Herbert Austin Bailey was born at Highmoor, a rural village in the county of Oxfordshire on 2 September 1873 to Silas and Ann Elizabeth (nee Austen). He married Ethel Elizabeth Sharp at St. Mary’s Church in the nearby village of Wargrave on 22 April 1896. The couple remained in the district, residing at Henley-on-Thames where they raised eight children. When their son Alfred contracted tuberculosis, the couple agreed a warmer climate would improve their son’s health, and that Bailey would travel to Australia and find a suitable situation before sending for the family.
Bailey departed England aboard T.S.S. Maunganui on 29 December 1911. A bricklayer by trade, he was offered a job by a passenger from Melbourne during the voyage. Bailey disembarked at Melbourne on 2 February 1912, immediately warmed to the city and within days of arriving, sent a message to Ethel entreating his wife and children to join him. Ethel and the children arrived in Melbourne on 27 December 1912, and the family eventually settled in the suburb of Elsternwick.
Bailey was 43 years old when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 28 March 1917. He was assigned to Engineer Reinforcements, and trained at both Broadmeadows and Seymour in Victoria before moving to the Engineers Depot at Moore Park in Sydney where he completed his training with the rank of sapper. He embarked from Sydney with Reinforcements attached to the Field Companies Engineers aboard HMAT Euripides on 31 October 1917, and disembarked at Devonport on 26 December 1917.
On arrival in England, Bailey marched to Parkhouse Camp at Salisbury Plains before moving to camp at Brightlingsea on 18 February 1918. This was the location of an Australian Engineers Training Depot, and it was here that Bailey completed his training before proceeding to France on 12 April 1918. He arrived at Le Havre the next day, and was taken on strength with the 15th Field Company Engineers on 25 April 1918. He remained with the same unit for his entire period of active service in France and Belgium.
Bailey was mobilised to return to Australia during May 1919, departing England on 5 July 1919 and disembarking at Melbourne on 20 August 1919. Bailey suffered from a serious respiratory complaint stemming from an incident after the Armistice when his unit were repairing a bridge and uncovered gas shells that exploded. In an effort to aid his recovery, Bailey began camping with his older sons, and on one occasion, came across a sign advertising land at Lysterfield on the outskirts of Melbourne. He bought two adjoining bush blocks and subsequently built a house known as Bailey’s Farm.
Bailey was one of the first residents at Lysterfield, and an active member of the local community for almost thirty years. He was a founding member of the Lysterfield Young Farmers’ Club, held numerous roles with the Lysterfield District Progress Association including that of President, and was a Councillor with the Dandenong Shire Council. In 1947 Bailey’s Farm was acquired by the State Rivers and Water Commission. In November of the same year, Bailey was given a farewell by the local community in the district hall he helped to build, and left Lysterfield to reside near his children. He died at the Heidelberg Royal General Hospital on 5 April 1963, aged 89.