Our house was a simple tin roofed ‘shack’, as Mum called it, sitting on two acres of land divided into three paddocks. There was an outdoor wash-house and a lavatory down the back. Dad had rented the house after he married my mother on Australia Day, the 26th of January in 1940.
If you walked further down through the paddocks at the rear of our backyard, the river suddenly came into view. It was out of bounds to us kids without an adult.
I now wonder if Dad chose this house opposite my maternal grandmother’s dairy farm, so Mum could run home whenever she wanted to. Or did he do so for his own sake? Because he loved the land and saw himself becoming part of the family from which Mum had sprung?
If the latter, then he was destined to be sorely disappointed. The Irish Walker clan and the Skyvingtons were worlds apart, both in ancestral and social terms. Mum’s folk lived on the south bank; Dad’s people were from the more urbane side, across the river from us on the northern bank.