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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 78 (Text)

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Trish Fitzsimons Patricia Hodgkinson Erica Addis
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Trish FitzSimons
Patricia Joan Scott Richards
Griffith Film School
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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 78
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Patricia Hodgkinson
Interview of Patrica Hodgkinson. Tape 4 of 5.
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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 78
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OK. So this is now Camera Tape No 78. It’s DAT Tape No 76. It’s the
    10th January 2002. We’re with Patricia Hodgkinson. Trish Fitzsimons –
    Oh, it’s the 10th. It’s the 9th. I beg your pardon.

I’m rolling.

Um, so I want you to tell me about your mum in relation to, to medicine. Not
    to herself. Geoffrey what’s his name – Geoffrey Dutton in Squatters talks
    about there being a whole category of kind of upper class female invalids in,
    in Australian history. I want you to talk about that in relation to your mum.

Um my mother was a – God I wish my words wouldn’t desert me when I want
    them. My mother was a hypochondriac born. And if she decided that she
    needed an operation on something – her tonsils or something or other, she
    would – no matter what expense or how inconvenient to my father, she would
    pack up everything and the Saratoga trunk full of all the, the best china, and
    she’d go to Melbourne – oh Brisbane first or whatever, and if the specialist
    said to her ‘No, there’s nothing wrong with your tonsils Mrs Richards.
    There’s nothing wrong with them at all’ – well she’d simply go to Sydney or
    somewhere until she got somebody to agree with her. And he’d take them out
    anyway.    See whether he cared whether it was real or not and whatnot,
    because that – and I, I know, and Helen knows, what this is about. This was
    release from what – everything that she hated so much with the station. That
    meant mostly she could get back to Melbourne where she still had friends and
    whatnot. That was – we now know – we didn’t know it then. We wouldn’t
    have known what hypochondria was anyway. Mother said her tonsils looked
    wrong. She came back and she tried to convince somebody – this was for real,
    that she had a long time to get somebody to agree, she had a goitre operation.
    Now it didn’t – I have learned since, a lot that happens to people who have
    goitres. That they’re very temperamental and this, that and the other. It’s the
    ah rejection of - good glands that should flow there get choked off in
    emotional people sort of thing. So she certainly had this goitre operation and
    in those days, you know, it left you with a big bump on your throat sort of
    thing. Ah, that’s only the beginning. I can’t tell you the other things because
    with her hypochondria it meant that she’d get release. She’d go down to see a
    doctor or something or other. The worst one of all – the worst one of all was
    the goit – the ah gallstone operation. She took a long time to convince doctors
    but finally she got one to find out ooh yes, that was for real alright. So she had
    the gallstone operation and she had the gallstones put in a little blue velvet bag
    and when mother had her visitors from then on, Patricia – Helen – bring the
    blue velvet bag with my stones. Helen and I’d have to get this bloody blue
    velvet bag and dump it there. And I can see – ah Helen had to take them
    away. I can see my tall sister coming there. Sister, if anything should be
    taken from me from my insides, you have to promise that you will put it in
    the toilet. None of us could bear ….. wanting anything to do with it. But
    mother had these bloody little stones in the blue velvet bag. And Helen and I
    – our lives was that ‘bring the blue velvet bag’ with the gallstones. So, as I –
    as we now know, because we’re all so dead clever aren’t we, when we get
    older and learn things, and we read medical journals and we listen to the man
    on the TV that’s there, that was what she – she’s a hypochondriac born, but
    she got the best out of it because she got escape. And that was how it was.

Do you think – did having a baby provide a similar escape? Did that get her
    away too?

