If Someone Took You They'd Soon bring You Back

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Returning to country feeds my mother’s longing to lie beside her mother in
a paddock of towering red gums, shifting skies and ancient swamps. Settlers
unknowingly damaged that fragile environment, cleared it for cloven-
hooved creatures, diverted potable water out to sea and disturbed – edging
towards annihilated – the traditional custodians and their ways. My mother
remembers Boandik people crossing family land as if she were fixed and
they were not.
She dies in Adelaide during a Covid-19 outbreak; perhaps she would
have anyway. A circle of women, my two sisters, my brother’s wife and I,
keen over her body at a funeral parlour, just hours before government eases
a hard lockdown and relinquishes her body to her prepaid Penola plot. A
generation earlier, her mother, my Scottish-descended then seventeen-year-
old grandmother, rode her horse to work as a parlour maid at Yallum Park,
Penola, where original William Morris wallpaper still covers the walls of
formal rooms. I am named after a Yallum manor lady.
During my mother’s dying days, I play a set of Strathspeys on my phone
that launch her into vivid childhood memories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGrowing Up In Country Australia
EditorsRick Morton
Place of PublicationCollingwood, Vic
PublisherBlack Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781743822326
ISBN (Print)9781760643065
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Country Australia
  • Childhood
  • Life-writing
  • Landscape
  • Bank manager's children
  • Memoir
  • First-person
  • Australian identity

NTRO Type of Output

  • Minor


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