Fremantle Stuff > builders > Friederich Wilhelm Gustav Liebe

Gustav Liebe

Gus Liebe built the Newmarket Hotel. In Perth he built, most notably, His Majesty's Theatre, and in Maylands, the Peninsula Hotel - among many other buildings in town and country.

He was born 1862 in Wittenberg. He emigrated to Australia in 1885 with his business partner Joseph Klein and Joseph's wife Augusta. The partners worked briefly in South Australia and then for a longer period in Melbourne before perceiving opportunity in the West and moved here about 1890, after which the partnership was dissoved.

Stan Gervas, in his biography of Liebe, suggests that the three Klein children were in fact fathered by Liebe, possibly explaining why there are five identical graves in a line in Dalwallinu, one containing the remains of the unmarried Gus Liebe, a second those of Albert Klein, and a third those of Hedwig Collins, nee Klein. Liebe was a very sucessful farmer in the Wubin area.

Cail:
Gus was born 18 January 1862 in Wittenberg, Prussia, the son of Edward Liebe and his wife Louisa (nee MATTHES). He worked as a carpenter’s apprentice after leaving school. On a Statutory Declaration he made in 1917 he stated that he left Germany in 1878 to escape the military laws and had never been back since. He first went to Switzerland and then to Vienna where he studied building at a technical school. He proved to be very good at his work, being responsible for the construction of the Budapest Opera House at the age of 21 and later the Bulgarian Parliament House in Sofia. For the latter project he worked with Joseph Klein as he did for the Hungarian military barracks, bridge and various colleges. Joseph Klein decided to move to Australia for his health and Liebe joined him, even though his reputation as a first class builder was well established in the Balkans. They arrived in Adelaide on the ship Salier in 1885 but moved to Melbourne a year later, where Liebe worked on the construction of houses and the Newmarket Market. After moving to Perth in 1892 he finished his partnership with Klein and set up on his own. On the death of Joseph Klein, he undertook to look after the three Klein children. He was responsible for the building of houses in West Perth, the Old Art Gallery, Queens Hall, the Peninsula Hotel in Maylands, Brighton Hotel Cottesloe, various banks along St Georges Terrace and the Moora and Dowerin Hotels. He is best known for the building of His Majesty’s Theatre, Hay Street in 1904 for the cost of £46,000. In 1908, despite living all his life in cities he selected about 5,000 acres of land at Wubin, after having decided to become a wheat farmer. In the following years he purchased many more acres. His first priority was to find a good supply of water. He brought in an experienced well sinker, who, helped by Wilhelm Klein, sank an 86 foot well on the block of land known as 48. The water was good for stock but too salty for human consumption. He brought to farming the same dedication he had to building. He was very enthusiastic about the new mechanical aids to farming and once bought ten tractors at one time.
When anti-German hysteria hit the area in 1914, Liebe was the target of a blackmailer. He overcame this, and when other local German families were interned on the Glowery estate, he worked for their release. Gus had taken out Australian citizenship in 1901 and was very proud of being an Australian. In 1925, he purchased more land, this time at Waddi Forest. With crops planted at both Wubin and Waddi he achieved a world record of 106,00 bags of wheat harvested in one season. As well as farming, he was responsible for the construction of houses for himself and two of the now grown up Klein children. He lost a great deal of money in the Wall St crash and sold many of his houses and hotels to recoup. Even so, he then went on to invest in sheep farming, and by 1944 he had 23,000 sheep. The story of Gus Liebe’s life is told in the book Five Graves In Dalwallinu by Stan Gervas. Gus died 3.3.1950 and is buried in Dalwallinu Cemetery, the first of the Five Graves. Cail 2005: np.

The Kleins

Joseph Klein's wife Augusta gave birth to three children: Wilhelm, Albert and Amalia Hedwig. As Klein was an invalid suffering from consumption and Gus Liebe was a vigorous man in his 20s when they went into partnership (and from much other evidence), it seems likely that he fathered all three of the Klein children. When Joseph Klein died, Wilhelm became the ward of Liebe, and he also paid for the younger children to be cared for. He later went into partnership with Wilhelm, tho the two often strenuously disagreed. When Liebe died, Wilhelm was not mentioned in his will.

