Chifley's Pipe

When you visit Ben Chifley’s home in Busby Street you will be able to see many of the things that he used in his daily life. Some of them will seem rather ordinary and even old fashioned. Others are very special. For example look for the model DC3 airplane. It was given to Prime Minister Chifley on the occasion of the opening of the first commercial flight into Bathurst airport. Ask the guide to open it for you so you can see what is inside. It’s a pipe and tobacco holder.

DC3 Plane

This might seem like a strange present to give Mr Chifley. But he was well known to be a pipe smoker and so it was thought this might be a gift he would like to have. Mr Chifley did appreciate the gift and made good use of it. As well as this airplane pipe holder, a very special present, he was often given pipes and tobacco by his many friends and admirers. When he died, many people asked to have one of his pipes as a memento or keepsake to remember him by.

Ben Chifley’s pipe was very much his personal trademark. You will often see him holding or smoking his pipe in photographs and even in newspaper cartoons. Indeed, people seemed to like it that he was a pipe smoker. To smoke a pipe suggested to them that he was a thoughtful and caring man, a man who would not rush into doing rash and worrying things. As the 1940s was a worrying time with war and economic difficulties, it was good to have a thoughtful and caring man in charge of the country’s affairs.

Drawing of Ben Chifley in Office

But, why did smoking a pipe suggest a thoughtful and caring man? It’s difficult to answer this question. It may be because it was a way of smoking that was more popular with older men, with younger men and women more usually smoking cigarettes. Often times it was grandfathers who smoked pipes. Perhaps Mr Chifley reminded people of a kindly and wise grandfather, someone who was always there to help and advise. What do you think?

Mr Chifley is said to have given up cigarettes for a pipe in the 1930s on the advice of the Abercrombie Shire Clerk, who said it made one look more “trustworthy”. (Ben Chifley was a Councillor on the Abercrombie Shire Council, near Bathurst, at the time.) Mr Chifley also found that having a pipe allowed him an acceptable reason to pause and give thought while pondering a tricky question – filling and tamping the tobacco, lighting and drawing on the pipe – before answering. For the person asking the question, this delay in answering perhaps also suggested a thoughtful man.

Today, smoking is not encouraged. You are unlikely to find a photograph or video clip showing our present Prime Minister, or any important public figure, smoking a cigarette or a pipe. But in Ben Chifley’s time, smoking was socially acceptable and was not known to be the cause of health problems.

For Australians of his time, Chifley’s pipe was a symbol of his character and values, especially his caring attitude towards others. His pipe offered a message that here was a man who we can rely on and trust. His pipe was symbolic of his character; it was his badge or emblem. (A symbol is something representing something else. For example, the kangaroo is often used as a symbol of Australia’s special character, from the flying kangaroo on Qantas airplanes to the boxing kangaroo flag at sporting events.)

But, do people today have the same view of pipes and pipe smokers? What does a pipe mean to you? If a person today smokes a pipe, what might it mean to you?

Cartoon publish on Ben Chifley's DeathCan you see how an object – such as Mr Chifley’s pipe – might have different meanings? Over time? To different people? Why might that happen?

When you visit Chifley Home, look carefully at the many objects on display and listen to the stories you are told about Ben Chifley. What sort of man do you think he was? Can you find an object in the house that tells you something about Mr Chifley and what was special about him? Why did you pick this object?





Ration Book Recipes - Making Do

With food in short supply, people used recipes that required limited ingredients or used small amounts of rationed foods, were creative in making alternatives to more expensive items and also ensured that there was no waste. Bread in particular was used to the last crumb in a variety of ways.

Kitchen at 10 Busby Street

Welsh Rarebit (serves 4)
40 grams stale bread crusts, 4 tablespoons of milk, 50 grams grated cheese, 1 teaspoon mustard,
1 teaspoon salt, Pinch of pepper, 15 grams butter,4 rounds of toast

Soak the stale crusts in water and squeeze them out. Put the soaked crusts into a bowl and add the milk, half the cheese, salt, pepper and mustard. Stir until well mixed. Melt butter in a saucepan then add bread and cheese mixture. Stir well and cook until hot. Spread the mixture on the rounds of toast. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the toast and grill until the topping is light brown. Serve hot.

Bread and Milk
1 ¼ cups milk, 1 thick slice of bread, 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Remove the crusts and cut into squares and place in bowl. Heat milk in a saucepan, add sugar and pour over bread. Alternatively, sprinkle sugar over the bread and milk. Serve hot.

