My great grandfather Bertie Peri, who’s Italian name was Giovanni Batista Peri (John the Baptist) came out in 1920 when he was only fifteen when he wanted to come out to Australia, but being so young he needed a guardian to travel with him.
Mr Pino Cominadi (whose descendants are still in the Ingham district, as is nonno’s) was his guardian and they came over to Australia together and their first job was cane cutting on the Adam’s and Blackburn family farms at Macknade in the year 1920.
The residents in the Ingham district at the time consisted of a few maltese a few spanish but mostly those with Italian heritage. Those who became cane cutters out at Halifax ended up living in a barracks together. Many stories have come from the Adam’s and Blackburn families especially how nonno loved Mrs Blackburn’s corn brisket and when nonno got married, he took his wife – Carmelina Toirrisi to the local butcher’s and he made sure his wife could make corn brisket like Mrs Blackburn did every Saturday. Still to this day, corn brisket became tradition amongst many families. In 1924,
One famous story of nonno’s was how Halifax at the time was busier than Ingham And the cane cutters all flocked to the area and had barracks to live in out there. One day nonno was riding a horse into Ingham when he came across a big suitcase in low grass and he didn’t know what to do, so he hid it better in long grass and didn’t say anything.
He came back to his home, It was a Saturday and he didn’t let on about his findings. On Sunday morning, he made an excuse that he had to go back into town to visit somebody. All the other cane cutters were asking why he had to go back to Ingham so soon after his return.
He said he had to go and went and picked up the big suitcase he had hidden in the long grass which proved to be quite a challenge to get on the back of his horse. He tried many different ways, pulled it up a tree even, and he finally got it up on the back of his horse and he took it into the Ingham Police Station.
When he got there, there was a man sitting there – once he saw nonno he ran towards him, he was a travelling salesman who had lost his suitcase. Nonno took it into the Police Station and they worked out the case belonged to a Mr Stevens – a commercial traveller.
Mr Stevens wanted to take nonno for a beer but nothing was open – Mr Stevens never forgot how nonno found his suitcase. He knew if he took his suitcase back to where he was staying with all his cane cutter mates in the barracks, they would want the stuff he had in his suitcase so he hid it.
I love sitting with my nanna and listening to the stories she has told us from when we were young… I think secretly she was impressed that I remembered some of the story… I love my nan and don’t have much free time but when I do I take the boys to see her. We have always been and will always be close.
Until next time 😘