Life Sketch - Eulogy for Charlie

(Courtesy Barbara Golya)


Charlie was born at home in Doblar, Slovenia with his parents Elizabeth and Karlo, and sisters Josie and Maria. Always the leader with his friends. The Aunties all gave him a nickname because he was so loveable and cuddly. Once he got into trouble with his Mum because he got head lice after he was told to keep away from the other kids. She whipped his legs with a sapling all the way home.


Due to the war and the ever increasing dangers, at around the age of eight the family left Doblar for Gorica, Italy. Charlie suffered with very bad earache and was hospitalised, recovering very quickly with medical care.


The family stayed one year in private accommodation, one room for the family and three cousins, eight in total. Karlo registered the family as refugees and they were sent to Genoa by train. Then onto Pagani, suburb of Napoli, where paperwork began for immigration to Australia. They left on the ship Dundalk Bay from Napoli harbour in early August 1949 and arrived September 1949, age 10.


After being processed, the family went by train to Bonegilla (North East Victoria) for a few months, then to Corowa (NSW) where conditions weren't very good. After a few months the family moved on to Somers where they started to enjoy Australia. Stayed there approximately two years.


Next move was to Palmer Street Collingwood where Charlie and Maria started proper schooling. Charlie used to do the dare devil stunt of climbing the outside of buildings for pigeon eggs. The last child to come along in the family was Maggie. She grew up to idolise her big brother. In 1955, the home in Adelaide Street was purchased which had plenty of room for Charlie's horse Blackie. He would ride Blackie from Collingwood to Ringwood. Charlie also had a pet dog Rexie and a cat Gigi. The house in Adelaide Street is no longer there as it has become an extension of Eastland Shopping Centre development.


Charlie met Babs on a blind date through a brother of her girlfriend. He joined National Mapping surveying for 2 to 4 months in the outback. Charlie and Babs married in 1963, close to Christmas, to be sure Charlie would be home, as you can't have a wedding without the Groom. Best friends Marge and John, sister Maria and family friend Claude, were in the wedding party, along with younger sister Maggie and family friend's daughter Patti as the flower girls. Charlie spent 3 and a half years with National Mapping (*), then he took Babs around Australia for 4 and a half months. Babs even had a baby fresh water pet crocodile for a short time, until the aboriginal police tracker wanted to eat it, so she quickly released it back into the river. He said it is good tucker, but she thought if he wanted to eat it he would have to go catch it again himself.


They went opal mining with Marge and John at White Cliffs, to Lightening Ridge for opals with Mag and Stan, gold dredging with Ron and Gloria, prospecting in the sapphire fields with Mag and Stan and Ron and Gloria. Charlie also used to enjoy taking his Mum Elizabeth away on outback trips and his Mother-in-Law Phyll, sometimes both of them together.


Karen was born in 1968 and was well travelled by her teens because having a baby wasn't going to stop Charlie from continuing his travel adventures. Bush bashing up in the hills on the rough winding roads Karen would sometimes sit in the back feeling travel sick with her chuck bucket.


Another interesting incident was when Charlie and Stan went to look at some old gold mine tunnels and the sky opened up and it poured with rain and the very steep track turned into a river. The boys spent hours turfering Stan's 4 wheel drive out to reach the top of the hill. They spent the night warm in a bush hut. Meanwhile the ladies were left to sleep in the cold 4 wheel drive left behind where they rolled on top of each other during the night as the vehicle was on a lean. The next morning the ladies waited for what seemed like ages to eventually get fed up and start walking out to find them. Out of the blue Mr smelly Billy Goat came along rutting its horns and sending them scattering up a tree, dog included. There they stayed like damsels to be rescued by their knights in shining armour the men about time!


Another time was travelling and camping in the Barmah Forrest where Charlie's 4 wheel drive got bogged in mud and the mozzies were giant sized and the leeches in the river were huge striped blood suckers. Karen and her cousin Maliza were sleeping in the back of the 4 wheel drive. The weather was stifling hot and the vents were not secure. The poor girls had the night from hell - no sleep, hiding under the sheet from the unwelcome visitors. The flies were so bad once at Wannangatta Valley that at lunch it was hard to take a bite of your lunch role without almost eating a fly. These adventures finally changed to a more tame approach, in some ways the girls thought - thank goodness!


Camping progressed from a tent to a caravan to buying a house in town at White Cliffs so they could store all their gear for mining. Good neighbour Ken use to brew beer and come over for happy hour before tea. It was a good drop too, occasionally Brian and Ann would join in.


Charlie was very good at collecting a range of gems but not very good at parting with them. He wasn't a big materialistic person that needed truckloads of money. As long as he had enough to be comfortable and travel on his adventures he was a very contented man. He was the only one in his family never to return to his country of birth as he was awed at the vast places that Australia had to offer.


He has worked in a small company in a gold mine at Tangil Bren with his good mate Brian and others, but eventually had to let it go as it wasn't viable enough. Charlie has also worked as a Brake Mechanic, worked in the construction of the underground city loop train tunnels, diamond drilling at the sugar loaf dam construction site, he ran his own business with a mate running a Mechanic Workshop and finally Charlie finished up his working life on the Ringwood City Council driving the water truck.


One of Charlie's major achievements was buying the shell of a Holden FE car and custom building it into a registered fully functioning fast powerful vehicle. It was first painted a deep maroon black cherry colour, but he resprayed it in a beige colour so that it wouldn't draw as much attention from the local constabulary, He also had a number of motor bikes, he would use the trail bikes up the bush to explore and Babs would get a dink on the back.


Charlie congratulating Len Beadell on his award of an OAM - Elizabeth, SA.


The many places that Charlie and Babs have travelled around Australia - The Gunbarrel Highway, the Nullarbor Plain, the top of Cape York Peninsula, Darwin and the Simpson Dessert. They have prospected and toured many gem fields, a few others being Duck Creek, Yowah, Tomahawk Creek and the Willows. Also tried gold detecting but never found that big golden nugget. Charlie also had a great interest in Lasseter's Lost Gold Reef, but to this day it has never been relocated. A highlight on one trip was to visit Lenny Beadell at his home in the suburb of Elizabeth, SA. Lenny Beadell surveyed the Gunbarrel Highway before the Gunbarrel Highway Construction team completed the road that is still used today.


Charlie hasn't had the easiest path of health along his life journey. He has had a few hurdles over the last 20 years, but to his credit, had managed to tackle and to continue on leading quite a full life.




(*)Editorís Note :


Records indicate that Charlie was in the field with Natmapís Geodetic Survey Branch from 1962 to 1965. During these years Charlie was a member of a party involved with Theodolite and Tellurometer traversing for several sections of the Geodetic Survey of Australia :


1962 - Winton to Broken Hill Traverse


1963 - Nullarbor Plain & Mildura to Broken Hill Traverse, Otway Ranges - King Island - NW Tasmania Traverse 


1964 - Halls Creek to Canning Stock Route Well 35 Traverse


1965 - Helicopter Traverse from Darwin to Wyndham, and Mt. Solitary to Breadalbane, some beaconing Helen Springs Ė Ord River Traverse.


A description of these surveys with which Charlie was associated can be found here.



Charlie at Natmap : (L-R) With his International AB120 and down to the axel with his Bedford.