Born Charlotte Jean on the 24th September 1913 at Charlotte Waters NT.
One of 8 children, two boys and six girls.
The following is an extract from "The Man from Oodnadatta" by the outback
Padre of that time, RB Plowman.
Chapter V, "The White Blackfellow's Gum-Tree Wedding".
Near the junction of the Abminga Creek with the Finke River, the character of
the country changes a little, and the tablelands give way to more sandy country.
In the junction of the two streams the well was situated. A three-roomed cottage,
wholly built of galvanized iron, a few sheds and a stockyard, marked Alindum as
an out-station of Mount Dare. The cottage is the home of a stockman, who looks
after this part of the run, and of his family.
As the camels approached, several small children converged on the house from
different directions to acquaint mother of the arrival of a visitor. On recognizing
the padre the children came shyly forward to greet him, for they were pals of his
and invariably found that there was some little present in their friend's big boxes.
"Are we going to have school padre?" little Charlotte asked eagerly.
"Just as soon as I have had a little talk to mother".
In a few minutes the children grouped round the dining-table and were once more
at school. They showed the exercises with the work they has done since their
teacher's last visit, six months before, and listened eagerly and attentively to his
teaching. So interested were they, that it was not until mother wanted the table to
set for supper that they consented to stop.
When the supper dishes had been washed and put away, the little family gathered
with the padre for worship. Father had been due at sundown, but something had
detained him and he did not get home till the early hours of the morning. In the tiny
sitting room, with its floor of sand covered with tanned goat skins (there was no
wooden floor in the cottage), the fire had been lighted against the evening's cold.
In the middle of the semicircle round the fire the padre sat with two of the smallest
children on his knee. Mother nursed the youngest - a babe in arms - and five other
children completed the group. Of the eight children the eldest was thirteen and there
was only one boy. The padre sat with his arms round the two little ones, and with the
light from the kerosene-lamp on the mantelpiece falling on the "Book," read the simple
word. When the story of the raising of Jairus' daughter - paraphrased and simplified
for the untutored minds - was drawing to it's close, the reader glanced round the little
group to see if its meaning was reaching the hearers. So real had the story seemed
that tears glistened in the eyes of nearly all the children and ran down the faces of
the older ones. The little congregation bowed their heads and helped to repeat the
Lord's Prayer; after which, thinking that the littlest ones might be weary, the padre
asked "Would you like me to stop now so you can go to bed?"
"Ah no, please," came the answer, "Won't you tell us another story?" The story of
the little boy Samuels, whose mother made him a little coat, and to whom God talked
in the silence of the night, was listened to with rapt interest by the children.
When it was finished the children asked, "Please, won't you tell us another story?"
As the story came to its close, the padre noticed that some of the little heads were drooping.
With an earnest prayer to the kindly Father who watches over the children of the lonely
bush, the simple, informal service came to a close.
One by one the children kissed the padre good night and went off to bed. For a little
while he sat alone, to be presently joined by mother who had tucked them all in.
As she sat down across the hearth there were tears in her eyes and a smile on her lips.
"Do you know, padre," she said, "this has been the happiest night of our lives."
In the morning a service was held in the tiny sitting-room. It had been postponed from
the previous visits because father had not been home to take part. In anticipation of this
visit of the padre, he had ridden late at night to get home, and the children were overjoyed
to find him there when they woke in the morning. Soon after breakfast preparations were
made to baptize the children of the little household. Only one- the eldest- had been baptized;
and since then, until the padre's coming, no other opportunity had been afforded.
In front of the padre the mother stood with the babe in her arms. and with her husband
beside her. The six other children stood in a row beside their parents. Seven times as he
moved along the line the padre repeated the words- "I baptize thee in the name.............,"
and thought not of churches or denominations, but only of the reception of these little
ones into the kingdom of heaven.
The mother had been brought up a Roman Catholic, the father a Presbyterian, but who
shall say that the vows they took that day were less sacred and binding? After a couple
of hours' more school with the children, and with a promise to have some school books
sent from Adelaide for them to use in his absence, the teacher-parson said good-bye.
Some years later the children were to be baptised again as Roman Catholic at Oodnadatta.
A few months later on the return visit by the padre he was greeted with "We've got another baby!"
The following is an extract from "The Man from Oodnadatta" by Jean Whitla (daughter of the padre).