The Five Graves in Dalwallinu Cemetery are in the arrangement planned by Hedwig - who was apparently in no doubt that Liebe was her father. Her position is in the centre, with her husband on one side and her brother Albert on the other. Her father Gus and her (youngest) son Sidney are on the outside.
Wilhelm Klein married Elizabeth. Their eldest child was Edna Chapman (1907-1989).
Amalia Hedwig Klein married Sidney Guildford Collins; three sons: Albert, Harold and Sidney. Sidney was a mining engineer but became a farmer when he moved to the Wubin district with his wife.

Extracts from entries in the Wubin history by Bert Cail et al.

KLEIN, Wilhelm Nicol

Wilhelm was born 26 March 1885 to Josef and Auguste Klein in Sofia, Bulgaria. His parents were German and were in Sofia where Josef was undertaking important building contracts, but the threat of tuberculosis meant that he was advised to live in a warmer and drier climate. The family originally arrived in Port Adelaide on the ship Salier when Wilhelm was only three months old, moving to Melbourne nine months later and living in St. Kilda for a time. Six years later they moved again, this time to WA. The climate improved Josef's health so much, the family took a holiday in Germany, but his health declined suddenly on the return journey and he died on board ship. Auguste's health too was declining and after her death the children became wards of a close friend, Wilhelm Friedrich Gustave Liebe, another well-known builder with whom Josef had been in partnership in both Bulgaria and Australia. The two younger children, Albert and Hedwig were boarded in Fremantle with Mrs Carlshausen whilst Wilhelm stayed with Liebe, and began to train as a wood carver. Some of his work can be seen in the Peninsula Hotel, Maylands.
Wilhelm married Emily Elizabeth Sherlock (b. 10.4.1886 Ringwood, Victoria) 14 January 1907 in Perth. Elizabeth was the fourth of eight children and from the age of 3 until school age she was brought up by her grandmother Mrs Emela Parker. She moved to Western Australia with her family aboard the S.S. Sydney in 1903. The Sherlock family lived in Zebina Street, East Perth. The following year Elizabeth started work at the New Zealand Wool Co. in Hay St. Perth where she worked as a tailoress until her marriage.
Wilhelm and Elizabeth lived at 652 Hay Street Perth and had two children. Edna Leichen Chapman, b. 25.6.1907 and Rita Amalia Honner, b. 28.11.1909.
In 1907, Liebe became interested in farming and after purchasing land in the Wubin district the partnership of Liebe and Klein was formed, with Wilhelm and Albert Klein to establish the property.
Anti-German hostility at the beginning of 1914 saw Wilhelm interned, first on the Glowery estate near Wubin, and then on Rottnest Island, then released on bond 16 October 1915 with F.W.G. Liebe’s help. In May 1917, it was suggested that Wilhelm was a German sympathizer and he was charged at Northam under the War Precaution Act with having made statements likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty, or public alarm. Gustav Liebe's connections with important members of the Perth community soon proved the suggestions to be unfounded, after it was discovered that a policeman at Northam who had long disliked Wilhelm had deliberately made false reports about him. The same officer had also tried to blackmail both Klein and Liebe. The police officer was discharged in disgrace and Wilhelm released. In 1922 the property was flourishing so at a cost of twelve thousand pounds, Gustave Leibe built them a magnificent Mt Lawley style house. Wilhelm's application for naturalization was accepted 19 June 1923 after a few problems when the wartime accusations were reinvestigated. Wilhem's partnership with Liebe ceased around 1925 for reasons unknown, although they remained friends, and he continued to farm the land in his own right. Despite the closeness between the two men, Wilhelm was left out of Gustav Liebe's will although his brother and sister were beneficiaries. Wilhelm farmed his land until 1950 when he sold out to Albert Rayner. The couple moved to Perth where Wilhelm died 16 October 1963 and Elizabeth 9 May 1983, just one day short of her 97th birthday. Both are buried in Karrakatta.

