The Battler

By Billy Jupp

Darkness, uncertainty and hunger, three words that describe any child’s life during the Great Depression. The inescapable poverty of the time made living anywhere in the world nearly unbearable.

Stanley holidaying in Thailand with close friend Kerry Rowden

Stanley holidaying in Thailand with close friend Kerry Rowden

But Stanley Jupp grew up in that time and like everybody else from that generation, he learned to become a survivor.

He typifies the ‘Australian battler’.

Born in 1936, Stan dealt grew up in some of history’s darkest times. The great depression set a bleak scene, but with the Second World War not far behind, Stanley learnt to lean on his two older brothers Harry and David, while their father Walter went to war for the second time in his life.

Despite the tough times Stan still feels he was blessed, “There was so many worse off than us, we were lucky that Australia wasn’t as badly hit as say England and we just did what we had to do.”

What they had to do involved leaving school early to try and make money wherever possible. “Selling newspapers to the visiting American soldiers was our first start, but we grew from there.”

His brother David also reflects warmly on the odd jobs the boys did to make enough to get by.

“We just kept trying to do a little better each time, whether it be selling something to buy seeds to grow our own food or getting equipment to make the process easier. It was a lot of fun, that wouldn’t happen today”.

Despite trying to get as much as they could for themselves both Dave and Stan agree that the one memory that stands out is being “bloody hungry”.

“We were desperate because we weren’t just hungry. We were also bloody scared of invasion from the Japanese,” said Dave.

“But we did prevail and moved out to where I’m currently living now [in] Research. Mum chose it to keep us as far out of trouble as possible,” said Stan.

And it was in Research (a North Eastern suburb 30km from Melbourne) where Stan’s passion for farming and agriculture was born.

“I really have been farming on and off for probably more than 60 years, as Research was essentially the bush when we got there. I’ve probably got more than my fair share of funny stories to tell too.”

Working on a farm comes with risks and dangers, lessons Stanley knows all too well and has learnt firsthand. “Yeah, having a tractor fall on top of me when I was just a young bloke is less than ideal. I only discovered it gave me a fractured vertebra about 5 years ago,” Stan joked.

The first form of farming Stanley entered into was pig farming. “I started working with dad on the farm at home when I was about 14. It was hard work sometimes without much success but I did get breaks to go off and play football and cricket so it wasn’t all bad.”

Hard labour was to become a source of income for Stan. He left home at 16 to join a road building crew and “that was bloody hard work”, he said.

“They had me on the shovel all day and gave me a tent to camp in at night. It was great; I saw so much of the bush and I really learnt how to use a shovel,” he joked.

“But it wasn’t all bad. My old man used to work a lot harder. If you ever complained all he’d say was: ‘you blokes don’t know you’re alive’”.

Stan was soon to find out though that the money he had earned while working with the road crew had been sent home and spent by his mother “I was gutted to tell you the truth I mean all that hard work was for nought, I never did find out how she spent the money”.

With that in mind Stan fought the first of series of setbacks by picking himself up and dusting himself off in true battler tradition and strove to make the pig farm a success.

However the success of the pig farm was hard fought and at times short lived.

In his early days of pig farming he worked with another pig farmer, and soon enough fell in love with the farmer’s daughter, Mary and married her.

“It was pretty informal really, feelings just progressed and before you knew it there you were, married with twin girls Margret and Jane,” Stan laughed.

“I don’t regret any of it, the divorce was a bit bitter and messy which was unfortunate, but now as I get older I realize that it was in fact for the best, but my heart was just not in it (the farm)afterwards”.

While the separation and divorce was being finalized Stan put his efforts and time into other aspects of the community such as coaching junior football teams at Eltham Football Club, and running for local council with the Liberal party.

“My time at Eltham was really rewarding and successful; we won a handful of premierships and brought up some really good talent like Peter Moore who went on to play for the Magpies.

“Funnily enough though, politics was a bit rougher than footy, ” Stan laughed. “Two unsuccessful campaigns on my part combined with two pretty successful smear campaigns from the other bloke were about the reality of it”.

After the two unsuccessful political campaigns and a rather messy divorce Stan continued living life the best he could, and soon enough it took a turn for the better.

At a party one evening he met his current wife of nearly 35 years, Ann. “It was at a party at my house that I put on for the footy team, and I guess she turned up with some friends or something, but I tell you, I’m bloody glad she came.”.

While the romance blossomed between the two, it was not all smooth sailing; the age gap of nearly 21 years meant not everyone approved of their new found love.

“My parents weren’t happy about it, but after about a year of Stan and I living together they realised it was for real and there was no opposition from then on,” Ann said.

After 5 years the two wed. But Ann laughs: “He still claims we are not really married because a plane flew over us when he said ‘I do’ and nobody else heard him!”

The wedding was a happy time for the couple, which was soon followed by the arrival of their oldest son Anthony in 1980, a second son Jon in 1982, a third, boy Alexander in 1989, before finally capping things off with their fourth son Billy in 1992.

“We are proud of all of them” said Ann. “They are all very different but always will be ours”.

However it was after the birth of Jon that financial hardships found their way back to Stan, leading to the eventual loss of his farm.

“Yes there was quite a few tax issues and health and safety issues that lead to me selling up and moving off the land,” recalled Stan.

“I didn’t want to sell at the time but soon I realized it was for the best.”.

In 1984, the Jupps purchased a waste removal company and renaming it Trash ‘N’ Stash.

“It came from people I knew who needed waste removed, I went out with a note book one day looking for clients and I returned home with it full. That’s when I knew we were on, “said Stan.

From those humble beginnings Stan and Ann built the company with one garbage truck to a fleet now consisting of 6 trucks.

“It hasn’t been easy, we can say that much,” said Ann. “But it has been fun and rewarding because of the lifelong friendships we’ve made and what we have achieved”.

Despite the success of the family business and with it up and running smoothly Stan couldn’t fight the distinctive battler urge to return to his roots and start farming once more.

So in 1993 he set out on a search for a new farming property to run as a hobby. “I had given it thought and had a good look around and there was a few I liked all over the place, but it was Ann who took the reins on finding the farm.

One morning I was doing my rubbish collections when a good customer and friend of ours came outside and told me ‘your wife’s on the blower’ so I took the phone and that’s when she told me she had bought 600 acres in a place called Antwerp”.

And Antwerp it was, situated in Victoria’s Wimmera region—and across the road from Stan’s daughter Margret—that that Stan’s great passion for farming was once more realized.

“I didn’t even know which joint it was until I drove the 4 and a half hours up there and took a look. I mustn’t have been too disappointed as its 20 years on and I’m still there,” Stan said.

As his sons grew up, Stanley was enjoying the new millennium until the summer of 2006 when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Doctors informed Stan that lymphoma had spread throughout his body and it was looking rather serious. But n true battler fashion Stan’s first reaction to the news was, “I’m going to fight this”.

And fight he did.

Stan endured months of chemo therapy to gain the all clear from his doctors and return to the healthy, active life he had lead before the illness. “I always knew I’d be fine, I was certain though after the first course of chemo as I already felt better, I was prepared to fight”.

It is that willingness to fight that has got Stanley to the point he is today, with six children of his own, 13 grandchildren and “so many great grandchildren you lose count”.

“I’ve led a wonderful life and I’ve worked hard, battled through but I wouldn’t change any of it”.