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countryhorizons_bvmarketsroadsigntotownIt is normally a sleepy little village. Its 180 odd residents living a quiet life tucked under the shadows of the southern Liverpool Plains mountain ranges, at the very beginnings of the Mooki River that will weave its way across the plains to Gunnedah. The bustle of school traffic, children’s laughter in the playground and the toll of the bell are the only sounds that would break the quiet air during the day.

I know at least one day of the year when the population of Blackville would more than triple.

I witnessed it last Sunday.

The annual Blackville Arts and Market Day.

The road from Curlewis to Blackville was picturesque as the remarkable realm of the Liverpool Plains shone in the morning sun. A carpet of green crops, fading yellow canola and fallowed black clay rolled out in front of us, a band of hazy blue of the mountain ranges bordering the panorama. Pockets of trees lined paddocks, cattle and sheep enjoyed their morning feed as, across the plains farming families finished their morning chores.

Blackville is not really on the way to somewhere or the way from anywhere. It is about a 40 minute drive from Quirindi to the north-west and Merriwa to the south, as the crow flies. I recall my dad used to refer to the Blackville area as “gods own country” – if there was a hint of rain in the skies Blackville seems to always get it.

We rounded the final bend and were greeted by ‘road closed’ signs just past the town signage. There are few places that can close off the main thoroughfare of town for markets. Blackville can, and did.

Smiling faces of the local committee greeted us, the hospitality of rural Australia evident in the air.

Welcome to Blackville.

The stall owners stood behind their wares, a sense of pride as they happily showcased their goods. From watercolour paintings, jewellery of many shapes and material, fashion, wood crafts, hand dyed scarves, straw bags, metal ornaments, clay homewares, photography, home furnishings, local produce from the plains and the tastiest honey I have had for some time. It was an exciting array of goodies.

The homemade lime and coconut cake was delectable with my morning coffee, enjoyed in the spring sun with a wisp of a breeze keeping the heat at bay. We watched younger ones tuck into fairy floss, washed down with a frozen cup of pure delight as a duet played gentle music to entertain.

Ahh this is how Sunday should be!

After our fill of tastes and a bag full of goodies we set off on a different route home. I am a bit like my father in that I try to never travel the same road twice on a road trip. We circled back to Spring Ridge and a pit stop at the local Royal Hotel. The residents of Spring Ridge wont go hungry while ever they have the burgers at the Royal!

One cant help but relax snuggled in this country.

Sunday road trip.

Family, spring, fresh air.

Living a dream.

 

 

Some great stalls that were there:

Food River Station – produce and gift ware profiling the great Liverpool Plains

Wattle Tree Love – lovely hand dyed scarves

Colourful bags and baskets

Buzz Honey – The best honey for a long time – Phone 0429 074 520

or head to the Blackville Arts and Markets Facebook page for more information.

Breadcrumbs from Yesteryear

Like most days for the past six months she had been trying to keep busy. Being industrious kept the mind from wandering to depths of sadness and loneliness and would tire her weary body in the hope sleep would come easy each night. She has yet to experience the deep sleep she yearns for but she remains optimistic the time will come soon.

And there was always something to do.

In the first months the task looked enormous and they all struggled to find the start let alone a path through. Bit by bit she was making progress. First around his chair, going through the piles of papers, medicines, bills, notes. Then giving some order to the pile on the cupboard near the dining table. She is trying to downsize the freezer and cooking up whatever is next when she opens the heavy lid, knowing she is now cooking for one.

The farm will have to wait until her children and grandchildren can help. Her joints are frustratingly arthritic, her weakening limbs burn with pain, her resolve is fragile. She can work her way through each room of their house while she waits.

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Today she decides to sort through the bookshelf in the back room. Decades of school textbooks fill one of the shelves, novels from last century another. She pulls off The Web of Life Biology textbook. Its cover is faded and scruffy, the corners of the pages curled and marked.

