THE HISTORY OF THE SYKES FAMILY IN AUSTRALIA


SILVESTER JOSEPH SYKES (third generation)

Silvester was the tenth child of George Sykes and Catherine Crowe. He was born at Spring Valley on 5th March 1855. After working with his father in his young years, he eventually acquired the property of 'Australind', and built the house there (see plan at bottom of this page and photos below). He married Mary Buck on 13th June 1892. They had three boys, Lionel, George and Adrian, and two girls, Edith and Dorothy (Dorothy died when she was only two years old). For details of each of these children, scroll down.


For details about the family tree (all descendants) of Silvester and Mary, see First three generations.

Silvester became a very successful grazier, and was able to hand over 'Australind' to his eldest son, Lionel, and placed his second son, George, and his youngest son, Adrian, on a property at Binalong. He and his wife moved to Kingsdale for a while and then retired to Belmore Street, Goulburn. His daughter Edith married Mr Thomas Walsh and lived at Gooligong. Silvester was elected an alderman in the City Council, and as such did a tremendous amount for the City of Goulburn. He died on 10th October 1936, being 82 years old, and was buried in Kenmore Cemetery, Reverend A. Deegan, Adm., officiating at the grave.

Shown left is the original homestead built by Sylvester Sykes in 1890. It is a fine example of the architecture of the time, chimneys at both ends, four rooms, with a lean-to at the back and a front verandah. Its walls are made of wattle and daub. Below is a map showing the layout.


Silvester Sykes with his wife and children, circa 1918
Back Row: Edith Sykes (fourth generation) (married Tom Walsh) Adrian & George Sykes. Front Row: Silvester (third generation), his wife, Mary (Buck) and Lionel Sykes

 

Lionel Acquin Sykes (Fourth Generation)

Lionel Acquin Sykes, like many of the Sykes's, was a man of the land. He was born on 21st May 1893, the eldest child of Silvester Sykes and Mary Buck. He lived at Australind with his parents, two brothers and two sisters. After his primary schooling at the Spring Valley Public School, he finished his education at Holy Cross College, Ryde.

In 1920 Lionel married Evelyn Harris, a school teacher. For details about the children and descendants of Lionel and Evelyn, see Silvester - Lionel line.

The age was a time of change on the land. New ways and new ideas were eagerly investigated by Lionel and his brothers, and all were adventurous enough to put new techniques into practice on their properties. Lionel studied to become a qualified wool-classer and set to work to improve the quality of the wool grown on 'Australind'. Today this wool finds a ready market among overseas buyers.

Pasture improvement became the magic words. To run two sheep where one grazed before; then three, and then four sheep—a goal which was eventually reached; but not in a single year and not without disappointments. Water conservation became easier with the advent of the mechanical scoop. Land clearing offered expansion and Lionel missed no opportunity of availing himself of this modem equipment.

After World War II, his accumulated knowledge of land values and land potential was put to good use by the Returned Soldiers Settlement Board in selecting land for the settling of returned men in the Goulburn area.

For many years Lionel Sykes was a committee member of the Goulburn Show Society. When he retired from the Society in the late 50's he was given the honour of Life Councillor to the Society. Southern Tablelands sheep breeders knew him as a competent show judge of merino sheep.

From 1925 until 1956 he was the representative of B Riding on the Mulwarree Shire Council. During that period he held the position as President on three occasions. Recreation was found in, first, tennis, and then cricket. A foundation member of the Goulburn and District Tennis Association, he, with others, turned a swamp into fine courts. Support and encouragement to sport at his children's schools and clubs were given in the form of trophies. At the time of his death in 1964 he, with his wife and family, still held their interests in the Spring Valley property of Australind . He is buried in the Spring Valley Cemetery.



George Sykes (fourth generation)

George was the second son of Silvester Sykes and Mary Buck of Australind . He was born at Spring Valley, and was educated at Spring Valley Public School, and Holy Cross College, Ryde. After school, he assisted at Australind , and also at Omega , Kingsdale, for about three years. Omega was then sold, and a partnership was set up between the three boys ( Lionel, George and Adrian) of the family. Together they leased Australind Spring Valley, Goulburn, from Silvester, and bought Glendalyn at Binalong. Lionel managed Australind , while George and Adrian managed Glendalyn .



