Crothers family reunion in Kergunyah brings together 12 brothers and sisters

Twelve children, 42 grandchildren and 96 great-grandchildren.

A human legacy rich with memories will be celebrated on Sunday in Kergunyah hall when the family of the late Les and Mary Crothers reunite.

All 12 of their children – Kevin, Aileen, Margaret (Hynes), Bryan, Vincent, Laurie, twins Joan (Walshe) and Allan, Marie (Henry), Tom, Les and Gerard, who range in age from 88 to 67 years  – plan to join about 200 relatives for a luncheon.

Gerard said the family tried to hold reunions regularly, but the last one had been about five years ago.

“It sort of dawned on me before Christmas that, hang on a minute, we’re all getting fairly old,” he said.

Mr Crothers had worked on the construction of the Hume weir before the family moved to Kergunyah in March 1935.

They became dairy farmers on a property of 148 hectares, owning about 80 cows.

“Every one had a name,” eldest child Kevin said.

A sleep-out had to be added to the three-bedroom homestead to accommodate the growing family.

Bryan Crothers still owns the farm, now beef, having bought it off his father, who died in 1976 aged 74.

“He offered the farm to the boys from the oldest down,” Bryan said.

“I was the second oldest and I couldn’t jump at it quick enough.”

The Crothers children rode their bikes more than five kilometres on unsealed roads to Kergunyah Primary School, with their parents then helping to build a closer school at Kergunyah South.

Football, tennis, cricket, social balls and, inevitably, chores helped pass the time.

Mrs Hynes said her mother, who lived to 94, was a wonderful cook.

“Thursday and Friday, it was the cakes for school lunches and Saturday was always the cream puffs and sponges for Sunday night,” she said.

And if Mr Crothers said no to his children, they knew to go to Mum.

“She’d soften Dad up,” Bryan laughed.

The Crothers siblings remain close and harmonious, something they attribute to their upbringing.

“Mum and Dad were firm but they were very, very liberal with us,” Gerard said.

“As Mum always said, we always had plenty of food, plenty of blankets and plenty of clothes to wear.

“And a lot of love.”