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metadata.territorywomen.dc.title: Phoebe Farrar
Name: Farrar, Phoebe
Also known as: Wright, Phoebe
Date of Death: 1960-08-19
Place of Birth: Fish Creek (N.S.W.)
Date of Birth: 1868-12-19
Place of Death: Darwin
Place of Burial: Darwin
Occupation: Pastoralist
Biographical notes: Phoebe the daughter of Henry Wright, a labourer from England, and his native-born wife Martha, née Bauldrey. Nothing is known of Phoebe's early life until 1882 when she sailed to Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria with Jack and Mary Ann Farrar, employees of the pastoralist John Costello. Having leased land between the Macarthur (McArthur) and Roper rivers in the Northern Territory, Costello organized an expedition that year to bring stores, equipment, cattle and horses to his property from the Gulf ports of Normanton and Burketown. Aged 13, Phoebe drove a wagon some 620 miles (998 km) to the Limmen River where Costello established his station, Valley of Springs. From 1890 the Farrars managed the property with Phoebe's help. Conditions were extremely harsh: the homestead was a collection of huts made from pandanus trunks, thatched with paperbark, with earth floors, doors of greenhide and a bough-shed kitchen. Assisted by their son Robert, by 1901 Jack and Mary Ann were managing Nutwood Downs station. That year Phoebe gave birth to Robert's son. In 1902 they made a 700-mile (1127 km) round trip to Palmerston (Darwin) to have the child baptized. On the way they called at the Elsey; Jeannie Gunn described their visit in “We of the Never-Never”. " man and two women from Queensland way who had been inside for fifteen years, and with them two fine young lads and a wee toddling baby, all three children born in the bush and leaving it for the first time. The women spoke of their life 'out back' and listening I knew that neither the telegraph lady nor I had even guessed what roughness meant. Early in the morning they left us, they rode away, the fair toddling baby sitting on its mother's pommel knee, smiling at the world. Already it had ridden a couple of hundred miles and before it reached home again another five hundred would be added. Seven hundred miles on horse back in a few weeks - at one year old." (Jeannie Gunn, We of the Never-Never and the Little Black Princess, Avon, 1984, pg 152). "Phoebe married Robert on 30 August 1904 with Anglican rites at Christ Church, Palmerston; they were to have three more children. Bob and Phoebe next worked on Hodgson Downs station. They were among the few Whites employed on pastoral properties in the Territory where most of the labour was performed by Aborigines. Like numerous Aboriginal women, Phoebe was a competent stockwoman and a skilled rider. Slim but strong, she broke horses, tailed cattle in wild scrub country, worked at musters, and was adept at roping, throwing, branding and shooting. Her cooking was often done at night. She also made furniture and equipment for use in the house and in camps. In 1925 the Farrar’s bought land at Brocks Creek. Phoebe drove a mob of cattle there and chose a site for the homestead, which she called Ban Ban Springs. About 1935, while branding cattle, she was charged by a bull and badly gored; it was two days before a doctor reached her; she was taken to Darwin and underwent an operation on her broken hip. Returning home, she continued to ride until late in life. She was again hospitalized from 1956. Survived by her two sons and a daughter, she died on 19 August 1960 in Darwin Hospital and was buried with Catholic rites in Darwin general cemetery. On her death certificate her occupation was recorded as 'housewife': the term did not encapsulate her seventy-eight years of making bush camps, droving, mustering, and mothering. Her family remembered that she had been able to 'fold a buffalo hide like other people could fold a piece of paper', and that nothing kept her down. (Tracey Farrar, Great Granddaughter, Nominator to the Tribute, 2002)
Related link: Australian Dictionary of Biography : Farrar, Phoebe Elizabeth (1868-1960)
2003 Recipients of the Tribute to Northern Territory Women : Phoebe Farrar
PictureNT : Bob Farrar and Phoebe Wright
PictureNT : Farrar family
Australian's Women's Register : Farrar, Phoebe (1869-1960)
Bonzer : Phoebe Farrar
Related Materials: 200 Australian Women : a Redress anthology. Broadway, N.S.W. : Women's Redress Press, 1988.
Lenore Coltheart, 'Farrar, Phoebe Elizabeth (1868-1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 14.
Unsung heroes & heroines of Australia. Elwood, Vic. : Greenhouse, 1988. NTC 920.094 UNSU
"Phoebe of the Inland" The Sydney Morning Herald, 28th August 1960. p.26.
"Brands Registered for Quarter" Ending Northern Territory Times and Gazette, Saturday, 31 December 1921, p.8.
Appears in Collections:Territory Women

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