Bread Pudding
Grease a small pie dish. Put two tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs into a basin and add 2/3 cup of heat milk. Add one tablespoon sugar. Stir the yolk of an egg into the milk and breadcrumbs. Beat the egg white until stiff and stir into the mixture. Pour into a small, greased pie dish. Stand the dish in a baking dish containing cold water and bake in a slow oven for about 10 – 15 minutes or until set. Serve hot or cold.

Christmas Pudding (without eggs)
Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 cup sugar, half a cup suet, 1 cup mixed dried fruit and 1 teaspoon mixed spice. Add 1 cup grated potato, 1 cup finely grated carrot and a level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot milk. Mix all together, turn into a well greased pudding basin. Boil or steam for 4 hours.

Place the crusts of bread and very stale pieces on a tray in a very slow oven and allow them to dry thoroughly. Crush on a board with a rolling pin until very fine and store in a glass bottle.

Quick clean for the mincer. Run a small quantity of stale bread through the machine. It will clean the blades and dislodge pieces of fat and gristle wedged in the fine knives.

Alternative recipes where the usual ingredients were unavailable:

Baked custard (when eggs are scarce)
Boil sago or rice in milk, or water and milk, thicken with custard powder and sprinkle with grated nutmeg. Bake until brown on top.

Mock Apricot Filling (for tarts)
Grated carrot, plum jam and almond flavouring.

Mock Chutney
Mix Worcestershire sauce with apricot jam. Add a few raisins, soaked in a little warm water.

Mock Cream
Soften 1/2lb margarine in basin with 1 tablespoon boiling milk. Add ½ cup castor sugar and beat to cream for 5 minutes. Dissolve ½ teaspoon gelatine in cup with 2 tablespoons boiling water. Gradually add to creamed mixture until light and fluffy. Flavour with vanilla.

Mock Duck
Fry one medium disced onion in good ounce butter. Add one large peeled tomato, ½ teaspoon or more salt, ½ teaspoon herbs, one large well beaten egg. Delicious spread on toast or used as a sandwich filling.

Mock Maple Syrup
Mix 2 tablespoons of golden syrup with a tablespoon of honey, a teaspoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of boiling water. Stir well and serve hot.

Mock Raspberry Jam
9lb melon minced. Stand all night then strain off juice. Add 6lbs sugar, boil till it jells. Add 11/2 bottles raspberry cordial extract and 1 tin raspberry jam. Bring to boil. Bottle while hot.

Mock Sausages
Boil 1 cup of rolled oats in ¾ cup of salted water for 15 minutes, then add finely chopped onion for flavour. Mix well and empty into a basin. When cool, add 1 beaten egg, pepper and herbs to taste, 1 cup breadcrumbs. Shape into sausages, roll in flour and fry in deep boiling fat until golden brown.

Mock Yorkshire Puddings
Thick slices of stale bread put around the roast beef for the last 15 minutes or so makes an excellent substitute for Yorkshire Pudding. Remove most of the fat before adding the bread and turn a couple of times to brown nicely.

Homemade Cordials:

Ginger Beer
To make a ginger beer plant, place in jug or china basin (do not use metal) ½ cup sugar, 1 dessertspoon ground ginger, juice of one lemon and almost 1 quart water. Cover with net and allow to stand for 3 days. Pour off almost all liquid and feed for 4 days with 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon ginger each day, stirring after each addition. Use the plant by putting 4 quarts water, 4 cups sugar, juice 4 lemons, 2 dessertspoons ginger and the plant into a large dish. Cover and leave until the next day, stirring occasionally. Strain and bottle but do not stir before bottling. Ready for drinking in about 3 days after bottling. Residue in dish is the plant, which should be fed as before, but feeding should be continued for 7 days instead of 4 before making the beverage. Plant (really fungus) increases in size after each making and, after about 6 lots, can be halved to form 2 separate plants.

Homemade Passiona
Remove the pulp from eight or more passionfruit into a fair-sized jug and add two teaspoons of citiric acid. Bring two cups of sugar and a pint of water to the boil and pour over the contents of the jug: when cold, strain and bottle. Two or three tablespoons to a glass of water makes a delicious drink.


