Grubbing Lantana



Joyce.OverflowThe Overflow Homestead

(from the Collection of Michael Joyce)

My dad Edgar de Burgh Joyce had a property “The Overflow” between Boonah and Beaudesert.  I would have been about nine years old at the time the Italian POWs came to work on the property.  We were mainly grazing with dairying, potatoes, melons, pumpkins and lettuce, but the Italians had nothing to do with the breeding and fattening of the cattle.

From memory, we would have had several gangs of men who came to do hard manual work.  Grubbing lantana with mattocks, ring barking and pulling burrs was the work they did.  We didn’t have a tractor, only horse and plough.  They would have to walk 1 – 2 miles to get to the paddock they were working in.  I got the feeling that if they had had enough, they would leave and walk back to Boonah, about 16 miles.

They lived in a self-contained cottage (the old stockmen’s quarters) down the hill from our house.  They looked after their own meals as they had a kitchen but we did go down to them for a feed of spaghetti.  I still remember a few words of Italian eg gallina for hen,  uovo (warwar) for egg,  bambini mocca for milk calf.

The Italians also helped in the vegetable garden.  It was about 1 acre so we always had lots of fresh salads and vegetables for them.  Another of their jobs was to take the five house cows down to the oats paddock in the morning.  They could only be left there for 10 minutes so Mum lent Tony (Antonio Macchitella)  her watch to keep time.  Tony told us he lost the watch but we never believed him.  He was a cheeky fellow, always answering with a YES YES YES and came across as being overly eager to please.


Boonah Macchitella, Antonio

Prisoner of War/Internee,  Macchitella, Antonio

(National Archives of Australia NAA: MP 1103/2, 64632)


But the Italians weren’t seen as our enemy.  They just got involved in a war that had nothing to do with them.

Michael Joyce


Boonah.The Overflow (3)The Overflow Homestead

(from the collection of Michael and Jan Joyce)


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