Wanneroo loses one of its great pioneers

Trailblazing family: Alice, Graham and Ernie Gibbs.
Trailblazing family: Alice, Graham and Ernie Gibbs.

ON May 15, Wanneroo pioneer Alice Gibbs died peacefully in her sleep at Regents Garden Residential Care. She was 89.

Alice was born at Mt Hawthorn on July 7, 1925, to John and Gladys Begley. She grew up at Mt Hawthorn, and as a young woman loved dancing.

It was while attending a dance in North Perth in 1945 that Alice met the love of her life, Ernie Gibbs, a Wanneroo dairyman and vegetable grower.

Two years later the young couple were married in St George’s Cathedral, Perth, and started their married life together in Carabooda, then a remote part of North Wanneroo, where they ran a market garden.

Alice’s new home was a small cottage with no ceilings or running water, and transport to and from the property was by horse and cart. Alice had no trouble adjusting to her new lifestyle.

In 1951, her son Graham was born and in 1956 the young family moved to Yanchep National Park, where they spent the next 17 years running a popular guest house.

It was at the guest house that Alice’s legendary cooking ability was firmly established. Alice loved cooking and became a regular entrant in the cooking section of the Wanneroo Show.

Alice’s long-term friend, Wanneroo pioneer Margaret Cockman, who has served on the Wanneroo Show committee since 1947, said Alice was an amazing cook and a regular contributor to the show’s cooking and craft sections.

“The Gibbs have always been staunch supporters of the Wanneroo Show,” Margaret said. “Both Alice and Ernie were made life members and Graham is a former president and current vice-president. Graham has served on the committee for the past 19 years.

“Some years Alice would put in more than 100 entries in the Wanneroo Show. Her favourites were jams, pickles, preserves and cakes in the cooking section, and needlework, knitting and crocheting in the crafts section as well as beautiful home grown flowers in the flowers section.

“Alice won many prizes over 50 years and only stopped entering in the Wanneroo Show when failing health prevented her contributing anymore.”

Alice’s husband Ernie died some years ago. She will be sadly missed.