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Graham at the Farm

Updated: Jul 11

Graham was born in the city of Adelaide, and lived his whole life here. But before we married in 1968, I took him to visit my family in Queensland. My parents still lived on the farm where I had grown up—on Redford. I’m sure I had already talked about the farm, about the animals, the trees, the droughts and floods. But he had to experience it for himself.

We intended to travel the entire way by bus. Money was in short supply, I was still a university student, living on a scholarship, and what I earned as a baby-sitter for all the academics around me. His job as a salesman was not all that well paid. On the first leg of our trip, between Adelaide and Melbourne, the bus ran out of petrol some distance from a country town. (Apparently the bus has been used overnight in Adelaide, and no-one had replaced the fuel used during that trip.) The driver hitch-hiked to the town, and came back with enough fuel to get us to Melbourne. But the delay meant that we had missed the connecting bus to Sydney. The bus-company put us up in a hotel overnight in Melbourne, and they gave us tickets to fly to Sydney the next morning.

The hotel was an experience. Because I had booked the bus tickets for 2 people, the hotel assumed we were married. It took some talking before they found 2 single rooms for us!

The flight next morning was very early. We flew over the mountains, and to my delight, I caught my first and only glimpse of snow. Arriving in Sydney, we had hours to fill before we could join the bus we had missed, so we caught a ferry, and spent the hours at Taronga Zoo. Then on to Toowoomba, where my parents met us in the car.

A few days later the family got together. It must have been difficult for Graham to meet my big family en masse -- my three siblings, their partners and the eight children they had produced. But probably the biggest hurdle was meeting my grandmother, Mum’s mother. Aggie was already in her 90s, as upright as she had always been, with very definite views, and not afraid of sharing them. But as far as I remember, they all made him welcome. Probably they were relieved that I had finally found someone to share my life. I think they had almost given me up.

We introduced Graham to some aspects of farm life. I have a cherished photo of his first ride on a horse, with a big grin of achievement. We took him mustering cattle in a Holden utility, Dad driving, Graham and I in the back with the dogs. I know I enjoyed yelling at the bullocks, while the dogs barked loudly. He must have seen a new side of me then. Dad enjoyed driving between the trees and logs, always on the look-out to tease his passengers with apparent danger. He loved tormenting newcomers that way.

On later trips, my brother-in-law took him fishing in the local creek, and they came home with a big enough catch, for a meal. When my sister cooked them for us, the taste brought back memories of eating Mum’s cooking of the same species of fish, when I was a child. Charlie also took Graham ‘fossicking’, looking in washouts for interesting rocks and stones. Later he produced his metal-detector, and they explored the area around the local weir. But this time they could only find old tins, beer-cans and old nails. Nothing exciting at all.

Graham had only a few trips to the farm, before my parents sold it, and moved to a house in Chinchilla. But he knew how important my memories of it were. I wish I could have shared the book with him, before dementia took his memories away.

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