Not long ago I read two books that I enjoyed immensely. They were "Salvation Creek" and "The House", both by Susan Duncan.
Susan was previously the editor of two of Australia's top women's magazines.
However, after experiencing the death of beloved family members, she changed her life course and went to live in the Pittwater region of Sydney. Susan wrote both of these books while living there.
The Pittwater region north of Sydney is truly unique. Pittwater is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the Northern outskirts of Sydney. Australian bushland, mainly National Park, comes down to the waterline. The land is steep and densely forested with occasional pockets of housing, not always accessible by road. The houses are sometimes almost lapped by the water and some are built perched in a somewhat precarious manner against the hillside. In some instances, access to the house can be so steep as to warrant a little elevator or an airial cable to help take up shopping etc up the incline.
There is an island (Scotland Island) surrounded by many little picturesque bays . To get around, you can hop on a ferry which goes around the island every hour or use your own boat. For those living in this region, access by boat is often the only choice. All furniture and shopping has to be transported by water. (I have since heard there is a communal car on the island .... I was told there is a roster for people to drive the car and it is used to go to the ferry etc ... if you have car access to your house.)
Each of Susan's books describe the amazing community of people she met in the region, and how she was drawn back to the enjoyment of life by their warmth, humour and love.
While at Pittwater, we decided to take the ferry around the island. The ferry 'conductor' pointed out houses of interest ... some had once belonged to some Australian actors (iconic Australian actor, Chips Rafferty, Noni Hazelhurst and also an Australian infamous Madam, Tilly Devine, who was recently featured in the Australian television series, "Underbelly-The Razor Gang).
One house that I really wanted to see was the pale yellow house on a hill called 'Tarrangaua', which was the former home of the Australian poet, Dorothea Mackellar. It stands high on a hill and is surrounded by tall eucalypt trees ..... and unfortunately, I could not get a decent photo of it. This is "The House" which is the subject of Susan's second book.
Local transport- the "tinny"
Main wharf on the mainland at Church Point
Back of the Church Point restaurant/general store/post office
Scotland Island is in the distance.
Houses close to the water and going up the hill.
The Lovett Bay Boatshed which features quite a lot in Susan Duncan's books.
Lovett Bay Ferry stop.
Hope you are not getting too bored! This is a bit of a long post.
The last bit of information I wish to share with you is this poem by Dorothea Mackellar....
Dorothea wrote a poem " My Country" when she was 19 years old. The second verse of this poem has become probably the best known stanza in Australian history. Here is the poem in it's entirety.
The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!
The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.
Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.
Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze ...
An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand
though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.
That is the end of my post for today, hope you are enjoying your day whatever you are doing.