Obituary: Nancy Elizabeth Seale – Nancy’s wonderful life


Nancy Elizabeth Seale, nee Barton, 1927-2021. Photo contributed

Nancy was the eldest daughter of Russell and Betty Barton. She was born in Wilcannia in 1927, when Russell was managing nearby Salisbury Downs for Sidney Kidman. A year later, Russell and his brother Lyle were successful in a land ballot, drawing a 45,000-acre subdivision off “Nocoleche”, which they named “Salt Lake”. This became the Barton home for the next seven years.

Although luxuries were few and far between during these Depression years, the bonus at their new home was a flowing artesian bore, and Nancy fondly remembered her time there, with her siblings Alan, Lyle, Marion, and Toby.

In 1934, after baby Toby’s tragic death, the family relocated to “town” as it was called – to a home in Darling Street, Bourke. A new baby, Barrie, joined the family the following year. At the age of seven, this was the first time Nancy had received any formal education. She enjoyed swimming and gained her silver and bronze lifesaving medals. The training and exams were held in the river, at the old punt crossing near the present-day wharf – well before the construction of the local swimming pool.

Nancy attended school in Bourke until about sixteen. One of the highlights of her school years was a 7-day train trip for children living in remote areas, from Sydney to Brisbane and back. The cost was £5, which was an average weekly pay in those days.

After leaving school, she joined her parents at “Wongareena”, helping with the mustering and shearing. But by this time her two older brothers had joined the defence forces – Alan in the RAAF and Lyle in the army – so the family moved to Sydney for the duration of the war. Russell worked at Garden Island dockyards and the family were close by when the boys were on leave in the city. Nancy tried nursing, then spent three years working at Kodak in the city, then at a photographic studio.


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