June Whittaker – Genesis of Kable Reunions
Quoted out of June’s Address delivered at the Kable Family Reunion, 10-11 February 2018.
It was the Queensland branch which instigated the family reunion which Della Scott then organised to take place in January 1968. I want to tell you how this happened because it illustrates the tremendous importance of family reunions.
Following my father’s death, my mother lived with me and my family overseas for a few years. We settled in Sydney in 1965 where, shortly after, we had a visit from our Kable cousin, Heather Dorahy. A visit which proved to be of great significance in the Kable story.
Heather’s mother was Stella Susannah Kable, a sister of Della’s mother, Blanche. Heather was a painter of landscapes who, in her artistic wanderings, got to know the Kable sites in the Hawkesbury area better than most. Heather told my mother that the Kable Family vault in the graveyard of St Matthew’s in Windsor was falling apart. Within 24 hours the two women were in Windsor checking it out.
The vault was indeed in a bad state. I doubt that it had seen any maintenance since Will Gaudry was interred there in 1816, eight or nine years before the church was built. Most of one long side that looks towards the church belfry had been stove in; one could see into the black void of the interior. Before returning home, Della had a quote from a stone-mason and a contract with him for the grave’s restoration.
My husband Mervyn said: ‘Why don’t you tell your Bathurst and Barry Mob about it? Some of them might like to contribute towards its restoration.’ So Della did. The donations poured in.
Shortly after, Della took a train to Brisbane to visit an old friend from her school days in Barry. While there, she looked up ‘Kable’ in the telephone directories. She found a number of Kable subscribers and got in touch with many of them. They were all excited to hear about the vault and wanted to contribute. Two of the gentlemen of considerable consequence who appeared to be the Keepers of the Kable history in Queensland, were Frank Kable OBE and Arthur Ingham Myers, prominent in The Fellowship of First Fleeters. They persuaded Della to organise a Kable family reunion in Sydney so that the Queensland Branch could meet with those in the south.
Della lost no time in planning a reunion. It would be held over the last weekend of January 1968. We estimated an attendance of between 60 and 70 people to be seated for a dinner and accompanying formalities. A suitable venue was Georgian House at Neutral Bay. Our cousin in Orange, Vivian Kable, would bring his scale-model of the Transport Friendship to be the centre-piece of the main table.
Very early into the New Year, I was sent on a government mission to New Guinea. As a result, all the planning that still had to be done for the Reunion was left to my mother. On my return from New Guinea, I found everything in order, but there had been a problem: the number of people expected to attend had swelled to well over one hundred. As a result, the sit-down dinner had now to be a giant buffet.
It was a great evening with lots of spontaneous stories and laughter. Frank Kable was a jovial chairman. The Queensland branch was well represented, and (I thought) better informed than the rest of us. It emerged that most people, like me, had only a fuzzy idea of the early part of Henry’s and Susannah’s history; some had conflicting stories, and all were hungry for more information.
Arthur Ingham Myers proposed the toast at the reunion. The full version of his toast can be seen Arthur Myers speech 1968. Unfortunately the text is somewhat faded over the years, but still readable.