Jane Grieve was born and raised on a farm on the Darling Downs in Queensland. She grew up with the wind in her hair and the rich, black Darling Downs soil between her barefoot toes, her vivid imagination captivated by the tales of her Colonial forebears and the romantic notion of Australia's outback. From the outset she was determined that her life was not going to run along conventional lines; and nor did it. While working for architect Bill Durack, brother of legendary Australian personages Mary and Elizabeth Durack, she met R.M. Williams. R.M. exhorted her to work with him, Hugh Sawrey, Mary Durack, Bob Katter Sr., Ranald Chandler, Sir James Walker, and other prominent Australians to build a very special monument. This is the previously untold story of the establishment of one of Australia's foremost Bicentennial projects – the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre at Longreach in Queensland. Told through the eyes of a person whose role in the inner sanctum was pivotal to its success, it is an extraordinary true story of the legendary people, selfless determination, and sheer hard work involved in the creation of what was intended as a Mecca for all Australians.
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In Stockmen's Footsteps
By Jane Grieve
Allen & UnwinCopyright © 2013 Jane Grieve
All rights reserved.
'You ARE a funny girl. You actually look HAPPY!' — Kathleen Mylne (my grandmother) to Kathleen Paull (my mother) on the occasion of my birth on 17 March 1953
We all come from somewhere. It stands to reason that, lonely as it might be inside your own skin at times, none of us exists in isolation at least in terms of our origins.
A particular family history accounts for how I came to be me. The broader story of my life, therefore, would not exist without the input of a great many people both past and present. Those people danced in and out of my life from before its very beginning, in fact and in second-hand tales. They blessed me with and bequeathed to me their stories, their attitudes and their actions. If I can honour them, then that for me is a good outcome.
With this in mind, I now make my best endeavour to commit my story to paper.
My grandmother's words were an inauspicious start. But I was completely and blissfully unaware that being the fourth daughter of a son-less couple was any sort of impediment whatsoever — and, as Mum did not disclose them to me till I was 53, by which time it no longer mattered, I did what any self-respecting baby boomer would do and just got on with it. I was given the gift of a life, to make of it what I would. Forcep-propelled, I came into the world paddling and just kept right on doing so.
Unaware I may have been of my grandmother's misgivings about my gender, but my family left no time apprising me of the minutiae of my two-year-old sister Tina's tantrum on leaving the viewing window where, according to the mores of the times, I was upon request (by a piece of paper with the words 'Baby Paull' written clearly in Dad's neat hand) held up for critical public examination behind a substantial pane of glass that protected the sensitivities of the newborn-babies' ward in the Southport Hospital on the Gold Coast.
Tina wanted to keep looking at the monkeys. Dad wanted to get home and hand his tribe of fidgeting little girls back to our grandmother, Norn. I, meantime, a born claustrophobe, was no doubt fully engaged with fighting the constraints of the copious papoose-like swaddling in which babies were tightly wrapped in those days. Meanwhile, somewhat hairless and inert, I had unwittingly misrepresented myself at the very outset and taken on the role of family jester without doing anything except just being me.
It was hard to be taken seriously from that point on. Especially as the monkey image was reinforced a couple of years later when I slipped under the restraining rail at David Fleay's Zoo, also on the Gold Coast, in order to get a closer look at the monkeys.
I had hair issues, which didn't worry me much, except that on this occasion one of the monkeys reached through the bars of its cage under the pretext of accepting my proffered peanut, and grabbed me by my bird's-nest hair with a grip that would not be deterred from its grim purpose of adopting me.
I was not happy. Nor, incidentally, was David Fleay. The situation was eventually brought under control but not without a lot of unfortunate comparisons.
Despite this, it would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that I grew into quite an adorable child; but then, most children are. I was a stick insect. Food did not interest me at all and mealtime with its sedentary disciplines and tinned peas even less so. Little did I know that I was extraordinarily fortunate in that I was offered, and often successfully coaxed, cajoled or threatened into actually eating part of, three good meals every day, with home-killed mutton and home-milked cream, homemade butter and ice-cream, and homegrown vegetables (in between the tinned peas).
