Go to: Introductions | Dharmananda: from individual title to a multiple occupancy | WWOOFers | Growing food | Neighbours | Introducing Carol | The early years: creating community | Neighbours | Channon Markets | The Fire Brigade | Generational change and building community | The farm’s history | Bananas | Old roads | Finding a sense of belonging | Mr deSorzi | The Ivans | Back to the early days | Being a local
Ray: Did you talk about deSorzi in your other interview?
Leigh: I mentioned Mr deSorzi didn’t I?
Jo: He lived in a little cabin up the top?
Leigh: Old banana grower. But I’ve never met him. So he must have died before we came here.
Ray: Oh right, yeah. Well he was quite a larger-than -life character. He walked through the property often, cause his shack was on the neighbour’s property, on the boundary. But his access was down through here and he had a track, used to keep the track well-manicured so he could – he’d often carry a brush hook with him so he could chop the lantana back. And his mail was delivered to our letter box, so he’d always come down and usually have a sack on his back; he’d carry that down to collect mail. I think he got bread delivered too.
Carol: Bread, oil and kero.
Ray: That’s right. So he’d come down with his sack a couple of times a week and he’d always stick his head in the shed and say hello.
Carol: Had a dog.
Ray: Yes he had a little dog, Emily, Sally I mean.
Carol: And he’d point to the women and say ‘are you married’? Married? Married? He was looking for someone.
Ray: [laughs] yeah. And he was very curious about what we did here. If you dug a new bit of land he’d sort of look over and he’d go ‘mmmm what’s he doing there?’ And we’d say ‘oh, we’re just putting in a patch of corn.’
Carol: Then he’d say ‘something to do’. Remember?! ‘Something to do’.
Ray: [laughs].‘Something to do’.
Carol: But his hut was just sleepers, sleepers wasn’t it?
Carol: Flincher, with gaps in between.
Ray and Leigh: Yeah.
Carol: A cold tap poked up quite high off the ground. And a cold tap poked up through a hole in the floor, and just a cold tap. And that was absolutely bare.
Ray: An open fire, he had just an open fire with pots that he used to hang off a bar or something.
Carol: That’s right. It was unbelievably simple. You know, he put us – his simplicity, and used to be up there reading, he had a radio I think. Did he, or not?
Ray: Don’t remember. He certainly didn’t have electricity.
Carol: I think he had a radio. But he, yes he didn’t have much – unbelievably simple.
What did he do?
Ray: Well he was a banana farmer. He had a patch of bananas on a German guy, Carl Gotch had brought a property next to here …
Leigh: He had Greg McPhee’s place?
Ray: Yeah, he was an organic farmer and very strict about it and deSorzi’s banana patch was already there when Carl bought the land and then he found that deSorzi was using this arsenic pentoxide on the – to kill the beetle borers on the banana. He said to him ah you know ‘I don’t want to use pesticides on this property, you’ve got to stop doing that.’ Anyway poor old deSorzi didn’t know anything else, anything different, so he just kept doing what he’d done for however many years. And so Carl said ‘oh you’re going to have to leave the lease’ so then he just lived up there for a number of years after that.
Carol: He’d pull up fire weed.
Carol: Walked around pulling up fireweed but….
Ray: Yeah once a month he’d go to Lismore to pick up his pension cheque and I think, apparently he used to meet up with a couple of Italian friends that he knew in Lismore. Might have a couple of beers and then one day he went to Lismore and just collapsed and, in one of the shops in town, and died.
Leigh: Oh in town he died?
Carol: We inherited Sally.
Ray: Yeah we inherited his dog. He had a – yeah that’s a good story. Tell her about the horse, Paulledro. Remember when Dudley bought Paulledro?
Carol: From who?
Carol: Oh we bought it from deSorzi, oh right.
Ray: Yeah he had an old, part draught horse called Paulledro, who used to help him in the bananas. He had a wooden sled and the horse used to pull the sled with the bananas on to move them out of the plantation. Anyway, after he stopped doing the bananas Dudley said to him one day ‘oh what are you going to do with Paulledro?’ and he said ‘Do you wanna sell him?’ deSorzi said, ‘oh yeah, ok’. And he said ‘oh how much do you want for it?’ And he said, ‘you tell, what do you wanna pay?’ Dudley said – I can’t remember what – ‘300 dollars’ and he’s gone ‘no, no, no, no. Too much, too much’ [all laugh]. And Dudley said then ‘250’ and he said ‘no, no, no, too much’ [all laugh]. In the end I think he said oh ‘200, 200’, ‘ok, ok, 200’ [laughs].
Carol: I don’t remember that. And we loved Paulledro. Cause you could ride him bare back you could put the kids on him.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. Just a slow old plodder.
Carol: And Subhana and I, yes you could put a couple of kids on him and he was gorgeous. Then he got bitten by a snake we think. He died.
And the little dog.
Carol: We had the dog till she died.
Ray: She would come down to the house quite often on her own, she’d always walk down with deSorzi when he came down. But sometimes she’d just wander down on her own and she did hang around sometimes for a couple of days. And we’d feed her and give her water and stuff. So we kind of, we had a relationship with her already.