“PIONEERS OF AUSTRALIA!
To You “Who Gave Our Country Birth”; to the memory of You whose names, whose giant enterprise, whose deeds of fortitude and daring were never engraved on a tablet or tombstone; to You who strove through the loneliness through the years that have faded away; to You who have no place in the history of our Country; so far as it is yet written; to You who have done MOST for this land; to You for whom few, in the march of settlement, in the turmoil of busy city life, now appear to care; and to you particularly, GOOD OLD DAD, this book is most affectionately dedicated.”
Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis) – Foreward, ‘On Our Selection’
This blog entry is inspired by a great Australian. We are lucky enough to live here in Steele Rudd Country and a visit by Jane (yay, first visitor!) was reason enough to go exploring.
Arriving in the small town of Nobby after drifting through rolling hills of farmland, corn and sunflower, dead grass and sometimes nothing, we set off first to find the burial place of another local hero. Sister Kenny, of the region, pioneered successful Polio treatments on the farmer’s children much to the angst of the establishment and as such is remembered for her enduringly rebellious spirit. She was so pioneering in fact that we couldn’t locate her grave in the local cemetery. Perhaps she is laid to rest somewhere else. But there is nothing quite like the education received from 10 minutes looking back into the lives of those that came before. Tales were evident of vast family legacies, plots beside plots. And reminders of the struggle of the past, with deaths of small children and families in groups. All mourned, all remembered.
We pulled into the one street town, a post office/general store, an art gallery, a craft shop and Steele Rudd’s Pub! Inside was a clutter of paraphernalia, not a wall space was left, not a beam un-hung. A favourite of mine was the small image below painted on a large leaf. Simply beautiful.
After a tasty meal and some friendly service, and some not so friendly, we headed West again in search of the Steele Rudd Memorial Hut on the supposed site of his family selection. And just when we thought that we had missed it there it was! The sign I am dangling off was carved and placed in site by a relative of Mr Rudd himself and the whole memorial designed, constructed and up kept by community workers and community good will.
And below is the replica hut. Tiny house anyone? Apparently a family of 13 children made their way into life in a hut just like this. In fact, inside is a slab of timber that claims to be from the original Rudd dining table. And from the feel of it it had soaked up more than the odd spilled tea, it sang of a tactile past and of many a merry meal and disillusioned dinner.
Inside you can see that the insulation practices of the time were not quite up to our standards, but the positive is that you would awake each morning to the twinkling of many little lights…or perhaps to the drops of cold rain.
Dom inspects the cow shed and farming implements, marvelling at the ingenious construction techniques designed we suppose around a complete lack of nails and screws.
I loved the opportunity to see and touch and feel and hear the country and the replica buildings. And best of all I have loved that, in telling others where I have been, I have introduced a number of new people to the joy that is Steele Rudd’s authorship.
The next day we were up bright and early and into the Carbarlah markets, midway between Toowoomba and Crows Nest. These lovely sprawling markets had a range of goodies from home made goods, to woodworked marvels, to exotic fruit trees and cheap Chinese imports. A great little market that goes a little nuts at Christmas, or so we have heard.
Then to the block for a look see and for Jane to take a little more time to explore than her previous visit. Below in the panorama, if you click to see a larger view you will spy a tiny Jane surveying her son’s own selection.
And there we are the happy family, allowing Mr Stump Frog to take our picture to capture the moment.
“No mistake, it was a real wilderness – nothing but trees, “goannas”, dead timber, and bears; and the nearest house – Dwyers – was three miles away. I often wonder how the women stood it the first few years; and can remember how Mother, when she was alone, used to sit on a log, where the lane is now, and cry for hours.”
Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis) – ‘On Our Selection’