George Sykes

In 1925 George married Kathleen (fondly known as ‘Birdie') McInerney, the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs J J McInerney, of Beanbah Cowper Street, Goulburn and Mill Bank, Collector, NSW.   As newlyweds, they travelled to Tasmania for their honeymoon and stayed at The Highfield Hotel, Bathurst & Murray Sts, Hobart.

In 1926 George purchased Coodra Vale at Wee Jasper, 55 kms from Yass and 90 kms from Goulburn. According to papers held by George's descendants:

February 22, 1926 I dissolved the partnership with my brothers (Lionel and Adrian retained Australind and Glendalyn ) receiving as my share of property, plant and stock the sum of twelve thousand pounds.
March 30, 1926 I purchased from R.S.Lindeman Esq. his property known as Coodra Vale (Wee Jasper) and paid him by cheque the sum of £2175 or 10% of the total purchase money the £19,585 to be paid on completion of transfer. In consideration of second comment I am to be allowed £300 off purchase price leaving a total of £19,285.
April 5, 1926 Purchase of Studebaker car for £360 an allowance of £100 being made for Harley Davidson bike and sidecar.
May 21, 1926 I took possession of Coodra Vale , Wee Jasper, and became responsible for all outgoings on the property including wages and rates and taxes.
September 30 1926 I started shearing...   Leonard Bros, contractors at the rate of 10.5 pence per sheep.


Kathleen McInerney, wife of George Sykes.

George and Kathleen Sykes

The famous writer, Andrew B Paterson, (fondly known as Banjo Paterson) had been a previous owner of the property Coodra Vale .   The main house on Coodra Vale was built of brick, and there were two other cottages on the property for the stockmen; one was brick, the other made of pisé.   George built a corn shed and hay shed on the property.

Extract taken from the same book

On the 25th May 1926 we had born to us (Kathleen Bertha and George Albert Sykes) a son, we have called him John Maxwell and we trust that God will bless him as he has blessed us in sending him to us.  Great is our joy to possess him and we trust that God will help us to bring him up an honest and upright man and that he will be the medium of our love and tend to brighten our lives and instill in us a great love for one another.

George also wrote in his property diary about remedies for footrot in sheep:

January 3, 1927 I treated with strong bluestone by hand 138 ewes all affected with the disease. (Result) Decided improvement.
Treated with kerosene 203 ewes and placed them on the Lucerne ... kerosene has a tendency to blister and clear the foot of hair etc. but has no good effects on the disease.
Treated 23 rams with Cole tar. (Result) No result at all.

In 1939, George received correspondence from D Laidlaw & Co., Gray Street, Hamilton.

Dear Mr Sykes
We have your letter of the 29 th inst to hand re Murrays Footrot Cure and in reply would like to advise that we have taken the liberty of forwarding a small outfit sufficient for 150 sheep.   In doing so might we explain that the reason is that we have no agent near you and we thought that if you have any sheep effected with footrot, the sooner they are treated the better.   Should our action not meet with your approval please return at our expense and your convenience.  

Baden, the youngest of George and Kathleen's four sons, drowned in the Goodradigbee River on 13 March 1934 at the age of two years.

Yass
15th march 1936
Dear Mrs Sykes
With deep regret I learned of the sad death of your dear Little Boy, allow me to sympathise with you in your very sad bereavement especially in the loss of one so very near and dear to you.   But try and bear your trouble with Christian fortitude and live with the true knowledge of knowing that your dear Child has gone to a far happier home where all care sorrow and trouble is at an end.
Convey my sincerest sympathy to your Husband and all your people.
Regards, Your Sincere Sympathiser
Mick Walsh


 


George and Kathleen Sykes

George Sykes

George kept busy bringing the Coodra Vale up to production. He was the bush lawyer to many of the locals as well as the local Justice of the Peace. Kathleen had trained as a nurse at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and cared for the family and the workmen and also nursed the people in the district.

