By Rosamund O'Brien  

Rosamund is the daughter of our grandmother's sister Monica b. 1897  

Gertrude Mary (Bunnie) Knox (nee Coore) was the fourth child born to Augusta  and George Barnard Milbank Coore.  She was born in London on February 4, 1899 and died on June 27, 1971 at Kyneton, Victoria, Australia.  Her sisters were Constance Araminta, born London 1892 and died at Vermont, Dorset, on May 22, 1966; and Monica Augusta, born London on May 8, 1897 and died May 23, 1966 at Croydon, Victoria, Australia.  She had one brother Edmund Burchardt George born London 1894 and died 1958 in Sydney, NSW, Australia.   

My mother was always proud of the fact that never a cross word had passed between the two all their lives. They were closest in age and shared the nursery at 47 Egerton Gardens in Kensington, London.  Throughout the regular letters of their lifetime they were addressed as 'Dearest M' and 'Dearest B'.   

Bunnie was the aunt to whom I felt closest.  I knew her much better than any of my father's six sisters although I did get to know two of them quite well, Auntie Foz (Florence) and Auntie Cas (Caroline), from the 1950's until their deaths.   

Bunnie was married to a journalist, Errol Knox (later Sir Errol) whom she met in England during the First World  War.    They had three children, Patricia Monica (Titia), Peter Edmund and Pamela Anne the closest to me in age.    

My first recollections of meeting the Knoxes were memories of 'Ladye Place'   at  192  Kurraba Road,  Neutral Bay. (the family owned two houses on Kurraba Road, 170 and later 192)   Here I remember my cousin Pamela Anne seated high in an extremely large tree talking to me about fairies.  We were both true believers and saw them in all sorts of places including 'the bottom of the garden'.   

Their house left a deep impression on me.  It was two storeys high and very   large.  The tudor style house itself was built on one level with tennis courts on  two lower levels that led down to a small private 'water front' with a swimming   pool, boat shed and pier fronting  Cremorne.    

My first memory of my cousin Peter was that of him taking me out in his boat. I was terrified.  High in the security of home in the Snowy Mountains I had never dreamed of such an expanse of water let alone imagined that people sailed on it.  Until this time my water experience had been merely driving over relatively narrow rivers and creeks while occasionally well- protected from the sun paddling and eventually learning to swim in one.     

Occasionally the Knoxes would swoop upon us in our mountain hide-outs;   never staying very long but leaving behind a feeling of great excitement.   

I remember them visiting us at Happy Valley where we lived for a time in  the Buckland Valley, surrounded by the high mountains of the Australian Alps.    
 And I have heard tell of the time they visited us at Tumbarumba on the New South Wales side of the border in the Snowy Mountains.   

In the mid-late 1930's Bunnie and her family moved to Melbourne when 'Knock' was offered and took the job as managing editor, later to become managing director, of 'The Argus' a conservative, old and highly respected daily newspaper.  Knock had a reputation for 'turning around' newspapers in financial difficulties and this was his charter.   

Bunnie told me it had broken her heart to depart Sydney leaving all her friends and the lifestyle she had carved for herself in a once strange but now familiar land.  She had dreaded having to rebuild her life among strangers.   

They lived firstly in Malvern and later in Walsh Street South Yarra, finally buying a house with a few acres at Woodend where Knock was a 'Gentleman Farmer' or 'A Collins Street Farmer'.  They had a flock of sheep and a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle plus innumerable horses for Bunnie and Pam to ride.  Weekends and holidays were spent at 'Ladye Place', Woodend.  Bunnie loved this part of her new life and after Knock died moved permanently to Woodend with Pam.   

Bunnie had met Knock when he was any Army officer on leave and staying at her Guinness cousin's house, 'Greens  Norton', Northhamptonshire.  (Actually, I am confused here as she could have met him at 'Parham Park' near Storrington, Sussex, which belonged to a close family friend Lady Zouche who I think was a widow because I have not heard any family stories about Lord Zouche).  Wherever Bunnie and Knock met is probably slightly irrevelant because he fell madly in love with her and continued to 'adore' her until he died.   

'Greens Norton' was the family home of the banking branch of the Guinness family.  I think 'Dada's' aunt had married Arthur Guinness and they had one daughter Barbie who was a close friend of Bunnie's.  

  Knock was a member of the glamorous Australian Flying Corps and cut a dashing figure in his uniform.  He served with No.3 Squadron A.F.C. and was one of the officers who guarded the body of the famous and legendary German ace pilot, the 'Red Baron', Manfred Baron von Richthofen the night after he was shot down.   

When Bunnie and I visited Storrington in September, 1954, she took me for a walk on the Sussex Downs on the outskirts of Storrington and to the spot where she told me Knock had proposed to her.  We visited the field where Francis Thompson wrote 'Ode to the Setting Sun'"   

While I was in England I met quite a few women who had been friends of the Coore girls.  Their reputation was of beauty, dignity, glorious golden hair and height.  Various people found it hard to identify me with the Coores because I was so short.  Even though I had red-gold hair it was more of a titian hue not the deep gold with the olive skin of the young Coore girls.    