Oh yes. But although that was perfectly natural in those days. When Lance
    de Call, Lance de Courcy-Talbert Scott Richards was born in Melbourne in
    1915, ah she went down, I suppose, for a month beforehand and she certainly
    stayed two or three months ah down there with her um best friends – some
    people who looked after her when, when she was a child. She had three
    months in Melbourne. So each child was ah three months old before my
    father saw it. That was Laurie and Helen. For my life I’ve long since
    forgotten where Helen was born and little Lucille. But when it came to me,
    probably Poppa jacked up and he probably had about a bloody enough of
    mother and her tripping off, you know, for four months. So this is how I got
    to be born, practically on the spot, at Wilcannia Cottage Hospital and Mt
    Leonard – not Mt Leonard. Mt Murchison, you know, was about 40 miles
    from there I think it was. And the gorgeous tale about my getting born is that
    my father had never met up with any of his first born children. He’d never
    seen a baby after birth ever – ever, ever. So he’s gone into the Cottage
    Hospital to go up the stairs to see my mother, and to see me. And just as he’s
    coming down the steps, two beautiful English ladies who’d been staying at Mt
    Murchison, came along and they said ‘Oh Mr Richards. You’ve come to see
    your little baby daughter’ and Poppa was reeling. Literally, he said ‘Gawd
    Almighty. I’ve never seen anything uglier in my bloody life’, you know? He
    was shaken. He was horrified. He didn’t even think it could be so ugly. ‘Oh
    my God’. And he staggered off and on his way. Then years rolled by, quite a
    long – when Aunt Judith was at a – as a special guest at the Victoria Club in
    London ah meeting of the Geographic Society and she’s a special guest, and
    when the lecture was over, the lecturer told all about um ah the aunts and
    where their bush upbringing they’d had etc, and to very old ladies got up from
    the audience and they said ‘Miss Scott Richards. Would you happen to have
    had a brother out on the Darling in New South Wales and whatnot. And
    Aunty said ‘Yes. Yes!’ Oh, please do tell us how did that little baby girl get
    on? They Poppa would have killed me by that time. How did he ever take to
    her? Aunty was – would you like to believe she’s the apple of his eye and she
    can do anything she damn well doing. But he just - he’d never seen a baby in
    his life – even in granny’s time, you know, it would’ve been kept away from
    the children, wouldn’t it eh?

So after your mother stopped going away for babies then, the hypochondria
    was kind of the equivalent?

Yeah. Oh she didn’t stop going away for babies. She couldn’t help it when
    we got to Mt Leonard, ah because Jack was born in Broken Hill I think and
    then um Peter, Peter was born in Longreach. Well she had to go to Longreach
    for a month beforehand – a couple of months, but then that was practically in
    the front yard, you know. That was 460 miles away or something like that.
    And ah young Terry, the youngest one. He was born in Longreach too I think,
    and she had to give up that nonsense about retreating to Melbourne. But on
    the medicine bit, this is really really terrible. When ah baby Terry, born in
    August 1926, and I was there, because I was put into boarding school for the
    time it took mother to have the baby and come back to the station, and back
    we came to Mt Leonard with this gorgeous big fat lovely chubby baby. The
    minute he got home he started to wilt like a flower. He had – whether it was
    thrush or some baby thing that was common and known at the time, and ah
    Poppa had to go away. We all had to take turns. Little baby Terry was in the
    hammock and we had to take turns all day and night to keep swinging it, to
    keep a bit of breeze going on him and whatnot. But he was …… I can
    remember his cry. Like a little kitten’s. You know, a mewling of, of a kitten.
    Anyhow Poppa and the men were away and John Gray Park, the bookkeeper,
    he was there, and he just said to my mother ‘I can’t stand it any longer.
    You’ve got to get some medicine’. And she said ‘I know that, and how are we
    going to get it?’. John Gray Park said – and we had the Chev then, and he said
    ‘I will drive into Longreach’. That was nearly 500 miles away. A bit short of
    500 I think. Driving along – have you write down what you want? Yes,
    mother wrote down the …… It had heroine in it. It was quite common in
    those days, but particularly for ailing and dying people. It eased the, the pain.
    Whatever this medicine was, um something chloridine wrote down on the
    piece of paper. When John Gray Park drove up, he drove night and day ‘til he
    got to Longreach, and when he got to the only doctor there, the only doctor
    there was out to it. On a drug binge. And John Gray Park was a very
    educated fellow from um Sydney. He’d gone to – put his age up to go to
    World War I. Came back a nervous total wreck so he was sent out to the bush
    to be made whole again.       John Gray Park simply picked up something.
    Smashed the doctor’s medicine cabinet thing, got the piece of paper, got this,
    drove 400 miles straight back again. And whether it was the medicine or
    whether dear Terry had the will to live or not, I don’t know. But there’s a
    photograph taken of him late, later than that, when one goat, Jean, one goat
    was put aside for Terry and a few – six weeks after that, it’s bulging on again,
    and as far as I know, that brother’s never had a cold in his life or never had an
    injury of any sort.