George and Kathleen lived at Coodra Vale for approximately 21 years , and then in 1947 purchased Pine Park , Humula, 60 kms from Wagga Wagga. This 6000 acre property was overrun with rabbits, and George's three surviving sons, John Maxwell (Max), Roger George, Sylvester (Ves), aged between 17 and 21, were kept busy digging out rabbits for the first year.

In 1953 George was appointed the Producers representative on the Metropolitan Meat Industry Board until he retired at the age of 65 years. While on the meat board, George and Kathleen lived at Strathfield.

In 1955, the Sykes family purchased Fairlee Grange , Jerilderie, and appointed Roger, George's second son, as manager. In 1959 they purchased Rylands , also at Humula, 71 kms from Wagga Wagga and 9.5 kms from Pine Park , and appointed Sylvester, George's third son, as manager, while Max, the first son, stayed on as manager of Pine Park .

George and Kathleen moved to Wagga in 1961 after George's retirement from the Metropolitan Meat Industry Board, to be closer to their families.   In 1962 Fairlee Grange was resumed by the Government for closer settlement, to form part of the Colleambally Irrigation Scheme.   The Company purchased East Bland , in the Quandialla district. George had established a successful family grazing business that consisted of 20,000 acres and was managed by his three sons, Max, Roger and Ves.

Kathleen died 10 March 1972, and George died 15 March 1974. Both are buried in the Wagga Wagga Lawn Cemetery.

John Maxwell Sykes (fifth generation)

John, known as Max (see photos right and below), the first son of George and Kathleen, married Margaret Mary Bolger from Young in 1958 and they made their home at Pine Park , Humula. Max and Margaret had six children: Paddy, now Naval Chaplain Sykes, Mary Ellen, Murray, Stephen, Lawrence and Bernadette (fondly known as Bernie). Margaret died from cancer, on the 2nd November 1971 at the age of 39 years. Margaret's mother, Barbara Bolger was a tower of strength to the young family during the years following Margaret's death.

Right: Roger, Ves and 'Max' Sykes
(fifth generation) – sons of George

Roger George Sykes (fifth generation)

Roger, the second son of George and Kathleen (photos above and left), married Helen Joy Coore in 1960 and they made their home at Fairlee Grange, Jerilderie.   In 1962, the partnership purchased the property East Bland, Quandialla after the resumption of Fairlie Grange ,  Jerilderie .  Helen and Roger had three children: George, David and Jane.  Roger and Helen retired to Cootamundra in 1992 and the two boys, George and David managed East Bland .  

Roger died from a heart attack on 17 December 1993.

 

Photo to left, 1961: George Sykes (fourth generation), with his wife and children: Son Roger and wife Helen, Kathleen Sykes (wife of George), Sylvester and wife Diane, George Sykes, and Max and wife Margaret.

Sylvester Joseph Sykes (fifth generation)

Ves was born on 14 July 1930 at the Pines Private Hospital Goulburn.   Matron and owner of the Private Hospital was Eileen McInerney (Kathleen's sister). Ves made his First Communion at the Coodra Vale Homestead, Wee Jasper because Mass was held at the homestead once a month up until the time the family left Coodra Vale . Ves attended Wee Jasper Public School from 1938-1940, 1941 home schooling with a governess, 1942 Day pupil at St Patrick's College, Goulburn.   1943 Boarder at De La Salle Brothers Cronulla.   1944-1946 a boarder at St Gregory's College Campbelltown, Sydney.  

Sylvester (Ves) the third son of George and Kathleen married Diane Therese Ryan at St Fiacre's Church, Leichhardt, Sydney in 1961. The best man and groomsman were Ves' brothers Max and Roger. The reception was held at The Amory, Ashfield Sydney.

The marriage celebrant was Diane's brother, Rev Father Vincent Ryan (Order of Firiar Minor Capuchin) who was the first Australian to be ordained a Capuchin Friar. Father Vincent (fondly known as Jim to family members) completed his studies for the priesthood at Capuchin College, Washington, USA. He was ordained at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney in July 1955 by Cardinal Gilroy.

Ves was a councillor for "C" Riding for the Shire of Kyeamba between 1959-1962.

John (Max) and Sylvester Sykes (fifth generation) – sons of George

Virginia Therese Sykes
(1962-2002) (sixth generation) – daughter of Sylvester and Diane

Diane Sykes, Sylvester's wife, writes about her family:

We had 7 children, 2 girls and 5 boys.  

