Rupert Colman Curnow (continued)
The unsettling nature of military service, living in the harsh deserts of the Middle East, the stress of military service – often under enemy fire – being wounded and hospitalized in Jerusalem, had disturbing effects on him and many who served in the First World War. This was not conducive for Rupert to return to study medicine at Melbourne University.
He decided to apply for a parcel of land that was being offered to soldiers returning from overseas service in the 1914-18 war under the “Soldier Settlement Scheme”. This was designed to give the men returning from active service a parcel of land to develop and make a living.
As many had no experience of life on the land, they had to spend 12 months gaining some knowledge of the land. The year 1921 saw him spend 12 months jackarooing on the famous “Overflow Station”, a 50,000-acre property in Central NSW highlighted in some of Banjo Patterson’s poems and stories. The ‘Overflow Station’ was situated North West of Condobolin at Bobadah to Nymagee south of the Nyngan Cobar section of the Barrier Highway.
In August 1922, he was granted 400 acres at Biggara east of Corryong Victoria under the “Soldier Settlement Scheme” to take immediate possession.
On the 16th of November 1923, he married Eileen Adeline Purcell, originally from Limavady Northern Ireland, at St John’s Church of England in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne.
There were no buildings on the land so he and Eileen lived in a tent for the first eighteen months while building a two-room slab cottage in which to live. In 1929, while living in the cottage, Rupert and Eileen had a daughter Kathleen Mary who died shortly after birth. In 1932 a son, Kenneth Rupert Murray, was born.
Rupert was elected to the Upper Murray Shire Council in 1929. Five years later, in 1934 ill health due to general debilitation through war service and severe asthma attacks, which first became evident in the deserts of Palestine through 1917-1919, and compounded at Biggara, caused he and Eileen to leave the Biggara property. It was to be for a period to seek medical attention, and a neighbour was left to share farm the dairy.
They moved to his father’s residence at “The Olives” in Buckland Street (now known as Rosanna Road) Heidelberg, a suburb of Melbourne. With medical attention, his health improved and he was appointed to the board of the Army Repatriation Commission, assisting returning military personnel being repatriated from service in the Second World War 1939-45.
In 1944 Rupert contested the Federal Parliamentary seat of Corio, in Geelong Victoria, as the United Australia Party candidate. At that time, the United Australia Party was led by Sir Robert Menzies who later became Prime Minister of Australia from 1949 until 1965.
The United Australia Party changed its name to the Liberal Party in 1946, and it still bears that name today. The sitting member for Corio was John Dedmann, Deputy Prime Minister in the Curtin war time Labour government, who eventually retained the seat at the 1944 election.
In 1947, Rupert contested the Victorian State Government seat of Ivanhoe as the Liberal Party candidate, winning the seat by a large majority, and he entered the Victorian State Parliament.
Rupert was an active member of the Ivanhoe branch of the Liberal Party. His friends of this period were many of the ex-servicemen and women he had assisted in their repatriation from military service. Some of the people he helped became noted identities in both the civilian and the political fields through the years following the war.