Vale Joyce Hunter

Joyce was born at the Vale of Clwydd, in 1933, the first child of Jack and Edith Sykes, and the fourth generation descendant of John and Elizabeth Colley, early pioneers of Lithgow. 

Joyce lived in Lithgow in her early years, attending Lithgow Primary. She rode a small bike to school. The family moved to a dairy at Marangaroo in 1939. The cows were milked by hand early in the morning, her mother delivered the milk to Lithgow and her father would go to work at the Hermitage mine. It was while living at Marangaroo that the family heard that WWII had begun.

The family then moved to Glen Davis, where Joyce's father worked in the shale mines. The family lived in Bag town, a two roomed bag and iron shack. Joyce attended the local tent school.

The family moved to Mount Lambie in 1941, to a 200 acre property named ‘Mount View’. Over time Joyce's parent built a home from off-cuts of pine logs from the Wallerawang box factory and lined it with bags which made it comfortable. Joyce had to carry water from the spring to the house. They used kerosene for lighting, because there was no power supply. They travelled to Portland by horse and sulky for supplies.

Joyce earned pocket money by ferreting for rabbits, with her brother John and picking peas. Picking peas was a whole family task, and where Joyce would get sun-burnt on her legs from wearing dresses while pea picking. Her schooling now was at Meadow Flat, where the four children walked the four miles to school. Later there father brought a horse for the children to ride to school. Joyce did not have a high school education but stayed at Meadow Flat School until she was 14 and 9 months.

In 1948 Joyce’s first job was at ‘Karoo’, Meadow Flat, doing house work for the manager's wife. It was here mum learnt to be diligent and always reminded us about doing a job properly.

Joyce met Alec Hunter in 1949 when she was sent to the Hunter's farm to buy cherries. Alec was in the orchard picking cherries, and being a larrikin started pelting cherries at Joyce as she passed by. They were engaged the following year, and two years later married at Cooerwull Presbyterian Church at Dunn’s Corner.

Alec and his brother Harry, built the family home at ‘Springfield’, Mount Lambie and then the three children were born. Jim first, then Colin and Deborah.

Joyce wanted to further her education and so during the early 1960s, while the children were still young she went to the Technical College in Mort St and did a dressmaking course. This was the beginning of her crafting. 

Joyce was very talented in whatever she did. Dressmaking, Cake decorating, painting, crotchet, knitting, calligraphy and porcelain doll making. She was a perfectionist, good enough, wasn't good enough for her.

Whatever she did she put her whole heart into it, and had all the gadgets to do the craft. She liked to sell some of the things she had made and would have stalls at different events. She enjoyed taking her stall to Rydal Daffodils, and this year Rydal Daffodils was dedicated in  memory of her and the flag was flying at half mast for the official opening.

Over the years Joyce went out to work: she did 12 months at the small arms factory in 1969, then worked at the Mt Lambie cafe as a cook for a number of years and she also did dress making. She worked hard in the apple packing shed each year, and helped Alec around the farm when required. 

Joyce and Alec didn't travel much, but in 1988 they did a coach tour of New Zealand and had a wonderful time, unfortunately Alec passed away six weeks later.

Joyce then travelled to England, Scotland and Europe and said she had a marvelous time.

In 2004 Joyce moved to Bathurst, to a smaller home, which she still managed to fill with nick nacks, gadgets and other odds and ends. She has shared her life since Alec's passing with a number of budgies, which she has endeavored to teach to talk. They have been great company for her.

Joyce would say she did not have the best of health, and as the children grew up she seemed always to be either in hospital or unwell for one reason or another, and over time had numerous surgeries. The family are grateful for the wonderful care that Joyce received for the five weeks in which she was a resident of St Cath's aged care facility in Bathurst and that she had been able to live independently at home, with assistance, until June this year.

Joyce is survived by her children, Jim and Kerry (Bathurst), Colin and Vivien (Mount Lambie), Deborah (Singleton), four grandchildren, four great grandchildren and a sister Doreen Peters (Hartley Vale).