Meeting Place – Yumaldi
The story of a Pioneer Woman who settled
with her family in the Flinders Ranges in 1851
Blacks. What did we do to them in that thirty
years? We tried to tame them and teach them Godliness, teach them our ways and
… yes … we took their land. Was it in all honesty a lease from an
institution set up calling itself a government? The land belonged to the blacks
… their Dreamtime … their lives.
We tried to change thousands of years of their culture in thirty years. Well,
now they can have their land back. Blacks ¼ Whites.
Time only will tell if we did the right things. I hope posterity will not be too
hard on us for our mistakes.
In Store Price: $AU21.95
Online Price: $AU20.95
1 920699 06 6
Number of pages:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: August 2002
Read a sample
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rogers has always been a champion of the underdog and lived a life to match.
Nan is listed in Australian Womens Whos Who as a pioneer of
rehabilitation in Adelaide, where she ran South Australias first
rehabilitation hospital for 22 years. She
also found time to serve in local Government (1966 79).
Nan is now domiciled on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Chrissie stood; languidly gazing at the homestead they had built with so
much sweat and toil.
It was now deserted, lifeless, succumbed, as had the entire property, to
the drought. The iron roof rattled, flapping free from its nails. The large
windows she had designed herself, so that she might watch the changing light on
the folds of the hills, were dimmed by dust.
Overhead a raven glided and croaked¼ its throat dry and gritty.
The eucalyptus trees made dry rasping sounds as the desert wind caused
their long branches to rub together. Chrissie
gazed up into the dust-laden leaves and recalled how their enormous size had
frightened her when they first arrived. The
native pines that had provided timber for the new settlement were laid over with
dust like winter’s snow on the larch trees back in Lincolnshire.
Chrissie shook her head sadly and murmured, `Like me, choked up with dust
after two years of drought …
Sighing, she made her way round the bank of the dry creek bed, groping
with her fingers to lift the hem of her skirt free of the prickles.
`Curse the drought,’ she
said aloud suddenly and bitterly. She had given the colony thirty years of her
life, leaving her family, yes, her sisters, the village life with its steepled
church, the pub and cricket on the green. Had it been such a good idea after
all? Was it ever the adventure they
Chrissie reached the graveyard that had claimed all of her family except
Betsy… and the others as well. The
graves told the story of Yumaldi.
The largest one was once Frank, who never quite had the guts for a hard
life in the colony.
`After the first drought, he gave up, ‘ she said aloud to herself. Dan
had carved the inscription.. `Franklin Edward
7.2. 25. Coleby, Lincolnshire. Died Yumaldi 2.2.1880.
Age 55 years’.
Next to him lay John, her first baby to die in 1853.
Sarah. Drowned in the Hookina Creek.
`Lord, look at it now.’ ¼
Clara. Lost in the bush.
Franklin. Frank’s hope for Yumaldi, killed after a fall from his horse,
a fine young lad of twelve. What a
Edward. Only a few days old.
Then there was Walter, accidentally poisoned and Annie, who reached the
age of eleven before being taken by a fever…
Chrissie traced a pointed slipper over the hollows of unmarked graves.
Dear old Larry. Betsy had insisted he be laid to rest with the family. Dear
faithful old dog who had come all the way out from England with them.
There was the stranger who fell out of a coach … and , well, Chrissie
shivered but declined to give further thought
to that grave and there was a stockman. No one ever knew who he was or
where he came from.
Her eyes moved down to the last grave where they lingered. Chrissie
pulled up the sleeves of her cambric blouse, straightened her linen skirt behind
her and sat down.
Then she read the words slowly.
`Jenni Tjarimba. Native.
Brutally murdered 18.5.1872. Aged
22 years.’ Chrissie shuddered and
suddenly her eyes stung with tears.
Blacks. What did we do to them in that thirty years?
We tried to tame them and teach them Godliness, teach them our ways and
… yes … we took their land. Was
it in all honesty a lease from an institution set up calling itself a
government? The land belonged to
the blacks … their Dreamtime … their lives.
We tried to change thousands of years of their culture in thirty years.
Well, now they can have their land back. Blacks
¼ Whites. Time
only will tell if we did the right things. I hope posterity will not be too hard
on us for our mistakes. Those dear, black people.
There was seldom any anger really. They were so warm and loving and
trusting, just like children. How they used to love to sit in the sun.
`You white people,’ Lulua once said.
`Why for you not sit in the sun?’
And Jake the stockman with one eye!
How we laughed when he took his glass eye out and put it on a tree stump.
`Now you blokes,’ he said to them, `don’t you stop working.
I’m still watchin’ ya.’ And
how hard they had worked all day in fear of the glass eye whilst Jake went off
to do something else.
The Toady children with their freckles and ginger hair, the little imps!
Mary, the Amazon, a bag of sugar on one hip and a sack of flour on the
other! There was never a woman to
equal her back in the village.
Chrissie paused before letting her thoughts ramble on.
So this is what I have to show for my life in the colony. We conquered
everything; the loneliness, the bush; we learned how to manage a sheep station.
That was something! Cottages full
to overflowing with families. What tough people they were.
A separate race of people; so far away from England’s lush green pastures
cushioned with primroses and violets. Tough, grim folks hardened to withstand
the hazards of this harsh and ancient land. I wonder where they all are now?
Following the hardened men folk? Yes!
Tough like old leather, following opportunities … the gold fields, the
copper mines. Following the wet
seasons, following life, yes, without a wet season life dries up.
Chrissie remembered the sound of happy children, laughing, calling to
Happy, noisy, bush children.
`How very much we all needed each other.’ she said aloud, once more.
Faces appeared before her. She
wished they were all real right now and could be clasped to her to give them
warmth and love and keep them.
is Yumaldi, the meeting place. Our
We made it all ourselves. Maybe when the rain comes back again someone
else will arrive in a cart like the Toadys did. Someone else might come and try … or will it just become a
ghost town. Just a pile of ruined stones.
And the graves to piece the story together.
`Ah, well! Enough of
this. I must not keep Dan
waiting any longer.’
She pulled herself to her feet, smoothed her dress, dusted it
down and without turning to look behind her,
Chrissie walked away.