Virginia was our first born (10 April 1962) being a neat bundle of 7lbs.   Always alert with eyes wide open.  

Vincent, the first boy, was a big baby in comparison to Virginia, a much heavier baby - over 9lbs.   Perhaps his big frame caused problems for future pregnancies.

Both Michael and Catherine were premature babies, born at 28 weeks. Michael was born in Sydney whilst I was visiting my mother. I was rushed to Crown Street Women's Hospital Surry Hills where his birth was imminent. Michael Sylvester was the first of our three angels, he was born on18 January, 1967. He was baptised on that day by Rev Nevio Capra and was confirmed by Rev G Baggio on 19 January 1967. Both priests were attached to St Francis De Sales Church 80 Albion Street, Sydney. The parish was conducted by the Scalabrinian Fathers. Michael died on the 20 January 1967, and was buried with my parents in the Roman Catholic section Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney. My brother, Jim, officiated at Michael's funeral and burial.  

Our darling daughter, Catherine Therese was born at Calvary Private Hospital Wagga Wagga on 8 October, 1967.   I remember after her birth she cried a great deal and I was confident she was going to be a fighter and survivor. Catherine died on 9 October 1967, her lungs were too immature. Catherine was buried on 10 October 1967 in the Roman Catholic Cemetery Wagga Wagga - also known as the old cemetery or the Monumental Cemetery. Jim my brother officiated at Catherine's funeral and burial.   It was at this time my brother Jim gave me a ladies wrist watch and said "Hopefully, with the passing of time and the help of the specialists you will have your family".

It was after Catherine's birth the doctors discovered I had an incompetent cervix and that I would need medical assistance to carry a baby full term. The procedure involved the cervix being stitched at 12 weeks and spending considerable time in hospital.   I followed this procedure for the birth of Peter, James and Richard.   At 28 weeks, I was admitted to hospital for bed rest until 38 weeks where I was allowed to go home and wait for the onset of labour.   We were jubilant to have the safe arrival of the three boys.   However, Richard was born with a heart defect and there was concern about his health. Richard came home for Easter; all four children eagerly awaited a nurse of baby Richard.   After Easter, Richard was rushed back to Wagga where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.   After the bout of pneumonia, he was flown to Sydney by Air Ambulance and admitted to Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, for tests. We were contacted by the hospital that Richard's condition had deteriorated.   We traveled to Sydney by car. Alas, on arrival in Sydney my mother told us that Richard had died, Ves and I were devastated. Richard died on the 16 May 1974; he was only six weeks old. The cause of death as stated on his death certificate was left ventricular failure, congenital heart disease months and Bronchopneumonia. Richard is buried in the Lawn Cemetery Wagga Wagga.

Virginia attended St Thomas Aquinas Convent School Tarcutta for her primary education.   The three boys spent time at both the Humula Public School and the Convent School Tarcutta.   The children attended boarding schools in Sydney. Virginia attended my old school, St Vincent's College, Potts Point.   It was in Year 9 that Virginia knew she wanted to be a nurse and in Year 10 she asked could she return to Wagga for her final school years before she returned to Sydney to start nursing.   Virginia attended Trinity High School, Wagga Wagga.   In Year 11 she obtained private board and in Year 12 she was a boarder at Mt Erin College, Wagga Wagga.   Virginia failed English in the HSC and to fulfill her dream to go nursing she repeated Year 12 at Tumbarumba High School. Virginia demonstrated to us her determination to go nursing.   The following year she commenced her nurse's training at St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst where her Grandmother, Birdie Sykes, had trained all those years earlier.  

The three boys attended St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill.   James attended Villa Maria Primary School Hunters Hill in Year 6 and commenced his boarding days at St Joseph's College a year early.   We were very fortunate that my mother and brother Jim were able to help, assist and nurture the children while attending boarding school in Sydney.

