George Freebairn

One of the stories from the 2012 project: Who were they? People who shaped Victor Harbor and for whom our parks and reserves are named.

Freebairn Reserve

Freebairn Reserve is an open space reserve of 0.388 hectares situated between the cul-de-sacs at the ends of Richardson Road and Gare Court, Victor Harbor. It is on the site of land bought by the Freebairns in 1956 following the closure of their poultry farm.

George Haddow Freebairn was the eldest son of Thomas and Rosina Freebairn, and was born at Forest Farm, Alma in 1903. He is pictured here, centre back row, with his parents Rosina and Thomas and family. Six years of schooling at Alma North was followed by two years at Prince Alfred College. George then worked on the farm with his father.

George was a keen sportsman and mixed in well in the community. In 1918, while at Prince Alfred College, George won the Athletics Medal and then became a member of the S.A. Athletics League during which time he ran in the Bay Sheffield and in 1920 won the Owen Sheffield. George had played cricket for Alma and football for Owen and in 1923 played trial matches with the Sturt Football Club.

George married Ida Elsie Hall in the Balaklava Methodist Church on 1/5/1925. Ida Hall was the daughter of John and Sarah Hall of Dalkey.

Following their marriage, George and Ida began developing a virgin block of land at Pinnaroo but the depression with its low prices for produce, for example wheat at 1s6d (15c) a bushel, forced several moves on the young family of four sons and a daughter.

During the war years while at living at Hackham, George was a member of the 4th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (the Home Guard).

To Victor Harbor

In 1948 George and Ida started as poultry farmers when they took up the Coolgarra Poultry Farm at Encounter Bay on land opposite the South Coast District Hospital. The original house was on the corner of Bay Road and Philip Avenue and was also the home of George and Ida’s third son, Lyle, and his wife Jeanette. Lyle is well known in the district and worked as a linesman with the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA). Their elder son, Paul is a builder, living at Pt Elliot.

From this property, eggs were supplied to the several guest houses locally, and by train in bulk, (30 dozen to a crate) to Red Comb in Adelaide. Incubators were used to assist the hatching of chickens. In 1956, the poultry business was closed due to the high cost of feed, and the property subdivided. Son Lyle, and wife Jeanette, bought the house and allotment 7, as a home to bring up their 5 children Lyle and Jeanette are still living there. Their son, Paul and his wife Sandra, live at Pt Eliot.

Following the closure of the Poultry Farm, George and Ida bought land iin Victor Harbor at the end of Richardson Road. This is now Richardson Reserve. They also bought a house at 11 Forrest Street, Victor Harbor.

While in Victor Harbor, George was involved in recommencing the Victor Harbor Rifle Club which had lapsed during the World War 2 years, but which came back to life in 1949. He was captain several times until the club closed once again in 1973. The club shoots were held on Lincoln Park land, Waterport Road with inter-club competition and rivalry generating good fellowship among the participants.

George, Ida and family were actively involved in the Newland Congregational Church in Victor Harbor, including the choir, Ladies Guild and youth groups. George was Church Secretary for 8 years during the 1950s.

In 1956, George, a farmer at heart, and his son, Bill, were allocated a virgin land block of 3,600 acres costing 3/6d an acre at Gibson, Esperance, in West Australia.

After a few years developing the property, George and Ida returned to South Australia and retired at Prospect, leaving Bill to run the farm. George collapsed and died while playing bowls in 1976. Ida died in 1989.

Acknowledgements

  • Settlers Around The Bay, Anthony Laube
  • Victor Harbor: From Pioneer Port to Seaside Resort, Michael Page
  • Trove digital newspapers www.trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
  • Digger database