KLEIN, Edna Leichen

Edna born 25 June 1907 was the eldest child of Wilhelm and Emily Elizabeth Klein. She moved to Wubin in 1908 with her family and was said to be the first white child in the district. The nearest playmates were the Reudavey children 10 miles away and Edna and her sister loved to visit them, travelling by horse and sulky. Edna was sent to St Gertrude's boarding school at New Norcia in 1916 at the age of nine. Edna remembers the picnics and parties which took place with friends from Dalwallinu. After working on the home property as a farm hand Edna moved to Perth in 1931 and later to Victoria where she met and married her husband, Thomas Raymond Chapman in 1944. A widow, Edna was living in Nedlands 2002.

KLEIN, Rita Amalia

Rita born 28 November 1909 was the second child of Wilhelm and Elizabeth Klein. In 1917 at just 8 years of age, she was sent to St. Gertrude's boarding school, New Norcia, with her sister. Rita became engaged to a local man, Clement Wilfred Honner of Nugadong, on her 18th birthday. Rita and Clem had five children: Rita Eleanor Quartermaine b. 1931; Maureen Elizabeth Coppens b. 1933; Aileen Mary Crofts b. 1935; Carmel Laurentia Dyball b. 1936 and John McMahon in 1938. All were born at Dalwallinu hospital. The family lived in Nugadong until 1945, when they moved to Narrogin. Rita died in Narrogin 30.12.1993, and was laid to rest at Karrakatta Cemetery.

KLEIN, Albert

Albert, born 4 June 1891 in Victoria, was the younger son of Josef and Augusta. He came to the Wubin district in 1908 with his brother Wilhelm and worked on the properties owned by Wilhelm and Gus Liebe. In 1925 Albert left Wubin to live in Perth. He died on 18 August 1951 and is buried in Dalwallinu. His grave is one of those referred to in the book Five Graves at Dalwallinu.

KLEIN, Amalia Hedwig

Amalia Hedwig Klein, born 1889 in Victoria, was the sister of Wilhelm and Albert Klein. She married Sidney Guildford Collins and the couple had three sons: Albert, Harold and Sidney. The family came from Kalgoorlie, where Sidney was a mining engineer, to Wubin 1918, their homestead being six miles from the Klein’s property. Their original home was made from hessian with a dirt floor. In 1926 (completed in 1930), the third house to be built by Gus Liebe was to become their permanent home, on the farm called “Sunshine”. This was the first re-inforced concrete house to be built in W.A. and was 75 squares in size. One of its features was the magnificent leadlight windows which were specially commissioned and featured farming scenes.
Hedwig (as she was always known) was an active CWA member and after she moved to Dalkeith, she loaned the Wubin-Jibberding CWA £600 interest free to build a rest room. Sidney died 8.8.1949 aged 70, and Amalia died 12.2.1960 and both are buried in Dalwallinu. These graves are mentioned in the book Five Graves in Dalwallinu.

COLLINS, Albert Henry

Albert was born 14.3.1912 in Leonora as the eldest child of Sidney and Amelia Collins. He married Gisella Maria Hepp in 1960 in Perth and they had two children, Gabrielle b. 30.9.1961, and Herbert b. 1.8.1963. Albert farmed the family farm into his 80s and then retired to the city. Gisella d. 8.1.1979, aged 52 and Albert d. 25.9.2002, aged 90.

COLLINS, Harold Klein

Harold was born 28.10.1914 in Maylands, second son of Sidney and Amelia Collins. He married Louise Joyce 6.10.1917 from Mentone, Victoria, on the 14.10.1939 at St. Albans Church, Highgate, Perth. The couple had three children: Joyce Louise b. 17.9.1940, John Harold b. 22.10.1942 (died 8.3.1958) and Ross Sydney b. 25.4.1946. Harold attended the North Dalwallinu school travelling there by horse and sulky. Miss Mary Flynn was one of his teachers. He later farmed on part of the property owned by F.W.G. Liebe. Harold moved to Palmyra, Perth in 1959 and died 14.3.1998.

COLLINS, Sidney Arthur

Sidney was born 2.8.1917 in Maylands the youngest son of Sidney and Amelia Collins. He married Eugene (Jean) SYME 1.2.1934 on 9.4.1955 in Dalwallinu. They had three children, Bruce Guildford b. 16.10.1957, Lyall Sidney b.17.10.60 and Loma Cyd b. 11.10.1966. He farmed adjacent to the Klein and Collins properties. Sidney died 11.10.1972 and is buried in the Dalwallinu cemetry. His grave is one of those mentioned in the book Five Graves in Dalwallinu. Jean and the family left the farm after his death.

