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This Australian Women’s Land Army jacket and hat belonged to Mabel Keppie

She was born Mabel Ransley at Woodburn near Lismore she was a twin and one of ten children. She grew up on a farm where she had a great love for horses and fishing. Mabs had to leave school early when her father died to become a maid and carer of a child in Sydney.


In 1942 Mabs joined the Land Army. Her first posting was to a sheep station near Deniliquin. She was required to gather the wool and stuff it into bags then tramp it down. The girls were often left at the station with just the owners son. When the wife of the owner who lived in Melbourne found this out, she was not happy and stated that it was certainly unacceptable.


As a result Mabs went to Arrowfield, a mixed farm in the Hunter Valley. This was an extremely hard posting and eventually Mabs left. In 1943 Mabel arrived in Paterson, being appointed to “Brisbane Grove” where she worked for the Parish family. Here she took on the workload of Mrs Parish who was expecting a baby. At least she was on a dairy farm again, hand milking the cows, fencing, hay making, corn cutting and also working with horses.


It was here that she met Bill Keppie, her future husband. Bill has been quoted as saying “she certainly took my eye! I used to take her to the pictures at the Palace Theatre in Maitland.” Once the baby was born Mabs was no longer needed and was moved to a sheep and cattle station at Lake Cargelligo.


In 1945 she was discharged from the Land Army and returned to Paterson to work as a maid and waitress at the Court House Hotel where she met up with Bill. They were married at Paterson in 1947 and made their home at Glenlossie, Bill’s property at Martin’s Creek where they raised 4 children.


Bill and Mabel were foundation members of the Paterson Historical Society, the Court House Museum and Friends of Tocal. Mabel Keppie was the kind of woman who was always ready to lend a hand. Mabs died in 2012.


What better way to end her story than a quote from her daughter, “my mother was a multi-talented lady, a quiet achiever, who got on with things in her unassuming way.”

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