What interested me most was the custom of the day which was the taking of morning and afternoon tea with sugary home-cooked cakes and biscuits. The bought biscuits were, of course, kept in a special tin for the grown-ups, high on a shelf in the large pantry which they thought I couldn't access but which I did, often. Monkeys are nothing if not nimble.
I mentioned that the stick insect which was me had hair issues. Mum's penchant for pudding-basin haircuts wasn't a great help, but out there on our farm on the Oakey Creek her options were limited. I had fine, straight black hair which defied management; what small hope it had, such as regular brushing, the person underneath the hair furiously fought against. The result was a bird's-nest arrangement which my sisters regularly, loudly, inspected for birds' eggs and regularly, loudly, regretted finding none.
At the age of five I decided to take matters into my own hands with the kitchen scissors. The resultant hairdo grew straight up for what seemed like years, and is still remembered fondly as 'Jane's sticky-up piece'.
There was one occasion when a simple, fun mudfight with my playmates at the farm got out of hand. I fear I must have lobbed a low throw because Greg, in the mysterious way of boys who can be driven into vengeful spurts of energy by things that happen roughly below the belt, suddenly went into a frenzy of throwing sloppy, sticky black mud at the back of my retreating head. By the time I reached home and the safety of Mum's apron, the multiple layers had set like clay. From being a simple, manageable bird's nest with possibilities of retrieval, my hair had become a semipermanent fixture. I still remember sitting sobbing in the concrete laundry tub while Mum worked frantically against the drying properties of Darling Downs mud, desperately trying to sort the hair from the huge clay pot which was irrevocably stuck to the back of my head.
The lack of meat on my bones gave an angular appearance to my backside. For years it was understood that I had a hairpin-bend behind, and no one wanted to have me sitting on their knee because I was indeed a very angular and lively little package.
My hairpin bend betrayed me on more than one occasion, the most notable being when, at the age of seven, I had disobeyed the cardinal rule about going down to the creek without a grown-up. Dad, outraged, was chasing me to deliver the punishment. That day I discovered that I had some speed about me, because despite the fact that Dad held the 120-yard hurdles record at the Southport School from 1933 until 1946, I was gaining ground.
Disinclined to stand like a man to receive my punishment with the razor strop, I skittered from room to room with Dad in hot pursuit. Miscalculating the layout of the house I reached a dead end in the sitting room, whereupon I leapt into an armchair and buried my head down into the cushions like an ostrich.
Needless to say, ostrich-like, my hairpin bend betrayed me and took the punishment on my behalf.
I was eventually brought home to Bowenville from the Southport Hospital but not before Mum had had the mandatory ten-day bed rest in hospital with her tummy firmly bound to aid in the return of her erstwhile youthful figure. My three siblings got their pet monkey and a nurse called Hilary was installed at our home, a 1000-acre farm called Yarrabin on the dead-flat Darling Downs, to look after it.
I was given regular, four-hourly feeds from a titty bottle. Every time she had a baby, Mum, recently discharged from the army and its draconian rules and disciplines and authoritarian figures of which she was one, mindlessly obeyed the current Baby Nurse who insisted with the best will in the world, and based on her nanny training, that something dreadful would happen if baby was suckled anything other than four-hourly. (What? She might get fat when she turned 50? Hell, it happened anyway!)
Consequently, baby would wake and cry; Mum, her breasts engorged and spurting, would head for the cane cradle, and nurse, firmly snatching up the squalling bundle with an air of superior knowledge and absolutely the best of intentions, would cluck her tongue and say, 'Now, Mother, another 2½ hours to feed time'.
Conversely, baby would cry herself into a deep, dissatisfied sleep from which it was absolutely essential (based on the same dictum) that she be woken up to feed on the dot of four hours since the last go.
By which time all parties had lost interest.
The spurting breasts eventually dried out and were replaced with formula but not, I venture to suggest, without a substantial amount of pain, disappointment and heartache.
It could be said that having such a regulated approach to life from the very beginning must have had a profound effect on me. Perhaps, therefore, I have Nurse Hilary to thank for my strong sense of the importance of being reliable.
