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Thursday, January 12, 2023

How Noel would've loved to see these photos!

Noel's place while still under construction in 1984. He sent me this photo when I was still working in Piraeus in Greece, with the words "It's as isolated as it looks, but plenty of crows and wallabies for company" written on the back. The roof was on by the time I visited him there in early 1985 but everything else still looked just as desolate as in this photo.

 

I have written elsewhere about my old friend's "Little House on the Prairie" at Mt Perry elsewhere - see here. Wondering what it may look like today, I posted on the Mount Perry & Surround Forum:

"Does anyone recognise this little house which my old mate from New Guinea, Noel Butler, had built there in 1983 or 1984. It was just across from the then just starting new golf course, and he sold it in 1986 to a man (from Victoria?) whose wife died only a couple of years later. It was close to what was known as the Little Gnome House which then belonged to a pharmacist from Bundaberg. Could someone point out the location of the house on a map, or put me in contact with the current owners?"

Quite soon, a very nice lady from Brisbane, who also owns a weekender at Mt Perry, replied, "That's 172 Venables Street, Mount Perry", and followed it up by telling me that my old friend Noel had been her grandfather Arnold Butler's first cousin. What an amazing coincidence!

And she continued, "At the time that Noel was in Mount Perry, my grandparents were living in Gin Gin - so only thirty minutes away. Who knows if they knew Noel??? I asked Mum and she can recall the family talking of Theo Butler, Noel's father. There were certainly Butlers around at the time, but not in Mount Perry, I don't think."

 

Noel's place is highlighted in yellow.
It is close to the town's dumping ground. The irony wouldn't have been lost on Noel.
 

She sent me these maps with Noel's house marked on it, and as she was heading up to Mt Perry for the weekend, also promised to take some photographs. Here are just three out of the dozen or more she took:

 

 

And the revelations continued: "My grandfather Arnold Butler, Noel's first cousion, was born in 1923 in nearby Gin Gin. Noel was one of four children. His three sisters were Constance [who rang me on that fateful day in 1995], Kathleen who passed away in 1926 when she was just three years old, and Audrey who passed away in 1938 when she was ten. I did recall seeing that it was pneumonia that caused Audrey's death." How tragic! Add to this that Noel's father Theo died in 1944 at the age of 56 when Noel was only 24 years old and serving in the Army in New Guinea, and is it any wonder he never mentioned his family?

In 1986 Noel sold his "Little House on the Prairie", which is now hidden behind large gumtrees, to a man from Melbourne. While Noel was still alive and living in Childers, I visited Mt Perry again in 1990 and met the new owner who at the time told me that his second wife had just died and that he had scattered her ashes on top of Mount Perry. He lived there until quite recently when, at age 95, he passed away. As the nice lady from Brisbane told me, "He had had failing health and went into a nursing home in Gin Gin for a couple of months, hated it, then returned home for a couple of days before having to leave once again for hospital, then passed away. They were calling him Vera but his real name was Everard John Handley. His third wife now lives there alone. She is an Indian lady and is about 60 years old. They were calling her 'Rug' - no idea how you spell it, but that’s exactly how it sounds. Mum says Rug's real name is Lucy." She also informed me that Noel's neighbour, whom he had mentioned in his letters several times as being ex-military and running a leather-working business in Mt Perry and whose home-made wine he had sampled on several occasions, was a Peter Baker, and that a Lewis Smith, who still lives at Mt Perry, had helped Noel built the house. Should I try and contact Lewis Smith?

 

From this ...

                                                                               ... to this:

 

How Noel would have loved to see these photos! They now take pride of place on our mantelpiece in memory of the life of a wonderful friend!

 


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