Wye River’s heritage is dominated by one man – Paddy Harrington. His name is unknowingly spoken by the thousands who walk Paddy’s Path each year, as they walk the pretty link between Wye River and Separation Creek.
Few know about the real Pat Harrington and his impact on the two hamlets. How he was a skilled bushman as a teenager, a world champion wood chopper, story teller and craftsman. How he built scores of houses in the two hamlets, many of which survive today. How he owned most of the land in Separation Creek and how the twists of fate led him to lose the land and finally he died penniless in a draughty caravan on the banks of Separation Creek. He may have been penniless, but he was loved more dearly than anyone who has lived in the villages.
Here is separation Creek in the 1960s when fibro shacks were multiplying.
Pat’s story is the story of Wye River and Separation Creek.
The Harrington family held a lease of 1100 Acres in Wye and Sep from 1895. It was a rough and ready farm run by three Irish brothers including Pat’s father Pat Harrington senior, in the time before there was an Ocean Road. Pat was born in 1912, one of six children, and was orphaned at the age of 12. The girls were sent to live with relatives, but Pat hid for 4 days and stayed in Wye, growing up in the bush under the loose eyes of his two uncles.
Growing up he would help the family who were always short of cash. He would milk the cows, catch fish and set trap lines for rabbits. As a youngster, he took the farm produce twice a week through rough tracks to Apollo Bay.
In 1919 a severe bushfire destroyed most of Wye River but the Harringtons and their homestead survived.
With just the local mill and no local school for most of his childhood, he learned bush survival the hard way. Soon as a teenager he was a crack shot, a skilled axeman and knew how to harvest the sea and the bush animals for a feed.
For a few brief years from 1920, the local Wye River school was open, but for most years he was self-taught, and he opened his eyes to the outside world though books. Around this time, several local mills, once famous as the largest in the southern hemisphere closed in Wye River and Separation Creek. The 1923 flood wiped out the local mill Tram [click to continue…]