So breast feeding wasn’t, wasn’t the go?

They were not in a condition to breast feed. Any of them. I can’t remember
    whether they did or not because we certainly would’ve seen people pop the
    breast for certain children, but I don’t think so. Because of their diet and
    everything, they just didn’t have the milk for them. Glaxo. Glaxo products,
    you know. Every baby grew up on Glaxo in the bush there. But I’ve thought
    so often, my mother must’ve died 10 deaths with this baby that we’re just
    rocking, rocking, rocking there, hoping Mr Park will get back in time.

So your mother must’ve known quite a lot about medicine if she was writing
    down the name of drugs. No, she would have been in touch with, you know,
    whatever friends or whatnot, in Melbourne whatnot, were doing with their
    children. What Terry had was something common to all babies at the time and
    yes, she had to find a whole heap of medical knowledge. Even without
    medicines you can still do a job. Oh, she had to do and she did do some
    marvellous things. This stupid stockman who – were chopping wood and they
    were just as likely to chop their leg off as anything else, you know.
    Horrendous wounds, and she never flinched. She bathed them in Condies
    crystals and wrapped them up and whatnot. Yes, she was born – in another
    life she would have made a wonderful nurse or doctor, because she had no fear
    of pain and blood and whatnot. And even the animals too. Ah we had ah
    brumbies on the station. Brumbies by the 100,000 eating all our stock out and
    whatnot. Good horses that had gone bad. And every ah oh year or two, my
    brother Laurie, another good tough stockman, would have to out. Round up
    you know, about 25 of these brumbies, bring them in. They’d smash the horse
    fences ah rails down straight away, try and contain these brumbies, until ah it
    was ….. My brother Laurie got six pounds a break (?), a horse, you know.
    And it took forever and I had to – silly little old me, I had to go up there and
    sit on the rails – the top rail of the fence, while Laurie is trying to tame this
    mad thing here and its hoofs are coming down and I know they’ve got to land
    on me so I scarper. I go far. This great thing on a horse to come down. Get
    back on! And I’d have to get back on the fence and Laurie’d ….. ….. the
    horse then, and this is how – I again nearly lost my life. When Laurie’s – after
    six days of bags and things and he’s got the horse to accept a saddle and a
    rider, only just, I – being the best rider, had to ride on my quiet pony beside
    Laurie while he’s taking it for his first ride out. Over the gibbers. You know
    those awful gibbers and things, and of course all the brumby’s trying to do is
    knock my pony silly and me with it, you know, over the fence and whatnot. It
    was ghastly. I never got any of that six quid either, but anyway he would just
    – he’d say ‘Oh, don’t make a fuss. Stop making such a fuss’. I said ‘He’s
    going to kill me’. He says ‘Well if he doesn’t, I will anyway’, you know?
    Because he wanted his six quid.

How did you mum get on with the other women around?

Awful. Um unless they were ‘of her class’. Now some of the Monkira (?) and
    all those crack stations out there, well she always knew – whoever it was, she
    knew their people in Melbourne or something or other, but others like Mrs um

Duncan? Schaffer?

Ah old ah Miss Duncan, well she couldn’t speak to Miss Duncan because
    Poppa and Miss Duncan weren’t on speaks for you know, the first 40 years or
    so, but Mrs Mrs Mrs ah Mc, Mc, Mc – ah Monkira – just up the road there –
    ah after World War I, quite a lot of English young ladies found their way out
    there with the old early mis – London missionaries or something or other,
    because there were so many ah spinster girls who would never find a husband,
    ever, and things and they would be shipped out here to the whatever it was.
    There was a thing that if you wanted a governess, you sent to this place in
    Sydney. So out from – I could talk of half a dozen or more who were out
    there, straight from old England. They’d come out, as – before, and they’d be
    brides in two minutes flat. They wouldn’t last long in the back country, would
    they? And ah Mrs, Mrs Monkira, Mick’s wife, oh, she was straight from the
    mills in Lancashire. I think she was only about 16 or 17 when she came out.
    Straight out to the bush where she was alleged to be a governess who – she
    couldn’t even speak the Queen’s English let alone anything else. But she went
    off. You know, she got off and she had about six kids before she knows where
    she is. But she um gave into the bush like so many other women did. Took to
    the bottle. And she’d be fine because sometimes she – you couldn’t get a
    drink on that station for three months maybe, and then they’d bribe somebody
    for a case of rum ….. and she and Mick’d just get to the whole case of rum
    and there was no trying to do anything with Mr and Mrs during that time. And
    it was tragic because when she wasn’t on the rum, she was like all Lancashire
    people, you know? Big and hearty and wonderful people. Totally illiterate.
    So of course you can’t imagine mother and Mrs Monkira having a long

So class was a – was a dividing line for your mother –

All the way.

