Dorothy “Dot” Gunson


Dorothy “Dot” Gunson (1926-2014)

Dorothy “Dot” Gunson (nee Slater) was born in New South Wales in 1926. She was one of ten children.

She met Lionel Gunson when he went to NSW after WWII and married him in 1949.

The Gunsons moved to Western Australia, Lionel joined the Forestry Department, and they came to Walpole in 1954. Dot was very homesick at first but three children soon kept her busy.

In 1962 Lionel became the first full-time paid ranger of Nornalup National Park with a salary of £20.4.3 per week, less £2 for rent. Little did Dot know that she would be a ranger’s wife for the next 26 years!

When the WA Tourist Bureau provided funds for a caravan & camping site at Coalmine Beach, the Gunsons moved into a new house there.

Dot had no electricity until it reached the area in 1972. She used kerosene-fueled lamps, irons and refrigerators. At first water was supplied from a windmill, later it was pumped from Collier Creek.

Coalmine campers arrived at any time of the day or night and there was “a lot of booze and fighting”.

Dot ran a little shop at the house, which mainly sold cigarettes and lollies. She would often have to manage on her own while Lionel fulfilled his ranger duties.

Around 1967 a new road replaced the rough track making visits to town easier. Dot also met and made friends with many visitors to the caravan park.

Life at Coalmine slowly improved.

When Lionel retired in 1986 he and Dot moved moved into Walpole to live on Latham Avenue. On a fine day they could be found in their boat, fishing near Snake Island.

Eventually they moved to Manjimup to be closer to their family which had grown to include six grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Dot died on April 7, 2014, aged 88. She had had a busy life and will be remembered fondly by many in Walpole & Districts.

This post is based on an article that first appeared in the April 16, 2014 edition of the Walpole Weekly.

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