Bob Batchelor was
almost one of the countless "wardrobe poets" whose work never
gets published but we are fortunate that he has left a legacy of his work,
for he was in the process of putting together his first book when he died in
2000. His friends completed the task as a tribute to his memory.
Bill was born in
Mildura, Victoria in 1926, His parents were Gallipoli Landing
veteran Cyril Joseph Batchelor and WWI nurse Ida Mary (Billie) (nee Mason),
who after marrying, took up a soldier settlement block near Mildura.
Cyril later studied and moved into accountancy which paid well enough to
allow them to send their young son Bob to Melbourne Grammar school as a
At school, Bob
became a champion athlete but had a burning desire to become an Air Force
Pilot. By the time he was old enough to enlist, WWII was nearing its end and
the Air Force was already over staffed with pilots so Bob joined the Royal
Australian Navy. After a brief spell with officer's training School,
Bob decided that authority was not for him and so spent the remainder of the
war as a seaman in HMAS Yandra and HMAS Swan.
After the war, Bob
returned to Mildura to study accountancy with a view to joining his father,
but after 3 years discovered that this was far to sedate a life and at age
24 took up a position as a jackaroo at a Merino stud property in the
Riverina district where he met and became engaged to Jo Johnstone.
With a tradition of pioneering and facing hardships well endowed in his
genes, Bob went searching for a future in the farming industry, first trying
Queensland, but eventually settling on a bush block near Tambellup in the
Great Southern region of WA. Bob and Jo were married in Melbourne in
1953 and headed west, starting their married life in a masonite (similar
to heavy duty MDF) caravan. Over the next few years, Bob cleared the
land, built a shed and later a house. Fluctuating produce prices in
the 70s saw Bob working as a stock agent, later buying into local and
surrounding district stock, farming and fuel agencies. He also became
a local government councillor.
Bob still had a
desire to fly, and after learning how, in 1977 he bought himself a Cessna
which he flew for the following seven years. Unfortunately, his plane was
wrecked by a violent storm (fortunately for Bob, it was parked on the ground
at the time).
In 1985, Bob and Jo
separated and Bob moved to the city and into politics, becoming a country
organiser for the Liberal party, mainly in the seat of O'Conner held for
many years by Wilson "Ironbar" Tuckey.
After this interlude
in politics, Bob career changed several times, and over the next many years
he sold windmill parts, drove a truck, was a sales rep for a major hardware
company and in the last few years of his working life became the liaison and
membership officer with the WA Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile Bob had
found a new lady in his life, Susie Maslen, and after retirement he and
Susie took up the life of "geriatric gypsies", travelling and camping right
It was during this
time that Bob developed an interest in story telling and "Bush Poetry",
drawing, as most raconteurs do, on his life's experiences to inspire his
work. He, like many before him was not to let the truth get in the way of a
great story. It is unfortunate, that like many other "Bush Poets" of
the late 20th century, it was an interest that did not develop until after
retirement for I am sure that there were many many stories yet to come had
he the years to further develop his skill. In the late 1990s, Bill and Susie
settled back in Perth, Bob filling his spare time as chairman of "The Aged
Person's Support Service" in Perth's western suburbs, for which he was
awarded Cottesloe's "Citizen of the Year" award On Australia Day 1999.
Bob died in June,
2000, only a few weeks before his first book of poetry "I Called Him Bill"
was to be released.
His book contains 32
poems and was accompanied by a CD and cassette. In around 2008
the last remaining unsold sets of books and CDs were donated by their
copyright owners to the WA Blind Society who distributed them to various
libraries and other institutions.
efforts to contact the copyright owners, JA Maslen & CJ Maslen-Regan, I have
been unable to locate them, also I have not been able to find the publisher
listed in Bob's book (RJB Publishing [Bob Batchelor???]} consequently I will
be putting some of Bob's poems on this website so that all may enjoy the
work of this little known poet, without first getting permission.
Should the copyright owners object to this, please
inform me and I will remove them. - BL