The Peninsula Hotel

Gervas:
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... himself as a citizen and what role he might play in the colony. As a result he sought and was granted Australian citizenship in 1901. He had been a resident of Australia now for some fifteen years and considered himself a worthy citizen. Naturalisation was not an important factor then, and was not considered essential. But Liebe felt it was important to proclaim himself. It was a statement of faith for him.
He had also taken on an unusual responsibility, Wilhelm Klein was now his ward. His father, Joseph, confident in his continuing good health had elected to take his wife and family for a trip home to Germany. Within weeks of their arrival however Klein was taken ill again and in an attempt to save his life, bookings were quickly made for a return journey to Australia. It proved to be too late. Only a few days out of Fremantle on a ship bound for Adelaide, Klein died.
It is significant that in her hour of desperate need Augusta turned to her husband's ex-partner as she returned to Perth to join him. By this time her health was declining and within two years she died of dropsy. She left her children in the care of the man who might have been their father anyway.
For a bachelor unused to such responsibility this was hardly a job he could carry out alone. He sought the assistance of a Mrs Carlhausen of Fremantle who took on the job of bringing up Albert and Hedwig. Leaving Wilhelm to Liebe. His plan for the boy was simple - have him apprenticed, as he was. He enrolled Wilhelm at the Perth Technical school learning wood carving. He kept in touch with the boy and his needs.
Bull At Bay
Although Perth was still a small city with scarcely any real suburban development, small fortunes had been made in real estate by some of its more enterprising citizens. One of these was Thomas George Anstruther Molloy who had come to the colony with his parents from India in the year of Liebe's birth.
Molloy was the son of a Pensioner Guard who had served in the Crimea. He was not Irish born but retained a fierce Irish sentiment all his life.
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Like Liebe, Molloy had early visions of the kind of life he would lead. He trained as a baker and while learning this he got himself a handcart and collected bottles. But his real interest ... The hunger which fueled his ambition was real estate. In the 1880s and 1890s he collected blocks of land like some men collect stamps or matchbox labels. West Perth was his hunting ground and he bought parcels of land in Havelock Street and Douro Place as well as in Hay street and Ord street.
No doubt to further his real estate interests Molloy became a member of the Perth City council and served a term as Mayor. He also successfully canvassed for a seat in the Legislative Council and was duly elected for a term. Molloy was an individualist refusing to follow any political party. Content to keep his independence, and by the early years of the 1900s he had emerged as an entrepreneur, owning hotels in North Perth and East Perth.
He had also moved into the city block with the Metropole Hotel to which he had added The Theatre Royal. In a city the size of Perth this was a courageous enterprise. He was also a man of vision, for hot on the completion of this project he engaged H.G. Wolf again. This time he planned a new theatre-hotel complex for the big block of land he owned on the corner of Hay and King streets.
The man awarded this contract was Gustave Liebe. The cost of the f building was estimated to be 46,000 pounds.
Understandably, Liebe must have been delighted at the prospect of a really big building. It would be his first theatre since the Budapest Opera House. The architect, Wolf had conceived an imposing structure with dress circle and gallery. There were to be stage-side boxes in the European tradition. And with the theatre there was to be a hotel with special bars to serve the theatre patrons. It was to be a building which would grace any city. There was also a challenge in the use of concrete in the construction.
Within days of the signing, excavations began at the site on the corner Hay and King streets. Perth had not seen such a hole before but it was essential for the foundations and the labyrinth of cellars and large basement area.
Gradually in the ensuing months the superstructure emerged, and the size of the building could be assessed. Liebe was making good progress on
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completing the building by the 1904 deadline. It was only when work was about to start on the upper balconies that Liebe raised the alarm. In his opinion the supports were not strong enough. He knew concrete well enough to know that unlike wood, for instance, it did not bend under pressure. It simply broke up. He conferred with the architect and engineer and then submitted a revised plan to Molloy for approval. It wasn’t forthcoming, and as time was an important factor Liebe went ahead. To do anything less would be a betrayal of his training with its natural concern for the safety of the building and its users.
Molloy, quite reasonable according to his view of things — after all he had employed an architect to attend to such matters — was not prepared to listen for demands for change if they were to cost money. Money was too hard to come by and he was always unwilling to part with it.

