Page:Wongan Way by Lilian Wooster Greaves, 1927.pdf/11

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

We do not know how long it is since “the waters covered the face of the earth” in these parts. We only see great beds of cement and plaster; and find the tiny shells left as keepsakes from the former age. Those who know the signs may read them.

Tokens of a far more recent past seem sufficiently ancient to us. Wells put down half a century ago, in the picturesque Old Testament fashion, still remain; one with a large fig tree beside it.

One farmer friend shows us traces of old tracks which were used by sandalwood cutters in the early days; and cattle-pads, so long unused, that trees, whose size proclaims them to be fully thirty years of age, grow right in the middle of the road.

We become quite interested in old roads. “What is this?” we ask, as we pass a place where logs are laid across the track—“the remains of an old corduroy road?” “No, that is where Thomas got bogged last week, and laid saplings before the wheels, to pull out on.” So we are brought back with a laugh to the present.

Every day, a few yards from our present abode, we tread ashes where stood a miner’s forge about twenty-five years ago. Children play about the places in the hill-side where the miners once levelled the earth floor of their tents. When we visit the gold-show and the copper-show, we wonder if ever the agricultural age will merge into the metal age here.

The gleams of light thrown occasionally on the awakening of the agricultural life of Wongan Hills West, are very interesting. “When I came here, eight years ago,” says the first white woman, “I could not see twenty yards in any direction, for bush.” “When I first came,” said the second white woman, her arrival being about a year later, and her home eight miles distant, “the worst part to me was when my husband had to go for stores. Every two months he took the horse and cart and was away eight days. I used to be terrified for fear one of the children should be taken ill. And, oh! the howling of the dingoes round the place at night!”

“Our first camp-site, and the remains of our first garden,” points out another woman; “we shall be quite sorry when the plough cuts it up and turns it in next week.”

“Here’s where I carried Mother across the river, the day of our first district picnic”—and Father shows us a point on the Mortlock River. The eldest son had carried his sister across, while the younger son carried the basket. “And a great day it was,” remarks Mother. Yes, Mother; greater than you knew. They were great days that brought women just like you, and children just like yours to the making of the place.

Many of the men who came here were from the city. They had worked in offices, occupied important posi-