Top Oakey
Coming home to a blood-stained Camel Hair coat
On the back verandah
The two of us
prowling round the old Fordson tractor
in the middle of the paddock
yelling at each other –
we had a good laugh about that
and he said
did you ever wonder what someone driving along the road would have thought about that!
But then he got serious again
But what will you remember?
I will remember your face lit by the sparks of the emery wheel
With the heady woolshed mix of lanolin and fly blown sheep in our nostrils
And the pulse of the steady thump, thump, thump of the old Lister
In my mind there’s a cricket bat, a football, a polo stick
And bridle, spurs and stock whip
The limits pusher
The man in the hat
He closed his eyes and lent back
against the stone of the trig station
And surprised me again
And what will remain?
I looked at him resting peacefully
The spirit in your eyes
That carries on in your children
and grandchildren and great grandchildren
A spirit that lived and loved life to the full
A cheeky complex spirit
One part generous, one part compassionate,
One part inspiring and one part utterly infuriating
From our vantage point
High above the Isis
We heard the thunder of hooves and the end of chukka bell
And saw the group of people, young and old,
Who were gathered at the Linga Longa
to pay their last respects
to the warts and all
Frank Thomas Payne
1 I reluctantly omitted an Acknowledgement of Wannarua Country and this line, to avoid discord at the celebration.
Extracts from my own (WPH) tribute are as follows:
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. 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 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.