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With my mother, near Wilcannia


My fifties childhood - spent in remote parts of Australia, where people mended and made do and everything from trucks to washing machines was held together with handy pieces of fencing wife - remains vivid, in spite of the passage of years.

Looking through photographs from this decade, the thing that strikes me is the emptiness of the landscape. We lived sparely, without clutter. We had limitless space. We had each other. If the first seven years becomes the template for the rest, then this is the material my life was cut from. It is the material I write from.

My early years were passed among adults, befriended by glamorous independent aunts and uncles who believed - from the evidence of their own childhoods - that children were clever, capable, responsible beings. Thanks to their philosopy, and that of my easy-going parents, my introduction to the world was as different from the muffled, toy-strewn, child-care experience of present day children as it is possible to get.

Whenever I conjure up those early years, and the loved ones who shared them, I feel a surge of strength, as if I am plugged into a powerful, secret current.

Walking with my Aunt Sheila beside the Darling River sometime in the late fifties

Me with my father's truck
Mother and Baby - Outback Picnic

Me with puppy