When I was a very small girl, my great grandmother and her younger brother, Bub still lived on this land. They lived in a 2 roomed dwelling that my ancestors built when they came here from the Scottish highlands in the 1850’s. My ancestors, the Cameron’s, came here to Geelong, where I now live, on a ship called Bride of the Sea. They brought clan, Guthrie’s, and a Spence, also ancestors, and the families all settled as neighbours, in this very far away land.

There was never electricity in the little 2 roomed house. Back then the rough hewn logs, cut by Cameron’s, were clad in weatherboard and iron lace. One of my few recollections is that it was dim in there even in the day time. The 2 rooms were separate, connected by a little space and a path as though there was once only one building. The Rushworth cemetery shows many children were had by Sarah and Dugald, who lived there first. The forlorn little grave near the entrance of the old cemetery holds two of their infant children, and the death dates of the rest span many years. All of these children were born and lived in the tiny house, and roamed the large lands.

 

When I was that very small girl, there were horses, goats, chickens, sheep and pigs. The gardens surrounding the house were verdant and lovingly tended, in the same way that my mother knows how to tend plants, cajoling beauty from rocky soil. The peppercorn trees swayed there, as they still do.
We children hung off Bub, the old man baby brother. Born ten years later than his sisters, they still outlived him by 20 or so years, but everything changed for those widowed ladies when he died. The house and lands were left in trust to my brothers and male cousins. Even the contents of the house were left to my sister and I, and sadly, the executor of the will ordered that they be sold. How I would value those old things had they been left to us as intended.

 

I remember the day of the auction, all of The things dragged out into the sun,with strange children bouncing up and down on Nan’s bed.

 

The house was abandoned for 30 years. The gardens died off. Opportunistic thieves stripped the house of it’s weather boards and iron lace, it diminished with each year that passed. In 1992 my father began digging earth to make mud bricks. He had the foundations dug for a home that he would build himself, by hand and mud. The house was behind and to the side of the old house. Dad died on the second day of the following year. The last photos taken of him were there, at the place that we call Bushies. It was from here that we left to go swimming.
I had my wedding photos taken on this dry land. It was to this address that the WWI letters that I have been transcribing were sent to and received.

 

Now it is settled again, and children roam the tracks and the green and gold and brown. Family belongs here.

 

I walk the land, and it is strewn with nature and history intertwined. There are pieces of china and old bottles, fragments of leather and buckles and other pieces of past animal husbandry. I see the past only partly hidden amongst the curled moss and the wild flowers. I think of it as being not unlike the seabed where a ship has come to grief,so that the lives of men and women settles into the silt and is swallowed and incorporated there.
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