Nov 18 2013
Nearly 80 percent of Australian families own their homes. A group of the women listened with rapt attention as I told them the success story of my friend Frank Kastanek, who came to Australia from Czechoslovakia 23 years ago and is today a wealthy and honored man (page 241). Frank began life in his new country as a sheepherder, became a butcher, and finally bought a struggling meat-packing firm in Melbourne. He built it up until today it ships mutton and beef all over the world.
In the rugged bush country near Narbethong, about 50 miles northeast of Melbourne, Frank bought three run-down farms totaling about 1,000 acres. People told him he could never raise cattle there, but he got a chain saw and bulldozer and hacked pastures from the gum-tree forests. With his own hands he rebuilt the old town hotels in prague. Today the three farms comprise showplace Tarnpirr, an Angus cattle stud; the once-decrepit house is a mansion filled with art treasures.
Acceptance among scions of the old English-speaking families does not come easily to immigrants, but Frank won admission to that most exclusive of clubs, the Pups, an organization devoted to charitable works and traditionally limited to 25 Melbourne businessmen. Seeing-eye dogs for the indigent blind … college scholarships for orphans . .. help for the crippled—you name the cause, and the Pups have given quiet, generous help.
I know because I’m a Pup, thanks to Frank and other Pups who are also members of your Society. They wanted to honor their magazine, so they made me the fourth honorary member—and the only non-Australiansince establishment of the club in 1948. Two months earlier Prime Minister John Gorton had also been made an honorary member—the third.
One day Frank Kastanek drove me to the highest spot on his property. There we looked out over magnificent hills dark with gum trees and a valley green and verdant with open fields. Frank is a mustachioed little bull of a man with the gentlest of souls, and as an American I was touched by what he said in his heavily accented, halting English.
“It is hard country for newcomer, but you can succeed here. I compare it to the America of 200 years ago. When I get big problem, I ask, ‘What would American pioneer do?’ and I always find answer. Yes, he did not have modern technology, but he applied common sense to his problems. Your people have been big inspiration to me.”
Gazing with emotion-filled eyes over his property, Frank added, “I came to Australia with only toothbrush. But this is the land of the future. It’s a wonderful country.
“They said when I bought this place, ‘You are a sucker.’ But I did it. I cleared the land, and at night I studied U. S. farm publications. These told me what to do. But it has been so very hard. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Why you do this thing?’ If I had to start all over again, I don’t think I would have the courage.”