Virginia, our first child, experienced her first tear of the lung only weeks before her wedding day, 16 April, 1994.   The incident was quickly explained as normal when a young girl has long fingers and a slim body. However, within 12 months after a second lung tear her diagnosis was far more serious.   Virginia was diagnosed with Lymphangioleio-myomatosis or LAM for short. We didn't know anything about the disease.   How could we when at the time of her diagnosis she was only one of seven Australian women known with the disease.   LAM is a rare genetic lung disease, which affects only women.   In 2008 there are approximately 40 known Australian women with LAM.
We watched and observed the subtle changes in Virginia's health over the years until it was obvious; she was on oxygen 24 hrs a day and each day was a marathon for her.   We hoped and prayed she would get her call for the lung transplant.   It was midnight 5 February 2002 when Virginia phoned us.   She was at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney awaiting her lung transplant.   She went to theatre at 4.30am and was given a double lung transplant.
Virginia's surgery will not make the medical journals for a successful lung transplant but instead for the patient that suffered and experienced so many medical complications post transplant.   It was heartbreaking to see her so sick and helpless after surgery.    Virginia's transplant didn't give her a second chance at life. Virginia entered Eternal Life on 11 March 2002

Virginia's Eulogy - in the column on the right - was given by her cousin, Murray Sykes, at her Requiem Mass held at St Michael's Cathedral Wagga Wagga on 22 March 2002.   Virginia was interred at the Monumental Cemetery where she rests with her baby sister, Catherine Therese.   They are both asleep in God's Garden.

Virginia's cousin, Naval Chaplain, Father Paddy Sykes was the main celebrant at the Requiem Mass.   Tessa, our granddaughter, and Virginia's flower girl at her wedding sang at the gravesite and covered Virginia's coffin with rose petals.   A comment about Virginia's funeral: “it was soft and gentle”

"Stamina, determination and a will to succeed.   In my mind these are the qualities that stand out in the life of my Cousin Virginia.
For all the people who Virginia loved and who loved Virginia there will be many indelible memories, big and small, that we can hold and keep forever of our experiences with Virginia.
Primary and secondary school quickly passed and Virginia had little hesitation in moving to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney to start her nursing career.   A career in which she developed a special interest in paediatrics, working at the Children's Hospital firstly at Camperdown and then Westmead, Canberra, Alice Springs, Great Ormond Street in London and others.   To those who knew her at work she was devoted and inspiring in her care for her patients.   Parents have been overheard to say “Thank God Virginia is looking after my child”.   Finally settling at the Children's Hospital at Westmead Virginia set her sights on achieving further qualifications in paediatric nursing but was thwarted in her attempts by the onset of LAM.
My strongest memories of Virginia, however, don't relate to work at all.   Virginia enjoyed the great outdoors, travelling and experiencing the world around us.   From bush walking in central Oz to climbing glaciers in Iceland, from skiing in France to cycling around Britain, there is no doubt that Virginia had a great passion for life.
It was at the start of Operation Raleigh - a cycling tour of Britain to raise funds for travellers - that Virginia met her husband Eric.   On that trip she cycled 2,500 kms.   (I get puffed cycling 2 kms to work in the mornings.)   Virginia was a very good swimmer and for fitness, relaxation or just solace after a gruelling day on the ward, Virginia enjoyed doing the odd 5 km swim.
Bush walking was another passion of Virginia's and she took up the opportunity to walk whenever she could.   Expeditions include many walks out of Alice Springs and treks in Tasmania.   In England I joined her to walk from the west coast to the east coast and there is no doubt that without her stamina, determination and will to succeed that I would not have started, let alone finished, the expedition.
Finally, one cannot speak of Virginia without mentioning Lymphangioleiomyomatosis or LAM for short.   And it is with tremendous admiration and respect that I can say the condition which has so cruelly truncated her life has inspired her to her greatest achievements.
Virginia is the founder of LAM Australia, a sister group to the American LAM foundation.   Through her efforts LAM holds much greater prominence in the medical profession in Australia.   Virginia encouraged greater awareness, not just for the medical fraternity but also for patients and patients' families.   Virginia provided much needed support, not just at the very devastating point of diagnosis but right through rehab, during treatment trials, whilst on oxygen support, for those approaching transplant, and beyond.
Virginia has pioneered an arrangement with the lung transplant teams in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to have whole lungs airlifted immediately to a pathologist who is dedicated to researching LAM at the expense of LAM Australia.   Virginia will be disappointed to hear that her lungs were too diseased to be used for research.
For someone who had become dependent on others, Virginia was such a pillar of support to so many.   Now and in the future to come, so many doctors, nurses, physios, patients and their families will appreciate the outstanding efforts of my Cousin Virginia.
There are so many people who have touched on the life of Virginia.   But this moment is not for you…or me.   This moment belongs to Virginia.
It is a time to say “Well done.   We praise you for all your achievements, big and small”.   And as we say goodbye, we pray to God that you may keep smiling.   We are proud to have known and loved you."
Adrian Sylvester Sykes (Fourth Generation)

