Halls Head author Keith Devenish publishes historical book on Pingrup's first mailman

FAMILY: Judith and Keith Devenish returned to their home town to launch Keith's book at the annual Pingrup Horse Races. Photo: Supplied.

FAMILY: Judith and Keith Devenish returned to their home town to launch Keith's book at the annual Pingrup Horse Races. Photo: Supplied.

When COVID lockdowns began last year, Halls Head author Keith Devenish found himself with extra time on his hands.

An avid history buff with a curious mind, Mr Devenish was not one to sit still, instead opting to journey back in time to the early 1900s to discover a vast and intriguing family history for a new novel.

"After writing a book about my own grandfather's life two years ago, I decided to do some research into my wife Judith's grandfather during the lockdown," Mr Devenish said.

"The more I read, I started to think... there's a story here, I can turn this into a book - so I started writing."

HISTORY: Lance Reid, Judith Devenish's grandfather. Photo: Supplied.

HISTORY: Lance Reid, Judith Devenish's grandfather. Photo: Supplied.

Delving into history

While pouring over old newspapers and documents, Mr Devenish discovered his wife's grandfather, Lance Reid, was the first person to begin delivering royal mail to pioneer farmers at Nyabing and Pingrup 100 years ago.

"I've always been interested in history, particularly local history.

"One day we were cleaning out my mother-in-law's unit and came across a bunch of old photos and papers that acted as a good starting point."

Mr Devenish also spent his days reading through memoirs that had been written by his wife's aunt, Lance Reid's daughter, which helped to piece in parts of the timeline.

"It's like a jigsaw puzzle - you end up with different bits and pieces and you have to figure out where they fit."

Lance Reid is one of only a few West Australians to have their story displayed in the Australian Stockman's hall of fame in Longreach.

As Mr Devenish built the timeline of Lance's life, he deducted that in 1921, Lance would travel 400 kilometres a week delivering mail by horse and cart.

"While working in Katanning for 10 years, Lance won the contract to start delivering road mail to individual settler mail boxes by traveling along bush tracks on a circuit from Katanning, Kuringup and Pingrup to Chinocup, before returning to Katanning to deliver mail to settlers at Kwobrup, Badgebup and Ewlyamartup."

Returning to his roots

Mr Devenish himself grew up with a farming family in Pingrup before eventually moving around WA and settling later in Mandurah.

"My wife and I both grew up in Pingrup - it helped that we knew a lot of the history and people to talk to."

The family's farming history runs deep and continues to progress through the generations.

"I'm retired from 25 years working at the department of Agriculture - which is where I gained most of my writing skills," he said.

"That meant I had the time to spend several hours a day writing and researching - apart from harvest and seeding season when I drive the tractor and help out the family."

Passion project complete 

Mr Devenish's book, Lance Reid - Pingrup's First Mail Man was completed after 12 months of writing, and he was now able to hold a wealth of family history in his hands.

"I self published this book and my previous book Arthur's Story. Self publishing isn't easy, but it's worth it for the end result."

Lance Reid - Pingrup's First Mail Man can be purchased from the Pingrup Community Resource Centre or directly from Mr Devenish by contacting him via kdevenish@westnet.com.au.