Let me tell you a story.
I was born in Dirranbandi, in 1964, on Cubbie Station (before it was, well, you know, Cubbie Station) to parents who were born and bred on the land. What they didn’t know about horses was not worth knowing.
My dad’s name is Bill and he is 86yrs old this year (on Christmas Day). He has had somewhat of a hard knock life but as a true Aussie bushman, bounced back time after time and continues to accept the challenges that life throws at him with his usual good-natured humour. My dad has spent the majority of his life on the land as a ringer, stockman, drover, overseer, horse farrier, breaker, rodeo rider (bulls and horses) and just about anything else you can think of that revolves around the land.
So when we first mooted this camping trip, we decided to head towards Dirranbandi (or Dirran as it’s colloquially known) to see if we could retrace some of dad’s steps. That whole area of Dirran, St George and the areas around there, hold a special place in dad’s heart and so they do in my heart as well.
Now, Dad worked on many a station near Dirran and in some round about way, worked at the Noondoo Railway Siding. We stopped on the way to Dirran to photograph Noondoo with the intention of showing Dad some photos of our journey in the hopes it would bring a smile to his face. But this journey has turned into far more than just taking some images for Dad and trying to bring back memories. This has turned into my 3rd and final year folio for my Bachelor of Photography, which will be exhibited at the end of 2014 and will be entitled, simply, “Portrait of My Father” – but more about that in future posts.
On the road from Nindigully to Dirranbandi, we crossed the Moonie River which I’m sure Dad did many a time. Of course, there’s a new bridge there now, but I managed photographs of both of them.
We stopped at Noondoo (being married to a photographer, Damian is truly a very understanding husband stopping at the most innocuous of places) and I took some photographs while he, bless him, collected for me a rail plate joiner and bolts from the railway siding – beautifully rusted and suitably old and something that I am treasuring. Once the exhibition is over, I will give these to Dad as well. The close up image of the padlock reflects for me on the fact that Dad can’t ever go back there anymore and that he must feel as if that part of his life has been locked away for good.
From Noondoo we headed toward Dirran stopping along the way to photograph the station where Mum lived at the time – Bonathorne, which conveniently, was just up the road from the Station where Dad worked. Sadly, we couldn’t find that station, so we either missed it or it has been swallowed up by one of the neighouring properties.
Arriving in Dirranbandi was actually quite emotional for me – something that I didn’t expect. We drove past the hospital where I was born (and in fact worked out that I had probably been carried out of the hospital 49 years earlier on that very day (more tears). We drove past the church that Mum and Dad had been married in – sadly it is now someone’s home). I took photographs of buildings that I thought were probably there when Mum and Dad were there and I photographed the Railway Station.
We did consider driving out to Cubbie Station but realized we would probably get no further than the front gate. It mattered little anyway, as Lagoon Cottage (where I lived for the first few years of my life) no longer existed – swallowed up by a station that is fast becoming the size of a small country.
In the next post, we drive from Dirranbandi to Begonia Station where my dad worked as an overseer in the early 60’s – just before I was born. His fondest memories are of this station so I couldn’t wait to get there.
Here is a screen shot of the route:
Cheers til the next post
Vanessa and Damian
- Cubbie Ag buys Dirranbandi cotton gin (abc.net.au)
- Missed opportunity for Dirranbandi cotton processing (abc.net.au)