A lot of women.

Yeah. It, it was not only mother who felt that way. There were other people –
    closer in stations. The big stations further in. Oooh dear! Only Brisbane
    society would visit those big stations. Like Mayfield and whatnot. They were
    not so bad because most of the – all those Mayfield women had been raised
    out there. But at the other great big sheep stations and whatnot, well the
    governors ah sent their sons out there, you know, to learn how to be stockmen.

So are you saying that girls that grew up there were less class conscious than
    those who arrived from somewhere else?

They were class conscious in the opposite way. That they’d just ohhh, what a
    wonderful life we must leave because we were sent down to school and we
    had to wear silk dresses and we were people from another planet to the
    Birdsville boys and girls. It was all so awful, so artificial. That’s the way
    things were. It took World War II to alter the pattern. It’d still be like that if it
    hadn’t been for World War II.

Why? What did World War II represent?

World War II took all the young able-bodied ah men off and like my brothers.
    Three of my four brothers joined up right away. The fourth one, Peter, they
    wouldn’t take because he was the only stockman left on Mt Leonard station
    and the other three were overseas in the Middle East and God knows where.
    And when Pete got the – they said to him ‘Where do you come from?’.
    ‘Mooradin’. He said ‘Oh stationed’. ‘What’s your father do?”. ‘He, he owns
    this station’ and the people in the Army just said ‘You get right back there
    fast. We need beef. We don’t need dead soldiers’. Broke Peter’s heart. His
    only chance, you know, to really get away but ah one was a prisoner of war
    and one was up in New Guinea and all over there, and so poor Pete. It
    changed his life terribly. But none of my brothers ….. there, ever went back
    near the station. They married city girls. One from Melbourne. One from
    Sydney, and they – the city girls said to my brothers ‘If you think we’re going
    out there to Boulia dust storms and no refrigeration, you gotta nothing thing
    coming’. Broke Poppa’s heart. After five generations, no more Richards –
    Scott Richards to chase cattle under a hot Queensland sun. Broke his heart.

Now you left Mt Leonard too. How did that happen?