She is taken back to a winters evening in the old kitchen, father and daughter pouring over the book together in front of the warming wood stove. Teacher and student solving the mysteries of the plant kingdom together while she hovered close and kept a check on the vegetables for dinner.  His rich, authorative voice gently explained the intricacies of the plant flower while she absorbed and trusted his teachings. Cherished times now locked away as memories.

As she leaned to place the learned book on the ‘donate’ pile a yellowing sheet jutting from the heavy pages caught her eye. She steeled herself, not sure what this glimpse from the past would tell her. Families tended to keep a few secrets hidden in the back of closets, or books. What was this breadcrumb of life from yesteryear about to reveal?

The envelope was friable, almost crumbling as she gently pulled from hiding. She could still make out the post mark, sent from Tamworth in 1933.

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It was addressed to

 

Mr Clem Tunningley

Clemisha’s Line

Via Gunnedah

 

The bookshelf was now forgotten as she was swept back to bygone days.

99 Belmore Street

West Tamworth

November 13th 1933

 Mr & Mrs C.B. Tunningley

Dear Nephew and Niece

We received your venerable little packet in due course, & we now tender our sincere thanks for same, & at the same time offer you congratulations & best wishes for success & happiness in your new sphere of life. I daresay you are quite settled now to your happy conditions by this time & enjoying the very nice season for a good start off in the way of crops & stock! I know what a lot depends on the weather to make a success of things on the land, & I trust this is a run of a few good seasons now in store for the chaps on the land. I have forgotten the name of your place, but I will chance this little scrap to reach you some day. Trusting you are both in the ‘pink’ of health as I write this, & I will now close. With all the best of wishes from your affectionate Aunt and Uncle

E.H & Will Donaldson

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In the quiet of the afternoon she takes time to relish the long curves of the hand-written letters, the gentile language of the note. She smiles at the time taken to pen a thank you note to her in-laws after their wedding in 1933.

As if on cue her mobile phone beeps and breaks the repose. She is bought to the now, the books spread across the bed in various piles of keep – maybe – donate – recycle.

She smiles to herself as she reflects what this letter would be these days, in 2017. More than likely not even a letter but a simple text on a phone

Something like…

 Hey there! Got yr parcel. Thx. Congrats on the wedding. Good luck with harvest. Hope alls good, catch-up soon. Cheers!

Footnote: The farm books from Bellevue show that 1933 was indeed a great year for wheat – Clem’s income for that year much higher than others.

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Other stories from the Wedding in 1933

 

 

Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo / Grigorenko

Spirit of Girlfriends

My Road to Dubbomobile phone buzzed heralding a text message. Are you here yet? Come out and join us for a bbq dinner. Be great to see you!

I had arrived at my lodgings for the night, just travelled 3 hours south west to Dubbo. I enjoyed the drive. As the sun slowly made its way down in the western sky I savored the shadows of the Warrumbungle ranges in the distant.

The terracotta glow of the setting sun was nothing compared to the blood red skies the Warrumbungles sprayed a few years ago. There had been a devastating fire that had wiped out most of the national park and many homes. I know the Coonabarabran community and the land are still recovering, and will for some time. Read More

Grounding Spirits

Josie sank into the old musty chair on the front verandah and took in a deep breath. There was no better time of day.

The sun was making its way over the hills in front of her, giving the sky an orange hue building the suspense before is big ‘ta-da’ moment as it lights the earth.

There is a slight wisp of fog layered on the young wheat, dancing and swirling like a fairy’s dress as she whirls in excitement, welcoming the new day. Read More

Going to be a good year

Looking damn fine after the rain

As the sun breaks through the final of the rain clouds Tom strolls into his paddock of wheat and surveys his land. He kicks the black soil under his feet and the corners of his mouth turn upwards, ever so slightly. He starts to get optimistic for a good yield this year. That last bit of rain has topped up the moisture store, should get the crop through to its end now.

But he has learnt there is still a ways to, so don’t go banking the money just yet. Read More