(This story of Huldah Mary Turner, eldest daughter of Alfred and Esther Sneddon, has been compiled from notes written by her in 1996.)

Huldah was born at Woolomol (Tamworth) 23 September 1906. This was her mother’s 18th birthday.
She lived on "Burnhead" Farm near Tamworth with her parents and younger sister,

Huldah Mary Turner (nee Sneddon)
Dorothy, until the death of Alfred’s father, James Sneddon. When the property was disposed of, they had to leave, penniless, as Alfred was left nothing of the estate.

The family moved to Barraba, NSW, where Alfred went into partnership with a Mr. Brown in a sub-artesian bore venture.

It was here that she remembers rescuing Dorrie (sister Dorothy), then just a tiny tot, from drowning in a tub of water.

It was during this time that her father took ill and entered Lewisham Hospital (Sydney) for surgery. On his return, he found the bore venture had gone into bankruptcy due to the roguery of his partner. Solicitors advised Alfred not to take action as "you cannot get blood out of a stone!"

Her next memory is living in a house at Hallsville (near Tamworth) next door to the Methodist Church.

There, at the age of seven years, she first went to school (as was the case in many of these country areas, a one-teacher school). She was immediately placed in Third Class.

"Mother must have taught me to read and write. I remember, on my first day at the school, being given books to read before I was put into Third Class. Also, years later, a letter turned up written by me to Father in hospital before I went to school. In this letter I told him Mother had bought a mersheen (sewing machine) and that I wanted him home soon because I wanted to marry him."

Soon after this they moved into Tamworth where Huldah went to the Primary Section of the Dominican Convent, Tamworth. It was here that she learned to play the violin which became so much a part of her life.

"I don’t know when or in what order Father went share-farming to Upper and Lower Dungowan (out of Tamworth). Here there were only one-teacher schools. Between the two periods we returned briefly to Tamworth, but I don’t remember the intervals."

She goes on to say that at some time in these years they lived in Carrington, Newcastle, as her Father was working at the Steel Works.

"It was during the time of the Small-Pox epidemic (about 1915) and it was while we were here that we learned that Uncle Isaac Sneddon (Father’s brother) had died of wounds in Egypt. I went to the Carrington Convent School and had some music lessons there.

"Anyway, at both Dungowan’s I attended one-teacher schools and in 1916 did my first Q.C. I was to young for a bursary, so sat again the following year and got one.

"We moved into Tamworth and I went back to the Dominican Convent Tamworth High School. There I sat for my Intermediate Exam in 1920 and scored 8 A’s and 1 B.

"When Mother trained for nursing in 1923, I was placed, with Dorrie, into boarding-school, where I did my Leaving Certificate in 1923. I had one 1st class Hons in English (second in the State, and first in all the State’s private schools), two 2nd class Hons (History and French), 2 A’s (Maths I and II) and a B in Latin."

Huldah attended Sydney University as a student from 1924 to 1928.

She went there with an Exhibition to the Faculty of Medicine and a NSW State Bursary, but as she was too poor to buy the necessary books and instruments for the medical course, and would not have been able to buy a medical practice after graduation, she switched to the Faculty of Arts.

"In those days there was only one woman doctor in New South Wales and there was no such thing as working for two years in a hospital after graduation.

"I studied the Arts, majoring in English, Latin, with other subjects -- Philosophy, Psychology, Mathematics, History (for my B.A. Degree) and English IV and Education Teaching Methods, etc, for my Post-Graduate Dip.Ed. Degree.

"During 1927-1928 I taught in a Private School part-time (Brigidine Convent, Randwick) and spread the Dip.Ed. over two years."

Following her graduation Huldah was to teach in many high schools around the State.

In 1944 she completed her M.A.(Hons 2 English) with a thesis on Finnegans Wake.

In 1949 she sat for and passed the L.A.S.A. Exam at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Licentiate Art of Speech Association).

In 1950 she was appointed to Burwood Girls’ High School and almost immediately was reappointed to the Armidale Teachers’ College as lecturer in English.

In 1951 Huldah was promoted to Newcastle Teachers’ College as Head of the English Department, and Lecturer in English, Speech and Drama.

In 1964 she was appointed Deputy Principal of the College and in 1966 was made Acting Principal, and was nominated to Newcastle University Council where she served from 1966-1972. (My note: At that time it was unheard of that a female could be Principal, so they left her as Acting Principal, even though there was no Principal.)

Huldah retired from the Newcastle Teachers’ College in 1967.

But she was never one to sit on the sidelines watching others perform.

During her career she produced many plays, coached a successful Basketball team, addressed gatherings, judged competitions, etc.

Although Huldah approached all this with her usual zeal, music was probably her one real passion.


She was an advanced player of the violin (top-grade of Sydney Conservatorium of Music), and played solo, orchestra, chamber groups, and anywhere that music lovers gathered. It was only failing sight that called a halt to all this.

"I began playing at seven years of age, and remember performing one night at the old Tamworth open-air picture theatre. In Newcastle I was leader of the Newcastle Conservatorium Senior Chamber Group, and for 14 years was leader of a private string quartet."

Huldah married Joseph Vincent Turner, a widower with four children, on 10 August, 1958.

Retirement to Huldah was simply an opportunity to pursue more activities.

She undertook the organisation of Youth Education Seminars run by Robert Lippman of Sydney. She did this for some years before severe surgery curtailed her activities.

Still not one to take things easy, she continued to occupy herself with all kinds of crafts -- silvercraft, screen printing, pottery, sketching, lapidary, hand and machine knitting, and many others.

She loved to write poetry, some of which was published and won awards.

Huldah belonged to many organisations: Women Graduates Assoc. (Honorary life Member); Friends of the University of Newcastle; Convocation of the University of Newcastle; Life Member of the Convocation of Sydney University; Member of University Women’s Group; Member of Lake Macquarie Poetry Society; Justice of the Peace in NSW; Fellowship of Australian Writers; and numerous others.

During her hectic life Huldah managed to visit such places as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. With husband Joe she visited New Zealand and Norfolk Island. In 1983 she enjoyed a flight over Antarctica (the last before the Erebus disaster).
Huldah and Joe managed to fit in a 25,000 mile (approx 40,000 kms), 7 month trip around Australia in a Kombi van. (She kept a diary and later wrote a book about this adventure - never published.)

Huldah was an accomplished concert violinist.

They made a number of trips to Central Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia. They travelled on the Indian-Pacific as well as the legendary Ghan.

Right up until her death at the age of 99 (a couple of months short of 100), and with old age taking its toll, Huldah was a very stimulating woman with whom to hold a conversation.

There is so much to be said about this remarkable woman that I can only touch upon the extremities of an illustrious career that, when the time comes to recognise the roles of pioneering women, Huldah should be well up the list.

I believe there can be no doubt that her enormous drive and the successes she achieved had an influence on the part that women play in our society today.