Thursday, 17 October 2013


Source: Personal Collection.

Yes, that's me on a horse aged three. My mother is leading the horse but I'm sitting by myself, minus shoes of course.

I grew up on a cattle station called Lornesleigh. It was part of a much bigger holding owned by my family’s company, the Mount McConnell Pastoral Company, that was one thousand square miles in size. 
We were among the first settlers in the north— my family had lived on that same land for nearly one hundred years.

When I was born during a flood (but more about that another time), we carried about ten thousand head of cattle and one hundred horses. 

I lived with three uncles and four aunts, my parents and a cousin who were spread over four homesteads, ninety miles from the nearest town. And not a strip of bitumen in sight. It was pot holed, dusty, rutted and, sometimes, as dry as the proverbial dead dingo. No quick run up to the shop for a cup of sugar. Hell, no.

If we wanted to drive into town, the journey took three hours. The road was roughly a dirt track with lots of creeks to cross and many gates to open. 

My life was far from normal, whatever that means. In what way, you ask?

Well, I had a governess, (that was when Mum wasn’t trying to educate me herself as well as feeding the stockmen and keeping the homestead clean) and I didn’t go to school till I was ten. 

I learned to ride a horse almost before I learned to tie my own shoes. In fact, I never did learn how to tie my shoelaces until much, much later. 

What use were shoes except for a horse?

I learned to shoot and Dad tried to teach me to row a boat and drive a car when I was six. I’d have been fine, except that the boat kept going around in circles and the car kept running off the road. He gave up teaching me after I hit a log on my third attempt (in the car, not the boat).

There’s more to come in my next blog. Stay tuned.               

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