RECONNECTION: Rick Pressland and Andrew Bingley at Presslands Road Reids Creek.
RECONNECTION: Rick Pressland and Andrew Bingley at Presslands Road Reids Creek. Rick Pressland

Aussie reunion for long lost relatives

THE Gayndah spring race meet was a day for fashion, punting, and for long awaited meetings.

Binjour resident Andrew Pressland had the chance to meet for the first time his English relative, Andrew Bingley.

What connects the two men is a story involving loss and new beginnings on the Australia frontier nearly one hundred years ago.

Mr Pressland's grandfather and Mr Bingley's mother were English born siblings, by the names of Aleck Pressland and Constance respectively.

Aleck, Constance and their sister Florence were children who were struck by tragedy early in their lives, losing their parents in 1918 and 1920.

Following their passing, the siblings were separated to live with different family members in London and Nottingham, with Aleck going to live with his aunt and uncle.

Aleck's life faced further turmoil after his aunt passed in 1924, and ended up living up a Barnados orphanage, unsure where life was going to take him.

Seeking new horizons and a fresh beginning, Aleck ventured to Australia in 1925 to work as a farm hand, never to see his sisters again.

Speaking to his grandson Rick Pressland, he believes a journey such as this would've been a massive culture shock.

"You hear a lot of horror stories of some of those kids who came to Australia and Canada from England," Rick said.

"Knowing no one, and arriving in a place so strange and unfamiliar, it would've been hard for my grandfather."

Upon his arrival he was taken in by the Price family at Philpot, and worked on the dairy farm there.

Through hard work and perseverance, the family helped Aleck purchase his farm at Gurgeena.

Thriving in the Australian bush, Aleck married his wife Dulcie Rahmann in 1943, giving birth to his son Graham in 1944.

They prospered in the North Burnett, purchasing farms at Reids Creek and Ban Ban, before Aleck passed away in 1975.

Even though they never saw each other again, Aleck and his sisters kept in touch by letters.

This tradition continued after all the siblings passed away, with Constance's son Andrew (cousin of Graham) and Rick keeping in touch over emails and letters.

Following their retirement, Andrew and his wife Jackie finally ventured to Australia, to reconnect and see their relatives for the first time.

"Once they told us this, we were looking for somewhere to take them which showed the real Australia," Rick said.

"And it just so happened that the Gayndah races fell on that weekend."

Being their first time at a country race meet, Andrew and his wife Jackie were in awe of the race meet.

"They've been raving ever since, saying it was one of the best days out they've ever had".

For the remainder of their time, the Presslands reminisced about their relative Aleck, heading to some of the local places where he lived and his family farmed.

"People didn't talk a lot about their history back then, it was something they usually kept to themselves.

"It was good for Andrew and Jackie to come over, and for us to finally reconnect the family after all these years."