When – 1939, I had finished um college and I was thinking about how I could
    sweet talk Poppa into – I’d matriculated. In those days you matriculated at
    your Leaving I think. I had matriculated and I’d done very very well and
    ‘cause - just I loved the subjects that I had, and so I was thinking, waiting for
    Poppa to sort of indicate what I’d do and his ….. was to keep me away from
    the station because at that age – anyway, I was contemplating that and having
    a helluva good time in Melbourne. Released from this terribly nice ladies
    college and I can remember not getting up ‘til 11 or 12, so long as you met up
    at the Oriental Hotel ah you know, and had drinkies before lunch and then you
    hung around ‘til it was time for drinkies, and I had a ball. And of course, you
    knew perfectly well that a ball had to fall on top of your head. You mustn’t
    enjoy yourself like that, must you eh? Poppa knew nothing about my little
    exploits at the Oriental Hotel. But in ’39, as I say, at – right from the jump,
    three of my brothers went and enlisted. And then I got to thinking, and I
    thought no. I can’t even contemplate going to university because I’ve got
    brothers who’ve given up everything they have and this bit I knew, I’ve had a
    feeling in my water that this is going to be a very serious bit of business, and
    while I’m butterflying around Melbourne University, they’ll be slogging their
    way through jungles and God knows what. No. That wasn’t going to add up.
    And so I went ah I was having my drinkies in the Oriental on a Friday night, I
    think, with all my mates. Fascinating all my mates. And a fellow came – one
    of our number came along with us and he said ‘Hey Trish. I wonder what sort
    of job they’ll give you?’. ‘What are you talking out?’. Manpower regulations
    had just been declared that day, Friday, and they – Manpower had phoned. He
    said I kind of figure somehow or other, that you’ll be on Monday, you’ll be in
    a pickle factory shoving labels on pickle jars.       He frightened the living
    daylights of me. I thought ‘Oh God, oh God, oh God’. If left my drinks – put
    my drink down. I went across the way, top of Collins Street there where they
    had a recruiting office. Two days later I’m a WAFO. They heard all my story
    in an hour - they ….. ……, were OK. Where are your family? I said I don’t
    have any family here in Melbourne at all.          Ah my father – mother’s
    disappeared somewhere and my father’s come out there and whatnot, and they
    just said what have you been doing and I told them.          Well they took –
    responded to something in me I suppose, because they decided that I’d be
    wasted just as a – a little old ACW. Ah, that I’d be a welfare office. Already,
    in that short time since the um Airforce, the Ladies Airforce thing had been
    formed, they’d put in Welfare Officers to begin with who were 60 years of age
    plus and that had not worked. The young little wifeys were not going to spill
    their all to these old women, you know. So they decided to go back up
    another angle and they knew perfectly well where I’d issued from – the
    Oriental. They decided to have somebody around. I was all of 19 I think. I
    think I was about 19. Somebody of their own age and stage. And they – awf
    – they – wife in Melbourne, they were awfully good and they didn’t let me –
    they let me go and make my own mistakes and they didn’t tell me what I had
    to do and whatnot. And they said look, you just follow your instincts and
    you’ll be fine. You’ve got a way of getting across to people and you’ll be
    fine. If you get into any bother, well you have an ACW officer you know
    here. You’ve got people you know who’ll help you. I went in. I was tailored.
    I was made for the job. I really really was because the kids’d just split
    themselves laughing at the things that I didn’t get caught at, you know.

And you ended up marrying another serviceman, didn’t you?

Hugh – the – in 1945, the British Navy come out here. Squadrons, and Hugh
    was a flyer, a fleet air armed flyer, and they had their planes loaded on here in
    Sydney Harbour for the final assault on Japan, and they had been – when the
    short time they were here in Sydney, they had their planes and they trained
    and trained and trained doing all their add ons and drops and things like that,
    for this final assault. So Hugh – this squadron landed on Maryborough,
    Queensland, overnight. I’d been away in Sydney. I had five days leave. Been
    in Sydney. Got back on the Midnight Aura. That was the train from Brisbane
    up to Maryborough – Aura. It was all wooden slat seatings and what not, and
    I ah just had my kit bag over my shoulder and a black soldier up on top,
    sleeping on the rack, he jumped down and he said ‘Here. I’ll bunk you up’.
    He said ‘this is the best seat on the train’. You’re up away from all the
    soldiers drinking booze and throwing up and doing Gawd knows what down
    below. And this lovely fellow just pulled me up there and I slept like a babe
    until I got off the train at 5.00am in Maryborough. My driver met me and
    drove me out and I saw this sea of blue tents as far as the eye could see, and I
    said ACW whoever, what’s going on here? Oh Madam, she said, it’s the
    British. They’ve landed. Oh, you’ll love them. I said I hate their rotten guts,
    and I will have nothing to do with them. Famous last words. Six weeks later
    I’m married to one. But that was because when Singapore fell, Winston
    Churchill never ever – I wash my mouth out every time I say Winston
    Churchill – when Singapore fell, he said Australia was expendable. Our
    troops were in the Middle East and they refused to let our troops come home
    and fight for our country here, so I was ropable and any time anybody
    mentioned English, pommies, whatnot there – I met Hugh one night. That
    night there was a reception, a dance, in the mess for him. I met my glorious
    Hubert. Six weeks later, being - er Katie -–ah Kay Taylor, WAF officer, who
    followed me down the aisle at St James here in Sydney, and she just said ‘Not
    lonely. Not bad for one who hated their guts six weeks ago’.

And how about your mum? How did she come to leave the Channel Country?