Adrian was the youngest son of Silvester Sykes and Mary Buck and was born on 2nd March 1897. As a young man he worked on the property at Spring Valley.

Adrian Sylvester Sykes first came to the Binalong district in 1919 when he, with his brothers Lionel and George, purchased 5000 acres of grazing land which was part of Mylora Station owned by J. J. Garry. The property was named Glendalyn , which means "among the hills". The Sykes Brothers lived in a two roomed galvanised iron hut for five years before building the present homestead on Glendalyn.

Adrian Sylvester Sykes married Alice Cooney from Reedy Creek , Berramangera, in 1925, and shortly after he and his brother Lionel bought out his brother George's interest in the property. Lionel's interest was bought out in the midthirties. Adrian Sylvester Sykes during his 20 years in the Binalong district took a keen interest in local affairs and was a Councillor on the Goodradigbee Shire Council from 1929 till 1938, he was President from 1931-33. He was instrumental in having the Burrinjuck Electricity Supply extended to local rural properties as early as 1929.

His untimely death at the age of 43 years left his wife Alice in charge of Glendalyn , which has been well improved over the years. He is buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Binalong.

Adrian's second daughter Edith married Ian Stadtmiller. Many of the Stadtmiller family are shown right. Ian Stadtmiller died on 29 th November 2007. His son's eulogy is below.


