We travelled down the track to the old house. We were returning to the old home where other descendants of the McDonald family settled over a hundred and fifty years ago.
They had migrated to Australia from the Isle of Skye, Scotland, about eighteen hundred and fifty. Hector and Jane McDonald embarked at Portland Victoria then walked
overland to Edenhope to begin a new life as they settled at Ullswater. Hector and Jane would have looked at their surroundings with Jane recalling, “We have travelled so far
from the utter desolation of the Isle to this beautiful place and together we can be happy”.
“What we start here will benefit future generations who will inherit this place for years to come” Hector replied. He realised that there was hope for them and the family and he
was right as five generations lived on the farm which became known as Locksley’s. The house now derelict and weather beaten was standing alone with many memories
within the silent walls. A walk through the house revealed the once shiny black stove rusting away. The fire place in the lounge room was filled with straw from where birds
had nested in the chimney. Family and friends would have gathered there telling stories of long ago. Tattered curtains still hung in the bedrooms and a few faded scenes
remained on the walls. We walked slowly through but the twisted floorboards hindered our progress. The house had been robbed of its former dignity.
Looking out from the veranda into what had been a lovely attended garden was a mass of high weeds. The well cared for vegetable and flower gardens could not be seen.
Laurie’s mother had cared for the garden and we often walked around it as did most visitors. She said about her efforts “This is my pleasure and enjoyment and helps when
times are hard with the availability of fresh food”. The family survived from the farm killing their own meat, milking cows for butter and cream, and collecting eggs from a
small run of fowls.
The old house and surrounds echoed with the past that had survived through depression, good and bad seasons, ruined crops, and low wool prices. However over
time they gradually improved the property to pass down to future generations. The reason that my two daughters and I went back to the farm was to spread Laurie’s ashes
and to place a remembrance plaque for him on his parents’ grave at the local cemetery.
Together we spread the ashes under a gum tree close to the shearing shed and the old house. While doing this I could hear Laurie saying “My chapter of the book has closed
and now a new chapter begins.”
I sadly replied “I miss you”. We had returned Laurie to the farm he loved and worked, to a peaceful resting place.