Well, she left it on and off over the whole years sort of thing, but my sister
    married in – sh-sh-sh – about ’36 or something like that. Helen was a teacher
    and she went up as school teacher to um I forgotten the name of the place.
    Was just 10 miles from Kingaroy, this little country town up there, and she
    boarded with a country ah peanut – they’re all peanut farmers. And she
    boarded with this family, McIlains, and they had two sons who ran all the
    peanut stuff for them and um John, who was quite a lot older who was peanut
    farming – good old Queensland country stock, slow spoken whatnot. Ohhh,
    he just fell head over heels and stupid Helen goes and marries him. Not that
    I’d rather her marrying John but it just cut her off, like mother before, you
    know. Cut her off in her life. Anyhow, Helen um was well settled on these
    two farms and then mother mentally deteriorated over this time she had and
    there was no way she could live out west and my father was beside himself.
    My martyr sister with a young baby, er a little girl about 2 or 3, and my
    nephew er, er a sickly little baby – had him to look after, took mother on and
    for the next I don’t know quite how long it was before she died. By which
    time I’m over in England. I had three years over in England, when Hugh had
    to be repatriated somewhere but thank God, I never had to persuade him to
    come back to Australia. He just said he and all the rest of his squadron took
    one look at Sydney, Australia, they took one look at Australia and said how
    quickly can we get this war over and get back here. Hugh was in love with
    Australia at first sight. So I never had to persuade him to come back. But
    Helen had all the burden and all the – and it was frightening I suppose in a
    terrible state. But I knew nothing about that, and there it was.

Mmm. So what when – what year would your mum have died?

While I was in England. We landed there in ’45. Oh it must’ve been ’47 or
    something. But I’d had no contact with my mother ah since before I joined the
    airforce I think. Mmm.

What do you remember your mother saying? Like if you were to have your
    mother beside you here now saying things that she would say over and over,
    what would come to mind?

I think I’d revert to childhood and I’d shrivel – you know, curl up in a ball.
    What does she say those things for, you know? If I ever understood her,
    which I hardly ever did anyway, but she would just embarrass me and I was
    frightened of her. Let’s face it. I was shit-scared of her, from an early age.
    I’d do anything not to displease her. We never had a comfortable – although I
    was told by my father and I was told by my sister Helen whatnot, that I cut off
    all relations after a couple of shocking incidents when I was first sent in the
    Airforce – I was sent up to RTO Brisbane and I tried to make contact with her
    then and of course, disaster. The whole, whole thing. Not – not to be spoken
    about again. And so I cut off all things you see, but apparently she cut things
    out of the newspaper about me and um – ah Miss Patricia Richards, Welfare
    Office, RAAF, entertaining - three Generals I’m entertaining mark you. Not
    at the Oriental but you know, at some things I –

People like us.

People like us. No. Five star Generals. I never got less than a five star
    General you know? But they had to talk to me because I had to do – when I
    was going around hospitals and things, I made it my business to look after any
    soldier who was there. They didn’t have to be Australian. And they didn’t
    have to be male. They could be American or they – whoever – where I saw a
    need in those hospitals, particularly a whole heap of the gobs – the American
    GIs, who’d been plucked off farms as babies practically and they were so
    hopelessly homesick and somebody had to do something about it. And as I
    said, the Airforce gave me my charter. I could do what I want where I saw a
    need for it.

Your one thing that you and Mum it seems have in common, is actually books
    and writing. Do you want to talk to me now about your interest in history?
    What –

Oh yes indeed I do, because I don’t know, I suppose it was mother talking
    because she was SO proud of this aristocratic ah father of hers and she told
    me, although she could colour history to suit her purposes, and it’s on the desk
    in there, is – only just in the last couple of years, Moira Ferguson who’s over
    in Ireland and she sent a picture of OUR castle. Fergumore or something or
    other, and it's the one where her English nobility went across and said this
    country’s too good for you lot of uneducated Irish mobs, you know, and there
    it’s been ever since then. This is about 1300 and something or other they went
    there. She was enormously proud of the ah that lineage because ah her
    husband, her husband’s family, the Scott comes from Sir Walter Scott. I’m
    the one, two, three four, great, great, great, great grandniece of Sir Walter
    Scott and granny – oh did she make much. Anything Scottish I don’t know.
    And she could rub my mother’s nose in the fact that the Scott lineage, you
    know, absolutely knocked the de Coorsie Talbots not exactly because 1300
    and something’s pretty far back anyway. But all this vying of whose family
    history was the more important sort of thing. But ah with the Scott I was well
    versed in Sir Walter Scott and all the things. Mark you, I’ve never read a er
    Sir Walter Scott novel past chapter 1 in my life. Too much verbiage. I
    couldn’t get on with it, but I was very proud of that ancestor, Walter Scott, if
    you knew his life, you’d know why. And so there was all this ping pong
    between my mother’s family and my father’s family. Poppa never entered
    into it. Thought it was a whole lot of bloody nonsense. Never entered into it.
    But all this underlying thing one-upmanship about who was the longest
    lineage. Who had the most famous. Well Sir Walter Scott is known for his
    writings wasn’t he, you know? When he first started writing novels, they were
    serialised in the London papers and Scottish papers, and Queen Victoria said
    she couldn’t wait for the next week to come. Oh Mr Scott. Do tell what’s
    going to happen in the next thing.