lan Stadtmiller's Eulogy

lan Stadtmiller, also known as ‘Tiny' and ‘Tine' was a great outdoors man, and we are gathered here today in God's wonderful outdoors to celebrate his life.
We can shed tears that he is gone, or we can smile that he has lived. We can close our eyes and pray that he'll come back, or we can open our eyes and see all he's left. Our hearts can be empty because we can't see him, or we can be full of the love we shared. We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live yesterday, or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. We can remember him only that he is gone, or we can cherish his memory and let it live on. We can cry, close our minds and be empty, or we can do what he'd want: smile, open our eyes, love and go on.
lan was born on the 19th of April 1921 at Junee to Amy and Charles Stadtmiller. Dad was an only child who, throughout his life, consistently reached out to others as a human being and was reached out to by others who recognised and who were responding to the humanity within him. Dad was a man of large stature and great physical strength. As for his nickname, Tiny, irony was often never far from Dad's life.
Dad never formally attended a school but was very ably homeschooled by his Mother. He very capably taught his family life's lessons, by example, right up until the day he died.
Dad started adult work at the age of 14, working with his father on the property, Bogolara, at Bookham. He drove a car in and around Bowning for quite some time while still too young to qualify for a licence, indeed driving the Bowning policeman home from the pub when the policeman was too drunk to drive himself.
On the 19th of February 1942, Dad, at the age of 20, was one of the workers in the Civil Construction Corps, building the wharf at Darwin harbour. Planes appeared overhead, which were assumed to be friendly - then the Japanese bombs started to fall, causing on that day, 250 deaths and devastating damage. This was Dad's first taste of World War 11.
Dad's military service was determined with the toss of a coin. He wanted to join the Navy. His best mate wanted to join the Airforce. They tossed a coin, Dad lost and he joined the Airforce. Over the last 50 years or so we have heard only the humorous stories of his wartime experience. In his two periods of service in Papua New Guinea there must have been a dark side, but we never heard it.
During his service in the Airforce Dad was absent without leave on several occasions. Far from being an evader of duty, Dad was in fact overstaying his approved leave to do what he saw as his duty to his family: to assist his father who was the sole person running a then 5,000 acre property, Glendalyn, which is situated behind us. On one occasion Dad had to bring his own Father down off the Glendalyn hills on horseback, old Charlie having sustained a broken leg. Dad always returned to his military duties, but only after the military had threatened to arrest him unless he returned.
Dad was never one to follow what he saw as senseless rules and regulations. This of course had its consequences. While in the Airforce he indeed spent several occasions in solitary confinement, for some days, being fed only bread and water. But Dad's spirit was never broken. On one occasion the Military Police could not find handcuffs big enough to fit around his wrists, so they asked him if he would go quietly.
On another occasion three Military Police tried to arrest him on Townsville wharf. On this occasion Dad chose not to go quietly: the police ended up in the harbour while Dad remained dry.
For such behaviour Dad was further punished by being made assistant to the cook. This proved to be the best‑fed punishment of his war experience. The cook was allocated five eggs at a time but what was the point of trying to share five eggs amongst several hundred men. The cook and Dad ate the eggs.
There was always a practical aspect to Dad's life.
Mum and Dad were married on the 10th of April 1950. Mum say s he waited for her to grow up to a marriageable age. And as Mum's sister Carmel recently said, "You two had a marriage made in Heaven." This was a love that stood the test of time. Just recently, he told us that "Joan has been the love of my life." The years following their marriage were happy, busy years raising their five children. Mum and Dad lived their entire married life in and around Binalong.
On one occasion, a mate of Dad's from the Airforce, who unfortunately became a member of the Underworld, wrote to him from Goulburn Penitentiary asking for the loan of a considerable sum of money and warning Dad that he may never have the loan repaid. Dad couldn't really afford to loan the money but indeed did loan it, duly receiving a receipt from the prison Governor. Nothing more was heard from the inmate for 17 years, until one day he arrived unannounced, at our home, pulled out a large roll of banknotes and repaid Dad double the amount of the loan.
For many years, starting in the late 1950s, Dad was one of the strengths of the Binalong Police Boys' Club. Along with the Binalong policeman, he expertly trained many young men in the art of boxing, young men who turned into lifelong friends: Joey Muscat, Charlie Muscat, Norm Bourlet, Alby Arabin to name some.
On one night of boxing in Goulburn, after one of Dad's boxers was obviously robbed of the decision, an angry lan arrived at the car to return to Binalong, carrying a tray of pies to which he'd helped himself as he was leaving the hall. His co - trainer, Senior Constable George Samuels then arrived back at the car. Dad said, "Like a pie?" George said, "Are they hot?" to which Dad replied, "Bloody oath they're hot."
Dad never went looking for a fight, but if a fight insisted on coming looking for him he was quite happy to accommodate it and prove victor. A tough man, but a gentle giant.