The cleaners pose as they are about to begin cleaning up
His Majesty's Theatre ready for the seating to be installed.

On his part, Liebe believed that Molloy's silence meant that he was in agreement with the changes, and he was a proud man surveying the scene as the cleaners moved in to prepare the theatre for seating and its planned grand opening.
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His Majesty's Theatre and Hotel were certainly gracious additions to the city of Perth. Thomas George Anstruther Molloy was praised for his enterprise and for the contribution he had made to the city's future cultural life. The architect H.G. Wolf was praised and given due homage for his work. The builder, Gustave Liebe was not given much acknowledgement, but he privately ranked it amongst his great achievements. He was proud of it.
As is often the case in human affairs, his euphoria was to have a short life and he was returned to earth with something like a thud. His accounts which had been submitted to Molloy for final settlement were rejected. Molloy refused point-blank to pay for the additional strengthening work which Liebe had included. It was no use talking to Molloy, he was a master of the deaf ear where extra demands were involved. He was, to use a good

His Majesty's Theatre on completion.
Liebe, third from left, stands with a group of managers.
Signs indicate that the steelwork was by Makutz,
and the lift and electicity by W. Wearne 'of this city'.
Note the balconies, since removed because of posts on street.

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strong word for a good strong force — obdurate. It was to be expected perhaps. Molloy was known in his public life as a man who spent money reluctantly. He always delayed paying accounts as a matter of business behaviour, believing that money left as long as possible in the bank would earn more for him than quick attention to payment. His methods made few friends in the business community where such news spread readily. Yet he wished to be popular and to be seen even as a philanthropic figure. Trouble was, he was unwilling to pay the price. He sought public office so diligently that it was once said that he kept dozens of alcoholics penned in his capacious lower basement at His Majestys Hotel, purely to serve as voters for him at Council elections.
Liebe was not the man to take this lying down. He was angry and he stormed and fumed over what he believed to be an injustice. He vowed that Molloy should pay for services rendered so he took Molloy to court.
Liebe's case seemed to have some validity. What he had done he had done with good faith to ensure Molloy of a sound building. He had acted also in the cause of public safety. As the case progressed it became more and more apparent that Liebes hopes depended very much on producing the amended plans he had submitted but Molloy insisted that there were no such plans. If there were he had never seen them. Liebe, on his part accused Molloy of destroying this important evidence.
Winning the case was vital to both men. A success for Liebe would have meant a chance to recoup his losses. For Molloy success meant a more secure building at no extra cost. Sadly for the contractor he lost the case.
“One more Molloy” Liebe is reported as saying,“And there will be no more Liebe”.
Perhaps in an effort to console himself for the loss, Liebe began planning a hotel for himself and the site he chose was an odd one. Not in the city where the need was great but in the suburb of Maylands, some eight kilometres from Perth.
With memories of his homeland he designed the building along the lines of 19th Century German Mansion Hotels. And although it was not actually on the peninsula, he named it the Peninsula Hotel.

A year after his completion of work on His Majestys Theatre and
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Hotel his own hotel started to take form. It features many outstanding hallmarks of Liebe's work. There were handsome leadlights with sentimental verse inscribed on them. The superb balustrade of native jarrah was a triumph of design and workmanship and all the architraves and skirting boards, doors and timber features were the work of the young wood carver Wilhelm Klein. Liebe selected a tulip theme which appeared in stained glass and in the superb plaster ceilings and cornices. He also used pressed metal ceilings with the same motif.
The exterior was unique. Perth had no building quite like it. The lacework balustrading and the Victorian decorations around the verandah posts, the deep eaves and the fenestration were topped by the distinctive massive dome. It was immediately seen to be a significant building achievement.