So it’s family history that took you into the study of history then?

Yes, because Sir Walter Scott didn’t mean a Godamn thing to me ‘til I got
    older and then, quite early on – and I got the cutting out of the Scottish
    Gazette there about the life. Early on, I found out this life of Sir Walter Scott.
    His father was a sheriff – you know, a legal man. A wide term is sheriff in
    Scotland. But his father was the head sheriff in Edinburgh and his son in turn
    did – went to Law School, and he became ah a county sheriff. That is he went
    on horseback and he did all his things around ah the border. The border – tale,
    border tales are his. Round about the border of England and Scotland. While
    he was on horseback and doing all his sheriff’s work and whatnot he came
    upon all the wonderful border legends there are and all those things, so he
    started writing them up and these are all these wonderful books and that
    things. And he began to make ooh, money. A lot of money out of his writing
    so he gave the sheriff business away and then of course he had to have a
    publisher so he had this publisher, Ballantyne, and ah the publishing of Walter
    Scott’s books, thanks to a little bit of a leg up by Queen Victoria, he made
    masses of money ….. …… (?) and he turned it all over to Ballantyne, the
    publisher, who had to invest it or do whatever it is and when he’s in full fig
    with all these writings and whatnot, they have to bankrupt. Ballantynes, Scott,
    the lot. Now the shame of that – and of course this just comes about as Walter
    Scott has got his dream. He’s built his castle er on the Tee, on the Tee in
    Scotland, just on the border there, and the dee(?) …… stupid, the dee, and he
    is devastated is Sir Walter Scott, and so he’s so far in debt and incredible sum.
    Like 90 thousand pounds in those days. Gawd, that’d be millions in these
    days wouldn’t it? Anyhow, Sir Walter Scott from then on, wrote himself to
    death. And he –

And how about you? When did you start writing?

Oh I think it – ah started writing, reminiscences and those sort of things,
    because I was always awfully good and composition.                  You know,
    compositions? Mmm. I used to think that was a bit good, you know, me and
    the compositions. And all – I never ever wanted to write anything except
    history, and history – but as I say, this Walter Scott business got to me,
    because he was already consumptive. He had to go away to Italy when he was
    an old man to try and save his lungs, and there’s a pathetic portrait. It’s in ah
    Gerbera(?), in his home there. This pathetic portrait of the old frail gentleman
    with a plaid around his shoulders. Candle light. And he’s writing, writing,
    writing. He cleared that debt before he died.

So writing’s -

Did that made me proud? It just makes me proud. And I see in my father and
    sons and whatnot, that Walter Scott spirit. I see that in my sons and whatnot.

So did you grow up knowing about things like the Mt Leonard massacre for

Not a word. I only found out about that only a short time ago. I don’t know
    how it was but I came upon that. Something.

So just talk about that a bit. We discussed it over lunch. Why, why was it that
    you didn’t know about the kind of, the ugly history if you like underlying –

