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Harrold Jacob Zwar (C8.5)

  • Born: 16th November 1908. Port Pirie, South Australia.
  • Parents:
    Charles Jacob and Johanna Pauline Marie Zwar (nee Will)
    • Married:
    • Linda Anna Zobel, April 16th 1936
  • Lived:
    Port Pirie, Laura, Mangalo, Rudall, Nuriootpa and Karoonda, all in South Australia.
  • Died: 19th July 2000 in Karoonda Hospital
  • Buried: Nuriootpa, South Australia

Detailed Biography


Harrold was born 16th November 1908, the third son and fifth child of Charles Jacob and Johanna Pauline Marie Zwar (nee Will) in the district of Hundred of Port Pirie, South Australia. When he was 2 years and 3 month of age, his mother died after a very short illness. He lived with his father, brother and two sisters on a farm about 6 miles (9.6km) south-east of Pt Pirie, and all his schooling was at the ‘Pirie Blocks’ State School.

Uncle Peter Zwar

Aged 14 years, he lived with his Father’s brother Peter Zwar and family for some months on their farm at Laura, while attending confirmation lessons at the Lutheran Church. It was during this time while helping the menfolk at chaff-cutting that he lost the tip of his right middle finger to the first joint when a piece of string was caught in the machinery.

Eyre Peninsula

When aged 19 years (1928), the farm was sold and the family moved to Mangalo on Eyre Peninsula, to share-farm as C.J. Zwar and Son for his Uncle Fred Will (his mothers brother). On April 16th 1936 he married Linda Anna Zobel, of Eudunda. They lived in a separate iron dwelling on the same farm, and two children were born while there. Shirley Annette on February 14th 1939 and Alan Raymond on October 28th 1940. In early 1943 they relinquished farming and purchased an unfinished building at Rudall, 13 miles (21km) west of Cleve. The building had walls erected and a roof, but the stone walls of the living area had never been plastered and there were no floors, so there was a lot of work to do before they could move in, but being wartime it was the only place available. They used the larger portion of the building as a workshop for Garage and General Engineering for 10 years and were then able to purchase three additional adjoining blocks of land and built a house on one of these, enabling the original dwelling to be used as office and spare parts storage. While living under the same roof as the workshop, Joan Elaine was born on February 2nd 1944 and Lynette Norma on 16th August 1946. All four children were born at the Cleve hospital.

Volunteer Defence Corps

In 1939, while still at Mangalo, Harrold joined the Cowell-Coolanie Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) and transferred to the Cleve unit once living at Rudall. There were regular weekend training sessions until the end of the war in 1945, and Harrold reached the rank of Corporal. Young son Alan, at probably only 4 years age remembers clearly the Lewis machine gun his father brought home from training to practice disassembly, cleaning and reassembly, so he could demonstrate proficiency at the following weeks training.

Garage and Engineering Business

Harrold was the local dealer for the ‘Waymouth Group’ as agent for Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge cars and trucks, Standard Vanguard cars, Field Marshall and Ferguson tractors. His first new car was a 1948 Hillman Minx, followed by several Vanguards. He never had any problem selling one of his cars when updating to the later model, as locals knew they had always been well maintained. In Post-War times new cars were still in short supply and he’d sold the family Vanguard car, on the understanding that the new Vanguard would arrive by ship from Britain ‘very soon’. However, they had to borrow a 1928 Falcon-Knight car from a farmer friend for 2-3 months until the new car did eventually arrive. The children probably still have memories of travelling in this old car with its canvas roof and celluloid ‘windows’ during winter conditions that year. Definitely not water tight or heated.


His engineering knowledge was self taught, and while still on the farm did all their own mechanical repairs and maintenance, as well as repairs for neighbours and friends. For his whole working life he had the reputation that if a machinery part was broken and a new one not readily available, he could repair it and get the machine working again. While on the farm he built his first metal lathe with a 300mm swing and 760mm between centres from farm scrap materials. Some time after establishing at Rudall he sold this and purchased a new one. While on the farm he built his first oxy/acetylene welding set, manufacturing the acetylene himself for a couple years until the gas generator exploded, and with ‘discretion being the better part of valour’, he purchased a second hand gas welding unit which was only replaced after sometime at Rudall. While on the farm he designed and built extension steering and controls using ropes and pulleys for their Caterpillar RD4 tractor. This enabled him to drive and control the tractor remotely from the front harvester, while towing a second harvester behind this one, on which his father was operating the controls on that machine. They used two machines behind this tractor whether plowing, seeding or reaping, but it was only for reaping that a man was required to operate each harvester. He also built extension controls for a number of other farmers tractors. (Hydraulic controls only came much later). He conducted a successful Garage and Engineering business at Rudall for 31 years. In 1956, son Alan joined him as apprentice, and in 1963 they went into partnership as HJ&AR Zwar. The partnership was suspended in 1968 when Alan left to work in Papua New Guinea, and dissolved in 1970 as Alan intended continuing to work in PNG. As a point of interest, the hourly rate for mechanical repairs when he started in business in 1943 was 4/6d (four shillings and sixpence) or 45 cents.


Harrold had taught himself blacksmithing skills so was able to reshape worn tools, and harden and temper the tips. At one time when business was seasonally slow, he made up a steel cutting guillotine from scrap metal, using cutting blades made from broken truck leaf springs tempered in the forge. Over the next two years he made a further 15 during quiet times, and all readily sold.


Harrold was an Elder at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Yadnarie, a country church 14 km from Rudall. He was a member of the Rudall Hall management committee for most of the time they lived at Rudall. Concerned about the lack of fire protection in the district, he called a public meeting and the Rudall and District Emergency Fire Service (now known as ‘Country Fire Service’) was formed in 1959. He was elected foundation President and Chief Fire Officer. From humble beginnings, relying on public donations for funding, and using any available truck to slide an empty tank and pump unit onto and fill with water from the mains before the volunteers could attend the fire, they progressed to second hand ex-military 4WD trucks. The Zwar family built up efficient fire fighting units on two of these trucks. Harrold and Linda were always ready to offer their services for community working bees and functions, qualities which were passed on to their children.


In April 1974 (at 65 years age), they sold the Rudall business and home properties, and purchased their ‘retirement’ home in Sauvignon Street, Nuriootpa. They joined St. Petri Lutheran Church and Nuriootpa Senior Citizens Club. He worked part time in a Garage at the end of the street for some 18 months, but then in 1976 became handyman for the Barossa Valley Domiciliary Care Service for some 7 years, driving as far as Swan Reach and Riverton. From August 1975 he was also a volunteer Meals on Wheels deliverer for 17 years. Then in August 1982 they purchased a newer, smaller house with less land and garden on Elizabeth Avenue, Nuriootpa, and sold the other one. Until they went to Darwin for daughter Lynette’s wedding in 1970, Harrold had never been outside South Australia, except for a brief few hours spent over the border at Mildura in Victoria some years earlier. Then in 1974 they both flew to PNG for son Alan’s wedding and to Tasmania in 1980 with a tour group. When Linda died in December 1992, Harrold moved to the Nuriootpa Senior Citizen’s Village some months later. Here he put his handyman skills to good use again repairing wheel chairs and many similar tasks. Eventually, daughter Joan and her family took him into their home at Karoonda in 1994, where he lived until moving to the Nursing Home section of the Karoonda Hospital until he passed away on 19th July, 2000.

© Alan Zwar