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Monday, September 28, 2015

Kempsey Museum

Make sure you check out the Facebook page of the Kempsey Museum, it has been updated and will have more info soon,

Monday, July 27, 2015


Talking to groups about my childhood memoir Ghost Child  it is clear that remembering our schooldays is a big part of our story, we remember it well whether the memories are good, bad or indifferent ....we have had public education in NSW since 1848 and most children, girls and boys, have spent the best part of each day, 5 days a week in at least elementary (primary) schooling. Look at the RSVP column (not the dating site, but the page in their Spectrum supplement where family queries and mostly school reunions are listed, each Saturday in the Sydney Morning Herald and you will find several school reunions being publicised. I started school as a 5 year old at Nulla Nulla Public School and attended Carcolla, Bellbrook (several times, as we moved a lot) and we were at Carrai when Bill Haydon dragged the disused school building from Corangula to Carrai and established Haydonwood Provisional School. Many of the people I talk to remember the long treks to school in bare feet along a dusty road, rain or shine. We had no hats, wore ordinary clothing and took our lunch consisting of stale bread sandwiches, stale cakes, hard boiled eggs and oranges when they were in season. Along the way walking home we hopped fences and picked blackberries, looked for stone fruit and waded in the creek. No one thought anything of sending small children to walk long distances, after all everyone had done it, our parents and grandparents,  and we were all the same then. Occasionally we could cadge a ride on a neighbour's horse.…

Carcolla Subsidised School c.1940s?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The book launch

My book launch for Ghost Child last month was an amazing event. I was thrilled with the support I received from the local community, friends, my family and of course my cousins, aunts and my friends from the Kempsey Museum and the family history community.

This photograph of my daughter Sue Kyle, myself, and granddaughters Anouk and Alana was taken by Penny Tamblyn,  Macleay Argus journalist and photographer. I was very appreciative of the support I had from the Macleay Argus editor Dave Coren and also Port Macquarie newspapers, especially the Port Macquarie News

I had good support too from local bookshops and local radio. More Than a Bookshop at Kempsey has been selling my book without any charge to me, a great boon to this struggling writer.  Bookface at Port Macquarie agreed to stock my book and made every effort to help me as well. Local ABC radio announcer Michael Spooner was kind enough to do an interview as was 2WAY FM.  I am humbled by the willingness of local people and local media to support local writing and especially a local childhood  history memoir.
Everyone who turned up to my book launch, I think more than 60 at last count, brought the book and were keen to talk about the writing of it.  I need to thank every one of you.
I need to thank the volunteers at the Slim Dusty Centre, especially Joan, and also Kate Mainey who did so much to make the book launch so easy to organise.  I need also to thank the Mayor of Kempsey Liz Campbell who as usual did a fabulous job of launching the book. 
I have spent some time since the launch talking about the book to local organisations and that experience has been useful and inspiring for me.  Most people relate to the childhood experiences I have described in the book, but it is especially resonant to those people who, like me, grew up in the 1940s and the 1950s.  Some of the things that have jumped out at me as significant to others are:
The books we studied at school:  for women the Commonsense Cookery Book always has a resonance, and many also remember The Breath of Life (a book of prose stories for high school) around the mid 1950s.
Most people remember their schooling and are interested in how to go about researching it, finding records and also the experience of it.
There are many other aspects that seem to be of interest and I will write about these next time.
The following is a photograph my 11 year old granddaughter Anouk took of me when I was signing a book, I liked it!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mill child

When I was a child trees were simply there.  But along the banks of creeks and the river on the Upper Macleay trees were much more than that.  My grandfather and great grandfather on my father’s side were second-wave farmer-cedar cutters and they worked in the bush well into old age supplementing the meagre income earned from the dairy farm. My father also worked hauling logs, driving trucks and sitting astride the cat, cutting and shaping the bush, a third-wave cedar cutter as were his brothers and cousins along the Upper Macleay.  And we were mill children for a time, surrounded by trees, logs, whirring chain saws and the swirling ever present gritty dust.