Because as you very well know my dear, you’re a documentary maker, and
    you’ve come upon this before. The shame of current Australians today and
    civil ……., the apath – the shame that we could – Australians could ever have
    allowed it to happen. I’ve told you why it happened on Mt Leonard. This
    policeman was absolutely shit scared that he’d lose his life to the blacks. It
    was terror that made him do that. But on all my years on Mt Leonard, not a
    peep. Not a word was ever said. And of course, conversation was being
    made, like my mother and the other station owners’ wives, when the Race
    Meeting came along, and of course everybody had sent down to Finny Aisles
    (?) for their race dray and Henderson Hats. They did a nice side line in ladies
    hats as well. And all this wonderful finery for the races. And my mother, I
    think, was the first to start it, she said oh the poor gins. They’d be hanging on
    the outskirts and the, the race course would wear a clay pan, you know, that’s
    it, but they’d be over there out of the way and they’d be watching the races in
    their dirty old gin dresses and whatnot. So mother used to get two bolts of
    material ah that you made curtains with or something. They had sunflowers
    this size and they had something – something purple and something orange.
    As long as they were colourful and she made what we later called muu-muus.
    Mother Hupboards, you know? Neck, armholes and whatnot. And then she
    went way over the top and she bought them all white sandshoes. They never
    had anything on their feet but they used to – I can see. They used to walk
    around and they’d be looking at their feet all the time.

You think – you – I think you used some word like ‘recompense’. I mean why
    was it do you think, that it was – that this knowledge was kept from you

Shame! No – see mother wasn’t there at the time, and all the successive
    people who were there were so – not only ashamed, but afraid that it might get
    down south you know, to judges and sticky people. Historians and the Peter
    Elkins, the anthropologist you know? If they got their sticky nose into it –
    ohhh, there’d be hell to pay, wouldn’t there? But at the time, it never ever
    leaked out. Here is this total bastard shooting every tenth. Don’t care if
    they’re black. They’re humans. And just riding off and leaving their bones to

How about, I know in some of the histories I‘ve read, there’s pretty ugly
    histories around like ….. ….. (?) and basically forced sexual relationships
    between white men and black women.


What do you know about that in the Channel Country?
I do ah and this is the first ta – thing is a tale that my mother ah told against
    herself that ah the white men didn’t always turn away, pull up his pants and go
    away after he had molested the, the black gin. Ah some of them and very –
    squatters of high note, actually got their boy – the girls they didn’t seem to
    worry about, the girls – the boy, and educated him. Some went to St Peter’s
    College in Adelaide and some went whatnot. Anyhow my mother’s standing
    at the front of ah Mt Murchison? Whichever station it was that Pop was on at
    the time, and a smart little black boy rode up on a, on a horse, and he jumped
    down and my mother said in a friendly tone ‘Hullo little black fellow. Hullo
    little black piccaninny. Which way you bin jump up?’. That’s the way you
    talk to things there. And he said ‘Oh, Mrs Scott-Richards. I’m Mr de Burg-
    Purse’s man and Mr de Burg-Purse wonders if you and your husband would
    join them for Sunday lunch this coming Sunday. And mother crumbled,
    nearly crumbled into a heap when she realised because de Burg-Purse was
    quite a known name in Scottocracy. She nearly ….. (?) because apparently
    she was the only one who didn’t know that Mr de Burg-Purse had had a little
    bit of dalliance and he never, ever denied it. Brought the kid up.

And would regard that, from the world of your childhood, was that an
    exception or would that have been a common –

Oooh no. There were heaps of ‘em. Worse than the straight black and straight
    white – worse than that, were the tragic people in between called half-castes.
    They were neither fish nor flesh nor fowl, except that some of them had such
    strength of character. A family called the Gorringes. Oranges with a ‘g’ in
    front. And bill Gorange, he was – they were – the boys were mostly stockmen
    but Billy Gorange, he was a – he turned out to be a drover. Now any
    stockman – any station owner who had the good fortune to be able to book up
    Billy Gorange to take their cattle down to Adelaide to market, boy, he was
    ahead of the game. Really and truly. He knew that his stock was in good
    hands so a few of the Gorange people, and they’re still out around Clifton Hill
    and on the other side of Birdsville, um they took ….. (?), and then – because
    Billy Gorange was such ah obviously outstandingly wonderful man in himself,
    that ah I know Pop and everybody around about there, did everything they
    could to convince the people who owned the stations they are on, you know, to
      give him a go and need be a head station – a stockman-head station manager
      or something, until he got his own place. He made enough money and he had
      such fame as a drover, that he got enough for a downpayment on a station just
      over the border in South Australia and so he started his empire from there
      because he had the backing of every station owner who’d ever had the luck to
      have him …..(?). So there’s the Goranges. That was OK with half-castes but
      the half-castes – just awful. You know, you’d get to a station –

Hold. We have to cut.

End of Side B