"We've got another baby!" was the astonishing announcement from several small children
as I hooshed my camels down at Alindum Well. "Another baby!" "Mmm;it's a baby girl, too."
I was astonished and mystified. Only a few months before I had baptised a very new
baby daughter with the folk I was visiting. My astonishment was not lessened when the
mother came out of the cottage to welcome me. She held a very young baby in her arms.
She smiled for a moment at my puzzled expression, then looked sad.
"I expect the children have told you about our new baby", she said.
"They told me you had a new baby; but frankly I couldn't believe it. Even now I don't
It's Clara's baby, padre. I've promised Dick to look after it until he can make some permanent
"But..but.. why should you be looking after it? You have eight children of your own.
Why can't Clara..." I stopped. Something seemed to tell me not to go on.
Oh, Mrs Mac; I am sorry. What...what happened?"
"Something went wrong when the baby was born and she never recovered. She only lasted
a few days, and they brought the baby straight to me"
"Straight to me" I repeated silently to myself as I recalled the little tent amid crude surroundings,
in which the baby had been born; and the 45 mile journey over the rough bush track of the
few-days old baby.
"Straight to me!" Acting on an impulse, I stepped forward and drew aside the covering
from the little one's face. I looked for signs of wasting and restricted growth. To my surprise
the baby bore the appearance of a normally healthy child. My eyes lifted from the baby's face
to the face of the woman who held it, then travelled over the group of silently waiting
children and on to the three-roomed galvanised-iron cottage which was their home.
"Mrs. Mac", I said and there was a reverence in my voice, "you are a marvel. Eight children
of your own to cook and make and mend for and one of them still a wee baby, and yet you
take on this extra task. It's absolutely heroic."
The unusual praise brought a self-conscious blush to the bushwoman's cheeks.
To cover her confusion she ordered the children inside to prepare for the lessons which
she knew I would be ready to give as soon as I had stacked my load. For an hour before
supper the work done since the previous visit was gone over and corrected and some new
work started. A simple service followed supper and assured that the teacher would be there
still on the following day to give them lessons, the children went happily to bed.
In reference to those widely-spaced days of instruction someone will say "totally inadequate"
or "practically useless"; yet when regular lessons by correspondence were added to them later,
they were to prove a sound foundation for the education of those children. Lottie was about
5 years old when they lived at Dalhousie station and she remembered a beautiful gardenwith
big date palms. They used to get their supplies by camel train, but not very often, mostly big
bags of flour. The bags her mother would unpick and make into little white aprons.
Each would have a different colour bow on them.
They used to change their clothes every day. Her mother was very good at first aid, and
Lottie remembers someone having a broken leg and her mother strapped it in a sling in the air.
She worried that something might happen to one of the children and she would not be capable
to care for them as they were so isolated.They were all raised on goats milk.
Lottie had a pet pig when she was little but doesn't remember them raising pigs for food.
Charlotte, called "Lottie" was one of the children in the family who were brought in by the
nursing sister from the Flying Doctor Service, Inland Mission to Oodnadatta when the flu
epidemic was raging in 1919. She said there was a black boy with them and he lit a fire for
each of them to stay warm and so if anyone came to look for them they would be seen.
Her father died of face cancer at Royal Adelaide Hospital at that time, and her mother and
the rest of the family moved to Kadina to live with Grandma Walsh .She remembered her
mother writing in a big ledger each day. They had to leave many things behind when they
were sick and dying with influenza and no one ever went back for their possessions, so
probably it was lost then. They came down to Oodnadatta on a goods train and the people
there took up a collection when her Mother was well enough ,to pay their fare down to Kadina.
Lottie and Lynda started school at Newton. Madeleine went for a short time, but used to faint.
She spoke of the many hours of fun they had in riding horses and living in the Australian
When her mother remarried they moved to Adelaide and that is where Lottie met and married
Laurence Gordon Murray Simper (Laurie).
She used to work in Hutt Street cooking meals for the Daughters of Charity.
They lived at 39 Swift Ave, Dulwich for many years.
Lottie died at the age of 86 years and is buried at Centennial Park Cemetery, Adelaide SA.
Lottie was involved in putting together much of the McKinnon family history and
noting many unnamed photographs. She was a most interesting lady and is sadly missed.