Dad worked for Jim Rogerson at Kuriong for some 28 years, which is an affirmation in itself. He also worked at Kuriong with Paul Glover: when recently asked what Paul was like ‑ to work with, Dad's reply was, "None better." From Dad, high praise indeed. Dad's work was with sheep, cattle and horses,. He was an expert horseman and farrier. He had many wonderful working dogs, both Kelpie and Blue Cattle Dogs, all of which could be subject to Dad casting aspersions on their characters and parentage in no uncertain terms if they went "Way back!" instead of "Here, here!"
On Mum and Dad's own property, "Riverview" he spent weekend after weekend for many years working it after a full working week at Kuriong.
On one occasion Richard Carlton of 60 Minutes phoned Dad seeking advice on his badly founded horse. Dad, unfazed by celebrity, gave Richard some very short and straightforward advice on the unfortunate horse, "Shoot it."
Dad was blessed to see his five children grow to adulthood, his twelve grandchildren grow up and the arrival of two great grandchildren. Dad was certain that we loved him and we were certain that he loved us.
Dad had no time for hypocrisy or elitism and was well ‑ known for his talent of mimicry in deflating both faults. He had time for anybody who was a decent human being. He loved good people and he loved a good yarn with good people. Many the time strangers he met down the street were invited back to our home for a meal ‑ some ended up staying with us for weeks, months, even years.
Dad was first diagnosed with a life-threatening disease some 16 years ago. His specialist said, "Treat every day from hereon as a bonus." Dad survived several more life-threatening medical conditions. His extensive and ongoing time in and out of hospitals in Cootamundra, Canberra and Wagga (all paid for by Veterans' Affairs) was such that he said, "I'll bet they're sorry they ever sent me to the war."
In his later years he spent much of his time doing his leatherwork - belts and bridles which remain as a legacy to his expertise.
As a family, we would like to pay tribute to Mum for her unstinting care of and devotion to Dad throughout all of his illnesses. Dad said that if he could die peacefully in his sleep he would have a millionaire's death: he got his wish. A little while before he passed away he was asked was he frightened of dying. His answer was typical. He said, "No, you've only got to do it once."
Our family would like to sincerely thank Hennessy Catholic College and its Principal, Mr Michael Lee, for the support they have given us during this difficult time.
Our family would also like to sincerely thank Henry Beavis and the RSL for the service conducted at the Binalong War Memorial earlier today in honour of Dad.
During his many invasive medical procedures Dad never complained or got angry once. His family wishes to very genuinely acknowledge the people who were so dedicated in their care of Dad: Sandra Woodbridge, Jan Giles and the other community nurses.
We pay a special tribute to Doctor Datoo. Doctor Datoo was Dad's doctor for over 25 years. Their relationship was more one of great friends than that of doctor and patient. A visit by Dad to Doctor Datoo could play merry hell with the appointment schedule, as both doctor and patient told each other a series of clean jokes. Dad returned to Cootamundra Hospital last Wednesday from Calvary at Wagga and was at peace with himself upon his return. Our family believes that good people go to Heaven. Dad was one of the best. Your presence here today is testament to that, and our family very sincerely thanks you for your friendship, your love for Dad and your desire to pay a wonderfully humble man your last respects.
We deliberately haven't singled out individual children or grandchildren for mention in these words because, for Dad, we speak as one. We do, however, acknowledge the beautiful gesture as forged from horseshoes by Charles Stadtmiller, which is affixed to the top of Dad's final resting place: "Tiny".
Dad was an enthusiastic member of the Binalong Fishing Club and highly valued the camaraderie he found with the other members - sure it was great if he caught a fish, but much more important were the experiences of the friendships.
A few years ago, Henry Beavis and Len Ephgrave took Dad on a fishing trip to Woolgarlo. Dad went on the clear promise that he was allowed to take his full ‑ sized bed with him. They set off up the river with all of the fishing gear loaded in the boat and Dad's bed perched precariously on top. Henry turned to Len and in a voice purposely loud enough for Ian to hear said, "Just as well we're not coming into Darwin Harbour. They'd think we're refugees."


Dad's love of and for life is best summed up as follows:

A Fisherman's Prayer

God grant that I may live
And fish, until my dying day.
And when it comes to my last cast,
I then most humbly pray:
When in the Lord's safe landing net
I'm peacefully asleep -
That in His mercy I be judged
As good enough to keep.

Family and friends, at the conclusion of this service some members of Dad's family are going to return the earth to Dad's grave as a last gesture of our love and respect for him. If anybody else wishes to participate in doing this, they are most welcome to do so. If you feel uncomfortable about this, the Stadtmiller family understands your perspective.

     

EDITH SYKES (fourth generation)

Edith was the fourth child of Silvester Sykes and Mary Buck and was born at Australind on 11th April 1900. She was educated at the Spring Valley Public School and O.L.M.C., Goulburn. She helped at home until she married Mr Thomas Walsh in 1936.

They lived at Goolagong, where Thomas was educated at the local Convent, and became a successful grazier and farmer in the district. They had three sons and a daughter.

Edith died on 31st July 1954, after a long illness, and is buried in the Kenmore Cemetery next to her parents, as was her wish. Thomas was a highly respected citizen of the Goolagong district; he was civic minded and was a member of most committees around the district. He was a thorough gentleman. He died in January 1968 and is buried in the Cowra Cemetery.

 

Dorothy Sykes (fourth generation) 1903-1905

The youngest child of Silvester and Mary (photo right).

 
ROBERT SYKES (third generation), brother of Silvester