Bathurst Remembers

Today Ben Chifley is remembered in all sorts of ways in and around Bathurst.  The most important memories of Ben are those which were directly associated with him during his lifetime – these include his home and its original belongings in Busby Street, the engine he drove when he worked for the railways, and his grave in the Bathurst cemetery.   

Chifley has also be remembered through various memorials including a housing estate with its bronze bust of Ben located in West Bathurst, a stone sculpture memorial near the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre, and a pre-school named after his wife, Elizabeth.  There is also the Chifley Dam and businesses such as a hotel and a retirement village that have been named after him.



10 Busby Street
1. Chifley Home
(House Museum)
Ben Chifley Bust
2. Housing Estate &
Chifley Bust
Chifley gravesite
3. Bathurst
Chifley Gravesite
Chifley Engine
4. Chifley Engine
Chifley Memorial
5. Chifley Memorial
Lighthouse Lamp
6. Light on the Hill
Annual Dinner
Chifley Dam
7. Chifley Dam
Elizabeth Chifley Preschool
8. Elizabeth Chifley
Chifley Retirement Village
9. Chifley
Retirement Village
Chifley Motel
10. Chifley Motel
Chifley Hotel
11. Chifley Hotel
Lizzie's Restaurant
Chifley Street Sign
12. Chifley Place

Oral History

Oral History
Conducting an oral history interview with some one who lived in the 1940's is an excellent way to understand what life was like at that time. The collection of oral histories brings the past to life by creating a picture of the past through a person's own words of their lived experiences.

An oral history is the collection of historical information based on an individual's spoken thoughts and recollections of their personal experience. Although modern oral histories are associated with audio or video recording, all cultures have a tradition of story telling that enables the collective memories of events to be passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.

Often conducted as an interview where questions are used to scaffold the direction of the speaker's presentation, an oral history may also be a presentation on a given topic whereby the speaker chooses the thoughts, recollections, feelings and emotions that they wish to share.


How to conduct an oral history

1. Know the purpose
  • brainstorm prior knowledge to identify the topic
  • determine whether interested in a person’s life, a place, an object, an event or a more general topic
  • find out as much as possible about the topic
2. Identify sources of information
  • identify an appropriate interviewee
  • contact the interviewee to explain the purpose of the interview and the type of information you are seeking
  • if they are agreeable, organise an appropriate date, time and place for the interview
  • ensure sufficient time before the interview to enable the interviewee to think about the topic and to locate any items they may wish to bring to the interview
3. Agreement to use collected information and to record the interview
  • if you intend to record the interview for further use, you should explain your intentions to the interviewee when you are organising the interview and seek their permission to do so. Recording enables attention to be focused on the interviewee, what is being said and how it is said during the interview.
  • make your purpose very clear to the interviewee so that they know how the collected information will be used.
  • confirm your agreement in a written copyright release form similar to the following:

I, …. (Interviewee’s name) …. Give my permission to …. (name of interviewer or project) …… to record this interview via audio/video recording and to use it, or part of it, for ………… (insert purpose) ……….. and for copies to be lodged in …. (name of library or archive) …… for use by other bona fide researchers.

Signed: ……………………………………….. (Interviewee)

Date: ………………………..

Interviewer: ……………………………..

4. Preparing for the interview
  • research background information about the interviewee
  • prepare questions to guide your interview: orientation questions that identify the interviewee and obtain an overview of their personal history in relation to the topic being discussed
  • prepare topic questions avoiding closed questions that can result in “yes” or “no” answers
  • practise questioning techniques including probing questions (Why? What? How? When? What did you feel? What did you think about …..?) to elicit additional information
  • select, test and practise using equipment
5. Conducting the interview
  • organise room and equipment
  • don’t talk too much – the important person is the interviewee and their information
  • be sensitive and responsive to the interviewee
  • at the conclusion, ask if there is anything else the interviewee wanted to discuss – organise another time if necessary and also ask if there is anyone else who might be an appropriate interviewee
  • thank the interviewee for their time and contribution to your research
6. Following the interview
  • debrief on the presentation
  • label the recording with identifying information and determine how it is to be used – transcribed or notes taken whilst listening
  • determine how the information is to be used ensuring that this is in accordance with the agreement made with the intervieweewrite a thank you letter to express your appreciation of the interviewee’s time and support of your project. If possible, provide them with a copy of the recording or a transcript of the interview for any further comments and invite them to any presentation planned in response to the interview