The Coore girls, Monica and Bunnie apparently went to a convent at Putney with a woman I knew in London, Pat Rankin who said "they were so aristocratic in looks and manner that they stood out from all the other students."  They were at the convent  in Mayfield when their father died in 1913.   

While in Storrington we stayed at the Manor House that belonged to family friends of Bunnie's in the 'old days'.  We visited the Abbey owned in the days of the Coores by Bethel, one of the Ravenscourt family and bought by the Dominican order.  After much pushing and persuading we rang the door bell.  We were invited in and given a grand tour including Lady Bartlett's 'Wendy House' where everything is in miniature.   

Bunnie and I continued with our walk across the Common and visited the Catholic and Anglican cemetery where we found Father George Tyrell's grave and his manservant Bill's grave as well as Maud Petre's.  We also found the grave of Mummy's (Monica's) friend Wilfred Meynell but not that of Francis Thompson who, Bunnie thought, was buried there as well.  It was as we walked around Storrington that Bunnie relayed the story of Father Tyrell's ghost.   

We walked back to the village via 'Ladye Place'.  Bunnie thought it had been ruined because so many trees had been cut down.  We wandered around the garden as trespassers because no one answered our knock on the front door.  

Next we visited The Priory and met the Prior who told us that it was now again in the hands of the Premonstratensian Canons.  We went to Mass there the next morning.   

We visited the Canons again and spent about two hours with them, learning that an old friend Miss Gladys Bonynthon was still living in Storrington.  We visited her and she greeted Bunnie as if it were only yesterday that they last met.  Very English!   

Maude Petre's house at that time had been converted to the local county council offices.  We also visited 'Parham Park' but Bunnie became very sad about all the changes that had been made and couldn't bear to be one of dozens of people being shown over the house.  So we left - memories almost in tact.  It was a beautiful Elizabethan house with extensive grounds, croquet lawns and deer wandering in the park.   

While in England Bunnie and I went to the cinema quite often.  I well remember 'Three Coins in the Fountain'.  

Bunnie visited England three times - the last in 1954.  I think she settled and was happy here in Australia because she was able to make those journeys home in a way her sister Monica longed to do but never did.  Barbie remembers Bunnie telling Monica she wished Monica could have done this saying "In a way it helps to make life turn full circle", while Monica replied, "Everyone and everything would have changed beyond recognition.  I think I'd rather remember things as they were."  Such was the bond of sympathetic concern and understanding between those two sisters.  

We used to receive parcels regularly from Bunnie.  Very often it would just be  a piece of string holding a present and a scrap of paper with the name and  address on it.  We used to marvel as to how these parcels ever managed to  arrive at their destination.    

  My most lasting memories of Bunnie are of her at Woodend.  She loved to go riding regularly usually accompanied by Pam.  She used to make the most delicious meringues and raspberry jam.  All the fruit used to be prepared and bottled -  with Knock at the helm directing operations.  Friends of Bunnie in Melbourne I recall were the Lennoxes and the Isaacsons. And I remember her dusting the miniature glass and china figurines she used to collect.  I also remember her cutting up and cooking seemingly endless quantities of horse meat for the dogs.   

An Irishman John  O'Neill worked for the Knoxes.  He  was an odd job man and among the many tasks he did was to dig the dam and also the manure pit which was alongside the stables.  After the war  the Knoxes used to have various 'New Australian' couples working for them.  I particularly remember a Russian couple.  The husband fascinated me because he always wore gloves when working outdoors with such jobs as bringing in the hay.   I asked him why and he told me his real profession was not as a farm labourer but as a professor of mining engineering.  He wanted to return to that life as soon as he had worked the required two years after immigrating to this country.  Bunnie later told me he had taken a job with BHP at, I think, Newcastle.   

After my marriage to Bob O'Brien  on March 17, 1962, we continued to visit Bunnie at Woodend.  We arrived there one day to find her in a panic.  She had lost her string of pearls.  Bob told her to go inside and relax while he searched for them.  He finally found them caught on a shrub in a most inaccessible and unlikely place.  She was delighted.   

As our children were born they were taken to Woodend to meet Bunnie.  Dominic, Paul, Monica and Justin all met their great-aunt Bunnie.  Charles was born after her death.   

Bunnie was the last in the generational story of the Coore family to die. 'Dada', 'Ai Ai', Eddie, Con and Monica all pre-deceased her.  She was the last of the line and with her died access to our family traditions and folklore.  We now wish we had made better use of our time with her.  But we lived our lives and did not realise that the day would come when we would want to know so much more about a family we had taken for granted and who were true eccentrics.

Augusta Coore (Ai Ai) with her three daughters Constance (Con), Monica and Gertrude ~ Easter Monday April 1902

Augusta Coore (Ai Ai) with Monica , Gertrude (in front) and Edmund (Eddie) ~ Mayfield Convent 1902