While living on the banks of the Oakey Creek at Bowenville in South East Queensland presented some logistical challenges in terms of access, communication and household appliances, it wasn't too bad. Not too bad at all. We kids loved it. We did, after all, live in a comfortable house. We each had a bed — mine on the sun verandah near my sister Tina's, with whom I also shared a dressing room. And, let's face it, household appliances were not of great consequence to us; they were mostly Mum's domain. Many were not invented at that time, which made what might seem like disadvantages these days completely irrelevant.
The world into which I came wide-eyed — in the cane ironing basket, balanced on the back seat of the family's Vanguard, with my three older sisters in various changing locations throughout the car according to whim and dictate during the long, bouncing trip home from the coast — was a world of Hope. Little did I know it, but it was hot on the heels of a global event that offered not much hope at all: the Second World War.
The shadow of these cataclysmic times hung over our lives. Our parents bravely did their utmost to protect us from the memories that must surely have encroached not only on their dreams but many of their waking thoughts.
But while this was undoubtedly the case, they most certainly managed to present us with a reality which included their unequivocal acceptance, the security of knowing that our home was our castle and our family our refuge, and a binding and unquestioning love for each other.
There are little snippets of evidence of a hidden history that pique our interest; but our questions are deflected, and met with shrugs, and laughed off by grown-ups who turn their faces away.
Like the two silk-lined boxes left open in the glass-fronted hall cupboard among other untouchable treasures, bright multicoloured ribbons issuing from the tops of one cross-shaped and one star-shaped silver medal. Dad's medals: a Distinguished Flying Cross and an American Silver Star.
Like the bits and pieces in the trinket box we get to go through on rainy days and which our children after us are similarly offered in a bid to manage restless energy.
There, among the strings of cheap beads and pairless shank earrings and discarded small ornaments, there's a small leather box, velvet- and silk-lined. It contains three large silver buttons. Their sheen still sparkles despite the passage of time.
The cursive script printed into the silk fabric of the lid reads 'By Appointment — Hamilton & Inches, 88 Princes St, Edinburgh'. The buttons are embossed with a crown over a map of Australia, and the words 'Australian Military Forces' around the circumference.
A similar little box is from 'Hardy Bros. Ltd, Jewellers & Silversmiths, Australia' and contains three brass buttons with exactly the same design as the silver ones. And there is any number of curved brass brooches, about 2 inches long, with nothing but a cut-out of the word AUSTRALIA in bold letters, as well as one or two rising-sun badges with a double-shank attachment.
What place do these forgotten trinkets have on a farm on the Darling Downs? Thrust unceremoniously into an old shoebox and put among the toys, it's as if they are nothing more than bright shiny objects for the fleeting amusement of children.
In a lead-lined cedar trunk in the garage is a treasure-trove of inanimate objects. Unlike the trinket box, this is a forbidden place; a secret place. When opened, stories ooze out of it and dance into the shaft of light that straggles down through cobwebs from the high, grimy window above. They clasp the dust motes and whirl away dancing into the rafters as if to say, 'Thanks for setting us free!' They challenge us to hear them speak with voices muted by time and neglect, their words left unspoken for so many years that the emotions they would have conveyed, if set free earlier, have ceased to be relevant.
But they are relevant. Despite the best efforts of their progenitors, our progenitors, those emotions work their way into the psyches of whole families. They evidence themselves in periods of deep silence, fraught with tension; in occasional raised voices; in the discreet clinking of bottles in garages; and most especially in the inexplicable solemnity of Anzac Day.CHAPTER 2
My father's skin
Peter McCallum Paull 7/10/1917–10/7/1987
If I must die because of war
This earth will take my body back,
Absorbed within the universal law.
The small 'I have',
the vast 'I lack'
Will be as one. The atom 'me'
Will merge within the great 'I am'
And what will be will be,
For all man's strife to blast and damn.
— Paddy McCallum
It does so validate one's Australianness, having a convict ancestry. Dad's mother Eileen brought with her McCallum name a double connection to the First Fleet in 1788 — one above decks in William Balmain, third surgeon on board the Lady Penrhyn, who lent his name to the Sydney suburb of Balmain; and the future mother of his children, Margaret Dawson, at 15 one of the youngest convicts aboard.