The Peninsula Hotel (1906) on the corner of Eighth Avenue
and Railway Parade, Maylands.
Designed and built in German Mansion style by G. Liebe.
Owned and operated by him.

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The magnificent ceiling over the stairwell of the Peninsula Hotel.
Liebe used a tulip motif throughout.

The Peninsula Hotel opened in 1906 and there was much talk of it being used as a kind of German club with Liebe as President. Nothing supports this. It is true that there were German migrants living there at various time. One of them formed a German Band which played in the streets of Perth. But Liebe, the Freemason, and newly naturalised Australian was not likely to identify himself with a club for Germans. He believed in being an Australian.
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By this time Liebe had also built the Newmarket Hotel in Fremantle which was described as a flamboyant goldrush hotel.
Firmly entrenched in the city, the owner and operator of a fine hotel. Well established financially, Liebe continued to get work worthy of his abilities ... and in 1906 after years of delay and wrangling the go-ahead was at last given for Western Australia's first major Art Gallery. It was to be an imposing building occupying an entire city block and emerged as an Edwardian building designed by Hillson Beasley who had taken over the job from the ailing J. H. Grainger. A feature of the building was the use of terracotta patterns and fine brickwork. The general effect is that of a well balanced and practical gallery with a noble entrance.
Coinciding with the construction of the Art Gallery Liebe built a hotel in Dowerin in the country some two hundred kilometres from Perth, and the Brighton Hotel in Cottesloe.

The Western Australian Art Gallery (1907).
Designed by Hillson Beasley and built by G. Liebe.
It is now part of the W.A. Musem.

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It may have been on one of these trips to supervise and check the work in progress at Dowerin that Liebe first expressed interest in the land.
Nothing so far suggested that he would ever harbour thoughts of becoming a farmer. All his life had been spent working in cities in the main. Yet now, in this diverse life of his which had taken him already from the pleasant landscapes of Eastern Europe to the sometimes formidable land of Australia he began considering a new project. He became interested in becoming a wheat farmer. It was late 1907 and once having come to the decision he decided to look once more at the land he had seen while constructing buildings for the Midland Railway. His very first move demonstrated how seriously he took himself. Before he left on his tour of inspection and likely selection, he visited the agricultural showrooms of Malloch Bros in William Street Perth. He was immediately deeply impressed by the machinery displayed and he spent much time with the salesmen learning their application to farming.

Gus Liebe in a studio portrait
taken after the completion of the Western Australian Art Gallery.

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When Liebe left for his first visit he went straight to Wubin a district he favoured. He carried with him a number of white calico bags which he had obtained from Malloch Bros. This was to be no hit-and-miss affair. Liebe wanted samples of the soils on the various selections he visited. He was looking for good soil and good drainage. He spoke to many locals about the rainfall and was critical of many of the blocks he saw because they were littered with stones and small rocks.
When Liebe returned to Perth he had filled all the bags and he now proceeded to send them to soil analysts for evaluation. Later there were to be critics who claimed that Liebe was never a good farmer, but the way he selected his land seemed to indicate that he knew at least the basic moves in selecting his blocks and on the basis of his soil samples and recommendations made by the analysts he selected land totalling about six thousand acres initially, expanding this quite soon to no fewer than 20,000 acres which no doubt caused a stir among the local farmers.
His research paid dividends, for the blocks he purchased in Wubin are still cherished for their soil and productivity.
So while he carried on building in the city Gustave Liebe was beginning what could well be called his third apprenticeship. This time there would be no master, no college or curriculum, only the land which would fill all those roles. He would have to learn from his own experiences and quickly adapt himself to the vagaries of many elements including the basic selection of suitable grains, the seasons and the whims of the weather.
All things carefully considered this was a gamble for Liebe and he had not thus far shown himself to be a gambler.
It was a confrontation with nature, often stern and more often wayward. Rules were there but they were not strict as in building, they were meant to be observed as well as bent on occasions.
“Gus” Liebe as he was now known to his associates was not unaware of the enormity of the task he was setting himself. He knew that by applying his ‘think big’policy to farming he might be biting off more than he could possibly chew but it was the only way he knew. He saw it simply as yet another business proposition and applied all his knowledge to the demands it would make. Like a great general he knew the importance of planning his campaign from simple basic needs to major projects, making
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sure of good supply lines and adequate finance. He was too old in the head to be impetuous and rather than plunge in, he set himself stages and abided by his plans.
In hindsight. Thinking over this great challenge, Liebe may well have considered it beyond him. But that was not his way. No doubt he was warned by conservative farmers and heeded what they had to say, but his course was set, the breeze of enterprise seemed in the right quarter and Liebe set sail on this venture with a good heart and a sound vision of his own.
One great advantage was his faith in the many mechanical aids to farming which were now coming on the market. He started his venture confident of being able to exploit these new methods to their utmost. Not for him a stand-off period. He plunged in where others feared to take the first doubful step. If he was to farm in a big way then he must have implements to assist him. There was one other vital feature of his planning — he saw the need for water, not just a supply, but a constant and reliable source. That was always on his mind.
This early decade of the twentieth century was marked by many great developments. Edison had made electric lighting possible for the masses and Henry Ford had produced the first car at a price which people could afford. Liebe ordered a T-Model Ford when first he heard about it, and was one of the first to own one in 1910. As he drove this amazing vehicle he came to see how much such inventions would contribute to the enterprising man on the land. He foresaw machines replacing the horse teams and marvelled at the machines now being produced by “Sunshine” in Victoria, machines ahead of their time and unique in Australia.
One of Liebe's immediate needs was to employ someone to help him bring the Wubin property into full production whilst he continued as a builder making money to finance the continuing improvements. He sought a young man, reliable and energetic who would see the challenge offered and answer it through his own initiatives plus Liebe's overall direction.
He didn’t look far. Conscious of his duty to assist his ward, Wilhelm Klein, and sure of the young mans application and loyalty, plus his need to provide for his young family, he offered him the job, assuring him of

