23 Sep 1929 – 24 November 2020
By Peter Brown
Judy was born in Manilla, NSW, to Rob and Iris Peake, and grew up with her brothers Ron and Stuart and her sister Marion on ìMiddletonî in the Manilla district. Judy and her brothers and sisters (and some of her cousins and other Middleton children) had their primary school education on the verandah at Middleton under governesses and tutors.
Judy attended school at Ravenswood in Gordon (Sydney), and was made a prefect there. Judy always spoke fondly of her time there, and all her life she took great pleasure from maintaining her school friendships.
From school, Judy chose nursing as her career, and she trained and worked at the Royal North Shore Hospital, a major public teaching hospital at St Leonards in Sydney. Judy was good friends with Edith Jones (nee Brown) at school, a friendship she maintained for her lifetime, and on the 10th September 1953, she married Edithís brother, Tony (Frank Anthony Brown). Tony was working at Nyngan at the time as a jackaroo and a stud-master at Canonba and later, Belaringah.
Judy and Tony used to tell us that one year when Nyngan flooded and Judy and he had to get back East, friends helped them lift their Morris Minor onto the railway tracks and they drove along the tracks through the flooded countryside hoping NOT to meet a train. They also had a photo of me sitting on an aircraft external fuel tank supported by Judy and Tony in the middle of a flood plain. Judy and Tony were smiling, but I was a bit uncertain about it all, apparently. About a year after I was born in 1954, Tony and Judy moved from Nyngan to Gundamulda, Barraba, working for Gordon Spencer and his father and mother, Bert and Muriel Spencer.
Tonyís mother, Marjorie had made her home at Gundamulda after her husband, Frank died, thanks to the extraordinary kindness and generosity of Bert, Muriel, Gordon and Gordonís sister, Betty Hewitt.
Judy and Tony were the first occupants of the brand new Gunda cottage built to house us all, and we stayed there until 1962, when Gordon made it possible for Judy and Tony to buy Romani. By that time, they had three daughters, Lyndall, Jennifer and Terri-Lee, and with all those girls they certainly needed the additional space!
To help supplement earnings from Romani, Tony started up a sawmill, cutting timber from Romani and Gundamulda initially, but later from many other properties in the district.
However, sawmilling was a full-time pursuit that left little time for managing Romani, so Judy stepped in to do that, and for many years, Mum ran the Romani livestock. She managed the breeding program and the buying and selling of cattle. Fortunately, the sawmill and Romani grazing interests were not incompatible, and between them, Judy and Tony ensured that they developed the fences, yards, sheds etc that set Romani up for efficient production of cattle and goats and to support the essential pony club and camp drafting horses every growing country family needs.
Lyndall and Jen followed Judyís footsteps in attending Ravenswood. Terri escaped, and instead attended Calrossy Anglican School in Tamworth.
In later years, Judy and Tony took the opportunity to travel, especially enjoying Singapore, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Switzerland, France, UK and Brazil.
Judy was particularly fond of her garden, especially her roses over the wagon wheels, the wisteria outside the kitchen window, the grapes leading to the back gate, the orchard and the vegies. Her ability to support the family with Granny Smith apples and fresh vegetables was legendary, coming second (in my opinion) only to Bert Spencer. Like her mother, Iris, Judy was famous for lacing her Christmas pudding with silver coins (mainly 3ds and 6ds and always one single shilling).
Judy was a tireless community supporter. She was known to be amongst the best of neighbours ñ her hospitality was second to none, and there was never an issue accommodating visitors. She was matron of the Pony Club for many years, was a member of Red Cross and the Barraba Hospital Auxiliary, was on the Richardson House Committee for many years and was a great supporter of the Barraba show and campdrafting. After Tony died in 2009, Judy moved into the house in Cambridge Street, and later into Richardson House residential care.
Judy did from time-to-time, experience ëslips of the tongueí with her pronunciation, such as when she was famously heard to instruct her dog to Shit, Sadowí instead of ëSit, Shadowí in the heat of the action putting cattle through yards. She also (rather unfairly, she felt) gained a reputation for not having much of a poker face when playing cards. The fact that she used to whistle softly whenever she had a good hand linked with the expression of great anticipation and glee on her face was an unmistakable giveaway, and her habit of applying hand cream before joining a card game made her notorious amongst family and friends.
Sadly, I will no longer get into trouble for ësamplingí the plates of pikelets Judy planned to enter into the Barraba show, nor enjoy the sumptuous Christmas and other celebration feasts Judy used to prepare.
That was a brief outline of Judyís life; but who was Judy Brown really?
A friend you could always rely on
A wonderful daughter and daughter-in-law
A wonderful Mum, Mother-in-Law, Grandmother and Great Grandmother
An Australian country woman through and through (a superb cook, gardener, stockman, nurse, hostess, bookkeeper and business-woman)
Kind, generous, joyful, full of laughter, who loved jokes, was uncomplaining, fair and considerate, but would tolerate no nonsense whether you were 5 years old or 55
Wicked with the wooden spoon
Loved being part of the Barraba/New England community
A Brown/Peake/Jones family matriarch
Someone who really, really, really disliked snakes
Judy was someone whom it was an honour to have known and been close to. On behalf of Judyís family, our deepest thanks go to the staff at Richardson House for the care they took of Judy while she was there, and to the staff and doctors at the Barraba Health Care centre and Tamworth Hospital for the care they showed in looking after Judy during her hospital visits.