June 1981 was cold and very wet. My job involved both the delivery of the census forms to all the people in my designated area prior to Census night, and their collection after completion, so I spent a lot of time on the road. My two daughters, aged eleven and ten at the time, were eager to help. I gave them each a day off school to assist me in the delivery of the forms. The older one and I had an uneventful day, but the younger one experienced a day which both she and I have no trouble recalling nearly forty years later.
One of my neighbours, a long-time local, warned me of a dry weather road in my calling area which could be impassable in the wet. He described the road as near “So & So's” house. I took note and we set off for the day.
All went smoothly until, somewhere in the back blocks of Glenrowan, I called at a farmhouse to find no one at home. I left a note then went on my way, turning into the nearby road. I had driven a few hundred yards when I noticed the road had narrowed and there was water on either side.
Realising there was nowhere for me to turn safely and not trusting my reversing ability, I drove on, saying to my daughter “I'll drive so you pray!” The water was continuing to rise, the road disappearing. Eventually we came to a stop.
Opening my door, with water pouring in, I decided we needed to walk back to the house and hope someone had returned and could assist us. We cut across the paddocks as they were drier. Unfortunately, my daughter's gumboots had filled with water and I was unaware that she was barefoot. She ran ahead and started to climb through a fence when she screamed. There was one electrified strand and she had a burn mark across her back, which must have been painful.
Luckily, the farmer was at home. He very generously ignored my stupidity, got out his tractor and pulled us through to the other side, before ensuring the car was able to start again. It appears that his house had been “So & So's” house many years ago but, two owners later, was still known as such.
We gratefully set out for home. The car behaved beautifully. The journey home was silent, apart from the water still inside the car splashing about! I was busy offering prayers of thanks, while my daughter was just happy to be on her way home.
Strange to say, none of my children offered to assist at future Census times, even though they would have scored a day off school!