Visitors go for a camel ride in 1911 on the Klein property.
Camels had come from the north.

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security and a free hand. But what Liebe considered an almost irresistible opportunity for the young family man, was not seen in that light by the independent Wilhelm. He was already a sound tradesman whose work was in demand in Perth and moreover he wanted to remain in the city where he had spent his apprenticeship years and made many friends. Besides he knew absolutely nothing about farming for one thing, and for another he was realistic enough to see that he could not see eye to eye about anything with the older man. Whenever they met. When they talked at length about anything, each became roused by the other. Their arguments and disputations were fierce and close to physical expression.
Gus Liebe was generally regarded as an amiable man, slow to be aroused, but Wilhelm provoked him into anger within minutes of their being brought together.
It is not too much to believe that this antagonism was such that it could well be further evidence of the kind of natural feeling that exists often between father and son.

Wilhelm and Elizabeth Klein

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Their mutual antagonism was not the only evidence of a possible relationship. When one compares a picture of Wilhelm with that of Joseph Klein there is little or no similarity. Joseph was slim and of small stature ... even slight in build and there is little to indicate physical strength or presence. Wilhelm is seen to have a large handsome head not unlike that of Liebe. There is a sense of power in his whole presence and he was already known to be a man of great physical strength. Without drawing the line too firmly it is hard to dismiss the theory that in those far off days in Sofia, Liebe may well have been the procreator of Wilhelm Klein.

References and Links

Birman Wendy 1986, 'Liebe, Friederich Wilhelm Gustav (1862–1950)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/liebe-friederich-wilhelm-gustav-7192/text12437, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 5 February 2021.

Cail, Bert, Judith Reudavey & Joy Womes 2005, Prepared to Pioneer: A History of Wubin 1908-1939, Wubin Progress Association.

Crake, Hellen Antonio 1985, A History of Dalwallinu ‘A Place to Wait a While’ 1846-1979, Shire of Dalwallinu, © copyright Hellen Antonio Crake 1985.

Gervas, Stan 1991, Five Graves in Dalwallinu: A Life of Wilhelm Friederich Gustave Liebe, Vintage Book.

Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'Friederich Wilhelm Gustav Liebe' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 4 February 2021.

Crimean War Veterans in Western Australia (Diane Oldman): page for John Molloy.

Wikipedia page.


Garry Gillard | New: 27 April, 2019 | Now: 7 February, 2021