Margaret was below decks en route to Norfolk Island, her life catapulted into an uncertain future with a seven-year sentence for the heinous crime of stealing clothing from her employer.
Their son William, who took his paternal grandmother's name of Henderson and also became a doctor, married the daughter of another convict, Thomas Rose, who arrived on the Barwell in 1798. As Thomas Rose's crime is deeply interred under multiple layers of time and tight-lipped generations, and Thomas himself respectably clothed in a purported relationship to the Duke of Mons, we can safely assume that his crime was very mild, and vaguely noble. He became a success in the colony and (according to family lore) lent his name to another well-known suburb of Sydney, Rose Bay.
The name 'Rose' has come down through the generations as a middle name because of its attachment to a fabled inheritance in Chancery. My sister Sally got the name, but none of us got the inheritance.
In 1856 two of Dr Henderson's daughters married the identical twin McCallum brothers, horse traders fresh out from Oban in Scotland with a clean slate. Thus the name McCallum came down the line to us through Dad and has embedded itself in my son Jock. It carries to him a rich history of seven preceding generations of Australians, the maximum possible number of years of modern Australianness.
For an Australian of Caucasian descent, you can't go back further than the First Fleet.
The rest of Dad's heritage is a blend of Scots and Cornish, with a refugee from a family of devout Bristol Quakers thrown in for good measure.
They all spread out in this land of opportunity, becoming miners, landholders, newspaper editors, businessmen, local mayors and members of parliament, squatters and horse traders.
Horses were the primary mode of transport in early European Australian settlement. They were a very valuable commodity, highly prized, the skills associated with their husbandry greatly valued, and the horses themselves often acquired at any cost.
To this end there were horse traders, and then there were horse traders, as they say. The kind of horse trading Ned Kelly and his brothers indulged in was nefarious and clothed with a certain retrospective glamour; but it was not respectable. Dad's maternal forebears the McCallums, despite the closely guarded secret of the convict ancestors brought into the family by marriage, were horse traders of a different ilk. Indenters, they were high-flyers in the lucrative business of supplying Waler horses as remounts for the British cavalry in India.
On Dad's paternal side, my great-grandfather William Paull gave his occupation as 'squatter' on his marriage certificate. You can't get much more true blue than that, although William wasn't born here. No, he was born in Redruth, Cornwall, and came out in 1873 as a tin miner to a dot on the map called Blinman in South Australia to take up the management of a tin mine there.
What a shock he must have got when he saw the place! But he got on with mining the tin, and stuck it out long enough to receive a lovely gold watch inscribed with gratitude from the citizens of Blinman in 1877.
He obviously decided that being a squatter was a better way to get ahead, although buying Cowarie Station on the lower Diamantina in South Australia, near Lake Eyre, was to take on the Australian outback at its extreme edges.
Excerpted from In Stockmen's Footsteps by Jane Grieve. Copyright © 2013 Jane Grieve. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 My skin 1
Chapter 2 My father's skin 9
Chapter 3 My mother's skin 19
Chapter 4 Union 29
Chapter 5 Yarrabin 39
Chapter 6 The land 47
Chapter 7 School at Bowenville 57
Chapter 8 We progress 65
Chapter 9 Unfolding 73
Chapter 10 When the gates swing wide 83
Chapter 11 The school of hard knocks 93
Chapter 12 Travelling light 103
Chapter 13 Draw the children home 113
Chapter 14 Wide brown land 125
Chapter 15 Maria Theresa 137
Chapter 16 The bush again 147
Chapter 17 Toomba 157
Chapter 18 Wanderlust 167
Chapter 19 Land of our fathers 179
Chapter 20 Ancient land 189
Chapter 21 R.M. 197
Chapter 22 Genesis-Hall of Fame 207
Chapter 23 Head office: Rockybar, Hodgson Vale 219
Chapter 24 Endurance riding 231
Chapter 25 Hitting the ground running 241
Chapter 26 The cottage 253
Chapter 27 A tiger by the tail 263
Chapter 28 Consolidation 275
Chapter 29 Topsy's snowball 285
Epilogue: Vale 293